Most Likely to Succeed (Jennifer Echols)

Most Likely to Succeed is the third novel in the Superlatives series by Jennifer Echols.
Finished on: 3.9.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the series.]

Content Note: racism

Plot:
Kaye has always been a high achiever, just like her boyfriend Aiden. They are both on the student council (he as president, she as vice-president) and it will be a close call who of the both of them will become valedictorian. In any case, they will apply for Columbia together and their life is pretty much laid out from there. Only that recently Kaye hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Sawyer, bad boy, class clown with a difficult family history and an uncertain future – in short, the complete opposite of Aiden. As circumstances – and friends – keep pushing them together and they become ever more flirtatious, Kaye starts to question the plans for her life.

Most Likely to Succeed, or rather Kaye and Sawyer as a couple, have been teased since book one in the series, so there was some anticipation on how things would play out, and I have to say that it was fine, but it didn’t blow me away, unfortunately.

The book cover showing a Black girl sitting on a chair with a white boy striking an exaggerated pose behind her.
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Silver in the Wood (Emily Tesh)

Silver in the Wood is the first novella in the Greenhollow duology by Emily Tesh.
Finished on: 2.9.2022

Plot:
Tobias Finch lives a remote life in the wood, a wood he cares for, making sure that the supernatural is kept in check. One night, Henry Silver, who just bought the estate next to the wood, and the wood itself, ends up taking shelter in Tobias’ hut. Silver is curious, a student of folklore, and he keeps coming back to Tobias, inquiring about history and legends. But some secrets shouldn’t be uncovered.

Silver in the Wood is a beautiful novella, creepy and romantic, it strikes just the right magical tone for a story about a forest filled with melancholy and magic.

The book cover showing a branch with leaves that makes up a face and a house.
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Try Me Again (Clare Lydon)

Try Me Again is a novella by Clare Lydon.
Finished on: 2.9.2022

Plot:
Caitlin was supposed to be on a plane out of London and into a new life. But unfortunately, life had other plans, namely a lockdown because of Corona. Trapped in London with no place to stay anymore, she turns to the only person she can think of: her ex-girlfriend Dot. The girlfriend she just broke up with to start her new life. Dot is, understandably, not happy about the situation and about having Caitlin on her couch, but she gives in. And maybe, the global crisis will put the personal one into a new light?

Try Me Again is a cute quick read, almost more of a short story than a novella. While I do think it could have been fleshed out a little more, it is enjoyable.

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The City Beneath the Hidden Stars (Sonya Kudei)

The City Beneath the Hidden Stars is the first novel by Sonya Kudei.
Finished on: 2.9.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Plot:
Leo Solar is a star daimon with a debt to clear. And much to his chagrin, he has to clear it in Zagreb – to him, the most boring place in the entire universe, and maybe beyond. But it is here that the Black Queen threatens to re-appear and rule over the city with her dark magic once again. That, unfortunately, is Leo’s responsibility. But Leo isn’t the only one to take up the fight, though he is arguably the person with the best hair to do so. With fearsome creatures that belong to the Black Queen having already infiltrated the city, time is running out to do something.

The City Beneath the Hidden Stars is a quirky, humorous novel that is very entertaining, despite some debut bumps. I definitely enjoyed it and the fact that we got a setting outside the English speaking world.

The book cover showing a figure wearing a coat that looks a bit like a moth in front of a starry night sky.
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Queer*Welten 06/2021

Queer*Welten is a queer-feminist fantasy and scifi magazine, edited by Judith Vogt, Kathrin Dodenhoeft and Lena Richter. Issue 6 contains three short stories and an essay.
Finished on: 27.8.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other issues.]

This issue of Queer*Welten is probably not the strongest issue they published so far, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to like in it, not at all. It’s definitely a good read and the short stories are so different, I assume that at least one will appeal to everybody.

The magazine cover showing the drawing of Black trans man in shorts and an open pink jacket. He is wearing a helmet that could be for water or for space, behind him is a glowing jellyfish and stars or waterbubbles.
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Automating Inequality (Virginia Eubanks)

Automating Inequality – How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor is a non-fiction book by Virginia Eubanks.
Finished on: 26.8.2022

Content Note: child abuse/neglect

“Plot”:
Looking at different algorithms and automated systems that are supposed to help manage poverty and its side-effects, Eubanks traces those apparently new inventions back to their historic roots and shows how these seemingly objective tools contribute to discrimination of the poor.

Automating Inequality draws on many examples to outline how the way the USA deals with poverty has developed over time, and how those historical roots are still present. Technology, far from being a neutral, helpful tool can be seen to continue and even deepen injustices, even where tempered by human decision making. It’s a good read that makes many good points.

The book cover showing a child reading in bed, and below it a big computer server.
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Storm Echo (Nalini Singh)

Storm Echo is the sixth novel of the Psy-Changeling Trinity Series (or the 21st novel of the Psy-Changeling Series) by Nalini Singh.
Finished on: 21.8.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the Psy-Changeling series.]

Content Note: drug abuse/addiction, child abuse/neglect

Plot:
Ivan Mercant is a security specialist, making it his business to prepare for every eventuality. But he couldn’t prepare for running into an intriguing changeling in the woods while on a training. He and Lei spend beautiful days together, but after Ivan tells Lei about a dangerous, always hungry part of his abilities that he can probably not keep in check forever, Lei fails to make their meeting. Devastated, Ivan accepts her decision to stay away, even after he finds her gravely injured in an attack – and loses track of her again. But when they run into each other a third time, this time with Lei in a bad state, including partial memory less that means she can’t actually remember him, and on a mission to kill the alpha of the DarkRiver leopard pack, neither Ivan, nor Lei’s cat half are willing to let go of each other.

Storm Echo not only has a lovely couple in Lei and Ivan, it also pushes the overarching plot forward quite a bit, balancing the comforting tropiness of the series with exciting new developments and making it very satisfying to read.

The book cover showing the face of a man with blue eyes in front of a starry sky.
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I Love You Just the Way You Are (Riley Rian)

I Love You Just the Way You Are is the first novel in the Rock Canyon series by Riley Rian.
Finished on: 18.8.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Content Note: (critical treatment of) transmisia

Plot:
Maddie wants to spend her summer working at the café in peace before school starts again, where she will return after a home-schooling break during her transition. But her peace is short-lived when star-quaterback Kellan starts coming to the café – and tries to hit on Maddie. It’s not that Maddie hasn’t been dreaming about Kellan forever, but she is worried: does he even know that she is trans? And if not, what will he think when he finds out? And anyway, he has a reputation of having a new girl every week. So she rather blows him off than flirt. But Kellan doesn’t give up so easily. Or at all.

I Love You Just the Way You Are is wonderful when it comes to trans representation, but I struggled a little with Kellan as the romantic lead. Still, despite being a bit of a bumpy read, it is almost compulsively readable and has its heart in its right place.

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Night Race (Ashley R. King)

Night Race is the second novel in the Vampire Reality Show series by Ashley R. King.
Finished on: 13.8.2022
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Plot:
Theo has been a vampire for over 300 years, but she is done with being one. She wants to taste food again and enjoy the sun. There is only one way to become human again, though, and that is a magical chalice that has just been announced as the big prize for the winner of Night Race, a reality TV show where contestants race around the world and complete challenges. Theo has been accepted as a contestant, as has Aiden who is human, but wants to use the chalice to become a vampire and avenge the death of his fiancée. Instead of fighting for themselves, though, the contestants are surprisingly paired. Theo and Aiden are teamed up and can barely bring themselves to work together, despite the fact that they are drawn to each other. But then contestants around them start dying and things become very serious indeed.

Night Race is a page-turner, but I have to admit that I didn’t love the turn the series took in this one, moving further and further away from the Reality TV angle that I find the most intriguing bit about it. How much you’ll enjoy it, will probably depend on how much you like this change.

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Perfect Couple (Jennifer Echols)

Perfect Couple is the second novel in the Superlatives series by Jennifer Echols.
Finished on: 10.8.2022
[Here’s my review of the first novel in the series.]

Plot:
Yearbook photographer and introvert Harper can’t believe it when the voting results for the senior year superlatives come in and she won “Perfect Couple That Never Was” with star quarterback Brody. Who would ever think to pair the two of them together when they couldn’t be any more different? But once the thought is out there, Harper can’t help but consider Brody. This is only made more awkward by the fact that they are both dating other people. Well, more or less. Harper’s boyfriend Kennedy is constantly picking fights with her, and Brody likes to keep things casual. But as the two of them try to figure out what exactly their class had been thinking and how to take the obligatory photo for the yearbook, they discover that people may have been onto something with them.

Perfect Couple was a superquick read (half a day of being out sick from work and I was done), and a very sweet one. I think I might have been a tad more in love with Biggest Flirts, the first novel in the series, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the hell out of this one.

The book cover showing a girl holding up a camera for a selfie with a guy who stands behind her.
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