Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai | I Love This Series So Much!

Thank you to Harper and edelweiss for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Content warnings: death (before the book), Anxiety, panic attacks, mentions of suicide

Sadia is still dealing with the loss of her husband and she’s barely keeping her head above water with the family cafe she inherited from him. Then his brother, Jackson, comes back to town after fleeing 10 years ago when he was accused of arson. Sadia is conflicted over her feelings towards Jackson but knows she cannot turn down his offer to help with the cafe.

This book solidified this series as one of my absolute fave romance series. It’s diverse, it deals with heavy topics and all the characters so far are wonderful. I just have 1 book left in the series now and I just don’t want it to end, to be honest. This is one of the first romance series that I’ve actually had an emotional connection to.

I think I preferred the first novel a little bit more, but that was mainly because of the storyline being more up my street than this one. The writing is just as good as the first book and the characters are just as exciting to read about. So far I’ve just found this series so easy to read. I did enjoy that this was a kind of slow burn but also not a slow burn, because the characters have feelings for each other from the outset but they don’t realise how deep those feelings run until later one and I liked that little twist on my favourite kind of romance trope.

I loved Jackson, he was so loyal and really cared and he treated his nephew with such care, I love seeing that in a romance hero. And I loved Sadia’s strength to carry on despite her life falling apart. What stood out for me though, was that she has anxiety and panic attacks and they were featured on page. I feel like in romance characters are often shown to be strong through adversity but we never get to see their weaker moments, and they feel less human. But not in this novel, both Sadia and Jackson go through a lot of crap and it reads that way.

I also loved getting to see Nick and Livvy in little snippets as I just loved them int he first book. I am so excited to eventually get to the third book, which features Nick’s sister and I can’t wait to read about her as well as the cameos of the characters I already love. But I will be sad to see the series end.

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Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern | A Movie is Better… Than A Book? WHAT?

Content warnings: teen pregnancy, a-phobia (never challenged), death, emotional abuse.

Rosie and Alex have been best friends since childhood, they’re inseparable and some romantic feelings may be beginning to grow. Then at 17 Alex has to move to Boston and they start making plans for Rosie to go to college in Boston. But then she gets pregnant. It begins to feel like the world is against them and they will never get together.

Love, Rosie (also known as Where Rainbows End) is one of my absolute favourite films, but somehow I’d never read the book. And honestly, it as a bit of a waste of time. I know this is wild, but I think the film is better than the book.

I think part of my problem with the book in comparison to the movie is the pacing. The novel just felt like they were never going to get together. And whilst the movie felt like that at times, it definitely felt like the novel too so much longer. Given that in the novel our main characters are late 40s/early 50s at the end, the film just kind of tidied that up and they’re only in their 30s by the end. The book is 500 pages and that’s a lot for a romance/contemporary alone, pair that with the fact that this is told exclusively through letters, emails, and IMs that’s A LOT. The film definitely cut out a lot of the unnecessary fluff (when I say that I mean rubbish, not the good fluff that makes you feel warm inside).

Whilst I did feel like the pacing of the book wasn’t quite as good as the film, I still flew through this book. It was so flipping easy to read given that it’s not formatted like your normal novel.

In terms of characterisation, I also prefer the movie counterparts. Maybe that’s because I have a crush on both Lily Collins and Sam Claflin, pansexual problems am I right? In the books, Alex felt like a bit more of a dick really and Rosie was a bit more whiney. But I also think Rosie was a bit funnier in the book and had a bit more self-confidence as she got older.

Now you may be thinking after reading up until now that I didn’t like this book. I did. It was a solid 4 stars for me because it was an enjoyable and easy read, I just think the film is a solid 5 stars.

I really love slow burn romance so novels like Love Rosie are really up my street, if you know of anything similar although maybe not spanning across 40 years please let me know. I love the feeling of finally getting to the climax where the happy ending finally happens. And I love stories when the slow burn romance breaks me in two (see the Panic! At the Disco fic The Heart Rate of a Mouse which still upsets me).

What I will say however is do not bother with the audiobook. Because of how the story is set up it really doesn’t work the way they have done it (with 1 voice actor). I think it would do much better if it had a full cast.

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Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare | I Am Destroyed

Content warnings: death (a really heavy one, ask me if you need to know), torture

Ok honestly, Cassie Clare needs to stop, this book is too damn much.

Following the end of Lady Midnight the Blackthorns and Emma Cartairs are on the hunt for The Black Volume of the Dead. But their journey is not easy; they must face off against blood thirsty fae, demons and the undead. 

For me, this is the best-written book of the whole Shadowhunters series. The Infernal Devices will probably be my favourites forever, but the writing is 100% better in this one. I think depending on how the third book is this series could become my favourite but we shall see. 

At times the characters were just so strong and mature and I forgot that they are so young. Especially Julian. We get to learn more about him and the presence he has taken in his siblings’ lives. The poor bean had to grow up so quickly and he pretty much kept it all to himself for years. I have so many feelings about Julian Blackthorn. And then on top of all of that, he has all this heartbreak going on with Emma and what they find out about the Parabatai bond throughout this novel. Ugh. 

The plot took me to some super unexpected places, to be honest. I had some ideas of where it might go and of course, I had to look up a little bit of the plot because I had heard there was a death. And I’m glad I did because if I hadn’t it possibly would’ve set me off. But there were a fair few twists I really didn’t see coming. I honestly don’t have the faintest idea how this trilogy is going to end and I’m actually a little bit terrified because there’s a lot of rumours about certain characters dying. 

I’m sorry this review is on the shorter side but I don’t know how to talk about this book without getting into spoiler territory.

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From Twinkle with Love by Sandhya Menon | I Love This Book So Much

content warnings: enbyphobia (the main plot in this story surrounds a “genderswapped” version of Dracula)

Thank you to netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I love Sandhya Menon and her writing. I love romcoms, and I love reading diverse books put that all together and you’re onto a winner for me, and that’s what Sandhya’s books are.

Twinkle wants to be a filmmaker, and when the chance comes to create a film for the Summer Festival she snatches that chance up in a heartbeat. In creating the film she becomes close to Sahil whom she’s working on the film with, but when things start to become romantic with them she is stuck because she’s been messaging a mystery man “N” who she believes to be Sahil’s super hot brother Neil.

I loved that Twinkle wasn’t your perfect girl. She messes up a lot in this book but she’s always called out for it and she does learn from it and I think we need to see that a lot more in YA. The teen audience needs to see that it’s human to be a hot mess and the important part is apologising and learning from your mistakes.

Neil was just a big sweetheart to be honest and I wish I’d known a boy like him when I was a teenager. Most of the boys I knew were annoying or weird (if you were one of those boys and have somehow stumbled on this, I’m sorry, but it’s true).

Menon’s writing is just getting better with each book. Reading this felt like I was watching one of the classic rom coms that I grew up watching, that would have Hilary Duff et al. in them, except this one had an Indian girl as the main character and wasn’t the whitest thing ever like those films were. I just want more diverse YA rom coms to be honest. I also really liked the style this book was written as it was like a diary, this made it so easy to read. I know some people don’t like this format but I really love something that is easy to read given how little time I seem to have for reading these days.

I just think what I really liked was this book felt real. There are some moments that are a bit classic YA romcom, like mean girls and stuff but hey that’s life, as much as I wished girls were all nice to each other, that’s not always the case. All the characters were fleshed out, there wasn’t a character who it felt like was just there.

Menon’s next book is the companion to When Dimple Met Rishi and I am so flipping excited for it, I just think her writing is going to be even better.

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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang | Slightly Overhyped but Still So Good

Thank you to netgalley and Corvus for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

content warnings: sex, situations that could be uncomfortable for someone with autism, sex work

Stella understands maths more than anything else, and she believes that maths can be used in every situation. She has more money than she knows what to do with from using algorithms in her work. But she feels lonely. So she enlists an escort to help her figure out how to become good at sex.

This is an own voices book for autism which I am so happy about as we don’t get enough mentally diverse characters in books, let alone in romance novels. And then we also have a love interest who is Vietnamese and the author is also Vietnamese so it was just great all around to read in those respects.

Michael is a sex worker, and I feel like there aren’t that many male sex workers in fiction and it was kind of refreshing to read about one as opposed to a female sex worker, especially when Stella was a super high earner. I loved the pair of them honestly, but I just especially loved Stella. She’s a mathematician who earns so much in her field. And we all know by now how much I love women in STEM in books but I especially love when women are shown to be at the top of their field, which Stella was.

There is one thing that put me off with this book a lot whilst reading was that the MC referred to her vagina as her sex and for some reason that’s one specific euphemism for it that really makes me cringe. I really don’t know why it’s that one but it is. Most others I’m fine with, I do wish Romancelandia writers would just stop with the euphemisms altogether though, but that’s a discussion for a different time.

This book is super hyped on twitter within the circles I follow and I know a lot of people on booktube have been talking about it. And I did enjoy it, it was definitely one of the better romance books I’ve read, but I just felt like there was something missing to push it to that “omg I absolutely loved this” level.

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Running with Lions by Julian Winters | How I Wish All Sports Teams Were

Content warnings: homophobia, biphobia, racism, Islamophobia, mentions of past body shaming/bullying

It’s the summer before senior year and Sebastian is at football (soccer) camp with the rest of his team, but this time he’s captain. Then he unexpectedly finds one of his old childhood friends has joined the team and he has a desire to reconnect. And then Sebastian realises there’s more to it than just wanting to be friends again.

I absolutely adored how inclusive the team was, but I also liked that Winters didn’t make every team inclusive, just this one team. It would’ve been super unbelievable otherwise. The introduction of other teams was a good choice as it definitely showed readers just how close the Lions are; the terrible attitude of the other teams made the team stand together.

Now if you know me you will know that I really dislike football. Like I really despise it, I think it’s a pointless sport and has far too much money in it. But somehow that didn’t do anything to change my feelings about this book. I think I like football stories a whole heck of a lot more than actual football.

I absolutely adore Sebastian and Emir, they were just lovely, soft boys. Emir struggled with a lot in this book but it never felt like a tragic gay book, it was nice and happy for the most part, but with some bumps along the way. He struggles with how worthy he is as a captain, thinking that he had to work much harder to keep physically fit than the rest because he was chubbier when he was younger and got bullied for it. Emir struggled a lot with wanting to make his dad proud and how he didn’t feel like he belonged but Sebastian was always reaffirming and it was just so nice.

This was honestly such a nice refreshing read for me. It was just a sweet queer book with some lovely diverse representation and didn’t have some tragic backstory and didn’t have super wild angst. This is so rare in queer contemporaries.

I liked this book enough to buy a copy in person at YALC as well as the one I already had on my kindle. Part of this reason was also because I just wanted to show the publisher that we want more books like this in the UK.

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Warcross by Marie Lu | Epic Virtual Reality Adventures in my Favorite City

Content warnings: poverty, pre-book kidnapping, bombing, some mature scenes

Emika is a bounty hunter on Warcross, the world’s biggest video game and pretty much how people live their lives. She lives from county to bounty and recently she hasn’t been getting much luck. Until she accidentally glitches into the opening game of the International Warcross Championships. And instead of being taken to be interrogated she is whisked off to Tokyo to meet with the game’s creator for a secret mission.

This was on my radar for quite a while as most of my friends on twitter were yelling about how good it is. And they were not wrong. The world is so well built, I could imagine every single scene both inside the game and in the real world with the Virtual Reality added elements. And it was so fun to imagine. As someone who has grown up with video games and as someone who has also been to Tokyo, I was thinking about every place I went and how it would be if Warcross was real.

I loved Emika, she was so badass. In sci-fi and fantasy the main female characters are often physically strong and get through problems with brute force, but Emika is a coder. Emika uses computers and knows how to hack and does it so cooly as if it’s nothing, and I loved her for that.

I need to take a moment here to talk about all the twists and turns that happened in this book. I knew there were twists but I didn’t know what and I like half predicted them whilst reading but I was also not 100% right and that was so fun because I went from “Am I right?” to “I’m totally right” to “omg wait what”.

I really enjoyed that this wasn’t set so incredibly far in the future. It was something I could fathom the world being like in my lifetime and I think that definitely added to my experience, not that books set in the future are bad, they’re just a different experience.

My only problem with this book was it felt like it moved a little fast and I wish it had been longer. I definitely think there could have been a few more scenes throughout and it would’ve deepened my connection to the characters and the story. And for that reason, I cannot wait until Wildcard is out at the end of this month. I have it preordered and I don’t preorder often so that speaks to how much I fell for this book.

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Cold Iron by Miles Cameron | Blog Tour | Review

Synopsis

Aranthur is a student. He showed a little magical talent, is studying at the local academy, and is nothing particularly special. Others are smarter. Others are more talented. Others are quicker to pick up techniques. But none of them are with him when he breaks his journey home for the holidays in an inn.

None of them step in to help when a young woman is thrown off a passing stage coach into the deep snow at the side of the road. And none of them are drawn into a fight to protect her.

One of the others might have realised she was manipulating him all along . . .

A powerful story about beginnings, coming of age, and the way choosing to take one step towards violence can lead to a slippery and dangerous slope, this is an accomplished fantasy series driven by strong characters and fast-paced action.

Review

Content warnings: graphic torture and kidnapping, genocide and ethnic cleansing, misogyny

Cold Iron is an interesting book. It’s kind of like a Chosen One story and also not at all like a Chosen One story. This story details how one small decision could change your course in life, and how you could go from being just someone going about your life to someone taking part in a whole journey and adventure.

The world in this story is very rich and thought out and you can tell that already after only a few pages of reading. Cameron clearly put a lot of work into the way the world worked, the way it was governed, how races interacted.

I think the thing that really stood out to me about this book was how aware of the politics it is. There is a lot of mention of the building war with the east. How the aristocracy treated people from the eastern countries. And unlike a lot of white male fantasy, there was a great disdain for the way the oppressed were treated. Along with this, there were some very different attitudes towards the women of this world. There were women in the armies and such which I don’t find often in this style of fantasy.

In terms of characters, Aranarthur was fine but I really loved the side characters and wished there was more from them. Especially Dahlia and Sasan, they were so different from the MC. Dahlia was so interesting and Sasan, though an addict, was never villainised for it.

I’ll be honest, this isn’t the kind of fantasy I normally read, this is definitely more my dad’s style of fantasy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that at all. I think a lot of that was due to the language style, it was kind of aggressive.

 

Cold Iron (Masters & Mages, #1)

Cold Iron is out now.

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