Book List 2018

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

30653853Title: The Upside of Unrequited

Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: YA, Romance, LGBTQIA+

Summary: 

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Quotes I love:

“I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.”

Review: 

It’s so sad in a way that I empathize and understand so much of the quote above now at 30 as I did when I was a teenager. Especially given that I’ve always been a few pounds or more over the average.

The characters in this book are not overly suave, they’re not perfect and sometimes they are awkward and yet they are always endearing.

Molly is so familiar to me, she is like a friend I grew up with, but in reality she is so much like I was that I can’t help but feel so amazingly attached to her. Becky Albertalli excels at writing extremely human characters who you can identify with.

They get angry with each other, they fight and they care so much and it made me, as a reader, care about them as if they were real, living people.

Reid is just adorable, actually they all are.

Read this book if you want to feel something real, and then feel something that makes you feel good.

Also, cannot help but love the appearance of Simon, Blue and Abby. This is a book I will keep on my shelf, and pick up again and again to read and try and make other people read.

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Book List 2018

Review: Wheels and Heels by Jaime Samms

wheels and heelsTitle: Wheels and Heels

Author: Jaime Sams

Genre: LGBTQIA+, Romance

Summary:

As a teenager, Ira Bedford fled a troubled home life and people who didn’t understand his penchant for feminine things. In the city, he fell in with Cedric, who found him work as an underage stripper. It took him years to escape Cedric’s influence and try to build a life of his own.

Now, he just wants to be left alone to create his art. But Cedric’s on-going harassment means Ira had to drop out of art school, is squatting in a friend’s apartment, and is still relying on his allure as a sexy, skirt-wearing exotic dancer to pay his bills.

Then he meets Jed. Part-time bartender and the apartment building’s superintendent, Jed is just the right mix of strong, kind, and protective to pull Ira out of hiding. He also welcomes Ira into his chosen family at the Hen and Hog Pub. But Ira yearns for more. Still, he doesn’t dare to hope that Jed will want him and his questionable past, his skirts and high heels, his hang-ups, and the profession he seems unable to escape. But Jed will do anything to prove him wrong.

Review:

The strength in this book lies within the warmth of it’s characters, even the minor ones. Ira is unabashedly, unapologetically himself, which is something I can admire in fiction and real life. It just so happens that being yourself, no matter what, can sometimes result in people being dickheads, as seen within the pages of this book. Luckily, sometimes you can find people who will stand with you no matter what.

Jed is one of those people and he is an absolute delight. Burly, and a biker with an ooey gooey warm center that I just LOVE. He doesn’t judge people based on appearance. Hell, he doesn’t even judge people based on circumstance.

Basically he’s my kind of guy.

These two together just make it, and although the time line was a little confusing, as in how much time does pass in this book? And the fact that its the opposite of a slow burn, I still enjoyed it.

One of the delights of this book for me was also that it takes place in a city I know, love, have lived in and was born in ❤ I will always read about Canada.

The only part I couldn’t get through was the sex scenes but that’s a very it’s not you it’s me situation.

I do look forward to reading more of the Hen and Hog series.

Received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Book List 2018

Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

36101070
Gorgeous cover art.

Title: Emergency Contact

Author: Mary H.K. Choi

Genre: YA

Release Date: 27 March, 2018

Summary: 

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Review: 

The verdict is in after much deliberation and I’ve decided I like this book quite a lot. It just took me a while while reading to come around to doing so, and I hate myself for the reason why.

I found it awkward to have a male character who wore his emotions on his sleeve so much, who felt so deeply that he couldn’t help but let it show.

I want you to know, people or persons reading this, that this is not a statement of something wrong with the book but rather a statement of what I have become as a reader, and as someone who didn’t even realize they bought into society’s shitty ideals of what people should be.

So thank you, author, for reminding me that there is nothing wrong at all with anyone of any gender who feels so deeply that it shows. In fact it is downright refreshing, as was much of this book.

It’s not your run of the mill oh let’s meet and fall in love kind of book. It is awkward, as romance can be awkward. It is angsty, and in some ways it hurts, but when it’s going good, it’s going extremely well. This book felt good to read. So good in fact that I read it twice.

Once I realized that I suck, the book got better. It’s a challenge in a way, and I’m not sure the author intended that but I would like to thank Mary H.K. Choi nonetheless because she re-opened my heart in a way, and I think that’s really all I can ask for.

So this cynic would like you all to read this book. Please. With an open mind.

Received an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Book List 2018

Review: Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell

almost midnightTitle: Almost Midnight

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Summary: Midnights is the story of Noel and Mags, who meet at the same New Year’s Eve party every year and fall a little more in love each time . . .

Kindred Spirits is about Elena, who decides to queue to see the new Star Wars movie and meets Gabe, a fellow fan.

Midnights was previously published as part of the My True Love Gave to Me anthology, edited by Stephanie Perkins and Kindred Spirits was previously published as a World Book Day title.

Review: 

Midnights is a beautifully written story, spanning many years, and all the same characters as they change throughout time. But some things, such as love, definitely stay the same, even flourish.

It is heart-warming, and wonderfully written by one of my favourite authors. Rainbow Rowell is a master when it comes to language, and making her readers feel something. This is sweet, cute, and to the point with a hint of nostalgia.

Kindred Spirits is a tribute to fandom, to the people that follow it, and love it, sometimes to their own sleepy detriment.

It is also a tribute to Star Wars, and what that franchise, and its characters has come to mean for the fans. It was sweet, and well written with just the slightest bit of conflict.

To me it was very Breakfast Clubesque, but with some awesome fandom references.

 

Contributor: Luke Black

Guest Blogger Review: The Preacher’s Son by Lisa Henry and J.A Rock

PinehurstOkay, so it’s been AGES since Ashley so kindly introduced me as a guest poster on her blog, and I dropped the ball on posting. Today, I bring to you my first review! (Big thanks to Ashley for letting me post on her blog. Love you, babe.)

I did participate in an instagram tour, and you can find my post here. (It’s my personal account, yes.)

Title: The Preacher’s Son
Authors: Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock
Genre: LGBTQ+ romance
Summary: Jason Banning is a wreck. His leg’s been blown to hell in Afghanistan, his boyfriend just left him and took the dog, and now he’s back in his hometown of Pinehurst, Washington, a place that holds nothing but wretched memories…and Nathan Tull. Nathan Tull, whose life Jason ruined. Nathan Tull, who will never believe Jason did what he did for a greater good. Nathan Tull, whose reverend father runs a gay conversion therapy camp that Jason once sought to bring down—at any cost.

Nathan Tull is trying to live a quiet life. Four years ago, when Nate was a prospective student visiting UW Tacoma, his world collapsed when senior Jason Bannon slept with him, filmed it, and put the footage online. A painful public outing and a crisis of faith later, Nate has finally begun to heal. Cured of the “phantoms” that plagued him for years, he now has a girlfriend, a counselor job at his dad’s camp, and the constant, loving support of his father.

But when he learns Jason is back in town, his carefully constructed identity begins to crumble. As desperate to reconcile his love for God with his attraction to men as Jason is to make sense of the damage he’s done, Nate finds himself walking a dangerous line. On one side lies the righteous life he committed himself to in the wake of his public humiliation. On the other is the sin he committed with Jason Banning, and the phantoms that won’t let him be. But is there a path that can bridge those two worlds—where his faith and his identity as a gay man aren’t mutually exclusive?

And can he walk that path with the man who betrayed him?

Review:
I knew ahead of time from reading the summary that one of the themes of the book was gay conversion therapy camps. What I did not anticipate was how much it would affect me in a negative, impactful way. I’ve been against these types of camps since I first heard of them, but even more so now. It made me deeply uncomfortable and outright angry.

But that’s not the purpose of this review, I’m just putting that out there. The book had promise. I did emphasize with Nathan. I’ve never been overly religious but I have had that self-doubt of wondering if what I am is wrong.

I wanted to smack Reverand Tull several times. I did root for Nathan to overcome his struggle with his inner conflict of reconciling his religion with his sexuality. I couldn’t decide whether I really liked that Nathan gave Jason a second chance but Jason did at least regret what he’d done.

I did emphasize with Jason on some of his beliefs and convictions. I think he could’ve just gone a different way about them.

I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book List 2018

Review: Dear Dwayne, With Love by Eliza Gordon

dear dwayne with loveTitle: Dear Dwayne, With Love

Author: Eliza Gordon

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Summary: 

Wannabe actress Dani Steele’s résumé resembles a cautionary tale on how not to be famous. She’s pushing thirty and stuck in a dead-end insurance job, and her relationship status is holding at uncommitted. With unbearably perfect sisters and a mother who won’t let her forget it, Dani has two go-tos for consolation: maple scones and a blog in which she pours her heart out to her celebrity idol. He’s the man her father never was, no boyfriend will ever be—and not so impossible a dream as one might think.

When Dani learns that he’s planning a fund-raising event where the winning amateur athlete gets a walk-on in his new film, she decides to trade pastries and self-doubt for running shoes and a sexy British trainer with adorable knees.

But when Dani’s plot takes an unexpected twist, she realizes that her happy ending might have to be improvised—and that proving herself to her idol isn’t half as important as proving something to herself.

Review + Reactions:

I loved Must Love Otters. I adored Neurotica. I hungrily waited for Hollie Porter Builds a Raft. I DEVOURED this book.

I admit, I was unsure about the incorporation of one of my favourite wrestlers of all time, Dwayne Johnson otherwise known as the Rock who I have loved for many many many many years.

The man is good on the mic what can I say, and Eliza Gordon? Well she’s good with a pen (or keyboard). This story brings in the wit, and touching nature of her previous novels and amps it up to eleven.

The thing I love about Eliza Gordon’s writing is that her characters are not perfect. In fact they are perfectly imperfect.

Some of them don’t know how to commit, some of them don’t know how to talk about their feelings except to write them down, and all of them are characters I love.

This is a story of personal triumph, of realizing what you need to do to better yourself, and yes I was inspired while reading it. Without spoiling too much Dani’s story is one of personal adversity, and yes, getting in your own way. She does however manage to grow a whole lot, but not change completely.

Please just read it. Or any of her books, really, you won’t be disappointed.

Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Book List 2018

Review: Gemini Keeps Capricorn by Anyta Sunday

gemini keeps capricorn.jpgTitle: Gemini Keeps Capricorn

Author: Anyta Sunday

Genre: LGBTQIA+ slow burn

Summary: 

Sometimes, one stubborn Capricorn is all it takes… to drive Wesley Hidaka to crazy, flirtatious lengths.

Wesley loves annoying his RA, Lloyd Reynolds. He just can’t help it. Lloyd is focused, decisive, grounded. He has this amusing ability to follow rules.
Of course Wesley wants Lloyd to break one… or three hundred.

Sometimes, one smirking Gemini is all it takes… to have Lloyd laying down the law and marching Wesley straight back to his dorm room.

It doesn’t stop Wesley teasing again. And again. And again…
But damn. Lloyd doesn’t crack easily. He’s full of principles. He’s unshakable. 
He’s the perfect friend to have when Wesley needs help. Like with his truant brother and his old high school principal.

Sometimes, one little lie is all it takes… to find Wesley fake-engaged to his off-limits RA.

What can he say? It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Quote I loved:

“It’s close to Christmas.”
“Oh yeah? I thought everyone was just crushing on an old dude with stellar beard.”

Review:

Anyta, Anyta, Anyta….You’ve done it again. You’ve made me fall in love with your creations. Your characters. The chapter illustrations and cheesy, cheesy pick-up lines killed me too.

This book is quality slow burn, for all the people that love that like myself. It even includes a coffee house. A dormitory. A beautifully bald character. A character with beautiful hair. Background characters who make you care about their stories and their lives.

This book also includes ELVIS. Yes that Elvis. The one with the pelvis and the blue suede shoes.

I really couldn’t ask for more. It’s got a good, solid plot. It is sexy in parts, touching in others (not that kind of touching).

Wesley is an annoyance to Lloyd, until he’s not. He’s sweet, and humorous and he has a giant heart, which he tries to hide.

Lloyd has a big heart he doesn’t bother trying to hide. I think it’s why he became an RA actually.

This book is charming and might be my favourite in the series so far. This book has so much I love in it, the back and forth and wit, the tough but ultimately resolved family dynamics.

If the astrology bit is turning you off don’t worry about it. Just pick it up and read.

I personally can’t wait for more.

Received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Book List 2018

Review: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

simon vs the homo sapiens agendaTitle: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: Young adult, LGBTQIA+, Romance

Summary: 

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Quotes I loved: 

“Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.”

“People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”

Review: 

I can’t freaking even.

I loved this book like I love breathing. I need it to live. I might also now need this book to leave. I haven’t given it away to test it.

This was glorious. It was one of the most heart warming, wonderful, stupendous books I have ever read.

I would have loved to have read this book earlier in life, or had this book exist when I was younger because the subject matter is so damn important.

The characters are vulnerable, strong, loving, and flawed. They are beautiful, charismatic, amusing and just plain wonderful. Every word of this book was a freaking gift to me.

Love it. Can’t wait to see the movie. Can’t wait to read more by Becky Albertalli. Just love ❤

Book List 2018

Review: The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

the austen escape.jpgTitle: The Austen Escape

Author: Katherine Reay

Genre: Romance, Austen based

Summary: After years of following her best friend’s lead, Mary Davies finds a whimsical trip back to Austen’s Regency England paves the way towards a new future.

Mary Davies lives and works in Austin, Texas, as an industrial engineer. She has an orderly and productive life, a job and colleagues that she enjoys—particularly a certain adorable, intelligent, and hilarious consultant. But something is missing for Mary. When her estranged and emotionally fragile childhood friend Isabel Dwyer offers Mary a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in Bath, Mary reluctantly agrees to come along, in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways. But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes that she lives in Regency England. Mary becomes dependent on a household of strangers to take care of Isabel until she wakes up.

With Mary in charge and surrounded by new friends, Isabel rests and enjoys the leisure of a Regency lady. But life gets even more complicated when Mary makes the discovery that her life and Isabel’s have intersected in more ways that she knew, and she finds herself caught between who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who stands between them. Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this triangle works out their lives and hearts among a company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation. 

Review:

This book was an awesome way to start the New Year. I absolutely loved it, and I’m not sure I will be able to explain all the reasons why but I will for sure give it a go.

I have a weird thing when it comes to engineering and seriously admire those who do it. I feel this way because I don’t have the brain for it and what they do is kind of akin to magic to me so this was perfect for me.

Mary Davies is so awkward when it comes to realizing what is going on right in front of her, and to be honest I am much the same. Some days I wouldn’t see a naked human if they danced in front of me wearing a party hat. She would probably notice that, but rather awkwardly. The guy likes you, girl. Get on it.

Regency England. The Bath area remains one of my favourite places to this day and I haven’t been there since I was 18 years old, and have been many places since. Twelve years later and I’m still as in love with that area and Austen, and Austen-esque romances as I ever have been. This book brings to life that setting and that time, and all the complications that could come with it, but none of the inconveniences.

I want to go to a place like this, that allows you to experience those novels and that time, hopefully with less drama. But god, the drama in this book was utterly delicious, as was the bit of scandal.

Also, I never see anything wrong with someone finding their backbone and growing as a character, which this novel has in spades. I will definitely be looking into more of Katherine Reay’s writing as this was wonderful.

Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Book List 2017

Holiday Round-Up: Journey Back to Christmas by Leigh Duncan

36382858.jpgTitle: Journey Back to Christmas

Author: Leigh Duncan

Genre: Holiday Romance, Time Travel, Romance

Summary: WWII is finally over, but Hanna’s husband, Chet, didn’t return home. She puts on a brave smile during the day while nursing her hospital patients, but at night, she grieves the loss of her love. 

Then the Christmas Comet appears for the first time in over seventy years, and Hanna’s caught in a snowstorm and knocked unconscious. She wakes up in modern times, and much to her confusion, her small town has changed. A local cop takes pity on her and invites her to stay with his family over the holiday.

As she searches for her place in this familiar yet different town, Hanna discovers that even small acts of kindness impact lives…and that the true meaning of Christmas is timeless. Now, she hopes to find her way back to her own time…and this year’s comet may lead her to a Christmas miracle. 

Review: 

This is the last book that I read in 2017, which is interesting. I did not watch the Hallmark holiday movie, though it is waiting for me on my PVR.

This book seemed to be a romance novel from the first couple of chapters, but it really was about something more. It’s about all that can be forgotten over time, as the years pass by and how sometimes getting rid of traditions is not the best thing.

Hanna is a lovely woman, trying to be positive after moments of feeling sorry for herself.

Sarah is stubborn, but interesting in her own right.

The family that comes together, both blood related and otherwise, in this book is one of love, compassion and a need for a new way to relate to each other which they do find in this.

This is a Christmas tale, and yes, it is a bit cliche, but isn’t that what makes it good? I think so. Good, quick reading, filled with warmth.

Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.