Posted in Book Club, Book Review, Reading Adventures

August Bookshelf

August was my birthday month and I may have gone a little crazy with book gifts for myself *not even sorry*, and the reading wasn’t too shabby though it started with the worst book I have ever rated. And yet another month had passed when I did not bury my head in the plethora of paperbacks I still have on my TBR. Eek … always hoping for next month.

The growing beauty of my office/Sapphic/Indie bookshelf (several more shelves are scattered and filled elsewhere throughout the house).

The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampire’s by Grady Hendrix – ⭐️⭐️ – I wanted to like this book. I wanted to damn well love this book. I didn’t. In fact there were times I almost DNF’d this book. It takes a LOT for me to even consider DNF’ing a book. But, I stuck it out (100% because the narrator was awesome) and it’s not like the book was horrible, just so so frustrating. There is a huge chunk in the middle of the book that I felt was entirely unnecessary and this was the part where I nearly DNF’d. It was also filled with gaslighting the main character by EVERY SINGLE other character. It was then her backing down even though she knew they were doing this. It was the most frustrating thing I’ve read in such a long time and it wasn’t broken up with anything else and it dragged out. Despite this. There were some good things about the book, the writing was ok and the story wasn’t entirely terrible, just so many unnecessary parts for me, and no character was likeable. I do however get pissed off reading things about this book being a fantastic humour horror. There is no humour. If an author tries to highlight the depravity of society they need to make that clear, with exaggerations, with word choices. The author did NONE of this. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t satirical. It was racist, sexist, elitist SHIT. If it weren’t for the narrator I would have DNF’d AND given a single star review.

Ignis by KJ – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – There is so much to love about this book. From the start we are thrown into two worlds, two times. The back and forth is fabulous. When you are in each part you are completely enveloped, almost forgetting about the other time, the other story.
The mysteries are compelling and the writing is delicious.
I adore the main characters and the beautiful balance of dark mystery and these moments that made me smile and sometimes even giggle.
A brilliant read. Highly recommend if you like dark mysteries.

Queerly Beloved: A Love Story Across Genders by Diane and Jacob Anderson-Minshall – I can’t star this book, I don’t know how to. I have rarely read memoirs, and never one that has hit so close to home. Did I enjoy the reading? Yes and no. Some of it was a little repetitive. Did I find it helpful? Yes and no. I felt seen but also had to remind myself of how different me and my OH are to the authors. Do I recommend this book? Yes and no. I think it’s a great educational read, as long as people realise this is two peoples personal experiences in the transgender world. I definitely saw similar situations and fears, thoughts, and doubts. But also some things that I was shocked, because we have not had the same experience. Were there some chapters I could have lived without reading, some experiences they went through that I could have not known so much about? Sure. But I feel like that’s sort of a memoir staple.
Overall, I’m glad I read this book. And I would love to read about more personal accounts of diversity in our beautiful and colourful rainbow community. I did a video review, going in to a little more detail. You can view it here.

Dead Lez Walking by G. Benson – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Omg. I have no idea how G. Benson does it but damn this book gave me all the feels … the mix of dark humour, true fear, devastating sadness, some pretty gruesome scenes, and actual wtf moments. Brilliant book that I chewed through (yep pun totally intended) ridiculously quickly. I adore the authors inclusivity in her books, gender, race, nationality, sexuality. She embraces the true diversity of humans in her stories. And I loved the ensemble cast. Taren freakin cracked me up (her chapter sub headings were freakin snort laughing worthy), and Xin was adorable – even if I may or may not have called the author a monster at one (several) points lol

Under Your Skin by Lee Winter – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – This book was delicious. A sequel to the incredible Red Files. If you like seeing an ice queen melt without changing who they are, this is THE ultimate book. I have such a love for small town settings and this book has it in spades, and the humour … laugh out loud coffee spitting moments, with Lauren’s charming upfront nature and Catherine’s acerbic thoughts and tongue:
* It’s only Chaos if you stop and look at it, the rest of the time it’s just fun.
* About the speed of an asthmatic turtle
Also, hotness rating … cold showers required! 😉

Faith and Fire (Sisters of Battle #1) by James Swallow – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Was surprised how much I enjoyed this. The audio was recommended to me. The narrator was amazing. The writing was surprisingly beautiful, and the story was quite fun and brutal. I thought I would get lost not having played World of Warcraft, but I understood the world enough to keep up with what was happening, and it was quite exciting.

The Roommate Arrangement by Jae – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Third book of the year to make me cry!
I was so frustrated with one of the characters at the start, Jae perfectly captured the frustrations of Ray having to deal with her new roommate. But just as she grew on Ray, Stephanie grew on me as well. A hilarious female the odd-couple book, with ALL the feels. Brilliant writing, fantastic dynamic characters, and a story that flows (and kept this reader up until 1am).

Full English by Rachel Spangler – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Another small town sapphic read .. need I say more? Well, actually yes. I LOVED the dynamics of the characters in this book. Spangler turns the traditional characterisations on their heads and I am all for it! Brilliant themes of breaking the binary and contradictory assumptions of society. I love that the village girl isn’t sweet and virginal and the famous millionaire isn’t suave and sophisticated. The descriptions of the beautiful scenery of the town and the sea were so engulfing, it was a holiday during a time when holidays seem like a distant memory and a not promised future.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 – A perfect classic gothic horror of the time. But, reading it from a modern day perspective, I struggled to love it, though I did like it and enjoy it. I listened to it on audio and the narration lacked several times as the voices for the two female protagonists had the same tones and quirks and it was difficult to follow along as times. I did enjoy the writing, it was often beautiful but the story had me confused at times.

Hush Little Baby by RH Herron – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – *Trigger Warnings for infertility and child abduction. *
Literally could not stop listening to this book. My first book by this author and now I have to read more. The writing is absolutely beautiful, from descriptions of humanity to the earth, to the complicated duality of human nature, to the way the author reaches in and stabs sharpened nails into your heart before ripping it out of your chest.
Not a book I could have read during my long fertility journey, or pregnancy, or even when my child was in their first year of life. But such an incredible story. 

So ten books for August is a pretty good effort. 😀

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Book Review, Reading Adventures

July’s Bookshelf

For the first year ever I thought I’d embark on the insanity of doing not just November’s NaNoWriMo but also Camp NaNo … with that being said, I was very surprised to get as many books read as I did … I also managed to do a few Beta Reads. And no, in case you are wondering … I have not slept this month ;-p

Take note of just how many sequels I read this month … who knew I was such a series addict. Also seriously ridiculous how amazingly brilliant the books for this month were. No bad ones to be seen, not even any luke warm humming or harring ones. So total win month here.

Six Days to Hell by E.L Giles – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Oomph with a one two punch. A virus has caused a world pandemic (feels a little close to home doesn’t it). An anxiety ridden quick read. Follow Garcia on his post apocalyptic countdown with an ache for redemption and a question to the power of the past. A few times the lulls had me drifting a little but they didn’t last long until we head on the run again. I had to know how it ended, as I continued the countdown despite that spider tingle of anxiety. The beautiful language is stark against the horror of a world laid bare. A great dark read.

Dead Man Walking (Nick Holleran #1) by David Green – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Stars – For a second, Hell holds its breath. Dead Man Walking: A Nick Holleran book is a wicked little love child between Sin City and Constantine. The atmosphere reminiscent of the 1950’s PI’s of the past hits from the very start. The world building and side characters that David Green has created makes me already cross my fingers, hoping there is more of the same to come. Humour is mixed with horror and it is tantalisingly weaved throughout the story. When I finished Dead man Walking I felt as though I had been given a small window, or perhaps a fireplace view, of a moment in this world, a moment in Holleran’s life. And oh boy, what a moment it is.

Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2) by Tamsyn Muir – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – What. The. Actual. F$&@. I loved this book. That much I know. I need recovery time to write up this review, and perhaps another read through. Most important to note … ‘it’s complicated, is all I’m saying.’ Just a few points: I never knew I could love 2nd person, but oh my how I love this and the 2nd person narrator. I love the snarky dialogue, internal and external. And my mind has completely blown, to the point of now rereading Gideon from an entirely new perspective. SO MUCH AWESOMENESS. I took some time and ended up doing an entire reading Vlog of this book … you can find the vid here.

Without a Front: The Producer’s Challenge (Chronicles of Alsea #2) by Fletcher DeLancey – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – I started this book with excitement and heartbreak. I was grieving and couldn’t understand that while I loved the writing and even the story why I was not getting as pulled in … and then it all came together. I was feeling too much exactly how the main character Aldira Tal was feeling. It was writing with such realism in grief and mourning that it was breaking my heart to feel her going through it, and I have never loved Fletcher DeLancey’s writing more. This book took me everywhere, the full spectrum where I felt heavy limbed and lost to laughing out loud, to a damn near a panic attack. The writing is beautiful and the story is so perfectly paced and balanced. What I am so wonderfully surprised and amazed at is how much I want to know more about all of the characters. I love the dynamic and deliciously complicated main characters. But so are the minor ones. I want to know more about all of them, even the ones I would cheer Micah on f he were to go a round or two with them to teach a lesson. What a fantastic second addiction to the Chronicles of Alsea series. I’m so glad I have more to read.

The Devil Walks in Blood (Nick Holleran #2) by David Green – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Stars – Nick Holleran is a smart arsed shmuck and I can’t wait to read more of his adventures.This second instalment has us go deeper into Nick’s life, his acceptance or lack thereof about hell and the realisation he’s still a shmuck who hasn’t quite got it all worked out like he thought. A darker and gritty adventure, with Nick thrown into a shit storm after shit storm. I loved that minor characters from the first book came back to play as well as some intriguing new additions. The overarching story Nick is travelling has my hairs standing to attention and my curiosity well and truly peaked. A great series. I can’t wait for the next instalment

True Nature (Shape-Shifter, #2) by Jae – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – I have never been a huge shifter fan. The idea of finding an animal attractive rankles. I read the first of this series last year and was stunned by how much I enjoyed it. The attraction between the shifter and the human never crossed that line of the animal form itself being part of the attraction. Jae is a mistress of the slow burn and this also makes a difference. So I finally got around to reading True Nature and I love it. Again there was no disturbing animal attraction, the slow burn and human emotions were powerful and real. And the story was brilliant. As frustrating as some of her characters are, I loved it because they were frustrating. They were real and dynamic, prejudiced and stubborn, flawed and trying. This is another great example of a powerful read and magnifying glass in to human relationship, and familial dynamics. The writing is easy and beautiful and I spent two night staying up well past sanity to get this read in two days because I kept wanting to know what happens and couldn’t stop thinking about the characters. What better endorsement can I give really?

Changing the Script by Lee Winter – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Another brilliant piece of art from Lee Winter. The balance of tension and amusement throughout Changing Script is as masterfully crafted as a katana.
An American film director trying to save the worst movie in the world goes up against a Patriotic New Zealand local who she nearly kills on meeting. I mean what could possibly go wrong.
Highlights:
– New Zealand realism in the use of words, familial relationships, culture, and humour
– The sexiest and most realistic flirting scene I have read in a long time
– Characters who are layered without having to have their personality traits jammed over and over at the reader
– Appearances of characters from Breaking Character
– Laugh out loud moments that made me the entertainment of fellow commuters.
This book is so great.
I did suss out the mystery about half way through but because the writing and the way things developed in the story, I still wasn’t 100% convinced I was right until I read the end, and it was well worth the read.

Metaphoria by K.B Elijah – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ When a book starts with “Should I begin with the tale of the cannibalistic peacocks, perhaps?” You know you are in for a ride … but oh man this was a whirly derby ride of hilarity and snarky dialogue and I loved every second of it. The two main characters are fun and unique, easily recognisable from their dialogue, and *french kiss* the chemistry was enjoyable and wonderfully built. Twice I was reminded that this story was mostly dialogue, but I didn’t have time to linger long as I was pulled back into the story. The theme of who is hero and who is villain is delightful, but my oh my did the fourth wall get bashed in with a wrecking ball. It was damn near Brechtian – delicious. My recommendation is to grab a drink and set aside an hour or two because this delicious pocket size read is a one sitting perfect example of escapism and enjoyment.

What a brilliant month of reads. I’m really partial not only to the sequels but to the shorter readers it seems 🙂

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Australia, Book Review, Reading Adventures

June’s Bookshelf

Midyear and though life is busier and things get crazy from here on – because they have been so calm until now *rolls eyes* – I read 10 books this month.
Reading remains my precious and sacred lifesaver.

My favourites for the month:

The Brutal Truth by Lee Winter – 5 stars. An Aussie in New York, an Ice Queen in Sydney, dying magazines, a bet, and beautiful designer clothes. A great read. I also love learning about worlds I have never and foresee myself never being intimate in, but with this book you feel like you get a real insight. My goal was to make sure I read this before it’s sidequel, The Awkward Truth comes out .. done and done. I also foresee a few more reads between then and now. Lee Winter gives us another wonderful exploration in to human nature, passion, the magazine industry, and ooh I love the theme of ‘bad’ things becoming the best things in your life. And of course, I am head over heels in love with Elena Bartell. There are Ice Queens and then there are Lee Winter’s Ice Queens.

Poppy Jenkins by Clare Ashton – 4.5 stars – Poppy Jenkins was an outstanding and in depth look into everyday lives and how scratching beneath the surface can reveal a rainbow of colours you previously couldn’t fathom. Did I get frustrated while reading this book? yep in all those parts where I was supposed to, I might also have wanted to shake Poppy a few times, but I loved how Clare Ashton showed all sides of the coins for the characters. I adore Rosaline, and I truly love Emma. I also used this book for my first ever Reading Vlog and it was such a fantastic book to do this with. Check out the Vlog here

Spiffing by Tim Mendees – 4 Stars – Spiffing was a fantastic read. While it builds slowly, engulfing you in the every day debauchery of the ensemble cast it soon speeds up and the horror is palatable through the use of humour and curiosity as you want to know what will happen next. I found myself a little confused at the beginning with the multitude of characters but this confusion cleared up as I continued to read. The description, particularly of the more horrific and terrifying moments of Spiffing, is fantastic and tangible. Mendees does himself proud with a fabulous horror short read, highly recommended for a dark and stormy night, just make sure you keep the lights on.

The Miracle Girl by T.B Markinson – 4 Stars. A brilliant start with a miracle girl going back to her home town twenty years after a heartbreaking leave. I got a little lost wondering where it was all go for maybe a chapter or two, and then the book became addictive, with a desire to throttle a few characters. I really like JJ as a character. I am really looking forward to reading the 2nd book in this series.

Sentinel by Drew Starling – 4 stars – A young family move to Bensalem, a small town with the beauty of nature surrounding them, what could possibly go wrong. Sentinel is a slow build up as we learn about the townspeople of this small sleepy town, which is not nearly as sleepy as first impressions give. Once the story speeds up, it drags you along, heart kicking and screaming. An ensemble cast, there were definitely some characters I felt a deeper connection to then others, but I cannot wait to see what they have in store for them in the next installment.

The Enchanted Woods by Enid Blyton – This book will ALWAYS be a 5 for me, for no other reason but for nostalgic purposes. I have such a love for the Magic Faraway Tree series. They were so important and influential to me when I was growing up. Now, listening to it read aloud by Kate Winslet, it’s so adorable and wonderful. She does a marvelous job, though I do cringe every time I hear Frannie – if you understand this, welcome to my age group ;-P

The Thing about Tilly by G Benson – 5 stars – Oh I just adore so much about this book. From the pace that made Tilly’s wanderlust thud inside my own chest, to the diversity and wonderful realness of the characters, to the truly beautiful way Benson describes everything that happens in and around the characters and the story.

Dani by Angelique Jordonna – 3 stars – A great premise, good story, promising writing.
What I liked:
A disturbing story with interesting characters. It reminded me of a lesbian cross between Silence of the Lambs and Dexter, with the authors unique flare shining through.
What missed the mark for me:
The 1st Person present POV was a little difficult to get into and slipped into immediate past a few times. I would have liked to see some more of the scenes as they played out, instead of being told about them after the fact.
Overall a good read. Jordonna definitely has promise and I’m looking forward to seeing more from her.

Irregular heartbeat by Chris Zett – 4.5 Stars – I adored this book. There is nothing quite like the melting of an Ice Queen to make me smile. I really enjoyed the depths and dynamics of the two main characters. Some heartbreaking moments mixed up with some laugh out loud parts. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a bit at the intense coincidences of characters meeting. The writing was delicious and I’m always a fan of pop culture references in contemporary fiction. I really enjoyed this book and will definitely look at reading more of Chris Zett’s work.

The Creeping Void by Tim Mendees – 5 Stars – A short read with everything you could ever want from a post apocalyptic short read. Characters that are brilliantly flawed and trying to find a way to survive. Mendees influences and supplication to the elder gods. Brilliantly timed humour that helps to balance the heart pumping horror and deliciously decrepit descriptions. I can’t give this anything less than a five. Brilliant work.

Hope you all have had a successful first half of the year … I’m on my way to 100 books, and the dragon and unicorn badges for Jae’s Sapphic Reading Challenge.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen