Review: Dread by Lila Mina

 Series: Temper (book 2)
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Erotica
Diversity: Japanese characters, mentally ill characters (PTSD), LGBTQIA+ (f/f, f/f/m, polyam characters)
Trigger Warnings: mentions of miscarriages, mentions on sexual harassment, mentions of physical assault
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Cover: I love it even more than the first one?!
Links: Goodreads

Description: An unexpected discovery leads Lana, Honda and Yuki to rethink their relationship. Meanwhile, shapeless and mortal danger looms on the horizon, forcing Honda to finally confess to Lana why he chose her.

To her horror, their boundless thirst has cursed roots, and they have no choice: only together will they stand a chance to defeat the heinous monsters stalking them and put an end to the spiraling madness engulfing them.

Desperate to protect her most precious treasure against timeless forces bent on destroying them, Lana takes a radical decision in relation to Yuki and attempts to let go of her traumatic past.

As a terrible storm gathers above their heads, the time for secret is over. The trio must come out clean with the powerful heads of their families if they want a chance at a real future together.

Review: It lives up to my hype.

If you have read my review of Deference you know how much I loved the first book. And even though I didn’t want to I was so very, very hyped for the second one. I worried a little about being disappointed though because how should it top the first one?

I worried for nothing. Lila Mina manages to not just capture me the way she did with the first book I fear she will never let me go again. And that’s not just because I love and adore and respect and maybe fear Yuki so much.

There was one thing I criticized in my review of Deference and while I still think that drama could have happened in a different way, I get why that had to happen. ominous much? You’ll know what I mean when you read Dread.

On to the things I love and want you to know about:

  • GOOD BPD REP! Sorry for screaming but that little scene hit me so hard in the best of ways
  • I might have blushed
  • so many great strong female characters
  • keeping of own personality and opinions
  • the whole story, but especially the paranormal/mythological aspects and
  • HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS! plus handling conflicts in a healthy way. No drawn out drama here because people don’t open their fucking mouths

I have to elaborate on that last point here. Especially with BDSM fiction it is easy to glide into the the-dom-controls-everything-and-is-never-questioned-because-he-is-the-dom slide. But it’s not romantic or healthy to have him control every little thing especially without consenting to those things first.

Seriously if Dread wasn’t what it is I would love to have minors read it to gain some new perspectives on how conflicts in relationships should be handled. Sadly and at the same time luckily (because I quite enjoy a well-written erotica) it is what it is and so I’ll only recommend it to sex-positive and sex-neutral people of age.

Last Words: Reading Deliverance will kill me in the best of ways – I am sure of that.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy through the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

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Review: Know Yourself by Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst

 Series: Standalone
Genre: nonfiction
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Cover: Fitting.
Links: Goodreads
Description: Incisive questions can inspire self-reflection, spark ideas, and, best of all, reveal surprising truths. From Flow, the champions of meditating on life’s simple pleasures, here’s a book of 165 creative questions, some sweet, some silly, some unexpectedly provocative, that will open the mind to deeper self-knowledge. There are no “right” answers—the point is simply to stay curious and stay open to learning about oneself or a friend, partner, or roommate.

There are questions to prompt memories: How many homes have you lived in? To fuel a fantasy life: Which historical event do you wish you could have seen with your own eyes? To tap into your sense of adventure: What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done? To remind you to live in the present: What were the three best things that happened today? To celebrate your strength: When have you stood up for yourself?

A signature Flow book in its mindful theme and charming, colorful aesthetic with vibrant patterns and hand-lettering, Know Yourself is a pleasure to browse through and share.

Review: I’m so happy journaling is become more popular because it can really help you sort out yourself – regardless of if you’ve got mental health problems or not. And sometimes it’s a nice way of looking back at good memories too.But sometimes there is no inspiration and you’re sitting there, staring at the blank page… and nothing happens. Of course you can start writing how you don’t know what to journal about and sometimes there’s something opening up inside you through this. But do I want to start my entries every so often this way? I do not.

Also there are themes one should journal about but shys away from because they are painful or you don’t want to know what conclusion you will come to so you just don’t start working on them at all.

And then some issues you just don’t think off at all.

And this is where Know Yourself comes into play. Usually I’d be like “yeah well… there are lots of good prompts online that you get for free.” But in this case… you not only get interesting prompts but the pages are so beautifully designed… they could be used for wall decoration or in your planner – if you use one. Also it’s less work gathering prompts if we’re honest.

Last Words: I may be tempted to get the print copy as well…
Disclaimer: I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Review: Off the Ice by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn

 Series: Hat Trick (book 1)
Genre: contemporary, romance
Diversity: LGBTQIA+ (m/m), POC (Puerto Rican character, Japanese minor character)
Trigger Warnings: none
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Cover: You get way more than this cover promises you
Links: Goodreads
Description: Tristan Holt is nothing if not pragmatic. Despite a flourishing career as a defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan knows he can’t play hockey forever. One day he’ll retire—if an injury doesn’t force him to hang up his skates first. His backup plan? Finishing his business degree. But he doesn’t count on a very inappropriate attraction to his standoffish sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.

Sebastian is on the bottom rung of the Sociology Department at Georgia State. He has his sights set on tenure, and he can’t afford to be distracted, especially not by a sexy student with a body straight out of Sebastian’s dreams. No matter how much Tristan tempts him, that’s one line Sebastian won’t cross. At least not until summer classes end. After that, everything is fair game.

But Sebastian lives loud and proud, and Tristan is terrified of being the first out player in the NHL. Neither of them can afford to risk their hearts when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules.

Review: Finally I was able to read Off the Ice!
It was recommended to me last year but when I wanted to buy it, it was already taken down. But waiting for it to be republished was totally worth the wait.
Just a few pages in I was like “okay, I’m really liking this?!” and I had to try to make myself read not as fast so that my enjoyment could last longer. Spoiler: I did not manage to not inhale Off the Ice.
Both Tristan and Sebastian are very complex characters and their dynamic just sucks you into the story. They develop a lot through the book, both on their own as well as together. But what I enjoyed the most was the calling out.
People are not perfect and just because you’re in a relationship or friendship with someone does not mean they can’t do wrong. This aspect of human interactions was portrayed greatly and I think quite a lot of couples as well as friends could learn from this.
Also on a side note: bossy top? Oh yeah.
Last Words: I can’t wait months for the next book?!
Disclaimer: I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Review: Pisces Hooks Taurus by Anyta Sunday

 Series: Signs of Love (book 4, but works as standalone)
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Diversity: LGBTQIA+ (m/m, bisexual character)
Trigger Warnings: none
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Cover: I’m getting such a boyband vibe
Links: Goodreads

Description: It’s a time for searching, and a time for finding, Pisces: keep casting your line and you will hook what you’re looking for.

Zane has it all planned out: land the perfect Meet Cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after.
Should be simple enough if he put his mind to it. A little creativity and some thinking outside of the box, and voila, he’d be married to the woman of his dreams.
It would be perfect.
And it would be before his visa ran out.

But why are his feelings running wild now that the pressure’s on? Why is his picture-perfect plan turning into a muddled mess of morphed metaphors he can’t make sense of anymore?

Just as well he’s met an English professor to help. And even though their first meet is anything but cute, this down-to-earth teacher may just be the realist Zane needs to ground him and give him a shot at love after all.

Don’t cast your line too wide, Pisces. Your perfect catch may already have bitten.

Review: I love love love this series!
Because of personal reasons I love Scorpio Hates Virgo best (that I will talk about in a review after rereading it) but Pisces Hooks Taurus is a close second.
I think this might be the most fun and light-hearted one? At least for now.
The characters’ chemistry is so strong and thanks to this book my love for words and languages got stronger than ever.
I especially enjoyed Becky. And his journaling. I actually got my old journal out of my shelf because of him. I would love to wax poetic about him and Zane but I can’t without spoilering you. So go and read Pisces Hooks Taurus and then come talk to me about it! Because I can just tell you that there’s fluff, fun, and fucking perfect wordplay as foreplay here.
Last Words: If you’re only able to buy three books this month? Consider putting this on your list.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Review Tour: The Fall Guy by Chris Quinton

Series: Standalone
Genre: Historical, Romance, Crime
Diversity: LGBTQIA+ (m/m)
Trigger Warnings: suicide mention, rape mention, abuse mention, sexism
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Cover: It looks so James Bond-y.
Links: Goodreads
Description:
In 1920s New York, Pinkerton Agent John Brady is assigned to a brutal robbery/kidnapping, an open and shut case with an obvious culprit – but nothing and no one are what they seem.
Small-time crook Cesare Donati has the perfect getaway: a transatlantic cruise ship. When Brady turns up at his cabin door, Cesare knows he is out of options until they reach England.
Will London be a safe haven or a place of reckoning?

Review: This had so many possibilities to become really good.

But the story’s too grand for a novella in my eyes. I would have loved to really sink into the plot and cheer on the romance but… I couldn’t.

I mostly put this due to the fact that The Fall Guy lives through telling, not showing. And if you know me, you know I want to experience everything with the characters instead of having been told how it went. That’s why I couldn’t become invested in the romance too. I didn’t feel any romance to be honest. I need more on page intimacy – and I don’t mean sex. More intimacy and more time for the characters to get to know each other and then fall in love.

Last thoughts: So… that’s it? That was a sudden ending.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy through Signal Boost Promotions in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Make sure to visit the other blogs to get a varied picture of The Fall Guy!

In February
25th: Two Chicks Obsessed
27th: My Fiction Nook

In March
1st: Mirrigold
4th: Padme’s Library, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, Drops of Ink, MM Good Book Reviews
6th: Lillian Francis, Diverse Reader

Review: Not Dead Yet by Jenn Burke

 Series: Not Dead Yet (book 1)
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Mystery
Diversity: LGBTQIA+ (m/m, Ace spec character)
Trigger Warnings: none that I can remember
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Cover: I don’t know why but I keep looking at Hudson’s hair.
Links: Goodreads
Description:
Dying isn’t what it used to be.

Wes Cooper was dead. Then he wasn’t—though he’s not exactly alive, either. As an immortal not-ghost, he can transition between this world and the otherplane, which makes him the perfect thief for hire. For seventy years he’s made a “living” returning items to their rightful owners, seeing his fair share of the bizarre in the process. But he’s never witnessed murder. Until now.

His latest mission brings him more than he bargained for: a very-dead actor who is definitely going to stay that way. It’s just Wes’s luck that his ex-boyfriend, Detective Hudson Rojas, is assigned to the case. Hudson broke Wes’s heart years ago—and could again, given he’s rocking a hot silver-fox look that shouldn’t be legal.

As they work together to track down the murderer before anyone else gets hurt, it becomes clear Wes and Hudson have unfinished business. And when a secret Hudson’s been keeping threatens more than just their happiness, it might mean the end of their not-life together—permanently.

Review: This book is number 1 on my reread list.

And not just because I lost my notes about it. I’m kinda freestyling this review for now and I will come back later to update trigger and  diversity information.

But I don’t need my notes to remember how much I enjoyed reading Not Dead Yet. It’s one of those stories you end up really feeling with and cheering for the characters – and not just for them to get their heads out of their asses for fucks sake!

I’m a sucker for slow burn romance and this book has one of the most delicious slow romances I have ever read. And that even though Wes and Hudson had been romantic partners before. 

Aside from that perfect romance we get treated to so much humor! I was grinning madly so often while reading and I would love to tell you why but I can’t because you have to experience every little scene for yourself. But after you have read it come talk to me about it!

Usually I end up with a clear favourite character and then a favourite minor character. Sometimes that’s even the same person. But having to choose from this cast? Impossible. 

Okay, enough gushing about the characters and their love (I could go on but not without spoilering you and that’s not fun).

I’ll try to become a serious reviewer. Just for a moment.

Let’s talk about world-building. Because Not Dead Yet has it. Aside from the really believable (urban) fantasy aspects that I can totally believe happening around us I love how new Wes’s abilities are. I have read about two other ghostly characters that I can think of right now – although one of them is a reaper so not a ghost at all – Wes and his state of being is so interesting.

Jenn Burke put so many thoughts and details into this character that I just… I’m without words. And there went my being a serious reviewer. But you just can’t be that with this book! And I haven’t used this many exclamation points ever I think. That may tell you how excited I still am about this story even though I have read it back in November!

Last Words: After rereading it I will end up rereading it again!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Review: Temper: Deference by Lila Mina

Series: Temper (book 1)
Genre: Contemporary, Erotica
Diversity: Japanese characters, LGBTQIA+ (f/f, f/f/m)
Trigger Warnings: blood play, knife play
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Cover: The light’s effect is beautiful.
Links: Goodreads

Description:Submission will tame her temper but unleash her true power. Dutiful devotion will heal cursed bodies and souls. Compassion and boundless passion will set them all free. Nobody, nothing will tear this trio apart. Not even death.

Short-tempered Lana Martin is a workaholic consultant based in Tokyo. Not one to turn down a challenge, she accepts the indecent proposal of her martial arts’ instructor to become his submissive in a dynamic that tests her resilience.

Spreading like wildfire, their affair lights up another blaze, this time between Lana and Honda’s wife, the sophisticated socialite Yuki. Fearless, Lana embraces what her two masters offer her.

Yet, unbeknown to her, their powerful desire rouses dark powers who waited for decades to claim their prizes. Lana must confront the enemy eating her from within, while pulling back Honda from the edge of madness. Yuki’s unwavering strength keeps them sane – but for how long?

A two-edged sword, the trio’s fiery passion will either destroy them or be the key to their salvation.

Review: Thank God for this diverse Erotica!

There is so much I enjoyed about Deference but since I don’t want to spoiler you I’ll keep myself short and use a list that is in no particular order:

– older women (over 30 and over 40 years old)
– ongoing power play
– Yuki. Seriously. She is the greatest.
– Lana does not lose her personality because she entered training as a submissive.
– CONSENT
– friendship between females
– no instalove
– as far as I can tell no fetishization of Japan (please check with Japanese reviewers to be sure of this and let me know so that I can link to #ownvoices because as of now there weren’t any on Goodreads)
(- in coming books: polyam relationship)

I do have a few small things that I did not enjoy so I had to take 0.5 Stars away:

– how about safe sex when not knowing about your partners’ health?
– mysterious trauma that has happened in the past that will be teased at but not put on page until later
– too much sex and too little plot

Now don’t get me wrong. I like the erotic parts of Deference, especially when Yuki’s at play too but I’m a plot girl and I enjoy the non-sexual interactions between Lana, Yuki, and Honda very much. The storytelling is very flowing and natural and it sucked me right in. So now I’m here waiting until I can finally dive into book 2…

Last Words: A very raw (in the best sense) erotica and finally one that manages to be dark without being abusive.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy through the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Review: The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker

The Minimalist Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life

Series: Standalone
Genre: non-fiction
Diversity: not really
Trigger Warnings: ableistic, maybe more
Rating: dnf
Cover: I like the colour scheme
Links: Goodreads

Description: A popular minimalist blogger and author of The More of Less shows you how to methodically turn your home into a place of peace, contentment, and purposeful living.

One of today’s most influential minimalist advocates takes us on a decluttering tour of our own houses and apartments, showing us how to decide what to get rid of and what to keep. He both offers practical guidelines for simplifying our lifestyle at home and addresses underlying issues that contribute to over-accumulation in the first place. The purpose is not just to create a more inviting living space. It’s also to turn our life’s HQ–our home–into a launching pad for a more fulfilling and productive life in the world.

Review: Most stuff you can read about minimalism is really… extreme.

It’s either extreme in the sense of “get rid of everything and breathe at least 50% less than you did before!” (okay, slightly exaggerating) or it’s supposed to show really extreme and therefore unbelievable results.

I don’t know if this book ends up showing both extremes because I had to dnf it when the author featured a response he got from a woman. Becase said woman had to deal with postnatal depression but during that depression and with (at least) one baby she went minimalistic and guess what? She was cured!

If one could cure depression with decluttering stuff… why are we paying so much for therapists and medication? Why do some people have to live with depression their whole life?

So now I know that some people are like “that totally cured me! DO yoga at sunrise and your healed!” but should that be written in a book? It’s not like one is forced to write every little testimonial one gets. But the chosen quotes you do use for your book show what you think. And therefore I stopped reading because I have better things to read than that.


Last Words: I know it can help if you’ve got the energy for it to have a clean environment. But how about writing it that way?

Disclaimer: I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Review: River Queens: Saucy Boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America by Alexander Watson

Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Memoir
Diversity: LGBT (m/m)
Trigger Warnings: suicide mention, slight homophobia
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Cover: I love the feeling of calm I get whenever I look at those two
Links: Goodreads

Description: Two men and a spotted dog restore a vintage Chris-Craft motor yacht and launch across the American Heartland from Texas to Ohio. The restoration, the people they met along the way, and life in an America which few know exists are the story of River Queens: Saucy boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America.

Review: I know less than nothing about boats and I enjoyed River Queens very much. So if you’re a lover of boats you may be blown away by this book.

One of the things that I love about being a book blogger is the chance to discover non mainstream books. I don’t think River Queens would have appeared on any recommendations list for me because the main theme is not one I usually read. I do enjoy the occasional memoir or two but only of people I know and like. So even if it would have popped up I don’t know if I would have read it.

Luckily Alexander found my blog and saw it worthy to review River Queens. Luckily I trusted my gut feeling of “hey that’s something new for me, let’s try it!”. So here I am being very moved by a spotted dog and two men that I don’t know but for the review mails.

My grandfather owned a boat, named after his first-born grandchild (that would be me btw), and that’s everything that connects me to boats. But you don’t need a connection to boats to enjoy this book. You don’t even need an open mind for the LGBTQIA+ community (I judge you harshly if you’re not open-minded though!)

River Queens reads like a classic, one that my teacher could have chosen for class. It’s written rather down-to-earth but it manages to transport humour, curiosity, and grief in a way that it felt at times like my own emotions.

The last two years America’s image has been a bad one – at times very bad – and I have wondered time and time again why friends of mine don’t pack up and leave the country. I’m still wondering about this and if the social system of the US doesn’t change I’ll never stop wondering about this, but now I’m back to seeing the people as well. River Queens shows a different kind of mankind than the news and for that I am grateful.

Last Words: If you’re just a bit curious about adventure, about taking a chance on what you dream of, read River Queens.

Disclaimer: I got the book for free through the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Review: Captive by Donna K. Ford

 Series: Standalone
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary, Romance
Diversity: LGBT (f/f)
Trigger Warnings: assault, rape mentions, maybe more
Rating: dnf
Cover: Very dramatic
Links: Goodreads

Description: Greyson Cooper is exactly where she wants to be in life when she sets out on a section hike of the Appalachian Trail. When she’s abducted and placed into slavery in a fight club, she isn’t about to be a part of their barbaric plan and does everything she can to upset the ranks, even if it costs her life.

Olivia Danner has worked hard for everything she has; all that’s left is her dream job and someone to share her life with. But her plans are cut short when a man who wants her as his personal prize kidnaps her.

Together in captivity, Olivia and Greyson become players in a game of deceit and violence. To survive and escape, they will have to figure out whom they can trust. If they can get out alive, the next challenge will be forging a path to lasting love.

Review: When applying for an ARC I don’t read other bloggers’ reviews of it.
But I kinda wish I had done that with Captivate because I would have spared myself from boredom.
I can’t tell you much about anything to be honest. The characters felt very one-dimensional, the budding romance was meh at best and… well, I really was simply bored. I would have struggled on – read: skim read – but having one of the MCs in a possibly very dangerous situation drinking alcohol and thinking about how she needs the whole bottle? Nope. That’s so far from realistic that I don’t want to know how much worse it’ll get. Human trafficking is a very serious and horrible theme. I want it to be handled realistic and responsible.
Before reading Captive I doubted how a Romance could be handled in this situation. But I kept an open mind and gave it a chance.
Last Words: Maybe you want to give it a chance as well. But I’d totally understand you if you don’t
Disclaimer: I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.