The Kindred by Alechia Dow #bookreview #YA #fantasy #BlogTour #scifi

To save a galactic kingdom from revolution, Kindred mind-pairings were created to ensure each and every person would be seen and heard, no matter how rich or poor…

Joy Abara knows her place. A commoner from the lowly planet Hali, she lives a simple life—apart from the notoriety that being Kindred to the nobility’s most infamous playboy brings.

Duke Felix Hamdi has a plan. He will exasperate his noble family to the point that they agree to let him choose his own future and finally meet his Kindred face-to-face.

Then the royal family is assassinated, putting Felix next in line for the throne…and accused of the murders. Someone will stop at nothing until he’s dead, which means they’ll target Joy, too. Meeting in person for the first time as they steal a spacecraft and flee amid chaos might not be ideal…and neither is crash-landing on the strange backward planet called Earth. But hiding might just be the perfect way to discover the true strength of the Kindred bond and expose a scandal—and a love—that may decide the future of a galaxy. 

The words “save a galactic kingdom from revolution” were all I needed to read to request this book from NetGalley. And that cover is stunning.

Kindred mind-pairings are pretty cool. The bond occurs at birth and is usually shared by people from different walks of life and even different planets. Kindred are in each other’s minds constantly – they can see, hear, and sometimes feel everything that happens to the other. Sounds kind of intrusive, right? The bond ensures the “haves” are aware of how the other half lives and the struggles they endure, with the overall goal of making sure every person is seen and heard. Hopefully the inequalities that exist will be righted, but no one seems to be in a hurry to fix those particular problems. With Joy being a commoner from an impoverished planet and Felix being royalty, they were never meant to bond, but for some reason it happened. And their connection is just about the sweetest thing ever.

Although in line for the throne, Felix really just wants to write music and sing. He’s also kind of a party guy who tends to make impulsive decisions that don’t turn out so well. Joy works in a bookstore to help put food on the table and longs to write children’s books, a profession that isn’t possible with her station in life. She’s a voice of reason and stability for Felix, and the only one who really knows him. Despite never meeting in person, they “played” together as children and are each other’s best friend – and maybe more.

“We need to give more than we take, help more than sit idle. It’s time for change.”

This quote is the overall message conveyed by the novel, and it’s a worthy one. Even a creed to live by. It may not have had the galactic setting I’d expected since much of the story takes place on Earth, but with action scenes, a bit of mystery, humor, strong supporting characters, and a little romance, The Kindred kept me flipping pages so fast I finished it in two days.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About the Author

Alechia Dow is a former pastry chef, teacher, and librarian. When she’s not writing, you can find her having epic dance parties with her little girl, baking, reading, or traveling.

Social Links:

Author website: https://www.alechiadow.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alechiawrites 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alechiadow/ 

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18493747.Alechia_Dow 

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kindred-Alechia-Dow/dp/133541861X/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=the+kindred&qid=1639521830&sr=8-3 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-kindred-alechia-dow/1139312509 

Books a Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Kindred/Alechia-Dow/9781335418616?id=8395218972605 

IndieBound:  https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335418616?aff=PublishersWeekly 

BookShop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/the-kindred-9781335418616/9781335418616 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-kindred/id1568479194 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Alechia_Dow_The_Kindred?id=mIMvEAAAQBAJ 

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz #YA #historicalfiction #mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

A gothic tale full of mystery and romance about a willful female surgeon, a resurrection man who sells bodies for a living, and the buried secrets they must uncover together.

Edinburgh, 1817.

Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry.

Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die.

When the two of them have a chance encounter outside the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, the university will allow her to enroll. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books – she’ll need bodies to study, corpses to dissect.

Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living, then.

But Jack has his own problems: strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets. Hazel and Jack work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society.

Gothic tale, willful female surgeon, a man who sells bodies, and Edinburgh 1817 – there’s just nothing bad here, folks. Everything about the description made me want to read this novel. And then there’s the cover – what a stunning work of art!

Hazel is a woman ahead of her time. Although from a wealthy family, she’s continually reminded by her mother that Hazel’s brother will inherit their estate, and she must marry her cousin to maintain her lifestyle. But that’s not important to her. Hazel is determined to become a female surgeon, which is unheard of in her time. Women can’t possibly comprehend the complexities of the human body. Dressed as a man, she attends classes and is an exemplary student, until being tosssed out after it’s discovered she’s the wrong gender. That’s only a minor inconvenience – she soon makes a deal with a renowned surgeon. If she passes the medical exam on her own, he’ll train her himself. You’ll immediately root for this strong-willed, intelligent girl.

To pass the exam, Hazel needs bodies to practice on, and it seems she’s destined to meet Resurrectionist Man Jack, who’s been unable to find honest work. When people begin disappearing off the street but then turn up alive with fewer body parts, Hazel and Jack have a mystery on their hands. The title may lead you to believe this is primarily a love story, but that’s not exactly true. Yes, there’s a romance, but it’s not at all the main focus of the story. I believe the title refers to Hazel’s love of anatomy over most anything else in her life.

The novel moves along at a brisk pace, but I was a little surprised at how quickly this standalone wraps up. Despite that, I thought the ending was perfect for these characters and the story setting. I haven’t read anything else by this author, but you can be certain I’ll be checking into her backlist. If you’re a fan of historical fiction and strong female protagonists, you can’t go wrong with this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#Resolutions, Turf Wars #2, and #AmWatching

I always start the New Year with the best intentions. Like most people, sometimes I carry through with my resolutions, sometimes not so much. This year feels different. Maybe it’s because we had so many life-changing occurrences happen last year – I’m still not sure. Whatever the case, over the past several months I feel like too many things have fallen through the cracks, and I’m determined to catch up and not get myself in that position again. I’ve made a schedule I’ll force myself to follow, and by March I should be able to breathe a little better. I’ll keep you updated!

Son #1 was here for NYE, and he brought his cat, Sora. If you’re a regular reader here, you know that our cat, Bond, doesn’t take kindly to Sora invading his territory – even though she’s been coming here regularly over the past four years. Toys, beds, and cat perches were stolen on both sides, chases were launched, paws were swung – you get the picture. And here they are. Can’t you just feel the love between them?

Yesterday I watched the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts. If you’re a Potterhead, this is a must. So many behind the scenes shots and information, tributes to cast members who’ve passed away, the audition where Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint were first put together. When the three of them talk about what the series meant to them, how they feel about each other and the crew, and the footage of the last day they were on set, trust me – you’ll need a tissue. But there are lots of laughs, also. Such a pleasure to watch.

Have a great week!

Happy New Year!

I came across one of those word scrambles on a friend’s Facebook page that said the first four words you see will be your mantra for 2022. Mine were power, love, alignment, and purpose – I wish the same for all of you. Happy New Year!

The Temperature of Me and You by Brian Zepka #bookreview #YA #scifi

Sixteen-year-old Dylan Highmark thought his winter was going to be full of boring shifts at the Dairy Queen, until he finds himself in love with a boy who’s literally too hot to handle.

Dylan has always wanted a boyfriend, but the suburbs surrounding Philadelphia do not have a lot in the way of options. Then, in walks Jordan, a completely normal (and undeniably cute) boy who also happens to run at a cool 110 degrees Fahrenheit. When the boys start spending time together, Dylan begins feeling all kinds of ways, and when he spikes a fever for two weeks and is suddenly coughing flames, he thinks he might be suffering from something more than just a crush. Jordan forces Dylan to keep his symptoms a secret. But as the pressure mounts and Dylan becomes distant with his closest friends and family, he pushes Jordan for answers. Jordan’s revelations of why he’s like this, where he came from, and who’s after him leaves Dylan realizing how much first love is truly out of this world. And if Earth supports life that breathes oxygen, then love can only keep Jordan and Dylan together for so long.

Full confession – from the description and cover, for some reason I thought Jordan would be an alien. That was an incorrect assumption.

Dylan’s ride or die friendships with Perry and Kirsten is one of my favorite aspects of this story. They absolutely show up for each other. I also chuckled at how Dylan’s parents maybe became a little oversupportive when he came out to them. His teasing relationship with his little sister is adorable. The author also changed my opinion about a mean, petty character, and that person turned out to have a pretty good redemption arc.

Other areas I struggled with. Pacing is uneven, but then it seems like a rush to get to the ending. I even wondered if there was a sequel since everything wraps up so quickly. With some character choices and situations, suspending my disbelief became difficult. They didn’t seem logical within the story, and I was left scratching my head when some aspects were never mentioned again. The storyline is interesting, but I craved more of an explanation for Jordan’s and Dylan’s powers.

Reviews are split, and plenty of readers adored this book. It’s an enjoyable read, but it’s one I’d recommend for the younger end of the YA spectrum.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

WWW Wednesday: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m literally starting Bright Ruined Things today, so I really can’t comment on it. It’s been on my NetGalley shelf for months, but I’m excited to finally get to it. The cover gives me a Great Gatsby feel.

The only life Mae has ever known is on the island, living on the charity of the wealthy Prosper family who control the magic on the island and the spirits who inhabit it. Mae longs for magic of her own and to have a place among the Prosper family, where her best friend, Coco, will see her as an equal, and her crush, Miles, will finally see her. Now that she’s eighteen, Mae knows her time with the Prospers may soon come to an end.

But tonight is First Night, when the Prospers and their high-society friends return to the island to celebrate the night Lord Prosper first harnessed the island’s magic and started producing aether – a magical fuel source that has revolutionized the world. With everyone returning to the island, Mae finally has the chance to go after what she’s always wanted.

When the spirits start inexplicably dying, Mae starts to realize that things aren’t what they seem. And Ivo, the reclusive, mysterious heir to the Prosper magic, may hold all the answers – including a secret about Mae’s past that she doesn’t remember. As Mae and her friends begin to unravel the mysteries of the island, and the Prospers’ magic, Mae starts to question the truth of what her world was built on.

Forbidden magic, a family secret, and a night to reveal it all…

I just finished These Deadly Games last night. If you’re looking for a twisty thriller with a potentially unreliable narrator, this one’s for you. Lots of red herrrings that will keep you guessing.

Let’s play a game.

You have 24 hours to win. If you break my rules, she dies. If you call the police, she dies. If you tell your parents or anyone else, she dies.

Are you ready?


When Crystal Donavan gets a message on a mysterious app with a video of her little sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper’s game. At first, they make her complete bizarre tasks: steal a test and stuff it in a locker, bake brownies, make a prank call.

But then Crystal realizes each task is meant to hurt—and kill—her friends, one by one. But if she refuses to play, the kidnapper will kill her sister. Is someone trying to take her team out of the running for a gaming tournament? Or have they uncovered a secret from their past, and wants them to pay for what they did…

As Crystal makes the impossible choices between her friends and her sister, she must uncover the truth and find a way to outplay the kidnapper… before it’s too late.

Author of All Your Twisted Secrets, Diana Urban’s explosive sophomore novel, These Deadly Games, will keep you riveted until the final twist is revealed. 

When I was offered the Light Years From Home NetGalley widget for a blog tour, I jumped at the chance. I’ve read two other books by Mike Chen, and he’s never disappointed. And what a hook with that first paragraph!

Every family has issues. Most can’t blame them on extraterrestrials.

Evie Shao and her sister, Kass, aren’t on speaking terms. Fifteen years ago on a family camping trip, their father and brother vanished. Their dad turned up days later, dehydrated and confused—and convinced he’d been abducted by aliens. Their brother, Jakob, remained missing. The women dealt with it very differently. Kass, suspecting her college-dropout twin simply ran off, became the rock of the family. Evie traded academics to pursue alien conspiracy theories, always looking for Jakob.

When Evie’s UFO network uncovers a new event, she goes to investigate. And discovers Jakob is back. He’s different—older, stranger, and talking of an intergalactic war—but the tensions between the siblings haven’t changed at all. If the family is going to come together to help Jakob, then Kass and Evie are going to have to fix their issues, and fast. Because the FBI is after Jakob, and if their brother is telling the truth, possibly an entire space armada, too.

The perfect combination of action, imagination and heart, Light Years From Home is a touching drama about a challenge as difficult as saving the galaxy: making peace with your family…and yourself. 

No Such Luck by Staci Troilo #shortstory #romance #Christmas #TuesdayBookBlog

Seeds of luck usually wither. The rare one grows and blooms.

Piper Seidel has one thing going for her—a red carnation given to her by Tommy Burnett in the tenth grade. It might have dried over the years, but it’s still her good luck charm. Losing it sets her life in a downward spiral, forcing her to return to her hometown where she comes face to face with her high school crush.

The years have been kind to Tommy, who looks better than ever. Unfortunately, Piper is at her worst, continually embarrassing herself whenever he’s around. The only plus? Her long-time friend, Jack Rhodes, still lives in town. Since she last saw him, his legs have grown longer, his biceps thicker, and his shoulders broader. He was always the brother she never had, but now she can’t help noticing him in an unsisterly way. Jack is every bit as caring as he’s ever been—until her bad luck drives him away, maybe forever.

Piper needs a new good luck charm, and fast, before she loses her final chance at happiness.

I’d seen several excerpts of this story during the author’s blog tour, and when I found myself with a free hour, I dove into this novella.

Poor Piper. Her Christmas vacation begins early when she loses her job and decides to go ahead and make the trip to her father’s house. Her day doesn’t get any better when she runs into her high school crush at the grocery store – and then learns she wasn’t exactly looking her best at the time. Things take a turn for the better when her long-time friend Jack shows up and takes her to drown her sorrows in beer and pizza.

I chuckled over situations Piper finds herself in and then wanted to bop her over the head to make her come to her senses and see what was right in front of her. Of course she has to learn the hard way that sometimes things we build up in our mind can have very different realities. This is a heart-warming, sweet romance (and I love that it’s set during Christmas) with fully-fleshed characters that can easily be read in an hour. I recommend grabbing a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate and settling in with this feel-good tale.

Christmas and Edits

I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t want to look at food for a while. I ate waaayyy too much this holiday weekend. Both boys were here, and we had a wonderful time. Son #2 and I made a new cookie recipe he found containing Earl Grey tea, vanilla extract, and lemon extract (it only called for vanilla, he added the lemon on his own). I’m not a tea fan, but the cookies were light and delicious. We played Rock Band, and I discovered I’m not too terrible a bass player on easy level. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas night with friends featuring lots of the aforementioned food, plenty of laughter, and a new trivia game. Saturday afternoon was at the movie theater watching Spider-Man: No Way Home – it was fantastic, and Sunday afternoon Son #1 and I saw The Matrix Resurrections (between the two of us, we’re still unclear about exactly what happened). He’ll be back this weekend for the NYE party we’re hosting, but Son #2 will be back in Austin.

I’m working on my last round of edits this week for the sequel to Subject A36 – finally. My publisher said there should be no problem getting copies to me for the local bookfest at the end of March even though the official release date isn’t until May 15th. Maybe I’ll set up a giveaway here on my blog or my author FB page.

Have a great week!

Spin Me Right Round by David Valdes #bookreview #YA #timetravel #LGBT

From lauded writer David Valdes, a sharp and funny YA novel that’s Back to the Future with a twist, as a gay teen travels back to his parents’ era to save a closeted classmate’s life.

All Luis Gonzalez wants is to go to prom with his boyfriend, something his “progressive” school still doesn’t allow. Not after what happened with Chaz Wilson. But that was ages ago, when Luis’s parents were in high school; it would never happen today, right? He’s determined to find a way to give his LGBTQ friends the respect they deserve (while also not risking his chance to be prom king, just saying…).

When a hit on the head knocks him back in time to 1985 and he meets the doomed young Chaz himself, Luis concocts a new plan-he’s going to give this guy his first real kiss. Though it turns out a conservative school in the ’80s isn’t the safest place to be a gay kid. Especially with homophobes running the campus, including Gordo (aka Luis’s estranged father). Luis is in over his head, trying not to make things worse-and hoping he makes it back to present day at all.

In a story that’s fresh, intersectional, and wickedly funny, David Valdes introduces a big-mouthed, big-hearted queer character that readers won’t soon forget.

Time travel books have always intrigued me, and with the Back to the Future twist, I couldn’t resist this one.

Being personally familiar with high school in the 80s (totally dating myself), I especially loved this setting. The wild clothes, big hair, and catchy music are all familiar, as is prom in a gym decorated with crepe paper – an affront to someone with Luis’s high standards. When he finds himself dropped into this time period and realizes he can’t just Google the answers to questions, text friends, or check social media, you can’t help but chuckle.

Luis is a delight and tons of fun. He readily admits he’s a big personality, a lot to take, and can be self-centered at times, but he’s got a big heart and is determined to save Chaz’s life and let him know it’s okay to be who he is. That’s not an easy thing to do in the 80s where there’s pressure to conform. I loved that he had the same supportive teacher to rely on both in his time and in the 80s (kind of like Doc in Back to the Future). During his time away, Luis comes to some self-realizations and surprising truths about his parents as he gets to know them as teenagers. Maybe things aren’t as he’s always thought.

This novel is about acceptance, both of yourself and others, family, and friendship. With plenty of humorous moments, it was a pleasure to read this story full of heart and charm.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.