Book Review: Wicked Souls (The Marionettes #2) by Katie Wismer

Wicked Souls (The Marionettes #2) by Katie Wismer

A Dark Urban Fantasy Novel published by Ahimsa Press (12/07/21)

Summary:

Valerie Darkmore made it. She’s passed her initiation and is now a Marionette, but this is only the beginning of her training and her secrets keep growing and growing. It isn’t just Valerie that’s adjusting to a new normal, there’s something else that is sinister and wreaking havoc on the city – leaving behind a pile of bodies. It’s up to Valerie and the Prince to get to the bottom of it before all hell breaks loose.

Keywords:

Urban Fantasy, Vampires, Witches, Paranormal, Romance, Sacrifice, Blood, Attack, Mystery, Friendship, Family, Love, Gothic Fiction, New Adult

My Review:

It’s been months since I read the first book and I was immediately lost when I picked up this second book. It starts just after the first one ends in time and slams you right back into the narrative without a summary or recap of characters. I quickly fell back into the story, though, as I found Valerie too interesting to ignore. I loved how much more detail and development Valerie (and other characters) get in this sequel. I also loved how much more the romantic sub-plot was developed and deepened.

I continue to be impressed with how much I am enjoying The Marionettes series since it is heavily urban fantasy and features vampires and witches. The author continues to build a world that feels real and visual and complete. It feels like a world that goes way beyond the environments the main characters are in.

This book delves deeper into the new adult and romance sub-genres as it features a fairly sexy scene, just as graphic as the scenes involving blood and feeding.

Much like my disappointment with the first book’s cliffhanger and abrupt ending, I didn’t appreciate the similar cliffhanger and abrupt ending from this second book – though this does feed more logically into the final book in this trilogy. I just hope I don’t have to wait too long to find out what happens!

This novel was published by Ahimsa Press 12/7/21 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Katie Wismer’s Website

Goodreads

2022 Net Worth and Monthly Spending Update

Here are some charts I made to compare my monthly spending over 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018. I included taxes and my HSA withholdings in my most recent 2021 chart as well as my Roth IRA contributions. The purpose of these charts is to show changes in spending over time (across different categories).

Here are a few more fun numbers:

  1. I increased my spending 12% from 2020 to 2021, while increasing my income 2.5% (I increased my spending 4% from 2019 to 2020 while increasing my income 3%)
  2. I bought a house in May of 2021, which became 13% of my monthly spending as averaged by 12 months of the year, effectively doubling my ‘housing’ spending category to 26% of my earnings
  3. The house I bought increased in value 20% since I bought it according to Zillow/Redfin
  4. My credit score increased by 3.8% (28 points)
  5. My investment portfolio changed because I had to sell some general investment stocks to have enough cash to afford my house purchase
  6. Notable increases in spending from 2020 to 2021 include:
    1. Fitness – 736% because I switched studios and was paying cash for classes instead of using trade money
    2. Eating out – 128% increase (my partner and I decided to switch to me paying for groceries and him paying for eating out midway through the year)
    3. Groceries – 25% increase (see eating out above point)
    4. Bills-housing – 8% increase when we moved
  7. Notable decreases in spending from 2020 to 2021 include:
    1. Health – 37% decrease since I am more crafty with my supplement purchases
    2. Household and clothing – 32% decrease as I’ve been able to use Amazon gift cards for a lot of these items
    3. Bills-Transportation – 19% decrease since our car is between mileage maintenance milestones
  8. I met my LLC goal of earning $5,000 and will be putting everything except taxes and expenses and $1000 for 2022 expenses into my 401k when I get the go-ahead from my accountant
  9. I had to gather almost all of my cash, savings, emergency fund, and stocks that weren’t retirement-allocated in order to come up with the cash necessary to buy my house so my emergency fund is now below $10,000 and I’m building it back up.
  10. My emergency fund is only worth 2 months’ spending since my spending increased with the additional house expenses and I decreased my emergency/savings fund to buy the house

The next two charts show my net worth split categories:

To note: I had a 53% increase in my assets from 2019 to 2020 and a 76% increase in my assets from 2020 to 2021.

To note: My investment portfolio increased 52% from 2019 to 2020 and 10% (without the real estate value) from 2020 to 2021 (or 323% if you add in the value of the real estate but don’t subtract the mortgage)

2021 Asset breakdown

2021 Reading Challenge Books in Review and Recommended Reads

I spent $21.91 on kindle books this year

My favorite books I read this year:

  • Spinning Silver by Noami Novik
  • Alive (The Generations Trilogy, #1) by Scott Sigler
  • Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1) by Marie Lu
  • Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers, #1) by Penny Reid
  • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
  • The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles, #1) by Mary E. Pearson
  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

My favorite Indie books that I read this year:

  1. Please Fall for Me by M. W. Mckinley
  2. A Cemetery for Zoe by Ashe Woodward
  3. The Finest Lies by David J. Naiman
  4. The Apotheon Awakening (Apotheon Trials #1) by Arya White
  5. Highland Games (Kinloch Series, #1) by Evie Alexander
  6. Miss Cast and the Headhamster (Miss Cast! Book 1) by LJ Pickles
  7. Sex & Sours by Dani McLean
  8. Pip and Kitten and the End of the World by David Congreave
  9. Killing Dragons (Order of the Dolphin, #1) by Kristie Clark
  10. Dragon Gold (Order of the Dolphin, #2) by Kristie Clark
  11. I Think the World Owes Me An Apology by Fike Daodu
  12. These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden
  13. Love & Rum by Dani McLean
  14. Please Stay for Me (The Brotherhood Series, #1) by M.W. McKinley
  15. At the Cabin by Claudia Blood
  16. Coming in from the Outfield by Carrie Wiegman
  17. Rebuilding Alexandra Small by Mo Fanning
  18. Flicker of the Flame by Evelyn Puerto
  19. The Anti-Relationship Year by Katie Wismer
  20. Horizon Found (Relic Trilogy #2) by Claudia Blood
  21. Company Assassin (Relic Trilogy #1) by Claudia Blood

Out of the 95 books that I read:

38 Indie Books

6 Nonfiction Books

 

Other reading stats:

I read 11 books for book club

I read both Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Barack Obama’s A Promised Land

I reviewed 46 books this year for a total of 403

I made reviewer of the month in July and September on Reedsy

 

The books I read this year:

I think I will make my challenge for next year a conservative 75 books!

2019 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2019 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2018 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2017 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2016 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2015 Reading Challenge Blog Post

Goals and Accomplishments from 2021 and Future Goals for 2022

Goals list of 2014
Goals list of 2015
Goals list of 2016
Goals list of 2017
Goals list of 2018
Goals list of 2019
Goals list of 2020


2022 Goals!!!

  • 2022 Describe yourself in 3 words: Self, Partner, New
    • 2022 Describe what you want more of in 3 words: Success, Happy Moments, Learning
    • Theme for 2022: Realize
  • 2021 Describe yourself in 3 words: Driven, Busy, Challenged
    • 2021 Describe what you want more of in 3 words: Vacation, Attentive, Patience
    • Theme for 2021: Plan
  • 2020 Describe yourself in 3 words: Anxious, Quick, Analytic
    • 2020 Describe what you want more of in 3 words: Patience, Deliberate, Calm
    • Theme for 202: Hygge
  • 2019 Describe yourself in 3 words: Driven, Efficient, Restless
    • 2019 Describe what you want more of in 3 words: Calm, Accomplished, Considerate
    • Theme for 2019: Minimize

 

Fitness goals 2021:

  • Freestanding handstand
    • I took two handstand classes and felt like I was getting a better form but not at all close to freestanding and I still have wrist fatigue.
  • Take floorwork intermediate series
    • Check!
  • Pass intermediate inversions into advanced inversions at Divine Movement Dance
    • We moved mid-year and I switched studios so pushing this goal to next year when we move back closer or I start taking classes again
  • Get to 12 pullups of any kind in a row
    • Stuck at 9 chin-ups. Changing this to 10 and moving to next year.
  • Bike 1000 total on my ebike (already 390 from 2020)
    • We moved mid-year and I didn’t bike as much during the summer months so only eked out another 260 miles.
  • 500 lifetime aerial classes
    • Check! I’m at 508 for the year

Fitness goals 2022:

  • Take 4 handstand classes
  • Take floorwork advanced series
  • Pass intermediate inversions into advanced inversions at Divine Movement Dance
  • 10 chin-ups/pull-ups
  • 1-handed pull-up
  • Handspring Ayesha
  • 1000 miles total on my ebike
  • Floor limbo just because

 

 

Finances Goals 2021:

  • Max out my Roth IRA, 401k and HSA contributions
    • Check!
  • Save 50% of my income
    • I increased my bills when I bought a house so this goal wasn’t practical and I tabled it mid-year

Finances Goals 2022:

  • Build back up to $10,000 in my emergency fund
  • Make $5000 from my LLC

 

 

Writing Goals 2021

  • Deplete my physical book inventory
    • Check!
  • Go to a conference/workshop for writing
    • Tabled – not interested in writing at this time
  • Revamp website
    • Tabled
  • Finish outlining Two for Tiny
    • Tabled
  • Finish the first draft of Two for Tiny
    • Tabled

 

Personal Goals 2021

  • Take a bookkeeping class
    • Tabled
  • Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification
    • Passed my test but didn’t finish my project
  • Build a seed library and/or trellis
    • Tabled
  • Grow loofah
    • Tabled
  • Take a doughnut-making class
    • Check! I had so much fun at all my cooking classes in December including latte art and a class at Salty’s with my housemate
  • Take goat/bunny yoga class
    • Tabled. But I did take a stretch class with a cat I was watching
  • Face time with friends/family every month
    • I’ve been calling my family more – not necessarily FaceTime

Personal Goals 2022:

  • Career Development training
  • Career development find a mentor
  • Take 2 cooking/baking classes
  • Pole Expo/Convention/Corgi Con
  • Take ASL classes along with my Duolingo daily Turkish studies

2021 Physical Activity – Dance, Health, and Fitness

How do you work out?

Pole Dancing Highlights for 2021
2. I took 63 aerial classes total
3. I spent $852.46 total (I have some credit as an ambassador that I used towards some classes)
4. I spent 89.25 hours in class
5. I worked with 14 different instructors

Lifetime money spent (just for aerial classes): $7992.41
2014 – $90
2015 – $422.21
2016 – $1777
2017 – $2594
2018 – $1465.74
2019 – $566
2020 – $225
2021 – $852.46

Lifetime total pole classes: 508
2014 – 6
2015 – 19
2016 – 109
2017 – 139
2018 – 92
2019 – 37
2020 – 35
2021 – 63

Total time spent poling: 792.5 hours (33 days)
2014 – 10.5 hours
2015 – 37.5 hours
2016 – 173.5 hours
2017 – 226 hours
2018 – 144.5 hours
2019 – 55.5 hours
2020 – 55.75 hours
2021 – 89.25 hours

Class Breakdown at different studios for 2021
Divine – 32/63 = 51%
Ascendance – 30/63= 48%
Pole Fitness Seattle – 1/63= 1%

 

In other fitness accomplishments:

  • I biked 260.2 (bringing the total miles biked on my e-bike to 650)
  • I went to 3 pole jams
  • I took 13 stretch and flexibility classes
  • I took 3 conditioning classes
  • Of my classes – 23 were VOD or online/Live
  • I started taking Lyra (aerial hoop) classes again at Ascendance and have really loved the challenge of this new aerial apparatus
  • I’ve done some rowing on my partner’s Water Rower

My favorite fitness photos from the year!

 

2020 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

2019 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

2018 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

2017 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

2016 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

2015 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

2021: AMC A-List – Watched and Recommended Movies for the Year

Total cost paid for movies watched in 2021 in theatres: $253.55… total value for movies watched =$1,019.57 ; Favorite movie of the year: CODA

Total cost paid for movies watched in 2020 in theatres and VOD: $112.7… total value for movies watched =$327.34 + VOD ; Favorite movie of the year: Soul

Total cost paid for movies watched in 2019 in theatres: $278.15… total value for movies watched = $1,281.67

Total cost paid for movies watched in 2018 in theatres: $297.42… total value for movies watched = $839.45

“*” indicates a movie I particularly enjoyed and would recommend.

 

January: $0 value… paid $0

February: $85.93 value… paid $23.05

  • *Nomadland ($18.99)
  • *The Little Things ($19.99)
  • Monster Hunter ($13.49)
  • *News of the World ($13.49)
  • Tom & Jerry ($19.99)

March: $80.45 value… paid $23.05

  • Raya and the Last Dragon ($19.99)
  • Chaos Walking ($13.49)
  • The Father ($13.49)
  • Boogie ($13.49)
  • Nobody ($19.99)

April: $80.45 value… paid $23.05

  • Godzilla Vs. Kong ($19.99)
  • Voyagers ($13.49)
  • Mortal Kombat ($18.99)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World ($19.99)

May: $72.46 value… paid $23.05

  • Wrath Of Man ($19.99)
  • Top Gun ($19.99)
  • Spiral ($13.49)

June: $100.44 value… paid $23.05

  • *Cruella ($13.49)
  • The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It ($19.99)
  • A Quiet Place Part II ($13.49)
  • The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard ($17.49)
  • F9 The Fast Saga ($18.49)
  • *In The Heights ($17.49)

July: $104.44 value… paid $23.05

  • The Forever Purge ($13.49)
  • The Boss Baby: Family Business ($17.49)
  • *Black Widow ($19.99)
  • Space Jam: A New Legacy ($13.49)
  • Snake Eyes ($18.49)
  • Old ($18.49)
  • Escape Room: Tournament of Champions ($3)
  • *Jungle Cruise ($14.39)

August: $120.82 value… paid $23.05

  • The Suicide Squad ($17.49)
  • The Green Knight ($13.49)
  • *Free Guy ($18.49)
  • *Stillwater ($13.49)
  • Don’t Breathe 2 ($9.39)
  • Reminiscence ($17.49)
  • Candyman ($17.49)
  • The Protege ($13.49)

September: $90.94 value… paid $23.05

  • *Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ($18.49)
  • Malignant ($13.49)
  • The Card Counter ($13.49)
  • *Cry Macho ($13.49)
  • *Blue Bayou ($13.49)
  • Venom: Let There Be Carnage ($18.49)

October: $111.24 value… paid $23.05

  • Casino Royale ($5)
  • Skyfall ($5)
  • Halloween Kills ($19.29)
  • No Time To Die ($14.49)
  • *The Last Duel ($14.29)
  • *Last Night In Soho ($19.59)
  • Ron’s Gone Wrong ($14.29)
  • Dune ($19.29)

November: $99.54 value… paid $23.05

  • Eternals ($18.69)
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife ($19.29)
  • *The French Dispatch ($13.69)
  • Antlers ($14.29)
  • Spencer ($14.29)
  • *House Of Gucci ($19.29)

December: $53.57 value… paid $23.05

  • Encanto ($19.29)
  • *West Side Story ($19.29)
  • The Matrix Resurrections ($14.99)
  • *Spider-Man: No Way Home ($72.86)

Book Review: Please Fall for Me (The Brotherhood Series) by M. W. McKinley

Please Fall for Me (The Brotherhood Series) by M. W. McKinley

A NA Romance Novel published by M.W. McKinley (11/16/21)

Summary:

“A brilliant smile takes over his face right before he leans in and kisses me with so much emotion, I can taste each unspoken word of love he sends my way.” (Kindle 78%).

Lei has decided to follow his band Brotherhood to NYC but he’s worried that this was the wrong decision. He has to leave behind his grandmother just as he finds out she has a heart condition. Brotherhood is without a drummer and the guy filling in, Felix refuses to join the band. Lei and Felix both feel an instant attraction for each other before Lei arrives in the states, but Felix doesn’t want to disappoint one more person in his life.

Keywords:

Love, Band, Bassist, Artist, NYC, England, Farewell, Bandmates, Best Friends, Brothers, Family, M/M, Disappointment, Addiction, Drummer, College

My Review:

First Reviewed through Reedsy Discovery.

I really appreciate it when an author creates a world in a series where, over the course of multiple novels, multiple characters’ stories are told. The common thread between the books in this series is the band: Brotherhood. I love reading multiple stories and multiple narratives in a linear timeline throughout the series. I also really love reading the dueling POVs between Lei and Felix in this book.

Much like book one of the series, Please Fall for Me features two main characters with very compelling backstories that will pull you in emotionally. Both Lei and Felix have complex personal lives apart from each other before they meet. I love all the little details about each of their pasts and personalities. There are many rare small glimpses into the personal lives of the characters that one would miss in real life but the author is able to highlight. These subtle insights through setting, dialogue, and actions reel you in as a reader as if you’ve been invited to watch something private and amazing going on between and within Lei and Felix.

Each scene is carefully crafted using all the senses so much so that I felt fully immersed as I read. The details about music, musicianship, and addiction felt so real to me. I empathized and rallied behind the characters.

The relationship – friends to lovers – was very touching. Brotherhood and its members are so wholesome and loving to each other. I absolutely loved every interaction between roommates and band members Rob and Lei.

I often forgot that Lei was also a student in college while everything else is going on as there aren’t as many details or day-to-day insights into his time in classes or as a student.

Overall this book features beautiful writing and beautiful storytelling. If you’re a fan of wholesome and sweet romances, you will love this book. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series or any other book by M.W. McKinley.

This novel was published by M.W. McKinley on 11/16/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

M. W. McKinley’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: A Cemetery for Zooey by Ashe Woodward

Hollow City by Beth Connor

A YA Dystopia Novel published by FriesenPress (09/08/21)

First reviewed through Reedsy Discovery as an ARC

Summary:

“She too was a monument of sorts; the lurking Beast that roamed the cemetery at nights and was enough to keep any of the curious kids from wandering in.” Page 8.

Zooey, as a Beast, has a natural talent for digging graves. She lives at the cemetery, away from human prying eyes, safe though not glamorous work. She’s good at her job but when a slew of monsters need to be buried, Zooey can’t keep up with the digging. She will get swept up in the mystery of why all the monsters are suddenly dropping dead.

Keywords:

Middle Grade, Monsters, Cemetery, Death, Race, Class, Gender, Authentic Self, grave-digging

My Review:

I absolutely loved the idea behind this story and thought the execution was excellent. The main character is a grave-digging Beast. She lives at the cemetery because humans are scared of monsters and Zooey is a monster. Most monsters who live amongst humans cover their monster features with a cosmetic product such that humans don’t even know there are monsters living amongst them. There are different classes of monsters: Beasts, Ghosts, Ghouls, Scales, and Plasmas.

The cover is unusual and immediately grabbed my attention. It’s just as quirky and interesting as the novella itself. The author walked a tight balance of tone, not growing too dark while still telling a fascinating story of the main character’s quick self-discovery amidst a pandemic-esque setting. In this world, only the monsters living amongst the humans are dropping dead and nobody knows why. The yuck factor of the imaginative types of monsters was kept at bay with the lack of gore, which helped keep the tone lighter; however, lurking behind this fun story is a heavy allegory on class, race, and gender.

This book would be an amazing read for younger readers who want a good story and an even greater post-reading conversation. If you liked The Addams Family movies but wanted something with more depth then you’ll enjoy this novella. As an adult reader, much like the way Animal Farm is an allegory, this novella too has a lot to say about contemporary topics like skin whitening, living as your authentic self, accepting others and others who are different, critical race theory, and more. If you just want to read this as a fun story with monsters, you don’t have to read too much into the heavier underlying topics.

The ending, though, drives home the lessons to be learned, reminding me that the target audience is a younger one. Until the ending big speech and moral of the story moment, this story reads as a sophisticated novella. The last chapter was short and abrupt. I wanted just a little bit more about Zooey.

This novel was published by FriesenPress on 09/08/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Book Review: The Apotheon Awakening (The Apotheon Trials Book 1) By Arya White

The Apotheon Awakening (The Apotheon Trials Book 1) By Arya White

A Young Adult Dystopian Novel published by Swift Readers Publishing (01/29/21)

First reviewed through Reedsy Discovery as an ARC

Summary:

“I know and understand these rules far better than I understand the chaos inside my own mind.” (Kindle Edition, 16%).

Debrael can’t wait to get her Powers and live peacefully as a Beastsoother in the outer ring of society. But her Powers just don’t come and the Trial at the end of training looms closer. Without her Power, she will be Banished. The Powerless have no voice and are of no worth to society. Deb will uncover a great secret about the society and the Powers, but will it be enough to pass her Trial?

Keywords:

Dystopian, Power, Faction, Friendship, Suppressed, Control, Secrets, Dictatorship, Betrayal, Caste Society, Worth, Powerless, Survival, Rebellion

My Review:

When I pick up a YA dystopian, I want it to be different. With so many good books out there, it’s difficult to stand out. The Apotheon Awakening was a slight twist of the YA dystopian chosen one trope and I was there for it. I liked the characters, I rooted for the underdog main character Debrael, and I enjoyed the overall writing style in this book.

Debrael is Powerless in a society that places the highest importance on power (and is prejudiced against level and type of power). Without Power, Deb will be cast out of society because the society is built on the ironclad rules and notions that without order and power, the society could and would fall. I loved the character development that took place with Deb over the course of the novel. She wasn’t the only character that grew and changed though. Both Ela and Mosiah also went through transformations of their own.

For teens that are going through puberty and their own changes, reading a book where the main character is struggling with her development and her place in society is the best kind of comfort. For readers who get a thrill reading teen dystopians like Divergent, this book will satisfy that craving.

While the book is slow to start, the anxiety Deb feels for the Trials and the increasing inevitability of Banishment looming closer upstages most of the action scenes. The plot is formulaic for a YA dystopian and the pacing is slow and measured. I had a good guess as to what would happen in the end but was still pleasantly surprised by the ending. I really enjoyed reading Deb’s story and can’t wait to read the rest of the series and to find out what happens to the Five Rings and the rest of the Powerless.

I really liked the integration of the aspect of magic in this book and the world-building in general. I loved the premise for the dystopic event and how it ties into the genetics and the strength of Powers.

I thought the author did a great job at balancing the element of survival of the fittest with genetic evolution and Powers as well as the subconscious and conscious prejudices towards certain Powers. There are definitely parallels the reader can draw between Powers and human characteristics like IQ in our own society.

This novel was published by Swift Readers Publishing on 01/29/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.5

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Book Review: The Finest Lies by David J. Naiman

The Finest Lies by David J. Naiman

A Young Adult Novel published by Empire Old Line Media (10/14/21)

First reviewed through Reedsy Discovery as an ARC

Summary:

Given the opportunity, Nicole would gladly trade her brother Jay with a robot. When a mysterious mirror man makes her this offer, she accepts immediately. But Jaybot isn’t Jay and mirror man keeps playing games with her.

Keywords:

Teenagers, Young Adult, Siblings, Sibling Relationship, FAmily, Friends, Lies, Past, Confrontation, Bully, Rape, Games

My Review:

This holesome story reminded me of the fun and wacky Willy Wonka combined with the Spirits of A Christmas Carol. If you like a story about personal growth and lessons learned, then you’ll pick up a thing or two reading this story.

There are so many great pearls of wisdom from the author, the Dad of the story, and the characters themselves as they learn and grow. These lessons are also articulated through the story as well. “You either change with somebody or you change without them.” (65%, Kindle Edition). “You can never change what you’ve done, but you can always be a better person.” (95%, Kindle Edition).

I loved the fun use of words and language. Phin, especially, loves to talk in alliterations and elaborate phrasings. Like, “I am the Grand Poobah of Grandiose Pontifications.” (18%, Kindle Edition). The writing is very cheeky, especially the way Jay jokes with Phin and his dad about alternate realities while one is in the library and the way the bots are humorous. The dad even says, “I guess there’s a certain magic to being transported into an alternate reality with high stakes.” (42%, Kindle Edition). while there’s a Nicbot at the table!

Nicole is forced to see some of the times when she was the most horrible and when her perception of events was skewed. She falls through interdimensional holes and into these scenes as view-only. No editing. At first, she doesn’t think about changing the scene. Eventually, she sees that she often jumps to the worst possible conclusions, letting her insecurities get the better of her, and lashing out with the intent to hurt those like she herself was hurt. At the time she saw her actions as necessary, at the moment she did what she had to and had no other choice, but through the re-viewing, with the holes, she gains a new perspective. She can see the disheartening, destructive theme of herself as a freshman. Gradually she sees the errors of her ways and wishes desperately to interact with the past and make better decisions.

Nicole wants a brother to say nothing to upset her and do whatever she wants. Both Nicole and Jay make assumptions about the other because they stopped talking to each other, stopped sharing their lives, stopped being a family. Phin intervenes just in time for Nic and Jay to halt this path and move in the opposite direction, closer to one another. The book itself is divided into Jay’s perspective and Nic’s perspective. I really enjoyed reading each of their stories.

This novel was published by Empire Old Line Media on 10/14/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

David J. Naiman’s Website