The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope // Book Review

The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope // Book Review

If you’re looking for something spooky for the Halloween season, but you don’t want to read something terribly scary, then this might be the one for you. Clairvoyants, ghosts, magical powers, and a heist all set during the 1920s in Washington D.C.? Yeah, you’re going to want to read this one. Thanks to Orbit Books for a gifted copy of the book.

Here’s more about The Monsters We Defy

A woman able to communicate with spirits must assemble a ragtag crew to pull off a daring heist to save her community in this timely and dazzling historical fantasy that weaves together African American folk magic, history, and romance.

Washington D. C., 1925

Clara Johnson talks to spirits, a gift that saved her during her darkest moments in a Washington D. C. jail. Now a curse that’s left her indebted to the cunning spirit world. So, when the Empress, the powerful spirit who holds her debt, offers her an opportunity to gain her freedom, a desperate Clara seizes the chance. The task: steal a magical ring from the wealthiest woman in the District.

Clara can’t pull off this daring heist alone. She’ll need help from an unlikely team, from a jazz musician capable of hypnotizing with a melody to an aging vaudeville actor who can change his face, to pull off the impossible. But as they encounter increasingly difficult obstacles, a dangerous spirit interferes at every turn. Conflict in the spirit world is leaking into the human one and along D.C’.s legendary Black Broadway, a mystery unfolds—one that not only has repercussions for Clara but all of the city’s residents.

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My thoughts

This was such a cinematic story and something I would love to see made into a movie one day! The characters are so vivid, the ghostly/magical world was so well explained, and the heist of all heists was so action-packed!

The story starts off with our main character, Clara Johnson, being born. She’s born with the amniotic sac still in tact. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that being born this way already makes you susceptible to the forces beyond the veil and Leslye Penelope starts off with this intriguing fact setting up our main character to see the “Other Side”.

The main character is also loosely based on a real life person named Clara Johnson who shot a police officer during the 1919 riots, being charged for manslaughter only to be retried pleading self-defence after the original judge passed away. I love the deep connection this book has with history and lending this interesting moment in history to set a fantasy book was expertly done. There’s also some appearances from some famous Black writers of the time, which really put a smile on my face.

The story then jumps forward in time to the 1920s where Clara is a young secretary with a little clairvoyant business on the side. She speaks with the spirits (aka Enigmas) and make deals for humans who are desperate for help from the other side. The Enigmas provide Charms to help appease whatever needs the human wants, but the humans are also cursed with a “Trick,” the downside of using the spirits to do their bidding. I absolutely loved this dichotomy between “charm” and “trick” and reminded me a lot of djinn magic where you must be very careful with how you word your wishes and the dire consequences of those wishes.

When a strange affliction affects the people in town, Clara wonders if it may be connected with the spirit world. When she speaks to her Enigma, she finds out that one of the wealthiest gangsters in town may be related to the events. In order to save the afflicted people, she must steal a ring from the gangster’s wife and bring it to her Enigma before they are able to help her. But Clara’s never stolen anything in her life, so she teams up with four other people (three of which owe debts to Enigmas) in hopes of using their Charms and masterfully steal this ring straight off her finger! It’s a heist, everyone!

I think what I really loved the most about this story is that you follow along with these characters and learn so much about them. I love the care Leslye Penelope puts into really bringing these characters to life rather than just writing them off as throwaways. They each have their faults, their Charms and their Tricks, and as the story unfolds more, you see who these characters really are which makes it much more interesting to read!

The heist itself was also fun! This was probably the most action-packed parts of the book and filled with imagery, fight scenes, and delicate suspense! I was definitely on the edge of my seat while I was reading!

Overall, this is a fantastic book that checks off all the boxes. A little action, a little romance, some suspense, characters that you will fall in love with, and a mystery you follow to the very end. I absolutely loved this one and I can’t wait to read what Leslye Penelope has coming out next!

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean // Book Review

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean // Book Review

Fairy tales are such an important part of a young reader’s journey. They provide moral support, share adventures, and also teach valuable lessons. But what happens when those fairy tales are all that you know? What if you’re expecting the knight to come save you only to realize that they are the enemy? What if the person who can rescue you is yourself? Thanks to Tor Books fort the gifted copy of this book.

Here’s more about The Book Eaters

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries.

Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairytales and cautionary stories.

But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.

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My thoughts

I finished this book late on Sunday afternoon and as I closed the cover for the final time, I realized that this was such an incredible book with an incredible story. However, I needed time to “digest” (pun intended) my thoughts on this peculiar story before I could share my thoughts with you. It was way different than I imagined it would be, but I enjoyed it regardless. It’s a modern-day fairy tale where the princess saves herself!

This is the story of a young person named Devon. She’s not human. She’s a book eater who comes from a family of book eaters that somehow landed on Earth generations ago and never left. They are slowly going extinct with a lack of females being born, those females who are born can only birth two children before losing their ability to conceive all together, and they are prisoners to their families, bought and sold to different book eaters to perpetuate the species and they’re not allowed to see their children ever again after a few years post-birth.

I think that the world building in this book is cleverly done. While telling the story in alternating timelines (one of Devon’s past and the other of Devon’s present), you really get a feel for the unique world Devon comes from. Their main concern is survival: with the circumstances stacked against them, these book eater people are desperate and in desperation comes severe methods of continuing to survive. Those methods are wrapped into traditions that are passed down from generation to generation.

When it finally dawns on Devon that she would have to let go of her children and when her final child, Cai, is born a mind eater (they have long snake-like tongues that suck out brains instead of devour books), she does everything in her power to escape the cycle of abuse. Right away, I was rooting for Devon and Cai. Even without knowing exactly what happened to her yet, I knew that she had gone through something, fighting something, and I was patiently reading through her past trauma and rooting for her to break free of it. Different than the other book eater women who eat fairy tales of princesses waiting to be saved in big castles, Devon read and ate the stories of heroines who made a place for themselves, had the strength to push beyond their boundaries, and subvert the societal pressures to be unseen. Devon is your modern day heroine who will stop at nothing to protect her children and give them the life they deserve.

The themes of this book also touch on motherhood, conception, mother/child relationships, domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse. While set in the modern day, I couldn’t help but imagine these book eater families stuck in some 19th century time warp where marriages are advantageous and a woman is only as good as whom she births. It was jarring at some points, touching on my own personal triggers and pushing me to read beyond it to see what happens at the end.

I think the only thing I wasn’t a huge fan of in this book is that it became quite repetitive at some points. While I know a lot about the book eater world, it was from the constant reinforcement of some of these ideas. It’s a small detail, but I bring it up in case others don’t like that.

This was an action packed story with a lot of character development and interesting themes. If you’re a fan of fairy tales, fantasy books, or just good modern story focused on a young woman’s love of her children, then I highly recommend this one. I’m now a huge fan of Sunyi Dean and will be looking out for new work from her in the future.

The Hookup Plan by Farrah Rochon // Book Review

The final book in the Boyfriend Project series, and in my honest opinion, Farrah Rochon saved the best for last! Thanks to Read Forever for the gifted copy of this book.

Here’s more about The Hookup Plan

Strong female friendships and a snappy enemies-to-lovers theme take center stage in this highly anticipated romantic comedy from the USA Today bestselling author of The Dating Playbook.

Successful pediatric surgeon London Kelley just needs to find some balance and de-stress. According to her friends Samiah and Taylor, what London really needs is a casual hookup. A night of fun with no strings. But no one—least of all London—expected it to go down at her high school reunion with Drew Sullivan, millionaire, owner of delicious abs, and oh yes, her archnemesis.

Now London is certain the road to hell is paved with good sex. Because she’s found out the real reason Drew’s back in Austin: to decide whether her beloved hospital remains open. Worse, Drew is doing everything he can to show her that he’s a decent guy who actually cares. But London’s not falling for it. Because while sleeping with the enemy is one thing, falling for him is definitely not part of the plan.

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My thoughts

If you’re a fan of enemies to lovers, romance stories with realistic conflict, and watching two people grow as individuals and as a couple through some turbulent times, then this is the book for you.

The Hookup Plan is my kind of romance. I talk about this a lot, but this one also hits all of my favorite things in a romance story. Yes, it focuses on the couple. Yes, it has an HEA/HFN that will satisfy you, but what this book also has are two very flawed humans coming to terms with the drama of their lives and making room for each other, their love, and a future that’s worth fighting for.

I absolutely loved London and Drew’s story. London is this hardworking pediatric surgeon who needs to make the next big decision of her life: whether she should stay at the County hospital that she’s currently working at or follow a really great fellowship in a much bigger city like Chicago. Drew is a super wealthy financial guy who has the unique opportunity of auditing London’s hospital and seeing whether or not selling the hospital makes sense or if it’s something that can be avoided with some clever financial work on his end.

London and Drew already know each other from their past as high school rivals fighting for the position of Valedictorian (only to be co-Valedictorians on the day of graduation). London despised Drew for always being the roadblock in the way of her ultimate success. Drew, on the other hand, only competed with London in order to gain a little bit of her attention. Because Drew has been in love with the idea of London since he first laid eyes on her.

15 years later and an awkward meet-cute at their high school reunion, London and Drew decide the best course of action for their amorous behavior is to be friends…with benefits. And you can guess where the story goes from there.

London and Drew were such real people in this book faced with very realistic issues in their life. This isn’t some lie by omission child’s play, but the real deal: having complicated family lives, having to make major decisions that will change the trajectory of their life. Dealing with the stresses that work and coworkers provide and navigating all while also maintaining some semblance of a social life. It felt real and that was the biggest draw for me here. I was rooting for London with the difficult conversations she had to have. I was hoping Drew would come clean about his feelings. The fact that the story felt so realistic made it more interesting for me to see where it goes. I knew Farrah Rochon wouldn’t let me down and she definitely didn’t!

It was such a heartwarming story with the kind of fantastical romantic gestures that will make you swoon. My heart was overflowing and a little bit breaking when it came to the realities they each had to face. I was so invested in this couple and rooting for them the entire time. The steam was pretty steamy and the relationship between London, Samiah, and Taylor was in full force in this novel. I know folks felt like they were absent throughout the first book, but I love seeing them all comfort each other, hold each other accountable, and really come into their own as best friends.

Another great one in the books for me. So happy to have read this one and I hope you pick it up too.

Rereading The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Some books come to you at the wrong moments. They don’t speak to you. They don’t convey their message. You just don’t vibe well together. And then you spend some time living your life, find yourself picking up the same book, and realizing that you were completely wrong. That’s basically what happens here with me.

Here’s more about The City of Brass

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…

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My thoughts

This isn’t going to be a long review just because I’ve read the book before and already written a review for it in the past. But this book truly swept me away so much more in the second read than in the first.

I was rereading my thoughts on the book from back in 2018 and I honestly didn’t like it. I gave it four stars, but I distinctly remember wanting to give it three stars. I’m literally reading my own review and disagreeing with nearly everything I said.

I mentioned that the world was confusing. It’s not. In fact, it’s one of the more clearly outlined worlds. I would say it borders on an info dump since most of the world is told over a fire and stories in one night, but I did really love the way that SA Chakraoborty portrayed it. It reminds me of a scene in a movie with its characters coming to life in the smoke of the fire. There was definitely a level of romance to the way she writes her books, which I’m so happy about.

I did mention that Nahri was my favorite character, but I also loved Dara and Ali. Each of these characters were so well-realized and different from each other. They had their faults, but they also had passion for their beliefs which made it just so more fun! I also loved how casual the conversations they all had. I think one of my favorite parts of this book is that it was such an easy read. I found myself flying through the pages and being lost in the Daevabad world. It was so well described, the conversations were interesting and matched the situations they were in, and you truly felt like you were a part of this story.

I was completely off base about the power struggle. Yes, there’s power struggle in this book, but it is way more complicated than I imagined. One part, it’s about the freedoms of the shafit (half-human djinn) and how they’re treated as second-class citizens. Even though the world has rid of the family that enslaved these folks, they didn’t fully pull them from their poverty. It’s obvious that they still don’t have the same rights as pureblooded daevas. The world was also at one point strife with war. Families fighting other families not necessarily over power, but over beliefs and accepting one belief over another. I think the younger version of myself didn’t really understand the implications of this world and how complex the political dynamics were.

The one thing I did truly love was the ending and that was the same feeling I had back when I first read it. The last fifty pages was so surprising and so twisty that it will definitely make you want to pick up book 2 right away. I totally feel that and I can’t wait to read it soon!

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston // Book Review

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston // Book Review

I picked this book on a whim. One of my reader friends loved it. It’s a Good Morning America Book Club pick. And someone asked me to read it. So I thought why not? Well, it definitely exceeded my expectations and even brought a tear to my eye. If a book can make me cry, then it’s a pretty good book in my opinion.

Here’s more about The Dead Romantics

Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.

When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.

For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.

Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.

Romance is most certainly dead . . . but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.

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My thoughts

This was such a complex story centered on one character, Florence, and her very unique life. She’s a ghostwriter that can see and speak to ghosts. Her father has recently passed, so she’s heading back to the hometown that’s bullied her to leave. She’s also finding out that her new very good looking editor, Ben, has recently passed and his ghost is showing up as she mourns her father, understands why she can’t write romance anymore, and figures out how to come to terms with her past. There’s a lot going on for Florence.

And the great part is that Ashley Poston expertly interweaves all the parts of this book together. It’s like a symphonic orchestra of themes and conflict that all somehow make the most beautiful music. It also helps that Ashley Poston’s writing is lyrical and beautiful sharing wisdom about life, death, and love throughout the story.

I found myself tearing up at so many different parts of this book. I cried during the funeral for her father. I cried during the end. I cried when the family was dancing around the funeral home and reminiscing about their lives in that place. And they were all tears of joy. It takes a lot for an author to make me cry, but it truly touched me to see how beautifully you can imagine death despite it being such a heavy subject.

Ashley Poston also doesn’t shy away from the conversation of death. In fact, she leans into it really hard but in a way that makes you happy. Yes, you’ll be happy about death by the end of this book! It did trigger my anxiety on the entire subject, but it also comforted me.

I know that the romance folks won’t like this one as much because it’s not too centered on the romance, but I fell in love with Florence and Ben. Yes, Ben is a ghost and yes they can never be together until Florence probably dies, but I had so many Casper vibes between the two of them and it made me wish so hard that Ben was real. While they may not have been able to touch each other or be intimate the way a couple would be in a romance, I think Ashley Poston really nailed the emotional and supportive components of a relationship; the parts that truly make a partnership between two people rather than just the sex. It was kind of beautiful.

I think the only thing I didn’t like is that the language got repetitive. There were some things that Ashley Poston tended to repeat over and over again, which made for a little dislike, but not enough to hate the overall story.

But in the end, I absolutely adored it. I’m so glad my friend loved it and influenced me to read it. I’m so glad someone brought it up and asked for my opinion. I’m so glad that I got a “skip the line” on my Libby app because this truly brought me comfort and joy in a time that feels really dark.

August Kitko and the Mechas from Space by Alex White // Book Review

August Kitko and the Mechas from Space by Alex White // Book Review

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I first started reading August Kitko. In fact, I only knew that it would include a person named August, giant mechs, jazz music, and a race to save the world. Now I know that it’s way more than that and one of my favorites this month. Thanks Orbit Books for the gifted read!

Here’s more about August Kitko and the Mechas from Space

When an army of giant robot AIs threatens to devastate Earth, a virtuoso pianist becomes humanity’s last hope in this bold, lightning-paced, technicolor new space opera series from the author of A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe. 

Jazz pianist Gus Kitko expected to spend his final moments on Earth playing piano at the greatest goodbye party of all time, and maybe kissing rockstar Ardent Violet, before the last of humanity is wiped out forever by the Vanguards–ultra-powerful robots from the dark heart of space, hell-bent on destroying humanity for reasons none can divine. 

But when the Vanguards arrive, the unthinkable happens–the mecha that should be killing Gus instead saves him. Suddenly, Gus’s swan song becomes humanity’s encore, as he is chosen to join a small group of traitorous Vanguards and their pilots dedicated to saving humanity.

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My thoughts

If you’re a fan of cinematic movies like The Matrix, Armageddon, and Transformers, then this is the book for you. The book takes place in the very far future, about 600 years, in a world that’s still thriving, but on the brink of destruction. Five years prior, an alien tech arrived destroying human beings by the thousands, absorbing their memories. The whole the world believed that this was the end of humanity, an unceremonious wipe of the human race. August Kitko, a jazz pianist who’s already lost his entire family to the tech, is ready to die. On the night the world was scheduled to end, Gus attends a party hosted by a prominent lord to play out the end of the world with some good times.

However, things change when the end of the world doesn’t come and Gus is kidnapped by a giant mech forced to become a conduit of all the human memories that it absorbed. Gus finds out that the mech, aka Greymalkin, is no longer a villainous AI and willing to help the human race hold some semblance of life on Earth.

I loved this futuristic view of the world. It feels so familiar because it reminds me of what we see nowadays except with the added bonus of tech that automates everything for us. The world Alex White envisions in their story is remarkable. The descriptions are so vivid that you can literally see what they’re describing and it lends itself well when it comes to the big fight scene between mechs in space. Their writing is also very casual and contemporary. I loved that while they’re describing massive mech battles in space, there was also levity and humor in their voice.

I also thought that the story was so genius. It reminded me a lot of those futuristic sci-fi movies I mentioned earlier, but combining them all to create this intelligent world where sentient AI are out to kill the human race. I think that one of my absolute favorite things about science fiction like this is how humans come together to fight a bigger threat to them.

While Gus is the person named in the title, the book also follows Ardent Violet. They’re a very famous pop star who hooks up with Gus at the “end of the world” party only to find themself saving Gus when he’s abducted by the mech. They eventually become a part of the team designated to help save the world. I also really loved how different Gus and Ardent were. Gus feels more like this introverted jazz pianist who’s spent a lot more time alone than Ardent has. While Ardent definitely carried the pop star/celebrity vibe, they were also so vulnerable and scared about what they’re about to do.

The music in this book was also a major player. I loved how the mech responded to Ardent and Gus’s talents choosing them to be their conduits and how that music plays throughout the story as a way for them to connect to their mechs. It was such a clever way to incorporate that piece of both these characters and not let it fall to the wayside.

This was such a solid start to a new series from Alex White. While it’s my first by them, I’m definitely a fan now and I can’t wait to see what happens to Gus, Ardent, and the giant mechs in the next book!

Book Lovers by Emily Henry // Book Review

Book Lovers by Emily Henry // Book Review

Is it worth the hype? Yep. It definitely is.

Here’s more about Book Lovers

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming….

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

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My thoughts

If you’re not a fan of romance novels featuring book nerds, then I highly recommend this book. For all intents and purposes, it is a contemporary romance story between two bookish people who find love in a small town in the middle of nowhere, but it’s so much more. And if you’ve been following my reviews, then you know that my kind of romance are the ones that have a little bit more going on. This is the perfect blend of romance with something extra (which I know won’t be a big draw for the more die-hard romance readers, I’m sorry).

The story follows Nora, a literary agent living in New York who considers herself “the other girl.” You know, the one that the main male lead leaves in order to help the small-town main female lead with her mother’s stationery store in country. She’s the “shark,” who knows what she wants, willing to do anything for it, and will fight fiercely for it. That goes double for her clients and her sister. And when her sister suggests they spend a month in the same small town that one of her client’s books takes place, she agrees because Nora is the type of person who will stop at nothing to make her sister happy.

I know this book is already criticized for having too much of a sibling relationship in a romance story, but honestly, that was one of my favorite parts of the story. The relationship between Nora and Libby has its ups and downs, but the love they have for each other is desirable. As they live out the various tropes they read in romance novels as a kid, Nora and Libby eventually grow to understand each other. They love each other, but Nora has a tendency to sacrifice everything for Libby while Libby encourages her to do what makes her happy. It’s the crux of their relationship throughout the story and something that I truly loved watching play out throughout the book. Their relationship throughout the book is just as important as the one between the two main protagonists.

Of course, the story follows two enemies-to-lovers book nerds who work in the same industry. Nora is the tough literary agent who will sacrifice evenings and weekends for her clients while Charlie is the hard-headed editor who’s scrutiny of her client’s books makes her blood boil. And when they both find themselves in the small town in the middle of nowhere, well, you know the rest.

In so many ways, Nora and Charlie reminded me of Rory and Jess in Gilmore Girls. Granted, the circumstances between these two characters is completely different than the ones in Gilmore Girls, but the small town where everyone is in everyone’s business with two very bookish people reside and they’re a little off the beaten path? It really gave me the cutest vibes and I was happy about it. I mean, who didn’t root for Rory and Jess? They were fire and ice with each other, banter playing between them in their own intimate flirtation. You wanted someone to give, but both of them being so stubborn provides for some entertaining and eventually steamy scenes.

Another added feature was learning the backgrounds of Libby, Nora, as well as Charlie. It’s not the brightest thing you want to read when you’re in the middle of a romance story, but I imagined scenes like Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail where she reminisced on her mother and how the bookstore reminded her of the fond memories they shared together. I was getting the same exact feeling with Nora and Libby. There’s a lot of mention of their mother throughout the story and it made the characters feel so much more realistic having that anchor of love between them.

Truly, I loved every minute of this story and reading it on audio (narrated by the talented Julie Whelan), really made the experience so much more fun. Am I a fan of romance novels yet? Not really, but this one definitely made me turn my head.

Eclipse the Moon by Jessie Mihalik // Book Review

Eclipse the Moon by Jessie Mihalik // Book Review

Ok, if you’re a fan of love stories plus a lot of action/adventure and a plot to save the universe from another war between two different beings, then this series is for you. Thanks to Harper Voyager for the gifted book.

Here’s more about Eclipse the Moon

Kee Ildez has been many things: hacker, soldier, bounty hunter. She never expected to be a hero, but when a shadowy group of traitors starts trying to goad the galaxy’s two superpowers into instigating an interstellar war, Kee throws herself into the search to find out who is responsible—and stop them.

Digging up hidden information is her job, so hunting traitors should be a piece of cake, but the primary suspect spent years in the military, and someone powerful is still covering his tracks. Disrupting their plans will require the help of her entire team, including Varro Runkow, a Valovian weapons expert who makes her pulse race.

Quiet, grumpy, and incredibly handsome, Varro watches her with hot eyes but ignores all of her flirting, so Kee silently vows to keep her feelings strictly platonic. But that vow will be put to the test when she and Varro are forced to leave the safety of their ship and venture into enemy territory alone.

Cut off from the rest of their team, they must figure out how to work together—and fast—because a single misstep will cost thousands of lives.

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My thoughts

After finishing Eclipse the Moon (the second book in the Starlight’s Shadow series), I have to say that this is the perfect story for anyone who wants to read science fiction, but felt super intimidated by the genre. It’s also for folks like me who don’t like romance novels too much, but prefer ones with a bit more story to them.

In fact, similar to the first book in the series, this focuses more on what’s happening in space than on the romance. Don’t be fooled, the romance readers will get their steamy scenes and emotional roller coaster ride throughout the story, but it’s also such a great adventure story.

Eclipse the Moon follows Kee (the hacker) and Varro (the weapons expert) as they head off on an adventure on their own. They decide to attend a fashion show hosted on Bastion, the space station they visited in the first book. The interesting part of this fashion show is that both Valovians and humans collaborated to create clothing that combines both art and technology together. This is all in an effort to bring their two races together in peace rather than continue to promote harm and war between the two of them. However, Kee has a sinking suspicion that the folks who stole the Empress’s young grandson will also be at Bastion during this time. She heads to the event with Varro in hopes of finding more information on their plans to start another war.

I really loved this adventure and while most of this story focused on Kee and Varro infiltrating the fashion show, saving some key folks from the event, and then helping to track down the traitors, I loved it. I think many folks looking for another found family story may be a bit disappointed to see that it’s only featuring Kee and Varro, but I loved watching them take action, defend the good folks (regardless if they were human or Valoff), and helping track down the villains.

The romance itself was much lighter than the first one. While there wasn’t any lack of romantic gestures and beautiful words, it didn’t feel as intensely as it did between Tavi and Tarron. That’s okay with me since many relationships are different and love is shown in many different ways. It might also be because this was a classic grumpy/sunshine trope and Varro is 100% grumpy.

Since this book is in Kee’s perspective, a lot of what she did was hacking and looking at data to find one piece of information here or there. I think my least favorite part was reading through that because not much is going on aside from her looking through lines of code. It’s not the most tantalizing thing in the world, so I wasn’t that excited to read those parts. However, they are redeemed with all the action as they try to escape the situations they found themselves in and make it back to the Starlight Shadow.

Overall, this was another great adventure for the team and another great love story for me. I can’t wait for book 3!

Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik // Book Review

Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik // Book Review

This was such a great start to a new series from Jessie Mihalik and definitely achieves what I believe is the perfect romance for me!

Here’s more about Hunt the Stars

Octavia Zarola would do anything to keep her tiny, close-knit bounty hunting crew together—even if it means accepting a job from Torran Fletcher, a ruthless former general and her sworn enemy. When Torran offers her enough credits to not only keep her crew afloat but also hire someone to fix her ship, Tavi knows that she can’t refuse—no matter how much she’d like to.

With so much money on the line, Torran and his crew insist on joining the hunt. Tavi reluctantly agrees because while the handsome, stoic leader pushes all of her buttons—for both anger and desire—she’s endured worse, and the massive bonus payment he’s promised for a completed job is reason enough to shut up and deal.

But when they uncover a deeper plot that threatens the delicate peace between humans and Valoffs, Tavi suspects that Torran has been using her as the impetus for a new war. With the fate of her crew balanced on a knife’s edge, Tavi must decide where her loyalties lie—with the quiet Valoff who’s been lying to her, or with the human leaders who left her squad to die on the battlefield. And this time, she’s put her heart on the line.

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My thoughts

I’m not a huge fan of romantic stories that focuses soley on the couple. I know I’m in the minority here, but when I heard that this is a romance with a bit of science fiction, I had to check it out. I’m so glad I did. Not only does this book feature romance, but it has a big political plot, a cast of quirky characters, an enemies-to-lovers trope, and so much more. I mean, this is everything I’ve ever wanted in a romance story.

But I will say that the science fiction comes first and the romance comes second, which is all super fine with me. It starts off with Tavia and her crew aboard her ship and receiving the details of a bounty mission; to find a missing ring lost by Torran, a Valovian general. Now, the background between humans and Valovians goes back a long time where both these races fought each other for land and power. To have a Valovian ask a human crew to find a missing item is a huge risk and Tavia is will to take it for the huge cashout at the end.

Of course, the crew alongside Torran’s gets into their own rows as they travel back to Valovia in search of the missing item. This is where it gets really good because the twists and surprises are endless. It totally caught me off guard in a good way and I found myself racing towards the end to see what happened.

I would also consider this book science fiction lite because it doesn’t delve too deeply into worldbuilding. That’s okay with me because despite the lack of worldbuilding, there was enough intrigue and suspense to keep me going. If anything, this would be a great starter for anyone who wants to get into science fiction, but feel intimidated by the big worlds.

The romance itself was really well done as well. I loved seeing our protagonists go from enemies-to-lovers and while there are only closed door scenes, I will say that this telepathic caresses were something I wish existed in real life lol.

The only thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the pace. It felt a bit slow in the beginning as you’re building towards the ultimate ending, but I also loved getting to see these two crews from completely different worlds get to know each other and become friends.

Overall, a great start to a new science fiction series and I can’t wait to read the next!

This is definitely my kind of romance story. I love it when there’s a little bit more going on than just the couple getting together and this one combines it with one of my favorite genres: science fiction.

I will note that the worldbuilding isn’t that strong, but I don’t really care. It comes secondary to the plot and conflict that the author built and I’m all here for it.

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers // Book Review

Ah Becky Chambers. How are you so talented and able convey the depth of human emotion within 150 pages? I will never understand it, but I will happily devour everything she writes. Thanks to Tor Dot Com for a gifted copy of the book.

Here’s more about A Prayer for the Crown-Shy

After touring the rural areas of Panga, Sibling Dex (a Tea Monk of some renown) and Mosscap (a robot sent on a quest to determine what humanity really needs) turn their attention to the villages and cities of the little moon they call home.

They hope to find the answers they seek, while making new friends, learning new concepts, and experiencing the entropic nature of the universe.

Becky Chambers’s new series continues to ask: in a world where people have what they want, does having more even matter?

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My thoughts

I’m a huge fan of everything Becky Chambers writes. If it’s about space travel, I’m into it. If it’s about a planet and their political upheaval, let’s go. If it’s about a robot and a monk traveling across the world and looking for humans who need help, I’m all about it.

Because Becky Chambers does some things really well and it’s prevalent in all her writing: she’s really good at understanding human emotion, creating a diverse group of characters that interact with her protagonists, and deeply philosophize about the reason why we all exist. And isn’t that a crux in science fiction? We’re speeding towards the future, to another planet, to a world that’s not Earth, and in that world the same questions and desires we all struggle with are just as prevalent. Of course, I’m waxing poetic here, but if there are beings that exist within this universe outside of Earth, then I’d like to imagine them having the same level of empathy and desire for truth and meaning in their short life spans.

It’s really hard for me to distill how I felt about Prayer because it really covers a lot in such a little space. A Prayer for the Crown-Shy is much different than A Psalm for the Wild-Built. Instead of traveling through the heavily wooded areas, they’re traveling to different towns in hopes of finding people in need. Each chapter has Mosscap and Dex traveling to a new town on their way to the City and encountering the people there. In one way, it was about Mosscap learning more about human experience that it didn’t know before. In another way, it’s about Sibling Dex’s own personal journey of finding meaning as well.

I thought this was expertly done and having them journey to different towns and meet different people was the perfect vehicle to show Mosscap the infinite number of human existence. It held babies. It helped the villagers. It even acquired possessions with a satchel. I loved the interactions they had, Mosscap’s curiosity peaking with each visitor, and finding comfort in sitting down with people you don’t know and finding peace.

It was such a calm and serene story and a tribute to the way things could be. I highly recommend this one if you’ve been reading this series and I can’t wait for the next.