October 25, 2021

ATTN ROMANCE BOOK LOVERS: Interview with Esme Brett, Romance Author & Creator of #RomancestagramBall

I am really excited to present this interview to you featuring Esme Brett. I discovered her Instagram account (@Feminist_Romance) last year. Right away I was entertained by her IG stories and enjoyed her book recommendation posts, which you get a taste of in this post with several book recs by Esme. As a fellow romance reader and author, I also appreciate her thoughts on intimacy in romance books.

I wanted to host Esme on my blog so she could tell you about ALL that and a fun event that brings romance readers from all backgrounds and from all over the world together.

What event?


1. Hi, Esme! I am really excited that you’re here today to talk about #RomancestagramBall and romance books. First, can you tell us about your journey as a bookstagrammer?

Kia ora! Hello! Thanks for wanting to talk to me, I’m honoured.

I’ve been plugging away on my bookstagram account for a few years now. I started it because I was listening to Smart Bitches podcast and wanted someone to discuss the show with, but no one in my real life knew where to start. Through Bookstagram I’ve found people who know their Rakes from their Cinnamon Rolls, and their Kleypas from their Cole. It’s heaven.

My page has changed a lot. I used to be review based, but now I just recommend books I love and talk about romance in general. I’m a passionate defender of thoughtful critical reviews (and doing so is hard work! Reviewers are a valuable part of the romance ecosystem!) but when I started writing myself, I needed to swap hats.

2. What types of books do you read/review?

I read mostly historical and contemporary. Less fantasty, but I’m dipping my toes into the Immortals After Dark series right now. In terms of my faves, I like books that take a trope and distil it down to its most gorgeous form, and then squeeze my head with it. Scarlett Peckham, Sierra Simone, Kennedy Ryan, and Talia Hibbert excel at this.

For tropes my favourite will always be grumpy and sunshine, especially when it’s a grumpy female protagonist, like The Rakess, and Take a Hint Dani Brown.

3. I loved Take a Hint Dani BrownYou created #RomancestagramBall, a virtual ball on Instagram for romance book lovers. How’d you come up with this event?

WELL. It’s a big story! Buckle in.

TW: size, weight

I’m a size 18, so most clothing stores don’t carry my size. After the first lockdown in Aotearoa New Zealander last year, international shipping stopped and I couldn’t buy clothes online like usual. I had some in-person work things I had to do and no clothes fit.

I was sobbing in a changing room of a department store trying to squish my curvy self into things that were just not made for me and getting increasingly upset about it. I love fashion and I love colour, but I wasn’t even being picky in this store. I was trying to squish myself into hideous polyester business pants and navy tunics.

I should point out — I know as a size 18 I have a lot of privilege still. I’m what some refer to as a “small fat”. But that is still size-not-sold-in-stores fat, and get-stared-at-for-eating-in-public fat.

Anyway, after that unsuccessful shopping trip I was miserable. I got home and ransacked my closet, but all I had that fit me were fancy dresses, which were pointless for work, but great for feeling fab.

So I put on a ballgown for no reason other than wanting to feel beautiful, even just for five minutes alone in my bedroom.

I was trying to hit the back button on all the bad vibes that shopping trip had left me with.

Then I did my hair and my makeup, and I took photos with cute books.

It worked, I felt better.

I realised that there were so many beautiful things languishing in closets because we always think we ‘need a reason’ or an occasion to wear them. When really, there’s no better reason than just feeling (to use a very Kiwi parlance) “flash”.

I knew l so many of my friends had been inside for a long time because of the Panorama, and would probably be onboard with making a “flash” occasion of our own.

So the romance ball was born.

October 11, 2021

The Role of Food and Beverages in Fiction, Part 1 by Tyrean Martinson / Guest Post / NEXUS


It has truly been an honor and a blast working on The Rayatana Series (Liftoff and Nexus) by Tyrean Martinson. I love watching these characters grow and the stories take shape. There's action and adventure, mystery, budding romance, and nailing-biting moments. Oh, and let's not forget space, distant planets, and aliens (Tuigseach). Really, what's not to love? Amaya is a strong, young, Black woman caught up in a great adventure. I definitely have favorite characters, like Tanwen and Bay; two more tough women. I am looking forward to the next!

But first...check out Book 2: Nexus!

The Role of Food and Beverages in Fiction, Part 1

A Guest Post by Tyrean Martinson

October 05, 2021

A Better Alternative to Goodreads: The StoryGraph


Many authors and readers dislike Goodreads for several reasons.

1. Amazon owns it. Yup. That explains a lot, doesn’t it?

2. It’s become a place for scammers.

In fact, on the top of the Author Dashboard, Goodreads has a message for authors that says, "we are currently investigating a small number of bad actors who have attempted a reviews-based extortion scam against some authors on Goodreads."

3. The community can be toxic. This doesn’t just go for readers/reviewers but authors behaving badly, too.

4. The website is confusing and hard to navigate.

(They recently changed how book pages look in an effort to make them more user-friendly, but the rest of the site is still the same.)

Do you want to escape one or all of this?

But do you still want to have a great platform where you can build your TBR list, review books, check out book reviews, and set up a reading challenge?

Don’t worry. I’ve got you.


Why is it amazing?

- Black woman-owned 

- Independent platform (no multibillion corporation using your data in nefarious ways)

- Website and app available for free in the App Store

- Sleek, uncluttered look

- Personalized recommendations based on your preferences

- Create your own reading challenges. For example: if you want to read specific books/themes.

- No paid placements (book recommendations are not influenced by ads and budgets)

- Your reading habits displayed in neat pie charts (see below)

- A better reviewing system

- You can rate with .5, .75, and .25, so if you’ve ever had to specify a 4.5 rating in a review on Goodreads but had to choose between selecting 4 or 5 stars, you don’t have to do that on The StoryGraph.

- A special content warning section that is extremely important. They are prominent and easy to see, not buried in reviews like on Goodreads, if a reviewer even thinks to add content warnings in their reviews.

- Easily upload your Goodreads data so you don’t lose anything!