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 😋

Book review comment ender

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!

Book review comment ender

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”

Hiatus Starts Tomorrow

Ally’s Appraisals will be going on a month long hiatus during May.

Just a reminder that from tomorrow I will be going on a hiatus for all of May.

Do not panic though because I will be spending this time not only relaxing, but working on my post schedule as well as working on some extra special content for the entirety of June. That’s right, I’ll be celebrating Pride month with a whole month of content focusing around the LGBTQ+ community.

See you in June!

Hiatus during May

Ally’s Appraisals will be going on a month long hiatus during May.

Just thought I would try and give everyone some advanced notice that I’ll be taking a month off this coming May. I have been consistently posting for the last two years and thought I’d take a little bit of a break. Give myself some room to take a breath 😀

No worries though because I will back back in June for an extra special celebration for Pride month! Expect to see a whole months worth of content celebrating all things LGBTQ+

My 2020 TBR Pile

This post was meant to go up in February but kept getting shuffled along, so hello April! Despite how much I have challenged myself this year, with my 12 Tropes of 2020 Challenge, Hopeful Reads of 2020, and other various things I want to get done in 2020, I still keep finding more books I want to read 😅

My trouble is not only that I see a book and want to read it but I do this and then forget about the book 😱 So the below are some of the books that I have either recently remembered that I want to read or they are ones I keep promising myself that I’ll get around to one day.


Kill the Farm Boy
by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

I borrowed this book from the library when it had just been released and never got around to reading it. I am quite ashamed of this as it looks like a book that I would love! Fantasy and humour are books that I absolutely adore.

Continue reading “My 2020 TBR Pile”