BOOK REVIEW: The Simple Wild – K.A. Tucker

Somehow I was led to believe that The Simple Wild was a cute hate-to-love romcom about a city girl moving to the middle of nowhere and falling for the grumpy small town love interest similar to It Happened One Summer. While that pretty much sums up the romantic subplot, this book is so much more than that. The Simple Wild was an emotional, poignant, heart-wrenching story that took me completely by surprise. I honestly could not tell you the last time I cried this hard reading a book.

It’s refreshing to read a hate-to-love story that actually encompasses that hate aspect. And I say that because I really, really hated the love interest, Jonah, for the good beginning of the book. It took a really long time for me to warm up to him (and to be honest there are still some aspects about him I’m not a fan of; mainly how he speaks about women who enjoy dressing up and wearing makeup), so I can easily imagine how Calla must have been feeling. The romance is slow-burn in the best sense, because it wasn’t until halfway through the book that Calla (and myself) began to change her mind about him.

I know this may be hard to believe, but the romance wasn’t even my favorite part about the book. The Simple Wild really touches on families, especially forming ties with estranged parents and the theme of regrets and forgiveness. Following Calla and Wren’s journey in learning about one another and recreating their father/daughter bond after so many years of not speaking was the best part of this story. The way their relationship was written was absolutely beautiful.

The story also places an importance on found families and community. Like Calla, I’m a city girl through and through. The thought of living someplace as remote as Bangor, Alaska makes me break out in hives. But I’ll be damned if K.A. Tucker didn’t do a phenomenal job showing a different side to small, rural towns and how tight-knit such communities are. Before reading this I was unfamiliar with Alaskan bush pilots and their roles but the author did a great job showing their importance to the remote communities and villages of Alaska.

This book simply had no reason to be this good and cause me this much emotional pain. My heart was physically aching at some parts. I was expecting a light-hearted romcom with some good angst between the protagonist and love interest, and instead I was given a book that was so much more than that. The Simple Wild was one of the best books I’ve read this year and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a beautiful story about love, families, community, and forgiveness.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

BOOK REVIEW: A Fate of Wrath & Flame – K.A. Tucker

I’m officially casting A Fate of Wrath & Flame as my biggest surprise of the year because, wow, I was not expecting this book at all! K.A. Tucker is an author whose been on my radar for her contemporary romance novels (which I haven’t quite gotten to yet despite their high praise) so curiosity (and all the amazing reviews) got the best of me when I saw this and decided to give it a shot. Let me just say that A Fate of Wrath & Flame has everything you could want in a new adult fantasy book!

The enemies-to-lovers, slow-burn angsty romance between the main character and the love interest and their warring countries reminded me of The Bridge Kingdom, meanwhile the magic and vampiric elements of the world were reminiscent of reading From Blood and Ash. It’s hard not to compare this to FBAA as there are a good amount of similarities. But while I love JLA, there’s no question that FBAA leaves a lot to be desired regarding the worldbuilding and protagonist. The worldbuilding here is incredible. Honestly, one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Everything came together so nicely and organically within the descriptions. I was able to fully understand the politics, the magic system, and the history of the world without getting pages of info dumps. 

There were times where I felt like I didn’t know what was going on plot-wise, but only because the protagonist, Romeria, also had no idea what the hell was happening (understandably, given her circumstances). The feelings of confusion resolved over the course of the book as both myself and Romeria became privy to important pieces of information. And speaking of Romeria, I absolutely loved her character! She was resourceful, courageous, and fierce. Her connection with Zander was palpable and the angsty romance that develops was so freaking amazing. I’m a sucker for a good slow-burn but add some hate-to-love into the mix and we have ourselves a winning combination!

There’s a lot to enjoy in A Fate of Wrath & Flame. The characters, the worldbuilding, the plot. Everything about the book felt extremely well-written, intriguing, and fresh. I’m aching to get my hands on the next book!

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

2022 Releases by East Asian Authors I’m Excited About

Hello everyone! This year is drawing to a close and I’m beginning to get more excited for the new releases coming out next year. I have a very Type A personality so I’ve been working on my 2022 spreadsheet since January 😂 I’m always looking to diversify my reading and I’m thrilled to see more and more POC authors with books coming out. Today I’ll be featuring 2022 new releases that are written by East Asian authors!

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ARC REVIEW: Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao

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ARC provided by Penguin Teen through NetGalley.

There are so many exciting elements to Iron Widow which made me really excited to read this. First of all, the tag line is Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale loosely based on the first and only female Chinese Emperor. That alone made me immediately add this to my TBR. But also, it features mech pilots, fighting the patriarchy, and a polyamorous relationship.

“My body is mine and mine alone. I have chosen to use it for murder and vengeance. And I will succeed by any means necessary.”

Iron Widow started out strong and quickly hooked me into its story. Zetian can only be described as a badass. She’s hellbent on vengeance and is willing to do whatever she needs to to achieve those goals. She’s unapologetic and incredibly well-written. In fact, the strength of Iron Widow lies in the characters. Xiran Jay Zhao not only did a great job with writing her heroine, but the side characters as well are extremely fleshed out. 10/10 I would lay down my life for Li Shimin.

The plot throughout the book was very fast paced. It worked well for the first half of the story, but by the second half it only caused confusion. My biggest issue was that not much of the worldbuilding and science was not fully explained. Coupled with the fast pace, it felt like a whole lot was happening in the plot, but at the same time I couldn’t follow along.

“Female. That label has never done anything for me except dictate what I can or cannot do.”

I really loved the overall themes of feminism and the protogonist, Zetian. However, my brain started to get fatigued by the end of the book trying to figure out everything that was going on.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

ARC REVIEW: Portrait of a Scotsman – Evie Dunmore

ARC provided by Berkley through NetGalley.

Portrait of a Scotsman was not my favorite book in the series, but it was still as fun a read as its predecessors. Evie Dunmore continues to weave a story full of plucky heroines, slow-burn romance, and themes of feminism.

My favorite aspect of this book was the romance (duh). Lucian and Hattie do not start out on good footing, and it really only gets worse before it begins to get better. I’m a sucker for the angst that arrives along with slow-burn and hostility-to-love romances and I was served a wonderful helping of it in Portrait of a Scotsman. I really loved following Lucian and Hattie’s journey together as they begun to understand one another better and deeper feelings developed.

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