Thursday, October 14, 2021

July & August Reading Wrap Up

Hello hello!

While I've been away from the blog, I've managed to nearly finish the plans for my wedding, finished up a manuscript editing gig (second rounds will begin once edits are complete - yay!), I've dropped down my hours at my full-time gig, and started back at my old library job (with a raise and a staff-position!). Alex and I have also gone through some weird changes - he has a full time job teaching English to high school students, we somehow lost the apartment we had been planning on living in, and we've found another to apply to. Throughout it all, I've also managed to read 21 books and graphic novels. 

These past two months have been really bad when it comes to focusing on physical books. My brain has had a hard time focusing on anything but everything else going on around me. Hopefully, after the wedding I will be able to buckle down on this blog, my Instagram (follow @livthebooknerd), and maybe start up a TikTok? (Follow @livthebooknerd on there too!)

J U L Y reads:

Stealing Thunder by Alina Boyden

Rating: 2 stars

When I first started Stealing Thunder, I was obsessed. It had such a great start, but as I kept getting further into the story, I just wasn't a fan. I don't think I'll be continuing with the sequel. I just did not enjoy this book. Full review to come!

A Sky Beyond the Storm (Ember in the Ashes #4) by Sabaa Tahir
Rating: 4.5 stars

What an excellent ending. The only reason I didn't give this book the full 5 stars was because I just felt like there was something missing. This is wholly on me. There wasn't anything wrong with the book. I definitely cried at a couple points, but I just can't pinpoint why it wasn't 5 stars for me. Definitely read this series!

Dream Daddy: A Daddy Dating Comic Book (#1-5) by Leighton Gray, Vernon Shaw, Wendy Xu, Lee C.A., C. Spike Trotman, Josh Trujillo, Ryan Maniulit, Jack Gross, Jarrett Williams, Drew Green, D.J. Kirkland, Matt Herms, Reed Black, Jeremy Lawson, & Kris Anka
3 stars

What a hilarious read! This collection of short stories in graphic novel form introduced you to so many great dads! I'll definitely be keeping out an eye for more from this series. The various art styles were so much fun and each of the stories were so compelling. I do believe I read this one in one sitting. 

Bridge of Souls (Cassidy Blake #3) by Victoria Schwab

Rating: 5 stars

Once again, Victoria Schwab can do no wrong. This was such an excellent finale to such an addicting middle grade series. I absolutely adore Cassidy Blake. She's such a relatable and fun main character and heroine. Her continued story was so much fun to experience. I had the pleasure of listening to all three of the books in the trilogy and I cannot recommend that medium enough. The focus on friendship in these books is so lovely and the spooky elements are just perfectly executed. 

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

Rating: 4.5 stars

TW: parental neglect and abuse, violence, blood

While this isn't my favorite of Victoria Schwab's, I'm still absolutely obsessed. Who's surprised? This book was so different from what I've read before. The world building, the characterization, and the conflict were structured and executed so unlike any other book I've read. Naturally, it had the best qualities that come from a Schwab novel (addicting worlds, interesting power dynamics, unconventional relationships, and morally gray situations and people), but this story was lyrical, dark, and sometimes incredibly hard to read.  Since finishing this book, I haven't been able to leave the world she's created. Having my own little VE/Victoria Schwab reading marathon was probably the best thing I could have done for my reading habits and my mental health.

Wynd by James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas

Rating: 2 stars

I had the hardest time actually getting through this book. I have no recollection of what it's even about. I just remember enjoying the color scheme? I'm not sure. Just entirely forgettable and I won't be continuing on with the series.

The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab

Rating: 5 stars

TW: violence, mental abuse, death of a loved one

This was so excellent. Schwab did a great job of setting up the twists, creating a whole new facet to death and the afterlife and history, and I love the mystery and darkness that permeated this story. Now, there WAS a love triangle; but that’s just a product of the time. 2013…whatcha gunna do? It wasn’t all that bad either. I love Wes & Mac. I think their part of the love triangle was deliciously angsty and not all that romantic. It was more for them to actually make a friend that they can be wholly honest with. A partner. I thought that was lovely.

Lightfall by Tim Probert

Rating: 3 stars

This was also pretty forgettable, but I remember way more than I do of Wynd. This story had such an adorable art style. I really enjoyed the characters and the beginnings of the story it established. I had wished for more from it, but I'm more likely to continue with this series. It picked up toward the end.

The Unbound (The Archived #2) by Victoria Schwab

Rating: 4 stars

TW: self harm, PTSD, assault

Wow. This book was so powerful and so hard to read at the same time. I think that this book really suffered from second-book-syndrome -- but also not really? This book wasn't different from The Archived, but it was slower paced, Mackenzie was more in her head, and there wasn't as much action I would say. It was excellent -- that's for sure -- but I really wish that Schwab had been able to get a third book published. You're really left wanting more  -- that cliff hanger! Maybe if this book becomes more popular, her publisher would let her write the end of M's story. 

Leave the Window Open (The Archived #2.5) by Victoria Schwab

Rating: 5 stars

This was just a little short story from Wesley's perspective. It was absolutely perfect and it just made me want to know more about the events following The Unbound. I neeeed it!

Catwoman Soulstealer: The Graphic Novel by Sarah J. Maas, Louise Simonson, and Samantha Dodge

Rating: no stars

This was just incredibly boring, badly thought out, and badly executed. You can definitely tell that SJM was on a time crunch and maybe lacked passion for her subject? I see so many wonderful elements that can lead to a great time, but those elements weren't exactly true to Catwoman's story. I don't know. I just really wasn't into this at all. 

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Rating: 5 stars

This book was absolutely phenomenal. I cannot wait to read more from Darcie Little Badger. This had everything I wanted and needed. Paranormal vibes, ghosts, queer rep, Apache representation, whimsically atmospheres, darkness(!), an alternate, magical United States setting, compelling characters -- this book was absolutely everything and is everything to me. This will be one of those books that I push into the hands of anyone who vaguely wants something magical or wants anything that even remotely relates. Read. This. Book.

A U G U S T reads

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Rating: 4.5 stars

This was an excellent read. I switched back and forth between the audio and the physical formats, but I primarily stuck with the audio. This book is written in both the prose format and in the style of a true-crime podcast. The audio was so well produced and the narrator was just so talented at differentiating voices and the performance aspects of the story. If you love books that focus on relevant and hard hitting topics, you definitely need to give this a read.

TW/CW: battery, assault, rape, threats of violence & death, blood, threats of rape, sexism, and neglect

The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan

Rating: 4 stars

This was such a fascinating read. I'm so curious about the behind-the-scenes aspects of Hollywood and stardom. This book essentially looks at the dark side of fame in the 1990s and into current times. The book follows a very Spice Girls-esque girl group as they grow into their fame and stardom. The book begins as one of their members, Cassidy, is found dead from suicide. The story flashes back and forth between present day, the moments in the past that led the girls to rise of the girl band, and the moments that caused their band to disband. I couldn't put this book down. It was really dark at times, really hopeful during others, but it was just so addicting. I didn't want to put this book down for one moment.

Spy x Family Volume 2-5 by Tatsuya Endo

Volumes 2 - 4: 4 stars
Volume 5: 3 stars

I'm already so addicted to this manga series. It's so entertaining and the dynamics between the characters are so much fun to read about. If you love spies, assassins, and mind-readers -- you have to check out this series. I can't get enough of it.

The Way of the Househusband Volume 1 by Kousuke Oonu and translated by Sheldon Drzka

Rating: 5 stars

I'm obsessed. Everyone needs to read this manga series. I didn't expect to find new manga favorites, but now I have found 2 in August. What a world. Read this! And when you're finished, the first few episodes are on Netflix and cover the first couple of volumes. It's amazing!

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Schwab

Rating: 4 stars

This was a painful ending. It was definitely bittersweet. While I didn't enjoy this as much as This Savage Song -- the pacing was different and a bit slower for me -- I still really liked how it wrapped up. 

TW/CW: PTSD, violence, gore, death, cancer, loss of loved one(s)

Isn't It Bromantic (Bromance Book Club #4) by Lyssa Kay Adams

Rating: 4 stars

This is definitely the best of Adams' Bromance Book Club books out so far. Wow. Just so excellent. If you've loved The Russian in the first three books, you have to read this one. I just adore him so much. Elena I could give or take, but I really enjoyed how their romance and relationship grew. I just didn't really enjoy how long it took them to use their words. The amount of time that it took them to get past the miscommunication trope was just a bit much for me (hence the 4-star rating). 

Tropes: marriage of convenience, childhood friends, book within a book

Well, it's taken me months to just finish this wrap up, so stay tuned for another coming soon!

I'm officially married and moved into my place, so now I'll actually have time to write about books! Let's go!

Also, I'm 24 now. How wild!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Jack the Ripper Read-a-Thon! Hosted by me, @livthebooknerd!

Happy happy Tuesday! Today I wanted to officially announce my next readathon on my feed. If you’ve been following me on my stories, you will see that I’m hosting a Jack the Ripper-themed readathon.

📚 D E T A I L S 📖
✨Dates:  August 7-14
✨ Group book — The Five: The Untold Lived of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
✨ Questions? Comment on my Instagram post!
✨ Wanna join? DM me on Instagram! If you post about the readathon, tag me @livthebooknerd on your social media!

Thank you @_abigail.lee_17 for helping me with picture taking!

📚 T B R 📖
- The Five: The Untold Lived of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
- Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
- Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen

Even though it’s pretty dark, Jack the Ripper was one of the most pivotal people for my college career.

Back in 2018, one of my papers was chosen to be presented at a massive academic convention in Seattle, Washington. It was a massive honor, but it wasn't until I arrived and the convention was completely underway that I was told that I was the only student presenting. Thankfully, it was more like the science fair because it was a poster presentation. Essentially, it was a bunch of academic smartos who had prepared their own presentations lined up in a huge foyer with their visual boards. There was an open bar set up right after I set up my presentation in a corner with my professor, so my board got a lot of traffic by association. I considered it a success, learned a lot, and gained so much confidence. 

In the next few days, I'll be posting more information on Jack the Ripper on Instagram (probably in my stories and feed), but would you guys be interested in hearing about the project from the Seattle trip? Comment down below!

If you're interested in seeing some of the beauty and intensity that I got to experience in Seattle, check out my Seattle highlight on my Instagram profile!

Happy reading! I hope you decide to join!
Olivia, Liv the Book Nerd

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

May & June 2021 Reading Wrap Up

Hey, guys!

These past two months have been hella busy, but that won't stop me from sharing my most recent monthly reads with you. In this wrap-up, I'll write a couple sentences for each book to generally tell you how I felt about each one. 

In May, I managed to read ten novels, two short stories, and I DNF'd two books as well. In June, I read ten novels and graphic novels. Again, these past two months have been so busy, but I've found some new beloved titles that I cannot wait to share with you all.  

May Reads: 

- The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag
    3 stars

Oh my goodness. This graphic novel was so wonderful. While it wasn't my favorite story, that's mainly because this first installment was setting up this brand new world, establish the magic systems, and the family that the book follows. Overall, this was just wonderful. I can't wait to read the sequel. 

- My Hero Academia Volume 1 by Kohei Horikoshi
    3 stars

Another introduction to a cool world. My Hero Academia blew up on book TikTok and I was particularly drawn to Jaysen @ezeekat's passionate rambling about this manga series, as well as the anime that is continually being released. I definitely need to continue reading this series. I'm properly intrigued.

- Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert 
    5 stars

Wow. Perfection. Talia Hibbert has every pocket of my heart. Her books always wow me. Dani's book, the second installment in the Brown Sisters series, will always be my favorite; but holy cow. I adore Evie so much. I cannot recommend this story enough.

- Heartstopper Volume 3 by Alice Oseman
    5 stars

Perfection. This was straight-up perfection. The Heartstopper volumes just keep wowing me. Please read these. 

- The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
    5 stars

If you've followed my content, you'll know that Madeline Miller is one of my all-time favorite authors and her novel, Circe, is one of my top favorite books as well. I've been putting off The Song of Achilles because I just knew it would wreck my soul. Oh, honey. I'm wrecked. If you know, you know. Please read this book. 

- Norse Mythology Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell
    5 stars

I had no idea that this book existed, but I'm so glad I could dive in. This is the graphic novel version of Neil Gaiman's, Norse Mythology -- another one of my all-time favorite novels. This was absolutely fabulous and I cannot recommend it enough. The art was so beautiful, the representation of the stories was spot on and pretty much word for word, and it was just so great to read. 

- DNF -- All the Stars & Teeth by Adalyn Grace

I picked this book up to buddy read with a few of my friends on Instagram, but alas. This book was just not for me. I was instantly turned off by the writing style, I didn't enjoy the characterization, and the main character's personality just grated on my nerves. In this case, this book, unfortunately, faces the "Olivia is just gradually growing out of YA" effect. It's purely an issue that I have. I know that I have quite a few friends that adore this novel. 

- Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed
    3 stars

This was another novel that my friends on bookstagram. I really loved this book. It had really wonderful representation (Jewish, Muslim, and anxiety) and it had some really fantastic conversations about religion, first loves, friendship, politics, and antisemitism. I learned a lot while reading this book and I cannot recommend it enough. I cannot wait until my husband-to-be has his own classroom because I am definitely buying copies of this book for his high schoolers. 

- Well Played by Jen DeLuca
    4 stars

Jen DeLuca is just a queen. I absolutely adored this book and the characters she's established in this series. While I still loved Well Met a smidge more, I still really loved how this story played out. I cannot wait to read the next installment.

- First Kill by V.E. Schwab 
    5 stars

I had to pick up this short story. V.E. Schwab has been promoting this story on her Instagram quite a lot since it is currently being adapted by some big names in the film industry as a TV series. I definitely wasn't disappointed. I cannot wait to watch this series. It's going to be phenomenal -- I'd also really love to just read the full novel or something if that were ever possible. 

- A Royal Affair by V.E. Schwab
    4 stars

I loved this so much. It was so wonderful to be able to get a glimpse into how Alucard and Rhys's relationship started. I definitely needed to dive back into the world of the Shades of Magic series. I miss it so much. 

- Rhapsodic by Lauren Thalassa 
    3 stars

Another book TikTok made me do it moment. This was such a fun read. I definitely went online and bought the entire series to marathon in August... It's going to be so much fun. 

- DNF-- Sabriel by Garth Nix

This one was recommended and gushed about by my friend and tattoo artist, Nevada. Please definitely check her out @nevada_buckley

This book made me incredibly uncomfortable. I didn't like the subtle comments about Sabriel's body and I didn't like the weird comments either. The pacing was strange and I just wasn't captivated by the story at all. 

- Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield
    3 stars

This book was really intriguing. I enjoyed the setting and the characterization. However, there was a lot of sadness. I finished the book feeling incredibly sad.

TW/CW: physical abuse, parental neglect, colorism, racism, sexism, emotional neglect, gaslighting, sexual shaming (based on gender bias), body shaming, rape (on-page), verbal abuse, parental abuse, cancer, death, alcohol consumption, drug use

June Reads:

- The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
    3 stars

This book was a bit of a letdown. Once the 1/2 mark it, the pacing was really slow and the plot devices used weren't my favorite. I was expecting more spicy happenings, but it just fell short. I'm debating actually reading the sequel, but I'm not sure if I will.

- Heartstopper Volume 4 by Alice Oseman
    5 stars

Once again. These graphic novels are phenomenal. I cannot recommend them enough. I cannot wait for the next book!

- One Last Stop by Casey McQuinston
    4 stars

Holy cow. This book exceeded my expectations. I'm not one for books that dabble in time travel, but this had the best combination of time travel, 70s references, music, romance, and more. It was an honor to host a buddy read for this book on Instagram. 

- All the Feels by Olivia Dade
    3 stars

This book had some really great representation. I'm really glad I picked this up. I really didn't enjoy the first book, Spoiler Alert; but this one was so much better. 

- A Quick and Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities by Mady and Jules Zuckerberg
    5 stars

This is such an excellent guide! I really want to include this in my husband's classroom as well. I definitely recommend it!

- So You Want To Be A Viking by Georgia Amson-Bradshaw, Takayo Akiyama, & John Haywood
    3 stars

This book was included in OwlCrate Jr.'s June box. I wish this had been a thing when I was younger. I would have been obsessed!

- Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries
    3 stars

This was awesome! I really want to continue on with the next volume. I love the concept and atmosphere, and I love that the magic is based on hair. 

- The Sprite and the Gardener by Rii Abrego & Joe Whitt
    3 stars

This was so precious and full of hope. I loved the art style and the colors so much.

- Neon Gods by Katee Robert
    4.5 stars

This was phenomenal and so much fun. I cannot wait for the Psyche/Eros story that the author is promoting. 

- Spy x Family Volume 1 by Tatsuya Endo
    5 stars

I loved this so much. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next volume. I'm hooked!


Pages read 5,928
Average page length: 237
 My Average Rating: stars
Favorite: 3.06 stars

What did you read recently? Let's discuss this in the comments! 

Happy reading!
Liv the Book Nerd ~ 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

{DNF Review} These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Page Count:  449

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Published on: November 17, 2020

Genres: YA fantasy, romance, retellings

Amazon // Indie Bound // Barnes & Noble // Better World Books

April 22-26

Rating: DNF 

TW/CW: blood depiction, gore, violence, death, murder, loss of a loved one, disease/contagious contagions, discussions surrounding communism, transphobia, drug use and addiction, suicide, colonization, & racism (and microaggressions) 

(EDIT:) TW/CW cont'd: discussion/mention of human trafficking and kidnapping, loss of a pet, and there are creepy insects!
(Thank you Melanie [meltotheany] for the complete list!)

~ ~ ~

Goodreads synopsis: 

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

~ ~ ~

Hey, all!

I, unfortunately, DNF'd this novel at 33% (about 150 pages in).

I'm so sad that I didn't enjoy this book. It was getting to the point where my brain wanted to read, but I couldn't stay focused on the book because of my lack of connection to the story. I really wanted to like this book. I love Chloe Gong's presence online and I think she's a delight, but her writing style just wasn't for me.

I'm the kind of reader that adores character-driven novels. I love the emotions and depth that different characters from different upbringings and backgrounds can bring to a story. However, this book just didn't do it for me.

I liked the ideas of the characters. I just didn't like the execution of their personalities.

- It just felt like Juliette was constantly painted as this badass character, but it was just telling. The showing aspect just didn't happen. It just felt forced and lackluster. She kept doing things that were pretty badass, but then she'd turn around and do something really dumb and oblivious that a trained person wouldn't have done.

-Roma was just boring to me. Maybe it was just because I hadn't gotten to the meat of his character, but I really just didn't care about him at all.

I really liked the atmosphere of this story. The overall themes were shaping up to be done quite well, but it's really the characters that keep me reading their story. I just didn't care about what was happening to them. I really wanted to though.

This book also is #ownvoices for the Chinese representation. It also has a wonderful side character that is a trans girl and there is a budding m/m relationship between men who are Chinese and Korean.

Within the first 150 pages, I could tell that colonialization would play a massive part of the story. That's probably what kept me pushing forward. I loved those aspects of the story. However, I'm probably just going to watch or read a spoiler-y review to see what happens. In the book, Juliette felt like a foreigner in her own country. That speaks VOLUMES. The fact that her own people made her feel more Americanized and different just because she was sent away for an American education and to keep her safe from the violence in her country is just so heartbreaking.

The setting, the gangster vibes, and the themes in this book were everything, but I couldn't connect with the slow pacing and the characters.

I know that so many readers have absolutely adored this book. Please give it a try if it's been peaking your interest. My brain has been in a weird place lately and my mental health has honestly caused me to dislike books that I /thought/ I would adore. Chloe Gong brings so much to the book community and so many other readers adore this book. Please definitely give it a chance!

Let's discuss in the comments! 

Happy reading!
~ Liv the Book Nerd ~

Monday, May 10, 2021

{Blog Tour} An EXCERPT of Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield!


Welcome back to Liv the Book Nerd! 

Today I have the pleasure of bringing you an excerpt of the newly released Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield! This book has already received so many lovely reviews and I'm already obsessed as I start reading it for myself. 

"This is an excellent examination of the ways wealth, gender, and color can shape and at times create mental and emotional fractures. Verdict: A great title for public and high school libraries looking for books that offer a ­nuanced look at patriarchy, wealth, and gender dynamics." 

—School Library Journal (starred review)

"Bromfield may have made a name for herself for her role on Riverdale, but with this debut, about a volatile father-daughter relationship and discovering the ugly truths hidden beneath even the most beautiful facades, she is establishing herself as a promising writer...this is a must." 

—Booklist (starred review)


Tilla has spent her entire life trying to make her father love her. But every six months, he leaves their family and returns to his true home: the island of Jamaica.

When Tilla’s mother tells her she’ll be spending the summer on the island, Tilla dreads the idea of seeing him again, but longs to discover what life in Jamaica has always held for him.

In an unexpected turn of events, Tilla is forced to face the storm that unravels in her own life as she learns about the dark secrets that lie beyond the veil of paradise—all in the midst of an impending hurricane.

Hurricane Summer is a powerful coming of age story that deals with colorism, classism, young love, the father-daughter dynamic—and what it means to discover your own voice in the center of complete destruction.

On-sale: May 4, 2021!

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Indiebound // iBooks

Add to Goodreads

About the Author:

Asha Bromfield is an actress, singer, and writer of Afro-Jamaican descent. She is known for her role as Melody Jones, drummer of Josie and the Pussycats in CW’s Riverdale. She also stars as Zadie Wells in Netflix’s hit show, Locke and Key. Asha is a proud ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, and she currently lives in Toronto where she is pursuing a degree in Communications. In her spare time, she loves studying astrology, wearing crystals, burning sage, and baking vegan desserts. Hurricane Summer is her debut novel.

Twitter @ashabrom

Instagram @ashabrom



We touch down at 1:46 p.m. local time.

Warm air floods the plane as the doors open, and the sweet aroma of fruit wafts in the air. Passengers race to grab their bags as the thick accent comes over the PA once again:

“Ladiez and gentle-mon, welcome to Kingston, Jamaica. It iz a beautiful day here on the island, and we wish you nothing but irie on your travels. It has been our pleasure to have you on board. As always, thank you for flying Air Jamaica.”

I gently shake Mia awake as Patois begins to pour out all around us. I grab our backpacks from the cabin, and we throw them over our shoulders before trudging off the plane.

As we make our way through the busy airport, we are sur- rounded by a sea of rich, dark skin. I feel courageous as we navigate through the brown and black bodies, and I can’t help but wonder if the feeling of belonging is why Dad loves it so much here.

Once we clear at customs, we continue our trek through the massive airport. All around us, people smile and laugh, and there is a mellowness to their pace. Most of the women wear bright colors and intricate braids in their hair, Afros, or long locks down their backs. An array of sandals and flip-flops highlight all the bright painted toenails as Mia and I weave through the crowd.

“Stay close!” I yell, grabbing on to her hand. When we find the exit, I grow nervous knowing what awaits us on the other side. I look to Mia. “You have everything?”

She nods.

“Okay,” I whisper to myself. “Let’s do this.”

With our suitcases lugging behind us, we spill out of the doors and into the hot sun. The heat immediately consumes me, and it is amplified by the chaos and noise that surrounds us. The streets are packed. Loud horns blare, and people yell back and forth in thick, heavy Patois accents. Men argue on the side of the road, their dialect harsh as they negotiate the rates for local shuttle buses. Along the roads, merchants sell colorful beaded jewelry and fruit so ripe that I can taste it in the air. Women wear beautiful head wraps and sell plantains and provisions, bartering back and forth with eager travelers. People spew out of overcrowded taxis, desperate to catch their flights as others hop in, desperate to get home. The sun pierces my skin as the humidity and gas fumes fill my lungs. The action is overwhelming, and I feel like a fish out of water. As we wait by the curb, there is no sight of our father.

“What if he forgot?” Mia asks.

“He wouldn’t,” I reply. “Mom just talked to him.” “What if he got the time mixed up?”

“He’ll be here.”

But the truth is, when it comes to our father, I can never be sure.

I fight with this idea as five minutes turn into ten, and ten into twenty. The heat blazes, and sweat drips down my stomach. I check my watch: forty-two minutes.

I pull my pink hoodie over my head to reveal a white tank top, tying the hoodie around

my waist to better manage the heat. Without my phone, I have no way of contacting him to see where he is.

But he said he’d be here. He gave us his word.

Fifty-six minutes later, our father is nowhere to be found. My eyes frantically search the crowd as I ponder how much his word is truly worth. Time and time again, he has proven that the answer is not much. I turn to Mia, ready to tell her to head back inside. Worry graces her face for the first time since we left. Her carefree attitude fades as the concern of a nine-year-old takes over. I can’t stand to see her like this, and I’ll do whatever it takes to escape the feeling that is bubbling inside of me.

We’ll take the first plane out.

“Mi, Dad’s not coming. Let’s go back insid—”

“Yow! Tilla!” A deep voice interrupts me mid-sentence. I whip my head around to find my father standing a few feet away with two freshly sliced pineapple drinks in hand. “Daddy!” Mia screams. She drops her things on the curb and sprints toward him. My heart does somersaults.

One glimpse of my father and I am a child again.

~ ~ ~

Who else is completely intrigued? I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks of this book! Comment down below with your thoughts!

Happy reading!
~ Liv the Book Nerd ~
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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

{Review} The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Ace

Release Date:  July 21, 2020

Genre(s): Horror, Fantasy, Paranormal

Amazon // Indie Bound // Barnes & Noble // 

Better World Books

April 15 - April 21

Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads synopsis:

A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

~ ~ ~

TW/CW: rape, assault, sexual assault of a minor, racism, self-harm (used for magic and spiritual rituals), blood, gore, described violence, bigotry, racism, & classicism

If you guys know me, and my reading choices -- you've probably picked up that I hardly read horror, mystery, or thrillers. It's a rare occurrence and when I do read them, I like them to be primarily fantasy-based. That's my cup of tea. 

When I first saw this book promoted by some of my favorite bookish creators, I had to check it out for myself. 

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson (Audiobook Excerpt)

Riley Marie's Reading Vlog

Neek's Review & Discussion

The Year of the Witching follows Immanuelle Moore in the lands of Bethel. A Puritan-like society where the people of Bethel worship a version of the Christian doctrine and god, follow a prophesying man called The Prophet -- all in the hopes of living according to the Holy Protocol and living in favor of their holy father. Immanuelle is born from a "blasphemous" relationship between her mother and an outsider of a different race. When her father is burned on the pyre, her mother seeks revenge through the dark arts and with the aid of the witches of the Darkforest. 

The Year of the Witching is a haunting, atmospheric story full of intense themes that can inspire so many influential conversations and discussions about misogyny, bigotry, love, religion, racism, spirituality, revenge and hatred, and what it means to be a woman in a misogynistic society. This book was so intense at moments. There were many moments that could be called predictable, but I'm honestly not mad about that. This book was set up and plotted incredibly well. The writing was impeccable and I didn't want to put this book down. I was completely hooked within the first moments of listening and reading. 

I've always loved stories that play with religion and the dynamics that come from warped and cult-like followings. You can usually find me researching cults and watching mini-documentaries from survivors that escaped from cults. If you're also one who is interested in those topics, I think you'd really like this book. 

I also really loved the witch elements and the magic that came from those aspects of the story. It really added another layer of creativity and intensity to the story

I fully expected gorier horror elements, but was so delighted to find this book to be more fantastical. Don't get me wrong, it was definitely gory and horrifying at times, but it had much more magic than I anticipated. The darkness that progressively came to the forefront of the story is always present in the novel. It was so enthralling and -- ahh! -- the writing was just so fantastic. I cannot gush about it nearly enough.  

This book was so excellent. I think that it was more of a fantasy novel than a horror novel, but that didn't stop me from completely devouring the story. I think this will be a new favorite for so many readers and I can't wait for this book and the author to gain more traction in the reading community. I can't wait to push this book into the hands of my friends. 

If you enjoyed:

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (for the horror & darker elements)
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (for the atmospheric vibes and magical elements)
• The Shades of Magic trilogy by VE Schwab (for the addicting, magical, and dark elements)
The City of Brass by SA Chakraborty (for the magic & atmosphere!)
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin (for the religious aspects & witchy bits)
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (for the feminism! and dark aspects)

(These are just my connections for the way I read the book and how I interpreted it. These recommendations do not encompass all connecting recommendations. I’m not as well versed in the horror genre or the sub-genres. I can count on my fingers how many horror novels I’ve read. I’m sure there are more recommendations out there too!)

If you enjoy ___ you will enjoy The Year of the Witching!

• Hella dark stories with intense themes and discussions
• Narratives about trauma
• Cults
• Stories based on radicalized religions & the discussions that can come from those settings
• Feminism!
• Witches — the spooky, dark kind
• The Salem Witch Trials

(Again, this doesn’t even fully begin to cover all the elements I loved or that you could possibly love.)

Let's discuss in the comments! If you decide to pick this story up, please let me know what you think of it in the comments as well!

Happy reading!
v the Book Nerd ~