Thursday, December 23, 2021

Review: Archangel's Light by Nalini Singh

Archangel's Light
(Guild Hunter #14)
Nalini Singh
Release: October 26, 2021
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Nalini Singh returns to the world of the Guild Hunters for the most highly anticipated novel of the beloved series—a love story so epic it’s been half a millennia in the making…

Illium and Aodhan. Aodhan and Illium. For centuries they’ve been inseparable: the best of friends, closer than brothers, companions of the heart. But that was before—before darkness befell Aodhan and shattered him, body, mind, and soul. Now, at long last, Aodhan is healing, but his new-found strength and independence may come at a devastating cost—his relationship with Illium.

As they serve side by side in China, a territory yet marked by the evil of its former archangel, the secret it holds nightmarish beyond imagining, things come to an explosive decision point. Illium and Aodhan must either walk away from the relationship that has defined them—or step forward into a future that promises a bond infinitely precious in the life of an immortal…but that demands a terrifying vulnerability from two badly bruised hearts.

This may be the first review where it has taken me months and several rereads to write. It was hands down one of my top five most anticipated books of 2021. I have been waiting for this book from the moment Illium and Aodhan appeared on page together. I can't tell you how long I have been shipping them together but I do know that it has been a long time. When I first heard that this book was going to feature them, I may have squealed very loudly in excitement at work. Then we got this gorgeous cover art that I want to have a print of to hang on my wall next to my fave artwork of Charles and Anna Cornick. Once I was approved for the eARC, I read the whole book in one sitting the same day I was approved.

The thing is this book was not what I was expecting. That's not unusual because I can rarely guess what's going to happen in a Nalini Singh book. I'm not going to lie. I was a bit disappointed after my first read through. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad. This book introduced a plotline and a new character that I am intrigued to see what happens in future books. And I adored seeing the flashbacks of tiny Aodhan and Illium and the genesis of their friendship. But it wasn't the romance I was expecting and hoping it would be. After a lot of thought and a couple of rereads, I decided that that was an okay thing.

This book is a very slow burn romance so if you're looking for a hot and steamy m/m romance this book isn't it. But what it is is a very intimate look at a friendship that has spanned centuries and many trials and how they have always been together. After my reread, I came to love this story immensely as we got to see glimpses of Sparkle and Bluebell that I never knew I needed. We finally get the story behind Aodhan's aversion to touch and how he went missing until he was found by the Seven. And that story broke my heart. We even got the story of Illium's fall from Illium and Aodhan's POV and it was heartbreaking as well.

These two characters have a lot of baggage and we know from previous books that they are have hit a rough patch in their friendship. The more I think about the more this book the more perfect it becomes. I can now see Nalini's genius in writing this slow burn of a romance. And every time I reread it this year, I was left with the feeling that this is just the start of their story. Hopefully, we'll get at least another book featuring these two where we can see their romance really take flight and get some steamy bits. I'm really hoping that the next book in this series is about Aodhan and Illium again so I can get more of the romance. Or at least have them be a prominent part of the next book because I NEED to see how Elena, Raphael, and the rest of the Seven react to this romance.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley

  5 / 5 Stars

My reviews of other books in this series:

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Review: The Lights on Knockbridge Lane by Roan Parrish

The Lights on Knockbridge Lane
(Garnet Run #3)
Roan Parrish
Release: September 28, 2021
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Can one man’s crowded, messy life fill another man’s empty heart?

Raising a family was always Adam Mills’ dream, although solo parenting and moving back to tiny Garnet Run certainly were not. After a messy breakup, Adam is doing his best to give his young daughter the life she deserves—including accepting help from their new, reclusive neighbor to fulfill her Christmas wish.

Though the little house may not have “the most lights ever,” the Mills home begins to brighten as handsome Wes Mobray spends more time there and slowly sheds his protective layers. But when the eye-catching house ends up in the news, Wes has to make a choice: hide from the darkness of his unusual past or embrace the light of a future—and a family—with Adam.

From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.

This is the first year that I’ve actually put time aside to read some holiday romances. And it has been so much fun! My favorite of all the ones I’ve read so far has been The Lights on Knockbridge Lane by Roan Parrish. It was easily a 5 star read for me!

Y'all! Teen Me who devoured Harlequin romances under the covers is fangirling not so quietly about the fact that we have a Harlequin queer romance book! A QUEER HARLEQUIN ROMANCE! And I freaking loved it so much! The romance! The found and real family moments! Old faves making an appearance! Sunshine vs Grump! The science! Even the tarantula! I adored it all!

This book is a single dad romance where most of the plot revolves around Adam making this the best Christmas possible for his daughter! Y'all! The Christmas light extravaganza had me quickly falling in love with both Adam and Gus! Especially Gus! She 's such a curious and tenacious little thing! She doesn't let anything including locks keep her from satisfying her curiosity. Some aspects of her remind me so much of myself at that age except I would never have picked up the snakes.

The romance in this book was adorable! I loved how neighborhood recluse and grump Wes quickly succumbs to sunshine duo, Adam and Gus. Wes and Gus's science discussion were my favorites and watching them and Adam work towards becoming a family was adorable! Although, I will say that there was a part in this book where I think more groveling was needed but it was so enjoyable overall that that part didn’t bother me like it would have in other books.

This book is a perfect read for the holiday season! I read this during spooky season and it instantly made me want to decorate for Christmas even though it was October. Roan Parrish really hit it out of the park again with this one! I hope we get more books in this series! I totally keeping my fingers crossed because I need a River book! I would also love to see Wes's friend get a book! I can't wait to see what Parrish writes next!

ARC provided by the Publisher via Netgalley

  5 / 5 Stars!

My reviews of other books in this series:

Better than People (Garnet Run #1)

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Review: Last Guard by Nalini Singh

Last Guard
(Psy-Changeling: Trinity #5)
Nalini Singh
Release: July 20, 2021
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New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to a world devastated by change in her award-winning Psy-Changeling Trinity series, where two people defined by their aloneness hold the fate of the Psy in their hands…

Termed merciless by some, and a robotic sociopath by others, Payal Rao is the perfect Psy: cardinal telekinetic, CEO of a major conglomerate, beautiful—and emotionless.

For Canto Mercant, family and loyalty are everything. A cardinal telepath deemed "imperfect" by his race due to a spinal injury, Canto cares for the opinions of very few—and ruthlessly protects those he claims as his own. Head of intel of the influential Mercant family, he prefers to remain a shadow in the Net, unknown and unseen. But Canto is also an Anchor, part of a secretive designation whose task it is to stabilize the PsyNet. Now that critical psychic network is dying, threatening to collapse and kill the entire Psy race with it.

To save those he loves, Canto needs the help of a woman bound to him by a dark past neither has been able to forget. A woman who is the most powerful Anchor of them all: Payal Rao. Neither is ready for the violent inferno about to ignite in the PsyNet…or the passionate madness that threatens to destroy them both.


Note: Because Last Guard is the fifth book in this new Trinity arc and the twentieth book in the Psy-Changeling universe as a whole I will try my best not to spoil previous books.

Y'all! Y'ALL. This book was so epic I'm having trouble wrapping my head around it even three reads later. If I wasn't already a diehard Nalini Singh fangirl, this book right here would have been the clincher. I can't stop thinking about the absolute wealth of awesome that Nalini gifted us in this book. 

We got a neurodivergent heroine and a disabled hero! Both main characters are anchors! There is a queer side romance! We get more Bears! And more Mercants! Y'all! We were ridiculously blessed by this book!

I just want to live rent free in Nalini Singh's head because it has to be both an awesome and scary place. One of the things I love about this series is that a character or a minor reference in a previous book can become a main character or major plot point later in the series. Case in point, we now have a book where both main characters are anchors which, correct me if I'm wrong, were last mentioned briefly in Tangle of Need (Book 11).

The plot of the overall story arc is advancing at a fast clip with each book and we're learning more and more about the PsyNet and the whole situation with the Scarabs is giving me anxiety. As much as I love the interconnecting plot that links these books together, I absolutely adore the characters in this series! And y'all! I would die for Payal. She is everything! She may have skyrocketed into first place in my ranking of my favorite heroines in this series. Sorry, Zaira and Memory! She is the classic case of don't judge a book by its cover and I loved learning about her hidden depths as she and Canto fell in love. Also, all of her interactions with a certain cardinal based in Russia were amazing!

Oh! And Canto! He is the classic grumpy, protective hero who will do anything to protect those he claims as his own. It doesn't hurt that he is also the one in charge of the Mercant's network of spies. I loved him so much! He is super protective but he knows when to stand back and let Payal take the lead. He's supportive and irascible and is basically the Psy version of the bears. And speaking of the bears, I loved Canto's interactions with them as part of their family thanks to Silver mating with Valentin. I could read a whole book of the bears working on breaking down Canto's walls.

I loved so much about this book but I'm going to end my raving ramble here. If you haven't read this series, I would urge you to go and pick up the first book! This series is one of my all-time favorites but this new Trinity arc has gifted me with some of my favorite books and characters and I can't wait to see where Nalini takes this series next!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  5 / 5 Stars!

Really Short Review: The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

The Extraordinaries
(The Extraordinaries)
TJ Klune
Release: July 14, 2020
Goodreads Amazon
Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune's YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?

After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick's best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl meets Marissa Meyer's Renegades in TJ Klune's YA debut.

Do you ever start a book that sounds like everything you love thrown together and then you just struggle reading it? This is what happened to me with The Extraordinaries. I wanted to love it so much because QUEER. SUPERHEROES! I think Teen Rose Red would have adored this because it is peak cheesy superhero comic book goodness but Adult Rose Red had issues.

I loved the fanfiction aspect of this book and I could get behind the humor and ADHD/anxiety rep. My problem was that I found the main character hard to take because he is a bit chaotic and whiny. And I struggled connecting with the book because of it. There was also a part of the book where Nick's actions felt a little out of character and it just dropped me out of the story. Also, the whole police force portion of this book felt pretty out of touch with current events and that made me super uncomfortable while reading.

I can't help but wonder if I would have enjoyed this book if I wasn't trying to read it while trying to teach online during a pandemic and trying to power through it when my brain wasn't in the right headspace for it. I know of several blogger and IRL friends who loved this so I might retry it in the future (maybe this next summer) on audio. 

Unfortunately, for now, this book wasn't for me.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  2.5 / 5 Stars

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Rose Red's 2021 Mid-Year Freakout Tag

It's been a hot minute since we've done a book tag on the blog and one of my favorites to watch and read has been the Mid-Year Freakout Tag (created by Chami) for years. I've loved seeing this tag take off even more Instagram this year so I decided to answer the questions myself on the blog even though I'm a bit late. 

I've had a great but weird reading year so far. During the school year I leaned hard into rereading old and new faves to make it through. Also, can we just appreciate how great novellas are when you don't have a lot of time to read. They are seriously the hero of my reading year while we are in school. 

And I wouldn't be me if I didn't tell you some of my reading stats for the year so far. Out of the 86 books (18,659 pages) I've read in the first half of 2021, 34% were rereads and 52% have been new releases published in 2021. Over 90% of the books I have read have been queer reads and 93% of my reads can be classified as romance. I've only read 4 debut novels but I have read 21 new-to-me authors. I've had a really great reading year so far and I'm super excited to see what the second half of the year brings.

So on to the tag questions!

 Best Book You've Read So Far in 2021

This was probably the hardest question of the whole tag. I've read a ton of awesome books this year but if I make the deadline June 30th for books I can include in this tag I have two that stick out. I adored One Last Stop by Casey McQuestion! It was full of queer found family and sapphic longing and topped with a bit of time slip mischief. I loved it so much! I've already reread it. The second one that stands out is A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers. Y'all! This may be a novella but there is so much to unpack from the narrative. I recently saw Becky's books described as a whole as Hopepunk and it is so true! It especially applies to this book! I can't wait to read more of this series and more solarpunk books as a whole.

Best Sequel You've Read So Far in 2021

I've read a lot of series continuations this year that I've really enjoyed but my favorites so far have been Best Laid Plans by Roan Parrish, Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs, and Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells. I'm not going to say what I love about each of them because spoilers but trust me that they are all amazing sequels in their respective series. I really loved them all so much!

New Release You Haven't Read Yet, But Want To

 Gah! There are so many new releases that I have bought this year and haven't read yet despite being super excited for them. These are the first three that came to mind when I started thinking about this prompt. I don't know why I haven't read each of these books other than a slight fear about being hit right in the feels by each of them. I know that both An Echo in the Sorrow and Soulstar are going to pack a wallop for sure. And I honestly can't tell you why I haven't read Blood Heir besides the fact that it released during the busiest time of first semester and I just never had the time to pick it up after that.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

I have a lot of books that I am way excited for in the second half of 2021 so it was hard to narrow it down to just three. And these are the three books that I would give my first born child to have in my hands right now. Love Springs Eternal is the fifth book in the Beacon Hill Sorcerer series and it is Daniel's book! I am dying waiting for this book. I just need Daniel to get his HEA and if its with a certain immortal fae warrior it will be even better. And I can't even quantify my excitement and anticipation for Archangel's Light! WE'RE GETTING AN ILLIUM AND AODHAN BOOK! Every time I see this cover I get excited all over again. The last book I'm excited for is Freya Marske's A Marvellous Light which has been described at Red, White and Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell which I am totally here for!

Biggest Disappointment

 I really wanted to like Yes, Daddy because I had heard a lot of praise and hype from bloggers and bookstagrammers I trust for book recs. Unfortunately, this book wasn't for me. I can read heavy and dark things as long as there is some hope for the characters going through everything and this book was missing that. It was traumatic experience after traumatic experience with no hope in sight so I DNFed it around the 50% mark.

Biggest Surprise

My biggest surprise of this year was how much I loved The Tribulations of Ross Young, Supernat PA by AJ Sherwood! This book was cute and hilarious and I get a silly grin on my face just thinking about it. This was a fun episodic tale of a remarkably unshockable human getting pulled into the supernatural world to work as the personal assistant for a clan of supernats. It made me laugh until my sides were in stitches. It also has an adorable queer romance in it that made me swoon just a bit.

Favorite New Author (Debut or New-To-You)

Okay. I have to answers for this prompt. For favorite debut author, I have to go with Everina Maxwell. I read Winter's Orbit earlier this year and I loved it so much! It was full of political intrigue, pining, and was very much a gays in space contender! I loved everything from the worldbuilding to the characters to the romance! I can't wait to see what this author writes next! As for the New-To-Me Author, I finally read an Adrian Tchaikovsky book and it was so weird and delightful! I've been hearing awesome things about this author for a few years now and if One Day All This Will Be Yours is representative of his writing style, I can't wait to read more! It was fun, weirdly philosophical, and more than a bit cynical. It was awesome!

Newest Fictional Crush

 Jane Su. My newest crush is the Jane Su. If you want to know why, go read One Last Stop. It's pretty self explanatory.

Newest Favorite Character

I've loved so many new characters this year, but there's something about grumpy yet soft-hearted Kit Webb that really grabbed my heart. I just need more books with him and Percy being gay and doing crimes. I also really want a book that involves Kit's fence. And I can't tell you how excited I am for the next book about Marian! The wait may kill me.

Book That Made You Cry

 This book made me cry. This book touched on everything from gender to sexuality to family dynamics. The high school I work at read this as part of our summer book club and reading it with a bunch of students who could relate to different parts of this right now just made me really emotional. I also may have cried during the Zoom meeting where we discussed it. This book needs to be added to every YA collection and school library.

Book That Made You Happy

I've read a lot of books that have brought me joy this year but I can't even quantify how happy this short story collection set in the world of one of my favorite series. I loved getting to see more of Liam and Ondry! This book makes me smile just thinking about it.

The Most Beautiful Book You've Bought/Received So Far This Year

The award for the most beautiful book I've bought this year hands down goes to Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell. Look at those silhouettes with the different sci-fi landscapes in each! This book is just so pretty!

What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year?

I want to read so many books by the end of 2021. Some of the books I'm hoping to get to this year are the above nine. I really want to have all of these read by December 31st but we'll see how it goes.

What is your favorite read of the year so far?

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