Review: Walking In Two Worlds by Wab Kinew

Walking in Two WorldsWalking in Two Worlds by Wab Kinew
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Walking in Two Worlds is Indigenous author, Wab Kinew’s, YA Fantasy debut.

Set in the near future, following two teenagers, Bugz and Feng, this narrative swerves between our world and a VR-gaming world both teens are involved in, known as the Floraverse.

Bugz, an Indigenous teen, who grew up on the Rez, is shy and self-conscious in our world, but in the Floraverse, she’s strong and confident. She’s also the most powerful and popular player in the ‘Verse.

Feng is a Chinese boy, recently sent to live on the Rez with his Aunt, the new family practicioner there. Feng was forced to flee China after his online activities suggested he was leaning towards extremist sympathies.

Feng plays in the same game that Bugz dominates and is actually part of a group called, ClanLESS, who is promoting her downfall. Violently.

When Bugz and Feng meet at school, they hit it off right away. He doesn’t recognize her from the ‘Verse, as her persona there looks a lot different than she does in real life. As they build their relationship, it is finally revealed to him who she is.

He’s impressed. Instalove ensues and Feng’s loyalties are put to the test. Can Bugz overcome the odds stacked against her?

Clearly, this is an over-simplification of the plot, but I think it is best to just go in knowing you will get great representation, exciting gaming elements, eye-opening commentary on some aspects of the Indigenous experience, as well as heartbreaking examinations of social anxiety, self-confidence and feelings of being powerless, voiceless or helpless.

Certain details of this story hit me hard, but it was a mixed bag. While I genuinely appreciate the level of creativity Kinew brought to this story, including some really great current social issues, I couldn’t help but feel that Bugz and Feng played second fiddle to all of that.

It felt like they weren’t built-out as much as they could have been. Maybe it was because the book was fairly short, but the insta-love was too heavy for my taste and their personalities felt very flat. I wanted to know them more and I don’t think Kinew had the chance to really allow them any growth.

The gaming elements were quite well done. I thought it was exciting and vividly-described. Even though I knew that was a virtual reality, it still hurt my heart when events happened in the game that had a negative impact on Bugz.

The game is so much a part of her life. It is where she feels the most strength; the most like her true self. That was impactful. Well done by Kinew.

Towards the end, there were a couple of plot points that didn’t sit quite right with me; for example, an event involving ClanLESS in real life. I believe I understand the symbolism behind that being included, but it just didn’t make practical sense.

Also, I was hoping for more personal growth from Bugz. I will admit to being a little unsatisfied with her trajectory.

With this being said, this is a very good story. It’s fast-paced and I really feel like I got a lot out of it.

My hope is that this makes it into a lot of school libraries in the United States and Canada. I think YA-Readers will really relate to a lot of the topics explored within this story and the representation is so needed.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Penguin Teen, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I had a lot of fun spending time with Bugz and shed a few tears along the way. I really hope that Wab Kinew continues to write in the YA-Fantasy space. I would love to read more from him!

Walking in Two Worlds releases tomorrow!!!

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Review: Soul of Cinder (Heart of Thorns #3) by Bree Barton

Soul of Cinder (Heart of Thorns, #3)Soul of Cinder by Bree Barton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Soul of Cinder is the final book in Bree Barton’s YA-Fantasy trilogy, Heart of Thorns.

Following the world-shattering events of the second book, Tears of Frost, we find most of our characters separated and unaware of who has survived.

After slightly bonding, Mia and Pilar, newfound allies, seem to be at one another’s throats once again. Together with the indefatigable, Nelladine, the girls are one their way, via sea voyage, to Pembuk in search of the Shadowess.

Prince Quin, unbeknowst to the ladies, has also survived and he is making his way home to reclaim his kingdom. He blames the lot of them for his current circumstances and is hellbent on revenge.

And what of Angelyne; Mia’s younger sister? Some would say she’s the impetus of these events, but where is she now?

I enjoyed this. I enjoyed this whole trilogy, although I won’t be memorializing it as a new favorite, I can appreciate it for what it did.

This entire trilogy is a beautiful examination of trauma, recovery and growth. Barton really did an exceptional job of exploring those topics and showing that everyone’s journey will be different. There is no one correct way to heal.

I also appreciate the feminist underpinnings woven throughout these three books. Autonomy, choice, the right to kick some butt, it’s all here. It was substantive; definitely well done.

I think this is a great series for Readers just starting out in the YA-Fantasy space. I sort of feel like, for me, I may have enjoyed this more had I read it three or four years ago.

I think as far as content goes, plot-wise, I have just moved past this point in my YA-Fantasy journey.

With that being said, this is a solid series, start-to-finish. Great characters, a lot of action and the examination of some fairly serious topics.

I will be donating my hard copies of this entire trilogy to my local high school library, where I know it will be enjoyed for years to come!

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Review: What Once Was Mind (Twisted Tales #12) by Liz Braswell

What Once Was MineWhat Once Was Mine by Liz Braswell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

What Once Was Mine is the 12th-installment in Disney’s long-running Twisted Tales series. So far, I have read 10 out of the 12 books and definitely have plans to read them all!

If you are unfamiliar with this fantastic series, you can read these books in any order. Each one tackles a different Disney story, twisting one major plot point and then examining what would have happened because of that twist.

In this volume, Liz Braswell twists the tale of Rapunzel, or the movie, Tangled, if you prefer to look at it that way.

Worried about the life of their ailing Queen, pregnant with her first child, the citizens of Corona search for the infamous Sundrop flower to cure her, but end up picking a Moondrop flower accidentally.

Because of this one tiny error, the baby girl, Rapunzel, has silver hair, the color of the moon, dangerous to the touch.

In order to keep everyone safe, the Queen and King make the heartbreaking decision to have Rapunzel locked away in a Tower, far from the kingdom proper, and watched over by a powerful goodwife, Mother Gothel.

Rapunzel dutifully stays put for 18-years. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but the pull of seeing the floating lights on her birthday is just too strong.

She sets out on an adventure of epic proportions with two theives, Flynn and Gina, on a search for her happily ever after.

Y’all, this book is an absolute blast to read. Dare I say, the BEST TWISTED TALE YET!!!

If you love the story of Rapunzel, the cute and quirky characters within it, or you think that the movie Tangled is a true gem to be watched on repeat because of its glorious good humor, you absolutely have to get your hands on this book!

I have never jived with Braswell’s writing as much as I did with this one. She really shines here, bringing this story and these characters to life in a whole new ((moon))light!!

A hearty thank you to the publisher, Disney Books and Disney Audio, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. It absolutely filled my heart!

What Once Was Mine will be released on Tuesday, September 7th!!!

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Review: Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

Small FavorsSmall Favors by Erin A. Craig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The small town of Amity Falls is remote and truly secluded from the outside world. It’s set amongst the Blackspire Mountain range, at the edge of an almost impenetrable forest where monsters are said to lurk.

When a supply party goes missing, and evidence of a massacre are found in the woods, the townsfolk believe the monsters may have awoken and are getting closer.

Contention arises among the citizens, as they try to decide how best to proceed. They’re afraid to send anyone else for supplies, but with provisions running low and winter approaching, what choice do they have?

Ellerie Downing lives with her family in Amity Falls. On the cusp of adulthood, Ellerie finally gets to vote in the town proceedings. She struggles with her decision, but ultimately votes for the path she thinks best, even though it may differ from the opinions of those she loves most.

Shortly after the vote, tragedy strikes the Downing family, leaving Ellerie to look after her family farm and her younger siblings. It’s a lot, but Ellerie rises to the occasion.

She has also made a new, intriguing friend. A young man, a trapper, staying on the outskirts of town. Cloaked in mystery, the boy has never even given Ellerie his true name, but the two are drawn to each other like moths to a flame.

As winter progresses, tensions rise while the supplies continue to decrease, forcing people to hide in their homes, protecting what is theirs. Bizarre and spooky occurrences are also plaguing the town, driving everyone’s paranoia higher. Will Ellerie be able to get her sisters through until Spring?

Small Favors was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I absolutely loved Craig’s 2019-release, House of Salt and Sorrows and couldn’t wait to see what she would come up with next.

The synopsis comp to Needful Things is legit, but it is Needful Things if it were set against the backdrop of M. Night Shyamalan’s, The Village, and fused with Dark Fairy Tales.

I know, delicious, right!? Plus, Craig’s writing continues to impress. It’s lush, detailed and DARK. This entire story had such a vibe; the location, the atmosphere, it got into my bones.

I enjoyed how ominous it felt, even when nothing overtly scary was happening. It always felt like at any moment, a monster could appear from the periphery. The characters were compelling and I really liked the conclusion; it was unique and inventive.

I’m so happy with this and again, look forward to seeing what Craig dreams up next. I know I will definitely be adding it to my shelves, whatever it is!

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Review: Cazadora (Wolves of No World #2) by Romina Garber

Cazadora (Wolves of No World, #2)Cazadora by Romina Garber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Cazadora is the anticipated sequel to Romina Garber’s 2020-release, Lobizona; both part of the Wolves of No World series.

I say series, when in reality, I have no idea how many books are set to be released in this world. I’ll tell you one thing though, after the stunning conclusion to this book, there’s a heck of a lot more story left to tell!

Manuela Azul, Manu to her family and friends, knows what it is like to be different and to be judged for her differences.

As an undocumented person living in Miami, Manu was constantly under stress of detection and persecution. Unfortunately, due to her hybrid nature, Manu is also judged and persecuted within the magical world of Argentinian folklore, a great part of her heritage, as well.

Whereas the first book had quite a bit of the narrative set in our world, this volume focuses more on the magical world and Manu’s place within it.

As her new-found friend group supports and builds her up, they are simultaneously being hunted by the authorities. Manu’s very existence challenges all the rules of their culture. She’s a threat and they’ll stop at nothing to capture her and take her out. Will Manu be able to evade them and keep those she loves safe?

I really enjoyed my time reading Cazadora and overall, found it to be an improvement over the first book. The magical world, in particular, was built out so much more and I felt the stakes were truly raised for Manu.

While the fantasy elements of this story aren’t necessarily my favorite, where Garber truly excels is in capturing emotion. Manu’s situation is extremely difficult and reading her working through it, oh man, I felt everything she was feeling. She is so tough, but everyone can feel vulnerable and defeated at times.

This is an inspiring story. Manu gains strength when she realizes the causes she is fighting for are so much larger than herself.

Garber did a fantastic job of weaving real-world issues into this otherwise fantastical tale; which is true of the first book as well. Stories like this are so important. I feel like Readers, who may have previously struggled to find themselves within the stories they are reading, can find themselves here and that’s a special thing.

I would love to see more in this world, with this phenomenal group of characters. The further I go along, the more attached I am getting to them all!

Thank you so very much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of the audiobook to read and review. Romina Garber is a star and I know she is going to continue to grow with everything she writes. I am certainly willing to go along for the ride!!

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Review: The Sisters of Reckoning (The Good Luck Girls #3) by Charlotte Nicole Davis

The Sisters of Reckoning (The Good Luck Girls, #2)The Sisters of Reckoning by Charlotte Nicole Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Sisters of Reckoning is the sequel to Charlotte Nicole Davis’s 2019-release, The Good Luck Girls; it’s one I have been very highly anticipating.

Truly a powerful follow-up, I felt like Davis’s writing really blossomed within these pages!

Set in the fictional world of Arketta, the action takes place close to a year after the conclusion of the first book. Please note, as this is the second book, there may be some mild spoilers within this review.

Proceed with caution.

After successfully fleeing their Welcome House, Aster remained in Arketta and has become a Lady Ghost, while her fellow Green Creek girls have now settled themselves in the country of Ferron, across the border.

With her work as a Lady Ghost, Aster continues to assist Good Luck girls to escape from their various Welcome Houses; but the progress is slow.

When Aster hears that her enemy, the despicable landmaster Jerrod McClennon, is planning to open a brand new Welcome House, as well as lower the age nationwide that girl’s will experience their Lucky Night to 13, she knows she has to do something.

It is no longer good enough to try to save one girl at a time. Aster wants to free all dustbloods from the the landmasters who oppress, abuse and degrade them.

She plans to hit them where it hurts; their money sources. Gathering up the old crew, as well as some bold new allies, Aster leads a movement, known as The Reckoners, who are willing to fight for a new system for Arketta.

Sacrifices will need to be made and the fight may be long and bloody, but Aster and friends, feel like they have nothing left to lose. They are tired, they’re frustrated, but they are not weak and they will not rest until they get the justice they deserve.

Y’all this is an impactful story. Davis did a great job of expanding and building on the groundwork that she laid in the first book.

There is a ton of thoughtful social commentary woven throughout the narrative; it’s not subtle and I appreciated that. The issues Aster and the other Good Luck Girls are dealing with are not unique to them; they’re systemic and Aster realizes they must tear down the system in order to build a new one where dustbloods can be free.

I loved watching Aster grow in confidence and leadership ability. She was still suffering from PTSD related to her time in the Welcome House and that was handled beautifully as well.

My only slight criticism would be somewhere in the middle, it began to feel a little drawn out. The pace decreased a bit and some of the circumstances felt repetitive, but overall, this is an incredible continuation to this story and I loved the ending!

If you haven’t picked up The Good Luck Girls yet, you really should. It would be the perfect time to binge the two back-to-back!! I personally would love to see more from Davis in this world.

A hearty thank you to the publisher, Tor Teen, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. Davis is so talented and I definitely plan to pick up anything she writes!!!

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Review: Tears of Frost (Heart of Thorns #2) by Bree Barton

Tears of Frost (Heart of Thorns #2)Tears of Frost by Bree Barton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Tears of Frost kicks off directly after the startling events of the first book, Heart of Thorns.

Mia and Quin have been seperated; Quin believes Mia has been killed. Pilar has been mislead and betrayed. All is not good for our young protagonists.

Mia sets her sights on Luumia in the Snow Kingdom with the hopes of finding her mother, long believed dead, to finally get some answers.

Pilar is also making her way to Luumia, but on a separate journey. She is searching for an infamous assassin who she hopes can help her get revenge. When Pilar stumbles across Prince Quin, the two team up and make their way to the palace of the Snow Queen together.

On her own, Mia is still trying to deal with the ramifications of the spell that allowed her to escape her sister’s grasp. It has deeply effected her; it feels like she’s not truly alive.

She finds a new ally in a boy named, Zai, and finds herself beginning to desire him a way that surprises her, but is he really someone she can trust? She’s been burned before.

Quin and Pilar start to open up to one another. They seem to forgive each other for past grievances, but can all ever be completely forgiven.

This book was absolutely packed full of new information. It put all of the previous characters on difficult paths. The world is in turmoil with Angelyne and Zaga vying for complete power. Angelyne is so powerful and quite devious.

There were so many revelations, as to the past and to the character’s lives. Who they are, who they’re related to, who they can be. There were some shocking moments.

Additionally, I appreciated the feminist undertone, as well as the exploration of topics such as colonialism, sexual assault and trauma recovery. I thought Barton handled those issues well, although I still personally feel like this story reads on the younger-side of YA.

The Snow Kingdom was a fantastic setting. Towards the end, though, I felt like there was almost too much going on. It got a wee bit convoluted, but I’m still intrigued overall.

I am definitely planning to read the final book of the trilogy, Soul of Cinder very soon!

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Review: Blood Like Magic (Blood Like Magic #1) by Liselle Sambury

Blood Like MagicBlood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dang, this was good!!! I can’t stop smiling.

💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜

Voya Thomas is initially excited for her Calling. It’s a task each witch in her family must complete before they are able to come into their powers.

The tasks are assigned by different ancestors and over the years have varied in detail and difficulty.

The ancestor who assigns her task, however, is known to be tough, as she should be. Her life was extremely tough, parts of which are shown to Voya through visions.

After Voya fails, she is given an unprecedented second chance, but her task seems impossible. Not only does the task seem impossible, the stakes are higher than ever.

Generally, if a witch fails in her Calling, she doesn’t gain her powers. Yeah, that sucks, but you can overcome that. You just have to live like any other person without magical abilities.

For Voya, if she fails, her entire family will lose their powers. Every single one of them! Their livelihoods are based on their powers, and most importantly, her little sister’s life depends on their powers.


Her task is to destroy her first love. Problems, Voya has never been in love, not even close, and she’s a little against killing someone.

The task seems clear, there is no way around it, so in order to save her family, Voya must make the ultimate decision. Can she take a life?

I loved this book from the very start. Sambury created such an intricate and addictive story with Blood Like Magic.

I absolutely adored the mix of Sci-Fi and Fantasy elements. A lot of the story is based around a corporation that has created a genetic match-making program; I love those sort of futuristic tech elements added to a story. They definitely make my nerd heart soar.

Additionally, I quickly became attached to Voya. She’s a very likable character. She drew me in and had me feeling everything she was feeling.

The Thomas family itself, is full of drama, but also love and support. Voya had many special connections within her family and I think those relationships really provided her with the strength she needed to progress with her Calling.

The love interest, Luc, was fun to learn about as well. He’s had an interesting life up until the time he meets Voya and is frequently misunderstood.

In Voya, he found someone he could open up to and watching their relationship evolve made me swoon. Somewhat enemies to lovers; so, if you’re into that…

This did not end how I thought it would end. There were so many twists that I never could have predicted. My jaw spent the last quarter of the book on the floor!

I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book. Liselle Sambury is amazing and I predict a long, successful career ahead of her.

I fully expect this will end up as one of my top books of the year. An absolutely phenomenal debut!

PICK THIS BOOK UP!!!

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Review: Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns #1) by Bree Barton

Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns, #1)Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Mia Rose lives in the River Kingdom, where her Father is the Captain of a guard that hunts Gwyrach, evil women who possess magic.

The Kingdom is hoping to banish all magic from within its borders and Mia Rose, a lover of science, wants nothing more than to assist with that pursuit. A Gwyrach killed her Mother after all; she wants revenge.

Unfortunately, that’s not really a common profession for women in her kingdom. In fact, there is only one woman currently serving in the guard.

Additionally, Mia’s Father has different plans for her. Needing an alliance with the royal family, he pledges his daughter’s hand to the Prince.

Although the last thing Mia wants is to marry Prince Quin, she is willing to make the sacrifice in order to save her younger sister. She knows her Dad is going to get the alliance he wants one way or another; either with her hand or Angelyne’s.

Going forward with the wedding, Mia has secretly plotted an escape, for her and her sister.

As the ceremony gets underway, a shocking turn of events ultimately exposes the fact that Mia possesses the very powers she has vowed to destroy.

How is that possible? The powers of the Gwyrach are passed on from mothers to daughters. What does this mean about Mia’s own Mother?

Mia is forced to team up with Quin in her search for answers and as with many Princes and unwillingly brides before them, sparks begin to fly.

Heart of Thorns is a nice, solid story. I’ve had it on my shelves for a while and I’m glad I finally got around to picking it up.

In my opinion, it falls on the younger-side of YA; more of Tween category, or for Readers just delving into YA Fantasy, but that’s absolutely fine. Those Readers deserve good stories too!

The narrative contains a lot of the usual YA Fantasy tropes, but it also had a strong feminist undertone that was well done and that I appreciated.

I enjoyed the characters, Quin, most of all, and never felt bored or lost. It read quickly and although, at times, predictable, there was one giant reveal at the end that left my jaw on the floor!

This had an exciting conclusion and I am looking forward to continuing on with the series.

Marking this one in the books as another successful BACKLIST BUMP!!!

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Review: The Sky Weaver (Iskari #3) by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Sky Weaver (Iskari, #3)The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sky Weaver is the third, and sadly, the final installment of companion novels within Kristen Ciccarelli’s Iskari series.

I started this series on a whim earlier this year and immediately fell in love with it. It’s so underrated.

In this edition we get to follow a character who has intrigued me from the very first book. Safire, a soldier and cousin to the new King, Dax, and his sister, the Last Namsara, Asha.

We also follow a new character, a pirate, Eris, known as the Death Dancer, who has the power to travel between worlds, thus making her next to impossible to catch.

When important items begin to be stolen from the kingdom, Safire, commander of the King’s forces, determines the Death Dancer may be plaguing them.

She’s correct and in fact, Eris has taken a special interest in the beautiful commander.

The two play cat and mouse for a bit, which only piques their interests more.

As their fates are pushed further together, both seeking Asha, albeit for different reasons, the two women build a tentative alliance, learning more about one another and about their greater world in general.

I loved this story so much. My favorite of the series. It was action-packed, full of reveals, high stakes and swoon-worthy pining.

An Enemies-to-Lovers trope set in a dragon Fantasy world, with beautifully told lore for the world sprinkled throughout. What is not to love?

Additionally, I enjoyed how the three storylines all really came together in this one. Ciccarelli wrapped it up nicely, although I will say, if she ever chooses to write more in this world, I will be the first one to line up to buy it.

One of my favorite aspects of this series, was the lush and lyrical legends Ciccarelli created as a base for this world. Those sections are included in all three books and are connected to Gods, Goddesses, Myths and Lore of the world of Iskari.

It connected so well with the main storyline and characters; absolutely seamless.

If you have had this series on your radar for a while, you should definitely check it out. I am so happy that I did and now consider it to be one of my favorite YA Fantasy series!!

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