Review | It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi

After Kiran Noorani’s mom died, Kiran vowed to keep her dad and sister, Amira, close. Then out of the blue, Amira announces that she’s dating someone and might move cross-country with him. Kiran is thrown.

Deen Malik is thrilled that his older brother, Faisal, has found a great girlfriend, even if it’s getting serious quickly. Maybe now their parents’ focus will shift off Deen, who feels intense pressure to be the perfect son.

When Deen and Kiran come fact to face, they silently agree to keep their past a secret. Four years ago–before Amira and Faisal met–Kiran and Deen dated. But Deen ghosted Kiran with no explanation. Kiran will stop at nothing to find out what happened, and Deen will do anything, even if it means sabotaging his brother’s relationship, to keep her from reaching the truth. Though the chemistry between Kiran and Deen is undeniable, can either of them take down their walls?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

From the premise of this book I thought I would definitely enjoy it, but I didn’t know just how much I would enjoy it. I would definitely label this one as coming of age in a way, as Deen and Kiran grapple with each other in present day while also dealing with their own issues. The flashbacks to their past relationship definitely flesh out the background of their story and lays a foundation for their characters in general. I especially loved the way the ‘I hate you in person but we’re best friends online without knowing’ trope was used. It’s always fun when it’s done the right way and in this story I felt it really was done the right way. Definite trigger warnings in here for drug use, death of a parent and grief. Also, the writing style was so easy to read and made the book just fly by as we follow Deen and Kiran through their hijinks and journey.

It All Comes Back to You comes out tomorrow, September 14th – so make sure to pick up a copy. Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book for review!

Happy reading!

Review | Rebel Girls Champions

Rebel Girls Champions: 25 Tales of Unstoppable Athletes celebrates the stories of 25 phenomenal women in sports all written in fairy tale form. It is part of the award-winning Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series.

This paperback collection showcases some of the most beloved stories from the first three volumes of the New York Times best-selling series Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. It also features brand new tales of game-changing athletes and their drive, resilience, and sportsmanship. In Rebel Girls Champions, young readers can win the World Cup with Megan Rapinoe, flip and tumble with Simone Biles, and land breathtaking snowboard tricks with Chloe Kim. 

Coming out directly after the Tokyo Olympics, Rebel Girls Champions will include the most thrilling anecdotes from the 2021 Games.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This book followed the same format as the other Rebel Girls books, highlighting different girls who excel in their field, in this case athletes. While most of those featured in this volume are contemporary athletes, it was nice to see a few from the past who acted as pioneers either for their sport or for women in their sport. The variety of sports was really broad, as well as the nationality of the athletes. This is a great addition to the series and I think perfect for any aspiring athletes to take inspiration from.

Happy reading!

Review | Horribly Mutilated: The True Story of Atlanta’s Jack the Ripper by Troy Taylor

With this “Extras” offshoot of his acclaimed “Dead Men Do Tell Tales Series,” author Troy Taylor expands on his more than three decades of research into American crime with a true, unsolved mystery from Atlanta in the early 1910s. During the decade that followed the first murder, more than 25 women became victims of a serial killer that would earn the name of the “Atlanta Ripper.” It became one of the most prolific murder sprees in American history and yet few people have heard about it. These savage crimes not only remain unsolved, but they are largely unknown more than a century later.

Why? That answer is both simple and tragic – because all the women were black.

At first, when young black and mixed-race women began showing up brutally slain, it wasn’t cause for much concern in the local newspapers. Circulated largely among white readers, and staffed exclusively by white reporters and editors, the three city newspapers were far more concerned about other things. Neither the press nor the police paid much attention, at least not as first.

But after one mutilated body after the next began to be found along streets and railroad tracks in the poor sections of Atlanta, they began to take notice. The press called the killer “Jack the Ripper,” ignoring the fact that the body count was four times higher than the original “Jack” who had wreaked havoc in the squalid alleys of Whitechapel in London in 1888.

As the body count continued to rise, terror rippled through the local black community. For years, young women were afraid to leave their homes after dark, and some feared to even walk the streets during the daytime. Black community leaders began to unite in their insistence that the Atlanta Police Department commit as many resources as possible to tracking down the killer – or killers – and bring an end to the murders.

But they were helpless to stop the slaughter. As months turned to years, the murders continued, although with less frequency as time passed. By the time it was over, two dozen women were dead, and their killer had vanished into history, leaving a mystery behind.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you’re a fan of true crime shows, podcasts or stories (especially historical) I would recommend picking this one up. Taylor’s writing style is easy to read and follow, while delivering carefully researched accounts of what happened in Atlanta in the early 1900s. This book is not just about the brutal murders that were committed in Atlanta at the time (at least a number of them by the “Ripper”) but also about the ripple effects of the systemic and constant racism at the time, which really played a part in how these murders were handled by the press, those in authority positions and the differing reactions from the white and black communities respectively.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | The Inheritance by JoAnn Ross | Review

When conflict photographer Jackson Swann dies, he leaves behind a conflict of his own making when his three daughters, each born from a different mother and unknown to each other, discover that they’re now part owners of Maison de Madelaine, the family’s Oregon vineyard—a once famous business struggling to recover from a worldwide economic collapse.

After a successful career as a child TV star, a disastrous time as a teen pop star, and now a successful author, Tess is, for the first time in her life, suffering from a serious case of writer’s block and identity crisis.

Charlotte, brought up to be a proper Southern wife, has given up her own career goals to support her husband while having spent the past year struggling to conceive a child to create a more perfect marriage. On the worst day of her life, she discovers her beloved father has died, she has two sisters she’d never been told about, and her husband has fallen in love with another woman.

Natalie, daughter of Jack’s long-time mistress, has always known about both half-sisters. Still mourning the loss of her mother, the death of her father a year later is a devastating blow. And she can’t help feeling that both her sisters may resent her for being the daughter their father decided to keep.

As the sisters reluctantly gather at the family vineyard, they’re enchanted by the legacy they’ve inherited, and by their grandmother’s rich stories of life in WWII France and the love she found with a wounded American soldier who brought her to Oregon where they started Maison de Madelaine.

Buy Links | BookShop.org | Harlequin  | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Books-A-Million | Powell’s

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This book was a good mix of women’s fiction, historical fiction and a little bit of romance. It was interesting to get to know the sisters in the wake of their father’s passing and all of their different personalities and struggles. It was a good story as it unfolded, especially with the historical fiction aspect with their grandmother. I really enjoyed JoAnn Ross’ writing, as I have before, which made the read fly by – but in some aspects it did feel like things were a little rushed or not fully fleshed out. I did enjoy a lot of the character development that happens and where everyone ended up but would have liked a little more depths to some parts.

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author JoAnn Ross has been published in twenty-seven countries. The author of over 100 novels, JoAnn lives with her husband and many rescue pets — who pretty much rule the house — in the Pacific Northwest.

Social Links | Author Website | Facebook: @JoAnnRossbooks | Instagram: @JoAnnRossBooks | Goodreads

Happy reading!

Can’t Wait Wednesday | 9/8

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings based on the meme Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking the Spine. In this weekly post people share a book that they’re excited about being released.

I won’t lie, I’ve been hearing about this one everywhere and usually a tons of hype may turn me off a bit – but I really want to get my hands on this one.

The dead of Loraille do not rest.

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.

When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.

As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first. 

Happy reading!

Review | We Can be Heroes by Kyrie McCauley

“Welcome to Bell, proud home of Bell Firearms for two hundred years, and where five months ago, the teen heir to the Bell fortune took his father’s guns to school and killed his ex-girlfriend, Cassandra Queen.” —WE CAN BE HEROES PODCAST

Beck and Vivian never could stand each other, but they always tried their best for their mutual friend, Cassie. After the town moves on from Cassie’s murder too fast, Beck and Vivian finally find common ground: vengeance. They memorialize Cassie by secretly painting murals of her around town, a message to the world that Cassie won’t be forgotten. But Beck and Vivian are keeping secrets, like the third passenger riding in Beck’s VW bus with them—Cassie’s ghost.

When their murals catch the attention of a podcaster covering Cassie’s case, they become the catalyst for a debate that Bell Firearms can no longer ignore. With law enforcement closing in on them, Beck and Vivian hurry to give Cassie the closure she needs—by delivering justice to those responsible for her death.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book was a very emotionally hard read, but also such an important one. There were so many conversations happening in this book that are happening today, but also still need to happen regarding subjects such as gun violence, domestic abuse, grief, victim blaming and more (trigger warnings for all of these subjects). The story begins in the wake of a school shooting where a jilted abusive ex-boyfriend had entered the school and murdered his ex and then also killed himself. The community at large, which is a community built on guns (the largest employer being the shooter’s family, which manufacturers the very firearms he used), has essentially forgotten the victim and thinks of the shooter as a “good kid who made a bad decision.” Cassie’s friends are trying to pick up the pieces of their own lives (one of them also having been shot by the shooter) when they discover that Cassie herself is haunting them – so they decide that they must have vengeance, or at least hold those who were in some ways just as responsible for Cassie’s death as her ex, accountable.

I really enjoyed the fact that not only do we get Beck and Vivian’s perspectives (Cassie’s friends), but also a perspective from Cassie that slowly reveals some of the things that happened in the past, and the perspective of a podcast that is covering all the events happening surrounding Cassie’s death once things kick into motion. This book goes deep into the subjects I mentioned as well as nuances we often see in the media surrounding these types of events (such as those in positions of authority not wanting to follow protocol because they don’t want to damage the accused’ future). It also really shows the journey of Beck and Vivian as they try to process their grief and find a way to live without Cassie. The way McCauley wove this book and brought all the different threads together was done so well and I believe this books contains an important conversation that needs to keep being had.

We Can Be Heroes is out today! Make sure to pick up a copy and give this amazing book a read.

Happy reading!

Review | The Summoning by J.P. Smith

When it comes to contacting the dead, it’s easy to go a step too far

Every year, as the anniversary of 9/11 inches closer on the calendar, Kit Capriol scans the memorials published in the New York Times. It’s a simple thing to look up a name and phone number, to reach out to surviving family members who might still be yearning for connection with their lost loved one… to offer assistance. After her husband went down in the north tower, Kit scraped by as an actress, barely supporting herself and her daughter. But now Zoey is in the hospital, bills are due, and the acting work has dried up. Becoming a medium is almost too easy for someone used to pretending for a living—and desperate clients aren’t hard to come by.

Now, though, something has changed. The seances Kit holds in her apartment are starting to feel unsettlingly real, and the intriguing man she met at a local bar could be more complicated than he seems. As the voices of the dead grow louder in her head and the walls of her apartment close in, Kit realizes that despite her daughter’s absence, she hasn’t been quite as alone as she thought…

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When I heard the synopsis of this book, an actor who is pretending to be a medium to make ends meet after losing her husband in 9/11 and having her daughter in a coma – I was immediately intrigued. Things start to change when she seems to actually be hearing from the dead. I really enjoyed this roller coaster ride of a thriller as it took me in some directions I was not expecting at all. Much of the story is spent wondering if this is psychological or supernatural and that’s one of my favorite elements when done well – and it was done really well in this book. I was left guessing almost the entire book. While the pacing is neither slow or fast, I felt the story’s natural progression and evolution flowed well. The writing style was so easy to consume and kept me engaged the entire time.

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press for sending me a copy of this book for review. It’s out tomorrow (9/7) so make sure to pick up a copy!

Happy reading!

Review | Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic, edited by award-winning journalist Lilly Workneh with a foreword by #BlackGirlMagic originator CaShawn Thompson, is dedicated to amplifying and celebrating the stories of Black women and girls from around the world; features the work of over 60 Black female and non-binary authors, illustrators, and editors; is designed to acknowledge, applaud, and amplify the incredible stories of Black women and girls from the past and present; and celebrates Black Girl Magic around the world. 

Amongst the women featured from over 30 countries are tennis player Naomi Osaka, astronaut Jeanette Epps, author Toni Morrison, filmmaker Ava DuVernay; aviator Bessie Coleman, Empress Taytu Betul, journalist Ida B. Wells, and many other inspiring leaders, champions, innovators, and creators. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic is the fourth volume of the New York Times bestselling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series which originally launched in 2016. 

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic is published by Rebel Girls, a global, multi-platform empowerment brand dedicated to helping raise the most inspired and confident global generation of girls through content, experiences, products, and community.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After reading Rebel Girls Lead I was exciting to get them chance to read this book from the same series. I like that the original volumes in this series highlight multiple races, but that there are installments such as this one that highlight one specific race – and I felt this was a great installment to add to the already existing titles. It includes Black women of varied nationalities, time periods, careers and more. I think this could serve as great inspiration for anyone looking for role models. The art too is a wonderful accompaniment to each story, showcasing the art style of many different artists and providing vibrant images of the women represented. I also appreciated that at the end of the book it showcases other Black women who are featured in the other installments in this series.

Happy reading!

Review | The Curse of the Crystal Cavern

The rollicking Pathfinders Society treasure hunt continues as the five campers from Mystery of the Moon Tower get swept away in a new adventure. This action-packed graphic novel is full of fun, magic, and friendship–sure to appeal to fans of the Last Kids on Earth and Lumberjanes series.

Fresh from their hair-raising adventures in The Mystery of the Moon Tower, Kyle, Vic, Beth, Harry, and Nate are now hot on the trail of something big! A secret staircase leads down into the unknown, setting them on an exciting chase for clues left by the wealthy explorer Henry Merriweather, who was rumored to have hidden away a priceless treasure. Are the legends real? Where will the five friends end up? And what dangers will they encounter along the way? Because as they’ve come to learn, everything comes at a price…

In this exciting graphic novel adventure series, richly illustrated by Eisner-award-winning artist Steve Hamaker, the Pathfinders go ever deeper into the labyrinthian Merriweather mystery–and hope they’ll come out the other side!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this one since I read the first book and am so glad I grabbed it! I’m not going to go too much into the story as it picks up right after book one finishes, but we are following the same group of pathfinders as they are continuing to decipher the riddles left behind as well as deal with occasional time jumps, dangers from outsiders and more. I really liked how they came together even more in this one and leaned on each other for their unique strengths. This is a great middle grade adventure story and I can’t wait for the third one to come out.

Happy reading!

Wrap Up | August 2021

Hey everyone! It’s the beginning of a new month again and somehow August flew by. I’m still enjoying just a few bullet points for my wrap ups, so if you want to see all the books I read and my ratings on books that I read that I don’t necessarily cover on the blog – you are more than welcome to add me as a friend or follow me over on Goodreads. There are some books that I don’t always write up full reviews for, but I always rate them over there. Now, let’s get to it!

  • I ended up reading three of my TBR challenge books, plus one from previous months, so I’m considering that a win in some ways.
  • I got completely caught up with the reboot of Buffy/Angel – I enjoyed the first three volumes of Angel, but the Buffy series has made me feel a tad conflicted. I love the original TV series and most of the original comic series, so having canon tossed on it’s head and so many characters and stories changed? It’s hard to really get into. Like I said the first three Angel volumes and the Willow spinoff were bright spots.
  • I read one more Nancy Drew book and started another, and got one volume closer to the end of Kamisama Kiss.
  • August was really the month that I consumed a lot of graphic novels and ghost story collections, largely because of this I ended up reading a total of 31 titles in August.

So there we have it! The last year and a half have been hard on me, so I’m really hoping with the last quarter of the year I’m able to get caught up on a lot of things.

Happy reading!