book reviews

ARC Review of The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember

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The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember

Publication Date: August 22, 2017.

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press.

Genres: Fantasy and Young Adult.

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Purchase here: Amazon Book Depository | Harmony Ink Press

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.

Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.

When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

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Thank you, Julia Ember and Harmony Ink Press, for my ARC of The Tiger’s Watch. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

As Julia Ember’s third published book, The Tiger’s Watch manages to still contain all the things I love about Ember’s work and continue to surprise me with new stories and concepts. The Tiger’s Watch is about Tashi, who is nonbinary, genderfluid, and uses they/them pronouns. Throughout the book, Tashi’s pronouns are respected and the few times someone uses the wrong pronouns for them, it’s immediately called out and corrected. The world we see in The Tiger’s Watch is filled with magic and culture, and Tashi among other selected are inhabitors: “As inhabitors, we all bonded with one animal at the age of eight, and our life force linked to theirs.” At first, the connection between Tashi and their golden tiger Katala reminded me of Sense8 with how they can enter each other’s minds and take over each other’s bodies. In their country, Tashi learned to become an inhabitor at an academy specifically meant for children, poor or orphaned, to be trained to become inhabitors and spies, with the ability to wield their unique magic.

“It was something we all were conditioned to understand, even if most of us never fully accepted it. Once you became an inhabitor and said the words of the binding spell, your soul literally fused with another creature’s. I could access Katala’s memories, feel her emotions, and see what she saw. When she or I died, the one who lived would slip away as Kalx was doing. For me, bonded as I was to a mountain tiger with a projected lifespan of more than thirty years, things didn’t seem so bleak. I could live to be forty or maybe older.”

I think what really makes you connect with The Tiger’s Watch and draws you is the characters, even if your feelings towards them are torn. Tashi really evolved in this book. They still doubt themselves at times, but they also come to the realization that they can be brave despite not always having been so in the past and Katala, their golden tiger and other half, balanced them out in the perfect way. However, it should be mentioned that all characters in this book, including Tashi, can be seen as morally ambiguous. There is no one that is 100 % good or evil, there is both in all of them and that makes the entire story that much more complex and intriguing. It’s a lot harder to know who to root for when you’re on the fence about everyone and their true intentions. I cannot wait to see where the sequel takes us because there is unfinished business, and questions I’m eager to get answers to.

The romance in the book is complex and for me, it was very unexpected. At first, I thought it was going in one direction and then it went into another. I’m still uncertain how I feel about any of the possible pairings that have been explored in this book. Despite this, I do lean more towards one of the pairings and hope it will be further developed in the future (or that maybe a new pairing pops up).

One thing I’d like to point out is that I do not share the marginalizations the main character, Tashi, and a few other the other main characters have. Therefore I cannot speak on the representation in the book. If I find any ownvoices reviews that discuss the representation I will make sure to update my review and include these reviews here.

The Tiger’s Watch is perfect for readers who love unique and diverse fantasy books, especially if you love ones you’ll get through quickly. There are characters you won’t be sure whether you hate or love, and there will probably even be some tears (there was for me). However, The Tiger’s Watch is a great read and I really recommend it.

P.S. A personal side note. I’m so happy, surprised, and grateful that a dream came through with this book; I was mentioned in the acknowledgments of the book. If you’ve read my blog post, Bookish Bucket List Goals, you already knew this was something I’ve always wanted to happen since I honestly think it’s the coolest thing ever. Anywho, I’m so glad to be a reader and supporter of Julia Ember’s books.

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ARC Review of Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

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illegalcontact1Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Publication Date: August 15, 2017.

Publisher: InterMix.

Genres: Romance, Sports, LGBT, and Contemporary.

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Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel. 

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

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Thank you, InterMix, for my e-ARC of Illegal Contact. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell has become one of my favorite romance reads of the year and has shown me how romance is done right. This dislike to love story between Gavin and Noah will surprise you and draw you in like you never saw coming. If you want a sports romance between two men that manages to be both cute, sexy and has that little extra look no further. Illegal Contact is it for you. As my first Santino Hassell book, Illegal Contact has cemented me as a fan and I need to read the rest of Hassell’s work as soon as I can.

“If you think my image is shitty now, just wait until a housekeeper or a PA finds out I like fucking guys. Gavin Brawley, the Barons’ alpha asshole, being bisexual will be a lot more sensational than golden boy Simeon experimenting at the club while wasted.”

My favorite part about Illegal Contact is definitely the characters. We have Gavin Brawley who is an American football player who is under house arrest because of an aggressive encounter. However, despite the first impression the world has of Gavin we soon learn there is so much more to him. First of all, he’s bisexual, something he has kept a secret because of how homophobic the football world is. Moreover, what the world doesn’t see is that Gavin is loyal and would do anything to protect his friends and teammates, his chosen family. Not to mention, despite being a very angry and blunt person Gavin has a soft side that you get to see more and more of as the story progresses. My friends and I have unofficially dubbed Gavin as a bisexual king. He’s just, you know, so majestic. There is also Noah Monroe, the other main character, a gay man, who only wants to do good in this world and help LGBT youth. He’s also not afraid to call it like it is and is a total badass at times. However, after an awful incident, he’s without a job, in need of money, and decides to apply for the job as Gavin’s personal assistant. Noah who knows nothing about football is nerdy and loves to read books. In a lot of ways, Gavin and Noah are such different people but as they grow closer and closer they find that there is a lot of common ground between them.

“The warmth in my chest and butterflies in my gut made it plain as day that my miserable ass really fucking liked him. In the hand-holding kind of way, not just the ass-pounding way.”

This leads me to the romance between Gavin and Noah, and let me tell you, it’s simply amazing. I mean they have such amazing banter, which is heightened because of the whole ordeal of them disliking each other in the beginning. Everything just progresses from that. You can slowly see them falling in love with each other and the readers know this is real love even before the characters themselves do. It’s so precious, they’re so precious, this is everything I could ever want from a good romance. I love how these men become all soft for each other, they just want to be there for each other and love one another. It’s so beautiful. At first sight, they look like they could never be a match but towards the end you know there is no better pair than Gavin and Noah.

Moreover, there is also a lot about sports in this book (since you know it’s a sports romance) and I love how Illegal Contact really called out how homophobic and toxic the football community is but also showed us how being a team is about teamwork, commitment, and family. The book also discusses how white sports media is and how in sports calendars the majority of players shown are white and how that does not represent what teams actually look like. Illegal Contact shows you both the good and the bad about the sports world and does so in a way I think many will appreciate.

All in all, if you want a quality romance novel about two men falling in love then look no further. Illegal Contact is funny, sweet and hot and is a perfect blend of everything you could wish for in a sports romance. This m/m story will knock you off your feet and have you singing your praises before you hit the halfway mark. You deserve this content in your life, make sure you put Illegal Contact on your radar.

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ARC Review of The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Publication Date: August 8, 2017.

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy, and Science Fiction.

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Purchase here: Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

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Thank you, Hachette Book Group, for my advanced review copy of The Hearts We Sold. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Emily Lloyd-Jones’s novel The Heart We Sold is an amazing book and for me, it has cemented her as an author you should have on your radar. There are so many aspects of The Hearts We Sold I love and the fact that I went into this book with little to no expectations and hints of what would happen just made the journey all that more entertaining, beautiful, and heartbreaking. Readers should be aware, this story is both soft and dark: you will laugh, cry and swoon, and the ending is not your typical “and so they all lived happily ever after” because that is not the kind of story The Hearts We Sold is. This is a dark tale where there’s danger, and girls become knights in shining armor to fight demons and monsters, both literally and figuratively, and nothing is guaranteed or as it first seems.

But Dee was not angry.

She had walked willingly into a fairy tale, in a world where she could trade her heart for her freedom. She may as well have donned a red cloak and strode into a darkened forest.

She had always known there would be wolves.

I chose this.

The Hearts We Sold is about Deirdre “Dee” Moreno who goes to boarding school to escape her parents who are alcohol addicts and have emotionally abused her during a large part of her childhood. When she loses her scholarship due to budget cuts she is put in a difficult situation. With nowhere else to turn she goes to a demon. Demons are a daily part of the world in The Hearts We Sold where they grant wishes in exchange for body parts. Because of her situation, Dee does the unthinkable, she trades her heart in exchange for money so that she can continue to attend her school. After the deal is made, she is introduced to the demon’s troop, a group of heartless teens who are supposed to do the demon’s bidding for two years, in which he has their hearts. When their two-year period is over, the teens get their hearts, and their freedom, back.

James’s expression softened. “Look, I get it. You’re panicking right now.” He edged closer, until she had no choice but to look him in the eye. He made a motion as if to touch her arm, but then his hand fell away. “A demon just ripped your heart out. By all rules of the universe, you should be dead. I should be dead. But you know what we’re going to do in the meantime?”

“What?”

“Live,” he said.

I feel that what makes this book so amazing is definitely the characters. The main character Dee, who is Latino, really has been through a lot in her life and has never been able to rely on anyone. However, throughout this book, we see her meet James and form a connection, a friendship, and something more. James is an artist, he paints and he’s really good at it. He’s soft, funny, and kind, and I love how good Dee and James are for each other. However, despite the soft and cute romance that grows between Dee and James in this book, I would not call this book a romance novel.

Except for Dee and James, there were also a lot of other characters that played a large role in this book, and I love how diverse this group of teens was. There is Cora, a black girl and one fourth of the heartless troop, and Gremma, who is Dee’s boarding school roommate, a lesbian, and a total badass, and Riley, a trans girl who shows up towards the end of the book and who complements the group in the best way. This book is about relationships, survival, love, and trust, but most of all about friendships. You will, ultimately, root for these characters because of how close you feel to them and their connections with each other.

The Hearts We Sold is perfect for readers who love young adult books that feature the supernatural and high stakes, with characters you can relate to and will fall in love with. This book will surprise you, break your heart, and leave you with an ending that is bittersweet. However, you will love every minute of it. Make a deal with a demon, and get yourself a copy of The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones. 

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ARC Review of The Queen’s Game by Carla de Guzman

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The Queen’s Game by Carla de Guzman

Publication Date: August 1, 2017.

Publisher: Independently published.

Genres: Romance.

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Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: There are only two reasons why Nina would come back home to Cincamarre–one, if Auntie Delia promises to stop butting into her business, two, if her father died and she was made to ascend the throne to be queen.

Unfortunately for her, it was the second thing that brought her home.

As a princess who’s sunk a yacht and been caught kissing popstars, it’s easy for her aunt, the regent, to think she’s ill prepared for the throne. But Nina doesn’t think that having to fake date Felipe, the handsome, squeaky clean Prince of Concordia was the best solution for that.

Nina’s ready to learn the ropes of her new role and make it hers, and reconnecting with Felipe only makes her want to be a better queen. But is the monarchy ready for Queen Nina?

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Thank you, Carla de Guzman, for my advanced review copy of The Queen’s Game. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

I am in love with The Queen’s Game and this contemporary romance story featuring Filipino main characters. As soon as I saw the blurb I knew I had to read it. I have a weak spot for contemporary royalty and mix that with #romanceclass and you know it’s a winner. This story features a princess, Nina, and a prince, Felipe, who grew up side by side because of their neighboring nations, Cincamarre and Concordia. Later on, in life, they reunite when Nina returns after several years of travel to attend her father’s, the king’s, funeral. What then begins is a story of a fake relationship that turns into something real. This book has royalty, fake dating and childhood friends; this book has it all.

As the prince and princess of neighboring nations, born in the same year, the Royal Houses of Mercado and Macasaet thought it would be cute if their equally royal children grew up together. No promise of engagement, no particular political reason except that the children looked so darn cute together.

 I love how Nina, who despite dealing with the loss of her father, is so strong and fierce. She is about to become queen in a nation where very few know who she really is. All they are aware of is what the media has been feeding them through various scandals. I love how Nina just embraces her past and her scandals. Nina is a rebel but she’s also kind and cares about her people, which becomes so clear when she’s finally back in her home nation of Cincamarre. There is also Felipe, the prince in charge of Concordia. He loves farming and everything that has to do with nature. He’s sexy, sweet, and modest but also very clumsy. I love how passionate he is about the things and people he loves and you can clearly see that he is a great ruler and an amazing person who cares deeply about the people he is in charge of.

“There’s only one thing I’ve done recently that makes me as happy as this does.”

“What?” She asked him, tilting her head.

“Spending time with you,” he said, smiling with that cocky little grin of his again.

I love the dynamic and banter that exists between Nina and Felipe. I love it when they flirt with each other and tease one another. However, there is also this soft side to their relationship. Felipe writes Nina love letters where he expresses his feelings for her and both Nina and Felipe are very supportive of one another. I love how Felipe sees Nina in a way that others don’t and he believes in her from the beginning until the very end. He lifts her up and reminds of her of what she already knows deep inside; she is meant to become a queen. Another aspect of Nina and Felipe’s relationship I really loved was how they talked about sex. Nina calls out the fact that sex should not have to shameful or something you have to wait until marriage for if you don’t want to. Sex can be pleasurable and fun and Nina embraced that in the most amazing way which made Nina’s and Felipe’s relationship that much more admirable.

If you love diverse books, romance, and contemporary royalty then The Queen’s Game is a perfect match for you. This book is funny, sweet, and sexy and will make you want more by the end of it. There is fake dating, rule breaking, and even a little bit of scheming. You don’t have to wait any longer, the contemporary royalty romance novel you’ve always waited for is here and ready to be read. Long live the queen!

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ARC Review of Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

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Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Publication Date: August 8, 2017.

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Mental Illness, and Romance.

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Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: A stunning novel on love, loss, identity, and redemption, from Publishers Weekly Flying Start author Brandy Colbert.

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

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Thank you, Hachette Book Group, for my advanced review copy of Little & Lion. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Little & Lion is my favorite read this year and truth to be told, I love it in a way that is hard for me to describe. There are some books that you read that you just know will mean a lot to you and Little & Lion was definitely that for me. When I heard this book was being released, many months ago, I just knew I had to read it. My expectations were sky-high and for that reason, I was also scared to start it. However, as it turns out, the book exceeded all of my expectations.

Little & Lion is about Suzette, a black Jewish bisexual girl still trying to figure out who she is, and her brother Lionel, who is bipolar. Suzette and Lionel’s bond was formed as kids when Suzette’s mom, Nadine, and Lionel’s dad, Saul, started dating and then after two years decided to join their families and merge households. Despite the fact that there is a large dose of romance in this book, both for Suzette and for Lionel, Little & Lion is about family and Suzette’s and Lionel’s relationship as siblings. Their relationship is not always easy, especially with Lionel’s bipolar disorder. There are disagreements, secrets, and even distance. However, there is also so much love between the two. It’s clear that Suzette and Lionel’s bond is special and beautiful, which is further highlighted through flashback chapters, and I love that we got to see both the good and the bad of their relationship. It makes you root for them both that much more. Suzette and Lionel are characters you can relate to, and you will definitely question and cheer for decisions both of them make throughout the book. However, despite it all, by the end of it, they are in a good place with each other which is what I loved the most.

“It’s no big deal.” He looks at his feet, sticking up beneath the covers. “You’re my sisters.”

I know that’s what he’s saying every time he calls me Little—acknowledging that we’re siblings, even if we’re not related by blood. But I like hearing him say it so plainly. It makes me think there’ll never be a time when we question our bond.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of romance in this book and lots of drama that surrounds it. There is somewhat of a love square (instead of a triangle) at one point in the story, and I feel like it was done in such a way that it just made sense for the story and the characters. These teens are figuring out who they are, who they want to love and be and what that says about them. Teenage love is new and exciting and confusing, and it deserves to be just that. This also leads to me into Suzette and her bisexuality. First of all, I love how this story called out bisexual stereotypes and misconceptions. However, my favorite part of the story was definitely how we get to see Suzette realize that she is, in fact, bisexual. The reader gets to see Suzette’s doubts and thoughts, where she tries to decipher what her feelings for both girls and boys mean, and I think that will be meaningful for a lot of readers. Figuring out who you are is not always easy or instant, and I love how Little & Lion showed that.

Honestly, there is so much to love about Little & Lion. I love the way it makes me feel, I love that it made me both laugh and cry, and I love that there are so many characters to love in this book. Two people have gone unmentioned so far are the two love interests, Rafaela and Emil. I especially fell in love with Emil, who is black and Korean, because he is literally the sweetest guy ever. Moreover, another aspect I love about Little & Lion is what an important aspect Suzette’s Judaism had in the story. Suzette has to deal with a lot because of Jewish stereotypes that exist, particularly what it means to be both black and Jewish. However, she also mentions how her Judaism is her connection to Saul, her stepfather, and how she’s proud of it, and I thought that was really beautiful.

All in all, I love this story and recommend it to everyone who loves young adult literature (but also if you don’t, trust me, you won’t regret it). This book means a lot to me and even if this review appears to be coherent, I honestly just want to fangirl and scream over how much I adore this book. I will recommend this book for a long time to come and I’m sure I will be rereading my favorite parts whenever I want to experience the joyous feeling this book gave me, all over again. Don’t miss out on getting to know Suzette and Lionel, Little and Lion, and make sure this book is on your radar and TBR.

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ARC Review of The Little Queen by Meia Geddes

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thelittlequeen1The Little Queen by Meia Geddes

Publication Date: August 1, 2017.

Publisher: Poetose Press.

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, and Fantasy.

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Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: When her mother and father pass away, the little queen must figure out how to be a little queen. And so she begins her adventures, journeying away from her palace and into the world to determine how she should go about going on. The little queen soon encounters numerous folks who teach her a thing or two: the book sniffer, the dream writer, and the architect of silence are just a few. Along the way, the little queen finds friendship, love, and meaning in being a leader in her world. The Little Queen is a magical exploration of self-discovery, vocation, community, and home.

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Thank you, Poetose Press, for my eARC of The Little Queen. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

The Little Queen by Meia Geddes starts with two simple sentences that lay the basis for the entire story: “On a little world, upon a little hill, a little tear fell down a little face. A little girl was now a little queen.” The story follows a little queen who lost her parents and is now trying to figure out how she can be a little queen, and if it’s something she can be. She is filled with insecurities and a bit of sadness too. To figure it all out, the little queen goes on several adventures and meets a lot of different women that teach her lessons about life and about who she is. Along the way, she even falls in love with a girl.

“Each of them admired the other’s ears and eyes and smiles, and in that moment both of them knew that they had fallen in love.”

The Little Queen is a book I truly want everyone to read. It is basically the sapphic fairytale everyone deserves in their life. Not only is the story suitable for everyone, both young people and the old, it is also a story I feel will bring light and warmth to everyone who reads it. The story is simple, pure and just beautiful. The Little Queen is a novella, unlike anything I have read before which is also why I fell in love with it. I can with confidence recommend it to everyone who likes fantasy books, to people who love it when a book reads like a fairytale and to everyone who loves a story that is both unique and adorable. The Little Queen is the fairytale we all deserve, one written by a woman of color and is about girls loving other girls. Meia Geddes is definitely on my radar from now on. I want to buy a physical copy of this book just so that I can read it to my children one day if I were to have them.

“When the little queen moved her hands through air and earth and swung her legs forward in long, steady strides, she felt a tingling. Lying in fields, she looked up at the sky and thought how the clouds looked like clusters of stars and how the stars looked like tiny suns.”

I love The Little Queen, the writing is both beautiful and lyrical and the book itself explores topics revolving who and what we are, where we belong in the world, and where we want to go. Moreover, when The Little Queen goes on a journey of self-discovery and love, you find yourself doing the same. The book is feminist and filled with strong women so sure of themselves and I think no matter your age or preferred genre, this book has something to give to everyone. Don’t miss it when The Little Queen by Meia Geddes comes out August 1, 2017.

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ARC Review of Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

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bearlyalady1.jpgBearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

Publication Date: July 18, 2017.

Publisher: Book Smugglers Publishing.

Genres: Romance and Paranormal.

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Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: Zelda McCartney (almost) has it all: a badass superhero name, an awesome vampire roommate, and her dream job at a glossy fashion magazine (plus the clothes to prove it).

The only issue in Zelda’s almost-perfect life? The uncontrollable need to transform into a werebear once a month. Just when Zelda thinks things are finally turning around and she lands a hot date with Jake, her high school crush and alpha werewolf of Kensington, life gets complicated. Zelda receives an unusual work assignment from her fashionable boss: play bodyguard for devilishly charming fae nobleman Benedict (incidentally, her boss’s nephew) for two weeks.

Will Zelda be able to resist his charms long enough to get together with Jake? And will she want to? Because true love might have been waiting around the corner the whole time in the form of Janine, Zelda’s long-time crush and colleague. What’s a werebear to do?

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Thank you, Book Smugglers Publishing, for my eARC of Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

I love Bearly a Lady and the main character Zelda McCartney. This book is funny, cute and sexy. It is impossible not to enjoy the characters and their banter, chemistry, and tension. I love the world Cassandra Khaw has created, with shapeshifters, vampires, and fae etc., and I want to see more of it. Seriously, give me more of both the main ship and the world. Not to forget, the book is also really feminist and calls out bullshit like no other. We deserve to see more of that, especially in romance.

“I breathe in. Calm. I am above all of this. I am a werebear. I am a goddess. I am a woman, large and in charge, a captain who is in control of her ship. This is nothing. I am above this.”

Zelda is a fat, bisexual werebear, a woman of color, and the most amazing book character ever. She works at Vogue and is a fashionista, which is honestly just the coolest. However, what makes her so amazing is the fact that she embraces herself and her body. Zelda’s confidence is incredible. To see a woman owning her body, her looks, her fashion sense and being “I’m a goddess” is so great because we need to tell women that that’s how you’re supposed to feel about yourself. You loving yourself is the most beautiful thing and I love it when we get to see female characters doing just that despite their insecurities, insecurities we all have. There is also, of course, Zelda’s love interest(s). Truly, there is only one that counts (squeals over them and their cuteness) but throughout the novella, we get to see Zelda with a couple of potential matches which makes the endgame that much sweeter. This is an f/f romance and I selfishly want more.

The ending, though sweet and happy, was way too short for my taste and that’s partly why I want a sequel. However, I also feel like a sequel is wanted because there are a lot of unanswered questions for me. At first, I wasn’t sure whether Janine was human or some supernatural being, and the whole mechanics of how humans interact with the supernatural beings and who is allowed to know and not know about their existence was really something I wanted to know more about.

“Long story short, cross-species romances are rare and occasionally fatal. Antelope and crocodile? Nope. Wolf and dog? Horrible, horrible idea.”

I would recommend Bearly a Lady to everyone who loves romance and the paranormal. I love the fact that we get to see shapeshifters and vampires in an “everyday” environment and not in some sort of bubble where the rest of the world doesn’t seem to exist. If you’re craving a book that is sweet and hilarious and also nails the perfect blend of all things supernatural and fashion, look no further, Bearly a Lady is just for you.

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ARC Review of Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell

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fragilechaos1.jpgFragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell

Publication Date: July 11, 2017.

Publisher: Radiant Crown Publishing, LLC.

Genres: Young Adult, Mythology, and Fantasy.

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Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: A GOD OF WAR SEEKING RESTORATION.

AN UNWILLING SACRIFICIAL BRIDE.

BETRAYAL THAT COULD DESTROY THEM BOTH.

“Every fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.”

Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.

“I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.”

Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.

Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?

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Thank you, Amber R. Duell, for my eARC of Fragile Chaos. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Fragile Chaos is a book I’m in love with and I’m so happy I had the opportunity to read this one early. It took me a while to get into the story but once I was in, there was no going back for me. The entire concept of Fragile Chaos intrigued me and while I was scared it wouldn’t deliver I can definitely say it did and then some. The story follows Theo, the God of War, and Cassia, a female sacrifice meant to become Theo’s bride. From their first scene, there is a clear connection between the two and the more you see of them, both individually and together, the more invested you become in their fates. If you are a fan of young adult books with strong mythical elements and romance that is fought for then Fragile Chaos is a must read.

“War is a captivating, magnetic disorder. And it’s mine. Only the God of War can decide when and how it ends, and right now I’m perfectly happy to let it rage on despite what my brother wants. He may be older, and the King of the Gods, but this is my decision.”

I love the mythology aspect of the story. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of Greek and Roman mythology. However, despite the similarities, the mythology present in Fragile Chaos is that of its own. In Fragile Chaos, there are six realms of the gods and goddesses and all of the gods are siblings. The siblings are Ebris, the King of the Gods; Drea, the Goddess of Life; Brisa, the Goddess of the Sea; Leander, the God of Death; Astra, the Goddess of Love, and lastly, Theodric, the God of War and the protagonist of the book. The thing about Fragile Chaos is that it feels new and different in comparison to a lot of other books I’ve read based on mythology. First of all, Fragile Chaos focuses on the God of War which I have never seen before. Moreover, the whole world that Amber R. Duell has created is intriguing, draws you in and makes you want to see more of it. I have always loved books that feature gods and goddesses and I’m really happy that Fragile Chaos managed to surprise me, which I didn’t think it’d do. Fragile Chaos is gritty and manages to keep you at the edge of your seat until the very end.

However, what made me really fall in love with Fragile Chaos is definitely the main characters. We have Theo, the God of War, who is misunderstood by his siblings and wants them to see him for who he is, and for them to trust his judgments. Then we have Cassia, who despite being all alone in the world is strong and never gives up without a fight. Both of them are headstrong and have a soft side to them not everyone gets to see and that is what makes them such interesting characters.

To see Theo and Cassia fall in love was seriously a pleasure. My heart was weak the entire time, especially during the moments when Theo turned soft in the presence of Cassia while at the same time everything was on fire between them. The tension between Theo and Cassia was electric, and their chemistry and the way they were around each other throughout the book will make you fangirl. Another aspect of their story that I love was the fact that their love didn’t come easy. They both struggled with their emotions for each other and that made their connection that much deeper in the end. Theo and Cassia made me root for them, fangirl over the way they looked at and thought about each other, and their kissing scenes had me squealing. I just love it when a book does that.

“She collides against my chest. My breathing hitches. Each place her body touches mine feels as if it’s exploding. I push her away, stepping back at the same time, and drag in a breath.”

The one aspect of the story I think could have been written differently is the way Cassia’s skin color is described. She is clearly a woman of color, especially based on the book’s cover. However, in the book her skin color is described as tan and bronze. Tan is a very ambiguous word. Anyone can be tan no matter if your skin color is pink, beige, brown and black etc. and that’s why I thought her skin color could have been described better and therefore clarified. Two quotes from the book that highlights this issue are the following,

A girl in an oversized khaki jacket is sitting at the edge of the firelight’s glow. Shadows flicker over her tan skin, dancing in time to the flames. She can’t be more than sixteen. “Last roll,” she says.

and

My skin is almost as bronze as hers, my hair just as black, and if it weren’t for my blue eyes, I could easily pass as a fellow islander.

All in all, Fragile Chaos is a great young adult book about six gods and goddesses and the world they are a part of, for better and for worse. This book will make you fangirl and root for the protagonists until the very end. Theo and Cassia’s story has its ups and downs, nothing is ever easy for them, but their chemistry is amazing and you will want them to end up together despite all their flaws. If you love a good young adult romance, mythology, and a story with high stakes then you definitely need to read Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell.

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Cover Reveal for Ripped Pages by Maria Hollis

Hi everyone, welcome to another fun post I have for you today. I have a cover reveal for Maria Hollis’ next book Ripped Pages and both this cover and the synopsis just blows me away. An f/f Rapunzel retelling? This sounds too damn amazing. I cannot wait to get to read this thing. I know you’re waiting so without further ado here is the cover for Ripped Pages.

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Goodreads link

Release Date: TBA

Summary: Princess Valentina lives a reasonably comfortable life, but after her mother’s death, her father gets tired of taking care of her and locks her in a tower. She spends years on her own, talking to the birds on her windowsill, and reading books with adventures she will never experience. Her plans of running away are usually left for another day because she knows the vast forest surrounding her tower is too dangerous to cross alone.

Until one day, another girl passes by on her horse and Valentina wonders if she’s finally brave enough to seize her chance of freedom.


Ripped Pages is set to be released during the last months of 2017. The exact release date is still yet to be announced. In the meantime, you can read Maria’s other books The Melody of You and Me and The Paths We Choose. You can find her books on Goodreads and on Amazon. If you want to be caught up with all things Maria Hollis and her books you can also follow her on her twitter @_mhollis.

What do you think of the cover? Are you as excited for this book as I am?

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Review of Gravity by Juliann Rich

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gravity1.jpgGravity by Juliann Rich

Publication Date: November 15, 2016.

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books.

Genres: Young Adult, LGBT, Contemporary, and Sports.

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Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: A shot at Olympic gold in ski jumping. It’s a dream that has been the exclusive property of male athletes. Until now.

For seventeen-year-old Ellie Engebretsen, the 2011 decision to include women’s ski jumping in the Olympics is a game changer. She’d love to bring home the gold for her father, a former Olympic competitor whose dreams were blown along with his knees on an ill-timed landing. But can she defy the pull of gravity that draws her to Kate Moreau, her biggest competition and the girl of her dreams?

How can Ellie soar through the air when all she feels like doing is falling hard?

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Thank you, Bold Strokes Books, for my review copy of Gravity. I received this review copy in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the review copy and are subject to change upon publication.

I have very conflicted feelings about Gravity. My expectations were mixed, some of my friends loved this book and others did not. However, in the end, I feel like this book was a bit subpar. It was nothing special except for the fact that it’s about sports, in particular, ski jumping, which was the best part of this book. I’ll talk more about that after I’ll deal with my biggest issue of the book. To understand my issues with the book I’ll have to divulge on events that transpired in first third (or so) of the book. This book is about Ellie, whose father is a former ski jumper and who now trains Ellie to get ready for the Olympics. Ellie is gay and likes girls and up until the beginning of the book, Ellie was together with and in love with a girl named Blair. However, a couple of days before the book starts Ellie gets the following text, a text Blair was meant to send to Geoffrey (a guy also in the ski jumping circle of people).

“I promise I’ll break up with Ellie tonight, Geoffrey. I hate sneaking around as much as you do.”

What has happened is that Blair has been cheating on Ellie with Geoffrey. Naturally, Ellie is heartbroken and mad which I totally understand. Getting cheated on is the worst and it’s not wrong to feel bad about it. What I dislike about Ellie’s reaction though is 1) her biphobia and 2) the fact that she called Blair a bitch (not to her face, but still). The first part is a real problem for me because while Blair being unfaithful and sleeping with someone other than Ellie is wrong (because they were in a committed relationship) that does not give Ellie the right the “claim” that Blair is a straight girl. The sexuality of Blair is never actually mentioned but we learn throughout the book that the feelings Blair had for Ellie were still real. The parts I found to be biphobic were,

“She still can’t and it would be almost funny, the way her eyes rove around the room until her gaze settles on Jack’s ass, if it didn’t hurt so damn much that even her eyes are off limits to me. To people not in the know, it probably looks like Blair hasn’t given up girls for good. Not by a long shot. But Blair knows and I know, the deep red that spreads across her face has nothing to do with Jack’s glutes and everything to do with her guilt.”

And

“What’s there to understand? Your text was pretty clear. You got sick of me. Or it was all a lie and you never loved me. Or you wanted something Geoffrey had that I didn’t.” I spit that last one in her face, because it was always good between us, that part. Better than good.

And

“It was the type of torment I was willing to endure back then, but only for Blair Caldwell. One year of walking around with a hard-on will do that to an otherwise sane woman. It’ll make her drive through impassable conditions. It’ll make her pretend she loves being dragged into store after store. It’ll make her strip on command in order to try on obscenely overpriced jeans in cramped dressing rooms in front of the girl of her dreams—the supremely uninterested and presumably straight girl of her dreams.”

I’ll be honest, maybe I read too much into it, but to me, it felt really wrong of Ellie to talk about Blair in that way. Blair cheating and presumably being bisexual (she is coded as a bisexual), but being called a straight girl because she is with someone of the opposite sex at the moment, can be seen to feed into a lot of negative stereotypes.

Moreover, I don’t have a problem with swearing, but I’ll admit that a woman calling another woman bitch really rubs me the wrong way which is why I, for example, had a problem with the following sentence.

“My Blair, my girl, the bitch who leapt into his arms like it was the easiest thing in the world.”

There was also a moment when the word slutty was used and I’m not really a fan of women (or anyone else for that matter) slut-shaming other women.

“Most days, I’m scoping out tourists, but all I see are silly girls or pouty girls or slutty girls. No one who could interest me enough to take my mind off Blair for one second.”

Despite my issues with Gravity I still really found the last half of so enjoyable. The main pairing, with their relationship in a large part built on lies which later on got exposed, towards the end really found each other and the truth together with shared dreams. That was very sweet. I really wish though that Ellie hadn’t lied so much to Kate and dealt with a lot of situations differently but that might just be me. The most interesting part about Gravity is that fact that it’s women in ski jumping. There is a lot of interesting trivia both in the book and afterward which teaches you about the fact that ski jumping is really misogynistic (which is called out in the book by the characters) and I loved that topic. I also loved the part about female ski jumpers being allies despite them also being competitors because of the misogynistic nature of the sport. In the Author’s Note: The Real Heroes in the end of the book it says the following,

“Though the Olympic barrier has been breached, the struggle to find equal footing continues. Currently women ski jumpers are allowed to compete in one event while their male counterparts compete in three.”

I really hope and wish we get to see more books about women in ski jumping because the sports sounds so amazing and I love seeing women taking their rightful place where men have tried to keep them away for so long. Big thumbs up for that. All in all, my feelings are mixed and I cannot give this book more than 2.5 stars. If you love f/f romances and sports, I say you can give this book a go but definitely be aware of the issues that exist in the book.

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