Everything for You

Title: Everything for You

Author: Chloe Liese

Series: Bergman Brothers

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Format: e-book

Genre: Romance

Sub Genre(s): LGBTQ, Sports


Summary:

Gavin

We’ve been teammates for two years, but it feels like a lifetime that Oliver Bergman’s been on my last nerve. A demanding captain and veteran player, I’m feared and friendless, while he’s the beloved rising star, all sunshine smiles and upbeat team spirit. To make matters worse, he’s obscenely attractive. In short: he’s genetically designed to get under my skin.

Avoiding Oliver has been my survival tactic on and off the field. But when Coach drops the bomb that we’re now co-captains, avoiding him becomes impossible, and keeping the truth from him–let alone my distance–is harder than ever.

Oliver

Life was great until soccer legend Gavin Hayes joined the team and proved he’s nothing like the guy I grew up idolizing. Instead, he’s a giant–albeit gorgeous–grump who lives to rain on my parade. I’ve sworn off pranks since entering the public eye, so rather than settle our differences the Bergman way, I’ve had to settle for killing Gavin with kindness. There’s just one problem: killing him with kindness is killing me.

To make matters worse, Coach gives us an ultimatum: put an end to our enmity or say goodbye to being captains. I’m prepared to be miserable while we meet her demands and make nice, but the last thing I expect is to discover an explosive attraction we can’t help but act on, and worse yet, to realize the man hiding beneath Gavin’s gruff exterior is all I’ve ever wanted.–From Goodreads


What I Liked: This series continues to be such a joy to read, and I find myself eagerly anticipating each new release.  Each Bergman sibling is unique, and I’ve found myself enjoying their individual love stories. Liese has done a fantastic job of giving the reader enough information about the family so that when it’s time for the next sibling’s book you feel like you know them already.  I already knew I liked Oliver from the small scenes he had been in before this, but this book made me love him. His personality was so unique and fun and a great antithesis to Gavin’s grumpiness. Liese does a good job showing us why Gavin is such a grump and how Oliver would be able to look past that to fall in love with him.  As a fan of Ted Lasso, the parallels here are obvious but that just made me like this book more.

What I Didn’t Like: As a fan of the enemies to lovers to trope, the thing that makes the reader invested in the story is the progression of the relationship.  In this book, we don’t get that.  The initial meeting of Oliver and Gavin is only talked about, not seen, so we miss the initial moment of attraction hidden by hatred. In many ways, enemies to lovers is also a slow burn story and I felt that this story went too fast.   

Who Should Read It: Existing fans of the Bergman Brothers series won’t be disappointed with this one and will want to continue the series after this but anyone looking for a sports romance will also enjoy this book. And while this is part of a series, it can easily be read as a standalone.

Review Wrap Up: Great banter, great chemistry, and great sex. What more can anyone ask for in a romance? As much as I loved the characters in this book and the overall story, I wish there was more to the enemies to lovers build up and we saw Oliver and Gavin’s initial meeting. Despite this issue, I would recommend this book for romance fans looking for a good sports themed story.

Favorite Quote: “We’re already proud of you. If you did nothing but exist the rest of your life, we’d be proud of you. Because you’re ours and we love you.”


@thespinsterlibrarian
*Thank you to Netgalley and the author for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

I Kissed Shara Wheeler

Title: I Kissed Shara Wheeler

Author: Casey McQuiston

Series: N/A

Publication Date: May 3, 2022

Format: E-Book

Genre: Young Adult

Sub Genre(s): Romance, LGBTQ+, Mystery


Summary: Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny.

But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.

On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair-and-square.

Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too.-From Goodreads


What I Liked: It appears Casey McQuiston can’t miss. This is her third release in as many years (although this is her first for young adults) and each one has been unique, complex, and entertaining. While I am not the intended audience for this book, the emotions in the story are universal and will appeal to anyone, especially those that are questioning their identity or their place in the world. I don’t know if this is a trend, or I happen to have picked up a few of these stores in a row but I am HERE for books featuring mean girls (or are they?) and showing different sides of their personalities. And showing that they deserve love too! Perfect protagonists are getting old, and McQuiston has created intriguing, realistic, imperfect characters. Like her previous books, one of the best aspects of this story is the theme of found family and the relationship between Chloe, Smith, and Rory is such a beautiful part of this book. Honestly, the main story could have been about anything and I would have read it as long as their relationship stayed the same.

What I Didn’t Like: All of McQuiston’s books seem to drop the reader right into the action, which can sometimes feel disorientating. It took me some time to familiarize myself with what was going on and who the characters were and who they were to each other. I also found the mystery itself to be a bit confusing and not in a good way. I didn’t see the point behind Shara’s letters because I didn’t understand the connections between the characters until further into the story.

Who Should Read It: Any teen or young adult will find something to like about this book, but adults will enjoy this one as well. Fans of McQuiston’s previous books will not be disappointed.

Review Wrap Up: I had high expectations for this one based on McQuiston’s previous books, and I was not let down. This story isn’t just about identity, it’s about ambition, internalized hate, and religious trauma. It’s a story about finding love in unexpected places and opening your heart to someone even though it can be scary. It’s a story about how people can let you down and how people can surprise you. It’s a story about being unapologetically yourself. This book filled my heart with joy and I love that these are the kinds of stories teens and young adults are reading and having access to.

Favorite Quote: “It’s not much—Chloe knows this. It’s just car windows rolled down, the blue-and-white glow of a Walmart in the distance, the smell of wet pavement under the tires, the hum of neon from a passing Dairy Queen, the same radio station as always blasting a rotation of the same fifteen songs. But she thinks she’s starting to understand what it means to be from here, because she could swear the bright red burn of artificial cherry is the best thing she’s ever tasted. She leans out into the wind and tips her head back, opening her eyes to the stars, and thinks maybe everything in the world really can fit inside False Beach city limits. Shara has that effect.”


thespinsterlibrarian

*Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for and ARC in exchange for an honest review*

Burn the Page: A True Story of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, and Igniting Change

Title: Burn the Page: A True Story of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, and Igniting Change

Author: Danica Roem

Series: N/A

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Format: E-Book

Genre: Non-Fiction

Sub Genre(s): Memoir, LGBTQ


Summary: Danica Roem made national headlines when–as a transgender former frontwoman for a metal band and a political newcomer–she unseated Virginia’s most notoriously anti-LGBTQ 26-year incumbent Bob Marshall as state delegate. But before Danica made history, she had to change her vision of what was possible in her own life. Doing so was a matter of storytelling: during her campaign, Danica hired an opposition researcher to dredge up every story from her past that her opponent might seize on to paint her negatively.

In wildly entertaining prose, Danica dismantles all the stories her opponents tried to hedge against her, showing how through brutal honesty and loving authenticity, it’s possible to embrace the low points, and even transform them into her greatest strengths. Burn the Page takes readers from Danica’s lonely, closeted, and at times operatically tragic childhood to her position as a rising star in a party she’s helped forever change. Burn the Page is so much more than a stump speech: it’s an extremely inspiring manifesto about how it’s possible to set fire to the stories you don’t want to be in anymore, whether written by you or about you by someone else–and rewrite your own future, whether that’s running for politics, in your work, or your personal life. This book will not just encourage people who think they must be spotless to run for office but inspire all of us to own our personal narratives as Danica does. -From Goodreads


What I Liked: I enjoyed the conversational style way this book was written. Roem’s voice is unique, and it seems like the publisher let her just go for it and write what she wanted to write and tell any story she wanted to tell. She doesn’t hold anything back and I appreciated that. I particularly liked her insight into campaigning and how hers was successful, despite her opponent finding everything he could to use against her. She is very open about her past and her family without being intrusive and her advice to younger LGBTQ folks was touching. I think where the book excels is her openness about being Transgender and the difficulties she faced with coming out. These are the moments I wish bigoted people would read and learn from so they can know what it is like to not feel like you are being your true self.

What I Didn’t Like: I found myself skimming over a lot of the sections in this book about Roem’s love of heavy metal and her exploits with her band because most of it felt repetitive. I wouldn’t have minded this so much if I felt there was a point to some of the stories, but they didn’t connect well to what Roem was trying to say.  

Who Should Read It: Anyone interested in running for public office can learn from Roem’s story and would benefit from reading this book. Anyone struggling with their gender identity would also find Roem’s words heartening and inspiring.

Review Wrap Up: This is an important book because everyone should know Danica Roem’s story and how important it is to elect LGBTQ representatives. I enjoyed the insight into what it’s like to be a freshman legislator and how we can work together in this country for the better good. I liked that Roem was given free rein to write her story how she wanted to but I wish some of the stories had been tighter and fit more into the overall narrative.

Favorite Quote: “That is something we seem to have forgotten about as a population: it’s possible to be several things at the same time. You can think different thoughts and hold different identities and be fascinated by different things all at once. It doesn’t make you weak or distracted; it makes you human.”


thespinsterlibrarian
*Thank you to Netgalley and Viking for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care

Title: Delilah Green Doesn’t Care

Author: Ashley Herring Blake

Series: Bright Falls

Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022

Format:  e-book

Genre: Romance

Sub Genre(s): LGBTQ+, Contemporary


Summary: Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls—nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her.

When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there’s some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all.

Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise…at first. Though they’ve known each other for years, they don’t really know each other—so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they’re forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations—including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancé—Claire isn’t sure she has the strength to resist Delilah’s charms. Even worse, she’s starting to think she doesn’t want to…


What I Liked: Every character in this book is fully realized, with their own quirks and problems and feelings. Delilah can best be described as prickly but as we find out she has genuine reasons to be that way. It’s a testament to Herring Blake’s skill as a writer that Delilah never comes off as mean, at least to people who don’t deserve it. The queer representation in this book is something that has been missing in a lot of recent romance novels. Many LGBTQ romances seem to include queer characters as an afterthought but both Delilah and Claire feel like real people. Claire’s bisexuality is truly a part of her personality and shapes her thoughts and actions. I don’t know how Herring Blake did it, but she wrote a romance novel that is swoony and funny and heartwarming and also managed to write a touching story about the relationship between sisters and the importance of friends who always support you and the real struggles of co-parenting with an ex and the fear of being alone. Phew!  Every side story got enough time to feel important and I was invested in each and every character.

What I Didn’t Like: Ummm nothing? If pressed to find something to critique, the villains in the story sometimes felt a bit over the top and out of place in a book that overall felt authentic and real. However, the way they are dealt with in the end makes sense to the story.

Who Should Read It:  Any romance fan will find something to love about this book. I think this will end up being on a lot of best of the year lists.

Review Wrap Up: It was truly refreshing to read a romance in which the heroines are their authentic selves and love each other just as they are. The relationships in this book, both romantic and platonic, felt true and I want to be friends with this group in real life. It’s only January but this may end up being one of my favorite books of the year.  

Favorite Quote: “She didn’t have to be alone. Not unless she just wanted to be, and goddammit, she didn’t.”


thespinsterlibrarian

*Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

Nature Poem

Title: Nature Poem

Author: Tommy Pico

Series: N/A

Publication Date: May 9th, 2017

Format:  Book

Genre: Poetry

Sub Genre(s):  Contemporary, LGBTQ+

Summary: Nature Poem follows Teebs—a young, queer, American Indian (or NDN) poet—who can’t bring himself to write a nature poem. For the reservation-born, urban-dwelling hipster, the exercise feels stereotypical, reductive, and boring. He hates nature. He prefers city lights to the night sky. He’d slap a tree across the face. He’d rather write a mountain of hashtag punchlines about death and give head in a pizza-parlor bathroom; he’d rather write odes to Aretha Franklin and Hole. While he’s adamant—bratty, even—about his distaste for the word “natural,” over the course of the book we see him confronting the assimilationist, historical, colonial-white ideas that collude NDN people with nature. The closer his people were identified with the “natural world,” he figures, the easier it was to mow them down like the underbrush. But Teebs gradually learns how to interpret constellations through his own lens, along with human nature, sexuality, language, music, and Twitter. Even while he reckons with manifest destiny and genocide and centuries of disenfranchisement, he learns how to have faith in his own voice.


What I Liked: This book felt like a book of poetry for people who say they don’t like poetry or don’t understand it. By using modern language and “text” speak like ‘yr’ and bc’ Pico makes it clear that this is a poem written for people living in the current time while still managing to pay tribute to his ancestors. His ability to move from humor to sadness to outrage in a single page is astounding and there were several times I found myself stopping to take in what I had just read.

What I Didn’t Like: I struggle with understanding poetry so my issue with this book is related to my own struggles with the content.  At times I couldn’t understand if the poem I was reading was separate from the long poem or if it was supposed to all be part of a single poem.  But this is a comment on my own lack of comprehension more than the book.

Who Should Read It: If you hear the word poetry and only think of dead white people, this would be a great book to pick up and see what young, modern poets are writing.

Review Wrap Up: This was my first time reading Pico’s poetry but it won’t be the last. I liked that he talked about serious issues like Indigenous rights and colonialism with more light-hearted things like music and where he’s eating that night. I don’t seek out poetry very often but I’m glad I picked this book up. I’d recommend this poem, especially for people who haven’t read a poem since they attended school.

Favorite Quote:  “How do statues become more galvanizing than refugees?”

“It seems foolish to discuss nature w/o talking about endemic poverty which seems foolish to discuss w/o talking about corporations given human agency which seems foolish to discuss w/o talking about colonialism which seems foolish to discuss w/o talking about misogyny”


thespinsterlibrarian

Count Your Lucky Stars

Title: Count Your Lucky Stars

Author: Alexandria Bellefleur

Series: Written in the Stars

Publication Date: February 1st, 2022

Format:  e-book

Genre: Romance

Sub Genre(s): LGBTQ+

Summary: Margot Cooper doesn’t do relationships. She tried and it blew up in her face, so she’ll stick with casual hookups, thank you very much. But now her entire crew has found “the one” and she’s beginning to feel like a fifth wheel. And then fate (the heartless bitch) intervenes. While touring a wedding venue with her engaged friends, Margot comes face-to-face with Olivia Grant—her childhood friend, her first love, her first… well, everything. It’s been ten years, but the moment they lock eyes, Margot’s cold, dead heart thumps in her chest.

Olivia must be hallucinating. In the decade since she last saw Margot, her life hasn’t gone exactly as planned. At almost thirty, she’s been married… and divorced. However, a wedding planner job in Seattle means a fresh start and a chance to follow her dreams. Never in a million years did she expect her important new client’s Best Woman would be the one that got away.

When a series of unfortunate events leaves Olivia without a place to stay, Margot offers up her spare room because she’s a Very Good Person. Obviously. It has nothing to do with the fact that Olivia is as beautiful as ever and the sparks between them still make Margot tingle. As they spend time in close quarters, Margot starts to question her no-strings stance. Olivia is everything she’s ever wanted, but Margot let her in once and it ended in disaster. Will history repeat itself or should she count her lucky stars that she gets a second chance with her first love? 


What I Liked:  After being a side character in the first two books of this series, Margot finally gets her own book. As one of my favorite characters in the previous stories, I couldn’t have been happier when I saw this book would be centered around her and her chance at love. I am usually not a fan of the childhood friends/first love trope because for some reason authors think that if a character found their “true love” when they were young that means they can never date anyone else or be happy for the rest of their lives until they are reunited once again. Here, Margot and Olivia have gone on to lead their own lives with its ups and downs and aren’t looking for each other when happenstance brings them together again. The reason for their initial falling out is believable so I was able to buy into their love story, even if the reason for their forced proximity togetherness is a bit wild (but hey, romance reasons!) I loved that all the characters from the previous books are in this one because the found family aspect of this series has been one of my favorite things about it.

What I Didn’t Like: Some of the conflict in this book could have been resolved if the characters just talked about what happened in the past so it was hard to not scream at the page sometimes “just say what you really feel!” But this is a romance novel so the angst has to come from somewhere and after being hurt in the past by each other, I can see why there would be some trepidation to open up. The other minor issue (and this isn’t really an issue, more an observation) is that I feel you must have read the first two books in the series to TRULY understand and enjoy this book as much as possible. It can certainly be read on its own but I would not recommend it.

Who Should Read It: Fans of second chance romances who like their stories with a medium level of heat. Fans of found family stories and romances with a touch of fate and magic sprinkled in.

Review Wrap Up: This was a great conclusion to the Written in the Stars series and may be my favorite one of them all. Margot is a fantastic, well-rounded character and Olivia was a great addition to the group. This is a series of friends that you want to be a part of, and I was sad to see them go. I would highly recommend you give this one a shot but make sure you start with the first book Written in the Stars.

Favorite Quote: “The right person shouldn’t complete you, they should love you the way you are. And it’s cool if they make you want to be better, but they should never make you feel like you’re too much or not enough exactly as you are.”


 

thespinsterlibrarian

D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding

Title: D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding

Author: Chencia C. Higgins

Series:  N/A

Publication Date:  January 25th, 2022 (expected)

Format:  E-book

Genre: Romance

Sub Genre(s): LGBTQ+

Summary: Instant I Do could be Kris Zavala’s big break. She’s right on the cusp of really making it as an influencer, so a stint on reality TV is the perfect chance to elevate her brand. And $100,000 wouldn’t hurt, either. D’Vaughn Miller is just trying to break out of her shell. She’s sort of neglected to come out to her mom for years, so a big splashy fake wedding is just the excuse she needs. All they have to do is convince their friends and family they’re getting married in six weeks. If anyone guesses they’re not for real, they’re out. Selling their chemistry on camera is surprisingly easy, and it’s still there when no one else is watching, which is an unexpected bonus. Winning this competition is going to be a piece of wedding cake.  But each week of the competition brings new challenges, and soon the prize money’s not the only thing at stake. A reality show isn’t the best place to create a solid foundation, and their fake wedding might just derail their relationship before it even starts.


What I Liked:  The representation in this book is incredible. The two leads are a fat, Black Lesbian and an Afro-Latina butch lesbian ,which would be amazing enough, but there are several queer side characters as well.  This was fun from page one and I thought the reality show premise was clever and made the insta-love trope more believable. I loved that the angst in this book didn’t come from the main relationship but rather the very real and difficult task of coming out to your family.

What I Didn’t Like: The relationship between Kris and D’Vaughn moved very quickly and while I know that’s the point of this book, I’m not a huge fan of insta-love stories so I would have loved a few more scenes of them falling in love. I would have also liked more closure between D’Vaughn and her mother about her coming out and the feelings surrounding that. This was a large part of the beginning of the book and I would have enjoyed a conversation between them to wrap things up.

Who Should Read It: If you like your romances to be fun and low-angst, this would be a great read for you. The steam level is pretty mild so this would be a good book for people who don’t want too much explicit sex in their romances.

Review Wrap Up: It took longer than I would have thought but reality TV-themed romance novels seem to be popping up more and more (see “One to Watch” and “If the Shoe Fits”). While I’m not a fan of reality shows, I have to admit they make a great backdrop for insta-love romances. While I felt this story wrapped up too quickly, I thought it was really fun and I was rooting for Kris and D’Vaughn the entire time and had a smile on my face at the end.

Favorite Quote: “…it was no secret that reality shows tended to put a certain style and shape of woman in front of the camera. Petite, with flawless skin. Dazzling smiles and relaxed hair. Skin so fair it was almost translucent. So aggressively heterosexual they were willing to fight another woman over a man offering community dick that was mediocre at best.”


thespinsterlibrarian

*Thank you to Carina Adores and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

One Last Stop

For those that read Casey McQuiston’s first book “Red, White, and Royal Blue” and loved it just like me, you may have been worried that her follow up wouldn’t capture the charm and joy and romance of that story. Fear not.  If anything, “One Last Stop” manages to take everything I loved about that first book and take it one step further, showing McQuiston’s growth as an author and her understanding of people’s relationships with romantic partners as well as friends and family.  I read this book with a smile on my face the entire time and I think everyone will enjoy this one.

Continue reading “One Last Stop”

Cemetery Boys

How I adored this book!  I am not the intended audience for Aiden Thomas’s book but still found myself being swept up in his tale of young people searching for the place they belong and fighting for the respect they deserve.  This book has a bit of everything: family, friendship, humor, and romance and I think anyone who reads this would like it.  This book is especially important for young trans people who may be struggling to find acceptance among their family and friends.  I highly recommend this book.

Continue reading “Cemetery Boys”

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