15

[ARC REVIEW] The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

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Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, LGBTQ+

Series: None

Rating: 3.5 STARS

Description:

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

My Thoughts: 

If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I was SUPER EXCITED to read this book. I’ve probably mentioned it only 28498282 times on my blog. So, like, a small amount. I requested it on Netgalley expecting to be turned down because I requested from them twice before and was declined both times, but imagine my surprise when on a really crappy Friday afternoon, I got an e-mail saying I was approved for one of my most anticipated releases. I screamed (in my head, of course, because I was in class, but it was a loud scream in my head). And then I read it in two days. Duh.

So, I guess that’s why I was a little disappointed. Just a little. This book wasn’t terrible by any means, but there were some things that I wanted to happen or I just wanted more of, and it sucks, because I wanted to give it five shiny stars, but then I wouldn’t really be honest with myself! But let’s actually get on to the review!

First up, the stuff I loved! The characters were absolutely brilliant and all three-dimensional and wonderful. We have our main character, Caden, who was so funny and I just loved being in his head and hearing all his thoughts. He’s basically assigned to be a Nice, but he doesn’t really consider himself that way (which I definitely feel because I don’t think I’m a nice person, but maybe other people feel differently). We also have Dylan, the boy that Caden’s competing against, who’s supposed to be a Bad, BUT IS SUCH A SWEETHEART OH MY GOD. I wanted to hug him so hard. Then there’s Juliet, the girl they’re fighting over, who is super smart and wants to be a scientist when she grows up and literally has MADE HER OWN INVENTIONS AND WEAPONS because why not? I didn’t expect to care about her so much, but it was so wonderful to see such a smart girl at the helm of a book! We also have Natalie and Trevor, who dressed up as Hazel Grace and Gus from TFIOS, so they immediately win everything in my books.

The world was also so, so creative! I just loved the way this book continually addressed cliches and the whole background of how everything worked and why it was done was just so well done. Also, in my opinion, this book definitely didn’t suffer from any horrible info-dumps; the world was continually built on as the book went on, and it was just so nice to learn more about the inner workings of the world and the mini details.

Also, this book was hilarious. I’m not one to laugh too much while reading books – funnily enough, the most times I laugh are while watching Youtube videos; go figure – but this one was just so funny and natural while doing it; there was no sort of forced humor. Caden is just a naturally hilarious character, and the fact that it’s so clever at making fun of YA tropes I’m sure we’re all tired of is what makes it so great.

Now on to the things I didn’t love so much. I know this might be hard to believe for some of you guys who’ve been around here for a while, but…I actually wanted more romance. Yep, I said it; I wanted more of a romance in a YA non-contemporary book. I mean, was this a kissing book? Duh, of course it was (and the kissing was amazing, by the way). BUT, I just wanted WAY more of it. This is more of a slow-burn romance – and I’m a huge fan of that sweet, sweet slow-burn – so I thought a lot of it was more focused on the bonding and the friendship and not the ~actual romance~. But, then again, romance is completely subjective for every reader, so it might be different for you!

Also, I felt like the ending moved way too fast. I had the same sort of complaint with Gone Without a Trace, which was also a thriller – a domestic thriller instead of a spy thriller, though – but Part 1 and 2 of The Love Interest were a bit slower-paced and had more of a contemporary feel, I’d say, and then Part 3 comes along, and it turns into more of a dystopian/spy thriller, and without a smooth transition between the two, the change of pacing and such was quite jarring for me. A lot of stuff happens and a lot of things are revealed and it just has such a different feel than a large majority of the book that, to me, it felt a bit all over the place.

But, the book did make up for itself a little bit just for the simple fact that the epilogue was TO DIE FOR. Excuse me while I casually drown in all the feels it gave me and flail all over the damn place.

Overall, though this one didn’t live up to my expectations, this is totally a subjective viewpoint, and you might think differently. I would actually still recommend this book to anyone who wants to read it because it was definitely entertaining!

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A huge thanks to Macmillan Children’s and Fierce Reads for giving me an e-ARC of this book for free in exchange for a review! No matter what I say in this review, it definitely made my day to get accepted for this one, so thanks a lot!

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I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone who has signed up for Project Big Blogger, Little Blogger so far! It means so much to me that you’re as excited as I am! For all my posts this week, I’ll be linking to my announcement explaining everything – which can be found right here – and the Google form for sign-up – which is right here – because I know there are some people who don’t read all my posts (which is perfectly fine!) or new followers who I don’t want to miss out on this! Feel free to join in, or promote my project in any way you can!

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35

A Look at My TBR: The LGBTQ+ Edition

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I’m sure that we all, as book bloggers, understand how it feels to suffer from a constantly-growing TBR.

I know I do, and I thought it’d be fun to go look through some of the books that I’ve added to my TBR pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community. And, I have a lot.

(This isn’t even including all the adult M/M romances I also own. Oops.)

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I’m going to go ahead and call this a sort of Top 5 Wednesday post since this week’s topic is Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads.

I feel like I’ve already talked a lot about those, so why not shed some light on the ones that have yet to become my favorites. And this is also WAY more than five, so take it as you will.

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Superior

Superior

Why I Added It to My TBR:

Short story! Forbidden romance! Superheroes! There was absolutely no way I could pass this up after reading the description, and after seeing the Goodreads description, apparently other book bloggers played a part in this, so that’s awesome as well!

Why It’s Still There:

I have no good reason for this.

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Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway

Why I Added It to My TBR: 

Because I was on Goodreads at the time, and everyone and their mother said it was absolutely brilliant, and it sounds absolutely brilliant. And, again, it’s quite a short book, so I could honestly read this in a day.

Why It’s Still There: 

I’m still waiting for that moment where I’ll feel like reading a fantasy book. Yep, still not happening.

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You Know Me Well

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Why I Added It to My TBR:

Because David Levithan, that’s why. Also, I read a sampler of this in one of those free Buzz Books releases and fell in love with it and knew I just HAD to get my hands on it as soon as it came out.

Why It’s Still There:

Uh, I don’t know? Probably because it’s a contemporary novel, and in 2016, I did not read too many contemporaries. And I just don’t read too many of them in general.

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The Fixes

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Why I Added It to My TBR: 

One, because I love thrillers. Two, I love dark comedy, and several reviewers have pointed it out. Three, I love gangs of anti-heroes. Four, I heard this has short chapters, and nothing makes me happier than short chapters.

Why It’s Still There:

Honestly, I don’t know? I should read this one soon.

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We Are the Ants & The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley

Why I Added It to My TBR: 

Initially, because everyone on Goodreads recommended them and said it was absolutely amazing. Now that I’ve actually read one of Hutchinson’s works, they’ve stayed on my TBR because it was absolutely brilliant, and I hope this one is as well!

Why It’s Still There: 

Well, it used to be on there because I hadn’t read his work before, but now that I know that his books are amazing, I should easily devour these.

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Three Truths and a Lie

Three Truths and a Lie

Why I Added It to My TBR: 

Because this sounds like an amazing YA thriller, and I will hunt down and read all the YA thrillers out there because I can.

Why It’s Still There:

I don’t know. I read his adult book The Otto Digmore Difference last month and really enjoyed, so I’m interested in what will happen when he writes a thriller. I’m reall hoping it’s good.

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Been Here All Along

Been Here All Along

Why I Added It to My TBR:

Because sometimes, you just want a fluffy, friends-to-lovers contemporary.

Why It’s Still There:

Again with the contemporary issue. And this one’s short as well! Really, what I’m learning is that I’m terribly lazy when it comes to contemporary.

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No Holding Back

No Holding Back

Why I Added It to My TBR:

Because, again, cute, fluffy, friends-to-lover romance is my weakness.

Why It’s Still There: 

Okay, I really have an issue with not keeping up with contemporaries.

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Timekeeper

Timekeeper

Why I Added It to My TBR:

Because ghosts! Clock spirits! I don’t usually like novels that take place in the Victorian era because it’s so over-saturated and it’s probably the most boring time period of ever, but I’ll make exceptions when you put in some PNR elements.

Why It’s Still There:

I’m owing it all to the fact that I’m not in the mood for this one at the moment. I’m definitely hoping to at least read this one this year, though.

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Last Seen Leaving

Last Seen Leaving

Why I Added It to My TBR:

Because there were so many YA thrillers that came out last year, and I’m still struggling to catch up with them all. I’m drowning in all the YA thrillers!

Why It’s Still There: 

Actually, I don’t know. I’m probably going to read this one soon.

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Away We Go

Away We Go

Why I Added It to My TBR:

Because I heard this book was terrifically weird, and I am here for it! I’m always a fan of weird books with a unique type of story-telling.

Why It’s Still There: 

This has God-awful Goodreads reviews/ratings, so I was probably put off by that, but I honestly don’t even care about overall Goodreads ratings, and then there’s the fact that it has less than 300 ratings, so it’s sort of skewed? But, yeah, I’m definitely going to read this one.

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True Letters from a Fictional Life

True Letters From a Fictional Life

Why I Added It to My TBR:

Probably because the concept sounds so damn intriguing. And maybe because the cover just really stands out.

Why It’s Still There:

The first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one. And I have a problem with trying to actually read contemporaries.

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Whatever.: Or how junior year became totally f$@ked

whatever

Why I Added It to My TBR:

Because I heard this book was absolutely hilarious, and I’m all up for books that make me laugh. Most of the genres I read are dark and gloomy a large majority of the time, so it’d be nice to read something lighter.

Why It’s Still There: 

More contemporary angst.

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Labyrinth Lost

Labyrinth Lost

Why I Added It to My TBR:

Because as soon as the synopsis and the cover were revealed on Goodreads, everyone was freaking out and I got caught up the hype.

Why It’s Still There:

This was one of those books that had a flurry of positive reviews before it released, and after it came out, there were more mixed reviews, but I’m definitely going to read it!

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Carry On

carry-on

Why I Added It to My TBR:

Well, I enjoyed the fanfiction bits the best of the little I read of Fangirl, and I also read the first hundred or so pages of this one before putting it down, and I really enjoyed it.

Why It’s Still There: 

I’m still in a fantasy slump. Let’s hope ACOWAR breaks me out of it.

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Anything Could Happen

Anything Could Happen

Why I Added It to My TBR:

I don’t even remember. Probably because angst-y contemporary? Or maybe because of the cover? Or maybe because I was just adding random books to my TBR like what happens when you spend too much time on Goodreads? Sounds good, though.

Why It’s Still There: 

I don’t think I need to explain this anymore.

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More Than This

More Than This

Why I Added It to My TBR:

One, everyone recommends Patrick Ness’s books. Two, weird books are my soulmates. Three, I heard this has a lot of WTF-ery. And I LOVE WTF-ery.

Why It’s Still There:

Because I’ve never been in the mood for it? This book has been on my TBR for the longest, to be honest. I honestly don’t know why.

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The Darkest Part of the Forest

The Darkest Part of the Forest

Why I Added It to My TBR:

I love fae, and there just aren’t enough books about fae out there that are also really good. And I haven’t read a Holly Black book yet.

Why It’s Still There: 

Again, I honestly don’t know. This is probably another “Ooh, this one sounds interesting,” spree I had on Goodreads, and then the book just sits there forever and ever and ever and ever…

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Half Bad

Half Bad

Why I Added It to My TBR:

Because this is one of those series like The Raven Cycle that just took off and everyone screamed about how much they loved it, so I added it because I was on a Raven Cycle high.

Why It’s Still There:

I mean, this is a finished series, so I guess I just simply don’t have an excuse?

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False Hearts

False Hearts

Why I Added It to My TBR:

I saw a fantastic review for this one from Emily May, and I usually add rave reviews of her books to my TBR. Also, I love sci-fi!

Why It’s Still There:

I don’t know. With my recent obsession with sci-fi, I really should read this one soon.

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Proxy

Proxy

Why I Added It to My TBR:

I actually haven’t read the summary of this one in forever, but I just re-read it, and oh my God, it sounds so freaking amazing!

Why It’s Still There: 

I think I added this one around the time of the dystopia craze, and then it faded, and so did my interest, and now that those types of books have waned, my interest is totally peaked again.

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Willful Machines

Willful Machines

Why I Added It to My TBR:

I saw a good review for this one pop up on my Goodreads feed way back when, and I added it to my TBR because it sounded really interesting!

Why It’s Still There:

Because I have a problem. I actually read Tattoo Atlas by this author, and it was absolutely brilliant, so I’ll probably dig into this one soon enough.

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The Foxhole Court

The Foxhole Court

Why I Added It to My TBR:

Because Tumblr absolutely adores this series. Even though I sort of hate Tumblr overall, they did also rec the Captive Prince trilogy to me, and that’s one of my favorite series of ever, so why not?

Why It’s Still There: 

Laziness? And I sort of don’t want to start a series right now; I have way too many unfinished ones; it’s basically unacceptable.

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Adaptation

Adaptation

Why I Added It to My TBR:

I’ve had all of Malinda Lo’s books on my TBR for a long time, but this is the one that interested me the most, probably because the cover pulls me in AND I still don’t really know what this book is about even though I read the description. But, I absolutely love weird books anyway.

Why It’s Still There:

Another Goodreads addition. Let’s just be glad I’m not on the site anymore.

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We Are Okay

We Are Okay

Why I Added It to My TBR: 

So many people have raved about this one and Everything Leads to You, so I should obviously read the both of them. Also, I’ve seen this book in many a bookstagram pictures, and it looks absolutely gorgeous.

Why It’s Still There:

I’m just not in a contemporary mood, I admit it.

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When the Moon Was Ours

When the Moon Was Ours

Why I Added It to My TBR: 

Because everyone in the blogging community has raved about this book to the point where I just went ahead and added it to my TBR! And I’m also a sucker for gorgeous prose, and the quotes for this one sound stunning.

Why It’s Still There: 

I’m waiting until I’m in the mood for this one. I’ve been sucking at reading this year, and this one looks like a pretty dense read, so I’ll wait until I’m totally ready for it.

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Queens of Geek

Queens of Geek

Why I Added It to My TBR:

Again, another recent blogging community obsession. And, okay, the cover is striking and I just couldn’t help myself.

Why It’s Still There:

Yeah, in the last five to ten minutes, I haven’t suddenly been in the mood for a contemporary.

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As I Descended

As I Descended

Why I Added It to My TBR:

I’ve heard lots of things about Talley’s books – both good and bad – but I’m most interested in this one because I’ve become a huge fan of YA horror, and I really need to read more of it.

Why It’s Still There:

I really don’t have any excuses except I’m just not in the mood for it.

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I’ll Give You the Sun

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Why I Added It to My TBR:

I bought this so long ago with some birthday money. Pretty sure my eyes saw the cover, then read the description, and I went ahead and bought it.

Why It’s Still There:

Still not in that contemporary craze. And it’s been, like, four years, so this is unacceptable to be honest.

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Obviously, I really need to get cracking on conquering my TBR. 

(Someone please help me.)

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Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts on them? What are some of your favorite LGBTQ+ reads? Also, I’m doing a blog post on Tips You’d Give New Book Bloggers for next month, so for all of you guys out there, what’s one piece of advice you’d give a new book blogger?

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6

[REVIEW] The Otto Digmore Difference by Brent Hartinger

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Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Adult

Series: The Otto Digmore Difference #1

Rating: 4 STARS 

Description:

“Road trip!” 

Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success. 

Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time. 

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie. 

There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he still might have romantic feelings for his best friend. 

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams? 

My Thoughts:

“People are staring at me, and I’m in the moment, and I want it to go on forever.”

First off, oh my God, this is my first author request book! I was so happy to read this one because LGBTQ+ novels are my some of my favorite novels, as I’m sure you guys know. Plus, I actually have two of Hartinger’s books on my TBR – Three Truths and a Lie and Grand and Humble, to be exact – so, why not start with this one! And, yes, I’m so glad that we’re getting a sequel because this was oh so good.

I absolutely loved Otto so much! He has burn scars on one side of his face because of an incident when he was seven years old, and continually has to overcome prejudice regarding Hollywood because he can’t get the parts he wants, and the parts he’s offered are extremely offensive. He’s such a nice guy that just wants a chance to make it as an actor, and you’ll definitely feel for him. He’s such a real character that it’ll basically be impossible to not care about him even a little, especially because of the situations he’s constantly caught up in and the way he feels because of what he looks like. Do people think of him as sexless because he’s not conventionally attractive? Are the only parts he’s going to be able to act as are monsters or small parts?  It’s one of those things where you’ll feel frustrated and sympathetic because of his thoughts and what’s going on around him, and that’s always a good thing.

Also, the road trip aspect of this was so much fun. Believe it or not, I’ve had yet to read a book centered around a road trip and not become completely bored by it – I’m looking at you Retribution of Mara Dyer and The Darkest Minds – but I read this one so quickly because it was easily captivating, and because I cared so much about Otto, I just wanted to see what was going to happen regarding his story. Of course, we had some out-of-the-blue events going on, but it really didn’t bother me too much because it was just all so enjoyable.

And good news – this book had little to no romance! I truly thought there was something that was going to happen between the two main characters because I’m so used to watching shows or reading books where everything works out happily ever after for the main character romance-wise, but I was pleasantly surprised that this book featured absolutely no cheating and a really adorable bromance (and bromances are always some of my favorite friendships out there). There is a little bit of a fluffy romance near the end, but not too much that it’ll detract from the story, and I thought it was just so, so cute. I don’t think I’ve ever read a contemporary that doesn’t center completely around a romance, so it was nice to see a contemporary that had more of a focus on the importance of friendship and recognizing other people’s sacrifices.

Also, points for all the super modern references! Since it’s a book that takes place in Hollywood, we get to see all these references to modern TV shows – shows that came out just in this fall season of last year, which I adored – and actors – if you actually keep up with that type of stuff. This book reminded me that I was watching The Exorcist, and I never got back to that (like I do most shows I start watching oops). Also, Speechless is A+; I highly recommend it.

Overall, a really fun road trip contemporary that has a larger focus on friendship than anything. I highly recommend.

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I received this book for free from the author via an author request. Thanks so much to Brent Hartinger for allowing me to read this book!

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