LGTBQI+ · YA and Teen

Review: The Big Reveal

The Big RevealTitle: The Big Reveal
Author: Jen Larsen
Page Count: 304
Publication: December 2021

[Amazon | IndieBound | BN | Find it at your local library]

(Other reviews: Kirkus, Popsugar)

A friend of mine, Jen, proudly announce that a friend of hers, Jen Larsen, had a new book coming out in December. That book, The Big Reveal, was about a teen ager who while fat showed that being fat was not who she is: Addie is more than fat. She’s a talented dancer. She’s a feminist. She’s the loyalist of friends. She is beautiful. She’s inspirational. She is everything I want to be and I’m old enough to be her mother.

Larsen, whose name sounded familiar but I could quite place, until I realised she’s also the author of Stranger Here, a memoir of her weight loss surgery (WLS). Larsen went on to lose 180lbs, a whole person!, as told in her funny and all too painfully true story. Now, I’m regurgitating what I read on Good Reads about the book, which I have not read, yet, but another friend, Sara, recommended the book to me as a primer to help make my decision about my own WLS journey. I can confidently say two things about Stranger Here: It’s been bumped up my queue and if Stranger Here is anything like The Big Reveal in terms of writing, I’m going to love it.

Some may say that being fat is a choice and if we’re being brutally honest, it isn’t. Not really. People can have disordered eating at any size but being fat can also be the result of medicines, health conditions, and genetics. In an ideal world, we could all be Addie: confident in our own skin and assertive enough to put ourselves into the front of line and not let the commentary about our bodies slow us down. I know this is something I’ve been struggling with and if you keep up with my newsletter (of course), detailing my journeys on struggling with who I am, I could use a boost of Addie right now. I’ve had more friends decide to do the WLS route recently and it is scary to think they are willing to rearrange organs to achieve an acceptable size.

Can’t we just be enough? Sometimes we think not, and that breaks my heart for my own self and my struggle with my own perception of me.

But Addie, Addie, Addie. She has the best of friends, a well intentioned but misses the mark mother, and a wonderful support sytem. But believing in yourself isn’t just about the support system you have but it’s also truly, deep down inside, believing who you are and that you are good enough. Addie believes she is good enough, more than good enough, and that’s what sets this charm of a book to its core.

I don’t know if I’m going to do WLS just yet, and I’ve been mulling about it for months, but I do know I’m going to pull a bit of Addie in my life and start to believe not only am I good enough, but that I’m worthy of taking up space.

tl;dr Insightful, beautifully written, full of warmth and charm, The Big Reveal will be, dare I say and I hate this word, an unputdownable book that will make you want to believe in everything around you. Five stars.

LGTBQI+ · Romance

Review: Boyfriend Material

Title: Boyfriend Material
Author: Alexis Hall
Page Count: 432
Publication: July 2020
Series: Boyfriend Material #1

[Amazon | Indie Bound | BN | Find at your local library]

(Other reviews: Publisher’s Weekly, EW)

Reviewed by Natalie

The premise is a little thin: Luc “needs” a boyfriend to get back donations for his company’s big annual event. It’s a bit silly, BUT the rest of the story?

GLORIOUS!

Luc is a mess; he’s beyond a mess. His only stability are his friends (who he neglects very badly) and his mom. He has no belief in himself at all and trusts no one. Then there’s Oliver. Oliver is a straight-laced barrister. Luc’s complete opposite. They agree to fake date for Luc’s event and for Oliver’s parent’s upcoming anniversary party. We all know how fake dating works in this type of book: real feelings start to grow. There is so much about this book to like: Oliver’s amazing friends, the witty banter between Luc and Oliver, and of course, the romance. You root for these two through the entire book. They are perfect for each other; they just don’t know it! I found myself laughing out loud at some of the banter between the two heroes.

This is one of those books that fills you with happiness for days after reading it. I highly recommend it!

 

LGTBQI+ · Paranormal · Romance

Review: Payback’s a Witch

Title: Payback’s a Witch
Author: Lana Harper
Page Count: 352
Publication: October 2021
Series: Thistle Grover Witches #1

[Amazon | IndieBound | BN | Find it at your local library]

(Other reviews: Library Journal, BookPage, and Kirkus)

I continue on with my witchy books! It’s the spoopy season so shoot me.

Full of sass, sexy, and humour, Payback’s a Witch tickled me from both ends and I mean that in a very good way. The writing was slow at first and after the rush of The Ex Hex, that could be understandable. The Ex Hex throws you headlong into the story and there are no actions spared

Not so much with Payback’s a Witch and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We meet Emmy Harlow as she comes back to town for once in a generation tournament between the four witch families in Thistle Grove after a self-imposed exile in Chicago. In Chicago, she has not only become what she believes is herself but also her magic has waned and doesn’t fuck with her life like it does in Thistle Grove. But once she finds out that the man-boy who broke her heart has also broken the heart of two other witchy friends, hell is about to get loose.

But I must discuss what most reviews seem to want to not discuss: the hot sex, slow, and steamy build of a sexy relationship between Emmy and Talia. Harper builds this delicious slow and sexy world between Emmy and Talia that you can feel the spark from the page. You want to be either Emmy or Talia (it doesn’t matter much who) and be a part of that coupling. You do, you really do.

I’m not sure why the queer romance between Emmy and Talia is rarely mentioned in reviews as the book has gotten starred reviews around the publishing world. It’s not gratuitous. Emmy doesn’t come back to Thistle Grove “OH HOO I IZ A LESBIAN” and Talia isn’t stereotyped either. They are just hot (and fall in love) with each other and that’s what most important. I’m so, so thrilled that while we’re not given much of Emmy’s past relationships and that falling for a girl was just as natural as drinking coffee. Representation is important.

I also really liked how the world felt real. The witchy behaviour and the paranormal lives didn’t feel artificial or over the top. That’s always a concern for me when I read paranormal books that the world isn’t believable. Does magic exist? Sure, why not. There is no real reason why it can’t exist. There is so much about our world we have yet to understand or seems magical so that if people can cast spells and make inanimate things talk, why not?

From Bad to Cursed, book #2 in the Thistle Grove Witches series, comes out in May 2022 and I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty impatient. I read the first chapter and I was like, “Goddammit!” when the sample ended. I hope to god the ARC shows up on Netgalley or there will be hell to pay.

The tl;dr: Read it. Read it for the fun. Read it for the HEA (which Harper dangles at first in front of us). Read it for the romance. Just read it.