Thursday, October 10, 2019

Review: Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

Wayward Son
(Simon Snow #2)
Rainbow Rowell
Release: September 24, 2019
Goodreads Amazon
The story is supposed to be over.

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…

So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.

They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

With Wayward Son, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. It’s another helping of sour cherry scones with an absolutely decadent amount of butter.

Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero’s journey might be over – but your life has just begun.

After reading Carry On earlier this year, Wayward Son became one of my most anticipated books of 2019. I needed more of Simon and Baz and Penny in my life. I had high expectations going in and this book was nothing like what I was expecting. I'm happy to report that I enjoyed the heck out of it even though it wasn't a perfect book.

Besides the characters, the thing I loved the most about Carry On was that it took the chosen one trope, one of the most prevalent tropes in fantasy, and turned it on its head. What I loved about the Wayward Son is that it took us beyond the victory. So our chosen one won. Now what? I loved that this book delved into the what happens after! Simon may have done is appointed task as the chosen one but at the moment it sure doesn't feel like he did. I loved how Rowell explored the fact that our heroes probably have some PTSD and anxiety and identity issues now that the quest is over. It was refreshing to see that.

I loved learning what we did about the characters but this book read more like a book where the characters were trying to figure out who they really are. What is Simon if he isn't the chosen one? Can Baz be any more clueless about vampires despite being one? What will Penny do now when she's doesn't have to worry about making sure Simon lives through his quest? What are their relationships to each other going to be when they finally figure out who they are?

Honestly, I love the fact that Penny thinks the answer to their problems was going on a road trip across America. The road trip aspect of this book was amazing! I loved seeing the difference between the US and the UK in terms of a magical world in this book. It was refreshing to see such a stark contrast in how the US mages are viewed and function. It wasn't at all what I was expecting. We also get to meet some new characters in this book. I fell head over heels for one in particular and I need to have more of him in my life. 

I read this during release week and I found that the book asked a lot of questions and doesn't give a lot of answers. My main thought while reading this book was "Is there going to be a third book? There has to be a third book, right?". And when I finished, my only thought was "There has to be a third book coming. There has to! The story can't end like that!". Thankfully, Rainbow Rowell announced last week that there will be a third Simon Snow book and I need it!

Overall, this book felt like a middle book of a series and I'm so glad to find out that it really was what it seemed. I will say that I while loved Carry On more, I still enjoyed the heck out of this book and I'm not mad that I ordered two of the special edition copies. I can't what to get my hands on the next one! Hopefully, it will be out some time next year!

  4.5 / 5 Stars

My reviews of other books in this series:
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Really Short Reviews: Recent Romance Reads

I love discovering new authors! And 2019 has been a great year for debuts. It's still completely by accident that I wound up with a whole post of debut romance reviews. Have you read any of these yet?

Sarah Smith
Release: October 8, 2019
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
Debut author Sarah Smith nails this fun and sexy multicultural romance where two office foes hammer out their differences to build a love that will last...

Emmie Echavarre is a professional faker. She has to be to survive as one of the few female employees at Nuts & Bolts, a power tool company staffed predominantly by gruff, burly men. From nine to five, Monday through Friday, she's tough as nails--the complete opposite of her easy-going real self.

One thing she doesn't have to fake? Her disdain for coworker Tate Rasmussen. Tate has been hostile to her since the day they met. Emmie's friendly greetings and repeated attempts to get to know him failed to garner anything more than scowls and terse one-word answers. Too bad she can't stop staring at his Thor-like biceps...

When Emmie and Tate are forced to work together on a charity construction project, things get...heated. Emmie's beginning to see that beneath Tate's chiseled exterior lies a soft heart, but it will take more than a few kind words to erase the past and convince her that what they have is real. 

I have mixed feeling about Faker. An enemies to lovers office romance is one of my favorite things. But something about it just felt a little off. Emmie is completely focused on Tate from page one and I kept thinking that I wished she would interact with other characters more. She does actually talk to other people so I think maybe the POV threw me off. It's entirely in first person present tense and that sense of urgency wasn't really necessary here.

Still, there are things I enjoyed about the story. Emmie's background was interesting. She's half-Filipino and grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in Nebraska. I liked how she instinctively understood Tate's introverted ways once she realized what was happening. And Tate's romantic gestures are so cute. But it was obvious from the beginning that she was misinterpreting his attraction as antagonism, which was frustrating.


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Well Met

Jen DeLuca
Release: September 3, 2019
Goodreads Amazon
All's faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon's family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn't have time for Emily's lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she's in her revealing wench's costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they're portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can't seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek. 

Grumpy hero ✔️
Small town shenanigans ✔️
Enemies to Lovers romance ✔️
Grand Romantic Gestures ✔️
Well Met is a Hallmark Channel movie waiting to happen.

I loved that the main characters started out with so much chemistry in costume and none out. And I relate so hard to Emily. By the end, her insecurities started to feel repetitive but I still really enjoyed this Ren Faire Rom Com.


2019 Library Love Challenge
Library Love Challenge: Book 26/24

Bringing Down the Duke

(A League of Extraordinary Women #1)
Evie Dunmore
Release: September 3, 2019
Goodreads Amazon
A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels, in which a fiercely independent vicar's daughter takes on a duke in a fiery love story that threatens to upend the British social order.

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women's suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain's politics at the Queen's command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can't deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn't be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn't claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring...or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke....

I've just realized that Dukes are the Historical Romance equivalent of Billionaires. (Hopefully, that's because I just started reading Historicals and not because my comparative literature muscles have atrophied.) The Victorian setting magnifies the obstacles presented by the characters' class differences. And I loved the resulting push/pull between Annabelle and Sebastian.

But what's really fascinating about Bringing Down the Duke is the politics. Queen Victoria and Prime Minister Disraeli actually appear on the page, but the issues in the story feel surprisingly timely. I could almost picture the suffragists in pink pussy hats. That Annabelle and Sebastian were able to come together from opposite sides of that battle was so powerful.

I can't even express how much I loved this book! Bringing Down the Duke is sure to be on my Best of 2019 list!

4.5  stars

Romanceopoly: Women’s Avenue - Women’s Fiction

2019 Library Love Challenge
Library Love Challenge: Book 25/24

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

We Love Lists: What I've Recently Added to My Kindle #1

One of my favorite things about the book community is how everyone loves to share what books they've bought recently. I love to watch book haul videos on BookTube and to see haul pics on Bookstagram! As much as I love physical books, I would love to see more of is people showing off the ebooks they've recently bought. Especially since I personally buy more of them because ebooks are my preferred format for reading. I'm a bit addicted to hitting that one-click button on the kindle daily deals. So let's talk about the last few books I've added to my Kindle.

Archangel's War by Nalini Singh
This one isn't a surprise, right? I'm constantly shouting praises for Nalini Singh's books and Archangel's War is freaking amazing! I loved it so much!

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
Carry On easily made my top ten list of favorite books of the year so I couldn't wait to get my hands on the sequel. I read this soon after I got and I loved it so much! I think Carry On was better but I loved this one just as much.

Flame and Ash by Morgan Brice
2019 will forever be known as the year that I discovered and fell in love with Morgan Brice's books and read everything she's published. Flame and Ash is her newest book and it was amazing! I loved reading more of Seth and Evan's adventures as they continue to hunt the witch-disciples.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
 I was sold on this book as soon as someone said lesbian necromancers in space. I ended up buying the ebook because I wanted to read it on weekend vacation with the fam and I had left the physical book at home. I'm still reading it but I'm loving it so much!

Finder Deluxe Edition, Vol. 9: Beating of My Heart by Ayano Yamane
 One of my favorite manga series ever is Ayano Yamane's Finder series. It's the manga series that pulled me into the yaoi genre. Sadly, the mangaka releases new chapters slowly so I get a new volume every couple years. The series is starting to wrap up and I'm intrigued to see where the artist takes the story next after finishing this one.

Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Ilona Andrews is one of my auto-buy authors so it's not surprising that it's one of my recent ebook purchases. I adored this book so much and I can't wait to read more of Catalina and the Baylor family's adventures.

Parting Shadows by Kate Sheeran Swed
I actually don't really know what this book is about. I ended up getting it because the kindle book was free one weekend and my friend, Crini, highly recommended it if you want great and diverse science fiction.

Reticence by Gail Carriger
 I am so sad that the Custard Protocol series is over! I had to buy the Reticence ebook but I haven't been able to bring myself to read yet. I'm not ready to say goodbye but I'm excited to read Percy's book.

Break the Day by Lara Adrian
 I'm a fan of Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series and I'm super excited to read Rafe's story. I just haven't had time to pick it up yet.

Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
I read Wicked and the Wallflower this summer for Romanceopoly and loved it so much that I immediately went and pre-ordered the next book in the series. I instantly fell in love with Hattie in the chapter excerpt at the end of the first book and I'm kicking myself because I haven't read it yet. The school I work for is currently on fall break so you can beat that this is one of my high priority reads while I'm off.

What books have you recently added to your kindle?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Release Day Review: Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik

Aurora Blazing
(Consortium Rebellion #2)
Jessie Mihalik
Release: October 1, 2019
Goodreads Amazon
Bianca von Hasenberg did her duty for High House von Hasenberg and ended up trapped in a terrible marriage. When her husband dies unexpectedly and leaves her a happy widow, she vows never to marry again. Instead, she uses her connections to save other young women. Information is power and Bianca has a network that would be the envy of the ’verse—if anyone knew about it.

After an attack, Bianca’s oldest brother, the House von Hasenberg heir, disappears from Earth without a trace. Determined to find him, Bianca leaves against orders. When she refuses to return, her father sends Ian Bishop, the director of House von Hasenberg security, to haul her home like a recalcitrant child.

Bianca leads Ian on a merry chase across the universe, but when their paths finally collide, she persuades him that they would be far more successful at finding her brother if they worked together. She will do anything to save her sibling, even if it means spending time alone on a small ship with the handsome, infuriating man who once broke her heart.

As clues lead them deep into rival House Rockhurst territory, Bianca must decide if she can trust Ian with the one piece of information that could destroy her completely. . .

I'll be honest. When I read the first book in this series, I enjoyed it but I wasn't convinced that I should pick up the next book. I'm so glad I decided to anyway because I loved the hell out of Aurora Blazing!

When I first read the synopsis, I was hit hard with the princess and her bodyguard vibes and that's what got me to pick up the book. Well, that and learning more about Ian Bishop. While I still caught some of those vibes, the actual story couldn't be further from that. It's full of political intrigue, spy games, kidnapping, space cartels, and romance. It was everything I could have wanted and more!

I absolutely loved Bianca! She's tough and kind of vulnerable at the same time. She's 25 and already a widow and she's happy about it. Her deceased husband was a piece of work that isolated Bianca and hurt her in unimaginable ways. She lives with the side effects of what he did to her like someone who has chronic illness. Bianca is smart and politically savvy. She's built up her own ring of unnoticeable spies in the House social scene that is unparalleled in her world. It made me happy that we got to see more of the House politics in action in this book. Bianca is a badass and I seriously loved everything about her! What I loved even more was her interactions with Ian Bishop.

Ian may be the head of House von Hasenberg security and good at his job but Bianca is running circles around him with the spymaster thing. I loved their game of cat and mouse! Their relationship is seriously a classic enemies-to-lovers scenario and I was all here for it! I also fell in love with Ian while reading this book. I wasn't sure I was going to after we met him those few times in the first book but he wasn't anything like I was expecting. I had trouble liking Loch in the first book and his character felt flat for me. I kind of feared that it would be the same with Ian in this book but it wasn't! He felt way more developed to me. I still wish we had gotten some of the story from his perspective but it it what it is.

The trouble those two get into in this book was something else and it kept me on my seat the whole time I was reading. One of the things I love about this series is the love and loyalty between the von Hasenberg siblings. Despite everything their jerk of a father did to try to tear them all apart, the siblings love each other and are there to protect one another against all of the heavy odds against them. Bianca is even more protective of her siblings (especially her sisters) because of all that has happened to her and it shows. She cares nothing about her own safety it will save one of her siblings from having to deal with the pain she has.

I loved everything about this book! The politics! The House social scene! The family dynamics! The romance! The crazy space adventure! It was all right up my alley. I'm so glad I decided to give this book a try. Aurora Blazing was one of my favorite books I've read this year. I'm now dying to get my hands on the next book. It's all about Catarina and a certain mercenary and I'm so ready for it!

ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

  4.5 / 5 Stars

My reviews of other books in this series:

Polaris Rising (Consortium Rebellion #1) by Jessie Mihalik

Monday, September 30, 2019

Month in Review: September 2019

Fall is officially here! And it's almost Halloween! The Weres are so ready for both. It's a bit quiet on the blog but we have been busy reading. Here's what we posted about in September:

Check out our September Book Hauls!


Rose Red

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Archangel's War by Nalini Singh
Promise of Darkness by Bec McMaster
Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik
Faker by Sarah Smith
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Unearthed by Cecy Robson

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The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan
Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
Well Met by Jen DeLuca

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Sweet on the Greek by Talia Hibbert
Merry Inkmas by Talia Hibbert
Rock Me Two Times by Dawn Ryder

Rose Red

New Releases

Manga and Graphic Novels
 Finder Deluxe Edition, Vol. 9: Beating of My Heart by Ayano Yamane

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Promise of Darkness by Bec McMaster
Archangel's War by Nalini Singh
Unearthed by Cecy Robson

 Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks

#Nameathon Readathon
TBR Post
Wrap Up Post

Oct 1
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Aurora Blazing (Consortium Rebellion #2) by Jessie Mihalik
Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith
The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

Oct 7
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Peace, Blood, and Understanding (Half Moon Hollow #7) by Molly Harper

Oct 8
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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh
Wicked Wings (Lizzie Grace #5) by Keri Arthur
Sharpest Sting (Elemental Assassin #18) by Jennifer Estep
Faker by Sarah Smith

Oct 11
Deosil (Whyborne & Griffin #11) by Jordan L. Hawk

Oct 15
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
Fireborne by Rosaria Munda

Oct 22
Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Oct 29
Shattered Bonds (Jane Yellowrock #13) by Faith Hunter
The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons #2) by Jenn Lyons
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