Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

23766634Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

As I’ve said before in my review of Empire of Shadows, I have a complicated relationship with SJM’s books. Some of her worldbuilding interests me, as do one or two of her characters, but her worlds and stories are so problematic and so white, cis, allo and straight that now I’m just waiting to read the last books of her series to say good bye to her writing completely.

(Spoilers ahead) (I do mean it: SPOILERS AHEAD).

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Review: Concourse by Santino Hassell

30364779Ashton Townsend is the most famous celebutante of Manhattan’s glitterati. The black sheep of his wealthy family, he’s known for his club appearances, Instagram account, and sex tape. Most people can’t imagine him wanting for anything, but Ashton yearns for friendship, respect, and the love of his best friend—amateur boxer Valdrin Leka.

Val’s relationship with Ashton is complicated. As the son of Ashton’s beloved nanny, Val has always bounced between resenting Ashton and regarding him as his best friend. And then there’s the sexual attraction between them that Val tries so hard to ignore.

When Ashton flees his glitzy lifestyle, he finds refuge with Val in the Bronx. Between Val’s training for an upcoming fight and dodging paparazzi, they succumb to their need for each other. But before they can figure out what it all means—and what they want to do about it—the world drags them out of their haven, revealing a secret Val has kept for years. Now, Ashton has to decide whether to once again envelop himself in his party-boy persona, or to trust in the only man who’s ever seen the real him.

It’s no secret that the Five Boroughs series is my favorite romance series ever. As I’ve said before, it was what got me into reading romance again and some of these characters are in my list of favorite characters ever written. So yeah, I was really excited for this book and I’m so glad to say it didn’t disappoint.

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Review: Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer

33976926Jeremy Reeve is one of the best divers in the world, and he’s worked hard to get where he is. He intends to keep pushing himself with one very clear goal in mind: winning gold at the summer Olympics in two years. That medal might be the only way to earn his father’s respect as an athlete.

Brandon Evans is everything Jeremy isn’t: carefree, outgoing, and openly gay. With his bright-blue eyes and dramatic tattoos, he’s a temptation that Jeremy refuses to acknowledge. But Jeremy can’t ignore how talented Brandon is—or that Brandon has no interest in using his diving skills to compete.

They’re opposites who are forced to work together as teammates, but Jeremy’s fear of his own sexuality and Brandon’s disinterest in anything “not fun” may end their partnership before it begins. Until a single moment changes everything, and they help each other discover that “team” can also mean family and love.

This book was… complicated.

You know, I’m at this weird place where I can recognize that this one is good, but that it just wasn’t for me. The characters are interesting and well developed and I really liked Jeremy and Valerie’s (who is also a diver) friendship, but… I just didn’t want Jeremy and Brandon to end up together. Or, putting it in another way, I didn’t care if they got together or not, and I certainly thought Jeremy still had a lot to apologize for in the end.

So yeah. No way this book could’ve worked for me.

In a way, I felt like the ending was a bit anti-climatic, though I can’t explain why without giving away all the spoilers. Jeremy’s realization re: his father was the most obvious thing ever (and I don’t think it was intended to not be obvious, but still) so it felt like Jeremy’s change only came because the clock was ticking and the Olympics were happening. If it – the Olympics – hadn’t happened, would him have realized what he did? Maybe, but not for a long time, and that bugs me. The climax of the book is more or less unrelated to the actions of the characters, and that threw me off a bit. Plus, I never understood what Brandon & Jeremy saw in each other, so I wasn’t that invested in their relationship.

There are also lots of slurs in this book, which eventually wore me down a bit, so here’s the warning for those who might be affected by them. It’s usually Jeremy’s family who says them, so be careful.

In the end, Heels Over Head is a nicely written story with interesting characters & relationships that just wasn’t for me. Others might love it, so I still recommend it. 3.0 stars.

Review: Insight by Santino Hassell

30364791Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate.

Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.

Santino Hassell is my favorite romance writer, but I must admit I hesitated a little before approaching this book. I have a… bad history, so to speak, with paranormal romance (perks of being aro & reading hundreds of paranormal romances because they were the only thing available – now I avoid them like the plague), but I’m happy to say that Insight didn’t disappoint.

Though this book was mainly marketed as romance, what I enjoyed the most in it wasn’t the romance, but the worldbuilding, the plot & the characters. Hassell created a world of psychics that was so interesting & different from everything I’ve seen in the genre, with a dark/gloomy atmosphere & a lot of mystery, that I couldn’t help but read the book in one sitting. Nate was a great protagonist as well, and I was surprised to realize I even cared about his dead, asshole of a twin, Theo (everyone hated the guy and yes, he was annoying, but I felt bad for him).

I didn’t guess who the person behind the murders/disappearances was, but one of the book’s revelations/plot twists was pretty obvious for me half-way through the book, which wasn’t necessarily bad, but well, it weakened the ending a little. As for the romance… I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t feel much about it either, mainly because I found Trent to be immensely boring. Nothing about him was interesting or captivating, and towards the end he became a bit annoying with his jealously. It wasn’t bad enough to tarnish the book for me, but… still disappointing, I guess.

In short, Insight has some awesome characters (the secondary characters are just great), an engaging plot & interesting worldbuilding, but the romance feels a bit lacking. I would say I can’t wait to read the next book, but well… I hated its protagonist here in Insight, so I’m a bit hesitant. Hassell did the same thing in Five Boroughs and managed to convince me that a character I hated wasn’t so bad, so maybe he will do it again in Oversight.  I guess we will see.

4.0 stars for Insight.

Review: Peter Darling by Austin Chant

33358438Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

I was expecting a lot of this book – I mean, a Peter Pan retelling where Peter is a trans man? That sounded really, really cool (plus, I loved Coffee Boy by the same author), so I was excited to read it. Fortunately, I got an e-ARC through NetGalley and was able to read right away.

And it was just delightful.

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We are not the same – on Raphael, Jughead and Aro/Ace representation

Jughead Jones is a character from the Archie comics who has been coded as aromantic asexual for decades. Last year, he was finally made asexual in canon, and though the word “aromantic” is never used, it’s pretty clear he’s aro as well (the writer who made him ace in the comics already confirmed via Twitter that he is aro too). So: Jughead Jones is aromantic asexual.

Raphael Santiago is a minor character from The Mortal Instruments series. After the ending of the series, the writer, Cassandra Clare, confirmed via Twitter that he was in fact aromantic and asexual. Since it’s post-it/Word of God rep, it has problems, but it’s canon: Raphael Santiago is aromantic asexual.

Still with me? Good. Here’s where things get ugly.

Continue reading “We are not the same – on Raphael, Jughead and Aro/Ace representation”

Writing Diary #06 – Bumps on the road

(Yeah, I know, it’s Monday – I forgot to post this yesterday).

So, I had five days of heaven after my last update. I wrote SO much from February 28th to March 4th, as in, almost 9k words, which is more or less three chapters. Everything was going extremely well, and I was so sure I would hit 35k way before my self imposed deadline, but then… puff. Everything crumbled.

This is my fault. I mean, of course it is – it’s my story and my writing, but in this case it’s something I could have easily avoided. Somewhere between the fourth thousand and the fifth thousand, I started feeling that something was… off. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, so I kept writing anyway, but the feeling grew and grew and grew… Until I just couldn’t write anymore yesterday.

That made me pause, of course, to try to find out what the hell was happening. After a few hours of banging my head against the wall, I thought I had solved the issue. Spoiler: I hadn’t. I solved part of it, but today I kept thinking about what I wrote/fixed yesterday and nope. The thing wasn’t done yet.

Cue more three hours of angry scribbling and whining and yes, people, I did. I think I finally have it.

Which is awesome! I think the story is much stronger now – I added new chapters and cut some that were weak/not fun, I fixed some plot holes that I was kind of trying to mask & some I hadn’t noticed, I gave my main character more agency and gave my trio more moments together. This pause to plan again was, without a doubt, a good thing to do.

But it’s also a bit sad, because I don’t think I’ll save much of these 9k, now 10k, words I wrote since last week. Maybe those first 4k, maybe a few here and there, but most of it will probably go to the trash, which will ruin my schedule.

But well, better now than when I’m done with the draft, right?