Back to a mid-month wrap up this month because I did read several books outside of the ones you’ve seen reviews for and honestly, I think it just makes things neater. That said, if you all have any opinions about a preference of mid month wrap ups compared to last months, let me know!
Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope
I really, really adored this one. It’s almost 500 pages or maybe it’s over and I read it in a day because I was absolutely captivated. I’m fairly certain Aarya is the person who put this series actually on my radar? If so, bless her because I really loved it. This is the first book in an epic fantasy series with heavy romantic elements. This first installment ends with an HEA. Following Jamsinda, an orphaned outcast, as she stumbles upon an enemy soldier who should not be able to be where she finds him and her adventures after that with Jack, Song of Blood & Stone sets up a huge world. I also really loved Ella’s storyline. She’s probably my favorite character in the series so far. If you want a really great fantasy novel with a well developed romance, I would definitely recommend you pick this one up!
Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews
I was beyond excited to get this book early and so thrilled to inform you all that I absolutely adored it. I sent Aarya so many DMs while I was reading because I was having a lot of emotions, so shout out to her for dealing with me. I loved this installment. I’m not sure if I love it more than Sapphire Flames, but I remember that originally I gave White Hot 4 stars and now it’s my favorite in Nevada’s trilogy so… Basically, I’m saying I don’t trust myself. Anyway, I think you should be satisfied with this book if you loved Sapphire Flames and also, Catalina and Alessandro are absolutely amazing characters and I love them.
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
I have an ARC review of this one, but the tl;dr is that I think this book is basically perfect and I can’t wait for the sequel to come out! If you’re unfamiliar, this book follows Jasmine Lin Rodriguez as she moves back to NYC where her family lives, in order to be the lead in a new Netflix show called Carmen in Charge. She develops a Leading Lady Plan which involves not getting splashed all over the tabloids because of a man, which her new co-star is making challenging. Ashton Suarez is very buttoned up, but he has his reasons. He’s not expecting Jasmine to be so charming and to want to unbend to be closer to her, but… Here they are! I absolutely adored this one and would definitely recommend!
Whispers of Shadow & Flame by L. Penelope
This is the second book in the Earthsinger Chronicles and it definitely expands on the world Penelope set up in book one. This one feels very epic fantasy in part due to the way that we follow three storylines that don’t necessarily connect in this book (some do). There is not a secured HEA at the end of this one, but the romantic arc does resolve in book three, which came out last week. Here we’re following Darvyn and Kyara mainly, who are on opposite sides of the war. This book takes place concurrent (and even a little before, I think) the events in Song of Blood & Stone. We also follow two children and one teenager. I really liked the expansion of the political system, the world in general, and the characters. I found this one slower to read though because I’m not as into epic fantasy as I am romance. That said, I still thought this installment was great and I was very anxious to read more.
Like Lovers Do by Tracey Livesay
I have an ARC review of this one too and once again my tl;dr would be that I definitely recommend. I think Livesay shines here with her character work. I love Nic as a character. I think she’s incredible and I loved her arc throughout this book of figuring out that she can stay true to herself and her goals without having to shut down the idea of love. And Ben is a good hero! He’s a white dude with a really trash ex, which is what leads to the fake dating, and it’s all pretty wonderful. I definitely would recommend!
Breath of Dust & Dawn by L. Penelope
This is the novella I was actually supposed to read before Whispers of Shadow & Flame but I didn’t because I’m terrible and instead read it afterward. It’s an extended epilogue to book one because we’re still with Jasmina and Jack, but Jack is telling Jasminda about when he met Darvyn so it’s a prequel for book two as well. I liked but didn’t love this one and honestly don’t know how much it really added to my enjoyment of the story overall. I did find it interesting though!
Hush of Storm & Sorrow by L. Penelope
This novella that comes between books two and three of the Earthsinger Chronicles was everything I didn’t know I needed. I can’t really say who this book follows because of spoilers, but y’all!!!!!!! I loved it. There’s a truly excellently set up romance here that is apparently going to be resolved in the extended epilogue we’ll get from L. Penelope!
The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill
The art in this series is beautiful, which I knew even before picking it up because people on YouTube like to show off their copies and bless them for that. I picked this up for a challenge where I needed to read a book with dragons and while I considered using Burn for Me because of course I did, I decided this would be a great time to pick this one up instead. I checked it out of my library using Hoopla and y’all, the art is gorgeous. The story was nothing particularly interesting (in my opinion) and I actually felt like it was a really short story, but regardless I really loved looking at the art and I was very impressed by how beautiful it was.
Cry of Metal & Bone by L. Penelope
I have an ARC review of this one and the tl;dr is that I enjoyed it immensely. We returned to one of my favorite characters having a POV and she joined with another set of faves. There still wasn’t enough of her, but alas. There is not only a romance with an HEA in here, there’s also a romantic thread from book two wrapped up in here. And I for one can’t wait for the extended epilogue I think we’ll be getting in our inboxes from L. Penelope’s newsletter!
Better Than People by Roan Parrish
I have an ARC review of this one too! The tl;dr is that I adored everything about it. Better Than People follows Jack, who was injured on a walk with his animals and needs someone to walk his pack while he recovers. That person is Simon, who is a gem, and also he cannot speak to Jack because of crippling anxiety. Slowly they become friends and then they become more than friends and I loved this book. If you pick it up (out on the 25th!), I hope you love it as much as I did!
Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera
Again, you can find an ARC review of this one, which is also out on the 25th. Also again the tl;dr is that I thought this one was excellent. I think Herrera is utterly brilliant at creating casts of characters and the exiles are all delightful. Her villains are infuriating and I wanted to somehow go through my phone to a fictional world just to punch Phil in the face?? But most importantly, Rocco and Juliet are *chef’s kiss* and their sexy times require a fan. Highly recommend!
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
I absolutely adored this book, which is a weird thing to say given that it’s literary fiction, but y’all. These characters are messy. They are so flawed. If you’ve not heard of The Vanishing Half, it follows two light-skinned Black sisters who run away from their town where people are prized based on how light they are. They go to New Orleans and then one day Stella just disappears. Desiree lives her life, but eventually winds up going back home with her very dark-skinned daughter, Jude. There are time jumps that I thought were sometimes a little confusing, but mostly I followed it well. I really enjoyed this book and now I plan to pick up The Mothers by Brit Bennett as well. This is Ashley from Bookish Realm’s review of just The Vanishing Half from Goodreads, but I also really want to encourage you to watch her review three books centering on colorism and texturism because of how brilliant she is. (While you’re there, I would also recommend you check out this incredible video she did about books with Black sirens.)
My favorite book so far this month was You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria, but as you can tell, I really enjoyed a number of these books (especially Emerald Blaze!!!!!). What was your favorite of the first half of the month? Stay safe.