This ya sapphic rom-com was such a cute, fun and unique read about finding out what really matters in life! The moral of the story… be careful what you wish for! (And be aware of fanfic coming to life…) I absolutely loved this humorous, satirical, totally over the top and heartwarming love letter to fanfics!
When sixteen-year-old Ivy’s parents leave her home alone for the very first time, she’s looking forward to eating sweets whenever she wants to, not having anyone meddle in her personal business, eating pizza and watching the favorite show H-MAD with her best friend Henry. And not miss her former best friend, Mack. Not even thinking of her actually. But all of Ivy’s plans get derailed when she wakes up on the very first morning to find the main character of H-MAD and Ivy’s fanfiction, Weston in her bed.
From there, Sophie Gonzales takes us on a hilarious journey of hiding a completely unpredictable over-the-top romantic, brooding soul mate/superhero, to finding out who your heart truly desires and the beauty of friendship.
The characters were so fleshed out and relatable. I loved the slightly disastrous Ivy, the gorgeous Henry and the badass Mack. I loved how charmingly nerdy Ivy and Henry were with their H-MAD obsession, their fear of conflict and Ivy’s lack of social skills. And extra plus for the representation, with Ivy being bisexual, Henry aro/ace and Mack lesbian, and the way Sophie Gonzales covered just about every romantic trope out there in such a lovable way. It’s obvious how much Sophie Gonzales herself loves fanfiction and the romcom tropes, and how she wanted to explore the tropes and how they would work (or not work…) in reality. So this book is like a warm blanket to snuggle in, while enjoying the brooding superhero, the enemies-to-lovers, the miscommunication, the soul mate, the one-bed forced proximity and more in the best possible, humorous way.
Was it realistic? Well, no, of course not. But that was exactly the point. With the help of a little magic, Ivy gets a chance to discover what’s really important and real in life. And we readers get a chance to consider our own life choices and if we’ve fully listened to our hearts. And of course, we all get to learn that there is no such thing as a perfect guy, nor that always getting what we want make us happy.
(And how beautiful is the cover with art by Venessa Vida Kelley? Just looking at the book makes me happy! I definitely need to buy a paperback copy of this one when it’s released next year!)
I received an eARC for free via NetGalley, but I am leaving my honest review. Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, and the author for the opportunity!
4.5 stars rounding up to 5
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Red, White & Royal Blue meets Boyfriend Material in this fluffy, sweet slow-burn MM romance between Britain’s first openly gay Prime Minister and the klutzy, adorkable and clueless American who unexpectedly becomes heir to the British throne.
Callum is a sweet, but rather clumsy and clueless, supposedly straight guy who’s trying to figure his life out after having dropped out of university to work for an insurance call center. His dating life is a bit of a disaster as well, and he’s still mourning his mom. Said mom, who had a brief marriage with the fourth British prince, but who left Britain after the divorce with her son to do everything in her power to keep Callum away from the watchful eye of the British press. Being the eleventh in the succession order, it’s not like he’ll ever play any big role in the British monarchy anyway. Not until his misbehaving relatives are charged with a criminal offense and Callum suddenly leaps from obscurity to the new Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne.
Oliver Hartwell is the divorced Prime Minister who takes pity on the clumsy and awkward prince who is so clearly out of his element. But soon the innocent support messages evolve into so much more and become the highlight of Oliver’s day, together with feelings for the prince that may no longer be of the purely platonic kind…
Soon they both realize that they might have something more than friendship going on, and Callum that he’s not as straight as he thought he was… which might explain his previous unsuccessful dating life.
Jax Calder is one of my favorite authors (I absolutely love her books The Other Brother and Attractive Forces) a lot because of her relatable, lovable and wonderful characters who always are as far away from stereotype cliches as you can come. And just like in her other books, I immediately rooted for Oliver, who had so much depth and raw emotions. I could truly feel his pain after having being betrayed by his ex-husband, his loneliness, his childhood trauma and feeling of being rejected by his addicted mother. I loved the parts of the story that were told from his POV and how they let us see how his feelings for Callum develop. It was so wholesome.
But, surprisingly for a Jax Calder book, the other characters fell a bit flat for me. The Queen felt very vague and more of a projection than a character that added to the story, and I never fully rooted for Callum. I can’t really explain why, but there was something about his clumsiness yet smartness and knowledge of everything that made him feel artificial and more of a construct than a real person. I also would have liked to have more focus on his bisexual awakening, which is usually one of my favorite tropes. But here it felt rushed and sadly not explored to its full potential. It was like Callum just accepted it without even mulling it over. I would have loved to see him dissect it all more and at least be a bit nervous about being with a man for the first time.
So even though I truly wished for Oliver to be happy and get to be with his love, I found it a bit hard to be fully invested in his Callum’s romance.
There were also some parts of the story that were just too unbelievable or silly. I won’t go into details, but there was a murder plot that just felt off and the whole part of Callum not being recognized as part of the royal family by anyone before he moved up the succession order felt a bit too far-fetched.
But all in all, a sweet, cute and fluffy romcom, with a lot of hilarious moments, fun facts and an amazing gay Prime Minister to root for.
Thank you to BookSirens for the free ARC of the book, which I have voluntarily reviewed.
3.5 stars rounding up to 4
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Overall this was a sweet and emotional read, but it took me more than half of the book before I could even stand the main character and even longer to start rooting for her. So I was very close to DNF it, but luckily I struggled through the first part to be awarded with a swooning love story, great Alaskan wilderness atmosphere and a gripping father-daughter relationship development.
The Simple Wild follows 26 year old Calla, whose mother fled the Alaskan wild and Calla’s rugged pilot father when Calla was a toddler for a life with a new husband in Toronto. Calla has therefore grown up as a city girl, with almost no contact with her biological father. But when she learns that her father is suffering from aggressive lung cancer and that his days are numbered, she decides to visit him. And just let’s say that city girl Calla doesn’t appreciate the Alaskan wild more than her mother did… Especially not the angry pilot, Jonah, with his wild beard that makes him look like a yeti and his annoying ways that gets under Calla’s skin.
I honestly almost hated Calla at first. The thing with high maintenance selfish and vain heroines is not for me, it just makes me annoyed and frustrated. It feels like such a dated story line, and why Jonah would be interested in the spoiled and childish Calla is beyond me.
Until halfway, when she started to grow and act less selfish. And sparks started to fly… The sexual tension between them was amazing and it all turned into a swooning, spicy and engaging love story!
I just really wish the first part of the book could have been shorter and the second part longer, then this would have been at least a four-star read, if not more, for me. The last part was so great and intense and heartbreaking. I loved how Calla and her father opened up to each other and started to bond. And the end broke my heart a bit, then mended it mostly all again.
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abby Kaitz 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 Alice Winn Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira Amanda Woody 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 Cait Nary Cale Dietrich Cara Dee Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare Cat Sebastian C.F. White C.G. Drews Charlie Adhara Charli Meadows Chasten Buttigieg Chris Bedell Christina Lauren Christina Lee Ciara Smyth Claerie Kavanaugh 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 Jacob Gelman 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 K.A. Tucker 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 Lex Croucher 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 M.A. Wardell Melanie Munton 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 Rachel Reid 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