What I’ve Been Reading

I have participated in the Goodreads reading challenge for six years now. It’s the only challenge I’ve ever actually completed – probably because it’s based on the number of books rather than specific titles. This year I lowered my goal from 200 to 100, thinking I wouldn’t have as much time to read. I’m at 97 books right now and June has only just begun, so I think I’ll be adjusting the total back to 200.

Apparently I found time to read. I also found some great books!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, #1) by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

I hardly need to recommend this book. It has won all the awards, and has over 400 five star reviews on Amazon. I’m going to recommend it anyway, because it’s just that good, and because of the sweet nature of the romance, it will appeal to a wide audience.

I love coming of age stories and I adore the trope “friends to lovers.” Both are handled beautifully in this slow burn love story about two boys whose friendship is all about discovering the secrets of the universe – and themselves. Ari’s struggle to accept himself will break your heart. The way he cares for and protects Dante will put it back together again. The final chapter is just beautiful.

My favourite aspects of this book are the observations on life from a teenage perspective. It’s sometimes hard to remember how different the world looks from back then, until an author takes you there and reintroduces you to a view that is both necessarily narrow and scarily wide. Ari’s struggle isn’t purely with his sexual identity. That’s almost the least part of it. Rather, he’s aware of his own uniqueness as a human being, which is hard to deal with when you just want to be like everyone else.

While I’m excited about a possible sequel, I’m not sure I will read on. I think I’d rather preserve this story in my mind just as it is.

The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods, #1) by Lois McMaster Bujold

Bujold’s voice is recognizable from series to series. You know you’re reading one of her books from that alone. You’ll get the same feeling from her characters. While her heroes from book to book (even within a series) vary greatly, to me they feel familiar. I know that beneath their gruffness, or somber attitude, glibness, or seeming distraction they’re good people. They may suffer selfish whims or come across as not particularly gallant from time to time – because they’re human beings. (Mostly.) But, at the end of the day, they will always do the right thing. As sure as rain falls and suns rise, Bujold’s heroes will be just that: heroes.

And if there is a hero-type I particularly adore, it’s the broken soldier. I’m a sucker for these guys. I love writing them and I love reading them. I think what makes this character type so attractive is the idea of taking someone whose world is shattered and helping them piece it back together again. In the case of Cazaril, the only way that is going to happen is through abject heroism (read: self-sacrifice). It’s not all gloom and doom, however. Something else Bujold excels at is balancing the light with the dark – and making fun of her characters. Cazaril can scowl all he likes, but the supporting cast – colourful and diverse, as always – will keep the balance, even coaxing a smile or two out of our grumpy hero along the way.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

I’d been meaning to read Colleen Hoover for a while. I’m both wonderfully glad and somewhat sad I started with It Ends with Us. Glad because reading this book proved to be one of those rare and truly transformative experiences. Yeah, it’s that good. Sad, because how could any other of her novels possibly measure up? I must have started at the top.

In recommending this book, I’m going to say go in knowing absolutely nothing about it. Don’t read the cover, don’t read any reviews. Just fly in and prepare to be mauled, knowing that this is romance, so while the journey is going to bruise you, there is a happy ever after.

I enjoyed so many aspects of this story, even when the going got rough. I connected well with Lily, the heroine, and her friends. I adored Ryle. I followed the backstory between Lily and Atlas with obsessive curiosity. I was surprised by the first major turning point. Horribly surprised. But I kept reading because I trusted the author to make the story work – and she did, in the most empathic and sympathetic way for all the characters. And that is what I loved most about this book, the fact that not every story is simple and that not every person has only one point of view.

I can’t say more without ruining the story, but if you read this and want to talk about it, please message me!

Fierce by Rob Rosen

I loved this book! It’s so cute and funny. Lucas is utterly adorkable.

Rob Rosen’s style won’t be for everyone and it took me a while to get over the garrulous nature of his hero’s thoughts, but once I got there, I seriously couldn’t put this book down. It was like reading an extended comic book adventure, and the story ticked all the appropriate boxes: awkward orphan, goofy costumes, a friendship torn asunder by the rift between good and evil, devious plots, dubious science, lots and lots of fun sex, cute sex, sweet sex, ‘we have nothing better to do so let’s f*ck’ sex, and at least one instance of ‘I don’t know what to say so we should have sex’ sex.

While I really enjoyed Rosen’s voice and would look for another book of his based on that alone, what I liked best about Fierce was the balance between cute, ridiculous and actually getting a good and solid story happening. Lucas could have kept me turning pages for days, but watching him work out the why of his existence was as just as satisfying as watching him save the day.

Fields of Fire (Frontlines, #5) by Marko Kloos

Marko Kloos is writing some of the most accessible and engaging military science fiction available today.

I stumbled across the Frontlines series when Audible featured the first book, Terms of Enlistment, as a Daily Deal. The greater story covers about five years of Andrew Grayson’s career in the North American Commonwealth military, from raw recruit to officer. Andrew’s backstory alone guaranteed my interest: only child of a single mother living a hand to mouth existence in the PRC – which is basically a city-sized slum, one of several dotted around the urban centers of future America. For a kid like Andrew, the military offers the best deal out of poverty with a guaranteed term of enlistment, a chance to see the galaxy and most importantly, three squares a day. And that’s real food. Not soy something or other.

Andrew’s advancement through the recruit ranks to the only assignment he really didn’t want is compelling reading – mostly because of Andrew’s attitude. He’s a true “everyman” and his point of view is nearly always outward, meaning that when he turns inward, you feel like you’re getting a rare peek under the covers.

I was pleasantly surprised by the sweet love story that flows through these five books, with all the ups and downs you’d expect from a true romance. I loved the secondary characters and cheered when they popped up in other books. The plot is straightforward and easy to follow, but not without surprises. Where these books really shine, however, is in every engagement with the enemy. Kloos writes enthralling combat, from a one on one brawl to all out fleet warfare. I hung on every word of these scenes.

Finally, Kloos doesn’t pander to his readers. While the books are full of military terminology, at no time did I feel as if he was explaining concepts he didn’t think I would understand. Instead, it was all about the context, and relying on his readers to figure it out along the way.

Will & Patrick Wake Up Married (Wake Up Married, #1) by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths

You know that feeling when you finally download a book you bought forever ago and start to read, and think, OMG, why didn’t I read this forever ago? Will & Patrick Wake Up Married is that book. That series. I was hooked by the end of the first page.

I expected the plot to be ridiculous, and it is, utterly. But the underlying love story is actually quite tender. I really liked both characters. Will more at first, Patrick more as the series progressed. I think my favourite aspect was that though the series never took itself too seriously, it wasn’t without depth. Watching Will and Patrick grow as a result of their misadventures was the best part. Watching them fall in love and then figure out how to make that work within the structure of their unconventional relationship was a lot of fun. Oh, and the sex was hot. 😀

I rarely read series back to back, but I found myself downloading every each novella as soon as I finished the last and I’m glad I did. While every installment is a complete chapter of the story, it is only a chapter. The series works best when read together, without pause, and delivers a refreshingly thorough romance.

2 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading

  1. Georgie Wickham June 2, 2017 / 10:35 am

    Always great when someone else enjoys a book I’ve loved – so good to see Will & Patrick getting a well-deserved name-check! And thanks for the other recs.

    • Kelly Jensen June 2, 2017 / 10:37 am

      I don’t know why Will and Patrick don’t have five stars everywhere. Such a fun series. Thanks for stopping by!

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