Thursday, September 30, 2021

Review: Last Guard by Nalini Singh

Last Guard
(Psy-Changeling: Trinity #5)
Nalini Singh
Release: July 20, 2021
Goodreads Amazon
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?

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Review: A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

A Psalm for the Wild-Built
(Monk & Robot #1)
Becky Chamber
Release: July 13, 2021
Goodreads Amazon
Hugo Award-winner Becky Chambers's delightful new series gives us hope for the future.

It's been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools.
Centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again.
Centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of "what do people need?" is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They're going to need to ask it a lot.

Becky Chambers' new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?

I've been thinking about this book nonstop since I finished it and I am having trouble coming up with the words to explain how much I loved it. At its heart, A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a hopeful look at what our world and what humanity can become as well as a philosophical and existential look at the meaning of life. I seriously loved everything about this novella except the fact that it ended! 

This story is a slice-of-life following an agender tea monk named Sibling Dex who is feeling a bit lost about what they should do with their life despite being a darn good tea monk. And can I just say that I wish we had tea monks? As soon as I finished, I could help but wish that I could just go to someone who would make a special cup of tea just for me and just listen to me for a minute. Dex feels a bit hollow despite how good their life is and is searching for the answer or the thing that will make them feel complete.

The worldbuilding is topnotch! For those who are new to the subgenre, solarpunk is a genre that looks at what a world would be like if humanity could come together and solve some of our current sustainability challenges like climate change and pollution. And the world that Becky Chambers envisions is a marvel and was an absolute delight to read about! And all of it was spurred on by robots worldwide gaining sentience and laying aside their tools of industry to go explore the wilderness. The solutions that the humans came up with to solve humanity's problems and still honor an agreement with the robots were ingenius and it kind of makes me want to go live in my own little tea wagon and travel the world. Also, can I geek out at how nice it was to read a sci-fi story that could explain the science of ecology correctly?!? The biologist side of my brain was in love!

As awesome as the worldbuilding was, what sold the story for was the the characters! I quickly fell in love with Dex and their search for something more despite having everything they could ever need. That search for something to fill the slight hollowness inside really resonated with me. I won't lie. I would totally go off trail to find adventure. Dex meeting Mosscap was the best damn meet cute ever! Mosscap is so easygoing and down-to-earth! I loved how they took so much joy in their surroundings and their new experiences. And I loved how inclusive Becky Chambers made this story with both the nonhuman characters and the characters of all genders. I think this may be the first story I've read with an agender MC. 

My heart is full and I feel like I had read a hug as soon as I finished. I love Becky Chambers even more for writing this story! This was a heartwarming and thought-provoking novella that I haven't been able to get out of my head. I am seriously looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel as soon as possible. I have my fingers crossed that this series will have a very lengthy run because I just need more of these kind of stories in my life!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  4.5/ 5 Stars!

My reviews of other books by this author:
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Monday, July 12, 2021

Month in Review: April, May, and June 2021

Y'all! It is officially summer for the Weres! The last part of spring has been busy for us so we forgot to post our monthly wrap ups. Better late than never, right? We're going to combine April, May, and June's wrap ups into one post.

So here's what the Weres have been up to the last few months:


 Soulstar by C.L. Polk
Last Guard by Nalini Singh
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
Hold Fast Through the Fire by K.B. Wagers
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