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tellulahdarling

Tellulah Darling

Tellulah Darling writes YA & New Adult romantic comedy because her first kiss sucked and she's compensating.

Sassy girls. Swoony boys. What could go wrong?

Possibly my fav 2017 read

The Duchess Deal - Tessa Dare

This book made my cold, dead heart feel all the feels. I am in looooove! Let’s start with our protagonist, Leia, nerd girl extraordinaire, graphic novelist, and soon-to-be mother thanks to a one-night stand at a comic convention with Batman. I mean, I can’t even. I was already so happy.

 

The Almost Sisters has so much depth: it tackles family, sisterhood, fathers, dementia, and reconciling a vision of the American south that is so welcoming with the “second South” involving deeply entrenched racism. There was humour and heart and unlike some other Southern-set stories I’ve read recently, these characters popped off the page, crackling with life and spirit and individuality.

 

I cannot recommend this book enough. It gets all the stars and then some.

Anna Bradley nails another HR

Lady Eleanor's Seventh Suitor - Anna Bradley

OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK SO HARD! Cam is the worst autocrat. I mean really, he blackmails her into marriage. Talk about imperious and demanding. Yes, there are good reasons, but still. Much as I love my alphaholes, there were many ways for this to go so wrong. But in Anna Bradley’s brilliantly capable hands, I adored his underhandedness and ruthlessness. Of course, it made all the difference that Lady Eleanor was equally ruthless in her schemes not to be trapped by Cam.

 

There is so much collateral damage and heartbreak and stubborn stubborn people incapable of saying what they really mean. Absolutely delicious. Reward yourself with this book!

When two signs collide the results are delightful

Scorpio Hates Virgo - Anyta Sunday

What a treat! I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about the dictionary entry at the start, and to be honest, those never really did it for me, but other than that small detail, I loved this book. It was funny, there was clever word play, and the growing awareness between Perseus and Callahan that they couldn’t consider themselves nemeses anymore had me rooting so hard for them.

 

This is also very much a story about grief and loss and a community, an extended family actually, coming together to help the healing process. The Sherlock Gnomes game was a ton of fun and gave great insights into all the secondary characters. I’d love to read more in this world, so I’ll definitely be going back to read Theo’s story.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Anyta Sunday for the opportunity to read this title in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

Gimme all the Alisha Rai!

Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts - Alisha Rai

I was in the most delicious agony, desperate for these two to figure things out and get their HEA. This story combines two of my favourite tropes: enemies to lovers and second chances. Plus, how often do you get a steamy romance that deals with the family history of the tragedy of Japanese internment camps?

 

It’s Romeo and Juliet in modern times without all the stupidity! The characters must not only battle family history and their own insecurities around emotional intimacy but depression, in a way that felt very real. The chemistry between Livvy and Nicholas was incredible, and their push and pull had me on the edge of my seat.

 

The writing is gorgeous; the characters have depth and flaws, and there is just enough humour to balance all the angst. Rai hits every right note with this one and I can’t wait to dive into more of her work.

Sharp and compelling

Unravelling Oliver - Liz Nugent

“Unraveling” is the perfect way to describe this story as we peel away the layers of various narrators with varying degrees of reliability, to get to the truth of who Oliver is and what he’s done. I think a big reason of why this book really appealed to me was timing. There is a lot of unrest in our world these days, and a lot of people behaving in ways I just don’t understand. So here was an opportunity to get inside the head of this one man and try to comprehend why he behaved the way he did. How he could act so callously.

 

The answers aren’t pretty, but then again, I didn’t expect them to be. And even having the answers, I wasn’t particularly satisfied, but I think that’s what also made this book work for me. Would I be satisfied in real life knowing why someone had committed X or done Y? Not really. The knowing doesn’t make it easier. And I appreciated that Nugent didn’t try to manipulate us into an acceptance of Oliver’s actions–or any real forgiveness.

 

If you’re looking for a chilling albeit interesting psychological portrait, then you’ll enjoy Unraveling Oliver.

If my judgemental ways had made me miss this book, it would have sucked hard!

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman

I really am a judgmental girl. The synopsis, the cover – all left me eyeing the book laying on my shelf with utter distaste. Honestly, if I hadn’t been on vacation, bookless, and feeling like I should at least read a couple pages to tell the friend that had lent it to me that I tried, I would have missed this fabulous, wonderful read.

 

By the end of chapter 1, I was smiling. By chapter three, I was crying, and then pretty much the rest of the book was alternating between those two states of being. I then handed it over to my husband, because he was now bookless on vacation, too. He does not read these kinds of books. Mystery, fantasy, sure. Dude did not put it down.

 

I adored Ove and Parvaneh and every single one of the characters . There is not a single misstep.  If the synopsis isn’t your thing, then ignore it and just trust me. This is one book you don’t want to miss out on. It’s so funny and charming in all the best ways and ultimately, an amazing affirmation of life and love. This book punched me in the heart – let it punch you.

The Night Market is a delicious thriller

The Night Market - Jonathan Moore

The Night Market is certainly a thrill ride. It’s a great set up with this bizarre crime and then Carver having to not only solve it, but piece together his missing memories at the same time. Carver is your classic hard-boiled detective, swimming through layers of betrayal and corruption while trying to get the skinny on the femme fatale character of Mia.

 

Tons of twists and turns. The world reminded me of Blade Runner San Francisco-style, which was a plus in my books. And I loved the thematic commentary on a consumer culture run rampant.

 

Apparently this is the third and final book in a series featuring loosely interconnected characters. I didn’t know that at the time, and it didn’t impact my reading enjoyment, though it did make me want to go back and read the others. Loved it!

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Golden House is Golden

The Golden House: A Novel - Salman Rushdie

This is some serious, epic Greek tragedy. At its heart is the question of “Can a man be both good and evil?” and yet it is also about the role of the storyteller and the unmasking of America. As always, his wordplay is a twisty, tangled delight, filled with a myriad of literary and cinematic references that gladdened the heart of this lifelong reader girl and degree holder of a Masters in Film Theory.

 

This is a long book, over the top in many ways, but so so clever. I was totally caught up in the lives of the Golden family – Nero and his three sons all cloaked in mystery that the intrepid Réné is hellbent on unraveling for his own artistic pursuits. And so, the narrator becomes part of the story.

 

And Rushdie’s commentary on American politics was brilliant. I suspect this book will earn him as many enemies as fans, but I adored it.

 

Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Hockey m/m romance book crack

Breakaway - Avon Gale

I would rather stick hot needles in my eyes than watch any kind of team sports, so the fact that I love love love hockey romances, especially m/m ones, is a mystery to me. I blame it on some kind of hard-wired Canadianness.

 

My favourite m/m hockey romances are written by Sarina Bowen, so when she recommended Avon Gale's romances, I knew I'd be checking them out.

 

Lane is the best. First off, he's Canadian, which yay! But he's so socially awkward. This kid just does not have a filter button, which I love, and yet he makes everyone want to both hug him and punch him at the same time. I don't know how Gale pulled this character off, but she did it brilliantly.

 

Jared is about 11 years older than Lane. The veteran player. I usually cringe at this age gap, but again, it worked and I totally rooted for them. Both of them are at very different places in terms of their sexual identities and experience and Gale really brought a genuineness to her exploration of that.

 

There's not a lot of worry about what will happen with Lane and Jared. They get together quite soon on and it's more going along for the ride in their relationship than nail biting "will they overcome all these horrible things and finally get an HEA."

 

Breakaway is a totally satisfying standalone but I bet that like me, you'll be buying book 2 as soon as you're finished. I'm almost done that one as well, and yeah. Just as good.

The White Hot sizzle of Ilona Andrews' magic

White Hot -  Ilona Andrews

White Hot was worth every second of the wait. The second book in a trilogy can be tricky because it can feel like filler for the final showdown. That does not happen with a master like Ilona Andrews. If there is a gold medal podium for urban fantasy authors, this husband and wife writing team are standing on it.

 

I tend to go on at length when discussing Andrews about her incredible world building skills, but come on. Her mythologies are fascinating, original (not an easy feat in the crowded UF market) and have me flipping the pages to learn more just as much as her characters do.

 

And speaking of characters, the MC Nevada, is a joy to read. What I love most about her is not, shockingly, her snark or kick-ass abilities, it's how close she is with her family. From the get go there is this mutual love and respect with all the members of her extended family. And she never has Too Stupid To Live moments. When she does keep things from them, I understand why, and honestly, most of the time, she's upfront about everything.

 

Then there's Mad Rogan. Can I honestly say I'm crushing on a psychopath with off-the-charts magic power? Why yes, yes I can. See, the thing is, Rogan is a product of his environment and in Andrews' hands we are exposed to not just Mad Rogan the monster and the legend, but Connor, the man. My heart broke in several places during this second book as we develop a whole new understanding of him.

 

I basically put my evening on hold and devoured this next installation, and it is with great relief that I only have to wait a couple of months for the finale instead of 2.5 years. But again, I know it will be worth it.

I had a Strange and wondrous dream

Strange the Dreamer - Laini Taylor

Taylor is one of those authors whose writing is so lush and evocative and gorgeous, that I sit there wondering why I bother to tell stories and Strange the Dreamer is no exception. I loved the world of Weep so damn much. It's classic storytelling, using a ton of archetypes and mythology/fairy tale tropes, which in the hands of someone as skilled as Taylor feel fresh and unique.

 

I know this is frustrating, but I kind of don't want to tell you anything about it. I didn't know anything beyond the synopsis and I think that's the best way to go into this. (Along with the realization that it's just book 1.) Lazlo is a fabulous character, I adored the blue-skinned goddess, and really, there's not a boring person in the bunch. It's fitting how they all have their personal demons, yet there is so much light and wonder with these characters.

 

You will laugh, you will sob, it's truly epic storytelling.

 

So, yeah, I'm going to be totally coy but trust me: let the secrets of Weep unveil themselves to you, page by page. Don't read other reviews. But absolutely read this book.

Sad I could only read this for the first time once

Black Iris - Leah Raeder

Confession time. The only reason I read this book was because I was at the library, it was sitting there on the shelf at eye level and I was facing a bookless bus ride home. To say my enthusiasm for diving in to this story that I'd so actively opted not to read so many times was low, would be generous.

 

Hi. I'm Tellulah Darling and I'm an idiot. I don't know what my problem was because I'd read Raeder's Unteachable about a student/teacher relationship and if (I'm going to refer to the author as Elliot Wake now because he has transitioned), he could get me fully onboard with that subject matter and loving that book, my reticence here was a mystery. Wait - no it's not because I just re-read the synopsis and I thought it was every NA that I was tired of reading.

 

Oh, how wrong I was.

 

Black Iris is stupendous! I read it in about 3 hours, ignoring my entire family to do so. Dark, haunting, twisted, sublime, lush, this book has taken root in my brain and I suspect it will be a long time before I stop thinking about it. Where I expected it to zig, it zagged, when I was sure I understood a character, a bombshell was dropped on me. I couldn't set my smug reader expectations on this book and it was fabulous.

Take a primal revenge story, birth it in the devastation of mental illness, wrap it in several layers of sexual identity and heartbreaking homophobia and then shine it to a high gloss with the brittle beauty of Laney and Blythe. This book nails every single dizzying element. So don't be like me, go read it immediately, and bow before Wake's writing prowess.

A must-read thriller

Emma in the Night - Wendy   Walker

I'm fascinated by narcissism in its psychological disorder sense, not the "vain" way it's commonly used. It's a condition that leaves a legacy of abuse, so combined with the hook of this child who disappeared coming back, I couldn't wait to dive in.

 

I couldn't flip the pages fast enough to watch this story unwind. Cass is an unreliable narrator with an murky agenda that I couldn't wait to decipher. Like Abby, the forensic psychiatrist, I kept trying to sort the nuggets of truth from this spiderweb of a tale.

 

Heartbreaking, enthralling, and a definite must-read, if you enjoy getting lost in a thriller, you'll want to pick up Emma in the Night. I got an ARC so you'll have to wait until August 8, but trust me, the wait will be worth it.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Never been so surprised to like a book so much

Time Served - Julianna Keyes

I get the Smart Bitches Trashy Books newsletter (as many of us do), and Time Served was advertised as being on sale. That first sentence of the synopsis just hooked me and I like second chance romances so decided to buy it. In full disclosure, there were several elements in this story that made me deeply uncomfortable including revenge sex and a desire to humiliate the female main character. That is normally not anything I have any desire to read.

 

But I have to give Keyes a lot of credit, she not only kept me reading, I felt like she found a way in to both her romantic leads to make this situation believable. The fact that the MC was also questioning her choices around this guy helped. I was uncomfortable but I was completely engaged and on this erotic ride until the end.

 

Not only did I enjoy the tangled web of emotions and baggage, but Rachel is a lawyer and I really enjoyed the storyline around her professional goals. It didn't always go the way I expected it to, which was nice. The entire book was a really pleasant surprise and I'm happy to recommend it to all of you.

I got my grabby hands on the latest Santino Hassell

Concourse - Santino Hassell

 

I'm a self-admitted junkie for anything Santino Hassell writes. And I get it. My expectations of brilliance are a lot to put on a guy who's already given me both Michael & Nunzio, and David & Raymond. But geez, Hassell, it's your fault for creating these fine and foxy couples who give me all the feels.

 

Ash and Val were good. And if this had been my first Santino rodeo, it may have merited 5 stars. But, they only get 4. Sorry, boys. Still a damn fine read. Just, you know, Not MNDR level.

 

Thanks to NetGalley and Riptide Publishing for a chance to read in exchange for an honest review.

A great and beautiful drift

A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki

This is a story about drift. Drift in the sense of ocean currents that wash artifacts up on a distant shore. Drift in the sense of our lives, as we bob along, hopefully keeping our heads above the waves but sometimes finding it easier to let ourselves sink down to the bottom. And I think that the best headspace to read this book in, is to allow yourself to drift through the story.

 

It is a story that winds the lives of our two narrators, calling into question the role of reader and storyteller by way of quantum physics and Buddhism. Curious? Confused? Either you'll really get into A Tale for the Time Being, or it won't be your cup of tea. I suspect that fellow Murakami lovers will enjoy the existential nature of it.

 

So I'm not going to tell you any more. I'm not going to dissect character or give you more plot than you already have. Get comfortable, open it, take a deep breath, and plunge.