Review – ‘Break Me’ by Tiffany Snow

Title: Break Me
Author: Tiffany Snow
Genre:  Contemporary, Romance
Date of Publication: 14th March, 2017
Page Count: 316 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Just a few weeks ago, computer prodigy China Mack’s typical night in involved Endor Star Wars pajamas and a sensible bedtime. Now she’s dating gorgeous tech guru Jackson Cooper—one of Forbes’s Top Ten Eligible Billionaires—much to the Twitterverse’s delight.

Turns out, going from socially inept hermit to poster girl for geek chic has its challenges. China’s relationship gets even more complicated because her role heading the top-secret Vigilance program—where she’s partnered with Superman clone Clark Slattery—makes her a target. And when ruthless businessman Simon Lu plans to co-opt Vigilance software to blackmail government and military employees, he’ll need China’s cooperation—willing or otherwise.

But not every enemy is so easily identified. Some hide in plain sight, in very high places, and mistaking foe for friend could be the last mistake China ever makes…

I adored the first book in the ‘Corrupted Hearts’ series – I gave Follow Me a 5-star rating! This sequel fell rather short of the lofty standards set by its predecessor and I felt a bit disappointed after having anticipated this so much. The writing is smooth and assured, the mystery plot is snappy and intriguging, and it honestly had me glued to the screen, gasping in shock at some of the twists and turns. But while ‘Follow Me‘ didn’t have an obnoxious love triangle, its sequel unfortunately doubled down on that aspect.

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Review – ‘Geekerella’ by Ashley Poston

Title: Geekerella
Author: Ashley Poston
Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date of Publication: 4th April, 2017
Page Count: 320 pages (hard cover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Well, don’t I feel foolish now! I have to admit I was completely wrong about this book – I mistakenly requested this on Netgalley when I was really after Queens of Geek (reviewed here); it’s an easy mistake as they both have the word ‘Geek’ in the title, both about nerdy fangirls, both set at conventions… I loved Queens of Geek and didn’t feel like this would live up to its rival, but now I need to declare that I did Geekerella an injustice because it was a fantastic read!

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‘The Edge of the Abyss’ by Emily Skrutskie

Title: The Edge of the Abyss
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Genre:  Young Adult, Sci-fi, LGBT
Date of Publication: 18th April, 2017
Page Count: 320 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Three weeks have passed since Cassandra Leung pledged her allegiance to the ruthless pirate-queen Santa Elena and set free Bao, the sea monster Reckoner she’d been forced to train. The days as a pirate trainee are long and grueling, but it’s not the physical pain that Cas dreads most. It’s being forced to work with Swift, the pirate girl who broke her heart.

But Cas has even bigger problems when she discovers that Bao is not the only monster swimming free. Other Reckoners illegally sold to pirates have escaped their captors and are taking the NeoPacific by storm, attacking ships at random and ruining the ocean ecosystem. As a Reckoner trainer, Cas might be the only one who can stop them. But how can she take up arms against creatures she used to care for and protect?

Will Cas embrace the murky morals that life as a pirate brings or perish in the dark waters of the NeoPacific?

This was a hard one for me to review – objectively, the author is quite talented; her characters leap off the page, there’s a ton of action and adventure, this alternate reality she’s crafted is amazingly original and the plot had me hooked. BUT I found the lead character so frustrating and some of her reactions and decisions were borderline nonsensical, so it was painful reading certain parts and having to resist the urge to hurl my phone across the room and scream.

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ARC Review – ‘Marry In Haste’ by Anne Gracie

Title:  Marry In Haste
Author: Anne Gracie
Genre:  Romance (Historical/Regency Romance)
Date of Publication: 2nd May, 2017
Page Count: 320 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

31621184.jpgFrom the award-winning author of The Summer Bride comes the first in a charming new historical romance series where marriages of convenience turn into true love matches.

Major Calbourne Rutherford returns to England on the trail of an assassin, only to find he’s become Lord Ashendon, with the responsibility for vast estates and dependent relatives. Cal can command the toughest of men, but his wild half-sisters are quite another matter. They might just be his undoing.

When he discovers that Miss Emmaline Westwood, the girls’ former teacher, guides them with ease, Cal offers her a marriage of convenience. But strong-minded and independent Emm is neither as compliant nor as proper as he expected, and Cal finds himself most inconveniently seduced by his convenient wife.

Emm knows they didn’t marry for love, yet beneath her husband’s austere facade, she catches glimpses of a man who takes her breath away. As pride, duty and passion clash, will these two stubborn hearts find more than they ever dreamed of?

I adore Anne Gracie’s romances and had high expectations for this one – thankfully, it did not disappoint! I can’t believe I’m giving so many 5-star reviews lately, but I’m on a winning streak so far. 😀

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Book Review: ‘Queens of Geek’ by Jen Wilde

Title:  Queens of Geek
Author: Jen Wilde
Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Date of Publication: 14th March, 2017
Page Count: 288 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

51822382.jpgWhen BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

This was such a sweet and heartwarming read. I feel that at times the writing was a little too simplistic, but the plotting and heart of the story swept me away too much to care.

Normally I’m not a fan of two or more different character POVs, but it worked well for me here and it means the reader gets to enjoy two absolutely adorable romances for the price of one. It also means the author can more realistically delve into different issues that many people suffer without it seeming overly melodramatic the way it would be if they were to saddle a sole main character with a whole ton of baggage.

I know I’ve said this many times, but I’ll repeat – I LOVE books that deal with mental illness and LGBT+ relationships, and this one featured both! One of the protagonists, Taylor, is a recently diagnosed ‘Aspie girl’ and struggling with anxiety issues and intermittent panic attacks; the other protagonist, Charlie, is a bisexual WOC!

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Book Review – ‘ 10 Things I Can See From Here’ by Carrie Mac

Title:  10 Things I Can See From Here
Author: Carrie Mac
Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Date of Publication: 28th February, 2017
Page Count: 320 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Perfect for fans of Finding Audrey and Everything, Everything, this is the poignant and uplifting story of Maeve, who is dealing with anxiety while falling in love with a girl who is not afraid of anything.

Think positive.
Don’t worry; be happy.
Keep calm and carry on.

Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.

Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?

I like to read other people’s reviews to see if I’m in the majority of minority with my opinion, and I’m really surprised to see that my overwhelming love for this book isn’t the norm on Goodreads where it currently has an average rating of 3.64. Reading through some of the criticisms only reinforced my affection for the main character and her story, and I’m going to stubbornly hold onto my 5-star rating for this one!

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I requested this from Netgalley because the protagonist, Maeve, combines two character traits I relate to and therefore find most interesting to read about: she struggles with mental illness and she’s a lesbian. And on both counts, I was very pleased with how the author portrayed Maeve.

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Review – ‘Making Love’ by Aidan Wayne

Title:  Making Love
Author: Aidan Wayne
Genre:  Romance, Paranormal, LGBT
Date of Publication: 30th January, 2017
Page Count: 92 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Carla the cupid is an excellent shot, but her chemistry is so bad that most of her matches don’t last. Her dream is to shoot a True Love pair, but until her scores improve, she’s relegated to the Puppy Love division of Aphrodite Agency.

Leeta, a succubus, is looking for a True Love match. Which is highly unusual, as most succubi are aromantic. But Aphrodite Agency—her only hope—turns her away because the receptionist can’t believe she’s not just looking for an easy meal.

Carla agrees to take Leeta’s case on freelance. She figures it’s a win-win: Carla gets to put a succubus’s True Love match on her résumé, and Leeta gets to find her True Love! Except as Carla tries to find a match for Leeta, she finds herself maybe . . . relieved when the matches don’t end well. And Leeta seems to be getting pickier and pickier. Things will never work out until Carla learns enough about chemistry to figure out who’s truly best for Leeta, and until Leeta can admit what—or who—she truly wants.

Word Count: 22,800

I’m not a fan of novellas and I didn’t realize that’s what this was when I requested it…but this story is so  treacly sweet and works best in a small dose, so that ended up being a positive!

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Review – ‘Dreadnought’ by April Daniels

Title:  Dreadnought
Author: April Daniels
Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT+
Date of Publication: 24th January, 2017
Page Count: 276 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but between her father’s dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny’s first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

I feel so lucky to have had two 5-star reads in a row courtesy of Netgalley ARCs! I knew this was going to be good from the start – you know how some authors are just so wonderfully competent that their characters jump off the page from the first chapter fully-formed like old friends that you’re catching up with and the writing has such a great ease and flow to it that you can plunge through several chapters and not even realize that you’re half-way through? That was my experience with this book.

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Review – ‘Terminal Regression’ by Mallory Hill

I’m sorry about the lateness in posting! I’ve had a wi-fi blackout at home for the past month and unfortunately I’ve been too busy at work to be able to blog. :/ This post is long overdue, so let’s just get straight into it!

Title:  Terminal Regression
Author: Mallory Hill
Genre:  Dystopia, Romance
Date of Publication: 17th January, 2017
Page Count: 277 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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“WINNER OF THE SECOND ANNUAL AUTHORS FIRST NOVEL CONTEST Laura Baily’s life is meaningless. In a world where purpose and passion are everything, Laura feels as though she has no place and no business even existing. Her life is forfeit, and it would be better for everyone if she simply ended it, if she simply got a ticket for a train to oblivion and faded from memory. But what awaits her at the end of the line isn t death but Terminal B a community of people more like her than she considered possible, including the beautiful, tormented Will Noble. Though Laura still thinks little of her own life, the lives of others begin to fascinate her as never before. And when those lives become imperiled, Laura discovers the last thing she ever expected to find on her way out of the world: a mission and a reason to live. Compelling on both a human and global scale, TERMINAL REGRESSION is a novel of rare power and humanity. It is the story of a tomorrow that teeters on the edge of utopia and dystopia and a resigned outsider who might just change it forever.”

In short: I loved Terminal Regression beyond reason.

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The main character was witty and had an enjoyable pov; I snickered at a lot of her wry asides and observations of society. What was most important to me was the depiction of mental illness – I empathized so much with Laura who suffered from clinical depression, and her reactions and coping mechanisms rang very true to me. Her depression wasn’t simply window dressing to make the book ‘edgy’, it was a major part of her character and informed her choices and the events of the book.

There was a fairly small cast of characters and while a couple weren’t as fleshed out as they could’ve been, for the most part I felt that the supporting characters were well-drawn and realistic, and I liked how Will, Grant and Mimi had their own stories and history instead of just being players in Laura’s hero’s journey.

The author came up with such a creative and fresh take on the dystopian society trend that is very popular right now, with a revolution unlike any other I’ve read before. In an era of Hunger Games and Divergent and the like, this was a breath of fresh air. Some may find the climax to be, well, antic-climactic, and perhaps it was a little too easily resolved, but I appreciate the originality and found it very appropriate to the story being told. This is more about Laura and focuses intimately on her issues and struggles, as opposed to focusing on the society in general.

At length (with some spoilers, be warned):

This book really moved me. I can’t emphasize enough how deeply it affected me. The reason I requested this ARC was because I’ve struggled with depression for over a decade now and while I’ve never acted on it, suicidal ideation (wanting to die) has been a part of my daily routine. I read as a form of escapism, but I also like to read books in which the main character represents something personal to me and articulates what I’m unable to express.

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