Queerly Beloved by Susie Dumond Book Review

Book Description

A people-pleasing baker tries to find her place as a bridesmaid-for-hire . Will she finally find her happily ever after—and her own voice?

Amy, a semicloseted queer baker and bartender in mid-2010s Oklahoma, has spent a lifetime putting other people’s needs before her own. Until, that is, she’s fired from her job at a Christian bakery and turns her a one-off gig subbing in for a bridesmaid into a full-time business—thanks to her baking talents, crafting skills, and years watching rom-coms and Say Yes to the Dress. Between her new gig and meeting Charley, the attractive engineer who’s just moved to Tulsa, suddenly Amy’s found something— and someone—she actually wants.

Her tight-knit group of chosen family is thrilled that Amy is becoming her authentic self. But when her deep desire to please kicks into overdrive, Amy’s precarious balancing act strains her relationships to the breaking point, and she must decide what it looks like to be true to herself—and if she has the courage to try. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I was drawn to this book just based on the cover of it and I am glad I had the chance to read it. I winded up listening to this one on audio and really enjoyed the audio version of this book.

I tend to not read romance books because of the spice scenes which I am not a big fan of. This book includes a few of those scenes but they are not overdone and they add to the plot without deterring so I found them to be well done. I do think that this book is marketed as a romance but it is more of a story in which Amy is finding herself and learning to embrace that with some romance included throughout.

There were quite a few things that I really enjoyed throughout this book. I really enjoyed how we get a chance to see what it is like for Amy to have two separate lives, one in which she is out and another in which she is closeted. I like how this book brings up how hard it is to be a queer person of color or someone who doesn’t fit the binary living in that small town. I also really enjoy how this book talks about what marriage equality means for Queer people but also how it isn’t everything people think it is and how there is still more work to be done.

I also really enjoyed Amy being a baker and also her brief time as a backup bridesmaid. I really enjoyed getting to see her be in her element even as she hides a piece of herself that is important to her. I liked getting a glimpse at some of the weddings that Amy has to work at and the mess that she gets herself into at some of them.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to several characters through their interactions with our main character, Amy. You get to meet some of her friends, Damian and Joel, her family, the love interest, Charley, and more.

I really enjoyed all of the relationships that are included in this book and love hearing about Amy’s relationship with her friends. I loved getting to see how she allowed herself to just be who she is around them without worrying about others finding out about her queerness.

I also really enjoyed the relationship between Amy and her mother. I love how Amy goes to her mom for so much yet her mother pushes her to make Queer friends to talk to because she doesn’t understand everything. I love how supportive Amy’s mother is of her and how you also see Amy’s mother in Amy when she is supporting a Queer youth later in the story.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person through the perspective of Amy. I really like having romance books be written in third person because I can detach from them and am able to enjoy the story as an outsider. I like that we only get things told to us in the perspective of Amy because we don’t see how others are feeling as things fall apart. I also really liked how this story is more than just a romance story and has parts that aren’t just about Charley and Amy.

Author Information

Susie Dumond is a queer writer from Little Rock, Arkansas. She is a Senior Contributor at Book Riot, where she writes a monthly Horoscopes and Book Recommendations column, as well as various quizzes, book lists, and bookish news pieces. Susie received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tulsa and a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the George Washington University. Currently, she’s probably making cupcakes at her home in Washington, DC, with her partner Mary, her dog Waffles, and her cat Maple.

Alyse Diaries by B. Danielle Watkins Book Review

Book Description

““The Alysé Diaries”, a riveting new series by acclaimed author B. Danielle Watkins, is a controversial drama vastly different from the previous “No Other Man” tragedy series. Volume one, befittingly entitled “Curious”, deals with Sentury’s innate yearning to being in sexual relationships with women. As a star basketball player at Montana College, Sentury is highly sought after, but not in the ways she previously envisioned. Plagued with the ideals of religion and society, Sentury is forced to submerge her feelings and move towards the life she thought she wanted. Juggling basketball, women, and a serious relationship with a man, Sentury has until the WNBA draft to figure out the ultimate life she wants to lead.

“The Alysé Diaries”, written as diary entries from begin to end. Every word, every description, every conversation will be depicted as Sentury saw through her eyes. This story is not only impeccable, but it details many things that women go through when battling within themselves. Touching on topics like religion, government, safe-sex, polyamory relationships and more. “The Alysé Diaries” proves to be not only a thrilling story, but an eye-opening experience to the world of down-low lesbianism.”

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This is one that I decided to read because I was drawn in by the description of the book when I was asked to provide a review for it. I am glad that I read it though even if it was different than my typical read.

Right from the very few pages you know how this story is going to end but I forgot about that as I was reading and was invested in the story and not so much the ending. I really liked how this story drew you in and you wanted to hear more about the main character and go along her journey with her.

Characters: In this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with the main character, Sentury. While you are introduced to many characters, you dont really get to know anyone in depth. I really liked how you only get to know side characters on a surface level because that’s how our main character views them. I love that you only get to know side people if the main character is close with them and trusts them.

Writing Style: This story is told in diary entries which I found rather interesting. I liked that it was written through diary entries because it made for a unreliable narrator. There were times where I wanted to know things from the other character’s perspectives but I thought it was good that we didn’t get to know what others thought. The fact that all we know is how Alyse has experienced things makes it so that it is easy to sympathize with her.

Author Information

WHO IS B. DANIELLE WATKINS?

New York is not only known for its famous hot wings, its historical museums, and it’s beautiful

One World Observatory where you can see the skyline and the stars from high above, it is also the “City of Dreams”, and the place where rising star B. Danielle Watkins began her journey. B. Danielle Watkins, international award-winning filmmaker, and author is a native of Buffalo, New York. Watkins is on top of her game, rapidly paving her way to success with her many accomplishments.

Danielle began laying the groundwork for her career at the age of nine, not aware that her gift of writing would take her to higher heights in her future endeavors. By the age of 15, Watkins had her first poem published in the “Poetry Gems Collection”, presented by the Famous Poets Society.

It did not stop there, this tenacious young lady put her talents to work by publishing  a three novel trilogy entitled “The No other Man Three Part Tragedy” released in 2011/2012. In 2013, Watkins began working her way up the ladder to join the ranks of some of the greats when she was officially named the head of the Creative Writing Department for M Power Productions, LLC based out of Atlanta, Georgia, the same place that the great Tyler Perry studios is located.

Working with M Power productions allowed this fierce lady to advance her way onto stage and screenwriting. In 2014, Watkins produced her first sold out show respectively titled “BlacButterflii: The Saigon Ruse Story” which premiered in Atlanta, Georgia. During this time, she was also creating a name for herself in the industry. B. Danielle decided to try her hand in writing the Gender Diverse Digital Series, “Girls Just Don’t Do That”, giving way to a fresh new perspective of the LGBTQ community and the real-life circumstances that are addressed and often marginalized. This series portrayed an open honest common-sense view to relationships, hardships and intimacy.

In January 2016, Watkins made major power moves by launching her own production company named Dream N 1 Productions based out of Las Vegas, NV. Later the same year her newly found production company produced its first major production entitled “Parallel the Documentary” based on her true-life experiences as the first African-American Filmmaker at the first all lesbian film festival in Paducah, Kentucky. This documentary has since been screened internationally in two countries, winning awards such as Best Director and Audience Choice, and causing her name to circulate through the film festival circuit.

Taking her career to the next level Ms. Watkins became the first and only African American filmmaker to write, produce and star in a REVRY original series, “3030”. 2019 proved to be one of her most defining years in her film career. After winning four Telly Awards for the documentary entitled “GRRRL: The Beauty of the Beast” and launching the second season in her original series “3030”. She has earned a plethora of accolades and acknowledgements in the film industry, making her an alchemist in the game.

Adding to the list of talents Watkins added journalist to her resume when she became Staff Writer for MIM Magazine.  A graduate of the HBCU Winston Salem State University, and a member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. B. Danielle Watkins gives new meaning to the saying “Black Girls Rock”; Author, Filmmaker, Screenwriter, Actress, producer breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings and propelling her way to the top. Watkins is a woman on the move, a rising star, and as Hip-Hop Artist Tobe Nwigwe would say it’s time to “EAT”!

Surviving Home by Katerina Canyon Book Review

Book Description

Concisely arresting and challenging the beliefs of family and the fantasies of tradition, the poems in Surviving Home show that home is a place that you endure rather than a place where you are nurtured. With unyielding cadence and unparalleled sadness and warmth, Katerina Canyon contemplates the prejudice and limitations buried in a person’s African American heritage: parents that seem to care for you with one hand and slap you with the other, the secret desires to be released from the daily burdens of life, as well as the surprising ways a child chooses to amuse herself. Finding resilience in the unexpected, this collection tears down the delicate facades of family. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I’ve been reading quite a bit of poetry lately so I was glad to get a chance to read this book. Each of these poems is filled with so much emotion and there were so many poems that I really enjoyed. So many of these poems captured the author’s love for their parents while also feeling betrayed by them, and expressing how those mixed emotions shaped her childhood and upbringing. There were two poems that really stood out to me and those were “My pain is sculpted into art for you to consume” and “I left out “bells and whistles” written with a little help from Webster’s dictionary”. I found that these two poems were really powerful pieces and a great addition to her story.

Writing Style: I like that Canyon used poetry to express her feelings about a lot of things from her childhood and what being Black means to her now and what it meant to her then. I like that while we are hearing about her childhood at no time do you believe that this could be told from a child’s perspective but it is rather an adult writing from painful memories. I really liked how this went from early years to later years and it took you through those moments in a chronological order. I think while each poem elicits different emotions and is a roller coaster ride, the story is tied together well.

Author Information

Katerina Canyon is an Award Winning Poet, Best Selling Author, civil rights activist, essayist, and poet. She grew up in Los Angeles and much of her writing reflects that experience.

Her first book of poetry, Changing the Lines, was released in August 2017. This work is a conversation between mother and daughter as they examine what it means to operate within the world as black women.

Katerina Canyon is a 2020 and 2019 Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her stories have been published in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and Folks. Her poetry has been published in CatheXis Northwest, The Esthetic Apostle, Into the Void, Black Napkin, and Waxing & Waning. From 2000 to 2003, she served as the Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga. During that time, she started a poetry festival and ran several poetry readings. She has a B.A. in English, International Studies and Creative Writing from Saint Louis University and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Katerina moved to Seattle three years ago. She is currently running a civil rights campaign against police brutality. More information can be found at www.vdaycampaign.org.

My Feet Don’t Touch the Ground by W. Lee Baker Book Review

Book Description

Snatched from the safety of her day-to-day life, young Crysalline wanders in search of the world she has lost.
Alone, she searches for refuge in a wild land of the 1840s.
When her own deep, yet undeniable, yearnings begin to surface, she sets off into her life adventure. The new path only reveals itself after she takes the risk and seeks what lies ahead.
This is the story of a life richly lived.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This isn’t the type of book that I would normally pick up but the premise interested me so I decided to give it a try. At first I was invested in the story and wanted to know what would happen to our main character, Crysalline. I was wondering if she would be alone for the whole story and then if she would ever come across her family.

I really enjoyed the portions in which she found another family and was accepted into their family as one of them. I liked watching her group up with that family and learn about herself and the world while staying with them. I liked reading as they went out in search for her family and even as things didn’t go right.

One thing that threw me off with this book was that nothing really happened. it was just a day by day description of this one girl’s journey. While there were portions that I enjoyed the day to day because things were happening, once she becomes an adult things aren’t so interesting anymore. I am not a big fan of books that don’t have a plot and for so much of this book I couldn’t see it going anywhere. Once I got to the last 40 pages I winded up skimming through the book since nothing really happened.

Characters: This book introduces you to several characters as our main character, Crysalline, comes across them. She meets a family while she is young and spends quite some time with them. While she spends time with this family and they are looking for the place she came from, they come across other people who add to the story.

I wasn’t too much of a fan of any of the characters as I didn’t attach to anyone. I did like the relationships that Crysalline develops with others and how she develops because of those relationships. I wasn’t sold on the romance in this story and it felt very shallow both on Crysalline’s end and the love interest.

Writing Style: This book is told in the first person through the perspective of Crysalline which I thought was a good way to tell the story. I felt that throughout the story as Crysalline ages we get to see this occur. I liked how at first it sounds like a child is telling you the story and voice matures as Crysalline experiences more of life.

Author Information

W. Lee Baker’s writing is inspired by life’s passages and wisdom gained along the way. His first novel is a story of that path to become a mature, well rounded adult. It is the adventure of what life can bring alive for each of us.


He has a love of wonder, inspired by his spiritual quest. Continuing to learn from challenges has provided joy and rewards of character never previously imagined. He has also climbed in the Himalayas, scuba-dived at Cocos Island, Costa Rica, and enjoyed afternoons in the cafes of Paris and Prague. A lifelong creative with a career in professional photography, he found the time and gateway to be able to write and share this novel. He brings life into his writing so we may see the beautiful delicacy of this world. It can be a wondrous ride.

vViIrRuUsS: I Never Forget by Jazalyn Book Review

Book Description

A virus invades the lives of all humanity and causes a madness pandemic from the reminder of the past and the exposure of thoughts threatening to change everything, but then another virus attempts to erase the memories and recover the future, while a third virus scopes to save the new generations.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: When I read the description of this book I was quite excited to read it because I haven’t read a sci-fi book written in prose. I was also excited because it has to do with viruses and their effect on humanity and it was multiple viruses that were involved in telling this story. I was kind of disappointed though as this read more of a reflection of the author on the Covid-19 pandemic rather than what I expected from reading the description.

All of that being said I still really enjoyed the book after letting go of what my original expectations were for it. A lot of the poems felt like they were feelings that happen when viruses take over and I found myself relating to a lot of the poems included in this book because of that. I felt like this book was taking me through the Covid-19 pandemic in slow-motion and allowing me to see another perspective that I hadn’t thought about before.

Writing Style: Something I really enjoyed were how the poems were separated through time but also by the feelings and consequences that these viruses were having on a person’s mind, on society, and on the virus itself. I loved that some poems focused on the feelings of the virus and the destruction that it was causing and the way it was watching the population be helpless and lose to it.

Author Information

With millions of impressions, half million engagements and 30,000 followers in social media, Jazalyn is among the most-promising newcomers authors-poets.

Her books have sold in 4 Continents and have been featured on prominent lists on Amazon US, Amazon UK and Amazon AU. Soon she will expand in every corner of the Earth.

Jazalyn attracts all cultures and traditions with an audience from all walks and stages of life as a consequence of the universal atmosphere that encircles her themes.

Her innovative and versatile writing style stemming from abstraction and absurdness captivates mystery and suspense with words swimming in surrealism and magical realism.

Her imaginative and inventive narration unites the philosophical with the psychological and the scientific elements of both fantasy and fiction that create and solve riddles and puzzles.

In what results as a contemporary genre of cinematic (epic) poetry in slice of life-vignette expression which provokes thinking and eyes new horizons.

Jazalyn’s art is purposely colorful, geometrical and fashionable in its totality to match the aesthetics of a qualitative artfulness which expands the consciousness of an enlightenment painted in a kind of mysticism and spirituality that knows no boundaries.

Her latest books vViIrRuUsS, Rose, Hollow signify Jazalyn’s transition towards literary magnificence. 

Atonement Camp for Redemption by Evan J Corbin Book Tour Post

Book Description

Rick Harris finds himself back at a place he never thought he’d return—the Atonement Camp. With Marilyn now serving as camp director, Rick turns away from his empty home—and his equally vacant pursuits with headless online suiters—to accept a job teaching at the camp. With Garrett missing, Rick and his friends soon learn that there’s more to the jobs they were offered than they were led to believe.

Meanwhile, Missy Bottom seeks revenge against Rick and those who thwarted her plan: to invalidate the New Revelation and gain her esteemed Luminary membership. Caught in the middle of warring factions of Luminaries and camp spies, Rick and his friends struggle to uncover Missy’s plans while concealing their true purpose at camp from those who begin to suspect their teaching credentials are somewhat lacking.

Old enemies become allies as Rick and his friends are forced to choose between those who would seek to invalidate the New Revelation and sacrifice all the newfound LGBTQ freedoms that came with it, and those who would leverage the ancient teaching for retribution. Rick faces an equally intractable decision—whom does he truly love? And why? Rick soon learns that the answer to those questions may be the key to solving more than one problem. 

Book Links

Amazon

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I had been seeing the first book in this series all over Instagram but I hadn’t read it since I don’t really read adult books since I am scared I won’t understand it. I decided to give this a chance though because of what it is about, when I struggle with my religion and faith all I want is books that tell me something different than what I have been hearing. I keep thinking what would happen if the world really did move in this direction and not just some parts of the world but mainly the Catholic portions of the world.

There was so much parts of this book along with the first book that I really enjoyed and winded up highlighting so much of the book because of that. I kept highlighting a lot of points because they resonated with me as Rick is finding out who he is now that he is out as a Gay man and what he wants when it comes to a relationship.

There was a portion in the start of the book that did make me almost put it down but that quickly turned around because what I believed was wrong when it came to that character. I am so glad that I continued reading because I got what I wanted from this book.

Characters: There are many characters who are introduced throughout this book and I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep track of them all. Don’t worry about that though, they all have their unique quirks which makes it easier to separate them. I think that Rick probably has a harder time separating each of them in his head than we readers do and when you read this you’ll see why I say that.

Something that I found a little frustrating was how quickly Rick moved on from one guy to another. I thought it was unrealistic how quick that transition was for all of his partners as well and how no one really communicated their feelings. I also was a little concerned with how his relationships felt very shallow because of all of this even if he insisted he loved Jimmy and had strong feelings for Ryan. I also thought that the transition from ex to friends was also really quick and I know this is the norm for queer relationships but I felt that some wouldn’t so quickly turn to friends after the feelings they supposedly had.

Writing Style: This book is written in third person with a narrator that follows around each of the characters. I was a bit hesitant about this at first but in the end I feel that this is a great way to keep you in the loop as to what is happening on all parties sides. I also think that we don’t get a lot of the interactions that Missy is having or any of the luminaries so the story isn’t entirely ruined when we get a glimpse into what they are up to.

Author Information

Evan is a member of the LGBTQ community who fancies himself as a playboy socialite, living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Between work and lucid moments of sobriety, he writes a little.  His debut novel is a light-hearted work that still manages to confront religious hypocrisy and contemporary LGBTQ struggles to balance their loss of culture with new-found civil rights.  His friends say the book is great!  Hopefully, you will as well.

Stuck with You by Ali Hazelwood Book Review

Book Description

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn…

Logically, Sadie knows that civil engineers are supposed to build bridges. However, as a woman of STEM she also understands that variables can change, and when you are stuck for hours in a tiny New York elevator with the man who broke your heart, you earn the right to burn that brawny, blond bridge to the ground. Erik can apologize all he wants, but to quote her rebel leader—she’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.

Not even the most sophisticated of Sadie’s superstitious rituals could have predicted such a disastrous reunion. But while she refuses to acknowledge the siren call of Erik’s steely forearms or the way his voice softens when he offers her his sweater, Sadie can’t help but wonder if there might be more layers to her cold-hearted nemesis than meet the eye. Maybe, possibly, even burned bridges can still be crossed….

To read Mara and Hannah’s stories look for the novellas Under One Roof, available now, and Below Zero, coming soon from Berkley!

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I really enjoy the way that these novellas give you a glimpse of what is to come before the story really starts for our main characters. I actually liked this one a lot more than the first one because I liked the characters and how long it took for us to find out why we were supposed to hate Eric Novak.

The only thing that I was not a big fan of in this one is there is no real reason to dislike Eric because it is all a big miscommunication between the two of them. I wanted him to be conniving and sneaky about what he did so that there was a reason to dislike him. I wanted them to have tension between the two of them that went beyond a ha-ha opps we both were thinking different things moment. The build-up for that was all there so I was quite disappointed when we didn’t get that from either of our characters.

I’m also really not into insta-love, lust is one thing like go ahead and have all these girls lust over the MC, I can see that happening but instantly love him without knowing him? I don’t know if that’s just me being Demisexual/Demiromantic thing or if it puts anyone else off as well. It just doesn’t seem realistic that they see this man and are instantly like I love him. I do like that Eric seems to have liked her for quite a while before this moment so that makes sense to me but her reactions don’t.

Characters: In this story, you get to meet Eric and Sadie, plus you get a brief glimpse at Sadie’s friends which you meet more in-depth in the other novellas. I really liked the characters in this novella more than the first one because I think we got to know them separately from hating each other. We got to learn a little bit about Sadie and then a bit about Eric from what others tell Sadie about him.

Writing Style: This novella is told through the perspective of Sadie which made the miscommunication trope even better. I think had we been able to see this story in the third person or even get a glimpse at what Eric was thinking it would have read differently. I also like that this perspective allows you to see Sadie make a fool of herself multiple times which always makes me laugh.

Author Information

From Ali Hazelwood’s website

My favorite thing in the world is to explore traditional romance tropes—and to picture how they’ll play out in academic settings.

Rival scientists falling in love despite their better judgement?

There’s only one cot in the lab?

Fake dating during faculty meeting?

Sign me up!

I’m originally from Italy, lived in Japan and Germany, and eventually moved to the US to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. I recently became a professor, which absolutely terrifies me. Oh, the sheer dread of being entrusted with the care of young minds!

When I’m not at work you can find me binge-watching shows with my feline overlords (and my slightly less feline husband), running, or eating candy.

Oh, and I’m a New York Times Bestselling Author.

I’m represented by the amazing Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin Book Review

Book Description

Vera grows up in a small town, removed and isolated, pressed up against the mountains, cloud-covered and damp year-round. This town, fiercely protective, brutal and unforgiving in its adherence to tradition, faces a singular affliction: some mothers vanish, disappearing into the clouds. It is the exquisite pain and intrinsic beauty of their lives; it sets them apart from people elsewhere and gives them meaning.

Vera, a young girl when her own mother went, is on the cusp of adulthood herself. As her peers begin to marry and become mothers, they speculate about who might be the first to go, each wondering about her own fate. Reveling in their gossip, they witness each other in motherhood, waiting for signs: this one devotes herself to her child too much, this one not enough—that must surely draw the affliction’s gaze. When motherhood comes for Vera, she is faced with the question: will she be able to stay and mother her beloved child, or will she disappear?

Provocative and hypnotic, Alexis Schaitkin’s Elsewhere is at once a spellbinding revelation and a rumination on the mysterious task of motherhood and all the ways in which a woman can lose herself to it; the self-monitoring and judgment, the doubts and unknowns, and the legacy she leaves behind.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I really enjoyed Saint X so I was pleased when Celadon books sent this one to me in the mail. This book is quite a different read from Saint X but it is written just as well. There is so much that this book makes you think about and I found it intriguing even if I am not a mother.

The start of this book which is mainly all of chapter one is very slow as this is building up the world these people live in. You have to stick with that chapter though so that you understand the rest of the book. By the time you start chapter two you are not really invested in the characters of the story but you are invested in this strange place that they inhabit and the affliction that has been taking mothers.

This book reads like a fairytale but it is so much more than that. This book goes into the fears and troubles of motherhood and what i means for different people. I loved getting to see how motherhood changes each of the women in this story and also see how Vera talks about motherhood. I also thought it was interesting how these woman were all hopeful for motherhood but at the same time this was something that they feared.

The last chapter of this book broke my heart and left with with so many questions and no answers. I want to hear what you all think about this ending before I spoil anything. If you’ve read this book please let me know what you think because I want to see other’s opinions and thoughts of this chapter.

Characters: In this book there are several characters that you meet through each of their interactions with our main character, Vera. I really enjoyed each of the people that you get to meet through their interactions with Vera and felt that each person added something to the story.

I really enjoyed how at no point in this book is Vera attached to the people that she meets, its as if she is just passing through life and places without any thought. I do love how connected she is with her daughter and then with the people who remind her of Iris.

Writing Style: This book is written in blah person through the perspective of our main character, Vera. I really enjoyed getting to see everything through Vera’s perspective because as a reader we only know what she knows. As she finds out more about the world outside of her home town so do we because at first we only know the small world she knows.

Something that I don’t like about the way this book is written is how long each of the chapters are. I felt that chapters dragged on and then they were seperated by physical line breaks which did made it easier to read but I felt that each of those breaks should have been another chapter.

Author Information

Alexis Schaitkin is the author of Saint X. Her short stories have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She lives in the Berkshires with her husband and their two children.

Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood Book Review

Book Description

A scientist should never cohabitate with her annoyingly hot nemesis – it leads to combustion.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn….

As an environmental engineer, Mara knows all about the delicate nature of ecosystems. They require balance. And leaving the thermostat alone. And not stealing someone else’s food. And other rules Liam, her detestable big-oil lawyer of a roommate, knows nothing about. Okay, sure, technically she’s the interloper. Liam was already entrenched in his aunt’s house like some glowering grumpy giant when Mara moved in, with his big muscles and kissable mouth just sitting there on the couch tempting respectable scientists to the dark side…but Helena was her mentor and Mara’s not about to move out and give up her inheritance without a fight.

The problem is, living with someone means getting to know them. And the more Mara finds out about Liam, the harder it is to loathe him…and the easier it is to love him.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I was a little hesitant to read this one because it is a novella and I was worried that I would want more of the book. I was also a little worried that this would read too much like The Love Hypothesis for me to enjoy it as a separate story. My library hold came in though sooner than I expected so I had to listen to it and I am glad that I did.

I am so glad that my hesitations were proven wrong and I was able to enjoy the book. While the snarky banter from The Love Hypothesis is in this story, I found that the characters were different and I also thought that their relationship with one another was different.

There is so much to love about this one from the forced proximity, enemies to lovers, witty banter, and more. I just loved the way the story begins and how it builds up throughout to give us the ending that we are waiting for.

Characters: There are two main characters in this book, Liam and Mara, but you also get to know Helena briefly. I loved all of the characters that you get to meet throughout this whole book. There is nothing to not love about any of these characters including Mara and Liam’s friends who you briefly get to learn about.

While you don’t ever get to meet Helena since she passed away before our story really begins I really loved her as a character. I loved the relationship that she had with both Liam and Mara and how you can see through them speaking of her how important they each were to her.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Liam and Mara and how this relationship begins because of Helena. I love how even from the grave she is trying to set them both up with a partner like she has been doing their whole life. I love that they are forced to have some sort of relationship because Mara has to live in that house as she has nowhere else to go. I also love how they become friends before anything happens between the two of them.

Writing Style: I thought it was interesting that this book was published as an audiobook before any other format. I actually really enjoy listening to romance books as audiobooks so I was quite pleased to know that this book was going to first be released as an audiobook. I can’t wait to read it as an e-book to see if the reading experience differs if the format is different.

Author Information

From Ali Hazelwood’s website

My favorite thing in the world is to explore traditional romance tropes—and to picture how they’ll play out in academic settings.

Rival scientists falling in love despite their better judgement?

There’s only one cot in the lab?

Fake dating during faculty meeting?

Sign me up!

I’m originally from Italy, lived in Japan and Germany, and eventually moved to the US to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. I recently became a professor, which absolutely terrifies me. Oh, the sheer dread of being entrusted with the care of young minds!

When I’m not at work you can find me binge-watching shows with my feline overlords (and my slightly less feline husband), running, or eating candy.

Oh, and I’m a New York Times Bestselling Author.

I’m represented by the amazing Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

An Ordinary Wonder by Buki Papillon

Book Description

An Ordinary Wonder is a story of the courage needed to be yourself.

Oto leaves for boarding school with one plan: excel and escape his cruel home. Falling in love with his roommate was certainly not on the agenda, but fear and shame force him to hide his love and true self.

Back home, weighed down by the expectations of their wealthy and powerful family, the love of Oto’s twin sister wavers and, as their world begins to crumble around them, Oto must make drastic choices that will alter the family’s lives for ever.

Richly imagined with art, proverbs and folk tales, this moving and modern novel follows Oto through life at home and at boarding school in Nigeria, through the heartbreak of living as a boy despite their profound belief they are a girl, and through a hunger for freedom that only a new life in the United States can offer.

An Ordinary Wonder is a powerful coming-of-age story that explores complex desires as well as challenges of family, identity, gender and culture, and what it means to feel whole.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I had started reading this book last year but I put it down because I couldn’t really get into it. I tried it on audiobook and on e-book as well. This time I decided to grab the audiobook version of this book and couldn’t stop listening to it. There are so many things that this book touches on yet it does it in such a way that it doesn’t overwhelm you. I also made the mistake of reading reviews before going into the book which kind of painted my expectations of this book.

I can’t speak to the accuracy in a lot of this book and that is the issue I found most people speaking on. I found that most people took issue with the book having many negative things occur in Oto’s life due to them being intersex but I am not sure if this also has to do with the setting of the book. I understand that different cultures have different views on intersex people and the time and setting of this book could have played a role in the reactions of the people in Oto’s life before he goes to International Secondary School (ISS).

This book discusses relationships between siblings, the role of education, gender, sexuality, belonging, culture, folklore, and more. I thought that the way each of these topics was addressed was done in a good manner, and I really liked how it didn’t feel like things were skirted over.

Characters: In this book, you are introduced to a few characters through their interactions with the main character, Oto/Lori. You get to meet Oto’s mother, sister, and some of Oto’s friends at the school that he is staying at.

I loved Oto/Lori throughout the whole book and I really enjoyed them as the narrator. I loved how we get to see them grow into themself and also get to see the change that happens as they interact with others at ISS. I also really loved Derin and the friendship that Oto/Lori has with him. I loved that Derin just accepted Oto as he is and without any question. That was really nice to see especially for teenage boys of that age as the other boys bullied Oto because he is different.

The other relationship that I liked even though the complexities that it caused for Oto/Lori was his relationship with Wura. Wura is Oto’s sister and at first, she is the one person he feels that he can trust. It is as Oto/Lori learns more about being intersex and starts exploring femininity that his relationship with Wura falters. I thought it was interesting to see this happen because it was not far from the truth, this is what several queer people experience in their familial relationships.

Writing Style: This book goes back and forth between Now and Before, focusing primarily on Oto’s teenage years. In the before years we get to see Oto’s life before he moved to ISS (International Secondary School) and it is in those years that you see how Oto’s mother abused him emotionally and physically due to him being intersex and the views of the village they live in. In the Now section we get to see Oto’s life at ISS as he navigates trying to blend in with the boys but feeling more like a girl and still feeling like something is wrong with him. It is in the now section that Oto/Lori starts learns about being intersex in a neutral way and learns more about himself.

Author Information

Buki Papillon: Writer, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Massage Therapist, Bead Artist. She/her.* TWITTER: https://twitter.com/bukipapillon *

Buki Papillon was born in Nigeria, lived in the UK where she studied law at the University of Hull and is now settled in the US, where she has learned to find inspiration in the long winters. She has in the past been a travel adviser, events host, and chef.

Her debut novel, An Ordinary Wonder, was published by Pegasus Books in the US on September 7, 2021, and by Dialogue Books (Little, Brown UK) in March 2021. Her work has been published in Post Road Magazine and The Del Sol Review.

She graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. She has received fellowships to The Key West Literary Seminars and Vermont Studio Center. She was awarded an Archie D. And Bertha. H. Walker Foundation Scholarship by the Fine Arts Work Center, and is an alumna of the VONA Voices Workshops.

In her downtime she loves taking long rambles in nature, making jewelry, cooking up a storm, and, of course, epic levels of reading.

Her Twitter account is @bukipapillon. Her website is http://bukipapillon.com.