Husband Material by Alexis Hall, published 02 August 2022.
The sequel to Boyfriend Material is not just as good as the first book, it's better. Knowing the characters already, it's seeing them grow and struggle and overcome obstacles, which makes it so much better. There were lots of LOL moments for me, but just as many moments where I empathised with both main characters and their struggles. Hall clearly knows how to write stories and how to play to the strengths of the English language. Caveat: The structure of the book kind of made the ending obvious, but it's the best ending for Oliver and Luc.
5/5 Harpy Eagles
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall, published 18 May 2021.
Yes, another Alexis Hall book. I read this first book in the Winner Bakes All series in preparation for the upcoming sequel, Paris Daillencourt is about to Crumble (publishing day 18 Oct 2022). Does Hall know how to play with tropes? Yes! This novel features a love triangle, which is extremely well-executed; compared to all those cringe-y YA love triangles. Furthermore there's a sesquipedalian eight year old, witty banter and lots of cake since the love interests meet at a national baking competition. Eventually though this is a story about personal growth and standing up for yourself.
4/5 Harpy Eagles
The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole, published/released 19 December 2019.
An A.I. hotty who has to figure out his humanity, a woman suffering from PTSD following an accident, and an interesting (though not entirely unexpected) twist towards the end of the story. This audiobook-only sci-fi romance story was more interesting than I had expected. I thought this would be far more sizzling romance than sci-fi, but the SF parts of the story were well thought through. The dual point of view narration by Regina Hall and Feodor Chin is enhanced by the addition of a whole cast of narrators.
4/5 Harpy Eagles
Grand Theft Astro by Scott Meyer, published 29 July 2021.
The Audible Originals audiobook-only story is about Baird, a thief, who, on her latest heist, had been infected with a virus that has no cure yet. She has seven days to live. Her 'handler' tells her that in order to ensure a proper medical treatment Baird not only has to steal certain components of the cure, she also has to remain in stasis while she's not actively stealing. While in stasis she's being transported to her next place of 'work', which often takes several years. So far I was on board, if a bit sceptical about how gullible the protagonist is; accepting and relying on all information necessary provided by the handler only. Then the book seemed to turn to middle-grade level without being for that audience. While scoping out the places Baird has to rob, she's told everything about how the security systems work by the security people themselves. The way she then executes her heists is supposed to be funny/comical; I thought not. But that might be me. I gave up after the second heist. It read too much like an underdeveloped middle-grade book with way too much tell and very little show.
1/5 Harpy Eagles
Belladonna by Adalyn Grace, published 30 August 2022.
The audiobook of this YA gothic/paranormal fantasy novel was good. The narrator, Kristin Atherton, did a good job giving each character a distinct voice. Especially Death's voice was rather sultry. To be honest, I might have bailed on the book had it not been for the audiobook. Why would I have bailed? It was a bit too long-winded for my taste. There was too much woe-be-me by the main character, Signa. And the mysteries were, given I had paid attention from the start, obvious to me. Add jarring anachronisms and I'm normally out. So kudos to the narrator. If you liked Kingdom of the Wicked, you will certainly like this book. After all, it's a story of romance between a not-so-mere mortal and Death.
2.75/5 Harpy Eagles