SHHM Guest Author: Jude Sierra on A Time for Introspection

Hi friends! Scheduling is off (my fault) so we’re sliding in here with a post to ~close out Smithsonian Hispanic Heritage Month with guest Jude Sierra. Jude has been kindness itself, and provided us with a wonderful post I really hope you’ll check out. Also of note, Jude is a first time guest to ALBTALBS, so roll out the welcome mats!

A Time for Introspection

 

  • Recently some painful truths have come out about the publishing industry’s perception of our value and how that continues to hinder access and visibility for authors of color who write Romance. This is a time for introspection, and it seems very clear, some changes need to be made,” PoC Queer Romance Authors Community

 

What It Takes by Jude Sierra Book CoverIn March of 2018 something uplifting and inspiring took root in our Queer Romance Community: a movement to raise the voices and visibility of authors of color.

As a Latinx author, and as a writer and book blogger, I was very excited by the sudden swell of activism, communication and organization undertaken to create community resources connecting authors with artists, editors. From the start of my writing career I felt it was vital to represent diversity in my stories, both responsibly and honestly. Continue reading

SHHM Guest Author: Taylor V Donovan!

Hi friends! In a surprise to nobody, my life is in shambles, and I’ve neglected the blog. (Not exactly one of the best intros I’ve ever done, but I wanted to be honest and clear that this is entirely my fault, I dropped the ball, and Taylor was very patient and understanding.) Here at ALBTALBS we’re trucking along with the Smithsonian Heritage Months, and I’m very happy to welcome new guest Taylor V. Donovan. Taylor shared a really heartfelt and informative post, so I hope you read on! <3 And please give Taylor a warm welcome! 

Every year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrate the contributions, histories, and cultures of American citizens whose ancestors came from Mexico, Spain, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. This originated back in 1968. First it was only a week, then it was extended to a month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, a year before I graduated from high school. I was seventeen at the time. I was American, having been born and raised in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States. Yet the first time I heard about Hispanic Heritage Month was around 2010, a full nine years after moving to New York, and it got me thinking about my own heritage and my country’s past. Continue reading

Decades: A Journey of African American Romance Guest Author Patricia Sargeant Talks Hope, Love, Courage on the Decades Journey

Hi friends! I’m delighted to welcome back Patricia Sargeant, who is a total sweetheart. We’ve had a slight deviation in schedule, and Patricia, who has been awesome throughout the year with organizing posts and such, stepped in. <3 It’s a really thoughtful, wonderful post, so I hope you read it and chime in!

Also, if you’ve missed any of the previous Decades posts at ALBTALBS you can find them all here. 🙂

Decades: A Journey of African American Romance
Guest Author Patricia Sargeant Talks Hope, Love, Courage on the Decades Journey

Note: The Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series launched in January 2018. It consists of 12 books, one released each month. Each story is set in one of 12 decades between 1900 and 2010. Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also embraces the African American experience within that decade. Join the journey on our Facebook page.

My research for my Decades story, Campaign for Her Heart – Decades: A Journey of African American Romance, Book 12, reinforced for me a widely held belief that history is cyclical. I realize that my story is set in the 2010, 2012 to be exact. But to understand where we are, it’s important to understand where we’ve come from. For example, Black Lives Matter was founded on July 29, 2013, in response to deadly violence against black and brown people by states and vigilantes. That fact takes on a different perspective when you consider that 96 years earlier, hundreds of people participated in the Silent March, a demonstration that took place in New York City on July 29, 1917, in protest of the vicious lynchings and other race-related violence against African Americans. Continue reading

Register and Vote! (Please?)

Eek! I meant to post this almost two weeks ago :X Some dates unfortunately have already passed – but some we’re coming down to the last minutes … and a few more you’ve got a few days so the point is, if you haven’t yet registered to vote and still can – DO! NOW! PLEASE!

Seriously with the UN reports on climate change, everything happening politically, even Taylor Swift broke her silence. (And told people to vote again when she accepted her AMA Artist of the Year Award). Make sure you also check your voter registration is still active, because for quite some time now there have been countless reports of people who suddenly weren’t registered anymore.

 

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I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈

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Release Day Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Kill the Queen (Crown of Shards #1) by Jennifer Estep
Fantasy published by Harper Voyager on October 2, 2018

Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep Book CoverGladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

Fan-freaking-tastic! I would have finished this in one day if I didn’t have to do grown up stuff after I started reading. Great characters, awesome world building. Jennifer Estep got me to care about gladiators when fighting is not my thing at all—no interest in WWE, MMA, UFC, etc. But I had a running montage in my head of the fight sequences while Evie, the main protagonist, and the troupe are training and during the gladiator shows (“Are you not entertained?!” Came to my mind several times). All the best elements of action movies—this book was like a summer blockbuster movie (think of Gladiator, the Thor: Ragnarok Thor versus Hulk battle) to me, only in book form. Shifters and magic abound in this world on top of traveling gladiator troupes putting on shows for the masses. If all this sounds appealing to you, this is the book for you. Continue reading

Release Day Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven
Adult high fantasy romance released by Penguin on September 25, 2018

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven Book CoverA woman with power over fire and illusion and the enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire’s capital–her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village’s tithe has been the same woman. Gilene’s sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire’s most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion–and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire–and burn once more.

Fans of fantasy romance rejoice! Another great book (and new series) by Grace Draven is here! I was so excited for this book I begged for an ARC! This story has great world-building and a complex romance. I enjoyed the very slow burn romance with a great payoff at the end. Azarion and Gilene are multi-faceted characters who go through a lot and grow in this story. Azarion’s mother, Saruke, and sister, Tamura, are awesome secondary characters along with traders and other clan members. Continue reading

Review: Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh

Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh
Contemporary romance released by Nalini Singh on September 18, 2018

Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh Book CoverNew York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh continues her Hard Play series with a sweet, sexy romance featuring big, fat, OTT weddings, a meddling grandma, and a too-serious hero who needs to be unbuttoned…

Nayna Sharma agreed to an arranged marriage in the hope it would heal the fractures in her beloved family… only to realize too late that a traditional marriage is her personal nightmare. Panicked, she throws caution to the winds, puts on the tiniest dress she can find, and ends up in the arms of a tall, rough-edged hunk of a man who has abs of steel—and who she manages to mortally insult between one kiss and the next.

Abandoned as a child, then adopted into a loving family, Raj Sen believes in tradition, in continuity. Some might call him stiff and old-fashioned, but he knows what he wants—and it’s a life defined by rules… yet he can’t stop thinking about the infuriating and sexy woman who kissed him in the moonlight then disappeared. When his parents spring an introduction on him, the last woman he expects is her. Beautiful. Maddening. A rule breaker in the making.

He’s all wrong for her. She’s all wrong for him. And love is about to make rebels of them both.

Nalini Singh is an evil fiend because I’m pretty sure she enjoys ripping your heart out. (Figuratively, emotionally.) … Maybe I should’ve written that “I’m pretty sure Nalini Singh is an evil fiend because she enjoys ripping your emotional heart out. Doesn’t matter – I’m not getting quoted and definitely am not aiming for that. Heh. Rebel Hard is just so cute. It’s snuggly and warm and fun and I just want to hug it. I have slightly mixed feelings about part of it, but everything really fell into place for me around 70%. I already know I’ll be re-reading this book. I also was thinking this was way more lighthearted and then you get to 82% and BAM. The book reaches out and grabs you in the feels. It’s got love, intrigue, drama, overly involved loving family (but not all good – some are shake worthy), cultural mores, a devoted hero, and a heroine just spreading her wings in her own way.  Continue reading

SHHM = Smithsonian Hispanic Heritage Month

Hi friends! It’s September 15th, which is the exact start of Hispanic Heritage Month! It runs from September 15-October 15. And at A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet (ALBTALBS) we post on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, so this is a perfect alignment.

If you’re new to ALBTALBS, SHM = the Smithsonian Heritage and/or History Months. We try to celebrate them annually, with more or less success. I think it’s always important to do something though. I do also want to note basically anyone is welcome to guest at any time. We just make a special effort to highlight the people of whatever particular group throughout the year.

We’ve got a few things in the air now, so if you can think of any Latinx romance readers or writers, please send them our way. And feel free to mention them (if they’re ok with it) in the comments.

In the meantime, feel free to check out Smithsonian Heritage/History Month posts from the past, and especially those from Smithsonian Hispanic Heritage Month!

Decades: A Journey of African American Romance Guest Author Zuri Day Brings Us Thug Love

Every month I wait with great anticipation to learn more about the next book in the Decades series.  And every month I get to post an exclusive excerpt or an exclusive behind the pages peek at one of these amazing stories. This month, I’m so excited to be able to introduce you to author Zuri Day and share and exclusive excerpt from her upcoming book, Thug Love,  which you will soon be able to preorder on September 15th for an October 1st release. In the meantime, you can head over to the Decades Facebook page for #30daysofThugLovin. 

 

Thug Love by Zuri Day is the 10th book in the Decades: A Journey of African American
Romance series. This series consists of 12 books, each set in one of 12 decades between 1900
and 2010. Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also
embraces the African American experience within that decade. Join the journey on our Facebook page.

Thug Love by Zuri Day

Thug Love by Zuri Day book coverAs the new editor-in-chief for LA Chronicle, Traci Johnson is determined to change the California paper’s narrative. She’s tired of stories about police brutality, gang violence and drugs, and wants to focus on positive African-American stories. But when rapper Tupac Shakur
gets shot it’s breaking news that must be covered, even though the incident epitomizes the type of topic she’s trying to avoid, and the type of man she despises.

Marcus Moore is a product of South Central Los Angeles. He could have easily been one of its statistics but he stays out of trouble and becomes an undercover agent for the LAPD. When Tupac gets shot he knows it’s not random. In fact he believes the trail of blood will lead back to a group of men he’s investigating, the reason he’s in Vegas. Meeting sexy journalist Traci
Johnson is a tempting distraction, but her assumptions based on his appearance and the culture he embraces are a huge turn-off.

Tupac dies, and Marcus surprisingly finds comfort in Traci’s arms. Will what happens in
Vegas stay in Vegas, or can the two get past stark societal differences and turn one night’s
passion into a lifetime of love?

Continue reading

My [Limecello’s] 2018 Reads Part 1

Hi friends! I think it’s pretty clear we’re uh … >.> pretty chill here at ALBTALBS (A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet). Also that blogging has become largely dictated by various aspects of my health. I’m a bit mixed because I feel like I should apologize, but also that I absolutely should not because you know. Medical issues. A) It’s absolutely not something I can control, and obviously if I could I wouldn’t be in the boat I am now. Which speaking of boats, perhaps someone should send one because holy cow all the rain of late.

ANYWAY. That’s the vague update on the “state of things” currently. Now let’s get to the fun stuff which is … books I’ve read from January-June 2018. I’ve already posted Aidee and Babs‘ lists, which you should definitely check out. They had some overlap.

I haven’t been reading as much this year – but it’s been picking up some, and I always hope to read more.  So here we go! This list also isn’t set in stone – it’s what I have documented which may be hit or miss. Continue reading