Transcript: Ivan by Kit Rocha

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

C: Welcome back to episode 32 of Not Now, I’m Reading, your one-stop shop for all things genre. My name is Chelsea.

K: And I’m Kay.

C: And today, friends, we are talking about Ivan by Kit Rocha. Which is…

[Kay whisper-shrieks]

C: Needless to say, one of our faves. By one of our faves.

K: You probably couldn’t hear that.

C: Yeah, that was like.

K: Noiselessly screaming.

C: If your animals are freaking out right now, or your very small children?

[Laughter]

C: It’s probably cause Kay was just making very high-pitched noises at not natural levels, but that’s just how excited we are for this book. This is the third book in the Gideon’s Riders. We have, our very first episode of this podcast, was talking about the first book in this series, Ashwin, so we will of course link that in the show notes.

K: Also, guys, if you don’t know our Kit Rocha story? We became friends right as I conned Chelsea into reading the Beyond series. [Laughs]

C: This is one of those things I saw Kay tweeting about multiple times and I picked it up and I was like that girl. She knows what’s up.

[Kay laughs]

C: What’s something really awkward I could DM her about under the guise of establishing a friendship?

[Laughter]

C: And then I did.

K: She did.

C: And I just weaseled my way in and never left her alone.

[Laughter]

K: Guys, Bree and Donna’s beautiful friendship is the reason for Chelsea and I’s beautiful friendship and it’s just beautiful. [Laughs]

C: Guys, it just gives us a lot of feelings. We’re gonna get there, but of course before we actually talk about the book, we are gonna talk about the stuff we are currently reading or just finishing up. I will go ahead and go first this time. So the book that I just recently finished is Fit (Fit #1) by Rebekah Witherspoon. It’s the first book in the Fit trilogy.

K: We love Rebekah.

C: We love her. This is not the first Rebekah I’ve read. I read the first book in her Beards and Bondage series, which I believe is called Haven.

K: I think it’s Haven.

C: But don’t quote me, I read them back to back.

K: Also, you may be familiar with her Women of Color in Romance project.

C: Which is actually where I found these books.

K: Boom!

C: Cause I went to their website and just browsed their bisexual tag for something that looked interesting and would appeal to me. I pulled things up and read until I found an excerpt and first couple pages that hooked me.

K: Guys, that is such a great tool. That is such, we will obviously link to the Women of Color in Romance page and their Patreon and everything. They’re fantastic.

C: Just like a general shoutout to publishers and other websites in general. If you wanna start organizing your shit?

K: [Whispers] Please tag!

C: Like on AO3 or Tumblr or general website, just yeah.

K: Please! Kit Rocha does that on their website and just yes, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. [Sighs]

C: More of that please, forever and always. But the first, this book is essentially, well this whole series of books is about a group of fitness trainers who are also into the BDSM scene in California. This first one is about Violet Ryan. Violet Ryan works as a PA.

K: Such a great romance name.

C: Such a good romance name. And she works as a PA at the Food Network, basically, so part of her job is sampling a lot of food and stuff and they just finished up this barbecue show.

K: God, we love foodie romance.

C: Oh my god it’s so good.

K: If you hadn’t picked up on that, yet.

C: And this is not an anti-foodie romance, but the whole thing is she kinda wants to drop some of that weight before the next round of TV starts because they just finished filming and stuff and she’s got a friend who she really likes, but it’s not maybe the healthiest relationship for her who takes her to this fitness class that’s really intense and it’s yelling and it’s a boot camp, which uh. It works for her friend, but it doesn’t work for Violet. And what does work for Violet is Grant. And Grant —

K: What does work for Violent? Grant works for Violet.

C: Grant works for Violet and oh damn does he. So this book is wonderful. The main character is, like, stated on the page to be chubby and chunky and fat and he loves her curves. She’s also Asian so she’s a woman of color being written by a black woman and I am just so in love with it and Grant is just like he has this dog and they take walks and he has feelings. I will say this book is not very long and so it kind of just like.

K: It’s a novella, right?

C: Yeah. I think it only taps in, according to Goodreads, it’s like 83 pages long. So in terms of the quote unquote worldbuilding or kind of like slow burn or relationship hopping?

K: It just goes.

C: It just goes. So if that’s something that like isn’t your style or doesn’t necessarily work for you, that’s something to know kind of going into these, just cause they’re short and Rebekah uses her page counts to the max.

K: In which case, maybe try the Haven.

C: Cause those are actual novels and they’re longer and there’s more of that on the page. But I already have the second one in this series cause I just bought the whole trilogy bundle because of course I did.

[Laughter]

C: So I’m very, very excited. The second one is about Grant’s partner who co-owns his gym with him and like his client and I am just like so here for these, you guys. So again, that’s Fit (Fit #1) by Rebekah Weatherspoon, and it’s the first book in the Fit trilogy.

K: Okay, so like the exact opposite of that? Is the first book in the Love, Sugar, Magic middle grade series.

C: I’m so excited to read this. I’m so excited.

K: It is so freaking cute. It’s called A Dash of Trouble. It’s by Anna Meriano. And my comp that I mentioned on Twitter is it’s sort of like Practical Magic meets Coco with a dash of Roshani Chokshi vibes. And there’s lots of great sister stuff in this.

C: Like.

[Laughter]

C: Give it to me now. That is the best elevator pitch. Plus the cover is gorgeous!

K: It’s so cute. And it does have illustrations. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Kyla Garcia. Great narration. If you’re interested in reading a physical copy or e-copy it does have beautiful illustrations by Mirelle Ortega. And judging by the cover and the sample pages I’ve seen the illustrations are absolutely adorable. And so it’s the story of Leo Logroño and she is the youngest sister in a family of five sisters. And their family owns a bakery called Amor y Azucar, which is the best name! And if you don’t know Spanish —

C: That’s so good.

C & K: Love and Sugar!

C: Guys. Guys! Every word I hear about this book.

K: It’s magic! Cause her family’s secretly magical and she figures it out. But she’s not supposed to know yet cause they’re not supposed to know till they’re fifteen.

C: I love precociously smart girls.

K: If you’re old enough for a quince, you’re old enough for magic. [Laughs] Which, that’s not a thing they mention, but that was just a thing that came to mind and I was like oh.

C: Oh!

K: That’s a thing. And there’s lots of really great Dia de los Muertos stuff and really fun friendship stuff. Her best friend has just moved back after being away because her mother was sick and passed away while they were somewhere else where she was getting treatment. Be aware there’s actual heavy stuff happening in here. And they have kind of a bit of a fallout with another good friend who’s also her friend’s neighbor. And Leo decides she’s gonna use magic to just try and fix everything. Guess what? It doesn’t…it doesn’t go to plan. It’s adorable. It’s so cute. It is just around the 300 page mark, but that’s big middle grade print plus illustrations, so it’s not long.

C: That’s almost toward the long end for middle grade, but it’s not.

K: I listened to the audiobook and it just clips along. It’s really…it’s so cute. It’s paced really well. The characterizations are wonderful. The family stuff is great.

C: I haven’t even listened to book one and I’m already excited for book two. I’m so glad this series exists in the world.

K: All of the adults in this are just so delightful. They’re involved enough that you’re not like ‘where are these children’s parents?’ but they also give their kids enough room to breathe that you understand how they get into mischief. Which is such a hard balance.

C: When you read a lot of middle grade, the ‘where the fuck are these kids parents?’ thing is something you think a lot.

K: It’s an actual problem.

C: More than you would think you’re like where??? Are the elderly people who are supposed to be caring for these children. So that makes me really happy. Always here for family and sibling feelings.

K: I mean, yes. And the next book I think is coming out next spring. And it’s called A Sprinkle of Spirits and I’m super excited! Anyway, so again that is the first Love, Sugar, magic book, A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano.

C: Alright. And then going ahead and switching to fic. This is gonna be another random episode, guys.

K: I mean, yes, from both of us.

C: Buckle in. But you know what?

K: I even have a work in progress, today!

C: Get outta town!

K: You guys know how rarely I recommend those.

C: I don’t know how I feel about this.

[Laughter]

C: This first one I’m gonna recommend is called Bring you Down (to Just One Knee) by notevenyou. And you sent me this one.

K: Yes, I did. [Laughs]

C: And it is fantastic. It’s a Hamilton fic. It’s Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, natch. Always love a good enemies to lovers or, like, combatants/antagonists to lovers story. This one’s my favorite candy in Hamilton fandom, which is modern college AUs, which I always love a good modern college au, but like it works really well in Hamilton cause these guys.

K: God, how long ago did I rec this to you?

C: Long time ago. It sat in my marked for later for a hot minute.

K: I saw this and was like, I know I recommended that to her at some point. Did I recently rerecommend it to her?

C: No, it just. I was like. Going through the backlist.

K: It’s so good.

C: Cause like nothing that was on the top of my marked for later was really standing out to me so I went back a handful of pages and started looking for stuff.

K: Which, as far as I know, that writer only writes Hamilton fic and all the ones I’ve read by them have been great. So.

C: It’s so good.

K: Delightful. Who doesn’t love a good modern, modern marriage of convenience?

C: Ya don’t say.

K: Like for millennial reasons. Like insurance and housing and student loans and stuff? It’s great. Here for it.

C: So in this fic, basically, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton are both grad students and decide that they’re gonna live together and be fake married so they can get married student housing.

K: And also so Alex won’t be deported.

C: Deported, yeah. So there’s several reasons going on but of course that means they have to live together.

K: Capital R Reasons.

C: Capital R Reasons. One of them is love! One of them is that they are in love or will grow to become in love.

K: Friends to lovers.

C: This is tagged for hurt/comfort and for vomiting. There are, there is like a…

K: Don’t they get the stomach flu or something?

C: Yeah, so like.

K: Which, guys, hurt/comfort is not my bag and I still loved this, so.

C: And it’s not super intense.

K: They clearly tagged it in a preventative if that’s gonna bother you at all here you go.

C: So just know that going in. It’s just under 25k so it’s a nice little.

K: Novelette.

C: Thing for you to sink your teeth into and again, that’s Bring you Down (to Just One Knee) by notevenyou.

K: [Happy sighs] And guys, that’s another one where you need no context to read it.

C: No.

K: It reads as a standalone male/male romance novelette.

C: Polisci grad student novelette and it’s delightful and I’m so in love with it and I might read it again.

K: But if you are familiar with Hamilton you can just picture those actors and done!

C: [Whisper screams] I can’t.

K: Young Lin. Just. [Laughs]

C: Get out of my head.

K: I could see it there behind your eyes. [Laughter]

C: Get outta there, Kay Taylor Rea, get outta my head. Talk about your thing.

K: {Laughs] Okay. I guess I’ll start with my. I actually have two Teen Wolf fics today so we’ll start with one of those.

[Chelsea laughs]

K: I don’t even know, guys. I don’t even know! I almost even talked about three Teen Wolf fics today and I was like no. That’s too many.

C: That is like the trashiest fandom that you regularly talk about.

K: Here’s my thing.

C: And regularly is like you know on a spectrum

K: So this canon is hardcore flaming trash.

C: [Laughs] It’s so bad!

K: But you need zero context for 90% of the fic in this fandom and there’s amazing fic in this fandom and there’s a lot of it.

C: I mean fair, that’s valid.

K: Get past your trash fandom prejudices. [Laughs]

C: Dude, I’m not one to talk. I’m not throwing stones. That like of all the fandoms that you have.

K: Yes.

C: This is the one that like.

K: People still keep writing!

C: Pops its head up.

K: You guys know, I’ve talked about it a million times, I subscribe to authors I like. And they keep writing that shit and I will read it cause it’s good.

C: I get it.

K: This is one of my perpetual fave authors, yodasyoyo. And guys. [Whispers] Left Turn at Albuquerque. It’s Left Turn at Albuquerque! Which is the greatest title. The greatest. I’m just, I’m just gonna read you the summary. ‘“Oh no!” Stiles yelps, springing back in alarm, and then, once he gets a better look at who he’s just doused, he whines, “Nonononononooooooooo.”

Because he has just thrown coffee over the hottest guy he’s ever seen: Tall, muscular and dressed in what must have been, pre-coffee, a white tank-top, and what are still, coffee stains notwithstanding, excruciatingly tight jeans. The guy has dark hair, piercing eyes and the sort of scruff that Stiles just wants to rub all over himself.’ This is a 5 + 1 things fic.

C: [Shrieks] Kay!

K: It is a neighbor au.

C: Why are you just attacking me so personally with this fic right now?

K: [Laughter] You have to read it right away.

C: How dare you?

K: Right away.

C: [Laughs] Rude.

K: it’s just over 9,000 words. It’s a Stiles/Derek fic. There’s some Scott/Kira in the background because they have an adorable young child who of course Stiles has to babysit and then run into Derek another time.

C: I mean. Natch.

K: And this has lots of clumsy Stiles repeated meet-ugly shenanigans. [Laughs] It’s so good.

C: Oh, God, awkward Stiles!

K: It’s so good for me.

C: So good.

K: [Sighs] Also.

C: If I didn’t love you, I’d hate you.

K: There’s a really brief appearance by Cora Hale, one of my perpetual fave side characters.

C: I love Cora.

K: Who gets not enough love. So great. So again, that’s Left Turn at Albuquerque by yodasyoyo.

C: Alright, so speaking of favorite authors and picturing characters from movies in things, this next one I’m gonna talk about is a Black Panther fic by manic_intent. It’s Perfect Fitting. It’s so good. It’s an M’Baku/T’Challa fic. I’m just gonna read you guys the tags. That Postcanon AU where M’Baku has to attend a UN state dinnerEaster PromptsInspired by Oscar ceremony tuxedos. Post-canon.

K: Guys, I told her she had to read this and she just kind of rolled her eyes at me. [Laughs]

C: No, it’s so good! I’m sorry. I take it all back it’s so delightful! We, I love manic_intent. We love manic_intent forever and always.

K: Fivealways.

C: Hands down. This is only 5k so it’s super short and it’s pretty much literally exactly what it sounds like. M’Baku/T’Challa Black Panther and tuxedos.

K: Suit porn.

C: Suit porn. By the way? Very good suit porn.

[Kay laughs]

C: Because the Oscar looks were fantastic just across the board for the Black Panther cast in general, but those tuxes were excellent.

K: Now I know exactly, I mean, obviously the default image for this post is going to be the cover of Ivan, but the in-text.

C: Gify post?

K: Is just gonna be Winston Duke sitting there next to Daniel Kaluuya saying magnificent. [Laughs]

C: That might be one of my favorite gifs on the internet.

K: It’s a good one.

C: There’s really not like a ton I can say about it.

K: It’s short.

C: It’s short, it’s delightful, it’s really.

K: It’s what it says on the tin.

C: M’Baku is always hilarious. The banter between them is delightful.

K: The worldbuilding bits in all of manic_intent’s Black Panther stuff is just.

C: Her, here’s the thing.

K: Always blown away by their worldbuilding stuff.

C: No matter how short or how long it is the impact feels the same which is not a slam against their longer works, either.

K: No.

C: But even when it’s not even 3k this feels so much bigger than that. manic_intent fiveever.

K: Seriously, if manic_intent wants to drop into our DMs their author pseud if they actually write pro fic please do. We won’t share if you don’t want, but we’d just love to make it rain for manic_intent.

C: If you have a Kofi or a Patreon or something please let us know.

K: Hit us up.

C: We’ll keep it private if you want.

[Kay laughs]

C: But until then, that’s Perfect Fitting by manic_intent.

K: So good. Okay, next up we have, you guys know that chash is my forever fave and our forever bae and also I don’t think she listens to the podcast, but if she does, congratulations on your recent engagement!

C: Yay!

K: That was the sweetest thing.

C: The most adorable thing ever.

K: We’ll link to that, because she posted about it on both Tumblr and Twitter. But she proposed at a The 100 con, which is so delightful. And this fic is one of their most recent fics. It’s called When in Brome. [Giggles]

C: I’m so excited okay so I’m waiting for this to be done and it’s not done yet.

K: It definitely will be by the time this goes live.

C: I know, but as of right now.

K: It should be done by the time this goes live.

C: And it’s really, really close. Like, it’s chash.

K: Chash never doesn’t not finish a thing. [Laughs]

C: But I just won’t, because the minute I pick it up I’m gonna stay up for however long it takes to finish and if I don’t finish it I can’t handle this.

K: So, guys. This is a real thing. Bromans. It was a short-lived British reality TV show. Where bros go to fake ancient Rome to do gladiator shit.

[Laughter]

K: Now picture that. And then it’s a The 100 au. And that’s what this fic is. And it’s so delightful.

[Laughter]

K: And it’s fake dating because of fucking course it is. Chash just has a direct line to my id or something. [Laughs] But it’s Bellamy/Clarke are the main pairing and they’re fake dating cause the guys have to have girlfriends to go on the show and it’s Octavia’s idea for them to go.

C: Of course it is, fucking Octavia.

K: Because of course it is. I fucking love Octavia.

C: Is there any Minty here? Because I want it. It’s okay if there’s not.

K: So Monty is not in it yet, but Miller’s a delightful camera man.

C: Oh, that’s delightful.

K: Who gives them some time to themselves. And Raven and Roan are also a background pairing who are another pair of competitors.

C: Is Lincoln in it?

K: Lincoln is the trainer.

[Chelsea shrieks and laughs]

K: Of the gladiators. That spike was so funny.

C: I don’t care. I’m not even gonna cut it guys. I am literally bouncing in my chair I’m so excited for chash to finish this.

K: She’s so excited.  I mean, it’s already 40,000 words and there are three more chapters left to post so this is gonna be a nice long. Either gonna be a really long novella or a short novel. So you’re welcome? Again, this is When in Brome by chash.

C: Okay, I will go ahead and do my Harry Potter rec, because what’s an episode of Not Now, I’m Reading without a Harry Potter rec?

K: I mean. Every third episode?

C: [Laughs] It might be more than that if we really sat down and ran the numbers. This is a Sirius Black and Remus Lupin fic but it’s also a little bit of a gen fic it’s told from Harry’s point of view it’s A Store of Happiness by coyotesuspect. Harry spends the summer after his third year living with Sirius and Professor Lupin. It’s tagged for fluff and found family and alternate universe canon divergence and it’s literally everything it sounds like. It’s so delightful. It’s literally just, I mean, Harry getting the chance to see what it would have been like if after his third year at Hogwarts he got the chance to actually go live with Sirius instead of having to go back to the Dursley’s. And not only that, his professor, beloved professor he adores, goes to live with him and he kind of gets to watch and in his very teenagery dumb Harry brain gets to kind of watch and suss out the process of figuring out that Sirius and Remus are together and it’s super super delightful. It’s not very long so it probably won’t take you a super long time to read, but if you are just always kind of in the mood for Wolfstar whenever and you don’t mind that Harry Potter Harry-narration voice I really really recommend this one and again, that’s A Store of Happiness by coyotesuspect.

K: That’s delightful. Okay, guys, this is my work in progress rec and it’s gonna be kind of a I’m faking you out, there’s two recs here because I wanna rec something else this author has written.

C: Cheater.

K: But that’s gonna be really quick. So this is called Heretic Pride by, guys, I’m sorry. You know I’m bad at the names. Fialleril? Fialleril. I dunno. We’re gonna guess that’s what it is. It’s currently sitting right around 36,000 words and it’s a Star Wars prequel trilogy fic. I know. I know! I wish you could see the look on Chelsea’s face right now. But I’m just. I’m gonna read you this summary. ‘Like most Republic citizens, the Naberries have never spent much time thinking about the Jedi. But that changes with the birth of their daughter Ilaré.

(Or, the AU where the third Naberrie daughter is a Jedi, Padmé offers Naboo as a sanctuary for runaway slaves, Shmi is a conductor on the Tatooine freedom trail, and Anakin jump starts a reformation. Or maybe a heresy. It all depends on your point of view.)’ And it’s so good, you guys. It’s so good! And it’s pretty much just gen. There’s gonna eventually be Padmé/Anakin, but at this point it’s just gen and it’s almost 40k in. It’s so good. The worldbuilding is amazing. The culture stuff is super cool. There’s little baby Ahsoka. If you love Ahsoka, I mean, c’mon.

C: I’m like very mad at you for making me want to read this.

[Laughter]

K: It’s so good.

C: I’m very mad at you. You know how I feel about Star Wars prequel stuff.

K: These tags. These tags! Coming of age. Tatooine slave culture. Small acts of resistance. Storytelling. Fictional religion and theology. Sibling relationships. Identity issues. Families of choices. Friends to lover. They’re also pen pals.

C: It’s rough and it’s coarse and it gets everywhere.

K: Guys, that scene made me so upset, because I have never identified more with a character than I did in that moment. I hate sand!

[Laughter]

C: I love quoting it not just because it’s the best/worst scene from the entire prequel, but also because I know how much it pains you.

K: Yes.

C: To have to empathize with Anakin Skywalker in any way.

K: Cause canon Anakin’s the fucking worst.

C: Worst.

K: But also canon Anakin was not treated well by anything.

C: I go on record as saying it’s very unfair to Hayden Christiansen because I feel like he is actually a very good actor.

K: [Skeptical] Is he? I’ve literally never seen him in anything else. That was not me being facetious. [Laughs]

C: I saw him in Life as a House and I thought he did a wonderful job.

K: Okay.

C: I’m not saying he’s DeNiro or anything, but I feel like he’s much better than the writing.

K: Yeah.

C: And the general quality of those movies gave them credit for.

K: Literally everyone in those movies gave pretty much the worst performances of their careers, so that’s not really a surprise.

C: I mean, yes.

[Laughter]

C: Fair.

K: SO, again, that’s Heretic Pride by Fialleril. Which, if you’d like to read something a little bit longer by Fialleril, may I recommend Double Agent Vader? [Clears throat]

[Chelsea laughs]

K: ‘The one where — ‘ I just like can’t.

C: Just the way you, like.

K: I’m so excited!

C: The way you went back to profesh mode, just was like.

K: I didn’t wanna hurt.

C: No, you’re good.

K: Guys, this is a series. There’s twenty fics in it so far. It’s just over 90,000 words and it’s ‘The one where Vader turned double agent for the Rebellion about three years after ROTS, and Leia is now his primary contact with the Rebellion.’ So it’s a collection of one shots that all fit into the same universe. And they’re so delightful. It’s just really good. And that’s also by this person whose name I cannot say, Fialleril.

C: That sounds much more my speed if we’re being honest. Okay and then my last one is back in a, one of my forever fave fandoms, one of my recent but retro fave fandoms if that makes any sense? SGA. In the Clutches of this Darkness by enigmaticblue. Love enigmaticblue forever and always. This one was part of the 2012 Sci-Fi Big Bang, so it’s pretty long. It’s 35k. It’s a McShep fic, which should probably go without saying but I’m gonna say it anyway. The summary is ‘Rodney should have known something was wrong after four weeks without a word from John. When Rodney gets John back, it’s only to realize that things are irrevocably different, but he’ll do his best to put the pieces back together again.’ There are warnings in the very beginning, author’s notes for torture, child abuse, and medical experiments, but they’re not actually tagged. I would also do a lot of tagging for hurt/comfort stuff and if any of that is gonna bother you this is definitely a fic on the darker end of the spectrum, but I really, really love it. There is a thing that I love that people with anxiety, I know, understand, it’s called the friend override which is where you are super anxious about a thing but if your friend is also super anxious about the same thing you will find it in you to just sack up and do it? And that is essentially basically a thing that happens in this fic in that this is Rodney who is very frazzled and very panicked and not necessarily the best in emergency or high stress or high emotion situations having to be the one who’s kind of like getting John to put his shit back together. And while John is not great at feelings or emotions.

[Kay snorts]

C: He’s usually slightly more stable than Rodney.

K: I’m just like…the massive overstatement of John not great at feelings? [Laughs]

C: Okay, but he’s better than Rodney.

[Kay laughs]

C: You really don’t think so?

K: They’re both so bad at emotions! [Laughs]

C: At least in high stress situations of emergency and pressure where he’s relied on to be the point person John can get that shit all together in a way that Rodney just cannot. You and I can have a further discussion about that.

[Kay laughs]

C: Not on the air. So if that kind of thing or that dynamic is something that interests you at all and you don’t mind a darker fic or going in knowing what your tags are going to be I highly recommend In the Clutches of Darkness by enigmaticblue.

K: Very nice. My last fic is going to be by another perpetual fave author, skoosiepants, who also writes original fiction as S. J. Goslee. And that’s not like I’m outing their fannish pseud. They link their stuff together. They wrote a really great YA book called Whatever. that I would highly recommend. But this is a Teen Wolf fic. I told you there were gonna be two! This is an alive Hale family au, but I just. I’m always a sucker for an alive Hale au because it basically completely changes who Derek is as a person to someone ever so slightly more pleasant and less angsty which is more my speed. This is called Fall Back In. The summary is ‘Derek has said two fucking words to him after almost eight years, and Stiles can’t stop obsessing about it.

or –

Stiles is trying to cope with the surprise arrival of a daughter he never knew about, and Derek Hale insinuating himself into his life again isn’t helping. Honestly.’ So this is second chance romance plus kid fic plus the Hales run a therapy horse camp type thing and Stiles is magic and I just. There’s. It’s just good. Trust in skoosiepants. Trust in yelling in tears and overdramatics and horses in the rain and go read this fic ASAP.

C: Yes please.

[Laughter]

K: Yep.

C: That sounds so delightful.

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

C: Alright, friends, well those are all of our things we’re currently reading or have just finished up.

K: We managed to do that in thirty minutes. I’m so proud.

C: Shut the fuck up! Oh my god! We are so profesh, guys.

K: This is gonna be a short episode.

C: Oh my god, this might actually be like. I was just lamenting today. So we, by the time this comes out it will have been a hot minute. But we have recently switched our hosting services, so that has required going back and re putting up some of our first episodes. And guys? We used to do episodes that were twenty-five minutes.

K: We used to try really hard to keep our various segments to very specific lengths.

C: Granted, we were doing it every week, so like.

K: You know.

C: We had less to talk about each time.

K: Yes, and also we were doing it long distance so we had to schedule things.

C: Yeah, we had a much more constrained timeline.

K: Whereas now I can go bang on Chelsea’s door and be like, ‘Can you record right now?’

[Laughs

K: Cause she’s upstairs.

C: We’ll literally be watching TV and I’ll be like well hey. We could get the mic out and record an episode.

K: Literally happened last week.

C: Which is fantastic.

K: I’ll be like, give me fifteen minutes.

C: Anyway, we are finally gonna switch to talking about the book, which is, as we said at the top of the show, Ivan by Kit Rocha. Guys. Guys!

K: Okay. You know, you know that we’re completely not even a little bit able to look at this critically.

C: If you expected objectivity you have come to the wrong spot.

K: And as per usual, this was given to us. E-galleys by the authors.

C: Yes.

K: So we did not pay for this, either. Would we buy it? Yes.

C: Am I gonna buy it anyway? Yeah.

K: Did we buy it anyway? Yes.

[Laughter]

K: But we got it early.

C: So also that.

K: There you go.

C: And guys, I have been waiting for this book.

[Kay sighs]

C: For so long. Because from the minute —

K: This is the most me book Bree and Donna have ever written, though. Which, reading this you were thinking that, weren’t you?

C: Oh my god, I so was. I so was!

K: Because guys. There’s bodyguard princess, literally fifty percent in the most they’ve done is hold hands and have to be pressed up against each other during a dangerous situation.

C: Like, they are just starting to make out at like 51/52% and that’s like fic levels of slow burn, guys. And for any book.

K: there’s a country house party! There is a country house party.

C: I’m gonna fucking hyperventilate.

K: Complete with horseback riding.

C: You wanna talk about suit porn and fashion porn.

K: There’s waltzing. There. Is. Waltzing. I just.

C: We haven’t actually told you anything about this book.

K: Doesn’t matter!

C: We’re so fucking ready to go here.

K: Guys.

[Laughter]

K: I was messaging with Bree earlier cause I wanted to double check on the pronunciation of Maricela’s name, which is Maricela, cause I wasn’t sure if they went with Mari-sella or Mari-chella. Cause I know people who spell their name this way pronounced both ways. So. Maricela is our beautiful princess. She’s also smart and lovely and wonderful. Guys, I love everyone in the Gideon’s Riders series, but I think she’s my favorite heroine so far.

C: She’s so good. But guys. Guys? Which, first of all. Always here for Kit Rocha’s heroines. But guys. Ivan!

[Kay laughs]

C: Ivan! I am literally clutching my chair. Ivan is like…guys.

K: He’s peak your tortured baby.

C: Oh m y god, I just want to hug him close and take him into my heart. He’s, like, this book is peak you, but Ivan is peak me.

K: Peak you.

C: So me. And the combination of those two things just make this probably my favorite book in, definitely my favorite book in the Gideon’s Riders series and maybe my second favorite Kit Rocha book ever.

K: Guys, you don’t even understand what high praise that is.

C: Guys, Beyond Jealousy will always be my favorite and don’t @ me unless you wanna, I will give you my Ted Talk, it’s fine. But this one? Might have taken the second place spot because it is so good. It’s so good. When he, okay, so spoilers. Just, like, that even.

K: Okay, we’re just telling you now, stop listening if you don’t want any spoilers?

C: We may have already accidentally spoiled some stuff, but I don’t care. Third book in a series.

K: So go read Ashwin and then listen to our episode about Ashwin and then we didn’t do an episode for Deacon, but also fuck. That book is really good too! [Laughs]

C: yeah! Also, just a fun side note. We’ve discovered we’re really bad at doing second books in series.

K: Is this the third time?

C: Books in various series, which is whatever, but I dunno, just one of those funny things. So yeah. Spoilers from here on out. But the scenes where he takes her to the market and then to the bar and he does that thing where I always love in royalty based romances where he kind of prince and the paupers her and takes her to town and gives her a glimpse of that life she doesn’t get because she has to be so protected, but he is her protector. So it’s so good. It’s so good. And the worldbuilding and the background stuff Ivan is dealing with, which gets more into

K: Which, by the way, if you’re not familiar with Kit’s stuff, you do need to read these in order.

C: yes.

K: Almost any other romance series I’ll be like, no. There’s overarching plot shit going on throughout each series. So you can start this series without having read the Beyond series and it’s fine.

C: But you need to start with Ashwin. You really do.

K: Start in order.

C: Technically I guess you don’t have to.

K: The romance —

C: The romance part you will understand. The bigger world stuff and all the pieces moving? Will be confusing.

K: Would be confusing, yeah.

C: But I will say this is one of those lovely things that because you, like, I’ve read, there are really lovely little glimpses and scenes and Easter eggs.

K: Of old faves.

C: If you have read. That’s always delightful thing I know is gonna happen in these books.

K: They’re so good at plucking one off characters from older books and giving them bigger roles as the series goes on.

C: it’s so good.

K: Guys, they’re so good, I love it.

C: They do that thing that I love that not enough romance authors do and it’s probably because I know Bree and Donna are plotting several books out and have the ability to do that.

K: Which not everybody does.

C: And it won’t work in every universe and situation.

K: But oh my god.

C: It works so well here because in-between like you’ll get two or three chapters at a time with your main characters, with Ivan and Maricela, but then you’ll get they seem kind of like random characters but they are not because you know they’re the building blocks for future books that are coming whether that’s the next book, which we get some of Hunter and it’s. Guys? I can’t just. I can’t even.

K: Hunter and Nita. I’m so! I’m so.

C: The cover of that book. Has made me lose my shit.

K: So I saw the photoshoot pictures for that for the first time like last year and oh my god!

C: Dude, the final thing is just. My brain is exploding. I’m gonna have a fucking aneurysm just thinking about it.

K: Guys, if you didn’t know. Bree and Donna have a professional photographer who takes all their pictures for them, but Bree is a wizard and turns them into total magic.

C: She’s a Photoshop wizard, she’s a craft wizard, the magic that Bree can work on everything is just I can’t.

K: And Donna is the most amazing word wizard, cause she catches all the things and they’re just so great, guys.

C: They’re so great. I love these books. I love everything about them. Do you have favorite? I don’t really have any, like…quibbles.

K: I didn’t highlight anything cause I was reading on my Chromebook. I don’t have any quibbles. No pacing things.

C: No.

K: No…no. [Laughs] Guys, it’s so good.

C: not even a quibble, but the only thing we would talk about it the only thing we’d caveat or mention is.

K: You’d have to read the first two, but yeah.

C: It’ snot a quibble with the book.

K: It’s just a you need to know that, yeah. And guess what? You’re gonna have a lot of fun reading the first books.

C: They’re so good. They’re so good!

K: So good.

C: Oh my god. I reread the first two.

K: I told her we were just gonna incoherently flail at each other about this. I was like, we can just say it’s so good heart eyes and that’s good, right?

[Laughter]

K: She was like, yes.

C: Except I didn’t want it to actually just be a 90 second long segment about the book.

K: That still woulda told you how much we love this book. Seriously, just go fucking read this book.

C: I have a couple of quotes, but one of my favorite things comes at the very end. A big part of Ivan’s conflict and the thing that he is dealing with is he really, he’s got some really bad family legacy shit he’s dealing with and his desire is to basically turn the family name around.

K: We don’t wanna do too many spoilers about that. So you know.

C: But like that’s kinda the bigger picture. But basically what that means in the sector because it’s a religious based sector is he wants to become sainted and that will get his family name cleared of this whole background of stuff that’s been happening. So at the very end he’s talking to Maricela and it’s so good and the quote is ‘He cupped her cheek again, and this time she didn’t pull away. “I don’t care if I die and disappear from history. I don’t care if I never become a saint. Making you happy for the rest of my life is the best legacy I can imagine.”‘

K: Guys, they’re just really in love.

C: I am exploding in, like, glitter hearts and rainbows.

K: They’re just really in love.

C: They’re so in love. And here’s my thing. What I love is this book is just angsty enough because the whole thing is it’s a forbidden romance because him being in love with her will essentially compromise his ability to do his job.

K: Which his only job is to protect the Rios family, so. Problem.

C: Problem. And granted.

K: Capital P Problem.

C: And you know she’s royalty so there’s marriage stuff and marrying for family.

K: And her older sister’s like, it’s time for you to get married, now, child.

C: Family pressure stuff. But when they do get revealed to the family it’s. It’s tense and there’s drama, but it’s not this like huge blowup you have to. And like knowing Bree and Donna I wasn’t necessarily expecting that, but it was a nice balance of angst and having to realistically address the problems that would solve while also no one every telling them…

K: No.

C: Hard no or telling them here is your like…what’s the word I’m looking for? Ultimatum. Just. Gah. I could literally pick this book apart for a gajillion days and tell you everything I love about it, but it would probably be faster to just go read it.

K: Go read it.

C: GO read it, it’s so good. Oh, mean. Alright, friends. Well, that’s everything!

K: We didn’t even talk about. There’s so much great friendship stuff in all of Bree and Donna’s books, but all of the female friendships in the Gideon’s Riders are just like. [Sighs]

C: And Maricela especially because she’s a princess and has a fairly small circle.

K: She’s led a fairly cloistered life. Like, literally. [Laughs] In a cloister.

C: In a compound, like religious people.

K: But it means she has close relationships with all these wonderful very different women in her life and I just love that.

C: And they’re so good.

K: And no one is mean to her for being sheltered. No one is cruel or mocking and it would’ve been so easy for these people who have had very different lives growing up to be oh. Okay, Maricela, your life is so hard. Poor little princess.

C: Which and to be fair she struggles with that which is a big part of her thing her inner narrative is that and she constantly.

K: She’s very big on the perfect princess mask because she doesn’t want anyone to ever perceive her as being ungrateful.

C: There’s a lot of great mental health stuff in this because a lot of what Maricela deals with is suppressing the fact that like it’s not a competition and there are scales of shitty and yes it can be really awesome to be royalty but for her that does also mean this set of really shitty exchanges for including not having any freedom or like say in the direction of her life and like Ivan’s backstory and his mother deals a lot with mental health and how mental health can be inherited or if it can be inherited and like. Gah.

K: Spoiler alert: yes, it can. That’ snot a spoiler alert for the book, just IRL.

C: The question of yes it can, but how much of it and how does that present and how will that effect Ivan’s life is a big part of what he’s reckoning with and it’s just like chef’s kiss dog gif. Bree and Donna just fucking. They’re just magic, man.

K: We’re never gonna have a coherent episode about one of Bree and Donna’s books and we cannot take that step back and really give you any kind of nuanced analysis of a lot of it, cause we’re just so incoherently in love with everything that they do.

C: Yes.

K: The end. We love it. Go read it.

C: Please go read it.

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

C: Alright, friends, that is all we have to say about Ivan by Kit Rocha. Please come back and join us next time. We are going to be talking about another one of our forever faves. This is one of Kay’s maybe top books of all time. It definitely is probably one of the books you’ve mentioned the most on the podcast.

K: It’s one of my go-to romance recs.

C: Your Swiss Army recs, yeah.

K: Particularly if you’re interested in reading contemporary romance. It’s Act Like It by Lucy Parker. It is the first book in her London Celebrities series. Followed by Pretty Face and Making Up is coming out in May so get your preorders in.

C: It’s gonna be so good. We love Lucy Parker so much. The cover for this book?

K: I know. Oh my god.

C: I love it. All of Lucy’s books are great. All of Lucy’s covers are great, but just the colors. Mm. Guys. No words. Just incoherent. This whole episode is just nothing but incoherent babbling and love for various things.

K: Lucy Parker’s books, each one of them hits another thing I really love. Act Like It, which we’re gonna be talking about, has fake dating. Which you know I love.

C: Fake dating and a grumpy silver fox.

K: And Pretty Face has forbidden romance, you can’t screw your boss and also young ingénue wanting to be taken seriously which yes.

C: Yes, please.

K: Yes. And then guys. Making Up has enemies to lovers.

C: Enemies to lovers!

K: And I just.

C: What else do you want from us?

K: People raised on a steady diet of Harry and Draco are obviously going to love friends to lovers, but also enemies to lovers.

C: Guys, it’s my catnip. It is my. I just.

[Laughter]

C: I can’t. So come back in a couple of weeks to join us to talk about Act Like It by Lucy Parker. Both the book and the audiobook. We’ll be spending a fair amount of time talking about the audiobook and how much we love it. And then after that we can go ahead and tell you because we’ve already recorded it. We will be bringing you guys another fic heavy episode.

K: Shocker. Shocker!

C: We decided to go ahead and torture ourselves.

[Kay sighs]

C: Last time it was novel length fics. This time we went the opposite end of the spectrum and this one was my idea so this is going to be each of our top ten fics under 5k.

K: Which, like, it’s not. It’s not officially.

C: 5 to 6k, but still.

K: that’s not even. [Laughs] Mine are not necessarily my top ten, but they’re ten of my favorites.

C: Cause you have a gajillion pages to go through on AO3.

K: yes.

C: These are my top ten.

K: Like our novel length fic episode, I could literally do eighth episodes like this of ten fics that would qualify.

C: I mean, I could. Not.

[Laughter]

C: But that’s fine cause everything we talk about is super great. So that is the episode after. That’ll take us through the end of May. If you’d like to get in touch with us between now and then, obviously there are several places online you can do that. The main place would probably be our Twitter.

K: We basically live there.

C: It might be unhealthy? No it’s fine we’re not gonna talk about it. You can always find me at my person twitter, which is @anoutlawlife.

K: And you can find me @kaytaylorrea.

C: You can also find the show @NNIRpodcast. DMs on all three are open if you’d like to ever ask questions about a rec or tags or more information about anything you’re curious about you can always get in touch with us. We are also at nnirpodcast.wordpress.com and at patreon.com/nnirpodcast. Both content gets posted to WordPress and Patreon and those are never locked on Patreon, our general episodes. And while you’re on Patreon you can look at our different subscriber levels. Super fun things like rec lists and getting to vote and private episodes and all that fun stuff.

K: And it’s only one dollar a month to get our patron-exclusive episodes, which we do at least one of a month.

C: And are very long.

K: They’re so long.

C: So long.

K: So long!

C: Our last one was almost an hour and a half.

K: Guys, it was like a fifty page transcript for the last one. My hands were so tired! [Laughs]

C: Because we did Black Panther and then we did our top five completed book series.

K: And we’re chumps. So we also did normal recs in the beginning and we both did honorable mentions.

C: It’s a lot.

K: it’s really long.

C: So those are the places you can get in touch with us. Please feel free to send us an e-mail or the contact form on the website all that good stuff. Until next time, friends, take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and have happy reading. Bye, guys.

K: Bye!

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Outtakes

K: Did you not take your antihistamines today?

C: [Blows nose] I mean, shut up. Leave me alone. [Gulps] You don’t know me.

K: [Distressed] Wait, did you not? Go take them!

C: I’ll take ’em when I’m done. It’s fine.

K: [Startled] Oh, Penny! Please don’t sneeze on my soda.

[Laughter]

C: And until neck time, friends.

[Laughter]

C: Neck time? It’s gonna make such a good final outtake. Get your shit together, because we are literally five seconds away from closing this out.

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