Reading for free: resources and recs

If you follow this blog it’s likely you don’t really need me to praise books’ power of escapism during tough times. Not just books but fiction in general. I think we all need a little break from reality right now, but things can get expensive pretty quickly if you’re consuming more fiction than you can buy.

Over the years of being a blogger and a reader I’ve come across a few resources to get that sense of escapism for free (and legally), and I thought I’d share them all in this post.

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🎧 It seems to be a little known fact that Spotify actually also has audiobooks: this post my friend wrote should guide you through it + it gives you a few audiobook recs!
📚 For reading YA, Riveted has a lot of free books that are available for a certain amount of time. There’s full books and excerpts of newer books published by Simon Teen and they rotate often enough, so even if you don’t find anything you’d like to read right now, you can check again regularly and see what else they have.
📘 If you want to browse a huge range of SFF short stories and novellas, Tor.com is the place to look. You can browse by author’s name and find short stories by your favorites or discover new authors. One story I’ve read recently and that I loved is Water: A History by KJ Kabza.

📚 There are also a few stories on B&N SFF originals, where I found one of my recent favorite short stories, If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again by Zen Cho.

📗 If you are a reviewer and have a NG account you can read and review a lot of books from the Netgalley read now list. I do recommend only getting the books you think you will read, because you don’t want to be stuck with 100 books that were free to read and realize you have to read and review them all (or forever ruin your chance at getting ARCs you really want because your ratio is too low).
📕 The same goes for the Edelweiss to download list: remember once you get them you have to review them! To make things easier on yourself you can browse the books per category, just like on netgalley. Edelweiss doesn’t have the most user-friendly interface, but thankfully my friend once again has a guide! (thanks, E.!!!)
📘 Prose isn’t the only kind of entertainment! If you’re into graphic novels, you must check out the many webcomics (IMO the best type of graphic stories) available for free. Many creators post them on their own sites, but there are apps that let you browse thousands of them, you won’t really know where to begin (thankfully I have recommendations! Check out here and here for my favorite webcomics). The apps are tapas, webtoon, wecomics.
📕 As much as I don’t love helping big corporations, I can’t not mention Amazon’s top 100 free reads list. This probably varies from country to country so make sure to check your own country’s website.

📚 There’s also probably a lot of lists of free books on goodreads: I’m going to link this one with only LGBTQ+ books (which also has a few more linked resources for free queer books), but you can look for more by searching key words on the top right corner of that page.
📘 There’s also many paid services that offer you free trials and you can opt out if you don’t want to continue onto a paid subscription. I’m currently trying Scribd for the first time because they opened up a free trial (without you needing to share your credit card with them) because of the huh, circumstances we’re all under.

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I really hope this post was useful! Please let me know if you know of more resources to read for free, or tell me if you use / have used any of these in the past! Stay healthy everyone and remember to lose yourself in fiction for a while when everything is too much.

WWW Wednesday #11

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. The Ws are the following questions:

  • What are you currently reading? 
  • What did you recently finish reading? 
  • What do you plan on reading next?

current

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🎧 Beauty Queens by Libba Bray   —  audiobook on Scribd // this is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while and I’m so glad I found it on Scribd because I wouldn’t have started it anytime soon otherwise, but it’s making me laugh so much! I’m about halfway and it reminds me a lot of a more humorous version of The Nowhere Girls, in that it has a similar goal of portraying how many different ways there are to be a young woman and it grants each of 12 girls stranded on an island a point of view, agency and freedom to both go against and conform to societal expectations. For a book written in 2011 (!!!) it doesn’t feel outdated at all (okay, maybe a little? but I legit thought it was from 2015 or something and only now realized how old it is).

finished

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📘 The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo   —  e-ARC // I unfortunately didn’t love this as much as everyone did. My review will be up next week (or you can check it out on goodreads) but yeah, it’s definitely a case of it’s not you it’s me. I still recommend checking it out because it might be something you end up loving.

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📕 Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran   —  e-ARC // I’m excited for this! It’s a YA f/f fantasy about a queen and her spymaster falling in love and that’s all I need to know. I need to make sure I start it at a good time because I can feel the reading slump approaching, but I hope it will grab my attention right away.

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Have you read any of these? What are you currently reading?

Most Anticipated Releases (Apr-Jun 2020)

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It’s again time for me to share my most anticipated releases for the next three months! Writing this post is almost surreal right now and I’m realizing how it’s not the first time that thinking about upcoming book releases has been a way to not lose a sense of both reality and time whenever life throws me (and in this case all of us) in a limbo state where I don’t know how things will look in one, two, three months.

I’ve debated with myself how or even if to share this post when I know my reading tastes have changed and that I am likely to not read a lot of these books anytime soon or even to eventually remove them from my TBR. I am constantly torn between only wanting to share the ones I think I am 100% going to read and wanting to share other books because I think they will be important to a lot of people because of their rep.

I’ve decided to share them all without differentiating between the two, and only marked the ones that are my most most most most anticipated with a ✨. I hope this makes sense, so let’s get onto it!

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April

7th

Somebody Told Me by Mia Siegert

 

23rd

Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran

 

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May

5th

The Mermaid, The Witch and The Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Network Effect (Murderbot Diaries #5) by Martha Wells ✨

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

12th

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

26th

I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

 

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June

2nd

The State of Us by Shaun David Hutchinson ✨

9th

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinka

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

16th

➣ The Unconquered City by K.A. Doore ✨

23rd

Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert ✨

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho ✨

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What are your most anticipated releases between now and June?

Book recs: favorite novellas

I recently realized I love novellas. Don’t get me wrong, some of my favorite books or series are super long and I love getting to spend a lot of time with my favorite characters and see their development over a huge page count. But there is also some comfort in a story that can be told in a smaller amount of pages, often self-contained or as a complementary addition to an existing series. And sometimes we just need to read something short, be it to get out of a reading slump or to meet our goodreads goal.

So here’s a few of my favorite novellas I’ve read so far, roughly divided into 5 and 4 stars.

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5 stars

The Pursuit Of… by Courtney Milan — this is the novella that made me want to write this post in the first place. If you haven’t seen me talk about it on twitter then know that I finally reread it after about 1.5 years of reading it the first time, and it made me laugh and tear up just as much as the first time. It’s such a comfort read and every one of my friends who’s read it after I recommended it to them has loved it, so you should too! It follows a Black American soldier and a British soldier on their road trip together as they fall in love. Their relationship is so lovely and it has a great happy ending and please please please read it! It’s listed as book #2.5 in a series but I haven’t read it and you don’t need to read the rest of the books to understand it (although I’m sure the rest of the series is just as good, I just haven’t had a chance to read it yet).

Peter Darling by Austin Chant — this is a gay and trans retelling of Peter Pan and like with all enemies to lovers romances I was HOOKED. Get it? Hah. It’s also a novella I re-read somewhat recently and it confirmed just as good as the first time. If you only read two books out of this list, make it this one and The Pursuit of… .

Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire — This is a series where some novellas are somewhat standalones and others depend on having read the previous books. I have only read the first three so far but I highly recommend them for Seanan McGuire’s amazing writing and for how diverse each story is.

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells — Another series of novellas that follow a SecUnit that hacked itself and downloaded hundreds of thousands of hours of TV shows in order to escape reality (how relatable), only for reality to simply Not Give It A Break (also very relatable). It’s just as good as it sounds and I highly recommend the audiobooks. There’s also a novel that’s coming out later this year and I can’t wait for.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon — A f/f standalone novella about water-dwelling creatures that descend from pregnant African enslaved women, and about the importance of history.

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon — The only contemporary romance on this 5-stars section, and with good reason. A sex positive f/f romance between two Black women, one of whom works as a stripper.

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4 stars

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone — A beautiful and poetic standalone novella about a time war and two time agents of opposing factions falling in love with each other over written words.

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole — This novella is set in a series and it can work as a standalone too. It follows two Black women in a past/present narration style as they get their second chance at a romance.

Finna by Nino Cipri — A weird and funny sci-fi standalone about what happens when you and your ex have to rescue an old lady who got lost in the Ikea-like store where you work, with portals to other deadly worlds. A somewhat second-chance f/nonbinary romance.

A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian — A really nice historical f/f romance novel where one of the women has a little daughter. It’s also part of a series which I haven’t read and this hasn’t affected my reading at all.

A Lady’s Desire by Lily Maxton — Another historical f/f, also part of a series I haven’t read, also lovely and absolutely gay.

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Have you read any of these? What are your feelings towards novellas as a book length? Recommend me some novellas I should read!

WWW Wednesday #10

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. The Ws are the following questions:

  • What are you currently reading? 
  • What did you recently finish reading? 
  • What do you plan on reading next?

current

📖 The Unconquered City by K.A. Doore  —  e-ARC // I’m so happy I got an ARC of this!! The Chronicles of Ghadid series was one of the most pleasant surprises of last year for me and I’m both happy and sad to see it end with this installment. While book two could be read on its own, sort of, this third book depends more on past events so you should try to at least read The Impossible Contract first. You can read my review here if you need convincing. Oh, also this has a f/nonbinary romance and I have a massive crush on the love interest, they’re just so smooth?? I think this might be my favorite romance of the three books but I’ll wait to judge until the end.

🎧/📖 Days Without End by Sebastian Barry  —  e-book and audiobook from scribd // I had no idea this book even existed until one of my mutuals told me it has soft gays. And soft gays it has! It has also very real and awful war things so it’s not exactly an easy read. The style also doesn’t make it so, with the main character narrating the events to us. I am doing something I don’t usually do and reading some chapters on audio and others with a digital copy and it’s working for me. It’s a book I want to read slowly but I hope by the end it’ll be a bit softer than it is now.

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📘 Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire  —  audiobook from scribd // I finally decided to continue this series now that Scribd offered everyone a free trial. Too bad the fourth book isn’t there yet, but I really enjoyed re-reading Every Heart a Doorway and reading Down Among the Sticks and Bones for the first time. This third book was maybe my least favorite so far but it was still lovely to listen to. I generally highly recommend this series for its diversity and the variety of stories Seanan McGuire offers us through it.

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📕 The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo  —  e-book // I know almost nothing about this but I’ve been really into novellas and Asian-inspired books lately, and this is both. Everyone loves it and it’s supposed to be gay so I don’t know why I wouldn’t read it.

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Have you read any of these? What are you currently reading?

#5OnMyTBR: Rom-Coms

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#5OnMyTBR is a new weekly meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook  and you can learn more about it in her announcement post. It’s a way to talk about the books that are on our TBRs and we still haven’t gotten to! You can find each week’s prompts on here or come up with your own.

Today’s prompt is: romcoms!

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📙 Spoiler alert by Olivia Dade

📙 The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven

📙 I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch

📙 The State of Us by Shaun David Hutchinson

📙 The Roommate by Rosie Danan

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What are 5 romantic comedies on your TBR?

Review: Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

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

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Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

Add on Goodreads

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★★★★.5✩

If you like romance you just can’t go wrong with a Talia Hibbert book!

Sometimes you are so excited about a book you actually have to postpone reading it because you know it’ll be the perfect read for you in a different moment of your life. Well that’s what I did and because of *gestures vaguely at the state of the world* I decided now was the perfect moment to finally read it, and read it I did.

I listened to most of it and then read a few parts on my digital ARC. I have to admit I didn’t love the narrator and the steamy parts are just too awkward for me to listen to, but oh they are excellent otherwise, like in all the other author’s books.

What I love most about Talia Hibbert’s romances is the diversity and how casual and honest the characters are about their marginalization and/or issues they faced in their life. Here we have a Black female protagonist with chronic pain and fibromyalgia and everything about how she talked about how this affects her daily life was so honest and effortless.

Something else that is rare to see was the male character talking about his abusive ex. I think it’s important to show that men can be abused by their partners and can heal from it. Also: therapy! Therapy is good!!! Therapy for everyone!!!! I don’t necessarily believe that IRL men can be like Talia Hibbert’s male characters, but oh do I want to believe they can be.

And speaking of the actual romance: it was swoony and sexy as always, and I appreciated that the more “dramatic” moments were resolved quickly (at least compared to previous TH romances I read) because I hate reading those parts.

I am excited for the next book (where the main female character is bi/pan!!) and as always I am in awe of Talia Hibbert skills and recommend her to everyone.

TWs: mentions of domestic abuse in the past