plumpaperbacks's reviews
810 reviews

Last Violent Call by Chloe Gong

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adventurous funny lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

These novellas were absolutely DELIGHTFUL, through and through. I didn’t realize just how much I missed these kids till I started reading, but gods, I really did. And I absolutely adore them all. They finally get to have the happiness and love they deserve, and I love that for them. I love it SO MUCH. I could try to talk about how cleverly Chloe set the stage for the final book, but like. I’m nose-deep in my Romette and Benmars feels and still sinking. They’re just SO GODDAMN CUTE. 🥹❤️

Representation:
  • Chinese protagonist
  • achillean Korean protagonist
  • achillean protagonist with OCD
  • married achillean (m/m) couple
  • various Chinese side characters (one is trans MTF)

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The Stolen Heir by Holly Black

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dark slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

I’ve joked that Holly Black peaked when she wrote The Folk of the Air, but I didn’t think it would actually be true.

Unfortunately, it is.

That’s not to say this book was terrible, because it wasn’t. That’s also not to say I wanted it to be exactly like TFOTA, because I knew it wouldn’t be. But, having just reread the trilogy before diving into this, I had refreshed my memory on exactly how brilliant it was and thus expected similar brilliance, even if it was a different sort… only for this to be so startlingly, disappointingly mediocre.

I do love Wren, though; I really do. She was such a compelling protagonist, very easy to root for. I love the way she was written, I love her character arc, and if she’s a little unhinged, so what? We respect that here. I want to give her a nice, hot bowl of soup, and a big, warm sweater, and an even bigger, warmer hug. She deserves all the good things.

One thing we don’t do in this house? Wren slander. I will protect my daughter. I decided to look at some other reviews after finishing the book because I felt so conflicted, and the number of people I saw calling her “boring,” “whiny,” “bland”… y’all are tasteless. This poor girl is traumatized and trying her best, and she absolutely does not deserve to be attacked for it. (If I had the spoons, I could go on a whole rant about how everyone would probably love Wren, if only she had been written as a boy, because I’ve been thinking about this and I have feelings… but, alas, I don’t have the spoons.)

I will make one (1) admission, though—her behavior did shift rather abruptly in the final few chapters. I’m here for the new Wren, no question, but I can still admit that it felt a bit too sudden.

The other characters, though? My feelings ranged from “I have none” (Hyacinthe) to “I actually can’t stand you” (Oak and Tiernan). Honestly, I feel like Oak was done so dirty. I was looking so forward to seeing what he was like now that he’d grown up, but Holly turned him into a much shallower, blonde The Cruel Prince-era Cardan, with nothing between his ears and no reason to root for him. He had a few moments where I thought he was clever or impressive, but that’s about it. If the next book is really from his perspective, that relationship’s gonna be doomed from the start.

And don’t even get me started on Tiernan. He reminded me so strongly of one of my favorite video game characters, but like… said character is what Tiernan could’ve been if he had any personality traits aside from grumpy asshole. I don’t know what his problem was with Wren or why he was so awful to her, but I do know that by the time he (finally) lightened up, it was far too little, far too late.

Now, possibly my biggest beef with this book—we didn’t get to see Jude or Cardan, not even ONCE!! I kept seeing teasers of how there were ~familiar faces~ in this book, and I was waiting the whole goddamn time to see them, BUT NO. The only ~familiar faces~ we see are antagonists, and I am. SO SALTY.

Moving on, for my own sanity.

The romance?? If you can call it that?? felt very much like secondhand Jurdan, like Holly was just trying to see exactly how many of the same stunts she could pull again and still get away with. There was no slow development of feelings, no angst or pining or attempted murder, just boom! Feelings! And it felt clumsy. Like, we know this woman can write an absolutely DELIGHTFUL slow-burn, we’ve seen it with our own eyes, but this time, she was just like… nah. And that’s truly tragic.

Seriously though. Wren and Oak have literally no chemistry. Holly seems to think that some sort-of-cute childhood flashbacks will work in place of present-day chemistry, but spoiler alert: no. They will not.

Now, for the plot… to be quite honest, it didn’t feel like there was one. There was an end goal, but the entire book was just a glorified road trip (except they don’t actually have a car). Most of it was just very boring, very typical fantasy journeying, from point A to point B to point C, which really is so disappointing. In TCP, even when there’s not really any action, there are still things happening. Here? Not so much. And any conflict the trio did find themselves in just seemed resolved far too easily.

(The spoiler tag applies to both The Queen of Nothing and The Stolen Heir. In summary, I found the reason for this book’s quest asinine—due to events from TQON—and guessed the ending’s plot twist. Details below.)

And the fact that all of this was for Madoc??? SERIOUSLY??? I didn’t give a crap about him before, and that hasn’t changed. Not a very compelling point for a quest AT ALL. He almost killed Jude in The Queen of Nothing!! He was the cause of most of that whole trilogy’s problems!! And I’m supposed to care now if he’s imprisoned or not? If he lives or dies? As if!!

And then, moving on—the whole “Wren has Mellith’s heart inside her” thing?? Called it. I absolutely called it. I saw it coming a mile away, and I. Was. Right. The thing is, I’m not sure how to feel about it. Normally I’d scoff, say it was too predictable. But I saw a tweet recently saying that maybe a book being predictable isn’t entirely a bad thing, because that meant the author did a good job laying the groundwork, or something like that?? So I’m torn, because like. I can see where they’re coming from. But I also (usually) want a book to surprise me, to thrill and entertain me. And this one… didn’t.


So, yeah. I think I’ve said all I have to say about this book. And in doing so, I’ve realized that I really didn’t like it that much, that it was quite disappointing. Wren is basically the only reason I’m giving it 3 stars instead of something lower. I’ll read the sequel when it comes out for her and her alone, because I want to support my daughter—and hopefully, HOPEFULLY, I’ll get to see Jude and Cardan too—but my expectations are going to be a hell of a lot lower.

Representation:
  • two achillean side characters

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Heartstopper: Become Human by Alice Oseman

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lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

This was so adorable!!!

I’ve never played D:BH myself, but I have spent plenty of time watching my sibling play it and always thought it was an interesting premise. So, of course, I saw Alice had done a Heartstopper AU and knew I needed to read it ASAP. It was a lot of fun to see these characters in a new light, in such a drastically different setting. Detective Charlie and android Nick are as adorable as their classic, contemporary selves, and I especially loved that little nod to the original comic. (Also! I loved that it was in full color!)

10/10 am bookmarking this to reread whenever I’m sad.

Representation:
  • achillean romance (m/m) (one is gay, one is bisexual)
  • sapphic side couple (f/f) (both are lesbians)
The Lost Sisters by Holly Black

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lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

If there’s one thing this novella made me appreciate, it’s that Jude is the protagonist of the actual trilogy, not Taryn. This was about 45 pages; I don’t think I could deal with several hundred more of her whining about Jude being mean and Elfhame being awful. At least Jude does something about it.

Anyway. I’m rating this based on my opinion of the novella itself, not Taryn. If I was rating it based on her, I’d give this 0 stars. She’s obnoxious, and for me, this only solidified that opinion. As a whole, though, I did like the way Holly wrote this, as if the whole thing was a story one person was telling to another.

Now, a couple of notable things.
“I hated the way he questioned me, as though you were so much more interesting than I was.”
Because she is. Jude will always be more interesting than you, you well-dressed wet sock. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

“I was the good sister, the one who kept faith and stuck to the rules. You were the angry one, the one who didn’t know how far was far enough, the one who courted disaster. It wasn’t fair.”
Hang on.
“I was the flimsy sister, the one who fell in love with a faerie boy even as I warned you of their atrocities. You were the determined one, the one who sought to protect us both, the one who deserved so much better than my selfishness. I wasn’t fair to you, but I’m still going to play the victim.”
There we go. Fixed it. :)

“And you’re going to forgive me. You have to.”
The entitlement here is actually astounding. Taryn goes on to ramble about how they’re sisters, of course Jude will forgive her, blah blah blah. And like… no. Go step on a Lego.
Radiant Sin by Katee Robert

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emotional funny mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

Katee Robert is ACTUALLY a genius for this entire series. Radiant Sin is where, as a series, everything starts to come together, and in Olympus, everything starts to fall apart. The political intrigue, the viciousness and ambition and power plays… it’s all so brilliantly done. This book only gets more intense as it goes on, and for the last third, my heart was genuinely racing. I had no clue what the hell was going on. I felt like I was reading a thriller. I have no idea what to expect from the next book or where we’ll be by the time the final book is over, which is both fascinating and terrifying to think about. There’s a fine line between keeping readers on their toes and overloading them, but Katee never crosses it. She’s a mastermind. Taylor Swift wrote that song about her.

It’s hard to explain without spoiling, but there’s one character in this book that gives off such strong Mephistopheles (from Stalking Jack the Ripper) vibes. Honestly, the whole second half of the book felt very reminiscent of Escaping from Houdini (SJTR #3) in one specific way, and I just. I am floored. I am so unbelievably impressed by all of this. Truly.

I loved Apollo and Cassandra, and I especially loved seeing their relationship develop. Fake dating is one of my favorite tropes, and Katee wrote it well. Watching these two try so hard to be good spies but fail miserably because they’re Horny™️ was absolute comedic gold.

The reason I didn’t give this a full five stars, though, is because I didn’t feel the same intense emotional connection to Apollo and Cassandra that I do to the couples in my Katee Robert Holy Trinity—aka the couples in books from her I have given five stars. They’re definitely entertaining, I definitely like them, and I like that they’ve got a sort of mutual softness for each other that feels unique to them, that separates their dynamic from dynamics other Katee couples have. But at no point was I kicking and squealing as I read because they were just so goddamn adorable, or feeling the urge to climb up the wall shrieking like a feral goblin because I was feeling all the things. This sounds demented, but like. Real fandomers get it.

Maybe I would’ve given this five stars if we’d gotten a Hades and Persephone cameo, because I’m so desperate to get an update on them but too broke for Katee’s Patreon. Maybe.

I’m kidding. Mostly.

Anyway, I did still thoroughly enjoy this book, and I’m EAGERLY awaiting all of the smut, shenanigans and imminent disaster that will surely be in the next few books. (ESPECIALLY Eurydice’s. 👀)

Representation:
  • fat bi/pansexual protagonist
  • Swedish-Korean bi/pansexual protagonist
  • various Black, queer and/or fat side characters (includes bi/pansexual and asexual rep, as well as a MMF throuple)

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Teeth and Tarot by A.A. Fairview, A.A. Fairview

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adventurous funny lighthearted mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

I found this book on Instagram and started it on a whim, not sure what to expect—but it was actually really fun! I always love stories where a supernatural world is hidden alongside our own mundane one, and Fairview did that brilliantly. As a whole, their world-building was unique, a fun blend of old and new, of classic myths and their own imagination.

This book also has a fun cast of characters, plenty of banter, and good smut—so, basically, it covers all the bases. I’d definitely recommend it, and will be eagerly awaiting the next book!

Representation:
  • gay protagonist
  • queer/achillean protagonist
  • achillean (m/m) romance
  • queer side characters

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The Demon's Bargain by Katee Robert

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emotional funny hopeful mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

I’ve completed my holy trinity of Katee Robert ships—Persephone/Hades, Tink/Hook, and now Lenora/Ramanu. WHEN I SAY I ADORE THEM!!!

Seriously though, this book is a DELIGHT. From their very first interaction, Lenora and Ramanu are such an entertaining (and spicy 👀) duo, and the more I read, the more feral I became. I love everything about them, as characters and as a couple. Their dynamic is basically “you’re a menace”/“I’m your menace,” which is 1000% the best ship dynamic and thus makes them completely, undeniably iconic. I don’t make the rules. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Some of my favorite (early, spoiler-free) moments:
1. “‘If you fuck with me, I will kill you.’
‘You’ll try. It will be fun.’”
2. “‘If you touch me again, I’m going to take it as an invitation.’
‘I just attacked you.’
‘Baby, that’s practically foreplay.’”
3. “‘I’m not going to fuck you.’
‘Keep telling yourself that.’”
I’m cackling just thinking about these!! And yes, they are like this for the entire book. ;))

My one (1) qualm with this book is that I would’ve liked to see more between the last chapter and the epilogue. I understand why the time jump is there and I absolutely love the epilogue as it is, but like… I just want more of my ship. I can’t help it.

Current ranking of the Deal With a Demon series:
  1. The Demon’s Bargain (calling it now - this will stay in the #1 spot)
  2. The Kraken’s Sacrifice
  3. The Dragon’s Bride

Current ranking of the Peculiar Tastes series:
  1. The Demon’s Bargain (calling it now - this will also stay in this #1 spot)
  2. The Death God’s Sacrifice (but the gap between the two books is. a lot.)

Representation:
  • two bi/pansexual protagonists (unlabeled, but both attracted to multiple genders)
  • nonbinary protagonist that uses they/them (their gender isn’t specifically labeled; I’m using “nonbinary” as an umbrella term)
  • nonbinary side character of color that uses they/them
  • sapphic side characters + couples (only one is on-page; both minor)

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The Death God's Sacrifice by Jenny Nordbak

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dark lighthearted mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

Though this book started off promising, somewhere between 25-50% I completely lost all interest I had in either of the two main characters; I really only finished it because I was still vaguely curious about how everything would play out.

And good gods, it was confusing. So much happened in the second half of this book with barely any breathing room. If you asked me to explain it to you, I don’t know if I could—which is bad, considering I finished it less than two hours ago. I’ll give Jenny credit where it’s due—the ideas here are interesting, even if the execution wasn’t great. I think this book’s biggest issue was its length, because 150 pages just was not enough for the plot’s complexity. If this had been a full 300-400 page fantasy romance novel, given proper time to explore the characters’ pasts and traumas, to let them overcome those things naturally, and really build up the stakes of everything going on with the druid… it could’ve been so amazing.

But unfortunately, that was not what happened. And the book as it is now is just… fine. Very fine. Very (I hate to say it, but) forgettable. Sorry not sorry.

And also, the fact that the druid had a Scottish accent, that Jenny wrote his dialogue the way she did and that I’ve been playing a lot of Disney Dreamlight Valley lately… literally the only thing I could think of was Scrooge McDuck. Which is so not a good thing when reading smut. 💀💀💀

(I know that’s not the author’s fault, or the book’s. But still. It happened. And it was really weird.)

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The Kraken's Sacrifice by Katee Robert

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emotional hopeful fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

I was Very Nervous going into this for one reason and one reason only: tentacles. And I won’t lie—I did find the smut scenes weird for that reason, but not enough so that I didn’t enjoy the rest of the book. I did, much more than I expected to. Although there was a portion of the book where I found Thane to be rather annoying and insensitive, he grew on me significantly; I loved Catalina from the start and that never stopped. And pushing through was so, so worth it, because I got to see them become comfortable around each other, heal and build their future together. 💙

Also, in the biggest twist of the year—this book made me genuinely like Ramanu. They had much more page time here than in the first book, which annoyed me at first because I thought they were an obnoxious asshole. But seeing how they softened around Cat and were such a good friend to her… it really endeared them to me. I’m suddenly quite eager to read their book in the Peculiar Tastes series, which I’d already been thinking about but now will definitely be diving into next.

Current ranking of the series:
  1. The Kraken’s Sacrifice
  2. The Dragon’s Bride

Representation:
  • two queer protagonists, each attracted to multiple genders
  • nonbinary side character that uses ze/zir
  • nonbinary side character that uses they/them

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The Dragon's Bride by Katee Robert

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emotional hopeful fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

As this was my first foray into monster romance, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. There’s surprisingly intricate, rather fascinating world-building, as well as Katee’s trademark fierce girl protagonist and a romance that’s delightful both including and beyond the spice. Briar and Sol had slight “Persephone and Hades in Neon Gods” vibes, which was a nice touch since that’s one of my absolute favorite Katee books.

I loved Briar’s character development, and especially cheered her on when she confronted Azazel—that was COMPLETELY iconic of her. I’m happy that she and Sol are happy, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series; from what little I’ve seen of the other characters, their stories are going to be just as entertaining.

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