ARC Mini Review: Honeybee by Trista Mateer

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary:

You will meet people in your lifetime who demand to have poems written about them. It’s not something they say. It’s something about their hands, the shape of their mouths, the way they look walking away from you. Honeybee is an honest take on walking away and still feeling like you were walked away from. It’s about cutting love loose like a kite string and praying the wind has the decency to carry it away from you. It’s an ode to the back and forth, the process of letting something go but not knowing where to put it down. Honeybee is putting it down. It’s small town girls and plane tickets, a taste of tenderness and honey, the bandage on the bee sting. It’s a reminder that you are not defined by the people you walk away from or the people who walk away from you. Consider Honeybee a memoir in verse, or at the very least, a story written by one of today’s most confessional poets.

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book review - pink

★★★✩

This poetry collection is essentially about the author’s life after letting go of the woman she loved. It’s always hard to judge the content of such personal poems so I’m trying not to go there, I’ll just say that what kept me reading was the style of the poems more than the concepts. It’s just, the author’s feelings either will resonate with you or they won’t, and for me they mostly didn’t, but that’s something I need to have in order to really love poetry.

My favorite poems were the ones that talked about bisexuality (even if this book is not for you, you must read the poem called “A Brief Note on Biphobia”). They meant a lot to me.

I think this is an important book for queer women regardless of your own feelings while reading it, but definitely be aware that it’s very heavy on breakup and heartbreak themes as well as homophobia and biphobia.

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ARC Review: Calling Calling Calling Me by Natasha Washington /// a gay/pan MM romance that doubles as a love letter to San Francisco

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by A Novel Take for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary:

Patrick Mahoney has one goal in mind: get out of his native Fresno and find freedom in the rainbow and glitter-painted streets of San Francisco. As a college freshman, he’s sure he’ll finally have the chance to be himself, away from the judgmental eyes of his conservative hometown.

Josh Dirda’s never wanted to be tied down before, preferring the emotional ease of the one night stand. But when Patrick moves into the apartment that Josh shares with three friends, Josh is pulled in by Patrick’s sly wit and quietly creative spirit. As Patrick’s self-appointed tour guide, Josh can be Patrick’s introduction to the city he loves. But after a drunken Halloween hook-up crosses lines, Patrick and Josh must reckon with their true feelings—and decide whether they can let go of the ghosts from their pasts that haunt them.

Release date: September 4th

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book review - pink

★★★★

This book is about Patrick, a gay boy from conservative Fresno, who moves to start college in the city of his dreams, San Francisco, where he hopes to leave all the bullying behind him. His apartment search lands him a room in a shared flat with other slightly older students, among which is Josh, a Jewish pansexual boy who was born and raised in San Francisco.

Right away what I loved from the first few chapters was Patrick’s reaction to how open and chill everyone was about Josh’s sexuality and about Patrick’s too. The contrast between their mentalities and the mentality of the people Patrick grew up with was both astounding and relatable, and while we’re talking about relatableness, let me tell you that the first half of the novel spoke to my soul because so many of Patrick’s experiences and feelings are something I went through in my own move. Also his feelings about leaving his mom and his family and being completely on his own were On Point and I might have cried in the first 10%.

Like with most romances, this is narrated by both Patrick and Josh and I enjoyed both POVs in different ways, and I think both characters were very well written and well researched. I can’t speak for Josh’s Jewish representation but I think it was well woven into his character and a big part of who he is.

I have something to say about the pansexual rep and it’s that I feel like some people might not love it, but I personally did. What Josh does until meeting Patrick (sleeping with a lot of people and never being in a long relationship or a relationship at all) is not because of his sexuality at all and that’s made very clear in the book. Edit: something I originally forgot to write about is the fact that Josh is shown at the beginning (before the romance with Patrick) in scenes where he’s flirting and kissing girls too. It wouldn’t be remarkable if it wasn’t for the fact that a lot of m/m romances where one of the characters is MGA tend to avoid showing the character acting on his attraction on women or even thinking about women at all. That’s a whole discussion for another time, but I’m so glad that this was actually shown here. The pan rep gets a big 5/5 from me.

I loved the supporting cast too. Josh and Patrick’s friends were great to read about with their virtues and flaws, and Patrick’s family (well, part of it at least) was also lovely to read about. Patrick’s coming out to his mom was also one of the best I’ve read and I might have cried again.

Something this book differs from most romances is the pacing. (skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know anything about the romance) The MCs get together pretty soon (around 50% of the book) and the rest of the book is an exploration of the first few months of their relationship. I would also say that the first half of the book is more about Patrick’s character study, while in the second half we already feel like we know Patrick and the focus shifts to Josh, we find out why he does what he does and find out more about his family etc. It’s something I haven’t really seen in romances where usually the we-can’t-be-together-conflict lasts until the third fourth of the book, but I have to say it worked really well for me and I wish more romances sort of followed this path.

Another thing I loved about the book was the setting. San Francisco is one of the few big cities I’ve visited and I have to say, as a two-day tourist I didn’t exactly get the best impression from it. It’s…messy and the people tend to be kind of rude (sorry) (or maybe I was just unlucky). But this book feels like a love letter to this city and you can’t help but falling in love with it a little bit yourself too.

I briefly considered removing half a star from my rating because there were a few plot lines that I think didn’t necessarily need to be there and made me nervous about their outcome. This took a little bit of my enjoyment away, but ultimately I did think that all these things were handled well.

This is one of the most solid romances I’ve had the pleasure to read and I definitely recommend it.

Rep: Jewish pansexual MC; gay MC

TWs: alcohol and weed consumption, homophobia (challenged), bullying, past suicidal thoughts, transphobia (challenged), death of a loved one (not family)

ARC Review: Challenging Chance (Love Letters #3) by Anyta Sunday

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Summary:

C is for Chance Roosevelt-Sutton.
Chiseled jaw. Smug attitude. Wild ways.
Chained to his ego—or so everyone thinks. Except his personal assistant, Brook. He knows better.
Chance is challenged to make his father happy for once, but he needs Brook’s help.
Choosing honesty is too risky, so instead they choose secrecy.
Choked by their pasts, they dream of a better life . . . and
Charm each other into submission.

Will their pasts ruin what they have, or will they grow together?

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book review - pink

★★★★

This book follows millionaire basketball player Chance, who is desperate to impress his father and to have his approval, and his newly hired personal assistant Brooke.

We had already seen Chance in the first two books and had gotten the impression of him that the rest of the world has: basically, a rich entitled asshole. But Brooke pretty soon is able to see past Chance’s façade and learns there’s more to him.

This is the shortest book in this series so far but it managed to grab my attention immediately and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. Differently from the first two books, this had a coming-out element that was very dear to my heart, especially since Chance comes out in his mid-twenties, and I’m so glad we finally had a bi MC after three books.

There’s also an element of hurt/comfort which made some of the scenes really cute and really made me feel for Chance and for Brooke. I also loved Brooke’s grandma!!! She’s just a clever and witty woman, and on that note I really appreciate how Anyta Sunday’s books always feature at least one supportive family (of one of the MC) and how there’s always some amazing and strong female relatives that are there for the MC(s). I only wish there were more girl friends and specifically sapphic girls because let’s be real, wlw/mlm solidarity is A Thing in real life.

Anyway, so far I’ve had an absolute blast with this Love Letters series and I can’t wait for there to be more!

lgbTBR+: Fantasy & Historical Books Featuring F/F Relationships

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Welcome to the second post in this series, in which I share some books that are on my TBR and that have been recommended to me by friends or that I’ve found on goodreads. This is different from a recommendation post because well, I haven’t read any of these! I just want to make it easy for people looking for specific representation (in this post specifically, f/f romance rep) to go through a list because it’s not always obvious from the goodreads blurb what kind of rep is there (also, please, if a book wrongly ended up in this list let me know!)

I decided to merge two genres (fantasy and historical) in this post because I’m not too into historical novels and I didn’t have enough to make a separate post for those (in fact most of these I actually ended up adding while doing research for this post).

Here you can find the contemporary version of this post.

Click on a title to go to its goodreads page and add it to your TBR.

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Fantasy:

The Tiger’s Daughter

Breaking Legacies

Ash

Huntress

The Dark Wife

The Mermaid’s Daughter

Ice Massacre

Cinder Ella 

Of Fire and Stars

Spellbook of the Lost and Found

The Dark Beneath the Ice

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

The Warrior’s Path

The Second Mango

Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins

Divine Touched

The Witch Sea

 

Historical:

Fingersmith

The Supreme and Spirited Voyage of Original Sin

The Pirate’s Booty

The Princess’s Bride 

Tipping the Velvet

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Have you read any of these books? Is there any you recommend I start sooner rather than later? Let me know!

 

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ARC Review: Begging Ben (Love Letters #2) by Anyta Sunday

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Summary:

B is for Ben Spengler.
Brilliant. Bashful. Burned.
Brimming with desire for his BFF Landon, who is beyond compare.
But they aren’t the same Ben and Landon anymore. Not after what Landon did. And didn’t do.
Bitter about his unrequited love.
Bound by a night of drunken promises.

Will the chemistry between them change, or will Ben break first?

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book review - pink

★★★★

This book follows ex best friends Ben and Landon one year after their falling-out, so this had sort of a ex-best-friends—to-enemies—to-friends-again—to-lovers trope, except they’re never really enemies but still, that’s one of my favorite tropes EVER and I was NOT disappointed.

The other tropes used were also top tier, like the fake relationship element (fake marriage!!! But actually real!!!) (this is not a spoiler btw it happens in the first 10%) and the cute moments with Ben’s baby cousin. Also Ben and Landon have a science YouTube channel and I kind of wish this element had been a little more explored because I love YouTuber AUs but there was already a lot going on so that’s fine.

Ben and Landon also graduated in math and chemistry and they’re major nerds who speak in chemistry puns (don’t worry it’s not overdone) and honestly it’s like this book was written specifically to cater to my own needs?? Bless Anyta Sunday.

There was nothing I didn’t love except maybe some small element at the end (highlight with your mouse to read the spoiler)like how Landon eventually goes “I’ve always been in love with you too I just didn’t recognize it”…. I kind of don’t like that because I think it’s perfectly okay and normal to fall in love with someone after many years of being their friend and this “I’ve always loved you” element tends to always be there in friends-to-lovers but it usually feels unnecessary to me, like it’s trying to give the relationship a deeper meaning when it can be deep even if Landon only fell in love with Ben in the last few days/weeks/months. But that’s just a very minor thing and my own personal preference!(end of spoiler!)

Anyway, I genuinely loved this and it’s such a fun and fast read and I definitely recommend it!

Series Review: Violet Hill Series by Chelsea M. Cameron /// fluffy F/F romance novellas

Summaries

Second Kiss: Daisy Grace Webber’s life hasn’t exactly turned out how she thought. She didn’t think she’d drop out of college and come back to the small town she grew up in. To be fair, she didn’t think her love of baking would turn into a job at the Violet Hill Cafe either, but it did.

Something else she didn’t expect was for Molly Madison to walk back into her life, eight years after she moved away. They’d been best friends forever, or so she’d thought. But Molly is back in town and she’s looking… really good, actually. And that reminds Daisy of that one time at a sleepover when they’d kissed during a game of Spin the Bottle. That one kiss has been on her mind since then, but it’s irrelevant. Molly isn’t into girls.

But as Daisy and Molly spend more time together, feelings start to grow, and Daisy is wondering just how “straight” Molly really is…

Rep: lesbian MC, queer LI

Double Exposure: Anna Corcoran’s life is hectic, but that’s how she likes it. Between her jobs at the Violet Hill Cafe, the local library, and doing publicity work for authors, she doesn’t have much time for anything else. Until Lacey Cole walks into the cafe and she feels like she’s been knocked off her axis.

Lacey’s a photographer and writer and wants to do a profile on the cafe, including an interview with Anna. She’s game, but after spending a few days with Lacey, Anna is falling. Hard. The only problem is that Lacey isn’t going to be sticking around. She floats from town to town, never staying in one place.

But as they get closer and closer, Anna wonders if maybe this would be the one time when Lacey would decide to stay put. With her.

Rep: pansexual MC, trans bisexual LI

Second Chance: Serena Nolan’s summer isn’t going how she planned. Fortunately, her cousin, Anna, is there to rescue her from spending her time off from college with parents who don’t understand (or want to understand) her. Serena’s thrilled to be living with Anna and her girlfriend, Lacey in Lacey’s studio, and working in the Violet Hill Cafe. She’s even adores Lacey’s cat, Murder.
What she definitely didn’t plan was running into her ex, Fiona Davis. They’d been best friends that had turned into something else, but everything had crashed and burned before the end of high school several years ago.
Serena is still smarting from the heartbreak, but she can’t say no to spending some time with Fi. Against her better judgement, old feelings are mixing with new ones, and she doesn’t know what to do. Serena will have to decide if past heartbreak is going to keep her from a potential future with Fiona.

Rep: bisexual/demiromantic and demisexual MC, queer LI

series review (test)

My (average) rating:

★★★.5

When I started reading this series I soon realized I wasn’t really going to be able to review each book, and that I’d have to write a collective review instead.

It’s funny how all three titles play with the number two: second, double, second. It’s funny because for each negative thing I will say in this review, I will also say why I also found the same thing positive.

 

➖ The novellas are short, around 60 pages each. I usually prefer longer romance books because I enjoy spending more time with the main characters to get to know them and care about them.

➕ No matter if you’re working full time or if you’re on holiday, there’s always a time at some point when you might feel like reading something super short and that won’t keep you up all night. These novellas are perfect for that.

 

➖ The short page time also means that there’s not a lot of time to develop the relationships. It also means that there’s not a lot of time to be subtle about it: the MC always goes “wow she’s so hot” about the LI literally the first time they meet and then keeps going on about how hot she is and that’s most of the internal monologue. That’s not exactly something I’m a fan of because it gets repetitive fast.

➕ But it’s also so fucking nice and refreshing to read about attraction between women in a way that’s so explicit and uncomplicated and normalized. Misogyny tells us we are sexual objects but it’s shameful to embrace sexual attraction ourselves, especially when no man is involved in said attraction. To see this normalized, even if in a way that I found a bit over the top, is really damn important.

 

➖ I would find it more realistic if the relationships were shown the way early-stage relationships are: less “I love you”s and more “let’s be together and see where this goes”. I don’t mean that it’s impossible to fall in love that fast, but I feel like it should be more the exception than the norm. Especially since the characters find themselves taking pretty big and important decisions about their lives because of said relationship.

➕ On the other hand, I feel like sapphic stories need all the HEA they can get, so who cares if these short novellas end with a totally sappy and totally fluffy ending.

 

Now onto random stuff I liked and that doesn’t have a negative counterpart:

I loved the explicit use of labels! The pairings were diversified and I also appreciated the fact that in the second novella had a trans LI.

The sex scenes were also explicit and not fade-to-black, which I appreciated because of what I said before about normalizing sex between women.

The setting and common-thread of the novellas is a queer café in which all the MCs work. It’s literally a café where only queer people work and it’s super inclusive of everyone and it’s supposed to be a safe space for the queer people of the town, and it contributes to create a safe feeling for the reader too.

 

TL;DR: I would have probably given this series a slightly lower rating because of personal taste, but I appreciated it nonetheless because of the importance it has for sapphic girls and because sometimes you need to reminded that it’s okay to be a sapphic girl and that you deserve your happy ending.

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Have you read this series? What did you think about it? Do you usually enjoy reading novellas? What are some of your favorite ones (not necessarily romance)?

ARC Review: Admiring Ash (Love Letters #1) by Anyta Sunday

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by A Novel Take for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary:

A is for Ash Heartford.
Adorable, strong, and independent.
Abandoned by his parents and attached to only one person—his little sister.
Attracted to River, the sultry man who saunters onto his doorstep with startling news.
Always yearning for more River, yet afraid to let him in.

Should he play it safe, or claim his legacy and risk losing his heart?

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book review - pink

★★★★

The story follows Ash, who works a lot of jobs to be able to pay for food and bills and most importantly to give his sister the education she deserves to have, and River, son of millionaires, who is still mourning for the loss of the old man who has been like a grandfather for him. The man who’s biologically Ash’s grandfather, and Ash never knew.

The two meet when River gives Ash a letter from the old man, and the two start a friendship that eventually turns into something more.

I really liked this book and I found the sudden-inheritance theme was handled delicately for the two MCs. On one side Ash learns about one side of his family that he never knew and has to deal with the fact that he’s now the owner of Silver Pines and decide what to do with it. On the side River is still dealing with his grief and he just wants what’s best for Ash.

The book is short and I’m glad that not a lot of time was wasted on the “conflict” part of the romance that’s always there around the 70-80% mark. It was mostly a light, feel-good read and it was also nice to first meet the protagonists of the next two books, Ben and Chance. It set up the atmosphere for the rest of the series in a nice way that makes the reader crave for more. It was fast and light and a perfect summer read.