#BlogTour: A Quantum Love Story by Mike Chen

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a strong scifi book that will possibly cause a war within Booklandia. For this blog tour, we’re looking at A Quantum Love Story by Mike Chen.

Here’s what I had to say on the review sites (Hardcover.app, TheStoryGraph, BookHype, Goodreads):

Title Vs Genre Will Cause A War In Booklandia. This is a book where the title will quell any riots over the story… and yet so many places (perhaps because of the publisher? unclear there) classifying this as a “romance” for genre purposes… is going to spark those very riots. To be clear, this book does NOT meet RWA qualifications for a “romance novel” – and is actually all the stronger for it. (As is generally the case, fwiw.) Which is why the title is correct and speaks to exactly what you can expect here: a scifi love story, both with the characters and from the writer to the audience. This is a quirky, funny, heart bursting, extremely cloudy room kind of scifi tale that is going to take you less on a rollercoaster of emotion and more through a multiverse of various combinations of emotions.

Yes, at its base this is a Groundhog Day/ Edge Of Tomorrow kind of time looping tale. Which then builds into almost Terminator level time looping. Even certain elements of a Michael Crichton TIMELINE or a Randall Ingermanson TRANSGRESSION or even a Jeremy Robinson THE DIDYMUS CONTINGENCY. All while based in and around a “super-LHC” – which reminds me, make sure to check hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com a few times while reading this book, just to be sure – and its experiments.

Overall this book really was quite good and quite a ride – one of the very few where I knew I had to immediately begin writing the review as soon as I finished the book itself. That, to me over the course of *so very many* books and Advance Review Copies over the last several years, is one of the marks of a particularly good book – you’re just left in such emotional upheaval that you *have* to write to get the thoughts out of your own head. But don’t go into this book expecting a romance – it does NOT meet those “official” guidelines – and, again, is stronger for it. It absolutely IS a love story (and yes, “clean”/ “sweet” crowd, you’ll find this one perfectly acceptable), and honestly one of the better ones I’ve read in the last several years.

Very much recommended.

Note that the review on Hardcover.app, TheStoryGraph, and Goodreads contains an extra paragraph that contains a spoiler that some may find beneficial to know about – this site, BookHype, and BookBub do not support spoiler tags to hide such details.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: A Quantum Love Story by Mike Chen”

#BlogTour: Principles Of (E)motion by Sara Read

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a strong, layered romance with an atypical lead. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Principles Of (E)motion by Sara Read.

Here’s what I had to say on the review sites (Hardcover.app, TheStoryGraph, BookHype, Goodreads):

Strong, Layered Romance With Atypical Lead. Up front, I’m a guy that got a degree in a mathematics related field (Computer Science) and because of the quirks of the way I attended college (also, as our lead here, at 16yo,fwiw) I came within just a couple of semesters of getting two other separate mathematics related degrees at the same time. Like our lead, I too had a flash of utter brilliance at that young age (well, in my case I was 20 yrs old) that is now, 20 yrs later, seemingly being realized in the real world. (Damn I wish I had applied for a patent, but I thought nothing of it other than as a paper for a Bachelor’s Degree level class – even if Senior Year.) And yes, like our lead, I’ve also known close friends of that era later struggle with various legal issues. So maybe the book worked so well for me *because* I am in a rare position of having a similar enough background to *really* feel it. Perhaps. But I also think these issues and situations are still prevalent enough and general enough that even if you’ve never been in or near situations with these exact particulars, you’ve been in or around similar *general* situations (strains on parental relationships, lonely, questioning yourself even as a 30+ yr old adult who is “supposed” to “know what you’re doing” by now, etc).

And that is what makes this book particularly great. Yes, it is messy. Yes, it can be convoluted at times. Yes, it may or may not feel particularly “swoon worthy” romantic at times. Hell, there are times when it feels like our lead exists for little more than sex. (That is rare, btw, but yes, “clean”/ “sweet” crowd… you’ve now been warned that this may be a bit racy for your tastes.) But all of this, to me, makes it feel all the more “real”. Because let’s face it, our lives rarely feel any of those things all the time (thank God, really).

And while some may scream at me “But I don’t read romance to feel REAL!!!!! I *WANT THE FANTASY DAMMIT!!!!*”, my argument here is that because this *is* more real, *knowing* that this book fulfills all romance requirements I am presently aware of means that despite the realism, *you still get the fantasy as well*. You still get that happy ending – at least one that works for this couple in this story in this world. You still get that “awww” and that catharsis that everything works out in the end, no matter how shitty and messy it gets in between.

And to me, that makes the story *stronger*. *Because* it was more real and more heartfelt.

This was my first book from this author. It very likely will not be the last.

Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Principles Of (E)motion by Sara Read”

#BlogTour: Plot Twist by Erin La Rosa

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a solid series continuation that still isn’t afraid to touch issues many in its genre will never get near. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Plot Twist by Erin La Rosa.

Here’s what I had to say on the review sites (Hardcover.app, TheStoryGraph, BookHype, Goodreads):

Solid Series Continuation, Maybe Slightly More For the Zoomer Set. As is my custom, I went in and read a lot of reviews of this book *after* I read the book myself. In a bit of an unusual move, I *also* actually went back and read my own review of Book 1 of this series – which I read roughly 200+ book ago. Here, La Rosa continues a lot of the things that made the first book so good – she isn’t afraid to shy away from far deeper issues, but also tries to make sure that they don’t overly weigh down the book (and for the most part, succeeds quite well there). She also uses various social media platforms – in this particular case, primarily current “darling” TikTok – to further the overall story, both in the actual plot and in the comments and DMs related to the various videos. Yes, that means that at some point this book will be quite dated – but it also means that it will serve as a bit of a time capsule for what this particular era really was like. So again, it actually works quite a bit better than its detractors in other reviews claim.

Now, about the Zoomer bit – our female lead is openly bisexual, her former partner is a lesbian, and there are a fairly good mix of sexualities, genders, and most other demographics present in this book. La Rosa actually used them quite well within the world she created here, though yes, depending on where you, the reader of my review lives and the life you lead… maybe this isn’t as expressive of the world you’ve created for yourself. Further, I know nothing of La Rosa beyond her pen name and her general writing style. So while others may want to critique her on not being “real” or not being “own voices” or “authentic” or some other bullshit… I truly don’t give a flying fuck about an author’s demographics, and the story La Rosa has crafted here is genuinely *good*. So complaining about those things, to me, speaks more about your own issues than La Rosa’s storytelling abilities.

Finally, the substance abuse angle. Yes, it is prominent. And yes, it likely doesn’t follow the path of real-world recommendations, particularly in the last chapters of the book when it comes to a head. There again, the dominant real-world recommendations aren’t the only ones, and there are many who have real-world problems with the real-world dominant recommendations. So the fact that La Rosa chose to craft a *fictional romance tale* the way she did… doesn’t bother me as much. And to be clear, I say this as the grandson of an alcoholic and the cousin of more than a few drug abusers, in addition to all the other areas of my life I’ve worked with those affected by these choices. But there again, if this is a topic that is going to be particularly sensitive to you, it says more about you and your issues than it does about La Rosa’s storytelling when you complain about these things in your review. So if you, the reader of my review, thinks this issue will be a problem for you… maybe spare yourself the hurt and La Rosa the 1* and just skip this book? No harm, no foul, and I wish you the best in your own struggles.

Overall, truly a solid sequel, and I’m truly looking forward to seeing how this series progresses. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Plot Twist by Erin La Rosa”

#BookReview: Enchanted To Meet You by Meg Cabot

Cozy Paranormal Small Town Apocalyptic Romantic Mystery. Holy shit, what a combination of genres we have here. This is absolutely one of those “cozy” mysteries you keep hearing about – there aren’t any bodies or even any particularly dark secrets here, and the focus is more on the lighter, almost Hallmarkie, side of things. But there is active witchcraft involved in this small town… and possibly (absolutely) a few other paranormal elements, but that gets into spoiler territory. And the mystery involves an almost Buffy the Vampire Slayer type Apocalypse… but *only* for this particular small town. Yes, it may face annihilation but the world as a whole will be perfectly fine. And of course we have the requisite “Angel” type character for our more grown-up “Buffy”, the dark and mysterious dude with serious connection issues yet who manages to “randomly” connect with our female lead. But hey, it all works, it all has a more relaxed yet serious vibe, there’s quite a bit of humor and heart here. I mean, really… what more do you actually want? Bodies? Erotica? World wide catastrophe? Well, if you want those last three… as I’ve alluded to or outright said earlier in the review, this book aint that. But if you’re looking for a more relaxed read by the fireplace or while the kids are at yet another practice or some such… this is a great book for that. Very much recommended.

This review of Enchanted To Meet You by Meg Cabot was originally written on September 2, 2023.

#BookReview: Someone Just Like You by Meredith Schorr

Hilarious NYC-Based Rom-Com. This book has several different things going on at once, which can seem a bit chaotic – and seems to be meant to. The base setup, of two sets of siblings planning a joint anniversary party for both sets of parents, is chaotic enough. Then you throw in the actual romance here, of a boy and girl who almost literally grew up together and have a lifetime of bickering with each other and pranking each other behind them (which we get to see a lot of), and it becomes a recipe for… well, everything. The love is deep and heartfelt – even as neither of them realizes it. The comedy, both in the past and present, is pure gold. The drama… is both real (parents) and Hallmarkie (romance) and yet also comedic (a famous movie that has been remade at least twice, but revealing which one reveals things about the book). Overall, it hits all the genre “rules” and while it isn’t for the “sweet”/ “clean” crowd, also isn’t anywhere near erotica level either. In fact, as others have mentioned (both positively and negatively), the first “encounter” is rather comedic (and, I would argue, *real*).

At the end of the day, this is one of those kinds of books where your mileage really will vary. If you love zany “what the fuck” stories with a LOT of side characters and all kinds of stuff happening all around the main storyline, you’re going to love this book. The more you have a problem with that kind of setup, the less you’re going to enjoy this one.

Overall, I thought this was freaking hilarious and truly well done. Very much recommended.

This review of Someone Just Like You by Meredith Schorr was originally written on July 25, 2023.

#BookReview: The Broken Hearts Club by Susan Bishop Crispell

Interesting Take On High School Love Angles. This book is quirky enough to make everything work, and yet has a lot of things about it that will throw various groups off – often having some element that may be popular with one group, yet having another element that will be off-putting to that same group. For example, you’ve got the aura-reading ability where our main character sees emotions as colors and you’ve got the nonbinary side character – and yet the book’s very premise is that our main character is openly catfishing, gets caught doing so, and yet things somehow still work out for her. You’ve got some good, hard work ethic going with both our main character and her best friend, and yet the best friend openly chooses the boy over her best friend. You’ve got the seemingly rural small town North Carolina vibe going on – and you’ve got the aforementioned nonbinary character that seems mostly tacked in just to have an excuse to go off on “small minded Republicans” and to be able to promote that the book has a queer character. It could be argued that doing this character in this manner isn’t inclusive, but exploitive – and off putting to at least some potential readers anyway. And yet, despite all of its contradictions and issues… the book truly does work. If you’re into young adult/ high school romance at all, this book is going to scratch most every itch you have there, and it does in fact have the interesting wrinkles of the auras and how to *use* that ability to set it apart from the field naturally, without needing all of the other aspects. In the end, despite coming close to seeming to try too hard, this really is a mostly benign and fairly interesting tale within its genre, and a very easy and mostly inoffensive summer/ beach read that won’t get the pulse pounding too much, but will instead be a more charming and breezy read while sitting poolside or oceanside soaking up some sun. Recommended.

PS: There is no such thing as a love triangle without at least two of the three people involved being bisexual. Thus, while some describe this book as featuring a love “triangle”, as all three involved are never described as bisexual, it is most accurately described as a love “angle”, with three points and two line segments, the segments meeting at a common point. But this could well be the former math teacher and Autistic in me coming out. I admittedly tend to be a bit pedantic on this particular point. ๐Ÿ™‚

This review of The Broken Hearts Club by Susan Bishop Crispell was originally written on May 26, 2023.

#BlogTour: The Cuban Daughter by Soraya Lane

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a second book in a very loosley connected series that proves to be even more powerful than the first. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Cuban Daughter by Soraya Lane.

Here’s what I said on Goodreads:

Second Verse More Powerful Than The First. This was the second book in this new trilogy where Lane combines both sides of her writing to phenomenal success. As Soraya M Lane, Lane generally writes compelling and seemingly realistic historical fiction. As Soraya Lane, Lane generally writes more contemporary romance, with all that said genre entails. With this series, Lane manages to execute on Digimon Frontier’s Susanoomon ultimate combined evolution and combine both sides of herself into one truly powerful writer. Both sides of this work just as well as any fan of either side of her writing would expect, and combine to breathtaking and heartbreaking result. Cuba comes alive in this tale in ways few American media really allow it to do, both in the historical side and in the contemporary side – which may be helped by the fact that Lane lives in New Zealand and this particular series is published by a British imprint? ๐Ÿ™‚ Truly an excellent book, and one loosely coupled enough from its predecessor (who is only briefly alluded to near the beginning of this tale) that anyone can pick up either book in either order and not really miss anything or be spoiled of any details from the other book. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social media, and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Cuban Daughter by Soraya Lane”

#BookReview: The Last Port of Call by Elizabeth Bromke

Solid Tale Of Parent/ Child Issues Later In Life. This is one of those tales I’m starting to see more of, and we admittedly probably need more of in general – that of older people (in this case, the mom is near 80 and the daughter near 50) and their own struggles and issues. Here, Bromke plays it with both humor and heart, and in the end pulls out a tale most anyone of any age can relate to at some level. Yes, there is some romance here and it does in fact technically meet every RWA rule I am aware of, but this one is more about both of these women finding themselves again and finding each other again in the process, after decades of things left unsaid. The Alaskan Cruise elements are great, including a couple of scenes that will get the blood pumping in different ways. Overall a truly solid tale that works quite well. Very much recommended.

This review of The Last Port Of Call by Elizabeth Bromke was originally written on March 19, 2023.

#BookReview: Moonlight On The Lido Deck by Violet Howe

Solid Blend Of Several Elements. This book, despite its 230 ish page length, has quite a bit going on. You’ve got a women’s fiction type tale of a woman losing everything and having to discover anew just who she is and what she wants out of life. You’ve got the good looking adventurous dude with a shady history. You’ve got a fake relationship between the two… set up by the sister of the woman/ gay best friend of the guy. And you’ve got all of this set in bustling NYC, sandy Cocoa Beach, FL, and the wonders of the Caribbean on a beautiful cruise ship. And yes, the titular moonlight on Lido deck… can truly be life-changing (noted from near-personal experience – it is almost always magical, at minimum). Overall truly a solid tale that combines all of these elements and makes them enhance each other into a fun, and short-ish, story. Very much recommended.

This review of Moonlight On The Lido Deck by Violet Howe was originally written on March 12, 2023.

#BookReview: Lost At Sea by Patricia Sands

Solid Women’s Fiction, Too Reliant On COVID, Unnecessary Element In Epilogue. This is the penultimate entry in the Sail Away “series” where several authors have come together to craft their own unique stories all centered around cruising, with each taking a different bent to it. The cruise Sands uses here is more of a luxury yacht / WindStar type ship sailing the Mediterranean, and the cruising elements here are absolutely breathtaking – particularly for anyone who is even remotely familiar (even from other pop culture sources/ YouTube) with the waters and coasts of the region, from Spain to France to Italy.

Something like a solid 70% of this tale is more women’s fiction based, with a woman trying to rediscover her passion after years of COVID burnout, and through this section, it absolutely works as a women’s fiction tale. The star deduction is because it *is* so heavily focused on COVID and related topics, and any such talk for me is an automatic star deduction because I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID. (This noted, it *is* in the description that this will be discussed to some extent or another, but in my defense here… I pre-ordered this entire series months before publication, just on the strength of the authors and my love of cruising generally.)

The romance here, such as it is, feels a bit tacked on and rushed, even in a shorter sub-200 page novel/ longer novella. It works within the story being told to that point, just don’t expect the entire tale here to be the romance. ๐Ÿ™‚ Note that no other element of this tale feels so rushed as this particular element.

And the epilogue. It works. It is what one would expect from a women’s fiction/ romance. But why oh why does seemingly every romance author out there (not *all* of them, but *many*) feel the need to tack in a baby/ pregnancy in these epilogues? Completely unnecessary, and leaves a bitter aftertaste to the tale for those who are childfree (such as myself) or childless (others I know). Yes, there is a difference between the two – childfree largely are happy not having children, childless want them and don’t have them. (A touch of a simplification, but one that works for purposes of *brief* explanation.) Something to look at for authors who may not be aware that these particular groups exist – and thus the inclusion of the pregnancy here in the epilogue wasn’t star-deduction worthy so much as discussion-within-the-review worthy.

Still, overall this book really was quite good, and a solid entry into a fun series. Very much recommended.

This review of Lost At Sea by Patricia Sands was originally written on February 24, 2023.