ARC Mini-Review: A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra // a healthy M/M romance with important #ownvoices mental illness rep

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary: Reid Watsford has a lot of secrets and a past he can’t quite escape. While staying at his grandmother’s condo in Key Largo, he signs up for introductory dive classes, where he meets Joaquim Oliveira, a Brazilian dive instructor with wanderlust. Driven by an instant, magnetic pull, what could have been just a hookup quickly deepens. As their relationship evolves, they must learn to navigate the challenges of Reid’s mental illness—on their own and with each other.

Add on goodreads

book review - pink

★★★★

This was exactly the kind of book I was in the mood for! A healthy and sexy M/M romance that’s never too smutty and never fetishized, with important ownvoices mental illness representation.

Reid and Joaquim come from different backgrounds. Most of the novel focuses on them learning to know each other and especially learning how to be together. Reid has cyclothymia and while Joaquim learns to be with him and be respectful of him when he’s cycling and needs space, Reid also needs to learn to let go of some of the behavior and negative expectations he’s still carrying from a past unhealthy relationship.

I think this is an important book because of the mental illness representation and how openly it’s talked about. It’s also definitely not a “love fixes mental illness” novel, far from it in fact, and I wish more novels were this honest when it comes to building healthy relationships not in spite of but alongside a mental illness.

Rep: Brazilian gay MC, cyclothymic gay MC, M/M relationship

TW (taken from the publisher’s website):
• Discussion of mental illness, therapy and recovery
• A portrayal of a cyclothymic character who experiences rapid mood cycles and anxiety
• Non-graphic discussion of past self-harm and off-page relapse
• Non-graphic reference of a past suicide attempt

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20 Questions Book Tag

I was tagged by my lovely friend May @ Forever and Everly and this tag looked so fun I couldn’t not do it. Yes I know I’m bad at actually posting the tags people have tagged me in (I have about 2489 almost-ready-to-be-posted tags in my drafts that now are it’s-been-too-long-since-I-was-tagged tags) but look!!! I liked this one okay!!!!! Also in case you’re still not following May I will give you about five seconds to fix that (but then please come back and read my answers thx).

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1. how many books are too many books in a book series?

Okay look this is not an easy question to answer but I think it all depends on whether the books were planned from the beginning or not. I know that the creative process is different for everyone blah blah but if you promised a trilogy  you should stick to a trilogy (I’m fine with spinoffs and novellas unless they become necessary to be able to understand the main plot). I think readers are clever enough to understand when prolonging a series is just a money grabber or it’s something that makes sense, and that the author should do their best to be respectful of their readers and deliver the best product they can deliver, which is something that simply not always happens. And if you’ve been following me here or on twitter you might know that I have a specific author in mind.

2. how do you feel about cliffhangers?

Do I have the next book in the series? Because then I’m good. Otherwise I respectfully hate them 🙂

Bonus: some of the best-worst cliffhangers I found

3. hardback or paperback?

Hardback, but since you’re asking: ebooks > audiobooks > hardcovers > paperbacks

4. favorite book?

Prince’s Gambit by C.S. Pacat

5. least favorite book?

I don’t feel like going on GR to take a look so I’m just mentioning the two that come to mind: A Flame in the Mist and A Court of Frost and Starlight.

6. love triangles, yes or no?

No if they’re what people usually mean by love triangle. Yes if there’s a twist on them: they have queer characters (although you need to be careful not to promote bad stereotypes about queer people) and/or the characters end up in a polyam relationship etc etc

7. the most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

Officially that would be Curved Horizon but I think I’m going to officially DNF The Right Thing to Do at the Time soon because even though I like the writing style it’s really a bit Much and I feel like it takes me forever to read.

8. a book you’re currently reading?

The Pros of Cons (ebook; YA contemporary that takes place at a convention and one of the three MCs is a queer girl and I think her LI is going to be an enby character but I’m not sure yet) and The Dark Prophecy (audiobook, I’ve been reading it slowly bc I started my new job but I love it).

9. last book you recommended to someone?

Probably the Magnus Chase trilogy to a GR/twitter friend!

10. oldest book you’ve read? (publication date)

Probably all those Greek tragedies I studied in high school but I don’t feel like looking up which one is older.

11. newest book you’ve read? (publication date)

A Tiny Piece of Something Greater, which released on May 17th!

12. favorite author?

CS Pacat, VE Schwab, Rick Riordan, Leigh Bardugo, Giacomo Leopardi, Lorenzo Da Ponte (for his librettos), idk don’t make me choose please

13. buying books or borrowing books?

Would be great to borrow if there was a library. Okay to be fair I found out not long ago that there’s actually an English Library in my town and it’s the only one in the country and they actually have a decent selection. But I usually prefer reading ebooks anyway so yeah I guess I save money by buying digital copies (but I try to “borrow” those too if I can, like on Riveted).

14. a book you dislike that everyone else seems to love?

ACOWAR, Flame in the Mist

15. bookmarks or dog-ears?

B O O K M A R K S

16. a book you can always reread?

Simon VS and I’m sure something else too but right now I can’t remember

17. can you read while hearing music?

I can if it’s instrumental music, otherwise I find it very difficult unless I’m like on a train or something, but it kinda needs to fit the book.

18. one POV or multiple POVs?

I loooove multiple POVs!!! I think if done right it’s so much better than having only one POV, even though it always, always depends on the story you want to tell. Some books just wouldn’t make sense with multiple POVs.

19. do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

I wish I was so fast that reading books in one sitting is something I do, but sadly that’s not realistic for me. The last book I read in “one sitting” (which meant reading it for the whole day without barely doing anything else) was Restore Me. Otherwise I usually try to read it in as little time as possible (2-3 days) because that’s what works best for me to keep engaged in the story, but it still doesn’t count as one sitting.

20. who do you tag?

Rin @ The Lost Planet

Emma @ In Search Of Dragons

Sakhile @ Sakhile Whispers

Honestly I don’t know who else to tag because I think everyone else has already been tagged but if you haven’t then feel free to do it and mention me (reminder: to send a mention always link to a post so I can be notified, otherwise if you link to my homepage wordpress won’t notify me!) as having tagged you so I can see your answers!

Here are the questions made easier to copy-paste, enjoy and don’t feel pressure to do the tag if you don’t want to!

1. how many books are too many books in a book series?
2. how do you feel about cliffhangers?
3. hardback or paperback?
4. favorite book?
5. least favorite book?
6. love triangles, yes or no?
7. the most recent book you just couldn’t finish?
8. a book you’re currently reading?
9. last book you recommended to someone?
10. oldest book you’ve read? (publication date)
11. newest book you’ve read? (publication date)
12. favorite author?
13. buying books or borrowing books?
14. a book you dislike that everyone else seems to love?
15. bookmarks or dog-ears?
16. a book you can always reread?
17. can you read while hearing music?
18. one POV or multiple POVs?
19. do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?
20. who do you tag?

A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra: Release Date Blitz + Excerpt + Giveaway

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Publisher: Interlude Press

Release Date (Print & Ebook): May 17, 2018

Length (Print & Ebook): 258 Pages

Subgenre: LGBT, Interracial/Multicultural, New Adult

Book blurb: Reid Watsford has a lot of secrets and a past he can’t quite escape. While staying at his grandmother’s condo in Key Largo, he signs up for introductory dive classes, where he meets Joaquim Oliveira, a Brazilian dive instructor with wanderlust. Driven by an instant, magnetic pull, what could have been just a hookup quickly deepens. As their relationship evolves, they must learn to navigate the challenges of Reid’s mental illness—on their own and with each other.

Editor’s Note: Some readers may find some of the scenes in this book difficult to read. We have compiled a list of content warnings, which you can access at interludepress.com/content-warnings

Excerpt:

(brace yourselves because this is the softest thing ever)

“All right,” Reid says. “Close your eyes.”

“Oh, is it my turn now?”

“Yep. Please try not to fall; we’re aiming for romantic.” Reid guides him with one hand on his shoulder and the other at the small of his back, trusting Joaquim to keep his eyes closed. “Hand out,” Reid says. He takes Joaquim’s hand, puts it on the back of a chair, and lets Joaquim fumble into it. A whispered kiss to his lips, then two more to his eyelids and Reid’s soft command to open his eyes make him viscerally aware of love, as if Reid’s touch has become a living thing, something curled inside Joaquim, something he can cherish and hold and keep.

The table is set with candles Joaquim recognizes. There’s also a beautiful charcuterie plate, chocolate-dipped strawberries dewing from the humidity, and tall drinks garnished with lime wheels.

“I’m breaking some rules with these. I did some research online and thought I’d try to make something that might remind you of home,” Reid explains. He’s twisting his hands nervously. “Also, we’re eating on the pool deck, although no one really pays attention to that.”

“Reid.” Joaquim turns and presses his cheek against Reid’s belly, closes his eyes into Reid’s fingers ruffling through his hair.

“I had a plan for something else, but I fucked it up. Um, so the drinks don’t match but, yeah. Caipirinhas?” Reid tests the word out slowly, fumbling over the pronunciation.

“Hey, hey,” Joaquim says, catching Reid’s fingers and kissing them. “This is wonderful.” It also explains the cupcakes. “Thank you.”

Reid’s eyes are bright, and his smile is shy, sweet in a way Joaquim never could have expected when they first met. “You are so welcome.” His next kiss is somehow even sweeter. It lingers, it promises, though it’s not about the heat that so often sparks between them. It’s love, is all. It is simple and full.

“Let’s eat.” Reid pulls up a chair. “Tell me what you like.”

“I want to try it all.”

“Well, then, here.” Reid selects an olive, “These are my favorite.” Joaquim allows him to slip it between his lips. He holds Reid’s wrist carefully and nips at his fingers.

“Delicious.” Joaquim doesn’t let go. Reid cups his cheek briefly and smiles again.

They eat slowly, moving to the strawberries eventually. Night begins her sweet slide across the sky, slipping over the light.

jude picJude Sierra talks A Tiny Piece of Something Greater: I want readers to walk away with a deeper appreciation and understanding of what it is like to thrive with mental illness—or strive toward it—and what it is like for two people to be and fall in love in these situations. I’d love for readers to come away knowing that love doesn’t cure mental illness, nor should it. Reid and Joaquim love each other as they are.

About Jude Sierra: Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews. Her novels include HushWhat it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews

All buy links or pre-order links:

Interlude Press: store.interludepress.com

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2FbYh4V

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/791892

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-tiny-piece-of-something-greater/id1348808986?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-tiny-piece-of-something-greater

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781945053603

Connect with Jude: Site | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest

Enter the Giveaway

ARC Review: The Unbinding of Mary Reade

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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SummaryA swashbuckling, smart novel based on the true story of a girl who disguised herself as a boy in order to sail with the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack.

There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mother, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where a girl could never be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a hired sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s profession—and her safety—depend on her ability to disguise the fact that she’s a girl.

Leastways, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and right in the middle of the swashbuckling crowd of bloodthirsty pirates, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate. The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain and earns herself a spot among the pirates’ crew.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living life as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

Release date: June 19th

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book review - pink

★★★.5

3.5 stars

This book is perfect for those who are a lot into romance and not that much into action.
I personally love books with pirates in them, but I also admit that I’m not the biggest fan of action scenes and all of the things you would expect from a book where everyone is a pirate. So, this overall worked for me, but it won’t work for you if you’re going into it expecting a lot of pirate badassery. I would have certainly liked a little more of that but I didn’t mind it this way either.

⚓️ What I liked: 
• Basically, all the “good” characters were bisexual or potentially bi.
• The two timelines showed the different struggles Mary faces
• I really liked the romance taking place in the first timeline and the trope of “forbidden love”
• I think the MC had enough depth and was well rounded.
• The happy f/f ending.

🛳️ Stuff I’m not sure what to think of: 
• There’s a lot of bad stuff in here. Homophobia, transphobia, sexism, abuse, sexual assault. I didn’t really love reading about that, but I also understand why they were there. Historical realism and all that. But… I just can’t help but wonder whether all of that was necessary. I think there should be a way to keep it realistic and accurate while not focusing the major part of the book around those things.
• I also don’t know how trans and genderqueer people are going to feel about the whole forced crossdressing thing. I legit don’t know, so I’m adding this point here. I’ve always enjoyed stories where the main heroine had to fake being a man but I’m a cis person and while I do think that this book had some depth when it comes to both gender and sexuality, in a few cases I wondered how a not cis person would feel while reading this.

⚓️ What I didn’t like (some spoilers ahead): 
• I found that there wasn’t actually that much romantic chemistry between Anne and Mary. Sexual, maybe, but I wasn’t 100% on board with the romance itself, and I didn’t like how Mary was shown to up to the very end still have feelings for Nat. It’s kind of dangerous territory for bi representation and while I wasn’t hurt by it because I understood Mary’s feelings, I can’t tell whether it won’t bother others.
• I felt like the last few chapters in the past were unnecessary. I don’t know if I’ve missed something, but I could have done without the story ending right where it began, since I don’t think this full-cycle thing really added anything to the story.

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018 and while it didn’t fully deliver I did enjoy reading it, and the main reason I did is because it used a lot of tropes that I’ve always enjoyed that kept me hooked to the page. If that sounds like something for you, you’ll probably enjoy it too, as long as you don’t expect too much action and are aware that the pirate theme is mostly in the background.

ARC Mini-Review: Come to the Rocks by Christin Haws

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 
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SummaryLinnea’s only safe place is a spot on the rocky shoreline where the water can be rather vicious. It’s here where she meets, and falls in love with, a mermaid named Mren. As their romance blossoms, the escalating harassment from Linnea’s ex-boyfriend Mikey threatens the secret relationship. Mren has vowed to protect Linnea, but she’s confined to the water and Mikey is a land monster. Meanwhile, Linnea will do anything to keep Mren safe from him.

Anything.

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★★★★✩

This was an empowering short thriller featuring an f/f romance between a fat bisexual girl and a mermaid.

You shouldn’t go into it expecting it to be a fluffy romance. That’s only part of it, but there’s massive trigger warningsfor abuse, stalker ex boyfriend, violence, victim blaming (not condoned), gaslighting.

I had to put the book down for a bit because I hadn’t exactly read the blurb or other reviews (my own fault) and I wasn’t ready for all that. When I came back to the book I knew what I would face and I found it to be very well written and well developed for such a short story, plus there’s something about a mermaid/human f/f story that always appeals to me.

I definitely recommend it (just make sure you’re okay with the trigger warnings first) and it made me want to check out the author’s other works.

Comic Mini-Review: The Ghost, The Owl by Franco

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

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Summary:On a cool evening on the swamp, a figure appears dancing across the water. A human figure, but far from a human form. A Ghost, a young girl spirit that seems to have lost its way. A good Samaritan owl decides to help against the wishes of his animal brethren. What mysteries does the ghost girl hold the secrets to and what will happen when she and the owl unlock them together? Will they find out what happened to her? Will she find her way to where she needs to be? What will happen to the animals in the swamp and surrounding forest? An adventure with the most unlikely of pairs, The Ghost, the Owl.

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★★★★

This was a stunning graphic novel with a simple but captivating plot about generosity and how much a single kind act can do.

The art is however what’s truly magnificent about it. It’s worth spending a good minute or two studying every detail of each page, or simply go back after you’ve finished the story and look at every page again to really absorb the amazing details. I’ve only read an e-copy but I would love owning the finished, physical product.

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Definitely get this if you’re looking for a graphic novel that’s not only good but also utterly beautiful. It would look stunning on a bookshelf.

#T5W Rewind: Characters I’d Want as Family

Top Five Wednesday is a book meme that Lainey started and I discovered through the lovely Samantha‘s videos. If you’re interested you can join the goodreads group to get the topics for each week.

This month we’re free to choose whichever past topic so I went with an easy one from September 2016:

Characters You’d Want as Family
— You can say this in a broad way or be specific (i.e. _______ would be a cool aunt, ______would be a great older brother, etc.)

In (more or less) no particular order:

  • Laurent of Vere from the Captive Prince trilogy
  • Nico di Angelo from PJO and Heroes of Olympus (and The Trials of Apollo which I haven’t read yet)
  • Magnus Chase from the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy
  • Kell and/or Rhy from the Shades of Magic trilogy
  • Liraz from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy

Wow would you look at that! I definitely see no pattern at all! Not like I’ve wanted a brother my whole life or anything! Or that I relate to (on the surface) cold characters that secretly hide a lot of emotional turmoil inside! Or queer characters! Or any combination of these!

Anyway I know the prompt said they can be anything but I definitely want all of them as my siblings or cousins. I mean, even best friends will do really, but okay let’s play. Let’s see, I’d definitely want Laurent as my brother, Nico can be my adoptive brother, Magnus can be the queer cousin (I mean, are you really the gay cousin if every cousin is gay though?), Kell and Rhy (shhhh I know they’re two people but they can’t be separated okay) can be mmmm also my cousins? Or maybe they’re those friends you’ve had since you were all babies and you’re basically like siblings now. And Liraz can be my older sister because yes I’ve always wished I had a big bro but a sister would be really cool too and I love her.

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Which characters would you want as your family? And do you think they’d get along with each other