THE AVANT GUARDS, Vol 1 by Carly Usdin

When Charlie transfers to the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, she struggles to find her feet, but winds up exactly where she belongs…in the school’s (terrible) basketball team.

As a transfer student to the Georgia O’Keeffe College for Arts and Subtle Dramatics, former sports star Charlie is struggling to find her classes, her dorm, and her place amongst a student body full of artists who seem to know exactly where they’re going. When the school’s barely-a-basketball-team unexpectedly attempts to recruit her, Charlie’s adamant that she’s left that life behind…until she’s won over by the charming team captain, Liv, and the ragtag crew she’s managed to assemble. And while Charlie may have left cut-throat competition in in the dust, sinking these hoops may be exactly what she needs to see the person she truly wants to be.

From Carly Usdin (Heavy Vinyl) and artist Noah Hayes (Wet Hot American Summer, Goldie Vance) comes an ensemble comedy series that understands that it’s the person you are off the court that matters most.


Title : The Avant-Guards, Vol 1
Author: Carly Usdin
Illustrator : Noah Hayes
Series : The Avant-Guards
Format : e-ARC (graphic novel)
Page Count : 116
Genre : YA
Publisher : BOOM! Studios
Release Date : 3 September 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Micky’s 3 star review

A good start with potential for this new LGBTQ graphic novel focused on a newly contrived basketball team. Charlie has transferred into the school and she is ‘set upon’ by the enthusiastic recruiting of Liv, who is described in the blurb as ‘charming’ but I just thought she was too full on. The temperature of this graphic novel is a little bit funny and a little bit serious.

I really liked some of the characters that I’ve met so far, Charlie, Nicole and Jay. As a team working together, I am hoping to see more of what that brings. I must say, that I felt a general disconnection with the story line that seemed to go in strange directions at times with elements that didn’t make sense but might, I guess, when the next volume comes out. Seeing as Liv will be a main character, I am going to need some winning over to like her and connect with her. The burgeoning romance seemed to come out of nowhere and again, I will need some more convincing. I have to say the visuals were very appealing and that cover really does draw me in.

I voluntarily read an early copy of this book, thank you BOOM! Studios.

HOOKED ON YOU by Kate Meader


The steamy Chicago Rebels series returns with this racy and sassy tale of embittered hearts, second chances, and going for the goal—on and off the ice.

Violet Vasquez never met her biological father, so learning he left his beloved hockey franchise—the Chicago Rebels—to her is, well, unexpected. Flat broke and close to homeless, Violet is determined to make the most of this sudden opportunity. Except dear old dad set conditions that require she takes part in actually running the team with the half-sisters she barely knows. Working with these two strangers and overseeing a band of hockey-playing lugs is not on her agenda…until she lays eyes on the Rebels captain and knows she has to have him.

Bren St. James has been labeled a lot of things: the Puck Prince, Lord of the Ice, Hell’s Highlander…but it’s the latest tag that’s making headlines: washed-up alcoholic has-been. This season, getting his life back on track and winning the Cup are his only goals. With no time for relationships—except the fractured ones he needs to rebuild with his beautiful daughters—he’s finding it increasingly hard to ignore sexy, all-up-in-his-beard Violet Vasquez. And when he finds himself in need of a nanny just as the playoffs are starting, he’s faced with a temptation he could so easily get hooked on.

For two lost souls, there’s more on the line than just making the best of a bad situation… there might also be a shot at the biggest prize of all: love.


Title : Hooked on You
Author : Kate Meader
Series : Chicago Rebels (book four)
Format : OverDrive eBook
Page Count : 384
Genre : sports romance
Publisher : Pocket Star
Release Date : May 7, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Apparently I was so so keen to read this book in October of 2017 (even though it wouldn’t be out until May 2018).. that it took until July 2019 to actually read it. Go me!

I, more than anyone, understand how they will happily remove your heart, hold it bloodied and pulped to the sky, and offer in sacrifice to whichever gods they pray to.
Does Isobel seriously put up with this shit?
She has accused me of drama on occasion. I have no idea why.

So it’s been over a year since I was rubbing elbows with these characters but it was so easy slipping back into the Chicago Rebels universe. Which says something about the level of memorable-ness of both these characters and Meader’s world. A world which is pretty hilarious, full of hockey, hotties, and generally has at least one or two heavy topics to wield, or work through, before we see that HEA. As you do.

The beauty of AA was that no matter what city you were in or the time of day, there was usually a meeting happening nearby. Dallas was no different. [..] The team might be his brothers, but these strangers were his tribe.

This matchup between the grumpy Scot and the sassy Latina has been building for a while (see aforementioned 2017 excitement..) and I won’t say it disappointed. I definitely enjoyed this more than book two, the only other one I couldn’t round up on, because I think the balance between the humour, the joy, and the serious, was just.. right. Violet with her health scare, Bren with his alcoholism, both resisting the other for their own reasons. Throw in some single dad-ness, with two kids who were neither too overwhelmingly present or too precocious, and it was a great mix of Doing The Right Thing for the Right Reasons while still agonizing and angst-hate-flirting.

Do you have some sort of Fleetwood Mac kink?
Kink? No. I’m a fan, like any right-thinking human.

But there were also weird transitions or hiccups in their dynamic that would sometimes take me out of the moment, and I’m not quite sure why or how it happened. It was almost like being one step out of sync, things just wouldn’t line up, and it would take a moment for the record to stop skipping. But when that wasn’t interrupting my fun, there was also a lot of that ‘final book lets wrap up all couples and get hitched and/or pregnant’ cheese that, I mean, sure we know to expect it. But, again, cheese. Additionally there was a lot of evil ex behaviour syndrome. Which, fair, this is from last year (and likely written well before that) and I think we’ve since seen a down-turn, and taken strides to stop, with this trope but.. still. It existed. A lot. And suddenly.. it didn’t?

Take me to bed, Scot.
Need direction.
Been that long?
Hilarious.

This is definitely a high three, because there was a lot of strength — like Violet not giving in when you think she might, which, for example, was definitely a highlight and also bucked a convenient romance trend — and fun, but those moments holding it back, well. It held it back. I might have felt differently last year but.. shrug emoji.

I have an ARC of Meader’s spinoff for this world, though, and I’m so excited to dive in. One of the many reasons I finally caught up on this series/book, hah. Because, yeah, complaints aside, this series has been a mostly four-star experience for me and I love this female-run, while also managed and supported by the first (in this world) out gay man in hockey (or was Cade out first? I can’t remember! either way! LGBTQIA+ friendly!), hockey team.. because who doesn’t love a Cinderella, underdog, against-all-odds-like-sexism-and-homophobia success story. But at the same time I’ll be kinda glad to leave behind the daddy issues and branch out and get a new angle on things. Like, say, an angle that features a journalist and an ex-Special Forces turned rookie? Hi hello.

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