Sleeping Together by Kitty Cook 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of Sleeping Together by Kitty Cook 📚

I read a Kindle edition of Sleeping Together that I received for free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for an honest review. Sleeping Together is the first novel in the Perfect Drug series.

Genre: Science fiction, Romance, Contemporary

Publisher: Brass Anvil Books

Originally published: March 6th, 2019

Pages: 310 (paperback)

Blurb by the publisher:

Vanessa Brown is having nightmares: about babies. Ever since her husband, Pete, mentioned he wanted to start a family, Ness has been trying to convince herself she’s stoked to spawn despite her inability to keep a cactus alive–and a decade-old secret she doesn’t like to remember. So when she catches her slacker-cool coworker, Altan Young, stealing sleeping medication from the pharmaceutical company they both work for, she decides to try the pilfered pills to finally find some rest.

But side effects of Morpheum include headaches, nausea, and possible mind melding–a fact Ness and Altan stumble upon when they share the same freaky sex dream. (Awkward.) Now these two colleagues are joined at the brain by night, experiencing dozens of fantastic sleep-staged adventures courtesy of a little imagination and a whole lot of drugs.

With the stress of being caught between the men of her literal and figurative dreams (not to mention her nightmare of a boss), Ness starts to enjoy snoozing more than being conscious–and the company of her work husband more than her real one. If she doesn’t wake up and smell the coffee soon, her dreamy escape could become a dirt nap in this feisty debut novel about the dark side of dreams’ coming true.

My thoughts:

What first caught my attention with this one was the beautiful cover. Yes, I am an absolute sucker for a pretty cover. Well done on the beautiful cover design! And then I read the synopsis of the book, and I was immediately intrigued. A story about a drug that makes it possible for two people to meet and connect in their dreams. Interesting premise!

The whole story starts off with Vanessa’s baby/pregnancy nightmare, and I thought that was a good way to have that character’s anxiety and uncertainty come across to the reader. Vanessa’s dilemma of being in a relationship where the love is strong, but they want different things is oh so relatable to many.

I loved the fact that Altan is an Asian character. Yay for diversity! And the relationship and dialogue between him and Vanessa were one of the key elements to this story that made it so enjoyable to me. There was humor that had me giggling, sex (not very graphic) that made it slightly steamy, a horrible boss that made I want to jump into the book and punch the guy’s face, mental health issues that are important to address, romance that wasn’t too cheesy, and a pageturner of a plotline that had me up later than I should have been.

Kitty Cook has written the dream state of the characters so well that it all comes very easily to life as I was reading.

The characters are relatable and we do get to know both Vanessa and Altan quite well throughout this story. I didn’t find myself completely obsessed with them, but I was very invested in their story and with the mystery of how the Morpheum drug was actually working, and how it would impact the people using it.

Sleeping Together is an incredibly creative, intriguing and interesting story that touches on some sensitive subjects and has a slight element of science fiction to it that I really liked. I feel like I still have a lot of questions, and that these characters still have a lot more story to tell, so finding out that this is the first book in a series was definitely a pleasant surprise.

Highly recommend if you want to read a different kind of romance. And now, the waiting for book two begins.

Click on the Reedsy Discovery logo below to get to know more, maybe get your own copy, and let me know what you think of it💛

3 Books that Shaped Me as a Reader

Here are three books that have shaped me as a reader through the years 📚

I’m pretty sure that all of us bookworms have certain books that shape us as readers, both as kids and later on in our adult lives as well. We change, our preferences too, and sometimes a book can surprise us into a whole new genre we never even considered being our thing.

I thought I would share some of the books that has shaped me as a reader over the years.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

My dad was the one that introduced me to Anne Frank. I was about 8 years old and I already knew quite a bit about World War II as my fathers side of the family has Jewish heritage, and actually had to get away from the Nazis by moving to Sweden at that time. So the interest in WWII came at a pretty early age for me, and The Diary of a Young Girl definitely shaped my reading a lot. It was where I truly discovered how horrific, but also interesting and fascinating that time of history was, and still is. I’m still a WWII fanatic, just like my dad. I love reading non-fiction and historical fiction, and the well-written ones (especially those who are based on true stories) always breaks my heart and fill my eyes with tears. Reading Anne Frank’s diary was also what made me start journaling back in the days, which is something that I still do.

I think every kid should read this book. It’s so important and captivating. My dad also took me to Anne Frank’s house later on, which was a really interesting but also intense experience. If I remember correctly, I believe my dad has told me that I didn’t speak for a good while after we got out of there, and it is something I will never forget. I also would highly recommend going there if you ever get the chance to.

Bag of Bones by Stephen King

Bag of Bones is not my favorite King novel, but it was my very first. I remember browsing one of my local bookstores as a teenager and coming across this particular book. I can’t remember exactly what it was about Bag of Bones that compelled me to buy it, but buy it I did, and it has been quite the journey ever since.

I remember bringing it with me on a family vacation (but can’t for the life of me remember where we went), and was so captivated by this story that I was unable at times to put it down. It’s one of those stories that just made such a lasting impression on me that I actually remember quite a lot of what happened even though it has been years, and I’m pretty sure I would be surprised to find out how much I’ve probably forgotten if I tried re-reading it today (which is something I’m considering doing).

Let’s call it love at first sight, and King’s writing and I have been in a happy relationship (for the most part) for many years now, and it will continue to be that way for two reasons.

1 – The man has written so many books that I hardly doubt I will get through them all.

2 – It’s first book love, and that lasts a lifetime. Everybody knows that, right?!

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Did you just roll your eyes at the screen?! Well, if you did, I don’t blame you. Twilight is not great. It’s not even really good, but never the less, it is a book that played a pretty big role in my reading life. At the age of about 20, I found myself not having really read much in a few years. I don’t know what started that massive reading slump, but I do know that the easy entertainment that Twilight offered was what got me back into reading, and with a whole new love of fantasy and paranormal fiction. And because of that, I got to discover so many great books! So, even though I fully agree with the eye roll (and I have tried re-reading it some years later and wish that I hadn’t) it still deserves a spot on this list, and it will always hold a special place in this book lover heart of mine.

These three books are not my top three of all time, but they are all very special to me. If I hadn’t crossed paths with them, I probably would’ve had a very different reading journey than I’ve had so far.

Do you have a book that defined you more as a reader than any other? I would love to hear about it💛

Unteachable by Leah Raeder (Elliot Wake) 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of Unteachable by Leah Raeder (Elliot Wake) 📚

A steamy story of an unexpected and forbidden relationship between a student and a teacher.

Elliot Wake (formerly known as Leah Raeder)

I read a paperback version of Unteachable as a part of my Exploring Erotica project.

Genre: Adult & contemporary fiction, Erotica

Publisher: Atria Books

Originally published: July 27th, 2013

Pages: 320 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 9 Hours 49 Minutes

Blurb by the publisher:

Maise O’Malley just turned eighteen, but she’s felt like a grown-up her entire life. The summer before senior year, she has plans: get into a great film school, convince her mom to go into rehab, and absolutely do not, under any circumstances, screw up her own future. 

But life has a way of throwing her plans into free-fall. 

When Maise meets Evan at a carnival one night, their chemistry is immediate, intense, and short-lived. Which is exactly how she likes it: no strings. But afterward, she can’t get Evan out of her head. He’s taught her that a hookup can be something more. It can be an unexpected connection with someone who truly understands her. Someone who sees beyond her bravado to the scared but strong girl inside. 

That someone turns out to be her new film class teacher, Mr. Evan Wilke. 

Maise and Evan resolve to keep their hands off each other, but the attraction is too much to bear. Together, they’re real and genuine; apart, they’re just actors playing their parts for everyone else. And their masks are slipping. People start to notice. Rumors fly. When the truth comes to light in a shocking way, they may learn they were just playing parts for each other, too. 

Smart, sexy, and provocative, Unteachable is about what happens when a love story goes off-script

My thoughts:

I’ve been on the search for good adult fiction and erotica through my Exploring Erotica Project that’s been going on for a few years now. Around my birthday last year, I ordered a big bunch of erotica novels that were recommended to me in the comment section of one of the first Exploring Erotica videos I posted on YouTube. That is how I came across Unteachable and I was immediately intrigued by the story and the good reviews.

One of the first things I noticed that made me instantly like Maise as the main character was how strong and funny she was. Having read quite a few erotica novels by now, I feel like it’s a way too common thing to put young and inexperienced characters in these stories as sort of damsels in distress, and honestly, I’m not a fan.

When it comes to stories of love and sex, I much more enjoy experienced and strong characters that stand up for themselves. Maise, although she comes from a problematic upbringing, she is a very strong and passionate character. She’s very aware of her femininity, sexuality, and the power that comes with both.

I was worried that I would see the overly dominant and submissive character tropes when I saw that the story was about the relationship between a teacher and a student, but it didn’t have that.

Both characters are quite young(18 and 32), and the age difference between them doesn’t make the relationship between the characters uncomfortable and weird.

It’s more the story of an inconvenient setting of two young people that find themselves attracted to each other and trying to find out how to rightly maneuver their way through the jungle of love, lust, and judgment.

Something that adds to the depth of the characters is the fact they do carry each of their own demons into the relationship they start and that complicate things, as those pesky past demons tend to do. This makes it into a more realistic story.

Talking about realistic; the sex is very well written and fairly graphic, and there’s quite a lot of it, so this one is not for those readers who’re looking for “clean romances”. I really appreciated the erotica parts of this story. I thought it was well balanced with the rest of the story.

Unteachable is also a sort of coming of age story as well. It has the elements of worry and uncertainty about making big life choices, which is something we all can relate to on some level.

I think that this book also does a really good job of portraiting that slightly unhealthy obsession that sometimes happens when falling in love.

These characters and their relationship was interesting to observe as it grew and changed.

The secrecy and potential drama that comes with this forbidden relationship also make this story into a pageturner that’s hard to put down.

Unteachable is a breath of fresh air in a genre that really needs exactly that, and more awesome storytellers like Elliot Wake (formerly known as Leah Raeder).

 Click on the Bookdepository banner below to get your own copy with free shipping, make up your own mind, and let me know what you think of it💛

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A Secret Love Letter

I’ve been keeping you secret for a while now, and I will continue to do so for a little longer. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m overwhelmed with emotion that has a need to come out. So here it is, a secret love letter:

In a time when I had sworn off dating, promised myself that I wouldn’t put myself in a position where I could get hurt again, and found myself comfortable with the aspect of being alone, you just showed up.

A blast from the past that I never saw coming.

I was so unprepared for it that it still baffles me to think about having you in my life. It feels completely surreal, but it also feels more real than anything I’ve felt for a really long time.

It is not the obsessive uncertainty and constant worry. It is not a head filled with questions, and a fear of the answers they would possibly bring. It is not a tornado of butterflies in my stomach or the struggle with trying to understand mixed signals.

You are like the ocean. When you’re around I feel completely relaxed and at home, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Your love makes me feel completely safe. It wraps around me like a warm blanket, and it keeps me away from the cold that I’ve grown too accustomed to.

I have so many questions, but they’re all out of excited curiosity, not fear. Our future together is like Christmas, and I’m the impatient child that wants to find out what kind of magic is wrapped up and will unfold when the time comes.

Watching you around the people I love the most, seeing how you fit in as if you were always there, is like watching the most beautiful sunrise. It warms my soul and moves me to tears.

It is awesome how your dorkiness goes so perfectly with mine. We’re both idiots, and I love it!

When you cried at the ending of one of my favorite movies, that was the moment I wanted to tell you that I loved you the first time, but I didn’t. That came later.

We can talk about anything together, and that’s magic in itself. We both have our pasts and our stories. Here there are no secrets, no shame. There’s honesty and openness in a way that I’ve never experienced before.

After getting you back into my life, I’ve woken up feeling grateful every single day. Most of my days are good, some are bad, but through all of them, I feel gratitude so intense that it sometimes burst out as happy tears at the most random times and places.

The awesomeness that is us has made me question a lot of the things I thought I was so certain about. It has made me do a lot of big-picture thinking, and it has been the most amazing surprise.

Your support for my passion feels like having a whole cheerleading team behind me. It means the world to me, and I have a hard time expressing it at times. I hope you know that I support your dreams just as much!

There’s no way to really end this letter because this is just the beginning after all.

But I just wanted to say that I love you, and I can’t believe we’re here at this time of our lives, together.

Thank you for being you, and for loving me and all my weirdness.

I will keep you to myself for a little longer, but I’m excited to be able to share our adventures with the world soon!

❤️

PS: If you thought this was cheesy, then know it is all your fault! You brought the cheesy romantic in me back to life. Blame yourself and get bloody used to it 😜

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon📚
An epic fantasy novel with Queendoms and dragons!

Samantha Shannon

I read a paperback version of The Priory of the Orange Tree.

Genre: Epic fantasy, Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Originally published: February 26th, 2019

Pages: 848 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 25 Hours 52 Minutes

Blurb by the publisher:

A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door. 

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tane has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

My thoughts:

This is an epic fantasy where EPIC is the right word for sure!

I love me a good chunker of a book from time to time, although I do find them a bit intimidating. I love the “The Bone Season” series by Samantha Shannon, and I’m excited about the next book to come in that series. I wasn’t aware that she had published another book until the cover started popping up quite often on my Instagram feed. And what a pretty book it is! Well done Ivan Belikov (illustrator) and David Mann (design) for the gorgeous cover. And I also have to mention that I really liked seeing a fantasy novel that didn’t have the word throne in it, just saying!

Although I kept noticing this beauty on social media, I had no idea that it was an 800+ pages book. That I found out while book browsing at Outland (my favorite bookstore in Oslo), and all of the sudden it was like it was yelling out my name from the shelf that it was standing on. It begged me to take it home, so I did. I had to small of a purse with me (and refusing to use a plastic bag) I ended up carrying the chunker under my arm all the way home. After I started reading it I’m pretty sure I’ve built some solid arm muscle just by bringing this book along with me everywhere.

It’s been a while since I’ve decided to invest time in such an epic fantasy story, but when it was blurbed as “the feminist successor to Lord of the Rings” and “deserves as much attention as Game of Thrones”, I was more than a little intrigued.

The Priory of the Orange Tree would turn out to surprise me more than I ever expected.

For an 800+ book, it’s pretty impressive that the story grabbed me and never let go for a second. I found myself very invested in a very diverse cast of characters. We had characters of different colors and sexuality represented throughout this story, and it was done in a way that made it feel very natural, as it should always be!

I absolutely loved seeing different sexualities in the main characters, and not just the smaller roles. We need more of that, and Shannon has done an amazing job with showing us how easily it can be done in a genre where it isn’t done nearly as often as it should.

We follow a good amount of characters, but all of them have a very distinct voice and personality which makes it easy to know which character we’re following at any given moment. I also really liked that we got to see the viewpoints of some of the male characters in this story even though the focus is very much on the female ones.

It is a perfect mix of different voices and personalities without being confusing and overwhelming.

And my oh my, there are some really strong female characters in this book that I just fell in love with. Ead and Tané are definitely my personal favorites!

The fact that the dragons had voices too, just gave them so much more depth. It made them into characters in the story, more than just monsters or creatures.

The plotline of this story has a lot of twists and turns that I did not see coming, and that’s what made it into a book that keeps you wanting to read just one more chapter, and then one more. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that’s kept me up at night because I couldn’t wait to find out what’s going to happen to the characters, but The Priory of the Orange Tree definitely had me reading way past my bedtime.

I will say that the history and differences of the East and the West were a bit cluttered and confusing at the very beginning of the story, but as I got further into the story all those single threads were woven together into a colorful and complex carpet. It’s got such a well thought out backstory painted into a rich world that Shannon has come to life on the pages.

I’m in awe with this story, and I would highly recommend it to any fantasy lover out there.

Is it a standalone novel? Yes, but Samantha Shannon has hinted to the possibility of more books by saying that “this world has more stories to tell”, and I’m all here for it!

I believe that The Priory of the Orange Tree is a gamechanger in the epic fantasy genre, and it’s one that we needed more than we were even aware of.

It was well worth dragging “a brick” with me every day, and in many ways, I wasn’t ready for it to end when it did.

Thank you Samantha, for taking me as a reader on this epic feminist fantasy journey! I loved it, every step of the way❤️

 Click on the Bookdepository banner below to get your own copy with free shipping, make up your own mind, and let me know what you think of it💛

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