Hold Me

holdme-smallTitle: Hold Me
Author: Courtney Milan
Genre: romance, contemporary, new adult
Rating: ★★★★★ | 4.5

It seems like every review that I write about Courtney Milan has only good things to say. What can I say? Milan writes diverse characters and she writes them very well. She confronts issues like race, feminism, and sexuality in a way that not a lot of romance authors do. Hold Me is a contemporary romance that features a trans Latinx heroine and a bi Thai hero. It’s an enemies to lovers storyline and a friends to lovers storyline as well. Both of which are some of my favourite tropes in romance so I already knew I was really going to like this book.

The storyline is very balanced and the relationship between Maria and Jay never feels rushed or forced. In fact, there are times when they go weeks and months without talking to one another and considering what has taken place in the story just before it makes perfect sense. I’m glad Milan doesn’t feel the need to rush their interactions, it helps the story to feel more natural. It’s a credit to Milan, especially since some enemies to lovers stories can feel very rushed.

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Cinder & Ella

22724488Title: Cinder & Ella
Author: Kelly Oram
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, YA
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ || 1 star

warnings for: in-universe ableism, death, suicide ideations/attempts

Can someone tell me why this has such a high rating on Goodreads? I truly would like to know, because this book was fucking awful. Like I’m sorry, did we travel back in time to 2003? Because that was the last year this book would have been acceptable to me, and even there would have been a question mark punctuating my enjoyment. And several exclamation points following. (FTR, I would have been seven or eight, and I still might have looked down my nose at this book.) It’s just sexist hogwash, is what it is.

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Quick Take

Real quick, scrolling down my Kindle Cloud:

 

The Girl Who Played Go (4/5)

warning for sexual violence/threats of rape, murder, wartime atrocities

One of my favourite wartime novels, a must read for me, if only out of nostalgia. I had some minor issues with this novel, particularly about the ending, for one, which struck me as overly grimdark; sexual violence was indeed a large component of the Japanese invasion of China, and that shouldn’t be ignored, but I’m honestly not sure what purpose the ending was supposed to have. In particular this idea that death is preferable to rape, which is a common trope in this genre of literature, makes me worried about what this may say to survivors of rape. Overall, the lyrical writing, the plot structure (set up like a game of go, each piece moving slowly towards one another until they are ultimately so entangled it is impossible to separate them), and the dreamlike anonymity of the characters saves this from being just another exploitative war novel about the Second Sino-Japanese War.

There are also some concerns I hold about consent, and the power dynamics at play in the idea of falling in love with one’s coloniser (particularly one that is currently engaged in a violent invasion of your home), but the relationship between the main characters never progresses far enough for that to be an issue that is really deeply investigated.

Spiritwalker Trilogy (5/5)

At some point, this one is up for a reread. Kate Elliot’s wonderful worldbuilding, her accessible writing, and her complex characters (& the complex relationships they are allowed to have) make this far more than another high-concept alt-universe fantasy novel set in historically-inaccurate whitebread Europe. The novel is convincingly diverse and the (quite frankly) wonderful romance and the sense of the scope of swashbuckling adventure made this a truly unforgettable read.

Though the pace was much slower than what I’m used to (I read mostly YA), it never lost my interest, and Elliot does a beautiful job making the extraordinary seem ordinary, which may not seem like so desirable a quality at first, but the world feels more inhabited because of it.

Girl Overboard (2/5)

I mean, it says something both about me and the book that when I was scrolling through my Kindle Cloud I sort of groaned, because I always mean to review this novel but never get around to it a) because I’ve forgotten most of the finer details of the plot b) because my overall impression of the book isn’t that great and c) the combination of those two and the lackluster writing really makes me reluctant to write anything in-depth about it. So, like, draw your own conclusions about if I recommend this novel?

Okay, no, that’s unfair. The book was passable. It was mediocre. It’s a fun read on a snowy day; it doesn’t do anything particularly new, the characters aren’t likeable or unlikeable, and it hits the expected beats, but if you’re looking for something to get over a book slump or just for the sake of having something fun to read, this is the book. One of the things that I liked most about this novel was the presence of an interracial couple where neither of them were white (RIP Scott x Kira), but aside from that, it wasn’t anything super fresh that I think every single person on the planet should read (for that, I recommend: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho).

Half Resurrection Blues

half-resurrection-bluesTitle: Half Resurrection Blues
Author: Daniel José Older
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: ★★★☆☆ || 3.0

This is the first novel of the Bone Street Rumba series and you guys, I’m in love. It has everything I like. Urban fantasy? Yes. The main character as an agent of death? I’ve been working with a similar concept. Half resurrection as a conceit for diaspora??? I am here 👏 for 👏 that 👏!

Half-Resurrection Blues follows Carlos (may or may not be his real name), a disabled Puerto Rican (may or may not be his real ethnicity) resident of the boonies (just kidding, it’s only Brooklyn). He is also dead. Well, only half-dead, but also half-alive. He works for the New York Council of Death, hunting down renegade ghosts and sundry other supernatural creatures. And he’s good at it, too, until New Year’s Eve, when he is commissioned to kill someone he’s never seen the like of before––he is commissioned to kill someone like him. And this opens up a series of events that may add up to be a cataclysm.

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