Friday, August 7, 2020

Book Review: "Boyfriend Material" by Alexis Hall

Boyfriend Material
Title: Boyfriend Material
Author: Alexis Hall
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Page Length: 432 pages
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Rating: 5 // 5 stars

This was one of my most anticipated romance releases of this year and I had big expectations. From the moment I saw that it was a romance featuring a fake-dating trope and a m/m pairing, I was in. I have to say, I absolutely adored this book in so many ways and I'm so happy to have read it.

Boyfriend Material is the kind of romance book you want all romance books to be. Full of romance, obviously, but also a story with an in-depth plot, complex characters, and plenty of humor. Not only that, but it had some of my favorite tropes such as fake-dating, "there's only one bed," rivals-to-lovers, and grumpy boys who are secretly soft.

I enjoyed every second of this book. I ended up listening to the audiobook and, while I could have smashed it out in 1/3 the time if I had read the ebook, I am so happy that I listened to it this way. Honestly I may have to commit to listening to most romances on audiobook from now on.

I think the main reason I loved the audiobook was because I got to hear and experience the emotions a lot easier and better than if I had read them on a page. Listening to the narrator's voice get loud when the character was frustrated or soft and cracking when he was sad? Perfection. Also, this book takes place in London and getting to experience the story with actual proper accents made it so fun.

This book was so fun and humorous. I already was having to pause the audiobook in chapter 1 because I needed to take a moment just to laugh. There's a good mixture of humor in this book from stupid puns, jokes, sarcasm, embarrassing moments, people poking fun at each other, and even more. I was laughing so many times throughout this book and I truly think that the humor is at least 40% of the reason why I loved this book so much. Of course, even though there was a lot of humor, there were plenty of serious moments as well. I thought that the balance between the humor and the serious emotional scenes was quite well done.

My favorite part of this book, though, had to have been the characters. Luc and Oliver were so much fun to read about. They're both so unique and different from each other in really every way possible. I really loved them together though. Even from the beginning there was never any animosity in their fake dating relationship which was a breath of fresh air. I think the support they have for each other was wonderful and I love each of them so much. We only get Luc's POV throughout the book so I feel like I connected more with him, but I also loved Oliver and think that they're such a cute pairing.

I think that the individual character developments as well as relationship developments were really well done. I really enjoyed getting to see how both Luc and Oliver developed throughout the story and seeing the progress in their relationship from fake-dating to possibly more.

The side characters were also so fun. I did occasionally lose track of who was who with the audiobook but I really liked how well-written the side characters were. I think my favorites were Alex, Bridget, and Luc's mom. I think that the side characters really helped move the story forward and added an extra depth to it.

This book also dealt with some serious topics such as depression, anxiety, and homophobia (throughout) and cancer, borderline abuse, and eating disorders (briefly). I cannot speak on some of these representations but I thought that the depression and anxiety was done in a very realistic and respectful way.

Overall, I just really loved this book. There was the perfect amount of angst, humor, and seriousness while having some of my favorite romance book tropes. I loved the characters and their developments as well as the overall story itself. I loved it so much that I already ordered a physical copy for my shelves and for me to flip through whenever I want. I highly recommend!

Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

July 2020 Book Haul

Hi all! Today I'm here to haul all of the books that I got in July. I'm actually pretty happy with the number I got. I got a total of five physical books this month and two of them were free. These are all books that I'm super excited about so let's just go ahead and dive in!

How to Be an AntiracistThe first book that I got this month was How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. This was a book that was on my to-read list for educating myself and then my college sent out an email saying that anyone who bought this book would be reimbursed. I figured there was no need to put off buying it since it was free at that point and I'm very glad to have a copy in my hands. I hope to read it this fall after I finish the two educational books I'm currently reading.

Supernova (Renegades, #3)Up next, I got a copy of Supernova by Marissa Meyer. This is the third and final book in the Renegades trilogy, which I binged this month. I absolutely loved this series and this final book. Plus, this series has some beautiful covers and I'm really just excited to have the entire trilogy on my shelves to reread whenever I want!

Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game, #1)Then I got Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody. I was hunting around some used book sites and found a hardcover for a pretty reasonable price. Since the hardcovers are out-of-print and somewhat difficult to find, I went ahead and bought it since I plan on reading this trilogy when the third book comes out in a few weeks. I did some rehab on it since it was an ex-library copy and, while still not perfect, it looks pretty good on my shelves!

Psych's Guide to Crime Fighting for the Totally UnqualifiedThen I picked up Psych's Guide to Crime Fighting for the Criminally Unqualified by Shawn Spencer with Burton Guster. Psych is one of my all-time favorite TV shows and I was preparing for the second movie when I found out that this book was a thing. I ended up one-click buying it and I'm really excited to flip through this companion and hopefully have a good laugh.

The Black KidsThe final book I got was from a Goodreads giveaway and that was an ARC of The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed. This book sounds so good and I absolutely love the cover! I want to hopefully read this sometime in the next few months as well.

I didn't get very many books this month, but that is perfectly okay since I have such a long back-list of titles to get to! I'm really excited about the ones I did get and can't wait to dive into all of them. Did you get any exciting books in July? Let me know in the comments down below!

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Monday, August 3, 2020

Book Review: "The Dark Tide" by Alicia Jasinska

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska
Title: The Dark Tide 
Author: Alicia Jasinska
Series: "The Dark Tide" #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Rating: 3.25 // 5 stars

*I was sent a free digital early copy of this book by Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own*

When I first read the synopsis for this book, I immediately knew that I wanted to read it. Witches, sacrifices, a sapphic romance? Sign me up! This book was good in a lot of ways and I ended up reading it in just one sitting. However, I do think there were some things this book was lacking to make it a truly amazing read for me.

I'll start with the things that I did like. I really enjoyed the author's writing style. It was very easy for me to get sucked in from the very beginning. I ended up not only reading this book in one sitting but also reading it rather quickly because of how easy it was for me to fall into the story and follow the writing.

The magic system and world-building was enough to understand the story but I am a big sucker for learning about magic and different worlds so I will always want more. I think that the author gave us the right amount of magic and world-building for this book, but I am excited to hopefully see it all expanded upon in book 2.

The plot itself was rather interesting. I really liked the entire concept of the sea demanding a sacrifice every year and the ritual behind it. I will say that the pacing kind of threw me off a bit because, while the plot was very strong and interesting, there were a few issues pacing-wise. I think one of the biggest for me is that at least the entire first third of this book was told in the span of just a day or two. But the last two thirds spanned an entire month? I think that the first part was so strong because nothing was rushed but the last two thirds felt less developed to me. Interesting things still happened plot-wise, but I feel like I wasn't as connected to the story because of the big time jumps.

I think the pacing was also an issue for me when it came to the character relationships. Our two main characters have a developing relationship and, to me, it felt like there was very little development between them for most of the book and then it did a complete 180 in the last act. I really wish we would have seen more actual scenes between the two main characters but we didn't actually get that many.

I did really enjoy all of the characters in this story, though. The side characters really helped bring a new level to this story and I thought they were all pretty well-developed even if most of them got little page time. I really liked the strong family connections as well. I enjoyed our two main characters, though I think I connected more with Lina. I'm not sure why I connected more with Lina than Eva considering they alternate points-of-view but it just ended up that way. Maybe not connecting as well with Eva was why I struggled a bit with their developing relationship.

I think what was interesting to me was seeing the character developments outside of the relationship that formed. Obviously a big part of the development of this book was these two characters forming this relationship but I also just liked seeing them develop as people. No spoilers, of course, but I really liked these journeys they went on, both internally and externally. I'm really excited to see where all these characters end up in the next book.

Overall, I thought this was a very interesting, fun, and addicting book. I think the pacing issues really made me struggle with the story and the relationship between the two main characters but other than that I am fully on board with this series. I want to know what happens next and I am very eager to return to this world and characters when the next book comes out.

Thanks for reading!

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