eARC Review: Cleanness, by Garth Greenwell

cleanness Garth GreenwellRating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, M/M

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I received an advanced copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I have not read Garth Greenwell’s other work What Belongs to You, and it was with no expectations and hardly any memory of the synopsis that I started it. What I knew of the book is that it would be an exploration of sexuality and identity, which is absolutely true. This book is very sexually explicit and beautifully written, the sentences not too flowery but still poignant. I was not sure I liked this book for the majority of it, because although I appreciated the writing and the themes, erotic literature is not quite what I normally pick up, and I felt uncomfortably like a voyeur. Basically, if you’re a prude like me, maybe skip this book. The main character, an American teacher, tells episodes of his life in Bulgaria, and how they reflected previous experiences he had in the US years before. I really enjoyed reading about Sofia and had my heart broken when learning the reality of homophobia there. Reading this a very immersive experience. Continue reading

eARC Review: A Beautiful Crime: A Novel by Christopher Bollen

a beautiful crime christopher bollenRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Mystery, M/M

Goodreads

I received an advanced copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

A Beautiful Crime tells the story of two young men who are planning the scam of their lives to save themselves from financial ruin. Nick, a handsome boy from New York, is meeting his boyfriend Clay in Venice for what will be the adventure of a lifetime – or his worst mistake. With Nick’s charming personality and Clay’s knowledge of their target, they are sure they can succeed. But can they?

I think it is inevitable to compare this book with The Talented Mr. Ripley, and the similarities in atmosphere and even the plot mirrors it a bit: two Americans meeting in Italy, scams and even murder. I had a lot of fun reading this character-driven novel! It is a mystery, and I would hesitate to call it a thriller due to the plot being definitely too slow for that, but I was positively anxious by the end of the book and just had to know what happened next. Continue reading

Mini-Review: The Man Who Saw Everything, by Deborah Levy

the man who saw everything deborah levy

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, M/M

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In The Man Who Saw Everything, Saul Adler goes to East Germany in 1988 to do research and in exchange write a favorable report about the GDR. That is the very short description I can give about the plot of this book, but it is so much more than that.

Saul is a historian, a narcissistic, gorgeous-looking man whose narrative is deeply unreliable and it was both strange and fascinating to read. He’s clearly obsessed with himself and his own beauty, but also constantly defies gender in a nonchalant manner. He was one of the most interesting narrators I’ve seen in a long time. Little by little, we piece together what happened in East Berlin, the fate of the people in his life, but we’re never really sure if we’re reading the absolute truth. I found myself laughing sometimes, and at other times my heart broke to tiny, tiny pieces, which is a feat for a 200-page book! This engrossing, brilliant read was such a highlight for literary fiction this year for me, and I highly recommend it.

Mini-Review: Red, White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston

red white and royal blue casey mcquiston

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: New Adult, Contemporary / Alternate History, Romance

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Alex Claremont-Diaz is the American equivalent of a royal: his mother is the first female President of the United States, and his charisma, hard work and looks have landed him the title of heartthrob. What the press can’t ever find out is that he absolutely hates the stuffy, cold and outrageously handsome Prince of Wales, Henry. When he and the prince cause a scene during the Royal Wedding, they must pretend to be best friends in order to not damage the image of the President or the Royals.

This was a surprising mix of adorable, sexy and political that really won me over! I loved the chemistry between Alex and Henry and their banter was so funny, and actively blushed in the bus when Those Scenes showed up in the story. I loved how politics was such a huge part of this book, although I think it might have made the story a bit less appealing to people who only wanted the cute love story. If you dislike politics, don’t pick this up. I thought it was very current and made Alex more of a real person. This book is super hyped at the moment and I think it’s for a good reason! Highly recommend.

Mini-Review: Wilder Girls, by Rory Power

wilder girls rory power

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Thriller & Horror, F/F

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Two years ago, when the Tox took over Raxter School for Girls, the entire island was put under quarantine. The disease is in the land, in the trees, in the girls, causing strange and disturbing side effects, for which the government has promised a cure, but so far all they receive is less and less supplies every time. When Byatt goes missing, Hetty knows she is still alive, and she must find her, no matter the cost, no matter the consequences.

I had lots of fun reading this book – I didn’t know I needed more horror in my life before I picked it up! I don’t have much to say about it, as I started reading it and was so engrossed I forgot to read it as a blogger and just got lost in the story. It’s a really interesting book, with such a great take on The Lord of the Flies (which I hated) and turning it into a feminist horror young adult. So, so good. I did not entirely like the writing style, it felt a little too stilted, I think I hoped for something more lush, but that is my personal taste. The mystery was great, the characters were so great –  sometimes vicious and just trying to survive, but also very loyal, and I highly recommend this book!

Review: Magic for Liars, by Sarah Gailey

magic for liars sarah gailey

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Fantasy, Thriller & Mystery, wide LGBT rep (incl. F/F)

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Ivy Gamble is a private detective. She hasn’t spoken with her sister for years, her talented, more beautiful twin who was born with magic, while Ivy… wasn’t. When there is a gory murder at the magical University where her sister works, Ivy is hired to investigate it. She is suddenly caught in that world, the dangerous magic and the more dangerous secrets, and she must somehow find the culprit.

This was kind of all over the place for me! I had quite a mixed experience with this book, which is why I’m giving it 3 stars. First of all, I loved how queer this book was! So many characters casually being lesbian and pan, it was really cool. I love the idea of a magical school, like Harry Potter but modern, and way more LGBT+. I think that was my favorite thing about the book: the idea of it. Continue reading

Review: The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern

the starless sea erin morgenstern

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Fantasy, M/M Romance

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Zachary Erza Rawlins once found a door painted onto a wall and did not dare open it, despite his curiosity. He suspected but did not know back then that he had just missed his opportunity to visit the world of the Starless Sea. Many years later, he finds a strange little book in the library, and the stories in the book feel more real than they should: stories of a magical land, of myth and metaphors, of painted doors… and of a boy who did not open it. Startled to see himself on the pages of a book written long before he was born, Zachary enters the adventure of a lifetime, and has a second chance to see the Starless Sea, where he will become part of a story that began much, much before his time. Continue reading

Review: Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #1), by Tamsyn Muir

gideon the ninth tamsyn muir

Rating: ★★★★★

Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, F/F

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The Emperor needs new necromancers, and the Ninth House Necromancer needs a cavalier. Gideon is not a cavalier, but she is the best swordswoman, and if she can pull off pretending to be a loyal, obedient cavalier of the Ninth, Harrow has promised her freedom. She knows she cannot trust Harrow, but this is probably her best chance at being free, so she will take her chances and try to fool the other eight necromancers and eight cavaliers. But she isn’t the only one with secrets, and as the trials for becoming a Lyctor begin, tensions grow and it is clear that not everyone (or anyone) will stay alive. Continue reading

Review: This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

this is how you lose the time war amal el-mohtar max gladstoneRating: ★★★★★

Genres: Science Fiction, Literary Fiction

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In This is How You Lose the Time War, Red is fighting the war on the side of the Commandant. She is the most lethal agent and is used to winning. The only one who could possibly beat her is Blue,an agent working for the Garden, and Red knows her signature well. As they try to sabotage each other’s mission, and send taunting letters to each other, the unthinkable happens: Red and Blue start to bond. No one must know of this treason. And yet, how could they ever survive it? Continue reading

Review: Missing, Presumed Dead by Emma Berquist

missing presumed dead emma berquist

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Mystery, Young Adult, F/F Paranormal Romance

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Lexi doesn’t like it when people touch her. No, that’s an understatement – Lexi flinches whenever someone touches her, because she can see how anyone will die if she has contact with their skin. She also sees ghosts, and can send them to wherever it is they should’ve gone when they died, but at great cost to her. She’s lonely and miserable, working at a night club to make ends meet where people like her are welcome. One night, she touches a woman who’s going to be murdered violently that night and when she meets her ghost, she knows she must do whatever it takes to avenge her. Continue reading