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! ♥

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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.”

FENCE by C.S. Pacat & Johanna the Mad – Why You Should Be Excited For It

Hello there! Let’s postpone The Talk about me technically still being on blog hiatus (it’ll end soon though, I promise!) for another time, because today I am so excited to talk about a new upcoming comic by quite literally my favorite author ever, C.S. Pacat, and Johanna the Mad, an amazing artist whose fanworks have always left me speechless.

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The cast of Fence. From left to right: Nicholas, Seiji, Harvard, Aiden, Jesse, Dante, Bobby

Particularly I want to talk about the importance it will have in the queer community. I fully believe that the comparison with Yuri!!! On Ice and other queer-positive works like Check, Please! is 100% accurate.

Why am I saying this with such confidence when I obviously haven’t read it yet, since it comes out in November? Two reasons:

⚔ I fully trust C.S. Pacat to stay true to her words and deliver

“something that’s very joyously and unabashedly queer. That’s very important to me.”
(source)


Knowing her and knowing her previous work and the other fictional works (like Y!!!OI) that she enjoys, I know that she isn’t just saying that in order to appeal to a certain audience. This is something that might have been scary to publish one year ago, when the queer world hadn’t been quite literally shaken by Yuri!!! On Ice yet. But now we know that the (queer and not queer) world is ready for something that doesn’t have to justify itself in order to exist. Not only won’t there be any queerbaiting, there won’t be “sad gays” either.

⚔ This premise brings me to my second point. A comic is something that will appeal to readers and non-readers alike. We in the bookish community sometimes tend to forget that there are many people who don’t read as much as we do, and that’s fine. Many of those people are teens that maybe are more into anime and manga, and they’ll be given access to something that might -might!- eventually draw them into the bookish world. Even more importantly, these are young people who more often than not are just coming to terms with their sexuality. These are teens and young adults who have been at best queerbaited by shows like Free! and Haikyuu!!, and at worse they’ve been shown that if you’re queer you are someone expendable, someone who will die before the straights can find a solution to a zombie-riddled world or you’re simply there to allow a straight narrative to reach its positive outcome, or you’re there to be the gay stereotype that the audience will laugh at.
This won’t happen with Fence. (Young) people will have a positive queer representation like they’ve had in Yuri!!! On Ice, and being queer won’t be the main subject of the work. They’ll be shown that you don’t have to only be your sexuality, you can be an athlete, you can be anything and be queer and be valid and if you don’t understand the importance of that then maybe it’s really time for you to think about your straight privilege.

Now, focusing on the rest of what we know so far, this story will have amazing characterization. Again, you ask, how do you know this? Because that’s what Pacat does. And if you haven’t read Captive Prince and you don’t trust me on my word, read this:

I’m working with a really great épée coach in Australia to choreograph all the fight scenes. And I’ve been working with him on the fencing characterization of each boy, so they’ll all have different strengths and weaknesses that will evolve throughout the narrative.


…in “Fence,” especially because I was so invested in the accuracy of the fencing, there’s no smudging allowed.
(source)


These are NOT the words of someone who doesn’t think their characters through. The characters’ personalities will reflect in the way they fence and act outside of fencing, like in all the best sports anime/manga/fiction.

This is already so clear from just a raw of one page alone:

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“But will it be diverse?” you ask. Yeah!

…having a diverse cast was very important to me. When you’re writing heroic narratives it’s very important to make sure that you have a story where everyone can feel as though they can be a hero.
(source)

 

Because this is a comic, obviously another really important thing to look forward to is the art. Johanna the Mad is an amazing artist (see pictures above) who has more than once impressed me (and many others, including C.S. Pacat) with her art.

Something else I find amazing is that both writer and artist come from the online world. They not only know the community they’re addressing, they’re fully part of it and that is one more reason to trust them.

So really the question is, what’s there NOT to look forward to? (the answer is: everything about this comic should make you as excited as I am)

And more importantly, is it November yet?

#T5W: Favorite Underrated Books

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 week’s topic:

January 25th: Favorite Underrated Books 
–Give some love to those books that aren’t as widely talked about. Those hidden gems. Those books that maybe used to be popular but people have forgotten about and they still deserve some love.

In no particular order (links bring to my reviews):

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart, by J.C. Lillis

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Read it. Read it. Read it. Read it. Read it. Read it. Read it. Read it. Read it. Read it. 

Truth in the Dark, by Amy Lane

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Adhhsdhjds read this one too please. 

The Darkest Part of the Forest, by Holly Black

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And then read this while you’re at it. 

Air Awakens, (series) by Elise Kova

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This is the only one of these books that I have not reviewed (I will do it whenever I reread it, because I will rearead it) but I absolutely adore this series! It has such a classic fantasy feel to it and yet it feels completely fresh and it has so many different themes. The characters are spectacular and I love every single one of them (that’s not always something to be glad about, because people in this series get hurt for real. All I’m saying is: guard your hearts.)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, (series) by Laini Taylor

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I feel like this trilogy is more popular than the other books I mentioned, but I still think it’s not as wildly popular as it should be. I’ve barely seen any booktuber mention it and I don’t really know why, because it deserves to hang out with the popular  books.

I understand why and how some books become more popular than others. That doesn’t take away from their value in my opinion, but I think we bloggers should try to do our best to review what we genuinely want to and try to keep in mind that while reviews for popular books will attract more blog views, it is important to also review books that aren’t as well-known, so that more people can have a chance to find out about them.

Review: How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis

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★★★★

Wow. This was so incredibly cute and heartwarming, and it’s definitely a new favorite of mine.

I keep asking for signs. And here she is. Someone who prays to a neon Virgin Mary and lives her whole life in all-caps and thinks God and my happiness go together just fine.

Brandon lives in a very religious family, to which he came out as gay not long ago. They didn’t take it well, bringing their priest into it and all, but allow him to go on a six-weeks road trip with his friend Bec, in the hopes that he…becomes straight and falls in love with her, I guess. This road trip will connect all the locations of the conventions of Castaway Planet, a show Brandon is huge fan of.

Little does his family know that Abel, co-host of the most famous Castaway Planet vlog channel together with Brandon and very openly gay, will go on the road trip with them.
They have one purpose besides meeting the Castaway Planet actors at the conventions: prove the Cadsim (Cadmus+Sim, protagonists of the show) crazy fangirl shippers wrong by asking the actors and creators of the show whether something happened or not between Cadmus and Sim in the season finale, because it obviously can’t have happened, despite what every piece of Cadsim fanfiction says. I mean, Sim is a freaking android, so there’s no way. No way.
Fangirls go a bit beyond Cadsim shipping though, and Brandon and Abel will have to deal with them in a different way.

There are so many themes within these 250 pages.

First off, the fandom and fanfic themes are huge and interwoven in the narrative, a bit similarly (but even more so) to Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. If you are or have ever been an active member of any fandom, this element alone will appeal to you.

“When I give the world my characters, it’s because I don’t want to keep them for myself. You don’t like what I made them do? Fucking tell me I’m wrong! Rewrite the story. Throw in a new plot twist. Make up your own ending.”

Second, is obviously the romance. There’s not much I can say without spoiling it, but know it’s just adorable.

I want to make a sweater out of this week and wrap myself up in it until it falls apart.

Last but not least is the religion. I wouldn’t say that Brandon is struggling with internalized homophobia because he never thinks his feelings are wrong, but throughout the story he remembers what Father Mike told him or he imagines what he would say. Horrible things that I don’t even want to repeat here, coated with a facade of understanding and “God loves you”.

…I glance past the rides and snack stands to where the blond stone wall of the church is, but I can’t let my eyes linger there either. It’s like looking at a house you don’t live in anymore. You wish you could go in again, but strangers live there now and you aren’t welcome, and it wouldn’t be the same anyway.

The religious element isn’t too heavy and, as an atheist, its presence didn’t bother me. What bothered me were Brandon’s family’s hateful words – don’t get me wrong, they’re not the worst family I’ve ever read about, but for some reason this made me legit angry-cry even more while reading their words.

Despite the last few things I wrote about, this is a very fun and overall lighthearted novel. I really have no idea why I haven’t heard about it before my friend read it and recommended it to me, because it seems like it should be on everyone’s bookshelves.

December Wrap-Up

Has really another month passed? It felt really short this time around. Oh well.

BOOKS:

(All titles lead to my reviews, either on goodreads or on the blog)

  • Le cose così by Labadessa: this is a short graphic novel by an Italian artist who has become really popular on Facebook, posting his ironically philosophical comics whose main features are the yellow background and the fact that its characters are birds. It’s a must-read for any Italian millennial.
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  • L’amore di Audrey by Alessia Esse
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  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch: this book took me a very long time to read, as I explain in my review. I really liked it and its characters, but I’m also pretty sure I won’t continue this series.
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  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: it was my first RR book and I loved it so much! Her writing style really resonated with me and I’ll make sure to read more of her books.
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  • Carry on by Rainbow Rowell
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  • Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat
  • Prince’s Gambit by C.S. Pacat
  • Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat

    I reread (okay, I’m still currently reading Kings Rising, but whatever, I’ll finish it before the new year) these for the 3rd time wihin the past six months. That’s perfectly normal, right? Yes, yes it is. It’s my favorite series and I wanted to finish the year on a good note. Also I’ve been buddy-reading them with a friend (it was the first time for her) and she loved them so much, and there’s no better feeling in the world than having your friends love your favorite books!


SHOWS/ANIME/MOVIES:

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Yuri!!! On Ice and Skam were really the only things I’ve been watching, so nothing really changed from last month. Sadly the current seasons are both over, and while I’ve been able to let Skam go, I’m still riding the YoI wave, in form of fanfiction (reading and writing), obsessive fanart search, countless re-watches. Tell me I’m not the only one.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so involved in a fandom (which is, btw, so amazing and supportive), and the feelings Yuri!!! On Ice has given me are so real and positive. It’s exactly what I (and many of us) needed.

MUSIC:

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Not much has changed for me in December, with the only exception of the YoI soundtrack having being released. I’ve been listening to it for weeks now and I love it. It has so many different genres and if you don’t feel like listening to the whole thing you can just loop one or two songs that go well with your current mood (or for whatever activity you’re doing).
Basically, it’s safe to say that YoI has taken over my life in every possible way, but I don’t regret it at all.

 

How has your month been? Did you find any last-minute favorites for 2016?

Review: L’amore di Audrey (Audrey’s Love) by Alessia Esse

It’s no secret that I’m Italian and that means that sometimes I happen to read books in my mother tongue. Duh. The problem comes when I want to actually review them because my blog is in English. I’ll leave here my Italian review in case some of you can/want to read that.

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★★★★

(Actual rating 4,5 stars but I have no idea how to do that graphically oops)

I received an advanced copy of this book by the author but that didn’t influcence my opinion.

I rarely read contemporary books, but I’ll read anything that Alessia Esse comes out with, thank you very much. I loved her dystopian series La trilogia di Lilac and I’d probably read her shopping list if she publishes it.
The thing about L’amore di Audrey, but about any of her books really, is that they teach you something. Does it matter that you’re an adult and you probably know those things? No. Because sometimes knowing things is different than really knowing them, and a book might be what helps you with that. You let the book speak to you because you know the book is not there to speak to you. You know it’s not judging you, and it’s easier for you to let its words sink in and do their job of opening your eyes.
This is what I feel all of Alessia’s books (but especially this one) do.

Furthermore, this is, in a way, a book about books. The protagonist, Audrey, owns a library in New York City, and one of the other characters is an author with writer’s block. Books about books will forever be one of my favorite things, because, before finding this amazing community online, they were my first gateway into seeing my feelings about books and reading reflected somewhere. They made me feel like I wasn’t alone (which is something you tend to do when you’re a rather solitary kid who enjoys reading), like someone else in this world understood what I felt.

This is obviously also a really romantic and spicy book, but if I’m honest I cared much more about the things I previously mentioned than the actual romantic element in it. Regardless, the romance was sweet and it featured realistic elements, things that can happen to any of us.

I’ll keep reading whatever Alessia Esse has in store in the future (and in the meantime I might reread her first series and hope it’ll get translated to English because more people need access to it ♥)