September Wrap-Up

Hello! I’m just going to call myself out and proclaim it a miracle that I actually remembered to do a monthly wrap up on the actual last day of the month, yay!

So here’s what I read this month:

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That really isn’t much (don’t mind the two 3x in the short stories, those are just the times I’ve read them this year -but only once this month!) but I’ve had a busy month between moving, travelling, getting sick (twice!!!!!!), starting to play Persona 5, starting to watch Voltron and writing. It’s really hard to balance everything but I’m overall happy with how much I managed to read (I also am almost done with Tower of Dawn but I will finish it tomorrow so it sadly didn’t make this list).

So let’s take a look:

  • Fortitude Smashed was a weird read for me, really cute overall but it was ruined by a few things that were really unnecessary.
  • Kings Rising completed my fourth reread of the Captive Prince series and it was as painful as ever! It emotionally destroyed me and began patching me up again, something that only the two short stories:
  • The Summer Palace and The Adventures of Charls the Veretian Cloth Merchant managed to do. These two short stories are both so different and so cathartic that I can’t believe there was a time when we had to read the trilogy without having those stories ready to be read.
  • Scorpio Loops Virgo was an epilogue of sorts to Cal and Percy’s story from Scorpio Hates Virgo, and it was just the sweetest thing I’ve ever read!
  • As I said, I’m almost done reading Tower of Dawn, so while that will be a topic for next month’s wrap up, I just want to say that I love the Throne of Glass world and even after the disappointment of ACOWAR I find myself mostly enjoying this book. However, there are undeniable representation issues that I don’t think it’s my place to talk about. I still haven’t read any review for it but I’ll make sure to look for reviews of disabled people because I feel like they will rightfully be offended by how certain things are handled in this book.
  • The last thing I read is chapter one of Starfighter, a M/M scifi webcomic I just started today. I only read one chapter out of four (five?) available but, well, it’s certainly a weird read at first sight, but I couldn’t stop reading and the last page made me want to read the rest. You can read Starfighter here, but please be aware that it features very explicit content and you should be 18+ if you want to read it.

I also DNF’d Masks by Amara Lynn because it was, how do you say…bad.

I already talked about the other stuff I did this month, so let me just wrap up this post by reminding you about Fence! You can read my pre-review/discussion if you want to get excited for it, and here you can find out how to pre-order it based on where you live in the world. Sadly I’m not paid by C.S. Pacat or Johanna the Mad to promote their comic before it’s even out, but I’m literally THAT excited that I want everyone to know about it and die of anticipation with me.

I’ve never liked September but I also always found that it’s a month of new beginnings. I count last September as the month I started reviewing books regularly – technically I had started in August but I only thought of myself as a reviewer one year ago exactly, and next month will be my one year anniversary of this blog!

So tell me, what do you think I should do to celebrate? Granted I will be away on holiday for two weeks in October so any celebration will have to wait until November. Please let me know if you have any ideas and tell me something new you’ve done this month!

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ARC review: Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke

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

Synopsis:

After scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate. 

Fate is now a calculation.

But loving someone isn’t.

When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate. 

Publication date:

September 21st, 2017

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Review:

★★★✩

(Actual rating 2,5 stars)

So, fun story (skip this part if you only care about my review) I requested this ARC because my buddy Rin said it was cute and it was kind of a soulmate AU (I mean it’s not an AU since it’s not fanfiction but you get the idea) and most importantly one of the protagonists owns a cat and he walksher on a leash, like how could I not want to read it?

And I’m glad I did read it, you know. But the funny part of this story is that I finished reading it while having a fever, then proceeded to dream about writing this review (and my dream self even made up a few extra chapters of this book in her head, which she proceeded to read while dreaming, giving the book a completely different epilogue)……. Well I hope I’m not the only one having weird/obsessive dreams while being sick.

Anyway, perhaps the negativity of being sick made my dream self start to see only the negative sides of this book, so that’s why I’m writing this review after having distanced myself a little, but there is one word that dream-Silvia kept thinking about to describe elements of the plot of this book, and awake-Silvia will use it.

I don’t want to start with the negatives though, so I’ll talk about what I liked. The core idea, while not extremely original, was good. I think everyone has read a soulmate AU in their life once, and there’s a reason why they’re really popular. The idea that there is someone (one person only) out there who is perfect for you is appealing for those who believe in it, and soulmate AUs give life to this belief in different shapes. Here, it’s thanks to a timer that people find their soulmate.

The explanation for the whole soulmate thing wasn’t very extensive and it wasn’t anything supernatural apparently but more of a result of science and technology, which I really liked. I would have liked to find out more about it but ok.

Now, another thing that made me want to read it is the fact that the two protagonists are a cop and a thief. I really liked both characters individually and I also liked them together, so in theory I should have loved the dynamic that was supposed to be there (or that I expected to be there) thanks to those two roles (cop/thief screams enemies to lovers to me, which is my absolutely favorite trope ever). That dynamic was actually one of the things that I was most looking forward to, but I’m sad to say that there was no such thing.

There was such potential to explore both the soulmate thing and the cop/thief thing, and I feel like I only saw 1/10 of what I was expecting. And here comes the word that dream-me thought of when trying to describe this: half assed. Admittedly dream-me might have been a little harsh with her wording (it doesn’t help that I don’t actually know a nicer equivalent word for that? #EnglishAsSecondLanguageProblems), but with no offense to the author, this is the best word that fits what my feelings towards many elements of the plot that were barely there and not explored, or not as much as I’d have liked to see them.

The soulmate stuff was basically only an excuse to justify insta-lust, without really focusing on why these two people are perfect for each other. There was a lot of focus on their interactions, which should have showed me why and how the MCs are perfect together. Well, together they were cute I have to admit, but they didn’t scream “soulmates” to me. After all, a lot of the page-time of soulmate AUs is spent with one or both characters before their clock times out, and the reader gets to know them individually, their fears and expectations of their future soulmate, and only later sees them interact as soulmates. I’m not saying that all “AUs” need to be like that, but to me that’s the beauty of them, and here the two MCs interacted almost right away.

As for the cop/thief dynamic, it wasn’t even there. Aiden (the art thief) wasn’t really a morally grey character, and his “hobby” was never truly a point of conflict between the MCs. It was actually never solved (I mean Aiden has more than a dozen paintings he has stolen and nobody cares about those anymore?).

That’s why this word kept coming to mind: half assed worldbuilding (the explanation for the soulmate thing), half assed them being soulmates, half assed cop/thief dynamic. Everything was much more focused on the domesticity of their relationship, which works very well with some books (friends to lovers for example) but it’s not how I personally expected this story to go.

Now, I don’t only want to be negative, because I truly enjoyed a lot of this book, especially the beginning. I kept reading because it was cute and light and I liked the MCs and it kept me interested in seeing their interactions as their relationship developed. I was in that mental space where you see that the book is not perfect but you’re still enjoying it without being too emotionally invested, but at some point it just kept dragging and I was honestly bored.

Nonetheless, I kept reading, and that’s where even more half assed stuff was added to the plot (well, there wasn’t really a plot, was there?). Stuff that actually pissed me off, like the use of the trope “the bitch blond ex girlfriend who’s still in love with her ex and is super mean to her ex’s new SO, who is also filthy rich and doesn’t get why the MC is with someone that she sees as much lower than her in status”. That was literally only used to create unnecessary conflict (the conflict was right there right under your nose???? Cop/thief dynamic hello????) and prolong the book.

Then, there tried to be some art theme (that’s what the title is about, if you were wondering). Guess? Also kinda half assed.

What I’m trying to say is that this book had the potential to be awesome (or at least even good) if it just stuck to its premise and stopped adding 3573730 details that were barely touched upon, taking away page time from originally sounded interesting just by reading the blurb. Sometimes less is more, and it could have been a nice 150-pages story, but dragging it to be much longer than that is what eventually made me dislike a big part of it.

Which is a shame because as I said, I really liked the beginning, and I even think that the author’s writing style, while a little raw, has a lot of potential (I’m not allowed to quote because it’s an ARC but some sentences were really nicely written, almost poetic).

One thing I liked was the representation though, and the fact that because of the clock system everyone seemed to be pansexual since the gender of their soulmate wasn’t previously known and both characters were shown to also be/have been attracted to women previously. There was also talk about how sometimes the system isn’t limited to two people, so even poly relationships are contemplated in the worldbuilding (I just wonder what the deal is with aromantic people since there didn’t seem to be an explanation for them. I assume that since it’s mentioned that sometimes the clock is wrong that would be their case).

There was also representation of chronic depression which I feel was done well but I can’t speak for it since I haven’t experienced it myself.

So, overall: I think the author can grow a lot and I’m going to keep an eye on her next works, but this one didn’t 100% work for me. I would still recommend it if you’re a fast reader (not my case sadly) and you don’t mind spending a few hours on something mostly really light, cute and queer-positive.

TW: non graphic sexual assault on a woman, depression, anxiety, dissociation (most TWs are listed at the beginning of the book)

Cover reveal: The Rebels Of Gold by Elise Kova

Title: The Rebels of Gold

Series: The Loom Saga (Book Three) – Final book!

Release Date: December 5, 2017

Synopsis:

A new rebellion rises from the still-smoldering remnants of the five guilds of Loom to stand against Dragon tyranny. Meanwhile, on Nova, those same Dragons fight amongst themselves, as age-old power struggles shift the political landscape in fateful and unexpected ways. Unlikely leaders vie for the opportunity to shape a new world order from the perfect clockwork designs of one temperamental engineer.

This is the final installment of USA Today bestselling author Elise Kova’s Loom Saga, THE REBELS OF GOLD will reveal the fate of Loom’s brilliantly contrasting world and its beloved inhabitants.

Books in the Loom Saga:

  1. THE ALCHEMISTS OF LOOM
  2. THE DRAGONS OF NOVA
  3. THE REBELS OF GOLD

 

Preorder Links:

Pre-order THE REBELS OF GOLD from:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY |
BOOKS A MILLION |

Preorder Swag:

For those who preorder THE REBELS OF GOLD, they can get exclusive swag for submitting their preorder. More info here: http://elisekova.com/pre-order/

The Cover:

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For those who haven’t started this series yet, what are you waiting for? To celebrate the final book in the Loom Saga, the first book, THE ALCHEMISTS OF LOOM, is on sale! The eBook is on sale for $3.99 (regular price – $6.99).

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AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE |
IBOOKS | KOBO | GOOGLE PLAY |

Thank you so much to Elise Kova for providing the cover reveal media kit!

ARC Review: The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember

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

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★★✩✩

DNF @ 45%

How sad. I really wanted to like this book. I was prepared for not loving it, which is fine because not every book can be your favorite, and it’s not even fair to say I completely hated it. If I had more time and if I was a faster reader I would have forced myself to finish this, but alas life is too short and I really swore to myself that if a book needs forcing in order for me to continue reading it, then it’s just not worth it.

The worldbuilding was confusing at best and not all that interesting to me. The concept that one’s soul can be bound (?) to another creature’s is interesting I suppose, but I just didn’t care and just wondered why would someone want or need to do that when if the creature dies you fall in an endless coma (at least that’s how I understood it), like is the benefit only the fact that you get a cat friend? I mean, I’m the biggest lover of cats you can find but still I wouldn’t want my lifespan to severely decrease just so my soul is bound to one, you know?

And I didn’t really understand why everyone was at war, like what’s the point of it all? I feel like nothing was really ever explained (I mean I could have just missed it???).

I could have endured it if it wasn’t for the fact that the more I read the less sense everything the MC, Tashi, did didn’t make sense. Unreasonable (read: stupid) decisions were made just for the sake of creating future drama (that I’ll never get to read, how tragic).

But my biggest problem was the romance. Or the premise to it. Tashi is apparently in love with their best friend but as soon as they see Xian they fall in…lust? with him even tho he’s the Big Bad Guy but oh he’s hot so……… and there was truly no chemistry between the two. Everything was forced and very not subtle, as if the reader needs to be spoonfed a romance they would otherwise never see coming. Spoiler alert: readers can see subtle signs of character development, they are aware of the enemies-to-lovers trope, it’s nothing they haven’t seen before. I am aware that this book is about half the size of the usual standalone fantasy novel, but I am fully convinced that a good slow burn (the only thing that will ever work for an enemies-to-lovers trope, btw) can be written in less than 170 pages.

That’s not what was going on here unfortunately. There was no subtle shift between the good and bad sides of Xian, no deep emotional struggle within Tashi when they realized (TOO SOON) that they were falling for him. This might work for some readers, but it doesn’t for me. Tashi needs to hate Xian for everything he and his people have done and they don’t, so the romance was immediately cancelled in my book, and since that seemed like one of the only things this book had to make it interesting, the whole book was cancelled as well.

The only thing I really liked was the fact that finally we have a genderfluid character in a fantasy world! I think that aspect was done well, though keep in mind that I am not genderfluid myself. However, every review I’ve seen, regardless of the general rating, mentions that Tashi’s identity was portrayed well. There are a few instances of accidental misgendering when another character sees Tashi for the first time, but Tashi’s right pronouns are mentioned right away and nobody actually questions them. There were also a few casual reminders here and there of what Tashi might feel like on a given day (for example they sometimes felt comfortable in men’s clothing and sometimes they didn’t).

Again, to me it just felt like good representation considering what I know about genderfluid people, but I say this as a cis person so I’m really hoping someone who actually is genderfluid will read and review this book to comment on this aspect themselves.

Other than that, this book is a case of “I’ve read too many great books to truly enjoy less-than-average ones”. I am especially picky with my romances and this just wasn’t it for me and I know for a fact that if I had continued reading it with this premise I would have actually hated it, so I chose to stop where I was.


My question for this post is: Do you review and most of all rate books you don’t finish? If you don’t, why? If you do, are there exceptions?

ARC review: Scorpio Hates Virgo by Anyta Sunday

I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher and the author for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

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★★★★

nemesis
noun / nem.e.sis
_______
Definition of NEMESIS
: Perseus throwing verbal grenades at Callaghan to get a rise out of him.
: Callaghan throwing verbal grenades at Perseus to get a rise out of him.
: A supposed enemy
: A frenemy
_______
plural NEMESES
: two guys flirting

There are two things that have always impressed me about Anyta Sunday’s novels, ever since I read rock.

One is the incredible ability to use the most domestic situations to develop a romance, to the point where a review saying “there is no plot” becomes a praise instead of a negative point. Because yes, there is an end goal that one or both characters want/need to achieve, but everything is always so simple and real that it feels like you’re watching a reality show. Also, she always manages to switch things up in the sense that the MC and the love interest are put in a domestic situation but never through the same plot devices (which I believe is not easy at all to achieve).

The second thing I’m always looking forward to in her novels is the underlying theme, be it rocks, colors or the horoscope. It makes each novel (or each series) so unique, and even though I don’t really care about the horoscope at all it didn’t bother me (it’s not really heavy, especially in this second book, as it’s not the MCs who are super into it).

And then of course, the romance itself. You’ve heard of enemies to lovers, you’ve heard of friends to lovers; let me present to you a new favorite of mine: nemeses who try so hard to pretend they’re enemies while in fact they’re the definition of friends (until they become lovers).

I love how lighthearted these novels are and how the MCs find themselves in a super positive and welcoming environment while still being in our world. I know novels that deal with hatred and homophobia are still important but sometimes you just have to escape the real world while still reading something that isn’t a completely made up fantasy, and the novels in this series do just that.

Anyway, speaking of this, another thing that was great I think was how sexuality was handled, applying clear labels to both characters (one is gay, the other one is demipansexual -I love how it’s handled so specifically!) and that there was no big drama over one or the other’s sexuality, that nobody acted surprised and the conversation about it was literally just one page of dialogue and that’s it.

You’d think that going into a contemporary MM romance I’d have low expectations and thus my rating was more loose than it would be with a more “complicated” novel but nah my friends I really don’t lower my expectations for anything tbh, like a book has to be good no matter what in my opinion. I might judge books differently depending on what is expected from the genre (like I’m not going to judge a contemporary novel by its worldbuilding y’feel me?) but I think I’m pretty picky especially when it comes to romances.

I also love how family always plays a big role, and I know I’m making yet another point that is true for all Anyta Sunday’s novels (at least the ones I’ve read so far) but it’s true. Too many romances focus solely on the two MCs to the point where they are kind of isolated, in a vacuum, but the addition of family and friends makes the romance even better and healthier.

So in case it wasn’t clear I definitely recommend not only this book but the series as a whole (this just came out and I’m not sure if a sequel was already announced but I really hope there will be one!), especially when you want something short and with little to no angst (we all have days, weeks or months where we can’t handle anything heavy even in our fiction, so definitely put this on your rainy-day TBR).


Have you read this book or any of Anyta Sunday’s? Are you curious to read it? And most of all do you have any recs for me that might be similar to this one (so, lighthearted and cute)? Let me know in the comments! ♥

Release day + Giveaway: Scorpio Hates Virgo by Anyta Sunday

Today is release day for the latest novel by Anyta Sunday, an author I’ve been loving since finding her a few months ago, and one of the few I trust to deliver a quality new adult romance novel.

I was provided an ARC and I’ve already read it and loved it (spoiler alert: it’s a 5 stars!), so I’m really excited to participate in this release day blitz today (my review will come in a few days on the blog but you can already read it on my goodreads page)!

Here’s all the info you need to know about this book, plus two giveaway links and two excerpts!

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Book blurb:

This year is all about healing the heart, Scorpio. It’s time to leave negative attitudes and stoic facades at the door and let others see the real, more vulnerable you.

Percy Freedman is not grieving. Absolutely not, take that back at once. No, he’s entirely sure that selling his dead aunt’s home and leaving the neighbors he’s known for years is the sane thing to do. Who in their right mind would keep the house that smells like all the hugs he’ll never have again?

Nobody, that’s who.

Well, except his cul-de-sac neighbors. They all seem to think some paint and new furniture will clean the emotional slate. They all want him to stay.

Even his old nemesis, Callaghan Glover.

Especially his old nemesis, Callaghan Glover.

Lured into a game of Sherlock Gnomes, Percy finds himself hanging out with his neighbors more than might be considered healthy. Along with juggling new and surprising verbal grenades from Cal, and his burgeoning friendship with Gnomber9, Percy is starting to wonder if selling might have been the grief talking after all . . .

That’s right, Scorpio. With a little patience, heartbreak might be a thing of the past . . .

“Scorpio Hates Virgo” contains sarcasm, sexual content, a slightly sappy HEA, and an unhealthy obsession with dinosaurs.

It can be read as a standalone.

Themes: Light-hearted, friends-to-lovers, slow burn

Genre: New Adult, light-hearted contemporary gay romance

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Release Date (Print & Ebook):

September 1st, 2017

Length: 245 pages

 Subgenre: Contemporary M/M gay romance, friends-to-lovers

 The title includes: sarcasm, sexual content, and a slightly sappy HEA 

All buy links: http://www.anytasunday.com/#scorpio-hates-virgo 

Author Bio:

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Slow burn romance that quickens the heart.

Anyta is a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. She loves to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of her favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

Anyta writes a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy. Her books have been translated into German, Italian and French.

Member of Romance Writers of America.

Connect with Anyta: Website | Twitter | Facebook

To receive a free e-book, sign up for Anyta’s newsletter here!

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To win one of three e-copies of Scorpio Hates Virgo:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To win 2 grand prizes – 1 set of ecopy of 5 of Anyta Sunday’s favorite NA romances and 1 set of signed paperbacks of Leo Loves Aries and Scorpio Hates Virgo (open internationally):

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Now keep reading for two excerpts of the novel!

percalinary

noun / per . cal . i . nary

Definition of PERCALINARY

: a reference containing words and their definitions and usage according to Percy Freedman and Callaghan Glover

: a reference explaining the implied meanings of words as used by Percy Freedman and Callaghan Glover

Example of PERCALINARY in a sentence

My first time watching Percy and Cal interact required frequent recourse to a percalinary to understand what the hell type of flirting these two were up to.

 

Cal rocked up to his Jeep all business-casual, in form-fitting jeans, polished leather shoes and matching brown satchel, and a dark jacket that covered a beige T-shirt.

“You got a meeting or something?” Percy asked, slipping his sunglasses on.

Cal opened the passenger door and looked at him over the roof. “No.”

Sunlight did very striking things to Cal’s hair. Made it look positively copper. Not as red as his cheeks were getting, though.

A cheerful cry startled Percy and he ripped his gaze away from Cal. Crystal was waving at them from her opened kitchen window.

“Good morning,” she called.

After another restless night, he could hardly call it good, but . . . “Morning.”

She leaned further out the window, her dressing gown gaping a little too much down the front. “Are you out for the day?”

“A couple of hours. Taking Callaghan here to work, then nipping past the Home Depot.” To get the home ready to market, he needed to spruce up the place. Paint the living room and bathroom, put in a new vanity, replace the door handles of the kitchen cupboards, change the faucets and showerhead and put in a new toilet seat.

“You at the Home Depot?” Cal murmured. “Sure you’d even know what to buy?”

Percy gestured for him to get in the car. “High time I get you to work.”

As he slipped into the driver’s seat, Crystal called out after them. “Good to see water and earth spending time together!”

Over his sunglasses that had slipped down his nose, Percy looked at Cal. “See, this is why we’ll always be nemeses.”

Cal hitched his brow, and Percy turned the ignition and peeled out from the curb.

“Together we’re mud.”