Andrea's first friends, role-models, vices and safe places were the fictional characters that filled her world as she was growing up. Her life is a study in devouring stories, and unraveling the tapestry of possibility meeting reality. All grown up now, Andrea spends her time consuming as many expressions of media as possible, and writes to discuss their role in our (sexual, financial, fandom, political, sartorial!) liberation. Being a South African woman plays a large role in Andrea's passion for diversity. She's online everywhere as @stargirlriots

Recent Posts

Review: Throwing Hearts, by N.R. Walker

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 17, 2020 9:45:00 AM / by Andrea posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

Throwing Hearts had me nostalgic for a time when we could volunteer at an old age home and strike up casual conversations at coffee shops. I laughed out loud many times, and really enjoyed that N.R. Walker makes use of allll the innuendos possible during a pottery class.

The folks from the LGBTQ centre are a mix of lovely and grumpy old people who throw out love-hate banter at all their classes. Clyde, Leo’s old-person partner and friend, is hilariously grumpy –like, people have made formal complaints about his ridiculous insults. The Clyde sub-plot reminds us about the perspective of gay men of the 80s: that they paved the way, the loss they felt, and the stigma many older people in the LGBTQIA+ community still carry with them. Clyde’s romantic interest is from the same generation, and struggles with unlearning the need to be undercover about being gay. He's also given a wonderful introduction to the world of feeling genderqueer and publicly dressing accordingly.

One of the best and most laugh-out-loud enjoyable things about this book is the extremely current dating situation. Leo has to explain to Clyde why he didn’t ask for Merrick’s number (because he needs to stalk him online first to see if he’s married and/or racist) and we obviously experience the classic, painful accidental Instagram double-tap crisis. There’s an unpacking of whether he has the rainbow flag in his bio and a panicked avoidance of actual phone calls. The Instagram ‘like’ situation escalated so amazingly and almost too realistically! I was sitting on the couch listening and felt like I was sitting on the couch right next to Leo and his best friend. Their adorable friendship also had me missing casual late-night hangouts over-analysing crushes with friends. Sidenote: Leo’s voice sounds a lot like Troye’s Sivan, incase that’s something you’re into.

Throwing Hearts is everything N.R. Walker's books always are: Adorable, warm, charming and fun, with interesting characters who are undeniably and openly into each other, which results in memorable dates and sweet, intimate affection. 10/10 recommend!

If you'd like to purchase a copy of this book, please consider using one of the following links to support the site: Amazon  (Kindle Unlimited) ◊  Barnes & Noble  ◊  Bookshop  ◊  Kobo
Andrea purchased this audiobook.

Content Warnings: There’s some casual meanness and judgement of men who use Grindr and hook-up at gay clubs. Grief and mention of Clyde’s boyfriend who died in the 80s along with most of his friends.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: The Adventurers, by Bryce Oakley

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 24, 2020 9:45:00 AM / by Andrea posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

The Adventurers is a cute, quirky, friends-to-lovers Romance that's filled with queer staples like Hayley Kiyoko songs, Sarah Waters’ “canonical lesbian fiction” and looking for possibly-queer clues when spotting a woman out in the wild.  

Kendall is a vet, which is nice, but she’s quite moody and judgey about her clients, especially when she’s on-call. She’s vegan, divorced, and has a close circle of queer friends. She also has two cats named Bacon and Eggs. She’s a bit too comfortable, though, and realizes she should really get out more and enjoy life. Enter Joey and the meet-disaster: After an intriguing introduction to each other while waiting at a laundromat, Kendall (who has a meowing cat in her handbag) makes a rushed exit. The chaos results in them switching laundry loads and leaves her in a “lost scrubs, found thongs” situation.

Joey is new in town, ready for a fresh start, and totally belongs in one of our Romantic Occupations lists. –She’s a French-language translator, mostly of manuals, most recently of hair-dye instructions and shampoo bottles. She makes a memorable entrance at the vet where Kendall works (her dog just ate her leather harness) when she’s asked: “Full name?” and proudly says “Ozzy Pawsbourne, Prince of Barkness!” only for the receptionist to reply that “…Oh, I mean your full name...”

Kendall and Joey's adventure list is inspired by a line in a Frank O’Hara poem: 'Each time my heart is broken it makes me feel more adventurous.’ Their adventures include buying a sex-toy in a female-owned sex shop, an appointment with a gender-freeing hairstylist, and having a suit made by a queer-friendly tailor. There’s also an attempt at having a one-night-stand and a camping adventure that ends up being a series of absolute fails.

Both women feel an attraction from the beginning, but tell themselves to just stick to friendship. So The Adventurers overall feels like a low-angst, slow-paced adventure in queer friendship. The actual Romance bit happens quite quickly at the end of the book, so it feels slightly rushed but we're happy for them! I'd recommend if you're looking for something light, sweet and hopeful.


If you'd like to purchase a copy of this book, please consider using one of the following links to support the site: Amazon (Kindle Unlimited) ◊  Bookshop


Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: The Hate You Drink, by N.R. Walker

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 2, 2020 9:45:00 AM / by Andrea posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

This friends-to-lovers romance is really a beautiful story about coming to terms with an alcohol addiction, and what the journey to recovery looks like when you have the support of people who love you dearly. It's told from the two points of view: Monroe, who has used alcohol as an escape since his parents died three years ago and Erik, his best friend since they were eighteen (they're about 27 in the book) who bails him out, cleans up his messes, and also has been in love with him since they met.

One of the best things about this book is that everyone sees and treats and talks about Erik’s addiction as a physical illness, something that can be managed and requires support to heal from. It's so comforting and almost a relief to have the shame and judgment that often is thrown at a person who needs help completely absent from this book. When Monroe’s (amazing) sober coach / therapist / recovery guide Saul informs Erik that this is a life-long illness Monroe will deal with forever, Erik is offended at the thought of abandoning him: “If he suddenly lost the use of his legs or contracted a disease like diabetes or fucking cancer, I wouldn’t turn my back on him because it all became too hard.”

Erik's family plays a wonderful, encouraging, lovingly supportive role in the story. The helplessness, hurt, concern, and impact of Monroe’s alcoholism on Erik’s life is also brilliantly portrayed here. The book is filled with men sharing their honest feelings and fears, conversations that communicate their vulnerabilities, and so much openly unashamed sobbing, which is a thing I wish we saw more of in books (and in life).

Monroe and Erik's best-friendship and its unfolding into ‘We are in love’ is so, so sweet. As Monroe begins the process of confronting his addiction, their relationship is expressed through intermittent phone calls and scheduled meetings as his recovery plan allows. Everyone around them can see their love for what it is, while they seem to just be awakening to it. The essence of the story is about Monroe allowing himself to grieve, give love to the people in his life, and believe that he is worthy of receiving the love that surrounds him. I loved when Saul told him: “You are good enough. You are exactly who you were born to be.” It’s warm and wholesome and it’s got truths that aren’t easy to hear, but The Hate You Drink is a recovery story that is hopeful and comforting to read.

Sidenotes: I found the audiobook narrator’s voice robotic and emphasizing all the wrong words, but the story kept my interest and the writing totally shines through. There are often bits that are repetitive, though. Usually when switching between perspectives describing the same moment, and when a character goes from thinking something to saying it.  

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: Better than People, by Roan Parrish

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 19, 2020 9:45:00 AM / by Andrea posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

Better Than People is the charming, cozy, low-angst comfort read I didn't know I needed. The anxiety rep is startlingly accurate, and Jack's once-scorned-now-grumpy mood is relatable as heck. It's kind of a hurt-comfort bring-the-life-back-into-me book for both characters. Simon discovers that, despite what he's felt, been told, and experienced in his life thus far, he can be loved and fall in love and enjoy a wonderful relationship that becomes his life alongside the anxiety.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Floral Faves: Romance Covers Andrea Loves

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 12, 2020 9:45:00 AM / by Andrea

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

Summer in South Africa is ending; pouring rain has started to creep between days with blue skies. Even when it's sunny outside, these days it always kinda feels like the skies are grey. And at least once a day, I remember that I was supposed to be in Seoul, Korea right now for cherry blossom season, and then my heart aches even more. So! I’ve compiled a list of books that bring the much-needed spring blooming feeling with their covers.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: Camp, by L.C. Rosen

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 2, 2020 9:45:00 AM / by Andrea posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

Reading this book really felt like being on camp. Lockdown had just been enforced when I received an advance review copy, so the days were strange and stressful, but the experience of climbing into bed to see what Randy and his (Incredible! Amazing!) friends were up to brought me so much joy.
Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

An Interview with Date Me, Bryson Keller author Kevin van Whye

[fa icon="calendar'] May 18, 2020 9:45:00 AM / by Andrea posted in interview

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

Sometimes you meet a novel that just clicks. Such was the case for Andrea and debut author Kevin Van Whye's Date Me, Bryson Keller.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: Don't Read the Comments, by Eric Smith

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 26, 2020 9:45:00 AM / by Andrea posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

I enjoyed this book from the very beginning. The opening line is the title! "Mom, we've been over this. Don't read the comments." —It's kind of Divya's slogan. She's got an Etsy sign and everything. 

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: Jackpot, by Nic Stone

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 18, 2020 9:45:00 AM / by Andrea posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

Jackpot is a wild ride. Often literally! Rico and Zan spend a lot of time in the car on their way to chase only-vaguely-possible leads. There’s also a lot of family drama and a lot of feelings. 

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Andrea's 2019 Audio Faves

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 2, 2020 9:45:00 AM / by Andrea posted in best bets

[fa icon="comment"] 1 Comment

This year was really difficult. For all the reasons that many of us struggled with, and for many personal reasons on top of those. I struggled to find motivation to be a person at all, and my concentration capabilities basically quit on me with no notice. As Suzanne said in her 2019 Favourites: It was "a really bad year for reading with my eyeballs." When I could eyeball-read, (Can we trademark this term? Getting my lawyers on this, stat!) I reread the books that comforted me; ones I could dive into and know everything would be exactly as I needed. But this year of limited eyeball reading also lead to an Audiobook Adventure! (Pretend there are sparkly emojis here, okay thanks!) 

[Editor's Note - All reading is reading! To suggest otherwise is horribly ableist among other things. So please don't. There are lots of reasons why reading with eyeballs doesn't go well/isn't possible, and everyone deserves stories.]

Suzanne has beeeen repping audiobooks, and I really wanted to be the kind of person who was there with her, but I never got round to it. Then, during a LiP Patreon chat (whoop whoop this is the sign up link, join us for the next one wink wink) before my long flight to South Korea, the LiP Patreon gang SOLD me! I signed up for Audible while still on the chat, and added a ton of their recs to my Wishlist. In the end, I was violently ill the entire flight there and knocked out cold on the flight back, so I did not get to listen. But when I came home and everything sucked, audiobooks swept in and saved the day! These are my favourites on the adventure so far:


Salt Magic, Skin Magic, by Lee Welch  
This is the very first audiobook I listened to. Got dat free Audible trial credit, listened to this sample and boom. I was hooked. It was SO captivating and intriguing, and it made me smile. Even just looking at the cover, I hear the specific atmospheric British accent and immediately feel pulled into the Salt Magic, Skin Magic realm and wanna go back. I've never really been into things this... mystical and magical in Romance but wow this one captures your whole heart and man, these guys are so deeply devoted to each other it's magnificent. Thank you Suzanne for the rec! It's literally the reason I got into audiobooks. I am eternally grateful, and so are my eyeballs.  
Finders Keepers, by N.R. Walker
This is a book I will never stop recommending. And now I can recommend it in audio format! It is PURE SUNSHINE. This will come up in my eventual 'books I read for comfort' list because man, oh man, I must have read it eight times this year alone. Twice on audio. It's equally cheerful and sexy and utterly perfect in both formats. I love the Australian-ness of it, I love how normal and genuinely good both these guys are. And I love love love Wicket, the dog the story centers around! It's a charming, sweet as heck, all-in perfect summer romance that is as delightful as the cover makes it seem. Possibly even more! 
King Me: A Forever Wilde novel, by Lucy Lennox
Okay, whoa. Think of every cool heist movie you love, and then squish them into one. You're thinking 'But Andrea, how would that even work? There's so many twists and levels to just one of them! How could that all fit into a single book?' I don't know how!! But that's what happens!! And the thing that really hits my heart in the very golden juicy middle (my heart is now a Caramello bar, apparently) is that these guys are sworn enemies, but pretty much from the moment they dive in and accept they're into each other, that's it. Sold. All in. The drama and the worry and the ups and downs of the story and the EPIC crime plot twists are all set on the solid ground of knowing they trust and love each other, which MAKES MY HEART SING. The art heist suspense vibes often made me GASP. And these characters made me LAUGH OUT LOUD! A lot. Like, a lotttt.
I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Amazon (and Audible)
There's something about the wonder of a YA Romance --that ohmygoshisthishappening of the first kiss and the first crush and the chaos of being a teenager against the quiet of being with someone that stills your heart because true love. Jandy Nelson is... The person whose writing I am most in awe of. I have read her books to escape into their magical realism, I have read them as a writer being like "howww can I do what she does here," and I have read them as a young adult daydreaming that I too could find bright love in the middle of my grief. I know this story well. Hearing it on audio somehow showed it to me from new angles and emphasized a whole new layer of whoa.
Turbulence, by E.J. Noyes
Isn't this cover just great? Such pretty colours! Awesome things in this book: Women just killing it in their professional lives. Brilliant stockbroker. Badass pilot. Doing their jobs well and having epic sexual chemistry. There's teasing, and a whole lot of masturbation while they fantasize about each other and also when they can't spend the night together. The HR logistics and employee-relationship conflict is very much addressed and considered a lot, with company lawyers and Isabelle's (really great) therapist, which is dope. It's also extremely (2011 rom-com) Friends With Benefits in its "This is just sex, okay wait I took you home to meet my mom, oops we're in a wonderful rhythm of food and friendship on top of the sex, okay woah are we basically dating aaaahh! but neither of us is gonna say that aloud because we don't want to risk it ending" vibes. It is Great! Also very very sexy, did I say that? I mean it, from the bottom of my heart. 
Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]