Release Day Review by El: Withered + Sere, by TJ Klune


Withered + Sere, by TJ Klune
Series: Immemorial Year, Book One
Publisher: DSP Publications (Dreamspinner Press)
Release Date: April 19, 2016

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Check out the bottom of the post for your chance
to  win 
an ebook copy of Withered + Sere!

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Interview with TJ Klune and Blake Dorner, author and artist of Withered + Sere!


Tj Klune has a new novel out tomorrow, and it’s something really special. Withered + Sere is not a romance novel; it’s a gritty post-apocalyptic/sci-fi tale about two men trying to survive. And Tj has collaborated with artist Blake Dorner to provide several stunning illustrations in the novel!

Today I have Tj and Blake on the blog to talk about this unique book, and working together to create Withered + Sere and its sequel (out late summer). Plus I have an exclusive reveal of one of Blake’s illustrations for the novel! 


Oh wait, how could I forget? There’s a little giveaway for you… how about an e-copy of Withered + Sere of your very own? YEAH, you know you want one! So keep reading, and check out the giveaway at the bottom! The giveaway has ended.

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Withered + Sere, by TJ Klune
Series: Immemorial Year, Book 1
Publisher: DSP Publications (Dreamspinner Press)
Release Date: April 19, 2016

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Audio Book Review: The Lightning-Struck Heart, by T.J. Klune (Narrated by Michael Lesley)

klune-lightning-struck-heart-audioThe Lightning-Struck Heart, by T.J. Klune
Narrated By: Michael Lesley
Run-Time: 19 hours, 48 minutes

Rating: klune-lightning-rating

Buy Links: eBook / Paperback / Audiobook

I received a copy of this audiobook in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.

Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam’s pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the king’s wizard, Morgan of Shadows.

When Sam’s 14, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.

At 15, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle – Knight Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.

Naturally, it all goes to hell when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can’t control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the king sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan’s boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.

Or, so he thinks.

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El’s Top 10 Books of 2015


I read a lot of books in 2015 (more than 300 in total), so trying to pick my favorites for the year was not easy. After a lot of thought (and factoring in the number of times I re-read a book), I was able to narrow it down to my Top Ten Books of 2015.

And because it’s the end of the year, here’s one last contest. See the bottom of the post for full contest details.


And now the list, in no particular order:

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Asexual Awareness Week! What does being asexual mean for me, and where can you read about awesome ace characters?


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This week is Asexual Awareness week, which is pretty exciting for me. I mentioned this recently in a blog post, but I identify as biromantic asexual. And the first question I usually get is, “What the heck does that mean?” So raising awareness of what asexuality is and means is super important to me!

Right then. What does asexuality mean?


Hmm, not quite.

(I’m going to talk about my asexual experience. This is most definitely not “THE” asexual experience. Your mileage may vary.)

Personally, I do not experience sexual attraction. Ever. Tried it, just to make sure, but… nah. Sex isn’t just the physical stimulation of a body part; there are a lot of emotions and sensations that go into it. I don’t think my body is “broken”, I just don’t experience the emotions and sensations that make sex with someone a thing that I am interested in doing.

My body is what it is, and that’s fine.

There are LOTS of different types of asexuality. And there are a LOT of asexuals. WE ARE EVERYWHERE.

1 in 100
Not all people in the asexual spectrum are just “ace”. Some are grey-ace, or demi, or a number of other words. But all of us experience a lack of sexual attraction in one way or another.

Asexuality is starting to get more attention, too. just hosted this article on “How It Feels To Discover You’re Demisexual“:

You will want to cry. Because after searching and searching you have found a word to validate how you feel, to tell you that you are not alone, you are not broken, there is a word for people like you and it is okay.

Now, fiction-wise, there are not a lot of books with asexual characters. There are even fewer with asexual romances. Most people, it seems, still equate “love” with “sex”. And that is true for 99% of the population, but several authors have shown that you can have a loving, fulfilling relationship with no sex at all!


Of Monsters and Men, by Caitlin Ricci
My Review (3.5 stars)
Buy on Dreamspinner Press

Quick summary: Seth has a great job at the pet rescue with a fantastic boss, who happens to be a werewolf. But when it comes to relationships, no guy stays around. Eventually, they always want more than Seth, who is asexual, is able to give. Seth wants love and a relationship, but not the sex that everyone puts so much value on.


klune-how-to-be-normal-personHow To Be A Normal Person, by T.J. Klune
My Review (5 stars)
Buy on Dreamspinner Press

Quick Summary: Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone. Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey.


The Goodreads list for Asexual Fiction has more recommendations, but is not a comprehensive list.

With tens of millions of ace folks around the world, I’m hoping that awareness weeks like this one, and books like these, will help to make asexuality something that the rest of the world doesn’t bat an eye at. How does the saying go? We’re here, we’re queer, GET USED TO IT!

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An Interview with TJ Klune, author of “How To Be A Normal Person” (+ Giveaway!)


I first reached out to TJ a couple of weeks ago, in large part to tell him about how excited I was about his upcoming book, How To Be A Normal Person. I wanted to let him know how much it meant to me, because being ace often feels like being invisible in the romance genre. When he offered to do an interview for Just Love, I pretty much fell out of my chair in excitement!

How To Be A Normal Person is a brilliant, hilarious, and witty novel about stepping outside your comfort zone to figure out who you really are. It’s an asexual romance that follows Gus, an introvert who’s quite content to be not-normal, and Casey, an asexual stoner hipster who moves to town. You can check out my FIVE STAR review of How To Be A Normal Person here.

Keep reading for my interview with TJ Klune, talking about his upcoming release, asexuality in fiction and real life, and much more!

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But first, because I’m so excited about this upcoming release, I’m giving away an ebook copy of How To Be A Normal Person via All Romance eBooks (or a $5 ARe gift certificate)! Click on the image below for your chance to win, and come back over the next week for additional entries! The contest is now closed, thank you to everyone who entered! Congrats to Sarah S. on winning the ebook!


Just Love: Okay, without further ado, let me welcome TJ Klune to Just Love!!

TJ: Hi, and thank you for having me!

Just Love: To start, tell us a little about yourself and your new book, How To Be A Normal Person.

TJ: My name is TJ Klune, and I am an author best known for the Bear, Otter and the Kid Chronicles. I’ve been published since 2011 with BOATK and have released seven novels to date, with How to Be a Normal Person as my next and newest release.

Normal came about in a desire to expand upon what people see as M/M romance. There aren’t many ace characters that have top billing in the gay romance genre these days, and I wanted to do my part in trying to change that. I thought it would be interesting to see how people would respond to an asexual lead while still having him part of a romantic pairing.

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Book Review: “How To Be A Normal Person” by T.J. Klune

How To Be A Normal Person, by T.J. Klune
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (October 16, 2015)
Page Count: 290
Genre: Asexual (M/M) Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5 (★★★★★)

Buy Links: eBook / Paperback

* I received an advanced copy of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. * 

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klune-how-to-be-normal-personGustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

Before I’d even opened this book, I could already tell that I was going to love it for three reasons:

1. It’s a novel by T.J. Klune.
2. The main character, Gus, is the kind of weird and fantastically unique character that I love to read.
3. It’s an asexual romance.

(I don’t talk about myself on my blog often, so this is weird to type… but I am asexual (and biromantic), and I almost cried when I saw a novel by one of my favorite authors with a character that I can relate to on a deeper level than usual. While there are dozens of ambiguously asexual characters in fiction, there are shockingly few books with openly ace relationships.)

Okay, the novel…

“Oh Gus,” Casey said, wiping his eyes. “You are a delight. I am delighted by you.”

Gus is cranky and opinionated. He is “abnormal and weird and strange”. He hates Michael Bay and hipsters and people in general. And he carries his pet ferret around with him everywhere he goes.

But he is, without a doubt, delightful!

Klune is known for his quirky characters with their train-of-thought rants and strong personalities, and Gus is typical Klune in all the best ways. But he’s not all “Grumpy Gus” all the time; he’s fiercely loyal, to his friends and the memory of his father, and will go way outside his comfort zone to make sure his friends are happy.

I was worried at times that Gus might be a bit too much for me. He’s overwhelming in some ways, the kind of person who seems almost too strange to be real. But then I realized that it was refreshing to read about a character who doesn’t give a damn about what strangers think of him!


“What do you identify as?”

Identity is a big issue in the novel. Casey is asexual, and he makes sure Gus knows that very early in their friendship-slash-relationship. And Gus… doesn’t care! THIS IS WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR IN AN ACE ROMANCE! I mean, Gus has questions, and he’s not certain that he fully understands what being asexual means, but he accepts that this is who Casey is, and moves on. It’s not a point of conflict. It’s not a big deal.

“Are they all… you know. Like you?”
Casey arched an eyebrow. “Asexual?”
“What?” Gus said. “No. I don’t care about that. Are they all hipsters?”

Gus himself isn’t sure what he is, but he’s content to be an oddball. He lives a carefully scheduled life that allows him to be comfortable, and doesn’t care about anything else. That changes when he overhears a conversation about him, though. Gus has very few people who he cares about, and their opinions of him do matter, even though he pretends otherwise.

That stung. It shouldn’t have. They were things he’d thought about himself. They were things he knew others thought about him. But to hear it said so carelessly hurt more than Gus had expected.

So Gus sets out on a quest to change who he is, to find a new identity that he hopes will make him seem more normal. (Spoiler alert, it’s not as easy as he thinks it will be!)


“Love and shit.”

The relationship between Gus and Casey is really beautiful. Both men are willing to go above and beyond for the other. Casey has to get high because he’s so nervous about hanging out with Gus, but he still manages to be easy-going and determined. He adores Gus, and it’s clear in everything he says and does. And likewise, Gus turns to internet searches to figure out what a “normal” relationship looks like because he thinks Casey deserves someone normal. He is completely out of his comfort zone but continues to push his boundaries for Casey at every turn.

Gus hated feeling anxious. He also hated warm ketchup, loud people, sunburns… and that weird feeling that tattooed, bearded hipsters caused in the pit of his stomach that felt like he had tripped down a flight of stairs into a frozen lake that got lit on fire.

They fit together perfectly. Casey is willing to accommodate Gus’ comfort limits, allowing Gus to set the pace on their relationship, and he never asks Gus to change who he is. When Gus does change, Casey accepts him every step of the way. Gus does the same for Casey, smoking pot with him, talking about his family, and trying new things for Casey.

And their snuggles on the couch, Casey’s hugs and their gentle kisses? Yesssssss, perfect!


The final word?

This book is amazing. It’s ridiculous and weird and hilarious, and I possibly got a contact high while reading it, but I loved every single word of every single page. T.J.’s writing style is a breath of fresh air, and I can promise that he’ll make you laugh! If you’ve ever felt abnormal or weird or strange, then you should read this book.

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