Wednesday 11 October 2023

books i've loved and loathed│SMALL THOUGHTS #1

Hello, my fellow book enjoyers! It’s been a while since I’ve updated the ol’ blog – life has been a bit hectic. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading! In fact, I’m having one of my strongest reading years in a loooong time. It’s just that I haven’t been able to sit down and properly type up my thoughts. Whilst I will, of course, get back to full reviews very soon, I thought I’d do my own take on the classic Mini Review, just so I can share some of my opinions on books that might get lost in my ‘to-review pile’. Especially because I tend to focus on YA/NA books here, this is perfect opportunity to have a little chat about the other books I enjoy as well. So, here’s a little run down of some of the books I’ve been reading lately! 

Fence: Redemption 

Return to the thrilling world of high-stakes, competitive fencing with a brand new story featuring the beloved cast of characters from the original hit series. 

Are Seiji and Jesse really through? The rumors around Halverton, the prestigious fencing training camp, have spread like wildfire, but it’s not long before a mystery fencer arrives–one who may finally pose a threat to the #1 spot. 

Will Seiji’s unquenchable quest for rivalry be what finally makes him leave Nicholas behind?
For those of you who don’t already know, Fence is my absolute favourite comic series. These characters own my whole heart, and I’ve been anxiously waiting to see what happens next. The Redemption arc contains four short comics that were published across four months, and they have NOT disappointed after the wait. I feel like we’re finally reaching some of the plot points we’ve been waiting for all these years and I’m so excited. 

Royal Rating:

Darkhearts by James L. Sutter

When David quit his band, he missed his shot at fame. For the past two years, he’s been trapped in an ordinary Seattle high school life, working summers for his dad’s construction business while his former best friends Chance and Eli became the hottest teen pop act in America. 

Then Eli dies. Suddenly David and Chance are thrown back into contact, forcing David to rediscover all the little things that once made the two of them so close, even as he continues to despise the singer’s posturing and attention-hogging. As old wounds break open, an unexpected kiss leads the boys to trade frenemy status for a confusing, tentative romance—one Chance is desperate to keep out of the spotlight. Though hurt by Chance’s refusal to acknowledge him publicly, David decides their new relationship presents a perfect opportunity for him to rejoin the band and claim the celebrity he's been denied. But Chance is all too familiar with people trying to use him. 

As the mixture of business and pleasure becomes a powder keg, David will have to choose: Is this his second chance at glory? Or his second chance at Chance?
Ah, boyband novels. One of my favourite genres. I am a sucker for a story that revolves around bands, especially when there is a romance within said band. It just makes for a juicy plot. And Darkhearts sounded like it was going to be everything I’d want in a book. A band torn apart. Friends turned enemies, slowly becoming lovers. It should have been great. I wanted to love it - I really did! But it just didn’t deliver what I was hoping for, and there were actually parts of it that made me mad, if I’m honest. 

The main character was just irredeemably selfish and misunderstanding. I preferred Chance, so maybe it would have been more enjoyable if it was split POV. The building of the romance between them was nearly interesting enough to warrant three stars because there were moments that had me hooked. I just wanted David to open his eyes and realise he was just as much at fault for the mistakes that had been made in their past. Even when he did have a slight realisation of that fact, he still reacted terribly. He was just too much of an unlikeable protagonist for me. 

Royal Rating:

Arthur and Teddy are Coming Out by Ryan Love

When 79-year-old Arthur Edwards gathers his family together to share some important news, no one is prepared for the bombshell he drops: he's gay, and after a lifetime in the closet, he's finally ready to come out. 

Arthur's 21-year-old grandson, Teddy, has a secret of his own: he's also gay, and developing serious feelings for his colleague Ben. But Teddy doesn't feel ready to come out yet – especially when Arthur’s announcement causes shockwaves in the family. 

Arthur and Teddy have always been close, and now they must navigate first loves, heartbreak, and finding their place in their community. But can they – and their family – learn to accept who they truly are?
Oh, this one was adorable. Told in split POV between Arthur and his grandson, we see the two of them come out as gay to the people around them. It was interesting to have the story told by completely different generations, showing us the changes in the queer community and how far we still have to go. I actually enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. Arthur’s story is so important, proving that it’s never too late to live your life they way you deserve to. Everyone should be loved and accepted whilst living openly. If you need a pick-me-up book, then definitely give this one a try. 

Royal Rating:

Spell Bound by F.T. Lukens

Edison Rooker isn’t sure what to expect when he enters the office of Antonia Hex, the powerful sorceress who runs a call center for magical emergencies. He doesn’t have much experience with hexes or curses. Heck, he doesn’t even have magic. But he does have a plan—to regain the access to the magical world he lost when his grandmother passed. 

Antonia is…intimidating, but she gives him a job and a new name—Rook—both of which he’s happy to accept. Now all Rook has to do is keep his Spell Binder, an illegal magical detection device, hidden from the Magical Consortium. And contend with Sun, the grumpy and annoyingly cute apprentice to Antonia’s rival colleague, Fable. But dealing with competition isn’t so bad; as Sun seems to pop up more and more, and Rook minds less and less. 

But when the Consortium gets wind of Rook’s Spell Binder, they come for Antonia. All alone, Rook runs to the only other magical person he knows: Sun. Except Fable has also been attacked, and now Rook and Sun have no choice but to work together to get their mentors back…or face losing their magic forever.
It’s safe to say F. T. Lukens is an auto-buy author for me at this point, and Spell Bound might be my favourite of their books so far. We don’t have nearly enough light-hearted, standalone YA fantasy stories. The characters in this are absolutely adorable, and it had just the right amount of romance between them. The world building was easy to understand, whilst still packing in plenty of interesting info. I’d say that this book is perfect even for people who don’t read a lot of fantasy because the chatty writing style and character driven moments give it a slight contemporary feel. I’m still missing these characters after finishing the book months ago. Especially Sun – they’re an absolute delight!

Royal Rating:

So there we have it - that's just a small selection of the books I've been reading lately! I'll be back to full reviews soon but I'll definitely keep doing some mini reviews so I don't pressure myself to write a full review for absolutely everything I read. But if you'd like to keep tabs on all my bookish thoughts, then feel free to head over to my Twitter, where I unashamedly scream about books. 

Until next time, my bookish friends!

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