Finally Saturday & I’m using my quiet morning to catch up on some reviews!
Katee Robert’s Radiant Sin. Maybe it’s because of my mood, but I just wasn’t fully engaged with this fake dating story of Cassandra & Apollo. I did like the audio though & how the British narrator says “condom” . Other positives: the Queer rep, the tension, & a nice hero (for Olympus). 3.5⭐️ ️, out now.
Kristen Ciccarelli’s Heartless Hunter. The tension & showmanship in an anything-you-can-do, I-can-do-better situation is so good, bonus points if one of the leads has their life hanging in the balance. But the ending cemented for me that—while this story has definite positives—I’m not going to pursue the rest of the series. 3 ⭐️️, out 02/20. (Thanks to the publisher for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.)
Jaswinder Bolina’s English as a Second Language & Other Poems. I wish I could offer some astute analysis of these poems but all I can say is that I really enjoyed them; the writing is both lovely & striking & had some definite stop-me-in-my-tracks moments. Reading this collection reminded me of how much I love poetry—glad I read it for BookRiot’s Read Harder Challenge! (“Read an indie published collection of poetry by a BIPOC or queer author.”)
Have you read any of these? If not, what title jumps out to you most: Radiant Sin, Heartless Hunter, or English as a Second Language & Other Poems?
The Getaway List by Emma Lord. Emma Lord writes dependably satisfying YA. In this book, uncertain high school graduate Riley determines a path forward & a new life in NYC, as she & her long-time bestie Tom cross items off their Getaway List. TGL is cute, with moments of sadness as the besties reveal their struggles to each other, & underneath a lovely burgeoning romance is a strong friendship that gave me lots of feels. 4.25⭐️️. Out now. (Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.)
Letters to Half Moon Street by Sarah Wallace. This queer historical romance with some fantasy is so cute! It’s EPISTOLARY, (that’s the magic word, right?), featuring letters written from a sometimes clueless lead, Gavin, to an eventual love interest, his family, etc. Charming, funny, & sweet, this kissing-only book is a delightful & quick read. So happy I read it! 5 ⭐️ ️, out now. (Read for the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge: a cozy fantasy book.)
A Feather So Black by Lyra Selene. A fae fantasy featuring a Changeling who’s been raised as the foster daughter of a human queen out for revenge against the Folk. This fantasy has steam, a love triangle-ish situation, & a heroine who’s felt the sting of not being fully accepted most of her life. Lots of angst in this one, & a romantic relationship that grew a bit annoying for me, but also an intriguing story & a nice setup for book 2. 3.5 ⭐️ ️, out 03/12. (Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.)
Have you read any of these or are any on your TBR?
Today I’m coming at you with three quick thought reviews--
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. Alix’s writing is stunning & marvelous, this story had me thinking me about doors in a completely new way, the twists & turns keep you on your feet, & the last chapters offer solace for the previous hurts. My fave book of hers I’ve read yet. 5⭐️. (Qualifies for my “read a book about books fiction or nonfiction” spot on the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge.)
King & the Dragon Flies by Kacen Callender. This book! I hadn’t realized how very limited my previous middle grade reading experiences have been. Tackling the topics of grief, racism, abuse, Black masculinity, homophobia, and Queerness, this book has such a way with emotion and imagination & the language will grab you and not let go. 4.5⭐️️. (Qualifies for my “read a middle grade book with an LGBTQIA main character” spot on the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge.)
Faebound by Saara El-Arifi. The premise of this one—two sisters are taken hostage in Faerie, a place where they are viewed as enemies—is so interesting & I love the Queer rep (more of this in fantasy, please!). But I didn’t feel totally invested in the characters or the story (YMMV). 3.5 ⭐️. Out 01/23. (Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.)
Are any of these on your TBR or have you read any?
[ID: the three book covers are on a When Harry Met Sally backdrop—Sally & Harry are squatting over a wood floor & looking at the viewer.]
Have you read any of these? Are any on your TBR?
Starling House by Alix E. Harrow. Harrow’s writing is layered & piercing & divine. This fantasy with romantic elements has some great creep factor & ask me how much I love that neither lead is conventionally attractive & both are quite feral. Harrow writes the fantasy you hope for and I’m really loving reading more of her work! 4.5⭐️.
Love, Lies, & Cherry Pie by Jackie Lau. (Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.) I’ve really liked some other books by the author but the narration of this one—it feels a bit rambling in moments—just doesn’t totally work for me. But I love how the heroine shares what her writing journey is like & how that—and other aspects of her personality—relate to the expectations she feels from her immigrant mother. Starchy hero alert but I wish there had been more interaction between the leads from the beginning. 3.5 ⭐️ ️. Out 05/07.
The Magpie Lord & A Case For Possession by KJ Charles. I’ve been having fun reading these backlist fantasy romance titles by KJC. A tattooed historical lead; height difference; class difference; both are powerful in unique ways. I wish the narration didn’t refer to Stephen so much as a “little man”—it gets a bit weird for me the way it’s used sometimes—but a great series overall. Now on to book 3! 4 ⭐️️.
Heartless by H.G. Parry. (Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.) I haven’t read Peter Pan or watched the movie recently but this dark & haunting retelling still got to me in the best of ways. Peter & James Hook meet in a workhouse & we gradually learn how James becomes Pirate Hook & how they all reach Neverland. I didn’t “love & adore” this book but I’m still thinking about it which means something too. This is my second book by H.G. Parry & I definitely want to read more. Fantasy fans, check out The Magician’s Daughter! 4 ⭐️ ️. Out now.
[ID: Jess’s white hand holds an ebook of Love, Lies…in an autumnal forest. To the right are the book covers for the other books discussed in the post.]
Quick thoughts round-up on some recent reads:
The River of Silver by S.A. Chakraborty. I loved the Daevabad series & this companion series of short stories is pleasing for fans. My fave stories are those featuring the love stories we saw in the original books of course. Highly rec this series if you haven’t read it! 4⭐️️. Out now.
In Which Winnie Halifax Is Utterly Ruined by Alexandra Vasti. Another wonderful historical featuring the Halifax family that has me super excited about the author’s upcoming full-length historical. Hot & sensitive & with another nice hero. Yesssssss. 5 ⭐️. Out now!
A Dreadful Splendor by B.R. Meyers. A gothic read featuring a pretend spiritualist & a real mystery. Great sense of atmosphere. I was a little less convinced of the romance in this one but overall it was a fun read with lots of satisfying thrills. 4 ⭐️. Out now.
The Longest Autumn by Amy Avery. An unsettling fantasy that fell a bit shy of totally engrossing me but that offers a lot to chew on. Chronic illness rep, discussions of faith & humanity, betrayal & loyalty. This one doesn’t totally work for me emotionally or on a story-front but I’m glad I have it a shot. 3.5 ⭐️️. Out 01/16. (Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.)
Have you read any of these? Are any on your TBR?
[ID: an image of Kevin McAlister shopping with the font “Me knuckling down & being productive this morning” & four book covers below.]
So my quick thoughts aren’t exactly quick but these are some of the other things I’ve been reading lately ;).
A Risk Worth Taking by Jessica Joyce. This novelette is so good! I got major swoons from it, from the steam to the romantic moments where they do things like hold hands *exclamation point!!* Everything about Joyce’s writing feels thoughtful & precise & the softness & tension are divine. Basically these leads have one magical night together before one of them is about to leave town—but could they have more too?! The only thing I wanted was more at the end. But your girl is greedy. It was a touch shy of perfect for me for that reason but also I feel like my expectations in that regard are a bit demanding and also the book is close enough that I’m saying 5 ⭐️. Out now!
The Bookbinder’s Guide to Love by Katherine Garbera. My fave parts of this one are the way the leads bond over their love & appreciation of books & the soft, awkward way they try to open up to each other. But while this one has its positive moments by the end it tumbles into “not working for me” territory. Both of these leads have their fair share of family trauma & that definitely plays a part in how the disappointing ending plays out. But I couldn’t understand the heroine’s actions at the end & it has one of the things that frustrates me: when IMO one lead is clearly in the wrong but for some reason *the other* leads ends up making the big gesture & apologizing? In the end this one has some definite positives but it’s 2.5 ️⭐️for me. Out 02/23. (Thanks @harlequinbooks @harlequinpublicityteam for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.)
The Bright Spot by Jill Shalvis. I was such a Jill Shalvis fan in my younger years & I still see many of the reasons why: lovable leads, a sense of community, sweetness. But this book started being taken over by a plot featuring secondary characters & I was frustrated with how it played out, to a degree that it affected my feelings about the overall story. There is some real sweetness here with some lovely gestures made by each lead & by the other characters that work at the farm they all love, but I wanted less focus on the other couple. 3.5 ⭐️️, out 01/16. (Thanks to @avonbooks & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.)
Quick Thoughts Reviews: Constance Sayers' THE STAR AND THE STRANGE MOON & Cat Sebastian's LUKE & BILLY FINALLY GET A CLUE.
Good morning, friends! Coming at you with a couple of books I’ve read recently--
The Star & the Strange Moon by Constance Sayers. This book has such a spooky, interesting premise: a man named Christopher has been drawn to a famous actress who mysteriously disappeared years ago, in the midst of acting a scene on film. In the decades since, the woman has appeared in a revised version of the original film that only a small, secret group of people are invited to—including Christopher, eventually—and no one knows how, or why, etc. This book starts off so strong & compelling—I was so excited about where it was going—& then the ending gets more wobbly for me. But I think the way the author captures Gemma’s 1960s life, her career ambitions & her relationship with a rocker, are so fun & captivating, & I loved the initial unraveling of the mystery. 4⭐️. Out 11/14.
(Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.)
Luke & Billy Finally Get a Clue by Cat Sebastian. I’m gonna be excited about any Cat Sebastian release & this book is so soft & sweet & lovely that it left me with so many heart smiles. Luke & Billy are baseball teammates & friends & Billy is in near panicky feelings about the fact that Luke disappeared for weeks after sustaining a concussion. Luke shows up at Billy’s family home & what we have is a beautiful novella with lots of communication, some steam, & just a wonderful love story. 5⭐️. Out now.
I think I’m good about reading the books. Less good about reviewing the books. So here’s a quick thoughts round-up about some of the books I’ve been enjoying lately!
Have you read any of these? If not, have you read any other books for fun that you really enjoyed but didn’t review?
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole. A thriller about how insidiously evil gentrification can be, orchestrated by white people—wearing things like Lululemon pants, for example—who care nothing about Black communities and think Black lives & livelihood are disposable. This book is unsettling and tense, with an explosive ending. 4.5 stars, out now.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. A dark academia book that had me going “huh?,” “oh,” & “oh shit, that’s horrible,” this is a weighty, smart, & compelling read that I’m honestly still parsing. Technically I think this is a 5 ️star read—it’s so well written—but for some reason I never emotionally connect to the author’s books. Out now.
The World Record Books of Racist Stories by Amber Ruffin & Lacey Lamar. (thanks to @grandcentralpub for the free copy; all opinions my own.) This book is a series of anecdotes drawn from the authors’ lives & their loved ones’ detailing the racism they’ve experienced (of so many different types, in so many instances) & white privilege. The book is funny, incisive, & sharp & it gave me quite a lot to think about. 4 ️stars, out now.
One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig. Another dark fantasy that will really grip you with tension. It’s a story of a girl with a secret monster inside her. There are lots of secrets & some steam! 4.5 ️stars, out now, part of a series.
The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty. Starting this on audio really helped me get into this fantasy. It’s an immersive story with lots of threads & lots of possibility for danger. I have very little idea about where the series is going next bc it is so unpredictable & I love that. 4.5 stars ️, out now.
#postyourpill + Quick Thoughts Round-Up
When I was a kid + young adult, I felt embarrassed & ashamed at different moments of my mental health struggles (to say the least) & it was really only about 8 years ago that I felt comfortable releasing some of those deepest secrets about how my brain + emotions work with someone else.
So anyway, I am a HUGE fan of @justinejustreads ‘ #postyourpill posts on the first of the month. I love them for her candidness & generosity in sharing & I wanted to join in on the mental health struggles fun by showing off my own pill . There she is! (very visible on the top of my stack ).
& now some quick thoughts about some recent books I read from my TBR pile! (Do you feel like you’re watching a newscast where the anchor goes from somber to excited very quickly? ;) )
Belle Calhoune’s Summer on Blackberry Beach: After having her heart put into a blender by her former fiancé, Stella Marshall enters into a brief fake relationship that turns into more with former Seal Luke who has returned to their small town. Admirable mental health rep & leads who are willing to share their insecurities are my fave things about this romance but ultimately the writing style feels a bit repetitive to me in a way that distracted and the romance just didn’t wow me. 2.5 ⭐️️. Out now. Thanks to @readforeverpub for the complimentary copy; all opinions my own.
S. A. Chakraborty’s The City of Brass: the audio for this was really good & despite some earlier stalled attempts at finishing I ended up thinking this is a really great, sweeping fantasy with an ending that left me feeling intrigued & unsettled & feeling those “oh shit” fantasy series feelings . I think I would give it 5️⭐️but I’m not really sure where the second book will go with some characters…out now.
Elizabeth Everett’s A Perfect Equation: this historical romance with an uptight hero & a semi-scandalous, heiress mathematician really impressed me. I stan a whip-smart heroine & like many of you, a hero who’s unsettled about his emotions . The only thing that disappoints for me is that I wasn’t jumping up & down about how the heroine’s former sexual experience is handled. 4.5 ⭐️️. Out now.
have you read any of these?
[ID: Jess, a white woman, wears a red flannel shirt & holds the books in front of a brown roll-top desk.]
Give me that HEA, please.
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