Reading · Reviews

Review Round-Up! October 2018

Hey, it’s been a while, and it appears reading 10 books and then doing 10-book bursts of reviews is just how my brain is going to operate, so I’m going with it. Got some awesome ones this time, including SOFT ON SOFT by Em Ali, BAKER THIEF by Claudie Arseneault, TEETH by Hannah Moskowitz, HIS COCKY VALET by Cole McCade, HUNTSMEN by Michelle Osgood, ROLLER GIRL by Vanessa North, THE HOLLOW GIRL by Hillary Monahan, SOFT IN THE MIDDLE by Shelby Eileen, SOME DISTANT SUNRISE by Elliott Downing, and BY EARTH by T. Thorn Coyle!

 Soft on SoftSoft on Soft by Em Ali

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely adorable and Good, and not just because I had the wonderful treat of getting to beta-read (and help name!) this. Super sweet MCs, both of them, and super sweet cats. And kinda steamy toward the end~ honestly I couldn’t ask for more. ❤

 

 Baker ThiefBaker Thief by Claudie Arseneault

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“They didn’t need more precise rules any more than they needed romantic love. They had faith—the kind that destroyed industries and changed the cityscape forever. All they needed was to keep communicating, and they would get through it fine.”

* * *

UGH I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. An adventurous half-detective story, half-heist, all wrapped up in magic and soul-powered industry, cover-ups and machinations, actually good government employees with the peoples’ best interests in mind (HOW REFRESHING) and an incredible non-romantic relationship at the center. It felt so good to watch this form, watch 2 people with different orientations negotiate and find common ground as they become so important to one another, and know that at no point would they be invalidated or made to do anything they didn’t 100% want (perks of trusting the author~). So important.

 

TeethTeeth by Hannah Moskowitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“If this were a fairy tale, this would be the part where the fishy appears and Diana shoots him through the heart. Because he is a tragic hero, he’s our fucking Gatsby, and he lived for his fish and he has to die for his fish.”

* * *

Gloriously dark and disturbing. Hauntingly atmospheric; the isolation and despair is palpable, as is the cold, both metaphorical and literal. As are the darker realities of being someone mainstream (ha) society doesn’t understand or have any interest in protecting. Literally the only thing I didn’t love is… that ending was really fucking sad, and I went into this expecting more of a romance. Not the book’s fault, more of a perception/word-of-mouth disconnect, but. Damn, that hurt.

 

 

 His Cocky Valet (Undue Arrogance #1)His Cocky Valet by Cole McCade

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Fate or no fate, every pull on his heart was the tug of the red string tying him to Brand, a contract deeper than any employment document. He was tangled in Brand, and Brand was tangled in him, the knots so inextricably twined they’d never come free.”

* * *

Oh gosh. Oh wow. This was born of the “Cockygate” lawsuit scandal, but it’s so much more than that, and more beautiful than maybe a spite-book has any right to be. But then, some of the best things in life come from spite, and this is living proof.

Huntsmen (The Better to Kiss You With Book 2)Huntsmen by Michelle Osgood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Her chest ached as the love she’d never stopped feeling for Ryn slowly escaped the vault she’d locked it in.”

* * *

GUH I am so weak for the whole series and this is no exception. I suspected going in that I’d love it, and was totally unsurprised to find I totally loved it. At its core, HUNTSMEN is about community and coming together for safety, acceptance, and love, both in its larger themes and its MCs, two damaged and hard-shelled girls reconnecting and letting themselves be vulnerable and finding out they’re so much stronger together than alone (true pack feels!).

 

Roller Girl (Lake Lovelace Book 3)Roller Girl by Vanessa North

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“But I’m not broken. I’m the girl who believes in people. And sometimes they believe in me back.”

* * *

OH my gosh, I loved this one so much! I went in expecting a fun roller derby story, and it is that, but it’s also an incredibly sweet story about healing through overcoming personal challenges and camaraderie with other women (cis and trans) and finding strength in yourself. Basically what good sports movies (and books) are supposed to be made of. Also, supportive friend-families are wonderful.

 

The Hollow GirlThe Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“That was his mistake. Had he simply come the day before, had he allowed me to take my due, he might have walked away with his life. It may not have been as happy, removed from the family as he would have been, but at least there would have been other sunrises to see. That wasn’t an option anymore.”

* * *

RIDICULOUSLY BADASS. Super dark, brutal, viscerally horrifying, and all about an assault survivor rising up and taking an incredibly satisfying revenge. Enough has been said about the plot, so I’m just… still kind of blown away by the sheer emotional gut-punches and cathartic violence (yes, it absolutely can be).

 

soft in the middlesoft in the middle by Shelby Eileen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I never felt more beautiful than when she said it through the wire and across the stars.”

* * *

A gorgeous collection of poems on mental health, body image, love, dysfunction, and loss. I expected heartfelt and vulnerable sincerity. I didn’t expect for them to hit quite as close to home as they did. It’s kind of hard to think about this, and that’s the only reason this review is so short (so it’s a good sign, really).

 

Some Distant SunriseSome Distant Sunrise by Elliott Downing

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“…This whole big room full of people, chanting that chorus from Knocking On Heaven’s Door. And they meant it. They felt it. Not Heaven, like death. Heaven, like happiness. That’s what I gave them to go home with. It might not sound like much to you, but that’s what I do.”

* * *

A bleak but beautiful story about grief and addiction with some truly gorgeous prose. Some Distant Sunrise is a super quick read, but memorable. It explores how the “ghosts” (metaphorical, and in this case, literal) follow us and influence our lives long after they should have disappeared. The backstory is brutal but realistic, and the characterization of flawed but ultimately sympathetic people is really effective—but the descriptions of music and crafting it, the emotions and transcendent experiences it creates are where this story shines.

 

By Earth (The Witches of Portland #1)By Earth by T. Thorn Coyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Where the veil had been cold, the ruby was warm, almost hot, as though lit with an internal fire. The fire in the hearts of the almost six hundred thousand people who lived in Portland. All of their hope, creativity, and love.”

* * *

It’s always fun to read books written about your hometown, especially by local authors. And I love the idea of SJWs (Social Justice Witches!) in Portland fighting for marginalized and disenfranchised people, and I’m always a sucker for found family stories, all of which this has in spades. The central conflict is entirely believable/pretty much ripped-from-the-headlines, and the romance at its center is sweet. The coven itself is full of interesting-seeming characters (especially Selene, who I see has a book later in the series), and the major themes of community and love in a vibrant city is lovely.

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