ARC Review: Redemption Road

Goodreads Blurb:

Redemption: The act of being saved from sin, error, or evil.

Antiques dealer by day, secret painter by night, Rory Flanagan arrives home to find a man, battered and bruised, sprawled out on her newly upholstered Victorian sofa. The brash, six-foot-four stranger takes an unusual interest in Rory’s vintage gold pendant—given to Rory by her mother the day she was killed.

They say Christian Locke is a loner, an orphan, a mysterious cowboy the small-town gossips deem an outsider. They tell her to stay away. But Rory can’t ignore the connection she feels to the mulish recluse, or the interest he has in the cursed necklace she wears around her neck.

Christian says he doesn’t believe in fate, but every twist and turn of the pendant’s story seems to lead her to the same place…

Welcome to Redemption Road.

Your secrets are not safe here.

My Thoughts:

I was pleased to be provided with an ARC from the author after reading Rattlesnake Road. (Which is pretty much my favorite book so far!) Thank you Amanda for the ARC. All thoughts are of my own.

Let’s get down to it then.

What did I like?
– Writing style. Amanda’s a wordsmith!
– Depiction of mental health and eating disorders.
– Twists and turns in the book. Very engaging for sure.
– Unique characters.
– Coming full circle. (The necklace)

What could’ve been better?
– Overall the book ended on a very wholesome note, but the resolution in regards to the killer left me unsatisfied. (At around 75%-80% mark of the book.) I wish there was more to it than just a scene used to pique my interest.
– Rory’s behavior towards Jake at the cemetery. I couldn’t come to terms with the term of events. I wish there was an explanation
– I admire the author’s attempt to tie up every loose end with an explanation, but real people don’t always get the answer to every question asked.
– There was a teaser in Rattlesnake Road in regards to Christian, I wish Grey and Declan had made an appearance in this one too. Freaking love Declan…

Overall, it’s a wonderful book. Very well written with an intense plot.

My Rating: It’s a 3.8/5.

Content Notices: Death, (attempted) suicide, visceral description of a dead body, suicidal thoughts, ED

Audience:  Young Adult

Pages: 418, Kindle Edition

Disclaimer: If you use my links, it won’t cost you anything extra, but I will receive a very small percentage of any sales. Every little bit helps, though, so thank you very much if you do! 🙂


Meet the Author:

Amanda McKinney is the bestselling and multi-award-winning author of more than fifteen romantic suspense and mystery novels. Her latest book, Rattlesnake Road, was named one of POPSUGAR’s 12 Best Romance Books to Have a Spring Fling With, and was featured on the Today Show. The fifth book in her Steele Shadows series, Jagger (Steele Shadows Investigations), was recently nominated for the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.

Amanda wrote her debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY in 2017, after walking away from her career to become a writer and stay-at-home mom. Her books include the bestselling series, STEELE SHADOWS SECURITY, the multi-award-winning BERRY SPRINGS series, BLACK ROSE MYSTERIES, and many more to come.

Set in small, Southern towns, Amanda’s books are page-turning murder mysteries peppered with steamy romance She lives in Arkansas with her handsome husband, two beautiful boys, and three obnoxious dogs.

Visit her website at www.amandamckinneyauthor.com
Follow Amanda on Instagram at www.instagram.com/amandamckinneyauthor
Follow Amanda on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amandamckineyauthor


I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

ARC Review: A Perfect Harvest

Goodreads Blurb:

Given a terminal diagnosis (actually two of them) thirty-five year old Miguel Padilla decides he must accomplish something meaningful before death. He seizes on the idea of donating a kidney to save someone’s life.

Then he decides: why stop there? Why not donate… everything?

Why not indeed?

My Thoughts:

The thing is, fear doesn’t stop death so much as it stops life, in the same way worry doesn’t take away tomorrow’s problems so much as it takes away today’s peace

Things I liked:

  • Interesting plot and characters.
  • Great amount of research.
  • Funny and sarcastic bits.

Things that could’ve been better:

  • Writing style. I disliked how the narrator interacted with his audience. Felt more like a screenplay.
  • The songs? They weren’t interesting or funny.
  • Characters’ emotions seemed superficial.
  • The story just didn’t work. It felt all over the place. It was draggy and at times boring. I was extremely close to not finishing it.

Overall, it spoke about an important issue which I was happy to read and learn more about.

My Rating: It’s a 2.5/5.

Content Notices: Death. Online Trolls.

Audience:  Adult

Pages: 258, Kindle Edition


Meet the Author:

Bill Fitzhugh worked at several FM rock radio stations in the 1970s and 1980s. Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, he prefers The Band, Little Feat, and Van Morrison to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Iron Butterfly. The author of numerous screenplays and five comic novels, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and his record collection.


I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

ARC Review: Rattlesnake Road (A Small Town Mystery Romance)

Goodreads Blurb:

Everyone hits rock bottom, only the brave escape.

Welcome to 1314 Rattlesnake Road.

A quaint two-bedroom log cabin nestled deep in the woods of the small, southern town of Berry Springs—the perfect hideaway to escape your past.

Tucked inside thick, mahogany walls lay mysterious letters, forgotten and untouched for decades. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame breathtaking views of jagged cliffs, deep valleys, and endless lies. Mature oak trees, tall enough to touch the clouds, carry the whispers of the haunted, of stories untold

Inside sits Grey Dalton, emotionally battered and bruised, her only wish to pick up the broken pieces of her life. But outside, await two men, one a tattooed cowboy, the other a dashing businessman.

One will steal her heart, the other, her soul.

Rattlesnake Road is a standalone mystery romance about love, loss, hitting rock bottom, and clawing your way to the other side.

Your escape awaits…

My Thoughts:

I….. didn’t see any of THAT coming…?!

Okay, starting from the first chapter, this book starts on a REALLY HIGH NOTE! Details and events that are displayed churned my stomach and broke my heart simultaneously. I felt for Grey.

What did I like?

  • Declan. Forget like, I love him. What a freaking man. (Except for the feet fungus. That was hilarious though. )
  • Engaging story. Though the first half had up and downs, the story was beautifully crafted. I loved McKinney’s writing style. There was an obvious distinction between all her characters. The imagery used was just, beautiful. Starting from Grey’s new house to Declan’s property to the little bridge that connected their land. (So, you can imagine how Amanda was able to clench my heart through my chest when things went bad in the book.)
  • Angst between Grey and Declan. Two polar opposites. I love that trope.
  • Dialogues. Do I have to say more?
  • The amount of research. From gardening to essential oil distillery to tornados?!
  • Serenity bear. Just, ah… the back story behind that tied it all together.
  • Murder mystery of the young girl and the letters that Grey found. It piqued my interest in the book. For a part of the book, I thought there would have been no resolution but the ending took me by surprise.
  • Depiction of mental health & alcoholism. Not very easy to do justice to such deep topics.
  • The COVER!

What I didn’t like?

  • Grey. Her actions just pissed me off. (That could just be a compliment to how real the character was and her struggles.- Revealing the real killer and his REASONS left a distaste in my mouth. I don’t think his actions should’ve been justified in any way.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I would most definitely be checking out more of the author’s books.

My Rating: It’s a 4.5/5.

Content Notices: Miscarriage, Adultery, Violence/Self Harm, Alcohol Abuse, Questionable (rape?) sexual encounter, Murder of an animal in the past ( bares no relation to the MC), & Murder of a little girl in the past, ( bares no relation to the MC).

Audience:  Adult

Pages: 419, Kindle Edition


Meet the Author:

Amanda McKinney is the bestselling and multi-award-winning author of more than fifteen romantic suspense and mystery novels. Her latest book, Rattlesnake Road, was named one of POPSUGAR’s 12 Best Romance Books to Have a Spring Fling With, and was featured on the Today Show. The fifth book in her Steele Shadows series, Jagger (Steele Shadows Investigations), was recently nominated for the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.

Amanda wrote her debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY in 2017, after walking away from her career to become a writer and stay-at-home mom. Her books include the bestselling series, STEELE SHADOWS SECURITY, the multi-award-winning BERRY SPRINGS series, BLACK ROSE MYSTERIES, and many more to come.

Set in small, Southern towns, Amanda’s books are page-turning murder mysteries peppered with steamy romance She lives in Arkansas with her handsome husband, two beautiful boys, and three obnoxious dogs.

Text AMANDABOOKS to 66866 to receive Amanda’s newsletter and get the latest on new releases, promos, and freebies!

Visit her website at www.amandamckinneyauthor.com
Follow Amanda on Instagram at www.instagram.com/amandamckinneyauthor
Follow Amanda on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amandamckineyauthor


I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

ARC Review: When We’re Thirty

Goodreads Blurb:

Two friends. One pact. The performance of their lives.

Hannah Abbott is stuck in a dead-end relationship and at a job she loves but that barely pays the bills. The four walls of her tiny New York City apartment have never seemed so small. She’s barely toasted her thirtieth birthday when her old college friend Will knocks on her door with an unexpected proposal.

Will Thorne never forgot the marriage pact he made with Hannah, but he also never imagined he’d be the one to initiate it. One ex-fiancée and an almost-career-ending mistake later, however, he finds himself outside Hannah’s door, on bended knee, to collect on their graduation-night pinky promise.

With both of their futures at stake, Hannah and Will take a leap of faith.

Now, all they have to do is convince their friends and family that they’re madly in love. As long as they follow the list of rules they’ve drafted, everything should go smoothly. Except Will has never been good with rules, and Hannah can’t stop overthinking the sleeping arrangements. Turning thirty has never been so promising.

My Thoughts:

Summary: Cute Romance, which could’ve been better.
2.75/5

Things I liked:

  • Characters such as Riley, Charlaine, & Kate.
  • The plot: “If we aren’t married by ___ age, then let’s get hitched!”
  • Sweet romance

Things that could’ve been better:

  • Better writing. The author tried to pan the book out, but certain high points turned anticlimactic because of the delivery. It just fell flat and was very frustrating. SPOILER! SPOILER! [Like the reveal of JT or their first time confessing their love to each other.]
  • Fights between Will and Hannah seemed so unnecessary most of the time even if it was used as a catalyst to advance the story further. I found it hard to digest SPOILER! SPOILER! [ how they just got back together with each other no matter what?]
  • The jumps between scenes. Important scenes just vanished, and certain rambles were in place instead.
  • Unnecessary spotlight on Madison and Jo. Their characters never seemed steady and always changing.
  • I had to push through the first half of the book, if it weren’t an ARC, I would’ve probably DNF’ed.

Overall, it’s a decent book for a debut. If you enjoy family angst intertwined with romance, this might be the one for you.


My Rating: It’s a 2.75/5.

Content Notices: Emotionally abusive ex.

Audience:  Adult

Pages: 295, Kindle Edition


Meet the Author:

“I’m a working writer and mom. By day I work in corporate marketing communications and at night I spend quality time with my husband and daughter.

I love to write love stories and stories that focus on the intricacies of relationships–whether they be romantic, familial or friendship. My stories focus on the quiet, inner workings of women and how everything in their lives leads them to exactly where they are, whether they like it or not.

In 2019, When We’re Thirty (under the title First Comes Marriage) won the Contemporary Romance Writers Stiletto Award for Unpublished Women’s Fiction, and earned finalist positions in the NJRWA Put Your Heart in a Book Contest and the NorthWest Houston RWA LoneStar Contest.”


I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

ARC Review: Mango, Mambo, and Murder (A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery, #1)

Goodreads Blurb:

Cuban-American cooking show star Miriam Quinones-Smith becomes a seasoned sleuth in Raquel Reyes’s Caribbean Kitchen Mystery debut, a savory treat for fans of Joanne Fluke and Jenn McKinlay.

Food anthropologist Miriam Quinones-Smith’s move from New York to Coral Shores, Miami, is traumatic enough without having to deal with her son’s toddler tantrums and her husband’s midlife crisis. Her best friend, Alma, adds some spice back into Miriam’s life when she offers her a job as an on-air cooking expert on a Spanish-language morning TV show. But when the newly minted star attends a Women’s Club luncheon, a socialite sitting at her table suddenly falls face-first into the chicken salad, never to nibble again.

When a second woman dies soon after, suspicions coalesce around a controversial Cuban herbalist, Dr. Fuentes–especially after the morning show’s host collapses while interviewing him. But then, Detective Pullman learns that the socialite’s death resulted from a drug overdose–and an anonymous tip fingers Alma as the pusher.

Pullman persuades Miriam to ply her culinary know-how and her understanding of Coral Shores’s Caribbean culture to help find the killer and clear Alma’s name. While her hubby dallies with his ex-girlfriend, Juliet, Miriam quizzes her neighbors for answers and researches all manner of herbs.

As the ingredients to the deadly scheme begin blending together, Miriam is on the verge of learning how and why the women died. But her snooping may turn out to be a recipe for her own murder.

My Thoughts:

“Holding onto a grudge is like holding onto an anchor and jumping into the sea.”

Now that an inspiring quote has made an appearance, let’s begin!

What I liked/loved:

  • Characters! I feel like authors don’t get enough credit for creating NEGATIVE characters./ antagonists. There were a few of those in this book that made my blood boil. (Which translates to Raquel doing a fantastic job in bringing them to life!) Since I have mentioned the antagonist, I cannot take the spotlight away from the MC.
    Miriam. She was a likable character and her affection for her family and best friend seemed genuine. I admired her self-control when experiencing racism.
    Manny. What a delight!!! Are toddlers really like that? (My guess is going to be no, haha.)
    Robert. Being in an interracial marriage, it was admirable how he welcomed her culture and they worked together. I was rooting for them throughout!
    So many amazing characters, I wonder how book 2 would go about it!
  • Writing style. Despite being around 300+ pages, I was able to finish the book within a day. Written in the first person past tense, the author was able to capture my attention with her engaging plotline and dialogues. I cannot stress how much I LOVED being introduced to the Caribbean culture. It’s so beautiful. The food, history, and family structure.
  • Bilingual aspects. Mainly written in English, it included a few Spanish dialogues and words. It made it feel more authentic even when there were a few instances where I found myself trying to translate the words, haha.
  • Recipes at the end? Hell yes! That was such an added bonus! I am very keen on the papaya smoothie.

What could’ve been better?

  • Miriam and Detective Frank Pullman’s relationship. It lacked authenticity once she had turned into an informant.
  • I was hoping someone else was the “killer” though there was a good amount of information and research involved to create a good distraction. While it was expected, sort of, I wasn’t bored reading through Miriam’s thought process or the events that occurred in her life.

It took about three minutes of turning the water off and on, flushing the toilet and opening and closing the hall bathroom door to stir Manny.

Okay, not necessarily an issue, my personal opinion on here. Why was she doing this? Her husband was an environmentalist! And I thought she was too. When these lines popped up, I WAS SHOCKED! Why Miriam, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!

Overall, I loved the book! Can’t wait to read more from the author!


Meet the author!

Raquel V. Reyes writes stories with Latina characters. Her Cuban-American heritage, Miami, and the Caribbean feature prominently in her work. Raquel is a co-chair for SleuthFest. Her short story “A Star Goes Dark” is in the 15th Malice Domestic anthology.


ARC Review: Opposites Attract: Butch/Femme Romances

Goodreads Blurb:


Sometimes opposites really do attract. Fall in love with these butch/femme romance novellas.

In An Epiphany in Flannel by Meghan O’Brien, small-town waitress Maisie Davis resolves the mystery of her sexuality after an unexpected encounter with a handsome stranger seated in the corner booth of Moe’s Fine Diner. Aiden Crane opens Maisie’s mind and body to exciting new possibilities—but can she find the courage to follow her heart?

In Follow Her Lead by Aurora Rey, venture capitalist Jude Benoit is named Majesty of Artemis, New Orleans’s premier lesbian Mardi Gras parade and ball, and enlists the expertise of private dance instructor Gabriella Viard to save her from making a fool of herself. Jude can follow the steps, but what happens when Gabby challenges her to lead with her heart?

In Just as You Are by Angie Williams, Dylan Fleming is a confident and capable woman in every way except the stereotypical ways her ex-girlfriend thought she should be. When her insecurities get the better of her and she fumbles on a date with beautiful auto mechanic Carrie Grice, Dylan has to let go of the past. Can she accept that she is loved just as she is?


My Thoughts:

I was really excited to read this Anthology! And here are my thoughts. It consisted of three different short stories by different authors, each carried a different tone, style, and plot. (Naturally.)

“Follow Her Lead” was the first one to make an appearance. While the idea behind it was awesome, I felt like the story lacked some grit. The dance lessons and scenes were great. I loved Gabby’s character and how she handled herself but Jude was just all over the place. She seemed too one-sided for my taste. 2.5/5 I didn’t enjoy the story as much as I would’ve liked and had a hard time getting through it.

“Just As You Are,” was probably my favorite from the series. It gets a high of 3.5/5. The characters resembled real-life issues that one might experience. Meeting online, trying to make a good impression, things blowing out of proportion! Yeah, all too relatable to the audience especially since Dylan had some previous damage to get through and work on herself. Carrie was amazing, breaking gender roles, left and right!

“An Epiphany in Flannel” was the final one. I really wanted to name it the showstopper but some parts of it just made me cringe… a little. I understand Maisie had conservative parents but the dialogues seemed forced and unnatural. Aiden was sweet and amazing but the ending blew my mind! What a crazy thing to do. Felt a little hallmark-ey but I enjoyed it nonetheless. 3/5

So, this gives me an overall rating of 3/5.

My Rating: It’s a 3/5.

Content Notices: Anxiety, homophobia, emotionally abusive ex.

Audience: 18+

Pages: 266, Kindle Edition

I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


Meet the Authors!

Born in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, Meghan O’Brien relocated to Northern California in 2005. As a transplant, she enjoys the moderate weather and gorgeous scenery of the Bay Area. Meghan lives with her wife, their son, three cats, three dogs, two snakes and several tarantulas. Yes, it can be just as chaotic as it sounds.

Meghan’s day job is as a software developer, but her real passion is writing. From her humble beginnings creating numerous “books” out of construction paper and crayons as soon as she learned to write, to her several published novels and various anthology contributions, writing is what makes her feel most complete.

Aurora Rey is a college dean by day and award-winning lesbian romance author the rest of the time, except when she’s cooking, baking, riding the tractor, or pining for goats. She grew up in a small town in south Louisiana, daydreaming about New England. She keeps a special place in her heart for the South, especially the food and the ways women are raised to be strong, even if they’re taught not to show it. After a brief dalliance with biochemistry, she completed both a B.A. and an M.A. in English.

She is the author of the Cape End Romance series and several standalone contemporary lesbian romance novels and novellas. She is has been a finalist for the Lambda Literary, RITA®, and Golden Crown Literary Society awards, but loves reader feedback the most. She lives in Ithaca, New York with her dog and whatever wildlife has taken up residence in the pond.


Thank you for stopping by. You time spent on this blog means a lot more than I can express. Before you leave, read this!

“You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on
your way.”

Dr. Seuss


Soapbox Rant: Why it’s not bad to be selfish?

Happy Thursday, beautiful people.

Gosh, I missed saying that. For those of you who are confused why I did? Well, up until February, I used to post on Instagram every Thursday. Eventually, I was too overwhelmed to continue that ritual. I tell myself everyday that I will get back on, and start posting again, but honestly, I still can’t muster the courage. It’s hard being on social media. Those who do manage to post, reply, share, save, and engage with the community, I am so impressed. You must be a superhero! Okay, enough side tracking. Before I start my blog post, I am going to plead my ignorance, this entire post is my own opinion based on my observation and culture. If our opinions don’t meet, please be kind enough to enlighten me. I am more than happy to broaden my horizons. Let’s get started!

Be Selfish!

I know, I know. We’re all taught be to selfless and giving. Be nice and compromise. But how much giving can a person be? I am Indian. I am a woman. It is frowned upon when we try to be selfish. And honestly, I am tired of nurturing the guilt when I am trying to do something for myself.

You’re probably like but Keira, don’t you think you’re being a LITTLE dramatic today? Well, maybe I am. Maybe I am not. (Thank the Lord that I am not famous, so I am not scared of being #cancelled. )

Okay, okay. Let’s go with the definition of selfish, right? That’s the only way to go about it.

According to Oxford dictionary: (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

Okay, that’s a heavy definition. I feel like it’s screaming at me already.

Calm down, Mr. Pointy Finger.

When I think of being selfish, I usually am thinking to ” concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure,” and this harbors a lot of guilt and shame within me. It probably has to do with my culture.

“Spread love and happiness. CoMpRoMiSe!!!!!”

Does anything really realize how exhausting it is to continuously let things go?

If you’re sitting there wondering why I am making such a huge deal of this. Well, think of this for me, please.

Has an instance ever occurred where your mom sacrificed something for you? It could be something as minute as giving you the last piece of her bread or lying that she wasn’t hungry? Yeah. She was lying, she was probably hungry and realllly wanted that piece of bread or cake. And, yes, you probably didn’t think twice before eating it. And 99% of the time, you didn’t even acknowledge all the things she’s done for you over the course of years where you should’ve said thanks just to make everything a little better and bearable for her. I am not saying that you’re not superb human being. You probably are. But, an individual can only go able for so long without feeling respected and cared for.

So yes, damn with you. Your mom should definitely indulge in that piece of bread without the fear of being labeled as a selfish mother.

I am sure some thumb warriors are ready to point out, “but what about fathers? They sacrifice too!” And of course they do! They’ve worked to the bone, and their time away from their family is another form of sacrifice too. AGAIN, I am not saying mother’s can’t work. Gosh, there’s no winning with you guys, is there? That isn’t what I was talking about. It was just an example I was giving out.

What I am trying to say is that it’s easy for people to label you as being selfish or self involved for doing something gravely just for yourself. Do what makes you happy and if people are quick to label you with a nasty word, well, wear it as a badge. (But don’t steal your roommate’s food and then blame it on me! Hello, Keira didn’t teach you to steal food!)

Think of it as your own Scarlett Letter A. Ahhh, now we’re feeling scandalous eh?

I know I have been trying, thinking about myself over others, is difficult but I will take it one step at a time. I hope you do too. For your sanity and mental health’s sake. You can’t be expected to look after other’s while you’re breaking apart. Be kind, but to yourself first.


Phew, that was a hard piece to right. Did you guys feel it too? I would appreciate if you could tell me your thoughts on it. Did you like it? Dislike it? Came around, let’s have a conversation. I am always happy to brew a cuppa! Sending my love and best wishes your way. Stay safe and get vaccinated!

ARC Review: House of Agnes

Goodreads Blurb:

A lesbian romance filled with intrigue and sizzling sexual tension as enemies discover that the other side of hatred…is desire.

Agnes Noble is private, mysterious, and untouchable. She rules House of Agnes, the most exclusive escort agency on the East Coast, with a diamond fist. Crossing her is a mistake no one makes twice.

Investigative reporter Lola Osbourne is not afraid. She’s gunning for the House and its so-called queen. She’ll make sure no other innocent gets dragged into Agnes’s alluring web, to be used and discarded the way Lola’s sister was.

But her plan to get close to the elusive madam shatters the moment her eyes meet the Queen’s. One look and everything’s different. More complicated. Dangerous.

Now, Lola’s not just fighting to topple a queen from her throne, she’s also scrambling to escape their explosive collision with her suddenly vulnerable heart intact

My Thoughts:

I’ll start with what I liked/admired:

  • STRONG FEMALE MAIN LEADS! Yes! I love reading books like that. It’s so inspirational to me. I suppose that’s when I am motivated to pick up a dumbbell and try to get some gains like Whit or Jamika! If not, I could just work on my scowls, I suppose that would do too!
  • Ms. Zedde’s writing style. It was… poetry and prose and every beautiful thing that one can think of when describing superb imagery and style. Do you want an example?! Don’t worry, I got it covered.

Sudden anxiety fizzed in her chest, like an untimely burp waiting to burst free.

What? I read that (of course there were a lot of examples throughout the book but this stood out more.) and was like, y’know. She’s so damn right. It’s obvious yet creates a beautiful picture to capture me into Lola’s world and experiencing the thundering of her heart.

  • Not abusing sex. It’s refreshing. I know the story’s setting does stir every conversation in that direction, but I loved how the author was able to create a balance.
  • Gretchen. I don’t have to say anything more. That little girl was adorable.
  • I admired the author for using her book as a medium to get the message of BLM across.

Like everyone else in America, Lola saw the videos of cops killing unarmed Black people and other ethnic folks in the streets, in their cars, in police stations, on social media, and she hated the system that allowed things like that to happen almost every day with no consequences for the killers.

  • Finally, the cover. It’s beautiful.

What could’ve been better?

  • The chemistry between Lola and Agnes. Agnes was suspicious of Lola throughout but their “relationship” confused me.
  • The end. Too fast-paced and the author made it seem like she was tying all the loose ends together. (view spoiler)  The ending sort of ruined it for me. I wish it was better.

My Rating: It’s a 3.5/5.

Content Notices:  Murder, and death of loved ones in the past.

Audience: 18+

Pages: 243, Kindle Edition

I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

About the Author:

Fiona Zedde is a Jamaican-born novelist and short-story writer who currently lives and writes and Tampa, Florida.

She is the author of six novellas – “Pure Pleasure,” “Going Wild” and “Sexual Attraction” appear in the collections, Satisfy Me, Satisfy Me Again, and Satisfy Me One More Time, respectively.

Her novels include Bliss, A Taste of Sin, Every Dark Desire, Hungry for It, Kisses after Midnight, and Dangerous Pleasures. To find out more about her, log onto her website at www.fionazedde.com.

Do More of What Scares You.

Hi there, my lovelies.

I am sure you are as surprised to see an actual blog post from me, rather than my usual ARC reviews. I know, it’s been a while. I just needed some space and I am trying to figure out my footing in the meantime.

I have developed a new schedule! Finally! Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays! From which Thursday would be dedicated to my writing. It could be anything. A short story, poem, just talking about my writing process or even an opportunity to interact with the community. Tuesdays and Saturdays are completely dedicated to ARC reviews. I have got so many to read and share!! (I am so excited to share my Netgalley badges on the sidebar, don’t forget to check them out!! )

I have heard this quote so many times, and each time I resist the urge to roll my eyes. Do what scares me? Uh… I am a germaphobe and a control freak, numerous things terrify me!


But recently, I have had time to just sit and think. For almost a year and a half, we’ve all endured so much and now, our new normal MIGHT just shift to the old normal. (With the due course, of course.) That scares me. The thought of mingling with people again. I don’t think I can carry on a conversation in the “wild” now after just being comfortable with how drastic the change had been.


So… For now, I have been concentrating on my thought process.


So what did I do?


Let’s be real here. I am human not a fictional character from a book that suddenly decides on skydiving. I am going to start small. And I am going to do things that frighten me. Hence why the new schedule is born. I wish to do things that would push me out of my shell rather than make me miserable.

Maybe the fear is just in the mind and it should be. No one can see fear but we all experience it in various forms.

ARC Review: Bridge of Gold

Goodreads Blurb:

Repairs on the Golden Gate Bridge Uncover a Century-Old Murder
 
Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.
 
Underwater archaeologist Kayla Richardson is called to the Golden Gate Bridge where repairs to one of the towers uncovers two human remains from the late 1800s and the 1930s. The head of the bridge restoration is Steven Michaels, who dives with Kayla, and a friendship develops between them. But as the investigation heats up and gold is found that dates back to the gold rush, more complications come into play that threaten them both. Could clues leading to a Gold Rush era mystery that was first discovered during the building of the bridge still ignite an obsession worth killing for?

My Thoughts:

Wow. I am in awe of the research Kimberley Woodhouse has done for this book! I am genuinely speechless! When thinking about something as majestic as the Golden Gate Bridge, the thought of divers never really comes to mind. But, how else would the foundation be kept in place?

I loved how she weaves the past into the present while respecting the characters and providing them justice. This is my 2nd book from the Doors to the Past series, and I must say, this book stole my heart. I finished the book within a day. Once, I started, I couldn’t stop. There was so much going on. I commend her for her ability to create different timelines AND maintain intrigue via so many different POVs.

Steven stole my heart. He was such a gentleman throughout. And thoughtful enough to support his teammates and Kayla. Unlike other character’s I admired his bald head, it was refreshing to see a character different from the norm. Same with Kayla, who managed to wolf down a lot of food than most women would accept!! They had great chemistry. I loved them.

Though, my heart broke for Kayla’s loss.

My only complaint would be Luke. He was noted to be French but when he spoke/during dialogue, I couldn’t envision him as a French man. I grew up with a lot of French speakers, thus why this area seemed lacking to me.

Favorite line:

“Don’t get mad at me for speaking to you honestly. Yes, it’s a choice. It’s a choice to let it go, release it from your mind. Promise yourself that you won’t allow it to make you angry anymore. It is mind over matter. But I can’t do it for you. Only you can.”

My Rating: It’s a 4/5.

Content Notices: Anxiety, panic attack, murder, and death of loved ones in the past.

Audience: Christian Romance

Pages: 256, Kindle Edition

I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

ARC Review: The Consent

Goodreads Blurb:

Amy Levine wants to be a mother. After years of exhaustive in-vitro efforts and disheartening adoption attempts, she fears her marriage may not survive. But when she and her husband Mark learn of a young couple who want to give their baby up for adoption, Amy’s despair turns to joy. They will finally become parents.

Twenty-year-old Marnie Swanson and her long-time friend and now father of her baby, NFL hopeful Trent Dillard, aren’t ready to be parents. They believe that putting their new-born up for adoption is the best decision… until they sign the consent form to give him away. Now, they desperately want their son back, but it’s up to a judge to decide their baby’s future.

Fate and circumstance bring together two couples who find themselves on opposite sides of a custody battle. Waging the fight of their lives over a beautiful baby boy, one will leave court overjoyed and the other devastated…

My Thoughts:

Ah, I don’t think I have experienced the feeling of heartbreak, loss, failure, and then happiness, all of it bundled together in a book, in a very, very long time.

At first, when the Publishers approached me, I was a little hesitant regarding the premises. A custody battle, someone gain, and the other’s loss, right? But no, there’s a whole lot to it. Elayne Kaye managed to weave four beautifully flawed characters who just managed to crawl their way into my heart.

I was so engrossed in the book that at a point I had to get myself into an argument with my sister so she would let me READ in peace! So you can imagine my excitement. The 350+ pages just flew by in no time and the ending of the book was enough to bring the onions out.

More than anything, I loved how Amy’s character had developed throughout the book. From being a resentful woman to someone who was finally content with their life. And Marnie finally realized her worth. Both their stories are truly heartbreaking but inspirational.

It’s a roller-coaster ride. Two mothers on opposite ends, fighting for their son, who do you think would win?

My Rating: It’s a 5/5. A blockbuster.

Content Notices: Death of loved ones in the past. Infertility. Cancer.

Audience: Anyone above 12? I don’t recall any profanity.

Pages: 368, Paperback

Thank you, Novel Novels for the complimentary ARC. All thoughts are of my own.

ARC Review: Brides & Brothers

Goodreads Blurb:

A modern retelling of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Camille Kelly is in real danger of becoming an old maid—at least by Cherish, Montana, standards. She has all but given up on finding Mr. Right—until her broken laptop leads her to Aiden Peterson, a tall, dark, and handsome computer genius. Camille would never have believed her magic moment was right around the corner, but after two whirlwind weeks, she has a ring on her finger and has happily ever after in sight. However, she soon discovers Aiden is part of a daunting package deal . . .

As the eldest of seven brothers, Aiden has never had a problem living under the same roof as his rambunctious siblings. When he falls for Camille, he is confident she’ll fit right into his family’s already bursting home. He thought wrong. Aiden and Camille’s storybook romance comes to a screeching halt when she discovers her new living situation. Not willing to submit to a life mothering a bunch of grown men, Camille has only one option: she embarks on a campaign to improve her new brothers-in-law and marry them off. And what better candidates for wives than her own best friends?

My Thoughts:

A sweet, clean romance.

What did I like?

  • Family Structure. Creating over 14 characters and trying to give justice does not seem like an easy task but the author excelled. They all seemed distinct enough, especially the brothers with their characteristics and physical attributions.
  • Clean romance. I live for clean romance.
  • Siblings supporting one another and looking after their best interests.
  • Friends lifting each other up.
  • Thought it was pretty clever to name all the brothers in ascending order of the alphabet. A,B,C,D,E,F,G. (Helped me remember their order that way tbh.)
  • Religious aspect to a certain point. (Read below.)
  • It was cute that the author named Camille after her best friend. A sweet gesture.
  • B’s jokes.

What could’ve been better? What I didn’t like?

  • The religious part had been too much. It didn’t feel right after a point. I was rooting for it through the first half of the book. After a point, I found myself sighing. What was it with the bible reference and Aiden’s kidnapping plan??????
  • I commend the author for the creation and narration of all these characters but it still didn’t feel enough. Of course, that is the risk of working with so many characters at the same time. Some might be sidelined and others with the excessive spotlight even if the MC were A and Camille.
  • Characters not taking enough control of their lives? Camille trying to be manipulative/matchmaker and it all somehow just works?

Miscellaneous Rambles. (These will surely make me sound like a stickler!)

  • Camille kept saying she lived with “7 men”. G was away, it should’ve been 6. And then so was A.
  • A and Camille’s relationship felt awkward at times including the dialogues.
  • Same with Camille and her mother. I am still trying to process how they JUST made up.
  • Some light on G’s personality would’ve been nice.

Overall, it’s a sweet book. I did like reading it.

My Rating: It’s a 3/5.

Content Notices: Death of loved ones in the past.

Audience: Young Adult

Pages: 288, Paperback

Thank you, NetGalley and the Publisher for the complimentary ARC. All thoughts are of my own.

ARC Review: Under Her Influence

Goodreads Blurb:

Fraser Park, the award-winning Scottish nature reserve and theme park, means everything to Beth Fraser. She’s more than a little preoccupied saving her family’s legacy and struggling against a board of directors who all seem to hate her. The last person she wants to need is selfie-obsessed, filtered to perfection, social media influencer Jemma Johnson. But she’s got to protect Fraser Park from a corporate takeover, and according to her brother, that means boosting their online presence. Jemma might be necessary, but Beth doesn’t have to like her, or follow her, or whatever it’s called.

Jemma Johnson, an Insta-success with hundreds of thousands of followers, is proud of her perfectly curated life. When she’s invited to stay at Fraser Park, the trip sounds like a fun adventure for a good cause, until she meets Beth, the only woman who sees beneath her sparkly facade and reminds her that not everything is as easy or flawless as it seems.

On their path to #truelove, will Beth and Jemma discover that reality is even better than illusion?

My Thoughts:

My heart is just…filled with love and warmth! Finally, I have found an author who does not rely on sex to make a book interesting!! I’m probably going to go on an Amanda Radley read-a-thon

Okay, I suppose I should compose myself a little but it was all so wholesome!!




Inhale. Exhale.




Under Her Influence is the perfect wholesome read after a dark book I had picked up. (If you don’t know what I am talking about, check my previous post!!) This is probably amongst those rarest of times where I found all the characters likable and adorable even when they had their own flaws. Those flaws made them more human.

Beth Fraser AKA The Ice Queen was the owner of the park where Jemma Johnson AKA Miss Positivity/Influencer was hosted at. Beth’s brother/twin, Cameron, had sought help from Jemma without consoling the powerhouse of the Fraser Park.

Beth’s character was beautifully crafted. A woman who had devoted so much of her time to work that her personal identity seemed to have dissolved. Whereas, Jemma brimmed with positivity on her online presence, didn’t even realize when her love for the craft evaded into a requirement for her living. Something she stopped enjoying.

Like an onion, they peeled each other’s layers, provided solutions, supported one another. And I live for that. Love or no love, women who support one another rather than being scorned after a misunderstanding, are amazing. Even though there was an attraction on sight, the story helps both the characters explore that attraction into something more.

The side characters. Cameron, Luke, and Abigail. So, so cute. And, I was in awe the outline of the Park. It reminded me of the time I went to a theme park. And the imagery used was enough to pull me inside.

My favorite line from the book:

“Sorry, yes, just plain popcorn. But it’s not just plain popcorn, not when you really think about it. It’s the smell that first greets you when you come into the park in the morning— it wafts around most of the resort. It’s fresh, warm, buttery, and perfectly seasoned. Never burnt, never under- or overcooked. It comes in a box that’s thick enough to keep its shape but thin enough to warm your fingers on a chilly morning. It’s shareable and you always want more. It’s never plain. It might not be a fashionable freakshake or ice cream mega concoction, but it’s never plain.”

My Rating: It’s a 4.2/5.

Content Notices: Anxiety and death of loved ones in the past.

Audience: Young Adult

Pages: 221, Kindle Edition

I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

ARC Review: The Dead Husband

Goodreads Blurb:

A murderer, a victim, and a witness… but no one in this house is innocent

Twenty years ago an unspeakable tragedy rocked Rose Yates’s small, affluent hometown… and only Rose and her family know the truth about what happened.

Haunted by guilt, Rose escaped into a new life. Now she seems to have it all: a marriage, a son, a career. And then her husband is found dead.

As far as Detective Colin Pearson is concerned, Rose is guilty. Her marriage wasn’t as happy as she’d led everyone to believe, and worse, she’s connected to a twenty-year-old cold case. She can play the part of the victim, but he won’t let her or her family escape justice this time around.

Grieving her husband and struggling to make ends meet, Rose returns home, hoping to finally confront her domineering father and unstable sister. But memories of a horrific crime echo through the house, and Rose soon learns that she can’t trust anyone, especially not the people closest to her.

From USA Today bestselling author Carter Wilson comes a story of deception, hereditary sin, and what we’ll do to protect our own. 

My Thoughts:

Secrets, lies, and deceit seemed like the cornerstone of the Yates family but their motto of “family over everyone else” seemed like the cause of all evil. I can’t say more, you just have to enjoy the rollercoaster ride!

What did I like about this book?

  • Carter Wilson’s writing. His words were smooth and the imagery was perfect. At times, I was horrified at the visuals but they were welcomed nonetheless. (Though, I didn’t expect it to be that vivid.) Also, a bonus point for thanking every Frontline worker at the end! It was humbling. (If you do want to give me a shoutout in your next book, I wouldn’t mind! haha)
  • POVs presented, the shuffle between Rose (1st person narrative) vs Colin (3rd person) was handled well.
  • Plots and sub-plots enough to keep the readers engaged.
  • The characters taking the literal meaning of “family over everyone else.”

What I didn’t like as much or could’ve been better?

  • 400 pages felt a little too draggy and left me unsatisfied with the resolution. The question of why “some” characters did what they did, didn’t seem justifiable to me.
  • Perhaps the constant images of Rose’s trauma could’ve been simplified. I wasn’t sure until the end if or not Rose was a sane person. She constantly thought and spoke of having done her research but stuck out like a sore thumb with a bulls-eye painted right on her every time she did anything or spoke. Maybe it was the author’s way of showcasing her diminishing mental health? I am not sure.
  • The constant portrayal of death and suicidal thoughts for both of the main characters.

Overall, it was a nice read. I didn’t expect the ending at all. (Maybe I was too distracted by everything that was happening. In that case, YOU DID GOOD, WILSON!) Parts of it kept me hooked in, especially at the end of every chapter!

My Rating: It’s a 3.5/5

Content Notices: Suicidal thoughts, death of pets and people.

Audience: 18+

Pages: 400, Kindle Edition

I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. Thank you to the Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity.

ARC Review: Rebel Girls Lead: 25 Tales of Powerful Women

Goodreads Blurb:

Rebel Girls Lead: 25 Tales of Powerful Women celebrates the incredible and inspiring stories of 25 women leaders in politics, business, sports, activism, and more, all written in fairy tale form. It is part of the award-winning Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series.

Reach for new heights with Vice President Kamala Harris. Organize voter registration with Stacey Abrams. Spread messages of kindness with Lady Gaga. And captain a team of Olympic gymnasts with Aly Raisman.  

This collection of 25 stories includes the most beloved stories of leadership from the first three volumes of the New York Times best-selling series, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. And also features 11 brand new tales of women’s activism, bravery, and vision.

Rebel Girls Lead celebrates the leadership of women from Michelle Obama to Malala Yousafzai. It is illustrated by female artists from around the world.

My Thoughts:

I am so grateful for this book. There has been such negativity and death in the world recently, and I was looking for something positive. I suppose sometimes we all just need an inspiring book to lift up our spirits! This book was exactly that. Stories of strong women from all around the world, fighting their battle and never giving up no matter what. So inspirational; and it goes to tell, consistent hard work gets you to places. No matter what people say or how they make you feel, you just need one true believer to support you truly.

I am so happy to learn about the journeys of these strong women, some of which I hadn’t heard until now! It’s never too late though.

Even though this book is designed for kids (I cannot wait to read this book to my kids someday in the distant future.) it is just as effective for adults. The ending of the book gives us an opportunity to write our own stories and draw ourselves along with a quiz that determines what type of leader we would be. It was really exciting to read Rebel Girls Lead. I just wish the bios were longer.

My Rating: It’s a 4.8/5.

Audience: Children’s book

Pages: 64, Paperback

I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

ARC Review: Hope Between the Pages

Goodreads Blurb:

Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter

Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.

Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.

My Thoughts:

Hope Between the Pages’ plot idea is wonderful but the book seems to be draggy. It failed to hit the mark.

For starters, I enjoyed all the book references that kept popping up, along with the characters’ love for books BUT it seemed like anywhere Sadie or Clara went they were encountered by bookworms. Oliver loved books. Vicky loved books. Max loved books. Clara’s father loved books. Robbie loved books. You get my point right?
Without reference to their names, I would’ve imagined them all as being the same characters. There was no proper distinguishment between them.

I adored to love story that bloomed between Sadie and Oliver, their love and loss made my heartache. Even though majority of Sadie’s story was expected in a way, the travels of England and the love they bore for one another was beautiful. Including the historical descriptions.

I found Clara to be a little childish. Almost every chapter, she would start crying. Her love and loss for Sadie felt superficial since other than their shared physical features and love of books, nothing connected them.

I felt like there were lots of plot holes in the story. To say why did Sadie hide what she did to her grandson, especially the deed. How did Oliver’s mother know about everything and not the bookshop? Why didn’t Vicky ever try to contact her? are a few to mention without giving away too much of the book.

In this particular book, I did enjoy the Christian references and talks about love. It made sense to why around a 100 years ago, women would be that conservative especially in the case of Sadie.

Even though the writing could’ve been better, the fact that a strong female lead was portrayed it was a decent read. Took me longer than usual to read though.

My Rating: It’s a 3/5. It’s not easy to create a dual timeline, but she did it!!

Content Notices: ….Uh… I can’t remember any…

Audience: Young Adult

Pages: 267, Kindle Edition

I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

ARC Review: Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase

Goodreads Blurb:

His dying wish was to set her free. So why does she feel so trapped?

Jack had two dying wishes: that his wife scatter his ashes somewhere ‘exotic’, and that she not give up on life once he was gone. He intended to spur her on to new adventures, but despite clinging to her red suitcase, Geraldine Verne hasn’t left the house for three months.

It takes an accident for Geri to accept help from her friends, but when Meals on Wheels arrive she is mortified. Yet heartbroken volunteer Lottie brings with her more than cottage pie and custard. Like Geri, she too is struggling to cut loose.

As a gloriously unlikely friendship blossoms, Geraldine begins to feel a long-lost spark of life and a newfound confidence. Perhaps what both women needed most, after all, was each other.

My Thoughts:

Wow, I am finally done with this book. It took me a while to read but I got through it. I think it had more to do with reading about a character dealing with grief than the writing style that forced me to slow down. It wasn’t the author’s fault since I knew what I was diving into. Geri’s loss had been depicted beautifully to the extent that I thought I was experiencing the same loss.

I loved Geraldine’s characterization. She was a quirky and smart woman who loved to bake, read, and bingo.

Even when she didn’t have any children or grandchildren, side characters helped her experience that form of love. Geri’s friendship with Lottie and Len was admirable. The little neighborhood kids were adorable too!

I couldn’t understand why this book was written in Geri’s narrative. Things were happening in the lives of Lottie and Len, things that were talked about in detail but the first person narrative just didn’t suit it since it felt like excessive information without direct impact toward’s Geri’s character. (Especially the situation with Len.) Sure Geri’s compassion and kindness were apparent but it served no purpose truly.

Ah, Jack. What a sweetheart and gentleman. The cake. That just… it ripped my heart out and this is exactly why I have such high expectations for men! WHO WOULD EVER STAND THROUGH IT ALL?
Also, it kinda bothered me how there was no actual scene regarding the other characters’ reaction to eating that cake. I would’ve liked it a lot if Len or Geri would’ve shared their thoughts.

Overall, it’s a sweet book that takes you through a rollercoaster. The writing style clearly depicts the storm that brews inside of Geri. Each character had their little parts to play and was distinguished, which isn’t easy to write. The ending was unforeseeable but cheerful nonetheless. I enjoyed reading it.

Additionally, I would love to mention the research the author has done with regards to the lives of butterflies! That was something I just had to mention. Thank you for educating me on that aspect, I love books that teach me something new.

My Rating: It’s a 3/5.

Content Notices: Death. Loss of a loved one.

Audience: Young Adults

Pages: 304, Kindle Edition

I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

India needs your support.

Hi, guys.

Until last year, I barely knew anyone who was covid positive. And today, every where I look, there’s someone turning positive or dying. Personal tragedies hit differently. If you haven’t heard about what is happening in India, I would urge you to proceed with caution. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine on our end. Pictures that emerge give me an eerie sensation. As if Covid19 isn’t just a disease, but rather a mass genocide is being performed by some twisted tyrants on my people. But, we know the truth. It’s too late to point fingers. Fingers won’t bring back the dead. Fingers won’t bring oxygen to the ones on the brink of collapsing. Pointing fingers won’t provide food to the ones that have lost their jobs since it’s not “essential.” While I do wish that a nationwide lockdown comes in place to curb innocent people from dying, India can’t handle her economy being shut down.

I have seen too many videos and pictures that makes my skin crawl. All, I am asking for is your support. People are losing their lives not because of getting Covid19 but the lack of infrastructure. The healthcare system has too much weight on it. I pray not for the ones who are sick but also for the doctors. I command their bravery for facing so many people and trying their best to help them

Please help out in anyway possible. It could be in a form of monetary compensation to NGOs who are working day and night on ground zero to help out those in needs or you could just say a small prayer. If you’re not religious, then I request you take a moment and just send your best positive vibes to us. We need your positivity.

Amplify as much as you can. We appreciate your help in everyway possible.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We will overcome this. We just all need to work together.

Links of helpful NGOs would be provided here. Thank you for your support.

Book Review: Hana Khan Carries On

Goodreads Blurb:

Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighbourhood. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening Three Sisters.

When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighbourhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant—who might not be a complete stranger after all.

As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be.

My Thoughts:

Oh. My. God.

I am in love with this book. This would definitely be a book that I would re-read in the future.

I loved that Uzma took her time to build a story that tackles multiple issues while keeping the readers entertained. Ranging from racism to guilt children of immigrant parents face to building a successful career to the stereotypes Muslims around the world have to face and finally, delicious South Asian food! (The FOOD. I repeat. The imagery was so vivid that I was salivating.)

Stories about immigrants are always heart-touching. With my parents being one, I am always in awe at their sacrifice and strength that they’ve put up. Forget a different country but a continent altogether to literally swim with the sharks. Languages that they had to learn when they’re in their 20s. But all this strength does bring guilt and pressure on us, as being the children of immigrants. Which is ever rarely mentioned. I admired the portrayal of Hanan who goes on to battle her mother’s failing restaurant, her sick father, her job security, and at last, her potential love life.

Written by a Muslim author, I am pleased to validate, YES, THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT FOR SO LONG!

The scenes of enduring racism or hate crime made my stomach churn.

Even though Aydin and Hana were rivals that eventually turned into lovers, I loved their journey. Both being Muslims, they were used to showcase different aspects of the culture. From an overly supportive father to a conservative, Uzma touched upon each nook of the culture without it being generalized. Side characters such as Yusuf, Big J, Rashid, Luxmi, and so on, were portrayed with such care and affection. I believe they were all successful in putting out the message that it doesn’t matter if you’re Muslim from Syria, Jewish from Yemen, Hindu from India, or Muslim from India, indifferences only exist if you let them pierce into your life. Ah, it was one of those books that just makes your heart all warm and giddy with its roller-coaster ride.

Let’s not forget Billi Aunty and her MAJOR SECRET STORY! That took me by surprise. Here, I was thinking about how this book would only touch upon the correct portrayal of Muslims but there was also feminisms.

Uzma has stepped up from her previous book which I am really happy about. Part of Ayesha At Last felt predictable to me, but Hana Khan Carries On is entirely different.

A little complain though, why was it never mentioned what Hana’s voice sounded like on her Podcast show? Had it been autotuned? Did she speak normally? This little detail, which I thought carried a lot of weight at the start, eventually faded in the background with a lot of things that happened. So, I suppose I wouldn’t give it a lot of weight. But I am still curious.

There’s lots of love. Banter. Heartache. Secrets. (So. Many. Secrets!) Good food. Drama (Can my Desi folks even live without Drama?) So yes, a whole Indian package that would fill your days with smile and laughter. (Until it ends… :()

My Rating: It’s a 4.6/5.

Content Notices: Death. Racism. Potential Hate Crime.

Audience: Young Adults

Pages: 325, Kindle Edition

Book Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown: A Novel (The Brown Sisters Book 3)

Kindle Blurb:

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong. So she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore… and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.

My Thoughts:

I finally read the book!!

Okay, so enough of fangirling over Eve’s story and my love for Talia.

Okay, I am ready. The book. Oh. My. God. What a beautiful book!

Talia’s writing style is what I would refer to as perfection. She’s the perfect mixture of funny, witty, quirky and even steamy writing. She mentions the pandemic in a sly manner that made me chuckle with the words “lockdown” and “tracking vaccine” in the book. Which was a good homage to 2020. Thank you for providing me with a good start to 2021 (erm… even if its 4 months in. haha)

There’s so much charisma in her writing style that pulls me in. Out of the Brown Sisters series, I enjoyed and adored Eve the most. Perhaps it had more to do with Jacob and the autistic representation in the story.

Some of Jacob’s mannerisms and fears felt personal to the point that I was in tears. Sure the book was more of a romantic comedy, but when faced with my fears in form of another character, it was an out of body experience where I felt Talia was able to split me open and look into my insides. A very raw feeling. Needless to say, I rooted for him. I understood what went through his mind, because I am the same way.

I adore that Talia’s writing takes me by surprise especially during the…. ahem….

Her knack for writing books that not only represents minorities but educates others on different aspects is what makes her respectable. I might seem bias but you have to understand that there are very rare writers that hold such command over their pens without coming off as being rude or disrespectful.

My Rating: It’s a 4.6/5. The ending melted my heart. So adorable. So cute. I loved all the Brown sisters who made a “cameo” appearance in this book.

Content Notices: Childhood neglect and anti-autistic ableism. (Which was graciously provided by Talia at the start of the book.)

Audience: Young Adults

Pages: 393, Kindle Edition

ARC Review: One Monsoon in Mumbai: Trouble and Laughter and Mushy Stuff

Goodreads Blurb:

A nerdy hero, a dashing villain…

and an interfering auntie.

Life’s complicated for Seema Rawat, cyberspy.

From picking pockets in the slums of Mumbai to being picked as an agent by Intelligence Bureau’s hacking unit, Seema has come a long way. For her first assignment, she has to romance the suspect and break into his systems.

The target, Adhith, isn’t the kind of criminal she’s met before.

Looks, charm, money, and power… he has it all.

Well… Seema never backed away from a challenge. There are just two problems. Her auntie keeps a very close eye on her virtue. Then there’s Vikram—Adhith’s boss and BFF—who’s nerdy and awkward and altogether adorable.

Also, he’s a tech wizard.

His specialty? Cybersecurity.

One Monsoon in Mumbai is a zany spy romance with twists, turns, and humor that make it the perfect adventure.

My Thoughts:

Okay, Okay, okaaayyy!

Take a seat because this might be a long one…

There’s no doubt that the author is a wordsmith. Even when she is the master of her pen, her words seem very bland. Very distant from the characters. Other than Seema’s curls or her brown eyes, I couldn’t describe any of the characters mentioned in the book. (Perhaps the henchman? He was described very well in detail!) I wish the narration was better.

There was a lot of purple prose included especially in the first few chapters that got my head spinning. I had to take a few breaks in between with all the information that had been presented to me. Plus that information meshed with the dialogue that the characters had amongst themselves, didn’t leave any room for a surprise for me. I couldn’t experience their pain, heartbreak, angst, or even love. Though, I should mention it does show an enormous amount of research on the author’s part!

The ending was extremely anti-climatic, we spent 90% of the book-building for it, and then… it just didn’t deliver it.

The complex relationships introduced seemed futile. They were just names that I didn’t want to remember.

Also, as a Mumbaikar, I have a few bones to pick:

  1. HOW DID ADHI GET TO A PHONE REPAIR SHOP FROM GATE WAY TO SOMEWHERE NOT MENTIONED THAT TOOK HIM THIRTY MINUTES!? From Gate Way to somewhere like…. Fort would take minutes! AND THERE WAS A RICKSHAW IN THE BACKGROUND?! No rickshaws are present in South Mumbai!!
  2. Why was Madhu always dressed in a Hoodie? In Mumbai’s weather where a cotton tunic could just be drenched in sweat from rigorous walks that we USED to take pre-covid.
  3. The term “Islamic Terrorists” used in the book for 26/11 terror attacks. Just. NO. I don’t know if it was her own bias that seeped into the book?
  4. Monsoon scene in the slums seemed extremely superficial, especially with the way young Seema tried to escape
  5. Lastly the “Mumbaikar” Hindi used was so off. It really did irk me.

Please, experience our city firsthand. There’s more to it than just Gateway or Marine Drive.

Also, the suicide scene. Plus put a trigger warning of any sort. That was something I wasn’t expecting and it was sort of explained in detail.

My Rating: It’s a 2.8/5 for me, the only reason I finished reading it was the fact it was based in Mumbai.

Content Notices: Loss of a loved one, blood, sexual assault, and suicide attempt.

Audience: Young Adults

Pages: 346, Kindle Edition

I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Reedsy Prompt: Write about someone who books a bargain vacation, only to be told when they arrive that they need to share a hotel suite with a stranger.

TW: Mention of suicide.

“Congratulations, you’ve won an all-paid holiday to Colombia for 5 days, completely free! Sign up now to claim it now!”

Ciara sighed after reading the text message, these spam texts were getting clever and sneaky by the day. This had been her third text this week while her email had been bombarded with it almost every day!

The first time she read this message, her face lit up by the idea. For a second she let herself enjoy that fantasy. Heading into Colombia, bathing in the sun while she enjoyed her time by the beach. Perhaps pretending to be someone else when she snorkeled underwater and watched the corals. Someone a lot more fun.

Instantly her breath felt lighter in her lungs, her aching shoulders relaxed as if she was physically there. Free from all her responsibilities, little tremors passed through her body, filling it with excitement.

“Stop!” She told herself, snapping out of her little dream. No way she won such an opportunity. Worst case scenario someone would lure her in and then trap her into human trafficking. Or a drug mule.

Ciara was in her early 20s, still trying to find her way through life. Some days she enjoyed being the Kindergarten teacher she was, other days she wanted to be a lawyer or a successful book blogger. But being in the public eye scared the crap out of her and her online persona was born from that same fear. Her book blog was under a pseudonym. Even though it wasn’t quite successful, she enjoyed her moments of interacting with like-minded people in the community.

It was when the same message was sent to her Goodreads profile, her attention was captured. Her jaw tightened, forcing her gums to take the impact. The searing pain was endured through her mouth. Something she should’ve taken care of a while ago but NHS’s long waiting list made her endure it anyway.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t touch” She taught herself after watching a few American films.

With all the anxiety that sank in the pit of her stomach, she checked the sender’s profile, Frank C.

He seemed to have created a new profile with zero books read. What was happening? She was certain no one could hack into her phone or laptop by just replying to the person back on Goodreads. With her heart dancing against her ribs, she replied to Frank C.

Frank C: Congratulations, you’ve won an all-paid holiday to Colombia for 5 days, completely free! Sign up now to claim it now!

Periwinkle: What do you mean? Why are you stalking me?

Frank C: We aren’t. We’re just providing you with the opportunity to obtain what’s yours.

Her brows knit together at the response. Were they truly behind her? How did they even find her? Especially on GoodReads.

She glanced around her bedroom as if someone else was lurking in the shadows. Her heart continued to palpitate.

Periwinkle: What’s the catch?

Frank C: “No catch, Miss Stalestrome. It’s a rare opportunity that has come knocking at your door. Why would you turn it down?”

His argument did seem convincing. Even when he seemed to be pressing. What did she really have to lose? It was just 5 days. With Spring Break around the corner, she could manage to miss school during the time period. It seemed like luck was finally on her side.

Periwinkle: Okay… Send me all the details.

She replied vaguely. Internally she was excited but Ciara had to maintain her cool. Her mind had to be in the right. She still had to investigate all their intentions before heading out.

Ciara spent another week going through all the details Frank C had provided before heading out. She could’ve canceled the trip last minute. Everything was paid for but she never signed a contract or made an agreement of sorts.

The idea of being in control gave her some mental peace.

Her air tickets were all in business class, heading out from London to Cartagena. She was rather impressed by her accommodation. A 7-star hotel’s presidential suite right in the heart of the city! She was getting the best of the best, but what could really go wrong?

Her sparkling smile dropped into a crease, situated in the Presidential suite, between all the glitz and glamour was a middle-aged man. He seemed out of place. His skin was withered from age but Ciara suspected there was some illness involved too. He smiled warmly at her, almost as if he had known her forever.

“Sorry, sir. I seemed to have the wrong room.” Ciara whispered, glancing down at her single black keycard in her hands. “Stupid technology, amiright?” She chuckled nervously while taking her steps back.

The bell boy stood awkwardly outside of her room with her bags. He exchanged a confused look between the two. It wasn’t just the language barrier but also the tension in the room, thick enough to cut through glass.

Before the bell boy could say anything, the man replied.

“No, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be, Ciara.” His hoarse voice which lacked any malice made her shiver anyway.

“I’m… sorry…?” Her voice betrayed her, showcasing her fear for the stranger to see. She hadn’t even introduced herself to him. How did he know about her?

With a heaving breath, he cleared his throat. “I figured I could use some company. It only seems fair for an all-expense-paid trip. It is such a bargain, I tell you.”

All blood was drained, her tan skin turned pale as if she were a ghost herself. “I-I am sorry, sir. I don’t do such entertainment there’s been a mistake of some sort!” She blurted, picking up her pace towards the door when his laugh surrounded her instead.

It was a comforting laugh as if the air had been picked up around her, lifting into a warm hug. She embraced it before chuckling herself.

Oh good. Seems like a prank. Okay, where are the cameras? You got me!

“I am sorry, dear. You are a fine-looking woman, but a tad bit young for my taste.” His voice was laced with a playful tone.

Her breath came back in control, turning back on her heels to glance at the man.

 “Then what it is that you would like from me?” She asked suspiciously, tightening her coat around her slender body. Even if the man seemed weak, she couldn’t trust anyone. Internally she cursed her stupidity for falling for something like this.

Her hazel eyes landed on his blues, they were warm and kind. She let her guard down, finally exhaling a deep breath. Something in her action made him smiled brightly.

“C’mon child. Are you famished? Because I am. I am Arne, by the way.” He offered, forcing himself to his feet.

Arne winced as he tried to get up. His frail body now required more strength than ever. He faked a smile towards Ciara but she saw it through him. He was indeed sick.

With a few smiles, tension disseminated.

Arne gestured the bell boy to leave Ciara’s bags to the first floor of his Presidential Suite. Seemed like his Spanish was just as good as hers.

The two of them hit off instantly, falling into each other’s step as their conversation never ended. He was a diamond businessman, having his business set up in D.R. Congo. Ciara understood how he could afford such a lavish lifestyle but he never told her why she was there.

“Never been married?”

“Never… I was too busy being selfish…” He whispered, Ciara could observe the pain in his eyes. There was a storm building behind his ocean-colored blues.

Four days they spent together, eating, drinking, and chatting. Their routine felt simple and even though she hadn’t really known him, the thought of their time together ending soon made her uneasy… Or rather sad.

He felt like a father to her. Someone she had lacked her entire life.

On the very fifth day, Ciara hopped down the stairs from her room on the top floor to meet him, but instead, his bed was made.

“Where is Arne?” She questioned, confused. “Did he leave? I thought we were having breakfast together?”

A somber expression was over Frank’s face. “I am sorry, Ciara…” He said sadly before handing her a letter. A letter that might change her life forever.

My beautiful Ciara. I can’t believe you have grown up to be such a beautiful woman. My heart has truly been rejoiced to be reunited with you again. I regret not reaching out to you earlier…”

She started reading it out loud but her eyes betrayed her, tears pool in them. What was happening? How could Arne have known her?

“I know I have put you through a lot, and my selfish way will increase your burden but I have to do this. For the past 21 years, I have thought of you every day. I regretted leaving you and your mum but I had to do it…”

A heart-wrenching sob rippled through her throat followed by the bucking of her knees, forcing Ciara to fall. None of this could be true. What was he saying?!

Her tears smudged his penmanship. She wiped them away with the sleeves of her white shirt before continuing to read.

“I am dying… Or I might already be dead when you read this…”

That’s when Ciara’s eyes widened to why she was in Colombia. Euthanasia…was legal here… She couldn’t bring herself to read any further with her tears fogging her vision but Ciara paddled through.

Her mother said her father died before she was born but the new information was getting harder to process. Why did her mother lie to her then?

“I am happy you chose to take your time with me for which I will forever be grateful. I will love you always, my child. I am sorry for not seeing you earlier. In my last moments, I realized how much you mean to me. I had been blind, my whole life in search of money and meaningless relationships. Now that I am dying in my 40s, I understand how short life is. I shouldn’t have wasted it away. If I could turn back time, you would be my precious belonging, molded by my love and your mother’s nurture. Even in my end moments, your smiling face consoles me. If there is an after-life. I will be waiting for you. I hope that Sally forgives my actions. I will love you always, Ciara

Your Father

ARC Review: Heart of a Runaway Girl

Goodreads Blurb:

An original, captivating mystery series debuts

In a 1980s mountain town fueled by the drug trade, a young couple gets into an argument at Mabel’s Diner. Then the teen girl winds up brutally murdered, and the black boyfriend automatically jailed. Haunted by the tragedy, big-hearted, big-haired, single mom and waitress, Mabel Davison steps in and asks questions few want answered. But she’s unprepared for the secrets she uncovers, and now more lives may be destroyed, including her own.

My Thoughts:

I did enjoy reading this thriller though I felt like there some issues with it. Lots of purple prose was used along with “telling” rather than “showing”, forcing the story to be less engaging with the audience. I had to stop myself from sighing every time Mabel went on her internal monologues or how nice of a person she was to be doing nice things for other people.

Mabel’s journey was heartwarming through which she not only found the killer but her true calling. Though she isn’t a likable character. There’s no depth to her. A lot of the parts of her character seemed forced. The ending was abrupt with minuscule details. The story felt… hallow. Characters were too superficial for my taste.

It was a quick read, if the book had been any longer I would not have finished it.

So, if you are wondering what I liked about this book?

It was the sense of community, and help that everyone tried to provide for one another. Sure, it is a fictional world but that affection is missing nowadays. Along with the idea of gender equality and tolerance which Mabel was trying to accomplish.

My Rating: 2.8/5, this would’ve been a lovely read if it was in a journal format with all the descriptions that it lacked. In its current style, I am not sure if I would be continuing the series.

Content Notices: Mention of sexual abuse, murder, profanity and drugs.

Audience: Young Adults

Pages: 299, Kindle Edition

Would you like such a murder mystery? What books are your favorite?

Thank you to NetGalley and the Independent Book Publishers’ Association for a complimentary ARC in return for an unbiased review.

ARC Review: Finding Bryan

GoodReads Blurb:

Forrest Wilcox misses his younger life and the America of an earlier time. Plagued by a fear of change, irrational outbursts, and unrelenting insecurities, he’s a man weary of living a joyless life.

When Forrest’s mother summons him to tell him her cancer has progressed, it throws his already stressful life into chaos. Not only is he losing his mother, he’s now tasked with finding his brother, Bryan, who left suddenly and cut ties with the family sixteen years ago.

Determined to get something right, Forrest defies his wife’s orders and takes their twelve-year-old daughter out west, where he hopes to locate Bryan. But before he can see this mission through, he’s forced to confront his inner demons, battle with his unpredictability, and trust himself and the journey or risk losing everything and everyone he loves.

Follow Forrest’s journey of self-discovery in this timely tale that evokes the American voice akin to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and puts a spotlight on an imperfect man in need of redemption in self and fatherhood, and faith in what the future holds.

My Thoughts:

Personally, I find it hard to be submerged into a book when it is written in First Person Past Tense, but the way Matthew has written it, took me by surprise. Starting from the first chapter, I was engulfed. All the characters seemed flawed with their own shortcomings, I liked that a lot. I am tired of reading books where most of them are perfect. This book was raw, starting with the MC. His ambition could’ve taken him to places, but instead, his anger (due to his personal limitations) helped burn those bridges down. It was a good story, very well written. Even with the First Person Past Tense, I shed a few tears towards the end.

Forrest was a complex character. He seemed broken and terrified because of his personal loss in the past which made him lash out quite a few times. I wanted to wring his neck a few times because of how ignorant he appeared, which I believe was the point the author was trying to make. He didn’t have any malice at heart instead felt trapped in roles that were expected of him or what he was supposed to be doing.

It is a beautifully written story, Matthew surely has a way with words that paints the perfect picture before your eyes. There’s a lot to experience through this journey. Love, loss, friendship, anger, hate, but more importantly self-discovery. I suppose it’s never too late to find yourself and what you love. Life is a journey we must always overcome all the obstacles we face.

This book is definitely recommended to those who enjoy family-oriented drama which eventually tips towards MC’s mental health awareness. There’s no murder. There’s no mystery. Just an angry man with his young daughter in the search for his brother.

Rating: 4.0/5

Content Notices: There’s some ethnic slur (more so ignorance on the part of the MC). Profanity. Alcoholism.

Audience: Young Adults

Thank you Novel Novels for the ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.

Everybody is looking for something.

Two brothers shared a glance. The elder, with his slightly salt and pepper hair, leaned back admiring the view which was presented before him. A greenfield across the horizon. The scenario also included the fresh scent of pine trees and the sounds of birds chirping. 

“Ah… This is the life” Said the older. 

“Perhaps, but you have yet to tell me.”

“What?”

“…..I thought you were trying to prove your point.”

“Oh right! Must’ve been my age. Apologies.” The older brother, dressed in all black, waved his hand over the horizon, its landscape shuffled slowly. At first, pixels deteriorated their illusion, and then all together, a different view was projected. 

The sweet scent of flowers hit both of them forcing the older to heave. 

“Disgusting” He murmured whilst the younger stayed quiet, curious to how his brother was going to win this bet. 

The sound of the church bells followed when a beautiful lady, dressed in all white appeared. From top to bottom, her body sparkled like she was dipped in glitter and was left under the sun to illuminate the earth.

“Miss Sparkles we have here” the younger brother laughed at his joke.

“She makes me want to pull my eyes out of my socket.”

They both exchanged looks before bursting out into laugher.

The lady walked to the altar with her father in hand where her groom beamed with pride. “Perfection…” He whispered to her and she smiled. 

“Yeah, yeah, she’s getting married. She is happy.” The younger brother yawned at the vision.

“Hush, patience.” The second man interjected with a glare. “Don’t be in such a hurry, we’ve got a bet.”

“Fine, brother.”

Clara was being seen standing at the altar, her soon to be husband cried tears of joy. They were perfect. The venue, at the beach, was perfect. All of their friends and families were present there, making it the perfect occasion. 

“YAWN AGAIN!” The younger man interjected once again.

Sighing softly the other brother snapped his fingers, forcing the projection to skip through some scenes. 

“Ah… Watch.” He smirked, giving his brother a glaring look. 

As soon as the wedding ended, Bridezilla emerged, grabbing the designer by her throat and demanding why her chosen flowers were missing.

“I don’t think this one is fair. I mean, c’mon.” The younger brother rolled his eyes, “Wedding is a stressful situation. It’s been a record for every bride to unleash somehow.”

“Fine. Another one it is, this one I will clearly win.”

Like a whirlpool, the scenario changed to a man sitting on a chair in a dimly lit casino. He rubbed his last quarter against his finger. His desire to gamble was far worse than his need to survive. He kissed his last quarter for what seemed like a thousand times before pressing it in the slot machine. His heart stomped in his chest as if his veins were being injected by caffeine. One by one, the rolls stopped until they were all the same. Clatters of coins dropped on the floor, igniting attention from the other patrons. Those coins never stopped coming, like a mountain full of cash, the man laughed. He laughed and laughed until there was no air in his lungs to sustain.  “I won!”

“Good for him!” The younger man chirped thinking it was his time to win this bet.

“Watch…”

Derick Hutton got lucky one night. His quarter helped him win $2000. To a normal individual, their win would be accompanied by satisfaction but Derick was a different breed. He wanted more. The thrill enthralled him. And as predicted, the castle of clouds that he had built couldn’t sustain him any longer. Came down the man, back on his knees. Begging for people to hand him change. Fighting with his wife to let him go to the casino. Scaring his children of what a father he had become.

A soft sigh escaped the first man’s lips, he glanced at his older counterpart. “So… That is sad but it doesn’t really prove your point, Thanatos.”

“Ah, you really think I am wrong?”

The first man nodded and just is, the screens kept changing. Stories of different men, women, and children. All tales. Someone surviving a car crash. Someone graduating. Someone failing. Someone earning 6 figures. Endless stories with different endings but regrets remained. Things lacked. Humans were never satisfied.

“So, do you see it now, Hypnos?”

Hypnos shrugged with a baffled look on his face. “So, is this why you bring those souls back?”

Thanatos’ lips curled in a proud smile towards his brother. “Everyone is always looking for something… And the Dead can’t wish for more…”

Writing Prompt: Two Characters show love without mentioning it.

Her eyes gawk, filled with rage.

Lips pressed, she keeps her composure in check.

“Since you’ve already made the decision” the strain apparent in her voice.

“And now that you’re an adult.”

“Mum, everyone’s going out, I want to, too!”

You whine, feeling like a little child again.

She nodded, understanding your pain and that your decision had been made.

Mum walked towards the entrance, holding the door open for you.

The cool breeze swayed in, chilling both of your bodies. Mountains burst erupt on your skin, the silence was dawning.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

You won the battle, but at what cost? Eyes that don’t meet, the reticence that greets.

Footsteps follow out of the house, but her voice never draws you out.

“Stop.. at least wear your coat… It’s cold outside…”

Difference between self-love and hate?

I don’t know about you folks, but I try to derive happiness from accomplishing tasks even if that said task does not provide me with the satisfaction I had originally intended. If you were asking for examples, I’d say getting into Dean’s or Chancellor’s lists. Completing NaNoWriMo 2020. The joy probably lasted two seconds, “Oh, wow. I actually did that” then the indifference would settle in. Humans are so fickle. Say, if I hadn’t received those recognitions then I’d be upset thinking I haven’t attained my full potential and thus why I am sad. Which makes sense as to why people try and set New Year Resolutions. I wanted to make this piece a lot more cheerful but I couldn’t overlook the mental state of the character in mind.

I mean, does body modification make someone like themselves more? I don’t know. I don’t think so. As I would imagine is that the state of mind does not change that is why when a slimmer person gains weight, their confidence isn’t affected as much. That confidence is bred in them. It wouldn’t shatter – like those piñata cakes we see on the gram- because of the change in number. Whereas, when a bigger person goes smaller, they’d imagine that would solve all their problems, but it wouldn’t. It takes time to build that confidence and self-appreciation.

So, yeah. I am not sure. But, I suppose my message is that it doesn’t matter how you look or what form you are in. As long as you’re content with yourself. With the New Year coming in, I do hope whatever resolutions you have, you have it because you want to do it for yourself. For your own mental health and peace. I know I will. 2021 will be a year where I will try to open my Third Eye and attain peace within. 

Namaste

Guest Post by Keira Shah (periwinkle.pens): Cancel Culture & Doxing — is it Hurting your Mental Health? — Tales From Boredom

Individuals have been affected by a new form of ostracism that has been taking the internet by a storm – the Cancel Culture.  Sure, it is always good to educate people on their mistakes, but none of us were born on a pedestal with omnipotent knowledge. It took trials and errors, blunders, and chastisements to […]

Guest Post by Keira Shah (periwinkle.pens): Cancel Culture & Doxing — is it Hurting your Mental Health? — Tales From Boredom

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity!! Please do check out TalesFromBoredom on WordPress or Instagram. She’s an amazing artist. (Seriously, an all rounder!)

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Recently I have come to acknowledge how important any form of publicity is for authors. They might not be able to answer all our questions, messages or DMs, but if we do admire them, its equally good to write a post or share more about their books. This post is dedicated to Khaled Hosseini. A human. A doctor. A refugee. His story strings my heart and lubricates my eyes. Every time I pick his book, I know my heart is going to go through a series of emotions and at the end of it, I would just be torn.

He is a fantastic writer and person. His contribution to the world is remarkable. To know more to help his cause, please visit.

I have read all of his books, but A Thousand Splendid Suns is my favorite.

Goodreads Blurb: A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years – from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding – that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives – the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness – are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love – a stunning accomplishment.

“Marriage can wait, education cannot.”

My Review: Having read this book twice, I can shamelessly say this has been my favorite book. It conjures different emotions ranging from disgust, fear, empathy and sadness. No, A Thousand Splendid Suns isn’t all about getting your heart broken, parts of it is, yes. But there is more. The way Mariam fights her way through and accompanies Laila in the way. It didn’t take me long to bawl my eyes out and cry. It hurt, like a effing punch in the gut to read. But motor on. I know books like these are hard to get through. Our privilege bubble gets pierced and left are the pieces that make us question our identity. Fantastic book but it isn’t for the faint of heart. Hold it dear because you will surely hear the shattering of your heart.

Rating: 5/5

Happy New Year!

Thank you so much for being a part of my journey. I couldn’t do it without all of you! I am so inspired by the different artists in our community who work endlessly to produce new blog articles and posts everyday!

I never imagined that I, out of all people, would have a blog. It seems surreal. A year ago if you had shown me this, I would have laughed. But, now I am incredibly proud of this. It might not seem a lot but it is who I am. It’s my legacy in an odd way, for which I am thankful for.

Here’s a list of my blogs that I am most proud of! (I am proud of them all, but these hold a special place in my heart.)

So, yeah. Counting my blessings and wishing you more. I hope you enjoy the New Year in store! Happy New Year! ❤

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

This year has been insane not just for me, for everyone. So many things occurred this year that weren’t even the worst case of my worst case scenario! But with everything that has happened or will occur, in this moment I am content. I am actually proud of myself and have managed to pull through everything that has been thrown at me.

In this moment, I am smiling. It could be the sugar rush coursing through my veins that’s making me giddy or it could just be the satisfaction of pulling through another year.

My family celebrates every possible festival there is. Navroz. Diwali. Eid. You name it, we do it! And Christmas has always marked of as the best. What’s there not to love? Schools are off. So are universities. The weather is amazing! ( Sorry to whomever that lives in the West, I cannot relate to your snow.) Every bakery in town starts selling out warm gingerbread cookies (If you want to buy my love. GET ME SOME!), pastries and cakes, (Bûche de Noël?!? Anyone still interested in buying my love? haha) Gosh, that’s the kind of white powder I thrive on!

I am happy to be alive right now. I hope you are too. And if you are feeling let down how things happened this year. I want you to know that I am proud of you for making this far. You could’ve given up but you didn’t. Don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t let other people’s accomplishments put you down. You are your own person. Turn that frown upside down, precious because the world needs you. ❤

Sending my best wishes to you and yours! Do keep us in your thoughts and prayers! ❤ 🙂

Heartstopper

Goodreads Synopsis: Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner

“You can’t tell whether people are gay by what they look like. And gay or straight aren’t the only two options.”

My Review: Gosh, I love this Graphic Novel so much! It is beautiful, sweet, adorable and so so so lovely. It almost melts my cynic heart. Now I don’t even know who I am! Everyone should read it. It is worth your time!

Once I started reading, I could not stop! I went through Volume 1, 2, & 3! I even went through the Mini Comics and now I am eager to read Volume 4! This is so insightful yet educational. To anyone out there who feels pressured to label themselves, don’t be. It is okay. You are accepted and loved the way you are. ❤

“Would you kiss me?”

“…yeah”

Feel free to read it here

Rating: No brainer. 5/5

Betrayal: As you’re stargazing one night you happen to see a shooting star, you jokingly wish for 1 billion dollars, to your surprise a man appears next to you and asks “Do you want that in cash or check?”

“Excuse me?” Kedar’s voice choked in his throat when the strange entity appeared out of thin air.

“Cash… or check?… Oh, sorry do you not speak English?” The strange man glanced over Kedar’s body who had been casually stargazing in the park.

It was silent that night, the sky was clear with stars twinkling away. Seconds before the man appeared, Kedar almost thought he could’ve abducted the stars, they were all so close to his touch, just like his dreams, but never within reach.

He closed his eyes, attempting to remember his mother’s smile and questioned if the pain of missing her would ever leave his body. Everyone kept telling him it gets better with time. He knew they meant well, but does time really ever heal? Sure, he wouldn’t ache for her as much he does in this instant but he would continue to grasp onto his anger until he died.

“Kanna, if you wish upon a star, all your dreams come true.”

And he tried. Every night until she passed on, he would stand out at his balcony and wait, hoping to wish for an extra day, second, moment with her. But now that she was gone, he did it out of spite. A game to see how much the universe disliked him. Even if there was no mother to look after him, it was better to cry in a seven-star hotel, wrapped in linen with thread counts higher than cells in his body, then go to the dump he called home.

“Just because I am a person of color, you think I can’t speak English?” He spat, slightly furious at the man’s assumption.

“No. You didn’t answer, thus I presumed.” He responded, pulling out a cigar from his trench coat. His hat hid most of his face, but Kedar could tell, something was peculiar about this man.

“I am Ezra, by the way.” He introduced himself lazily while smoke slowly surrounded the man. A halo formed over his head as if that was supposed to make Kedar trust him even more.

“Kedar…”

“I know. That’s why I am here. Helper to the sorrow ” A half crooked smile appeared on his lips.

“Very funny, you imagine you’re some Helper because that is what your name means, I am assuming since mine means Sorrow.” Kedar rambled, feeling uncomfortable with this situation.

“Cash or check!” He roared this time, the hairs on the back of Kedar’s neck rose as if summoned.

“Why now?” Kedar whispered as tears slowly burned the corner of his eyes. “WHY THE FUCK NOW?!”

Sorrow turned into anger as Kedar stepped towards Ezra. The burning ache in his heart could never be tranquilized with a billion dollars, but he desired to recognize why he couldn’t have achieved this wish earlier.

“That’s how she wanted it… Her wish was for a better future for you. Wishing a life for her would change nothing…”

Prompt Inspiration

Layla By Colleen Hoover

“I look over at my laptop, which is sitting on top of the piano. It’s opening. My Word document pulls up. Letters are being typed into the Word document. W . . . i . . . l . . . l . . . o . . . w . . .”

Okay, yeah. That is spine chilling. Being a CoHo fanatic, I had this book pre-booked from September. 😅 So, yes. I was extremely excited to read it.

Goodreads Synopsis: When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.

“As soon as I’m finished typing the email, I move the cursor to send, but before I click it, my laptop slams shut—right on top of my hands. What the fuck?”

My Review: The biggest pet peeve was that I had no idea how Leed looked like. He was mentioned as being “hot” multiple times but yeah that was about it. (I searched again, if I am wrong, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!)

By the time I had read 70% of the book, the ending seemed predictable, which I appreciated rather than it being sprung out of nowhere. It was a well-thought-out and outlined book. CoHo left out little breadcrumbs for all of us to follow, some of which made me feel rather smart! I admired the dialogues and use of language. Especially the symbolism of how it all started and ended. (You’ll know what I am talking about once you’ve read it.

Comparing it to Verity, which I noticed a lot of the people were doing, I couldn’t see the similarities. I adored Verity and found it terrifying. Layla was somewhat sweet and cute perhaps because of the added romance that brewed between the characters.

I would’ve made the epilogue a different POV. I am so CURIOUS to know what happened!!

“Layla is my soul mate in every realm of life.”

My Rating: 4/5

If you love CoHo and admire sweet romance mixed with paranormal activity, this is the book for you! Grab yourself a nice cup of Cocoa and a warm blanket to enjoy this Christmas season with a slightly scary novel.

Psst… If you enjoyed this book, I would recommend reading Behind Her Hazel Eyes by Sarah Pinborough 

*might be a little spoiler* but I rather wished for a little sinister ending! But that’s what you get for reading a romance book. HEA.

How does it feel to be Alive?

Some days are better than others. Some breaths are deeper than most. How does it feel to be alive? If someone asked me that question a couple of years ago, I would’ve laughed because what’s there to live for? (Don’t go all alarmed! Hear me out…)

Loving parents. They spoil us, even if they didn’t intend to. We are suddenly their universe and that creates a bogus desire in us, to believe that the world revolves around us.

How many times has something bad happened to you and your instant reaction was:

“Only bad things happen to me?” “Universe doesn’t like me!” “Why am I so cursed?”

Certainly, I can’t be the only one with that thought.

Adolescence hits us like a truck. High school comes crashing in. Our parents, who were once our guardians are banished out of the kingdom, the lone prince/ss must fight their own battle. Here is where reality strikes us. That may be the world isn’t all black and white, that we aren’t the center of it. The imaginary world crumbles from the weight of reality. Fears topple over one another and then questions emerge. Why are we alive?

Why are we alive? Is it because we are here to learn about God and his beautiful creation? Or to build a name? Provide for a family? Or maybe there’s a possibility that there is no good reason at all. We are just alive, to be alive.

It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Even a stray ant has a purpose. To look for food and bring it back to the queen, to feed and grow the colony. What about humans? We say we’re independent and yet we’re all so sad in our demise. So how does it feel to be alive? I would say it is scary. The meaning of life changes as I continue to grow but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to live. I do.

The younger version of me would’ve loved it if I hadn’t made it this far, but I have. I’m proud of myself and so should you. Because for every tear you’ve shed, I promise you, there is a smile striving to be plastered against your lips. You just have to make it through.

Recognize that sometimes we give ourselves less credit than required but criticize fourfold the minimum. But it’s okay. Life is like a piece of chewing gum, all the hard work one puts it, results in a wider outcome. (Don’t believe me? Stretch a bubble gum out and you’ll see!)

A few pointers to mention.

The world doesn’t revolve around you and that’s not a bad thing.

  • Don’t be embarrassed by your mistakes, seriously. How many embarrassing incidents do you remember of YOUR friends or people around you? I hardly remember such stories. So yes, don’t put yourself on a pedestal and wonder what others would think of you, quite frankly no one gives a f*ck.
  • Be kind to yourself. It’s a bad day, not a bad life. Bounce right back at it.
  • If someone calls you a loser or if you feel like one, wear it like a badge and improve from there onwards. Everyone starts somewhere right?
  • Know when to reach out for help. Talk to someone when you need a grip on reality.
  • Don’t be lost in the past. People might move on while you continuously dwell on your mistakes or stay up angry at others.
  • Last but not least, live life. I know it can be hard sometimes but peddle on. Your future self will thank you. People can be mean and rude for no apparent reason and don’t let that affect you. (It’s hard, I understand that.) If someone wants to stay in your life, they will. Don’t let one argument, one breakup, one bad date, one bad test score, one bad meal force you to do something drastic.
  • My simple motto is: treat yourself like you would your child. Something would seem unfair IF it would’ve happened to your own blood, then don’t be suppressed.

Analyze. Understand. Reform. Don’t waste your life over nonsense.
So yeah, it feels pretty darn good to be alive. 🙂

Access to the Internet in the After Life?

“Welcome to After Cloud!” A disturbingly sweet computerized voice welcomed her.

 “What?”

 “Welcome to After Cloud.”

 “Yeah, I heard that. What is this again?” Laila deadpanned.

“You’re dead–” “Yeah, I know. Can we move this along please?”

 “You are dead.” The voice repeated, hoping for a different reaction.

“Yes! I know! I was filming my Facebook live during my accident! Can we get to the POINT! Geez, you sound as condescending as my mom.”

If the voice was a machine, it would’ve sighed since Laila was someone she had never interacted with before. Giving up on the script, instant screens popped in front of Laila’s eyes. “Cool. You should’ve started with that. You’re pretty boh-ring.”

Laila smirked, stepping towards the Hologram. Feeds from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, her real Reddit, and fake stood before her. “Noice.” She smirked with her dreamy eyes. She had somehow managed to capture her car crash on Facebook live, not the possibility of being the talk of the town made her bubble up.

Something was different. This interface wasn’t like the one she had known, there was no section to read the notification, messages, comments, or likes!

“Hm… Insights?” Her voice was calm and collected even though a volcano gurgled within her.

“Hello! Can I get any insights on my profile? I need to know what my followers think of me!! I want them to cry for me!!”

“Sorry, Laila. After Cloud does not allow you to see comments, likes, or shares. We care about your mental health.”

“Oh fuck me.”

Prompt Inspiration

[WP] You’re 86 and just died. But, have woken up again as your 12 year-old self, recovering from being in coma for 2 weeks. Although, you still remember your “past” as if nothing happened and retain everything you’ve experienced.

“I miss you.” Jade smiled through his tears, running his fingers gently against a photo frame. An aged picture of him stood beside the first love of his life. His mum.

Even though he had been 86, the aching hole of his mother’s death haunted him nightly. If only he had been smarter. If only he wasn’t a reckless child to get into an accident. If only they weren’t so poor. If only…

So many Ifs but no solution prevailed.

=

=

=

The presence of people overpowered Jade’s subconscious mind. He constantly heard people coming in and stepping out.

Silent prayers were said when a calloused hand held onto his. His fingers felt saturated from tears, he immediately knew it was her.

There was no one else that could be this close to him. The familiar aroma of her skin invaded his nostrils. Bleach mixed with cheap soap and something that was just unique to his mum, the fragrance of her skin. Her earthy scent calmed his nerves even before he was born.

“Ma…” He finally mustered the courage, overcoming the barrier that was between his conscious and subconscious state. His eyelids faltered, too heavy to fling open.

His mother’s lips cracked into a wide smile, welcoming her child after two long weeks. “You’re awake…”

“And, you’re alive…” His rejoinder wasn’t what she had been expecting but was welcomed nonetheless. A gentle squeeze of his hand before she reached over to his head. Caressing it tenderly, as if she was trying to deplete all the pain he had felt. The doctors had informed her of the inflammation around his brain, she wasn’t sure how drastic it was until now.“

Yes, and I have missed you.” The sweet voice of his mother forced his eyes open as little clouds of joy formed in them.

It was her. She was really here!!

“I have missed you. So bloody much…” Jade whispered and in came the waterworks. He could see her before him, but his mind was in a fog.

Had this been a memory? He was just crying and missing his mother, what is he doing here 74 years in the past?

Jade tried to move his limbs, other than the external pain he could see from the accident, there was nothing else. No aching back. No throbbing knee pain. Even the skin on his hands was soft and supple.

Could he be alive? Importantly, could she be alive?

Jade pinched his arm and the skin around it pruned like the fruit.

“Jade!” She looked at him alarmed. This was real. She was real. He remembered this moment in the past. His heart crushed down into tiny little pieces. Jade reached forward and hugged his mother the best he could. He filled his lungs with her scent. Heart-breaking cries erupted from his lips Not because he couldn’t remember how he had died. But he recollected how she had…

A robbery went wrong at Hotel Serenity.

-The End-

Prompt Inspiration

NaNoWriMo… How it all went down?

50,000 words. 30 days. It all seemed ridiculously hard! My first time participating was exhilarating since I finished with just 15 minutes to spare!

My NaNo Journey

I can’t write on the spot. Inspiration drives me. And here I was, throwing myself into the deep end with no floaters! (Trust me, that is scary. I have a winning streak of drowning multiple times haha)

I faced a couple of problems on this end:

  • Lack of inspiration
  • The urge to edit while writing
  • Time management
  • Nothing worked out according to my outline!

The solution to my hurdles:

  • Forcing myself to write even if I have ZERO motivation to.
  • Writing in a different word document and quickly pasting it to the manuscript to avoid editing.
  • I missed a few days and wasn’t constantly writing for 30 days though I picked it up the next day!
  • I went with the flow. The outline was meant to be a guide and what I have written is much much better! (Along with lots of plot holes.)

What am I going to do now?

  • I am going to take some time out, let the manuscript brew while I get a fresh perspective on my story.

Was it easy?

  • Yes and no. This was an added workload to my already buzzing life. I did enjoy it. It turned out to be my escape and my excuse of NEVER HAVING ENOUGH TIME TO WRITE fell flat. I did have enough time. I wasn’t prioritizing it.

Will I be participating in it again?

  • Yes!! 2021 for sure. And that time, I hopefully overcome my hurdles again.

My Outlook.

  • I am slowly gaining more confidence and hoping to write a lot more now. Maybe I will even try to upload twice a week! Give me some time though. I love you all for taking the time out and reading my work. It means a lot.

How was NaNoWriMo for you? Did you find yourself in the new limelight? 

Guess 9/10 Dentists were wrong!

“How’s it going Elena?” George’s hoarse voice screeched from the other side of the street.

“It’s alright, getting pretty cold here, isn’t it?” I replied through my chattering teeth. I rubbed my palms close together to generate heat before placing them on my cheeks.

The streets had gone quiet, they always rendered after midnight. Surviving on the streets hadn’t been an easy task, but that seemed like the only choice after I lost my job and the ability to remunerate for the outstanding bills. All Hail 2020.

“Yeah, it is. At least the mask sort of helps with keeping the cold out” He smiled his toothless grin before putting his dirty brown mask on.

 I questioned if the color was actually brown or had it evolved that way through weeks and weeks of utilization without a proper wash.

“Hey, George. Do you mind if I borrow some toothpaste? I ran out of my last tube.” I smiled politely but his response caught me off guard.

 “You’re a good kid but I can’t. That’s all I’ve got.”  

“You can’t spare a small pea?”

“I can’t.” He said with a sad demise in his eyes. Part of me was extremely irritated at that fact. I mean, the man barely had teeth, to begin with.

Over the following few days, I noticed a substantial change in my teeth. Aside from the rancid breath, my gums got stronger. Gone were the receding gums and my nightly habit of gritting my teeth? That was gone too.

But something kept changing. George held his distance from me and went on brushing his teeth from across the road. Hell, he even went ahead and rubbed toothpaste on his face like it was some sort of a sunblock.

On the 5th night, something strange happened. My body was pressed against the cardboard, which was now starting to reek of something. Possibly it was my visceral scent. Inhabiting in the streets didn’t exactly allow me with a series of options to bathe in, that mixed with the snow that dropped constantly, I wasn’t going get water anywhere close to me.

Where was I? Oh, right, the 5th night! And then.

 A black SUV pulled out and ascended out a figure all dressed in PPE suit. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. Everyone put on masks and PPE suits from the pandemic, but this one carried a long string of… wait, was THAT dental floss?

“I am not going to hurt you.” His voice boomed from the suit, sending shivers down my body.

“What? What are you? Who are you?”

“A dentist.”

Prompt Inspiration

Lacking Inspiration for NaNoWriMo?

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after with with a club. -- Jack London

We’ve passed the 50% mark around 3 days ago. According to the “schedule” 30,000 words must have been written by today. I stand at around 26,000 words. The distance is growing faster but I will sprint to write soon! 

Sadly, I am one of those people that tend to write when I am feeling inspired. (Which isn’t a lot of the time, hence why I post once a week!) NaNo has been a challenge in itself with the goal being around 1,667 words/day, mine has gone up to around 2,000/day! So, yes, I am pretty much struggling in that part. Whether it may be writing utter rubbish down to meet the word count or just trying to get my creative juices flowing.

Yesterday I decided to take my time out and discuss with my Alpha Reader AKA my sister regarding the current formulation of my novel. (Ahem, my imposter syndrome is kicking in again, haha)

I laid out all the plots and subplots that I have written and asked her for her insights. My work lacks structure for now (I’m purposely avoiding writing a few dark scenes.), it is getting along pretty well! So yeah, stick to your guns or grab a club ( whatever Jack London says, the dude knows what he is talking about!)

So, here I am forcing myself to write this blog because if there is just one person out there that reads my blog or feels around the same way I am, I just want to tell you, thanks for stopping by. You’re not the only one that’s been lacking inspiration. GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE! *virtual hugs* (Or… not be so great, don’t quote me on it. 😉 )

A sneak peek to my WIP for NaNoWriMo!

Hello, beautiful people! Today I have got a special 2-in-1 deal for you. I am participating in a writing contest for OlivePitStories on Instagram! ( Amazing guy that works with crazy prompts! Check him out if you wish!) With a little sneak peek at my NaNoWriMo WIP! It’s been hard, I won’t lie but its been rewarding too! I hope you guys enjoy it. Thank you!

My life seemed like a chaotic pencil case, whatever was dumped at me, I threw it in. It didn’t matter if ink from pens sometimes stained the erasers, or if a scissor sometimes pricked me, it was all closed off to be, “dealt with it later. Deal with it later.” A strong mental barrier… which was already running thin as secrets were on the verge of being spilled.

“Sorry, I’m sure it is a lot to take in but she wanted you to have this.” An apologetic look creeped on her lawyer’s face. I had an urge to laugh or maybe scream at him. How many times had he repeated the same lines to bereaving family members?

Until three weeks ago, I had no idea about my sister, that too a twin! But now, this man claimed that Ira left me an apartment. A secret apartment.

I tried to process this information, but the previous was on a backlog. Mentally, I reached for the pencil case again, attempting to stuff Ira and her doings. But nothing worked. Even though she was gone, even though I never knew her, she was still here. And her presence would forever haunt me.

I looked away from him and around, a big mistake, an enormous claustrophobic mistake!

If my life hadn’t been this depressing, seeing the white bricked building would’ve surely done it for me. An asylum, that’s what it reminded me of.

“You must do this, it’s her final wish.” He said with a sorry look on his face. I wanted to punch that face, especially his hair that reminded me of hundreds of bird’s nests, all coiled together like his thick black mane.

Keys that used to be as light as a fidget spinner. Keys that danced on the tip of my finger from its keychain now felt like bricks, crawling deep into my skin. I stared at the weight in my palms, contemplating life.

I can’t do this, not now, not today…

-The End-

Show some love on Insta! (ꈍᴗꈍ)

What if your sister never existed?

She is not real! You never had a sister, son.”

Shayan, what has gotten into you..?

Are you certain?

Ridiculous, are you seriously asking if your mother is sure whether or not she gave birth to another child?!

B-but…”

No, buts! Set out these crazy ideas out of your mind!

The disoriented man turned pale and rigid as his body fought the eerie sensation.

“She was not real…” The words were projected like bricks sinking in his stomach.

Misery did love company.

His phone rang. A shriek, unable to smoother it, esccaped his lips the moment his phone flashed a picture of his sister.

She’s calling me…

Shayan nabbed his arm desperately to wake up from his nightmare. His calloused hands slapped his face, over and over until the only ringing he heard was of his ears.

Crimson red. A color that matched his eyes and pleading face. He was torn between his reality and the actuality his parents had portrayed.

How long had it been since his parents left? An hour? A day? A week? A sense of time seemed to have slipped out of him but his phone never stopped ringing.

Then his front entrance unlocked and Shayan pushed himself into the nook of his living room. His eyes remained glued on the door.

A silhouette made an appearance, inching towards his perplexed body.

“Hiba…” He whispered in a state of shock, contemplating whether to embrace or to run from her.

“Shayan…” He felt the tenderness of her body around his, like a caterpillar safe in its cocoon.

His happiness was short lived and his fear right back on track. He shuddered against her.

“Shh… it’s okay, I’ve got you…”

“You’re not REAL! LEAVE ME ALONE!”

“What…?”

“Mom and dad told me… You’re not real…”

“Shayan… they have been… d-dead for two years now…”

Prompt Inspiration here

Please show some support on Instagram! 🙂 ❤

[WP] You involuntarily bring back souvenirs from your dreams, simple things like a flower or some dirt, an article of clothing, a paintbrush. This morning, you awake next to another person.

Adam Levine’s high pitched voice broke me from my deep slumber. Stereo hearts. A song that filled me up with joy and compelled my legs to dance to now was set to rouse me from my nightmares.

I dreaded waking up each day, given that the night before I must’ve done something erroneous. As hard drinks replaced my daily hydration requirement, my brain was no longer in command. Constantly foggy and absent-minded, irritation became my new nickname, a stride away from aggression.

I watched my body drain before my eyes, no longer being able to keep the food down, meals lost its meaning. Now I survived on continuous drinking and throwing in a greasy pizza once in a while. If it were up to me, a tap of Johnny Walker would’ve been mounted in my house. Though my “lifestyle” was already too expensive to aspire for such dreams.

I started waking up with strange items in my bed. It commenced with a fistful of dirt. For a month, I woke up in grime. Insects crawled over my skin from the topsoil, invading my body as if I was stagnant. I might as well be. A month later, a ‘stop” sign showed up its neon torching my retina to day. By then I was persuaded when I was drunk someone was pulling some sick prank on me. That fiasco continued for weeks before leaves showed up, then broken bicycle parts, then traffic lights… and now, a boy.

The second I landed my eyes on him, my jaw twitched open. Did the drunk me do something I would repent? My heart pumped against my chest cavity, barely holding itself inside.

No, no, no. You’re an asshole, Charles, but not a pedo!!

A sigh of relief washed over me when my clothes were still intact, no sign of promiscuity involved.

He was dressed in a T-shirt that was a little too small for him, and shorts that barely extended to his knees. What captured my eyes was the dried brown spots around his body and clothes. Was that mud? It had to be mud! The boy seemed perfectly healthy otherwise.

My first instinct was to shake him out of my bed, but the sense of serenity that washed over him during his slumber was somewhat contagious. A little mischievous smile played along his lips when he was snuggle up against the side of my pillow. His brown hair concealed most of his facial features, was he a boy? Did I assume he was a boy?

The alarm went off once again, internally I thanked Lew Wallace for the ever-hated snooze button. The boy flickered his eyes open slowly, hazel eyes landed on mine and both of us froze in place. It couldn’t be. It could never be… This is the first time we’re meeting!!

“How could you…?” His words cut something deep within me, something I could never admit. His betrayed gaze was pinned at me.

How could I have done that?

Now that the boy had sat up, I could see it the facial trauma, especially on the left side of his face. I couldn’t stomach to look at him any longer. I am a coward. I was a coward. I could’ve rescued him…. when I ran over him and his bicycle three years ago.

Inspired by u/Rivviken

What Happens When You Meet a Spirit in the Woods?

A soft exhale left Riku’s lips emptying his lungs while his shoulder bore the weight of his demise. “I need to do this…” his gentle voice reverberated throughout the ghastly forest. Feet pressing against the wet mud, the absurdity of it made him laugh, “leaving more mark than I ever will, ”

“You’d never be anything good!”

“You have no degree or former education; you can’t even hold a job!”

In a loop the voice sang, breaking his spirit, his soul no longer able to endure its weight.

“Stop…” a honey-laced voice cooed at him, a voice so sweet that Riku stopped dead in his tracks.

“Who said that?” He had to be alone, this wasn’t the place to promenade.

His eyes stared around his surrounding with nothing to achieve but the sound of crickets. It had been a long day and he was exhausted.

“You’re just tired man…” He comforted himself. For one final time, Riku shut his eyes, breathing in the dampness of the forest from the rain mixed with the musty wood. “Mama..” He whispered, catching her smiling face, “would she be okay…?” he murmured to himself then shook the thought away.

“Of course she would! She has two other children that will take care of her!” The uncomfortable man shuffled his weight between his feet, continuing his journey towards his doom after depreciating his worth.

“Why are you here?”

Riku had to fight his excitement in this situation, unable to avoid her lecherous voice. You seriously are twisted.

“Don’t do what you’re thinking.”

“Pardon me?” Goosebumps ran loose around his body, forming little mountains of terror the man no longer able to retain his composure.

“Don’t kill yourself…”

“Why not?”

“Why would you desire to be stuck here…?”

His knees caved in, unable to hold his weight any more. “Huh?” he requested, expecting she would elaborate.

“Enough of your antics, I am done with it!” He hissed, continuing his journey to procure a low tree.

Riku almost laughed at his plan, even in his end moments, he was extremely lazy to do was required. “I am being smart, not working hard.” He assured himself instead. “besides, what good does a tall tree—”The words choked in his throat as the figure appeared before him.

A woman, with pale skin, stood glowering at him. Her eyes, crimson red. He might’ve regarded this as a trick, but her neck. Slender but curved, surrounded by the garland that he, too, was going to welcome himself with!

“I ordered you… go away from here…”

“W-h… G-G-Ghost…?”

“Quiet! They might discover you!” She yelled in a hushed whisper.

Riku wanted to ask who it was that she was referring to, but his tongue went numb from fear. He could no longer bring his voice out.

“The undead…” The Spirit seemed to have gone from pale to paler.

Could a ghost experience fear? He reflected for a second before noticing the sound of rustling leaves. How it had merged with the sound of his racing heart.

Reality dawned upon him, as he observed a series of standardized figures, all pale, all dead, walking around him. Their flesh decomposing but lacked the stench. Like zombies, they slowly moved around towards him.

“Oh hell no…” For the first time in years, Riku ran for his life. His original plan did not matter. He desired to be safe.

Laughter roared through the woods, its reverberation reaching Riku, who frantically ran until he tilted over and emptied the contents of his stomach.

“These prosthetics look real!!!” “Yeah, one more life saved! Good job guys!” The “zombies” commemorated.

But the girl, she walked through the crowd without being noticed. “I wish I was saved…”

Accepting Myself- Coping Mechanism

Every dawn is a new battle, a conflict that has no win. It’s as if I’m in a loop every move is predictable, but not so much with my reaction. Anxiety. The word is easy to flaunt, but the repercussions not so much.

It started a few years ago I am not sure what ticked it off as a teenager, I lived through a series of events – some that are overly private to disclose, but that had impaired me nonetheless. I felt like I was drifting in the atmosphere, nothing could keep me grounded. I couldn’t be like Neil Armstrong, floundering around the moon with its gravity deficit atmosphere.

I suppose I took the word “grounded” way too literally, especially since I had transformed into an emotional eater. I couldn’t control the circumstances around me, but could damn sure regulate what I consumed! That was in my authority. The food felt good. It released endorphins, a drug that I wanted to be as high on for as long as I humanly could.

Unfortunately, that mechanism was flawed, my self-esteem dropped faster than a submarine plunging into the water. My waistline? Oh, boy. I could barely find clothes that would accommodate me. I found solace in wearing men’s clothes. They were comfortable and big, enough to conceal me from the world.

Perhaps the final catalyst was my hormonal acne – something that I didn’t recognize at the time. “Keep your skin clean, your pillowcases fresh!” the articles yelled at me, “Your phones are disgusting, even when compared to a public toilet!” These words echoed in my mind, weakening its components. Forcing me to fight a battle with the unseen.

Vulnerability isn’t my strongest suit. I was nurtured by the strongest woman I know. She’s been a shield, but a sword when she required to be. (Seriously, my mum once threatened the mum of my bully. “If your daughter touches mine, I’ll give her a reason to cry.” Needless to say, my bully and I became best friends. I reckon we both needed a little intimidation the get along anyway, haha.) So, writing this hasn’t exactly been comfortable.

Vulnerability is such a peculiar idea. Let’s feed in our weakness and hope that “they” won’t use it against us. It’s like that crack in the ozone layer, struggling to make its way back, to be whole again, but we all recognize it isn’t possible. That small tear is only the beginning of turning into something a little more jarring. Grievous.

Consequently, began my battle with my demons. A tactile sensation from a stranger felt like a retribution. I am extremely cautious of my personal space, and the perpetual thought of someone infecting me with their sickness keeps dwelling on my mind. It’s a shocker though, I live in a heavily populated city where humans roam in groups like they’re ants, ensuing a trail of honey. And even so, I’ve managed to live a life.

Certainly, there are sentiments that I would much rather not bear. Thoughts that keep me on edge, enough to make a grown woman cry. That grown woman being me. My family has been supportive for which I am indebted. Without them, I would struggle. For when they see me frantically cleaning, they don’t question it. They disregard the number of times I’ve sprayed rubbing alcohol on my clothes, my hands, my phone, my laptop, or even the sofa where I am going to be seated. “If you’re happy, that’s all that matters. Gives you a peace of mind, right?”

And certainly I do experience tranquility. I’m a frantic cleaner. It helps me decompress. Over the past 8 years, I’ve managed to wash my dried skin multiple times and shampoo my brittle hair every day. I am knowledgeable of the consequences of regular shampoo, trust me, my mum tells me every day. Though that is something I cannot manipulate.

Someone’s touch or a graze against something that did not have my consent leaves a jarring sensation. As if something is crawling up my skin, multiplying by reproducing. A chilling sensation is left behind which can merely be cleansed by purifying my skin.

How does it feel to be me? I don’t know, I’ve been unkind to myself for years and years abide. I seek to experience myself through some’s perspective. I am good looking, above average even. Sure, my body is a little tainted. Years of weight gain and weight loss, then leaves a series of stretch mark, loose skin and not very perky breasts. In recognition of all that, I am still good. This might sound vain, but rather is not. Perchance we all need to look at ourselves through the eyes of others. Others who we idealize but we don’t understand that they’ve got many procedures and surgical procedures done. What is the ideal self then? If the raw body, isn’t pretty in it, then where can we derive our stature from? How do we put bodies that have gone through cosmetic makeovers on pedestals while I disrespect my loose skin as being ugly? We have adopted the internet and generated a worse form of ogres. Our Frankensteins.

I’ve ultimately come to terms with myself. I am not perfect, I won’t ever be. My OCPD won’t go away, but I’ll have to live with it. That occurs with age. My younger self would be mortified to accept herself. I take pride. My germaphobia? That’s the consequence of me trying to dominate my surroundings. If I hadn’t done that, I would’ve probably eaten myself to death or seriously harmed myself. Sure, the dead don’t feel any pain once they’re gone. There are no emotions to prevail, no physical pain after passing on, but the vast hole that they leave behind, that. That breaks families down. That brews on for days, memories haunt the living. The dead are just…..dead.

My organization skills do have advantages too. In college, I completed my assignments and projects ages before the deadline. I was always up to date with everything. Today my sister says she won’t leave me for the following ten years! My household is dependent on what I order and plan in terms of meals. I have grown to become their support system. (They would starve. I tested it for two and a half weeks before I had to cave and be responsible again.)

Apart from all this, I’m grateful for my friends, who might be living far away from me but are just a call away. Life doesn’t feel so bad at all if only my younger self had adjusted a little.

For those who know Sima Aunty, this is for her!

[WP] Say “Instagremlin” in front of your mirror and earn 100,000 followers or…..Death!

“Greed and creed left to a simple deed, 100,000 was for whom to seed?”

“Stop it, Kara. This isn’t a joke! All of us could be dead!” He wasn’t sure if this was a blessing or a curse. Nauseated as he was, Michael sat down on the floor wheezing after his little outburst.

“It’s JUST an urban legend. Zuckerberg engineered it.” David whispered; his stomach no longer in knots. He recognized as a stupid idea, but peer pressure was something he was yet to overcome.

“100,000 followers could do me so right! I’m trying to break stereotypes here. ” Jonna intervene wishing he could break into his heels a similar way. “Maybe now Kylie would put me on her PR! OHMYGOD! WHAT IF KIM DID IT TOO! AND THEN KHLOE!” His face lit up at the endless outcomes. He adopted the terms “ride or die” too literally.

“I reckon it is a beneficial thing, if it were true, statistically speaking half of us would be dead, Kara.” David’s lips cracked into a little smile, “I am gratified with my 157 followers, at least they engage with me.”

“So… who is willing to die?” Kara sneered, a wicked smile cracking on her lips. “Maybe that’s the message, sacrifice one, then the other can be famous?” She whispered, her voice lacking of any emotion.

The three turned to her with distrust.

“What are you thinking?” Jonna answered quickly making his case. “I’m too pretty to die. Get rid of these uggos if you have to. Must be one of these nerds, I lay my bets on you, plant boy. No one cares about stupid flowers that you grow in your backyard!”

“Leave David alone!” Michael stepped in, getting right in his face.

“I know, that’s why I’ve been using you nerds. Do you think I would ever pass my time with you lot?” Jonna’s voice as a matter-of-fact.”

What’s wrong with you?!” David whispered defeated, were his friends using him this whole time?

Drip, drip, drip…

Blood trickled down Kara’s knife, the deed was done, two out of the three were dead.

“Any time now..”

And abruptly, all of their phones buzzed with a spine-chilling message. One that neither of them had anticipated.

“Is this it, Kara?” Michael inquired .

“No…”

“Greed and creed left to a simple deed, 100,000 was for whom to seed? There has been a time lag of an hour for fetching your wishes, may the odds be in your favor. Love, Gremz. HAHAHAHAHAH!

-The End-

Vector credit: Created by yahya012 – pngtree.com

Prompt Credit: Tribus Polaris

Man’s Search For Meaning

“After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.”

Within darkness there is light.

About the book: This book is about Dr. Viktor’s journey throughout the holocaust. It is divided into two parts, one which he speaks on himself and in that setting and the other is how one should find a purpose in life, to live a happy life. I am speechless. I have the utmost respect for this man, even though he is no longer with us today, he has left a piece of himself that would go on to motivate others. Rest in peace, Dr. Viktor.

My Interpretation: I started off thinking I would write a thorough review on this book, but by the end of it all, I’m in awe. (Seriously though, I’ve got detail notes, page numbers of specific quotes, and all.)

This isn’t a book that requires a review. Honestly, I’m no one to rate such a book. There’s no rating on someone’s journey.

This book is an experience. At first, I was hesitant to read it since it was a “memoir of a holocaust survivor”, (reading is my escape from this chaotic world and I’d rather not put myself in a headspace when 2020 has already been so negative.) but I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.

It took me a while to read this book since I was holding onto every word printed on the script. Just like how people keep saying “glass is half full”, Dr. Viktor proved that in real life. I can’t fathom the misery he went through and still latched onto hope. He lost everyone. His parents. Brother. Wife. Unborn child. And even then, he was hopeful. Kind. Understanding.


I haven’t even endured 0.000000001% of what he has, and I’m bitter. (Slightly exaggeration for effect but you get it.) Maybe this is time I change it around. To constantly remind myself that the world doesn’t revolve around me and my sadness. There’s more to the world than just me. Generosity is nice. Hope is nice. Whatever the world decides to throw at me, I’ll tackle it headfirst. Because I’m my own god damn savior. ✌

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.