ARC Review: First, Become Ashes // Unnerving and unflinching story of trauma and healing

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Title: First, Become Ashes
Author: K.M. Szpara
Genre/s and tags: New Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBTQ+
Publisher: Tor.com
Publication date: April 6, 2021
Content warnings: Sadomasochism, rape, sexual assault and abuse, torture, psychological abuse, manipulation, violence
Goodreads synopsis: 

The Fellowship raised Lark to kill monsters.
His partner betrayed them to the Feds.
But Lark knows his magic is real, and he’ll do anything to complete his quest.

K. M. Szpara follows Docile, one of the most anticipated science fiction novels of 2020, with First, Become Ashes, a fantastic standalone adventure that blends pain and pleasure and will make readers question what is real, and what is magical.

Lark spent the first twenty-four years, nine months, and three days of his life training for a righteous quest: to rid the world of monsters. Alongside his partner Kane, he wore the cage and endured the scourge in order to develop his innate magic. He never thought that when Kane left, he’d next see him in the company of FBI agents and a SWAT team. He never dreamed that the leader of the Fellowship of the Anointed would be brought up on charges of abuse and assault.

He never expected the government would tell him that the monsters aren’t real—that there is no magic, and all the pain was for nothing.

Lark isn’t ready to give up. He is determined to fulfill his quest, to defeat the monsters he was promised. Along the way he will grapple with the past, confront love, and discover his long-buried truth.

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Hello book nerds! It’s another tour stop day with Pride Book Tours! Today is my stop for the First, Become Ashes Bookstagram Tour! And again, for those of you who don’t know it yet, Pride Book Tours is an amazing bookstagram tour service promoting LGBTQ+ books. Go follow, support, sign up as a tour host, anything!

The featured book for today is First, Become Ashes by K.M. Szpara!

First, Become Ashes is an unnerving and unflinching queer SFF standalone meant to take you along on a rough journey about magic, trauma, and healing. (Make sure to visit me on Instagram to see my Bookstagram stop and the whole tour!)

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Book Review: Never Have I Ever // A lyrical and haunting anthology inspired by Filipino folklore and legends

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Title: Never Have I Ever
Author: Isabel Yap
Genre/s and tags: Short stories, Anthology, Science Fiction Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, LGBTQ+ Filipino folklore and mythology
Publisher: Small Beer Press
Publication date: February 23, 2021
Content warnings: Violence (mild), gore, sexual assault, blood, casual homophobia, deadnaming, misgendering
Goodreads synopsis: 

“Am I dead?”

Mebuyen sighs. She was hoping the girl would not ask.

Spells and stories, urban legends and immigrant tales: the magic in Isabel Yap’s debut collection jumps right off the page, from the joy in her new novella, ‘A Spell for Foolish Hearts’ to the terrifying tension of the urban legend ‘Have You Heard the One About Anamaria Marquez’.

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Hello book nerds! It’s a tour stop day! Today is my stop for the Never Have I Ever Bookstagram Tour hosted by Pride Book Tours! For those of you who don’t know it yet, Pride Book Tours is an amazing bookstagram tour service promoting LGBTQ+ books. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of one of their tours. Especially, this tour in particular!

Our featured book for today is Never Have I Ever by Isabel Yap! When I found out it’s by a queer Filipino author and is an anthology of science fiction short stories inspired by folktales and urban legends, I knew I had to sign up for the tour. And here we are, and all I can say after reading this book is WOW.

Never Have I Ever is a lyrical and haunting anthology inspired Filipino and other Asian folklore and legends that will delight and fascinate you. (Make sure to visit me on Instagram to see my Bookstagram stop and the whole tour!)

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BTS "Life Goes On" MV Still from StyleCaster.com

Finding comfort and healing in BTS

When I watched the Dynamite music video with my sister six months ago, I never knew my life would change. I simply thought I would be watching a K-pop music video, same as always (see, we used to watch TWICE music videos on repeat, it was sort of a part of our usual routine). I never knew it would be the start of such a change in me. Now, I know what you’re thinking,—that’s too exaggerated to be true. Oh, but dear reader, it is the truth. My life changed because I realized BTS gave me so much energy and motivation, taught me to love and cherish myself, inspired me and encouraged me in different ways. And most importantly, I realized I found comfort and healing in BTS. Something I never really thought would happen.

The thing is, I wasn’t a fan of them then. I only knew two of their songs: IDOL and Boy with Luv (which I both loved, but again, I haven’t turned into a fan yet). I thought their fandom, the BTS ARMY, was intimidating so I never bothered trying to know more about the band itself. (I know, I know! I’m deeply sorry I judged too quickly. Oh, how wrong was I.) But when I watched that music video and listened to the song, I wasn’t thinking about their fandom or their popularity. I was simply enjoying their music, basking in their vocals, absorbing their visuals. And my sister (bless her heart, I firmly believe I wouldn’t be writing this blog partly if it weren’t for her as well) started to ramble on about their names and their stage names, about their songs, and how she started stanning them (spoiler alert: it was because she saw Namjoon with purple hair in Not Today). And I found myself wanting to know more about these seven boys, and I wanted to know more about their other songs, and I wanted to play Dynamite on repeat. So, I did just that.

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Top 5 Reasons to Read Follow Your Arrow

Hello book nerds! I’m here with my first ever book tour this 2021, and I couldn’t be happier that it’s this book! Follow Your Arrow by Jessica Verdi is a funny, romantic, and relatable YA contemporary, out this March 2nd. It stars bi social media influencer CeCe Ross as she navigates her life though a break-up with her girlfriend and meeting with the new boy in town who is very much not online. This was a wonderful read for me, and I literally could not stop reading once I started! See my full review here!

For today, I’m here to talk about the top 5 reasons why you should read Follow Your Arrow! (And I swear, you need this book on your TBR!)

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Science Fiction/Fantasy Sequels I’m Excited For This 2021

2021 is looking fantastic for my book nerd self! There are a lot of queer novels coming this year (a win for my queer heart honestly!). There is also quite the number of new science fiction fantasy debuts/releases that are already a standout (I want them all!). And of course, there are also the sequels of previous science fiction and fantasy books that caught my heart the past year/s! (*cue screaming*)

If you’re waiting for these books as well, please feel free to scream with me in the comments! Here are the science fiction/fantasy sequels I’m excited for this 2021!

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