Review: Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

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

43092891

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

Add on Goodreads

review new

★★★★.5✩

If you like romance you just can’t go wrong with a Talia Hibbert book!

Sometimes you are so excited about a book you actually have to postpone reading it because you know it’ll be the perfect read for you in a different moment of your life. Well that’s what I did and because of *gestures vaguely at the state of the world* I decided now was the perfect moment to finally read it, and read it I did.

I listened to most of it and then read a few parts on my digital ARC. I have to admit I didn’t love the narrator and the steamy parts are just too awkward for me to listen to, but oh they are excellent otherwise, like in all the other author’s books.

What I love most about Talia Hibbert’s romances is the diversity and how casual and honest the characters are about their marginalization and/or issues they faced in their life. Here we have a Black female protagonist with chronic pain and fibromyalgia and everything about how she talked about how this affects her daily life was so honest and effortless.

Something else that is rare to see was the male character talking about his abusive ex. I think it’s important to show that men can be abused by their partners and can heal from it. Also: therapy! Therapy is good!!! Therapy for everyone!!!! I don’t necessarily believe that IRL men can be like Talia Hibbert’s male characters, but oh do I want to believe they can be.

And speaking of the actual romance: it was swoony and sexy as always, and I appreciated that the more “dramatic” moments were resolved quickly (at least compared to previous TH romances I read) because I hate reading those parts.

I am excited for the next book (where the main female character is bi/pan!!) and as always I am in awe of Talia Hibbert skills and recommend her to everyone.

TWs: mentions of domestic abuse in the past

ARC Review: Cancer Ships Aquarius (Signs of Love #5) by Anyta Sunday

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

51101428._sy475_

Prepare to dip your toe into the biggest adventure of your life, Cancer. There’s romance in the air, and it smells deliciously salty.

Dumped by the fifth girl in two years and abandoned by his best friends, Reid Glover is alone and in need of a home.
Desperate, he interviews to become a live-in manny aboard widowed Sullivan Bell’s yacht, the Aquarian.
The job? Not to look after thirteen-year-old Joanna. No, this child-mastermind needs Reid to befriend her dad, urge him to participate more in family life, encourage him to date, oh, and become his closest confidant and help him unleash his bottled emotions.
No pressure.
At least he’s not entirely out of his depth.
Okay, so he may have a slight aversion to the ocean. And possibly attract more than his fair share of misadventure.
But he is a pro at crying.
Watch out, Sullivan. Reid is on his way with a family-sized carton of tissues. He will help Sullivan through his fears. Will help him find love again.
Will absolutely not fall for him in the process . . .

Caution, Cancer, how long will you fool yourself?

~ ~ ~

Cancer Ships Aquarius (Signs of Love #5) is an MM opposites-attract romantic comedy featuring a misadventure prone manny and a blunt widower.
More wit, banter and bad puns – and even more heart-stopping slow burn!
Can be read as a standalone.

Tropes: slow burn, will-they-or-won’t-they, opposites attract, 10 year age gap, manny loves widow,
Genre: New Adult, light-hearted contemporary gay romance

Add on Goodreads

review new

★★★★


I absolutely loved this! It had been a while since the last Anyta Sunday book I read but I’m glad she’s back and in great shape. This whole series is so funny and both light-hearted and deep when it needs to be and I’m always in awe of the author’s creativity and how she can come up with so many different situations and scenarios.

This book had a lot of tropes I absolutely adore including single parent, living together and being an emotionally oblivious bisexual. I had so many moments where I was laughing to the point of tears and to be honest that’s all I ask when I’m reading a romance book. Okay, not only that, but I also got everything else I wanted, so I literally can’t have any complaints.

I also really liked both the cameos of previous couples and the presence of two queer women (even though they were mostly present on the phone more than physically), which is something I kind of miss in this series and in m/m romance in general. I’m actually really really hoping for a novella of their relationship because that would be so cute to read.

I know this is a short review but I really don’t want to say anything else about the story and couple because I believe it’s best to just start reading without knowing much about it, I can only recommend this book and the whole series wholeheartedly!

Rep: bisexual MC, gay LI

TWs: loss of a spouse in the past, grief, mentions of homelessness and child abandonment, alcohol, accidental alcohol consumption by a minor

ARC Review: The Weight of Living by M.A. Hinkle

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

48720107._sy475_

When she arrives for a working vacation, shy photographer Trisha Ivy doesn’t expect much from Cherrywood Grove. Then she runs into beautiful, confident Gabi Gonzalez, a caterer working all the same weddings… and also the daughter of Trisha’s favorite childhood TV star. Trisha can’t resist getting to know her. After all, she’s only in town for the summer, and Gabi is straight. What harm could it do?

But as it turns out, Gabi’s easy charm is a facade. Since the sudden death of her father, Gabi has been pulling away from her family and what she really wants, weighed down by secrets she can’t express. Trisha might be the perfect person to help her, but is getting so involved in Gabi’s life really the right choice?

Add to Goodreads

review new

★★★★✩

This was a truly beautiful and well-written book. It dealt with so many different life experiences, especially about the many ways different people can come out to both themselves and others. I particularly liked and related to Gabi’s own path in coming out and how this isn’t always as straight-forward as media (or real life) usually portrays it.

On the other hand was Trisha’s own history as a gay trans woman, and I feel like both stories were dealt with in a very serious and delicate manner. There was definitely something in both of them that every queer person might relate to, and in many ways this book was a study in being queer, particularly a queer woman.

I haven’t read the previous two books in this series and this didn’t affect my enjoyment: past characters make cameos here, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about how I wish more romance series had a mix of queer pairings and experiences, and while I don’t know how male queerness is handled in the first two, I really appreciated that this third book focused entirely on being a queer woman.

We so rarely get to see this and there were certainly types of experiences that this book didn’t handle, but we have a gay trans woman, a young gay woman who’s never been in the closet, a bi woman married to a man, and a woman who, despite growing up in a queer family, still struggles with her own coming out process. It’s… real, and it’s raw and this is a book I would have loved to read when I was just past my own questioning and coming to terms with who I was for the first time. I still loved to read it now and there were so many moments I highlighted because they just fit.

There were other themes such as family, friendship, death and grief that, paired with how seriously everything else was handled, made this book rather heavy to read, particularly if you, like me, expect the uh, more “usual” kind of (lighthearted) romance. That is not to say that it was difficult to read or that I didn’t want to read: I basically read this in three sitting on three different days because every time I started reading I didn’t want to stop. But it was emotionally heavy and I saw it more as a study or queerness, like I mentioned before, and as a character study.

The best way I can summarize my experience with this book is in two very separate statements:

a) what a wonderful book;
b) I didn’t have fun reading this book.

The second thing isn’t necessarily negative; some books aren’t meant to be fun. Maybe if I had read the first two in the series I would have known what to expect, but I didn’t, and as a general rule I’m expecting to experience at least a little bit of fun while reading a contemporary romance.

Speaking of the romance itself, it comes, but it comes very late. It makes sense within the book, much more than if things had been rushed: the relationship is very well developed and sweet, but it’s a friendship for a higher percentage of the book than what I would expect from a book marketed as, you guessed it, a romance.

Maybe your best bet is going in without expectations of what this book is or isn’t, but if you’ve read this far into this review I guess I already gave you some expectations. In any case, this is a novel I would highly recommend for its many themes and a pairing we need more of (trans f/cis f). I don’t know if I will go back and read the first two books in this series, but I definitely want to keep an eye for future work of the author.

Rep: cis Mexican-American gay woman, trans gay white atheist woman

TW: grief, loss of family member, discussions of homophobia and transphobia, food, straight weddings, religion

ARC Review: Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales // the queer Grease retelling that stole my heart

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

45046743

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets CLUELESS in this boy-meets-boy spin on Grease

Summer love…gone so fast.

Ollie and Will were meant to be a summer fling—casual, fun, and done. But when Ollie’s aunt’s health takes a turn for the worse and his family decides to stay in North Carolina to take care of her, Ollie lets himself hope this fling can grow to something more. Dreams that are crushed when he sees Will at a school party and finds that the sweet and affectionate (and comfortably queer) guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High.

Will is more than a little shocked to see Ollie the evening of that first day of school. While his summer was spent being very much himself, back at school he’s simply known as one of the varsity basketball guys. Now Will is faced with the biggest challenge of his life: follow his heart and risk his friendships, or stay firmly in the closet and lose what he loves most.

Release date: March 3rd

Add on goodreads

review new

★★★★.5✩

I was taken by surprise by this queer Grease retelling, not because I didn’t expect it to be good (it sounded amazing) but because it kept trying to annoy me and it just…didn’t.

Only Mostly Devastated is both a light-hearted romcom and a book that has many heavy themes within it, and the two aspects felt well-balanced and well-researched. With so many delicate themes at hand, there is going to be space for nuance as every reader reacts to each instance according to their own sensibilities and life experiences. To me, there was so much I could see easily going downhill but instead going the opposite way. Comments that were immediately challenged on page, conflict that could’ve been easily dismissed by one character but instead was acknowledged and respected. (Only one thing that I could think of didn’t really leave me satisfied, because the apology came late and wasn’t really an apology but it’s seen as one because of the character’s personality.)

This is not to say it’s all black and white: these are teenagers and they make mistakes and in the process learn to navigate life, and to me that was enough.

If you’ve seen Grease you might already expect how the romance works: summer fling, same school, two groups of friends. Add in the queer element, and the major conflict becomes the fact that Will is deeply closeted. This constitutes one of the heavier aspects of the book, second to the illness plotline, so I wouldn’t call this story fluffy by any means. But to me it felt very real and all in all I feel like Ollie never expected Will to come out for the sake of their relationship, he was fully willing to keep it a secret from everyone while simultaneously rightfully being frustrated by some of the decisions that Will took in order to keep his sexuality safe.

Will’s sexuality is not the only one in question, and there is a secondary sapphic character who gets outed to the whole school and this kind of furthers the narrative in more than one way. This is not something I had thought much about while reading and ultimately I think it was done more for the sake of the Grease retelling than to further the m/m relationship, but I can see how it might not sit well with everyone.

Ollie’s aunt’s terminal illness is the other major aspect that makes this book not the easiest to read. I don’t want to get too personal but I had to force a sense of distance in order to power through the book, and I found Will’s emotions very real and the grief aspect one of the best I’ve ever seen handled in a book. I wasn’t surprised to go on the author’s biography and find out she works as a psychologist, because she really hit all the spots with this story line.

With so much that was ultimately emotionally heavy content, how come I still called this light-hearted? Ollie’s internal monologue was simply a delight, and this is coming from someone who’s finding herself more and more distant from the “contemporary YA 1st POV voice”, but I could simply not care. Was it over the top sometimes? Yes, but I didn’t care. I liked Ollie’s voice and I thought he was highly relatable and funny.

I also loved the friendships in here. I couldn’t immediately understand the girls but once I did I loved their little messy group, and the guys were annoying but ultimately not unredeemable, especially once they got educated.

Speaking of the girls, it’s the first time I see PCOS being talked about in a book, YA especially, and how it affects the girl’s life. It was something I wasn’t expecting and it almost brought me to tears since nobody ever talks about it.

So, I think it’s fair to say I loved this. I would recommend to make sure you check the TWs first in order to be prepared, and even if you’re someone who doesn’t read a lot of YA (in general or anymore) but you’re still curious to try this, I think you won’t regret it.

Rep: gay MC, bisexual Venezuelan LI, female bisexual side character, POC characters, fat character with PCOS

TWs: a character gets outed against their will, terminal illness (cancer), hospitals, fatphobic and fatshaming comments (not immediately challenged), talk of weight loss and dieting, talk of PCOS and its symptoms and how they affect the character’s weight loss/diet, homophobic comments, death of a family member, grief, underage alcohol consumption

ARC Review: Work For It by Talia Hibbert // the author’s first M/M romance doesn’t disappoint, and nobody is surprised

I was sent this book as an advance copy by the author for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

47236949._sy475_

“He’s burning me down to the bone. They’ll find the scar of him on my remains.”

In this village, I’m an outcast: Griffin Everett, the scowling giant who prefers plants to people. Then I meet Keynes, a stranger from the city who’s everything I’m not: sharp-tongued, sophisticated, beautiful. Free. For a few precious moments in a dark alleyway, he’s also mine, hot and sweet under the stars… until he crushes me like dirt beneath his designer boot.

When the prettiest man I’ve ever hated shows up at my job the next day, I’m not sure if I want to strangle him or drag him into bed. Actually—I think I want both. But Keynes isn’t here for the likes of me: he makes that painfully clear. With everyone else at work, he’s all gorgeous, glittering charm—but when I get too close, he turns vicious.

And yet, I can’t stay away. Because there’s something about this ice king that sets me on fire, a secret vulnerability that makes my chest ache. I’ll do whatever it takes to sneak past his walls and see the real man again.

The last thing I expect is for that man to ruin me.

Work for It is 80,000 words of hot, angst-filled, M/M romance featuring a cynical city boy, a gruff, soft-hearted farmer, and a guaranteed happy-ever-after. No cheating, no cliff-hangers, just love. (Eventually.)

Release date: September 3rd

Add on Goodreads

review new

★★★★

Talia Hibbert quickly became one of my go-to romance authors for M/F romance last year, so I was very curious to see her write her first M/M romance. I had this feeling of calm about it that only comes with trusting an author without fear that your expectations will be disappointed, and in fact they weren’t.

The first thing that I noticed is how unique each main character is. Talia Hibbert doesn’t shy away from taking some risks in her choice of characters either, which here was especially evident in Griffin, a queer gentle giant that most people would at first glance describe as, frankly, a little ugly. Seeing how not only Olu’s first impression of him changes, but also how Griffin eventually finds himself good looking, was one of the highlights of the novel for me (among so, so many).

I’m so impressed by how many things were packed into this book. There’s class difference (handled, in my opinion, so well), small village culture, various aspects of mental health, friendship and family, and of course the romance itself, which I loved and I don’t really want to spoil for anyone. Despite some of these themes being a little on the heavy side, this is mostly a light-hearted and steamy romance that can be read very quickly.

As it happened with the other two novels I read from the author, the “drama moment” was a little overdramatic for my tastes, but even if there was miscommunication it was very understandable and not too frustrating, because you could see where the characters were coming from. It was by the end very satisfying and it reminded me that I need to read the first two books in this series (whose characters make cameos here — but the book stands perfectly on its own too).

TWs (taken from the author’s review): depression, anxiety, references to past sexual trauma and forced outing, references to a parent who died by suicide

ARC Mini-Review: The Avant-Guards by Carly Usdin & Noah Hayes // F/F basketball comic? F/F basketball comic!

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

42201523

When Charlie transfers to the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, she struggles to find her feet, but winds up exactly where she belongs…in the school’s (terrible) basketball team.

As a transfer student to the Georgia O’Keeffe College for Arts and Subtle Dramatics, former sports star Charlie is struggling to find her classes, her dorm, and her place amongst a student body full of artists who seem to know exactly where they’re going. When the school’s barely-a-basketball-team unexpectedly attempts to recruit her, Charlie’s adamant that she’s left that life behind…until she’s won over by the charming team captain, Liv, and the ragtag crew she’s managed to assemble. And while Charlie may have left cut-throat competition in in the dust, sinking these hoops may be exactly what she needs to see the person she truly wants to be.

From Carly Usdin (Heavy Vinyl) and artist Noah Hayes (Wet Hot American Summer, Goldie Vance) comes an ensemble comedy series that understands that it’s the person you are off the court that matters most.

Release date: September 3rd

Add on Goodreads

review new

★★★★✩

This was a nice comic about a newly formed and diverse basketball team with a cute developing f/f romance. I really like the art and it made the story easy and relaxing to follow. There’s also not a lot of basketball talk and the focus is more on the characters and friendships, at least so far, which I personally really liked (confession: I kind of…don’t like basketball lmao).

If I have the chance I’m going to read the next volume whenever it comes out and if you like light-hearted queer comics that display a variety of genders, races and sexualities (and if you like sport comics) this is definitely something you need to check out!

ARC Mini-Review: How to be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters

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

42371064._sy475_

Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He’s the out-and-gay, super-likable guy that people admire for his confidence. The only person who may not know Remy that well is Remy himself. So when he is assigned to write an essay describing himself, he goes on a journey to reconcile the labels that people have attached to him, and get to know the real Remy Cameron.

Release date: September 10th

Add on Goodreads

review new

★★★.75✩✩

This book follows Remy, an out and proud gay teen, in his quest to find out who he is. I feel like the question “who am I really?” is something that everybody has asked themselves before, and this can be especially hard to answer when you are a marginalized person and you need to understand how your marginalizations intersect.

Personally I felt like the writing improved from the author’s debut and the book’s themes were also stronger. It was still a little awkward at times but I could overlook that in favor of the characters and the themes.

Overall I feel like this is an important book for all teens and I would highly recommend it if “who am I?” has ever crossed your mind.

TWs (taken from the end of the book): discussions of racism, homophobia, past minor characters’ death, and alcoholism, as well as depictions of homophobic bullying, and a scene involving brief sexual harassment/racial fetishism