Bingo Love by Tee Franklin

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“I’ve hidden my love for a woman for fifty years”

Wow, I loved this second chance romance so much. It was sweet, and heartwarming, but so real, and so heartbreaking. I laughed, I cried, I wanted more. Seriously, I’m so dang happy that I picked this up.

This story is told in flashbacks from present day to 1963, where we see two young girls discovering their sexuality. Hazel is at the bingo hall when she lays eyes on the new girl, Mari, for the very first time. Both come from strict and religious homes, but Mari’s homelife is far less supportive. And because of the 60s being a product of its time, they are never allowed to be together. That is, until they meet back up at a bingo hall, fifty years later.

“Since when is it a sin to be in love?”

But both Hazel and Mari have families and are leading lives where people depend on them. But neither is truly happy, or at least they know that they could be happier, if they were willing to take a risk. This story really is about how life is short, but no matter how short it is it will always be worth listening to your heart and trying to live the life that you want to live.

I do want to touch on a few other things that I truly loved about this graphic novel. First this is ownvoices, Tee Franklin is black and queer! Next, Hazel says the word pan on page! Hazel is also plus-sized! And I really loved the normalization of talking to a psychiatrist! This story just had so much good in it, and it truly touched me so very much.

Overall, this was just exactly what I wanted. It was equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking, and just made me really appreciate the life I am able to live in 2019. Not saying that 2019 is perfect, but it’s better than the 60s and easier to surround myself with people who love and support me. I completely recommend this graphic novel with my whole heart. The art is perfect, the story is awe-inspiring, and the characters are truly unforgettable.

Oh, and this panel? Added five years to my life:

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Content and trigger warnings for homophobia, grey area cheating, and talk of illness/loss of a loved one.

❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

 

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy (Reluctant Royals, #2.5) by Alyssa Cole

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#1.) A Princess in Theory ★★★★
#2.) A Duke by Default ★★★★

“Out of all the train cars in all the world you had to walk into mine.”

Oh my word, this was glorious. Alyssa Cole just keeps proving, over and over, that she is the queen of romance, and that the Reluctant Royals series is such a bright shining light for the romance genre. And I truly and utterly fell completely in love with Likotsi and Fabiola, and this is one of my new favorite f/f stories ever written.

Likotsi is the personal assistant to Prince Thesolo, who we get to know very well in A Princess in Theory! She is also Black, a lesbian, and (in my opinion) a sexual icon. Seriously, I haven’t swooned this hard over a character in a long time. But Likotsi finally has some free time and is planning on spending some time exploring the city, but technical difficulties make her train break down. But maybe fate is at play a little bit, when her ex spots her through the train window.

Fabiola is an up and coming jewelry maker, who is social media famous, bisexual, and is also Haitian and from a family of immigrants, who are having problems with deportation. This book is such a sexy second chance romance, but it really shines a spotlight on very real things that are going on here in America and weaves these important discussions into this beautiful story seamlessly.

But Likotsi and Fabiola decide to get some lunch together, which kind of turns into them spending the day together. And the chapters begin to alternate from the present, to them meeting on a Tinder-like app, and then to why they eventually called it quits eight months ago. And I was so damn enthralled in all the timelines. And the chemistry between these two? Out of this damn world.

Also, I just wanted to also say that this is ownvoices for the Black representation but also the queer representation! And if you all have time, you should check out this article from The Mary Sue because it is magnificent.

Overall, I hope Alyssa Cole never stops writing this series. I will honestly read ninety-nine more installments, with the biggest smile on my face. This series is the stuff that OTPs are made of and Once Ghosted, Twice Shy proves that the side characters are even equally as perfect. And friends, I don’t even have words for how excited I am for A Prince on Paper this April! Also, I totally think you could read this one without reading the previous full-length books in the series! And I completely recommend you do so, if you’re looking for something quick, steamy, and romantic.

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Content and trigger warnings for deportation and forced separation of families.

Buddy read with Kathy from Kathy Trithardt! ❤

 

Fence Vol. 2 (Fence #2) by C.S. Pacat & Johanna The Mad

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1.) Vol. 1 ★★★★★

“All I have to do is fence.”

Oh my word, this was such a damn treat. I love these characters and this graphic novel series so very much. Vol. 1 completely stole my heart last year, and Vol. 2 was a wonderful addition. Even though the wait for Vol. 3 to get published is going to maybe be the death of me.

This bind up really focuses on how all of the fencers are still in tryouts, therefore they are being ranked based off their wins verses the other candidates. Harvard and Seiji are at the very top, while Nicholas is trying to climb his way back up the rankings. But we get to see so many match ups in this volume and I was absolutely living for it.

I just love this storyline and seeing all the students at this boarding school trying to live out their dreams with fencing. The conversations are perfect. The art is a new masterpiece on every page. The friendships and brewing relationships are beyond words. The only real negative thing I can say is that sometimes the pacing feels so very slow. But I have no doubts that it’s absolutely going to be worth the wait!

Okay, so like with every graphic novel that I review, I always do a breakdown on my thoughts and feeling of each individual issue. So, the next portion of this review will have SPOILERS! Obviously, I won’t give away anything too pivotal, but I will talk about some of the themes that each issue had inside.

CHAPTER FIVE
Aiden vs. Seiji! Aka: be still, my freakin’ heart! Also, seeing everyone love Aiden just warms my damn heart every single time. Also, Nicholas is finally and officially back!

CHAPTER SIX
Why is Bobby the greatest character of all-time? We get to see a little bit more background on Jessie Coste! And we get to see that Nicholas is really ready to be back and he is even more ready to fence!

CHAPTER SEVEN
Nicolas vs. Aiden! Still, Aiden’s fans give me life. But the winner of this single issue is easily seeing Seiji through Bobby’s eyes! Also, Aiden leaving a cute guy because something more important came up? Good lord, OTP status incoming, I swear to everything.

CHAPTER EIGHT
Seiji vs. Harvard! But also, Seiji vs. Nicholas and their rubber ducky shower curtain divider! Slowest burn of all slow burns! And the next match is going to be Harvard vs. Aiden and I’m not sure I can handle it!

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❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

 

The Risk (Briar U #2) by Elle Kennedy

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ARC provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

#1.) The Chase ★★★★★

I’m not sure what the world has done to deserve Elle Kennedy and all the amazing stories she keeps giving us set around this hockey team, but we are so damn blessed, friends. I hope she continues to write them forever. And The Risk was so sexy, so funny, and so phenomenal. Reading this was pure joy, and my biggest complaint is that I wish we had an extra epilogue, because I want and I need more. The Risk perfectly plays with the enemies to lovers trope, but also adds the fake dating element, and I was truly living my best life while reading this story.

Brenna Jensen – Daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, and a bit of a bad girl. Even though she has had some awful things happen in her past, she is strong, confident, and isn’t going to let anyone boss her around. Plus, she is focusing on getting a jumpstart with a hockey news internship.

Jake Connelly – Captain of the Harvard’s hockey team, and already all-star. He has signed with the Oilers for the next season, but is trying to win it all his last year in college, and cannot risk any distractions for him or his team.

“I know you’re Chad Jensen’s daughter. I know you would take any opportunity to mess with my players’ heads. I know we’re probably going to be facing off with Briar in the conference finals in a few weeks”

And Brenna and Jake’s paths cross when Jake meets up with Brenna to tell her that she is being a distraction to one of his players. Which, Brenna obviously doesn’t listen to, even if she isn’t really romantically interested in the other Harvard player. But it is the perfect set up for Brenna and Jake’s paths keep crossing as enemies, even if they can’t stop thinking what it would be like if they were lovers.

Plus, we have seen the chemistry between these two characters brewing for so dang long, and even when they are disagreeing on something, their banter is perfection. And they are both the perfect amount of hard and soft, I’m not even going to hint at it, I’m just going to say this: this book has the best sixty-nine sex scene I’ve ever read. Like, there were so many elements that made it so sexy, but it was amazing.

In this story we really see a lot of people in the sports industry be very nasty and hold some very misogynistic views. Sadly, Brenna experiences this first hand when trying to enter the field she eventually wants to work in. But even more sadly, this is something that so many women deal with in our world, too. I’m sure most of who have been to a sports bar, you have heard people say some gross stuff about women interviewers for any pro-sport. But I really loved and appreciated Brenna, and a few other women, trying to break those toxic cycles.

I also loved how this book constantly discusses how bad things that have happened to you in your past are not your fault, even if you can’t help but feel an immense amount of guilt over them. People make bad choices all the time, and just because you love someone and were a part of their life when they were making bad choices, does not mean that those bad choices are your fault whatsoever. This is constantly brought up throughout the book, and I think survivor’s guilt is something that we should talk about more in society, and I really appreciate how it was handled in this book.

I’ll be honest with you, I thought this installment was going to be my favorite out of everything that Elle Kennedy has written, and I truly kept thinking that until around the 85% mark. I just didn’t love the ending of this one, and I felt like the coach being a jerk was just a quick and kind of dumb bump in the road to give us one like little unnecessary angst plot. Which I would have been able to overlook, if we would have seen a really romantic or sexy scene after. But it just got wrapped up, and the Epilogue was more about personal success than relationship success, so it left me wanting so much more. I don’t know, I feel bad saying this, but because the book was so freaking amazing and unputdownable for 85%, that last 15% just felt like such a letdown and left me a bit sad upon closing the book. But I still loved this story as a whole.

Overall, Brenna is, without question, my favorite protagonist from the entire Off-Campus world. And I honestly might even go as far as to say that Jake is my favorite love interest of them all, too. They are both the characters that I would want to date the most, but they are truly so damn perfect for one another. I won’t lie though, I am dying to get Hunter’s book, so I am ready to pray every night that The Play will end up being his book. Also, side note, I do not want Hazel to come back into the story or be a love interest. So, I’m extra crossing my fingers and limbs for that not to happen. But yeah, this was a wonderful installment. I read it in twenty-four hours because I couldn’t put it down. The sex was mind-blowing. The set up was glorious enemies to lovers perfection. And I truly can’t wait to see what comes next.

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The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for explicit sex, a lot of misogynistic comments (always challenged), talk of past loss of a loved one, drug addiction and substance abuse, use of the word cr*zy, talk of past miscarrying, and a panic attack.

#1.) The Deal ★★★★
#2.) The Mistake ★★★
#3.) The Score ★★★★
#4.) The Goal

❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

 

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“I have to convince audiences everywhere that a zombie loves a zombie hunter. So far, it’s not happening. So far, the only thing future viewers care about is that I’m not someone else.”

Okay, the only other thing I’ve ever read by Kasie West was the short story of hers in Snow in Love, but I think it is safe to say that I am officially just going to preorder everything she writes from now on, because this story was also such a damn delight. And she is now 2/2 for writing the sweetest and softest boys in YA literature. I honestly just had a smile on my face while reading the majority of this book. If I’m ever in need of a feelgood book, I’m just going to turn to Kasie West’s backlist from now on.

So, basically, Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss stars a girl named Lacey who just landed a breakout role in an indie zombie film which she will co-star in with the extremely famous, Grant James! Lacey has only ever done minor acting roles in the past, but she is willing to give up her senior year of high school to move to Hollywood and to give this role all she has. Meanwhile, her father has agreed to move with her, to help give her structure. Yet, he also gives her a tutor named Donovan, who is supposed to keep her on track with the schoolwork that she is already neglecting.

But while filming, it becomes apparent that maybe Grant and Lacey don’t have the best onscreen chemistry with one another. Yet, Lacey is finding it easier and easier to find chemistry with the tutor who is supposed to be teaching her chemistry. *winky face* Donovan is the sweetest boy and I just loved him completely from page one. No spoilers, but the jumping on the trampoline scene? Added five years to my life.

But on top of Lacey trying to put everything she has into this zombie role, it becomes more and more apparent that someone is trying to sabotage her chances of making it big. I won’t lie, this does have a bit of a Scooby-Doo feeling mystery around the movie set, because the someone that is trying to sabotage Lacey before her career even gets started is kind of doing innocent things. Yet, I still loved that it kept me guessing for far longer than it probably should have. Towards the end it became kind of obvious who it was, but right up until that ending point, I was honestly thinking that the sabotage was someone else.

I also didn’t love the inclusion of bits of the movie script in-between chapters. I feel like we got a good enough feel of the plot of the film without those, and it pulled me out of the story (ironical enough) each time I read them. I think this book would have been stronger without them entirely, honestly. Also, there was a scene with them finding a drug dealer’s lair that I thought would come back into play and just never did and it was a little wild.

But my only real complaint was that I kind of hated both of Lacey’s parents. I totally get that she’s only seventeen, but they both just felt like crappy parental figures throughout the book. From her mom, boxing up her stuff and giving her room to an animal that Lacey wouldn’t like, even though she thought she would be coming back to finish her senior year! To her dad who decided he wanted to play a major role in her life seventeen years too late, and then force her to over exhaust and over work herself to try to have a semblance of a “normal” teenage life, after agreeing to letting her act in the movie. I don’t know, they just both rubbed me the wrong way, and not even the ending of this book justified their actions to me. But at least she got a cute and sweet tutor out of the deal.

Overall, I just loved this. It was the perfect sweet and heartwarming contemporary that I needed. I actually think this would be a perfect read for the spooky season. I mean, I wouldn’t say it is “spooky” per se, but it surrounds the making of a horror film all about zombies! And some of the moments in this book will keep you on the edge of your seat, involving the sabotage on the set. But I just think Kasie West is a master of YA Romance, and I think she is so deservingly beloved among the community. I can’t wait to see what she does next, and she 100% made a new fan from me.

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The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for a couple comments that are weird about food and dieting, talk of online harassment and bullying, and use of the word cr*zy.

Buddy Read with Amy & Heather! ❤

 

TAROT Blog Tour: Anna and James

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Anna is your average 16-year-old girl except for the fact that she was born of a passionate affair between the Hierophant King’s wife and a powerful magician.  She’s been locked in a Tower since birth, her only company the daily visits of her trio of advisers, The Magician, the Fool and the Hermit.

Here Anna writes a personal ad, which she’ll probably attach to the foot of a pigeon, send off and hope for the best.

Desperately Seeking Sunshine

Lonely girl locked in Tower seeks fun-loving companion, preferably her age.

She dreams of long walks on a beach (or anywhere outside of the Tower truth be told). Desires a partner who is social but who also enjoys quiet time for reflection. He must be up for the challenge of being pursued by a tyrannical Hierophant King with all the resources of his kingdom at his disposal. (Last part non-negotiable.) Those intimated by a strong young woman coming into her own, need not apply,


James is a drop dead gorgeous, free-spirited, guy who has spent most of his life cavorting on the island of Cups. He hides a deeper side from others and seeks someone who might understand and love everything he has to offer. In his ad, he reaches out for his dream girl.

More than Meets the Eyes

Fun-loving teen male seeks …something new. Sometimes eternal sunshine and the perfect sunset (every night) can get a little old. He’s looking for a girl who ponders the big questions but also digs a midnight horseback race and knows how to crack a coconut.


💗 The Meet-Cute 💗

When I pulled a card from my tarot deck to describe Anna and James’s relationship, the Temperance card popped up. This delicious card from the major arcana is all about balance. Melissa Cynova, in her book, Kitchen Table Tarot, deftly explains the difference between major and minor arcana cards.

“They’re equally important, they both tell stories. The difference is that the Major Arcana is your life IN ALL CAPS, and the minor arcana is just your life.”

Or

“The majors are the bed in the road. The minors are the road signs.”

The Temperance card, features an angel (always a good sign) standing in a stream (one foot on land, one in the water) surrounded by flowers. He pours water back and forth between two cups. It’s an image of balance, calm and synergy.

James’s devil may care, island-living style shoots a dazzling arrow of adventure into Anna’s life for the first time. On the flip side, Anna’s tendency toward reflection and introspection touches and develops a part of James he has never really shared with anyone else.

Balance. Synergy. Temperance.

Together, Anna James weave an intimacy that challenges them both to grow and pulses with passion and excitement. They literally end up making art together!


I hope you enjoy following Anna and James on their adventures! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Marissa



I hope you all enjoyed! I am so thankful that Penguin asked me to be a part of their blog tour! And especially with this super awesome post! I will be starting Tarot in a few days and I can’t wait to post my review for you all! And I hope you will all check out Tarot upon release on February 19th! 💕

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