Tuesday, November 13, 2018

October 2018 Reads // Romance, Space Opera, and New Age

HAPPY BOOK DAY! I have continued to bury myself in reading, and am at about double what I have read in the past few years. I'll take it.

I read more Christmas books last month and I am not putting my reviews here since that's not everyone's jam... so check out Volume II of 2018 Christmas reads. I figured out the best and worst, so you don't have to.

The Long Way to A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

3.7-4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy science fiction plots, and relevant social commentary.

Rosemary is running from her old life. She pays someone to give her a new identity, and takes up as a clerk on a long haul ship. There she'll meet a diverse cast of characters on a mission to punch holes in space for easier transportation. The work is dangerous and can strand the crew in deep space for long periods of time, which is probably why this crew is a lot like family.

Overall I really liked this book. I am struggling to properly rate it for several reasons... I loved the characters, the world building, and imagination put into this book. The planets, species, etc. alone must have taken ages to dream up. It was all so vivid too, I loved reading about the different places that the crew stopped and the people that they met there. However, I felt like a lot of the action-y parts of the book didn't go very far. Either the action sequences fade to black, are resolved very quickly and without a lot of consequence, or the action scene ends up being more of a bonding scenario for two characters. I felt like that was kind of a let down for me. So, I'm having trouble rating it.... I did also really appreciate the author's ability to weave current social commentary into a book set somewhere completely different. It definitely makes you think about things like racism, violence, humanity, sexuality, etc. I really appreciated that, and I think it probably made me think about some of those topics in a bit of a different way. I will likely read the next book, but I am not in a hurry to get to it.

Someone To Love by Mary Balogh

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical romance.

When the Earl of Riverdale dies, his secret daughter is exposed and brought from an orphanage into high society. Anna Snow has always wished for a family, but it is clear that her new family has mixed feelings about her. Avery Archer the Duke of Netherby does as he pleases, and decides to intercede and help Anna escape her smothering new family. Avery's reputation is set as a wealthy bachelor, who does as he pleases, but Anna causes him to consider desires he has long pushed aside.

I haven't read a ton of historical romance, so they are always a little bit hard for me to rate/review, but it will get easier eventually. Overall I enjoyed this book, I liked the main character Anna well enough. She was smart and fairly independent. I liked that Avery never followed any rules, but I found his quizzing glass, etc. a little eccentric and not particularly attractive. I enjoyed their opposites attract sort of relationship, however I couldn't figure out at what point they decided they liked each other. Anna kind of went along with things. I did appreciate the there wasn't this huge fixation on her being a virgin as there often can be in novels like this. It wasn't a big deal, and that was so much less creepy. I thought that the martial arts stuff was a little random... but whatever. I particularly enjoyed the ending when they visited Bath, etc. I'm excited to check out the next books in this series and see how the rest progress.

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory**

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, and especially if you are looking for more diversity within the romance genre.

When Nik's boyfriend unexpectedly proposes to her at a Dodger's game (live on the JumboTron) she is angry, mortified, and publicly shamed when she doesn't say "yes". Carlos and his sister sitting a few rows behind Nik decide to swoop in and save her from more on-camera humilation. To thank them, she buys them a drink. Nik has sworn off men after the proposal, but she can't help but appreciate how kind and good-looking Carlos is. What's the harm in meeting up for dinner? Carlos and Nik aren't looking for a serious relationship, but things can get blurry pretty quickly in a new relationship. Can they keep it casual? Or are they looking for more?

I really loved this book! Carlos was my favorite character in Guillory's other book The Wedding Date, so seeing him as the main character of this book was a lot of fun. I definitely liked Nik a lot, and their chemistry together was really great. They were both honest and sarcastic characters which was refreshing in a romance novel. I loved the foodie aspect of the story, and Carlos's love of food and cooking. My favorite part was that the side characters and especially Carlos's family members played a large role in this book. I loved the family dynamics with Carlos and his sister, cousin, etc.! I think once again Guillory shows a modern take on dating and relationships that feels fresh and romantic, but more realistic. Overall I really enjoyed this book, and it definitely has me excited to read Guillory's next novel!

The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham

3 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy historical romance, strong female characters, and bdsm.

Poppy Cavendish is a successful botanist and runs her own nursery. When the Duke of Westmead hires every working man in the area she finds herself in a bind as she must uproot her nursery and move it several miles away to another property. The Duke of Westmead's ambitious sister, Constance, has no bigger desire than to throw the ball of the year at Westmead. In order to do so she'll need an indoor forest, and hires Poppy to make her dreams a reality. As Poppy and The Duke of Westmead spend time together they come to find that they are quite attracted to each other. However, the Duke is a member of a little-known illicit club in London which just might ruin his reputation, and by association, Poppy's.

I felt like this book had a LOT going on. To start, I loved Poppy's independent character, her profession, her humor, and wit. I loved her chemistry with the Duke as well. Most of the beginning of this book reminded me of The Steampunk Proper Romance series by Nancy Campbell Allen. However, the bdsm stuff just felt so random for me. Perhaps it is because I have no other books to compare it to, or maybe because it's just not something I'm particularly interested in... but it felt like a small and sort of random addition to the story. I also felt like there was a lot going on within the story: her business, his business, their relationship, the rumors, the illicit club, other hardships, his tortured past.. I won't give spoilers... but it was just a bit much to keep up with. Honestly, without the bdsm and a one or two disasters or dramas I might have really loved this one!

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance. This one has a bit more emotional depth to it.

Millie has been one of the guys for as long as she can remember, one night she starts to see her friend Reid as more than just a friend. When they end up sleeping together they quickly decide that it won't happen again, and their whole group decides to try a dating app. As Reid and Millie start chatting with potential dates within the app, their friendship gets more complicated.

Overall I enjoyed this book, I read it in an afternoon/evening. I liked the "found family" aspect of the book, and the quirky characters. I wish that Millie and Reid's personalities would have been just a bit more apparent. I loved that she was into True Crime and serial killers, but it seemed like such a small part of her personality, despite it being her profession. This book was a bit more emotional than some of the other CL books that I have read. There is a lot of character growth, struggles, and some tough issues. In addition to it being a bit more emotional, it also wasn't quite as comic as some of their other books. While I did enjoy this one, Josh and Hazel has not been knocked from the top spot for me. - Publishes December 4th!-

Chakra Animals: Discover Your Connection to Wisdom of the Natural World by Angelica Stuart*

3.5 Stars - I would recommend if you enjoy learning about the symbolism of animals, and how you can use it in your everyday life.

This book contains a guide to 50 animals from ant to wren that can be used to channel in your every day life.

I picked up an animal totem deck in Anchorage, AK once and have been fascinated by the idea ever since. I love the idea behind this book, and it's gorgeous cover. I like how thorough the book is, from the introduction, the chakra explanations, the "how to use", and the animal pages. There is even a section in which it is explained which animals excel in particular areas (strength, family, etc. etc.). The whole thing is very useful, not to mention packed full of interesting facts about the animals. The life-long-learner in me was very pleased! I like that there are small animal cards that you can cut out to shuffle and draw from in the back. My only disappointment would be that based on the cover I was expecting a vibrant book. I was hoping for dreamy water color pages and the information tucked next to gorgeous illustrations. However, the inside of the book has (decent) clip art style black and white images -- which aren't nearly as inspiring as I'd hoped. You can order chakra animal decks from the author, however, it's unclear if those match the cover either! As a visual person, I'd hoped for a bit more of a pretty art theme within the pages as well. I think it would be a breathtaking book, should it be illustrated later. Either way, the information inside is very thorough, inspiring, and knowledge-filled. You can tell that the author came at this with a wealth of knowledge and didn't hold back within these pages. It is packed with information. I definitely will enjoy going back over this one to ponder from time to time. - Publishes January 8th 2019-

Sleepover by Serena Bell*

3 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, particularly ones including single parents.

Elle has reasons not to want to date, her ex left her and her son for his high school sweetheart after years of swearing nothing was going on. Sawyer, who's wife recently died of cancer, as sworn off dating because he knows he'll never love anyone the way he did his wife. However, when Sawyer and Elle meet at a bar, something is different. They shrug it off, until they realize they've become next door neighbors. When their sons become best friends it is hard for them to keep their distance.

I requested this book because I LOVED Bell's other book Head Over Heels earlier this year. While this one was cute and steamy, I didn't love it as much as Head Over HeelsI love Serena Bell's ability bring single parents into the spotlight of a romance novel. I thought that this book was so endearing: two parents who's boys become best friends, so they end up falling for each other. It was so cute. It was also very steamy. Like a little x-rated steamy. I probably could have done a bit more of their budding friendship, and a little less dirty talk, but that's just me. I definitely loved all of the "family" aspects of the book. I loved Bell's other book Head Over Heels, and while I didn't like this one as much, I'll definitely read more Serena Bell books in the future. - Publishes Today -

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books today. :) 

What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 

Make sure you check out my Christmas Fiction post if you're into that kind of thing! :) 

Let's be friends on Goodreads!



* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley

**Double asterisks denote books won via a goodreads giveaway! 

***Triple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Penguin First to Read!

****Quadruple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by the author of the book in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time! 

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