PAROUSIA by Laura Lascarso

After months of imprisonment, Vincent is struggling to adapt to the outside world. His body and mind are strangers to him, and Henri, his one constant his entire life, doesn’t understand the man he’s become.

Henri wants Vincent to take time to heal, but the revolution is rapidly unfolding with the thirteen tribes amassing at their doorstep to plot the Imperium—and Azrael’s—demise. Vincent gets swept up in the conflict and in doing so, puts himself in harm’s way. Parousia be damned, Henri will not to allow Vincent to become a martyr for the cause.

With his demoness mother at the helm of their campaign, Vincent must battle Lena’s ambitions and the other tribes’ gambits to usurp power if their revolution is to be successful. But he’ll never succeed with Henri obstructing him at every turn.

Both men are in love and at war with each other, but only one of them can rule.

Parousia is the final installment of the Mortal and Divine trilogy. Revenge never tasted so sweet, or so bloody.


Title : Parousia
Author : Laura Lascarso
Series : Mortal and Divine (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 390
Genre : paranormal romance / LGBTQIA+ romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : February 7, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Listen. I am hella privileged to be one of the beta-ish readers for these books so it’s impossible to say that I am totally unbiased about this world after being in it for so long.

This series, in general, is delightful because it feels different from so many other paranormal romances out there, queer or otherwise, and because it’s just dark enough to thrill you without leaning too hard on any particular buttons. This finale I think maybe dialed it up a notch or two from book two but book one definitely takes the cake for darkest. So hopefully that reassures anyone who starts into this world but wonders where it might go.

That said, seeing as this is a finale, am I going to spoil anything? Hahah nope. Will I tease? Yes. The steam will have you reaching for a fan, the soft moments will have you melting, the stakes will have you clutching for a hand hold, and the snark will definitely inspire a laugh or three.

Lascarso has created a complex mythology and many an intrigue and this final book in the Mortal and Divine world really fleshes out the bigger picture of the whole conflict that has been building since the start.

But at it’s core this really is just about two souls and the lengths they would go for each other — the sacrifices, yes, but also promises they break, thinking only to protect. These two are such a perfect fit but not seamless, very much their own part of the tapestry, and their battles on the grand scale never precludes them from battling each other, and sometimes that means crossing lines, making mistakes.. and it’s such a real evolution, a give and take, and I loved the dynamic, especially when it wasn’t perfect.

This has been such a great ride and while I’m sad it’s over I can’t wait to see where Lascarso will go next.

** I received an ARC the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

FELIX EVER AFTER by Kacen Callender

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve. 


Title : Felix Ever After
Author : Kacen Callender
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 318
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Balzer + Bray
Release Date : May 5, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I went into this read with some trepidation on two fronts; one, because I had read a book by this author before and absolutely hated it and two, so much hype. Almost all my friends unanimously loved this. So, yeah, I worried.

But pretty much from page one I was completely captivated.

There are a host of difficult themes, attitudes, and dialogue within this story. This isn’t just a tough coming out or coming of age contemporary. It’s self-discovery, sure. It’s battling prejuice, yes. It’s navigating life in all its ups and downs and ugly and messy and beautiful realities.

I’ll admit there are two bits or elements that are what keeps this from being a full five star read for me. Firstly I don’t enjoy catfishing plots, so that’s definitely a personal preference, but also I did just feel there was a lot of drama. Nothing really to the point where it felt manufactured just for the sake of it but, still, a lot of conflict.

Nevertheless, if you haven’t yet been convinced to take the leap and pick this book up, please let me be the one to nudge you over the edge. It won’t be easy but I hope you’ll find it worth it. I certainly did.

EVERGREEN by Cari Z.

Soldiers. Explorers. Lovers.

Broken apart.

Cy Konstantin and Scottie Andrews are supposed to make Project Evergreen’s one-way trip to Mars together. A near-fatal accident during training knocks Cy into a coma for half a year, and out of Project Evergreen. He works his way back to Scottie’s side, but he can’t rejoin the mission. Once Scottie leaves, they’re destined to live millions of miles apart for the rest of their lives.

A deadly accident on Mars might spell the end of their distant romance, though—or be the thing that saves it.


Title : Evergreen
Author : Cari Z.
Format : eBook
Page Count : 59
Genre : LGBTQIA+ sci-fi romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : January 13, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I wanted something short and possibly sweet as I’m between reads right now and figured why not give this a try! Having arduously compiled all my unreads books on a spreadsheet, including all my eBooks, all that hard work paid off as my eyes immediately gravitated to it (after having long since forgotten about it), and boy am I glad I did.

Right off the hop I was enjoying the story and the narrative but wasn’t sure about the characters. We had members of a crew brought together to man a mission to Mars as a one-way trip and within said crew was the charming and gregarious American astronaut and the rather reserved Russian one and I though okay sure, here we go. But. But.

While we don’t see every moment of their evolving friendship into a romance, as this is a novella and we do skip around a bit, I was definitely sold before the end. And this goes in different directions than you might expect!

This might not be a new favourite but I’m pretty pleased I one-clicked this and was glad to have been entertained by it for a little while on this saturday evening. Additionally? Also very happy to knock it off the tbr and into the read pile.

CRY WOLF by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton never thought anything could be harder than solving murders. Until he had to plan a wedding.

After taking down an old adversary, Agent Cooper Dayton of the Bureau of Special Investigations has earned a break. Not that planning a wedding to his sexy shifter partner, Oliver Park, is necessarily stress free, but it’s better than worrying about the ominous warning, delivered months ago, that Cooper’s life is in danger.

When he’s dragged to an event by his family, Cooper braces for an awkward evening, but instead finds himself in the middle of an ugly feud between Park’s ex and a rebel pack leader. What was supposed to be a quick outing turns into a full-blown murder investigation after the pack leader ends up dead, Park’s ex goes missing, and Cooper and Park are sent a series of disturbing wedding gifts that are somehow connected to it all.

The list of potential suspects is long, and with the bodies piling up, Cooper must turn to the one person he trusts the least: the villain he’s already put behind bars once and who has nothing to lose by lying and everything to gain if Cooper is out of the picture—for good. 


Title : Cry Wolf
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book five)
Format : eARC
Page Count :
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ urban fantasy/romance
Publisher : CarinaPress
Release Date : January 18, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, wait, is this not the finale of the series? Because that did not feel like one. And if it is.. how rUDE. I have so many questions. So, yeah, no, it’s not over. Nope.

Is everyone you’ve ever dated an asshole?
Maybe I have a type.

Coming back to the Big Bad Wolf world was such a delight. I was entertained pretty much from page one and this particular mystery was a strange doozy. I had no idea where anything was going until we were all finally looped in. But that was fine because all along the way we had plenty of Cooper and Park banter, hijinks, and steeeeam. Hoo boy, hi. I’ve definitely been away from romance for a while and now read two steamers back to back. Delicious.

You know, it’s never too late to call off this engagement. You’re a catch, you’ll find someone.
I was cursed by an old witch to find him charming.”
That’s some dark magic.”

What I constantly enjoy, and seem to mention in all my reviews, is how every book evolves this world. Not in that “oh look suddenly this is happening” feeling where something comes out of left field for a purely convenient reason but in this organic unspooling of a culture, a world, a people. And it actually gets called out in this installment in the best of ways, as if to acknowledge it for the readers, but in a perfectly fitting way for the characters, too. It keeps you wanting to read more, not just for more of the characters, but in order to discover more and what might be awaiting both readers and characters alike.

Yes, we’ve met.
A technically true statement, if characteristically lacking in flair. Antony and Cleopatra met. Romeo and Juliet met. It’s what happened after that’s become the stuff of legends.
This day is certainly shaping up to be a tragedy, so maybe you’re on to someting.”

There’s really not much to say about a book this far into a series, even if it isn’t the finale, so suffice it to say if you’re needing paranormal romance/urban fantasy in your life and particularly a queer series? You absolutely need to give this one a go. It’s funny, it’s fresh, and the characters are complex and yet self-aware, or self-improving, and these two leads are made of wonky edges that fit together so beautifully.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

THIS IS NOT THE END by Sidney Bell

A Polyamorous Love Story 

Zacary Trevor is the love of Anya Alexander’s life. Their sometimes tumultuous marriage has survived ups, downs, and all the in-betweens. With successful careers, a lovely home, and a beautiful child, domestic bliss is a hard-earned reality for two people whose hedonistic days are in the not-so-distant past. They’re happy. Enter Zac’s best friend, the deeply reserved Cal Keller. 

Zac’s friendship with Cal is the foundation of his career and—until Anya and their son came along—the most important relationship of his life. Cal’s a cipher, someone Anya can’t help but gravitate to, even if they don’t always get along. Even more, she’s drawn to the Zac she sees when he’s with Cal—a careful, cautious version of her husband, someone with hidden thoughts and desires kept secret even from her. Inviting Cal into their home, deeper into their life, is a risk. 

Zac should say no. He knows he should. But he doesn’t. From the first, the hint at the life the three of them could have together is exhilarating. And finding a new definition for family just might be worth the risk to every bond that exists between them.



Title : This Is Not The End
Author : Sidney Bell
Format : eARC
Page Count : 216
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ romance
Publisher : CarinaPress
Release Date : January 11, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a polyamorous romance. But if there any others out there like this one? I will absolutely be adding them to my TBR.

I knew the bare bones of this story before requesting as I follow Bell pretty closely and remember when she first announced this (using a memorable gif from Tangled involving kissing unicorns) however to be honest I would’ve requested this even had I known nothing at all because Bell is an auto-read author for me. The fact that she took me to a new place was just a bonus.

This is a very character-driven story without very much outside noise beyond the immediate world of these three characters. It gave it a really intimate feel without feeling totally out of touch or insular. It is chockfull of feelings, steam, and quite a few laughs, too.

How are you better in bed than me? I’ve had so much more sex than you.”
Quantity and quality are two different things.

Each character was so beautifully drawn, so vivid, so distinctly themselves, and how they fit together was just.. well, it was just perfect, even when it wasn’t, and I truly loved watching it all unfold.

In a year where I’ve struggled so much with reading, with focus, and particularly in this last month, I picked this up and didn’t put it down until I was done. I was totally sucked in. Which probably explains why I have only one highlight for this read when there were so many lovely passages or moments I would have otherwise wanted to preserve. I was too enthralled to pause even for that.

I’m so happy the release drought from this author is over and can say without a doubt that she has not lost her touch. I can’t wait to see where she goes next. If this isn’t already on your radar, it should be. Not only this one but the author’s entire backlist. Dive in and enjoy, you can thank me later.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

HEARTSTOPPER VOLUME 3 by Alice Oseman

In this volume we’ll see the Heartstopper gang go on a school trip to Paris! Not only are Nick and Charlie navigating a new city, but also telling more people about their relationship AND learning more about the challenges each other are facing in private…

Meanwhile Tao and Elle will face their feelings for each other, Tara and Darcy share more about their relationship origin story, and the teachers supervising the trip seem… rather close…?


Title : Heartstopper Volume 3
Author : Alice Oseman
Series : Heartstopper
Format : online via webtoon
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Hodder Children’s Books
Release Date : February 6, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Sooo because of a case of epic frantic “more more” clicky finger I skipped right past the end of this volume and found myself in what is clearly (after reading the synopsis) volume four. Oops. Spoiler alert : it’s good.

But as for what amounts to this installment, I really did like it. Obviously. That said, I did like a tiny bit less than volume two, hence the slight downgrade, but what I did love is that we spent more time branching out into the friend group — and in a fun little direction I didn’t think Oseman would lean into, loved that element — which makes sense as the boys break out of their insular little twosome bubble.

I’m hesitant to say more as I truly don’t know where volume three should’ve ended if not for being click happy so.. I’ll just button it for now. And maybe come back to this review for some added thoughts once I’ve read the overdrive version.

HEARTSTOPPER VOLUME 2 by Alice Oseman

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the second volume of HEARTSTOPPER, for fans of The Art of Being Normal, Holly Bourne and Love, Simon. 

Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie’s gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn’t. 

But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family … and himself. 

Heartstopper is about friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us. 


Title : Heartstopper Volume 2
Author : Alice Oseman
Series : Heartstopper
Format : online via webtoon / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Hodder Children’s Books
Release Date : July 11, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5



Hollis’ 4.5 star review

This was rude. I teared up like three times.

This was everything pure and lovely and cute from book one but more, better, fabulous. This is one of the softest things I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing whilst still, again, tackling issues like homophobia and bullying. Nonetheless the enduring sweetness and joy, and delight, is just so powerful.

If I thought I had steamrolled through volume one it was nothing compared to how I clicked through this one. Compulsive. Addictive. Yes, more. Also, shoutout to my buddy who hooked me up with the webtoon version so I wouldn’t have to wait on my library. Though I haven’t given up my hold as I will absolutely want to reread this when it pops up and experience it all over again.

Also, once again this review is not quite the greatest thing ever but you know what is? Micky’s. You can find her thoughts here for volumes one AND two.

Editing to add, after having read the official eBook version via my library, I maybe loved it a tiny bit less (I’m dropping down a tiny .5), but there were a few flourishes I don’t remember from the online version and I thought they were lovely. This is still the cutest thing ever.

HEARTSTOPPER VOLUME 1 by Alice Oseman

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…? 

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…




Title : Heartstopper Volume 1
Author : Alice Oseman
Series : Heartstopper
Format : graphic novel eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 288
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Hodder Children’s Books
Release Date : February 7, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

This has been a long overdue read for me, mostly because I put it off thinking I would not enjoy (I don’t know where I got this idea..), and also because of sudden demand through my library, and luckily this popped up on my holds just when I needed a distraction.

This glosses over a host of topics in a fairly easy flip, but when I say gloss I don’t mean to imply anything is taken or handled lightly, and I think that’s because you get a double impact via the dialogue and the expressions and actions of the illustrations. It packs a punch whilst still distracting you with sweetness or pretty things and works to balance it all really well.

I flew through this so quickly as is fairly typical for a graphic novel. This might have been a series that would be better to binge, and I definitely wish I had the rest on hand, too, but alas.. we must continue to wait.

If you’re looking for a sweet YA graphic novel to lift your spirits, or if you need something to bump that GR reading goal up, you can’t go wrong with this.

Also, this review is not quite the greatest thing ever but you know what is? Micky’s. You can find her thoughts here but just be mindful she’s also reviewed volume two on the same post. Watch out for any potential spoilers incase you’re averse.

CEMETERY BOYS by Aiden Thomas

A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas’s paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as “groundbreaking.”

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.



Title : Cemetery Boys
Author : Aiden Thomas
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 350
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ fantasy
Publisher : Swoon Reads
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 



Hollis’ 3 star review

Man, I am so bummed right now. I really thought this was going to be a read that lived up to all the extraordinary hype and became a new favourite. But..

Okay, good stuff out of the way? The first half was pretty excellent (more reason for being bummed). The descriptions of both family and culture? So vivid. I could see the colours, I could smell the food, I could hear the overlapping chatter of families. Everything was written with such ease, such flow, that I couldn’t believe this was a debut. There were a few instances of repetition but it seemed to happen as new chapters started, almost like a reset, so.. I kinda forgave it. Also, I was a pretty big fan of Yadriel, our main protagonist, and thought his struggle to make a place for himself in the Brujx culture to be heartwrenching; he refused to give in, to compromise who he was even as every rejection, every time he was misgendered, or dead named, was a stab to his heart. That said, I didn’t love the love interest all the time. He had some extremes I wasn’t down with and while the protagonist didn’t always let him get away with it, it wasn’t fun to live through the tantrums. And some of the exchanges were just.. chaotic.

I would like to note that this isn’t a story with a big shocking mystery. You know who the villain is almost from the beginning. Or at least I did. But it’s fine. Just don’t be surprised if you are expecting a spooky dark mystery. This is actually fairly lighthearteded in the overall vibe.

Remember why we’re doing this.”
So they’ll see that I’m a brujo.”
Well, yeah, but other than that.
Spite?
Spite!

Where this went hella sideways was the big confrontation. I said things were chaotic at times? Wow, it got worse. Things happened at break-kneck speed and then my eyeballs were being assaulted by capslock and !? exclamations over and over again.. at which point events happen in such a way that a certain character is, like, doing something that amounts to crouching over another and snapping like a dog because they are worried or being protective, or both, and it was just. I had to put the book down because suddenly I didn’t know what I was reading or what was happening. Things just really went off the rails. It was all those moments I disliked about the character from before but magnified to a hellish extreme. Even the bestie of our main protagonist, who up until this point was a solid favourite, was just so.. over dramatic for literally no reason. It went full on soap opera/CW moment and I was just left baffled.

In conclusion. The first half? Very good. The second half? Actually, it’s not even a full half, it’s like.. maybe three chapters? It doesn’t drag out but it really slaps you in the face. Or at least it did for me. So that bit? A lot less good. But we had a sweet ending and there was something that did happen that I didn’t expect, possibly because I’m dumb, and said thing is a good thing. So while this wasn’t an overall win for me there is lots of enjoyment to be had, along with knowing you’re reading an #OwnVoices story with solid representation, and I will absolutely read this author again.

THE SUGARED GAME by KJ Charles

It’s been two months since Will Darling saw Kim Secretan, and he doesn’t expect to see him again. What do a rough and ready soldier-turned-bookseller and a disgraced shady aristocrat have to do with each other anyway?

But when Will encounters a face from the past in a disreputable nightclub, Kim turns up, as shifty, unreliable, and irresistible as ever. And before Will knows it, he’s been dragged back into Kim’s shadowy world of secrets, criminal conspiracies, and underhand dealings.

This time, though, things are underhanded even by Kim standards. This time, the danger is too close to home. And if Will and Kim can’t find common ground against unseen enemies, they risk losing everything.



Title : The Sugared Game
Author : KJ Charles
Series : The Will Darling Adventures (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 288
Genre : LGBTQIA+ romance/historical fiction
Publisher : KJC Books
Release Date : August 26, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’m not sure my feelings about this book are entirely fair as I’ve come out of quite a bit of a lull/slump and I knew the first book I picked up might suffer for it. But I thought a KJC might help battle that prediction and also I mean she’s kind of a guaranteed pick me up. And yet..

I don’t know about you, but the position of hand puppet to [spoiler] does not appeal to me.”
Nor me. If I want someone sticking their hand up my arse–
Oh, do go on.”
I’m not going to be [spoiler]’s hand puppet either, was what I meant.

Certainly not a bad book, not that I think she even has one, and a three star is far from a dislike but I didn’t quite enjoy this installment as much as book one. We did have some good reveals and how this plays out into book three will be interesting but to be honest I found myself less enamoured by the MC and the love interest and instead was just rooting for the ladies of the story. They had felt like full and realized characters in book one and yet they definitely stole the show for me in this one. And I love that it went that way because they are certainly deserving of a spotlight.

That said, if you are not yet on the KJC train you absolutely have to. If not this series, another, find a standalone, whatever. If you’re into queer fiction or historical fiction or where the two meet and you aren’t reading this author? What even are you doing!

Hoping that book three goes out with a bang but also hoping to not be battling anymore slumps between now and then. Fingers crossed!