October tbr check in

Hello, friends, and happy middle of October! For today’s post I’m going to be doing a check in on how I’m doing with my tbr for the month. So, without further ado, let’s see how I’m doing!

🔘 = not read; ❌= DNF; ✅ = read

Book of the Month

  • The Invisible Life of Addie Larue 🔘 I haven’t read this yet but it is on my TBR for Dewey’s Readathon, which takes place this Saturday!
  • A Deadly Education ❌ I gave this one a try despite the controversy but it was not worth it. I can’t speak on the representation of the MC, but I did notice other things that were problematic in regards to witchcraft and use of practices from closed traditions, so I’m not surprised this book has other issues. And honestly, I was not a fan of the clear Harry/Draco vibes so this was a DNF for me.
  • Bringing Down the Duke 🔘 not read yet
  • Practical Magic 🔘
  • Mexican Gothic 🔘

October Releases

  • Beyond the Ruby Veil ❌ I tried this one but found the MC insufferable and her whole character kind of trite. The book seemed like it was trying too hard to be cool and dark and came off as comical instead.
  • Plain Bad Heroines ❌ I might try this at another time but I found the writing style very challenging.
  • The Once and Future Witches 🔘
  • This is All Your Fault ❌ this is my second attempt to read this author but I’m thinking her writing style is not for me. It’s very odd and feels stilted when I try to read it and something about it feels off to me. This particular book is also too similar in plot to another book I read recently, THE SUMMER OF EVERYTHING, which was much better.

From Previous Months

  • The Scapegracers 🔘
  • Surrender Your Sons 🔘
  • Girl, Serpent, Thorn ✅ Melissa Bashardoust became an autobuy author for me with this book. The sapphics are so lucky to have her.
  • Legendborn 🔘
  • You Should See Me In A Crown 🔘
  • Cemetery Boys 🔘
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#5OnMyTBR: series

Hello, friends! Welcome to another edition of #5OnMyTBR, which is hosted by the lovely E. of Local Bee Hunters Nook! It happens every Monday with the goal of sharing 5 books on your TBR, and you can either use the prompts, create your own prompt, or just share 5 books from your TBR. Graphic created by E.

Today I’ll be doing my own prompt again, this time focusing on books that are part of a series that I want to read.

The Gilded Ones – Namina Forna

I would’ve wanted to read this book based on the cover alone because it is so beautiful! This book is about a girl who is cast out from her community because her blood runs gold instead of red and receives an offer to fight in an army of girls just like her.

A Reaper At the Gates – Sabaa Tahir

I know, I know, I’m an embarrassment for not having read this book yet. I LOVED books 1 and 2 but have been putting off REAPER because I’m so nervous about it. Also, I have really bad series amnesia and always have to read either the previous or all the books in a series when a new installment comes out so I’ve been trying to find time to set aside to do that with this series.

Serpent & Dove – Shelby Mahurin

I keep meaning to read SERPENT & DOVE and am hoping to get to it before the end of the year. This book is about a witch and a holy war, which sounds right up my alley.

All the Tides of Fate – Adalyn Grace

I really enjoyed ALL THE STARS AND TEETH last year and am looking forward to the continuation of Amora’s story. This is a super exciting series, full of pirates and sea voyages and vengeful mermaids and dark magic. If you haven’t read ALL THE STARS yet, you definitely should!

A Court of Silver Flames – Sarah J. Maas

I was unsure if I was going to continue this series because A COURT OF FROST AND STARLIGHT was TERRIBLE and these books are chonky bois and also this cover is ugly. However, I NEED to know what happens to Cassian and Nesta because I love Nesta, so here we go again I guess. But I am for sure buying the ebook because I do not want those hideous colors marring my beautiful shelves.

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romance recs for tech witches

I’ve been meaning to make this list forever since discovering I have a bit of a thing for romances set in the tech world, and an interest in tech witchcraft. I love reading about the weird work politics of tech companies and app creation and have managed to read and add a few to my TBR that are really great! So, today I’ll be telling you about how you can be a tech witch and add technology into your witchcraft practice, and feature 4 romances set in the tech industry.

**This post includes affiliate links for Bookshop.

what is a tech witch?

A tech witch is a more recent path of witchcraft that focuses on the use of computers and other technology to enhance their practice.

how to add technology to your craft

  • Keep a digital grimoire. A lot of people use their phone or computer to store their grimoire or book of shadows because it’s both convenient and discreet. I’ve seen many witches use their Tumblr as a way to hold onto spells and information. Personally, I’ve been trying to make my grimoire more organized with Notion.
  • Cast emoji spells. This can be done on any social media app just by typing out emojis that correspond with your intent or what you want to manifest. I first discovered emoji spells via witchblr (witchy Tumblr), where you can use likes to charge your emoji spell and reblogs to cast it. You can also send someone a little good fortune (or bad, I suppose) by doing this in a text.
  • Use apps for your practice. There are many witchy apps you can add to your phone, like astrology apps or moon phase trackers and widgets. There are also a ton of plant apps out there, and even some that identify crystals.
  • Use Pinterest for a digital altar. One of the great things about tech witchraft other than being discreet is that you can keep your cats from destroying it. I personally can’t keep a physical altar because I have destructive furbabies and a small living space, but I could keep a digital altar with images from pinterest or creating moodboards on Canva.
  • Add notifications for astrological/witchy happenings. If you’re like me and always forget when the sabbats, esbats, solstices, and equinoxes are, this may be a good option for you to keep track.

Book Recommendations

the right swipe

This book was one of the first romances I read, and it completely blew my expectations out of the water. I was expecting something light and fluffy about a one night stand turning into something more over a dating app rivalry, and got so much more. Rhiannon and Samson are equally interesting narrators, and I cared about their stories so very much. I thought the way the author handled Rhiannon’s previous harassment at her former company was so sensitive but empowering at the same time, and I felt really seen by the way Alisha Rai wrote that part of the book. This book definitely had MANY fun parts to it too, and Rhi and Samson’s chemistry just sang through the pages of the book.

the boyfriend project

I bought THE BOYFRIEND PROJECT as my May Book of the Month selection, and let me tell you, this book is an interesting ride. The pitch is pretty straightforward: Samiah swears off men in favor of pursuing her personal goals in creating an app after catching her boyfriend cheating on her with two other women. This book also surprised me, but in a very different way from THE RIGHT SWIPE. The author added a trope that I was completely not expecting and I found that I was super into it? I also have to say I love Samiah’s character and found her really inspiring but relatable to read about and enjoyed her journey.

how to hack a heartbreak

I haven’t finished HOW TO HACK A HEARTBREAK yet but what I’ve read so far is pure entertainment and super fun. I can’t get enough of books about ladies in tech taking things into their own hands and developing a whole app in the course of a book. The writing in this book is really fun and spunky, as is the voice of our main character Mel, who obviously has the best name.

love at first like

I was really excited when I realized the author of this book, Hannah Orenstein, wrote one of my most recent reads, HEAD OVER HEELS, because I liked the writing in that book quite a lot. This book is about a woman who co-owns a jewelry shop and posts a picture on her Instagram of her wearing an engagement ring to 100k+ followers after learning that her ex is engaged. So, she has to find a fake bf fast, and of course all the fake dating shenanigans that I can’t get enough of ensue.

There are, of course, many more books outside of romance that are tech-related, so if you’re interested in more of my recs, check out this list on my Bookshop affiliate page!

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why people think book bloggers shouldn’t get paid

Since book Twitter’s most recent discourse about the ethics of paid reviews, I’ve been thinking a lot about WHY people don’t think that book bloggers should get paid. This discussion has happened over and over again, as has the discussion about book bloggers being undervalued, and I think it’s important to look at why this is.

Lately, I’ve been thinking back to one of the other things about book bloggers that has been discussed many times around conferences and conventions: book bloggers and ARCs. Book bloggers have a terrible reputation at cons because we’re seen as ARC hoarders. However, on the flip side, people tell us that we should be grateful to get a free copy of a book as compensation.

People have debated many solutions to the “ARC stealing” book blogger problem, including starting some sort of “professional” organization to prove your worth as a blogger. This suggestion came about one year because a YA writer who I will not name said that “anyone can be a blogger.” This made me super angry at the time and I think after many years have passed since then I’ve finally figured out why (and I promise it’s related to why people don’t think bloggers should be paid!):

Book blogging can, in fact, be done by ANYONE. It’s not like booktube or bookstagram, where you honestly do need lots of expensive equipment, millions of books, or at least photo editing skills that come with an access to software to learn it or advanced computer knowledge that people get from having computer access. Blogging, in contrast, is the most ACCESSIBLE form of book promotion that exists. All you need is a computer and the ability to write content. There are many free, user-friendly platforms to use to blog, even if you’re new at it. You don’t HAVE to put pretty photos of your own books on a blog. Blogging is FOR EVERYONE, and there needs to be a platform that you don’t have to be wealthy to use.

And I think that is the crux of the issue when it comes to paying bloggers. Because blogging is so accessible, people think it means it’s just a hobby and not worthy of being monetized. Some people don’t even have blogging expenses, so it’s easy to subconsciously think that because of that, bloggers don’t NEED to be paid like booktubers or bookstagrammers who require large numbers of physical copies of books, equipment, and video or photo editing software subscriptions.

So really, the issue of why people think book bloggers shouldn’t get paid comes down to elitism. Because book blogging is accessible, it’s not seen as “serious” or “professional.” Obviously, those things are not true, because blogging also takes a lot of time and effort to put out good content. People see platforms like booktube as more of a “job,” while blogging is seen as something less serious and therefore less valuable, even though that is certainly not the case.

Unfortunately, I do not have a solution to pose on how to make people see the value of bloggers. We have all said again and again that we are the reason the book community exists, but it often feels like shouting into the void. I also don’t know if I see things improving, because the book community seems to be turning to these more visual platforms as their primary means of book promotion. Still, I hope that one day, people from across book community platforms will realize we all want the same thing: to share and talk about books, and maybe, someday, we’ll ALL promote both books and each other.

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Last year i was reading…OCTOBER VERSION

This meme was created by Reading Marie, and today is my first time participating.

The rules for this meme are pretty simple:

Take your current read and compare it to what you reading this exact time last year. Which one do you like better? What is different about the books? Any special facts/things you want to make note of or bring attention to? 

I just finished reading…

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

I absolutely LOVED this book and am so annoyed at myself for putting it off for so long! I knew nothing about Persian mythology going into the story, but am definitely interested in learning more about it now! I loved the ship in this book and was glad the ship ended up going a different way than I expected.

last year i was reading…

Girls with Razor Hearts – Suzanne Young

I also really loved this book! It’s book 2 of the GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS series. I recently found out that there is going to be a third book. I’m going to have to reread the first two because I don’t remember them, but I’m not even mad about it because these books are criminally underrated and AMAZING.

These books are really different so it’s no use comparing them other than to say I loved them both a lot! Both ended up being my top reads of the year, so maybe October is a good reading time for me even though I only read two books during it last year. My new goal is to read more than that this month, which I will probably be able to do because I hope to participate in a couple readathons.

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#5OnMyTBR: Pastel Covers

Hello, readers! Today will be my first time participating in the #5OnMyTBR meme, which is hosted by the lovely E. of Local Bee Hunters Nook! It happens every Monday with the goal of sharing 5 books on your TBR, and you can either use the prompts, create your own prompt, or just share 5 books from your TBR. Graphic created by E.

Today, I’m choosing one of the past prompts, Pastel Covers on my TBR! I’ve actually noticed a lot of upcoming books on my TBR have pastel covers, plus my whole aesthetic is pastel, so it seemed appropriate.

Here are my picks:

as far as you’ll take me – phil stamper

As you may know if you’ve followed me for a while, I LOVED Phil Stamper’s debut novel, THE GRAVITY OF US, and have been super pumped about his upcoming 2021 release, AS FAR AS YOU’LL TAKE ME. This book follows Marty, a gay teen who moves to London to pursue music and escape his conservative family.

the love curse of melody mcintyre – robin talley

I have enjoyed a previous book by Robin Talley and keep meaning to read more of her work because IT’S ALL SAPPHIC!!!! This book is about Mel (woo, name twin!!) who loves theater and being stage manager, but seems to be cursed to ruin her love life and to ruin the show when she falls in love. Of course, a cute girl ruins her plans of not falling in love during the production of Les Mis, so she has to try to not fall in love and wreck the show.

a pho love story – loan le

This book sounds so cute?! It’s a romcom about two teens who work at rival pho restaurants, so I’m expecting competition shenanigans and food descriptions galore for this one!

one last stop – casey mcquiston

This book was pitched as a queer Kate & Leopold, which I have not seen since I was a child and therefore do not remember. However, I am going to probably read everything Casey writes after RED, WHITE, AND ROYAL BLUE, and really, what could go wrong with a queer time travel-y romance??

she’s too pretty to burn – wendy heard

All I needed to know about this book was that it was sapphic and a thriller and I was sold. This book features two artists, a fire, and two murders, so obviously it’s going to be super intense and I am HERE FOR IT.

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dewey’s readathon: pre-readathon tbr

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve surely noticed that I love readathons–or, at least, signing up for readathons and making ambitious TBRs that I know I won’t finish and not reading during the actual readathons. One of my favorite readathon events is Dewey’s 24-hr readathon, which happens usually every October and April. This year, they’re bringing back pre-readathon events, which include prompts to complete before the readathon starts. I hope to accomplish at least a couple of the pre-readathon prompts, and maybe read for a few hours on the day of the actual event.

Today, I’m sharing my TBR for the pre-readathon. Please note, my TBR does not include all of the prompts, so if you’re interested in every prompt, check out their announcement post.

Read a “long” book (over 500 pages)

LEGENDBORN by Tracy Deonn

Read a “spooky” book (your own definition of spooky is fine)

MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Read a book that is 75% one color on the cover.

GIRL, SERPENT, THORN by Melissa Bashardoust; color = white

Read a book that was published in the last 18 months

The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert; published March 2020

Read a book set in the Fall or with a cover that looks like it is Fall (leaves changing, etc)

CEMETERY BOYS by Aiden Thomas

– Read at least 75% of a book when it’s dark outside

Read a book with a main character or author whose first name starts with the same letter as your first name.

Marty from AS FAR AS YOU’LL TAKE ME by Phil Stamper

Take five books you really want to read and put them in a randomizer and read whichever one is chosen.


Read a book that is set in a location you wish you could visit or live in. This location can be real or imaginary.

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why there’s no such thing as an unbiased review

Every now and then, the book community has discourse about the ethics of book bloggers being paid for reviews and the ethics of paid reviews. The fact that this argument is used to argue against book bloggers receiving payment while other parts of the book community (bookstagram and booktube) regularly receive payment to promote books is a whole separate issue, and today, I’m going to be telling you why there is no such thing as an unbiased review and why that aspect of the argument is ridiculous.

The thing is, BOOK REVIEWS ARE OPINIONS. It is not a report on a book, and any of the things reviewers say about the writing or characters or plot are OPINIONS. Opinions are inherently SUBJECTIVE, not objective. There would be no point in reading a book review that was just facts about the book, and honestly I don’t even know what that would look like–probably a synopsis and overview of characters?

People read reviews because they want to know if the reviewer liked or disliked the book. You can say in a review why you think other readers might like a book that you didn’t, but even that is still an opinion because reviewers are not mind readers for every single person who has read or might read a particular book.

Reviews also aren’t objective because you ALWAYS go into a book with some level of expectation. The only way you can go into a book with no expectations is if you don’t see the cover or synopsis. But honestly, even the title of a book can influence how you view what the book is going to be like or what you are going to think of it. Things like a cover and synopsis are SUPPOSED to make you have a pre-reading opinion of a book, because how else would you know you wanted to buy it? However, going into a book with expectations of any kind is already a “bias.”

Reviews are also not meant to be editorial critiques, which should be more on the unbiased side of things than a review. When you’re editing and looking for how to improve the book, you’re looking at how to enhance the work that’s already there, not necessarily adding or taking away things willy nilly that you personally like or don’t like. In an editorial critique, there needs to be more of a level of objectivity and it’s less about your personal likes and dislikes. However, editorial critiques are meant for writers, and reviews are for readers (as much as some authors like to ignore that fact), which means a personal opinion is important.

I think what this debate also comes down to is that people don’t want to see that REVIEWS ARE FOR READERS. The point of a review is not, at its heart, promotion. That is a side benefit that can come from a review, but I guarantee people are not posting one-star reviews on Amazon or Goodreads because they’re trying to get you to read it. The true purpose of a review is to help readers decide if they want to read a book. They are not an editorial critique for authors or promotion for authors: they are for readers.

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the only black girls in town // review

Title: The Only Black Girls in Town
Author: Brandy Colbert
Pages: 368
Date published: March 2020

Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only black girl in town for years. Alberta’s best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can’t understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black-and they have a 12-year-old daughter just like her.

Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living.

When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie’s attic, they team up to figure out exactly who’s behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems.

Wow, I really liked this book!! I went into it with very open expectations because I hadn’t read a book by Brandy Colbert yet, and also because I knew nothing about it when I started reading since I primarily picked it off my library’s new shelf because it was pretty and had a cool cover. Let me tell you, I ended up being blown away and becoming very interested in Brandy Colbert’s other books, so let’s get into why I loved this book so much.

The first thing that really sang to me in this book was the beach setting. Alberta, our main character, lives in a seaside town in California that has small town vibes. The first thing we get to learn about our lovely Alberta is that she loves to surf. I really enjoyed all the scenes throughout the book about her surf camp and her teacher, who was really supportive, and her friend Oliver, who also hated the mean girl on the team who says racist things to Alberta.

Now, I can’t comment on the rep fully because this is not an ownvoices review, but I can say this book dealt with racism in a much more nuanced way even than some YA books I’ve read. I liked how Brandy Colbert described how the comments her white peers made made Alberta feel, even with her friend Laramie, who still sometimes said stuff that made Alberta uncomfortable. It was interesting to have those comments and compare them to some of the seemingly more overt stuff that her mean neighbor, Nicolette, says.

I also thought the discussion on “skinfolk vs kinfolk” was interesting. When Alberta’s new neighbor, Edie, moves into the old B&B, one of her fathers says that just because a person is “skinfolk” (meaning they’re both Black) doesn’t mean they’re “kinfolk” (meaning they’ll actually like each other and get along). I’m not going to comment much more on that because I can’t tell you what that would mean for an ownvoices reader.

I also LOVED the mystery element. I was absolutely not expecting that part of the book when I went into it, and was surprised when Edie discovered the journals in her house. However, I was immediately hooked by the story being told in the journals, and how the girls immediately knew the writer was Black, even if they took some time to find out what the whole story was. The journals added so much to the story and were a really creative way to talk about important parts of Black history, which I won’t go into too much because I don’t want to spoil what they discover.

The friendships in the book were also wonderful to read about, as they often are in MG novels. I loved watching Alberta get to know Edie, who is very different from her. I found Edie so charming and funny and unique, and appreciated how Brandy Colbert really took a lot of care with Edie’s character to make her a multidimensional character with her own goals, thoughts, and feelings too. It was also interesting to see the interactions between Edie, Laramie (Alberta’s first best friend who she’s known most of her life), and Alberta and see how that affected her friendship with Laramie as well. I think the themes dealt with in each friendship are things lots of middle grade readers could relate to, and they were all handled so sensitively.

This book ended up completely surprising me, and I’m so glad that I picked it up on a whim. I am definitely going to be reading Brandy Colbert’s latest YA book, THE VOTING BOOTH, which has been on my TBR for quite a while. I also fully intend to read any future MG books she writes if this type of writing and story is what we have to look forward to!

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www wednesday // 10-7-20

WWW Wednesday is a book blog meme hosted by Taking On A World of Words where book bloggers answer these questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What are you reading next?
  • What did you just finish reading?

currently reading

As Far As You’ll Take Me – Phil Stamper

I really loved Phil Stamper’s debut, novel, THE GRAVITY OF US, and have been so pumped for a new book by him. The book gods blessed me because I am autoapproved for Bloomsbury titles on NetGalley and THEY ADDED AS FAR AS YOU’LL TAKE ME and now it is in my possession being read. I’m not super far into it and so far all I can tell you is that it’s about a gay teen musician who moves to London to work in music and escape his conservative, religious parents.

just finished

Girl, Serpent, Thorn – Melissa Bashardoust

I really liked Melissa Bashardoust’s sapphic debut, GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS, but I liked GIRL, SERPENT, THORN even more. I loved Soraya’s character and her journey to find out who she is and take back her power as a person. I also super dug the ship in this book, but I’m not going to tell you about it because it might not be who you originally think and we don’t want spoilers. This was a beautifully written, intense book and I really can’t wait for her to bless the sapphics with more wonderful stories.

reading next

Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I’M GONNA DO IT I’M GONNA READ MEXICAN GOTHIC AND I’M FINALLY GONNA KNOW WHAT THE DEAL IS WITH THE MUSHROOMS! I made reading this book its own goal for October because I’ve been meaning to get to it for so long and NOW IS THE TIME!!

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