Author Archives: ALBTALBS

Are You Scared? (Do You Wanna Be?)

Editor’s Note: Hi friends! So Dave actually sent me this post last year 🙃 but I didn’t get it posted prior to surgery, and … well, if you’ve ever recovered from major surgery I think you know basically continuing to breathe takes all your focus and energy. Anyway. Here we are a year later, and with Halloween right here, we’ve got some “scary” book recs for you.

This post is supposed to be about a book. Specifically, a collection of gothic horror. The New York Public Library defines gothic horror as “the battle between humanity and unnatural forces of evil…with an oppressive, inescapable, and bleak landscape.” It’s the stuff of haunted mansions (Shirley Jackson), ghosts (Susan Hill), and supernatural creatures (Bram Stoker). That wasn’t this book. 

There was no sense of foreboding or dread. There were no chills or scares. But then I had to ask myself, “Is it me?” Would someone else who isn’t a fan of horror novels, comics, and movies enjoy this more? Perhaps. Or did I not enjoy it because the horrors we’ve faced for the past year and a half are far scarier than anything I could read? Perhaps. It’s for these reasons that I’ll refrain from naming the book.

But it got me thinking what is scary or frightening? What makes me turn on the lamp while reading or even makes me put down the book? It is of course different for every person. I have a friend terrified of clowns, my wife is petrified of snakes, I detest daddy-long-leg spiders aka cellar spiders. Vile long-legged ticks is what they are. But I digress. Whether it’s clowns or snakes or walking ticks we all have that thing that sends chills down our spine.

Here are ten books that might make you stop reading and put on a Hallmark Christmas movie because the book has begun to haunt you and you need a change. Continue reading

A Q&A with Jennifer Estep for the Release of Tear Down the Throne

Hi friends! I’m really pleased to have gotten the chance to ask Jennifer Estep some questions that tie into her newest release Tear Down the Throne, which came out Tuesday! I’m actually a little surprised that I’ve never had her as a guest before! She’s super nice and a great author. Congratulations on your newest release, and without further ado … Jennifer! 

Book Cover of Tear Down the Throne by Jennifer Estep

  1. What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned when researching for your books? What about for this particular series?

JE: I always say that I write fantasy books so I can make the whole thing up and so I don’t have to do any research. LOL. 

But I actually do a fair amount of research for my books, including for Tear Down the Throne and the other books in my Gargoyle Queen adult epic fantasy series. I’ve definitely gone down some Internet rabbit holes when researching things like mythology, weapons, and more. 

But most of the time, I end up researching odd little details – like, can you eat the skin on a kiwi? Things that no one will probably even notice in a book but me, but things that will bother me if I don’t know the answers. 

(I knew this one! Food 52 had a “whole thing” about it… ) Continue reading

A List of Latinx Romance Authors

Hi Friends! It’s Latinx Heritage Month 2021! (The Smithsonian still has “Hispanic Heritage Month” as does a lot of media – as well as old posts so I’m tossing in the kitchen sink.) Anyway! I mentioned it a while back but this is the way ALBTALBS will generally be celebrating the Smithsonian Heritage Months now. Please find a list of Latinx romance authors below.
(You can also search the blog for guest posts from years past – a few of the authors listed here have written really lovely posts, and/or shared exclusive excerpts from their books.)

And, if you missed them, you can find a list of Black Romance Authors here, as well as a list of APIA Romance Authors.

Lily Anderson
Carmen Baca
Sela Carson
Zoey Castile/Zoraida Córdova
Mary Castillo
Rebel Carter
Andie J. Christopher
Chanel Cleeton
Alexis Daria
Liana De la Rosa
Taylor V. Donovan
Carmen Falcone
Barbara Ferrer aka Caridad Ferrer
Leora Gonzales
Nadine Gonzalez
Adriana Herrera
Isabel Ibañez
Julie Leto
Angelina Lopez
Yamile Saied Mendez
Mimi Milan
Janelle Milanes
Laura Taylor Namey
Priscilla Oliveras
Berta Platas
Caridad Pineiro
Rosemary Rey
Elizabeth Reyes
Lilliam Rivera
Roxie Rivera
Danni Rose
Inés Saint
Jude Sierra
Sabrina Sol
Mia Sosa
Milly Taiden
Dee Tenorio
Piper Vaughn
Ismée Williams

 

As always – If you fall under the umbrella and aren’t listed let me know – I want to add you! (Or if anyone knows of an authors I missed. Thanks!)

[Release Day] Teaser Thursday Exclusive Excerpt: Bright Familiar by Jeffe Kennedy

Hi friends! I’m super excited to share an exclusive excerpt with you on a book out in just a few hours! Yes that’s right! Bright Familiar is out July 9th! And Jeffe Kennedy is a fabulous romance writer that has so many delicious high fantasy romances especially. Incidentally you can read Aidee’s review of the first book Dark Wizard here. And isn’t the cover of Bright Familiar so pretty?! <3

Bright Familiar by Jeffe Kennedy book coverHe wanted her with consuming passion… and so did the monster within.

Lady Veronica Elal has been freed from her tower—and entered a life of servitude. It doesn’t matter that her wizard master has odd ideas about circumventing Convocation tradition and making their relationship equal. Nic prides herself on her practicality and that means not pretending her marriage is full of hearts and flowers. Besides she understands that, despite her new husband’s idealism, they face obstacles so great the pair of them could be crushed to nothing, even without dashing themselves brainless trying to fight the Convocation.

Lord Gabriel Phel has come this far against impossible odds. He was born with powerful wizard magic, the first in his family in generations. He’s managed to begin the process of reinstating his fallen house. And—having staked his family’s meager fortune to win a familiar to amplify his magic, a highborn daughter to be mother to his children, his lady, and lover—he rescued Nic in a distant land, successfully bringing her home to House Phel. Though she’s cynical about their chances of success, he’s certain they can defy their enemies and flourish. Together.

But, the more Gabriel discovers about working with the fiery Nic, attempting to learn the finer points of wizardry and marriage, the more illicit fantasies plague him. His need for Nic—and the dark cravings she stirs in his black wizard’s heart—grow daily. Though Nic has reconciled herself to being possessed by Gabriel—and indeed yearns for even more from her brooding and reluctant master—creating a new life for herself isn’t easy. Especially when Gabriel seems determined to subvert the foundation of her world. Starting with her father.

Aghast, Gabriel swallowed against his dry throat. The image of Nic in the wedding dress she would’ve worn to marry him if she hadn’t escaped nearly crowded out his other thoughts, and he had to sternly order himself to focus. “Why do you think he did that?”

Canting her head, jaw firm, Nic gave him a hard look. “To remind me that a familiar is subject to their wizard master’s rule. Maman had raised the concern that you might not be able to restore House Phel, that I’d belong to a no-tier house with little fortune and meager prospects.” Continue reading

Guest Review: When Sparks Fly by Kristen Zimmer

When Sparks Fly by Kristen Zimmer
[Contemporary F/F YA/NA romance] released by Bookouture on April 28, 2021

Britton Walsh has never had a home. After a lifetime in the care system, she doesn’t expect she’ll ever find one. But beginning her senior year with new foster parents in a new city, means starting over yet again. Tom and Cate Cahill seem okay. The hitch? Their daughter, Avery.

Beautiful, popular and cool, Avery is everything Britton is not. She’s all Britton could ever ask for in a sister, or even a friend––but having survived without either for so long, Britton knows the way her heart races whenever Avery enters the room can only mean one thing…

But Avery has a secret. Something that is eating away at her and stopping her letting anyone in, least of all Britton. Will Avery’s insistence on punishing herself for a mistake in her past make Britton’s last year of high school, and finding a place to call home, impossible? Can two such different people ever find common ground, friendship, or maybe even something more?

An unforgettable new adult lesbian romance for fans of Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters, Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen, or Nancy Garden’s classic young adult coming out novel, Annie on My Mind.

New Adult novel: recommended for 17+ due to mature themes and sexual content.

Pre-pandemic I co-hosted my library’s romance book club. For June, which is Pride Month, we asked book club members to read a LGBTQIA+ book of their choosing. I selected two, one of which was The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer. It was a cute friends to lovers lesbian romance that I enjoyed quite a bit. When I heard she was publishing a second book I knew I had to read it hoping it would be as good as the first. Continue reading

Original Retro APAHM Guest Hudson Lin on Diversity 201: We Are Not a Monolith

Hi friends! If you’re wondering about the title … well, Hudson originally sent me this post in 2019. I cringe even now thinking about it. I nearly (figuratively) died when I saw earlier this year I’d totally dropped the ball, so I contacted Hudson and was graciously given permission to post it now. (I will say … in May 2019 I was recovering and re-learning how to walk again so … it wasn’t as if I was totally just not doing anything…) But I still feel terrible. So – my apologies to the wonderful Hudson Lin, and thank you!

Diversity 201: We are not a monolith
By Hudson Lin

When I think of the words Asian American, I get a very specific picture in my mind. This person has yellow skin, grew up in North America, speaks English fluently and perhaps a second Asian language. This person fits most of the mainstream stereotypes of Asians in the West. This person looks like me. 

But my mental picture of an Asian American is wrong. Because not all Asians have yellow skin, not all grew up in North America, not all speak a second language. Not all Asians are good at math and excel in school. Not all are quiet keep our heads down hard workers. Not all Asians are good at badminton.  Continue reading

Guest Author Stacey Agdern: Thoughts on History and Jewish American Heritage Month

Hi friends! Please welcome Stacey to ALBTALBS! She’s our first JAHM guest ever! This is really exciting. 😀

Thoughts on History and Jewish American Heritage Month:
By Stacey Agdern

Jewish American Heritage month was established in 2006 by presidential proclamation.  Which means that it’s the most recent of the heritage months, now sharing space with an already well established month.

Which means it’s hard to talk about it. 

It’s not that Jews aren’t proud of who we are. We are.  

It’s that we don’t want to take away from the important conversations that surround  AAPI history month. These days, as anti Asian prejudices increase, it’s even more important to focus on and celebrate the history and achievements of East Asians, South Asians, Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders. 

But at the same time, these days, a great deal of conversation in Jewish spaces involves putting ourselves back into the narrative and reframing conversations where we’ve been erased.  It’s happening in so many different spaces, for so many different reasons. Continue reading

Guest Review: Gilded Age Cocktails: History, Lore and Recipes from America’s Golden Age by Cecelia Tichi

Gilded Age Cocktails: History, Lore and Recipes from America’s Golden Age by Cecelia Tichi
Released by NYU Press on May 4, 2021

Gilded Age Cocktails book coverA delightful romp through America’s Golden Age of Cocktails

The decades following the American Civil War burst with invention―they saw the dawn of the telephone, the motor car, electric lights, the airplane―but no innovation was more welcome than the beverage heralded as the “cocktail.”

The Gilded Age, as it came to be known, was the Golden Age of Cocktails, giving birth to the classic Manhattan and martini that can be ordered at any bar to this day. Scores of whiskey drinks, cooled with ice chips or cubes that chimed against the glass, proved doubly pleasing when mixed, shaken, or stirred with special flavorings, juices, and fruits. The dazzling new drinks flourished coast to coast at sporting events, luncheons, and balls, on ocean liners and yachts, in barrooms, summer resorts, hotels, railroad train club cars, and private homes.

From New York to San Francisco, celebrity bartenders rose to fame, inventing drinks for exclusive universities and exotic locales. Bartenders poured their liquid secrets for dancing girls and such industry tycoons as the newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst and the railroad king “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Cecelia Tichi offers a tour of the cocktail hours of the Gilded Age, in which industry, innovation, and progress all take a break to enjoy the signature beverage of the age. Gilded Age Cocktails reveals the fascinating history behind each drink as well as bartenders’ formerly secret recipes. Though the Gilded Age cocktail went “underground” during the Prohibition era, it launched the first of many generations whose palates thrilled to a panoply of artistically mixed drinks.

Lime asked me to review this book because vintage cocktails have been my pandemic quarantine project. I have amassed a collection of books on the subject, and I am happy to add this one to my bar shelf.

The subtitle of this book says a lot. It contains more history and lore than recipes, and I found it fascinating. As Tichi writes in the introduction, “the Gilded Age might also be known as the Golden Age of Cocktails” (p. 3), especially in the pre-Prohibition USA. She explores some of the reasons for that early in the book, and then she goes on to take a closer look at individual people, groups and places that were particularly significant and influential in cocktail culture from 1870-1910. Continue reading

SAPAHM Guest Author Cathy Yardley on being Asian-ish

Hi friends! I’m so happy to welcome back Cathy Yardley. I really hope you read her post – I’m grateful for what she has to say, and that she was willing to share it with us. Thank you, Cathy. <3

Asian-ish

When Lime asked if I could write a guest post for APAHM, I was thrilled. And then I was sort of terrified. Because I have a very complicated relationship with my own Asian heritage.

So I was talking with my (white) father last month, and I mentioned something – don’t remember what exactly– that my brother and I had been talking about. I think it was being Asian parents. How funny it was that, now that we had kids of our own, a lot of Mom’s habits had stuck despite out best efforts. Hovering about grades, especially.

And my father said, “It’s not like you’re really Asian, though.” Continue reading

Guest “Lightning Reviews”: The Billionaire’s Kittens by Karen Booth & Piper Trace

With a little sweet and a lot of heat The Billionaire’s Kittens series offers up gorgeous billionaires, spicy happenings in the boardroom and bedroom, and lots and lots of cute cuddly kittens. For those unfamiliar with the series here’s a quick recap in time for book eight which releases today.

The Billionaire's Kittens by Karen Booth & Piper Trace coverThe Billionaire’s Kittens – He wanted her body but he fell for her kittens.

Thurston Howard knew he was in trouble the first time he saw the little furry kitten in the lobby of the building he lived in and owned. The kitten looked exactly like one he owned as a child. He wasn’t prepared for the kitten’s owner to be even cuter than her furry feline companion. 

This book is told in alternating POVs of Thurston and Amber Darling who owns her own feline rescue, Amber’s Darlings. It works well here since they are so different but it’s those differences that make this book work. This is a friends to lovers romance that will find you rooting for the couple to realize that friends do indeed make the best lovers. Plus who can resist a man who loves kittens? Continue reading