Spoiler Free Review: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

Title: Spoiler Alert

Author: Olivia Dade

Pub. Date: October 6th 2020

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Avon

Pages: 416 pages

🖤ALC & Galley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review🖤

This may just be the book responsible for me dipping into the world of fan-fiction, I had an absolute blast reading from the POV of April & Marcus. If like myself you’re someone who didn’t quite get on board with the finale of Game of Thrones or Dexter (haha), possibly even thought you could’ve written a better finale? then this book is for you! Set in a post Gameofthronesque (totally made this word up #noshame) world we follow April a plus size fan-fiction writer for the show Gods of the Gates.  April has just tweeted out a photo of herself in a self made/designed Lavinia Cosplay who is one half of the show’s OTP. When her photo goes viral it captures the attention of many a troll as well as that of Marcus Caster-Rupp who plays main guy Aeneas AKA the other half of this beloved OTP. One twitter exchange leads to another and Marcus sees himself asking April out on a date to spite the nasty trolls who are body shaming her on social media.

April has no idea that Marcus has a secret online persona he uses to write fan-fiction of his own. Gods of the Gates Fan Fiction that contractually he needs to not be linked back to. In this fandom he’s known as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous writer who gets to take out his frustrations with the show he works in. Little does Marcus know but he and April have a ton in common, April is Unapologetic Lavinia Stan in the Gods of the Gates Fan Fiction world. Furthermore, they have actually been friends all along but Marcus can’t let her know his real identity. For Marcus, the acting career he’s worked so hard to build means everything to him & he’s not ready to risk his contract. However….staying away from April is just simply NOT something he can do.

Content Warning: body shaming, toxic parent relationships, fat shaming

April AKA Unapologetic Lavinia Stan- Honestly represents everything I wish I was a few years ago. April is an empowered woman who is tired of hiding the parts of herself that make her phenomenal. She wants to live her geektastic life out in the open! meet her online friends IRL & last but not least, find the man who will love every inch of her beautiful body inside and out. We get a glimpse of the toxic relationship she had growing up with her parents that shaped her into the woman she is at the start of our story. April is body positive & won’t allow anyone, be it friend or family to body shame her.

Marcus AKABook!AeneasWouldNever – THIS MAN! getting to know him meant falling in love with this character. He appears to the masses as this vain persona but in reality he’s protecting the softer intellectual he truly is. Also stemming from a toxic childhood, Marcus isn’t living in his truth at the start of the story. He’s hiding just how amazing he truly is and relies on his fan fiction to express himself authentically. The way he loved up on April in every which way is EXACTLY what I LOVE to see!

Was I expecting to love a book based on fan-fiction culture? No. Was I sucked in & left cheesy smiling? YES! April is beautiful, sexy, smart, creative, and a true friend. She’s not apologizing for her body size, nor should she have to! I smiled and nodded YES every time she stood up for herself and claimed her power and femininity. The contrast between who she really is and what Marcus pretends to be is something that really stands out and makes these characters memorable. They both bring a level of healing into each others lives I don’t imagine they expected. LOVED to see it! This book was such a fun time, one of my favorite aspects being the excerpts we get from their actual Fan-Fiction. A lot of it being outright silly in its raunchiness HAHA! I’m now eagerly anticipating the next book by Dade which I believe will be based on a fave character of mine in this book! *fingers crossed*


🖤FOLLOW LAIR OF BOOKS🖤

Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBook

Spoiler Free Review: One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

Title: One to Watch

Author: Kate Stayman-London

Pub. Date: July 7th 2020

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance

Format: Audiobook

Publisher: Dial Press

Pages: 432 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBRO.FM

Stylish plus-size fashion blogger Bea Schumacher has just experienced some heart break. Alongside one of her closest friends, she sets out to watch  the very popular dating show The Main Squeeze. While watching she starts to actively tweet about the lack of diversity each season. Her tweet garners a ton of traction from others who’d also like to see the show diversify their cast & main squeeze. Be a doesn’t know the show has just experienced some major changes behind closed doors as far as show runners. Saving the show has now been left in the hands of a new director who sees Bea’s tweet & thinks it to be the PERFECT opportunity to raise ratings. Never before has the show cast a plus- size main squeeze & Bea seems vocal enough to possibly accept the role. Bea sees this as a moment for her to represent many who have been unlucky in love, to inspire confidence in others. She doesn’t anticipate how hard this gig really is or all of the back lash she’d be exposed to for being a plus-size female. Something she has had to deal with in the past but never on this big a scale on national television.

This is not the story of a woman who is 100% confident in her skin all of the time. This is the very accurate portrayal of what some women have dealt with when judged by a society not yet ready to accept beauty in all shapes & sizes. It is harsh & brutal to read all of the cruel things viewers said about Bea while watching the show…yet these people do exist. It was triggering to read as someone who has always struggled with weight & have only within these last 2 years felt comfortable in my own skin. Nonetheless, I experienced my fair share of cruel moments & found this story inspiring. This is a story about a woman who found strength & beauty within. She wasn’t willing to settle for anyone who didn’t see her as the truly phenomenal woman that she is!

Bea Baby! I adore you! I shed tears reading some of the disgusting vitriol spewed her way & wondered in amazement at her strength. Yes, she did have moments of weakness but she legit stood up & dusted her shoulders off each & every time. Bea wasn’t confident all her life, she had to find that within! as a matter of fact she spent most of her youth covering her body. She didn’t love herself at the start of this story & allowed herself to get caught up in a triangle she had no business in. Did I enjoy reading that? no I did not. I also know how dark a place it is when you lack self love & self worth. She could’ve bowed out many times throughout but knew that just as there were those humans who couldn’t accept her for her outward appearance, there were many counting on her. Bea at the end of the book is who I’ve worked very hard to become, someone who knows they’re worthy of a greater love.

I’ve had some time away from this book to think on my rating & still rate it 5 stars. Not only for enjoyment (although it was fun once we started seeing Bea enjoy dating some of these men) but for the feelings it invoked in my reading experience. Were there things that could’ve been better? Yes absolutely! the contestants could’ve been fleshed out but instead their ethnicity/race were briefly mentioned once. Considering the whole point was to advocate for diversity, it would’ve been much more appreciated & well received had we gotten more from the men. In no way do I believe that it would’ve taken away from Bea’s story. In fact, my curiosity heightened at the end to read a book from the POV of Bea’s black love interest. 

I saw a lot of my personal journey in Bea’s story & a lot of it is ugly and painful. I wouldn’t pick this book up if I’m looking for a confident woman who is all about body positivity because that is not Bea. She’s had a rough go at loving herself & wanting more than second best when it comes to love. Personally, this story resonated on so many levels. That feeling you experience when you finally go out with someone who sees your beauty…yea you definitely question if it’s real. You’ve grown used to the feeling of not quite measuring up but in reality you were just investing your time in the wrong people. Bea had to learn this & I cheered her on all the way to that realization.


🖤FOLLOW LAIR OF BOOKS🖤

Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBook

Spoiler Free Mini Reviews: Faith Takes Flight & The Voting Booth

Title: Faith Takes Flight

Author: Julie Murphy

Pub. Date: July 7th 2020

Genre: YA Contemporary/Queer

Format: Audiobook ALC

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Pages: 304 Pages

GOODREADSBARNES & NOBLE | LIBRO.FM| AMAZON

🖤ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review🖤

Faith Herbert in many ways is your average teenager living in a small town dealing with friendships, crushes, volunteer work & more. It’s easy to fall in love with Faith who is a plus size teen with a well known fan blog for The Grove, a popular tv series. Faith lives with her grandmother who she loves dearly & is one part of a trio of friends who are queer and super supportive of one another. This is her senior year in High School & things get a bit complicated when The Grove starts filming in her hometown. Faith finds herself having more than one crush, Johnny is very much the boy next door who is trying to get Dakota to notice him. Dakota Ash is the star of The Grove who also has her eyes on Faith & sets out to take her out on a date.

This was a cute superhero story that had its pacing issues & felt like two different books in one. The first half doesn’t see much plot movement, it really is just small town life as Faith goes about volunteer work at the Vet clinic & dating Dakota. The second half takes off at lightning speed with all sorts of new things introduced to the plot including missing teens, pets & a criminal operation. I’m still unsure about how Faith got a handle on her superhero powers & wished that we’d gotten more on that. What I loved about Faith is that she’s not your typical slim female superhero in tights. Faith is not only plus size but she also dates both genders & explores her sexuality, questioning herself at times but never labeling herself. I felt this came across as authentic for her age when really that’s exactly what is happening, self discovery. I did have some issues with how Faith handled her friends when consumed by her love life but I’m glad things get sorted out on the page. The friend trio itself is #Nerdgoals I LOVED them to pieces, especially Ches who is a queer witch that isn’t above lighting some sage to clear the room of negative energies! LOVED!


Title: The Voting Booth

Author: Brandy Colbert

Pub. Date: July 7th 2020

Genre: YA Contemporary

Format: Audiobook ALC

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 304 Pages

GOODREADSBARNES & NOBLE | LIBRO.FM | AMAZON

🖤ARC provided by author/Libro.fm in exchange for an honest review🖤

If ever there was a timely read, this is it! at its core, The Voting Booth is about voter suppression in black communities. We meet Marva Sheridan, a black teen who has a passion for politics & making sure voter rights are upheld and protected. She is an activist who knows her life has a purpose, to make a difference in the world. Duke Crenshaw is a bi-racial teen on his way to cast his vote before class & also comes from a family who take voting pretty seriously. However, they also had a son who was an activist, who is no longer with them. This is something that Duke carries with him & has created an aversion to politics. As a son of divorced parents, Duke has had to relocate a few times and because of that, voting at the school he is registered under has now become a challenge. Marva steps in to assist Duke throughout the course of one entire day, met with many obstacles but never once being deterred. At the start of their story, Marva is dating someone who she has just found out has opted to not vote at all. She’s completely thrown off & diverts her energies towards helping Duke & in turn spends the day getting to know him. I was very grateful to the author in their decision to not throw Marva into Dukes arms. Boundaries were respected leaving me with the MOST satisfying of endings.

Interwoven throughout this story there’s discussion of police brutality, interracial dating & moments where the characters themselves question their identities within the black community. There’s Duke who until this day hasn’t really wanted to focus too much on his brothers political activism. Then there’s Marva who is attending a white school & recognizes her privilege. There’s so much to unpack but one thing rings loud & clear, that’s the need to end voter suppression. The importance of casting your vote & the change that is needed within communities of color where it is made most difficult to exercise this right.


🖤FOLLOW LAIR OF BOOKS🖤

Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBook

Spoiler Free Review: Take a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters #2) by Talia Hibbert

Title: Take a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters #2)

Author: Talia Hibbert

Pub. Date: June 23rd. 2020

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Avon

Pages: 320 Pages

🖤ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review🖤

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLES | AMAZON

I’m tempted to just start GUSHING from the start but I guess we should start with a brief synopsis. This is the second book in The Brown Sisters trilogy where we follow Danika Brown who is Chloe Brown’s sister (Get a Life Chloe Brown Spoiler Free Review) & hands down my favorite of the three. Dani is a bi-sexual plus sized scholar and witch who loves the Goddess Oshun. On the fast track to being a star in her career, Dani doesn’t have time for relationships or really the desire to be in one. She asks Oshun to send her a friend-with-benefits when her current lover ends up catching feelings she is not quite ready for which leads to a break up. Prayers seem to get answered quite quickly but it’s all a matter of seeing what’s right under your nose. Dani gets stuck on a elevator during a routine fire drill on campus & the brooding security guard Zafir Ansari comes to her rescue carrying her out in an Instagram worthy moment. Soon enough they’re all the buzz & people want to know more about this hot couple who they’ve assumed are dating. It turns out Zaf runs a charity for kids that could really use the publicity in order to raise funds & Dani is more than willing to help her very attractive friend with this endeavor. She’s also behind the scenes plotting to propose to Zaf that they enter a no strings attached agreement as bed mates. It all seemed like a good idea until it wasn’t & Zaf turns out to be the one who can finally have her face her fears head on.

Dani – Dani’s inner monologue alone had me smiling from ear to ear but the banter between her & Zaf had me outright laughing. Not only was the chemistry intense but the dialogue was non-stop entertainment. Dani is a strong empowered black woman who knows where her focus lies & that’s on her career & field studies. She has had her heart broken & since then has taken partners in that she keeps at arms length. There is no room for feelings & besides, allowing anyone in has only led to arguments & guilt trips. Dani recognizes she isn’t the mushy type & that mental stimulation trumps romance most of the time. Getting someone to understand that however is too hard a task & that’s why she opts for friends-with-benefits.

Zaf – Perhaps the complete opposite of Dani in every which way except in the confidence sector. Zaf is lovable, he is attentive & caring in all the things that matter. He listens to Romance audiobooks while manning the security desk! *smiles* & YES it does lead to an awkward moment that I truly LIVED for! ❤ I can honestly say I’ve never looked at a male lead & called him Book Bae but Zaf would absolutely get the part. Not only does he adore Dani to pieces, is NOT intimidated by her intellect & confidence, but he also really cares to give back to kids through his charitable organization. Zaf struggles with anxiety & there is a on the page panic attack he copes with, this is something he’s had to deal with all his life. He found a way to help boys on the Rugby team talk about their feelings & shed toxic masculinity. Zaf can do NO wrong in my book peeps #jussayin

I thought Get a Life Chloe Brown was unbelievably funny but this book made me feel SO good! I laughed, smiled, teared up & cheered on my new fave characters. I don’t think I’ve ever read dialogue this good, Talia Hibbert will always have my support. These characters are so well developed leaving you with a sense of comfort & familiarity. In many ways I found that I could relate to Dani who has built her defenses pretty high so as to not get hurt again. I found Zaf to be endearing & just all around the ideal partner. One who is supportive but knows when to give space. One who is in touch with his emotions in a healthy manner & therefore can show vulnerability. I love that their story starts off with real friendship & slowly builds. The fake dating trope was done so well I now want to read more books like this one. It’s modern romance done so well it leaves you wanting more. My copy has already been pre-ordered & a special spot reserved on my shelves 🙂


🖤FOLLOW LAIR OF BOOKS🖤

Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBook

June Wrap-Up

Hello Readers! another month has passed & with it comes my typically-late-thus-making-it-right-on-time? Wrap Up smh haha! this time around I excluded my haul simply because Bookcon happened & in one day I managed to haul way too many books & that’s not including my regular books bought for the month. Also, I posted my Bookcon haul last year & that was all fine and well because I was new in the blogosphere & was very excited to share my 1st bookish event. Whelp, 1 year later I was still very excited to attend Bookcon but this time around I’d like to think I was a bit more wiser & aware of all the drama surrounding ARCS. Not to mention that book hauls from these types of conventions tend to generate negative attention & I’m not here for that. So I decided to skip the haul & just speak about the event itself…

The best part of the event was seeing my twin aka bff Gretchen who most of you know has a blog called ChicNerdReads (pictured below in the glasses next to me). My hubby also accompanied us which is always fun since he’s also a reader & I’m his source for new book recommendations. The event seemed to have been dominated by Penguin with giveaways every hour on the hour as well as author signings. This made for extremely long lines, stampedes, and overall madness tbh…

I am honestly surprised to have acquired the ARCS that I did but it wasn’t easy & took a bit of prioritizing. Gretchen & I pre-gamed for this event mapping out which books we were aiming for & I do believe this actually helped as much as we thought otherwise during the event. Overall, the event & it’s lack of organization was terrible for our anxiety. The positive however is that we got to spend the whole weekend surrounded by BOOKS & talking about BOOKS and that’s always a fun time no matter what. Also! we met another Puerto-Rican Bookworm who had flown in for the event. She told us about getting caught in the stampede for Warcross on Saturday & how after hours of standing in line she walked away w/out the ARC. My hubby gave up his ARC to Warcross which we had at home. We shipped it to PR & when it arrived she sent me a very happy text which made my week 🙂

Me (left side) & Gretchen (right side)

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Bearly a Lady (Novella) by Cassandra Khaw ★★★★1/2 (4.5 Stars)

Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue ★★★★★ 5 Stars

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) *Conclusion to duology w/spoilers for This Savage Song ★★★★★ 5 Stars 

Although for the month of June I only read YA, each book was so different from each other that it honestly felt like I read diversely. I read some books with hard topics like Saints and Misfits and Bad Romance which led me to discovering two amazing authors. I had a ton of fun reading The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue and Bearly a Lady (novella) with many laughs. Started a new Diverse Fantasy with Song of the Current & can’t wait to read the sequel to this du-ology. I also read the conclusion to monsters of Verity…Our Dark Duet broke me yet it is the most satisfying conclusion I’ve ever read. Yea, I was a bit all over the place but my reading reflected my life as a whole in June haha!

My most highly anticipated flick for 2017 DID NOT DISAPPOINT! Wonder Woman had me engaged from the opening scene. I have always been fascinated by the Amazons & Wonder Woman has always been a icon for me…getting her back story on the big screen felt like the best earliest Christmas gift I never thought to ask for LOL! little Diana was lively & eager to learn the ways of the Amazons & seeing her natural born instincts play out gave her a new sparkle in my eyes. My only regret is not reviewing this movie on the blog when my feels were fresh haha. I loved the entire cast, humor, fight scenes, and plot as a whole! my interest in The Justice League sky rocketed after leaving the theater googling for any bit of early news hinting at a sequel to Wonder Woman. For those who didn’t think Wonder Woman deserved her own solo debut…Gal Gadot sure showed you *5 Stars* 😉

My second date night with the hubby (we got lucky in June with sitting) was great & all but Transformers The Last Night was lackluster. I was really rooting for this one more for the hubby’s enjoyment than mine really. I just went to see Markie Mark & Bumble Bee but the irony in that I tell ya smh! So, as a lover of all Mark Whalberg’s movies I can go ahead and say this…In my opinion, he should’ve never accepted the lead role no matter how badly he wanted to realize his childhood dream of playing with life sized Transformers #jussayin. Love me some Markie Mark but that role really needs to go to another younger guy (not shia Labeouf, that ship has sailed). I’m hoping that the history they introduced means we are due a new main character *fingers crossed* I found myself bored & ended up rating this movie *3.5 stars* 😦

Happy reading in July Bookworms!!! Hope you all had a wonderful June month & are enjoying your summer reads. Read or watched any of these? drop a comment down below <3’s!

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: April 11th 2017

Genre: YA Contemp/LGBTQIA/Diverse

Pages: 338 pgs

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

*HUGE thanks to Balzer & Bray/HarperTeen, Edelweiss, and Becky Albertalli for the eGalley of The Upside of Unrequited in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

Honestly, a more Feel Good plot I have NOT come across! Molly Peskin-Suso is many things: a fraternal twin to Cassie, prone to harboring a high # of secret crushes, a DIY Queen, Pinterest aficionado, and baker who also happens to be plus size. Molly’s best friend is her twin sister Cassie, they are inseparable & with their twin bond, they hold no secrets from each other. When Molly introduces Cassie to a girl she meets in the bathroom; who she thinks would make a perfect match for Cassie…she never would’ve guessed they’d fall in love. Both Molly & Cassie see their relationship shifting and with it comes a fear of losing their bond. Cassie tries to play match maker in hopes that it will help Molly feel less lonely. The issue with this is that although Molly has had plenty of crushes, she hasn’t actually dated or kissed anyone. In fact, for Molly it’s all about that feeling that you get when you have a crush…

“And it’s a little different with every guy, so it’s kind of hard to generalize—but if I had to describe the feeling of a crush, I’d say this: you just finished running a mile, and you have to throw up, and you’re starving, but no food seems appealing, and your brain becomes fog, and you also have to pee. It’s this close to intolerable. But I like it.”
Becky Albertalli, The Upside of Unrequited

Ok so I’m just going to start off by saying I was Molly Peskin-Suso sans her craftiness lol. I too carried on way too many crushes & gave them all pseudonyms for easy recollection lol. That new crush feeling she describes? yea all too familiar smh, and I also never found the courage to say anything to said crushes *awkwardly looks away from screen* lol. Molly’s character brought back some fun memories and as a plus size gal myself, I found I could relate to her even as a grown adult. Her honesty about the feelings she has rang true to me. Molly has moments where she doesn’t feel comfortable with her weight, she doesn’t want to be just “the girl with the very pretty face”. At the same time, she has moments of empowerment & never once feels the need to be thin just to get a boyfriend. Molly has the same thoughts we’ve all had about our bodies & her inner monologues mirrored my own at that age. Needless to say, I LOVED Molly! I also really enjoyed reading her twin sister Cassie who is the complete opposite of Molly. Cassie & Molly have a great sibling relationship & because they’re twins (same age haha) they have the same circle of friends. Cassie is the extroverted twin, described by Molly as being very attractive & also happens to like girls. Seeing Cassie fall in love while still trying to be there for Molly and even play match maker was super cute. Molly and Cassie also spend time with their cousins (same age) over Skype videos & YAY for female friendships and seeing more of that in our books! *whoop whoop*  

I realize this is getting lengthy but Albertalli really knows how to make you fall head over heels with all of her characters. Last but not least are the AMAZING parentals! Molly’s moms are in tune with their kids and by no means are they your traditional types. I loved seeing their genuine interest in seeing their kids happy. They aren’t holding tight leashes on their kids but instead trust them enough to right. Some may think they were a bit too understanding but when it mattered they stepped in. Also loved seeing each mom’s personality pop on the page. They weren’t just background characters, their own experiences are woven into the story which gives you a more well rounded look at this family.

This is my 1st Albertalli book & I’m quickly making her an auto-buy author. I have Simon waiting for me on ibooks & can’t wait to see what the buzz is with that guy. Simon does do a cameo in this book & that Becky knew what she was doing! I need to know more about Simon!!! haha! this was a fun feel good contemporary. I smiled from start to finish and loved all of the diversity and plus size representation in Upside. Also in the mix, Albertalli found a way to include a quick conversation between Molly, Cassie, & friends on a comment made by another and how it is considered problematic. This then led to a healthy discussion and I found it refreshing to see how it was handled. Upside of Unrequited is now a top 2017 fave & will probably make the cut at the end of year for top 10. I can’t recommend this book enough! PLEASE BUY IT. PLEASE READ IT. PLEASE LOVE IT. 😉

Have any of you wonderful bookish peeps read The Upside of Unrequited? fave character? quote? I mean Molly did have quite a few good lines lol…