Small Snippet of July 2020

As always I am still at work, sometimes working with the public can be quite trying and reopening with strict safety guidelines has been especially trying. Please everyone, if there are entry requirements, don’t argue with the person enforcing them at the door; if they are the ones on the front line they did not have anything to do with making the rules.

So I hope everyone is staying safe and staying sane 😋

Plastic Free July

While I am not going the full slog of removing all of my plastic use, I have made a few changes and am trying to cut down on how much plastic I use. These changes have seen me start to use a shampoo bar which means I have not purchased any new shampoo bottles. I now have a bamboo toothbrush that after I have used it can recycle. I have also started to use a solid moisturiser.

All of these things have been surprising as I am enjoying them so much. The shampoo bar has done amazing things to my hair and I no longer have greasy hair two days after washing!

Continue reading “Small Snippet of July 2020”

The Reading Rush 2020

The lovely Jess from The Never Ending Bookshelf brought The Reading Rush to my attention towards the end of June. My goodness the time must have slipped by because next thing I knew the readathon had started!

Beginning on the 20th of July and ending on the 26th, the readathon is for book lovers all around the world. For one week readers gather together to read as much as they possibly can, all the while participating in a range of challenges. I have never actually taken part in a readathon but thought The Reading Rush was a good place to begin.

The Challenges

Read a book with a cover that matches the colour of your birth stone

October had the birthstones of Opal and Tourmaline, so I was looking for a pink, white, or rainbow book cover. The below are books that I read that fit the challenge.

Part four in The Seen Trilogy,’ Flashes of Me was a quick and erotic read that explored the story of one of the characters from the first three books. It was a quick and easy read and while I thought some parts and descriptions from the series were problematic, I none the less still enjoyed them.

Read a book that starts with the word “The”

I have had The Alpha’s Warlock on my TBR list for a while now and finally decided to give it a read. In order to read this lovely book I did try Amazon Unlimited, which turned out to be quite good but not as good as the book, which I adored. Keep your eye out for a post about this gem of a book as it will feature in my 12 Tropes of 2020 challenge.

Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve already seen

Whoopsie, I didn’t actually read anything that was adapted for film or tv 😅

Read the first book you touch

To complete this challenge, I grabbed a bunch of my physical books that I have in my literal to be read pile, plunked them down, gave them a shuffle, and then picked the first one I touched. Eh voilà we landed on Barry Lewis.

If you don’t know, Barry Lewis is a youtube cooking sensation who more than ten years ago started his channel to document and share his cooking adventures. The first videos are very much an educational journey as we learn to literally cook with Barry. I was lucky enough to find Barry just at the start of the pandemic so I have been keeping myself entertained with his brilliant new videos and backlog. If you have a few minutes, I really recommend giving him a watch, follow the link and check out one of my favourite videos!

I have had this little beauty of a cookbook sitting around waiting to be read for about a month now, and I am glad I finally gave it a read. A bunch of great recipes and I absolutely adored the section about kitchen hacks and the tips and tricks.

Read a book completely outside of your house

So this challenge this was obviously made ‘Before Covid’ or BC for short 😋 So with this in mind I have changed it to:

READ A BOOK COMPLETELY INSISE THE ONE ROOM OF YOUR HOUSE on one day

Since I was feeling a little under the weather this week, I have spent A LOT of time in bed, staying warm and trying to just stay healthy. So I have read a lot of books completely inside my bedroom, so check them all out below!

Surprise, I read a whole book series, the below is The Seen Trilogy which was published in five parts 😋 The books are all erotica romances and were quick and easy reads. The first three follow the same couple and spans across their relationship while the last two are about side characters. The series as a whole was okay, it explored some different kinks, and also had some problematic moments but they were decent reads.

Read a book in a genre that you’ve always wanted to read more of

I had wanted to add a biography in here but sadly I did not get around to actually reading the biography I had picked out but I can always stand to read more queer science fiction. There is just something so huge and awe-inspiring about the science fiction genre that gets me, just like the fantasy genre it does lend it self to being able to have more happy queer stories – happy in the sense that they can exist outside of homophobia in different or more utopic environments.

Plus I have always wanted to read a Lisa Henry book, and it was amazing. Lisa Henry is an Australian author and it shows, I adored the descriptions of the outback and the comparisons between the colours of space to that of local flora.

Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live

Stage Dreams takes place on the North America continent and its historical depiction of a trans woman won my heart. I would really recommend giving this short graphic novel a read!

Check out everything that I read during the 2020 Reading Rush!

2020 Goals Check in

Happy half way through 2020!

So 2020 has been a huge shit show but hey, I’m healthy and safe. I am so happy that Australia is going as well as it has, especially considering I am still working my full hours. I hope everyone is staying safe and remember, you’re not superhuman – stay inside, wash your hands, and if you’re sick stay at home.


The below are some of the things I had hoped to achieve in 2020. Looking at them, I know that some are now not so attainable than the others. But I shall update you on my progress.

Blogging

Until recently I had been staying pretty up to date with my ARC reviews but since COVID-19 hit, it has really been on the back burner. I haven’t really been reading all that much and adding to it the expectations of having to review have been a real de-motivator. So sadly, I have been neglecting my ARCs of late.

I had looked to be going strong on posting throughout the year but once again, I didn’t have the motivation to keep posting, so I took a month long hiatus in May. I’m back though, I am posting only once a week though but am happy with this. Also my 12 Tropes of 2020 Challenge is going strong, so that is quite nice to keep marking tiles off my bingo card.

Reading

I have been reading more non-fiction this year. If we count cook books then I have really been hitting that genre hard! Recently I’ve read a bunch of mindfulness, self care, sustainability, and personal finance non fiction books, which have been nice easy reads to flip through.

Sadly I have not started The Folk of the Air series yet, though I am in queue for the first book in audiobook format from my library. Additionally I have read Tithe and Valiant and have just started on the third book, Ironside. So you could say that I have started the larger series on my way to this series 😋

Also I have read about 6.5 of the 16 books in my Hopeful Reads of 2020 so I am preforming quite well in this regard. Especially since the level set was at least half 😋

Gaming

Okay, so it says ‘start’ Surviving Mars. I started it and the tutorials were just so boooooring – so I stopped. I really need to start this again as it was a gift from my partner and I really want to give it a good try at least for them.

Not progress on Mass Effect 3 yet. Recovering my save file will have to be something I lean heavily on my partner for us I do not know how to 100% go about this – there is a program that I will probably have to use that lets you make all the choices from the first two Mass Effect games and make it into a save file. Also yay! I finished Pokemon: Sword!

Personal

Still slugging along on that house deposit even though it is becoming more and more likely that I will not be able to afford purchasing a house anytime soon – well I could but on my wage I wouldn’t be able to feed us. Sadly there has been no movement on the blanket front as I am not in the mood to work on it or focus in it after work.

I have completely crossed out and marked off PAX 2020 as I highly doubt it will be going ahead. And if it does, I will not be attending such a large event so soon after the pandemic. No offence but I will be paranoid for quite a while after it.

Hopefully the second half of 2020 is a lot kinder to all of us!


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12 Tropes of 2020 Reading Challenge Check In

It is half way through the year and despite all the things that have happened, I have managed to stay on track with this challenge.

I’ve really enjoyed this challenge so far, it is quite fun to find books that fit the tropes and since I was the one picking the challenges its been things that I actually enjoy reading. I have a couple of the remaining books picked out but so far I have had some last minute changes, so watch this space!

You can check out how I’ve gone in the graphic below or the links to each post and trope. Also because it is so close to be published anyway, you get an extra special spoiler that my next 12 Trope post is about Superheroes.




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Hopeful Reads of 2020 Check in

Since it is officially half way through the year, I thought I would do a check in post to see how I am going with my Hopeful Reads of 2020.

So far I have crossed off:

  • Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
  • Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants by Dav Pilkey
  • A Deceptive Alliance by Sydney Blackburn
  • Heartstopper Volume 3 by Alice Oseman
  • Just for Show by Jae and
  • Tit for Tat by R.Cooper.

In addition to this I am half way through Mr. Know-It-All by John Waters – since I’m not the biggest fan of biographies, I think this one will take me the longest to get through.

So as it stands, I have finished 6.5 books out of 16.

I could be doing better but I have another six months to get cracking and plough through the remaining books. Wish me luck!



Let me know how you’re going this year, its been a tough time for everyone so taking the time to reflect on what we have accomplished it a good way to spend some positive time.

12 Tropes of 2020 – Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean

Wallflower from
12 Tropes of 2020

A person who has no one to dance with or who feels shy, awkward, or excluded at a party.

Taken from Lexico

She might be on the shelf, but love doesn’t pass her by in the end. These are romances where the heroine is a spinster, is on the shelf, or is considered an old maid by society (even if it’s by choice).

Taken from Best Romances With Spinsters, Wallflowers, Or Old Maids reading list on Goodreads.


Brazen and the Beast
by Sarah MacLean

The Lady’s Plan

When Lady Henrietta Sedley declares her twenty-ninth year her own, she has plans to inherit her father’s business, to make her own fortune, and to live her own life. But first, she intends to experience a taste of the pleasure she’ll forgo as a confirmed spinster. Everything is going perfectly… until she discovers the most beautiful man she’s ever seen tied up in her carriage and threatening to ruin the Year of Hattie before it’s even begun.

The Bastard’s Proposal

When he wakes in a carriage at Hattie’s feet, Whit, a king of Covent Garden known to all the world as Beast, can’t help but wonder about the strange woman who frees him—especially when he discovers she’s headed for a night of pleasure… on his turf. He is more than happy to offer Hattie all she desires… for a price.

An Unexpected Passion

Soon, Hattie and Whit find themselves rivals in business and pleasure. She won’t give up her plans; he won’t give up his power… and neither of them sees that if they’re not careful, they’ll have no choice but to give up everything… including their hearts.

Blurb taken from book blurb

My thoughts

The second book in The Bareknuckle Bastards series, Brazen and the Beast was an enjoyable and refreshing read. The book did not suffer from second book syndrome and was just as enjoyable as the first. As with her first book in the series, Wicked and the Wallflower, Brazen and the Beast follows one of the notorious ‘Bareknuckle Bastards’ as they are brought to their knees by powerful women of the time ladies .

Continue reading “12 Tropes of 2020 – Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean”

Romance Recommendation: Tit for Tat by R. Cooper

Tit for Tat

by R. Cooper

Tat never expected a future. A lower-caste Luudi who left her planet and made a new home with a group of idealistic humans, she spends her time looking out for new family and working in secret to rescue refugees from a neighbouring country. She is content with what she has, if sometimes lonely.

Then a Pros arrives their tense little border town. Although mostly human, the Pros were genetically engineered to look perfect and to offer pleasure, both physically and psychically. Beautiful, sophisticated Cin is no exception, which is why when she approaches Tat, Tat knows it can’t be personal. Luudi are big, strong, purple, and impervious to psychic influence—making Tat the safest outlet for someone like Cin. Tat says yes with no expectation that Cin would ever want more, while convinced the danger will eventually drive Cin away.

But the Pros can take care of themselves, as well as any quietly heroic Luudi who catches their eye—if only that Luudi would let them. Tat has spent so long helping others find a future, it doesn’t occur to her to seek out her own even when her silence might cost her the one she wants.

Taken from book blurb

Length: 114 pages.

Series: Stand alone.

Genre: F/F Romance. QUILTBAG. Sci-Fi.

Read as an: eBook.


My Thoughts

Tit for Tat is an emotional yet action packed sci-fi romance. The book focuses on a rag tag group of people who work together to help refugees escape from a fascist country that looks down on keent – an allegorical take on all of the worlds ‘non-normal’ individuals.

While the book is not focused on these actions and missions to help people escape to better lives, they are still present. While not being overtly homophobic or including any discriminatory language, the book does tackle the feelings of people fleeing from terrible treatment. While certainly the majority of the content is romantic in nature – the book packs no less of an emotional punch for it’s content.

I absolutely adored the characters of Tat and Cin – the way that they initially interact and then painfully circle each other was so heartwarming and yet equal parts heartbreaking. As with most of R Coopers work, I found myself falling in LOVE with all of the characters.

Everyone was so just so nuanced and beautiful!

Also I am SO glad that there was an extra short, Into the Net, featuring Fiya and Rhiel. When I reached the two words, The End, I was so sad that I had missed the seeing the culmination of these two and their relationship. Thank goodness for this additional story where we see these two get their shit together. Or as much as you can without giving them a whole novel (like I would love).


Enjoyment Level

Put simply – I adored this book. It took me a few attempts to get into the story (I blame not being a Sci-Fi reader) but once I was in, I was hooked! I am so glad that I read Tit for Tat on a day off because it meant I was able to devour it in almost one sitting.

I know that R. Cooper has another sci-fi book that they have just released, Taji from Beyond the Rings, and now I am looking at devoting a whole day off to it as well!


Recommendation

If you are looking for a story that features a f/f love story between an alien and a not-so-human, then look no further because Tit for Tat is the book for you. Not only does it features Lesbians in Space* but it features a heartwarming story full of communication issues and fighting fascist regimes.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an entertaining and emotional romance read!

*Okay, so while no one explicitly identifies as lesbian, it was too fun not to include 😋

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Quick Queer Reviews – LGBTQ+ Fantasy Romance Part 2

So, prepare yourself for just a few of the QUILTBAG fantasy romance novels I’ve read on Scribd. I won’t lie though, it’s mainly been from two authors 😋


LGBTQ+ Fantasy Romance


The Dragon’s Tamer by Megan Derr

Summoned to the royal palace by the King, Alaith spends his days either handling the dragons that plague the kingdom, or holed up in his lonely tower. Unusual in appearance, manner, and his method of taming dragons rather than slaying them, his only distractions from his painfully outcast state in caring for the tamed dragon who resides with him, and admiring the handsome Lord Trey—and arguing with the infuriating Prince Rythe.

Taken from book blurb

I will happily admit, I have a thing for dragon shifters. I do not know if it is their penance for hoarding, their intensity, or their way of absolutely treasuring someone they love that does it for me, but I always enjoy a good dragon shifter story. Sadly I have started off on a tangent because this book is not about dragon shifters.

The book instead features a dragon tamer who is living in a kingdom with a completely different culture. Alaith believes in treasuring dragons and in this short little story, not only rescues some dragons but finds love where he would not have expected it.

I really enjoyed this book as the one of the main romantic leads initially starts off hating the other. Over the course of the book though, he takes a new appreciation of Prince Rythe as he finds out more about the man.


Hold Still: Natures in Harmony by Megan Derr

Esen has spent his entire life an outcast, and he threw out his last chance at fitting in when he broke the engagement his family worked so hard to arrange. Sent to the royal palace to fulfill one last duty, he counts the hours until he is literally left homeless and destitute.

But hiding away in the royal garden, he accidentally overhears a private conversation and meets the mysterious Queen’s Man…

Taken from book blurb

Okay, okay, I tend to go a bit nuts when I start to read Megan Derr books – especially when they are ones that I haven’t read yet. So while in my binge, I was lucky enough to read Hold Still which is a short fantasy read that in 53 pages manages to paint a large picture of the world.

Once again, I really enjoyed the characters and felt so much for Esen and his lonely upbringing. The book is really immersive for how short it is and I found myself really enjoying the romantic pairing of this little novella.


A Little Familiar by R. Cooper

A powerful witch, Piotr Russell has resigned himself to loneliness, because ordinary humans can’t know what he is, and other witches are intimidated by his abilities. Generations of Russells have lived and died with only their familiars at their side. The presence of a friendly familiar is enough to keep even the loneliest witch sane, and yet Piotr deliberately hasn’t chosen one. He forces himself to keep busy instead, but the emptiness of his house haunts him even more the spirit of Great-Great-Aunt Elysia in the parlor. With Samhain and Halloween approaching, he’ll have much to do, and knowing that, his concerned coven seizes the chance to intervene and sends help to his door in the form of Bartleby Dorchester.

First paragraph of book blurb

Okay so with this Familiar Spirits series, R. Cooper has flown to my favourite authors list. In her previous book that I loved, How to (Not) Train a Firecat, Cooper demonstrated an amazing ability to create truly nuanced characters, who despite their flaws, were just so loveable.

With main character Piotr, I just wanted him to be happy. I am not the biggest fan of angst in any form but I would gladly read a tear jerker if it was written by R Cooper. I just wanted Piotr to be okay, his feelings of isolation and loneliness were killers!


Holly and Oak by R. Cooper

Once a year, the town of Ravenscroft celebrates the winter solstice by watching the Oak King symbolically slay the Holly King to ensure the death of winter. To most people, it’s a pagan ritual that has lost all meaning in the modern world, harmless fun during the week of Christmas. To the coven who founded the town, it’s a magic so important they entrusted it to the two strongest witches in generations.

First paragraph of book blurb

Holly and Oak starts off as a love hate kind of relationship between main characters Will and Chester. There is a lot of build up between the two and no matter his feelings, it seems that Chester always puts his foot in it, or misinterprets meanings.

While not a direct sequel to the first book, A Little Familiar, the appear to take place in this same town and coven. There are heavy overtones to the Holly and Oak legend but honestly I didn’t know it when I was reading the book and was easily able to follow along. I really loved these characters and how they learned to let go of things and be together.


Nothing More Certain by R. Cooper

Emery Elward returned to Trinity Creek with no intention of doing anything but repairing the farmhouse he grew up in, starting a business, and tending to the graveyard linked to his family’s property. He has no interest in renewing past friendships. But one old friend is determined to get Emery out from behind the cemetery’s iron gates.

First paragraph of book blurb

Woah, okay so Nothing More Certain had me feeling! And by feeling, I mean I had to put my phone down and stop reading multiple times on the train because no one wants to be seen weeping openly on their morning commute.

Emery! I have no idea how Emery came back or stayed in his home town. The emotional angst carried over from high school and then later in life were doozies! My need to see what happens between him and Ezra had me pushing through tears to see these two settle their issues.

I would really recommend the Familiar Spirits series, the books are urban fantasy novels about magic and non magic users finding love while settling into their roles and power.


Romance Recommendation: Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter by R. Cooper

Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter

by R. Cooper

To help out his sister, Scott moved to the small town of Montgomery, where there isn’t much to do and no one for him to date. Well, there’s one other openly gay man in town—Henry ‘Cole’ Porter, a widower who runs the school library, but after one drunken night together, Cole has kept his distance. Scott is used to that. He spends a lot of time working out, and from the slow way he talks and the frat house atmosphere at the fire station where he works, it’s easy to assume he’s stupid. Most people are happy to admire his body and assume that’s all he wants from them, and deep down, Scott is too afraid to try asking for more.

Which is why Scott has been secretly pining after Cole for months when some of the town’s nosier residents decide Cole has been single long enough. They have a plan to throw every professional gay man in a thirty-mile radius Cole’s way, whether he likes it or not. Their list of candidates doesn’t include Scott, and Scott’s insecurities prevent him from stepping forward—even when it seems as though Cole is asking him to.

Cole is everything Scott isn’t; highly educated, stylish, with refined tastes. He’s also stubborn and sarcastic, and not nearly as smart about the workings of his own heart as people might think. It might take a lot of the wrong men for him to realize the right one has been in front of him all along.

Taken from book clurb

Length: 112 pages.

Series: Stand alone.

Genre: Romance. QUILTBAG. M/M Romance.

Read as an: eBook.


My Thoughts

The first time I read Hottie Scotty and Mr Porter, I was five books into my R. Cooper binge. However this book left the biggest impression. The characters and the emotions the story evoked in me were so very powerful; I laughed, I cried, I hugged a pillow while silently sobbing for Scotty’s sense of self worth.

Evoking emotional and somewhat angst filled moments of bittersweet joy, are what R. Cooper excels at. Throughout her books there is a common theme of hurt feelings and the deeply resonating emotional turmoil misunderstandings can create. Hottie Scotty and Mr Porter tackles self worth and explores this in such a subtle and beautiful way. Scotty’s feelings are not discussed, rather characters pick up on behaviours and defence mechanisms, and work around them.

The romance in Hottie Scotty and Mr Porter is hard won and worthwhile. I loved seeing the two romantic leads together as they each figured themselves and each other out.


Enjoyment Level

I loved this book so much, I couldn’t wait more than 3 months before reading it again. Last year I became a fan of R. Cooper and so far in my journey reading her back catalogue, Hottie Scotty and Mr Porter is my favourite.

I am no doubt going to read Hottie Scotty and Mr Porter for a third time, and may throw in a re-read of For Better or Worse which tells the story of two firefighters who work with Scotty in Montgomery.


Recommendation

If you are looking for a beautiful QUILTBAG romance that has just enough emotional angst to tug on your heart strings, then I would 100% recommend Hottie Scotty and Mr Porter.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an entertaining and emotional romance read!

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12 Tropes of 2020 – Some Kind of Magic by R. Cooper

Soul Mates from
12 Tropes of 2020

Soulmates are people who are fated to be together, usually romantically, sometimes through multiple lives and/or into the afterlife.

Taken from Fanlore

A person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner.

Taken from Lexico


Some Kind of Magic
by R. Cooper

Los Cerros is Detective Ray Branigan’s town, his to protect in a way that satisfies his werewolf instincts, even though most humans are afraid of him. Los Cerros is famous for its fairy village and its supposedly welcoming attitude toward magical beings like Ray, but Ray is one of only two beings on the police force. While dealing with human prejudice, Ray and his partner have to solve crimes relating to magic, and are forced to rely on the department’s part-time magical consultants, something Ray tries to avoid—and not only because werewolves are uncomfortable around magic.

Enter Cal Parker, the son of the department’s most admired detective. Cal is brilliant, contemptuous of the police, and half-fairy. He’s also Ray’s mate, a fact that Ray has kept secret despite his every instinct screaming for him to claim and worship, because weres mate for life, and fairies… don’t. Everyone knows that. Fairies are beautiful, flighty, and fickle.

But perhaps it’s not only the humans who have prejudice about beings. Cal isn’t shy about his desire for Ray—not that fairies ever are—and Ray’s resistance is crumbling. But the situation is growing more dangerous as they get closer to the killer, and by the time Ray accepts the truth of a fairy’s heart, it might be too late.

A Being(s) in Love Story

Magical creatures known as beings emerged from hiding amid the destruction of the First World War. Since then they’ve lived on the margins of the human world as misunderstood objects of fear and desire. Some are beautiful, others fearsome and powerful. Yet for all their magic and strength, they are as vulnerable as anyone when it comes to matters of the heart.

Blurb taken from book blurb

My thoughts

Okay, so if you haven’t realised I am a massive R. Cooper fan then you haven’t been paying attention for the last year. I have previously read a few books from R. Cooper’s Being(s) in Love series that was previously published under Dreamspinner Press, however this is the first some I have read Some Kind of Magic and is was amazing.

Continue reading “12 Tropes of 2020 – Some Kind of Magic by R. Cooper”