Shadows You Left: A Book Review

There is something to be said for laid back novels, such as Shadows You Left by Jude Sierra and Taylor Brooke, which offers up an intriguing plot and the potential for great character development, then delivers. It is the sort of book that can keep a reader up at night with anticipation, urging them to continue until the end. A whirlwind romance with teeth and truth, this book is a stunner.

With that being said, this story revolves around two main characters – Erik and River – whose points of view alternate throughout. Erik is a cage fighter and mediocre bartender, while River is a talented tattoo artist. Right from the start, their lives converge, and the story begins. Even from the opening though, it becomes apparent that while this is a romance, each character has his own separate life to sort out, and live too. While it does indeed focus on their nascent relationship, importance is also placed on who they are outside of each other, including their friends or family.

Furthermore, well-executed prose and beautiful imagery populate this slice of life and love novel, which only engendered me to this narrative further. Those aspects, coupled with a well-constructed combination of fleshed out characters, and sub-plots that had believable resolutions at the end, made this easily one of my favorite books of the year.

If the premise of two imperfect people navigating their separate worlds alongside their budding romance draws you, then the following love story might be for you. It is not cotton candy, by any means, as it deals with darker topics, such as addiction and substance abuse. However, it is a novel that adds depth to the New Adult category and romance genre in its execution.

I rated this book 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I was given a free ARC of this by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.




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Tag: The Real Neat Blog Award

Thank you so much to Sara at The Bibliophagist for nominating me for the Real Neat Blog Award!

The guidelines for accepting the Real Neat Blog Award are simple:

  • Answer the seven questions posed to you
  • Gift 3 bloggers
  • Pose a further seven questions

Sara’s questions:

  1. What’s your favorite city to visit? New York City, hands down. I went there for the first time last year for Pride, and besides attending the parade, my family and I also went sightseeing. Though we didn’t get to every corner of the city, by foot in less than two days, we were able to see a lot that we would not have gotten to otherwise, if we had rented a car. We are planning to return for more sight seeing within the next few years.
  2. If someone gave you $50 and dropped you in a bookstore right now, what would you buy? I would either buy as many children’s books for my daughter as possible, or a collector’s edition of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas in both English and Spanish.
  3. What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year? If we’re talking about best book overall, as in well-executed prose, characters, plot, relationships, setting, etc. Then that would have to be The Diviners by Libba Bray, which I reviewed here. However, if we’re talking about what book elicited the most raw emotions, as well as included strong prose, then I would say Little Birds by Hannah Lee Kidder, which I reviewed here.
  4. What are some of your favorite book blogs? I actually do not frequent many book blogs, despite having one. I gravitate towards BookTube infinitely more, only because I can play it while doing other stuff. However, I do have a few still. — Almost, Almost , The Critiquing Chemist, Cheers to the Bookends, The Library Looter, and The Bibliophagist.
  5. What’s your favorite thing to order at a coffee shop? If I’m at Starbucks, then I’m prone to ordering the Mango Dragonfruit Refresher or a Mocha Frappuccino. However, if I go to a standalone café, then I will try whatever sounds good. I love Starbucks, but I also am a huge proponent for supporting small businesses.
  6. Which book do you recommend most often? That depends on whether I know what genre the person I am giving the recommendation to likes. If I know they’ll read YA, then The Hate U Give, Six of Crows, or The Diviners. If not, then I would say any of Jodi Picoult’s books. She is one of my all time favorite authors.
  7. Which fictional character do you wish you could hang out with for a day? I’ve never given any thought to this, but probably a character from Avatar: The Last Airbender, like Toph or Aang. Either that, or Ryder Wolfe from Port Lewis Witches by Brooklyn Ray.

My nominations: Alex Logan at Almost, Almost, Cheers to the Bookends, and The Critiquing Chemist.

My 7 Questions:

  1. If you could rewrite any book, what would you change, and why?
  2. If you could bring one element out of any story into our world, what would it be, and why?
  3. Is there any book that has changed your worldview dramatically? If so, what was it, and how did it impact you and your future actions?
  4. Would you rather visit the land of your favorite book, or have a chat with your favorite character?
  5. What inspired you to begin blogging about books?
  6. Do you have any favorite book bloggers?
  7. If you had to read one genre, and/or category (Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, or Adult) for the rest of your life, which of these would you pick, and why?

Port Lewis Witches, Volume One: A Book Review

Port Lewis Witches, Volume One: A Book Review

Magic, familiars, and love, oh my! I adore books that have a well written setting and plot that are accompanied by a fantastic love story, or two. Suffice it to say, I found all of these, and more, within Port Lewis Witches, Volume One by Brooklyn Ray. As this novel is a collection, I will be mentioning every story by itself, as well as how each ties into the narrative overall.

Reborn is the first story that kicks off the book, and it follows Thalia, the newly appointed Darbonne matriarch as she returns home to assume her position as such. In the wake of her mother’s death, she is no longer allowed to hide from her fate, or the small town she had run from three years before. While the second shortest in the whole novel, Reborn is a great way to introduce the world that is Port Lewis. Thalia and Jordan, which the narrative mainly focuses on here, outside of the aforementioned plot, are a unique couple who add life and passion to the pages.

Next up is Darkling, which follows Ryder Wolfe and his path of acceptance of himself, as well as the partner he ends up with throughout the course of this story. Full disclosure here – Ryder is my favorite character in the whole series. I adore every single one, but he is easily the one that outshines them all for me. His own narrative was placed well, and it furthered my knowledge of the magic system and world building as a whole.

After that, comes Undertow, which is Liam’s story that opens up not long after the events of Darkling conclude. While Ryder is my favorite character, this particular section was my favorite. I loved the dynamics of the characters and how the world building really shines through here. This story is Brooklyn Ray at their best.

Last, but not least, is Honey. This short story is the smallest in terms of length in the whole collection. Were it left out, the book would still endure the test of time for many, I believe, but it is an adorable addition that I thoroughly enjoyed after the heavier plots of the earlier stories. It follows Ryder and his significant other in a light-hearted romp that would touch even a ghost’s soul.

Together, each of the stories mentioned above brought their own magic and whimsy to the narrative as a whole. The imagery that the author employed allowed for a great sense of setting. The characters are in distinct contrast to each other with their own personalities, which made them feel real, rather than card board cut out people made for the purpose of being placed in the novel. The relationships in this first volume also were fantastic, and real. Life is messy, and far from perfect. This novel conveyed that well.

Overall, I loved it with every piece of me. Everyone has their own taste, but I thoroughly could not have enjoyed this more if I tried. There was all sorts of representation for LGBT+ characters, there was magic, found family, and so much more within it, that made it a delight to read.

I rate it a 5/5.

Disclaimers:

(1/2) – This book is a darker NA fantasy and does have blood play during sex, graphic explanations of sex, etc. If those things bother you, tread with caution, or avoid this novel.

(2/2) I received no incentive or payment for this review. These thoughts are wholly my own.

Six For Sunday – Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads

Hi everyone!

I came across a blog called ALittleButALot, who hosts the #SixForSunday challenges. I love lists, so I figure I might give it a try, despite my dislike of the number six.

For today’s Six For Sunday Challenge, the topic is favorite LGBTQ+ reads. For my top picks, which will actually number in more than 6, I’ve chosen the following:

  • Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family 
    “When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But by the time Jonas and Wyatt were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, to accept Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and to undergo a wrenching transformation of their own, the effects of which would reverberate through their entire community. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Amy Ellis Nutt spent almost four years reporting this story and tells it with unflinching honesty, intimacy, and empathy. In her hands, Becoming Nicole is more than an account of a courageous girl and her extraordinary family. It’s a powerful portrait of a slowly but surely changing nation, and one that will inspire all of us to see the world with a little more humanity and understanding.”
  • Wolfsong by T.J. Klune
    “Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
    Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
    Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
    Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.
    It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.”
  • Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
    “Every life has a soundtrack. All you have to do is listen.
    Music has set the tone for most of Zoe Baxter’s life. There’s the melody that reminds her of the summer she spent rubbing baby oil on her stomach in pursuit of the perfect tan. A dance beat that makes her think of using a fake ID to slip into a nightclub. A dirge that marked the years she spent trying to get pregnant. 
    For better or for worse, music is the language of memory. It is also the language of love.
    In the aftermath of a series of personal tragedies, Zoe throws herself into her career as a music therapist. When an unexpected friendship slowly blossoms into love, she makes plans for a new life, but to her shock and inevitable rage, some people—even those she loves and trusts most—don’t want that to happen. 
    Sing You Home is about identity, love, marriage, and parenthood. It’s about people wanting to do the right thing for the greater good, even as they work to fulfill their own personal desires and dreams. And it’s about what happens when the outside world brutally calls into question the very thing closest to our hearts: family.
    Includes a link to listen to or download original songs to your computer
    Music by Ellen Wilber
    Lyrics by Jodi Picoult
    All songs performed by Ellen Wilber “
  • Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
    “Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
    But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
    It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.”
  • Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulhurst
    “Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms.
    But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.
    Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.

    When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
    But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.”
  • Picture Us In The Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
    “Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined. Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan. When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed façade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.”
  • Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
    Summary for Six of Crows only to avoid spoilers – “Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
    A convict with a thirst for revenge.
    A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
    A runaway with a privileged past.
    A spy known as the Wraith.
    A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
    A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
    Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
  • All For The Game Series by Nora Sakavic
    “From Book 1: Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.
    Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.
    But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.”
  • The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater
    “From Book 1: Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
    His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
    But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
    For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”