Cover Image: Conventionally Yours

Conventionally Yours

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A great romantic roadtrip LGBTQ comedy written by one of the masters, Annabeth Albert! Funny, heartfelt, and entertaining, Albert takes you into the world of tabletop games and romance. Engaging and well written, I really enjoyed the road trip aspect of the story. Annabeth always does a great story of fleshing out characters and the romance is splendid. Brava! I am eagerly anticipating the next installment :)
Was this review helpful?
I want to thank Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest review.

This book was so amazingly heartwarming. It was honestly so hard to put it down to go to sleep! I loved the storyline it was entertaining and fun as well as being fast paced.
The characters were fun and unique and I fell In love with them. 
Overall I couldn’t reccomend this book enough.
4 stars.
Was this review helpful?
Oh how I love enemies to lovers stories! I absolutely devoured this book. It has so much cuteness and humor, that I just couldn’t put it down!! Not only did it have so much light hearted ness but also touched on tougher subjects like homophobia. I adored both Alden and Conrad and cant wait to see where this story goes next.
Was this review helpful?
After a few pages I decided to put this book down. It seemed like a cute story but I couldn’t get into it. I’m not interesting in video games or convention gatherings so I wasn’t very interested in the story. Also I couldn’t connect to the characters.
I’m sure a YA reader may enjoy this book more.
Was this review helpful?
Enemies to friends to lovers? Forced proximity? Only one bed in the hotel room? Oh my!

All my favorite tropes are in this book, and they're set against the background of a Magic the Gathering-esque game, and as someone who has knowledge of this world, I really enjoyed the story.

The game is Odyssey, and the goal is to get to the convention and earn a spot on the pro-tour. When rivals Conrad and Alden find themselves on a cross country road trip alone, they go from perpetual annoyance, to grudging respect, to outright admiration. It's a slow burn and it works to allow them the space to work out how they're feeling and why. The end was wrapped up nicely in a warm little package, and we got a fun little glimpse into what happens next.

I also appreciated the neuro-diversity and non-binary rep we see in this book. No two neuro-diverse people are just the same, but I found the rep well done for what I've experienced. The non-binary character is background, but it was still appreciated. There was never a big 'this person is enby' conversation, they just were and I think that's a great way to include a character. There doesn't need to be a big revelation. They're just living and so am I.
Was this review helpful?
Conventionally Yours is a fun, wholesome, nerdy, and romantic novel that will take you on a road trip and a convention you’ll never forget.

You know what I think? I think Conventionally Yours would make a great queer rom-com movie. I just feel it in my bones! It’s a story that will make you laugh and will make you cry. It’s a story that will make you root for the characters, make you feel for their wants and their sorrows. It’s a story filled with tension, self-realizations, and humorous moments. It’s a story you won’t easily forget.

The writing style is great. I loved how the author really managed to capture both Conrad and Alden’s perspectives and highlight their innermost desires, their motivations, their insecurities, their melancholy.

The main characters are relatable, even in the little ways, and I love it. I related to Alden and his doubts about his future and career, the pressure he felt about his next steps. And I related to Conrad with his perfectionist and anxiety-ridden preparations to switch lanes and look for the exits when driving (oddly specific, but I swear we vibed and I felt seen because I thought I was the only one??? anyway). I loved their character arcs! It was amazing to see these two characters try to survive two weeks of road-tripping. In those two weeks, I saw them tolerate each other, be civil with one another, get to know each other, fall in love, build tension, resist temptation, give in to said temptation, face a new kind of conflict, try to resolve said conflict, and go through some self-realizations. I loved this kind of journey, and the rivals-to-lovers trope really showed near the end of the book.

Odyssey, both the game and the convention, is particularly interesting as well. I loved reading about this tabletop game—all the characters, and moves, and cards—and I loved knowing how this one simple game could mean so much to Conrad and Alden. For me, this shows the beauty of a fandom, of being a fangirl or a fanboy, of being passionate about something, of finding meaning or a sense of belonging. It was amazing!

And of course, I also loved the queer representation in this book. There are so many queer characters! Sapphic moms, gay characters, professor husbands, a nonbinary character, and probably more. And some are presented so casually, it was almost too wonderful to see. With that said, it’s not all rainbows. A character is kicked out by his family and we see him struggle and overcome that conflict.

I think the only things I didn’t exactly like are the fact that [redacted] and [redacted] made fun of [redacted] for being a virgin in one scene (that was a little cringe-worthy), and that the minor characters are somehow overshadowed. But apart from that, this book is just too good and there were definitely tears in my eyes when I finished reading.
Was this review helpful?
I’m a big fan of Annabeth Albert’s writing and this was no exception. It had all of my favorite tropes -- enemies to lovers, forced proximity and road trips. I also appreciate that it was in dual POV, I think it enhanced the story so you could feel each of their insecurities while dealing with the other and with themselves. It was a fun read, touching upon issues that both Conrad and Alden are privately going through. Watching their relationship evolve was really nice.
Was this review helpful?
Absolutely adorable! Conrad and Alden are the poster boys for "don't judge a book by its cover" (though this cover is adorable too). Whether as rivals at the beginning, fledgling friends through the middle, or romantic partners at the end, their dynamic and interactions were wonderful. You could see why they got on each others' nerves without making either of them unlikeable. As the parent of a neurodiverse teenage boy, Alden was awesomely complex and reminded me a lot of my son in places. The reasons Alden liked the game and the way he approached the road trip really rang true, and his relationship with his moms made me put some thought into whether my "help" is too overbearing in my son's life. The most beautiful part of this story was that Conrad and Alden didn't really change each other but just figured out how their pieces fit together. In a world where a HEA for neurodiverse individuals means "fixing" them, it's lovely that this author gave us a story where the HEA came because of who Alden is, not despite it.
Was this review helpful?
This is the fourth novel that I've read by Albert and easily her best so far. The story is a fun cross country adventure between the alternating narrators, Conrad and Alden, as they make their way to compete in a major gaming convention and tournament of their beloved tabletop game, Odyssey. Both men have concerns left back home in New Jersey that motivate them to get out of dodge and win the tournament, yet the main appeal of the book is in looking at their interpersonal conflict and frisson. The bond that forms between them is earned through their journey and the challenges of the road. Gamers will appreciate the detail and world-building of the fictitious game that draws the boys in. If you're not hardcore into table top or gaming, you won't be missing out on anything, yet it's an added bonus.
Was this review helpful?
This was a totally out of my comfort zone book, but from the first page I was completely drawn in. Never would I have assumed that a book about a competitive fantasy card game would be so much fun.

Conrad and Alden don’t like each other. At all... but they have to interact with one another, seeing as they are both a part of the Gamer Grandpa streaming channel. The group has become quite popular and the friction between these two of the four players is a big hit with fans.

When their mentor, Professor Tuttle provides each of them with a shiny invitation to the ultimate gamer convention and tournament, the two learn that they will have to be forced into close proximity for 2 weeks.

Conrad cannot pass up this opportunity because he is running on fumes. Trying to work multiple jobs to stay afloat isn’t working for him anymore. And since the terrible thing happened a year ago, he has dropped out of college and lost friends. He needs to win this tournament!! Being stuck with Alden for weeks in end might sound like absolute hell, but he will put up with his stick in the mud, controlling antics none the less.

For Alden, he needs to win this tournament to get a spot in the pro tour. His moms are chomping at the bit for him to make some serious decisions about his future. Decisions that he just isn’t ready to make. On top of that, he is at a disadvantage socially because of some major anxiety issues that prevent him from feeling at all comfortable in many situations.

In this trip, Conrad and Alden learn that there is a lot more to one another than they had originally realized, and that while each getting to know the other, there may be a whole heck of a lot that they really like about the other. They make some realizations about themselves on this journey as well, finding strength in each other.

I loved this so much! Conrad and Alden were wonderful and the characters they meet along their journey were definitely interesting. The relationship between the two boys was perfection. They deal with some real life, serious issues and help each other find answers and perhaps even help find what they have been missing.
Was this review helpful?
This books was very cute!  I thought the characters were well fleshed out and we’re both very likable but I had a hard time really rooting for them to get together.  I just didn’t feel the connection all that much between them.  There wasn’t a lot of sexual tension which I greatly enjoy in a book.  Overall I enjoyed the book and loved the nerdy tones!  Just wish I felt a little more connection between the characters.
Was this review helpful?
Alden doesn't fly, and Conrad doesn't have the funds for a plane ticket. So the only way to get across the country to the Odyssey convention that could change a life, for one of them, is to road trip. Together. The problem is that they're rivals. 

I really enjoyed this book! I love road trips and the forced proximity trope, and I really appreciated how spending that time together made Conrad and Alden's relationship build naturally as they realized that they weren't really enemies, they were just misunderstanding each other. Each of them had heavy stuff to deal with, and I thought the author handled their respective worries really sensitively, and did a great job of showing that there isn't a competition when it comes to grief and pain. 

I love books where the protags find love but also learn to love themselves as they find compassion and understanding for another person. It makes the conclusion even sweeter! 

I would love to read more about Alden and Conrad!
Was this review helpful?
Annabeth Albert's first book for Sourcebooks is a strong return to form. I loved her early Gaymers series (Status Update, Connection Error, etc.) but I wasn't as enamored of her Navy SEAL Out of Uniform series and she lost me entirely with Arctic Sun. I'm relieved to find that Conventionally Yours takes her back to the New Adults MCs that made Gaymers so much fun, and she employs some of my favorite tropes (road trip, opposites attract, enemies-to-lovers) with great success.

The plot is predictable, but like any good road trip the fun is in the journey, not the destination. As Conrad and Alden slowly make their way from New Jersey to Las Vegas for a national gaming convention, including a tournament they both desperately want to win, they slowly start to see each other as real people instead of annoying opponents, and they open up to each other about their respective challenges. Alden is serious, socially awkward and rule-bound but also extremely caring in his own way. His ability to relate to kids (he likes them because they're honest about their feelings and needs) made me melt. I also appreciated the Jewish rep and the fact that while Alden's moms keep trying to find a diagnosis that will accurately describe (and then "cure" him), he's basically some level of "neuro-diverse" and in the end the exact label doesn't matter; he is who he is.

Conrad is the handsome happy-go-lucky party boy who is hiding tremendous pain and stress, and when the truth about why he needs to win comes out I wanted to punch the people who had hurt him. The MC's relationship is slow to develop and the middle of the book lags a bit, but without the middle we wouldn't have the opportunity to experience the wonders of the trip along with the boys, including my hometown St. Louis' famous arch , a well-deserved diss against St. Louis' horrific square pizza, and a nod to Columbia MO's much more palatable Shakespeare's Pizza.

I'm not a game player, but I assume that fictional Odyssey game that the MCs play is similar to the Magic card decks that my kids once had, and Albert describes the game play sufficiently that I could follow the gist of the action, if not the specifics. She cleverly lets the lessons and experiences from the trip inform their game strategy. And who would have thought that a climactic scene of two people playing cards would be so exciting and suspenseful?

For those who have followed Albert here from her Carina books, I should warn you that the sex scenes are much less explicit and much more vanilla than the Out of Uniform series. That didn't bother me, but if you're here for lots of sexytimes you might be disappointed. Also there is quite a bit of space devoted to Alden and Conrad stuck in their own heads thinking and overthinking their reactions to each other, in a way that I suspect few 25 year old young men actually do, but that's pretty standard for this genre.

Conventionally Yours is listed as the first book in the True Colors series. There are several secondary characters who could serve as MCs for future installments, although I can't say that any of them stood out as distinct enough to deserve their own stories. But I'd be willing to check them out and I'm happy to see more of the Annabeth Albert that made me become such a fan in the first place.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers of this book for giving me a chance to read this ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is my first book of Albert's that I have read but after finishing this one I promise it is not the last. 

'Conventionally Yours' follows a group of Odyssey gamers, Alden and Conrad, who are known online for their competitive rivalry against one another. When a chance for their group to play in the big league at an Odyssey convention is put on the table with the disadvantage at a road trip in play, they both internally agree to go ahead with it, knowing that they would be missing out at an opportunity of a lifetime.

But accidents occur leaving only Alden and Conrad to proceed on the road trip alone, but that doesn't stop them from their determination to get to the con and win the top prize, now with the added task of not killing one another before they arrive,d. But then something neither of them expected happened.

The walls put up and the rivalry they thought they had subsided. They caught feelings for the other, and at first, neither knew what to do until they did.

The lessons and discoveries that these two teens learn throughout their journey, both physically and mentally, only show to bring them closer together but also closer to the tournament that they are both determined to win. Although there was some seriousness to the book with the mentions of homophobia and angst, the story itself was just an absolute joy to read. I found myself grinning more than frowning and eye wide in amazement more than worry. 

It's a geeky book that was fun to read, with cuteness overload in some sections and a relationship worth fighting for.

And now for a few side comments:

The pacing in this book could have been better, in my opinion. At first, I couldn't get into it, though the first third of the book was dragging on but honestly as soon as it hit a point, probably when the boys were warming up to each other more, I found it to be less strained and more enjoyable to read, I could barely put the book down.

The characterisation was extremely realistic, honest and raw for the majority of the book. I appreciated how Conrad dealt with his family issues from beginning to end, it didn't all end in a happily ever after in that side but it was shown that there would be a start in fixing something that could lead to a better future. I liked how his reluctance to tell Alden slowly simmered away as the story went, until the boy knew what Conrad was facing, and vice versa, it brought real depth and emotion to the relationship that they gradually built on.

Their struggles and further growth only made for the love story that blossomed to become so addictive to read. I was kept invested in their story, constantly wanting to know what happened next and fearing what would happen when they would finally make it to the tournament.

I liked reading how Alden grew from being so uptight, cold and strategic with Conrad to slowly letting loose and agreeing and trusting the other boy to help make decisions, and help him live a life he didn't allow himself to live before. Both boys were finally confident enough in each other to open up and confess small parts of their lives and truths that they thought would remain hidden from each other until they were all spilling out.
Was this review helpful?
A huge thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca for an advanced reader copy!

I wouldn’t consider myself picky when it comes to liking and picking books. Give me a book with a nice romance, some life lessons, a little bit of angst and a lot of fluff and you’ve got yourself a winner. “Conventionally Yours” by Annabeth Albert is no exception and makes for a wonderful and emotional experience. 

The latest by Albert takes readers into the perspectives of two teens, Alden and Conrad, as they go on a road trip from their home in New Jersey, to Las Vegas to attend Odyssey Con, one of the biggest conventions for a game they play, Odyssey. The plan is to go to this convention with their friends, Jasper, Payton and Professor Tuttle, who they star with on a YouTube channel called Gamer Grandpa. After a series of events though, they end up being the only two to make the trip across the country. In doing so, the pair go from hating each other, to understanding friends and maybe develope a little more along the way. 

What makes “Conventionally Yours” so good, is that it’s a little all over the place and both main characters are a little messed up, but they make for a story that’s relatable and charming all over. Conrad, who was kicked out by his parents, showcases a real struggle that some LGBT+ teens face on a daily basis, but shows that you can still make a name for yourself despite the struggles you’re faced with. Alden, who has two high achieving moms and sisters, learns how to make his own path and do what makes him happy when his surroundings are pushing him to something different. They’re both enjoyable to read about and feel very real. 

While the lessons taught in the book range and go deeper than what just the two main characters learn, this book kept me turning the page to see how they would handle problems and overcome their situations. From playing Odyssey on the road trip with various stores to dealing with their looming and growing feelings, I looked forward to reading everything and seeing the outcome of each event that happened. In many of the situations, it felt like there were two outcomes for every problem and I couldn’t predict which one would happen, making it an engaging read. 

Perhaps the best part of the book, though, was that it was just a fun, cute and angsty read. The story is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. Their relationship, besides the real and serious conversations they have throughout the book about their future and status, is fun and quirky. From the point where they get together to the end of the book, I was excited about every relationship-scene and loved their gradually growing friendship even before they got together. 

Another final point that made this book great was its respect and showcase of geek culture. The showcase of “side-of-the-road” comic book shops, YouTube channels, streamers, conventions, cosplay and more was greatly appreciated and made the book even more relatable. 

The Verdict 
“Conventionally Yours” is an extremely fun and easy read that I would recommend to anybody looking for a good time. It’s not the most amazing book I’ve ever read, but that didn’t take away from my reading experience at all. According to Amazon and GoodReads, it looks like this is the first book in a series that I will definitely be returning to. Its lessons about the future and being yourself no matter your situation, while a little cheesy, made it a memorable read and one I can’t wait to revisit. 

Also, it has a happy ending. And who doesn’t absolutely love a happy ending?
Was this review helpful?
I was in the market for something so cute it would make my heart ache and my eyes look like stars. I got it. 

I haven't ever read a book about gamers before as I've never been really interested in the whole gamer community to begin with, so I'm not sure what attracted me to this book. Probably shallow reasons such as the cover and the title. But I am oh so glad I gave Conventionally Yours a chance.

We follow the story of two Odyssey gamers, Alden and Conrad, who have known each other for a couple of years now through the game and are infamous for their rivalry. They can't stand each other because they have such different personalities and approaches to the game and life. When the chance to play at an important convention comes around, they are forced to spend all their waking moments together to make it there. 

I thought both characters were very realistic and I connected with Alden on so many more levels than I ever thought possible. I understand needing a break from people once in a while and being socially awkward at times and being regarded as standoffish as a result. I understand the struggle of having great parents that want the best for you but put way too much pressure and expectations on you. 

I also really appreciated Conrad's reaction to his mother. I thought it was very realistic given the circumstances. Not everything can be immediately forgiven and just because you love someone doesn't mean you can't be angry with them. 

The love story was so sweet and touching and I was completely invested in it. This was just what I needed right now. This was my first Annabeth Albert's book (I know, how is it even possible?), but I am absolutely sure it will not be the last. Her writing style and her ability to build believable characters and emotions was incredible. 

I'd like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for giving me this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I love Annabeth Albert and have devoured almost all the books she has written. My favourites include the "#Gaymers" series as well as her "Out of Uniform" series so when I saw the ARC for this book about gamers I hoped to it.

Reading the blurb, I obviously couldn't tell what type of gamers these were but from the first few pages,I realised the game being played by our characters was a type of Trading Card game. Prior to this, I had no prior knowledge of such types of games which made this book quite fascinating to read. 

Pacing-wise, the book started off well enough but dragged on through the middle portions and only picked back up around the 70% mark. This essentially meant that the road trip was quite difficult to get through for me regardless of some interesting characters along the way.

Nonetheless, even with the slow pacing, the transformation of the relationship between Conrad and Alden was done perfectly. They moved from people who couldn't stand themselves, to tentative friends, to friends and then to lovers. One thing I particularly liked was that these two men stayed true to themselves and weren't magically cured of any conditions they had. This was my favourite part of the book. 

Also, for those wondering, the steam level was quite low and very "fade to black" but it worked quite well with the tone of the book and took nothing away from the story.

From all I've mentioned above, it is quite obvious I enjoyed this book and would recommend this for fans of gamers, road trips and romance done the right way.
Was this review helpful?
This is a very cute book, gamer geek themes and fanboy vibes. I think this is a fan girl’s dream. The tropes, there’s only one bed is iconic
Was this review helpful?
The premise of this book is fantastic, a road trip through The USA, a game convention, hardcore fans, LGBTQ+ representation... I could totally relate and that's the reason why I was so happy for receiving this Arc.

Conrad and Alden are members of this group of boys, (or should I say men?) who get together a couple of days in the week to play this card game called Odyssey, which in their world is pretty much the hot stuff. Although they are part of this group, both think of themselves as rivals, not only regarding the game, but also, life-wise.

Alden is this more uptight person, who's life seems to be perfect, who was raised by two mothers, who are doctors and, who dream of their golden son becoming one as well. What people don't really know is, Alden wants to break free and even though he's a loving son who cares about his mothers feelings, he desperately wants to be able to make his own decisions and take risks. The same happens to Conrad, who is this person that at first glance will make you think he is a totally bad ass, does what he wants and doesn't answer to anyone. However, what people don't know is that Conrad's life is in crumbles, he's practically homeless and he had this awful fallout with his family.

Ok, I liked what the author did there, "forcing" together two characters who were
opposites, but that deep down, had more in common than they could ever imagine. Their interactions were really intense, adding a certain depth to story and although we could say that there was a bit of instalove, it was the right amount of it and done right.

What bothered me though, was the characters naivety. I know they were a bit green, fresh out of college/high school and they lacked in experiences, but still, some of their attitudes sometimes annoyed me and from time to time I would catch myself thinking about me, at their ages, and how I would not act certain ways. I also wished the author explored more of the game world thing. I was so hooked to the subject and all the scenes at the convention, when they were playing or doing things related to the game and event were fascinating.

All in all, it's a 3.5 stars read for me. I liked the author's writing and effort put into it and I'm willing to give it a chance to the next book in the series. (less)
Was this review helpful?
If you are a gamer, this book is for you. I enjoyed this book and always love an enemies to lovers trope. I like the premise of the book but it was too much gaming for me. I enjoyed how both Aldean and Conrad was so apprehensive about wanting each other and made it seem so real for young love. 

Thank you Netgalley for a copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?