Book Tag: The Romance Tropes Tag (Original)

Time for another book tag! Some of you might remember that back in 2018 I completed the fantasy tropes book tag. Fantasy is easily one of my favourite genres so answering prompts based around my favourite (and not so favourite) tropes was a lot of fun. Another one of my go-to genres is romance so recently I wondered whether someone had created a similar style tag. While there were a couple of romance related book tags, I couldn’t seem to find any dealing specifically with tropes. And so, I decided why not make one myself? Thus, ‘The Romance Tropes Tag’ was born!

Note:

  • If you’d like to do the tag, feel free! Just make sure to link back to this post so I can see all of your wonderful answers.
  • You are welcome to use my graphics or create your own.
  • Although this is based around romance tropes, your answers don’t have to be romance books. Whatever fits the prompt!

RED, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

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If there’s a limit to how many times I can say I love this book on my blog, please do let me know because I’ve probably long exceeded it already. After reading the first couple of pages of RW&RB I just knew I was going to love it. As it turned out, I was right and it ended up being my second favourite read of 2019. The book deals with the relationship between an alt-version of the prince of Great Britain and first son of the USA. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s sexy, just magical really. RW&RB is over 400 pages long which is chunkier than your average romance read but I was so invested and having such a good time that the pages just flew by. Queer romance gold.

Alina & The Darkling (The Grisha Trilogy – Leigh Bardugo)

I know, okay. I really do. This pairing is a complete toxic mess. The logical part of my brain recognises this fact. I never expected them to actually be end game while I was reading the books but *sigh*, the heart wants what it wants. Maybe it’s the whole light-dark symmetry, or that Mal bores me, or the fact that every conversation between Alina and the Darkling is just plain electric. Nah, in reality it’s probably more than likely because I love the drama that comes with the hero and villain being in love with each other but the plot persisting in pitting them against one another. Why, hello there angst.

Chain of Gold – Cassandra Clare

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Every time a new Cassie Clare book comes out, FOMO rears its ugly head. While I read The Infernal Devices back in the day, I haven’t read the last Mortal Instruments book. When The Dark Artifices were releasing I was still determined to catch up but since then I’ve decided not to read any more Shadowhunter books because I just don’t enjoy them like I used to. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel seriously left out and pressured to change my mind with every new release. They’re ridiculously popular so they’re always all over the internet. When Chain of Gold came out last year I was so tempted. The cover was everywhere and the amount of fanart is crazy. I haven’t cracked yet but when the posters for Chain of Iron went up last month, trust me, the struggle was real.

Layla – Colleen Hoover

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This book was not what I was expecting at all. Although, it’s likely my fault in this instance. Clearly I need to read the genre tags on Goodreads more because I somehow completely missed that this was a paranormal romance. The blurb does not suggest this in the slightest (or am I simply thick? Read it and let me know). There I was, thinking it was going to be a whole ‘other woman’ scenario (which I guess it sort of was but with a very different approach). So, you can imagine my shock when a ghost showed up a few chapters in. I wasn’t super keen on it for the most part but the twists towards the end certainly picked things up and tied them together somewhat.

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Their Inner Beasts: 'Lord of the Flies' Six Decades Later - The New York  Times

I first read Lord of the Flies when I was in high school and hated it with a fiery passion. However, I ended up having to read it again a few years later during my university ‘Law & Literature’ elective and found that I enjoyed and appreciated it more the second time through. Published in the 1950s, the book follows a group of schoolboys who get stuck on a deserted island and try (and fail) to create their own version of an organised and lawful society. Sure, the characters were still stupid and nuts, but on reread I was better able to understand what Golding was attempting to say and demonstrate about society and humanity. From 1 to 3 stars. Not bad.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne

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I don’t normally read lots of historical or literary fiction but I was determined to give this book a read. I’m glad I did because it was great and very different from much of what I’ve read in the past. The story centers around the life of a gay man named Cyril living in Ireland before homosexuality was legalised. I’m not sure how he does it but Boyne magically straddles the line between humour and tragedy throughout the book, jumping back and forth without ever giving you emotional whiplash. It’s a quirky, somewhat absurd read at times but super charming and immersive and I’m really looking forward to reading other books from Boyne’s backlist.

Kingdom of the Wicked – Kerri Maniscalco

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Originally I wasn’t going to read KotW because I’m not a huge fan of Stalking Jack the Ripper, but there were just too many things associated with it that I love – witchcraft, murder mysteries, demons, paranormal romance…so I gave in. It’s about a witch and a demon prince in 19th century Sicily teaming up to solve the murder of the witch’s twin sister. I was very unsure early on (I think it’s the writing, lots of tell rather than show) and the story took a good while to grow on me. However, by the second half I was having a much more enjoyable time – the plot had come together better and the dynamic between the two leads was working well. I was actually sorry to see it end so I’ll likely read the sequel later this year.

The Nevernight Chronicle – Jay Kristoff & Shades of Magic Series – V E Schwab

Why did I set myself such a challenging prompt? Crazy. Now I’m imagining all my beautiful books going up in smoke *hyperventilates*. I have quite a few favourite series so I’m approaching this prompt as: which two series would I hate to have to replace? With that line of thinking, and excluding Harry Potter to avoid sounding like a broken record, I’m going with The Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff and the Shades of Magic Series by V E Schwab. While I certainly adore both of these series for their great characters, amazing fantasy world building, and exciting story arcs, it more comes down to the fact that my copies are all signed (some personally addressed) by the authors so I would be heartbroken to lose either of them. Even if I were to buy them again, they wouldn’t be the same. I guess I’m going up in smoke with them then.

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Before you start throwing things at me, I liked The Hating Game (I gave it 3.5 stars after all), but I didn’t LOVE The Hating Game. Considering how hyped this book was I was expecting something more. The banter was a lot of fun and the chemistry between Lucy and Josh was great, I even laughed a few times while reading. However, I really wish the whole enemies part of the enemies to lovers transition had lasted longer than it did and that Sally Thorne hadn’t felt the need to repeat certain descriptors over and over again. Josh’s frequent alpha-male asshole-ness also put me off at multiple points.

I’m going to do 2 answers for this prompt – one for fantasy and another for contemporary. These were both books that I came across during mid-high school and really started my love of the genre.

Fantasy: Twilight – Stephenie Meyer

Twilight (Twilight, #1) by Stephenie Meyer

I assume this would be a lot of people’s answer to this question. No avoiding it because it’s true. I have a little soft, squishy spot in my heart for The Twilight Saga. Probably always will. While it certainly has its many flaws, at the age of fifteen I was pretty obsessed with Bella, Edward and Jacob, and their supernatural love triangle woes. This book hurtled me into the depths of the paranormal romance genre, something I still guilty pleasure enjoy today, many years later. Would probably still reread at some point in the future, not gonna lie.


Contemporary: The Secret Dream World of a Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella

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This book was a gift from my mum and I actually DNF-ed it the first time I read it. I still have no idea why but in my defense, this was a really long time ago. I gave it a second try on a trip to visit my grandparents and ended up racing through it. Having read many more contemporary romances now, were I to re-read it today it probably wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it used to be but at the time I remember it being a lot of fun – Becky and her crazy shopping/debt antics. In the years after I read a whole bunch of Kinsella’s other romcoms (including several in this series) and it’s probably where my love of these types of novels started.

Jude and Cardan (The Folk of the Air Series – Holly Black)

Once again, I’m mentioning my messy and stabby faerie x human power couple, Jurdan. Eventually you all will get sick of me mentioning them over and over (then again, maybe you already are), but for now we’re going to talk about them for the millionth time. These two are somewhat of a toxic clusterf*** at times. However, they just get each other so much better than anybody else does and they feel perfectly matched. Plus the conflict and sexual tension is simply *chef’s kiss*. I love it when they’re sniping at each other, stabbing one another in the back, working together, or being adorably sweet and vulnerable.

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My two favourite romance tropes are enemies to lovers and fake dating. They’re massively overdone but I can’t get enough, especially when they’re in the same book. A book I enjoyed that featured both was The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. It’s about Olive and Ethan who hate each other but whose siblings are getting married. After the bride and groom wind up with food poisoning, our leads decide to make use of their all expenses paid honeymoon to Hawaii. However, certain circumstances result in them having to pretend to be newlyweds. It’s a lot of fun and I love a good CLo read, especially one with good verbal sparring.


I hope you all enjoyed trope-ing it up romance style with me and fingers crossed I managed to tick off most of your favourite tropes from the genre. I’m not usually one to tag other bloggers in these types of posts but I’d be absolutely thrilled if you gave the tag a go. If you’d like to, the prompts are listed below for easy copying and pasting. Until next time!

Prompts:

  • Love at First Sight: A Book You Fell in Love with Almost Immediately
  • Forbidden Love: A Romantic Pairing You Probably Shouldn’t Love but Do
  • Stuck Together/Forced Proximity: A Book You Felt Pressured to Read (By a Friend, Bookstagram, Bloggers, etc.)
  • Mistaken Identity: A Book that Wasn’t What You Were Expecting
  • Second Chance Romance: A Book or Series You Enjoyed More the Second Time Around
  • Opposites Attract: A Book You Love from a Genre You Don’t Usually Read
  • Enemies to Lovers: A Book Whose Second Half is Better than its First OR A Series that Gets Better Over Time
  • Love Triangle: Your House is on Fire & You Can Only Save One Series! Which Two Series Do You Die Trying to Choose Between?
  • Friends to Lovers: A Book You Wanted More From
  • Meet Cute: A Book that Got You Hooked on Romance
  • Soulmates: Two Characters Who Are Made for Each Other
  • Bonus: Your Favourite Romance Trope/s & A Book that Features It

If You Liked This, Try These: ‘Ninth House’, ‘Illuminae’ and ‘Red, White & Royal Blue’

As you can tell from the title of this post, I’m back with more book recommendations! These suggestions are based on similar themes, moods, genres, character types and everything in between. If you liked the books below, fingers crossed that some of my suggestions will scratch the same itch but hey, there’s no accounting for personal preference (I myself don’t love every book listed here despite their similarities to ones I do love) so pretty please with a cherry on top don’t scream at me later.

Like with my previous recommendations, I haven’t read 100% of the books on this list. However, the ones I haven’t are highly educated guessed based on research and the reviews of others. Feel free to correct me though if you think I’ve really stuffed up somewhere.

Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo

A Deadly Education – Naomi Novik: I’m cheating here as this book isn’t out yet. Still, like Ninth House, A Deadly Education also has a story structured around an educational institution, a darker tone, some dangerous magic, and a tough, mixed race protagonist. It’s also similarly romance light.

The Secret History – Donna Tartt: As far as dark academia tales go, you can’t go past The Secret History. If you enjoyed the secret societies, rituals, morally questionable characters and bleak outlook of Ninth House, you’ll probably like this tale about a group of university classics students who perform a Bacchian rite and end up murdering someone. Like Ninth House, it also happens to be slower paced.

Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia: This recommendation is all about the mood and atmosphere. While they’re two different genres, there are fantastical elements to both books and each has a beautifully crafted, creepy setting. They also happen to share an ethnically diverse protagonist hunting down the truth about mysterious circumstances.

Vicious – V.E. Schwab: If the part you most enjoyed about Ninth House was Alex’s ability to see ghosts, then Vicious is packed full of people with special abilities. It, too, involves elements of academics gone bad/supernatural-ish, and also involves a bunch of morally grey characters.

Illuminae – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Skyward – Brandon Sanderson: If you want to state the obvious, both the Illuminae Files and Skyward are YA sci-fi reads, but delve a bit deeper and you’ll find they also share strong female protagonists, an interesting & likeable AI, a good level of action, some decent twists, and plenty of enjoyable humour.

Aurora Rising – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff: This one doesn’t take a rocket scientist to explain. Same authors, same genre, a similar approach to characters & humour, need I say more?

The Disasters – M. K. England: Like Illuminae, The Disasters is another YA sci-fi read featuring a motley crew of quirky characters on the run after witnessing something they shouldn’t have. Throw in a snarky narrator, fun writing, and plenty of action, and it might be a winner for an Illuminae fan.

Scythe – Neal Shusterman – Okay, this one is a big stretch. I know. Why? Because I’m basing it almost entirely off the fact that most of the people I know who like Illuminae also really like Scythe (myself included) . It might be the fact they share great characters, an AI, a futuristic setting, or some solid plot twists. Then again, it’s probably because they’re both amazing books.

Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

Heartstopper – Alice Oseman: While Heartstopper may be a comic series, it and RW&RB both center around adorably sweet, gay romances with plenty of ‘awww’ moments. The two also share a plotline involving a character coming to terms with their sexuality and coming out to their family in a positive way. Mostly, both just leave you with a wonderfully joyful feeling.

Boyfriend Material – Alexis Hall: RW&RB and Boyfriend Material hit a lot of common marks. Laugh out loud humour and winning banter? Check. Loveable characters with flaws? Check. Relationship difficulties courtesy of paparazzi? Yup. A fake dating, opposites attract, enemies to loves trope triple threat? Ohhhhh yesss. It may not hit the highs of RW&RB but it’ll do its best to fill the void left behind.

Carry On – Rainbow Rowell: As a YA fantasy read, Carry On is very different from RW&RB in terms of plot but, again, features a very shippable opposites attract & enemies to lovers type relationship between longtime magical roommates/mortal enemies, Baz and Simon.

Her Royal Highness – Rachel Hawkins: If you enjoy the concept of royalty falling for a commoner, HRH fits that to a tee. As a YA book, it’s less steamy than RW&RB but does included a queer romance with a happily ever after. Like Alex & Henry, Millie and her love interest, Princess Flora of Scotland, don’t hit it off right away but we get to witness the slow grow of their relationship into something more.


What do you think of these recommendations? And what books would you recommend to lovers of these three novels?

Top 10 Tuesday: Favourite Reads of 2019

It’s that time again. The one where I somehow pick 10 books out of the piles I’ve read over the past year to crown my favourite reads. Choosing favourites of anything has always been a tough ask for me, but I’m going to do my best anyway. This year I’ve read 73 books. While it’s not as many as last year, it’s still a sizable amount to narrow down from. To ensure variety I’ve excluded re-reads from eligibility. Now, in order from 10 to 1, here are the books I enjoyed the most this year.

10. The Boy Who Steals Houses – C. G. Drews | ★★★★.5 | Review

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I read several young adult contemporaries during 2019 and this little, Aussie gem was easily one of the best. I’ve found that, most of the time, the best books in this genre are the ones that are somehow able to bring you both joy and heartbreak and TBWSH does this perfectly. The book definitely has some sad and dark moments but it’s also a story about found families, brotherly love, and plenty of waffles. The characters are loveable, the autism and anxiety rep wonderfully done, and (despite some loose ends and minor problems with the writing style) it’s just generally a lovely read.


9. Sorcery of Thorns – Margaret Rogerson | ★★★★.5

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After a so-so reaction to An Enchantment of Ravens, I went into Sorcery of Thorns with low expectations. Next thing I know, I’m having a great time! While I loved the characters – librarian, Elisabeth, sorcerer, Nathaniel, and his demon companion, Silas – it was the world that really hooked me. Monster books, library magical hot spots, deals of demonic servitude, historical battles won through the use of necromancy, I’d gladly read another book set in this universe. My only real gripe was some pacing issues, mostly around the middle. However, bonus points for a well-developed romance, sword fights, decent magic system, Nathaniel’s banter, and Silas shape-shifting into a cat.


8. Eggshell Skull – Bri Lee | ★★★★.5

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2019 was a year for broadening my reading horizons. In the search for something different I tried a couple of non-fiction reads. Eggshell Skull was one of them and I was shocked by how engaging it was. From the moment I picked it up, I had trouble putting it down. Learning about the Queensland court system’s approach to sexual assault cases from someone who has experienced it on two different sides – judge’s associate & complainant – was both fascinating and horrifying. It was extremely informative and I wish I could smush it in the faces of everyone who asks why women don’t report assault. The writing style may not always be smooth but the content is spot on.


7. Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating – Christina Lauren | ★★★★.5 | Review

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Sometimes all you need is a sweet, romantic contemporary to brighten up your week, and Josh & Hazel were the ticket for exactly that. This is the perfect read for those who gravitate towards a good friends to lovers story with a solid dose of humour and adorableness. I loved Josh and Hazel as characters and their opposites attract friendship, which eventually evolved into something more, was immensely enjoyable. Unfortunately, I had to deduct half a star for a not so great ending but it wasn’t enough to severely damage my overall positive feelings. This book is definitely the gateway drug to reading the rest of Christina & Lauren’s adult romances.


6. Letters to the Lost – Brigid Kemmerer | ★★★★.5 | Review

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LTTL feels like it came out of nowhere and stole my heart. I read a few YA contemporaries these days and most of them are enjoyable but not as many are really memorable. This book dealt with some heavy themes and it did so with such heart and honesty. The characters are wonderfully written, even the smaller ones, and the relationship between the two leads, Juliet and Declan, was beautifully done. I don’t often get emotional reading books but LTTL was very close to getting me there. The sense of catharsis I felt upon reaching the end of it is hard to put into words. The story may be a little melodramatic for some people but if you can get on board with it, it’s an enjoyable (if sad) read.


5. The Wicked King – Holly Black | ★★★★ .5 | Review

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In 2019, I can say that I binge-read this book not only once, but twice! And I loved it just as much the second time as the first. While The Queen of Nothing may have been disappointing, The Wicked King certainly wasn’t. This book was full of twists, devious characters, addictive romantic tension and political machinations. It expanded on the world building of the series somewhat, made me fall more in love with Jude & Cardan, and just generally had me glued to the page from start to finish. The book hangover was strong with this one!


4. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss | ★★★★★

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Say hello to the largest book I tackled in 2019. It may have taken me months to get there but the adventure & effort were worth it in the end. Sure, the writing can be a little wordy at times and there’s some issues with the story (e.g. female characters), there’s just something about this book! I’m not sure if it’s the witty, talented protagonist, the phenomenal world building (magic, currency, history, lore!) or just the general journey that the story takes you on from start to finish. Regardless, I really enjoyed this brick and I understand why it’s considered a fantasy masterpiece. I’ll surely read book two, The Wise Man’s Fear. Well, maybe when I know that book 3 is actually in sight.


3. The Poppy War – R.F. Kuang | ★★★★★

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On first glance, I was intimidated by the size of The Poppy War but in keeping with my resolution to read some bigger books in 2019, I gave it a go. I’m so glad that I did because it was absolutely fantastic. This was an emotionally intense ride full of violence, death and pain, and every time I thought I knew how things would progress, I was completely wrong. It’s beautifully written (drawing from Chinese history to shape it’s narrative), has a strong, well developed protagonist, great world building, and engrossing action. It also happens to include a few of my favourite fantasy tropes like training academies and mentorship. The fact that this is a debut novel is crazy to me and I’m looking forward to getting around to reading the sequel, The Dragon Republic.


2. Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston | ★★★★★ | Review

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I knew the moment I started reading RW&RB that it’d be on this list. I’m somewhat stingy with my five star ratings (I should work on that!) but had no trouble handing one out here. Much like Simon or TATBILB in 2018, this was a breath of fresh air- fun, romantic, great characters, diverse, and laugh out loud funny. The US first son falls in love with the Prince of Wales. That set up alone is pure gold. Throw in some potentially murderous turkeys, a bit of polo, a few Star Wars references, and some major queer positivity, and you have a winner! There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll re-read this down the line.


And here we are, at my number one read for 2019. If you’ve read through a few of my blog posts this year, you’re not likely to be surprised by this particular choice. It’s not only a great book but written by a fantastic author.

* Drumroll*

1. Skyward – Brandon Sanderson | ★★★★★ | Review

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The first half of 2019 was full of great books but looking back, Skyward was my favourite. I totally get the Sanderson magic now. This book had me completely gripped and made it so difficult to put it down (getting off my morning train was a sad moment). As someone who doesn’t usually visualise books as I read them, I was surprised at just how fantastically this novel played out in my head, much like an action packed movie. I fell in love with the characters, especially Spensa and her sassy talking ship, M-Bot, laughed at the dialogue, absorbed every bit of detail about the world, and overall just had an amazing time. If you enjoy science fiction with heart, this is the perfect read for you. I cannot wait to dig into Starsight!


What do you think of my 2019 top 10? And which book came out on top for you this year?

** Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl but which originated on the now retired blog The Broke and the Bookish. **

Top 10 Tuesday: Favourite Reads of 2019…So Far

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is actually supposed to be a character based freebie. However, as we’re now around halfway through 2019, I’m doing a list of my favourite reads of the year so far. I did a similar list in 2018 and found it really interesting to compare it with the final top 10 at the end of the year to see how things had changed. So here they are, in no particular order and excluding re-reads:

Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

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The first of several obvious choices for this list. I don’t hand out five stars that often in my reviews but this fun book is one of a few that have successfully hit the jackpot in 2019. I had such a good time reading this – the characters are great, the dialogue is funny, it’s super queer positive, and the romance is so shippable it hurts. This is a perfect example of what new adult could be. As my eleven year old self would have said, Alex and Henry 4eva!


The Wicked King – Holly Black

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You know those books that you’re so excited for, you binge read them in about a day? It’s rare for me these days but TWK was one of them and not a disappointment at all. The twists keep coming, the characters are still devious little bastards, the romance smolders just a bit, and we get more info on the world. I can’t get enough of this series and I’m counting down the days until The Queen of Nothing releases.


The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang

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I like big BOOKS and I cannot lie…especially if it’s this book. The Poppy War was an intense ride (how could it not be drawing from especially bloody moments in Chinese history) but dramatically enjoyable all the same. This book had some turns I didn’t see coming and ended in a way that had me going, did that really just happen? Like other books on this list, is has great characters and a fascinating setting. It also features a layered protagonist, plus bonus points were awarded for catering to some of my fantasy trope fettishes.


Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

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Why, hello there kickass sci-fi written by a fantastic fantasy writer. This book is basically a movie in literary form, in the best way possible. There’s humour, friendship, action, compelling world building, an engaging plot, and characters that grow on you like moss. The sequel to Skyward is another one of my most anticipated releases for the rest of the year because after that ending, I need to know where we go from here. But also I miss Spensa’s random proclamations of blood and violence.


Verity – Colleen Hoover

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If I had one word to describe Verity, it’d be ‘addictive’ because this was one book I had a lot of trouble putting down. It’s different from Colleen’s usual romantic reads (there is a romance though) but it goes to show, she can do thrillers just as well as her usual genre. A creepy setting, a story which makes you question everything, and then an ending which goes from 0-100 – definitely a book I’ll be recommending to friends.


The Boy Who Steals Houses – C. G. Drews

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TBWSH was an unexpected gem. This novel was such a perfect mix of sweet and fluffy, and tear your heart out sad. It’s got memorable characters, great autism rep, fun banter, and lovely sibling relationships. And waffles, can’t forget the waffles. As far as YA contemporaries go, a good choice and from an Aussie author to boot!


Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

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This book is one of the most loved YA contemporaries around and in January, I finally sat down and read it. I honestly expected the hype to be massively over the top on Fangirl, but I ended up really enjoying it. As a bookworm, I think it’s hard not to relate to Cat on some level in all her crazy fan ways. I liked the fact that the book was a little older in feeling than some other YA out there and also that it took the time to deal with some not so light topics whilst still feeling sweet overall. Worth a reread down the line.


The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

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It only took me about four months but it was certainly worth the time and effort. The amount of work that’s gone into this book is pretty staggering and even if I hadn’t enjoyed the story itself, that alone would be impressive. However, I did enjoy the story. There will likely be people out there who’ll find the direction and pacing a bit slow but for me, I was there for it from start to finish. Now the question is: do I read book two knowing book three is nowhere near release or hold off? Hm…


It Ends with Us – Colleen Hoover

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Colleen is doing very well as far as my 2019 is concerned. This was my first experience with her writing and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, only that it would involve a romance and some form of complication. Here she manages to take something as dark as domestic violence and handle it fantastically with all of its emotional complexity. It really helped me think about things differently than I had before. The characters are also likeable, deep and really help connect you with the story itself.


The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

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While the plot is slower at points, the strengths of this particular book are it’s rich and diverse characters, and fabulous world building. Chamber’s universe is full of a multitude of vastly different species all with their own languages, cultures, and histories, and just travelling the universe with her lovely, little Wayfarer crew (or family) is a wonderful ride in itself. There’s adventure, humour, romance, friendship, and most importantly, acceptance of anyone and everyone for exactly who they are.

And that’s my top ten reads for 2019…so far. I expect things to shift a lot by the time we reach the end of the year if 2018 is anything to go by. From what I can see at this point, I’ve read quite a lot of good books over the past six months. Here’s hoping for a bunch more during the rest of the year!

What are some of your favourite reads of 2019 so far?

And That’s a Wrap: May ’19 Edition

Another month is over and the next one begins. As usual, that means it’s time for a wrap up. Overall, May’s been a pretty decent month for reading, book purchases and well…life, I guess. Let’s review, shall we?

Verity – Colleen Hoover ★★★★.5

Unlike Colleen’s other books, Verity is a thriller and it’s a dark one at that. But god, was this addictive. Once I started, I had so much trouble putting it down – I just needed to know what happened. While it does involve a romance, there’s a lot more to the plot than that. You may guess some of the twists but it’s enjoyable all the same and the ending is far from clear cut.

One True Loves – Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★.5

Having only read Reid’s later work, I was interested to see how her early romantic contemporaries compared. One True Loves is a decent read. There’s real emotion behind it and the characters are easy to sympathise with, even if the premise is unbelievable. If you’re looking for some chick lit, this is a fairly enjoyable pick. Unfortunately for me though, it’s not something I’d consider memorable or be keen to reread in future.

Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston ★★★★★ | Review

You guys have heard me gush about this book enough this month. It was sweet, sexy, and funny. It’s massively LGBTI positive and the characters are great. I don’t usually read much in the way of new adult but if there are more reads like RW&RB out there, maybe I should!

Slayer – Kiersten White ★★★.5

As I mentioned in my recent Buffy book tag post, I’m a huge BtVS fan so there was no way I was going to be able to resist this. The world building is great and it’s clear how much White adores Buffy. Unfortunately though, the plot is slow for long stretches and predictable. Also, on numerous occasions the characters’ actions are very frustrating. Yet, things certainly pick up in the last third or so and I found that Nina as a protagonist grew on me as the book progressed. There were also some nice emotional moments. If I’m in the mood, I may pick up the sequel when it releases.

Aurora Rising – Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman ★★★.5

Amie and Jay are back with more space adventures! I was massively excited for this release and while I enjoyed it, I can’t say I loved it. The characters are likeable but after everything, I still feel like I don’t know them very well and haven’t properly connected. For this reason, the ending didn’t really hit me as hard as it should have, but points for being unexpected. The world building was really good and I’m looking forward to spending more time in this version of our galaxy. The plot certainly has momentum, but I’m not too sure how I feel about the choice of the antagonistic element here. Still, I’ll definitely give the next book a go.

After – Anna Todd ★

Yeah, yeah. I knew this would be trash, I was just interested in finding out what kind of trash. Plus it was something easy to read on my trip to Melbourne. Not only is the romance extremely toxic, there’s basically no plot (it pretty much just alternates between Hardin & Tessa fighting and having sex) and the writing itself is pretty darn awful (has Anna Todd ever heard of contractions before? Everyone in this book talks like a robot). How this was so popular, I have no idea.

Four books this month, two of which I read during it, so not so bad at all! Originally I had no plans to continue with the Caraval books but with Finale having just been released and it popping up EVERYWHERE, I caved and bought Legendary.

I’ve wanted to read the His Dark Materials books for years now and just never really gotten around to it. This month I had an extra credit on my audible account so I thought why not now? Especially with the new HBO series releasing later this year.

Book Memes

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Adaptations I’d Like to Watch

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books Published in the Last Ten Years

WWW Wednesday | 15.05.19

Book Reviews

Again, but Better – Christine Riccio

Middlegame – Seanan McGuire

Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

Book Tags

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Tag

I’ve already begun my reread of Strange the Dreamer in preparation to finally read Muse of Nightmares which has sadly been sitting on my shelf for far too long, being it’s gorgeous orange self. I have no ARCs to read in June and there aren’t any new releases I’m anxiously waiting around for either so that means I can actually read some books off my existing TBR – this month I’m thinking Beartown and All the Bright Places.

Movies, Television & Music

As you’d expect, I went to the movies to see Aladdin this month. Sure, there are some flaws but on the whole it’s a fun way to spend a few hours. Major props to the costume department and set designers who did a phenomenal job. Also, does anyone else have a huge girl crush on Naomi Scott, or is it just me?

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In May, my two TV obsessions were Killing Eve (my Top 10 Tuesday list pushed me to finally watch it) and The Bold Type. Killing Eve was different from what I expected but so good. It somehow has this weird blend of drama and dark humour, plus Jodie Comer is amazing. The Bold Type is additive as hell and I’m absolutely in love with it. While it can be a little heavy handed on some issues, I really like the humour and characters. I’m almost finished season 2 now and having a blast.

Music wise, Aly & AJ are still playing through my speakers on repeat but have been joined by Marina’s new album Love + Fear, some Carly Rae Jepsen and a bit of Betty Who.

LIFE

This month I took a three day trip to Melbourne to finally see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! Ahhhhh! I was so excited as I’ve been wanting to see this for for almost three years now. There was a point where I even thought I’d have to go all the way to London for it. I still have a few issues with the story (as I did when I read the screenplay) but the production itself is absolutely wonderful. How they manage to make all the magic happen on stage, I’ll never know. I also had absolutely no idea that they’d completely redone the theatre itself – new carpet, chairs, wall coverings, windows, all designed especially for this show. Crazy. Still, my friend and I had a great time. So worth the money and effort.

And that’s a wrap on May. As always, I hope you all had a wonderful month and wish you the best for the next one. What was your favourite book of May? What are you most looking forward to reading in June?

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Book Tag

As my family and close friends know, I’m a big Buffy fan. Huge. Enormous. I mean, this is a show that absolutely revolutionised TV in the 90s. I pretty much try to get everyone I know to watch it at some point. Amazing characters, great dialogue, gripping plots, badass action scenes, female empowerment, one of the first ongoing gay relationships on TV, the best musical episode of a non-musical TV show ever (fight me), some corny but fun CGI…it’s just so good. Go watch it if you haven’t already.

Anyway, when I came across a book tag devoted especially to it, I knew I had to do it. Just HAD TO. This tag was originally created by Lauren over at Book Slaying but was then changed slightly by Sarah at Written Word Worlds. I’m going to do a combination of the two versions, with my own changes and additions because why not? Let’s get slayin’.


Buffy: A Character Who Lives a Double Life

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Nova Artino (Renegades- Marissa Meyer)

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There were a few options for this one but I’ve decided to go with Nova. In Renegades, Nova’s allegiance is to the so called ‘Villains’ group in society. She resents the Renegades, (who act as the city’s political body/law enforcement group) for their past failures, and believes they’re not what they claim or people hold them up to be. In order to gain valuable intelligence on the inner workings of the Renegades team, she joins them, complete with an entirely new (and fake) personal history.


Willow: A Badass Witch

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Manon Blackbeak (Throne of Glass series – Sarah J. Maas)

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I don’t use Throne of Glass related things for many prompts. It’s mainly because I wasn’t a huge fan of the series and only made it about 4 books in. Still, there’s no denying that Manon is 100% a badass witch. Or more specifically, a scary-ass witch. I mean, she’s killed people and actually drank their blood, has retractable iron fangs and nails, and she flies a wyvern. Combine that with an icy, ruthless and determined personality, and the end result is…well, don’t cross her if you can avoid it.


Xander: A Character Who Mostly Provides Comic Relief

M-BOT (Skyward – Brandon Sanderson)

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While M-Bot certainly has its other purposes, as you do being a super advanced stealth space ship, its main contribution to Skyward is as comic relief. If you’re laughing at something during this book, 80% chance it’ll be M-Bot. Sometimes it’s talking about its drive to catalogue mushrooms, others it’s randomly hacking into Spensa’s communications channel to give commentary, and then there’s the constant crapping on poor Rig as he attempts to repair it. Regardless, M-Bot is an easy fan favourite.


Giles: A Parental Figure

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Miss Honey (Matilda – Roald Dahl)

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Honestly, can you guys think of a more perfect parental figure than Miss Honey? She’s kind, gentle, smart, wants the best for each of her students, and tries hard to ensure that Matilda will receive the kind of care and education that she deserves. The two develop a special bond with Matilda using her telekinetic powers to ensure the return of Miss Honey’s home and inheritance from Principal Trunchbull. By the end of the book, Matilda goes to live with Miss Honey and it’s pretty much a happily ever after.


Dawn: Favourite Sibling Relationship

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Tyler & Scarlett Jones (Aurora Rising – Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman)

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Ugh, Dawn. I almost changed this prompt to ‘A character you found ridiculously annoying’. There are a few sibling relationships I really love, but for the sake of variety, I’ve picked Tyler and Scarlett. Having just finished Aurora Rising, these two are fresh in my memory. They have a great degree of banter, trust one another, are able to communicate with little more than a look or a raised eyebrow, and have faith in the other’s abilities. Ty and Scarlet are squadmates and siblings but more importantly they’re good friends.


Oz: A Book With Werewolves

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Nightshade -Andrea Cremer

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I read this book YEARSSSSS ago and I can’t remember anything about it other than it was about werewolves and the main character’s name was Calla. Based on my GR review, I must have liked it somewhat (but not enough to read the sequel). Obviously I was drawn in by the pretty purple cover. Gosh, that’s a nice colour. I have a sneaking suspicion that I wouldn’t be so keen on it were I to read it now – male wolf dominance, love triangles and all that, but eh, it’s a werewolf book and it’s something different from my usual book tag choices.


Cordelia: A Character Who Undergoes Major Growth

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Zoya Nazyalensky (The Grisha Trilogy & King of Scars – Leigh Bardugo)

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When we first meet Zoya, to put it mildly, she’s kind of a raging bitch. But after being knocked off her pedestal and then joining Alina’s & Nikolai’s fight against The Darkling, she undergoes some great character development. However, much like with Cordelia Chase, it’s a spin off that really gives her the chance to shine. Zoya is sassy, resilient, able to handle Nikolai (a feat in itself), a badass grisha, and has not got time for your shit. Basically, we stan. Zoya for Queen of Ravka.


Angel: An Extremely Broody Character

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Victor Vale (Vicious – V.E. Schwab)

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Ah, Victor. You’re certainly a very broody character. Admittedly, this is fairly understandable because: (a) he went to prison for years for a murder he committed accidentally, giving him plenty to brood about, (b) how else would he plot his nemesis & former friend’s demise?, and (c) it just fits his whole gloomy, anti-hero image. So, in Victor’s case, unlike some other’s, it actually works very well.


Spike: A Character with a Redemption Arc

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Severus Snape (Harry Potter Series – J. K. Rowling)

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To avoid reusing Holland from ADSOM for the millionth time, I’m going with Severus Snape. In fairness, I don’t think I’ve ever used this one in a book tag before despite how popular a choice it must be and how much I love HP. Snape definitely has some massive flaws and he’s far from being fully redeemed by the end of the series. However, our view of him as a character is certainly very much improved in Deathly Hallows by the introduction of a whole bunch of new info about past events.


Tara: A Book with a LGBTI Relationship

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Alex & Henry (Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston)

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There are so many wonderful LGBTI ships out there in fictional land. I recently finished this book so it’s been on the brain which is probably why I jumped here first. However, it’s also probably because these two are so darn CUTE. Ahhhhhh. Alex is smart-mouthed and outgoing while Henry is a closet-nerd and major romantic. The two start out a bit rough but eventually their relationship develops into hilarious late night texting convos, sexy, secret rendezvous, and some genuinely sweet heart to hearts.


Anya: A Character Who Grew on You

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Nesta Archeron (ACOTAR Series – Sarah J. Maas)

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Yes, more SJM. I’m sorry I’m a cliche, okay.
If you happen to go through my read along posts for ACOTAR, you’ll find that I didn’t have many nice things to say about Feyre’s sisters early on. Nesta can be harsh, closed off and selfish, but after spending more time with her, I ended up loving that she was a more emotionally complex character. Some people will find it difficult to like her but I know she’s going to have her moment once the new series kicks into gear. Also, if she doesn’t end up with Cassian, I’ll riot.


Faith: A Character with Questionable Allegiances

Ashlinn Jarheim (Nevernight Series – Jay Kristoff)

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Ah, Ashlinn. I can’t really say much on this one without giving away major spoilers to anyone who hasn’t read Nevernight. If that’s you, go do it already! Before book three comes out in September! I will say that she’s sassy, resourceful, and calculating, and I’m looking forward to seeing where she ends up at the end of the series. Somehow I doubt she’ll do any more plot twisty things but considering her character, you never can be entirely sure.

Are you a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan? I love finding people to gush about amazing TV shows with, especially older ones. If so, who’s your favourite character?

I definitely think it’s time for a re-watch!

The Han to My Leia: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (ARC)

This book is probably one of the gayest things I’ve ever read…and my god, it was glorious. After the last two Netgalley ARCs I reviewed ended up sitting around the two-star mark, I was seriously starting to panic about ending up blacklisted for being a massive grump. Thank goodness for Red, White & Royal Blue.

Who, What, Where?

Alex Claremont- Diaz is the son of America’s first female president and has big plans for his own political career. That is, until a confrontation at a royal wedding between Alex and his so called “nemesis”, Prince Henry of Great Britain, is caught on camera, posing a threat to international relations. With the PR teams in damage control, a plan is devised to fix it: stage a fake friendship between Alex and Henry. Alex can’t imagine anything worse. However, as the two spend more time together, they start to realise that maybe the other person isn’t who they thought they were. As President Claremont kicks off her re-election bid, Alex finds himself in the middle of a secret relationship, the last thing he needs getting out to the press. But is being with Henry worth potentially jeopardising not only his own future but that of his family?

I Love You All!

I’ve had a lot of trouble lately finding book characters that I really love, but good gosh did I love these.

Alex: Cocky, smug, loud-mouthed, and YET, a damn national treasure. Never underestimate his ability to make you spontaneously break out into a giant grin. Honestly, he’s that little shit of a character that were he a real person would drive you up the wall but be impossible not to love. If that doesn’t convince you, let me also say, he’s a) mixed race, b) the grandchild of immigrants, c) bisexual, and d) has undiagnosed ADHD.

Henry: If you were sitting there going, I need another sweet, cinnamon roll character in my life, LOOK NO FURTHER. Henry George Edward James Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor has arrived. Henry is closeted gay and feels trapped by the expectations placed upon members of the royal family. He’s a romantic, big on both Star Wars and classic literature, a little more reserved, and genuinely enjoys charity work. He also has a thing for boys with chin dimples who insult him.

Henry & Alex aside, RW&RB is also full of great side characters. Even better, so many of them are amazing women. Firstly, there’s June (Alex’s sister) and Nora (granddaughter to the VP), who are the kind of people you 100% need in your support network. They’re smart, confident, ambitious, fantastic wing-women, and good at keeping Alex’s ego in check.

Nora grins. “Hmm.” She pretends to think hard about it. “Risk assessment: FSOTUS failing to check himself before he wrecks himself will result in greater than five hundred civilian casualties. Ninety-eight percent probability of Prince Henry looking like a total dreamboat. Seventy-eight percent probability of Alex getting himself banned from the United Kingdom forever.”

“Those are better odds than I expected,” June observes.

Alex’s mother, President Ellen Claremont, somehow manages to be both a respected leader and a supportive parent (but that won’t stop her from making jokes about faking your death for sympathy votes). There’s also Zahra, the President’s Deputy Chief of Staff, who has no time for anyone’s, especially Alex’s, crap. She’s half scary, half hilarious. Regarding Alex’s profile fact sheet to help Henry fake their friendship:

“Does he get one of these for me?” Alex asks helplessly.

“Yep. And for the record, making it was one of the most depressing moments of my career.”

Ouch.

Laughs for Days

This book cracked me up, repeatedly. Sometimes it was the situations, but mostly, it was the banter. My lord, the dialogue, the quips, there’s just so many winners here. Throughout the book, Henry and Alex spend a lot of time texting, calling and e-mailing each other from across the world, and these exchanges are fantastically done. The two just bounce off each other magically and the chemistry is off the charts.

“In world’s most boring meeting with Philip. Don’t let the papers print lies about me after I’ve garrotted myself with my tie”…

“[W]as it a meeting about which of your cousins have to marry each other to take back casterly rock?”

** ***** **

“Alex?…Have you really rung me at three o’clock in the morning to make me listen to a turkey?”

“Yes, obviously.”

Ship that Romance!

The relationship between Alex and Henry progresses nicely over the course of the book and I feel like having the story take place over a period of more than a year really helped with this. I adored watching these two characters grow from having a rather strained relationship to friends who could light-heartedly poke fun at each other and then lovers. While the amount of gushy-lovey-dovey-ness in the middle of the book did get a bit much for me (there’s a lot of e-mails involving romantic quotes from literature and history), it’s hard to mind too much because these two are so darn cute together. Just….argggggg…*unintelligible noises*

External Angst

One of the things that frustrates me a little in romances is when characters cause conflict unnecessarily by acting stupidly or worrying about silly things. While there is perhaps one moment of slightly internal based conflict in Henry & Alex’s relationship, it’s resolved quickly (mostly by Alex swearing loudly at a bunch of people). The rest of the issues they face are more of an us-against-the world variety which is so much easier to get behind.

Political Colour

While I massively enjoyed the main romance storyline, I also like the fact that the US election was more than just a background element. By having a proper contribution to the overall plot through some choice drama moments, the story felt better tied together and the ending was much more satisfying. Some of it may go over people’s heads, but for those that are disillusioned with the current American political situation, this alternate reality will make you feel a little better (and think about what could have been).

Celebrate Queer

Honestly, this book is just so wonderfully queer positive, I can’t even find the right words to express it. Is it all a little bit too good to be real, yes, but who the hell cares? You’ve got: *SPOILERS*

  • Alex questioning his sexuality, realising that he’s bisexual and coming out to his family with amazing support
  • Henry proclaiming that he’s gay, refusing to cover it up again and finally having his family rally around him.
  • A publicly gay senator, despite adversity, kicking ass in his political career and fighting against abuses of power
  • The broader international community standing up for Henry and Alex’s relationship

All of the yes.

I could go on, but I won’t. To put it simply, this book was wonderful, and I enjoyed almost every minute of it. If you’re a fan of contemporary romances and looking for something sweet, funny, charming and positive, RW&RB will be the ray of sunshine your week needs.

5 Stars

*** ARC received from St Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**

WWW Wednesday | 15.05.19

Time for a reading update! And as usual, I’m doing it in the format of a good, old WWW Wednesday post. The 3 big questions are: what have you recently finished, what are you currently reading, and what’s next?

Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston | GR

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I loved this book. It’s sweet, funny, sexy, and full of great characters. The novel is over 400 pages but it felt like it flew by. I don’t read a lot of new adult books but this is a great encourager to branch out more. All you really need to know is that the story revolves around Alex, the son of America’s first female president, falling in love with HRH Prince Henry of Great Britain. These two are for sure one of my new favourite ships. Alternate history has never been more fun or gay. My full review (of gushing) will be going up later this week.

Slayer – Kiersten White | GR

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I’m a huge Buffy fan so you can imagine my reaction when I found out Kiersten was writing a new series set in its world with a brand new Slayer. I have a feeling I picked this up because I’d been working on completing a Buffy book tag right about the time I finished Red, White & Royal Blue. While I can’t say I’m absolutely living for it at this point, I certainly don’t mind it. The characters are fine, and I’m having a lot of fun finding all the little references and call backs to the show. However, I do hope the story picks up more soon. Also, could they maybe crap on Buffy herself a little bit less. The girl has saved the world only a gazillion times, okay?

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss | GR

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Yes, I’m still bloody going. It’s happening, okay? Just really, really, really slowly. I’m enjoying it a lot, I promise! 350 pages down and only like… 350 pages to go. Basically nothing. Hey, it’s not like the last book in the series is coming out any time soon. At this rate, I’ll finish the first two in perfect time for it, with all the details still fresh in my memory. See, I’ve thought this stuff out. It’s the perfect plan.

Aurora Rising – Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman | GR

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What’s that? Oh, just the sound of me screaming in excitement. It’s here, it’s here, it’s FINALLY here. I’ve been waiting on this for a while and I’m sooooo keen. Space adventures, fun characters, potential end of the universe, the usual Kristoff-Kaufman dialogue, um…yes, please. I admit, I would have started this earlier but by the time I was able to get into store to pick it up, I was already stuck into Slayer. I’ve got high expectations but with all the great reviews popping up, I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.

And that’s where I’m at reading wise right now. How is everyone else going? Is your current read grabbing you or are you already setting your sights on the shiny, attractive next one?