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text 2019-11-17 18:22
The Orphanage of Gods
The Orphanage of Gods - Helena Coggan

[I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

It took me ages to get into this book (actually, I did it on my third attempt), and I have no idea why. It wasn’t terrible, the beginning was sort of ‘standard’ (= nothing particularly off-putting), it read easily, there wasn’t anything stylistically bad in here, and there was a good chunk of the novel where I actually wanted to read, once I got past the first chapters. However, in the end, I wasn’t sure what the point really was in terms of the story and the characters’ evolution, and this is the kind of thing that is likely to make me forget ‘The Orphanage of Gods’ fairly soon.

I never connected with any of the characters for starters. Hero was somewhat likeable, but too whiny and dwelling on the same things over and over again. Joshua had no redeeming qualities that I can think of. Kestrel was OK but pretty much thrown in there as a puppet. Raven (who’s the narrator of the middle part, out of three) was supposed to be that super future leader, but she was 10 and didn’t do much (apart from being targeted), so that defeated the whole purpose. Eliza, well… it was very convenient that she could avoid many consequences thanks to her powers. The guards were just depicted as monsters and never anything else, and whenever another god or demi-god was somewhat likeable, they just got out of the picture sooner or later.

(Bonus point for same-gender relationship, which is a nice change; but as usual in suYA ch novels, it was insta-love and came out of the blue… so I guess that’s no bonus point, all in all.)

The ending was murky and left me unsatisfied. It felt both unavoidable (it was either that or just offing everyone, I guess) and like a cop-out, because so many things were unresolved at that point.

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review 2019-01-26 16:56
The Price Guide to the Occult
The Price Guide to the Occult - Leslye Walton

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

I really liked the beginning—the prologue had a sort of “fairy tale” touch, introducing as it did the “legend” of Rona Blackburn and what happened with the first settlers of Anathema Island. However, while I kept liking the setting of a small island, fairly isolated from the world and losing itself in the fog as the danger approaches, I had more trouble with the story after that. I think I can chalk that to the following points:

- Nor makes such efforts to remain inconspicuous and not be noticed that she’s not a very interesting character in general. We know that she likes running, and that she’s had trouble with self-harm, but the latter was more brushed upon in a way that didn’t make it seem so bad, which in itself is… bad, I guess. She’s mostly passive, doesn’t speak of her fears with other characters, even when she knows something is coming. By the time she woke up, I had lost interest in her. And no other characters jumped to the forefront either. Except for Judd. Judd was cool.

- The villain was just a villain. We’re told that what she did, she did for love, but it’s fairly obvious that she was never really in love and just wanted something she couldn’t have. There’s also no explanation as to how she came upon her powers: the means are known, not the cause. Same with Nor’s ability: is it because she’s the ninth daughter? Does the curse change after a while?

- The romance. How can I put this… Maybe it’s high time to stop putting romantic love in YA just because it’s YA and romance is a trope of YA and everyone expects it, but 99% of the time it’s not handled well? The love interest and the romantic subplot were bland at best, and the -second- love interest just came out of the blue as insta-love, and yet Nor is all about “I’m dangerous so I should put an end to it”, which in the end amounts to much ado about nothing. It’s not like it was essential to the plot, really.

- The writing itself was nothing exceptional. Often a character’s name would be used as sentence subject several times within the same paragraph, when it was obvious this very character was the subject all along. So it felt repetitive.

Conclusion: A very good start for me, that went downhill quickly after that. 1.5 stars.

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review 2018-12-23 02:16
Book Review: The Art Of Falling In Love by Eli Summers
The Art Of Falling In Love - Eli Summers

There be spoilers. I'm pretty pissed off at the moment. What a waste of time this was.

CW: Homophobia, racism, cheating, and sexual assault.

I only liked Holden. And even he was an idiot. But I could empathize with this struggles - coming to terms with his feelings for another boy, figuring out that he's bi-sexual (though I'm not sure why he'd think that, since he hasn't even had a girlfriend), and dealing with being bullied at school, on top of living with an asshole father and a doormat mother, unable to live up to his Golden Boy older brother, who was much less an asshole than I expected based on how his character was initially set up. Holden's best friend of 14 years (Tiffany) is abandoning him for a boy, though I'm honestly not even sure why Holden thought of her as his friend in the first place - she was nothing but a bitch to him. 

All the characters in his book are one-dimensional card board cutouts. You have the rich boy jerkface who thinks he can throw his daddy's money in everyone's face, the bitchy-only female, the pedophile principal (ew, ew, ew, what the fuck was that shit, touching Holden inappropriately, talking about blow jobs to make a record go away, and then comparing his dick to Aaron's whose dick he presumably knows NOTHING about), and the cheating daddy fucking Holden's best friend, who's - you guessed it - suddenly pregnant.

None of the characters, including Aaron, the love interest, made any fucking sense with their actions. Not a single one. Not Holden thinking he can just go to the city and enroll in college, and find a job that will pay him enough to cover his cost of living, not Aaron, whose pillow talk was the most ridiculous thing I've ever read in a romance novel, not Jeff, the jerkface, not Tiffany, the bitch, not the principal (what the FUCK was that shit), and not Holden's parents. 

At one point Aaron's father leaves for a conference of some sort in Seattle - which, super convenient, amirite, so Aaron and Holden can have a sleepover and sex it up (virgin ass and all), and we're supposed to believe that a small town mechanic goes to a conference, leaving no one to work on the cars in the shop? 

This book was an utter mess, and I don't just mean the stilted, unrealistic dialogue and ridiculous plot. The editor was MIA, and the proof-reader took a vacation, I guess. Grammar seemed optional. 

Men don't have a g-spot. A virgin like Holden, never having even CONSIDERED gay sex, has likely not heard of the prostrate. And he sure as fuck wouldn't call it a g-spot. 

At one point, Aaron says "Open Says Me". I suppose the author meant OPEN SESAME. How was that not caught? Then a few pages later, Aaron opens the condom and puts it on, with HIS TEETH. On himself. Uhm, sure, whatever floats your boat. I guess you're super bendy. Never mind the holes you just made with your teeth, you moron, which sort of defeats the purpose of putting on a condom in the first place. 

And to top off the editorial proof-reading fuckery, in one instance HOLDEN is called AARON. 

And, and, and... there's no HEA, not even a HFN - the couple has broken up at book's end because Holden is leaving town and Aaron isn't. We get a "To Be Continued" as if that isn't something you should tell your readers up front.

Not recommended. Possibly the worst book I've read this year. JFC. Yeah, I know it's YA, but young adults would like to read good books. And this isn't a good book. 

I'm so sorry, Secret Santa. I was swayed by the blurb and the positive reviews, and I now regret putting this book on my wishlist. I kind of hate that you wasted your money on this, even though I truly appreciate you getting it for me. 

Not recommended.

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review 2018-10-05 00:23
ARC Review: The Nerd And The Prince by B.G. Thomas
The Nerd And The Prince - B.G. Thomas

It's a very romantic notion, isn't it - you're a small-town nerdy bookstore/cafe owner, and a prince-in-hiding comes to town and sweeps you off your feet, whisking you away from your mundane life into a world of castles and royalty and legends, to live happily ever after. 

Adam/Amadeo Montefalcone, Prince of Monterosia (a tiny fictional kingdom somewhere bordering Italy), has come to the small town of Buckman, MO, where Jason, nerdy bookworm, lives. Adam is running from his responsibilities as the Crown Prince, and from being married off to some poor unsuspecting woman for whom he would hold no love or desire. Because Amadeo is gay, and after being almost caught in flagrante on his knees in a dark alley, he feels that he just needs to get away.

His younger brother has helped him escape to the US, obtaining a small house that just happens to be next to Jason's bookstore/cafe/apartment. Jason Evander Brewster has no illusions of grandeur, and while he's not exactly flaunting his sexuality, he's not exactly hiding it either. He had a clandestine thing with Timothy who's deep in the closet, but that's long over, and Jason is still nursing a bit of a broken heart. His dreams are traveling the world, finding adventure and a love like a fairy tale.

This is a sweet, almost too sweet romance. Jason's personality is a bit underdeveloped, especially when viewed against Adam's larger than life joviality and worldliness. The romance is obviously rapid and swept-off-your-feet, and the emotions just drip off the pages. Adam is a perfect human specimen, with a god-like physique and model looks, and Jason is your stereotypical small-town nerd with expressive eyes, who doesn't believe he even has a chance at such a perfect creature. It's just enough over the top to not veer into ridiculous territory, and none of it feels realistic - but then most of the books in this Harlequin-esque series aren't to be taken super seriously. They're grand romance fairy tales, fantasies, and should be read as such - a way to spend a few joyful hours, forgetting about reality. 

The book also contains a plethora of information about Greek mythology, which was delightful, and a bunch of Italian phrases that I mostly understood, which was not so delightful. For most of them, a translation is readily provided as part of the narrative or dialogue, and I suppose it fit Amadeo, as that is his primary language, but it became slightly too much after a while. It's never easy to include a foreign language; surely appropriate when one of your MCs is a native to that foreign country, but it can also be tedious for the reader. 

While there is a wee bit of drama/angst, it's minor, and only really happens toward the end - the romance between Jason and Adam is completely angst-free - the two spot each other, fall in lust and then in love. I did appreciate that the author did allow them to get to know each other, instead of simply jumping into bed for a romp in the sheets. 

The finale and the subsequent HEA (obligatory in this series) in the epilogue were both well done. The solution to Adam's dilemma was rather obvious, so I wasn't surprised at all when that came to pass. The way of getting there however was interesting.

I enjoyed reading this book. It's a sweet, easy romance, with two likable MCs, a good supporting cast, and a lovely way to spend a few hours of your time. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-10-01 01:39
ARC Review: Raising The Bar by Leigh Dillon
Raising The Bar - Leigh Dillon

I liked this a lot. It's a quick read, at under 100 pages, and it has one fabulous horse inside.

There are actually three MCs in this book - Destin, the horse farm's owner, Tonio, the horse rider who comes to the farm to help Destin, and Black Sambuca, the horse that everyone thinks is uncontrollable.

The romance is swift and the sex is hot, but the scenes in the barn with Tonio and Black Sambuca were my favorite. I have ridden horse for a very long time, and I know exactly what it's like when you have a difficult horse that can make or break a rider. You always, always, always want to figure out what makes a horse tick, and Tonio does a fabulous job with that here.

So if you love horses, and you like M/M romance, even if the falling in love doesn't take very long at all, give this book a try. I enjoyed it and I think you will too. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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