Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz
Coming of age, families, Mexican Americans, friendship, homosexuality, fiction.
There are things that Dante can do but Ari can’t and vice versa. They are very different yet odds bring them together and they bond over a shared love to help each other out whether it be swimming or understanding the universe. Along the way, they are discovering their true selves and finding a place in the world. When one of them gets into an accident this puts their newly found friendship to the test. As well as one of them moving away. When they reunite, they discover some secrets of the universe and one of them was right in front of them.
This was beautifully written about young teens just trying to find meaning in this chaotic world. I remember when I was a teenager trying to figure out the universe myself. Dante and Ari going through the emotions of ether or not they should be friends or become something more made my heart melt. This novel was written with such simplicity yet the character’s emotions and interactions were so complex as their lives that each of them come from. Dante and Ari get glimpses into each other’s lives to see where they came from which was so surreal. I enjoyed reading this book and I found out that there is a sequel. I’m excited to go find a copy to read.
Payback’s a Witch – Lana Harper
Witches, sorcerers, magic, competition, LGBTQ+, romance, fiction.
Emmy ran away from Thistle Grove and the witch part of her to find her path and to run away from the heartbreak that had happened. This is all the fault of Gareth who broke her heart and she put a self-exile away from home. However, there is a tournament where she has to be a part of that is tradition. She runs into a familiar face, Talia, who just got her heartbroken. Talia tells Emmy it was Gareth’s fault. The next day she runs into her best friend who’s also got heartbroken by Gareth. Talia proposes an idea to get revenge, the three women that Gareth dated, together with getting revenge. Each of them goes with that idea. As time progresses, Emmy learns that her being away has caused some emotional wreckage with not only her family but with those who loved and cared for her. She also begins to fall for Talia during the tournament. Emmy has to choose her destiny, stay here or leave town again.
I got this book strictly because of booktok. I was curious because of the way that booktok was advertising this book as a witchy queer romance comedy. Let me tell you that booktok was not wrong. This was fun and sweet and insane to read. This had some elements of a slow-burn romance which is good for this type of novel. I loved how all three women ganged up against this one dude which was funny. The author did a great job with the witch lore and some world-building that was like breadcrumbs in the story. Harper wanted the audience to focus on the revenge and the romance part. The lore was simply helping the plot along and it wasn’t too distracting. Each character had and served a purpose for the plot. Highly recommend getting this novel to read. It was fun and romantic to read.
Last Chance Books -Kelsey Rodkey
Romance, bookstores, competition, enemies to lovers, Young Adult, fiction.
Madeline loves her family’s owned bookstore B&M that has been passed on to the new generation to take over. Her dream is after college coming back to take over the store away from her aunt. However, the store isn’t doing so well and mostly because of the competition that’s across the street called The Prologue. Her short-term goal is to take down The Prologue. Jasper is intent on ruining the B&M yet he secretly loves Madeline but doesn’t want to come to terms with that reality. They pull some pranks on each other until he gets hit by a car forcing Madeline to be the good person and take him to the emergency room then to his house. She decides to wave the white flag of truce and realizes so much when reality hits.
I was not expecting that. I was expecting the enemies to be lovers but this hit differently. The way that Jasper acts towards Madeline reminded me of children picking on each other that made me laugh. This novel was really cute and funny. I simply enjoyed reading this book and it was one of those one sitting types of reading. It might be just me that feels this way that this was a one-sitting type of novel. I read it in one sitting because I wanted to see where this was going with Jadeline. The author made a unique book centered around rivaling bookstores with romance thrown in. I differently this novel to read. It is fun and cute.
Life and Death comparing with Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
Vampires, werewolves, romance. YA, fantasy, fiction.
I was curious and decided to read this novel as well as the other Twilight series books that are out. It became popular once again since Stephanie Meyer made Midnight Sun as of recently and currently working on a novel spin-off that takes place after Breaking Dawn staring Renesmee and Jacob. I will be comparing both this with the original work. Just know this is my opinion and everyone is entitled to have their views towards this franchise. I’m just critiquing the two works side by side. I will also reread the entire saga plus Midnight Sun. In no shape or form is this to harm the author. Just as a disclaimer. And spoilers ahead… Anyways…
This was marketed as the gender-bent Twilight version but the character is Edith as Edward’s female counterpart and Bella’s male counterpart is Beaufort. Not all characters were gender-swapped which is lazy work honestly. Edward’s parents were gender-swapped but Bella’s parents weren’t which was odd. This new form made Edith look like a mean girl with her attitude towards Beaufort. In the original version Edward came off as a douche bag but with the female counterpart, this didn’t make the novel any better.
As far as the events go, most events happen just like the original novel except for the endings. The gender-swapped one was vastly different than the original which is cheating and being ultimately lazy and a little misogynistic. Beaufort had the decision and was given it whereas Bella wasn’t allowed to choose. Basically whether or not the bite from James or whatever the female version of him turned the main character into a vampire or not. This could be the author trying to establish that men can freely choose and women can’t with this work. Either way, I was disappointed with the ending. That did bother me slightly because I was suspecting that Meyer kept the original ending but I do see the understanding to create a standalone work.
Overall, both novels weren’t my favorite since the love interest was a complete douche bag towards the main character, and the main character still chose the douche bag love interest that is a vampire. That is just how I see it because both Edith and Edward had gaslight Bella and Beaufort plus acted towards them in an unfavoring way. I still plan to read all the other works minus Twilight because I read that to do this comparison.
Electric Idol – Katee Roberts
Fantasy, retelling, greek gods and goddesses, the marriage of convenience, fiction.
Psyche fears her mother pairing her to the new Zeus thus making her the new Hera. Eros is growing tired of being his mother’s weapon and wants to do his own thing. Both meet and are caught in an elevator together in a position that doesn’t look so great. Aphrodite saw and instructed that Eros must kill Pysche and bring her heart to her. Eros doesn’t want to kill her because she doesn’t deserve it. He meets with Psyche to come up with a plan to protect her from his mother by marrying her. Psyche is skeptical but can’t deny that she does have feelings for Eros. Unfortunately, they need a better plan because Aphrodite is too obsessive about wanting Psyche dead and gone.
This is the sequel to Neon Gods but it is about Eros and Psyche which intrigued me and the plot intrigued me even more. I hadn’t known what I was getting into until I was a good chunk of the novel in to realize that this was a marriage of convenience trope which I have been coming to enjoy in romance novels. I found myself binge reading this in one day or rather over the course of four hours because it was that good. I loved how there were some good one-liners that Psyche had said that made me gasp and laugh at the same time. Their chemistry was perfect and I was like muttering that the tension was just silly and that she should just go for it. I can’t wait to read another in the Dark Olympus series. Katee Roberts writes romance with heart, passion, plot, and a good amount of spice.
Neon Gods – Katee Robert
Retelling, romance, Hades x Persephone, erotica, fiction.
Persephone doesn’t want to get married to Zeus. However, her mother, Demeter decided to sell her to Zeus who has been known to go through wives. She didn’t even agree to this and it was sprung unto her last minute. Persephone decides to run away across the River Styx to where Zeus can’t cross over without violating the treaty. She runs into a man who has been known as a myth or a legend for a while. Hades, one of the thirteen, has lived in the shadows for a very long time and has never stepped out of the shadows. He takes her in and cares for her. She explains her situation and makes a deal with him. She lives in the Underworld for three months until she can formulate a plan to be free and away from Zeus in exchange she can help Hades’ plot revenge against Zeus. Hades and Persephone get together to make Zeus angry in all sorts of ways including messing around with her mother Demeter. When one of Persephone’s sisters is in trouble, Persephone makes a hasty decision without Hades to ensure her sister’s safety.
Okay. I purposely left out more information but that is because I want to make my website at least PG-13 but there is erotica in the novel. However, there’s a balance of erotica and plot which makes this alright and a good book. To me, I can enjoy erotica like this if there is some sort of balance. This novel brought that balance. I loved this retelling. Both characters’ interactions felt natural and felt just right. I simply couldn’t put this book down because of the way Katee Robert wrote this in such a way that the reader is kidnapped into this world. The lore keeps you from leaving as well as the plot with other characters. This novel, I would recommend to any adult who loves Hades and Persephone. This is not suitable for anyone under the age of eighteen.
It Ends With Us – Colleen Hoover
Romance, contemporary, relationships, fiction.
Lily throughout her life is a hard worker and came from her hometown to start a flower business in Boston. After her father’s funeral, she is on the rooftop just trying to relax when a man comes up smoking a joint telling her what to do. He thinks she is going to jump but she isn’t. He tells her that his name is Ryle and he’s a neurosurgeon. Each shares bits and pieces of their lives and he warns her about himself. She warns him of herself. They depart and life goes on as usual until their paths cross again. This time he doesn’t take the warning too seriously and dares to ask her out. With time, they slowly become more and more involved but also someone from her past, Atlas, appears in her life. This causes her to be torn between Ryle and Atlas.
I had heard of this author on TikTok and this book was on the BookTok table at my local Barnes and Nobles. I didn’t really like this novel because it was too fast-paced. I was able to read it in one sitting and this book left me saddened and the plot felt like something was missing from the story. The way the book ended was not satisfying at all. The writing was great, don’t get me wrong, it’s just the way Hoover wrote the plot could have been more satisfying at the end. The characters, such as Atlas and Lily, should have gotten together instead of Lily going with Ryle. Lily should have listened to Atlas and left Ryle the moment Ryle hit her. No man should be allowed a second chance after he hits a woman who he claims he loves. I thought that was where the novel was going to take the reader/audience but it disappointed me. I appreciate reading this novel and maybe I should find another Colleen Hoover book to read to understand more of the hype of the author. I do know that she has a bunch out that are on Booktok.
Fly Me to the Moon: Volume 8 – Story and Art by Kenjiro Hata
Romance, contemporary, married life, manga, fiction.
Nasa and Tsukasa decide to go on a honeymoon at a hot springs resort. Nasa tries to make plans for the two of them to spend time together and do more couple-like things. Every time there is a chance for the two of them to get close and intimate, these two are simply too shy for their own good. After the little honeymoon, they return home to continue their little life together.
I had found this manga and immediately grabbed it. I ship Nasa and Tsukasa so much. They’re a cute and awkward couple that I really love. This manga is really sweet with some perverted stuff but it’s mostly warm hearting cuteness. The hot tub scene got me laughing and going aww with. Overall the author and artist did a really great job with this manga series and I’m hooked on this series.
These Violent Delights – Chloe Gong
Retelling, Romeo and Juliet, the 1920s, shanghai, gang wars, young adult, fiction.
Juliette returns to Shanghai to take over the gang, named Scarlets. However, what is noticed is this new mysterious pandemic of individuals clawing themselves to death. She suspects it’s the Russians. Roma suspects that it is the Scarlets. Roma goes to confront Juliette and realized that this is an actual monster. He proposes that the two works together and set aside their differences to find what is killing people.
I usually don’t like to read any form of Romeo and Juliet. Yet alone to be caught dead reading a retelling. I always hated Shakespeare especially because of Romeo and Juliet. Anyways, this novel had kept popping up everywhere and was recommended to me. I found that I loved this novel. It had very thrilling writing and world-building as well as action with romance. There was serious tension between Roma and Juliette that felt surreal. I enjoyed this novel and found it immersive as well. The way the author transports the reader into the world was extraordinary.
Bone Crier’s Moon – Kathryn Purdie
Young adult, fantasy, romance, fiction.
Ailesse had been preparing for her Rite of Passage to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers. She had collected all the different bones she needed and learned all the different songs. Now she must go to the bridge to play the flute of a song that would attract her soul mate, the man whom she is destined to love and kill. Bastien was orphaned at a young age and promised to take revenge by murdering a bone crier. Sabine doesn’t like what the Bone Criers do nor their work but she must do what is expected of her. Ailesse’s mother assigns Sabine to watch her daughter’s Rite of Passage. Ailesse gets taken by her amour, Bastien, who wants revenge by taking her hostage. Sabine makes it her mission to rescue her best friend. Ailesse makes it her mission after learning about Bastien’s intentions to free him from their bond without death involved.
I had seen this while on the booktok side of TikTok and couldn’t resist the whole enemies to lovers trope. The premise doesn’t appear to be that way but it’s flushed out throughout the novel. This was one of my favorite fantasy young adult books so far. There was a perfect amount of action and fantasy along with some romance. There was a lot of tension between all the characters from the first page until the near end of the novel. The plot moved at a graceful pace that couldn’t have been more perfect. I was just sad about the cliffhanger and I have to find out if there is a sequel to the novel because this is excellent. The world-building was great and spread out just enough that it wasn’t just a lore dump in the beginning. I hate novels that do a lore dump at the beginning of the first book is the lore dump. I loved the whole enemies-to-lovers trope that is present. I can see Bastien really going for Ailesse hence I do ship it.