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25 Book Reviews Frequently Auto-Approved Professional Reader

Friday, April 9, 2021

Ain't Love Grand?!

Release Date: April 13, 2021


Hi, my name is Kim and I am a hopeful romantic.  Even at the age of 44, single, and being told by all the data in the world that my chances of finding love are slimmer and slimmer, I still 100% believe in love.
I love rom-com movies and romance books.  The stories in Love in Color are rich, poignant, and downright beautiful.  

In her debut collection, internationally acclaimed writer Bolu Babalola retells the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology with incredible new detail and vivacity. Focusing on the magical folktales of West Africa, Babalola also reimagines Greek myths, ancient legends from the Middle East, and stories from long-erased places.


Each story is the essence of a re-telling from various cultures around the world, with love being the central theme. Bolu does an amazing job with expressing what love is...she paints pictures with it, you hear songs with it, you want to wrap up in it. It is simply beautiful.


Rating: 💖💖💖💖/5


Author Bolu Babalola




Are You Willing to Pay the Cost of Knowing?

Release Date: April 6, 2021


Would you want to know the future? Would you try to change things? Would you tell anyone?  Brittney Morris' sophomore novel, "The Cost of Knowing" asks these very questions and dives into biases and prejudices in America.

Synopsis:

16-year-old Alex Rufus is trying his best. He tries to be the best employee he can be at the local ice cream shop; the best boyfriend he can be to his amazing girlfriend, Talia; the best protector he can be over his 12-year-old brother, Isaiah.  But it is very hard for him to be present when every time he touches an object or person, Alex sees into its future. 

When he touches a scoop, he has a vision of him using it to scoop ice cream. When he touches his car, he sees it years from now, totaled and underwater. When he touches Talia, he sees them at the precipice of breaking up, and that terrifies him. Alex feels these visions are a curse, distracting him, making him anxious and unable to live an ordinary life. And when Alex touches a photo that gives him a vision of his brother’s imminent death, everything changes.

With Alex now in a race against time, death, and circumstances, he and Isaiah must grapple with their past, their future, and what it means to be a young Black man in America in the present. 

I loved this book.  Brittney Morris is also the author of Slay (which I loved!), it too tackled issues of family dynamics and race.  Ms. Morris again looks at family relationships and racial issues in America.  Without any spoilers, I loved how the relationship between Alex and Isaiah developed. Each is coping with grief the best way they know how and it's beautiful to see them work through it and discover just how much they have in common.  I love their love of music.  It's an excellent tool to bond over and to make a connection.

Music and books are a great pairing.  For my playlist inspired by the book, I created it as if I were scoring the book; like a movie.  I also choose to use only Black male artists because I wanted to celebrate the Black Boy Joy that is Alex and Isaiah. I left one song off the playlist because it is only available to stream but it is very important to this story.  Janelle Monae and Wondaland Records' "Hell You Talmbout" is powerful.  Use this link and listen to it after track 10: https://soundcloud.com/wondalandarts/hell-you-talmbout


Rating: 💖💖💖💖.5/5

Author Brittney Morris


Thursday, March 4, 2021

Talia Hibbert is Romance Royalty!

Release Date: March 9th, 2021


Honestly, does Talia Hibbert write a bad book?  I've read all the Brown Sisters books and I LOVE THEM ALL!  For me, they have everything: funny, smart, and very steamy.  I loved all the characters.  They were real and I wanted everyone to succeed.  My favorite female character is Chloe.  As a person living with Fibromyalgia, I could totally relate to her life.  My favorite male character is Zaf.  Oh, Zaf!  I would risk it all for that man.  But enough gushing about the series, on to the latest book.  Get ready for the youngest Brown sister, Eve!

Act Your Age, Eve Brown is fantastic! It features Autistic adults finding love. It shows them being perplexed by dating and being sexually active adults just like the majority of adult society.  It also addressed some of the challenges they face. The banter between Eve and Jacob is great. I found myself snort-laughing at a couple of scenes. Reading this book was just so much fun! 

If you are a fan of Romance books and Rom-Coms definitely add these to your list. Pre-order your copy today at your local independent bookstore. #TeamSmudge

Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖/5

Author Talia Hibbert
Synopsis:

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It's time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she's not entirely sure how…


Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.


Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior. 


About the Author:

Talia Hibbert is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate.

She writes steamy, diverse romance because she believes that people of marginalized identities need honest and positive representation. Her interests include makeup, junk food, and unnecessary sarcasm. Talia and her many books reside in the English Midlands.


Twitter | Instagram | Website | Goodreads



Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Golden Child

Lately, I have not read much for pleasure because I am on the judging panel for 2 different book panels.  However, I recently finished The Gilded Ones and it was FANTASTIC! (Thank you Hear Our Voices Blog Tour and Delacorte Press for gifting me a copy of the book.

Release Date: February 9, 2021

Author Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones is West African-inspired, feminist YA fantasy.  The author, Namina Forna, was inspired by the deeply patriarchal societies in her native country of Sierra Leone and here in the US, where she attended college.  Basically the same pig, just a different dress (my words, not the author).  The book looks at the patriarchy and it is used to determine the narrative for women including our place and our worth.  It also examines how it thrives and survives, including how women and non-binary people survive under the patriarchy. 

I loved all the powerful, uplifting, supportive women in this book.  The young women in this book are in a precarious situation, yet they support each other to the end.  Each character is powerful in their own way.  In a world where the men basically determine your worth, these young women uplift each other and find a way to determine their own worth.
The action was fast-paced, the characters were well developed and I like how Ms. Forna did not play to traditional gender roles.  The diversity in the book was well represented.  

Rating: 💖💖💖💖.5/5

Today is my Tour Stop for Hear Our Voices Blog Tours.  I was tasked with Dream Cast and a Playlist.

For the Dream Cast, I chose Ajiona Alexus because she looks like my image of Deka and I believe she could pull off the spirit of Deka.  I was torn between Ashton Sanders and John Boyega for Keita.  Both could pull off that nobleman next door attitude.  White Hands is Regina King all day, especially after seeing her as Sister Night.  Britta was the hardest to cast but after seeing Derry Girls and Bridgerton, I settled on Nicola Coughlan.  She plays Penelope on the Bridgertons.

For the Playlist, usually, I approach like I'm setting a musical score for the book but for this playlist I wanted to create a mood.  So much of this story is about the non-male characters finding their voices and determining their worth.  So I went with empowering songs that uplift and put you in a kick-ass type of mood.  You can listen to this when you've had a crappy day, when you're getting ready to hang out with your girls (as soon as it's safe again), or when you and your crew have to topple the patriarchy before drinks.




Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity--and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death. Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki--near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire's greatest threat. Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she's ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great-walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one is quite what they seem to be--not even Deka herself

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Happy New Year!

 I suppose I'm a few weeks late with my New Year salutations.

I've been quite busy on the book front.

I am currently a judge on two book panels.  I am also on the Bookseller Advisory Council for the ABA.  Such an exciting time!

I have set a personal reading goal of 44 books for this year.  So far, I've read two entire books.  I'm not counting my panel books. That seems like reading for work.  Well happy reading my friends.

Remember to check out my Bookstagram page: www.instagram.com/novelsistah/



Monday, November 23, 2020

Isn't It Romantic?!

I'm a big fan of Romance and about a week ago, my friend Sarah (who is also a Romance fan) posted on Twitter that she wanted a "Playlist of Songs with romance book recommendations to go with each song."
Since I've really been getting into making these playlists I accepted the challenge.
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!👍
Here is the playlist. Each recommended book is across from its corresponding song.
They are essentially in the same position in each column (Book #3 goes with Song #3).

Few disclaimers:
-I only picked contemporary romance.  I rarely read historical and I didn't feel I could find corresponding songs.
-I chose songs that encompassed the entire mood of the book.  Quite honestly, I could do a playlist for each book. 🤔
-Red, White, and Royal Blue and Boyfriend Material are both Gay romance novels. It was important to me to choose Gay recording artists.  It seemed wrong to choose a song sung to a woman.
-There are thousands of songs that could have been chosen.  This is my list.  If you don't agree with it or like, go make your own.

Spotify links: 

Enjoy!


Friday, October 30, 2020

Some Other Now...So Wonderful, So Emotional!

 Trigger Warnings: Death and Depression



Sarah Everett has written a beautiful YA that looks at grief, dying, and love as it pertains to the past, present, and future of a tight-knit "family".  And yes, the quotations marks are purposeful. 

Summary of the book:

"Before she kissed one of the Cohen boys, seventeen-year-old Jessi Rumfield knew what it was like to have a family—even if, technically, that family didn’t belong to her. She’d spent her childhood in the house next door, challenging Rowan Cohen to tennis matches while his older brother, Luke, studied in the background and Mel watched over the three like the mother Jessi always wished she had. But then everything changed.
It’s been almost a year since Jessi last visited the Cohen house. Rowan is gone. Mel is sick and Luke hates Jessi for the role she played in breaking his family apart. Now Jessi spends her days at a dead-end summer job burying memories of her life in the Cohen house. But when Luke comes home from college, it's hard to ignore the past. And when he asks Jessi to pretend to be his girlfriend for the final months of Mel’s life, Jessi finds herself drawn back into the world of the Cohens. Everything’s changed, but Jessi can’t help wanting to go back, even if it means breaking her heart and losing them forever this time."

Book Fam, your girl is not a punk, but this book...this book right here had me all up in my feelings. Grief is such a complex emotion.  We grieve over the loss of many things, not just a loved one who has passed on.  We grieve missed opportunities, past mistakes, and heartbreak.  

I really enjoyed the characters in this book.  They were complex and it showed how each person responds to grief.  I love the relationship of Jessi with the Cohens.  We have a saying in my family, "Blood does not make a family."  Some of my siblings are adopted and I have a slew of play cousins.  You find your family wherever your heart is welcomed unconditionally.  Ms. Everett's use of alternating the timelines between the past and the present was very effective.  You could feel the tension building and man it was a roller coaster ride.

Simply put, this book is beautiful...hard on the emotions, but beautiful.  Grab your Kleenex and settle into this fabulous read.

Rating: 💖💖💖💖/5

Some Other Now by Sarah Everett goes on sale February 23, 2021.  Buy your copy at your local Independent Bookstore or at Bookshop.org.



Ain't Love Grand?!

Release Date: April 13, 2021 Hi, my name is Kim and I am a hopeful romantic.  Even at the age of 44, single, and being told by all the data ...