The Dead Romantics: A Rom Com About Death?!

Review: The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

CW: death, grief, death of a parent, funeral imagery, funeral home

I have been pretty open with my experience with grief with all of you. Almost five years ago, I lost my mom very suddenly and unexpectedly. I’ve been in therapy ever since and am currently going through trauma therapy (EMDR) for right now. So, when I was asked to read this book and review it for a blog tour, I was extremely hesitant. The synopsis talks about a funeral parlor and the title literally has the word “Dead” in it. But it was advertised as a rom com so I was curious enough to give it a chance, and I am so glad I did! The Dead Romantics published on Tuesday June 28, 2022 from Berkley Romance and is available now!

Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.

When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.

For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.

Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is. Romance is most certainly dead . . . but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.

This book was such a surprise and delight! It kept me guessing throughout the story. The way that the characters handled death and grief was refreshing and it somehow didn’t make the novel feel as heavy as I anticipated. There were unexpected twists and turns, and a whole lot of heart. I didn’t find the book to be triggering for me, but please be sure to check the content warnings above before you read this one, just in case! This book reminded me of the important of celebrating life while we can, and I am grateful that I took a chance on reading it!

              Click HERE to order The Dead Romantics from a Seat at the Table Books in Elk Grove, CA! It is available everywhere now!

Island Time: Stranded

Review: Island Time by Georgia Clark

Summer is the perfect time to sit poolside or on the beach with an adorable romcom or beach read. Georgia Clark delivered yet another amazing book this year! I absolutely loved It Had to Be You that she released in 2021. I recommended it to everyone asking for recommendations; you can read my review of It Had to Be You HERE! So the moment I heard that she was dropping another romance this year, I immediately added it to my TBR! Island Time published on Tuesday June 14, 2022 from Atria Books and is available now!

“The Kellys are messy, loud, loving Australians. The Lees are sophisticated, aloof, buttoned-up Americans. They have nothing in common…except for the fact that their daughters are married. When a nearby volcano erupts during their short vacation to a remote tropical island off the coast of Queensland, the two families find themselves stranded together for six weeks.

With only two island employees making up the rest of their party, everyone is forced to question what—or who—they really want. Island Time is a sumptuous summer read that dives deep into queer romance, family secrets, ambition, parenthood, and a bird-chasing bromance. This sexy, sun-soaked paradise of white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush rainforest will show you it’s never too late to change your destiny.”

Just like her previous novel, Island Time had a full ensemble of characters with multiple POVs. Many times I steer away from books with many main characters, but Georgia is somehow able to so clearly write each of her characters, that it makes it easy to keep up with everyone. This was a fantastic setting and cast of characters. I did love It Had to Be You more than Island Time, but fans of Georgia Clark will love its charm just as much. I loved learning more about Australian history! Readers with a travel bug will not want to miss this one!

Click HERE to order Island Time from a Seat at the Table Books in Elk Grove, CA! It is available everywhere now!

Meant to Be Mine: Do You Believe in Fate?

Review: Meant to Be Mine by Hannah Orenstein

What if you knew the exact date you are destined to meet the love of your life? Would you want to know? The main character of Hannah Orenstein’s newest novel, Meant to Be Mine, knows when she is destined to meet hers. But is it really all it’s cracked up to be? I was so excited to see that Hannah Orenstein has a new book coming out because I absolutely loved her novel Head Over Heels that came out in 2020. You can read my full review here! Hannah’s newest book has the same addictive writing style; you won’t be able to put this down! Meant to Be Mine publishes on Tuesday June 7, 2022 from Atria Books!

What if you knew exactly when you’d meet the love of your life? Edie Meyer knows. When her Grandma Gloria was a young woman, she had a vision of the exact day she would meet her soul mate—and then Grandpa Ray showed up.

Since then, Gloria has accurately predicted the day every single member of the family has met their match. Edie’s day arrives on June 24, 2022, when she’s twenty-nine years old. She has been waiting for it half her life. That morning, she boards an airplane to her twin sister’s surprise engagement, and when a handsome musician sits beside her, she knows it’s meant to be.

But fate comes with more complications than Edie expected and she can’t fight the nagging suspicion that her perfect guy doesn’t have perfect timing. After a tragedy and a shocking revelation rock Edie’s carefully constructed world, she’s forced to consider whether love chooses us, as simple as destiny, or if we choose it ourselves.

This was definitely not your run of the mill romance novel. It turned many of the conventions we’ve grown to expect from the genre on their heads. While I was able to predict a couple things, I didn’t know how or when they were likely to happen, which made this a really enjoyable read. The premise of the book does require the reader to suspend reality for a bit, but I didn’t feel that it took away from how lovely this book is! I’m excited to read whatever Hannah Orenstein writes next. Romance readers will definitely want to pick this one up this summer!

              Click HERE to pre-order Meant to Be Mine from a Seat at the Table Books in Elk Grove, CA! It will be available everywhere on Tuesday June 7th!

Set On You: Self-Acceptance

Review: Set on You by Amy Lea

If you’ve been around for a while, you know that a novel about a plus size woman meeting a guy at the gym who happens to be a firefighter might hit a little too close to home for me, and probably not in a good way. BUT!!! You guys, I am obsessed with Amy Lea’s romance, Set on You! I’ve never read a romance novel so quickly, and I completely forgot about the connection to my past relationship while reading it. Spoiler alert: this one has a happy ending!  You need to pre-order Set on You by Amy Lea ASAP! Set On You publishes on Tuesday May 10, 2022 from Berkeley Romance! BONUS: Scroll down after the review for an exclusive excerpt from the novel!

Curvy fitness influencer Crystal Chen built her career shattering gym stereotypes and mostly ignoring the trolls. After her recent breakup, she has little stamina left for men, instead finding solace in the gym – her place of power and positivity.

Enter firefighter Scott Ritchie, the smug new gym patron who routinely steals her favorite squat rack. Sparks fly as these ultra-competitive foes battle for gym domination. But after a series of escalating jabs, the last thing they expect is to run into each other at their grandparents’ engagement party.

In the lead up to their grandparents’ wedding, Crystal discovers there’s a soft heart under Scott’s muscled exterior. Bonding over family, fitness, and cheesy pick-up lines, she just might have found her swolemate. But when a photo of them goes viral, savage internet trolls put their budding relationship to the ultimate test of strength.

I could not put this book down. The romance was great, but the best part was Crystal navigating her self-acceptance journey and relationship with her family. The amazing romance with Scott was just the cherry on top! This book has made Amy Lea an auto-buy author for me and I cannot wait to see what she writes next!

Click HERE to pre-order Set on You from a Seat at the Table Books in Elk Grove, CA! It will be available everywhere on Tuesday May 10th!

And now an exclusive excerpt from Set on You by Amy Lea from Berkley Publishing!

You can learn a lot about a person after going through the entirety of IKEA with them. It’s a true test of one’s patience, spatial awareness, level of maturity, and self-discipline. Particularly in the final section, where they so rudely tempt you with cinnamon rolls and Daim chocolate caramel candies. Why are you trying to break me, IKEA?

As it turns out, Scott has the patience of a saint. We’re trapped behind a family with three rambunctious children, all under approximately seven years old. They’re screeching because their parents shunned their demands for soft-serve ice cream cones. I wince, digging my fingernails into my palms as the youngest one lets out an ear-splitting howl, all while Scott whistles cheerfully beside me, as if we’re taking a leisurely stroll through a lush, tranquil meadow on a breezy, sunny day. His stride is confident, unhurried, and so entirely sexy, I could watch hours of CCTV footage of him doing nothing but walking.

He also appears to have an excellent sense of direction. He’s whizzing through the showroom like a total pro, undeterred by distractions. The last time I was here, on a solo mission for a mere picture frame, I ended up hopelessly disoriented, despite the large arrows on the floor. Then again, Scott is a career fireman. I assume spatial orientation while running into unfamiliar burning buildings is a prerequisite for the job.

Despite this, Scott is immature in the mattress section. And so am I. One by one, we test them, assessing the level of bounce, support, and overall plushness.

“I need this bed,” he says, eyes closed, as we lay side by side on a marshmallow-like queen-size mattress.

When I turn toward him, the mattress dips more than expected, causing me to inadvertently roll into his shoulder. My stomach flutters at the mere warmth of his body. Hello, bliss.

He gives me a flirty side-eye. “Trying to cuddle with me?”

“No.” I abruptly roll away to put the appropriate amount of space between us again. I overcompensate and nearly tumble off the mattress entirely. Talk about being on the edge of glory.

“I think you were.”

“I think you just wish I were.” Truthfully, his chest looks cozy and inviting. All I want to do is nuzzle into his neck. But I manage to pull myself back to reality and maintain my restraint, despite how barren, cold, and lonely it is in my own personal space bubble.

“I never knew IKEA was such a good time,” he says, changing the subject.

I give him a warning look. “It’s all fun and games until you hit the warehouse. Then it’s all-out anarchy.”

He laughs and sits upright, holding his hand out for me. “Alright, let’s go pick a dresser.” Without thinking, I take his hand. But the moment our fingers touch, a jolt of electricity sends a shock wave rolling down my spine.

Hand locked firmly around mine, he carries on down the aisle, perma-smiling.

Excerpted from Set on You by Amy Lea Copyright © 2022 by Amy Lea. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Chef’s Kiss: Deliciously Romantic

Review: Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander

I can’t be the only one that has found themselves watching cooking shows for longer than they intended to. There is just something so transfixing about watching professionals cook and bake on tv. If you are like me, or just a foodie in general, you are going to want to pick up this adorable queer romcom by TJ Alexander! Chef’s Kiss publishes on Tuesday May 3, 2022 from Atria Books!

Simone Larkspur is a perfectionist pastry expert with a dream job at The Discerning Chef, a venerable cookbook publisher in New York City. All she wants to do is create the perfect loaf of sourdough and develop recipes, but when The Discerning Chef decides to bring their brand into the 21st century by pivoting to video, Simone is thrust into the spotlight and finds herself failing at something for the first time in her life.

To make matters worse, Simone has to deal with Ray Lyton, the new test kitchen manager, whose obnoxious cheer and outgoing personality are like oil to Simone’s water. When Ray accidentally becomes a viral YouTube sensation with a series of homebrewing videos, their eccentric editor in chief forces Simone to work alongside the chipper upstart or else risk her beloved job. But the more they work together, the more Simone realizes her heart may be softening like butter for Ray.

Things get even more complicated when Ray comes out at work as nonbinary to mixed reactions—and Simone must choose between the career she fought so hard for and the person who just might take the cake (and her heart).

This novel was absolutely amazing from start to finish. I believe that this is the first romcom I have ever read with a nonbinary love interest. TJ Alexander has such a way with words and they made the characters feel so real and lovely. I loved that the narrative structure deviated a bit from the traditional major plot points that we have grown to expect from most romcoms. I cannot wait to see what TJ Alexander writes next!

              Click HERE to pre-order Chef’s Kiss from a Seat at the Table Books in Elk Grove, CA! It will be available everywhere on Tuesday May 3rd!

To Marry and to Meddle: How to Cure Your Bridgerton Hangover

Review: To Marry and to Meddle by Martha Waters

Many of us have been fully captivated by the Netflix/Shondaland regency romance phenomenon that is Bridgerton. Julia Quinn’s series has taken the world by storm in its television adaptation. With the recent release of season 2, our love for the series has been reignited! If you’re like me, you binge-watched it within the first few days of the episodes dropping and are dying for more! Well, while we wait for Shonda Rhimes and her insanely talented team to whip up season 3, we need some more swoon-worthy regency romance to hold us over.

Enter Martha Waters with The Regency Vows series, published by Atria Books! I read the first novel To Have and to Hoax in 2020 and enjoyed it. Then last year, the second novel To Love and to Loathe was released, which I absolutely adored! And here we are, celebrating the publishing of book 3, To Marry and to Meddle! Ever since book one, I have been dying to get Emily and Julian’s story and it is finally here! To Marry and to Meddle publishes on Tuesday April 5, 2022 from Atria Books!

“Lady Emily Turner has been a debutante for six seasons now and should have long settled into a suitable marriage. However, due to her father’s large debts, her only suitor is the persistent and odious owner of her father’s favorite gambling house. Meanwhile, Lord Julian Belfry, the second son of a marquess, has scandalized society as an actor and owner of a theater—the kind of establishment where men take their mistresses, but not their wives. When their lives intersect at a house party, Lord Julian hatches a plan to benefit them both.

With a marriage of convenience, Emily will use her society connections to promote the theater to a more respectable clientele and Julian will take her out from under the shadows of her father’s unsavory associates. But they soon realize they have very different plans for their marriage—Julian wants Emily to remain a society wife, while Emily discovers an interest in the theater. But when a fleeing actress, murderous kitten, and meddlesome friends enter the fray, Emily and Julian will have to confront the fact that their marriage of convenience comes with rather inconvenient feelings.”

This was such a sweet, joyful, and funny novel! Book one was funny, book two was extra steamy, and book three was sweet and steamy! I love musical theatre so much, so I loved the elements of The Belfry theater. We got to see our favorite characters from the first two books and some fun new characters too! My favorite aspect of this book was watching Emily learn to stand up for herself.

I’ve read all three books in The Regency Vows series now and To Marry and to Meddle is one of my favorites. I’m so glad we got Emily and Julian’s story! This is a fantastic series and I highly recommend it!            

Click HERE to pre-order To Marry and to Meddle from a Seat at the Table Books in Elk Grove, CA! It will be available everywhere on Tuesday April 5th!

Read my review of Book One in the series, To Have and to Hoax HERE!

Read my review of Book Two in the series, To Love and to Loathe HERE!

The War of Two Queens – Blog Tour

Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for.

The War of Two Queens, the stunning continuation in the Blood and Ash series from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout is available now!

War is only the beginning…

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes book four in her Blood and Ash series.

From the desperation of golden crowns…

Casteel Da’Neer knows all too well that very few are as cunning or vicious as the Blood Queen, but no one, not even him, could’ve prepared for the staggering revelations. The magnitude of what the Blood Queen has done is almost unthinkable.

And born of mortal flesh…

Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for. With the strength of the Primal of Life’s guards behind her, and the support of the wolven, Poppy must convince the Atlantian generals to make war her way—because there can be no retreat this time. Not if she has any hope of building a future where both kingdoms can reside in peace.

A great primal power rises…

Together, Poppy and Casteel must embrace traditions old and new to safeguard those they hold dear—to protect those who cannot defend themselves. But war is only the beginning. Ancient primal powers have already stirred, revealing the horror of what began eons ago. To end what the Blood Queen has begun, Poppy might have to become what she has been prophesied to be—what she fears the most.

As the Harbinger of Death and Destruction.

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The click and drag of claws drew closer as the weak flame above the lone candle sputtered and  then went out, pitching the cell into darkness.

A thicker mass of shadows appeared in the open archway—a misshapen form on its hands  and knees. It halted, sniffing as loudly as a godsdamn barrat, scenting blood. My blood.

The smooth bands of shadowstone tightened around my throat and ankles as I shifted,  bracing myself. The damn stone was unbreakable, but it did come in handy. A low-pitched wail came from the creature.

“Mother—” The thing exploded out of the archway, scurrying forward, its keening moan  becoming an ear-piercing screech. “—fucker.”

I waited until its stench of decay reached me and then pressed my back against the wall,  lifting my legs. The length of the chain between my ankles was only about half a foot, and the  shackles wouldn’t give an inch, but it was enough. Planting my bare feet into the creature’s  shoulders, I got a good, most unfortunate look at the thing as its foul breath blasted me in the  face.

Man, the Craven was not a fresh one.

Patches of gray flesh clung to its hairless skull, and half of its nose was gone. One entire  cheekbone was exposed, eyes burning like hot coals. Lips torn and mangled— The Craven twisted its head down, sinking its fangs into my calf. Its teeth tore through the  breeches and into flesh and muscle. Air hissed between my gritted teeth as fiery pain burned its way up my leg.

Worth it.

The pain was more than worth it.

I would spend an eternity taking these bites if that meant she was safe. That it wasn’t her in  this cell. That she wasn’t the one in pain.

Shaking the Craven free, I dragged the short chain over the thing’s neck as I crossed my feet. I twisted at the waist, pulling the dull bone chain tight across its throat, ending the Craven’s  screams. The shackle clamped down on my throat as I kept turning, cutting off my air as the  chain dug into the Craven’s neck. Its arms flailed on the floor as I jerked my legs in the opposite  direction, snapping the creature’s spine. The spasming became more of a twitching as I hauled it  within reach of my bound hands. The chain between my wrists, connected to the shackle at my  throat, was much shorter—but long enough.

I grasped the Craven’s cold, clammy jowls and brought its head down hard, slamming it  against the stone floor by my knees. Flesh gave way, spraying rotting blood over my stomach

and chest. Bone split open with a wet-sounding crack. The Craven went limp. I knew it wouldn’t  stay down, but it bought me some time.

Lungs burning, I unwound the chain and kicked the creature away from me. It landed by the  archway in a tangled mess of limbs as I relaxed my muscles. The band around my neck was slow  to loosen, eventually allowing air into my burning lungs.

I stared at the Craven’s body. At any other time, I would’ve kicked the bastard into the hall  like usual, but I was weakening.

I was losing too much blood.


Not a good sign.

Breathing heavily, I looked down. Just below the shadowstone bands, shallow slices ran up  the insides of my arms, past both elbows and over the veins. I counted them. Again. Just to be  sure.


Thirteen days had passed since the first time the Handmaidens swarmed this cell, dressed in  black and as quiet as a tomb. They came once a day to cut into my flesh, siphoning my blood as  if I were a damn barrel of fine wine.

A tight, savage smile twisted my mouth. I’d managed to take out three of them in the  beginning. Ripped their throats out when they got too close, which was why they’d shortened the  chain between my wrists. Only one of them actually stayed dead, though. The damn throats of  the other two had stitched themselves closed within minutes—impressive and also infuriating to  witness.

Learned something valuable, though.

Not all of the Blood Queen’s Handmaidens were Revenants.

I wasn’t sure how I could use that information yet, but I guessed they were using my blood  to make brand-spanking-new Revs. Or using it as a dessert for the lucky.

Tipping back my head against the wall, I tried not to breathe too deeply. If the stench of the  downed Craven didn’t choke me, the damn shadowstone around my throat would. I closed my eyes. There had been more days before the Handmaidens showed the first time.  How many? I wasn’t exactly sure. Two days? A week? Or—?

I stopped myself there. Shut it the fuck down.

I couldn’t go down that road. I wouldn’t. I’d done that the last time, trying to clock the days  and weeks until there came a point when time simply ceased to move. Hours became days.  Weeks became years. And my mind became as rotten as the blood seeping from the Craven’s ruined head.

But things were different in the here and now.

The cell was larger, with no barred entrance. Not that there needed to be one with the  shadowstone and the chains. They were a mix of iron and deity bone, connected to a hook in the  wall and then to a pulley system to lengthen or shorten them. I could sit up and move a little, but  that was about it. However, the cell was windowless like before, and the dank, musty smell told  me they once again held me underground. The freely roaming Craven were also a new addition.

My eyes opened to thin slits. The fuck by the archway had to be the sixth or seventh one that  had found its way into the cell, drawn by the scent of blood. Their appearance made me think  there was one hell of a Craven problem aboveground.

I’d heard of Craven attacks inside the Rise surrounding Carsodonia before. Something the  Blood Crown blamed on Atlantia and angry gods. I’d always assumed it was due to an Ascended

getting greedy and leaving mortals they’d fed on to turn. Now, I was beginning to think the  Craven were possibly being kept down here. Wherever here was. And if that were the case, and  they could get out and get aboveground, so could I.

If only I could get these damn chains to loosen. I’d spent an ungodly amount of time pulling on the hook. In all those attempts, it may have slipped a half-inch from the wall—if that. But that wasn’t the only thing different about this time. Other than the Craven, I’d only seen  the Handmaidens. I didn’t know what to think about that. I’d figured it’d be like the last time.  Too-frequent visits from the Blood Crown and their cronies, where they spent their time taunting  and inflicting pain, feeding, and doing whatever they wanted.

Of course, my last go-around with this captivity bullshit hadn’t started that way. The Blood  Queen had tried to open my eyes first, coax me to her side. Turn me against my family and my  kingdom. When that hadn’t worked, the real fun had begun.

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About Jennifer L. Armentrout

#1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. She spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, hanging out with her husband and her Border Jack Apollo. In early 2015, Jennifer was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a group of rare genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and death of cells in the retina, eventually resulting in loss of vision, among other complications.  Due to this diagnosis, educating people on the varying degrees of blindness has become of passion of hers, right alongside writing, which she plans to do as long as she can.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Tor, HarperCollins Avon and William Morrow, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her Wicked Series has been optioned by PassionFlix. Jennifer has won numerous awards, including the 2013 Reviewers Choice Award for Wait for You, the 2015 Editor’s Pick for Fall With Me, and the 2014/2015 Moerser-Jugendbuch- Jury award for Obsidian. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA. Her adult romantic suspense novel TILL DEATH was an Amazon Editor’s Pick and iBook Book of the Month. Her young adult contemporary THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER is a 2017 RITA Award Winner in Young Adult Fiction. She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

She is the owner of ApollyCon and The Origin Event, the successful annual events that features over a hundred bestselling authors in Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult Fiction, panels, parties, and more.

Connect with Jennifer L. Armentrout

Instagram: @jennifer_l_armentrout
Twitter: @JLArmentroutnews
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Girls Can Kiss Now: What is Our Relationship with Pop Culture?

Review: Girls Can Kiss Now by Jill Gutowitz

As most millennials raised in the 90s and early 00s, I was fascinated by celebrity culture. We grew up in an age where celebrities’ every move was documented and broadcasted to the world, for better or for worse. We know enough now to understand that this has had a big effect on our culture and self-esteem. When the people being praised on tv and online don’t look like you or carry the same identities that you do, it can affect the way that you view yourself and how you fit into the world. In a collection of essays called Girls Can Kiss Now, writer Jill Gutowitz examines celebrity and pop culture through the lens of her own life and how it impacted the way she saw herself. Girls Can Kiss Now publishes on Tuesday March 8, 2022 from Atria Books!

“Jill Gutowitz’s life—for better and worse—has always been on a collision course with pop culture. There’s the time the FBI showed up at her door because of something she tweeted about Game of Thrones. The pop songs that have been the soundtrack to the worst moments of her life. And of course, the pivotal day when Orange Is the New Black hit the airwaves and broke down the door to Jill’s own sexuality. In these honest examinations of identity, desire, and self-worth, Jill explores perhaps the most monumental cultural shift of our lifetimes: the mainstreaming of lesbian culture. Dusting off her own personal traumas and artifacts of her not-so-distant youth she examines how pop culture acts as a fun house mirror reflecting and refracting our values—always teaching, distracting, disappointing, and revealing us.

Girls Can Kiss Now is a fresh and intoxicating blend of personal stories, sharp observations, and laugh-out-loud humor. This timely collection of essays helps us make sense of our collective pop-culture past even as it points the way toward a joyous, uproarious, near—and very queer—future.

I spent most of my reading experience with Girls Can Kiss Now laughing out loud. I related to so much of Jill’s experience growing up as a young child in the 90s and 00s. This felt far more personal than other non-fiction titles and essay collections. It felt like a conversation with the author, and I absolutely loved her writing style. I also teared up as Jill opened up about some difficult moments in her past that moved me and made me examine my own life and experiences, particularly with past relationships and what I accepted as normal.

This book was brought to my attention by one of my best friends, Mariah, who is a fan of Jill Gutowitz and I am so happy she helped me discover it! I cannot recommend this enough. I learned, laughed, and cried throughout the book and found myself wishing it were longer! Do yourself a favor and pick this up when it drops this Tuesday!

Click HERE to pre-order Girls Can Kiss Now from a Seat at the Table Books in Elk Grove, CA! It will be available everywhere on Tuesday March 8th!

The Charm Offensive: Finding Happily Ever After

Review: The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

Reality dating tv shows have just never really been my jam. So many of my friends and sorority sisters look forward to watching The Bachelor or the Bachelorette every Monday night, but I just never really got the appeal, to be honest. So, when I heard about the premise of The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun, I’ll admit that I was skeptical. But it turned out to be my favorite book that I read in the month of August! And that is high praise, because I managed to read a total of 15 books in August, with five of them being 5 star reads for me! So, thank you to my friends at Atria Books for asking me to be a part of the blog tour as we celebrate the release of The Charm Offensive this Tuesday September 7th! I know you guys are going to fall in love with this one!

“Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So, it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.”

The Charm Offensive, Alison Cochrun (Atria Books)

This is hands down one of the best romances that I’ve read this year! I love everything about this novel. I love how much asexual representation was shown in the novel, and even learned about the different forms that asexuality can take.

What struck me most was the focus on mental health and neurodiversity. The characters felt real and I connected to them so quickly. Very often, we see mental health discussed in novels as almost an afterthought. But in The Charm Offensive, we really got to see up close how Charlie and Dev navigate the world and how their mental health issues affect their relationships with others, both in romantic and platonic relationships.

This book was so thoughtfully written with plenty of heart and humor. I cannot wait to see what Alison Cochrun writes next!

Click HERE to pre-order The Charm Offensive from a Seat at the Table Books in Elk Grove, CA! It will be available everywhere on Tuesday September 7th!

W. Bruce Cameron: Author Interview & Mini Reviews

In my first ever author interview, W. Bruce Cameron (#1 New York Times bestselling author) and I discuss his journey as an author and his bestselling books such as A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Courage, and his Puppy Tales series! Bruce has two new books out this year that I’ve already had the privilege of reading. Thank you to my friends at Forge and Starscape Books for my gifted copies in exchange for an honest review!

Head to the end of the interview for my mini reviews of A Dog’s Courage and Cooper’s Story: A Puppy Tale, both by W. Bruce Cameron and both available now! Without further ado, here is my interview with W. Bruce Cameron with some help from my godchildren (some of his biggest fans!) Thank you so much to Bruce for taking the time to answer our questions!

Image from Goodreads

How did you get your start as an author?

I literally can’t remember a time when I did not want to be an author. I assume I began writing my first novel when I was still in the womb. To me, there was nothing more exciting than being an author. I suppose I pictured tickertape parades and being featured as a guest on The Tonight Show on a regular basis. It was only in later life that I discovered that mainstream society holds an author in about the same amount of regard as it has for “professional sun-tanner.” By then, it was too late: my ambitions were focused and intense and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

A long time ago, literally before the invention of the World Wide Web, I decided to start writing what I called The Cameron Column as an email humor column. The idea I had was that I would garner so many subscribers that eventually I would be able to convince a publisher to print one of my books. It was such a stupid idea it worked. I eventually generated more than 50,000 subscribers, and as result was given a job writing humor columns for the Rocky Mountain News. Even though my columns were so bad the newspaper folded, I was able to secure a publisher for a book-length version of my most popular essay: 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter. That started my career of writing humor books.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Understand that to write about different worlds you really need to live in them somehow. It is certainly possible to write a Western novel that takes place in the year 1850, even though you can’t go back in time to truly experience what life was like. But you can visit ghost towns, you can spend nights in Colorado, and you can do other things to broaden your understanding of the era. You can research, you can watch movies, you can drink in everything until the world seems as real to you as the one in which you are living.

If you’re young, and your parents are not willing to let a third grader take the car and drive around the western United States for a couple of years, you might rather turn your attention to a world you know. It may be difficult to believe, but most of us adults are no longer in third grade. If you write about third grade, write about what it is like to you right now to be a third grader. You will surprise us with things that we have long forgotten, and experiences that are totally new to us because when we were in third grade, things hadn’t been invented, like the Internet, or water. Whatever your age, your place in life is a wonderful laboratory for you to give thought to what is happening that is unique and interesting and that would make a good story.

My family loved the tv show 8 Simple Rules, based on your column and book 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. What was it like to see your work be adapted for tv for such a large audience?

8 Simple Rules was loosely based on my own life. Watching episodes being made was like watching a troupe of actors doing an artistic interpretation of my own family situation. Of course, the real children were not happy with their TV versions, but that’s what they get for being such difficult teenagers; I was able to start a career based on them.

Most of your books are written with the dog being the narrator. How do you imagine how a story is told from a dog’s perspective, and how is it different from a human’s?

Dogs are much more accepting of human schemes and plans than humans are. Imagine how you would feel if all of a sudden one day a family member picked you up and carried you to the bathtub and scrubbed you? To a dog, a bath is just something to be endured. I also believe dogs are always optimistic that everything will turn out to be even better than it already is. Humans usually are far more pessimistic about the future. We’d all be happier if we were more like dogs.

The last four questions are from my godchildren Gabriella, Aubrey, Destiny, and Anthony, who are huge fans of your A Dog’s Purpose Puppy Tales series and the movie A Dog’s Purpose!

What inspired you to write your Puppy Tales series and base it off of the perspective of different dogs?

Children of all ages were drawn to my dog books – A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey in particular. However, those weren’t really written to be read by young children and there are a lot of adult themes woven into them. I had parents and teachers complain to me that I had come so close to writing novels for children but then screwed it up with all my adult conflicts. I decided, therefore, that I should set out to make books that are more accessible to children. With my Lily to the Rescue series, I now pretty much cover all grades of schoolchildren who are ready to read.

So far, what is your personal favorite book that you have written in the Puppy Tales series? Why?

Honestly, it has to be Cooper’s Story, the tale of a dog who is recruited to be a service animal despite the fact that he thinks he has a life figured out: it’s supposed to be about having fun every day. He struggles with the concept of becoming a working dog, but when it clicks for him, it’s because of his love for his boy, Burke. I also love that my editors gave me permission to put more human drama and conflict into Cooper’s Story that might be true of some of my other books.

How did you react to seeing your books play out on screen in the movies?

I was lucky enough that my writing partner (my wife, Cathryn Michon) and I were screenwriters on all three of my movie projects (so far). So we not only were able to witness the process, we were fully involved and engaged in making the films.

Reading a book is necessarily a solitary act. Even if a librarian is reading the book to a group of children, each child is forming the images mentally and has an individual take on every scene and character. A movie, though, can be a group event where everyone sees and hears exactly the same thing at exactly the same time. It is so much fun to picture grandparents, grandchildren, parents and aunts and uncles all together watching our movies and experiencing the story together.

Do you have any dogs? And what are their breeds and names?

I have cohabitated with a whole bunch of different kinds of animals, but currently I’m down to just a single dog. His name is Tucker and he’s 24 pounds of scruff. He is the only dog I have ever met who truly never wants to go for a walk. He’s fine with me going for a walk, but when I get out that leash, he regards me with utter disdain. He gives me a look like, “You go pee on a few bushes and come back and tell me how it went.”

We rescued Tucker when he was around eight weeks old. At the time, we lived in a high-rise apartment. Housebreaking a dog under such circumstances requires a keen sense of anticipation. You have to know he needs to go before he does. Very often, if I left it a little too late, I would wind up with a soaked T-shirt and a dog with a smugly amused expression on his face.

Mini Reviews

A Dog’s Courage by W. Bruce Cameron (Available Now from Forge Books)

“Bella was once a lost dog, but now she lives happily with her people, Lucas and Olivia, only occasionally recalling the hardships in her past. Then a weekend camping trip turns into a harrowing struggle for survival when the Rocky Mountains are engulfed by the biggest wildfire in American history. The raging inferno separates Bella from her people and she is lost once more.

Alone in the wilderness, Bella unexpectedly finds herself responsible for the safety of two defenseless mountain lion cubs. Now she’s torn between two equally urgent goals. More than anything, she wants to find her way home to Lucas and Olivia, but not if it means abandoning her new family to danger. And danger abounds, from predators hunting them to the flames threatening at every turn.

Can Bella ever get back to where she truly belongs?”

This was such a surprising read for me! This is the first book I’ve ever read of Bruce’s and I see why they make such great movies as well! I felt like I could see the whole thing playing out! It was stressful at times but I loved getting a peek at a disaster like this through the eyes of a beloved pet like Bella.

Cooper’s Story: A Puppy Tale by W. Bruce Cameron (Available Now from Starscape Books)

“When Cooper — a Malamute-Great Dane puppy — is taken to an adoption fair, he finds the perfect forever home with a boy named Burke. Soon Cooper discovers his very important purpose: to help Burke by pulling his wheelchair, fetching things for him, and assisting him in and out of his chair.”

My godchildren are all huge fans of Bruce’s A Puppy Tale books! I’ve gifted them several for birthdays or Christmas over the years, so I scored some major cool points with them for the interview and reading some of their favorite books! I see why these are such great books for kids. Cooper’s story, in particular, presented wonderful lessons. This is definitely one you’ll want to pick up for the young readers in your life!

You can order A Dog’s Courage HERE and Cooper’s Story HERE from my friends at Bookshop Santa Cruz!