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So … This Is Awkward. I Need Help. (Please)

Hi friends! … So, a few things. I’ve been slightly more close mouthed and cagey about it this time. (I know, I know, you’re going “what? You? Quiet about anything?!”) … So there is that. But uh … I’m not even sure when this will be going live, or where I’ll be … (please Jesus God in Heaven let me be home by this time, not in the hospital or a rehab facility) … but I probably won’t be lucid. Anyway – I’m having major surgery. Major.

The last time I had to have this done, I was in the hospital almost nine days. I also almost literally died. … And then I “just” wanted to die. So yeah.

And … now we get to the even more awkward part. (God can it get even more awkward? … Sadly, yes.)

I need help. Monetary, mostly, to be honest. I’m going to be out of work for more than three months, and without pay. I guess the positive is I’ll still have my sad little job to go back to once I’m a bit more on my feet … but having no income while at the same time racking up major medical expenses is unfortunately putting me in a really difficult situation.

And … then there’s the other also awkward part. You might remember last time (and unfortunately I’m actually still recovering from it…) … there was also a GFM for me. That was done by Ashley March/Elise Rome. She wanted to help me out and suggested staring a campaign for me, and asking if I’d be ok with it. I was touched, and thanked her. Well … things didn’t go quite as expected and she kept most of the funds for over a year. She has started sending some more of the money as of this year, which I really appreciate.

I’m not actually trying to shame her – I really simply want to explain what happened last time – why I’m asking for “yet more money” and such. Although to be honest all of that was gone/already spent on medical things before it would’ve even ever gotten to me. If that makes sense. Everything is a muddle.

The point is, if you could find it in your hearts and wallets to donate to me … I can’t tell you how much it’d mean to me, or how much I need it. I’m embarrassed, mortified, sick with … shame and need, but there you have it. My needs are greater than my pride.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-limecello 

If you can’t afford to give, which I absolutely understand, I’d ask that you please share the campaign to reach greater numbers. 

Thank you all so much for your kindness and support. 

All my love.

[Limecello]

Aidee’s List of Books Read from August 2018 through June 2019

I am a terrible, overwhelmed human being, so here is my list for the last year. As you will probably realize, I’ve done a lot less reading, and a lot of re-reading. I’ve put an asterisk “*” by the books I’ve re-read. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Contemporary romance published by St. Martin’s Griffin on May 14, 2019

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston book coverWhat happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

I’m reviewing this for the July #TBRChallenge. While it’s a fairly recent release, I feel like I’ve waited forever to read it. If unrequited love, enemies to lovers, and friends to lovers are things you like in a romance, then this book is for you. It has all of these tropes and more between one couple and it’s delightful. Pretty much all of this story worked for me. Alex and Henry are lovely main characters, the secondary characters are so compelling. I feel like I got enough information for them to be fully developed but at the same time there’s potential for other stories in this world involving these great characters. A big component of the romance between Alex and Henry is epistolary—they communicate via text and email, initially getting to know each other more then it evolves into love letters. It’s so romantic y’all. Continue reading

July 4th in America

Hi friends! So … I thought about doing something like I did four years ago, sharing the entire text of the Declaration of Independence. However, it’s easy enough to just click over.

Also, the state of the country is just … such a mess now that … well, it’s more important than ever to celebrate the ideas of democracy and to work for one. A lot of people are feeling burnout and such, and I can’t even articulate how I feel about this administration so … here’s this.

Enjoy the tongue in cheek “America Yay” – I hope if you’re stateside you have a lovely, safe, and fun holiday. (And hat tip to Manda Collins for bringing the video to my attention.)

Release Day Review: Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep

Protect the Prince (A Crown of Shards book 2) by Jennifer Estep
Adult High Fantasy romance released by Harper Voyager on July 2, 2019

Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep book coverMagic, murder, adventure, and romance combine in this second novel in the exciting Crown of Shardssaga from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep.

Everleigh Blair might be the new gladiator queen of Bellona, but her problems are far from over.

First, Evie has to deal with a court full of arrogant, demanding nobles, all of whom want to get their greedy hands on her crown. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an assassin tries to kill Evie in her own throne room.

Despite the dangers, Evie goes ahead with a scheduled trip to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari in order to secure a desperately needed alliance. But complicating matters is the stubborn Andvarian king, who wants to punish Evie for the deaths of his countrymen during the Seven Spire massacre.

Dark forces are also at work inside the Andvarian palace, and Evie soon realizes that no one is safe. Worse, her immunity to magic starts acting in strange, unexpected ways, which makes Evie wonder whether she is truly strong enough to be a Winter Queen.

Evie’s magic, life, and crown aren’t the only things in danger—so is her heart, thanks to Lucas Sullivan, the Andvarian king’s bastard son and Evie’s … well, Evie isn’t quite sure what Sullivan is to her.

Only one thing is certain—protecting a prince might be even harder than killing a queen…

I loved Kill the Queen, book 1 in this series and Protect the Prince is more of the same. Jennifer Estep has created a great world and I love the tone and structure of these books. To me the pacing and content are like action movies in book form and I just want roll around in them for days. There’s two royal courts, a little road trip, political machinations abound, skulking through secret passage ways, sleuthing to find spies and assassins, magic battles, and romance?! The best things ever all in one package in my opinion! Perfect summer reading. Continue reading

SHM Pride Guest: Renée Dahlia on Learning To Feel Valid

Hi friends! So Renée actually sent me this post in early June … and you’ll probably have noticed we’ve been q-u-i-e-t here for some time now. That’s mostly on me, so my apologies, and my apologies to Renée on this delay. I’m so excited to have at least one Pride post in 2019 though, so I’m very appreciative you were willing to write this post and share with us! Thank you!

Learning to Feel Valid

Renée Dahlia

Liability by Renee Dahlia Book CoverIt took me forty years to figure out that I was bisexual. There are many times that I’ve wondered what different paths my life would have taken if I’d worked this out earlier. How many times did I dismiss certain feelings or reactions I had because I’d been taught that those feelings were wrong? Far too many.

CW: I’m going to discuss some of the things I was taught by the church as a child, but I will be keeping the worst of the slurs out of this. However, some of the things I discuss hurt me, and may hurt others too. Continue reading

From the Owners of Love’s Sweet Arrow

Hey all! So Marissa emailed the site “Hello!” about the Kickstarter for Love’s Sweet Arrow … which was unfortunately unsuccessful but they persevered and decided to open anyway! Also, she and her mother eventually sent other articles … so here we are though! Today is the grand opening of Love’s Sweet Arrow, and this is what Marissa and Roseann sent!

From Roseann:

It all started last summer, the lottery was up to some really high millions and millions, and as people are won’t to play when it gets really high, we all start dreaming! Well our dream was, we would open a Romance Exclusive Bookstore, well, we did not win. However once a seed starts to take hold, the dream becomes a reality. So for a couple of months we kicked around ideas, brainstormed, had a lot of back and forth discussions with family and decided to do it!

Continue reading

Guest Author Lorelie Brown on the Book that Took Six Years to Write

As a reader there is nothing I love more than a trilogy or series I can really invest myself in. Knowing that I’ll be able to revisit characters or settings over multibook arcs make me giddy with joy! Sometimes life grabs us by the throat and enough things go awry to the point where the author may not be able to deliver that next installment as quickly as we readers may want. We’re very grateful to author Lorelie Brown for sharing with us a piece of her journey as she completed the third book in her Wayworth Academy series, A Too Suitable Duchess, which will be delivered to e-readers everywhere on June 14th!

Book cover for A Too Suitable Duchess by Lorelie Brown

Some books are invigorating to write. Some are more of a slog. A Too Suitable Duchess, the book I have coming out on June 14th was a weird beast. I originally started it in 2013. Yup, you read that right. Six full years ago. It was a fairly normal book at first. The usual stuff to work through, plot, motivation, you know it. I wouldn’t have called it either invigorating or a slog at first.

And then my life circumstances changed in a pretty big way. Problem number one. I concentrated on writing 200 words a day, something to keep my toes in. The book started to feel like a slog. Victoria and Spencer felt like gentle pandas who I was trying to make mate. They were too nice. I like to write characters who are complicated and friendly, but these two had taken it too far. They also had this annoying tendency to talk reasonably and not hold grudges.

It made the sagging middle…well, REALLY sag.Book cover for Wayward One by Lorelie Brown Continue reading

Guest Author Anna Kashina on Romance in Blade Fights + An Exclusive Excerpt of Shadowblade AND a Giveaway!

Hi friends! You might know that [adult] high fantasy romance is totally “my thing.” So when Anna Kashina contacted me about reviewing her upcoming book I was first, pretty starstruck, then [pretty immediately] was like “DOES IT FEATURE ADULT CHARACTERS AND IS THERE ROMANCE?!” And when she answered “yes” I was like “WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO BE A GUEST AT ALBTALBS?!!?” And she said yes!!! So here we are! I’m so excited to welcome Anna Kashina today! Her newest book Shadowblade is out today!

Romance in blade fights

There are two things I find irresistible in fantasy novels. One is a good romantic subplot, well balanced and integral to the story. The other is a good blade fight – especially the kind with a lot of cool technique behind it. It’s an additional bonus – as well as a challenge – to make these fights emotionally gripping, as well as being technically cool. But if one manages to achieve all this, there is only one more step to the ultimate prize: to combine the two, using blade fights as a tool to advance the romance. It’s so rewarding when it’s done well.

I am a sucker for a dark and dangerous male lead with a morally complex character. A superb swordsman, trained to become an elite assassin, in my mind, cannot fail as a romantic hero. In my books, I love to match these kind of guys with strong women who can stand up to them, and have hidden strengths of their own. When developing these characters and their relationships, a sword fight can become more engaging than a love scene, and so much more effective in showing off their strengths and limitations, as well as their morally complex sides. Continue reading

SAPAHM Post: Amara Royce Discusses Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient

Hi friends, so it’s a guest review, I suppose is the best way to describe it. I’m thrilled that Amara Royce contributed this post, and as you might know, Hoang’s next book The Bride Test is now out! (Amara sent me this post on the 4th.)

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Contemporary romance released by Berkley on June 8, 2018

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang book cover

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

I generally don’t write reviews of the books I read, not even on Amazon or Goodreads. So I’m not going to try to be clever, and  I can’t guarantee I will be entirely coherent. But I cannot help gushing about this book effusively! I can’t adequately express how much I adore this book—and its author, Helen Hoang, for writing it! I’m also squee-ing because her next book is due out for release on May 7th!!
Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient truly wrecked me in all the best ways. I loved the main characters and many of the supporting characters. I adored the depiction of the female main character Stella’s subjective autistic perspective, as well as the male main character Michael’s handling of the heroine without realizing she’s on the autism spectrum. I adored the depictions of Michael’s family life, especially his mother. I adored the integral issues of consent, and I want everyone to read this book! That’s what the tl;dr boils down to, but for more details, keep reading.

Continue reading

SAPAHM Guest: Ekaterine Xia On the Portrayal of Mothers … and then Confucius!

Hi friends! I’m glad to welcome back Ekaterine Xia to ALBTALBS! She’s going to be out APAHM hero this year, and has written other really thoughtful posts before, which  I hope you’ll check out of you missed them. (Lime, WTF are all those letters and what do they mean? SAPAHM = Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!) So without further ado… another incredible post by Ekaterine!

On the Portrayal of Mothers … and Confucius!

I have mommy issues.

Specifically, I have issues with how mothers are portrayed in fiction, particularly science fiction and fantasy.

Even within Romancelandia, SFFR has a lot of mommy issues. Contemporary does much better, and I have to ask if it’s because contemporary wasn’t influenced by men and their favorite tropes in the same way science fiction and fantasy romance was.

It took me a long time to put that niggling unease into concrete examples, but once you start the list, things start to look pretty bad really quickly. Continue reading