Rating: 3.5/4 STARS
Series/Standalone: At First Sight #1
How I got this book: Bought via Audible
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Paul Auster doesn't. Paul doesn't believe in much at all. He’s thirty, slightly overweight, and his best features are his acerbic wit and the color commentary he provides as life passes him by. His closest friends are a two-legged dog named Wheels and a quasibipolar drag queen named Helena Handbasket. He works a dead-end job in a soul-sucking cubicle, and if his grandmother's homophobic parrot insults him one more time, Paul is going to wring its stupid neck.
Enter Vince Taylor.
Vince is everything Paul isn’t: sexy, confident, and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. And for some reason, Vince pursues Paul relentlessly. Vince must be messing with him, because there is no way Vince could want someone like Paul.
But when Paul hits Vince with his car—in a completely unintentional if-he-died-it'd-only-be-manslaughter kind of way—he's forced to see Vince in a whole new light. The only thing stopping Paul from believing in Vince is himself—and that is one obstacle Paul can’t quite seem to overcome. But when tragedy strikes Vince's family, Paul must put aside any notions he has about himself and stand next to the man who thinks he's perfect the way he is.
Trigger Warnings: Loss/grief and some homophobia.
I listened to an excerpt of this book on Audible and instantly fell in love with Michael Lesley's narration, in particular, his voices for Paul, Vince and Helena.
Over the past few months, I've fallen head-over-heels for TJ's work. His characters are fantastic - I love Paul's self-deprecating humour, Vince's sweet, persistent nature and Helena's fierce, no-nonsense attitude.
Tell Me It's Real starts off very lighthearted and funny but grows into an emotional, touching story with an unexpected element of tragedy and grief.
Paul's family are perfect! They're hilarious, accepting and truly loving whilst Vince's father is the complete opposite.
Paul and Vince's relationship is swift but no less beautiful and meaningful.
"Take that homophobes!"
TJ's immersive writing style and Michael Lesley's wonderful narration thrust me into this story and easily brought to the life realistic and relatable (even if they are a bit ridiculous and OTT at times) characters.
This is the sixth book that I've read by TJ Klune and it's completely unlike any of the others. I can't seem to get enough of his books right now and I love that he writes across so many different genres. Some of his characters share similarities i.e. Sam (Tales from Verania) reminds me a lot of Paul (Tell Me It's Real) whilst Helena (Tell Me It's Real) is very reminiscent of Gary (Tales from Verania) and yet they surprise me, make me laugh, and give me the feels each time I pick up a new book!
So, if you're in the mood for a very sweet, contemporary m/m romance that guarantees that you'll be laughing out loud alongside moments of sadness and heartache, 'Tell Me It's Real' is the book for you!
Rating: 3.5 STARS
Series/Standalone: Standalone (Collection)
How I got this book: Bought
Slow burn romance that quickens the heart. From sweet & light-hearted to raw and emotional - this collection contains eight contemporary gay romance novellas previously published individually between 2013 and 2016.
“Noticed Me Yet?”
“The Douglas Fir”
"It Could Be You"
"Bird Meets Cage"
You can catch my separate mini review of DJ Dangerfield here.
The stories in this book are short and sweet, perfect if you're looking for something to read before going to sleep.
I won't talk about every single story, because I don't have a huge amount to say about some of them. They were nice, sweet stories that delivered the promised HEA.
I'm going to talk about my favourite story first, which was 500 kisses. This is a very fun friends-to-enemies-to-lovers romance that I couldn't stop smiling over. The two characters are fun, witty and their verbal sparring sessions are perfect. Add to the mix several amusing teenage campers, a very risque bet and some drama from their past, this story was easily my favourite of the whole collection.
The Douglas Fir was another sweet story which took a rather unexpected turn. I'm not going to give too much away here but I did enjoy the plot twist. This isn't your typical romance, but it was nice, sweet and very tender. A great story for Christmas.
Bird Meets Cage was a much heavier story than the others. It features a slight age difference between the two lead characters and lots of emotional drama. What I loved the most though were the secondary relationships from family members and friends which added a lot more depth to the story.
If you haven't yet read anything else by Anyta Sunday but you're thinking of trying out her work, this collection of novella's is a great place to start!
Rating: 3.5 STARS
Genre: Dark Romance
Standalone/Series: Tales of Love & Woe #1
How I got this book: ARC from the author
Put away your magic wands and pumpkins.
These are not sweet, tender fairy tales.
Four flawed heroines.
Four classic tales of love and woe retold for modern times...
Because there’s never been an easy road to happily ever after.
The Lonely Crow—Surrounded by coyotes and unexpected magic, a heartbroken ornithologist becomes the target of a park ranger's aggressive affection. To survive, she must trust the instincts that failed her so completely once already.
Goose—After a one-night-stand leaves her belly swollen and reputation in tatters, an unemployed gas-station clerk finds herself at the mercy of her lover’s mother. But if her own troubled childhood taught her anything, it’s that she’ll fight to the death to protect her baby, and that love never comes the way we expect.
Rosie Waking—Following her father’s disappearance, a small-town waitress lives wedged under her boss’s thumb until a stranger forces her to view her life through a different lens. Can she decide, once and for all, where loyalty stops and subservience begins?
De Rege’s Laundry—When a mob boss’s desperate daughter makes a deal with the devil, she doesn’t expect a handsome ex-soldier to muck it all up. Suddenly, the woman who'd sworn to sacrifice anything for freedom must choose between escape and losing the one person who cares about her happiness.
Beautiful and atmospheric, Tales of Love & Woe is 110k word collection exploring modern womanhood through twisted retellings of The Little Mermaid, The Golden Goose and The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, Snow White & Rose Red, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses. While love and kindness are major themes in these stories, the darker sides of human nature are, too. As such, this collection is intended only for a mature audience. After all ... fairy tales were meant to be grim.
I decided to read this collection of dark fairy tales over Halloween and 'dark' is almost the wrong word, these stories are heavy and come with a ton of trigger warnings i.e sexual, physical and mental abuse.
I haven't yet read anything else by this author but I really enjoyed her writing style and found myself hooked within just a few pages of the first story.
I actually hadn't read the full synopsis before reading the book, and so I wasn't sure which story was connected to which particular fairytale. It turns out that the only story I was already really familiar with was The Little Mermaid and so I picked up on that one immediately whilst reading The Lonely Crow.
The heroines in these stories are almost impossibly strong in spite of the suffering, pain and misery they've experienced, and the villains are truly horrifying.
Goose was probably my least favourite story from this collection and that's only because the theme of the book resonated too much with me. We all have our fears and I've had more than enough nightmares surrounding someone or something taking my child from me, so whilst I can appreciate the story, it was almost too painful to read at times.
I think my favourite story was Rosie Waking, which I actually thought was a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but I guess that wasn't the case. For me, this story was the strongest, and also the most magical. I loved Rosie's story, painful and sinister as it was.
The romance in these novels are almost a sub-plot in comparison to the trials and tribulations faced by the heroines, and a lot of the romances were surprising and definitely not what I expected.
So, if you're looking for a collection of modern-day fairy tales that are sure to give you chills, make your skin crawl and have you gripping your book in terror, The Tales of Love and Woe novella collection is the one for you!
Today is my stop on the Carols and Chaos blog tour! This book is so Christmassy and so, despite it being Halloween today, I just feel like curling up in front of the fire with a giant mug of hot chocolate.
Rating: 3.5 STARS
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
A lady's maid and a valet become entangled in a yuletide counterfeiting scheme in this romantic Christmas YA adventure.
1817. The happy chaos of the Yuletide season has descended upon the country estate of Shackleford Park in full force, but lady's maid Kate Darby barely has the time to notice. Between her household duties, caring for her ailing mother, and saving up money to someday own a dress shop, her hands are quite full. Matt Harlow is also rather busy. He's performing double-duty, acting as valet for both of the Steeple brothers, two of the estate's holiday guests.
Falling in love would be a disaster for either of them. But staving off their feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when a devious counterfeiting scheme reaches the gates of Shackleford Park, and Kate and Matt are unwittingly swept up in the intrigue.
Reading this book immediately took me back to all of those hours binge-watching Downton Abbey (gah, I loved that show), I love the upstairs/downstairs drama. At the same time, it reminded me of Pride and Prejudice, specifically the Austen-era, which I also love and so I quickly became engrossed in this sweet story.
The characters are varied and fantastic. Kate is strong-willed, determined and unperturbed by most of the things thrown her way and Matt is the epitome of a true English gentleman.
Their fast-paced romance is full of fun and flirtation but entangled with elements of drama and danger that keep the plot intriguing and moving forward.
Carols and Chaos is a sweet, lighthearted Christmas read that is perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and Austen novels.
As an aside: After reading this book I noticed that it's a spin-off from one of the author's other books, Suitors and Sabotage, but I didn't at any point feel as though I'd missed anything by not reading it, so I'm happy to say that this can be read as a standalone.
Click the cover photo above to add the book to your Goodreads TBR and enter below for your chance to win a signed copy of Carols and Chaos. The giveaway is open internationally and is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.
Don't forget to click the banner at the top to follow the rest of the tour and feel free to leave your comments below :)
Rating: 3.5 STARS
How I got this book: Bought
Justin knows three things for sure about DJ Dangerfield:
He has some questionable taste in music.
He always provokes Justin into ringing in.
And he might just be his favorite weekly distraction.
But who is this DJ Dangerfield in Real Life? And will Justin like him in the flesh as much as on the air?
This was a really short read, I think I read it in less than an hour. It's an M/M college novella and it was seriously cute.
I love Anyta Sunday's writing. She creates believable, adorable characters and her chemistry sizzles off the page.
DJ Dangerfield was such a fun book and did exactly what I wanted by taking my mind off reality and cheering me up after a pretty bad day.
3.5 HEA-guaranteed stars from me!
Welcome to my stop on The Soul Keepers blog tour!!
Big thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me to participate, I really enjoyed reading this book and I'm excited to share my review with you all.
Rating: 3.5 STARS
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
Death is just the beginning.
After dying in a terrible car accident, Rhett awakens in the afterlife and is recruited to join the crew of the Harbinger, a colossal seafaring vessel tasked with ferrying the souls of the dead. To where exactly, no one knows. But the crew must get the souls there, and along the way protect them from vicious soul-eating monsters that will stop at nothing to take the ship and all of its occupants.
Rhett and his new friends have a hard enough time fighting back the monsters that grow bolder and more ferocious every day. But then a new threat emerges, a demon who wants something that Rhett has. And if she gets it, it could mean the end of everything... for both the living and the dead.
This book took me COMPLETELY by surprise!
I admit that I struggled a little to get into it at the beginning but I quickly got caught up in the fantastic mythology.
To sum it up, this book felt like a mixture of Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and a modern spin on Greek mythology.
I loved the writing style, particularly when it came to the action scenes which were fantastic, and also the plot twists which were extremely unexpected.
The characters were varied and interesting, keeping me engaged throughout and the mythology is fascinating, especially the ship itself, and its changing nature.
My only complaint with this book was the ending, I just felt that it left so many unanswered questions. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend The Soul Keepers to mythology and YA fantasy lovers in general.
You can click the cover photo above to add the book to your Goodreads TBR and enter below for your chance to win a print copy of The Soul Keepers (US/CAN only - giveaway hosted by Xpresso Book Tours).
Finally, you can click the banner at the top to follow the rest of the tour and feel free to leave your comments below :)
RATING: 3.5 STARS
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Standalone/Series: Love Letters #1
How I got this book: Bought
A is for Ash Heartford.
Adorable, strong, and independent.
Abandoned by his parents and attached to only one person—his little sister.
Attracted to River, the sultry man who saunters onto his doorstep with startling news.
Always yearning for more River, yet afraid to let him in.
Should he play it safe, or claim his legacy and risk losing his heart?
A is for Admiring Ash.
Admiring Ash is the first book in Anyta Sunday's brand new Love Letters series. I absolutely love Anyta Sunday, she is one of my favourite romance authors and I was so excited to dig into this new series.
As with pretty much all of Anyta's books, Admiring Ash features a super-sweet, slow-burn romance.
Ash is a nice guy, with a wariness of men because of his mum's past experiences. He's raising his younger sister and working several jobs to take care of her. He hates his jobs and is struggling to make ends meet until he receives some surprising news that could change his life forever.
River and Ash are both genuinely sweet, good guys and watching their friendship blossom into an extremely sweet relationship was lovely.
This book is really sweet and was a nice, quick-paced read. In this book I was introduced to the other two characters in the series, and I'm looking forward to their stories.
Rating: 3.5 STARS!
Genre: Contemporary YA
Standalone/Series: Creekwood #2
How I got this book: Bought
Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
I was so ready for this book! Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda was amazing. I loved The Upside of Unrequited and I was ready to love Leah on the Offbeat, even if I had some trouble with her character whilst reading Simon...I mean, she's fat, and bi, and I was all ready for that!
I should mention that this is the first audiobook I've ever reviewed on my blog. I've never really 'gotten into' audio books before but after listening to The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue almost on repeat this year, I decided to try another.
The book was narrated by Shannon Purser and I think she did a fantastic job of capturing Leah's essence and portraying her character.
I was immediately captured by her voice and by Leah's sarcastic wit. I also really, really liked that there was an f/f romantic interest, even if the character did throw me somewhat.
Sadly, my biggest problem, was Leah herself. Like I said at the beginning, I should have really, really loved this book, but I just could not get over how horrible Leah's character was. She's a complete bit** to her mum, her mum's boyfriend, and to all of her friends. She was judgemental and patronising and manipulating and it really threw me off.
Don't get me wrong, there were sweet moments, tender moments and moments where I felt sorry for Leah but a lot of the time I just couldn't get over how much I didn't like her personality, and that sucks because I wanted to love her.
However, it wasn't all bad. I loved that I got to see more of Simon and Bram. I love this pair and they are seriously cute in this book! Prepare yourselves to gush!
I liked Garrett. I can't actually remember if he was in Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda but I did find him funny and sweet, yet I didn't like that he was basically strung along the whole time.
I also liked that Leah was quite body positive. For the most part she doesn't go on and on about her body size and how bad her life is because of it. I love that she dresses how she wants to, how she falls in love with a prom dress and doesn't obsess over looking 'bigger' than everyone else. It's nice to have a little more positive body size representation in books, especially in YA where it can make all the difference.
Overall, I did enjoy the story. I enjoyed getting back with the gang. I enjoyed the romance and I liked Leah's sarcasm, I just didn't love her the way I wish I had.
What do you think? Have you read this book? I'd love to know your thoughts!
Rating: 3.5 STARS
Genre: M/M Fantasy Romance
Standalone/Series: Fae-Touched #1
How I got this book: ARC from NineStar Press, LLC via NetGalley
After returning to the straight and narrow, Cary Westfield hopes to rebuild his life as a stage magician. Only thing is, the success of his new show is entirely dependent on a strange medallion inherited from his late grandfather—an amulet that holds a rare and inexplicable power to captivate the wearer’s audience.
Ty prides himself on his ability to obtain any item of magical significance—for the right price. When a mysterious client hires him to steal a magical amulet from a neophyte illusionist, he’s sure it will be a quick and easy job, earning him a nice chunk of cash.
As it turns out, nothing is sure when greed and powerful magic are at play. When a mob boss with far-reaching aspirations beats Ty to the snatch, Cary and Ty form an unlikely partnership to get the amulet back. The unexpected spark of attraction between them is a welcome perk, but each man has his own plan for the prize.
All bets are off, however, when it is revealed the magical amulet holds a darker secret than either of them had bargained for.
If you’re looking for a sweet, fun m/m romance packed to the brim with magical artefacts, powerful sorcerers, a sorceress, mob bosses, thrills, danger, a daring heist, sleight of hand, and a hot and heavy romance, this is the book for you!
From the very first chapter, this book is packed full of action and chemistry.
Cary (I’m not too sure how to pronounce this so I went for Gary, with a C) – is an amateur illusionist whose popularity is spiking faster than it should which draws the attention of some rather unsavoury characters, and Ty, a very particular thief, specialising in magical objects.
After a rocky start to their relationship, involving a robbery at gunpoint, Ty and Cary’s relationship comes together really quickly (erm, no pun intended).
The romance/attraction did feel a little rushed at the beginning but as the story progressed it got decidedly better and felt much more natural. I think I swooned a little each time Ty said, ‘Baby.’ 😍
I really liked the magical element of the story and the supporting characters. There’s plenty of action and suspense that really help to keep the plot moving at a steady pace and I really enjoyed the light-hearted humour sprinkled throughout.
It was also a relatively short read which I read over two, 2-hour sessions.
Overall, I really enjoyed this sweet, action-packed story and I’m looking forward to the next in the series, which I hope answers some questions I still have.
Rating: 3.5/4 STARS
How I got this book: FairyLoot April 'Whimsical Journeys'
The ancient land of Éirinn is mired in war. Ciara, Princess of Mide, has never known a time when Éirinn’s kingdoms were not battling for power, or Northmen were not plundering their shores.
The people of Mide have thankfully always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately, a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat. Although her clansmen dismiss her visions as pagan nonsense, Ciara fears this coming evil will destroy not just Éirinn, but the entire world.
Then the crow leads Ciara to Leif, a young Northman leader. Leif should be Ciara’s enemy, but when Ciara discovers that he, too, shares her prophetic visions, she knows he’s something more. Leif is mounting an impressive army, and with Ciara’s strength in battle the two might have a chance to save their world.
With evil rising around them, they’ll do what it takes to defend the land they love…even if it means making the greatest sacrifice of all.
I received this book as part of the April ‘Whimsical Journey’s box from FairyLoot, it’s quite a chunky book compared to a lot of the YA I’ve read recently, and I’m a big lover of mythology, so I was really excited to dive in and lose myself in the world that Jessica Leake has created.
First impressions were great, the book itself has a gorgeous cover. The first chapter was immersive. It was mysterious and tense and made me want answers to a lot of questions, which drove my need to keep reading.
I love the medieval period and the Irish landscape is stunning to imagine.
The first chapter presents us with Ciara, Princess of Mide, who isn’t an ordinary princess at all. She’s a battle-honed warrior, currently overseeing her father’s keep and tasked with protecting her people from Northman raiders.
Ciara at first seems strong, determined and gifted, although how isn’t immediately clear, except that people seem to fear or shun her. She loves her sisters more than anything, hates the Northmen with a passion and we learn of the great loss that fuels her hatred.
Even this early in the book there’s a very epic, almost Game of Thrones like feel and that only increases through the symbolism used and the very graphic, bloody battle sequences.
“I'd been in many people's heads, seen their darkest thoughts, been in battles that were gruesome and violent, but nothing was as soul-crushingly terrible as the Morrigan's vision.”
As you can gather from the synopsis, Ciara is forced to ally with her enemy, a young Northman warrior, Leif.
I love the circumstances behind their meeting, which successfully flips the usual gender roles.
Leif is almost the typical YA hero with his smouldering good looks, impossibly perfect hair, and his skill in battle. Yet he is also on a path of revenge, fuelled by his own hatred and suffering, and he hides a few secrets of his own.
I really enjoyed the mythical creatures portrayed in this book and there are quite a few to discover from mythical horse creatures to gods, sea creatures and ancient queens, and so many more in between.
So much happens in this book that, even though it is quite large at 421 pages, I was never once bored. I never once drifted away or lost interest in the story finding myself wrapped up in the journey and all that they must face and overcome.
As well as the mythology, there’s a lot of pretty cool magic in Beyond A Darkened Shore. I loved the symbolism and imagery behind the magic, particularly in a very striking ‘resurrection scene’.
There are three main reasons that I’m rating this book 3.5-4 instead of 5 stars (I kept going back and forth between 3.5 and 4...), and they’re just things that I personally had a problem with. (I still hugely encourage you to read the book and form your own opinions. If you already have, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!)
First is the relationship between Ciara and Leif, which at times felt a little ‘forced’ and lacking in chemistry. The relationship just jumped a little too quickly for me, and in places, I felt that it overshadowed Ciara’s better qualities. I guess I was just more invested in the mythology and adventure.
Secondly was that Ciara doesn’t seem to learn what I feel is the most important message in this book; that no one benefits from war. There will always be innocent people who suffer, and I felt that after everything the characters had suffered by the end of their journey, that this almost obvious message would have been received a little harder.
Last of all, I found that whilst both characters had motives for revenge there was some hypocrisy behind how each was handled, and whilst I don’t want to give anything away by going into too much detail, I personally just felt that this was quite contradicting and could have been explored a bit better.
Overall though, I did thoroughly enjoy this story. I enjoyed the characters, I absolutely loved the Norse and Celtic mythology, the creatures, the magic and the gorgeous Ireland landscape, and I’d highly recommend this book to other lovers of epic fantasy who want to be swept away on a quest of gigantic proportions.
Beyond a Darkened Shore is officially released in the UK tomorrow (17th May 2018), just click the photo above to add it to your Goodreads TBR.
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Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, aspiring writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
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