Wednesday 15 August 2018

Review Time! - Learning Curves by Ceillie Simkiss

Learning Curves title image on note paper with decorative hearts

Title: Learning Curves

Author: Ceillie Simkiss


New Adult, Novella, Contemporary Fiction, LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Asexual, Panromantic,) Romance (F/F)

Release Date: 17th August 2018

Amazon: UK - USA

Some Starting Notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book from the author, Ceillie Simkiss. This in no way affects the content of my review.

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Full disclosure: I know Ceillie via Twitter and the blogosphere, and consider her a friend.

This review is still fair and honest, as I'm capable of reviewing books by friends fairly.

If anything, I'm harsher on authors I know, but I thought I'd let you all know that I know Ceillie, so that everything's completely open and honest. πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘

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Learning Curves is #OwnVoices for Panromantic Asexual rep., as well as for ADHD and Anxiety rep.

The Premise:

Puerto Rican student Elena meets Cora through sharing notes for a class they're both in - part of Elena's Law degree, and Cora's business degree.

And... Cora's kinda cute... and kinda cool... and could this turn into something... maybe?

The Best Bits:

This book is cute af.

Seriously, it's an adorkable hug in novella form.

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I love the characters - if there's one thing Ceillie's good at, it's writing people.

Ceillie's people are real - they have real reactions, and are really awkward as all hell.

And the awkwardness is cute and relatable, rather than cringey and oh-God-make-it-stop.

It's this ability to make normal people seem both so relatable, and so interesting, that really draws you in.

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I loved all of the characters, but, in the humble opinion of yours truly, Cora is the most engaging character here.

We actually get very little back-story for her - a bit here, a bit there, the odd sentence slipped in - but what we do get is a bubbly bookworm carefully covering over layers of vulnerability.

I can't be the only one who relates.

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The diversity in this book is natural and understanding - it's not a plot-point, but neither are the various identities of the characters ignored.

They're a part of life.

The various types of rep., as far as I can tell, are handled really well - but I'm not Latinx, and don't have ADHD, so I'm entirely open to being contradicted by people who know what they're talking about more than I do.

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This is perfect for a soft and snuggly read - and at about 55 pages, it's also quite short for when you're looking for something on the lighter side.

What with a lot of it taking place at Christmas, it'd also be a nice read for December-ish.

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This book can also be considered a 'clean' romance - there's no sex; but neither is sex demonised or portrayed in a negative way, it's just not really a part of the story.

So this would also be a good one for those who want to support F/F romance but find graphic sex scenes awkward to read.

The Not-So-Great Bits:

There were moments, particularly towards the beginning, where I was like: 'Ugh! Ceillie! Show don't tell!!!'

There was a lot of what I consider unnecessary details which might stem from nervous or naΓ―ve writing.

I understand the temptation to spell everything out for the reader in order to hurry the plot along when it comes to shorter prose, but, ironically, it actually saves the reader time if the writer doesn't do this.

The 'show don't tell' issues tapered off as the book hit it's stride and the writing gained confidence, but did still pop up every now and then.

Don't get me wrong though - it's likely that a lot of people won't notice this, since it's faaaar from the most heavy-handed example that I've seen.

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I do wish that there was more... drama?

I guess it's just not that type of book, which is totally fine, but it would have made the story arc more defined if there were just a little more dramatic oomph to the plot.

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Some other minor points, although these are more personal than anything:

  • There's a lot of describing food, and cooking, which just bores me and also confuses my synaesthesia. A lot of people will love it, I'm sure.

  • I'm not a big fan of the title - it implies either more of the in-college stuff, sexy-times, or both. Like I said, that's just a personal thing.

  • As someone with Anxiety, and knowing that this is #OwnVoices for Anxiety, I would've liked it to be more explicitly referred to, instead of just the symptoms.

Content Warnings:

There's not a lot in this book to warn you about, and where there are things they tend to be referenced rather than on-page.

Still, here's some stuff to be aware of:

- disclosure of disability without the disabled person's permission

- homophobia using Christianity as a shield

- Acephobia/Aphobia

- prejudice within the LGBTQ+ community

The Verdict:

Y'know when you've had a cr**py day at work or whatever, and you just wanna grab a sharing tub of ice-cream and dig in with a spoon?

This book is what you should read while you're eating.

It's fluffy and cute, with characters you'll actually care about.

I can't wait to see what Ceillie comes up with next.

Do you guys like describing food and/or cooking in books? How important are realistic characters to you? Talk to me! πŸ˜ŽπŸ’¬

You can follow me on Twitter @CeeDoraReads, on Dora Reads @ BlogLovin, and on Google+. For more ways to support me, check out the Support Me page

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Last updated 10th September 2018


  1. This does seem like a great, fluffy book! I used to really love food being described in books, especially when it was Indian food because I felt like I could almost smell the spices, but now it kinda annoys me. I hate it when authors use food as a metaphor that makes zero sense, like almost over describing it.

    1. Hahaha, fair enough! I just get really confused because the description rarely tastes like the tastes it's describing, and I have to try and hold both ideas at the same time. It's like trying to tell yourself it tastes like raspberries while you're drinking coffee or whatever!

      Yes, it's an awesome and awesomely fluffy book! XD

  2. It sounds like this was a really cute and sweet contemporary novella to read! As long as I like the characters in short ones or romances like this, I actually don't mind if no drama or little drama happens which makes me think I would enjoy it! I also love when the rep is present and not ignored, but is neither a plot-point either. Because that's how it is in real life, I think. The representation and diveristy here sounds great!

    1. Yes, on all points! Sweet, cute, nice characters, rep present & not ignored - but not dominating the plot. :)


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