Caffeinated Comfort: A Review of Legends & Lattes, by Travis Baldree

            Not every story needs to have high stakes, or even high tension, to keep the plot interesting and the characters engaging.  There are entire genres of fiction dedicated to the small things in life, detailing the daily lives of people from all walks of life.  The most well-known of these genres is known as slice-of-life, which itself covers a wide range of storytelling methods.  More recently, there has been a new variation of this type of storytelling, simply known as “cozy.”  It started with video games that prioritized creating a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for the player, and has since moved into books as well.  The hallmark of cozy is to make the reader feel safe and secure in the setting and among the characters.  A sort of comfort food of fiction.  The book’s setting, characters, and plot points all work in concert to create a special kind of reading experience, where there is still conflict, but the conflicts resolve in such a way that the main characters are allowed to be happy.  For obvious reasons, cozy fiction also draws a lot of queer readers, finding accepting and loving environments within a book’s pages.

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Blooming Love: A Review of Vampire Blood Drive, by Mira Ong Chua

            It used to be that, in order to get your stories out in the world, a creator needed a publisher.  To get a publisher, you needed an agent, followed by a contract.  As many writers and artists know, just having the talent and the drive is not always enough.  Sometimes it can come down to luck, or connections, or simply perseverance.  However, the internet changed all of that, providing way after way for creators to develop their work and get it in the world independently.  Books can be self-published, and there are even websites to help you design basic covers.  Further, the advent of crowdfunding has provided a source of freedom and a revenue stream, letting creators make some money to focus on their work.  For anyone looking to print copies of their books, crowdfunding can provide the much-needed funds to hire a printer.  Do well on a crowdfunded project, and your new fans will spread the word, helping to bolster future projects.  While there are the stories of crowdfunded projects failing to get off the ground or misleading backers, it has overall been a boon for creativity.

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Enemies to Lovers: A Review of Hunt the Stars, by Jessie Mihalik

            One of the most popular tropes in romance stories is that of enemies to lovers.  In short, two characters who begin on opposite sides of a conflict, whether it be a war or ideological divide, find themselves attracted to one another despite their opposition.  There are a multitude of reasons why this trope is popular, and all of them vary depending on the story being told and the author writing that story.  Sometimes it involves a villain redeeming themselves and turning against the antagonists, other times it involves more compromise in the cases where neither side is outright evil.  In some stories, the characters fall for each other during combat or conflict, but, in others, they are forced to work together for some common goal.  The permutations on enemies to lovers are nearly endless, but they all share one key aspect in common.  No character involved can be truly evil or villainous.  Enemies to lovers relies on walking a strict line, lest it turn into abuse or apologizing bad behavior.  Luckily, the subject of this review is an excellent example of the trope done right.

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