How We Fall Apart (Review)

Hello!!

Do you guys have any bookish themes that will get the book in your cart/on your ereader, instantly? For me one of those themes is academia! I love books set in high schools and colleges and such. How We Fall Apart is no exception. This book does contain some potentially triggering topics such as, but not limited to: racism, classism, inappropriate student-teacher relationships, arson, bullying, and others. Please practice care, beloved.

Image from my page: Instagram.com/Stacialovestoread

So for this book, I’m going to do a little review & rec-a-reads! Some of the books I’ll recommend will be out by the time this post is up, and some won’t.

Also, for those of you who were wondering, my new song obsession is “Heather” by Conan Gray. You can hear it here! I’d like to thank my friend and fellow Larry stan Haadiya for putting me on his music!


While I know that that this book was written by an Asian woman and focuses the struggles of her MC, an Asian teen, a lot of this book resonated with me. While my parents didn’t push us to only be the best, they did push us to be our best. My heart ached for Nancy when her dad gave her a hard time over missing one question on her math homework. Like dang bro. 9/10 is still a great grade, and she’s only human.

It took me a while to reconcile that Nancy is both a victim and an aggressor at the same time. Jamie is cruel and hurtful and unyielding, often coercing her friends to do things they may not have wanted to do under threat of revealing a secret that she knew.

In the end, Nancy comes to realize that while secrets can bring friends together, they can also be more trouble than they’re worth.


Now for the part we’ve all been waiting for…some recommendations!

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé This book stars Devon and Chiamaka, the only two Black kids at the prestigious Nevus Academy who start to receive text messages from the mysterious Aces. What does Aces want, and how will Chiamaka & Devon stop them?
Purchase your own copy of this thriller with LGBTQ+ rep using my Bookshop Affiliate link, or visit your favorite retailers!

People Like Us by Dana Mele
This book takes place at a boarding school where Kay Donovan has worked hard to cultivate her persona and reputation, leaving her past behind. Until a girl is found dead in the lake near her school, and although dead men tell no tales, this dead girl is telling everyone everything if Kay can’t clear her name in time.
Grab a copy of this LGBTQ+ friendly boarding school based thriller here, or where you get books!

I Killed Zoë Spanos by Kit Frick
Nothing is worse than forgetting something…especially if that something is the information needed to absolve you of a murder that you’re pretty sure you didn’t commit, but there’s too much evidence saying you did…
This book is set over the course of a summer trip for Anna, an au pair. Grab a copy from Bookshop here or visit your favorite book seller! I have also previously reviewed this book on the blog! Check here for my thoughts!

The Obsession by Jesse Q. Sutanto
“Your mom’s boyfriend is the worst…abusive and a total tool. I don’t like that. But I like you, Delilah, and I’ll do anything, anything, to prove that to you. Even if that means inserting myself in your life. Because I have to keep you safe, and I have to have you. I have to.”
– Logan, probably.
To figure out what sort of strange things happen when your boyfriend has some slight stalker tendencies, order a copy here from Bookshop, or hit up your bookstore(s).

I am well aware that this is not a complete list of thrillers/mysteries that take place at schools, so drop me a couple recs below!

The Blood Trials (ARC) (Review)

Omg, another post from your’s truly? What is this madness?
Today, we’re gonna talk about The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport. This tour is brought to you in part by the word “boss” and the number “1” but also by Turn the Page Tours!

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While this book is an amazing tale, I must caution you all: this book is not YA, this is an NA (new adult) book. The best way to explain NA is that its too old for YA, but not quite old enough for Adult. This book also discusses some potentially triggering topics such as: war, death, murder, sexual content, racism, sexism, and others. Please take care before diving in to this read.


The heroine of our story is Ikenna Amari. She and her two best friends Selene and Zayne are on the brink of graduation from military academy and declaring the job they wish to pursue: administration, medic, Praetorian (warrior), or something else. Ikenna’s grandfather has recently passed and she’s on a bit of a self destructive streak, so she’s not planning to declare anything. Until Brock, a friend of her grandpa’s, comes to see her and lets her know that the heart attack that’s been blamed for grandpa’s death isn’t the true cause at all. It’s murder.

Ikenna quickly changes her tune and decides to declare Praetorian like her two besties after all. She doesn’t expect this to be a cake walk, but as it becomes more apparent that the guards responsible for making sure that the new recruits are up to snuff are not friendly, Kenna sees that she’s gonna have to bleed, sweat, and cry to gain a spot.

Betrayals abound, bloodshed is imminent, and lines are drawn, crossed, and completely obliterated. Without giving too much away…Ikenna ends up assassinating a king of an allied kingdom, discovering a secret about a superior officer, and making a difficult decision that changes her path….forever.


N.E. Davenport has written a story of pain, struggle, and triumph. Ikenna’s struggle with sexism and racism is one that resonated with me because being a Black woman in a world that is not optimized for me…yeah, I felt that. Every time someone referred to her as “akulu”, I shuddered for her pain, for mine, and so many others. Just like Ikenna, we have all developed a hard outer skin to combat the hurtful slur, words, and monikers that are thrown our way and we keep going. We stay the course and stay strong.

[Because] Amaris are strong as Khanaian steel,’ Grandfather’s stern voice says. It grips me and refuses to let me go. I cling to it. I use it to hang on to life for a few seconds longer. ‘We do not bend. We do not break. We do not bow. We do not yield.’

page 128, The Blood Trials, uncorrected ARC

Nia “N.E.” Davenport is the Science Fiction/Fantasy author of the forthcoming The Blood Trials and its sequel from Harper Voyager. She attended the University of Southern California and studied Biological Sciences and Theatre. She has an M.A. in Secondary Education, and she teaches English and Biology. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys vacationing with her family, skiing, and being a huge foodie. She’s an advocate for diverse perspectives and protagonists in literature. You can find her online at www.nedavenport.com, on Twitter @nia_davenport, or on Instagram @nia.davenport, where she talks about binge-worthy TV and great books. She lives in Texas with her husband and kids.


I received an ARC copy of this book directly from the author (!!) when myself and a couple friends put the strength of AT&T’s cell signal to the test at YallFest (a book convention hosted in South Carolina every November). I am deeply thankful to Ms. Davenport for gifting me this ARC. Receiving this material in no way has affected my opinion of this work.

The Blood Trials is set to release April 5th from HarperVoyager, a division of HarperCollins. To purchase a copy of this book, you can use my Bookshop affiliate link, or visit any of your favorite book retailers.

Blood Scion (Review)

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I come to you from the depths of a multi-day streak on Heardle (like Wordle, but with music) and being hopelessly in love with the song “Spiritual” by Pink Sweat$ (linked here) to bring you a review! Check out the rest of the hosts here!

EXTREME CAUTION, this book features many a TW, including: attempted r*pe, death of characters (referenced and on page), gore, and graphic description of murder. PLEASE think of yourself and practice big huge mega caution before diving in to this one, beloved.


This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster. I will be the worst monster they ever created.

Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods. Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within. Sloane rises through the ranks and gains strength but, in doing so, risks something greater: losing herself entirely, and becoming the very monster that she abhors.

Following one girl’s journey of magic, injustice, power, and revenge, this deeply felt and emotionally charged debut from Deborah Falaye, inspired by Yoruba-Nigerian mythology, is a magnetic combination of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and Daughter of Smoke and Bone that will utterly thrill and capture readers.

Synopsis found at Goodreads
Image from my Instagram!

This book is heavily influenced and inspired by the War on Children and the pain those kids (some as young as 7 years old) who were forced to become soldiers, endured. Sloane, our main character, has just turned 15 and is now of age to (potentially) be conscripted into the Army to fight. Reader, she gets drafted. And so does one of her best friend, Teo. But Teo doesn’t want to go to war, not for the Lucis, the brutal tyrannous overlords who have taken over the land and now oppress its people. No, Teo wants to flee his homeland and gain sanctuary somewhere else, away from the Lucis. He tried to convince Sloane to come with him — they could run away together and get to live out the rest of the childhood as children should! No fighting, no killing. But Sloane declines. She has a personal vendetta against the Lucis government she’s got to see through.

As the story progresses, we learn that Sloane is a Scion, a descendant of one of the ancient gods of Orisha. She is Yuroba, but has to hide her power and her true heritage for threat of immediate death from the Lucis. Her mother, also Yuroba, has been missing for the past 2 years, and is presumed dead by everyone. Everyone except Sloane.

Having survived the first of many brutal tests of loyalty the Lucis force on her, Sloane is taken to the recruit barracks where yet another tests must be passed before the kids are even shown to their rooms. To borrow from Tyra Banks:

…. And so the herd thins again.

Despite the synopsis depicting Sloane as “rising through the ranks” that doesn’t happen immediately, nor in huge leaps. Sloane gets extremely lucky (as a main character does) to have her Scion secret discovered by not one but TWO (maybe even three) different people who could 100% turn her in…and they don’t.

Sloane makes new friends along the way, and eventually a MEGAHUGE plot twist comes involving Sloane, [redacted], [redacted], AND [redacted]. Trust me, you won’t see it coming.

In conclusion….

Overall, this book was a 5 star read for me! But not because it was so amazing (a la Legendborn) but because Falaye has such a good grasp on human emotion and imagery that a few times throughout my read, I cried — quite profusely — for Sloane. I had to hold myself back from vomming with some of the descriptions of death.

Blood Scion was an amazing powerhouse debut, and personally I think it should have been marketed as New Adult due to the graphic nature of violence within. I understand why it wasn’t, but dear readers, please protect yourselves first rather than jump into this book with reckless abandon.


Deborah Falaye is Nigerian Canadian young adult author. She grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where she spent her time devouring African Literature, pestering her grandma for folktales, and tricking her grandfather into watching Passions every night. When she’s not writing about fierce Black girls with bad-ass magic, she can be found obsessing over all things reality TV. Deborah currently lives in Toronto with her husband and their partner-in-crime yorkie, Major. Blood Scion is Deborah Falaye’s debut novel and released on March 8th from HarperTeen, a division of HarperCollins. You can purchase this book using my Bookshop affiliate link here, or by visiting any of your favorite retailers!

I received a finished copy of Blood Scion from HarperTeen via MBC Communications in exchange for my participation on this tour and for an honest review. Receiving these materials in no way impacted my review.

The Kindred (ARC) (Review)

Guyssssss. So if you’ve been following me, on my Insta, specifically, you’ll know I love music. Sometimes, it’s all I can think about! Well, when reading The Kindred by Alechia Dow, I couldn’t help but hear a soundtrack playing in my head…like a movie! Some of the songs are more on-point than others, but all are bangers. I’m not going to go through every song, feel free to click here if you want to see the full playlist, I just go through a few that I feel were really impactful/really want to talk about.

Image found on my Insta!

First off, The Kindred is the first true sci-fi book that I’ve ever read. Its not that I’m not a fan, just never had a book that came across and was interesting to me…until now. Not only did Dow write a fun sci-fi novel, but she penned an amazingly heartfelt, lovable romance with a high stakes villain, and scenes so visceral that I wish I could draw to convey my storyboard ideas to a movie company. Since I can’t draw, I guess I’ll give you songs instead…

THE PLAYLIST

Track 1: Opening Song
For this, I chose the early 2010’s classic “Airplanes” by B.o.B. and Hayley Williams of Paramore. Reading that Joy feels so trapped on her home planet, and yet feels that she can’t leave…yeah. This is the one.

Track 5: The Crash
A huge deviation from what you would expect from me, I picked “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” by Muse. I’ve loved Muse since the baseball scene in Twilight put them on the map of every tween in 2008. At a certain point of The Kindred, Joy and Felix end up crash landing on Earth (or Terra, as they know it). The combination of the chaos of a crash and the cool female AI voice seemed perfectly paired with this song.

Track 9: Ummm Hello…
When Rashid’s dad randomly bursts on the scene and (thankfully) knocks out the bounty hunter, not only did I laugh out loud, but I thought of Lafayette (from Hamilton) when he comes in on the second act and sings “What Did I Miss?”. Felt fitting for the father who has been absent most of the book (and before).

Track 11: Its You
In the scene where Felix revisits the song he’s written, inspired by Joy, he crosses out the word “adore” and replaces it with “love” instead. Tell me you don’t get serious “The Only Exception” (Paramore) vibes right there….


If you find yourself sitting around and wondering “hmm, what’s a good sci-fi book I can pick up that is going to leave me with the warm and fuzzies?”, grab The Kindred. There’s also another novel in the same universe, The Sound of Stars (also from Alechia Dow) that would love to find its home in your heart and on your bookcase.

Five Stars Rating Stock Illustration - Download Image Now - iStock

The Kindred is Alechia Dow’s second novel. It was released on January 4, 2022 from Inkyard Press, a division of Harlequin Trade Publishing. You can purchase a copy using my affiliate link to Bookshop, or by visiting any of your favorite retailers. I also have a link here to purchase The Sound of Stars if you so choose!

I did receive an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Receiving these materials in no way impacted my review.

Horror Hotel (eARC) (Review)

Back at it again with another book! This one is a little scary and does have a few trigger warnings, including but not limited to: seeing ghosts, descriptions of deceased persons, breaking and entering, partying, details of death/murder. Please check yourself before reading this one so as not to wreck yourself, darlings.

Banner courtesy of TBR & Beyond Tours

This addictive YA horror about a group of teen ghost hunters who spend the night in a haunted LA hotel is The Blair Witch Project for the TikTok generation.

When the YouTube-famous Ghost Gang—Chrissy, Chase, Emma, and Kiki—visit a haunted LA hotel notorious for tragedy to secretly film after dark, they expect it to be just like their previous paranormal huntings. Spooky enough to attract subscribers—and ultimately harmless. But when they stumble upon something unexpected in the former room of a gruesome serial killer, they quickly realize that they’re in over their heads. Sometimes, it’s the dead who need our help—and the living we should fear.

Overall, the synopsis is pretty much what the book is about. While I’m not a super huge fan of horror (reader, I am an actual chicken) I did enjoy this book! It was a quick read and I thought I felt a tingle run down my spine more times than once…
I have, however, seen a few movies and shows to pick up on some VERY FAMILAR themes in this book that I think we all know and love. So. For today’s review, we’re busting out the ole…. (reccing ball) to find more things to scare us when they go bump in the night.

Get it? Its a wRECking Ball.. heh heh

Scary Media Things!

DVD cover art for AHS Hotel, showing a woman screaming with a key stuck from her cheeks.

AHS: Season 5: Hotel
The first thing that flashed to my mind was the Hotel Cortez and its proprietor, Mr. James Patrick March. While this particular season of American Horror Story takes inspiration from two separate, but equally scary figures in haunting history, H.H. Holmes and the Hotel Cecil, the vibes and feels are there. 100%. For more info on either of these topic, Google will give you waay more information than you thought possible.

BuzzfeedUnsolvedLogo.png

Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural
The whole nature of ghost hunting and recording themselves in haunted location made me think of a couple of my favorite internet skeptics, Ryan & Shane. The bois go around to haunted locations through the US and take various ghost capturing equipment to try to prove (or disprove) the existence or presence of entities from beyond the Veil. You can watch their show on Hulu or on Youtube. There’s also a spin-off featuring True Crime cases, and that one is just as good.

The initial death that we read about in Horror Hotel is that of a fellow psychic named Eileen Warren. The circumstances of her death are eerily similar those of Elisa Lam (born Lam Ho-Yi) in 2014. Search Lam’s name and tell me you don’t get full body chills from that….
Also, fun fact, Ms. Lam’s case took place at the Cecil Hotel…..talk about freaky, amirite?

Amazon.com: Horrorstor: A Novel: 9781594745263: Hendrix, Grady: Books

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
So this book does something similar to Horror Hotel: takes something casual and mundane and turns it on it head! Horrorstor is set in ORSK, a large, maze-like store where you can buy anything you’d ever want for a house at a decent price with easy to follow pictogram instructions. (Y’all know any real life stores like that one?)
Things are just fine until the night that a couple employees get locked in after hourss….then…things get a bit shifty…

and lastly…..

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Bates Motel
The book itself references Psycho, the 1960 released cult classic film produced, directed by the amazing visionary Alfred Hitchcock. Although I think Linda and Steve’s relationship is an excellent example of “way too close”, I’d like to bring up Bates Motel, a tv show based on Psycho that ran from 2013 to 2017. Starring Freddie Highmore in his darkest role ever and well-known horror alum Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel is a deeper look at how Norman got to be the off-his-rocker killer we all know and love…
I’d definitely recommend a watch of this series AFTER you watch Psycho (if you do), because that’s the release order and it makes Psycho so much more fun.

Horror Hotel is the first (that I’ve read) in its genre that really did its homework about ghost hunting, Youtube algorithms, and the charisma of sociopaths. Chrissy is a likeable character, albeit a bit too trusting an naïve, and the rest of the Ghost Squad is too. I do like that they all are supportive and protective of each other, as evidenced by the Squad Rules at the beginning of the book.

15,236 BEST 4 5 Stars IMAGES, STOCK PHOTOS & VECTORS | Adobe Stock

About the authors!

The authors.

Victoria Fulton and Faith McClarenare an award-winning coauthor duo who write edgy rom-coms and frightening horror with plenty of smooching, friendship and movie references. Originally hailing from Ohio and Texas, respectively, they met in an online writing workshop where their friendship quickly blossomed into a partnership demanding they live in the same state. Now they both work and write in too-sunny Los Angeles, CA. Victoria lives with her fiancé and their two cat children and co-runs a PR agency with her other best friend in her spare time. Faith eats home baked goods made by her husband, raises a wolf-loving son, and wrangles two scruffy dogs, while also working as a book coach and developmental editor, and writing YA & women’s fiction under her real name Rebekah Faubion.

Horror Hotel was released February 1st by Underlined, a division of Penguin Random House. To purchase a copy of Horror Hotel for yourself, please visit my Bookshop link, or check any retailer near you!

Wilderlore (Spotlight)!

Hihi!! Guys, I have a cool middle grade book to tell you about today! There’s underwater fun to be had by all, but especially any junior pirates or mer-persons among ye!

Tour banner courtesy of Turn the Page Tours!

Barclay and his friends must save an island city from the Legendary Beast of the Sea in this exciting second book in the Wilderlore series, perfect for fans of Nevermoor and How to Train Your Dragon.

Something is wrong at the Sea. The weeping tide, a carnivorous algae bloom, is eating up all the fish. Beasts are terrorizing the nearby Elsewheres. And Lochmordra, the Legendary Beast, is rising at random and swallowing ships whole.

Barclay’s teacher, the famous Guardian Keeper Runa Rasgar, has been summoned to investigate, and as her apprentice, Barclay gets to join too. But Runa’s nemesis has also been called to the Sea, and he’s brought apprentices of his own. When the not-so friendly competition between them grows fierce, it’s Barclay—the only one from the Elsewheres—who can’t seem to keep up.

The key to stopping Lochmordra lies in his mythical home, but as the flood of the weeping tide encroaches, time is running out to find it. If the rival groups can’t cast aside old grudges and learn to work together, soon the Sea will be destroyed completely. And all the while Barclay must ask himself: is there truly a place for him in the Wilderlands?

Image courtesy of Stacialovestoread

There’s a giveaway for three (3) sets of the first two books in the Wilderlore series (so this one, and the first one)! US entrants only. Head over to this link to enter! This giveaway closes on February 7th, so be sure to get your entries in quickly!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the swashbuckling adventure for yourself or a little explorer in your life, visit the publisher’s website, here, to grab a copy.


About the author:

Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After a double life as an accountant preparing taxes for multinational corporations, she now spends her free time brewing and fermenting foods much more easily obtained at her local grocery store. She lives in Boston, MA with a hoard of books guarded by the most vicious of feline companions, Jelly Bean.

She is the author of THE SHADOW GAME series and more. Her middle grade debut, WILDERLORE: THEACCIDENTAL APPRENTICE, is available now and ALL OF US VILLAINS, co-written with Christine Lynn Herman, releases in November 9, 2021. To keep up with Amanda’s projects and see what she’s up to, visit her online at amandafoody.com or Instagram.com/amandafoody!

These Deadly Games (ARC) (Review)

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Jambo! (that’s hello in Swahili). Its been a bit since I’ve posted and while I could make tons of excuses about where I’ve been, I figure it’ll be easier to just acknowledge it and move on…..right into today’s post about These Deadly Games from Diana Urban!


First off, amazing novel from this author. This was the first book I’d read from Ms. Urban, and it won’t be the last (I’ve got her debut in my cart as we speak). These Deadly Games combines the suspense of a kidnapping with the psychological aspect of the mid-2010’s film Shutter Island.

As much as I enjoyed this book, there are some warnings I’d like to give, reading is meant to be fun, not stressful, so take care of yourself first, beloved. TW include but are not limited to: gaslighting, parent w/alcoholism, domestic violence, kidnapping, doxxing, mention of disordered eating, death of characters, description of panic attacks, and description of anaphylactic shock. Now that you all know what you’re up against (unlike our MC), let’s get into it.

Image courtesy of StaciaLovesToRead

Our main character is Crystal, a 16 year old with a mom who works entirely too much to support her and her little sister, Caelyn. Crystal has some deeeeep seated guilt about the way things turned out between her parents, which is the cause of her mom working so much. She’s turned to an online game as a place of refuge with her friends and hopes to win the tournament that is approaching to use the prize money to help her mom.

Things are going just fine for Crystal until she and her younger sister have a small spat on the way to Crystal dropping her off for a school field trip. A few hours after the drop off, Crystal starts getting messages from someone called An0nym0us1 claiming that they’ve kidnapped Caelyn and will kill her if Crystal doesn’t comply with everything they say.

From the seemingly ludicrous task of baking brownies, to law-breaking ones like getting to a location that’s nearly an hour round trip AND BACK in less than half the time, Crystal is truly living the struggle life. Unfortunately, the “living” part can’t be said about all of our characters, RIP [redacted].

Overall, I think this was a solid read! Ms. Urban knows how to keep the reader interested in the fate of the character without having to hold our hands or spoon-feed information. I did enjoy watching Crystal solve the riddles and try to figure out a way around An0nym0us1’s rules, and the moment when the lightbulb came on for her….beautiful. Being a big fan of riddles and such myself…I actually arrived at the answer that [redacted] was behind it all quite a ways before the MC did.

Power Stars!

If you’re like me and can’t get enough murder mysteries or books featuring riddles and clues and sleuthing, here are a few books I’ve read that have a similar feeling of satisfaction at the end are:

One of Us is Lying — Karen M. McManus
Think Breakfast Club but with a twist. The nerd comes up dead and the other 4 (the jock, the princess, the outlaw, and the perfectionist) are left holding the bag, only they’re each certain that they didn’t do it. These unlikely allies must work together to clear their names all while making sure that the secrets that died with the nerd stay dead.

Little White Lies — Jennifer Lynn Barnes
A girl from the wrong side of the tracks goes to stay with her grandmother for the summer and ends up participating in the local debutante pageant. While away from her home, she discovers more than just new friends and how to hold a tea cup…her no-good-deadbeat-dad has a name, and its not who she always thought it was.

The Inheritance Games — Jennifer Lynn Barnes
This trilogy features a girl who received a letter that makes her the beneficiary of an estate worth over half a million dollars…only problem is, she doesn’t know who the deceased is, and to inherit her, he disinherited his own grandsons. Oops.

The Cheerleaders — Kara Thomas
A few years back, a horrible mass death involving a few of the local town’s cheerleaders was all anyone could talk about. Til this day, the town still does not have a cheerleading squad, and every year, a memorial is held for the girls who lost their lives. One of those girls was the MC’s sister, and strangely enough, she doesn’t think any of this was an accident….

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Chiamaka and Devon are the only two Black kids at the prestigious Niveus Academy. Though they’re not friends (not even acquaintances) their paths are forced together by the anonymous Aces who is revealing their secrets to the entire student body…and some secrets could land both our MCs in some seriously hot water. Strap in for a mind-boggling trip through classism, racism, and a lil’ bit of Bullsh*t.


About the Author

Diana Urban is an author of dark, twisty thrillers, including All Your Twisted Secrets (HarperTeen) and These Deadly Games (Wednesday Books, 2022). When she’s not torturing fictional characters, she works in digital marketing for startups. She lives with her husband and cat in Boston and enjoys reading, playing video games, fawning over cute animals, and looking at the beach from a safe distance. Visit her online at dianaurban.com.


I was provided with an eARC of These Deadly Games (and a finished copy too) from Wednesday Books, a division of Macmillan Publishing in exchange for an honest review as a part of this tour. Receiving these materials in no way changed my opinion of the book or altered my response. These Deadly Games is due to release February 1st, 2022 and will be available wherever you buy books! My affiliate link to Bookshop is here, but feel free to use any retailer you prefer!

Redemptor (ARC) (Review)

Hello friends! Today is kind of special…this will be the second time I’ve reviewed a follow-up to another book I’ve featured! I previously reviewed the first book in this duology, Raybearer. My review for that book can be found here. I highly recommend that you read that book and review first before this one as there will be major spoilers.


For the first time, an Empress Redemptor sits on Aritsar’s throne. To appease the sinister spirits of the dead, Tarisai must now anoint a council of her own, coming into her full power as a Raybearer. She must then descend into the Underworld, a sacrifice to end all future atrocities.

Tarisai is determined to survive. Or at least, that’s what she tells her increasingly distant circle of friends. Months into her shaky reign as empress, child spirits haunt her, demanding that she pay for past sins of the empire.

With the lives of her loved ones on the line, assassination attempts from unknown quarters, and a handsome new stranger she can’t quite trust . . . Tarisai fears the pressure may consume her. But in this finale to the Raybearer duology, Tarisai must learn whether to die for justice . . . or to live for it.

Synopsis taken from bookshop.org page
Image courtesy of Instagram.com/stacialovestoread

Our story picks up right where we left off: Tarisai has now come into her power as the first female Raybearer and Empress in at least 3 generations. She has also made a deal with the underworld: she’s been given 2 years to anoint her own council and journey into the underworld. If she can successfully make it back from the Underworld, the treaty forged years before sending children below as cost will be voided. If not, the Underworld will invade the Overworld (where everyone lives) and bring about Hell on Earth. Easy-peasy.

Things are not as easy as they seem. For starters, the council that Tarisai has brought to the castle are very reluctant to be anointed…a couple of them even secretly wish for Tar to fail on her journey. And there’s also this masked vigilante taking justice into his own hands because he doesn’t feel that Dayo & Tarisai as co-rulers have done enough to right the wrongs of the world.

Redemptor features most of the amazing cast of characters from Raybearer, along with a few new additions. Redemptor features a more grown up version of Tarisai, Kirah, Dayo, and the rest of their council. Alliances are made, relationships are deepened, and there are lines crossed that one can never come back from.

Overall, this was an easy billion star read for me, my only wish is that more people read these books and that Jordan writes more words for me to devour!


I was graciously sent an ARC from the publisher, Amulet, an imprint of Abrams Publishing to read in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This no way impacted my reading or review of this book. Redemptor released on August 17, 2021 from Amulet Publishing. You can purchase your own copy using my Bookshop affiliate link, or by visiting any of your favorite book sellers. To see more of what Ms. Ifewko (that’s pronounced ee-FWEH-koh) is up to, visit her online at http://www.jordanifueko.com.

You’ll Be the Death of Me (ARC) (Review)

Hello friends! Today I am THRILLED to be bringing you a review of Karen M. McManus’s newest contribution to the world of murder mysteries and whodunnits: You’ll Be the Death of Me! Please take of yourself first before reading this book…while there are no explicit trigger warnings given, but these are some I’ve identified while reading: on-page death of a character, reference to drug dealing/drug usage, inappropriate student/teacher relationships, mention of blood and needles, underage alcohol consumption, hostage situations, and gaslighting.

Tour banner courtesy of TheWriteReads

From the author of One of Us Is Lying comes a brand new addictive thriller. Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close — best friends back in middle school. Now all they have in common is a bad day. So for old time’s sake they skip school together — one last time.
But when the trio spot Brian ‘Boney’ Mahoney ditching class too, they follow him — right into a murder scene.
They all have a connection to the victim. And they’re ALL hiding something.
When their day of freedom turns deadly, it’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out . . .
It’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with murder, perfect for fans of One Of Us Is Lying and A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder. This explosive new thriller is impossible to put down.

Skipping school is generally frowned upon, but after hearing about Ivy’s upsetting presidential election loss, Mateo’s mom’s osteoarthritis diagnosis, and Cal getting dumped at a vegan smoothie shop, I think a little free time is in order. Things are going fine until Cal (not smart move on his part) decides to take his estranged friends to an art gallery where his sort-of girlfriend rents space.

As all murder mysteries do, this story has a ton of red herrings to try and distract the reader and the characters alike from arriving at the identity of the guilty party.

Ivy — a high strung girl who suffers with a case of perfectionism. Her brother was recently acknowledged as a gifted student and skipped a couple grades. She is blonde. Ivy has often felt overlooked and “less than” since her brother’s genius level brain was acknowledged. She pours her all into student government to *feel* something. Except, she didn’t win this time. Boney Mahoney beat her, and he ran as a joke….

Mateo — a Hispanic-Polish kid with a major chip on his shoulder. His mother was recently diagnosed with osteoarthritis and has been skipping taking her meds like she should because she can’t afford it. Mateo and his cousin (who’s been adopted by his mother) Autumn have taken up multiple jobs to help with bills and the like. Mateo’s has been holding a candle of love for someone and their feelings have gone unrequited….or so he thought.

Cal — child of two fathers (we love representation) in a sort-of-kind-of illicit relationship with someone whom he can’t talk about….who is also blonde (which is important). One of Cal’s dads is the headmaster of a school and a hardcore warrior against inappropriate student-teacher relationships…so how would he react to know the war he’s fighting is in his own house?

So what happens? The estranged buddies decide to skip school and go into the city for a day. When they spot a classmate, who should be at school giving his victory speech for winning the high school presidency, going in to a building that should be abandoned, but not coming back out, our three are nosy and go investigate.

A report is given that someone saw a blonde woman enter the building after the deceased, and that blonde person is probably the cause of death. That’s all fine and good except the only female-bodied person who went into the building after the victim is Ivy, and unfortunately for her, she’s a blonde.

These amateur sleuths manage to put together pieces of each of their pasts to come to an answer about who’s to blame for this heinous crime, and who that supposed blonde woman is that killed [redacted].

This book all starts off from one bad decision that spirals into a dozen others. Lines are crossed, enemies are made, friendships are put to the test. Can these used-to-be friends come together long enough to solve the twisted web of lies that killed their classmate, or will they end up in a body bag next?


Karen M. McManus is the #1 New York Times and international bestselling author of young adult thriller/mystery novels, including One of Us Is Lying, One of Us Is Next, Two Can Keep a Secret, and The Cousins. You’ll Be the Death of Me will be her next novel, publishing December 2021. Her work has been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide. Karen lives in Massachusetts and holds a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, which she mostly uses to draft fake news stories for her novels. For more information, visit http://www.karenmcmanus.com or @writerkmc on Twitter and Instagram.

You’ll Be the Death of Me has just released in the US on November 30 via Delacorte Press, a Penguin Random House company & December 1 via Penguin in the UK & Australia. You can purchase a copy of You’ll Be the Death of Me using my Bookshop affiliate link here, or at any of your favorite bookish retailers!


Big huge thanks to PenguinUK, The WriteReads Tours, and the author for the chance to read this amazing book!

The Witch Haven (ARC) Review

Spooky season is coming, and for me that means reading books that will drag a long hag’s nail down my spine, insight fear, and shiver my timbers. Today, I bring you a new release, courtesy of Turn the Pages Tour! Click here to see the rest of the creators on the tour! CW for this read include, but are not limited to: death of a character (on page and off), gore/blood, partaking in alcoholic beverages, harassment, and perceived sexual misconduct. Please be sure you are in the proper headspace before reading this one, beloved.

The Witch Haven is set in olden times — before mass produced cars, cellphones, and decent electricity. Picture it, readers, a time where there is no WalMart. No Target. No TJ Maxx. If you want a new outfit, say a dress, you’d go to a seamstress or clothier’s. That’s where we meet Frances. She works in Mrs. Carrey’s shop, owned by Mr. Hues. Everything is going along just fine, a normal day, when Mr. Hues decides to drop by and pay a visit to his shop. Mr. Hues is the worst kind of manager/owner: the underlings do all the work, he collects all the money, and the circle goes on.

Mr. Hues gets a bit fresh with our girl Frances and winds up on the receiving end of a pair of sewing scissors to the neck and her holding the handles. Only Frances didn’t stab Mr. Hues, never lifted a finger, it just happened. Magic, some would say.

Frances tries to keep her head down and not talk too much for fear of ending up in prison or on the gallows. Her plan to keep quiet, however, doesn’t go well because two people claiming to be from the Haxahaven Sanatorium come calling to collect Frannie due to her recent (phony) diagnosis of tuberculosis. (If you know anything about Ye Olde Days, TB, also called consumption, was a fairly common diagnosis. Those found to have it were usually committed to hospitals or confined to their homes for fear of spreading it to others.) Only problem is…Haxahaven isn’t an infirmary or a mental institution at all…it’s a school. For girls with supernatural abilities. A school, in short, for witches.

Image courtesy of Instagram.com/stacialovestoread

The Witch Haven is a wonderful story about a girl who discovers she has magic and immediately makes friends with everyone at her new school and all the teachers love her and she gets the boy/girl/theyperson of her dreams.

Just kidding.

Frances has become the latest student at Haxahaven and while she’s there, she’ll uncover more secrets than you can shake a stick at and (hopefully) make a few friends that will help her parse together the truth of her brother’s mysterious disappearance and death, figure out who the strange man in her dreams is, and help her find out who she is too.

Sound intriguing? Enter the tour-wide giveaway to win one of (2) copies of THE WITCH HAVEN using this Rafflecopter link! You can also purchase a copy using my Bookshop link, or by visiting your favorite bookstore or bookseller!


Sasha Peyton Smith grew up in the mountains of Utah surrounded by siblings, books, and one very old cat. She attended the University of Utah and the George Washington University where she studied biology and public health. She is not a witch, though she does own a lot of crystals and always knows what phase the moon is in. She currently lives in Washington D.C. with her partner and collection of porcelain hands. The Witch Haven is her debut novel, released August 31st from Simon & Schuster.

You can keep up with Sasha online at her website sashapsmith.com or on Instagram where she is @sashapeytonsmith.

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