Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Review: Check, Please!: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Check, Please!: #Hockey
(Check, Please! #1-2)
Ngozi Ukazu
Release: September 18, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the publisher
Helloooo, Internet Land. Bitty here!

Y’all... I might not be ready for this. I may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur p√Ętissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It’s nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking. And then, there is Jack—our very attractive but moody captain.

A collection of the first half of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.

I know I've talked about how much I adore this webcomic previously on the blog, so you all can guess how excited I was when they announced that it was going to be a real book published by First Second! AND GUYS, IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL! It's basically an American sports anime in comic form with amazing full color art and some awesome bonus content - like some of Bitty's tweets!

Check, Please! is this bright, happy, joyful comic about an adorable gay boy playing hockey, baking pies, and falling in love and it just hits all the right notes for me! I've absolutely loved reading the webcomic but there is something really special about being able to physically hold this comic in my hands. I could see lots of details than I wasn't able to when reading it online and I could study each character's expressions more closely. And the little explanations between the chapters were amazing! I loved it so much that I actually gave a loud Vader-esque scream of "Nooooo!" when I got to the end of the published pages even though I know what happens next to Bitty and all of his dearest hockey bros. 

Speaking of his hockey bros... I love each and every one of them and their different personalities! It was so much fun reading about Bitty's college journey again: his experience on the hockey team, GRUMPY JACK, baking, Shitty being the best, Ransom and Holster explaining hockey! It's just all so good! The dialogue is so hilarious, but also so full of emotion and heart. And that ending of Year Two!! I was pretty much the human equivalent of the heart-eyes emoji even though I knew it was coming. I really enjoyed the added tweets, they were hysterical and the perfect sort of bonus content.

If you're looking for a good LGBTQ+ sport comic that has all the best characteristics of a sports anime, Check, Please!: Hockey is the comic for you! I really can't recommend it enough! 

  5 / 5 Stars!

Recommended for fans of: Haikyuu!, Yuri on Ice, Free!, and Prince of Stride: Alternative

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts
(Cassidy Blake #1)
Victoria Schwab
Release: August 28, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
Cassidy Blake's parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn't sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn't belong in her world. Cassidy's powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

It's that time of year again when I begin to crave reading books with monsters and ghosts and just those spooky fall vibes. And let me tell you that Victoria Schwab wrote a perfect fall read with City of Ghosts. It's an amazing book and it kind of reminded me of one of my all-time favorite spooky fall books, The Graveyard Book. This book was magical and I wish I would have had more books like this when I was growing up.

The story follows Cassidy, who can walk into the world of ghosts after she drowns in a lake and is saved by a ghost, Jacob, who becomes her best friend. Since coming back to life she has been able to cross the Veil and walk in the place where ghosts stay when they can't move on. Her parents are writers of paranormal books/ghost hunters and they've just started filming a new tv show. Their first stop is Edinburgh where trouble finds Cassidy in the form of a sinister ghost.

I adored Cassidy and Jacob's friendship! Their relationship has some challenges but it was fun watching them work them out. Like the problem of how to spend time together when one of you can't move anything in the other's world. I also loved the cat, Grim, and details about him make it clear that Schwab knows a thing or two about cats. :)

This story was just creepy enough to be considered a "ghost story" but definitely not too scary or dark for middle grade readers. I loved the characters and the adventure in the Edinburgh setting! It makes me want to go to Scotland even more than I did before I read it and I already want to go badly! It was also a great take on ghosts and what it means to be alive and dead.

City of Ghosts may be a middle grade book but I'd recommend it for readers of all ages. I loved it and so did my nephews when I read it to them! They loved the creepy parts and Grim the most! This book would be a perfect one to read on a chilly October day with a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate to get ready for Halloween. Both me and my nephews are excited to get our hands on the next one!

ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

We Love Lists: How to Break Out of a Reading Slump

We did a Top 5 Wednesday list on Slump Busters last February. I decided it was time to revisit that list because I'm in the worst slump ever - I've finished one book in the last two months! 

I've updated the list with a few more suggestions, but I'd love some more ideas. Give me all your slump busting book recs in the comments.

Sometimes my reading slump is just burnout. I can't read another book, or I can't hold a book without my wrist aching. So a week of binging a TV show on Netflix (or Hulu or Prime) will do the trick. I recently enjoyed Jack Ryan on Prime and it's got me in the mood for more spy shows. I may rewatch Alias or Covert Affairs next.

One way to get out of a slump is to read something you've already read. There's no pressure to review and no worries that you might not like it. I've reread the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews and Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series four times each, but I think the next time I'm in a rut I may go for Nalini Singh and some Psy-Changelings.

Rose Red added: My go-to method for busting out of a slump is to reread old favorites. I tend to pick up paranormal romances, urban fantasy, childhood favorites. Nalini Singh's books have been my go-to slump busters since I first read the Psy-Changeling series in 2014. I also love rereading Harry Potter, The Blue Sword, and Patricia C. Wrede's books to get out of a slump.

 Paranormal Romance
Last year I was feeling slumpy when I picked up The Leopard King by Ann Aguire. It combines old school trope-y PNR with a completely new fantasy world that reminds me a bit of The Others series. It was just the thing to get me reading again!

 Urban Fantasy
Rose Red: I love reading urban fantasy to get out slumps whether they are new series or rereads! Urban fantasy's fast-pace and familiar worlds are awesome at kickstarting you back into reading. When I'm in a slump I tend to gravitate towards rereading Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series, Ilona Andrews's Kate Daniels books, and Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson/Alpha & Omega series.

 Series Binge
I know that sounds wrong - get out of a reading slump by reading a whole series, but it's worked for me a few times. I think maybe it's because it takes off the pressure of having to find your next book for a while. Or maybe it's just that I'm a natural binge reader. It's fun to be able to pick up the next book the minute you finish and stay in that world for like a week.

Gretl: Last year I binged Paige Tyler's SWAT series when nothing else sounded good to me. The year before I did J.D. Tyler's Alpha Pack series. They both blend romantic suspense and shifter PNR. Both authors were also new to me at the time. I think the first time I read the Psy-Changeling series, which was about four years ago, it was a slump buster as well.

Rose Red: I did this as well last year but with Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series and Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark books.

 Contemporary Romance
A lot of times my reading rut is really an I don't want to write a review rut. When that happens my go to is contemp romance. I'll usually pick up a rom com like Emma Chase or Alice Clayton or suspense like Julie Ann Walker. The last time I didn't want to write reviews I read Idol by Kristen Callihan, which I highly recommend. The third book in the VIP series is out this month, so I may try that next.

The problem I'm having right now is that I have no attention span. I've read the first hundred pages of a few different books, but if I don't finish in one sitting my brain moves on to the next thing. Novellas are a perfect solution for this one. I often look for Psy-Changeling novellas since there are a lot of them and it hits that familiar, comfort read spot at the same time. But you can also find a lot of free contemp romance novellas on Kindle if that's more your mood. Or for UF, I loved Melissa F. Olson's Nightshade trilogy.

What do you do to get out of a slump?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Romance GenreCon Wrap Up and Giveaway

September is Library Card Sign Up Month so it's the perfect time to tell you about this fun event I attended at my library recently. My local independent book store holds some of their author events at the library. I also attended Kiss Con this summer, which is hosted by Avon Books. (Read all about it here.) But I think this is the first conference that was actually organized by the library.

Romance GenreCon took place over two days and included a dozen different classes and panels. The Featured Authors were Cherry Adair, Victoria Alexander, Janna MacGregor, Cathy Maxwell, Pat Simmons, Kerrelyn Sparks, Sherry Thomas. Plus as many as thirty Participating Authors were scheduled to attend.

 I attended the Guest Author panel with (from left to right in the photo) Pat Simmons, Kerrelyn Sparks, Victoria Alexander, Janna MacGregor, Cathy Maxwell, and Sherry Thomas. I was disappointed that this discussion wasn't as well attended as the one at KissCon but there was a writing workshop happening at the same time, as well as other panels and events throughout the weekend.

I've only read one of these authors, Sparks, and was familiar with Thomas's Lady Sherlock series. But the rest of the ladies are local, which I was excited to learn. (Cathy Maxwell grew up in the area, but no longer lives here - that still counts as local, right?)

Some tidbits from the panel: 
I thought it was interesting that all of the ladies started writing Historicals, even the ones who are no longer writing them, and that Historical was the entry to the genre for all of them. (It's interesting to me partly because I've never been interested in Historicals myself.) 

Sparks says she felt like vampires were a natural progression from there because they are historical figures (i.e. very old.) I wouldn't have guessed that since her Love at Stake series is set in modern day New York. 

Thomas actually said she was inspired to start writing by a book she hated. 

I also attended the Romance State of the Union discussion which featured Simmons, Sparks, Maxwell and Tessa Layne. I really liked the mix of authors here - Layne is Indie, Simmons is Hybrid and writes Christian romances. The authors talked about how their work has changed in response to current events, like including more diversity and writing explicit consent.

More tidbits:
One thing that I thought was fascinating, in part because it hadn't occurred to me, is that Simmons, who lives in St. Louis, said she was unable to see a police officer as the hero after Ferguson and had to rewrite an entire story.

What I thought was most interesting was the idea of author as entrepreneur. Layne refers to her books as her business. She touched on some of the things that she does herself that a traditional publisher would handle, like cover art and audiobook narrators. I see so many authors talking about their narrators on Twitter that I was surprised some of the ladies here said they have no input. One said she didn't want input, which was even more surprising. 

I wish that there were an indie author panel that could have addressed all the recent controversies in the romance community, like those surrounding Kindle Unlimited. Much of that doesn't apply to traditionally published authors.

I also wish that I could have attended more of the GenreCon events - there was a tea party, and a carnival, and a film screening. I would have liked to talk to more people and meet the authors. I hope that there will be a SciFi or Fantasy GenreCon in the future.


Everyone at Romance GenreCon got one of these totes - it's huge, like one you'd take to the beach. I've got an extra one to give away, plus a stack of Historical Romances and some swag. Enter in the Rafflecopter - it's U.S. addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Release Day Review: Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren


Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating
Christina Lauren
Release: September 4, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

Would you believe this is my first Christina Lauren book? It seems like everyone I know loves them but I’ve been kind of afraid to fall down a backlist rabbit hole. I actually picked up Josh and Hazel because the blurb reminded me of Selfie, just without the age gap. (And that was before I knew that Josh was Korean-American.)

That’s not the worst summary ever. The heroine is a hot mess and the hero is more reserved, just like in the show. And in both cases, the characters are just so charming! I loved the way Josh and his sister, Hazel's best friend, understood and accepted Hazel. And their blind dates are comedy gold.

There's just this one (totally spoilery) thing that happens and no one says, "But I thought you said..." or "Wait, how did that happen?" and that's driving me nuts. (But I think it's just me because no one else has mentioned it yet.)

Still I really enjoyed Josh and Hazel. It was the perfect comfort read to break me out of a reading slump. I'll definitely be reading more from Christina Lauren.

Recommended for fans of: Friends to Lovers stories

4.5  stars

Friday, August 31, 2018

Month in Review: August 2018

You guys, it's almost fall! My mind is kinda blown right now. I guess this month went by fast because we were so busy with school starting and with our blogoversary at the first of the month. Here's what the Weres were up to during the rest of August and our Most Anticipated September releases.

Check out our August Book Hauls!


Rose Red


Rose Red


Weres Wanna Know

Blog Tours

We Love Lists!
Rose Red Talks Anime

Our most anticipated September releases:

September 4

September 18

September 25

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