Flowers and Keyboards #2: The Other Dress Review

The Other Dress (Flowers and Keyboards 2)

The Other Dress by Emmy Engberts is the second book in her Flowers and Keyboards series about video games, anime, and LGBT+ couples. Elliot works up the nerve to cosplay as an outgoing character named Aoi from Magical Princess Club! At a convention, and he falls for a girl who is cosplaying as Sakura. Izzy is trans, and she enjoys cosplaying as female characters to get more in touch with her true female self. Most people can’t even tell that she is trans now, but she still suffers from dysphoria and uses dressmaking to cope with it. When she meets Elliot at the convention, she is surprised to see how much fun they have together. But she isn’t sure if she can date Elliot or even tell him that she is trans because of the negative reactions she has had from people she has cared about in the past.

At first, before I knew that Izzy was trans, I thought that Elliot was going to come out as being trans because he was so happy to cosplay as a girl. But I found it a way better storyline that Elliot was completely fine with his masculine identity, but he just enjoyed cosplaying as girls from time to time. I have never, and I mean never seen a guy so comfortable with himself in fiction before, and honestly it was really empowering to see. Girls may sometimes dress in typical “guy” clothing in books, but you don’t usually see guys dressing in typical “girl” clothing in books unless they are going to come out as something. Guys can have fun dressing however they want without having to justify themselves just as girls can, and I love Engberts for showing this.

I also liked how Izzy and Elliot were friends before they truly started to fall for one another. Another thing that I really enjoy about Emmy Engberts’ romance novels, there may be somewhat insta-attraction but there is no insta-love “I would literally die for this person” going on. Even though the characters may be high school aged, don’t have that annoying YA couple feel where they don’t really match but fall for each other head over heels. Izzy and Elliot are a perfect match but they still go slowly until they feel comfortable enough around each other to even start dating.

Also, if you liked the characters from the first novel in the Flowers and Keyboards series, they aren’t completely forgotten in this book! I can’t wait to see the next book in this series and meet the new couple.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new YA romance novel to read.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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The Mage-Born Anthology Review

The Mage-Born Anthology

The Mage-born Anthology is full of short stories discussing the lives of Reshi’s siblings before and after they received their powers. Some of his siblings lived together while others lived on their own, not knowing that they had any siblings. They were all raised in different locations across the country, they all have different personalities, and they all develop very different powers. I’m not going to be able to review all the stories without including major spoilers, so I am just going to focus on my favorite story and the story that surprised me the most.

My favorite story was Velyn’s backstory. He was also raised in an orphanage like Reshi, but when he aged out of the orphanage, he was placed in a halfway house with his best friend Tawni. They both want to be fishermen and Velyn as a wind-mage would guarantee that they would be successful. All they have to do is save enough from the money they make off the catch of rented boats to buy their own and start their own business. Even though Velyn is pretty evil in the main series, he seemed genuinely sweet to his friend and an honest worker in this book. Now I need to know what happened between this short story and the beginning of the Mage-born Chronicles to make him into the man he was!

The story that surprised me the most was Eagan’s backstory. I knew that one person would have had to be just genuinely bad, and I guess Eagan was that person. I almost cried while reading the end of this story, and then that was it! I don’t need to read more of his character, but it would be interesting to see how he reacted to meeting the rest of his siblings.

Overall, one or two of the short stories were a bit disappointing, but they were all good for the most part. I just hope that there is more to come from this universe, as I love this lore and these characters so much! The novellas were also written in chronological order, from the time the oldest child got her powers to the point that the mage hunters started hunting the 7 siblings. Through these stories you are able to see to see how the world slowly became more and more hostile towards mages over time, and how the younger siblings were raised in worse conditions than their older siblings. I would not recommend reading this before the other two books in the Mage-born Chronicles, but I would recommend reading it after for a bit more backstory.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for the novellas to the Mage-born Chronicles, a fantasy series with LGBT+ characters.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books

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Flowers and Keyboards #1: Her Elysium Review

Her Elysium (Flowers and Keyboards 1)
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Her Elysium is a romance novel by Emmy Engberts about two girls who find each other by playing an MMORPG. Fleur thinks that the tank of the guild is a cute guy named Alex, and she starts to fall for him before even getting the chance to meet him. To her surprise, Alex is a pretty girl who has been crushing on the talented healer who recently joined the guild. Fleur has never had a girlfriend before, but she can’t seem to stop thinking about Alex. She fell for Alex the person; does it matter if Alex is a boy or a girl? Alex knows that she and Fleur could work well together, but she wants to make sure that Fleur is ready for a relationship first.

I randomly stumbled upon this book, and I am so glad that I did! Not only is a LitRPG book where the author actually knows a lot about games, it is a really sweet YA romance novel! When I heard that Fleur was going to be a healer, I was bracing for the typical “gamer girl” stereotypes to come out. The healer can’t do anything, and so girls choose to be healers so they can rely on the guys in the game to do everything. Some girls might do this, but I personally don’t know any who have. Instead, Fleur is a really talented healer! Good healers have to make sure that they stay out of harm’s way while keeping the whole team alive. Fleur had to know the battles by heart in order to learn the boss’ patterns and be a better healer for the team. This is what real healers and people who play these sorts of games would do, and I was happy to see this represented in this book!

Back to the romance. I like that the author didn’t make this an ultra-sexual romance novel simply because the two characters were both female. In fact, she went on to discuss in the novel how people unfortunately believe that LGBT+ couples are more sexual than straight couples. Alex and Fleur were just two normal high school aged girls who liked each other and were happy going out with one another. They became close friends first because of the game, and then they continued to play as they fell for each other.

Overall, this has been one of the best F/F YA romance novels that I have ever read. I would definitely recommend it, and I am definitely going to read more books by Mrs. Engberts!

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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Webtoon Wednesday: MadHattey!

This Webtoon Wednesday, I’m highlighting MadHattey from Instagram! She draws comics based on characters from the plays Dear Evan Hansen, Be More Chill, and writes unique stories for her own characters. Many of the characters she writes are LGBT+, and she explores who each character identifies as in different comic arcs. I love all the couples that she writes because they are all just so positive and supportive of each other! Even though I am always surprised by the new couples she creates, I always end up loving them in the end! She has even gender swapped a few of the couples she created, and I just…I loved it.

My personal favorite pairing is Timmy and Rich. Timmy is MadHattey’s own character, and he is autistic. Rich is a character from Be More Chill. He had the SQUIP and was the one who told Jeremy how to get one, and he burned down a house accidentally while trying to get rid of his SQUIP at the end of the play. They make the cutest couple, as Rich helps Timmy through his sensory overload issues and bad memories of his father and Timmy helps Rich through his post-fire PTSD. Here are two of my favorite comics of the couple!

A color version!

And here is my favorite gender swapped version of this couple.

Nevertheless, not everything she writes is romance. Some of the stories she writes are about family and issues that come with that. There are other characters in her universe that have stories about dealing with mental health issues, ADHD, abuse, homophobia, and many other things. Honestly, a lot of these comics can get pretty angsty, but I love angst so that’s no problem for me. If you aren’t into angst, there is plenty of fluff to go around. You won’t be bored!

If you like LGBT+ and neurodiverse webcomics or are a fan of the play Be More Chill, you should definitely follow MadHattey on Instagram. She comes out with new content on a very regular basis, sometimes almost daily! I am always excited to check and see what else has come out of her amazingly creative mind.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 paintbrushes

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Brown Sugar and Spice Review

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Brown Sugar & SpiceIt had been a whirlwind of change from a year ago for Pierre Jackson … on track to becoming a chef extraordinaire, living it up in a plush up-town condo that he shared with his successful and debonair fiancé, De’Andre Harris, the world’s hottest news anchor, Pierre thought he had his future all mapped out. He hadn’t imagined that he’d be alone, in between jobs, lose his passion for cooking, living in a run-down apartment, and entertaining the thought of having to share space with a stranger. That is, until he received a phone call from his best friend asking for a huge favor. If that wasn’t enough, he’s beckoned home to deal with a death in the family, and having to travel to a far away land, a place from his distant past, a place of faint memories of an unaccustomed culture, tropical heat and the sweet scent of mangoes.

Pierre’s new roommate is Zola Washington, a beautiful, charismatic, young African American woman, who unbeknownst to Pierre has her own agenda and wrestling with her own ghosts. Zola is trying to escape a tumultuous relationship with her crazy ex-boyfriend, Jaizon, and rebuild a brand-new life. She has big dreams and makes a risky decision to open a bistro in the heart of the bustling city of Toronto, but she doesn’t know where to begin until she meets Pierre.

While Pierre and Zola push ahead in their pursuits of living better lives, they both finds themselves at a crossroad when their past comes back to haunt them and has them turning to copious amounts of delicious food and the search of spirituality.


This book was definitely a whirlwind of a romance!

At the start of the novel, Pierre was still getting over his ex-fiance De’Andre. De’Andre was trying to sneak back into his life, but Pierre wasn’t going to have it. If De’Andre wouldn’t give up the facade and would continue to date women to appease his parents, Pierre wasn’t going to sneak around like the secret boyfriend. De’Andre could be happy with his wife, and Pierre would find someone that would be proud to show him off. He tries looking for love in the wrong places, and then he is invited home for his grandfather’s funeral. Soon, he finds a man named London. London seems to be everything that Pierre wants, but he also isn’t willing to come out to his family. Pierre isn’t sure if he wants to get into another relationship with a closeted man, but he can’t seem to avoid London. London makes him forget about all his drama with De’Andre and his roommate’s dangerous ex and makes Pierre remember what he wants to do with his life and his cooking skills.

It took me a while to connect with the characters in this novel. I didn’t like the storyline of De’Andre trying to get back together with Pierre, especially not a year after their engagement had been broken up. I wanted Pierre to find someone new and was happy when he started to look for love in other places. He was going to get started on the bistro, and he was also working on maintaining his successful journalism career. Then, the story took a bit of a turn. Zola’s ex-boyfriend was getting out of jail, and she was scared that he was going to find her and attack her. Then Pierre was headed to an island, and the story arc with his family’s funeral seemed almost too realistic. Part of his family still on the island thought that the sister who went to America was privileged, while part of his family from America realized that things in the North were not all they were cracked up to be. The family drama kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time!

I could keep up with the romance bits of the story, but the rest confused me. I had completely forgotten about Zola’s ex troubles until suddenly an event happened and I had to backtrack and figure out what was going on. I didn’t even remember what her ex’s name was supposed to be at one point! Then De’Andre’s new girlfriend came into the picture and started stirring up drama, and I just couldn’t keep track of it all. By the time I reached the end of the novel, I felt that the conflicts had been wrapped up pretty nicely. The thing that hadn’t been wrapped up nicely was Pierre’s issues starting the novel. I still didn’t know what was happening with the Bistro and I still didn’t know what was happening with Pierre’s love life. I felt like I had gone on a very long and twisted (and exhilarating) ride just to come full circle.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the romantic parts. Pierre was constantly fighting himself on what moves to make with his new partners. He wanted to take things slow sometimes, but in the heat of the moment, it can be hard to say no. He stuck to his guts and never allowed himself to be pressured into anything that he wasn’t ready for, which I commend him on. He knew that he didn’t want to be anyone’s secret, and he made sure that his partners knew that from the beginning. But even I got as tired as Pierre when the scene would get intense and then just fall completely flat! I hope that Pierre can eventually find true love, and maybe he will in a future novel. I will definitely be waiting.

Overall, I enjoyed this book! Pierre was definitely a likeable character, and I don’t think I have ever read a gay romance novel with a black male character. It’s sad to say, but it is true. Nor do I think I’ve ever read a gay romance with a black female character. These need to exist more, and this book definitely made a good lasting impression on me. I will be looking for more from author Mathis Bailey!

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a diverse gay male romance novel.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books

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Fanfiction Friday: Marvel Cinematic Universe Edition!

Image result for marvel cinematic universe

So I’ve been going through one of my fanfiction stages again, and I have found some really good ones! Specifically, I have been reading a lot of fanfiction about characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

All types of fanfiction have their bad stories, but I find that the MCU fanfiction honestly has a higher volume of poorly written stories. I specifically wanted stories where Tony Stark and Peter Parker had a father/son sort of relationship, and maybe with a bit of angst, and I just got a ton of stories where Peter was just randomly attacked and kidnapped and Tony was just “Oh No My Son Is Gone Whatever Shall I Do?!!” I enjoy stories about kidnapping or angst in that way, but not when they are written like that.

Nevertheless, I found quite a few absolutely amazing stories/series, and I am going to share what I found with you all!

Febuwhump 2019

This story by undeerqueen is a collection of drabbles about Peter Parker and Tony Stark’s father/son relationship. So far, all the one-shots have been great, and I think that they will continue to be updated throughout the month of February. They take place in different universes, so you don’t have to worry about “catching up on” the chapters. They are all standalones.

5 Times Everyone Forgot How Smart Peter Actually Was

I am a sucker for these “5 times” stories, and this one is one of the best that I have ever read. It has Peter Parker and “IronDad” tendencies, but it also includes other characters from the MCU and their interactions with Peter. The fact that Peter was in an advanced science school is barely touched upon in the actual MCU, so this fanfiction about how his book smarts could be applied to the lives of the superheroes was perfect!

Who Watches The Heroes Series

Honestly, the installments of this series feel like full-length books. The 4 stories in the series so far add up to around 230,000 words, so they might as well be! The series starts with the book Long Shadows, which basically explores the idea of “What would happen if Venom infected MCU Peter Parker?” It is just so well-written, and I flew through it in a few days. It isn’t finished yet, but the author went on a break in September. They said that they needed time for school, so they will probably be back this summer. I personally can’t wait!

5 Times Peter Passed Out In Front of Tony + 1 Time He Passed Out Alone

Like I said before, I am a sucker for those “5 Times +1” stories. This one hasn’t been updated for a few months, but the author is still pretty active on Archive Of Our Own. It might be finished someday. Nevertheless, the chapters can all be read as standalones, so you don’t have to worry about being left on a cliffhanger.

Avenging The…Group Chat?

I will let you know that out of 100+ fanfictions that I have bookmarked on my phone, I can count on two hands the number of chatfics that I have. Well, unless you count the number of Twitter BTS chatfics that I have “liked,” but that is a post for another day. This group chat portrays the Avengers as a sort of family, which was truly cute, and I loved every minute of it.

These are just five stories/series, but I will be back with more next week. Thanks for reading!