Review: Accepting the Fall by Meg Harding

I was sent this book as an advanced copy for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 
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Summary: Confronting the past is never easy.

Cole Whitaker is happy. He has the job and boyfriend he always wanted. His heart’s in no danger of being broken, and he can’t ask for more from life. As a kindergarten teacher, he sees it all; however, one troublesome student has him reaching out to the parent, wanting to help. There’s something about Savanah that tugs at his heartstrings.

He never expected her father.

Zander Brooks hasn’t had an easy life, and he’s made some mistakes. Freshly retired from the military and working as a firefighter, Zander thought he’d left Cole in the rearview mirror. He’s not expecting him to appear in St. Petersburg, Florida, of all places, teaching his daughter’s kindergarten class. Suddenly, his biggest mistake is being shoved in his face.
This is Zander’s chance to close a door he’d never fully shut, but time with his former flame might change his mind.

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book review - pink

★★★★

I loved this second-chance romance so much, without realizing it I even finished it within one single day (more like single evening) and that never happens because I’m a very slow reader.

The story is about Cole, a gay kindergarten teacher, and Zander, a Black bisexual firefighter whose daughter is in Cole’s class. Cole and Zander both grew up on military bases and they meet each other again after almost two decades of having had a relationship that ended abruptly as teens.

It’s hard to find anything I didn’t like about this book, to be honest.

I loved the single-parent aspect, and how Zander didn’t really know what to do with a little kid (he only had her for a few months because her mom dropped her on his doorstep and disappeared) but how he loved her so much and always wanted to do what was best for her. He is working as a firefighter and his job makes him a little absent from his daughter’s life at first but he learns to do things with her and how to be a great dad. I also loved that this wasn’t a story about him coming out and that his colleagues and friends knew about him being bisexual and nobody had a problem with it.

Cole was a sweetheart and he loves the kids he’s teaching and seeing him with all his pets and farm animals had me so soft. He is also in an established relationship at the beginning of the book, which is something that initially I didn’t like because I never know where a story might go from there. Fortunately there was no cheating and instead we were given enough time (I believe in the book a few months passed) to see why his current boyfriend wasn’t good for him. It’s not that he was a bad guy or anything (I also hate when someone is in an abusive relationship and finds a new partner, because I’m never sure that they love the new partner or if they’re really just looking for something better). In fact, the guy was great on paper, but just not what Cole needed in his life.

Once things with Cole’s ex ended, the romance took up from there. Cole and Zander’s dates were so adorable and once they started dating there was no real obstacle to their romance. Most of the conflict was from their time together when they were teens, and I loved seeing snippets from the past to understand what had gone right and what had gone wrong.

I also liked the focus on Savanah’s mental health and trauma of her mom leaving her and how she interacted with the world (mostly Zander and Cole, but also the other kids) because of it. I just wanted to hug her and make sure she was okay and I cried with that epilogue because yes, she turns out okay and loved.

So, I can’t recommend this book enough if you want to read a cute second-chance romance with a single parent trope and an out and proud bisexual Black man.

TW: mentions of past homophobia, past break up, car accident, hospitals, child abandonment

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A very late December Wrap-Up

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I’m going to keep this post short because it’s kind of late and I feel bad for posting it basically in mid-January. But I love doing it and I didn’t want to skip a month so I guess we’re here.

books

december

I’ve read a total of 20 books which is much more than the previous month, but don’t be fooled, a lot of it was just me reading short things, being on Christmas break and going on a webcomic binge of epic proportions.

○ 3 audiobooks

○ 1 rereads

○  9 graphic novels/webcomics

○  3 ARCs

Overall this was a really good reading month for me. There were new favorites within their genre, stuff I’d been meaning to read for a long time that I finally did, some objectively good books that didn’t really stay with me, and a lot of mood reads that were perfect for me at the time when I read them.

highlights

📖 Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (reread, audiobook) – this book is still miles away from the perfection that is Six of Crows, but Bardugo has grown so much between Shadow and Bone and Ruin and Rising, it’s amazing. In R&R we finally get some of those squad dynamics and banter that will shine even brighter in SoC and this squad made me feel at home because I remember loving them the first time I read this series. I only read this series again to remember details that will probably help me immerse in King of Scars even more, and if you’re anticipating that book as much as I am and you have the time I highly recommend reading or rereading this series. ★★★★.5✩/5 

📖 No End by Erli & Kromi -I have a whole review about this webcomic (please go read it, both the webcomic and my review) and if I had to choose only one highlight for this month I think it would be this one. It had been a while since I kept thinking about characters from a book or comic while not reading but whenever I had to put this down to do other things I kept wondering what would happen next. I just love everything about it with all my heart and I can’t recommend it enough. ★★★★★/5

📖 A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole – I’d been wanting to read this since I heard about it and idk why I waited so long but boi oh boi! I am glad I finally read it. First of all, the cover is stunning. Second, I loved both MCs SO MUCH. Prince Thabiso is the only man I love so jot that down. The romance was so, so good. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. ★★★★.5✩/5

📖 Shootaround by Suspu – I was recommended this as I was in No End hungover so I decided to start it to ride that gay zombie apocalypse wave. This is very different from No End but just as gay and it’s much more a hilarious take on the zombie apocalypse. I mean, it has its serious moments but it’s truly going to make you laugh out loud and it’s so positive and it has such diverse rep (various disabled people, a trans MC, almost every girl is queer, almost every guy is bi or pan, two Japanese MCs, one Mexican MC, and more that I’m sure I’m forgetting). It’s also complete so you can read it all in one go and reach the end without having to wait for further updates. ★★★★★/5

📖 Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (audiobook) – first off, I knew this series had some queer characters but I didn’t expect just how diverse this was (asexual MC and trans FTM secondary character). I truly went into this book without knowing anything about the plot or setting but I loved it. Listening to it made me feel a little disconnected from it at first but it ended up being so, so good. ★★★★.5✩/5

📖 Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler (ARC) – this book surprised me because I thought I would like it but still be kind of neutral towards it, and instead I ended up loving it and having a lot of Feelings about the queer rep and the friendships portrayed and even Josh. Read my full review and then go read the book for yourself. ★★★★.5✩/5

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📑 Fake Out by Eden Finley – you can read my full review here. There are more personal reasons why this didn’t work for me but mostly I’m just tired of m/m authors being generally shitty when it comes to the rest of the spectrum, which usually shows when they write really transphobic comments in their books (and I bet they thought they were being woke). Just stop writing queer fiction if all you care about is just some of the letters of the acronym.

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I’m not completing this post with my current reads because by the time this post is out I’ve already read 6 books in January and it doesn’t make sense to add my CRs from the end of December here.

Instead I want to know what your favorite part of last year was for you, whether it was a book or a vacation you took or a new recipe you discovered or anything. I hope you have an amazing month!

Review: On the Fly by P.J. Trebelhorn // for the f/f sports romance lovers out there

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: Courtney Abbott is a gold-medal-winning Olympian who always dreamed of playing in the NHL. But breaking into a man’s game is nearly impossible, and she’s put her all into playing in a semi-pro women’s ice hockey league.

Concert violinist Lana Caruso and her teenage son return home to care for her father. The move is only temporary, though—as soon as he recovers, Lana plans to return to Chicago and her position in the orchestra.

Court knows Lana isn’t going to be sticking around for long, but she’s used to living life on the fly. She doesn’t think for even a second she’ll end up truly falling for Lana, but when hearts are on the line, love becomes the one game she can’t afford to lose.

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book review - pink

★★★★.5

This book is a romance between hockey player Courtney Abbott and Lana Caruso, a violinist who has to take time off from her orchestra in Chicago in order to help out her family because of her father’s health issues. Lana also has a teenage son so there’s a single parent trope in this too, which I really liked. Because he’s 15 and plays hockey too, he had kind of a important role and I thought the scenes with him were really cute and endearing.

I thought that because the romance was going to be between an athlete and a violinist, this book wouldn’t focus so much on the sports element, but I was wrong and I really enjoyed this aspect. Particularly I loved how fierce Court’s teammates were when it came to backing up one of their own, even if it was usually against a new member of their own team who caused trouble. In this it reminded me a bit of The Foxhole Court, just in how violent and threatening some scenes were. It’s nowhere near TFC levels though. Although at the beginning it was cool to see this strong friendship among women, it also annoyed me that the main conflict had to be a teammate who was causing trouble for no reason other than the fact that she’s a bigot and has a problem with Courtney being a lesbian. That grew old soon and it distracted from the romance and the cute scenes. If I’m reading an f/f book I usually don’t want to be reminded of queerphobia. I also didn’t like the implication that because she’s a homophobe she has to be secretly closeted and not accepting of her own sexuality. It’s a tired argument that’s only meant to justify bigotry.

On Lana’s side of the story, she has to help out in her family’s pizzeria and try to find a relationship with her parents where she doesn’t really have one. I am Italian and I have to say that I recognized Lana’s family’s mentality as typically Italian and not in a stereotyped way. It was the small things that made it real and I don’t know if the author really did her research or what but I thought it was spot-on.

The romance itself was really good. I liked them right away and how flirty they were with each other. I really felt for them because they knew the time they had was limited since Lana would go back to Chicago after a few months. Something that was different compared to other romances was the fact that the book stretched onto a long time period, overall I think about two years? It had some necessary time jumps at the end but that was expected, however even while Lana was still in town sometimes I thought the pacing was a bit off.

There were a few other things that bothered me like the equivalence that having breasts = being a woman, or the fact that sex was treated as something everyone needs to have, and one comment in Court’s POV about bisexual women that I thought could have been edited out (Lana is a lesbian but Court initially thinks she’s bi because she has a son, and thinks in her internal monologue that she doesn’t have a problem with bi women but doesn’t want to hear about their sex with men, which….was really not prompted by anything and just made me uncomfortable) but overall I had a really good time while reading this and I would definitely recommend it for fans of f/f and sport romances.

TW: lesbophobia, mention of suicide, past death of a parent, cancer, hospitals, violence, the d slur

ARC Review: Cretaceous by Tadd Galusha 🦖

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: When a Tyrannosaurus Rex is separated from its family unit, it embarks on a harrowing journey to reunite with them before the raw, real dangers of the Cretaceous Era separate them for good. This heart-wrenching story takes to the skies and dives into the sea—and explores everywhere in between—in this research-based, fictional account written and illustrated by Tadd Galusha (TMNT/Ghostbusters 2).

Release date: March 26th

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book review - pink

★★★

If this review was a flow chart, and I asked you, “Do you like dinosaurs?” and your answer was Yes, then there’d be a handy arrow that would point you to the option “read this graphic novel”.

If you’ve ever seen illustrations of a dinosaur and the first word out of your mouth was “COOL!!!!”, then this book is for you.

Maybe I’m a little dramatic or maybe my whole childhood and consequently my whole life has been heavily influenced by Littlefoot’s mom’s death in The Land Before Time, but when I saw how stunning the title page was (not the cover, which is kind of…not good, compared to the art inside) I didn’t even care what the story would be about, I just knew I would love it if the whole book had art Like That in it. And I was not disappointed.

The fact that this book has no dialogue in it might make you think it’s a children book about cute dinos running about their lives, but I wouldn’t say this is for kids. Teens, maybe, if they can handle the gore. But basically, you should only go into this if you’re prepared to be the powerless witness to the brutality of a nature without finality or purpose, and leave your own human ideals in the Anthropocene where you belong. This is the Cretaceous, baby.

Review: Squared Away by Annabeth Albert

I was sent this book as an advanced copy for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 
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Summary: In the wake of tragedy, SEAL Mark Whitley rushed stateside to act as guardian to his sister’s three young children. But a conflicting will could give custody to someone else—someone Mark remembers as a too young, too hot, wild party boy. Even after six years, Mark can’t shake the memory of his close encounter with Isaiah James, or face up to what it says about his own sexuality.

Isaiah’s totally over the crush that made him proposition Mark all those years ago. In fact, he’s done with crushing on the wrong men altogether. For now, he’s throwing himself into proving he’s the best person to care for his cousin’s kids. But there’s no denying there’s something sexy about a big, tough military man with a baby in his arms.

As the legal details get sorted out, their long-buried attraction resurfaces, leading to intimate evenings after the kids are tucked in. A forever future is within reach for all of them, if only Mark can find the courage he needs to trust Isaiah with his secrets—and his heart.

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book review - pink

★★★★.5

Okay so don’t mind me while I SQUEAL because this book made me feel all kinds of feels. I was weirdly in the mood for an M/M romance where one of the guys has to raise a kid on his own, but get this: BOTH guys are raising THREE KIDS. Together.

I don’t think I could’ve asked for more from this trope. This had everything I wanted: cute domestic scenes, funny shenanigans, one of the guys who’s clueless about kids at the beginning and the other one who’s already a pro at it. It was also very emotional because of the circumstances in which Isaiah and Mark come to take care of the kids, since their parents died. I think the portrayal of grief (especially from Mark’s part) was realistic enough without making the book darker than it needed to be.

The romance itself was so, so good and soft. I can’t think of another word for it and y’all are gonna have to take it from my cold, dead hands. SOFT SOFT SOFT. While there is some lack of communication when it comes to the legal situation with the kids, the communication between Isaiah and Mark is great in their relationship. I don’t really want to spoil anything about it but it’s too cute and I’m still squealing.

Talking about the representation, Isaiah is biracial, just like the kids are, but it’s sort of a blink-and-you-miss-it thing. Isaiah is also gay and Mark is grey-ace or demisexual (he isn’t sure of the exact label, but he is ace-spec). I don’t want to go into the specifics of what I think of Mark’s asexuality and how it was handled, but I want to say that a thing I found a bit weird was how there didn’t seem to be a distinction between sexual and romantic orientation. Mark talks about sexual attraction and romantic crushes as if they’re one and the same, and while they might be for some people, I think the two are very different things. In any case, there’s never any talk of aromanticism or being on the aro spectrum as well as the ace one. Other than this, it was great to see that Isaiah was understanding and respectful of Mark’s sexuality and knew enough about asexuality without Mark having to explain the ABC of it, which is sometimes the case with m/m romances where one character is ace.

I 100% recommend this book if you’re a fan of the trope with kids, if you want to a super soft romance between two guys grieving and if you’re looking for ace rep.

TW for homophobia, death of loved ones, mentions of drunk driving, mentions of alcoholism, war injuries, grief.

Most Anticipated Releases (Jan-Mar 2019)

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great beginning of 2019 and is ready for the absolute blessing that this year is going to be, publishing-wise. I don’t know if I’m just more aware of how many great diverse books are coming out this year or if it’s really a huge step forward compared to 2018, but I feel like even if I decided to quit everything and stay home all day every day for the whole year I would still end up behind on all these books that are coming out (not to mention I’m still behind on my 2018 most anticipated releases…RIP).

This is also the perfect time for a Most Anticipated post. As always I know I’m not going to read everything right away because I won’t have enough time (and also I’m a mood reader), but I’ve highlighted in bold the books I’m most most most anticipating and that I hope to get to as soon as they come out.

January

8th

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy (Reluctant Royals #2.5) by Alyssa Cole – I’ve preordered this spin-off novella before even reading any book in this series. But seriously, this is a f/f romance about two Black women, and with that cover?? Phew, I’m in love. And after reading book one in this series I’m even more curious, because I loved Likotsi and I want her to be happy. Also, I’m seriously in love with the title, I don’t know why!

15th

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – I still haven’t read anything by the author, but this sounds too got not to be excited about it. A gang of six queer nerds with one impossible heist? I don’t know if anything has ever sounded more appealing ever, honestly. I doubt I’ll manage to get to it right away but that’s only because January will be one hell of a month and I prefer to read fantasy when I can truly enjoy it and binge it in as little time as possible, and I really want to read this in the best conditions for myself.

22nd

Song of the Dead (Reign of the Fallen #2) by Sarah Glenn Marsh – I’m a little conflicted about this because while I liked the first book, it didn’t really stay with me, although I do remember enough about it that I think I could read this sequel without a reread. It’s just not going to be a priority for me right now but I’ll stalk everyone’s thoughts once more reviews start to pop up on GR and blogs.

29th

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo – okay, if I had to make a post about THE most anticipated release for the whole year, this would be it. I know I’m not the only one, but I will literally plan my whole week around this release and try to finish it the day it comes out.

The Severed Moon by Leigh Bardugo – a year-long journal by one of my favorite authors, with quotes and prompts from the Grishaverse? I never knew this is what I needed, but it’s what I needed. I hadn’t realized that this comes out the same day as KoS, but I’m going to look into preordering it as well.

February

5th

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas – it’s by Angie Thomas. That’s it, that’s the reason.

12th

Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau – this is a queer graphic novel that I found out about on twitter a while ago, the art looks so nice and soothing (kind of à la Heartstopper)

19th

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson – I loved the other books by SDH I’ve read so far, so I have high expectations and high hopes for this one.

March

1st

The Fever King by Victoria Lee – this is the only one of these that I’ve been lucky enough to have read as an ARC! I loved this and the review is coming out sometime closer to the release date. I think this is a very important book and a strong debut. I did have some issues with the writing but I think the story and characters more than make up for it!

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl – I added this for the aro rep and I wish I could read it right now. I’m going to have to be careful though because aliens give me a lot of anxiety (don’t ask) and depending on how big this element is in the story I might not be able to read it at all.

5th

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman – this is about academic pressure and apparently it has a mm romance. I expect that I’ll buy or preorder this to keep in my kindle once I have more time and I’m in the mood for it

19th

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum – I loved The Wicker King and while this is not a direct sequel, one of the MC is the child of three characters from TWK (they’re in a MMF polyam relationship). Their child becomes friends with a girl whose mom is an astronaut who left for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system and this concept made me so incredibly melancholic the first time I read the blurb (before even reading TWK) that I just had to add the book to my TBR. It is also going to be an f/f romance so like, I don’t know how I could possibly ask for more.

The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore –  a fantasy murder mystery with ace and mlm rep, or, as I like to call it, “be gay, undo crime”.

26th

Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett – all I know is that it’s f/f and set in Italy. I’ve avoided books set in Italy by Americans authors in the past because they can go very, very wrong, but I’ll try to read this one. Maybe. Right now I’m excited for it but who knows what can happen in three months’ time.

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How has your 2019 been so far? Are you looking forward to any of these books? Have I missed any upcoming releases you’re looking forward to? Let me know!

Books I DNF’d in 2018

I haven’t talked about my DNF’s for a while, so I thought it would be cool to take a look back at what I DNF’d this year.

Back in 2017 I DNF’d a total of 10 books (all ARCs). This year they were only 8, which is less than last year but I know it’s a lot for some people. They were also both ARCs and books that were free online for a time or books I managed to return, so I didn’t waste any money on them fortunately.

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36406908-2Curved Horizon (The Camellia Clock Cycle #2) by Taylor Brooke

My first DNF of the year was something I should’ve seen coming. After not loving the first book in this series I wanted to give the author another try but it seems their style is just not for me.| full review

 

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Concerto in Chroma Major by Naomi Tajedler

This is the only DNF rant review I’ve written this year because this book made me all kinds of angry. Who the fuck goes “I’m going to write a book for fat queer girls………..and I’m going to fill it with fatphobia and biphobia on every page!” I’m still so angry just thinking about it. | full review

 

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The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

This was my first audiobook DNF ever. I could have finished it, I was probably halfway through. I put it on hold for a bit and after a couple of months I realized I couldn’t care less about continuing the story, so I ended up returning it.

 

34927042Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

This was free on Riveted for a while. I started reading it and it was kind of predictable and I just didn’t really care about any of it. I didn’t spend any money on it so I gave up before I ended up wasting too much time on it.

 

41460723Found at Sea by Jaclyn Osborn

This sounded like my exact cup of tea. M/M romance between pirates? But nah it was kind of bad. First of all the age gap (29/19) made me uncomfortable, then the characters weren’t that well written and the writing style was just not great. I was still on time to return the ebook so I did before wasting more time on it.

 

40183920Love Like This (Seven Shores #4) by Melissa Brayden

This is a book I could’ve kept reading if I had more patience but I just don’t. Parts of it were really sweet and at first I really liked it, until I realized some things made me very uncomfortable, like the non-consensual kissing that was romanticized. After that it was all I could think about and it was annoying me so I decided to put it down forever.

 

23462649Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

My second audiobook DNF and I’m kind of sad about it. My previous experiences with Neil Gaiman were a five stars to Norse Mythology in audiobook format, where I discovered how sexy nice Gaiman’s voice is, and a three star to The Ocean at the End of the Lane (read in paperback). I thought that Neverwhere should’ve been at least a 4 stars read because Gaiman was reading it, but I had some issues getting into it because I couldn’t understand the names of the characters without seeing them written, and once I got a little more into the story I still couldn’t care less about the characters or the world. I’m not in the business of wasting time and money on books I’m not enjoying so I decided to stop reading and return it to audible with no regrets. Also Neil Gaiman seems like the kind of guy who wouldn’t mind if someone decides one of his books are not for them so I don’t feel bad. His voice is still sexy though.

 

39298105Fake Out by Eden Finley

Ughhhhhhh this book. When I start a book because of a specific trope (fake boyfriends) I kind of want that trope to drag until after the 50% mark. I also wish m/m writers stopped filling their books with a lot of casual transphobia. Get woke y’all. | full review

 

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Do you often DNF books? Why/why not? Have you read (or DNF’d) any of the ones I mentioned above?