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Apple Crush by Lucy Knisley
The Aquanaut by Dan Santat
Bleeding Hearts by Susan Wittig Albert
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Clause of Death by Lorna Barrett and Cassandra Campbell (Narrator)
Death by Espresso by Alex Erickson
Death on the Shelf by Allison Brook and Mia Gaskin (Narrator)
Expedition Backyard by Rosemary Mosco and Binglin Hu (illustrator) Faux Paw by Sofie Kelly
Gimme Shelter: Misadventures and Misinformation by Doreen Cronin and Stephen Gilpin (Illustrations)
Heartstopper: Volume Three by Alice Oseman
Killer in the Carriage House by Sheila Connolly and Emily Durante (Narrator)
Komi Can't Communicate, Volume 2 by Tomohito Oda
Little Houses by Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek (Illustrator)
My Dress-Up Darling, Volume 2 by Shinichi Fukuda
Noragami: Stray God, Volume 12 by Adachitoka
Really Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann
17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
Spy x Family, Volume 4 by Tatsuya Endo and Case Loe (translator)
Sweetness and Lightning, Volume 1 by Gido Amagakure and Adam Lensenmayer (Translator)
When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

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The Romantic Agenda: 08/23/22

The Romantic Agenda

The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann (2022) is a fake lovers to actual lovers romance. Joy is asexual but has fallen in love with Malcolm, her friend and since college.

Malcolm is also asexual but has never felt that connection with Joy. Instead he's been through a series of failed romances. His latest one seems to be sticking, is with Summer. Hoping to smooth things over with Joy, he's invited her on a weekend trip to a lake to meet Summer.

Summer, though, has other plans, and has insisted her ex-boyfriend come along. Enter Fox, the apparent bad boy in this scenario. He and Joy are teamed up in all the events that require couples. Joy is furious but Fox seems okay with it. He suggests they play along, pretending to be into each other to make Malcolm and Summer jealous.

From the very start of this novel it's obvious that Malcolm isn't the right person for Joy. It doesn't matter that he is also asexual. His treatment of Joy is absolutely toxic. He uses her for emotional support and never gives anything back. She has put her entire personal life on hold for him.

It's also obvious from their first meeting that Fox is a much better match for Joy. He's not perfect but he's at least aware of his flaws and is willing to learn about Joy. Without pushback from her, he's already respecting her boundaries.

With a clear and positive connection between Joy and Fox, we're left stuck on a trip that neither character wants to be on. We're stuck going through Malcolm's itinerary for the majority of the novel when really what everyone needs, including the reader, is a chance to run away from Malcolm!

The weekend trip should have been a couple chapters max, of a romance where Joy and Fox get to know each other on their own terms. As is, it's unfortunately a slog to read.

Three stars

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