Celebrating Juneteenth

Today is June 19th which means…Happy Juneteenth!

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What is Juneteenth?

The sad reality is that the history of Juneteenth has not been taught in schools. Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, two years after Abraham Lincoln ended slavery, enslaved people found out that they were free. Today Juneteenth is a celebration!!! It is also known as Jubilee Day, Liberation Day or Freedom Day.

I’ve gathered a few resources and activities to celebrate Juneteenth. Some are directly related to the holiday while others celebrate the black culture and all that it entails.

What to Watch

  • When They See Us- Netflix ( Ava DuVernay)
  • 13th- Netflix ( Directed by Ava DuVernay)
  • Watchmen (HBO- currently free to stream this weekend)
  • The Hate You Give ( based on the book by Angie Thomas. Currently streaming for free on all digital platforms )
  • Just Mercy ( Based on the book by Bryan Stevenson. Currently streaming for free.)
  • Homecoming:A Film by Beyoncé -Netflix ( Sheds light on the importance of HBCUs)
  • Black-Ish
  • Selma
  • Sherman’s Showcase- Hulu

Books to Read

There are so many books out there, so I am sharing a list that I came across.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/the-read-down/juneteenth

 

 

My Juneteenth Playlist

Anything by Nina Simone

Freedom- Beyonce/ Kendrick Lamar

Formation- Beyonce

Already- Beyonce

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Alright- Kendrick Lamar

DNA- Kendrick Lamar

This is America- Childish Gambino

Lovely Day- Bill Withers

A Change is Gonna Come- Sam Cooke

Black & Proud- James Brown

Wake Up Everybody- Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes

Brown Skin -India Arie

Golden- Jill Scott

Brotha- Angie Stone

What’s Going on- Marvin Gaye

Precious Lord-Mahalia Jackson

Celebrate- Earth, Wind, & Fire

Family Affair- Sly & the Family Stone

Rise Up- Andra Day

Virtual Events to Attend:

Juneteenth Book Fest. : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu–Ur5D1oWHD3JOM9rODxw

Official Website

https://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm

Mini Review +Five Thoughts I Had While Reading (#4)

Novellas are typically short stories. Doing a quick Google search I found out that they are usually 60- 120 pages. It’s hard to review a novella without giving too much away so I decided to do mini book reviews for the novellas that I read along with a few thoughts I had while reading .

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Synopsis:

“Arianne’s birthday goals aren’t the kind you wish for when blowing out your birthday candles. They’re the kind you put in work for. Except that one about getting Kammal in her bed…”

My Review:

4/5 stars 

“#birthdaygoals” is the first book that I have read by AshleyNicole. This book was good and straight to the point.  I laughed so much while reading it. Definitely loved the bond between these sisters/ friends. I would have loved just a little more connection between Arianne and Kammal. I think I might just have to start the #birthdaygoals tradition myself. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Five Thoughts I Had While Reading #birthdaygoals:

  1. Ohhh, this is a fun idea. I might have to steal it.
  2. I know she is not praying for that! lol
  3. Second-hand embarrassment alert!
  4. No, she did not!
  5. Carole Baskin!

Self-Care Sunday

Self-Care Sunday

It is Sunday and as a lot of you know I love to practice self-care in a variety of different ways. It is so important to take time out for yourself whether it is daily, weekly , or monthly. You cannot pour into other people when you yourself are running empty.  You deserve to be your best self mentally, physically and emotionally.  I have compiled a random list of ten ways I like to practice self-care.

  1. Reading-Ok, y’all had to know that this would be on the list, lol. Reading provides an escape while also providing  entertainment. Oftentimes, I find myself transported into the pages of the books that I’m reading. I love to read a variety of different genres. I mean it is just a stress free activity… until a character does something totally crazy and unexpected,lol.
  2. Journaling- I find journaling so therapeutic. Some journaling exercises that I like to do include writing letters to myself as well as writing letters to others (that I don’t mail out of course lol). Writing out my thoughts, fears, feelings, etc has really helped me out. I have so many notebooks and journal supplies. I also have a variety of guided journals that I use. Don’t get me started on my pen collection! Journaling prompts are also helpful when I can’t think of something to write about.
  3. Spending time in nature- To know me is to know that I have an irrational fear of frogs and I don’t like bugs/ insects of any kind ( ladybugs and Roly-polies not included), not to mention my allergies… now that I think about it, a lot of wildlife scares me lol, but moving on. Even though I have these fears, I try to spend a little time outside as often as possible. There are so many benefits to getting fresh air and sunlight. I love the idea of hiking and camping and really getting out there. I might have to try it out one of these days lol.
  4. Listening to music- we all know that old saying, “ Dance like nobody’s watching”. I live by it because believe me no one is watching lol. I have absolutely no rhythm, but you can’t tell me that I am not America’s Best Dancer. I love listening to a variety of music. I love discovering new music/ artists.  If you are an author reading this, I love when authors include playlists in their books. I have discovered so many new artists that way.
  5. Saying no- this one is pretty straightforward. It is 100% ok to say no to something you are uncomfortable about or simply do not want to do. No is a full sentence.
  6. Meditation- meditation can be done in a variety of ways. Sometimes I do guided meditation with the help of YouTube videos. Other times, I simply sit in silence while clearing my thoughts, breathing, and affirming. The time I spend meditating varies but I try to meditate very often. Ten minutes each day is the minimum that I go for. Meditation has really helped to soothe my anxiety.
  7. Unplug- when I am feeling particularly sluggish or overwhelmed, I know it is time to back away from technology. Turning off the news, limiting/ logging off of social media, etc are all ways that I unplug.
  8. Spend a day doing nothing- Every now and then, I just like to spend the day doing absolutely nothing. I might catch up on some shows I’ve DVR’d. Maybe binge watch a show on Netflix. I don’t do this often, but it feels great when I do and I find that I am so refreshed and productive afterwards.
  9. Treat yo self!- Sometimes I just like to treat myself. It does not even have to be some big elaborate purchase either. New books, a trip to the spa, mani/ pedi, trip to the salon, etc.
  10.  Talking with friends- It is so important to have people in your life that you connect with. People who you can vent to, talk to, support, etc. I don’t have many friends but the few I do have are super important to me. I love my little tribe.

So, there you have it. Ten ways that I like to practice self-care. This is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other ways I practice self-care. Maybe I will do another list in the future. *Wink* What are some ways that you like to practice self-care?

Mini Review+ Five Thoughts I Had While Reading (#3)

Novellas are typically short stories. Doing a quick Google search I found out that they are usually 60- 120 pages. It’s hard to review a novella without giving too much away so I decided to do mini book reviews for the novellas that I read along with a few thoughts I had while reading .

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Synopsis

“Catching last minute flights is a part of the job when you’re hired to photograph events all over the country. Usually everything goes according to plan.
But when I was hired to document the Juneteenth celebration in Galveston, Texas, I had no idea my plans were going to be derailed.
The woman who scuffed my sneakers and didn’t apologize ended up having the seat next to me. Yeah, she was beautiful, but I was not feeling her at all.
And then our flight was delayed.”

My Review

4.5/ 5 stars 

“The Delay: A Juneteenth Hot Holiday Hookup” is the latest installment in the Hot Holiday Hookup novella series by Danielle Allen. All installments are standalones. This installment tells Trenton Davis’s story. Trenton is headed to Galveston, Texas after being hired to photograph and document a  Juneteenth celebration. After a chance encounter with India Davis at an airport terminal, things take a very steamy turn when their flight is delayed.

I really enjoyed this book. I have not read any of the other installments of the Hot Holiday Series so I definitely love that they can be read separately.  This was a very easy read. I finished it in one sitting. Trenton and India were both fun characters. The story progressed at a steady pace. I loved the information about Juneteenth that was told throughout. There were definitely some laugh out loud moments as well. Overall, this was a steamy, fun read with the perfect pinch of drama. I look forward to reading  more from Danielle Allen in the future.

Five Thoughts I Had While Reading ” The Delay: A Juneteenth Hot Holiday Hookup” by Danielle Allen.

 

  1. Cue the flashback music!
  2. Oh, this is really happening?! Where’s my fan?
  3. Well aren’t we nosy?
  4. Honey? On fries?!…I’ll pass.
  5. How dare Danielle Allen disgrace Scar like this, lol.

“The Delay: A Juneteenth Hot Holiday Hookup” by Danielle Allen  releases on 6/14/ 2020

Mini Book Review + 5 Thoughts I Had While Reading

Novellas are typically short stories. Doing a quick Google search I found out that they are usually 60- 120 pages. It’s hard to review a novella without giving too much away so I decided to do mini book reviews for the novellas that I read along with a few thoughts I had while reading .

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My Mini Review: 

   “Last Chance to Love” by B. Love was such a cute second chance romance. I could totally relate to it in various ways. Although it is a novella, it read like a full-length novel. The plot was refreshing. The characters were well developed. There was one moment where I just had to put the book down like “ I know this is not about to happen!” lol. I cannot wait to read more from this author in the near future.

Five Thoughts I Had While Reading “Last Chance to Love” by B.Love:

  1.  I love a book with disclaimers.
  2. Fluffy Cakes!
  3. This book is giving me all the Hallmark feels.
  4. I just know that this is not about to happen!
  5. Anybody that binges How To Get Away wtih Murder is ok with me.

Pride Month- YA Books

 

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June is Pride Month! There are so many books out there that represent and shine a light on the LGBTQIA+ community. Throughout the month of June, I will be doing a series of posts dedicated to these reads and more! For this first post, I have comprised ten Young Adult (YA) books that feature LGBTQIA+ characters. Check them out. And remember that love is love!

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“What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with an actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex/Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.
Heads of the family and state and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: Stage a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the presidential campaign and upend two nations. It raises the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to ben? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? , how will history remember you?”

 

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“Told in two distinct and irresistible voices, Junauda Petrus’s bold and lyrical debut is the story of two black girls from very different backgrounds finding love and happiness in a world that seems determined to deny them both.

Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won’t lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. “America have dey spirits too, believe me,” she tells Audre.

Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels–about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner.

Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.

Junauda Petrus’s debut brilliantly captures the distinctly lush and lyrical voices of Mabel and Audre as they conjure a love that is stronger than hatred, prison, and death and as vast as the blackness between the stars.”

 

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“In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.”

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“When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.

When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.”

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“Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.”

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“Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.”

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“Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.”

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“Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together…and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! Not only is it the second title launching in our new BOOM! Box imprint but LUMBERJANES is one of those punk rock, love-everything-about-it stories that appeals to fans of basically all excellent things.”

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“I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.

A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.”

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“All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.”

Have you read any of these books? What other YA books would you recommend? 

In Case You Missed It: Percy Jackson News!

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I stumbled upon the Percy Jackson books as a young adult chasing the high that was Harry Potter lol. I am obsessed with mythology ( especially Greek, African, and Egyptian). Percy Jackson was the perfect series for me. Then news came that it was being made into a movie. I could not wait…however, my excitement soon turned into disappointment.

I’m not going to say that the two Percy Jackson movies that were released were awful. Well let me take that back. The first movie was pretty good. The second one… not so much. But still I held out hope that one day we would get the adaptation we were hoping for. Fast forward to today.

Earlier today,  news broke that a Percy Jackson Series is in development at Disney Plus. Of course, not many details are known at this time but I can say for sure that I…am…excited! It will be a series versus movies which I think is great. This allows for more details to be shown. In case you were wondering the order to read the books, here you go!

The Lightning Thief

The Sea of Monsters

The Titan’s Curse

The Battle of the Labyrinth

The Last Olympian

After this, you can also check out the Heroes of Olympus Series which is a spinoff series.

 Are you looking forward to this series? How did you feel about the Percy Jackson movies starring Logan Lerman? Would you prefer it be movies or are you happy that we’re getting a series? Let me know in the comments! ❤

ARC Review: ” The Gilded Ones” by Namina Forna

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Synopsis 

     Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.
But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.
Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.
Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

 

 

Review

4.5-5/ 5 stars 

“She says we’re the descendants of the Gilded Ones.”

“The Gilded Ones” by Namina Forna is the coming of age fantasy that I never knew I needed. I am in awe that this is a debut. The author begins the book with a letter to the reader. In this letter, she speaks of her life in Sierra Leone and how patriarchal it is. How women are seen as less than men. She then goes on to say that she attended Spelman, an all-female, historically black college. She explains that the goal of “The Gilded Ones” was to examine and explore patriarchy in multiple ways. In my opinion, she definitely reached that goal.
The story itself was very compelling. A lot of information was presented throughout but not overwhelming so. I was immediately immersed in the story and the amazing world building that it contained. It tackled many themes including sexuality, gender, racism, feminism, colorism, and sisterhood. And that is just to name a few.
This novel features a variety of diverse characters. I love books with a tight knit group of girls/ women and this book definitely has that. Deka herself is a perfect lead and Britta, a faithful sidekick. I found everyone to be well developed and in-depth. Even though we are dealing with a large cast of characters , there was a lot of thought and detail put into each and every one of them. There was a little romance but nothing that I felt was just thrown in for the sake of throwing it in.
The pacing was steady. It was a very easy read with non-stop action and quite a few twists! The only complaint I have is that I wish one major scene had been a bit longer than it was as it felt a bit rushed.
I was so sad to see that the release date has been pushed back to March 2021, but I definitely understand. I can definitely see “ The Gilded Ones” being compared to other fantasy series in the future but I feel like Forna definitely made this story her own. I cannot wait for the rest of this amazing trilogy. Now come on 2021 so I can add the physical copy to my shelf.

TW: gruesome, death, imprisonment, mutilation, trauma, talk of sexual abuse/ assault, and torture.

Release Date- Feb 9, 2021

Review: “The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

“The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.”

Review: 

4/5 stars

“The first rule of the book club: You don’t talk about the book club.”

The Bromance Book Club” was the first book that I’ve read by Lyssa Kay Adams. Romance is not my favorite genre…especially not second chance romances. During the month of February, I figured I would branch out and read something a little more lovey dovey than the murder riddled thrillers or action-packed fantasies that I usually pick up. So glad that I did.

I unexpectedly devoured this book. It was hilarious. Surprisingly, there was also a great message behind it. The characters themselves were very well developed. I really liked that they all had their flaws. ( Although I did not care much for Liv). The story itself was very easy to follow along with. I enjoyed how it alternated from present day to the chapters of the book… kind of a book inside a book if you will. Inception, lol. Overall, it was a light, funny read that I definitely enjoyed. I can’t wait to read “Undercover Bromance” in the very near future.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? 

Cover Reveal- “Instant Karma” by Marissa Meyer

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Why am I just hearing about this book?! Here’s the synopsis:

“In this young adult contemporary romance, a girl is suddenly gifted with the ability to cast instant karma on those around her—both good and bad.

Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate. ”

My Thoughts on the Cover:

Two words. Super cute.

“Instant Karma” releases November 3rd 2020