Saints of the Household / Ari Tison

Saints of the Household
By: Ari Tison
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Number of Pages: 320
Published: March 28, 2023
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Dates Read: March 21, 2023 - March 22, 2023
Format: ARC / eBook

Trigger Warnings: Domestic abuse, bullying, mental health; depression, alcoholism, death, mention of suicide

Before the incident in the woods, Max and Jay were pretty much connected at the hip, they had to be in order to protect themselves and their mother from their physically abusive father. Afterwards, their act of violence threatens the brothers’ dreams of their future. As the details of the event unfold throughout the book, Max and Jay take different courses as they think about their actions, their own shifting relationships, and just how alike to their father they may be. Told in alternating points of view using vignettes and poems, Saint of the Household tells of two Bribri brothers as they deal with brotherhood, abuse, recovery, and trying to do the right thing in their last few months of high school.

This isn’t an easy book – there’s no fuzzy feelings or giant smiles. These poor boys went through a lot in this story and it’s their journey of how they came out on the other side. Now, I will say the boys’ Grandfather does come in at one point and helps the boys reconnect with the Bribri culture and some of those lessons were tender and much needed for the boys.

I thoroughly enjoyed the vignettes of chapters that we got. It made the story read faster, but it also didn’t need any kind of filler in between and what was on the page was only the important stuff. Jay’s viewpoint is told in prose and is short and to the point. Max’s are in verse and sometimes into calligrams, which match perfectly with his escapism he uses in his art.

Overall, this is an incredible debut from Ari Tison and I can’t wait to see what they will write in the future. I can’t wait to share this book with others once it’s released and the amount of book lists I will be putting it on are endless.

*Thank you Farrer, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for a digital advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review

El Flamingo / Nick Davies

El Flamingo
By: Nick Davies
Genre: Fiction
Number of Pages: 206
Published: March 15, 2023
Publisher: YBK Publishers
Dates Read: March 17, 2023 - March 20, 2023

Lou Galloway is a failed LA actor and he’s come to accept that – by drowning his sorrows in cheap mezcal down in Mexico. Here, at a small little tiki bar, a stranger leaves his fedora and Luo gets taken away to the mansion of internationally wanted crime lord, Diego Flores. They think he is a rogue assassin known as El Flamingo and Lou’s too far in to deny it now, especially after meeting Maria-Carla. Now, Luo is swept up into the dangerous world of espionage in Latin-America that will take him on a crazy journey from desert fiestas of Mexico to the jungle-clad salsa bars of Colombia. To make it out of this alive, Luo must partake in the biggest role of his life – El Flamingo.

This book was fun. A little cheesy here and there, but it worked with Lou’s whitty character and I enjoyed it. This isn’t something I usually find myself reading, but I’m trying to branch out more this year, and this was perfect.

At first, I was worried Lou Galloway was going to be a little much for me (a tad bit full of himself), but that quickly turned around for me as soon as he put on the fedora hat. I also can’t get the monologue scene out of my head he did at a checkpoint with some bad guys as he kind of fully, in my opinion anyway, took on the role of El Flamingo for the first time. I can’t stop laughing thinking about this failed LA actor just taking on this role with full reigns and giving it his all. I hung out with a lot of theater kids in high school, I remember how they can be and this book was just fantastic.

I can see so many readers enjoying this crazy, four day journey that Lou Galloway goes on. This book does have a little bit of everything for everyone: action, witty humor, plot twists. The characters are also well thought out and those that needed background were given it. You can also tell the research Nick Davies did for this about Latin-America and its culture – it comes across wonderfully on the pages and I could almost feel myself on the warm beaches or running for my life from rapid gun fire.

I highly recommend this book – I think readers will have fun with it and won’t be disappointed.

*Thanks to the author for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The Quiet and the Loud / Helena Fox

The Quiet and the Loud
By: Helena Fox
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Number of Pages: 383
Publisher: Dial Books
Dates Read: March 13, 2023 - March 17, 2023
Format: ARC / eBook

Trigger Warnings: Domestic violence, emotional abuse, addiction; alcoholism, anxiety, depression, gaslighting, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex PTSD, and catastrophic fire

George’s life is loud. Her best friend, Tess is about to become a teen mom at 18, her friend Laz is in despair about the world and the climate crisis, her gramps would misplace his own head if not for her, and her moms fill the house with constant chatter. Then, to top it all off, her estranged dad says he needs to talk and won’t stop trying until that happens. This novel explore the contours of friendship, family, forgiveness, trauma, love, and the hopeless verses hopefulness of the world.

How It Feels to Float carved a place in my heart when I read it back in 2019, and Biz, the main character from that story, has lived there ever since. Of course, as soon as I heard Helena Fox had a new book coming out, I tried to get my hands on it as soon as I possibly could. George has her own place in my heart too – she’s a people pleaser through and through and I can relate to her so much.

As like her first book, Fox dives in unapologetically into the exploration of trauma and mental health. I never felt like anything was sugar coated or unrealistic, things happened and the results of those events would lead to what happens and what is talked about in this book. As someone who has battled with mental health most of my life, a lot of the ways George would handle (or not handle) situations are ones I have found myself in as well.

I appreciate how open dialogue these characters were about mental health and getting and receiving help. George tried it when she was younger after stuff with her Dad, and it didn’t work out then, but she’s willing to give it another shot. All the characters acknowledge the fact that yes, talking with one another and those you care about can help, but sometimes it’s so much better if you talk with someone outside the group. Therapy is a scary thing, especially when you first begin and Fox does a wonderful job at showing all of that.

I adored George and Calliope’s relationship, the way it bloomed and was heartfelt. They were so cute together and I was rooting for them the entire novel.

I also appreciated the way George and Tess’s relationship was handled. George was always doing everything for Tess and she kind of steamrolled her… a lot, especially when it came to her deciding to get pregnant <spoiler> which, I did not like at all</spoiler> and that George was just automatically going to be her partner through it

*Thank you Dial Books and Edelweiss+ for an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Lucha of the Night Forest / Tehlor Kay Mejia

Lucha of the Night Forest
By: Tehlor Kay Mejia
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Number of Pages: 368
Published: March 21, 2023
Publisher: Make Me a World / Random House
Dates Read: March 6, 2023 - March 11, 2023
Format: ARC / eBook

Trigger Warnings: Drug use, addiction, withdrawal, assault, violence

Lis is all Lucha has left, which means she will do anything to protect her – even if that means making a deal with El Sediento and his dark forces.

This did honestly take me a moment to get into it, and that’s due to me being distracted while reading and trying to draw out the world Tehlor Mejia had built in this novel. The place where the sisters are from is literally a mud pit, nothing grows there, but it still has so many layers to it. Then they went into the forest and the plants and animals there were also on another level. And, there is mushroom magic!

Lucha dealt with a lot in this book and she didn’t always choose the best or easiest path. She would do what it took to get where or what she wanted, and that sometimes included killing those she thought deserved it. It made me like Lucha a bit more, because she wasn’t perfect and her life was most definitely far from it, but through her flaws (and making a pact with someone she really shouldn’t have) she fought and grew to make it better.

The romance of this book I felt like wasn’t the biggest deal, which I kind of liked. I’m not much for YA where the focus is the romance, which is why I think I like Mejia’s writing because though it is there, it’s not the only thing on the mind of the main character.

I would recommend this book for those who like intricate world building with a badass female lead who will stop at nothing to save and protect those who she loves.

*Thank you Make Me a World / Random House and NetGalley for an advance digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

The Last of Us: American Dreams / Neil Druckmann, Faith Erin Hicks, Rachelle Rosenberg

The Last of Us: American Dreams
By: Neil Druckmann, Faith Eric Hicks, Rachelle Rosenberg
Genre: Graphic Novel, Horror
Number of Pages: 104
Published: July 31, 2013
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Dates Read: March 6, 2023
Format: eBook

Set before the video game, The Last of Us: American Dream follows Ellie as her friendship with Riley blossoms at her new military boarding school.

As I’m sure a lot of people are doing right now with the series finale of the HBO adaptation of The Last of Us I grabbed the graphic novel to give it a read.

It’s too short! I kind of wish there was more – especially since I’ve fallen in love with this series and now want to consume everything about it (including hopefully playing the game too). I wish there were more graphic novels to showcase other characters’ back stories!

The art of this shows the actions and movements clearly – even when something happened quickly, it was shown easily.

It’s a prequel to the video game and does differ from the show.

Wandering Souls / Cecile Pin

Wandering Souls
By: Cecile Pin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 240
Published: March 21, 2023
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Dates Read: March 5, 2023
Format: ARC / eBook

Trigger Warnings: Death, massacres, drowning, grief, war, racism, mentions of alcohol and drug use

Wandering Souls opens in 1978 in Vietnam as Anh and her brother, 14-year-old Minh and 10-year-old Thanh are packing for their trip to a refugee camp in Hong Kong ahead of the rest of their family before they make their way to their Uncle in America. Anh and her brothers make it to Hong Kong, but the rest of the family unfortunately don’t make it through their journey. The siblings eventually get accepted into Great Britain and over the next number of years, struggle to carve out a life for themselves in a country that’s not their own.

Told mostly through Anh’s POV, historical research, voices from lost family, and an unnamed narrator, Wandering Souls follows the lives of the last members of a family marked by war and loss and their persistence in the pursuit of a better future that they set out for years ago.

I read this book in one day, in roughly three settings. The prose of this novel were beautifully written and an emotional rollercoaster that will warrant a box of tissues for sure. Cecile Pin sprinkles in news articles and historical facts, along with personal experiences from an unnamed narrator between sections from the siblings.

This novel really deals with grief and survivor’s guilt of the three siblings. Their parents had such high hopes and dreams for them in America, but when they don’t make it there and are instead in the UK, they have to figure out what they will do instead.

Wandering Souls also opened my eyes to a lot of the horrors Vietnamese people experienced around the world as a result of the Vietnam War. I didn’t know who “boat people” were and both the piracy that could happen to them or the horrid conditions they had to travel in. Or the Koh Kra Island refugee massacres. Even in their own country, the psychological warfare the American would put them through with recordings of voices in the forests.

The dark side of immigration is shined on by Pin, but even with all the heartache, racism, and struggles the characters go through in this book, overall, it’s still about family, love, and grief. I couldn’t put this book down and I can see many others opening their hearts to this family and their journey.

*Thank you Henry Holt and Co. and NetGalley for a digital advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review

Kissproof World / William West

Kissproof World
By: William West
Genre: Fiction
Number of Pages: 246
Published: August 30, 2022
Publisher: TouchPoint Press
Dates Read: March 1, 2023 - March 4, 2023
Format: Paperback

Trigger Warnings: Abuse, sexual abuse, incest

Neva is a young therapist who is grappling with her own past as she tries to help six troubled teens living in a halfway house on the Texas coast. There, she meets Alec, a teen at Morning House who reminds her deeply of her twin brother who passed away. As Neva tries to protect Alec from the same fate as her brother, life at Morning House begins to unravel and begins to lead everyone down a dangerous path.

I honestly kind of struggled with this one a bit – nearly everyone had some form of sexual abuse or incest and yes, it’s kind of hinted at in the description, but not as much as it probably should have.

William West’s background as a social worker shows up in this novel for sure as this does dive into the depths of the abuse and neglect the characters went through. It’s not really a feel-good read, it will probably make people uncomfortable, but it will challenge the reader to experience a viewpoint of life with at-risk youth.

I will say, the last ⅛ of the book is what saved it for me – as they started piecing together the big mystery that was playing out throughout most of the book.

Overall, this book was a bit challenging for me because it had such tough storylines that the characters went through, but it was still worth the read for me.

*Thank you TouchPoint Press and the LibraryThing for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Satisfying Stitches: Learn Simple Embroidery Techniques and Embrace the Joys of Stitching by Hand / Hope Brasfield

Satisfying Stitches: Learn Simple Embroidery Techniques and Embrace the Joys of Stitching by Hand
By: Hope Brasfield
Genre: Nonfiction, Crafts
Number of Pages: 128
Published: November 15, 2022
Publisher: Quarry Books
Dates Read: March 1, 2023
Format: Library Book / Paperback

I started dabbling in embroidery during Covid lockdown – that was my picked up craft thanks to my sister getting me set up and started with a kit. I still love doing it, but I’ve found a lot of my designs that I’ve wanted to do are a little more tedious than I originally thought and therefore, I get a bit bored doing it.

There are a variety of designs that include things such as florals, butterflies, fish, landscapes, and my favorites: houseplants and mushrooms. The stitches featured in this book are super easy, but also super cute and range from levels 1-3. They’re smaller designs, but I can see myself putting these onto clothing items and not just hoops.

The instructions are clear and step-by-step with photos.

One of the other things I enjoyed about this book is that the author gives the colors of the threads with a decent size circle so you can match the thread colors. I don’t always have the exact number that’s given in some books, and if there is a color example given with it, it’s super small and you can’t match the threads very well.

I can’t wait to get started on some of these designs!

– Quick note, the author’s website is different than the one listed in the book, it’s now

Stoked For This: March 2023

This will hopefully be something I can bring together on the 1st of every month. Some of these books I may have already read and reviewed, others may be on my TBR within the next couple of weeks, and others I may not get to soon, but they are on my TBR for when I’ve got the time!


What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez

by: Claire Jiménez

Why am I stoked for this release?

This is both a heartwarming and a heartbreaking novel about a Puerto Rican family in Staten Island who discovers their long-missing sister is possibly alive and on a reality TV show. It’s about family and the dynamic between the two remaining sisters and their mom. This was one I was able to read before the publication date and I can see it ripping the hearts out of many readers.

The Moth Keeper

by: K. O’Neill

Why am I stoked for this release?

I love K. O’Neill and their art work. The Tea Dragon Society is one of my favorite graphic novels I love for the art and a series that I’m constantly recommending. This novel is no different – the artwork is stellar and amazing. The story itself deals with burnout and loneliness; something all of us probably know a little about nowadays. I was able to read this before it’s release and I’m excited for it to get into more and more hands for people to enjoy.


by: Emilia Hart

Why am I stoked for this release?

This is a debut novel about gender and control with a look into the long echoes of male violence through the centuries. It’s historical fiction mixed with magical realism, there’s witches, and nature. I haven’t read this one yet, but the cover alone is beautiful!

The Last Beekeeper

by: Julie Carrick Dalton

Why am I stoked for this release?

I always seem to gravitate towards dystopian fiction, even if I don’t mean to. This one though, seems like it would be a good read. It’s a celebration of found family, an exploration of truth versus power, and what it means to have hope in the face of despair.


Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller

by: Oliver Darkshire

Why am I stoked for this release?

I’m a librarian, who worked at a bookstore before this, why wouldn’t I be excited for a novel about a bookseller? I remember the days of customers asking for (and selling us) the rarest of items. I’m pretty sure my store even had a book my manager had to do weeks of research on to figure out what it even was. It’s crazy and I’m excited to read this guy’s adventures.


Lucha of the Night Forest

by: Tehlor Kay Mejia

Why am I stoked for this release?

Tehlor Kay Mejia wrote an amazing duology We Set the Dark on Fire with some badass women who don’t need men to do great things. This one is about a girl who will do anything to protect her sister. There a scorned god, a mysterious acolyte, a drug that makes you forget, and a dangerous forest? Sign me up!

Bea Wolf

by: Zach Weinersmith

Why am I stoked for this release?

A retelling of Beowulf for middle schoolers in the form of a graphic novel, and it has beautiful and fun art? Sign me up! I was able to read an advance copy of this and I can’t wait for people of all ages to read this. The writing is fun and engaging and the artwork will have you giggling on the floor.


The Quiet and the Loud

by: Helena Fox

Why am I stoked for this release?

Biz, the main character in Fox’s How It Feels to Float has had a piece of my heart since I read that book back in 2019. I’ve been waiting for Fox to release a new book, so as soon as I heard about this, I immediately knew I needed to read it. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this, so I should be reading this in the next week or so.

Saints of the Household

by: Ari Tison

Why am I stoked for this release?

A debut YA by a Indigenous Costa Rican-American writer told through alternating points of views using vignettes and poems. this is about two brothers who have always had one another for survival against their abusive father but when they beat up their high school’s star soccer player, they must deal with their actions and the shift in their relationship.


by: Jade Song

Why am I stoked for this release?

This is supposed to be a coming-of-age narrative mixed with horror and I don’t really know why, but that speaks to me and I want to read it. There’s mention of the pressure put on young women and their bodies and I’m interested to see how that’s written. I was also in love with mermaids and sirens as a kid so the cover of this caught my attention too.