Review: Ashore (Mild spoilers)

A presumably alien world stretches out before the viewer with a large circular space craft above it. A lone humanoid stands on the mountains below and sun shines down from above. There are more mountains in the distance.

Welcome back to Not Just a Buzzword! Today, we’ve got an unusual review for you, in that its the 2nd book in a series. If you loved our review of Adrift by Isabelle Adler, I suspect you’ll love the next book Ashore. I know I did.

First off, content and trigger warnings. On content, there is a large discussion of substance use and abuse, particularly alcohol and stimulants. The characters deal with it well but it could be difficult for some readers. There’s also some medical procedures that occur within the book, but occur largely off page.¬†

For trigger warnings, its a bit of a longer list. Discussion of past rape, night terrors, memories of torture, bigotry, mutilation and discussion of death and rape of off screen characters we have not met. None of the discussion is intensely detailed, which was useful for me but it was still more than what I usually read. If you would like further details, feel free to DM me on Twitter @ShivaniSWriting.

Whew, ok, now that we’re past the important stuff, let’s get on to the reading. So I loved the first book and Isabelle was kind enough to send me an ARC for the second when she saw me squeeing on social media about it. I stayed up late that night reading it, as I have a soft spot for Matt and his horrible decision making skills and overgrown sense of responsibility for other’s well being.

This book picked up from where Adrift left out, with our intrepid space cowpokes wandering the galaxy, trying not to get murdered and living something like the dream. But Matt’s ability to attract trouble hasn’t died down and even his budding relationship with Ryce can’t seem to help that.

One of the interesting things in this book is we seem to get some confirmation that Ryce is demisexual or somewhere on that spectrum. The word isn’t explicitly said, but he does mention that he needs more time to know someone before being physical and Matt accepts this. There’s some definite misunderstandings around the whole thing, but its nice to see some realistic representation there.

Oddly, the plot of this book reminded me slightly of the whole podracing bit in The Phantom Menace, what with trying to raise money, illegal racing and people trying to murder you while you race. But it was fun and entertaining, though possibly a bit long.

Ryce and the crew get stuck trying to make this work to make some money while also dodging some less than friendly characters. They’re also trying to save the life/rescue one of their crew mates. There’s quite a lot of threads going here, but they do all eventually get tied up. We get to know more of the crew, their back story and we get a front row seat to Matt’s insecurities and Ryce’s misunderstandings. Its cute, its intense and its also quite thrilling. Matt and Ryce also deal with some of their unhealthy coping mechanisms and talk frankly about them, which I definitely enjoyed.

I won’t spoil the book for you, but suffice to say, if you like your queer silly babies who can’t quite figure out how to talk about their feelings with a healthy dose of action, mystery and space opera level drama, you’ll enjoy this book.

I give it a 4.5 out of 5, cause the racing got a bit long for me but I loved so much of this book. Can’t wait for the next one.

If you want to pick this book up, follow this link and NJB will receive a small percentage of the cost. Thanks for helping support this site!

https://books2read.com/u/mZKwPp

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

 

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review and its mine, you can’t have it.

Review: Adrift (Minimal spoilers)

A lone humanoid stands on an alien world, with a large wreckage of a space ship off the distance. A red space object glows in the distance.

So its time for a change of pace here at NJB. We’re reviewing a lovely piece of science fiction today! Its still got a romance arc, so have no fear, but its been a lovely change of pace for us and I think you’ll like it. Its so unusual and awesome to see queer folks in sci fi that isn’t tokenizing or bad and Adrift by Isabelle Adler is a great example of it.

First, trigger and content warnings: Death, loss of parents, torture, mentioned rape but no description, boundary pushing that is resolved, near death experience, graphic physical assault resulting in wounds. 

We’ve got Matt, Tony and Val as our intrepid crew of amusing, mildly shady individuals with chips on their shoulder. A bit strapped for cash, they decide to take a job offered by the mysterious Mr. Ari that comes with their very own mystery pilot, Ryce Faine. Matt is pretty instantly intrigued by the lovely Mr. Faine and the book is off from there.

For those of you who liked Firefly, the feel of the space smugglers on the edge of things and taking slightly shady jobs will make you feel right at home. However, along with our intrepid band of misfits, we’ve got aliens, family politics, mysterious ancient civilizations and moral decisions! Its got everything you’re looking for, but its still fun and character based. I enjoyed the mysteries that cropped up in the book and found myself staying up reading it, because it was just so delightful and fun.

I loved the point of view of the books, since Matt is a snarky, vaguely self aware disaster. He’s always trying to do the right thing, even if he’s awful at self preservation. Like, seriously awful at it. Poor baby needs a bubble suit or something.

Ryce is interesting, mostly because he remains a mystery to Matt for much of the book and therefore to us. But he has a sweetness and an idealism that matches well with Matt and their bumbling courtship is hilarious to watch. I’m hopeful we’ll get to see more of them in future books, because I really want to know more about Ryce and his background. Also, I just want more information about the setting. Really just more. *makes grabby hands*

It is darker than most of the books I usually read, with a lot of violence. I will put that out as a caution. Matt is also pushy in the beginning and has to get put in his place about it by Ryce and others. He takes it well though and realizes what he’s doing. Ryce is more than a match for him and their back and forth is darling and realistic.

All in all, its a lovely sci fi romp, with mystery, odd gadgets, twists and turns and some very Indiana Jones delving into ancient ruins. Isabelle has a sequel out now, so I’m going to be digging around for it, because I love the characters, but I give this a very firm 5 stars. If you need a change of pace like me and don’t mind a bit of violence and mystery, I would definitely recommend picking it up.

If you do decide to pick it up, follow the link below and NJB will receive a small percentage of the cost. Thank you for helping keep the site running!

https://books2read.com/u/3JDK8A

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

Review: ‘That Kind of Guy’ Spoilers!

A black woman with long, wavy dark hair stands close to a white man with a close haircut and stubble. Her hand is on his chest and his hand is holding her hand against him. They stand as if they are about to kiss. He is not wearing a shirt and she appears to be wearing a sports bra of some kind.

Usually, I try to do a spoiler free review, but the squee in me will not be contained this time. So be warned, spoilers abound here!

First things first, content and trigger warnings. There is mention¬† and discussion of chronic illness for multiple individuals, discussion of infidelity, plagarism and unhealthy relationship dynamics. Possibly triggering would be the discussion of sexual encounters where one of the MC’s consented without wanting to, because he wished to make others happy. Some boundaries are pushed during one drunken discussion by two characters, but boundaries are set hard and respected. One of the MC’s mothers is emotionally abusive and says some painful things during the book, which could be triggering for some.

Next, what makes it rate hitting the blog. We have black woman author, white man demisexual, discussions of trauma, chronic illness being discussed openly and the practical needs of it and people with complex family histories getting HEA’s! What’s not to love?

Now on to the squeee!

So I’ve enjoyed Talia Hibbert’s Ravenswood series so much so far, but this is likely going to end up being my favorite book. The characters, Zach and Rae, are part of the same core group of folks we’ve seen in her other books but we haven’t had their stories yet. Zach is Nate’s younger brother (Hannah’s partner in Untouchable) and works as a smith. Rae is Hannah’s best friend, a divorcee who moved to Ravenswood under a cloak of mystery with three cuts on her face.

They have the most adorable set up, where Rae comes by every day walking her dog Duke (who is a tiny bear that I wish to steal) while Zach is totally coincidentally taking his break outside at the smithy. She tells him stories she’s cooking up and he enjoys the heck out of it and occasionally helps pick apart a problem.

This man is straight author candy and I love it.

So Zach and Rae meet every day and hang out, but never really seem to go further. Then, one night, they decide after a few drinks with friends to go wandering to have an adventure.

Note: This is where the boundary pushing occurs. You can probably skip these pages if you’d rather not see it. Its referenced throughout the book and truthfully, you won’t miss much by doing so. Rae learns quickly and realizes how she’s fucked up and owns it. Zach feels good for having his boundaries respected and for laying down the law instead of trying to go along.

So, its awkward, they make up and do some good communicating. Then it comes out that Rae has a convention to attend as a fledging author and needs some help to feel confident and good as her ex-husband will be at the conference. So Zach offers to be her fake boyfriend for the weekend. Trope heaven! Oh and they get to the hotel and there’s only one bed! Even more tropes!

I won’t spoil the convention for you, because there’s lots of fun, twists and turns here. Let’s just say that the fakeness starts to flake off pretty quickly, both start realizing their feelings and pants feelings for each other, misunderstand each other, have hot fun times and then have one critical misunderstanding.

As we return to Ravenswood, we get to witness Rae taking down her emotionally abusive mom on the phone for the first time as she squares herself up to talk to Zach and be honest and open with him. They talk, they kiss, its fucking perfect and cute. I want a Duke plushie to snuggle.

tl;dr BUY THIS BOOK! Its so cute and fluffy and though there are some parts where things could be rough, they are dealt with well and in a gentle way. Both of the characters learn from each other and their own burgeoning self esteem to stand up for themselves and what they want and its just beautiful. Their relationship makes sense on the most fundamental level and if I wrote fanfiction, I would write screeds about their happy life and the new puppy they buy that Duke loves and them moving into Zach’s house and making it less scary to the neighborhood kids.

Also, the dirty talk? Hooooootttttt. *fans self* You won’t regret that.

5 stars out of 5 stars and its going on my comfort reads shelf. Can’t get much better than that!

In case you take my advice and buy the book, this link will help support NJB. So follow it to fun and romance! As always, thank you for supporting the site.

https://books2read.com/u/3G2Mxp

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review and I will hoard it for fluffy feelings until I am old.