In case you haven't been paying super close attention to my personal Twitter feed, you may not know that I've been reviewing for the Shelf Awareness for Readers newsletter for about three months. It's a lot of fun and I get exposed to a much broader selection of books than I might otherwise. For example, I've covered a book about a female butcher in London and a comic about adorable monsters who destroy whole ecosystems.
What if you lived above your queer tattoo shop and your new next door neighbor right across the hall was a pastor? And what if he was super hot? And what if you were raised by Evangelicals, are now an atheist disowned by your family and have a really complicated relationship with organized religion? Well, you'd be Seth in Covet Thy Neighbor.
Love from A to Z is an unconventionally structured romance, narrated in dual POV but also through the lens of a third party who is (with permission from the characters) telling their story in large part by connecting the dots between their journal entries. For the most part, it reads like a typical dual-perspective romance, but there are a few breaks where the author breaks the fourth wall and talks about how two people can see the same event in totally different ways. It fits the story, especially because the two main characters meet while traveling, come from different backgrounds, and there's a distance between them the entirety of the book. They're bound by certain things, such as Islam and their Marvels and Oddities journals, but most of the book consists of them figure out how to bridge the gaps between their many differences.
On July 24th, The Ripped Bodice unveiled their latest endeavor: the Awards for Excellence in Romance Fiction. You can read the announcement or go straight to their site to see the list of judges, selection process, and more.
Getting Schooled is a college-set enemies-to-lovers romance between two non-traditional students. Reese is a 26 year old grad student working under her mother, a professor of Black lit. Jason is a 28 year old Army vet who was honorably discharged after a helicopter crash (maybe a plane crash, apologies) took the bottom half of one of his legs. He's back home to get a mechanical engineering degree and is working with his father and brothers at the family car dealership.
Brazen and the Beast was one of those rare (for me) books that I inhaled in one day. While I loved Wicked and the Wallflower, this second Bareknuckle Bastards novel was even better. One of the most difficult things to accomplish when writing in a genre with established beats and a guaranteed Happily Ever After is consistent tension throughout the book. Brazen and the Beast had me guessing until the end just how this couple would work things out. Maclean gives workshops on writing conflict, and it's clear that she knows what she's about when you read a novel like this.
Reading Red, White and Royal Blue (RWARB) was a roller-coaster of first love, risky choices, and history in the making. Reading it as a bisexual person was validating. Reading it as a person living in a country characterized by both a spirit of hope and a history (and present) of horrors was something, too.
Little reviews of The Love Song of Sawyer Bell, Waiting for Tom Hanks, and Evvie Drake Starts Over.
New Ink on Life is an f/f romance that manages to be both sweet and gritty, harrowing and hopeful. Before we go further, please note that if reading about characters in cancer remission will be difficult for you, you may not want to continue with this review (or the book, naturally).
School starts at the end of this month for much of the US. This means one of three things:
1) Time to read as many books as possible! Get them in that Ripped Bodice Bingo card before vacation ends!
2) School will be back in session and your kids will be gone so now you can finally read!
3) Nothing new, but let's read a bunch of books while eating peaches and soaking up the last of the summer sun!
No matter what, the message is that you can read these new books we're excited for AND you get an exclamation point.
This post includes affiliate links.