ARC Mini-Review: Birth of Chaos by Elise Kova and Lynn Larsh

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

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Summary: A WISH FOR DESTRUCTION…
HAS JOSEPHINA UNRAVELING

A new wish is pushing the weary members of the Society to their breaking points. But as Jo’s complex relationship with their leader reveals dangerous truths about who she truly is, and was, her priorities quickly change. Now, she seeks to expose the enemy lurking in their midst, but it may already be too late to thwart an ancient goddess bent on stealing Jo’s power and destroying everything she loves.

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★★★✩

Birth of Chaos is in some ways better and in some others worse than the previous installments of this series. Some of the problems I had with the first two books (read the reviews here and here) are still there, other problems are somewhat solved, but I just can’t help but feel that the whole series feels extremely rushed and that it would benefit immensely from a little more editing.

What I continue liking about the series is the whole concept of worlds that can be destroyed and rebuilt, and the many missing pieces of worldbuilding that we finally got to discover in this third book make everything more interesting. Granted some things were kind of predictable if you’ve been paying attention during book two, some things still managed to surprise me.

There’s not much I can add to what I’ve already said in my previous reviews for this series without spoiling the plot, so this is just a short review. I want to read the next and final book because now I’m invested in the story and the characters. One thing I will say is that the ending (as in, the few final chapters) had me even more curious about what’s going to happen, so I guess that regardless of my problems with the execution, the concept still keeps dragging me into the story.

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ARC Review: The Queen Of Ieflaria by Effie Calvin // F/F romance with princesses, kittens, dragons and unicorns

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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★★★.5

Short review: this was good and very gay and it had kittens, dragons and unicorns. You can stop here if that sounds like something you need in your life (and honestly, you can never have enough of all those things).

Actual review: I liked a lot of the stuff in this, and that’s also the biggest problem of this book.

Let me explain, but first let’s talk about what I liked, because as you can see from my rating I did like it.

I liked the main characters Adale and Esofi. I liked them in their differences and on their own. Their romance was sweet, slow paced and even if there was miscommunication it was almost always resolved pretty soon and easily.

The world felt well researched and thought out, and I felt like if given more page time this could become something big and epic. Unfortunately, I think this is where the book fell short: there were a lot of elements that were interesting and I would have loved to see more of, but there just wasn’t enough time to explore everything. I would have liked fewer elements but explored more deeply. One example of this is the science vs religion thing that was only briefly mentioned. The thing is, I can live with something being mentioned in passing, but the way this was shown felt like it was going to have a lot of weigh in the story, when in fact it didn’t. The same could be said about other worldbuilding elements as well as the relationships between the main characters and secondary ones.

One thing I did love about the world was how absolutely not heteronormative this was. Everyone is pan and that’s really cool, I 100% approve.

Overall, I liked it but I felt like too many things were shoved into it, with a world that was too big for 175 pages where we also had to get to know the characters and see a relationship develop.

Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable read and it’s definitely clear that the author has very good worldbuilding skills. I think with a bigger focus on fewer elements and more page time this could easily have been a five stars read.

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What are your favorite mythological creatures?

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.

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★★★★

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

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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★★★.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.

Book Rant: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

Hardcore SJM fans need not engage, kindly move along without reading this review.

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Summary: The Winter Solstice. In a week. I was still new enough to being High Lady that I had no idea what my formal role was to be. If we’d have a High Priestess do some odious ceremony, as lanthe had done the year before. A year. Gods, nearly a year since Rhys had called in his bargain, desperate to get me away from the poison of the Spring Court to save me from my despair. Had he been only a minute later, the Mother knew what would have happened. Where I’d now be. Snow swirled and eddied in the garden, catching in the brown fibers of the burlap covering the shrubs* My mate who had worked so hard and so selflessly, all without hope that I would ever be with him We had both fought for that love, bled for it. Rhys had died for it.

*why is this book so bad starting from the blurb

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★✩✩✩

Me after finishing the book:

IM FREEEEEE!!!!!!!! WORST EXPERIENCE OF MY FUCKING LIFE

So let’s start by saying this book was almost entirely useless.Things this book has:

• lots of walking around Velaris
• shopping for presents
• lots of bad innuendos
• me physically rolling my eyes every two pages
• way too much internal monologue about who had fucked whom, where and in which position
• one really long and really cringy sex scene
• somehow galaxies were involved in the sex scene and that’s not even the weirdest thing that’s ever happened in a sjm sex scene
• mate mate mate mate mate m a t e ma te ma t e mat e m ate mAtE mATe MATE matE M a te
• “gentlemales”
• I repeat: g e n t l e m a l e s
• a few cute moments
• a few funny moments
• a tiny bit of actual fucking foundation for the next books

Basically Feyre and Rhys need to retire and let secondary characters finally have the spotlight.* The only POVs I genuinely enjoyed were Cassian’s and Nesta’s, which, surprise surprise, will be the focus of the next book. Fucking finally.
*except SJM has a talent for ruining main characters so what happens when secondary characters become the main ones? Uhhh we shall find out I guess.

Speaking more generally, this book was just mostly bad. I’m not only talking about the writing, which needed a lot of editing, but the general feeling surrounding it all. Starting from the blurb, which is just a few sentences from the first chapter copypasted together. People, the blurb doesn’t even make sense. That extra sentence about snow? It shouldn’t be there. They obviously needed one more sentence to make the blurb longer and didn’t know what else to pick. It’s just bad. Whoever did that did a very poor job. And that makes me angry.

Authors, even big ones, still have to fight hard to see their books picked up by publishers, be sold, and then be read and hyped by readers. But apparently that rule doesn’t apply to SJM. The publisher doesn’t even put any effort in pre-release things like writing a decent blurb, because they know her books are going to sell anyway. And I mean, I’m here writing this review because I’ve read this book despite swearing that I was done with this series after ACOWAR, because she has a talent for making you want to know what happens to the characters, even if (especially if) they’re not the main ones.

But the least the author and the publisher could do is put some fucking effort and deliver a product that’s better than this. Instead, it feels like either SJM is a rare case of writer who gets worse every book she writes, or the publisher has decided that she’s still going to sell regardless how many rounds of editing her books get, so they might as well never edit them, thus never delivering a polished book.

Because, folks, we might have started making fun of the word m*te for shits and giggles, but it’s become a big fucking problem, especially in this book. You know the writing advice that says to just use someone’s name when talking about them, instead of saying, idk, “the French girl,” or “the red-haired boy”? SJM has never heard of it. Think about your own internal monologue. Do you think of your spouse as “my spouse” all the time? Or do you simply think about them with their name?

Cassian and my mate’s sister did not speak to each other at all.


This sentence just does not flow. And it’s just one of about 70 times the word m*te was used (and keep in mind this is a 200 pages book). I wonder how many creative writing students failed their assignments for doing exactly what the most hyped YA fantasy author these days does constantly.

Do we also want to have The Talk about the weird connotations and implications that this word has? Oh boy, this conversation is about three years late, but I absolutely Do Not like all this animalistic shit, starting with m*te, moving on to how many times people purr, referring to people as males and females (ah, the good ol’ binary) (YES I FUCKING KNOW SHE CAN’T CALL THEM MEN AND WOMEN BUT JFC JUST STOP), to the weird possessiveness that the whole m*ting system entails. Also!!! Toxic masculinity!!!!!!! Weird unchallenged sexist comments!!!!! Trying to make Rhys sound soooo feminist when apparently his job is being horny 24/7!!!!!! Have Rhys (a literal sexual abuse victim) talk about how he can’t stand to be next to his m*te without, and I quote, BEING BURIED INSIDE HER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ohhhh now you’ve done it, you got me mad. If you read a SJM book it seems like thinking/talking/having sex for most part of your day is the normalcy. Which it can be!!!! But guess what! Ace people exist!!!! People with low sexual drive exist!!!!!!!!!! That’s normal too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh no I’m using too many exclamation points let me hire an editor. When every single character you portray acts the same exact way towards something like sex, you’re telling your readers (mostly teens) that that’s what’s expected of them, that that’s how everyone is like. It’s no secret that diversity doesn’t exist in SJM’s world, and that involves how people view sex and romantic relationships too.

It’s amazing that YA books have sex positivity. But books need to also acknowledge that ace people exist too. Protagonists and love interests that aren’t some sort of sex gods need to be there too. Thin boys, fat boys, trans boys need to be there too. If after >10 books a writer can’t get out of her own self-insert fantasies about what type of men she likes, maybe she isn’t a great writer after all. Maybe she needs to listen to the (still too small) part of her readers that demand More, that demand Better.

I went on a HUGE tangent and I don’t even fucking care. There were parts of the book that I liked. I even enjoyed most of its central part. I enjoyed Nesta’s PTSD portrayal and she’s the only reason I’m going to read the next book because parts of her trauma and her way of dealing with it have the potential to mean so fucking much to me. But I’m going to lower my rating to 1 star because I’m tired of all the things I mentioned above, I’m tired of being treated like shit by an author and her team because they expect me to worship her when she doesn’t even try anymore. My 1 star isn’t even gonna change anything because everyone’s giving this the usual five stars, but I don’t care. I’m here and as a reader I demand better, I demand the bare fucking minimum, and I don’t think this book even tried.