4/27/2023 0 Comments
This Will Hurt I by Cara Dee
This Will Hurt was such a delightful, addictive and entertaining first installment in this new friends-to-lovers, bisexual awakening, slow burn MM romance duet by Cara Dee, and I’m counting the days to the release of the second installment! I need Roe’s story NOW!
This duet follows the two friends and business partners Jake and Roe from their first meeting as young and broke film students and onwards over the years as they become best friends, roommates and partners in a very successful travel show and production company. This first installment is told from Jake’s POV, but in the second one we’ll get to see it all from Roe as well.
Jake is a former Marine, who’s been a war photographer and who has a lot of baggage with him from the war and from his upbringing in a conservative religious and homophobic home. He suffers from internal homophobia after a childhood trauma, and problems with expressing his emotions as well as with closeness and commitment. The only one who seems to truly get him is Roe. But when Roe reveals that he’s bisexual, it stirs a lot of thoughts and complicated emotions for Jake.
There were so many things I loved about this book! Like the wonderful relationship between Jake and Roe, and how it was both a classic bisexual awakening story at the same time as it had a new take with Jake’s internal homophobia and denial of his own emotions. There was so much angst and pining!
I loved how the focus was on Jake’s and Roe’s friendship, and how there was no immediate lust or desire when they met, which made it feel much more authentic and made me root even more for the slow burn romance. The book spanned so many years, which gave the characters room to grow and learn, and to build their feelings for each other in the most believable way.
I’m personally not a fan of the internal homophobia trope, but Cara Dee did a wonderful job with it here. I really appreciated how she showed that there are many nuances to finding out and accepting who you are, especially if you’re pre-wired a certain way due to your upbringing.
Another of my least favorite tropes is the accidental pregnancy one, but I could live with it here considering how wonderful Jake was as a dad, and how sweet baby Colin adds to the home-building part of Jake’s and Roe’s relationship.
Some of the other things that made this book so special was the funny bantering and authentic dialogues, Jake’s badass grandmother, their group of friends and the fun and spicy scenes with Jake and Roe bartending at a gay club and doing the ‘Tequila Licker’...
All in all, this was an emotional rollercoaster, which opened up for important discussions about internal homophobia at the same time as it was fast-paced, fun and addictive with authentic characters to root for. I desperately need to continue this duet, even though I already know how it will live up to its title and hurt me emotionally!
Thank you so much Eliza Rae Services for the ARC! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
4.5 stars rounding up to 5
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This was a very Taylor Jenkins Reid-ish story and I mean that in the best possible way! It had glamour and tragedy, highs and lows, characters that were not very likable but still made you root for them, and a completely addictive plot and way of telling the story that just pulled you in. Definitely worth the hype!
Daisy Jones & The Six tells the story of the 1970s rock band The Six (originally The Dunnes Brothers) and how Daisy Jones became their lead singer until the band split for no known reason. Just like Taylor Jenkins Reid’s book The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, the story was told as an interview, where the identity of the interview was hidden until the very end, for a reason… Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing style is always very direct and quick, and intimate yet leaving you with a feeling of being fooled. Here, the format really added extra depths and insights to the story, where we could get to know all of the characters and experience the same event from their different views.
All the characters were amazing, so fleshed out, real and full of flaws. Taylor Jenkin Reid truly showed them at their worst behavior, but then let us come along their journey of self-awareness and growth. It was such a treat seeing how they were able to grow so much as persons and rise from their lows to move forward. At times it was very hard to like them and agree with their choices, but I nevertheless rooted for them and I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen to them next.
The atmosphere and story composition were absolutely amazing too! It truly felt like an authentic retelling of true events, and I loved how the songs were not only mentioned but actually included in full words in the story.
The only thing I had a bit of a problem with was the ending and the revelation of the identity of the interviewer. It felt like an unnecessary plot twist and made the ending a bit too simple and underwhelming for me.
But all in all, this was an amazing, fun and spellbinding read that I truly recommend to anyone who loves music, drama and morally grey characters who will steal your heart despite their flaws!
(Just be aware of the trigger warnings for alcoholism and drug addiction.)
4.5 rock and roll stars rounding up to 5
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Taylor Jenkins Reid
4/20/2023 0 Comments
Queried Sick by Dallas Smith
What an adorable and sweet little gem! This was such a swoon-worthy MM romance, full of relatable, fleshed-out characters to root for. I read this book in one sitting, completely hooked from the very first page!
Taking place during the pandemic, Queried Sick tells the story of Oliver and Ezra, who become remote coworkers and who, after starting off on the wrong foot, end up falling for each other over text exchanges and Zoom dates.
I have to admit that I was a tiny bit skeptical at first about the pandemic premise, but there was absolutely no need for that, it was so well executed and made the slow burn romance even more heartfelt and real.
I loved Dallas Smith’s writing style and the amazing dynamic between Oliver and Ezra. I loved their banter, humor and literature quotes, and not to mention the burning chemistry… Both of the characters immediately stole my heart in their own separate ways. I really appreciated the anxiety disorder and chronical illness representation and how the characters were so vulnerable, full of flaws and yet utterly adorable. I also absolutely loved the side characters, their friends and family were all so well developed as characters and so sweet, hilarious and supportive.
All in all, this was such an impressive debut and an adorable, heartfelt and beautiful feel-good romance that I recommend with all my heart! I can’t wait to read more of Dallas Smith in the future!
Thank you to the author and BookSirens for the ARC! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
4.5 stars rounding up to 5
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4/17/2023 0 Comments
Icebreaker by Hannah Grace
This was so close to being a DNF for me, but I struggled through it in the end even though I’m not sure it was worth it. The main reasons for my problems with this book was that the cute cover made me think that it would be a sweet YA romance, not the adult one full of smut that it turned out to be, that the BookTok buzz and all raving reviews raised my expectations way too high, that I didn’t particularly like the main character and that the story was too long and not engaging enough to make up for it.
Seeing the cute cover and reading the blurb, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to read this book, expecting a sweet enemies-to-lovers YA story with a twist on the usual figure skating-ice hockey jock trope when the macho ice hockey player is forced to team up with the heroine as her figure skating partner. It took me just a page or so to realize my mistake, but then I got my hopes up for it being a new The Deal instead. But those hopes were also crushed rather quickly. Not only were the promised tropes and events of the blurbs badly executed, some of them weren’t even there or so insignificant that you missed them if you blinked… (like the swapping in for the figure skating partner).
My biggest issue though was with the main character, Anastasia. I just didn’t like her. At all. And it felt completely unbelievable the way she was aiming for the Olympics but nevertheless partied like crazy all the time. There were also so many other things that were unrealistic and/or cringy, and so many plot twists and side characters to keep track of that I just lost interested.
The only characters I truly rooted for were Henry, who was such an adorable cinnamon roll, and Nathan, who was hot, sweet and truly supportive. But the problem with Nathan was that he was too perfect, which made him a bit one-dimensional.
There were some good parts though, like the fact that the main character was a strong headed woman who definitely took no sh*t from anyone, the sex positivity, the way the author dealt with the eating disorder issues and how openly Anastasia and Nate communicated their emotions. So, I can understand why a lot of people love this book, even though it sadly wasn’t for me. But if you’re into spicy, drama-filled college romances with sexy banter, hot hockey players and steamy public smut, please don’t let my review discourage you from reading it!
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Simon & Schuster
This young adult adaptation of Chasten Glezman Buttigieg’s memoir was such a sweet and wholesome coming of age story. Through his own words, we learn about Chasten’s teenage years growing up in a small conservative Midwestern town, his experience as an exchange student in Germany and his dawning realization that him always being seen as “special” and “unique” might have something to do with his sexual orientation and his struggle to come to terms with that.
Even though Chasten is the husband of the former Democratic presidential candidate (Peter Buttegieg) this book was not a political one, but a personal story meant to give courage and inspiration to teenagers today by sharing the good and the bad, the hardship, fear and pain, as well as the joy and the relief, on the journey of being true to yourself. And it certainly succeeded in that! I Have Something to Tell You was a truly hopeful and earnest story. I enjoyed the direct conversational writing style and how Chasten used a lot of his humor when telling it, and how he wasn’t afraid of showing his own shortcomings nor shy away from awkward situations. It was also really heartwarming to see the love for and from his family even though they all went through a bit of a rough path after he came out.
A minor thing though is that I, personally, would have liked to read more about how Chasten and his husband Peter met and fell in love, not just being told about it in such a matter-of-fact kind of way that felt different from the other parts of the story. It would have added a lot to the story if it had included more of their first meetings, letting us readers feel the attraction and butterflies, and seeing it evolve into their current HEA. I would also have liked to know more about Chasten’s experiences after coming out and learning to be comfortable as a gay man before meeting Peter. But I’m guessing that those parts were included in the full memoir for adults and had been edited away to keep this story shorter and more focused on the early ages. Which makes complete sense, and also makes me want to read the full memoir to find out!
All in all, this was a beautiful, raw and honest memoir focusing on Chasten Buttigieg’s early years, giving hope for teens struggling with the same questions, showing that they are not alone and that they deserve to be loved for exactly who they are. It’s also a wonderful resource to use for parents, teachers and others, to reflect on the way to support the LGBTQ+ community, to make this world a safe and inclusive place for everyone. I’m really glad that Chasten decided to share his experience in such a candid way, and I’m sure that this book will give courage and support to so many. Not only by the message in the book itself, but also by learning about Chasten and his husband’s groundbreaking presidential campaign and seeing in practice that there are no limits but that you can reach any goal you have while still being true to who you are.
Thank you to Pride Book Tours and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC. I can’t wait for the upcoming book tour to talk about it more!
4.5 stars rounding up to 5
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Simon & Schuster
Chasten Glezman Buttigieg
I love the fact that Courtney Kae wants to imagine a world that is kinder to queer people and to create escapes where we’re sate to examine the messy, painful, hard things and learn to believe how very worthy of love we all are. And the blurb sounded right up my alley! I therefore had such high hopes and really really really wanted to love this book. But unfortunately, even though it was a truly sweet story, I had hoped for more in regard to the plot, the characters and the romance.
In the Case of Heartbreak is the second book in the Fern Falls series, and the main characters here have been part of the first book in the series as well. Ben Parrish is the local pastry chef, who’s been baking his grandma’s cinnamon rolls at the family café for years, while secretly pining for his neighbor, Adam Reed, the musician and local car mechanic guy. When Ben is a finalist on a reality show, his absent father decides to show up and make a claim to the famous cinnamon recipe, at the same as Adam rejects him on national TV. Broken-hearted Ben takes the opportunity to hide at his grandma’s 80th birthday party, only to find out that the hired musician for it is… Adam.
Unfortunately, I haven’t read the first book in this series, which might explain why I felt that the characters and their romance were a bit underdeveloped. I never really felt their pining nor any real tension or the promised “steamy nights” from the blurb. And I usually like the miscommunication trope, but here it was just too obvious to keep me engaged. All in all, the story felt quite directionless and eventful no matter how cute it was and how much I rooted for the badass G-ma and wanted Ben to get revenge on his evil father. But there were some truly great representations though, with characters with mental health issues as well as different gender identities and sexual orientations.
So even though In the Case of Heartbreak didn’t live up to my expectations (which might have to do with the fact that I jumped right into the second book) it was nevertheless an entertaining, adorable and sweet read with great representation that I recommend for anyone looking for a quick, queer small town romance!
Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the ARC of the book, which I have voluntarily reviewed.
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4/8/2023 0 Comments
Game Plan by Amy Aislin
This was such a cute and heart-warming second-chance MM romance with adorable characters that immediately stole my heart! I also really appreciated the added depth with a main character suffering from depression.
Game Plan is the first book in the new Vancouver Orcas hockey series, which is a spin-off of Amy Aislin’s Stick Side series (but with new characters so there is now need to have read the Stick Side books to understand the characters and plots in this new series).
The story follows Matt Shore, the new head coach of the Vancouver Orcas, who is openly gay but struggling with his dating life. Somehow, he ends up only dating guys who are not relationship material, probably because he’s still too heartbroken from being left by the love of his life two years ago, Pierce Langley-Brown.
Pierce on his hand, still regrets leaving Matt, when his increasing depression and his son’s car accident made it impossible to focus on anything but being there for his son. But when his son joins Matt’s hockey team, there’s no avoiding the man who once owned his heart…
I truly rooted for both Matt and Pierce, and I really appreciated the way in which they slowly began to open up to each other, and for Matt to possibly forgive Pierce, and for Pierce to deal with his runaway problems. There was also some great representation with binary, bisexual and gay characters.
I would have appreciated some more background to the characters though. I’d loved to know more about things like when Pierce realized he was bisexual and if he’d ever been with a man before Matt, or when Matt decided not to stay in the closet anymore and be an openly gay hockey player and the reactions he’d received after that. Without this, the story felt a bit thin at times.
But all in all, this was a heartwarming, sweet and addictive reading experience and a great way to start a new series! I can’t wait to read Charlie’s story in the next installment!
Thank you to Gay Book Promotions for the free review copy and blog tour invitation! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
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4/5/2023 0 Comments
For The Fans by Nyla K.
Up until halfway this book had the perfect love-hate relationship with steam and amazing chemistry, that pulled me in completely! I was so sure it would be a five star read, but sadly, after that, there was way too much smut for me, and the cheesiness… I can’t even, it just ruined most of what could have been such an amazing story.
For The Fans is a love-hate, forbidden step brother romance between the (on the surface) perfect golden boy and superstar football player Kyran and the weed-smoking loner and dreamer Avi. When their parents get involved and eventually marry, they are forced to live together even though they immediately dislike each other. Later on though, a family catastrophe forces them to cooperate to get money to pay for college and they end up doing Fans Only porn videos. But the attraction is definitely not only for show…
I love enemies-to-lovers stories and I truly rooted for the characters in this one. Kyran was so broken inside, but putting up a show, and Avi was so adorkable. And their push and pull, the cold and warm, the hate, love and jealousy was so on point. I loved to see how their toxic relationship developed into intimacy, but still with the tension, the back and forth, to keep the story completely addictive and intriguing. I’m usually not a big fan of too explicit smut, but here it had a purpose and was really well done. At first.
Sadly though, in the second half of the book it all just turned cringy. And slow and long. It was a good storyline, but to write 575 pages based on it was to stretch it way too far. I feel like the book could have benefited so much from a thorough editing. It was at least a 100 or more pages too long, and there were so many unnecessary and random plot twists and storylines, and page after page after page with graphic sex scenes. There were also a lot of unnecessary pop culture references that felt out of place and slowed the story down even more.
So very mixed feelings and I’m really struggling with how to rate this book. Overall, I loved the characters and the premise, and the first half of the book was so good!!! So it kind of breaks my heart that the second half ruined it all.
I also want to point out that this book has a lot of content that could potentially be harmful, so if you have certain triggers please head over to Nyla K’s website to check them out before reading as they are not listed at the beginning of the book or mentioned in the blurb.
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed Aislinn Brophy AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alex Beltran Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Ashlyn Kane Audrey Coulthurst Ban Gilmartin Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Cara Dee Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.F. White C.G. Drews Charlie Adhara Charli Meadows Chasten Buttigieg Chris Bedell Christina Lauren Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Courtney Kae Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Dallas Smith Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton D.N. Bryn Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elisa A. Bonnin Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E.L. Massey E. Lockhart Emery Lee Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens F.T. Lukens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hannah Grace Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving H.S. Valley Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson James L. Sutter Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jen Bailey Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray Jesse H. Reign Joelle Lynne John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé Kathy Anderson KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Lauren Shippen Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Magdalena Di Sotru Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot Morgan James M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nathaniel Shea Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Nyla K. Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Racquel Marie Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Renée Dahlia Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Saxon James Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophia Soames Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tal Bauer Tamara Girardi Taylor Jenkins Reid Teagan Hunter Terry J. Benton-Walker Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Tracy Deonn Tucker Shaw Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez