Sugar and Spite by Gail D. Villanueva | Review

Sugar and Spite by Gail D. Villanueva | Review

¡Hola, mi gente!

I come from the lands of pain and finals to talk about a sweet read that gave me all the serotonin I needed to survive the last weeks. Sugar and Spite is a story of fantasy, friendship, and learning to stand up for yourself.

Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Fantasy

Trigger Warnings: bullying, colorism

Slightly spoiler-ish tw (mark/highlight the next line to read them):

death of pet, tropical storm, evacuation

Can a bully be defeated by a magical love potion?
Jolina can’t take Claudine’s bullying any longer! The taunts and teasing are too much. Though Jolina knows she’s still in-training to use her grandfather’s arbularyo magic, she sneaks into his potions lab to get her revenge. Jolina brews a batch of gayuma, a powerful love potion.

And it works. The love potion conquers Claudine’s hateful nature. In fact, Claudine doesn’t just stop bullying Jolina-now she wants to be Jolina’s BFF, and does everything and anything Jolina asks.

But magic comes with a cost, and bad intentions beget bad returns. Controlling another person’s ability to love-or hate-will certainly have consequences. The magic demands payment, and it is about to come for Jolina in the form of a powerful storm…

Magic and reality mingle in this brilliant new middle-grade novel by Gail D. Villanueva that asks whether it’s ever okay to take away someone’s free will.


THE SETTING & THE REPRESENTATION: I loved seeing Filipino culture through the characters eyes. I’m not Filipino, but I could feel the love and respect for everything that’s part of it through all the references (ESPECIALLY THE FOOD ONES? I left this book HUNGRY). The magic in the book is based on Filipino culture and traditions. But outside of the magic, there are also glimpses of some of the beliefs, traditions, and everyday elements that create the Filipino culture.

THE MESSAGE: Gail D. Villanueva doesn’t shy away from tackling racism, colorism, homophobia, classism and consumerism in the book. Not only that, but she does it in . I feel like it’s important to have these conversations, especially with children in the middle grade bracket, and Villanueva does it in a plain, accessible way without sounding preachy or talking down to them. The book also shows the journey each of us has to go, no matter the age, to love and accept ourselves. I wish this book had been in the bookshelves when I was in school; it would’ve shown me so many things at that time.

THE WRITING: if you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ve probably seen that I put a lot of emphasis on writing style in them. Writing style is what either solds or throws a story for me. If you give me a writing style that compels me to read, I will read ANYTHING. That being said, if Villanueva is writing a list of “top most boring topics in the universe”, I would still read every single sentence. There’s something addicting about her words and the way she weaves them together. The way she describes the settings had me walking through the places with the characters. This was my first time reading any of her works, but I can’t wait to see what else I can read by her.

THE HUMOR & THE CHARACTERS: I loved this book so much, mainly because it made me laugh at all the right places. Jolina’s relationship with Claudine is thorny (at best) in the beginning, but through the events of the book we get to know them better and start rooting for each one. The pets are also part of the main cast and they were (in my opinion) one of my favorite parts of the story. From Jolina and Claudine to Kidlat, I loved getting to know the characters in the story and going with them through the ups and downs of living. When I finished reading, my eyes were damp and my heart was full. it felt like traveling back in time and going on an adventure with friends.

This book was a delightful read. I can’t praise it enough. If you’re looking for a fun and heartful read, Sugar and Spite is for you. It gives us a story of friendship, forgiveness, and resilience that will warm your heart and give you the serotonin you need.



Gail D. Villanueva is a Filipino author born and based in the Philippines. She’s also a web designer and an entrepreneur. She loves pineapple pizza, seafood, and chocolate, but not in a single dish together (eww). Gail and her husband live in the outskirts of Manila with their dogs, ducks, turtles, cats, and one friendly but lonesome chicken. Her debut novel My Fate According to the Butterfly (Scholastic, 2019) was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, an Amazon Best Book of the Month Editor’s Pick, and a NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. Gail’s next book, Sugar And Spite, will be published by Scholastic on April 20, 2021.

These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy | Book Review

These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy | Book Review

¡Hola, mi gente! Today I come to you with another YA fantasy review (look at me, actually keeping my yearly reading resolution! Who are they?). These Feathered Flames was a pleasant surprise. My luck with YA fantasies last year wasn’t the best, so I’m always a little scared of picking up one now. I’m so glad I didn’t pass on this one.

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

TW: Death of a parent, on-page emotional abuse, references to physical abuse, on-page death, violence

A queer retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale

When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.

But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.

As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.


  • The characters are mostly the point that either sells or burns a book for me, and this book sold me everything in the store. Asya and Izaveta are amazing protagonists and the author does a fantastic job at differentiating them. My favorite of the sisters was Asya (the only way I can describe Asya is as a cinnamon roll, but make it spicy. I know, it makes no sense, but IT WORKS), but both of them stole a small part in my heart. Their lives have been completely different and you can see this in the way they move through and interact with the world. Throughout the book, both grow and learn about themselves, their relationship as sisters and their relationship with their past and future. I was rooting for them the whole way and I’ll continue to do so in the next book.
  • The writing is amazing. The plot is intricately written and keeps you guessing as you learn about the events taking place through both Asya and Izaveta. You can feel the tension through the pages as you explore the world created by Overy and discover the different schemes and plans the characters have. Trust no one. Believe nothing. Asya and Izaveta are thrown in a world were nothing is as it seems and no one can tell who’s friend and who’s foe. Political intrigue isn’t usually my favorite part of fantasies, but this one had me hooked from the first page. The way the world is build around and through the magic system is fantastic. Everything is interwoven in a way that baffles me with it’s complexity.
  • It has a sapphic enemies-to-lovers story and I was *incoherent screams*. When the characters started gradually warming up to each other I was literally clapping (if I’m honest, many scenes in this book had me making weird sounds or actions. My family checked on me too many times to count when I was fangirling or stressing about something). The scenes of them together we got were the fluffiest and warmest things I’ve ever read. I would protect my girls from everyone.
  • That last 15-25% of the book was w i l d. I was gasping, internally screaming, mentally throwing my book across the room (I had an ebook so… no), gasping again, pacing around my room… It had me second guessing everything I thought I knew and re-examining every single belief I had about it. I loved it. The rest of the book is great, too, but that last quarter of the book make everything so worth it. Plus it paves the ground for the sequel, which I need pa’ ayer.
  • I’m not Slavic, so I can’t speak about the folklore and traditions that Overy used in the story, but from what I’ve read in other reviews, the author did a lot of work researching for this story. It shows. Everything in this world and story is carefully planned and created, connecting Slavic folklore and history with the themes and magic of the book. It makes the lore in the book richer and the story fuller.
  • There are bears you can ride. That’s it. Should I give this detail the same importance as worldbuilding, writing, characters and plot? Not at all. DO I GIVE IT THE SAME IMPORTANCE? ABSOLUTELY.


  • There were a few chapters in the middle of the book that were a little slow. However, the strong beginning and that stressing amazing end made-up for those few chapters and, even if they aren’t as fast-paced as the rest of the book, they’re still easy to go through.

Overall, These Feathered Flames is a book you need to read. Whether you’re looking for intricate worldbuilding, great characters and relationships, an interesting magic system or a story where you can RIDE A BEAR, you’ll close the book satisfied. This was an excellent first book and I can’t wait to see where Overy takes us in the sequels.

About the Author

Alexandra grew up in London and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her
undergraduate degree in history at UCLA. She then went on to compete her MFA in screenwriting also at UCLA, and stuck around for the weather and great ice cream. She loves writing in all formats, from novels to screenplays to graphic novels, always centring on fierce women and morally grey characters, often with a bit of magic and murder. When she’s not writing, she can be found baking, fangirling over her favourite books, or cuddling her kittens.

A big thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours for providing a copy of this book. Make sure to drop by the tour stops over here ( to read more reviews and see other creative posts.

Un abrazo,


Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price | 5 Reasons to Read It

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price | 5 Reasons to Read It

Perfect for fans of the Lady Janies and Stalking Jack the Ripper, the first book in the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries series is a clever retelling of Pride and Prejudice that reimagines the iconic settings, characters, and romances in a thrilling and high-stakes whodunit.

When a scandalous murder shocks London high society, seventeen-year-old aspiring lawyer Lizzie Bennet seizes the opportunity to prove herself, despite the interference of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious firm Pemberley Associates.

Convinced the authorities have imprisoned the wrong person, Lizzie vows to solve the murder on her own. But as the case—and her feelings for Darcy—become more complicated, Lizzie discovers that her dream job could make her happy, but it might also get her killed.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every Pride and Prejudice adaptation and retelling ever written must be read by Linda.

Maybe it’s not a truth universally accurate, but I certainly make EVERYONE aware of my love for Pride and Prejudice 2 minutes into any acquaintance. So of course, the first time I heard about Pride and Premeditation, I automatically added it to my TBR. After finishing the book, it has become one of my favorite Pride and Prejudice adaptations of the last few years. But why should you read it? I bring you a few reasons:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a brilliant idea, conceived and executed by a clever young woman, must be claimed by a man.”

  1. THE WRITING STYLE Just like in Pride and Prejudice, this opening line establishes the tone of the rest of the book. Pride and Premeditation is not a linear retelling of Pride and Prejudice in which you can point the exact scenes each chapter represents. Yes, it has a few key moments that every lover of Pride and Prejudice will recognize and love, but I would describe this more in the line of Death Comes to Pemberley, in which they use familiar characters, but create a completely different story around them, changing them when necessary.

“A gentleman by the name of Charles Bingley was taken to a magistrate this morning, at quarter to twelve. He was covered in blood.”

  • THE WHODUNNIT Although this is a Pride and Prejudice retelling, I would say the mystery has as much importance as the romance in the story. Going with Lizzie and Darcy on their mission of finding the true killer of Mr. Hurst, making the connections with them and overall guessing at every point had me glued to the page and the audiobook.
  • THE CHARACTERS My favorite thing in Pride and Prejudice are the characters and the way they interact with one another. The same can be said for Pride and Premeditation, which borrows Austen’s characters but gives them a life of their own while adding new people to the story.
  • THE ENEMIES TO LOVERS I don’t even need to describe this. Pride and Prejudice is THE enemies to lovers story, and this adaptation gives me another iteration of my favorite couple. Their banter in this book is LEGENDARY.

“You wouldn’t be your own mistress, you’d be mistress of your husband’s household, and you’ll spend your days tending to his house and children and social status. If that’s freedom, it’s not the sort that woman ought to pursue.”

  • THE FEMINIST ICON THAT IS ELIZABETH BENNET, ESQ. The story touches many themes that, sadly, are still prevalent in our world. The difficulty of making a name for yourself as a woman in law, the rigid perception of what is expected from us and the constant reproach from the world when we refuse to stay in the boxes it’s made for us would resonate for young ladies from the 18th century and folks from the present.

A few things I didn’t like as much:

  • I think the story would’ve been more interesting if it had been an adult historical mystery romance instead of a YA. This is just personal preference and it doesn´t exactly hurt the story, but I feel like having an adult protagonist (just like in the original story) would have opened a few more doors for Lizzie to investigate “realistically” (then again, this *is* fiction. I already suspended my belief to think that a lawyer like Darcy would let Lizzie help; suspending it for this isn’t a problem, just a preference).
  • Although I’m a fan of the writing style, people who like realistic portrayal of speech in their historical fiction might find the language some of the characters use a little jarring. It mixes many modern words and phrases with XVIII century English and it can be a little… weird.

Other than that, I loved Pride and Premeditation and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the Jane Austen Murder Mystery Series as the books come out.

About the Author

Tirzah Price grew up on a farm in Michigan, where she read every book she could get her hands on and never outgrew her love for YA fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is a former bookseller and librarian. Now, she’s a contributing editor at Book Riot, where she can be found recommending books on the site, newsletters, podcasts, and social media accounts. When she’s not writing, reading, or thinking about YA books, she splits her time between experimenting in the kitchen and knitting enough socks to last the fierce Michigan winters.

Tirzah is pronounced TEER-zuh. Pronouns are she/her.

Make sure to check other reviews and creative posts here.



The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore | Review

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore | Review

¡Hola, mi gente! I drop by to share with you a book that has been constantly in my mind since I finished it. The Mirror Season has buried into my heart as deeply as the mirror shard in Ciela’s and I wish everyone would give it a chance so they can be as enchanted by it as I am.

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magic Realism

Trigger Warnings: on-page sexual assault, sexual harassment, bullying, panphobia/biphobia

“An unforgettable story of trauma and healing, told in achingly beautiful prose with great tenderness and care.” —#1 New York Times-bestselling author Karen M. McManus

When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly-magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown, in Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season…

Graciela Cristales’ whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.

I already stated this in the trigger warnings up above but let me say this again: take care of yourself while reading this book. It’s ok to stop reading for a while if it’s triggering you. It’s ok to not finish the book. The Mirror Season is for survivors, but not being able to read it doesn’t mean you’re not strong or you haven’t grown. There is a lot of pain that comes from trauma, especially sexual trauma, and you don’t need to do anything to prove that you are strong. The fact that you’re here is proof of that. Waking up and trying to find light in the middle of the dark is proof of that.

It costs something to listen to someone else’s story. People forget that sometimes.

When the first announcement for this book was made, I automatically added it to my tbr list. It’s no secret that Anna-Marie McLemore is one of my favorites, if not THE favorite, contemporary author. But even as a lover of all McLemore books, I wasn’t prepared for how much this book would haunt me after reading it. As usual, McLemore’s writing is tragically beautiful. This is the story of Lock and Ciela and how one night destroyed them like a mirror falling to the ground. But it’s also much more. It’s about Ciela protecting herself from the world by becoming cold and distant. It’s about Lock thinking he did something to deserve what happened to him because he’s a guy. It’s about the lies the world tells us about the color of our skins and the curves in our bodies, making it seem like either of them represents permission to touch, to mark, to hurt. Through all that, it’s about how we are not broken for something that someone did to us. It’s about picking up all our pieces, even when the edges of them hurt our hands in the process. It’s about forgiving ourselves for something that’s not our fault.

“I want to stand for what I am, how I love, how my broken heart still works. Even if there are cracks in me. Even if my heart is scar tissue around a sliver of glass”.

It’s not all suffering, though. Picking our pieces after a traumatic even often requires us to look at the small moments, those few seconds or minutes were laughing doesn’t hurt the chest and the memories lift from your shoulders, to find strength for the rest of the day. And McLemore takes us there with Ciela and Lock. I would find myself smiling through the tears at some points (I’m pretty sure I looked ridiculuous but HEY, McLemore always hits me in the feelings, I shouldn’t be surprised). The book had the perfect balance between pain and joy, laughter and crying.

Every moment of our life, it goes with us. It lives forever. And a lot of those moments you don’t have much say over. So the ones you do, you’ve got to do everything with them.

Ciela’s family was one of my favorite things in the book. Reading about a healthy relationship between parents and their child is still rare in YA, and seeing that in this book just filled my heart with warm feelings. Tied to this, THE FOOD! I haven’t craved pan dulce this bad in YEARS. I literally drove to the closest panadería and got two bags of pan dulce for my family because the descriptions of food in The Mirror Season will make you drool, both for desserts and dinner.

I might not always like my parents, but changes are if you don’t like them, you won’t like me either.

There were very few things I wished we could’ve had more of. One of those is a deeper look at the antagonists of the book. I´m trying to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, so I will only say that the antagonists in the story felt a little flat in some scenes. However, this doesn’t turn into something I disliked because I feel like this was a very conscious decision. There are many other books in which they show how things could affect others and turn them into abusers. But real life isn’t so clean cut. Sometimes the only thing other people need to justify the hurt they create in others is existing. Sometimes people feel entitled to hurt other by how rich they are, how white they are, how much power they hold in our society.

You can make me quiet but you can’t make me forget.

I’ve tried to think of something I didn’t like about this book, but it’s impossible. At least right now, when the wound of finishing this book is so fresh in my heart. It might be because it’s been so present in my mind or simply because it’s just that great, but the truth is this: there was nothing I didn’t like in The Mirror Season. Full of intricate characters, beautiful prose and a powerful message, The Mirror Season will give you a look into the deepest parts of your heart and hold your hand as you go through the pain and joy of the characters which, at some point, becomes your pain and joy as well.

There’s not a lot more I could say about The Mirror Season other than recommend it to everyone. To close this, though, I’d like to quote McLemore’s last message in their author’s note:

It’s not too late to feel better, to take deeper breaths, to startle a little less every time the world brushes too close.

It’s not too late for any of us.

We survived.

Now we can live.



Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and taught by their family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. They are the author of The Weight of Feathers, a finalist for the 2016 William C. Morris Debut Award; 2017 Stonewall Honor Book When the Moon Was Ours, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature and was the winner of the James Tiptree Jr. Award; Wild Beauty, Blanca & Roja, Dark and Deepest Red, and The Mirror Season.

Thank you to Colored Pages for the opportunity to read this book. I absolutely adored this journey and hope more people give it a chance. Make sure to visit the other stops in the tour to read other reviews and see other creative content for The Mirror Season.

Have you read The Mirror Season? Is it in your TBR?



My Last Summer with Cass by Mark Crilley | Review

My Last Summer with Cass by Mark Crilley | Review

¡Hola, mi gente!

I hope y’all are staying safe and well. Today I bring you the review for a short graphic novel I read recently that made me feel all soft inside. My Last Summer with Cass is a story about friendship, making art and choosing to be vulnerable through it.

Genres: Young Adult, graphic novel, coming of age, contemporary

This One Summer meets The Edge of Seventeen in this poignant coming-of-age YA graphic novel about two childhood friends at a crossroads in their lives and art—from the author of Mastering Manga.

Megan and Cass have been joined at the brush for as long as they can remember. For years, while spending summers together at a lakeside cabin, they created art together, from sand to scribbles . . . to anything available. Then Cass moved away to New York.

When Megan finally convinces her parents to let her spend a week in the city, too, it seems like Cass has completely changed. She has tattoos, every artist in the city knows her—she even eats chicken feet! At least one thing has stayed the same: They still make their best art together.

But when one girl betrays the other’s trust on the eve of what is supposed to be their greatest artistic feat yet, can their friendship survive? Can their art?

My Last Summer with Cass is a graphic novel that takes place at three different times: the first summers with Cass, the last summer with Cass and the aftermath. In the story we follow Megan as she navigates her life at those different stages: childhood, teenage years and early twenties. At the same time, the story shows how her friendship with Cass evolves through the years and clashes with who they are slowly becoming.

So much of the world is based on concealing things. On deception. It’s not that we can’t tell the truth, it’s that we’re scared to tell the truth.

Both girls share a love and talent for art. Since they were little, their families have been gathering at a lakeside cabin every summer. On these trips, they’ve been sharing their art, playing with each other’s styles and showing the things they learn between summers. But there comes a time when the summer escapades come to an end and they are separated for three years. When they meet again, in New York, there’s more to explore than the city that never sleeps. Megan is someone who’s used to listening to what other people want her to do and changing her plans to fill the expectations others have on them, especially her parents. Cass, on the other hand, has grown into someone that doesn’t just stand for herself, but needs to do it. If she sees something wrong, she points it out. If someone is lying, she will call them out on it. That summer, between plans for the future, current goals and their art, the girls have a lot catching up to do.

All my life I’ve been trying to please my parents. Every drawing I ever made was about hoping I’d get that little pat on the head from them. You got me to question that. To stop chasing after the approval of mom and dad or my teachers or some imaginary audience out there that might praise me if I give them what they want.

There’s not much else I can say about the plot without spoiling the story, since this is a graphic novel that’s leaning towards the short side, but the next scenes will be ones of exploring both their friendship and themselves as they run around the streets of New York.

Nobody beats themselves up quite the way creative people do. We’re never as good as we want to be. Half of the time, we think we’re total frauds. One surefire way to make yourself feel like shit is to start comparing yourself to other artists. Don’t do it. It’s mental poison.

This story focuses heavily in two themes: friendship and love for the craft. The friendship was beautiful and realistic. Even when both Megan and Cass have grown apart in personalities, they respect each other and try to understand the other’s point of view most of the time. The way they grew with their art and combined it was fun to see and absolutely stunning. The way they talk about their art, too, was something I found extremely relatable. Both girls have distinct ways of approaching their craft and the mix of them create something truly magical.

I felt so free. It was as if I understood for the first time what it really felt like to be perfectly happy.

A good friendship is like a work of art. When you’ve screwed it all up, you may wonder if trying to save it is even worth the effort. Take it from me: sometimes a friendship isn’t just like a work of art. It is a work of art. And it’s worth saving.

Overall, My Last Summer with Cass was a story full of life about growing up, friendship and loving art that touched my heart and gave a needed morale boost about my art. Absolutely beautiful style, great characters and relatable story.


About the author

Mark Crilley was raised in Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from Kalamazoo College, he traveled to Taiwan and Japan, where he taught English for nearly five years. It was during his stay in Japan that he created the Eisner Award–nominated comic Akiko on the Planet Smoo, which spawned a series of graphic novels and prose novel adaptations. In 1998, Mark Crilley was named to Entertainment Weekly’s It List of the 100 most creative people in entertainment.

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Magic Mutant Nightmare Girl by Erin Grammar | Interview

Magic Mutant Nightmare Girl by Erin Grammar | Interview

¡Hola, mi gente!

In order to escape from reality this week, I’ve decided to go back to my love for magic girls and sparkly heroes. Magic Mutant Nightmare Girls is a book that promises a lot of chaotic adventures, a diverse cast and rogue mutants trying to destroy the city. If this sounds like something that would interest you, read ahead to find the inspirations for the book, a little more about the characters and what you can expect for the next book in this trilogy.

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Trigger Warnings: depression, parental death, anxiety, bullying and harassment, mild gore and medical body horror, PTSD, brief mentions of illegal substance abuse, brief mentions of organized crime

Fight like a magical girl in this paperback original contemporary fantasy in which a Harajuku fashionista battles mutants—and social anxiety—by teaming up with an elite group of outcasts. Perfect for those obsessed with the technicolor worlds of Sailor MoonThe Umbrella Academy, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Book One of the Magic Mutants Trilogy.

Holly Roads uses Harajuku fashion to distract herself from tragedy. Her magical girl aesthetic makes her feel beautiful—and it keeps the world at arm’s length. She’s an island of one, until advice from an amateur psychic expands her universe. A midnight detour ends with her vs. exploding mutants in the heart of San Francisco.

Brush with destiny? Check. Waking up with blue blood, emotions gone haywire, and terrifying strength that starts ripping her wardrobe to shreds? Totally not cute. Hunting monsters with a hot new partner and his unlikely family of mad scientists?

Way more than she bargained for.


Linda: Magic Mutant Nightmare Girl feels like going back to my favorite animes growing up. I feel like it’s a mixture of Sailor Moon with Gosick. Are there any animes that inspired you while writing this story? Do you have any favorite anime/manga?
Erin: I don’t watch much anime these days, but I loved lots of the classics as a kid—including Sailor MoonDBZ, and pretty much anything on Toonami in the early 2000s. Probably pretty basic, haha. I didn’t watch anything new while writing MMNG, but I did reward myself for finishing one of the final edits by binging Cells at Work! That and Dorohedoro are definitely recent favorites. 

L: Speaking of which, Magic Mutant Nightmare Girl is a book I could easily see as a comic or graphic novel. If you could pick any scene from the book and turn it into a comic, which would it be?
E: This is such a fun question! For a bright, explosive scene I’d probably choose the mutant fight in chapter one and the shower of blue goo. For something more on the slice-of-life side, I’d pick the second sleepover where Holly and Kyle get to play dress-up. 

L: If I had to pick a word to describe this book, it would be FUN! It’s easy to fly through the pages following these team of weird pieces as they look for a rogue mutant. What was the most fun part of writing this story?
E: The propulsive nature of the plot was very fun to draft. I’m a bit of a discovery writer. Although I had a basic outline going in, I always loved the excitement of waking up with a brand new, exceptional idea to make everyone’s lives worse. The initial drafting—and then going back later to fine-tune little character details—were the best parts of writing MMNG. Believe it or not, my favorite scenes are actually the quietest ones—those seconds where characters slow down enough to do something so awkward that I hope the reaction from readers is visceral! 

L: If you HAD to choose a favorite member of N.E.R.D., who would it be?
E: I’m extra fond of Dr. Laura. I know what it’s like to be the mom-friend of a chaotic group, desperately trying to keep the runaway train on the tracks. She’s incredibly driven, smart, patient, and if you touch any of her “kids” she’ll snap your neck. That’s the kind of person I always want in my corner. 

L: I really like how you discuss the Harajuku and Lolita fashion throughout the story. If you had to dress three characters from this book in Harajuku fashion, how would they look? What would they wear?
E: I love this idea! I’d keep Chi Ho’s punk, laidback style with surreal tees from Listen Flavor and matching hammer pants (fire stripes optional) from ACDC Rag. Kyle is just so small and dainty that I agree with Holly—it’s impossible to deny the urge to put him in pumpkin pants and cat ears from Baby the Stars Shine Bright or Alice and the Pirates. I’d give him a small Usakumya too, so they could match. Nuñez has to have a kigurumi wardrobe filled with animal patterns and cartoons like Pusheen and Aggretsuko. Comfy, versatile, and deep pockets for lots of snacks! 

L: Is there anything you can tell us about the next part of this adventure? Where can we follow you to stay updated on your work?
E: Without spoilers: There’s more gore, more glitter, and several important people from the pre-book past come back with huge roles to play—and lots of drama to create! The crew will be leaving San Francisco, which means the first part of Chi Ho’s MMNG Chapter One prophecy might just be coming true. Thank you so much for having me for such a great interview! Readers can find me at and on most social media @eringrammar. 


Erin Grammar writes YA fantasy for quirky teens. She graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Fine Arts and is passionate about inspiring young readers. When she isn’t writing, she searches the SoCal hills for gemstones, thrifts Hello Kitty collectibles, and chases one incredible daughter and two very demanding cats. MAGIC MUTANT NIGHTMARE GIRL is her first novel.

Erin currently has a book tour with TBR and Beyond Tours and you can read all the amazing posts here.

And that’s all for today’s post! What’s a book that makes you remember your childhood? I think the other one that has made me feel like this was The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. I will never stop saying that it feels like Studio Ghibli decided to make an adult novel.

Please stay safe and until the next post!



I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre | Book Review & Interview | Book Tour

I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre | Book Review & Interview | Book Tour

Hola, mi gente

I come to you in the middle of my midterms to talk about a book that gave me all the fluffy feelings. I Think I Love You is the story about a helpless romantic and a pragmatic falling in love and…may I just say that the sapphics stay winning.

Genres:Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Romcom

A sweet and funny debut novel about falling for someone when you least expect it . . . and finding out that real life romance is better than anything on screen.

Emma is a die-hard romantic. She loves a meet-cute Netflix movie, her pet, Lady Catulet, and dreaming up the Gay Rom Com of her heart for the film festival competition she and her friends are entering. If only they’d listen to her ideas. . .

Sophia is pragmatic. She’s big into boycotts, namely 1) relationships, 2) teen boys and their BO (reason #2347683 she’s a lesbian), and 3) Emma’s nauseating ideas. Forget starry-eyed romance, Sophia knows what will win: an artistic film with a message.

Cue the drama. The movie is doomed before they even start shooting . . . until a real-life plot twist unfolds behind the camera when Emma and Sophia start seeing each other through a different lens. Suddenly their rivalry is starting to feel like an actual rom-com.

Things I Liked

  • EMMA! I know this isn’t an Emma-Jane Austen retelling, but the way Emma went around playing matchmaking truly made me feel like it was. I had so much fun following Emma’s shenanigans and watching her be in love with love. In some ways, I could see younger me in her and that’s probably one of the many reasons she stayed with me.
  • It’s a haters to lovers story with cinema dorks. AND the banter is fun and had me shipping these two babies from page one. It can’t get better than that.
  • It’s the sapphics for me folks, IT’S THE SAPPHICS. I have reached the conclusion that I don’t care how many times I’ve seen a trope, watching two girls fall in love makes it 1000% better.

Things I Didn’t Like

  • There was a lot of emphasis on the matchmaking schemes of Emma at some points, so the relationship between Emma and Sophia kinda jumped from one point to the other in a few pages, which made it seem a little rushed. If you like watching a relationship blossom slowly, this might be a problem for you.

Overall, watching these two movie nerds falling in love was a quick escape to a world filled with movies, fun schemes and romance. If you’re looking for something funny and enjoy movies, you will surely love this book.

About the Author

Auriane is the author of I Think I Love You, and works as a middle school teacher and freelance editor. She holds an MA in English Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing for Children & Young Adults. She lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Sammy, who is a certified bad boy.

Thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours I was able to speak with Auriane about films, soundtracks and Emma and Sophia. Continue reading to see our conversation and make sure to visit the rest of the tour stops here.

1. This book is all about the magic of cinema. What made you center your story around movies and stories?

The film festival was so much fun to write! I wanted to include a competitive element in the plot to pit Emma and Sophia against each other directly, and I picked movies and storytelling as the central competition because it allows them to butt heads about their different worldviews. Since Emma’s such a romantic, and Sophia’s a bit more cynical, their disagreements are reflected in the different types of art they want to make, which forces them to confront their differing values and ultimately find a middle ground.

The filmmaking aspect was also a great way for both Emma and Sophia to work through their inner struggles through their art. Emma is trying to find a way to come out to her parents as bisexual, and Sophia is grappling with the aftermath of her parents’ divorce and the miserable year she spent living in Paris with her mom. For both of them, storytelling is a way of dealing with those situations and finding ways to advocate for themselves.

2. If people take one message from your story, what would you want it to be?

Emma talks a lot about the importance of representation, and one of her main goals when making her movie for the film festival is telling a story with positive bisexual representation. I hope that message resonates with readers, and also empowers teen voices and teens’ ability to tell their own stories!

3. If Emma and Sophia had to choose three movies for their Top Favorite Movies, which ones would they be?

Emma’s all about rom coms with grand gestures, so her favorites would be When Harry Met Sally, 13 Going on 30, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Sophia is probably obsessed with Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Amelie. I also think she secretly loves About Time, but would never admit it to anybody.

4. Speaking of which, what are your favorite movies? Do you think Emma or Sophia would like your choices?

My all-time favorite movie is Ever After, and Emma would definitely approve there. I also love Gone Girl and Promising Young Woman, and while Sophia doesn’t talk much about thrillers in the book, I like to think she’d agree with me that they’re incredible movies. 

5. If I Think I Love You was a movie and you had to choose the perfect soundtrack for it, which songs would be on the list?

KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See” simply has to be there for the perfect mid 2000’s rom com vibes—Emma wouldn’t have it any other way. We also need some sadder, classic lesbian fare like “Demons” by Hayley Kiyoko for Sophia. And of course, no soundtrack would be complete without “I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family!

6. Your writing had me completely glued to the page. Do you have any advice on how to write lovely scenes?

Thank you so much! My best advice is to revise a lot, and don’t be afraid to make big changes. I got to know my characters so much better in my later drafts, and I think that helped me get into their heads more and explore how they were feeling in each scene more deeply. I also took the time to flesh out their backstories and worldviews more in later drafts, which helped me shape the way they each approached each new scene and situation.

7. What can we expect from you in the future? Where can we follow you to make sure we don’t miss your next adventure?

I’m currently experimenting in new genres, so I’ll hopefully be bringing f/f feels to middle grade and adult books soon! You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @aurianedesombre.

And that’s for today’s post! I’m finally finishing my Hall of Fame post for my 2020 reads (yeah, it’s March. What’s your point?), so stay tuned for that this later week. Stay safe and remember to give yourself a break this week.



Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce | Book Review & Playlist

Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce | Book Review & Playlist

¡Hola, mi gente!

I bring you another review today AND another giveaway! Make sure to enter at the end of this post for a chance to get a copy of Hot British Boyfriend!

After a horrifying public rejection by her crush, Ellie Nichols does what any girl would do: she flees the country. To be more precise, she joins her high school’s study abroad trip to England. While most of her classmates are there to take honors courses and pad their college applications, Ellie is on a quest to rebuild her reputation and self-confidence. And nothing is more of a confidence booster than getting a hot British boyfriend.

When Ellie meets Will, a gorgeous and charming Brit, she vows to avoid making the same mistakes as she did with the last guy she liked. Which is why she strikes up a bargain with Dev, an overachieving classmate who she’s never clicked with, but who does seem to know a lot about the things Will is interested in—if he helps her win over her crush, then she’ll help him win over his.

But even as Ellie embarks on a whirlwind romance, one that takes her on adventures to some of England’s most beautiful places, she still needs to figure out if this is actually the answer to all her problems…and whether the perfect boyfriend is actually the perfect boy for her.

Ellie finally gets the courage to ask her crush out. It’s going to go well: she’ll ask him in the party, they will hug, maybe share a kiss, and decide to become official. Nothing could go wrong… right?

Then, reality happens: her crush rejects her in a VERY public way and, somehow, the video of that embarrassing moment ends up in everyone’s social media. Not only that, but her friend, the one that she was counting to lean on after everything happened has started posting couple photos with the crush. So Ellie is desperate to disappear and, when a spot in the study abroad program opens, she decides to make the jump (quite literally) and run to Europe. She has, after all, embraced what the American Philosopher Taylor Swift said and decided to throw in their face a “there is nothing I do better than revenge”.

This starts a series of miscommunication problems and a few funny situations where Ellie will try to win someone over, learn more about herself and understand that sometimes the people closer to you are the ones you’ve always been looking for.

Things I liked

  • Extremely quick read! This is the perfect book to pick if you’re trying to get out of a reading slump.
  • People who know me in real life know this because I literally NEVER shut up, but I also studies abroad and reading this book hit me in a nostalgia train that made me miss travel yet again.
  • The romance is super cute, but what I liked the most was that Ellie took a momento to learn to love herself through the story. Yes, the romance is a big part of the book, her personal journey is as important.

Things I didn’t like

  • I focus a lot on character development in my reviews because that’s my favorite part of stories: the people we follow and the way the events in the book make them change. However, in Hot British Boyfriend I couldn’t find that development. Even Ellie, with the growth she goes through as she leans into self-love, remains relatively flat. So, if you’re a person that prefers stories that are character-focused, this might not be for you.

Overall, this was a very sweet and fun read. It’s a pick-me-up for moments where you want a story that will leave you satisfied and with a soft smile on the lips.



Kristy Boyce lives in Columbus, OH and teaches psychology as a senior lecturer at The Ohio State University. When she’s not spending time with her husband and son, she’s usually writing, reading, putting together fairy gardens, or watching happy reality TV (The Great British Bake-Off and So You Think You Can Dance are perennial favorites)

As part of the Hot British Boyfriend Book Tour, I created a playlist with songs that reminded me of the story. I tried to make the songs fit the story as it progresses; at first Ellie feels like everything that’s happened completely broke her, but as she explores new places she learns to love herself and, in the end, overcome what hurt her and her insecurities.

  1. Ghost – Kaina
  2. Death by a Thousand Cuts – Taylor Swift
  3. No More Sad Songs – Little Mix
  4. Pienso en tu Mirá – Rosalia
  5. Memorias – Alexander Omar
  6. Love is Beginning – Imaginary Future
  7. Old Habits Die Hard – Allie X
  8. Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop – Landon Pigg
  9. Look at Her Now – Selena Gomez
  10. Mango – Catey Shaw
  11. Loving You – Minnie Riperton
  12. +5 STARS+ – CL
  13. I Love Me – Demi Lovato
  14. Happiness – Taylor Swift


One reader will win a finished copy of Hot British Boyfriend. The giveaway starts on February 8th and ends on February 15th.

To enter and getting extra entries, go over here:

And that’s it for today’s post! Make sure to check the rest of the posts in this tour over here!

What cute, fun romance have you read recently?



Woods of Silver and Light by Victoria McCombs | Review + Interview + Giveaway | Book Tour

Woods of Silver and Light by Victoria McCombs | Review + Interview + Giveaway | Book Tour

¡Hola, mi gente!

I’m really trying to keep up with my Reading More Fantasy goal this year. I think I’m (somehow) managing to do it, so finger’s crossed to keep that up. Today I bring you the sequel to The Storyteller’s Daughter, a book I read last year that made it’s way into my favorite fantasies of 2020. I was really excited when I got chosen to be a part of this book tour and, lemme tell you, I was not disappointed! While The Storyteller’s Daughter remains my favorite of the two, Woods of Silver and Light was a great adventure and it was fun to be with Anika this time.

BTW! At the end of this post there’s a giveaway for an eCopy of The Storyteller’s Daughter (first book in the Storyteller Series) and Woods of Silver and Light! Make sure to enter for a chance to explore both adventures.

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Robin Hood Retelling

Trigger Warnings:

Ronin’s son is dead, and Maid Marion is gone. But a sorceress banished to the Woods can bring his son back if he and his Silver Raiders are willing to do something for her first. She finds there’s nothing Ronin Hood won’t do for his son…

Anika finds herself drawn to the mystery of the Woods and the thieves who live within, but the cost of associating with the Silver Raiders becomes higher than she’s willing to pay. The darkness of the Woods seeps into the Raider’s hearts, blurring the lines between hero and villain, until Anika’s fight for freedom turns into a fight to survive the magic of the trees that should have never been awoken.

This isn’t the tale of Robin Hood you remember.

Things I liked

  • Although this is a Robin Hood retelling, it takes many liberties with the original story, so there were a few twists and changes I didn’t see coming.
  • Victoria’s writing style is so vivid, so it’s very easy to imagine the Woods. This book is full of magical scenes and it felt like it guided you along Anika through the Woods. The descriptions in the book make you see everything clearly in your head, almost like it’s a movie! (That’s a description I use a lot when I like a writing style, but it’s just how I picture things as I read.)
  • CHARACTERS!! I really liked Anika! She’s a strong, outgoing and some-what impulsive woman who wants to help others. She also struggles with being insecure and feeling like she doesn’t fit with the elitist people of society. Ronin was an amazing character too. His story was very interesting and it was one of the main reasons I continued reading the story. The Silver Riders were interesting, but I wish we could’ve seen more of them. All in all, the characters are great.

Things I didn’t like

  • I’m not going to lie: it was a little hard to get through the first few chapters. However, after the 5th or 6th chapter mark I was intrigued and pretty much finished the rest in one sitting.
  • I wish we could see a bit more background of the magicians and the sorceress in the story. Their motivations weren’t completely clear to me and I feel like at some points they could be there just to have an antagonistic force rather than having an actual desire or goal for existing.

There’s a love triangle, which I don’t particularly enjoy. However, that’s not really the book’s fault, just my preference. All in all, I think she did a great job at keeping you guessing who the true partner would be.


Some of the things I love most in this world are peppermint hot chocolate, peanut butter ice cream, golfing dates, Jesus, and game nights with family. And of course, books.

Fairytales were my first love. I became obsessed with the idea that if one was brave enough, they could defeat dragons, and that true love was real. I met my true love in college, and together we raise our two boys. I have my dad to thank for teaching me to love writing, and my mom to thank for allowing us to keep a wall of medieval weapons in the house, which curated my love for that time period.

My dream is to write vivid worlds and charming characters that will leave an imprint on my reader’s hearts, the way that so many books have done for me.

Linda (L): In Woods of Silver and Light, you tell a version of Robin Hood that we haven’t seen before. What inspired you to jump into retelling this famous story?
Victoria McCombs (V): I thought of what trouble my main character could get into and came up with the idea of these dangerous woods that she’s drawn to. Then I added thieves into the woods and created a new version of Robin Hood where there are no good guys or bad guys, just a lot of people willing to cross certain lines for their own version of good.

L: Anika (the protagonist of Woods of Silver and Light) is extremely different from Cosette (the protagonist in The Storyteller’s Daughter). Was it hard to create distinct voices for them? Which sister was easier to write?
V: She is! When I wrote Cosette, I knew she would be simple. She just wanted to be loved and accepted. While I loved her message of learning to love yourself even when no one else sees your worth, when I wrote Anika, I wanted someone who didn’t care about any of that. Anika was the active character that the book needed. It was easy to create distinct voices because they are so drastically different. Anika was easier to write for me because she’s more like the girls you’d see in mainstream books.

L: With Woods of Silver and Light, you’ve retold two magical stories: Rumpelstiltskin in The Storyteller’s Daughter and Robin Hood in this latest release. Which one did you find the most challenging? Which one did you enjoy the most?
V: Rumpelstiltskin was more challenging because I stuck to the original tale a little bit more,
and it had to come up with ways to work with that. For Woods I created a tale just barely
based on the original which gave me much more freedom to enhance the plot and
characters. I fell in love with this story and the magic of the Woods.

L: If you could choose ANY story or tale to give your own twist next, which would it be?
V: I’ve actually already written the next two books in this series! The next is very loosely based on Sleeping Beauty, but it’s more about political intrigue and a girl fighting to reclaim her crown. It’s set in the frozen northern mountains where magic runs more freely.

L: The writing in this book is almost as magical as the story itself. It grabbed and held me hostage to the page, waiting for the next thing. The descriptions made everything feel like a movie. Are there any tips you can give to new writers on writing scenes that grab your attention?
V: Advice that I recently came across that I love is to weave descriptions throughout the story. So a few lines of description here, mixed with dialogue, then more vivid descriptions later. Avoid blocks of description that readers will glaze over and weave details throughout to remind us of the setting.

L: What other magical tales can we expect from you? Where can we follow you to get updates for your next adventure?
V: The Winter Charlatan releases December 2021 and it is my favorite of the series! It features a strong heroine, a magical ice palace, and lots of political intrigue. The next book is titled Heir of Roses and it comes out in 2022. Meanwhile, I have a pirate book coming in July 2021!

You can add me on Instagram at victoria_mccombs where I’m constantly posting updates on
my writing journey.

Giveaway (US Only)

One winner will receive an e-copy of The Storyteller’s Daughter and Woods of Silver and Light. The giveaway ends on February 15th. To enter, visit and follow the instructions for some extra entries. Good luck!

And that’s it for today’s post! Check out the other posts in this book tour over here. What’s a fairy tale/fable you want to read as a retelling?

Make sure to stay hydrated and take care of yourself!



The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna | Book Review | Book Tour

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna | Book Review | Book Tour

¡Hola, mi gente!

Today I bring you the review of a fantasy book that haunted me after finishing it. Although it was a hard read at some points, The Gilded Ones ended up surprising me.

Genres: YA, high fantasy, grimdark

Trigger Warnings: racism, xenophobia, rape, trauma, abuse, misogyny

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself

The Gilded Ones is one of the few high fantasy books I’ve been drawn to in a WHILE. I find myself drifting away from the genre, but this book almost grabbed me and forced me to sit down and read (in a good way!).

The Gilded Ones is a story about a girl that, when the time to prove she’s “pure” and thus worthy of finding a husband and being part of the village, finds her blood running gold, the color of impurity. However, when it seems like she will face things that are worse than death, she gets a chance to stay alive. From them, we follow Deka as she trains as an alaki to become a warrior for the king.

It’s important to keep present the trigger warnings. This book deals with hard topics and some of them can get overwhelming. If rape triggers you, there are some scenes that might trigger you. I will update this review with the page numbers once I get my finished copy, but I’ve seen people mention that in the UK ARC the pages that might be triggering are 277 and 278.

Things I liked:

  • The magic system in this book is SO interesting! I honestly don’t want to say much because learning about it and discovering more as you read is an experience in and of itself, but WOW! Other than the characters, the magic system is what kept me glued to the page. I can’t wait to see how it develops in the sequels.
  • The book touches racism, xenophobia and oppression in a way that feels respectful but real. Namina Forna shows in this first book that every voice deserves to be heard.
  • The Gilded Ones is incredibly diverse. There are Black, Asian and Brown characters, both main and secundary. There’s also sapphic rep, although it’s not the main focus of the story. All these characters are complex and fleshed out. Many of the them had me intrigued, and that made me want to read faster to find out more about them. At some moments I got so invested in the characters that I had to stop reading for a second and breath.
  • The writing style is amazing. At some points it felt like I was reading a comic book. That’s one of the main reasons I drew some fanart that looked like a small scene in a graphic novel.
  • Even when the book is grimdark, it has funny moments that had me chuckling as well. I went through the whole emotions spectrum with it.

Things I didn’t like

  • There are some issues with pacing at some points in the book. Some things were completely glossed over when they should’ve been explained a bit more while others were the focus of the scene when they didn’t have any impact on the overall story. HOWEVER I don’t think it completely affects the enjoyment of the book and it’s 100% about my preferences over having fantasy novels be slightly more fast-paced. (Then again, this IS high fantasy, so there’s a lot of world-building that needs to be done. I don’t typically read HF so that probably affected how I perceived the pacing of the book)
  • THIS ONE MIGHT BE A SLIGHT SPOILER! What I’m talking of is mentioned in the synopsis, but I know some people prefer to not know a lot about the story. Ignore these few lines. I wanted to see more of the training of the alaki. This is slightly tied to my former point, but I feel like the training, which is something that has a big importance in the story, was mostly just skipped. The characters would talk about going to train and being tired after training and what-not, but the actual training remains (for the most part) a mystery to me.

Overall, The Gilded Ones was an amazing journey through a new world and I can’t wait to jump into the next book and see what Namina Forna has planned next.


Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Namina Forna is a young adult novelist based in Los Angeles, and the author of the upcoming epic fantasy YA novelThe Gilded Ones. Originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa, she moved to the US when she was nine and has been traveling back and forth ever since. Namina has an MFA in film andTV production from USC School of Cinematic Arts and a BA from Spelman College. She works as a screenwriter in LA and loves telling stories with fierce female leads.

Make sure to visit the other stops on this tour over here and grab your copy of the book!

What’s a fantasy book you’ve loved recently?