Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Aw this book is honestly so sweet. It was one of the books I was super excited for this year and it did not let me down.

It surrounds a convention for all the youtubers and geeky types like us lot where a group of friends travel from Australia to LA for the weekend of their dreams.

The book is pretty short and whilst I really liked my time with the book I felt like there isn't much for me to say.

This could've easily been a 5 star read for me as the style was so easy to read and the representation was on point. There was Asian Rep, aspie rep, anxiety Rep, chubby Rep, bisexual Rep, lesbian Rep. However I felt like there was just something a little lacking and it's not something I could ever pin point but it just wasn't quite in the favourites position for me

The book follows 2 blossoming relationships and it was honestly just really sweet to read. There was little miscommunications and classic tropes from YA romance that just makes you squeal with delight.

Even though my review is a bit thin on the ground I do hope you read this book because it just made me really happy when I read it and I can't wait to read the next Jen Wilde book because I feel like it's going to be a 5 star.

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

I got this book from the library as it was so hyped up last year but I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it as much as I hoped but man I did not expect this to be as good as it was. I don't read a lot of sci fi so hey maybe it's not the most original thing ever but it read as pretty original to me.

In The Diabolic the world allows for humans to be grown in labs to become killers, that's what Nemesis is. However these humans are made illegal and Nem's owner is supposed to kill her, but instead they send her to the capital pretending she is Sidonia, her owner and best friend in an effort to hide her in plain site and also to protect Sidonia.

For such a short book in terms of it's genre this book is so full of twists and turns you'll be gasping incessantly. You won't know who to trust, you think you know a character but you don't. And I would say this had some really good writing because I could not see some of the twists coming, and I watch a lot of drama and crime shows on tv because of my parents so I'm normally pretty good at guessing twists.

I think what I really enjoyed about this book was the subtle little hints about a romantic subplot that if you weren't paying attention you would miss them until it began to build up. I could see it happening and it was so good to read it becoming part of the plot more and more and I think that's just really great writing.

On top of this, I know this isn't something that should be celebrated and should just be human decency but we all know not all humans are decent, there was language that was just generally trans inclusive. Instead of asking someone what gender they were someone asked someone what gender they identified with. And I just found it really good to see language like that being used in fantasy when so many people make fantasy worlds that basically just ignore trans people (cough SJM cough).

The world building was fantastic. It didn't focus much on location and scenery but focused on building the political landscape. I really felt like a got a good grip of what kind of a world this is set in. Even though I don't know what it looks like, but often I find it hard to imagine anyway and I find the political climate or having a well established power authority or religion helps me understand the world much better.

I'm actually desperate to find it what happens in the rest of the series. I was kind of sad to find that the book was a series and not a standalone though because the ending would've been a really solid ending for a standalone but hey ho. If this is how the author wants to tell her story I'm still interested.

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Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

I decided to pick this book up from the library because it’s the biggest series in terms of vampire romance. And let’s be honest, this is the trashiest of trash but when I read it I was just in the mood for it.

Wreath leads the Black Dagger Brotherhood, the oldest clan of vampires in New York, his second in command has just died after telling Wrath that he has a daughter. Now Wrath must look after this half-breed daughter as she is about to change into a vampire, but of course he bonds with her.

First of all there is violent scenes against both humans and animals so if that could trigger you be wary.

The biggest thing that jumped out to me with this book was how weird it was in terms of feminism. The writer clearly wanted to write something more forward thinking on the heterosexual relationship and gender roles front but this was written 12 years ago and you can clearly see when reading it that modern feminism has come leaps and bounds in just those 12 years. There were times I was reading this thinking “yes, right on” then a couple of sentences later there would be a thought from the MC that was degrading to other women. There was also a lot of male chauvanist scenes, which the writer would sometimes show in a bad light but then sometimes show in a good light and I found it a bit confusing. But that’s possibly just because I’ve grown so used to the way things are now and it’s weird to read something written not so long ago that is pretty different from the way things are now.

Ward has created her own niche language with this book which is fine but I did occasionally feel a bit odd about it. It’s clearly derived from some sort of Russian based language but it definitely felt off.

The most different thing for me when reading this book is that Wrath is a blind vampire. You don’t read about that often as vampires in most books are “perfect” and as soon as they are changed all disabilities become nulled. I’m not blind and J.R. Ward isn’t blind so I can’t speak for the representation of the lack of sight but it was interesting to read that’s for sure.

To be honest, with this book it was not the best writing, not the most original, the world building was just not great, and there was a lot of weird insta-love. The sex scenes felt cringey and I honestly was not attracted to Wrath at all, the way he was described had me conjuring an image of this huge mountain of flesh which some people might find attractive but I don’t. I think had my expectations been higher for this book I would’ve been thoroughly disappointed but because I knew what I was getting going into it I didn’t find it to be too terrible. I’m not interested in reading the rest of the series though as none of the side characters jumped out at me.

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The Queen of Dauphine Street by Thea De Salle

So this book follows side characters from The King of Bourbon Street, like most romance series seem to do. Maddy is crazy rich, richer than you could imagine but she has a messy past. Darren is a typical Texas boy and is best friends with Maddy’s exes brother but an ex makes an attempt on his life and Maddy is there to save the day and take him away to New Orleans on her boat to protect him.

Whilst I loved Maddy this book did feel like a bit of a downgrade from the first book. But maybe I just loved Sol and Rain so much that anything would feel like that.

It did kind of feel a bit off the wall at times for honest. It was fun but because it’s based around Maddy who leads a ridiculous life things would happen that just don’t actually happen so though this is a contemporary you have to suspend your belief at times.

A lot of this book takes place in New Orleans, of course, so it made me really happy to read about Sol and Rain as their relationship was a little bit further on in time.

The most important thing for me in this book was Maddy. Though she was a bit wacky she was so unapologetic in her sexuality. She was bi, and she never hid it. Whenever speaking about past experiences she never glossed over her sleeping with men and women and she didn’t downplay it. And though I am not bi, pan and bi kind of go along in the same boat in terms of representation in media or lack thereof. So Maddy was a really important character for me.

There are possible triggers in this book for stalking and guns so if that’s something that could set you off be careful with this book.

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The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Thank you to netgalley and Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. TW in this book for mentions of abuse, transphobia, homophobia, death and suicide.

I wasn’t sure about this book after reading the blurb as it centres around a girl from a very typical white church background, but I thought hey it’s Emery Lord it can’t be that bad. And it wasn’t the description is so deceptive. This book is about a kid meeting new people and cultures which she has never really been exposed to before which isn’t exactly a novel idea but I feel like Lord’s take on it was a good read.

Lucy’s mum has been in remission but her cancer has reappeared and her wish is for Lucy to go to the camp across the lake from the camp she normally goes to. Lucy isn’t exactly keen on the idea but wants to do it for the sake of her mum. She starts off with some prejudicial thoughts but gradually begins to get to know her fellow counsellors and makes friends with them all and learns that just because they’re different to her doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with her.

If there is one thing to say about this book it’s CHARACTER PROGRESSION ON POINT. Like I didn’t like Lucy to begin with and I felt uncomfortable with her character, I was expecting her to be a typical white, but she learned so quickly and adapted so quickly. If you want to do a book about something growing up in a privileged background and learning to see the world different this is how you do it not like how The Black Witch did it. Which I’m not going to go into but if you haven’t seen the deal with that book where have you been?

This book really struck a chord with me because I grew up in a very white place, obviously I knew people with different skin colours existed because of TV but in my school there was 2 kids of colour and they were from the same family so when I moved to Glasgow for uni it was a huge change not just because I was moving out from home on my own but because there was so many cultures living around me that I’d not really experienced before. I am completely aware of my privilege now but when I was 17 I had a lot of learning to do and it was interesting to read that in this book.

The side characters are what made this book, they were all so wonderful and diverse and I fell in love with each of them. And honestly even if this is a daunting book for you because you’re worried it’s either going to annoy you or upset you it’s worth it for the side characters.

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Frostbite by Richelle Mead

I’ll be honest: in writing this post I can’t really remember what I thought of this book so I’ve had to look up other reviews to remind myself as I didn’t even take any notes.

So after what happened in the previous books all the Moroi are on edge as the Strigoi seem to ramping up their efforts to kill them. What else should they do but send all their heirs to a ski trip together, because that makes sense?

Rose and Dmitri’s tension only furthers in this novel as Rose tries to put her attention into another boy and Dmitri, of course, is conflicted about the whole situation. What I have to say is I’m just glad Dmitri was still trying to keep his distance, it shows that he’s aware that he has power over her due to their age gap. Rose generally annoyed me in this context as she really couldn’t wrap her head around Dmitri telling her he’s not comfortable with the age gap.

The ending was super rushed, there was so much waffle of them in the ski resort and then the ending was so sudden and it very much felt like “wait, what? Is that it?”

Lissa was also just super annoying in this book, but when is she not? She seems to only ever have eyes for her boyfriend and fails to notice that some really bad things are happening to Rose. And all the rest of the characters were quite irritating, but not inhuman. They definitely read like the teenagers they were.

All in all I’d say the character development was pretty good in this, and it felt nice to read something from this series that was new to me as the film whilst bad followed the plot pretty well of the first book so it did feel like I’d already read it. I’m actually quite intrigued to see what happens now as I feel like things are going to actually get interesting.

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Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

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

If this book isn’t on your TBR now add it because it’s so adorable and funny.

Tash (pronounced Tosh) is in love with Leo Tolstoy, the dead author. She makes a web series based on Anna Karenina with her friends playing the roles and sees little buzz until one day a big youtuber posts about the series and they receive instant online fame.

So Tosh comes to the realisation throughout the book that she is asexual, now I’m not ace so I can’t tell you if the representation is good and not problematic but it felt like it was. It felt accurate to what I know about asexuality from my friends and the experiences they’ve had. If you are ace and have read this book and think it isn’t accurate please let me know.  I would also say that there is a warning for aphobia from other characters.

I really loved the parts of this book which focussed on the web series. It reminded me of the time when I binge watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and how much I loved them. It made me want to read Anna Karenina so I bought a copy, I probably won’t read it for a long time but I own it now.

I loved Tosh I found her so relateable, her anxieties read so well and were completely accessible to me despite having different anxieties. I loved that she was vegetarian, I never read books with veggie MCs, and so many people these days are veggie or vegan that it was just really nice to read. She was also Buddhist which is another thing that doesn’t feature in books much.

Something I really loved was that you get to read about youtube creators in a way that felt real, a lot of the time you read a book with youtubers in it and there is no mention of the amount of work that does into it but this book spoke about that a lot. It spoke about the stress of constant creation and relying on people to be there when you need them to be and also how hard it is to be in the limelight.

I loved that the MC ended up in a relationship with someone who was happy to be with her, there wasn’t any weird feelings from his side about her being ace, he didn’t try to pressure her. He liked her for her.

There was some really good side character representation as well which I absolutely adored.

I hope more people read this book because I haven’t seen much hype about it but it’s so worth the read.

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Winger by Andrew Smith

I really don’t know how I feel about this book still and it’s been 2 months since I read it. There was some really interesting commentary on teenage boys, a hilarious main character who was also subtly homophobic and I was never sure how I felt about him, and some odd representation. I originally picked this up because its about private school kids playing rugby and I thought hey that’s something I haven’t seen in YA and I love rugby so let’s give it a go. What this book turned out to be was something I didn’t really expect.There are a couple of triggers I should warn you about, casual homophobia, violence, casual sexism, anything you can think of a teenage boy being gross about, and a gay character dying, which some would consider a spoiler but I feel like you should be warned because it could be upsetting.

Ryan Dean West is stuck in the dorms where the troublemakers go after messing around the previous year and his roommate is somewhat of a bully. He has to get through the school year despite being so much younger than his classmates and stuck without his friends in his new dorm.

Ryan Dean is your classic teenage boy. He thought sexist and homophobic stuff and at times was really unlikeable but he was also absolutely hilarious and I was so unsure reading his POV how I felt about him.

There were some illustrations throughout the book which I found quite funny and a good break from the writing at times.

What I would say is that I found the rugby parts quite accurate but I found the Americanisms surrounding it jarring. But maybe that’s just me because I’m so used to European rugby but at times it felt like they were playing a mixture of Union and League which are completely different games and it sometimes felt off. I also just can’t imagine private school kids in America playing rugby.

I’m going to talk about the ending here so if you don’t want spoilers stop reading and go to the part which says end spoilers.

The ending really threw me off. I’m still not sure how I feel about it now. It brings an interesting discussion about people’s attitudes to gay people and it shows that as much as someone can be loved in a group of friends there’s always going to be someone who isn’t happy with them as a person, but I also feel like did Joey really have to die. Was that necessary? Could Smith not have just left him really badly hurt? Why did he have to die? In media right now there’s a big furore over writers killing off gay characters for the sake of furthering the plot, and whilst this novel was written a few years ago, Bury Your Gays has been a thing for a very long time. I also think it was very sad that a guy who was closeted was the one that did it, it shows a lot about the world we live in and how progressive we think we are when stuff like this still happens in the real world.

End Spoilers

I think I wan to read the sequel but I’m really not sure. I plowed through this one and it was a fun read like 80% of the time but I don’t know I’ve got so many books to read. But I also want to know what happens.

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Haven by Rebekah Weatherspoon

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

If you want a steamy summer read with some characters who aren’t your typical romance book types then this is the book for you. Our two main characters are a chubby Grenadian American woman and a bearded mountain man and their chemistry is just so good.

The book kicks off with our MCs meeting when Claudia is on a camping weekend with her brother and her brother gets murdered by a serial killer and Claudia is running away from the same fate and finds Shep who rescues her from the murderer. When Claudia tries to get back to her real life after the horrible events she can’t stop thinking about Shep.

Now obviously based on that synopsis you can tell that there are some triggers with this book. Claudia’s brother is murdered and Claudia herself nearly meets the same fate and is attacked so whilst it isn’t gone into too much detail, if you are triggered by these kind of things I would be weary, especially as it is continuously mentioned throughout the novel as Claudia is still dealing with the trauma. BUT the way the author dealt with that trauma throughout the book was really respectful I thought, and I felt like the way she wrote how Claudia dealt with the grief and trauma was really real and believable.

The erotic parts of this novel, which there were a lot, were so steamy. I had to make sure I read this book when I was in bed as I knew if I read it in public I would get very uncomfortable. There was some exhibitionist aspects in this book which I haven’t read much of in erotica and my god it got me a bit hot and bothered. There’s also a lot of bdsm parts of their relationship, which from what I’ve read Rebekah Weatherspoon includes of lot of her books, which were really good to read, as I find bdsm in books can be really awkward if the writer doesn’t know what they’re doing.

I loved the characters in this book, I need to get myself a Shep because they way I imagined him was just so perfect. And Claudia was just such a good person to read the POV of, I felt like she made a lot of decisions that I would.

So, yeah, get this book because god damn it’s so hot.

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Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

When this book was announced I really wasn’t sure what I felt about it. I loved To All the Boys I Loved Before, then Ps I Still Love You wasn’t as good but I also thought it rounded the series out quite well and suddenly a third book gets announced and I was very conflicted. I really enjoy the characters that Jenny created with this series but I was worried what she was going to do with the third book. I was also terrified she was going to split up Lara Jean and Peter K.

Lara Jean is in her senior year of high school and her and Peter K. are solid but then applications for college start to happen and the anxiety of whether Lara Jean will get in to where she wants to go causes a lot of unwanted stress.

I liked this book more than the second book but it still wasn’t as good as the first. What I did like though was seeing characters I knew go through the stress of college applications because often in books you’re introduced to the characters as they’re going through it. I also liked that there was the possibility of Lara Jean and Peter not having that happily ever after at the same college. And I really liked how anxiety was portrayed differently with each character, some were obvious and some were more subtle but it was there and good to read.

Lara Jean was acting really weird with Kitty at times in the book, she was really quite sexist which I found quite out of character. She was trying to force Kitty into wearing a dress even though Kitty didn’t want to wear one and it made me uncomfortable to read.

There was a lot of Hamilton references which I absolutely adored but like I’ve said in a lot of reviews references can really date books.

Overall I would say this was a good addition to the series. As much as I enjoyed the series as a duology I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to dive back into the lives of the Song sisters.

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