Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Romance Review: Truly, Madly, Deeply by Alexandria Bellefleur

Truly, Madly, Deeply
Author: Alexandria Bellefleur
Release: April 30, 2024
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 336
Review: 5 Stars


Sparks fly when a lovelorn romance novelist and a divorce lawyer who has sworn off relationships agree to cohost a podcast series offering dating advice to viewers, in Truly, Madly, Deeply, the next steamy queer rom-com from Lambda Literary Award winner and national bestselling author Alexandria Bellefleur.

As a bestselling romance novelist, everyone thinks Truly Livingston is an expert on happily-ever-afters. She’s even signed on to record a podcast sharing relationship advice. Little do they know she feels like an imposter—her parents just announced they’re separating, she caught her fiancé cheating, and her entire view on love has been shaken to the core. Truly hopes the podcast will distract her... until she meets her cohost.

Her first impression of Colin McCory But then he opens his extremely kissable mouth. Colin’s view on love just pisses Truly off, even if he does have an annoyingly attractive face. Bickering with a cynical divorce lawyer is the last thing she needs—so she walks out, with no plans to return.

A few days later, Truly is surprised when Colin tracks her down, asking for a fresh start. Truly can’t deny the little thrill she gets from Colin begging, so she reluctantly agrees. As they go from enemies to friends to something else entirely, Truly discovers they have more in common than she ever imagined, including their shared queerness. He’s a genuinely good guy—charming, sweet, and equally as unlucky in love as herself—and there’s something about Colin that drives Truly a little wild. When their attraction reaches a fever pitch, Truly is happy for the first time in years. Yet she can’t help but wonder... is Colin truly, madly, deeply in love with her? Or is it all too good to be true?

You Can Find it At:


This. Was. So. Good! I enjoyed The Fiancee Farce and so was already anticipating this one, but boy did it deliver! Another reviewer shared on Twitter (sorry, X) that they were reading it + a quote that just grabbed me. I had just gotten approved for an ARC and knew I needed to dive right in.

Colin gets off on quite the wrong foot with Truly, but to be fair, he didn't know she had just broken up with her fiancé because she found him cheating on her. A lot of the time, I feel like authors don't have characters put in the work to come back from a bad first impression, but Colin *swoons*. He knows he messed up, even if he isn't entirely sure how/why, and knows he needs to fix it. If not for his own sake (he crushes on Truly hard and fast), then for his sister, who wants Truly to come back to her podcast. Colin has become my new standard for romance heroes. He is obsessed with Truly (as she deserves) and his actions show that.

Truly is also amazing. She's a queer romance author (which, by the way, both main characters are bisexual) and is finding lots of success in her career. In her personal life? Not so much. Even when I was cringing at her choices (maybe don't try to Parent Trap your parents) I was still rooting for her.

My one little quibble was less with her and more with a thing the author decided not to show. There's a comment made about her instagram and having to share that she broke up with her fiancé. I would have loved a sub-feature of the book with her instagram posts, maybe between chapters. We could get one where she announces she's breaking up with what's-his-face, one for the podcast, at the lake house, etc. Maybe Colin starts showing up in them, and commenters note the sparks flying! I think it would be a fun way to A) make the book stand out even more and B) show more of Truly's author side. It is by no means necessary to the plot (though I would have liked some follow-up to the specific comment), but it would make me happy.

Author Bio:

Alexandria Bellefleur is a bestselling and award-winning author of swoony contemporary romance often featuring loveable grumps and the sunshine characters who bring them to their knees. A Pacific Northwesterner at heart, Alexandria has a weakness for good coffee, Pike IPA, and Voodoo Doughnuts. Her special skills include finding the best Pad Thai in every city she visits, remembering faces but not names, falling asleep in movie theaters, and keeping cool while reading smutty books in public. Her debut novel, Written in the Stars, was a 2021 Lambda Literary Award winner and a 2020 winner of The Ripped Bodice Awards for Excellence in Romantic Fiction. 

You Can Find Her At:

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

ARC Review: To Cage a God by Elizabeth May

As you might be able to tell, I am embracing the quiet blog life. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of upcoming fantasy To Cage a God and can't resist A) bragging and B) telling you to preorder this beauty ASAP!

Title: To Cage a God
Author: Elizabeth May
Release: February 20, 2024
Publisher: DAW
Series: These Monstrous Gods #1
Pages: 384
Review: 5 Stars


Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, this Imperial Russia-inspired romantasy launches a new dark fantasy duology of gods, politics, and deadly magical powers from a Sunday Times bestselling author

To cage a god is divine.

To be divine is to rule.

To rule is to destroy.

Using ancient secrets, Galina and Sera’s mother grafted gods into their bones. Bound to brutal deities and granted forbidden power no commoner has held in a millennia, the sisters have grown up to become living weapons. Raised to overthrow an empire―no matter the cost.

With their mother gone and their country on the brink of war, it falls to the sisters to take the helm of the rebellion and end the cruel reign of a royal family possessed by destructive gods. Because when the ruling alurea invade, they conquer with fire and blood. And when they clash, common folk burn.

While Sera reunites with her estranged lover turned violent rebel leader, Galina infiltrates the palace. In this world of deception and danger, her only refuge is an isolated princess, whose whip-smart tongue and sharp gaze threaten to uncover Galina’s secret. Torn between desire and duty, Galina must make a choice: work together to expose the lies of the empire―or bring it all down.

You Can Find it At:


Who stayed up until 2am reading, got up at 8am for work, and proceeded to read during every break? This girl! To Cage a God by Elizabeth May was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait for everyone else to get to experience it in February! Fans of Fourth Wing (as it has been all the rage recently) will definitely enjoy it and I plan to sell it to every romantasy fan that comes into the store!

To Cage a God has five POV characters (iirc) and usually I end up with a favorite, begrudgingly reading the other POVs, but I truly loved every single character in this book! One chapter would end, we'd switch POVs, and for a second I'd be frustrated (basically every chapter ended in a cliffhanger), but then I'd be excited to find out what was happening with these other characters.

We get not one, but TWO romances in this book, and Elizabeth May delivers beautifully! Sera left her lover Vitaly four years prior when she fled with her sister Galina. Sera and Vitaly work so well together and it’s hilarious that Vitaly’s love language is essentially murder. Galina infiltrates the palace to take the empire down from within, and in the process falls for the reclusive Princess Vasilisa. (Yes, we get a sapphic romance too!) I loved the disability rep from Vasilisa and watching them fall for each other made me swoon.

Elizabeth May does a great job of mixing the sweet and spicy without losing any plot or worldbuilding. The plot is tight and fast paced while the world is expansive and deep. The world may be Russian inspired, but expect more revolution than Anastasia vibes (which I loved)! This new take on dragons, gods, and magic was exciting and had me entranced until the final page! I will be eagerly awaiting book two in the duology!

Author Bio:

Elizabeth May is the Sunday Times bestselling author of To Cage a God, the Seven Devils duology (co-written with Laura Lam), The Falconer series, and romance novels under the pseudonym Katrina Kendrick. She is Californian by birth and Scottish by choice, and holds a Ph.D. from the University of St Andrews. She currently resides on an 18th-century farm in the Scottish countryside with her husband, three cats, and a lively hive of honeybees that live inside the wall of her old farmhouse.

Elizabeth is represented by Russell Galen at Scovil Galen Ghosh.

Photo credit: Elizabeth May. Download Hires Image here.

You Can Find Her At:

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Turns Out I'm a Liar: Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

So, I fully planned to shut down the posting aspect of Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews. But then I read some really good books, went to mark them as "Read" in Goodreads, and proceeded to write full reviews. So we're going with plan B, which I had been ruminating on when I initially wrote that goodbye post. Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews is still going to become much quieter than it was before, but I can't resist the siren call of yelling at people about books.

I will continue to post reviews (though likely a little less formal/formatted) and potentially other posts if inspiration strikes. I will be focusing on my work as a bookseller and applying to grad school, but there are parts of this I enjoy too much to fully let go. That said, it's quite possible that things will shut down for real a year from now when I (hopefully) am back in school, but that's a later Isabel problem. For now, let me yell at you about the book no one can shut up about!

Title: Fourth Wing
Author: Rebecca Yarros
Release: May 2, 2023
Publisher: Red Tower Books
Series: The Empyrean
Pages: 528
Review: 5 Stars


Enter the brutal and elite world of a war college for dragon riders from USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Yarros.

Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general—also known as her tough-as-talons mother—has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.

But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away...because dragons don’t bond to “fragile” humans. They incinerate them.

With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter—like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant.

She’ll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise.

Yet, with every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom's protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.

Friends, enemies, lovers. Everyone at Basgiath War College has an agenda—because once you enter, there are only two ways out: graduate or die.

You Can Find it At:


I am in love. This book was so good and I won't be surprised if I'm not able to read anything else for weeks because this is on replay in my head. I stayed up until 3am reading it, read at every break at work the next day, and then promptly finished it as soon as I got home. The romance is obviously top tier. Slow burn, lots of pining, and one of my favorite romantasy tropes: sexytimes so good that characters lose control of magical abilities. Me and hyped up books don't always get along, but Fourth Wing is worth every word of praise.

The disability presence in the book was really amazing, as it's not often present in fantasy. Violet has a fantasy version of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective-tissue disorder with a number of presentations. Violet experiences regular joint pain and her joints will dislocate or get injured much easier. As someone who also has joint issues, her experiences really rung true for me. Additionally, a scribe Violet is friends with is Deaf and Violet uses sign language to converse with her. Along with capital R representation, I love to see little ways that disability is incorporated into a world.

Another fun note is the background queer presence in the world. As far as I know, both Violet and the love interest Xaden are straight. However, this seems to be a world built as queer-accepting by default. Violet's best friend Rhiannon is noted as dating men and women. At least one character uses they/them pronouns. Neither of these things are remarked upon as being out of the ordinary or looked down upon.

I saw someone note that aspects of the world building (such as being able to kill other students) isn't exactly logical, but exists just to make things more dramatic. I can definitely see that, but it doesn't bother me much. There actually were some plot/world building things I had questions about (the conflict seems very simplistic) but Yarros had some exceptional plot twists that answered those questions. Of course, now I have a billion more questions, but that's more to do with the giant cliffhanger she left us with.

Needless to say, I am counting the days until Iron Flame comes out. November can't get here soon enough. I'm still kicking myself because I almost got one of the sprayed edge first editions at work, but let it go thinking we'd get more in. So I will be making sure to preorder book two for that sweet sweet artwork.

Author Bio:

Rebecca Yarros is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of over fifteen novels, with multiple starred Publishers Weekly reviews and a Kirkus Best Book of the Year. She loves military heroes and has been blissfully married to hers for over twenty years. She’s the mother of six children, and is currently surviving the teenage years with three of her four hockey-playing sons. When she’s not writing, you can find her at the hockey rink or sneaking in some guitar time while guzzling coffee. She and her family live in Colorado with their stubborn English bulldog, two feisty chinchillas, and a Maine Coon cat named Artemis, who rules them all.

Having fostered then adopted their youngest daughter who is nonverbal and on the autism spectrum, Rebecca is passionate about helping children in the foster system through her nonprofit, One October, which she co-founded with her husband in 2019. To learn more about their mission to better the lives of kids in foster care, visit

To catch up on Rebecca’s latest releases and upcoming novels visit

You Can Find Her At:
Reader Group

Monday, August 7, 2023

A Little Goodbye

As the title suggests, some changes are coming to Tween 2 Teen. I have been running this site for over ten years, and the landscape has changed drastically in that time. Book blogs are simply not of interest in the way they once were. Major book review outlets have shuttered and the majority of self-run review sites have shut down.

Similarly, my life has changed a lot. I was in middle school when I started this and have since graduated college. I have been a bookseller for several years now, but am inching towards full-time work until I start graduate school.

Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews was a major source of joy for me for a very long time. Unfortunately, for a while now I have felt anxiety leading up to posts instead of excitement. I was hoping after taking a break in July that some of that love would return, but I have a feeling that some burnout has been lingering for a while now. Simply put, I am not having fun. And honestly, I'm not sure there are many readers around who care. So I am doing what is best for me and taking a step back.

This is not to say that Tween 2 Teen is dead and gone. While I won't be posting reviews or weekly posts, some of the side pages will likely stay active to some degree. I will continue to update the Best of 2023 (soon to be Best of 2024) and Calendar of Book Releases as life allows.

You can also find me on Instagram (@tween2teenbooks) and the Site Formerly Known as Twitter (@Tween2TeenBooks). Twitter is still my main space until a meaningful alternative comes around, but I am trying to increase my Instagram presence. Goodreads will continue to be a place you can find my bookish thoughts as well. Reviews will likely be less formal, but as I still read ARCs for my bookseller job, I will be attempting to review them there.

Along with occasional updates to some of the pages, the site and history of posts will stay up. I've reviewed and recommended lots of books over the years and hope that some of that continues to be a resource for folks. As this chapter comes to a close, I hope see some familiar faces (or usernames) in other corners of the internet.

With Love,

Monday, July 24, 2023

A Break, of Sorts

You may have noticed that there have been no new posts since the beginning of July. The main feature on the blog has been Featured Releases, and unfortunately I have not been seeing much engagement with it (there hasn't been a comment on the entire site since December). Combine that with some burnout, and I have decided to take a break for the month of July. I hope to come back with the posts in August, ideally with some new ways of reaching a wider audience.

Which brings me to topic two. Twitter has been my main promotion outlet for several years, and if you're over there you can see just how much it's falling apart. Instagram is the only other platform I'm active on and I'm trying to brainstorm ways that posts can be shared over there without taking away from the blog. Pictures and video are not my strong suit, and I don't want to pivot that direction, but I also know I need to meet people where they're at.

To end on an exciting note before I hide for another week, the eleventh anniversary of Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews is coming up! I accidentally missed the tenth anniversary last year as I was going into my final semester of college and had a few other things on my mind. I would like to make a big deal this year, so if there's anything you'd love to see, let me know!

In general going forward, I'm going to try to focus on doing and featuring what I love. If a type of post isn't bringing me joy, I will leave it behind. I hope you decide to join me as Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews enters its second decade.
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