Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra by Kevin Panetta & Paulina Ganucheau

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First off, this was nothing short of probably the most adorable graphic novel I’ve ever read. Secondly, I love magical girls, always and forever. Thirdly, I never knew I needed magical zombie girls until now, but it turns out I did. Fourth, the color pallet and art throughout this entire story is beyond words beautiful. And lastly, this showcases how girl friendship can be the most powerful magical force in the world, and I loved this.

Oh, and this is about magical girls who all embrace a different zodiac sign. Like, can I yell how perfect this is any louder? This story embraces and celebrates body diversity, ethnic variety, and multiple sexualities! Like, there was a text message in this using the pan hearts and I promise you that I was hollering over it for at least fifteen minutes.

I loved this! I loved how unconditional friendship was always at the forefront. I loved all the diversity (Molly is Asian, Lily is Black, Emma is for sure not white at the very least, Savi is a bi/pan main character, and Lily is a lesbian/bi/pan main character)! I also loved the constant portrayal of grief from Emma. I will always love seeing girls ditch abusive boys and getting with sweet girls, let’s be real. And this was nothing short of a treat to read! Also, it feels like a good standalone, but I want so much more from these girls and this world! I can’t wait until July! Oh, and I’d commit a minor felony to get a Virgo Zodiac! You all, pick this graphic novel up!

Okay, I’m going to briefly break down each of the issues in this bind up volume, so there will be spoilers ahead! I just always like to break down graphic novels this way, so I can come back and remember each issue! Plus, I think people like it. Hopefully. Okay, moving on to the break down!

We get to learn all the characters, but this issue really focuses on the Starforce leader, Emma! She is a sixteen-year-old in high school, when a monster attacks! After defeating it, she starts to feel weird. Then her friend, Kim, finds her and stresses how important it is to get the gang back together! Also, Kim is looking for a missing friend named Alice, who happens to be at a party the girls attend.

The girls made a new friend named Lily, who Savi has taken an interest in! They all attend a volleyball game together, which more monsters attack. Emma’s infection is spreading, and the girls need to do something quick!

Well, a portal is now open, and monsters are everywhere in Virginia! Emma is unable to move and has passed out. We find out a mean girl that we met at the party in issue one is a much worse mean girl than originally anticipated. And she wants to sacrifice Emma to Cimmeria to please her.

Cimmeria offers Emma something that would be hard for any child to turn down, but luckily for us, Emma isn’t any child. And…. I got all the zombie magical girls I didn’t know I needed! The conclusion was super satisfying, but I want more. And… I want to meet these new characters! And like, please give me my Virgo Starforce girl, please!

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To Crown A Beast (Blackest Gold, #4) by R. Scarlett

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1.) Vein Of Love ★★
2.) Body of The Crime ★★★
3.) A Vow of Thorns ★★★★★

“She’s my crown, my court, my queen. Nothing matters without her.”

This was such a satisfying conclusion. And even though I had a bit of a rough start with these first two books in this quartet, I ended up absolutely falling in love with the last two. And I promise you, A Vow of Thorns and this book are so worth it. Fantasy romance at its best.

I feel like I can’t say much, with this being the concluding novel, but Vein Of Love stars two characters who were destined to be together from the very start. Molly and Tensley’s ancestors crafted a contract 300-years-ago that ensured they would be together. Molly is a human, but also a daemon, which means she has supernatural powers that also enhance any demon she is bonded/mated with. And Tensley is a powerful demon from a very powerful line of demons, who obviously created a contract to ensure their family stays powerful.

Molly and Tensley’s romance is for sure enemies to lovers, but the journey is so enjoyable to witness. And regardless of what they are feeling for each other at any point in the story, they are being haunted by the events that happened to Tensley’s brother when he fell in love with a human and grew a heart, something that demons should never do. And the only way to deal with a demon who grows a heart for falling in love with a human, is to rip it out.

“I love you. I don’t care if it’s forbidden…”

And it was such a joy seeing these two characters grow right before my eyes; both individually and with each other. Molly ended up being one of the strongest protagonists I’ve read in all of PNR, and I can only hope I’ll get glimpses of her and everything she’s built and achieved in the spin-off books.

My only complaint was the villain in this book, and not that she was a bad villain, she was actually a close to perfect one, but I just feel like she shouldn’t have still been alive. Molly and Tensley should have ended this woman at the very start. And when the villain’s life just seems unrealistic, it takes away from the story a bit. Or maybe I wish she would have somehow been more powerful? Or seemed more of a challenge over an annoyance? But I still enjoyed the entire story line, I just feel like she took away from this being as perfect as A Vow of Thorns!

Overall, I’m lowkey sad that it’s over. I honestly am not ready to leave this world. But thankfully R. Scarlett is writing more for us, just not with these characters. But I’m ready to do sick and twisted things, and even commit a minor felony, to read a story about a certain prince. Soon, soon.
The romance is so amazing, the sex scenes are beyond words, and this story is a tier above the PNR out there. I completely recommend this with my whole heart. And I am so excited to read When Sinners Kneel next, where we get to learn all about Tensley’s brother and that missing heart of his!

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A Vow of Thorns (Blackest Gold #3) by R. Scarlett

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1.) Vein Of Love ★★
2.) Body of The Crime ★★★

“You will be my equal, my queen, my night sky of darkness. I would wage war for you. I would move mountains and steal stars. Anything, anything…”

Good dear Lord, this was one of the best Fantasy Romance books I’ve ever read.

The previous two books mostly took place in Manhattan, and even though they heavily had fantasy aspects, they always still read like contemporaries. Then R. Scarlett gave me a medieval castle, and fall equinox hunts, and feasts, and dancing, and court politics, and my aesthetic immersion was in overload. I loved this setting. This book reads so differently than the previous ones, but they are so worth reading to get to this one.

“You’re my court. You’re my crown.”

The Blackest Gold series stars two main protagonists:
Molly – Victim of a 300-year-old contract that was set up by her ancestors. The contract promises Molly, who was born with ancient daemon (unlike demon) powers beyond her control, to marry a demon of a very prestigious demon house.
Tensley – The demon who is promised to Molly. And he comes from a very powerful line of demons, yet because of a mistake his brother made years and years ago, his family is desperate to prove their worth and value to the rest of the demons. And obviously Molly is the perfect claim to (more) fame.

And their relationship was not the easiest in books one and two, but in A Vow of Thorns they are a romance lovers dream. I was honestly swooning at all the heartfelt moments. Then I was panting at all the perfect steamy scenes. That fall equinox scene I mentioned above? For sure one of the sexiest scenes I’ve ever read in my entire life.

“I love you with my whole cruel heart. It’s wild and ruthless, but it beats for you and only for you, my dolcezza.”

The angst was perfect, the romance was everything, the plot was completely enthralling, the twists were so very gripping, the setting was flawless, and the characters made me feel every emotion under the sun. I feel like I can’t say more, with this being book three in the quartet, but I promise this book is a masterpiece.

But the cliffhanger ending in this? I about fell off my bed. And as much as I wanted to scream, it’s going to make such a perfect concluding novel. I can’t wait.

Overall, I loved this. I loved this so much. Easily one of the best Fantasy Romance books I’ve ever read in my entire life, and I cannot wait for more. Also, this doesn’t impact my ratings at all, but the author of this series, R. Scarlett, is honestly a confirmed angel. You all should follow her on social media. One of the kindest and sweetest humans, who actually listened to my two star review of book one. Seriously, the romance community is blessed to have her. And I feel so blessed to have read this book.

“She was the Queen on an ancient chessboard. Demons would bow for her.”

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Top Ten Tuesday | Favorite Book Quotes

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Okay, first and foremost, this T10T prompt is perfect for me. I have always been such a quote lover! Even from a young age, I was always writing down my favorite lines from books. I love lyrical writing more than any other aspect of literature, and I live for the quotes that make me feel absolutely everything. I hope I can share a couple new ones with you all, that you will fall in love with, too! Also, all of these make me an emotional mess, so heads up and enjoy! 💖


“It had flaws, but what does that matter when it comes to matters of the heart? We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because. That’s as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect.”

― Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear


“Love is like the rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then it starts pouring and if you’re not careful it will drown you.”

― Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory


“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

― Leigh Bardugo, Crooked Kingdom


“Love is the bane of honor, the death of duty. What is honor compared to a woman’s love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms … or the memory of a brother’s smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”

― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones


“He kissed me with color, with drumbeat, and a surgeon’s precision. He kissed me with who he was, the sum of his life—and it was all encompassing. I wondered what I kissed him with since I was only broken parts.”

― Tarryn Fisher, Mud Vein


“We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women.”

― Seanan McGuire, Every Heart a Doorway


“She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness.”

― Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Boys


“I think you’re a fairy tale. I think you’re magical, and brave, and exquisite. And I hope you’ll let me be in your story.”

― Laini Taylor, Strange the Dreamer


“But if you stay, no part of this comm gets to decide that any part of this comm is expendable. No voting on who gets to be people.”

― N.K. Jemisin, The Obelisk Gate


“If I was gay, I wouldn’t need an asterisk beside my name…… I wouldn’t have to explain that I fall in love with minds, not genders or body parts. People wouldn’t say I’m ‘just a slut’ or ‘faking it’ or ‘undecided’ or ‘confused.’ I’m not confused. I don’t categorize people by who I’m allowed to like and who I’m allowed to love. Love doesn’t fit into boxes like that. It’s blurry, slippery, quantum. It’s only limited by our perceptions and before we slap a label on it and cram it into some category, everything is possible. That’s me. I’m not gay, not bi. I’m something quantum.”

― Elliot Wake, Black Iris

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Opal (The Raven Cycle #4.5) by Maggie Stiefvater

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1.) The Raven Boys ★★★★★
2.) The Dream Thieves ★★★★★
3.) Blue Lily, Lily Blue ★★★★★
4.) The Raven King ★★★★★

“She loved him the best when he was very sad or very serious or very happy. ”

You all, I can’t even begin to put into words how good it felt to be back in this world. And Opal is such an amazing protagonist to see the world through. She’s so curious, and so precious. My favorite secret. I loved animal days and I loved dream days. I loved it all.

“…and something about when Ronan made him laugh so hard that he couldn’t stop made her love him so hard that she felt sad because one day he would get old and die because that was what things with animalness did.”

Opal is a short story under forty pages where we are able to see the events that are happening after The Raven King, but through Opal’s eyes. Opal is the little dream creature that Ronan made, and she is so adorable. I literally was laughing out loud so many times turning this. Opal’s mind is a wonderful place to be, and it truly made the story that much more special.

“She had to content herself with stolen glimpses through cracked doors, slender one-inch views of duvet and sheets piled like thunderheads, Adam and sometimes Ronan pillowed among them.”

And my soft boy and my hard boy. Both so pure, so worthy of love, so perfect. I cried happy, light tears while reading this entire thing. Then I sobbed when it was over, because I missed this world so much. The only other series that makes me feel this way is Harry Potter, and even though JK Rowling is trying to single handedly ruin my childhood nostalgia, there is no higher praise than to compare The Raven Cycle to Harry Potter. If Harry Potter was my childhood, The Raven Cycle is my 20s.

I am not sure how Maggie Stiefvater does it. How she strings these words together and makes the most beautiful prose my eyes have ever seen. Her words impact me and touch my soul. Her words leave me speechless. Her words are nothing short of magic.

The sort of rain that makes one happy and sad at the same time. Fireflies. Harvesting all the trash. Clenched fists. Long walks home. Secret barns. Secret phone calls. Secret girls. You all, I can’t even begin to describe how good it felt to be back in this world. The transportation power of these books is unlike any other. Cabeswater is truly the one literary place I want to go more than any other, and I can’t wait to have a new home, too.

“There were no rules in dreams so you could try anything.”

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Also, talking about this at length and with ridiculous detail with my dear friend Julie made this reading experience even better. I’m so blessed to have her, and honored to call her my friend, and so privileged to fall in love with these characters with her. 💙

Inkmistress (Of Fire and Stars #0.5) by Audrey Coulthurst

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, real quick, I’m going to do a little PSA, since I think a lot of you might need it:
Bisexuals who are with boys are still bisexual. Bisexuals who are with girls are still bisexual. Bisexuals who are with people who identify as nonbinary are still bisexual. Bisexuals who have never been with anyone are still bisexual.

And the fact that I still have to say this, in 2018, is why Inkmistress is now one of my favorite YA Fantasies of all time. We need books, of all genres, that normalize sexuality in every aspect. But you all might not realize how rare it is to read a book about a bisexual girl ending up with a boy and still seeing her bisexuality beautifully on display. This book moved me to tears. And I believe with my whole heart that this book is going to be one of my all-time favorites.

“You would never hurt anyone on purpose, Asra, and that is both your strength and your weakness.”

Inkmistress follows one of my new favorite protagonists, Asra, who lives her life secluded away in the mountains. She lives her life in hiding, only traveling down to the village below when weather permits it, to help them with births and other medicinal needs. Yet, some people still view her as a witch. But what Asra really is is so much more powerful.

Asra has the power to change the future, present, and past with her blood. Yet, at a cost. To be able to wield such power, it takes from her lifeforce and ages her. But we soon learn that there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do for a girl who has accepted her when no one else has.

Also in this world, people come into adulthood when they are able to manifest, or bond with an animal by being blessed by the six gods that truly do control this world. Obviously, some animals are more powerful than others, but the most important thing is to just be able to manifest.

Asra feels like she has no other choice but to grant the girl, who she loves more than anything in this world, her wish: to finally manifest. And manifest Ina does. Into something more powerful than Asra imaged. Unfortunately, it is not the happiest of celebrations, because Asra learns again that it is a very scary thing to wish for something, and there will always be consequences of shaping the future.

From there we are sent on a journey and an adventure, where Asra is trying to do the right thing, while also trying to learn who and what she really is. And I promise, it is nothing short of amazing. And we get to meet so many wonderful side characters. Even though I’m very biased towards Hal, who is a PoC who stole my heart completely. I instantly loved him. And let me tell you, the Romance in this book is everything I’ve ever wanted in my life, seriously.

“Love was the way he made me laugh when I least thought it possible, and the way our voices came together to sing a tavern song inappropriate for most company. Love was the way he kissed me until I knew without doubt that anywhere he was would be home.”

This book has such an important discussion on unconditionally love, and how you are always worthy and deserving of it. We see unapologetic heartbreak in this book, and it’s not easy to read, but it’s so important to read. Very rarely is your first love your only love, and sometimes you figure that out in a very hurtful way. And just in general, nothing hurts worse than when someone you love hurts you, betrays you, or chooses to not love you anymore. Learning that it is okay to love again, and that you are worthy of love, is something that so many people struggle with, myself included. And in case you need a reminder, from a random book reviewer: You are deserving of love, always and forever, you are deserving of love.

“In these dark and lonely moments, did she think of me as I thought of her?”

And I see people saying this feels info-dumpy? But I honestly didn’t feel like that at all. Maybe it is because I read so much Adult High and Epic Fantasy? But I easily understood and fell in love with the world and the world building. I thought it was super easy to understand, yet I was completely mesmerized at every new development. Like, I truly think this world was close to perfect in my eyes.

And this is completely irrelevant to my rating, but I still have to shout it from the rooftops: This book has one of my all time favorite names! And you all know I’ve read a lot of books, and this was the first time I have ever seen it printed in a story. And I’m not that big of a tease to not tell you all; the name is Garen, and I first fell in love with it back 2011 when I first installed League of Legends. Well, it’s 2018 and it is still my all-time favorite, so I couldn’t resist gushing. Also, to further prove that the universe perfectly aligned to put this book into my hands.

And this book is truly a blessing. It had everything I like to see in my Fantasy: Girls with hidden powers, blood magic, herbal healing, gods, tyrant kings, traveling from city to city, secret societies, swoon-worthy romance, friendship, motherhood, twists, turns, betrayals, and… dragons. Honestly, I know I’m not even near considered a teen anymore, but I feel like I was completely targeted by this book. And I think so many of my Adult Fantasy reader friends would love this one, too.

The writing is beautiful, the journey and adventure were perfection, the messages are so important. I was living for the feministic themes, I was swooning over the romance, I was crying over the reveals. I will carry this story with me forever, I will recommend this story to every fantasy lover I ever meet, I will always consider myself blessed to have been privileged enough to open this book.

The only negative thing I can even think of saying is that I’m kicking myself that I haven’t read Of Fire and Stars yet. I feel like this book did such a wonderful job hinting at what is to come, and I am so excited. I am 100% obviously telling you that you can read this first and completely enjoy the story, but I bet you’d get a lot of enjoyment if you have read Of Fire and Stars.

Overall, this was everything to me. It means more to me than I can say, or any word combination my fingers could type for you. I loved this. I truly loved this with the sum of my being. And the more I think about it, the more I fall in love with it. I just hope you all give it a try and fall in love with it, too.

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

Buddy read with Jules! ❤

Use Me by Kimberly Knight

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ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

This was such a sexy, romantic, and downright adorable contemporary! It is such a delightful mix of humor, hockey, and hotness! And even though this is so swoon-worthy, it also talks about a lot of tough topics, like bullying and stalking and how it will always be easier for a girl to turn down a guy by saying she has a boyfriend, than just by saying no.

Use Me is set in Chicago, and stars two very different news anchors whose paths cross by complete fate. Another thing I really loved about this book is that the main protagonists are both into their 30s and it’s completely normalized that they had fun and focused on their careers in their 20s, and do not feel shame for not having children yet. Yet, both are thinking about marriage, for very different reasons.

➽ Ashtyn – In love with journalism! She now is the lead news anchor for her local nightly news station and is super popular among the community! She has a very bright future ahead of her.

➽ Rhys – Hockey obsessed! Has played his whole life, but didn’t make it pro. So, he did the next best thing and became somewhat famous for being the local hockey sportscaster.

And (*Yellowcard’s best song*) one October night, after both of these two have had their relationships ended right before their eyes, they decide to do what a lot of people would probably do: try to drink it away at the local pub.

The romance in this is so good. It starts out a 50/50 mix of relationship of convenience and just a blatant fake relationship, both of which are tropes that I utterly love. And it was beyond heartwarming to see these two slowly, but surely, realize that maybe there was a little something more there.

You all, this was so adorable. I swear, I had a smile on my face for most of this book. But, like I said above, it does touch on some super dark, but important topics that I actually wish I saw more of in the romance genre. Stalking happens way more than you think, and you don’t have to be a famous movie star to have it happen to you. I loved the normalization and I really respect Kimberly for taking her story there. This is for sure a romantic contemporary, but there is a constant thriller mystery going on, too.

The only negative thing I will really say is that sometimes the situations felt a little over the top for me. I totally understand that this is a book, so I am not that harsh of a judge when it comes to realisticness, but some of the things that went on were still a little much for me. Plus, there were a few homophobic terms that the villain used a few times that I really hated. Trigger/Content warnings: homophobic comments and slurs, cheating (always in a negative light), stalking, bullying, attempted rape (Rohypnol), and I suppose a little violence, but nothing too graphic.

Overall, this was such a delightful read that I absolutely adored! Seriously, if you guys are in a romantic mood for something that’s maybe a little on the naughty side, please pick this up! This was beautifully written, I couldn’t help but fall in love with both of these characters, the story was absolutely addictive, and the mystery was completely captivating. I’m so happy I was able to read this wonderful story!

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