Cherry Pie by Madison Faye

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“I kept bidding in the ensuing online silent auction, until for a million dollars, she, and her innocence, were mine.”

*Cues Def Leppard Warrant* Friends, I know, I know. Look, I just wanted something smutty, fun, and quick, and Cherry Pie for sure delivered on all fronts. I did enjoy the sex scenes, I just sadly didn’t love the plot, and I especially didn’t love the ending, but If you are looking for something fast and sexy, I still recommend this.

This is a story all about a girl named Kendall who has found herself in dire need of money, to pay for her upcoming freshman year of college, and she is presented with the option of selling her virginity online, during a silent auction for an underground sex club in LA. Her face will not be pictured, but her body will be on display, which means her new cherry tattoo is also able to be viewed.

Marshall lives a very luxurious life, that he has built for himself from the ground up, while also being the only parent in his daughter’s life. He appears to be on the straight and narrow path, but he indulges in the underground sex club, where he stumbles upon the silent auction and decides that he has to bid on this anonymous woman’s virginity.

This is a taboo, age-gap romance, involving a forty-two-year-old man and an eighteen-year-old girl… and she just happens to be his daughter’s best friend. See, I was really invested with this premise, but once I found out that guy had known the girl since she was five, because they were neighbors, that’s when I started getting really uninvested. I am never here for grooming-feeling stories, and every time that aspect of their relationship was brought up, I just hated it.

But the sex itself, even if highly unrealistic of someone’s first time, was really enjoyable. Sometimes, Marshall would continue to use the adjective “little” and it was bothersome, but besides that, I did enjoy all the sex scenes in this book very much. It was the plot, more specially the portion with the daughter/best friend, that was really unbelievable, which is really saying something when this is a 200-page story about a girl selling her virginity online.

I think this book really would have benefited from just having steamy sex, but the author tried to have a concrete story so desperately, and it really didn’t fit this book. Also, it got into instalove territory, which was also upsetting. I wish that sometimes authors could just give us some amazing sex scenes and stories, without having to make everything about everlasting love.

But again, I think you kind of know what you’re getting into when buying a book like this, and it totally served its purpose and I am happy I picked it up. Also, I would totally be down trying more from this author in the future. But please let me know if you have read and enjoyed anything else by them!

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Content and Trigger Warnings for abandonment and use of language like “little girl” and things that like that, that could totally make the reader (myself very much included) uncomfortable.

I read this for #smutathon, which is being hosted by Lainey and Riley! ❤

Buddy read with Paloma! ❤

 

Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman, & Kelly Link

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ARC provided by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

Ghost of the Shadow Market is truly my favorite anthology set in the Shadowhunter universe, so far. Each story is so different, so unique, and really transcends all time periods, all generations, and all of my expectations. I loved this, friends.

And this bind-up is all about Brother Zachariah, former Silent brother, and all the different shadow markets through the ages and through our world. And, again, you get to see glimpses of all the different generations of Shadowhunters in all of the different time periods. I read the first eight stories in 2018, but I just finished off the last two since the collection is now out in the world! And I truly recommend this anthology to any and every Shadowhunter fan.

I am going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating! I would highly recommend that you are caught up with Queen of Air and Darkness and everything previously published, before reading this anthology and before reading this review! Spoilers ahead! Please use caution!


Son of the Dawn – ★★★★

“Every world contains other worlds within it.”

It is official, The New York City Shadow Market is the coolest one we’ve seen so far? Abandoned theater? Ahhh, the aesthetics. But this story takes place in 2000, and I will be honest with you all, I sure in the hell wasn’t expecting a story about how Jace came to join the Lightwood family. Damn, my emotions are all over the place, because seeing Raphael alone makes me weep. Also, I think it was really smart for Cassie Clare to show us a “good” side of Robert Lightwood, especially after finishing Lord of Shadows. Also, all that talk of parabatai bonds? Lord, help us all. But I think my sappy self cried hardest over two initials. Okay, I know this brief review is all over the place, but this was such an unexpected treat and I was smiling while reading this entire story. From Izzy watching Alec discover who he is, to me crying even more over Max, to Jace being Jace even at a young age, to Lily Chen actually making me laugh out loud, to me screaming at seeing Raphael confirming that he is ace, I love all of this. And even just seeing Raphael come to Brother Zachariah for help and to go on what ends up being such a meaningful adventure, that really impacts all their lives eventually, it was just amazing. I really loved this short story and I think it was such an amazing glimpse at the past, that really makes you appreciate the future so much more.


Cast Long Shadows – ★★

“Old sins cast long shadows.”

Okay, I’m still hyped for The Last Hours though, but I think it is mostly for James Herondale, even though Matthew Fairchild is such a little sweetheart. I loved seeing him interact with Brother Zachariah, and loving him just because so many of his loved ones love him. I love that feeling, and I think that’s something in life that I experience a lot that books rarely depict. But in this short story takes place in London 1901, and we get to see Matthew dealing with something that’s really bothering him, while willing to do anything to find out the truth. Oh, and Alastair Carstairs is such a little jerk, but I know Cassie is going to give him a homelife (and a father, I think) that is going to make us feel a lot of empathy toward him. But why the hell is Sophie (my queen, still) and Gideon’s kid friends with him? Yet, I love seeing Henry’s disability rep, I love seeing Charlotte say fuck your misogyny to the Clave, and I just love seeing all these glimpses at old friendships that we already love, but also all the new glimpses at what is to come. And seeing Jem, Will, and Tessa living their lives after Clockwork Princess will never not equal parts break my heart and heal my soul. And yeah, I’m still crying over that staff. Lord, help me.


Every Exquisite Thing – ★★★★

“Foolish people say so many things. But we know who we are…”

Anna Lightwood deserves the entire galaxy and all the stars within it, please spread the word. Like, the child of Cecily and Gabriel is a true blessing to the Shadowhunter universe. And the end of this made me happier than any other Shadowhunter short story I’ve ever read. In short, this story is love letter to nonbinary people, and we get to follow Anna embracing being a genderfluid lesbian. Even though everyone knows that queer people existed all throughout history, this story highlights how it was harder to come out back in the 1900s. But seeing Anna live their best life was everything and it warmed my heart so very much. And, again, Cassie Clare is just being more and more inclusive and she impresses me so very much. And there is f/f romance in this story, too! But the heart of this story is identity and being the person you are on the inside on the outside, too. Okay, I’m done gushing; this story we also get to see Anna and Matthew explore the London nightlife and meet a woman named Leopolda in a club and bring to ask a few questions. And soon, them and Brother Zachariah are trying to figure out what she’s up to. And I think that we are soon going to get a lot more background story on Tessa, and I cannot wait for The Last Hours, friends. It is going to be so amazing, and now Anna is going to make me even more excited!


Learn about Loss – ★★★★

“I want you to give them both a span of time. Both of them in a time and place where they can be young and happy and together.”

Current mood: Forever weeping over the masterpiece that is the end of this short story. You all, Will and Jem will always be best friend goals, and honestly are the definition of platonic unconditional pure love. (I mean, I won’t go into my polyamorous wants because Cassie Clare didn’t bless us!) But friends, this story just has a lot in it that I really appreciated. And I loved this dark carnival Shadow Market. This story is set in 1936 Tennessee, during the end of the Great Depression, and not only do we follow Brother Zachariah, but also the soon-to-be Iron Sister, Emilia, who easily stole my heart. And Sister Emilia’s promise? Goosebumps. Perfection. Also, I think these stories are really going to make an impact for QoAaD.


A Deeper Love – ★★★

“…those two twin souls, the only souls she had ever loved.”

Friends, I was not expecting a WWII story set in London that starred Tessa Gray and Catarina Loss working as nurses. But oh my gosh, it was so beautifully and hauntingly unexpected. And there is still a Shadow Market that they bargain at, but even the paranormal war is impacted (both positively and negatively) by war. And Brother Zachariah just happens to be at the Shadow Market, where bombs are dropping from the sky, while he gets into his own altercation with a fae who thinks he is meddling in affairs that do not involve him. And I believe the point of this story was that we get to see that weapon poison that Julian and Emma deal with in Lady Midnight. I also cried for probably a third of this just because Brother Zachariah and Tessa both dealing with loss, while healing and living with love, just guts me every time. It’s so pure, and so hopefully, and just gives me all the feelings under the sun. The power of love is something so strong, and this story just left me in awe, honestly.


The Wicked Ones – ★★★

“They’d both given a piece of their hearts to a Herondale. And they both loved someone they could not have.”

Oh, boy. So, this story is set in 1989 Paris, where we meet a young girl named Céline and get to see the uprising of Valentine. Céline has constantly run away from her abusive home, and the parents that torture her and call it love. And when she was eight years old, she ran away and felt safe and at home for the very first time – at the Paris Shadow Market. But in this story we see her almost ten years later, and she is desperately trying to feel welcome with Valentine and his elite crew. And she is also realizing she is completely and utterly in love with Stephen Herondale. But while this is going on, Brother Zachariah is in search of a lost necklace and a lost child. This story really dives deep into how manipulative people can gaslight to get what they want, and will always try to isolate people and convince them that what they are doing is in their best interest. It is always really interesting to see the rise and fall of Valentine Morgenstern, but this story just made me feel really sad for Amatis and for another child who has yet to be born.


The Land I Lost – ★★★★★

“Your voice is the music I love best in all the world.”

First and foremost, it is very obvious that Lily Chen is not straight, but Cassie Clare confirmed on Tumblr that she is pan! The blessings. The actual blessings. Also, hello, my new favorite character. Lily is half Japanese and half Chinese, and was made a vampire under the saddest of circumstances. And her love for Raphael Santiago warms my black heart like nothing else in the entire Shadowhunter world. And even though I could go on forever about my love for her, this story is more about her and Alec going to the Buenos Aires Institute together because Jem and Tessa are in need of help, and someone requested Alec personally. This story is actually pretty dark, so content and trigger warnings for abandonment, captivity, sex trafficking, sex slavery, and war themes. Nothing is graphic, but it is very much talked about, so please use caution. But Alec soon finds out that the Buenos Aires Institute is being heavily influenced by Horace Dearborn, and they are allowing children whose parents were killed in the Dark War to be orphans living on the street, just because they are Downworlders. Alec then comes across a Shadowhunter child who they are also unwilling to help, and the other Downworlders are too scared to bring in, therefore he must take action. You all, this novella was heartbreaking and heartwarming. Seeing Magnus and Alec be such good fathers to Max, and then adopting their second child, Rafe, it is something I don’t even have words for. And they are allowing their children to be whatever they want to be, Warlock or Shadowhunter, and will never stop giving them unconditional love. Even just seeing glimpses of Jace and Izzy being an uncle and an aunt had me smiling so big! It is a joy to read, pure joy. But we learn so much during this longer addition to the anthology, too. All the information we got of/from Mother Hawthorn? Damn.


Through Blood, Through Fire – ★★★★

“But we bear so much that seems unthinkable. The only truly unbearable burden is living without love.”

Okay, I won’t lie, even though I have loved watching Brother Zachariah go on this quest of finding the lost Herondale, I feel like it is my least favorite aspect of this anthology. And even though this short story gave us major insight on Rosemary and Jack, it wasn’t a big surprise after reading The Wicked Ones. But then, once the story catches up to the events at the end of Lady Midnight, and Tessa drops the REAL information of this story. You all, my jaw dropped. And my eyes? The tears won’t stop coming after that last paragraph. Wow, the blessings. The happiness. The everything. Queen of Air and Darkness can’t come soon enough.


Ghosts of Old Loves – ★★★★

“A boy, a Carpathian lynx, and a ghost.”

This story starts out with Ty in Scholomance, but we get to see it through the eyes of Livvy. Yeah, my heart is officially breaking, too. We also get to meet Irene, a new animal companion that I already love. And we get to see a little glimpse into Idris and how Zara and Manuel are holding down their bigoted fort. Livvy is learning to do so much with her ghost form, and I know she is only just beginning to discover her powers, while also being bound to Ty. I am also incredibly excited for Ty to write some letters.


Forever Fallen – ★★★★★

“Memories were like love: wound and cure, both at once.”

Daddy Jem is best Jem. Oh my word, I am not even exaggerating when I say that I cried through this entire short story. Perfection, pure perfection, to the very powerful last line. This story is set in 2013, and we get to see two very different families in juxtaposition with one another. One being Jem, Tessa, Kit, and baby Mina! The other being Ash, Thule Jace (AKA: Janus), and wishfully hoping that Clary will soon join them. The story switches points of view, back and forth, but both storylines are completely captivating and immersive. We see Kit realize that Jem and Tessa love him more than anything, while finally feeling found and safe. We see Janus is willing to do anything to have Clary’s love, and he will probably wreak havoc in the three years leading up to The Wicked Powers to attempt to claim it. Also seeing Lily react to Thule Raphael’s actions, and seeing Thule Raphael’s reaction to what happened to Thule Lily, it just broke me in the best way possible. This story was the perfect concluding story for this anthology, and I don’t know how I’m going to be able to wait for what is to come next.


I gave Ghosts of the Shadow Market 4 stars overall, because out of a possible 50 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 10 stories) this collection accumulated 38 stars (76%)!

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Blog Tour: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

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ARC provided by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

“Knowledge always has the potential to be dangerous. It is a more powerful weapon than any sword or spell.”

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve been looking for a story all about someone living in a library, surrounded by magical books, while also going on adventure after adventure, for my entire life. And I truly believe that not only did Margaret Rogerson give me that, she is giving the YA literature community a gift from above. I feel like when An Enchantment of Ravens came out most people loved it, but it did seem a little bit polarizing, while I liked it but I never was in love with it. But Sorcery of Thorns captivated me from page one, and I adored it so very much that there was never a moment that I wanted to shut this very magical book and stop reading.

And like I said above, this is a story all about a girl named Elisabeth who has grown up in a library all of her life. She wants to eventually be a Warden, who is a person who protects the library, the people, and the books, because some books in this world are very much alive and are capable of doing some very bad things. But one night, when there is an attack at the library and the surrounding town, she takes it upon herself to defend the only home she has ever known. Yet, this act ends up making her the only suspect in the crime.

“Dreadful things roam the shadows while the human world sleeps.”

So, Elisabeth gets sent away and is forced to travel alongside a nobleman and sorcerer named Nathaniel Thorn, who also has a companion named Silas who happens to be a demon. In this world, the old royal families have all made pacts with demons to give them magical powers, and these pacts are passed down from generation to generation, but at a cost. Also, Silas is easily my favorite character in this book and I would die for him this very instant.

But Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas’s paths all continue to cross while Elisabeth is trying to prove her innocence, while also stumbling upon a conspiracy theory to end all other conspiracy theories about what is really happening to the libraries in this world. And the adventures they go on, the secrets they unfold, and the discoveries they make together, was nothing short of a treat to read.

The thing that I didn’t love about this book, and the reason I am giving it four stars, is because I didn’t love the very vague representation. Obviously, I want authors to write what they want to write and what they feel comfortable with, but this was a little too subtly done for me. Yes, we have a main character that does express attraction to more than one gender, which I am always going to be living for, but we get a very brushed off moment with a very minor character being on the ace spectrum. Also, I think another leading character could possibly also be on the ace spectrum, but the representation in this book is so quiet that you are constantly left second guessing yourself while reading, and it feels bad, even with the excuse that this story is set in a fantasy world because the mentions are so very brief, too.

Overall, I did love this story. It was so unique and so whimsical; I couldn’t resist getting completely swept off my feet. I loved all three characters and their dark backgrounds, while gaining so much hope for their futures. I loved the writing and all the twists and turns that this adventure packed story delivered. I loved the historical setting, which is very reminiscent of The Infernal Devices! I loved the romance even though it was such a slow-burn that I wanted to scream in the best way possible! I just loved it all, and I can’t wait to see what Margaret Rogerson does next! Especially because this is a standalone, but I could totally see more in this world after that last page.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and Trigger Warnings: anxiety depiction, anxiety attacks, talk of loss of a loved one, captivity, talk of forced institutionalization, and violence.

Buddy read with Sol, Alexa, Kristin, & Alana! ❤

Arranged by R.K. Lilley

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“He hated me on principle, and he fascinated me in spite of myself.”

If you’ve been reading my reviews for a few years, you’d know that I am utter and complete R.K. Lilley trash. Not only is my favorite sex scene of all-time in Bad Things, but R.K. Lilley proves again and again that she truly is out here writing all the sexiest of scenes in the romance genre. And even though I didn’t love Arranged completely, the sex scenes in this were so fucking hot that I feel like I need a glass of water just writing this review. Seriously, if you’re looking for steam, look no further, and I still think that this was such an enthralling enemies to lovers, age gap, standalone romance that was a treat to read.

Noura – A very young up-and-coming model, who just sold her virginity and promise of marriage to a man she doesn’t know, but for a whole lot of money.

Calder/Banks – The soon-to-be groom, regardless of how he feels about the situation his family has placed him in.

I mean, with a promise like this, you all know what you’re getting into and you know it’s going to be messy in the best way possible. Noura is so sweet and kind, but is pushed to her limits trying to further her career while also playing the part of the perfect wife to a husband who lets her know constantly that he doesn’t want to be in this marriage. Yet, their sexual tension and compatibility are off the charts with each other, so it puts them in a very unique situation that both of them are afraid to approach.

Okay, this paragraph is going to have a spoiler in it, so read at your own risk! As always, I list my content and trigger warnings at the end of this review, but I feel like I need to talk about one of those triggers in a section all of its own; cheating. There is off page cheating that comes out at the very end of this story, and if you’ve read other reviews for this title on Goodreads, then you will know that a lot of people in the romance community are very upset about it, and that’s valid. For me, the cheating wasn’t unbearable because it was off page and because the other character doesn’t easily forgive the adultery. Also, I read and review a lot of new adult romance differently than other kinds of literature, since I’m really reading it to just escape and suspend my disbelief. Like, this is a story about a girl selling her virginity and marrying a guy she doesn’t know; I think cheating is a little believable in a story like this? But, again, everyone’s feelings are valid, but these are just my feelings on the controversy surrounding this book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this, and I will continue to read everything that R.K. Lilley writes. I truly hope whatever she does write next will be set in Vegas like so many of her other books, but she set up so many characters in this NYC world to eventually have their own books written about them. But if you’re looking for something a little over the top, but with some of the best written sex scenes 2019 has to offer, then I completely recommend you pick this one up.

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Content and Trigger Warnings: underage drinking, a lot of very triggering talk of eating disorders and restricted eating that were personally very triggering to me, talk of statutory rape of a side character, a lot of very controlling “alpha male” behavior that I know will be too much for many readers, talk of past loss of a loved one, mention of past cancer of a loved one, assault, cheating, and violence.

Buddy read with Paloma! ❤

Enthralled (The Enslaved Duet #1) by Giana Darling

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“…A parting of night as if Hades himself was breaching the veil from the underworld.”

Friends, first off, this is a very dark and very taboo story. There are so many content and trigger warnings for abuse, sexual assault, and more, that I wrote at the bottom of this review, so please use caution and make sure you are in the right headspace if this looks like something you’d want to pick up. But if you liked The Debt series back in the day, you’ll probably like this dark and twisted tale, too.

Cosima – On her eighteenth birthday she decides to sell herself to pay off her father’s debt. The arrangement is supposed to be only for five years, and then she is free to go or start up a new contract with the man who she is going to make a deal with.

Alexander – A British royal, who is about to become Cosima’s master, and who has calculated this deal (and his secret plan) for a while, because of something in his past that he is hiding.

“Sometimes we are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes we are born to bad people and live a bad life. There doesn’t always have to be a reason for misfortune, Cosima.”

Again, this is a dark BDSM romance that will probably have many of you screaming “Stockholm Syndrome” at me, and that’s valid. But I’m going to be honest with you, I was in Hawaii, with sunburnt feet (damn you water-shoes from Hell) and I just wanted to read something that was going to be sexy, out of my comfort zone, and that I could finish in a day, and this completely checked that list.

I really did enjoy this one, and I thought the consensual sex was very sexy, even if this did have a lot of very triggering content along the way. Obviously, there is a huge power imbalance, and Alexander does so many questionable things throughout the entire novel, but I never wanted to stop reading this one. And I cannot wait to see what Giana Darling does next, and where she will take this duology when Enamoured releases. Because the end of this book? Holy shit, what even?

Overall, this is one of those books you read and review based off enjoyment and maybe not the literary merit, if that makes any sense. I feel like I always read and review my erotic romances differently than other books, and this is very much the case for Enthralled! But if you’re looking for an extreme sub/Dom dynamic, with an age gap romance, and also with major enemies to lovers vibes, then I think you should give this a try. Just, please make sure you are in the mood for something extremely dark, and you’re able to suspend your disbelief.

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Content and Trigger Warnings: human trafficking, slavery, talk of eating disorders, talk of loss of a loved one, loss of a child, forced body modifications (piercings), abuse, sexual assault, a lot of abuse, and torture. This is a very dark book, so please use caution and make sure you are in the right headspace.

Dragons & Tea Book Club | June Pick

dragons & tea

Hey, loves! Okay, today we are announcing our June pick for the #DragonsAndTeaBookClub! And most of you know that it is Pride Month, so we really wanted to pick a LGBTQIAP+ book this month! Also, my pan self might have been a little biased with the book we ended up choosing! But not only is the MC of this pick is pansexual, but she is also biracial (Ecuadorian), she is plus-sized, and she has anxiety. And she is discovering her feelings for her best friend, who is Korean and a lesbian. Also, the author is Chinese and queer. And this book just sounds like it is going to be everything I’ve ever wanted! I hope we fall in love with this hard-hitting YA contemporary, with a sapphic f/f romance, together! 💗

And we hope that you all will join us in our Goodreads Group, too! 🐉☕

But we also will be celebrating and talking with you all on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!


But without further ado, our June pick is:

➽ Final Draft by Riley Redgate 

 

The Dates & Breakdown:
June 10th: Chapters 1 – 5
June 11th: Chapters 6 – 9
June 12th: Chapters 10 – 13
June 13th: Chapters 14 – 17
June 14th: Chapters 18 – End

Content and Trigger Warnings:
Anxiety, internalized ableism, loss of someone
(From Elise’s amazing review!)


And if you’d like to be friends with me and Amy on any other platform:
🐉☕ Melanie: BooktubeInstagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ Amy: BooktubeInstagram | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Summerathon Announcement | 2019

Hey friends! I am finally home from Hawaii! And I am finally getting back into my normal routine! I promise, I will have lots of content for you in June! And I’ve missed you all so much! But today I am here to tell you about a really exciting readathon next month that my friend Amy created and asked me to cohost with her and some friends!


THE DATES:
June 21 – June 27


THE HOSTS:
Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills

Jen @ Pinot and Pages

Heather @ Bookables

Aimee @ Aimee Reads


THE CHALLENGES:
1. A Beachy Read: this can be either a book set at the beach or just a book think would be perfect to read on the beach or poolside.

2. Sunrise colors on the cover: pink, orange, yellow, purple, blue…really, there are so many directions to go for this.

3. Book with a roadtrip, traveling, or vacation

4. Book set in the summer

5. Food on the cover (Or drink! Make it your own!)

6. Drink your favorite summertime drink while reading!


You can totally double up on challenges, or pick whichever ones look most appealing to you! This is a really laid back readathon, and we would just be honored if you joined us! Also, make sure you follow the instagram and twitter and use #summerathon so we can see and boost your photos, TBRs, and wrap ups!

Also, Please also remember that June is Pride Month, so we are really encouraging you all to make your TBRs as queer as possible! Also, there are some really amazing LGBTQIAP+ readalongs and readathons going on in the month of June, too! And you should check some of them out: Eloise, Kathy, & Boston! And there is also Smutathon happening, which I also plan to make my TBR hella queer! 🌈



I’m so excited for all the things happening in June, and hopefully you’ll join us for our readathon! Again, I’m sorry I haven’t been too active in May, but hopefully I’ll be here with consistent content from June on! I love you all, and I hope life is treating you so very kindly! Happy reading!

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