Well, I hope you’re all ready for a bit of a bumpy ride on this one. Today, I’ve got a very long overdue review, some monster romance, some wholesome middle-grade and then a bit of a long rant for you all. Hold onto your hats friends, and let’s get to it.
Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1) by Seanan McGuire
*I read Rosemary and Rue back in February and kept the review to be a part of a different post. But it’s been months and that post just isn’t happening, so I’ve decided to just share it here now instead because I’m sick of staring at it. Enjoy!
I know Seanan McGuire has a bit of a cult following online—people love her Wayward Children series, but this was my first read of hers and I’ve got to say, I’m not that impressed. Out of all the books on this list, this was one of the ones I had high hopes for but instead I just ended up feeling bored. I read the whole book waiting for something to happen that would grab my attention—there were moments here and there but they were short-lived and I was back to being bored. I didn’t dislike anything, the characters and the world were all fine but that was it—none of it really drew my interest and I was reading just to finish the book rather than because I was interested in what happened next. And I’m sorry but October Daye has got to be one of the worst names in literature—that’s literally the only thing I feel strongly about in this book. As for the fae element, honestly, all I could think about was the show Lost Girl and how I’d much rather had been watching that.
Monster’s Plaything (Monster & Me #1) by C.R Jane and Mila Young
This was one of the books I bought recently at Books In-Sight—if you missed it, you can see the post I did about it here. This was easily one of the ones I was most excited to read, because as I’ve mentioned many times already, I’m loving monster romances at the moment. I think this is my favourite of Mila Young’s books of the four I’ve read so far, though I’ve not read anything from C.R Jane before. This was just a lot of fun and a really quick read. I usually prefer my monster romances to be a little more on the adorable side and this is definitely on the darker side, but I still really enjoyed it. It’s pretty intense the whole way through and never lets up, but the fast pace and the spiciness keeps it fun and interesting. I’ll definitely be getting to book two once it’s out later this month!
The Strangeworlds Travel Agency (Strangeworlds Travel Agency #1) by L.D Lapinski
I started this book way back in June, but ended up putting it aside because of a readathon in July and finally picked it up and finished it now. I had a fun time reading this—it’s a really interesting idea and I loved all the different worlds we get to see in this one. I liked the characters too, and I especially felt for Flick who has a bit of a rough time at different points in the book. But I don’t know, there was something that was missing for me. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was, but it was just missing that thing that would’ve really made me fall in love with this book. That being said, I did still enjoy it and I’d be interested in maybe reading the next books in this series if I can get them from my library or as eBooks or something like that.
Touched By Fire (Magic Wars: Demons of New Chicago #1) by Kel Carpenter
I’m definitely in the middle of an urban fantasy romance kick at the moment, but I think this is my favourite. I’ve read a few of Kel Carpenter’s books before and enjoyed them, but this one really blew me away. The world is really interesting and I’m excited to see how that develops over the series. I really loved the characters as well—Piper is so fun to read because of the mystery surrounding her and her past. I love that we slowly learn about her as the people around her do. My favourite thing about this entire book? The friendship between Piper and Nathalie. I honestly wasn’t expecting this book to have such a great budding friendship at its centre, but I loved every second of it. It’s pretty light on the romance in this one (as seems to be usual in Carpenter’s books) but I wasn’t even mad about it since it meant we got more of the two of them. This is definitely a new favourite and I’ll be continuing the series right after I finish the next two books on my list.
The Chosen and The Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Okay, rant incoming because I just have a lot of thoughts about this book. I don’t even know where to begin other than to say that I was excited to get into this. I love The Great Gatsby, so a queer retelling following Jordan Baker by an author I’d joined before sounded fantastic. I was not expecting it to be anything like this though. Starting off with the positive, I have to give props to Nghi Vo and her narrative skills—this really sounds like Fitzgerald. Some of the paragraphs feel as if they could’ve been directly lifted from his work, and so this felt very true to the original. Therein lies one of the issues I had with this, it’s still the exact same story as Fitzgerald’s but with some magic, more gayness and some mostly unrelated background information about Jordan. I’d really been hoping to find a story that developed Jordan as a character—I don’t know why but she always sort of fascinated me, and I was excited to see where Vo would take her. I was disappointed with what we got. Vo’s reminaging of Jordan as queer and Vietnamese was very well-done, but her only personality trait was being awful. In fact, if you thought everyone in the original was awful, they were significantly worse in this one. In the original, I felt some sympathy for both Gatsby and Nick, but I didn’t feel a smidge towards a single character. I was expecting to feel something for Jordan by the end, but honestly, I was just happy to not have to deal with her anymore. My other big issue with it was the magic element. I don’t know if it was just me, but I could not follow the magic parts at all. I really felt like it wasn’t explained how it worked at all, so I spent most of the book wondering to myself ‘is that a magic reference or is that just lyrical writing?’ I know this is meant to be more magical realism, which is always a bit strange and unexplainable, but it just kept dragging me out of the story. Like I said, it was beautifully written but I’m just still confused as to what the point of this book was. It didn’t add anything to the original story and I felt like it would have been stronger as it’s own original story, make it Gatsby inspire rather than a Gatsby retelling and I think it could’ve been fantastic. Finally, I do have to give Vo props for the utter feeling of despair and the overwhelming sense of feeling lost that the end of the book left me with, just the original. Thanks Nghi, appreciate it. (But really, how did you do that?)
And there it is for today! Have you read any of these? Are any on your TBR?