Monday, August 30, 2021

Music Monday (170): Halsey, Moon Boots, Fiora, Kane Brown & AJR


  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: I'm currently listening to Halsey's new album: If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power. One of my favorite songs is The Tradition.

Adri: This week I'm listening to some more chill music. It's I Want Your Attention by Moon Boots feat. Fiora

Andrea: Hi All, this week I am listening to Worship You by Kane Brown & Bang by AJR.

Until next time, have an amazing week and stay safe!

What are you listening to this week?

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Short Stories I Read In July

It’s the twenty-ninth of August. So it’s time to talk about the short stories, miscellaneous posts, and podcast episodes I read or listened to in July.

Eilam is Forever by Beth Dawkins (Apex Magazine, July 6, 2021)

The first of two short stories I read in July was Eliam is Forever by Beth Dawkins. This story was fine. I liked a few of its aspects, especially the themes. Some of it kind of reminded me of the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. In that the story is told from the point of view of what appeared to be a ship. But it was like SecUnit if SecUnit had only just hacked itself and discovered emotions.

Data Migration by Melanie Harding-Shaw (Strange Horizons; Issue: 12 July 2021)

The second and last story I read was Data Migration by Melanie Harding-Shaw. I liked this story. It was told in a somewhat mixed format that was equal parts homework and comments made by the person doing the assigning and reading of those assignments. The major theme here was climate change, and it was an interesting choice to explore that topic through the above mentioned format.

From around the web…

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

ARC Review: Seven-Year Witch by Angela M. Sanders

 Title: Seven-Year Witch

Series: Witch Way Librarian Mysteries #2
Author: Angela M. Sanders
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Mystery; Paranormal
Publisher/Publication Date: Kensington; August 24, 2021

Goodreads    Amazon      Barnes & Noble      Target

Synopsis from Goodreads...
Finding your feet in a new job isn't always easy. That goes double for Josie Way, who's settling in as Wilfred, Oregon's, new librarian--and has just discovered she's a witch. But will her fledgling powers be enough to save her from a spell of murder? 
While Josie develops her witchcraft with the help of letters left by her grandmother, there are other changes happening in her new hometown. A retreat center is being built at the old mill site, and rumor has it that the location is cursed. That piques Josie's interest almost as much as Sam Wilfred, handsome FBI agent and descendent of the town's founder. When Sam's soon-to-be ex-wife, Fiona, goes missing at the same time that a bloodied weapon is found, Josie enlists her witchy insight, and her cat familiar, to clear Sam's name. But then the mill project's architect is found dead, and it's clear that someone has been drawing up a vicious plan. Now Josie will have to divine her way out of fatal mischief, before this deadly trouble turns double...


Seven-Year Witch’s premise is what drew me to the story. There are a few cozy mystery series that I can think of off the top of my head that also involve witches and magic. I’m a total sucker for stories that have a contemporary setting with a supernatural edge, so I had high hopes for this book.

Overall, I liked the story. The setting was a small town, and there seemed to be secrets around every corner. The mystery portion of the story was good. It had a strong presence in the story. And while the characters went about their daily routines, I mostly liked the way they approached investigating the incident. There were a few stumbles with the main character putting too much focus on one possible scenario/cause, which didn’t really lead anywhere. But besides that, the mystery was good. 

Josie Way is a witch that’s technically in training. She’s also a librarian with an unrequited crush who also happens to live in the apartment above the library, which comes in handy since her magic is mostly book based. That alone, was quite an enjoyable aspect about the story. The books really stood out as a highlight, because of the way the quotes and their presence were used in Seven-Year Witch. At times, the library felt like a character in its own right.

There were a lot of good and interesting ideas here, which wrapped up with a nice but open-ended conclusion for some aspects of the story. Seven-Year Witch was a fun read.

About the author...
Angela grew up in rural Northern California building forts in the woods where she devoured Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned degrees in economics and public administration, and in graduate school studied six months in Paris, sparking a lifelong interest in French culture. After 11 years as a congressional investigator, Angela realized she was more fascinated by the stories at the edges of her investigations–the decrepit exercise equipment in the ladies room of a Czech oil company; the curious number of framed photographs of women on a nuclear weapons official’s desk; the stupendous speed by which a particular Agriculture undersecretary inhaled chili dogs–than by the policies she evaluated. She returned to the west coast to explore the world and her imagination through magazine stories and fiction.

Angela lives in Portland, Oregon.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Kensington) via Netgalley for this review, thank you!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Music Monday (169): Jack Savoretti, Jennifer Hudson


  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: I recently added Secret Life by Jack Savoretti to my playlist. I really like this song, and the music video is fun.

Andrea: Hi all! This week I'm listening to Here I Am (Singing My Way Home) by Jennifer Hudson. The song is from the Respect (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack). I haven't listened to the full soundtrack, but so far, I like what I've heard. 

Have an amazing week! 

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, August 20, 2021

The Friday 56 (204) & Book Beginnings: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.

Synopsis from Goodreads...
Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother. Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die. Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama's betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she's been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.

Beginning: "The bottom of the lake tasted like mud, salt, and regret."

56: "Nervously, I placed the scraps of paper on my lap, four in total." 

Comments: Last month, I read and reviewed Elizabeth Lim's Six Crimson Cranes. So far, it's one of my favorite reads of 2021. While I originally planned to do a 56 for it in July, my preorder from Mysterious Galaxy didn't arrive until recently. The wait was worth it, because the preorder goodies are really gorgeous (the picture is on my Instagram page HERE). What are you reading this week? 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

ARC Review: Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: Velvet Was the Night
Series: n/a
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Historical Fiction; Noir
Publisher/Publication Date: Del Rey; August 17, 2021

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Target

Synopsis from Goodreads...

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a “delicious, twisted treat for lovers of noir” about a daydreaming secretary, a lonesome enforcer, and the mystery of a missing woman they’re both desperate to find.

1970s, Mexico City. Maite is a secretary who lives for one thing: the latest issue of Secret Romance. While student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite escapes into stories of passion and danger. Her next-door neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student, seems to live a life of intrigue and romance that Maite envies. When Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents. Meanwhile, someone else is also looking for Leonora at the behest of his boss, a shadowy figure who commands goon squads dedicated to squashing political activists. Elvis is an eccentric criminal who longs to escape his own life: He loathes violence and loves old movies and rock ’n’ roll. But as Elvis searches for the missing woman, he comes to observe Maite from a distance—and grows more and more obsessed with this woman who shares his love of music and the unspoken loneliness of his heart. Now as Maite and Elvis come closer to discovering the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, they can no longer escape the danger that threatens to consume their lives, with hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies all aiming to protect Leonora’s secrets—at gunpoint. Velvet Was the Night is an edgy, simmering historical novel for lovers of smoky noirs and anti-heroes.

Velvet Was the Night is the fourth book I’ve read by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. And, even though it was outside the box of the fantasy and gothic tales I’ve read and enjoyed in the past (think Gods of Jade and Shadow, The Return of the Sorceress, and Mexican Gothic), I’ve always been curious about Moreno-Garcia’s mysteries. Velvet was the Night was an incredibly engrossing story set against the backdrop of a historical setting and atmosphere that was built on true and fictional details about 1970’s Mexico (the author talks more about this in the afterword).

I’m impressed by how easily Moreno-Garcia pivots between fantasy, gothic, and noir. Because Velvet Was the Night is definitely a noir story, a mystery, but it had a focus on an urban setting, a slower pace, and a darker grittier tone.

The story is told from two perspectives: Maite and Elvis. Elvis was involved in the clandestine side of the story, related to the major crimes that much of the story revolved around. He was rough around the edges, but overall I liked how Moreno-Garcia wrote him. Maite is a character of habit. She was definitely lonely—and her family didn’t help with those feelings of isolation—and so her daily life, her entire week actually, was dictated by the habits she found familiar and comfortable (mainly her job and her collection of books and music). Like all the characters in Velvet Was the Night, Maite was someone who was disillusioned but also had a habit or got involved with people/situations that could mean trouble for her if ever discovered. She was somewhat naive in a setting with secondary characters that didn’t really allow for it. It was interesting to see how their stories would eventually overlap as the story played out.

I don’t read noir too often, but I had to dip my toes back into that water for this one. It was worth it, because Velvet Was the Night was so good. I almost wish there was a sequel, but after sitting with it for a while, I think the story’s conclusion was perfect for it. 

About the author....
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of the novels Velvet Was the Night, Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow, and a bunch of other books. She has also edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows (a.k.a. Cthulhu’s Daughters).

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Del Rey) via NetGalley for this review, thank you! 

Monday, August 16, 2021

Music Monday (168): Tierra Whack & Eurythmics


  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: I really like Tierra Whack's most recent song. It's called Walk The Beat.

Andrea: Hi all! This week I'm listening to Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by the Eurythmics. Have an amazing week!

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, August 13, 2021

I Listened to Last Year Was Weird vol. 3 by Tkay Maidza

At long last, Last Year Was Weird vol. 3 is finally here. This was another one of my most anticipated music releases of 2021, and Tkay Maidza’s third foray into the Last Year Was Weird mixtape series didn’t disappoint.

Besides the singles (Syrup, Cashmere, and Kim featuring Yung Baby Tate), some of top favorites from the mixtape were also Eden, So Cold, High Beams, and Breathe. The only two features (with Yung Baby Tate and UMI) here, were great, and their sections of the songs (Kim and Onto Me respectively) flowed well with Tkay Maidza’s voice.

When I look at the three releases all together, Last Year Was Weird vol. 3 was another strong release with the same high quality as the first two installments. The sound composition and Maidza’s overall delivery of the lyrics on the eight tracks, speaks to a clear artistic vision that blended a host of genres to create some truly memorable tracks.

Footnote: The Guardian actually has a great write up about Last Year Was Weird (HERE), which explained how the idea came about. I highly recommend giving that a read.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

ARC Review: You Can Never Tell by Sarah Warburton

Title: You Can Never Tell
Series: n/a
Author: Sarah Warburton
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Fiction; Mystery; Thriller
Publisher/Publication Date: Crooked Lane Books; August 10, 2021

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble      

Synopsis from Goodreads...
Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Joshilyn Jackson, Sarah Warburton's chilling thriller, inspired by the Moors Murders, explores the twisted side of suburbia. 
Framed for embezzlement by her best friend Aimee, museum curator Kacy Tremain and her husband Michael move from New Jersey to a charming Texas suburb to escape their past. Kacy quickly makes new friends--preppy, inscrutable Elizabeth, chatty yet evasive Rahmia, and red-headed, unapologetic Lena. But good friends aren't always what they seem. As she navigates the unexpectedly cutthroat social scene of her new town, Kacy begins to receive taunting postcards--and worse, discovers cameras hidden in the wall of her home. Lena and her husband, Brady, reassure her that the cameras are just relics of the paranoid previous homeowner . Once the cameras are removed and Kacy's fears are quelled, Kacy and Michael make the happy discovery that they are going to be new parents. Months after the birth of their daughter, Michael accidentally makes a shocking discovery about Brady's past. And when Lena suddenly goes missing, Kacy and Michael begin to uncover the truth about their neighbors--and it's more terrible than anyone could have imagined. Interlaced with transcripts of a chilling true crime podcast that follow the tangled threads of the drama, You Can Never Tell is a taut and complex psychological thriller that never lets up until its breathless conclusion.
You Can Never Tell is the first book I’ve picked up by Sarah Warburton. The summary says a lot about the story, but overall the novel delivered on everything it promised it would be. You Can Never Tell is the kind of domestic, suburban thriller that’s right up my alley. 

In the beginning, Kacy still yearned for the life she’d had while working at the museum and living in New Jersey, and that could have been an interesting story in itself. Yet the focus of this book is on what happened afterwards. As the story went along, her priorities changed, and she stopped wondering about the “what ifs” and started living the life she had managed to build. Therapy was a part of her story. I also liked the roles of the supporting characters, as well as Kacy’s relationship with her husband, Michael.

A highlight of You Can Never Tell was the crime podcast transcripts included between chapters. The commentary of the hosts provided a different perspective on the events of the story outside of Kacy’s narration.

The story, in general, was a good one. And, even though you know who the killers are—because it’s very clear early on—it’s not a secret nor is it the sole driving force that kept me turning the pages of You Can Never Tell. Instead, what drives the story are the questions of “how did we get here,” “why,” and “how will it end.” That was the mystery and the suspense all at once, and Warburton did an excellent job on building a sense of dread and foreboding surrounding the events that happened to Kacy and her family—both before and during the present time in the story. It all spiraled into a satisfying conclusion.

About the author....
Sarah D. Warburton lives in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. For ten years she was the lead writer for the monthly magazine UpClose. She has studied writing with Pam Houston at the Taos Writers Workshop and with Justin Cronin in Houston. Her work has appeared in the Southern Arts Journal, Women on Writing, Embark Literary Magazine, and Oyster River Pages. You can find her on Instagram as @sarahwarbutonauthor. She is represented by Melissa Jeglinski of the Knight Literary Agency. Her first novel, ONCE TWO SISTERS, was a Publishers Weekly pick of the week, a Crimereads recommended debut, and a PopSugar featured title. Her second novel, YOU CAN NEVER TELL, will be published August 2021 by Crooked Lane Books.

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Crooked Lane Books) via Netgalley for this review, thank you!

Monday, August 9, 2021

Music Monday (167): Tinashe and Gallant & Brandy


  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: I really like this song by Tinashe. It's called Pasadena featuring Buddy, from Tinashe's latest album 333.

Andrea: This week I'm listening to Dynamite by Gallant & Brandy.


What are you listening to this week?

Friday, August 6, 2021

ARC Review: Mine by Delilah S. Dawson

Title: Mine
Series: n/a
Author: Delilah S. Dawson
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Paranormal; Middle Grade
Publisher/Publication Date: Delacorte; August 10, 2021

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     

Synopsis from Goodreads...
A twisty, terrifying ghost story about twelve-year-old Lily, her creepy new home in Florida, and the territorial ghost of the young girl who lived there before her. Lily's new house is a real nightmare. . . . 
Lily Horne is a drama queen. It's helped her rise to stardom in the school play, but it's also landed her in trouble. Her parents warn her that Florida has to be different. It's a fresh start. No theatrics. But this time, the drama is coming for her. The Hornes' new house is awful. The pool is full of slime, the dock is rotten, and the swamp creeps closer every day. But worst of all, the house isn't empty . . . it's packed full of trash, memories, and, Lily begins to fear, the ghost of the girl who lived there before her. And whatever is waiting in the shadows wants to come out to play.
The trend of middle grade ghost stories is still going strong. The latest one I’ve read is Delilah S. Dawson’s Mine. I had high expectations for this one, because I’ve been hearing praise for Dawson’s novels for a couple of years now. And, you guys, this book was delightfully atmospheric and spooky with a heartwarming but somewhat bittersweet ending.

Mine ticked all the boxes when it comes to middle grade ghost stories. The setting was in Florida, and Dawson really captured the humid heat and dampness of the location, which added to the overall atmosphere and tone of the story. The house itself seemed like a character in its own right, with plenty of secrets hidden in its old walls. Both of the families who lived in the house, Lily’s and the previous owner’s, had their own stories to tell. And when those stories collided, it turned into a thrilling and also somewhat nightmarish tale with plenty of outright creepy moments.

Lily Horne is into acting. I liked that portion of her character, though in the beginning, it was a source of tension between her and her parents despite the fact that it brought her so much joy. The parents were portrayed as doing their best with their situation, but it seemed, at times, that their frustration could have been handled a bit better. I guess that was the point of the story, the lesson in it. Mine was, in the grand scheme of things, a story about a ghost, accepting oneself, and learning and growing from past mistake, no matter how little or big they were.

Overall, Mine was great. I’d recommend it to readers who have enjoyed the Small Spaces series by Katherine Arden, The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown, and What Lives In The Woods by Lindsay Curry (which will be released next month on the 15th).

About the author....
Delilah S. Dawson is the New York Times-bestselling author of Star Wars: Phasma, Black Spire: Galaxy's Edge, and The Perfect Weapon. With Kevin Hearne, she writes the Tales of Pell. As Lila Bowen, she writes the Shadow series, beginning with Wake of Vultures. Her other books include the Blud series, the Hit series, and Servants of the Storm. She's written comics in the worlds of Marvel Action: Spider-Man, Lore's Wellington, Star Wars Adventures, Star Wars Forces of Destiny, The X-Files Case Files, Adventure Time, Rick and Morty, and her creator-owned comics include Star Pig, Ladycastle, and Sparrowhawk. Find out more at

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Delacorte) via NetGalley for this review, thank you!

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