Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst – Yay F/F fantasy!!!! Boo Slow read

Denna has left her home land to get married to the man she has been betrothed to since childhood. However Denna has magic in a world that is so anti magic, and being away from home has put her in so much more danger. She needs to learn to ride a horse, leading her to spending time with the Princess Mare. But then a series of magic related killings take place.

I was in a bit of a slump when I read this. I wasn’t reading it fast enough to my liking and it just felt super sluggish. But I don’t know if that was me or if that was the book. I still enjoyed it but I feel like it took longer than it should’ve done. I will say that something about the pacing was a bit off. At times it felt like it was moving along ok and other times it was just super slow. I didn’t get that “I can’t put this down” feeling.

Whilst I did love reading a fantasy book with an f/f romance, there should definitely be more, I felt like there wasn’t enough of a burn. Obviously I knew who the romance was between so as I knew it was building, but it didn’t feel like anything was happening between the pair. It wasn’t believable for me. Maybe I personally just want more from romances in books.

The world building was great. There was heretics and illegal magic. There were different countries at war with each other and being political and everything I look for in good world building.

This is a stand-alone fantasy novel and I feel like if you’re going to do a stand-alone this is how you do it. And I’m glad it is as well because I’ve started too many series.

I felt like the characters could’ve done with a little bit more development. I think because it’s a stand-alone I couldn’t get the feel for them that I would normally get from fantasy. Denna felt a bit flimsy at times, like I wasn’t sure what she was wanting to do with herself.

In the end though, I am glad I read this because I always need more f/f in my life, especially in fantasy where it’s SO sparse.

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Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell – Hot romance with a side of good representation

Thank you to netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Gavin has been suspended from the NFL and put on house arrest for attacking someone on camera. He needs a PA to do stuff for him whilst he’s stuck in his house. He chooses Noah despite Noah’s obvious disdain for Gavin and his career. Eventually the tension turns into sexual tension.

I’ve really fallen down the Santino Hassell hole. I can’t stop reading what he’s written. Eventually I’ll read the Five Bouroughs series, I just don’t have the money for it.

I adore the hate to love trope so this was exactly what the doctor ordered when I was in the mood for some erotic romance.

I loved that it had bisexual sports star rep. Kind of reminded me of the story I wrote a few years ago where a rugby star came out, but lets not talk about that. It also tackles a lot of the issues in the sports world with prejudice.

I flew through this and I think that speaks for the quality of it. the characters, though sometimes weren’t very likeable, were all very well developed and I can’t wait to read some more of them in the rest of the series.

Overall this was a fun, fast, raunchy read that I think everyone should read when they’re in the mood. It also helps that this is a m/m book written by a guy, which is super important as a lot of the biggest m/m books are written by women and that’s sad.

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Cyclone series by Courtney Milan

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Trade Me

So this has fake relationship in it and talks about what it is to be privileged. It also discusses addiction, eating disorders and stress.

Our MC is a Chinese American girl with a background of human rights issues in China as her parents fleed China to get way from incarceration which is true for many Chinese people who immigrated to America and the like. She deals with a lot of poverty and I really loved reading that because hey it’s good to read that in novels its good not to have the perfect life for the MC, obviously it’s not good that the character is in that position but it’s life. She made most of her decisions based on her background and the poverty she was in.

A character in this novel deals with a restrictive eating disorder and as I was super close to developing one a few years ago this was really important to me to read as it’s one of the lesser known EDs. But of course I’m going to say that if you have an ED trigger be careful with this book.

 

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Hold Me

First things first, this book has a trans girl MC, which is few and far between in any genre, especially in romance. As well as that it has the hate to love trope which I always adore.

Now I can’t say whether it was accurate trans rep and I tried to see if I could find some reviews by the trans reviewing community but couldn’t find any, if you have written one or aware of any please let me know!

He’s Chinese Thai with a buddhist parent and Muslim parent and he’s bi and that isn’t glossed over he talks about past affairs with both men and women. She’s latinx and into science which you know I love my STEM girls as one myself.

Some people didn’t like how childish the main characters were with each other in the beginning but I loved it and found it hilarious. And if you’re really up for some diverse romance I recommend both novels in this series. You don’t need to read Trade Me first if you’re more interested in this one but it sets the scene.

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by MacKenzi Lee

Right off the bat I’m going to warn you that there is homophobia, biphobia, abuse, suicidal thoughts, racism and ableism. But it’s set in the 1700s so it’s expected and there is on the page tackling of issues.

Monty and Percy are set to go on a wild tour of Europe before Percy goes to school in Amsterdam and Monty starts to learn about the estate he is to inherit. Monty is a huge playboy who spends the majority of his time drunk and gambling so their trip doesn’t go exactly as planned after a slew of different accidental occurrences. But then the pair along with Monty’s sister Felicity stumble upon a much darker plot that could change the world.

You have to listen to this on audiobook because it’s read by Tom Riddle (Christian Coulson) and he reads it so perfectly, he IS Monty.

We have some really good representation in this book as the main character is bi in a time when that was definitely not accepted and his best friend is his love inferest who was brought up by a white rich family even though he is mixed race so it was good to read their points of view in the historical terms. It also brought about some interesting situations in the novel as well as there being some really horrible behaviour from adults that bears talking about as LGBTQ+ issues are often glossed over or forgotten about if we’re talking anything before the 1800s but after the Romans.

Percy has epilepsy and this is going to sound bad but it was so good to read about because for 1: it’s not really mentioned in books; and secondly as it’s set before modern medicine it’s seen as like something supernatural and he needs to go to an asylum which I found really interesting to read because I’d never thought about epilepsy being understood as something that isn’t medical.

The whole adventure of this novel was wild from start to finish I had no idea what was going to happen next. It’s not often I say that because hey I read a lot I get pretty good at guessing. Because of how wild Monty is you never know what he’s going to get himself into next and how that’s going to change every thing. Things get a little farfetched at times but the author is so completely unapologetic about it that you get so swept up in the story that you forget that it’s unrealistic.

I think part of the reason I could not stop listening to this was because Lee really made me care for the characters. Monty is horrible, in a truly teenage boy way. But you really find yourself caring for him because he does silly things because he’s coming from a misguided place. When things head south for him you really worry about how things are going to work out.

Percy is my soft bean I love him so much and I just want him to be happy forever. And Felicity is so magical, she’s sarcastic, hilarious and smart and I’m really excited to read her spin off novel.

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How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

Thank you to netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This was one of my most hyped up lgbt+ reads of the year because hey, there’s not much f/f romance around. As a warning this book has emotional abuse from a parent who has mental health problems.

Grace spends her life moving between homes of her unbalanced mother’s boyfriends, where we pick up in the book she finds out that her mum is now dating her ex boyfriend’s dad and she now has to live with her ex boyfriend. Then Eva moves to town after losing her mum and Grace and Eva form an unlikely connection.

There was both bisexual and lesbian representation in this book which is always a good thing and the love interest was biracial which made it even better.

My biggest issue was just that I wished that Grace had communicated with Eva better. I wish she had actually told her that Eva having a relationship with her mother made her uncomfortable. In general I wish she had learned to put herself first a lot earlier, I felt very frustrated for a lot of this novel by Grace’s mum and whist obviously Blake wrote her character well for me to feel that way I think a little bit of communication would have alleviated some of that feeling.

The mum was honestly the worst character, she was so incredibly annoying and self obsessed. Now yes she had mental health problems, which is made clearly obvious and the MC is very good at not blaming her for every bad action but man it was so, I can’t even think of the word but it left me feeling like “???” at times. Like of course I know people exist like this and live heir lives like this, but I struggle to understand it because I just don’t know how they can do it. All I can say is that Blake wrote her really well. She was complex, as was every character. Both the MC, love interest and the best friend had some really good character development and it made the book an absolute joy to read.

There was a scene where our MC masturbates in this which I absolutely adored, not in a pervy way, but I’m all about books normalising female masturbation. You barely read about female masturbation in adult books let alone young adult books. I want young girls to know it’s ok to explore their bodies in the same ways that boys do and that it’s normal and there’s nothing wrong or promiscuous about it.

I want to read more from Ashley Herring Blake now, especially if she writes more lgbt+ books.

How To Make A Wish is out on the 2nd of May

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Mini reviews #2

Origin by Jennifer L. Arementrout

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This is what I was longing for 3 books ago honestly.

Everything started kicking off in this which is desperately what I’d been wanting. All the boring same old stuff of the 2nd and 3rd books should’ve been condensed into half a book then put this in with it.

I really enjoyed all the different settings in this and learning the government’s perspective on things.

However I have really got to the point where I find the romance nauseating. They’re just so young and stupid and it really bores me reading their inner monologues about each other.

Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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This was basically a continuation of the 4th book and I feel like both books could have been condensed into one book. There was so many random scenes that were just completely unnecessary.

I had to put down this book so many times because as with the previous book there was so much nauseating romance.

The end of this was what I expected to happen and I was happy with it but of course it was incredibly cliche.

Sugar Bowl series by Sawyer Bennett

I started to read this series because Jill raved about it. The first book was really enjoyable and an incredibly fun read but as the series went on it just kept getting more and more ridiculous.

I liked that it was romance with a twist of intrigue, but it veered off into a weird place in the second book and I just felt really awkward reading it. The third book was just bizarre and not what I expected to get into after reading the first book.

All The King’s Men by Alex Powell 

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Thank you to netgalley and Less Than Three Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I just requested this on a whim because it sounded interesting, but then I found out later that Alex Powell is genderqueer and I’m all about diversity in my reading.

This was an interesting read and whilst it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever read it was a change of pace for me as I don’t often read sci fi. I found myself confused occasionally and the romance of it, whilst a kind of side story, felt awkward. I did really like the concept of the book though and I would happily read another book by Powell.

Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop by Jane Linfoot

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

I was happy enough to return to this series and read about characters I knew but a different group of people at the forefront.

The plot was mostly predictable but still nice to read and of course it was a good read in the run up to Christmas. I liked reading about the relationship between Sera and her sister, not just the romance aspect, though her sister was an unlikeable nightmare, but thankfully she grows towards the end.

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You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

Thank you to netgalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is going to be a short review as I don’t feel like I have much to say about this. It was really sweet and I enjoyed it so much more than I expected to.

You Know Me Well follows two people who go to the same school but aren’t friends who meet at Pride and decide to be friends after their love lives seem to be sinking.

I tried reading Two Boys Kissing a few months ago and I just couldn’t, so I was a bit wary of David Levithan’s books, but I really liked this. The chapters alternate POVs, which I’m assuming means each writer did a character themselves, however, despite this, it wasn’t obvious when reading that it was cowritten. Everything worked well together and it didn’t feel disjointed at all. Along with that I loved seeing a boy/boy story t the same time as girl/girl it was nice to read.

I read some criticism saying that it felt contrived that Mark and Kate just decided to be friends, but that stuff happens all the time, especially when LGBT stuff is involved. I think I’ve just decided to be friends with people in the past. There’s nothing wrong with it.

This book wasn’t just about relationships it was about kids experiencing life and trying to figure everything out. It felt like their lives were falling apart at the same time as their love lives, and there was some interesting themes in this book.

Overall it was just a sweet read and I’m glad I eventually read it.

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Carry On by Rainbow Rowell | Hype or Like Friday (On a Saturday)

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This is a weekly meme hosted by Larkin @ wonderfilledreads Britt @ Geronimo Reads, and Jill @ Rant and Rave About Books based on hyped up books. There is a Goodreads group which you can join in on where we read a hyped up book every month. Carry On was September’s book of the month to go along with the Back To School theme. I haven’t done Hype or Like in a while as it hasn’t been a book I have had an interest in but Carry On was on my shelf so here we are. And yes I own the colour in version which is signed by Rainbow Rowell.

As a lot of you may know, I absolutely adored Fangirl so Carry On was definitely on my TBR. Regardless of that it’s basically Drarry fic, and I love Drarry.

Simon Snow is the Chosen One, since he found out he was a mage he has been fighting his mortal enemy the Insidious Humdrum who has been making magic cold spots since the late 90s. Simon returns to school for his final year to discover his roommate, Baz, is missing. Baz and Simon have been at odds since they met, but for some reason Simon can’t stop looking for Baz.

I knew going into Carry On that it was Rainbow Rowell’s attempt at a Chosen One book, I knew it would be full of tropes and everything I’ve already read, but I was intrigued to see what Rowell would do with it. Carry On got a huge amount of hype within the book community so I had hoped there had to be more to this than just being a rehash of Harry Potter.

Honestly, the first 100+ pages I was like …this is just Harry Potter what’s the big deal? But I kept on with it because I found it funny and easy to read and wanted to see where it went. Once we finally meet Baz everything becomes different and things really start taking shape. I didn’t absolutely adore it like I did with Fangirl because the first 100-200 pages were so slow.

Simon and Baz are such an interesting pairing and most of the thrill of this book was just reading their interactions and the build up between them. Baz was definitely my favourite character, and I was so excited to read his POV chapters. On the reverse of that Agatha was my least favourite and god she just really fucking annoyed me. Rowell managed to create a slew of different characters who were all interesting in their own right, which is hard to do in fantasy in just one book.

There were times when reading this that I found myself laughing out loud, which one of the best parts of Rowell’s writing.There were so many British references as well which I found really shocking as she is American. AND AT ONE POINT ISLE OF SKYE IS MENTIONED WHICH IS WHERE I LIVE. It just felt like it wasn’t written by an American, there are even obscure advert references from when I was a child. It’s a silly book really, and I think some people who haven’t liked it have maybe taken it too seriously.

What I loved about Carry On was that it wasn’t your typical Chosen One story, it seemed like it would be but when you start learning all of the secrets you realise that this is different. On top of that it’s got a gay couple, you don’t see that in Chosen One stories. So for me this month it’s a Like.

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

As a person who is part of the lgbt+ community and who also loves to read lgbt+ literature I always pay special attention to books within that “genre” (I don’t really agree with calling lgbt a genre but it is so). Aristotle and Dante was a book that I saw get a lot of talk and a lot of hype and has been on my tbr since probably about 2014.

Aristotle and Dante is a book about teenage angst and finding yourself. It’s a book about being a loner, being confused over your sexual orientation, and trying to figure out who your parents are.

I honestly felt like this book would’ve worked miles better as a film, I really enjoyed reading it but it reads so much more like a screen play than a book. There’s so much speech in it and just random short chapters that at times it just felt a bit disjointed and could’ve done with some sort of segway or montage or something like that instead of just a chapter about how Ari didn’t do anything for days.

I adored Dante, Ari not so much. He felt just really irritating and horrible at times. I would’ve much preferred to read from Dante’s POV but I think then I would’ve just loathed Ari. At least from Ari’s POV I could kind of understand and empathise with some of the obnoxious things he did.

I thought the way the author portrayed the confusion over latent homosexual feelings was really good though I didn’t like the ending which I don’t really want to discuss because I don’t like to include spoilers in my reviews.

As someone who hasn’t read a lot of books with diverse racial characters, not out of not wanting to it’s just happened like that (if you’ve read a good book with racially diverse characters hmu), I liked reading about the Mexican community of El Paso in the 80s, it was different for me.

Honestly I felt a bit let down by this book, it was an easy read and I did like it but there was so much hype and so many 5 star reviews that I was so excited to read this and for me it didn’t live up to that hype. It was sweet and sometimes annoying but I don’t know something just didn’t click with me.

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All For The Game trilogy by Nora Sakavic

This series was honestly just ridiculous. It was another of of those books that I saw being talked about by the same people who recommended The Song of Achilles and The Captive Prince and it was dead cheap on Amazon so I thought why the hell not.

The best way to describe the trilogy is you go in expecting some gay sports romance and instead there is 9 completely unhinged college kids, a Japanese mafia and some sport that’s a cross between tennis and lacrosse.

Continue reading “All For The Game trilogy by Nora Sakavic”