Sam's Reading: A Work in Progress

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The Art of Us

The Art of Us - Hilaria Alexander Riddle me this, what are 30-somethings doing playing 7 minutes in heaven? Is this some kind of new wave sex party I'm not aware of? With...coworkers? ...shudder...

So you know what I mean when I say these characters, totally hung up on that kiss, are not reading true to their age. It almost felt like the author wanted to write a YA but make it super smutty and erotic at the end. It was hard to read. Especially with all their not-believing-in-love business.

All right, peace.

The Black Madonna

The Black Madonna - Stella Riley Without a buddy read (with my dears Whiskey/Kyra and Joanna...) I might have DNFed. I'm so glad I didn't. I also don't really have the energy to write about this-it was a hugely intricate (more-historical-fiction than-romance) novel with so many threads (the first 20-30% was hard to keep straight, and POVs switched often), but after the styling and set-up was there, there was wonderful interactions, family dynamics etc.

And Kate. And Luc, and Luc and Kate. Who get all the stars. After Richard and Dorothy anyway. The middle 40% was mostly about the historical, family and dramatic intrigue, and the final bit was so exciting and paced so nimbly it was near impossible to put down. If you like your romance with a heavy historical bend, not to mention another interesting subplot or six, rich/ nuanced characters and a perfectly matched couple...this is well worth a read.

I have a bunch of highlights, but I'm feeling drained...like I said before I started babbling.
I’m not done reading, but I’m so ready to review....I sat on his book till the next came out and I have to say, yeah, I’m not sorry. I worried I’d forget the first (I didn’t) I worried I’d be disappointed (I’m not)

Apologies if I spell things incorrectly- I’m on my iPad with a sleeping child laying on me—and I listened.
The good:
Helene becomes a fully formed, 3D human. And it’s heartbreaking
Elias...reluctant mask, hero complex Elias...has a good bit of growth served up to him through side characters and Laia and it’s heartbreaking
Caris and Marcus remain wickedly cold. I like YA fantasy for this at times. Give me straight up evil.
The pacing is breath taking, heart racing perfection and it’s heartbreaking
Sabaa Tahir’s feminism. Lots of talk about not taking away a woman’s choice, and propping up women by women. Subtler things like Hel considering her sisters wishes...oh, and well, the badasses of this book are women. And they are badasses in a myriad of ways. Tenderness, leadership, evil, cunning, love, fire, fight, intellect...

war in an empire, oppression, genocide, elite soldiering, nobility...a young woman of color rising to the occasion. Her counterparts doing the same. I love these characters, I’m with them, this book may not be groundbreaking but it’s entertaining...

Now, don’t read further if you care

There are several things I need to discuss here including the loss of laia’s Virginity...
Elias is fucking....dead-ish.
What the hell is Laia
Ember, torch, then REAPER?
The swoon of Elias’s prayer directed at Laia

Hate to Love Him

Hate to Love Him - Jody Holford Stays in the shallow end with two people searching for community and trying to make their own way. One is poor and one is rich. Standard romance.

Bloodfever

Bloodfever - Karen Marie Moning

I want to read a romance. I kept getting confused on this book if this was the girl who wanted her cherry popped--but no, that was the other KMM series I read. So the voice? It's not different. And it comes down to this little fact: I have no inclination to read 9 books in this character's voice. I don't care how sexy it is. I'm really glad I left that review for the first one, which could've just read like my first couple pages of this:
"I don't know you guys."
Actual review:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/112750.Darkfever?from_search=true
(I know, It does sound like I'm convincing myself.)
I still don't know. I never will. No time, patience, or inclination. DNF, 12% no rating.

So Over You

So Over You - Kate Meader Love when book titles are something like this so I can say

“So over it.”

As my review. Reasons...I was bored. Life is too short. Cut and paste generic Barbie/bunny/boobs and attractive women not being smart comments from sooooo many others in the genre. I find this dumb bimbo thing so annoying bc I think you must have to be smart to watch hockey. residing in a hockey state my whole life I still don’t fucking get it. I don’t go to the Wild games to ogle hot hockey players and I can promise you I’d never know if there are any. I don’t hockey. I know there are hot baseball, football, and basketball players...what was my point? Leave hockey fans alone..? Why is the language so horrible in hockey romance?

DNF

Gold Rush

Gold Rush - Jennifer Comeaux This is a book about a girls quest to win the gold medal, seemed like she was 19 but then it seemed like she was 12, and her love affair with figure skating.


There was also a boy, some kissing, and sweet stuff that will make your teeth ache. He was perfect, as perfect as her three skates in the Olympics, natch.

Cake at Midnight

Cake at Midnight - Jessie L. Star I honestly don't know how to characterize this decent book that was almost good. Almost really good. I almost kind of sort of like it?

It was on the longer side, it seemed, with heavy set-up on a trio of best friends making their way in the world in their mid-20s. One of the friends is in love with another, which leads to all kinds of things. Things that almost made me stop reading. The heroine (Gio) felt weak, the love interest/friend (Dec) abusive, the other friend (Zoe) continually telling her that he didn't deserve her time and efforts and she was right. Zoe was so committed to that, she basically ended her own friendship with Declan. Gio, in effect, is a fallback girl for Declan, and their relationship reads very co-dependent. It clearly messes with her agency and her self-confidence, and we are given many many reasons that this isn't worth it for her. Gio doesn't see this for herself until he insults her so horribly at a party, she hides away, calls a 30 day break to get over him, and I'm confused...I thought it was a friends-to-lovers. And also weak heroine. This book nearly lost me after 20% - after all that's some pretty hefty groundwork for a...

NEIGHBOR ROMANCE.

But honestly, this is why this book glimmered. Despite the choppy, awkward start with the annoying MC (Gio) it did set her off on a journey. One with a nicer, steadier guy who didn't need her and take her for granted. Star built their intimacy, tension and relationship quite nicely, but that undercurrent of waiting for the other shoe to drop (i.e. the re-intro of Declan) was irritating. I felt like I couldn't move on from that raincloud of her old, unhealthy friendship. As Gio gains her agency though, and as her relationship with Theo grows, I appreciated the depth to which all the characters seemed to be explored. And in the end, I appreciated the way the friendships were fleshed out. Neither perfect nor healthy, but striving for both. Theo was a steady, quiet, sexy type. He also made mistakes. It was enjoyable to see how much he appreciated Giovanna in the end, and how he worked with and through his own baggage.

So why not quite three stars? Cause doesn't this sound almost great? Well, really, that first 20% were crazy making, the Declan subplot was irritating, the writing at times felt juvenile and wasteful. It just wasn't a tightly knit story-I felt too distracted. So, despite the strong secondary characters and the admirable development and growth for the relationships and friendships and our main characters, I just can't give it more than a 2.47. It just felt a little too all over the place even though sometimes that lent to the strength of the book, it was absolutely the major detractor too.

**BTW, I love the colors on the cover, and that's why I read it. Good times.

Sweet Disorder

Sweet Disorder - Rose Lerner Happy sighs, going to hug my kobo while I fall asleep now...

A Crazy Kind of Love (Flirting with Fame)

A Crazy Kind of Love (Flirting with Fame) - Mary Ann Marlowe 1.5-2

Glitterland

Glitterland - Alexis Hall, Nicholas Boulton Copying my review over from the print version. No idea why this weird occurred:
I love glitter. I wonder if people who don't like a little sparkle are lying. But then, the practical side of me says "Hey it really sticks to you and is heavily irritating, you find it all over forever. It never lets you forget you had it on your new year's cards that one year" And well, I must say there's no more fitting term for one of the heroes of this book than Darian, the Glitter Pirate.

That's not to take anything away from Ash's narrative, because it was so painful and dead on, and that might actually make you feel like you're about to get hit by a bus every so often in this book. Ash's self-defeating manner was so easy to slip into that sometimes it felt like a second skin in this book. There were incredible painful moments, but my god it's so lovely, vivid and made me smile more than hurt.

I can't really say much else about this book other than I really did feel like it was damn near perfect.

What can I say about the audiobook? Nicholas Boulton treats us to both characters in a recipe at the end....He's incredible, they were both so very alive and real and I can't help thinking his narration added a layer my brain never could to the characters. In other words, also perfect.

Irresistible You (The Chicago Rebels Series Book 1)

Irresistible You (The Chicago Rebels Series Book 1) - Kate Meader Hmmm, let me be crisp on this review. There was really nothing to do about this book. It was well-written, the characters were all just enough, the book was just enough, I didn't get Remy for about 30% but once I did he was sweet, and the book could've easily wrapped at 63%. Seriously, at 63% we know that Remy wants to retire after the season, settle down and be a stay at home dad. Harper has ambitions and wants to continue to build the Chicago rebel hockey team. Maybe to prove she can, maybe cause she's in love with it. She needs a man to support that or no man at all. I feel like I needed to smack both their foreheads at this point and say "time to discuss the future you idiots." It's a case of a slightly over mediocre book, which I read at a slightly bad time. (See: whole post on book grouchy)

I have to be honest, I had some stuff going on today, was quite busy and when I sat down to read I had no earthly clue what CR I was reading initially. I actually thought I might be between books. It was about a second before the book opened I remembered. I just think that's probably not the best sign...

Oh, but maybe I'll review it. It was a boss-employee relationship but the woman is the boss, and the man is the pursuer, generally. Nothing about this tickled my fancy including the sweaty locker room scene with, in all likelihood, pads still on. Light references to puck bunnies.

I have a crush on the actual interesting character, Bren, in this book. I also find her sisters interesting.

Magnificent Bastard

Magnificent Bastard - Lili Valente 2.5-3.75: This book was breezy,and honestly not terrible. It’s outrageous and all from a very confident (though not disgusting) hero POV. It’s a great friends-to-lovers if seeking something in the shallow end. I plan to try Lili Valentine again.

The Lawrence Browne Affair

The Lawrence Browne Affair - Cat Sebastian Georgie, Georgie, Georgie.

He stole the show. Just a bit too much - I felt the romance was a little more unbalanced than I'd hope as a result. But I listened to it, and the result me really loving Georgie's voice too.

It was a lovely book, a 3.5 simply because of that lack of balance. I just couldn't muster up quite the care of Lawrence, which is interesting, because he was a very intriguing character who just seemed to fall a bit flat for me overall.

As for the performance, I usually just say I loved it, or it added to it, but at times this narrator (though I do think his voice is quite delicious) was a bit too 'flat' and the transitions were a bit too smooth overall because of this.

But damn, that jewel scene. I wanted to cry.

A Girl Like Her

A Girl Like Her - Talia Hibbert 4.5 I wouldn’t call what I’ve been in a book slump at all. I would say I’m book grumpy. Book grouchy. Contemporary romances have been the number one aim of my discontent. Really, it’s as if Jack Talent invaded my soul (cause we’re soul mates. Yep, fictional character, try to tell me it’s not real)…and I’m all “Piss and shit,” and sometimes even “Piss and shit and buggering, bloody, fucking hell,” on the sub-genre in the past few weeks. The ongoing B-R with the very lovely, very nuanced, very well-crafted Darkest London is probably layering on this irritation…those books make me ache, man. This is also why I REALLY need a nice refreshing CR.

To the rescue are two of my GR friends, who aren’t just particular (I guess many of us are that) they are stingy with their stars so seeing a 3.5 from Gaufre & a 5-a joyful 5-from Renae made me raise my eyebrows. And, oh, look here, I’m on my KU binge. I fully expected to enjoy this book as a result.

So what happened? Enter Talia Hibbert, who I’ve never read-never heard of-before said “Oh, you’re grumpy about books?” She wadded up that feeling, threw it in my face, then picked it up and lit in on fire. Then I think someone slapped me. This #ownvoices romance is fresh. A smart, funny, quick style. Sexy as hell. Authentic. Characters that are real and unapologetic. Strong female relationships, a perfect hero who still makes mistakes but they are so understandable so he still is pretty perfect. And more sexy consent please. A book about patience, forgiveness, and loyalty. Good people. Delicious.

My gripe? I wish it were longer. There was a lack of depth here or there I was hoping for more-some pieces seemed skimmed over a little bit-but these two were so sweet, funny, earnest, and wonderful it didn’t matter The heroine (Ruth) was prickly! Unapologetically. No explanations, no softening, these characters just are…

And look, Chris Evans is like my 9th favorite famous Chris, but Talia Hibbert suddenly made me think, “Oh Evans as Captain America, please and thank you.” She's not wrong about the gif. (which I watched maybe a couple too many times last night?)

(I feel like I had to add this to my review. Because...flavor.)

description

Look, I realize I didn’t really review the book here. My heart boiled over with joy, I say. I had to take some breathers from all that happy. I point you to Renae’s for more details on why.

Feelings weren’t as straight forward and binary as he’d once assumed; around Ruth he could feel fifty things at once.

Idle Bloom

Idle Bloom - Jewel E. Ann I like this author. I put this book down approximately forever. I tried picking it back up, but I....

I just don't care.

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