Book Review – The Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Adèle has only one goal: catch the purple-haired thief who broke into her home and stole her exocore, thus proving herself to her new police team. Little does she know, her thief is also the local baker. 

Claire owns the Croissant-toi, but while her days are filled with pastries and customers, her nights are dedicated to stealing exocores. These new red gems are heralded as the energy of the future, but she knows the truth: they are made of witches’ souls. 

When her twin—a powerful witch and prime exocore material—disappears, Claire redoubles in her efforts to investigate. She keeps running into Adèle, however, and whether or not she can save her sister might depend on their conflicted, unstable, but deepening relationship. 

Review:

So because I can never stick to my “to read” plans, I deviated from the list I made at the start of the month and chose this book as it meant I was still sticking with my “Queer books for Pride” theme. I picked this up a while ago because I will almost auto-buy any SFF with Asexual characters (Adèle is Biromantic Demisexual) and was super excited to read it. Also, the cover is just absolutely beautiful – I probably would have bought it for that alone if I didn’t know about the awesome representation in the book.

The main character of the book is Claire, also known as Claude, is a genderfluid aromantic baker. Adèle is a police officer who has just moved to the city after having to leave her last team for investigating things people wanted to stay secret. The book starts with Claire breaking into Adèle’s new home to steal her exocore and from there the plot focuses on Claire’s attempts at discovering who is behind the exocores while Adèle focuses on hunting down the mysterious thief.

The best part of this book is definitely the characters, both Adèle and Claire are very well written and you could put them in any situation and I’d enjoy reading about it – the fact that they tend to end up in pretty interesting ones is just a bonus. The side characters are also all very well written and I loved them all (at least, the good ones).

This is set in a very obviously French setting, and the characters themselves speak French (written in English for us readers, but there’s little snippets of French in there such as the cute phrase Adèle and Claire say to each other). The author is from Québec and as I’ve never been, I’m unsure how much is based on there but I personally got a very strong Parisian vibe from it, especially the bridge which reminded me a lot of the many beautiful bridges across the Seine.

I was originally going to describe this as a perfect short read, but turns out it’s actually 400 pages! I was reading it on my Kindle and was so engrossed I didn’t notice the length of it.

This is a book I would highly recommend, especially if you’re looking to read more Queer books for Pride month. Be warned though, it will give you huge cravings for delicious French pastries!

Book Review – Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying.

Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As.

You probably think that they are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and she is a girl.

They don’t. They make a podcast.

In a world determined to shut them up, knock them down, and set them on a cookie cutter life path, Frances and Aled struggle to find their voices over the course of one life-changing year. Will they have the courage to show everyone who they really are? Or will they be met with radio silence? 

Review:

I picked this up from a list of books with Aro/Ace characters as it happened to be one of the few on the list that I could get from the library. I knew nothing about it until I collected it and despite not usually being a fan of YA Contemporary, I was immediately intrigued by the fact that it’s made clear straight away that Francis and Aled are not going to fall in love.

Now, I would disagree with that. They’re definitely in love with each other but a platonic friendship love rather than romantic. Indeed their growing friendship was the highlight for me as it was so nice to see such a nice, comfy friendship grow as I loved both of them and was just so happy seeing them happy. At it’s core, this is a book about friendship and growth and dealing with that awkward “What am I going to do now?” phase at the end of High School.

Reading this, with all the references to things like social media, reminded me so much of when I was a teenager on Tumblr and made me think of how much I would have loved friends like Francis and Aled at that age. I found them both very relatable, particularly Francis with her self-doubt and fear of not being good enough. I loved the idea of the Podcast and really enjoyed the snippets of it we saw throughout the novel.

The characters in this are also all very diverse – not only are the majority of the main and side characters Queer, but several of them are also varying ethnicities (Francis is half Ethiopian, Raine is Indian and Daniel is South Korean). It’s always great to see more intersectionality in representations of Queer characters.

If you are looking for a great book to read for Pride month then I highly recommend this. It’s an absolutely fantastic book and I just want to hug every single character in it.

My Pride Reading List

My Pride Reading List

Happy Pride everybody!

Now, I don’t often make reading list posts because I inevitably get distracted by something else and then I don’t get around to reading them and feel bad. However, I realised that even if I don’t necessarily read them all, chances are that others that read this might find some new books that interest them – especially as these ones are all Queer ones.

I’ve tried to keep this short, at just 5 books, in the hope it might make it easier to finish (especially as I also have a pile of library books waiting to be read and returned that will definitely distract me).

Anyway, in no particular order, the books I hope to read are:


 

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I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

I read Radio Silence by her last month which I absolutely adored and since my library also have this book of hers, I had to grab it. This is definitely one book I’m guaranteed to read this month as I need to get it back to the library! It’s YA contemporary and the main characters are a Muslim girl and a Trans boy so for those looking to diversify their reading, this looks like an excellent choice.


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Watchtower by Elizabeth A. Lynn (Book 1 of the Chronicles of Tornor)

I just recently learnt about the fact that this author was one of the first to include Queer characters in her books. I’ve chosen this one for now (as I love fantasy trilogies) however I may end up changing my mind as she also has a SF book and a short story collection that look interesting.


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Werecockroach by Polenth Blake

I’m not going to lie, I chose this entirely based on the name. However, I did also choose it because the main character is Asexual (also Agender and Aromantic) as books with Asexual main characters automatically jump to the top of my TBR list. It’s also a short novella which is only 99p on Amazon so at that price, I couldn’t resist! This will probably be my first read as it’ll be nice to get one out of the way early.


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The King’s Peace by Jo Walton

I’m a huge fan of Jo Walton, having read many of her other books, however my library didn’t have this series when I went on my “Read everything she’s ever written” binge so I totally overlooked it until recently when I discovered the main character is Asexual.


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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

This has been a very popular book and I’ve seen lots of people talking about it on Twitter and well, it has a dragon on the cover so of course my dragon-loving self is going to want to read it. I’m super lucky though as my library request finally came in and as it’s so in demand, I’m not able to renew it which means I only have until the 8th of June to read it. I didn’t actually know it had Queer characters in it until I was creating this list and I’ve not looked further to find out their orientations as it’s already a “must-read” due to the library deadline.


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Moonshire by Jasmine Gower

I lied, this is book number 6. I’ve included this one as it’s one I got last year as an ARC that I never got around to reading. It was on a list of Ace/Aro books (one of the characters is Aromantic) and I realised that it’s one of my pile of shame (overdue ARCs) so if I have the time, I definitely want to try squeeze this in.


 

So here we have the 6 books (10 if you count the other books in the two trilogies I’ve listed) I plan to read this month. Have you read any of these? Any others you would recommend? Let me know!

Book Review – Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Alice had her whole summer planned. Nonstop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting—working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating—no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library-employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Review:

This has been on my to-read list for a while and after seeing a post on twitter about #AroAceApril I got it out from the library as knew that would motivate me to read it. I’m not normally a YA Romance person but I absolutely adored the last Romance I read featuring an asexual character so thought I’d give this a go.

As expected, the majority of the story follows the romance between Alice and Takumi and dealing with her struggles of identity and figuring out her future. The romance parts were very sweet but I feel like I would have enjoyed it to be a bit slower with more build up. Takumi is adorable but at the same time, doesn’t seem to have that much depth – you don’t really learn that much about him as a person beyond a few interesting traits.

What I really loved about this though was that it was fantastic for representation – I loved that Alice was a Biromantic Asexual and, as you can tell from the cover, she’s also Black and Takumi (as you can guess from the name) is Japanese so both leads in this as POC which is rather rare.

The thing that spoilt this book for me was Feenie, Alice’s best friend, who just comes across as a horrible person and I don’t understand why Alice stays friends with her once she gets more confidence. She and Alice have a big falling out which is entirely due to Feenie’s selfishness and well, I could rant about her for ages but that would give away spoilers. Suffice to say, I do not like Feenie and I don’t feel she added much value to the story as a character.

If you enjoy YA Romance novels then I highly recommend this as it’s very sweet and it’s also nicer to see the focus on older characters who are at University instead of High School but I feel that if that’s not a genre you like, you probably won’t enjoy it.

Book Review – Empire of Light by Alex Harrow

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Damian Nettoyer is the Empire’s go-to gun. He kills whoever they want him to kill. In exchange, he and his rag-tag gang of crooks get to live, and Damian’s psychokinetic partner and lover, Aris, isn’t issued a one-way ticket to an Empire-sanctioned lobotomy.

Then Damian’s latest mark, a suave revolutionary named Raeyn, kicks his ass and demands his help. The first item on the new agenda: take out Damian’s old boss—or Raeyn will take out Damian’s crew.

To protect his friends and save his own skin, Damian teams up with Raeyn to make his revolution work. As the revolution gains traction, Damian gets way too close to Raeyn, torn between the need to shoot him one moment and kiss him the next. But Aris slips further away from Damian, and as Aris’ control over his powers crumbles, the Watch catches on.

With the Empire, Damian had two policies: shoot first and don’t ask questions. But to save the guy he loves, he’ll set the world on fire. 

Review:

So a while back on Twitter there was #ReviewPit where authors and reviewers could connect and I jumped at the chance to read this because it is absolutely full of Queer characters, also there’s a cat. Unfortunately I was just not a big fan of the book itself which meant I put off writing the review as it’s always difficult when you didn’t enjoy it. Now, I didn’t enjoy it due to my own personal preferences which does make this much easier as it is still a good book, just not one that I’d particularly enjoy.

Let’s start off with the writing. The writing is the reason I kept reading and finished this book because it’s just delightful. Some of the descriptions used are brilliant and I love the authors use of language. Sure, I may not have cared much about what I was reading, but I still enjoyed reading it.

For the plot itself, I won’t say too much as the synopsis covers it pretty well, however it is very fast paced. At times I wished it would slow down a bit – particularly the scenes with the side characters as I’d really have liked more screen time for them as I didn’t feel I really got to know any of them that well. I did enjoy the plot and certainly didn’t expect everything that happened so it’s always nice to be surprised.

One of the reasons I didn’t enjoy this book that much is that honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of Damian or Aris. I liked Raeyn which did help a bit but it’s hard to enjoy a book when you don’t like the main character. There was also a lot of explicit scenes with Damian which although they were very well written (and there are trigger warnings at the start too), I did not enjoy. Of course, I imagine most people have no issue with sex scenes and indeed some people would probably love it for those scenes so if that’s what you’re looking for then this is definitely an excellent choice. There’s also a love triangle in the book and no matter how well written, I just do not enjoy love triangles.

The setting was very interesting but sadly we don’t get to see nearly as much of the worldbuilding as I’d like – which is another reason why I personally didn’t enjoy the book as much as that’s my favourite part of SFF books. The glimpses we got were super interesting though, and I was very interested in learning more about the Voyance and how it worked.

Overall though, despite not appealing to my personal tastes this was a very good book and I would highly recommend it to anybody looking for some steamy Queer Sci-Fi.

Book Review – In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the award-winning author of the Dominion of the Fallen series comes a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land…

A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village’s debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.

A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.

When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn’s amusement.

But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets…

Review:

So, after my long hiatus I’m back to blogging! This is the first book I read in 2019 and I figured what better day to break my hiatus and blog about it than on the start of the Lunar New Year.

This is a beautiful f/f/ retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a Vietnamese inspired setting that is enchanting. The Vanisher’s Palace is an incredible setting and very bizarre but interesting to read about.

I loved all the characters, although as it’s a novella I felt we didn’t get enough time with them all. Their character growth was a bit rushed and I would have liked more time with them, although that’s a testament of how much I enjoyed it as a good book always leaves you wanting more.

I’m a huge fan of Aliette de Bodard’s work and would definitely recommend this as a nice taste of her work. Really though, I’d recommend everything I’ve read by her so far with my favourite definitely being the Xuya Universe.

Book Review – The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When the Dragon Ships began to tear through the trade lanes and ravage coastal towns, the hopes of the archipelago turned to the Windspeakers on Tash. The solemn weather-shapers with their eyes of stone can steal the breeze from raiders’ sails and save the islands from their wrath. But the Windspeakers’ magic has been stolen, and only their young apprentice Shina can bring their power back and save her people.

Tazir has seen more than her share of storms and pirates in her many years as captain, and she’s not much interested in getting involved in the affairs of Windspeakers and Dragon Ships. Shina’s caught her eye, but that might not be enough to convince the grizzled sailor to risk her ship, her crew, and her neck.

Review:

This was a book that was recommended to me by a friend and as soon as I saw the cover, I couldn’t not buy it! It’s just such a stunning cover and it’s so rare to have a Fantasy cover that features a black woman. I’m also a huge fan of books involving weather magic and so I dove in as soon as I got it.

My biggest issue with this book is that as it’s just a novella, it ended far too soon. We got such tantalising glimpses of fantastic worldbuilding and characters that I didn’t want it to end. The magic system is one I really enjoyed reading about and I found the fact that the apprentices have to lose their eyes and have them replaced by stones was incredibly memorable and gave me such a vivid glimpse of their society.

The characters were fantastic and I particularly enjoyed the fact that the majority were female, along with the fact that several of the characters are queer and are not white. If you’re looking for more diverse reads, this novella is ideal!

I adored this book and strongly recommend it, if you’re doing the Fantasy Bingo then it’s also ideal as it can be used for the seafaring square.