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. 

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“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

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★★★★

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.

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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

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★★★★✩

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. 

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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

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★★★.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

Audiobook Review: Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins /// royal f/f romance in Scotland

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Summary: Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. And because Millie cannot stand the thought of confronting her ex every day, she decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.

Millie can’t believe her luck when she’s accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive schools, located in the rolling highlands of Scotland. Everything about Scotland is different: the country is misty and green; the school is gorgeous, and the students think Americans are cute.

The only problem: Mille’s roommate Flora is a total princess.

She’s also an actual princess. Of Scotland.

At first, the girls can barely stand each other–Flora is both high-class and high-key–but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Even though Princess Flora could be a new chapter in her love life, Millie knows the chances of happily ever afters are slim . . . after all, real life isn’t a fairy tale . . . or is it?

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★★★★.5✩

I devoured this book on audio in basically a day and oh my god, friends. There is a very specific emotion that us sapphic girls feel when presented with good sapphic content in fiction, and depending on our tastes in terms of tropes and genres, different sapphic books will hit us differently. The feeling I got from this book was one of pure joy from getting a royal romance, usually reserved for a girl falling in love with a prince, starring two girls.

I loved Millie, the protagonist, right away. She’s smart and she wants to be a geologist!!! She wants to go to a school in Scotland and part of the reason why she loves Scotland is because of its cool geology. Not to be so me, but give me any girl protagonist who’s a scientist or wants to be one and I’ll immediately be ten times more invested in her story. Also, her interest wasn’t just mentioned once in passing, it’s actually pretty much present throughout the book and she has her own collection of minerals and rocks (I do too!! okay, technically my mom does, but that’s not the point) and UGH I love her so much okay!! I have no actual idea how accurate some of the things she said were. Since I was on audiobook I didn’t feel like pausing every time and google or ask my mom if the geology stuff was correct BUT whatever, I appreciate the sentiment in any case (and if you’re a geologist don’t @ me I’m just here for a fun gay time). Okay now I made it sound like this is way more about geology than it actually is, but no, it’s just I feel very strongly about geology so pardon me.

After a brief introduction to Millie’s family and friends back home, she gets to Scotland and we get that Hogwarts-y feeling of arriving to a place you know very little about (despite all the research Millie has done) and having to navigate through a new school and new people, most of which are filthy rich or straight up aristocrats. Among which is HRH Flora and, surprise surprise, Millie’s roommate.

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Their relationship can only be described as hate to love, as it often is when the couple starts off as roommates. Only after weeks of forced vicinity Millie’s perception of Flora starts to change, and I think although we don’t get Flora’s POV, the same could be said for her. I don’t want to wander too much into headcanons, but I believe that Flora started to view Millie under a new light after Millie’s coming out, and I found that such a realistic experience for sapphic people.

Speaking of coming outs, there were two, in two separate moments (Millie’s, which we know about since the very first page, but she comes out to her new friends in the school – she’s bi, and Flora’s, who is gay), and they both warmed my heart so much because of how they were handled. There’s also a “wait, you’re straight???” moment for one of the side characters that had me laughing for hours (okay, not literally but I have to laugh whenever I remember it). (No, don’t worry, there was no queerbait.)

While I wouldn’t call this book super diverse as a whole, it does deliver on casual queerness and on people never making a big deal out of it. I really appreciated both aspects and how much a non-issue it all was, I really felt like it was a book written for queer people instead of just about them, you know? ♥

Back to the romance, I loved Millie and Flora’s relationship. You can’t help but hate Flora in the beginning but by the end you’re almost as in love with her as Millie is (okay, not sure that’s possible actually). They got such cute and cliché romantic moments and they were TO DIE for. Twentybiteen is giving us such sapphic goodness!!!!

Anyway it’s been a while since a full-on gush review and I usually don’t really review audiobooks because those are the books I read purely for fun without reviewing in mind, but I couldn’t not talk about this. I went into it only for a good sapphic time and it never ever disappointed me.

I do want to say that if you’re expecting this to be completely realistic you should maybe change your mindset a little before you start reading. Yes, we all know there is no queen of Scotland and therefore no princess of Scotland. Maybe the blurb should make it more clear that it’s a fictional/alternate Scotland, but that’s hardly the first book series that does something like this. Of course, that’s easy for me to say because I’ve never been and I have no ties to Scotland, but I understand not liking the idea of changing things for the sake of the book. You do you and while it never bothered me I wanted to mention this aspect.

Another brief note for those who want to read this but haven’t read the first book in the series yet, go for it! I haven’t read book one either and as you can see I loved this book. It follows different characters and we do get to see the protagonists from the first installment (one of which is Flora’s older brother), but the book pretty much explains everything and we’re not left wondering who these people are. And if you’ve read book one and want to see them again, well read this book!

In conclusion, I don’t think this book is perfect, and if it hadn’t been f/f maybe I wouldn’t have liked it so much, but as you can see I loved it so much and I had such a good time reading it. I 100% recommend it to everyone!

TWs: mentions of loss of a parent in the past, mention of casual homophobia (“it’s just a phase”), several instances of “more than friends”(not challenged), sort of cheating (not the main couple).

Release Blitz: Made For You (Love and Family #2) by Anyta Sunday

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Today I’m so glad to participate in the release date blitz for Anyta Sunday’s new book, Made For You! It features one trope I recently found out I love in M/M romance — one of the MCs raising a kid (either his own or his younger sibling/cousin, etc) on his own. I can’t wait to read it and if it sounds like something you’d like to read too, you don’t have to wait because it’s out now! Read all the info you need in the post below and stick around until the end to read a teaser. ♥

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Release Date (Print & Ebook): May 1st 2019

Tropes: friends-to-lovers, slow burn, age gap, found family

Genre: New Adult, light-hearted contemporary gay romance

Subgenres: Contemporary gay romance, friends-to-lovers, age gap (May-December)

Links:

https://www.anytasunday.com/projects/made-for-you/

https://amzn.to/2XIAB0a

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Book synopsis:

Ben wants to find a new home.

Twenty-four-year-old Ben McCormick is the primary caregiver for his brother Milo after their parent’s death. A year into the job, he’s totally got the hang of it. Mostly. Sort of. Not at all?

Defeated and thoroughly chastised for his lack in parenting skills at teacher-parent night, Ben slumps away with the resolve to finally get his life sorted: be a better role model, and sell their parents’ house for a fresh start.

But first, he needs to spruce up his house to hit the market. He’s no DIY king, but Milo’s hot-as-hell woodwork teacher is…

 

Jack wants an old home to fix.

Thirty-nine-year-old Jack Pecker is waiting for the home of his dreams to come on the market in the summer. What better way to wait the interim months than working on a small renovation gig?

Only trouble is, the gig is for the McCormick brothers. And working in close quarters to red-haired Ben McCormick won’t be easy. Not with the attraction that simmers between them. Attraction Ben makes no effort to hide.

But Jack’s professional. Dating a parent is highly discouraged at Kresley Intermediate, and he’d never cross the lines…

 

Ben and Jack. Two guys searching for a home – a home that might just be where their hearts lead them.

~ – ~ – ~

Set in New Zealand, Made For You (Love & Family #2) is an MM gay romance featuring two guys at very different places in their lives – but both finding out they are looking for the same thing.

Can be read as a standalone.

About Anyta Sunday:

A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.

My books have been translated into German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Thai.

Connect with Anyta:

Author website: http://www.anytasunday.com/

Author newsletter signup: http://www.anytasunday.com/newsletter-free-e-book/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anytasundaybooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anytasunday

Instagram: https://instagram.com/anytasunday

BookBub: https://bookbub.com/authors/anyta-sunday

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Teaser

When I return, Milo has turned around, finally facing Ben. “I don’t want you to sell the house.”

“Look, it won’t happen immediately. But it will happen.”

“It’s not fair.”

“Not got the memo yet, bucko? Life isn’t fair.”

They stare at each other. I don’t want to break their moment, but a twig snaps underfoot.

Milo spots me and his body jerks with surprise. “Mr. Woodpecker?”

I cut Ben a look, and he pauses to smirk before turning his chin toward Milo. I think he might tell him to cut that shit out.

“Mr. Woodpecker holds your Fanta ransom.”

Or not.

I’m close to putting an end to this stand-off and barking orders. If Milo were my kid, I’d have his ass in bed by now, no media for a fortnight.

Not my kid. Not my kid.

Ben reads my face and his expression shutters. “Fuck. We’re pissing off your teacher. How much will it take to get you down?”

He pulls a wallet from his back pocket.

“Fifty,” Milo hollers.

“Five.”

“Forty.”

This is not actually happening. Ben’s parenting is unorthodox at best.

“Ten.”

“Thirty-five, and not a dollar less.”

“Fifteen, and you shower before bed.”

Milo leans over the edge and reins in his shout. “Do I have to do my hair?”

Ben looks like he’s about to give into a frustrated laugh. The poor guy is damp and muddy and miserable, and Milo needs to quit it.

I catch Milo’s gaze and hold it. It might not be my place, but I have to do something for Ben. My voice is steady and commanding. “Get your butt down here, boy. Or I’ll have you cleaning the class bins all week.”

“Fine. Fifteen bucks. I’ll do my hair.” He lowers a ladder and I brace the shitty thing as he climbs down.

Ben crowds close behind me, a block of warmth at my back. He lets out a breathy ‘thank fuck’ at my nape that feels a lot like brushing up against an electric line that definitely shouldn’t be crossed.

ARC Review: The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

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: The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

Release date: April 2nd

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★★★

Okay so first of all, I haven’t read Geekerella yet! But I wanted to read this for the F/F romance and I was lucky enough to get approved for it. Reading Geekerella is definitely not necessary but reading this book made me want to read it. I think those of you who have read it will enjoy the references to it (which were a bit lost on me).

I love books about cons, and fandoms, and meeting people you met online, and internet culture, and all that. This was more or less what I had thought it would be. Actually, it kind of was more than I had expected, in both good and bad ways, but I overall loved it.

First of all, you need to keep in mind this is a loose retelling of The Prince and the Pauper. I haven’t read it, but the modern setting made it kind of hard for me to really believe that thousands of people online and IRL would see photos of one girl and think she’s another, especially when one is a kind of famous actress. I mean, fandom twitter is better than the FBI at investigating so the premise of them both looking very alike and being able to effortlessly pass for one another was kind of a miss for me, but once I accepted to go with it I could sort of forget about it and it didn’t bother me so much.

The two MCs in this book are Imogen, fangirl who wants to save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off the franchise, and Jessica, actress playing said Princess Amara and currently under attack by a big part of the fandom, which she wants nothing to do with anymore. She’s actually glad her character is being killed off.

Things happen and they “must” exchange roles in order for Jess to investigate about a missing/stolen script. I say “must” because I thought the reason behind this exchange was not entirely believable for me, and there were too many risks from the start. But anyway, once they found themselves in each other’s shoes I could let it slide, and it’s not like I’m reading a cute contemporary for it to make absolute sense.

Jess gets to meet Harper, a Black fanartist and Imogen’s online friend, and spend two days with her. Jess is a closeted lesbian and Harper is also queer, and they have a really cute and endearing romance. Because this book takes place within a single weekend, things were a little fast, but I didn’t mind and I just enjoyed reading about them.

Imogen, under the guise of being Jess, spends her days with Ethan Tanaka, Jess’s Asian-American assistant, and they start off by hating each other. Their romance was cute if a little bit overdramatic, but I love that they’re both big nerds, and at least he knew about her being Imogen (as opposed to the other romance, where Harper initially thinks Jess is actually Imogen because they’d only met online).

I love when contemporary books throw a few pop culture references here and there, and I expect a book about fandom to have a lot of them, but I just didn’t expect them to be quite so many. I understood almost all of them to some degree but I wouldn’t have minded them being toned down a little. But I forgive Ashley Poston because she mentioned Yuri On Ice!!! and Zuko’s redemption arc too.

Anyway, even with a few issues here and there that didn’t make this a full five stars for me, this was a really fun read that I think a lot of contemporary readers will enjoy!

Graham’s Delicacies: Characters Interview

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Today I am so happy to participate in Graham’s Delicacies‘ blog tour! You can read my review to see what I thought of it and get excited for this collection of three novellas all set in the same world and revolving around a group of friends/coworkers finding love.

Today is also a special day because it’s the book’s release date, so you can go ahead and purchase it for yourself at the following links (but please come back and keep reading my post after!).

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Add to Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo

I sure hope you came back because I sat down with three characters (one from each novella) and asked them a few questions each and I love their replies.

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Interview with Emilie (they/them):

Silvia: Share an easy recipe for those of us (like…me) who can’t bake.

Emilie: I’m assuming you mean something to bake. Well, I recommend starting off with easy stuff like cookies, which don’t really take much time? Or, or, pancakes! Pancakes are tricky and they deal with like the basic of creating soft batter? I’m afraid all of my measurements are… pretty chaotic. Trial and error!

S: Which would you say is the most nonbinary of cakes?

E: Hmmm, I’ve never thought of cakes in the term of gender before… Is it egoistic to say Saffron cake? I mean, it’s that golden yellow that is in the flag!

S: Can you talk about what it’s like working in such a queer positive environment as Graham’s?

E: It’s the simple things like feeling safe; and surrounded by people who are like you and who’d protect you.

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Interview with James (he/him):

Silvia: How would you describe your relationship with your family?

James: I’d say I have a good relationship. Sure, I’m a bit meddlesome but it’s only because I love them so much.

S: What do you like most about Graham’s?

J: The ability to eat my weight in sugar.

S: Tell us something adorable (and SFW!) that Sam does when you two are alone.

J: Okay, listen, Sam will fight me over this, but he sings to himself while he’s reading. Like, it’s so cute. It starts off as a hum, and it’s totally unconscious when he starts singing. It usually means he’s having a good time. When I asked him about it, after an hour of him arguing he didn’t, he confessed that it’s because he used to listen to music while reading on like public transport.

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Interview with Alex (they/them):

Silvia: What do you like most about Yujin?

Alex: Is it weird if I say I love his body? You wouldn’t guess that Yujin can easily lift up a couch or assemble an IKEA bookcase just by looking. You’d get distracted by his smile, which is fantastic, or his hair while practically glows in the sun despite it being pretty dark. He also can lift me without hesitation and it’s really fun.

S: If you were a cake, which cake would you be? Which cake would Yujin be?

A: I’d be a latte cake. Don’t ask. I think coffee and cake is a neat combination. Yujin would be a Japanese cake. Fluffy as fuck.

S: Will you ever consider making an Instagram account (maybe with a new phone)?

A: Nope. Have you met my boyfriend? I’d be leaving him indecent comments all the time. I’m not to be trusted with technology. Besides, he has scary fans. You can find me on Instagram on the bakery’s account (and Yujin’s… he kind of posts a lot of beautiful pics, go follow my boo!)

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Thank you so much to Emilie, James and Alex for agreeing to answer my questions! They also told me they can’t wait for people to meet them and see their love stories unfold, so make sure you get your hands on the book!

Also check out Em’s thread with all the posts of the blog tour so far (and future ones) so you don’t miss all the reviews, characters aesthetics and all that good stuff that other bloggers are posting!

About the author:

 

Em Ali grew up on TV and K-pop like many her generation. She learned a lot about how to be a hermit and not interact with people, but she loves to hear from readers!

Links:

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon