ARC Review – In the Lives of Puppets

Hello, everyone! I’m very excited to be bringing you this review today. I started reading In the Lives of Puppets as soon as I was approved to receive it on NetGalley, and I couldn’t be more grateful to Tor for allowing me to read it early. I love everything I’ve read by TJ Klune, and this book was no exception. This will largely be spoiler-free ramblings about how much I loved the book. Consider yourself warned. lol.

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ARC Review – The Gentleman’s Book of Vices

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing The Gentleman’s Book of Vices by Jess Everlee. I was so excited to be approved for this ARC because it sounded like it would be a great read. If the synopsis or my review piques your interest, you can pick the book up starting tomorrow, November 29, 2022.

Is their real-life love story doomed to be a tragedy, or can they rewrite the ending?

London, 1883

Finely dressed and finely drunk, Charlie Price is a man dedicated to his vices. Chief among them is his explicit novel collection, though his impending marriage to a woman he can’t love will force his carefully curated collection into hiding.

Before it does, Charlie is determined to have one last hurrah: meeting his favorite author in person.

Miles Montague is more gifted as a smut writer than a shopkeep and uses his royalties to keep his flagging bookstore afloat. So when a cheerful dandy appears out of the mist with Miles’s highly secret pen name on his pretty lips, Miles assumes the worst. But Charlie Price is no blackmailer; he’s Miles’s biggest fan.

A scribbled signature on a worn book page sets off an affair as scorching as anything Miles has ever written. But Miles is clinging to a troubled past, while Charlie’s future has spun entirely out of his control…

***Thank you to Carina Adores for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I’m not quite sure where to start with this one. I had so much fun while reading it that I finished it in a day. The story was easy to sink into, and I loved the historical setting even though there were a few anachronisms. I’m not an expert on this period of British history (late 1800’s), and I didn’t even notice them until I saw other reviews point them out. I fell in love with the characters almost immediately, and the story did a wonderful job of peeling back their layers and making them feel real.

The premise of this book was just so much fun. A man, Charlie Price, loves his smut and wants to get the autograph of his favorite writer to add to his illicit collection. The only problem is the writer is anonymous. After using his friend to investigate, Charlie discovers the writer’s identity and decides to ambush him to get his signature. The writer, Miles, freaks out about his identity being revealed, and hilarity ensues along with the beginning of their steamy romance. To make matters even more complicated, Charlie is due to be married in a few weeks to a woman he admires but does not love.

I loved the dynamic between Charlie and Miles. Charlie was a certified rake who spent most of his free time in underground gay sex clubs. He was an eternal optimist. Although, that optimism hid a deeper and more complex person with understandable fears beneath its shiny veneer. Whereas, Miles wore his fear and paranoia on his sleeve. After his former lover was persecuted for being gay, Miles mostly stuck to himself, his anonymous writing, and the failing bookstore that his dead lover left him, which is why it was such a shock to the system when Charlie waltzed into his life knowing the secret of his smut writing gig. They had a delicious sunshine/grumpy thing going for them, as well as a light sub/dom dynamic. The chemistry was great, if a little quick, and their illicit affair really felt tense, as if the shoe could drop for either of them at a moments notice. Even though I assumed they’d get their HEA or HFN by the end, there were moments where I really questioned if that would be the case, which I really liked.

I loved the found family of the gay club, as well. It had such a fun and wholesome vibe considering it was a sex club. lol. The workers and regular patrons truly had each other’s backs, and I was excited to see that the bar owner will be the topic of the second book in this series. Charlie’s bride-to-be was also a great character. When I first read the synopsis, I was worried that she would get completely shafted by Charlie’s selfishness, but she was treated much differently than I expected and was a major character in her own right rather than a victim of the circumstance.

There was only one thing that keeps this from being a five star read for me: one specific fade to black scene. The moment had been built up for so long, and the importance of the emotional intimacy attached to it was heavily underscored leading up to the interaction. Then the scene just ended and skipped to the next morning. It was SO frustrating because it felt like such an integral moment for their relationship that the reader didn’t get to experience firsthand. There was plenty of other spicy content in the book, and I just don’t understand why that scene wasn’t also included.

Overall, this was a hilarious, heartfelt, and slightly raunchy romance filled with big personalities, tons of bookish goodness, and plenty of drama. I don’t know how anyone could not laugh, or at least smile, while reading it. If you enjoy MM romance, I definitely think you should give this one a chance. Therefore, I rate the book 4 out of 5 stars.

ARC Review – Jack’s on Fire

Hello, everyone! Today I am reviewing Jack’s on Fire by Owen Lach, which was just published last week. As the cover suggests, it is a cute YA romance. So, if that’s your cup of tea, be sure to check it out!

What if you were a queer teenage musician outed by his vengeful ex-boyfriend and not a fairy tale princess trapped in a castle tower? What if your wicked stepmother was your ordinary, thoughtless, uncaring mother? What if your fairy godmother was your older brother? What if your Prince Charming was captain of the JV soccer team? Maybe you’d be forgiven for not realizing you were living in a sort of fairy tale.

Faced with the impossible choice of staying home to risk being sent away to Father Sullivan’s special school for exceptionally happy boys or moving in with his older brother in California, 16-yr-old Jack Martin leaves behind everything he knows in Minneapolis to go to San Francisco. He finds himself at a new school with new friends and the freedom to be himself. Then sparks fly when Jack meets Damon, his Geometry tutor (and captain of the JV soccer team.) But Jack wonders if Damon feels those sparks, too. And does their budding friendship have a chance to become something more?

Jack’s On Fire is a heartwarming, modern, queer fairy tale about friendship, chosen family, and young, queer love perfect for fans of Heartstopper. Sure, there aren’t any fairies or wands. But what else would you call it when everything starts magically going your way?

***Thank you to Jetspace Studio for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

This book is exactly what the cover and synopsis suggest: a delightful queer fairy tale focused on found family and the healing power of acceptance. Jack was such a great protagonist, and I appreciated the realistic portrayal of anxiety his character represented. He experienced so much growth, both in managing his anxiety and learning to trust and be open with others. I felt so much joy watching him realize that people could not only accept him but also love him for who he was.

His relationships with others, especially his brother and Damon, were the highlights of the story for me. He had a fun, easygoing relationship with his brother despite the circumstances of the two of them being thrown together, and I just loved the honesty and mutual support they shared. The friendship, and eventual romance, between Jack and Damon was sickeningly sweet and an absolute delight to read. The slow burn friends to lovers romance created a will-they-or-won’t-they tension that was fun, even though it was fairly obvious they’d end up together. This was a fairy tale after all.

On that note, this was largely a low angst story about the queer kid getting everything he had ever wanted after being moved from a hostile environment to a supportive one. There were moments of despair, but the general vibe of the book was very positive and devoted to giving Jack the perfect healing experience. That being said, sometimes I wished things wouldn’t have gone quite so easily for him. What can I say? I love drama. lol. However, I did enjoy the book for the positive vibes, and seeing Jack live the dream so many queer kids have of unconditional love and acceptance was a cathartic experience.

Now I’m going to be a bit picky. There was one character who seemed to exist only to create the conditions needed for the final climax. Their arc felt removed from the rest of the narrative, and I found the eventual outcome obvious despite also feeling a bit blindsided by it because it seemed like it should have been part of another story. Despite this pickiness about a relatively small detail, I loved this book and think it would be perfect for fans of Heartstopper because of its focus on queer joy and an absolutely adorable friends to lovers high school romance. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars!

ARC Mini Review – Never Ever Getting Back Together

Hello, everyone! This evening I’m sharing my last review of Bi Visibility Week, Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales. Sophie is an auto-buy author for me, and I was super stoked to be offered this ARC.

When their now famous ex-boyfriend asks them to participate in a teen reality show, two eighteen year old girls—one bent on revenge, the other open to rekindling romance—get tangled up in an unexpected twist when they fall for each other instead in Never Ever Getting Back Together by nationally and internationally-bestselling and Indie Next Pick author Sophie Gonzales.

“Wickedly funny [and] searingly sexy.” —Kelly Quindlen, author of She Drives Me Crazy

It’s been two years since Maya’s ex-boyfriend cheated on her, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country and he captured hearts as her charming younger brother. If the world only knew the real Jordy, the manipulative liar who broke Maya’s heart.

Skye Kaplan was always cautious with her heart until Jordy said all the right things and earned her trust. Now his face is all over the media and Skye is still wondering why he stopped calling.

When Maya and Skye are invited to star on the reality dating show Second-Chance Romance, they’re whisked away to a beautiful mansion—along with four more of Jordy’s exes— to compete for his affections while the whole world watches. Skye wonders if she and Jordy can recapture the spark she knows they had, but Maya has other plans: exposing Jordy and getting revenge. As they navigate the competition, Skye and Maya discover that their real happily ever after is nothing they could have scripted.

***Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I DEVOURED this book in one sitting. It took staying up until 3 AM to finish, but it was totally worth it. I laughed so much while reading, and the drama of it all kept me engaged despite the premise being pretty straightforward. The enemy was easy to hate almost from the start, and I was definitely on board with Team Fuck Up the Fuckboy the whole way through the story. He really was the epitome of fuckboyness in all the worst ways. The sapphic love story between the bi main characters had good chemistry and utilized common tropes well, including forced proximity and enemy to lovers. I always appreciate Gonzales’s ability to weave fantastic bi rep into the narrative, and this book was no exception. Maya was bent on getting revenge and had built her entire life around proving Jordy wrong for leaving her. Whereas, Skye had major abandonment issues. The combination of the two created some serious drama that felt realistic given both of their issues. The premise (two contestants on a reality dating show falling in love with each other instead of the person they are competing over) was a lot of fun, but it was a bit weird that all of them were teenagers. I kept aging them up in my head to just be reminded over and over by the text that they were all teens. It was just strange, and I think this would have worked better as an adult book rather than YA. That being said, this was a funny sapphic romance with a great premise. If you like reality TV or have ever wondered what it would be like for contestants of The Bachelor to end up together, this is the romcom for you. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.