jce's reviews
225 reviews

Winter's Orbit, by Everina Maxwell

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adventurous hopeful tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Loveable characters? Yes
I'm still not decided on a rating for this one. 4 stars maybe? I certainly enjoyed it. I thought the MC's were endearing, I found Kiem particularly lovable, and the situation they were in was interesting. It had a lot of tropes that I love (give me the "we have to huddle together for warmth" trope forever I cannot resist it), and I'm always here for a slow burn. I felt invested in the characters and eager to see how things resolved between them.
There were times when I felt a little lost as to what was going on plot wise, and when I had trouble keeping track of who various characters were. This is probably an issue with me, rather than the book. My concentration has been at an all time low lately, and I probably just wasn't focused enough on what was happening.
The other issue I had was with how things unfolded between Kiem and Jainan. I do like the whole miscommunication/"I like you but I don't think you like me" trope. But I had some qualms with it here. It went on for SO long. And while there were valid reasons for them to be reading one another wrong, and unable to talk openly, there were also a few times when they were just about to reveal something or seemed ready to talk and then were interrupted. I can handle that once, maybe. But when there has been so little communication between them and they just keep almost opening up or understanding one another only to be interrupted, it becomes frustrating. It got to the point that I skimmed ahead just to see when they might finally actually TALK. 

Minor spoilers ahead*

SpoilerAnd then when they do come to some understanding, I still found it lacking. Kiem tells Jainan he's beautiful, they both sort of realize the other actually wants them, and then it's pretty much fade to black. The interactions we see are sweet, and the chemistry is believable, but there's still so little communication. And it's clear from later events that they still don't really have a clear picture of one another. I have absolutely no problem with fade to black sex scenes, but I did think here it might have been a chance to explore how these characters interact, how they treat one another during a vulnerable, open moment, and how the baggage they bring impacts their experiences. I just wanted to see more intimacy between these characters. Not necessarily in terms of sex, though that would have been one opportunity. Even just more conversation between them when they are alone and actually on the same page would have worked. I just wanted to feel like by the end they really knew one another and felt safe enough with one another to be honest and open. Since it was such a slow burn and there were so many times they didn't really seem to understand one another, I wanted the pay off of really seeing them connect and navigate opening themselves up to one another. We do see some of that, but rarely when they are just alone together without some sort of threat or lack of time. I loved the characters enough that I wanted more for them and I came away a little sad that we didn't really get much of a glimpse of what their relationship would look like once they realize they aren't just in love, but loved in return.
Songs You Know by Heart, by Dr. Noh, Eleanor Kos

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dark emotional reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character

4.5

The Hate Project, by Kris Ripper

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funny hopeful reflective
  • Loveable characters? Yes

4.5

I really enjoyed this. I smiled a great deal while reading it. I found Oscar very relatable, often frustrating, and stubbornly endearing. This was not a typical romance novel, but I think I liked it all the more for that? The thing about Kris Ripper's books is that I just never fail to be completely interested and invested in the characters. They always feel so complex and real. I found Oscar and Jack's relationship really sweet and funny and tender. It just felt very unique to them and their personalities. There's not a lot of plot here, which is fine by me, I'm here for the emotional arc. And for being sort of a low key and gentle book, I still found myself unable to put it down. Again, I think this is because I was invested in the characters and I wasn't quite sure how things would unfold. I don't know, there's just something about how this author writes characters, I could read the dialogue and interactions all day. It's just always so damn compelling somehow. So, yeah, really enjoyed this and sped through it. Also, the content warning at the start made me weirdly emotional, so bonus points I guess for making me tear up before the story even started ;)
Act Your Age, Eve Brown, by Talia Hibbert

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emotional funny hopeful lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

Beguiled, by Joanna Chambers

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emotional hopeful tense
Despite having a few reservations about the first book, I still started the second immediately afterwards. And, as with the first book, I really liked this overall, but there were a few issues for me. I liked the second book more, overall, mainly because the two MC's finally get to know one another. They still spend most of the book not fully opening up to one another though. Again, there's a lot of angst in this one, and my overall mood while listening was tense. I love the characters, and the writing is just fantastic, but I just wanted to shout at the MC's to TALK TO ONE ANOTHER! They just hold so much back throughout the first two books.

As with the first book, while some aspects of the sex scenes were so great, some left me uncomfortable. In the first book did not have the most enthusiastic consent, in my opinion. And in this book, I had something of the same issue, namely Murdo thinking he knows more about what David wants than David does himself. There's a scene where Murdo directs David to be in charge during their encounter, but then when David says he would like Murdo to do something, Murdo refuses on the grounds that it isn't what David actually wants. Now, there's reason for Murdo to say that, but it's frustrating that he is once again telling David what David wants, instead of listening to David. 

And, while I don't think every sex scene needs to be on page, I was disappointed about a scene in this that takes place off page. Not because the act in itself is anymore meaningful than any other, but because we've seen the emphasis these characters put on it, and Murdo has pointed out how important it is to him that they feel a certain way before and during. And since sex scenes do tell a lot about the characters here, and I was just wanting them to finally feel connected and on the same page and to see them being really gentle and openly loving together, I did wish we had gotten that scene.

Again, these issues didn't stop me from overall really liking the book. After finishing this one I immediately started the next in the series. And I did really love the series overall. There were enough fantastic things that they outweighed the things that bothered me. Once again, the audio was fantastic with this one.