Rock Redemption (Nalini Singh)

Rock Redemption is the third novel in the Rock Kiss series by Nalini Singh.
Finished on: 1.6.2020
[Here are my reviews of the rest of the series.]

Content Note: child abuse/pedophilia, stalking (not in the main couple)

Actress Kit and guitar player Noah used to be really close and there was definitely sexual tension brewing between them. But before anything more could happen, Kit walked in on Noah sleeping with one of the band’s groupies – and they both knew he wanted her to find him like this. Any trust between them was destroyed and Kit’s heart thoroughly broken. Then one night, she receives a call from Noah and he is not in a good place at all. Despite her own worries – she has a stalker – she picks Noah up from a sketchy motel super drunk and this close to doing hard drugs. Looking at all the pieces of their relationship so far, Kit and Noah decide to try to rebuild their friendship, hard as it may be to navigate all the hurt.

Rock Redemption is the usual quick, engaging read I have come to expect from Singh, though it follows the normal structure of her stories a little less than usual. I had no problem with that, but I did struggle a little with Noah and his pain.

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Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

Americanah is a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Finished on: 31.5.2020

Ifemelu and Obinze fell in love in high school in Nigeria. But after Ifemelu left to go to college in the USA, they fell out of touch. Fifteen years later, Ifemelu is ready to return home, despite the fact that she has a successful blog about race relations in the USA, a settled life and a nice boyfriend. As she prepares for her return, she also reconnects with Obinze who spent some time in the UK and has since become a rich man in Nigeria.

Americanah is an interesting novel with sharp observations that I nevertheless struggled with. It is definitely insightful about race, but the story just didn’t come together for me.

The book cover showing colorful triangles on a blue striped background.
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The Sword and Shield (Emma Khoury)

The Sword and Shield is the debut novel by Emma Khoury.
Finished on: 11.5.2020
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer giveaway.]

Ezra is a mercenary – either hired as an assassin or as a bodyguard. And he is damned good at it. After finishing yet another successful job, he comes home to his cats – and to a welcome committee who bring him to his next employer in secrecy: Crown Prince Christophe would like his help. He is afraid that his own family is trying to kill him and needs somebody to have his back. Despite his desperate need for sleep, Ezra accepts the job and moves to the castle within a week. It soon becomes crystal clear that Christophe’s fears weren’t unfounded.

The Sword and Shield is a very good read, especially considering that it’s a debut novel. Plus, I loved that we got a chronically ill, asexual protagonist. More of (things like) this, please!

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When We Speak of Nothing (Olumide Popoola)

When We Speak of Nothing is a novel by Olumide Popoola.
Finished on: 2.5.2020

Content Note: not outright transmisia, but some problematic elements in trans representation

Karl and Abu are 17, best friends and grow up in London together. Out of nowhere for Karl, Karl’s uncle Tunde – the brother of his to him unknown father – shows up and brings news that Karl’s father lives in Nigeria, only just learned that Karl exists and would like to meet him. Karl goes to Nigeria without his mother’s knowledge but the trip ends up very different from what he expected. Meanwhile Abu falls in with a difficult crowd and gets mixed up in the riots surrounding Mark Duggan‘s death. Both boys will have to figure out how to deal with new situations and without each other close-by.

When We Speak of Nothing is an interesting book with very great language, but that has some problems in how it goes about dealing with the fact that Karl is trans – starting with the fact that this piece of information has to be considered a spoiler already. But overall it was a really good read.

The book cover showing a drawing of a burning car in front of a high-rise and a palm tree.
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Invisible: Stories from Kenya’s Queer Community (Kevin Mwachiro)

Invisible is a selection of autobiographical stories collected by Kevin Mwachiro.
Finished on: 1.5.2020

Content Note: (reference to) homomisia, transmisia, queermisia, sexal violence, rape

I’m not sure how much Mwachiro was an editor and how much he actually wrote himself, but the stories, letters and poems collected here are all (auto)biographical accounts of queer people living in Kenya. They are queer in different ways and come from all walks of life, opening a kaleidoscope of queer experiences in Kenya – where until recently it has been publically debated whether such a thing as queerness actually exists at all. Reading it as a queer, white European, it is striking how many things are the same for all of us, even if the book is very much aimed at a Kenyan public.

The book cover showing a black and white photography of black feet in high heels.
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Of Magic and Scales (Natalina Reis)

Of Magic and Scales is a novel by Natalina Reis.
Finished on: 25.4.2020
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away.]

Despite being human, Aiden has the ability to see magical creatures for what they are. He used to be a private detective in the USA, but tired of having to deal with the magical population over there, he decided to give himself a new start in Portugal where he is running a coffee shop now, blissfully undiscovered by the magical population. Or so he thought. When different magical beings get killed, Aiden is not only sought out by a witch who requests his detective skills to help, but also meets Naël, grumpy, gorgeous merman and possibly a murder suspect.

Of Magic and Scales is nice, but there were definitely problems here. There was just an unfinished feeling about it that didn’t work for the story.

The book cover showing two men with naked upper bodies cuddling into each other at the top. At the bottom there's a merman swimming in water.
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Revenge of the Spellmans (Lisa Lutz)

Revenge of the Spellmans is the third novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 19.4.2020
[Here are my reviews of the rest of the series.]

Izzy Spellman has turned her back on the family business and has been working as a bartender for a few months now, while attending court-mandated therapy. But her therapy is nearing its end (and Izzy definitely doesn’t want to continue longer than she has to), her parents still hope that she will take over the family detective agency, her friend and boss Milo asks her to take on a very simple case for a friend and also fires her. Plus, there is something going on with both her brother David and her sister Rae, and Henry Stone has a new girfriend. Moving into her brother’s basement apartment without his knowledge may not be the only thing that is costing Izzy sleep, but the biggest question is if she can get to a halfway stable place and make important decisions.

Revenge of the Spellmans is again entertaining and funny, but it also has a more serious emotional core here than the first two novels. It worked beautifully and grounded the series in an important way, I thought.

The book cover in yellow with the title and author's name in brightly colored, big letters. There's also a drawing of binoculars in the glasses of which you can see a pair of eyes.
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Always and Forever, Lara Jean (Jenny Han)

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is the third (and last) novel in the To All the Boys series by Jenny Han.
Finished on: 12.4.2020
[Here are my reviews of the other two novels.]

Everything is good for Lara Jean and Peter, but as they are nearing the end of their final year of high school things are bound to change – and the question is whether they can actually change for the better. Lara Jean has a clear plan: she will attend college together with Peter at UVA, so she can still be home a lot and be with him and have as little change in her life as possible. But when she isn’t actually accepted at UVA, Lara Jean has to figure out how to deal with the bigger changes – and Peter, too, of course.

Always and Fover, Lara Jean may have taken me a little longer to get into than the other two novels in the series, but once it hits its stride, it grabbed me again and gave me a beautiful sense of closure (as much as you can give closure to a love story between teens) for the series.

The book cover showing a girl in white dress sitting in front of a vanity mirror.
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Rekindled Prophecy (KC Freeman)

Rekindled Prophecy is the first novel in the Greylyn the Guardian Angel series by KC Freeman.
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away.]
Finished on: 08.04.2020

Greylyn has been a guardian angel ever since she died 450 years ago. She’s been working hard and she knows that she is due a little break. But when she arrives at the little Bed-and-Breakfast in Virginia, USA that hast just the right vibe to remind her of her Irish home, things go very much differently than she has anticipated. Starting with the fact that Kael is there: a dark guardian – her demonic counterpart – and a pain in her butt since her first solo mission. Plus, a seriously gorgeous guy. Greylyn knows that this encounter is not a coincidence – it is her new mission. But she still has to figure out what exactly that mission is and what role Kael plays in it.

Rekindled Prophecy was not bad, but I’m not sure it was good enough for me to continue the series. Still, if you like your fantasy with a (Christian) religious touch, you could give this a try.

The book cover showing a young woman with black hair and a young man with brown hair embracing. Both are wearing leather jackets.
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Every Day Is for the Thief (Teju Cole)

Every Day Is for the Thief is a novel by Teju Cole.
Finished on: 1.4.2020

After 15 years, a young man returns to Lagos from the USA for the first time after having left Nigeria as a child. As he reconnects with his family, he also re-discovers Nigeria. But his relationship with the country and his own roots is fraught and he doesn’t quite know how he can fit.

Every Day Is for the Thief is a beautiful novel that examines a sometimes parted, sometimes doubled identity in an evocative way. Even if you – like me – don’t have a family history that involves two continents, I’m sure that Every Day Is for the Thief will resonate with you. It certainly did with me.

The book cover showing a man running on a street next to a car.
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