Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: By Fire Above by Robyn Bennis

By Fire Above
(Signal Airship #2)
Robyn Bennis
Release: May 15, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
"All's fair in love and war," according to airship captain Josette Dupre, until her hometown becomes occupied by the enemy and her mother a prisoner of war. Then it becomes, "Nothing's fair except bombing those Vins to high hell."

Before she can rescue her town, however, Josette must maneuver her way through the nest of overstuffed vipers that make up the nation's military and royal leaders in order to drum up support. The foppish and mostly tolerated crew member Lord Bernat steps in to advise her, along with his very attractive older brother.

Between noble scheming, under-trained recruits, and supply shortages, Josette and the crew of the Mistral figure out a way to return to Durum―only to discover that when the homefront turns into the frontlines, things are more dangerous than they seem.

One of my favorite under the radar books last year was The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis so it's not a stretch to say that I've been anxiously awaiting the sequel, By Fire Above. It was everything I wanted it to be. It started up a bit slow because Josette needed a crash course in royal politics from Lord Bernat (aka Bernie) but it quickly morphed into the fast-paced adventure novel I was anticipating as the crew of the Mistral take part in a plan to retake the city of Durum. I was on the edge of my seat reading the last half of this book. It about gave me a heart attack but I couldn't put it down!

There's a lot of praise I could heap on this book because it really was brilliant but the thing that pleased me the most was how much the characters have grown in such a short period of time. Josette is finally becoming comfortable in her role as the captain and it’s obvious to why the crew of the Mistral trusts and willingly follows her. I think the one character whose arc surprised me the most was Bernie. I enjoyed his character in the first book but I adored him in this book! He's still a bit foppish and ridiculous but he is the perfect foil to Josette's character! And can we talk about the banter between those two? Because OMG! This book has some A+ banter. Bernie totally stole the show for me this time around.

This series is the best kind of military fantasy and I've enjoyed the heck out of it! It's the perfect balance of steampunk and military adventure in my eyes. While I still enjoyed the science of the airships and the descriptions of the tech, my favorite part of this book was the airship battles. They were brutal and chaotic and absolutely perfectly paced. They are seriously perfect. The combination of interesting characters, Napoleonic warfare, and airships made for a great story and I'm intrigued to see what will happen next! I need a book three so badly!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  4 / 5 Stars

My reviews of other books in this series:
The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Manga Reviews: Otaku and Male Cheerleaders

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, Vol. 1
(Wotakoi: Otaku Can't Fall in Love #1)
Release: April 17, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
The awkward, romantic comedy manga about geeks in love that inspired the new anime! Can a professional man who's secretly a hardcore gamer and a woman who's secretly a fujoshi date without their hobbies getting in the way, or revealing each other's secrets?

Extra-long book includes 2 Japanese volumes!


Narumi Momose has had it rough: Every boyfriend she's had dumped her once they found out she was an otaku, so she's gone to great lengths to hide it. When a chance meeting at her new job with childhood friend, fellow otaku, and now coworker Hirotaka Nifuji almost gets her secret outed at work, she comes up with a plan to make sure he never speaks up. But he comes up with a counter-proposal: Why doesn't she just date him instead?

In love, there are no save points.

One of my favorite animes this season is Wotakoi so when I saw the first volume up on Netgalley I requested it so fast I gave my mouse whiplash. I loved it! I don't think I've related this hard to a manga in forever.

Wotakoi is the slice-of-life office romance manga that I never knew I needed! I seriously loved everything about it! I really enjoyed the fact that the romances are between people in their mid-to-late 20s but it also did an excellent job showing older otaku in a positive light! Being in my early 30s myself, it was really refreshing to see representation of anime/manga fans, cosplayers, and video gamers that I could relate more to. After reading it, I can see why this series has been so popular in Japan. I'm so glad that it's finally been translated to English!

I love the romance between Narumi and Hirotaka! They've been friends since they were kids so they know a lot about each other. I found it charming that as well as they know each other they have to start at ground zero romantically. It was fun watching them learn about one another on a such a different level. It's been a while since I've laughed this hard while reading a manga.

Good news! The other romance between Kabakura and Koyanagi is just as good! They are the other couple's work and otaku buddies. They have a slightly different romance since they have been dating since high school. Unlike Narumi and Hirotaka, they know each other completely and their slightly antagonistic romance was adorable. One of my favorite parts was watching them trying to help the other two with their relationship.

The illustrations were beautiful and the storyline was quirky and different! And it had so many fun otaku references. Plus, all of the BL side jokes and gaming references were awesome for this otaku. Overall, the whole thing just cracked me up! If you're looking for a cute and nerdy office romance, I can't recommend this manga enough! I can't wait to get my hands on volume two!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley

  5 / 5 Stars!!!

Again!!, Vol. 1
(Again!! #1)
Mitsuro Kubo
Release: February 27, 2018
From the co-creator of surprise anime megahit Yuri!!! on Ice comes a dramatic, funny, time-traveling high school story about what it means to cheer on a friend! What would you do if you had the chance to do everything… again?

Kinichiro isn’t even that bad. It’s just that on the first day of high school, his eyes made him look shifty, so people assumed he was trouble. Now it’s graduation, and he’s looking back on three years with no friends. He never even joined a club. But after a bloody collision and an accidental fall, he wakes up a high school freshman, with the chance to try it all over… AGAIN!!

When I saw that one of the co-creators of Yuri on Ice was working on a new manga, I knew I had to read it! This manga is quite different from Kubo's most recent/popular work, but I found the premise interesting. What if you went through high school as an outsider and had an opportunity to go back in time and redo it over again? Would you change things?

I'm a huge fan of underdog/outsider stories and this manga didn't disappoint that way. As a first volume, it's not quite as inviting as Yuri was and honestly if it were an anime, it'd be one of those shows where I'm on the fence about it for a few episodes before quitting it.

There's a lot going on in this first volume with introducing you to characters, time traveling, and whatever the heck Ouendan actually is. It's kind of like the Japanese version cheerleading but with a lot more drums and less acrobatics. My problem with this volume is that it's definitely a case of too much information all at once and it took me away from the story. I did found some of the characters annoying but I'm all for the changes Kinichiro is making and I kind of want to know what happens after that cliffhanger. I think it's going to be one of those manga series where all the set up happens in the first volume and it gets really good after that.

Honestly, I thought it was okay but I was interested in the characters by the end. I'll be picking up the second volume at one point but I don't know when.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley

  3 / 5 Stars

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

We Love Lists: Books I Want to Read by the Pool This Summer

It's that time of year again where we all start thinking about the books we want to read at the beach or, in my case, by the pool. Normally, I'm all about reading urban fantasy by the water but this year I'm really feeling the itch to read some contemporary books. And I have a ton of unread ones on my bookshelves and my kindle that will be perfect pool side reads! Here are the books I want to get to while on vacation this summer.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

The main characters in this book are said to have had the most awkward meet cute ever. Also, they get to know one another via text message and I am here for it! It just sounds like a YA romance that is super applicable to today.

American Panda by Gloria Chao

The main character is Taiwanese-American and her parents want her to become a doctor. The problem is that she's a germaphobe. I'm totally here for the family dynamics in this one! I also hear that the romance is adorable.

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

I adored Menon's When Dimple Met Rishi last year so it just makes sense to read her sophomore novel. The main character is a female filmmaker and I'm kind of getting You've Got Mail vibes from the synopsis. The story is told through letters, emails, and journals entries and I'm always down for that kind of narrative. I can't wait for it to hit my kindle at the end of the month.

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

I adore Jenn Bennett's books but I'm so excited for her enemies-to-lovers/lost in wilderness romance! I really don't know more than that about it but it's all I need to know.

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

I'm so excited to read this book! I wanted to know more about Leah while I was reading Simon vs and now I get too! I'm also really excited for my faves to make their reappearances in this book!

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

I've been meaning to read this book for years now but just haven't gotten to it even though I've owned it for years. I haven't read many books with an office romance so I'm intrigued to read it. I'm also intrigued by a romance where the IT main character falls for the love interest before they even meet by reading her email attachments. It's just so unique and sounds right up my alley!

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Thanks to Geekerella, I'm on the look out for more romances that take place at conventions and this one just sounds awesome! It goes for the double whammy with two love stories and one of them is a F/F romance and I need more of those in my life!

Roomies by Christina Lauren

I've only read one book by the writing duo, Christina Lauren, and that was Autoboyography. I loved it so when I was going through their other books for what to read next this one caught my eye. It features a marriage of convenience and Broadway. I'm super intrigued about that combination and can't wait to read it.

Small Change by Roan Parrish

I read and adored Roan Parrish's The Remaking of Corbin Wale last year and my friend, Meghan, assures me that this is the next book by her I need to read. The romance is between a female tattoo artist and a male coffee shop owner. Plus, the second book is a M/M romance and you all know how much I adore those!

 Royals by Rachel Hawkins

I haven't caught the Royal Wedding Fever yet but I will say that this book sounds hella fun! I was sold from the moment Rachel Hawkins said she wrote a book about a Scottish Royal Family and the American one marrying into it. I just heard lots of good things about it.
Check out Gretl's review.

What books do you want to read by the pool this summer?

Monday, May 7, 2018

Review: The Hero Within by Bec McMaster


The Hero Within
(Wasted Lands #3)
Bec McMaster
Release: April 20, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the author 
Can this villain become her hero? 

As the only healer in a war-stained town, Eden McClain is devastated when the Salt Plague sweeps through the wastelands she calls home. Suddenly she's racing against time to save her people–and her niece–before it's too late. When she hears whispers of a cure, she knows she can't cross the dangerous Wastelands by herself to get it. She needs a guide. And she's just desperate enough to turn to a man who once betrayed her.

Redemption comes at a price… 

After years of living on the leash of a dangerous psychopath, Johnny Colton is finally free, but that doesn't mean he can wash the blood off his hands. The easiest way to deal with the past? Just stop caring. Which is working perfectly for the rugged outlaw, until a beautiful ghost from the past rigs a trap for him.

The last person he wants to see is the woman who haunts his dreams, but as Eden points out, he owes her one. The only problem is that the people with the cure might also have created the plague, and deliberately unleashed it. It's a dangerous trap, and the only way to escape it is for two past enemies to learn to trust each other. 

The Hero Within is easily my favorite book in the Wasted Lands series. It’s an Enemies to Lovers story, which is my fave. It’s also a road trip story, my other fave. (Actually there's kind of a tournament in there too, which rounds out my top three.) It takes readers across the divide between the wasteland where the other books are set and the Confederacy, into one of the border cities. I knew from earlier books that this part of the world existed, but I loved actually seeing it.

My favorite thing though was learning more about the Wargs. Johnny Colton is a little different than the heroes in the first two books since his parents were also Wargs. He’s more in control of his beast and knows something about how Wargs were created. But they meet some other characters on their journey who fill in all the blanks. They’re a lot more like we expect werewolves to be, which I might have liked to know earlier.

It also makes this feel more like a traditional shifter romance, which could be part of the reason I like it so much. There's none of that alpha-hole behavior that's been bothering me in shifter books lately though - Colton's big on consent. I really enjoyed his dynamic with Eden, as well as the chance to see his side of the incident that made them enemies initially, which is described from a different POV in the previous book.

The events in the earlier books play an important part in the story, both the shared history of the three heroes and the times where Colton popped up in the other stories. I enjoyed seeing the characters reconcile some of their differences. Part of Eden’s involvement in that history was new and made the romance feel more natural.

In some ways, I would have liked Eden and Colton's story to start the series. So many of my world building questions finally got answered. I'm happy to have those answers either way. And I'm happy with where these characters wound up.

Recommended for fans of: Keri Arthur’s Outcast series, The 100


My reviews of other books in this series:
The Last True Hero

Friday, May 4, 2018

Try a Chapter #1

I have been in a huge reading slump since I finished Obsidio back in March. It's so bad that I don't even want to read manga and fanfiction. I have been watching a ton of anime and it's been great! I miss reading though. And all of my typical slump busters aren't working. So I decided to try a method that I've heard nothing but good things about how it works.

Today, I'm going to be using the Try a Chapter method. It's pretty simple. I choose a certain number of books off my TBR pile and read the first chapter of each. After reading each one, I'll decide whether or not I want to continue with the book.

 For this post, I'm going to read the first chapter of three books and I'll write my thoughts on each one. Then I'll rank the books from the one I want to read the most to the most meh of the bunch. Let's get started shall we! 

The Books

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
I found the first chapter of Truthwitch interesting with the holdup gone wrong plot but it's not the story I'm in the mood for right now. Hopefully, I'll feel more in the mood for it when I decide to revisit Safi and Isuelt's story later this summer for my TBR Bingo Card.

Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett
 I've been a huge fan of Jenn Bennett since I read her Roaring Twenties series and I've read everything she's published since. Unfortunately, I hadn't gotten around to her Arcadia Bell series until I picked the first book up for this. All I can say is that I am all in after that first chapter. I'm interested in the magic and the world where demons watch paranormal hunter shows in bars. Also, I want to know more about Arcadia after the bombshell that was dropped at the end of chapter one. I can't wait to continue on with this one.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
One of my favorite movies of all time is Studio Ghibli's Howl's Moving Castle but I have never read the book. The first chapter was fun and full of backstory about Ingary and Sophie and her sisters that you don't get in the movie. I feel so sorry for Sophie but I like how it's building up. I actually ended up reading two chapters because I got so into it. I definitely want to continue this one soon!

The Final Ranking

I'm definitely going to be continuing on with Kindling the Moon as soon as I get this post scheduled. I'll probably binge read the whole series but after that I'll probably pick up Howl's because in terms of interest it was a really close second to the Arcadia Bell book. I'm not feeling Truthwitch but hopefully I'll want to read it when I pick it up later this summer. I think it's safe to say that the Try a Chapter method works! I can't wait to be reading again!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Release Day Review: Royals by Rachel Hawkins


(Royals #1)
Rachel Hawkins
Release: May 1, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the publisher via First to Read
Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond. 

While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.

Royals probably isn’t the princess romance you’re expecting. The beautiful blonde American has already met her prince. As the Royal Wedding approaches, her seventeen year old sister finds herself in the tabloids. She’s whisked off to Scotland for damage control but winds up causing even more Royal drama. The handsome prince has a trouble magnet younger brother who keeps dragging Daisy in to the spotlight with him.

I enjoyed the slow burn romance and Daisy’s fish out of water moments gave me some major Pretty Woman vibes. The polo match, the giant hats, even the BFF who comes to visit. She has plenty of other classic rom com moments that make Royals lots of fun (Hello tropey goodness!) but I still think she's just like Vivian. Well, minus the whole hooker thing. If Julia Roberts is your perfect fairy tale princess, you'll love Royals.


This May is all about princes and princeses. Royal Baby, Royal Wedding. . .
So watch for more Royal Romance reviews coming soon.
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