LGBTQIA+, YA

Girl Mans Up by M.E Girard

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I feel like this is an important book. I don’t think I was ready for how heavy the book would be. There is sexual assault (non-consensual kissing) and mention of sexual harassment that happened earlier in Pen’s life. There is Colby and all of his mess that happened in the story. The turmoil Pen goes through because of her family was so stressful to follow at times.

Johnny isn’t perfect but he does the right thing when he can. He’s a good brother. He’s really the only one in the family who constantly supports Pen being who they are. I appreciated his character. He was a hard worker who didn’t take anyone’s mess.

Blake is amazing.  I thought of Blake is pretty cool. Love how much of a gamer she is. I could ship Blake and Pen for sure. She supports Blake. She genuinely supports Blake. Then she surprised me by doing the right thing even when it would make Pen a little upset. She did something that would keep her safe.

She also supports Olivia without even knowing exactly what happened to Olivia. I love girls supporting other girls in stories. There are just great female friendships presented here. It made me so happy to see.

Blake’s parents are also pretty amazing. There is one particular scene where I loved seeing the way they interacted with her and the way they interacted with Pen. It was a great contrast to Pen’s family.

The story talked a lot about other’s expectations when it came to gender expression. Pen’s parents worry because of what other people will think constantly. Pen worries at the time. At the end, I feel like Pen is able to start focusing on who she is and not on who other people want her to be or thinks she should be. It made me think about those expectations as well.

 

 

 

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LGBTQIA+, YA

Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

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If you haven’t read Openly Straight there could be some spoilers ahead. Fair warning. I need to refer to the end right now to explain why I didn’t want a sequel to Openly Straight. I thought the ending was perfect because it was realistic. Rafe has his reasons for doing everything he does but that does not make it right at all. Rafe puts Ben through too much. I didn’t want Ben to run back to him.Ben’s reaction at the end of Openly Straight is so warranted in my opinion and I loved that we didn’t get that happily ever after. I had a strong feeling that would turn around in this book because it happens in things like this.

Ben’s narration is better than Rafe’s. That feels blasphemous to say but I don’t even remember why I liked Rafe’s so much. I think with Openly Straight I enjoyed the story and the discussion it brought up but had some issues with Rafe. He’s really privileged in being able to just switch schools so easily when he wants to change how people sees him. He has to money to just go to this pretty expensive private school and pretend to be someone different than he is.

Ben deals with so much pressure. You could see that a bit in openly Straight but don’t really understand it until you read more on Ben. He has a family that is overbearing. A father that puts really toxic ideas in his head and a mother who lets it happen for years. They are in the running for the worse YA parents on the year award in my superlatives later this year. Don’t think they will win but top three right now.

Be Happy just not too happy. Don’t get a big head or you aren’t allowed to show that you are happy about things you’ve accomplished.Carver’s can’t afford this. Carver’s aren’t vulnerable.Carver’s don’t talk about their feelings. Carver’s don’t need extra help.  Everything in Ben’s life is framed by what his father has told him. Ben is so reserved and pretty bad at sticking up for himself at times and I quickly saw it’s because he believes and follows the things his father has told him completely. Ben has several bad habits he picks up because of his father that are a result of all of this.

Everything in Ben’s life is framed by what his father has told him. Ben is so reserved and pretty bad at sticking up for himself at times and I quickly saw it’s because he believes and follows the things his father has told him completely. Ben has several bad habits he picks up because of his father that are a result of all of this.

Through all this Ben is able to deliver a narrative with some great humor and some other beautiful moments. He’s a really great character. Seeing his emotional journey was compelling. Seeing his personal arc was compelling.

One thing that I’m glad was really highlighted in this book was privilege. I feel like it is talked about a bit in the first book. Ben’s roommate leaves the school for reasons that were somewhat related to being the only black kid at this private all boys school and I remember liking the conversations that happen around it. Ben finally calling Rafe out for some of the things that he says made me very happy.

I didn’t think the book was biphobic but can see how it could be harmful to people because it does contain biphobic comments from several characters.  Ben doesn’t deny the existence of bi people. I’m fairly certain his uncle was bisexual and that is pointed out a few times. Ben just doesn’t see himself as bi or gay. The conversations on labels are being continued from the first book in an interesting way. At the end of the day, Ben should be allowed to label or not label himself whatever he wants and people should respect that.

Rafe and his family do say things that are biphobic. Plus other people in the book as well.Biphobia happens. People experience it. I think every time Ben’s reaction is showing that it is wrong even if the people around him keep doing it. I felt like this worked back into the conversation with Rafe’s privilege really well. It was frustrating in a similar way.  If this book did hurt you I’m really sorry that it did and I’m not trying to diminish that at all.

It was revealed that Toby is genderfluid. I was so excited by this. They really were on of my favorite characters in the first book. I raved about Toby and how I’d want Toby to be my friend in a book tag I filmed recently. Not many side characters stand out to me like Toby has. This made so much sense to me from the Toby I saw in the first book.

Konigsberg also reveals that Toby’s friend Alby is Asexual. Toby states that he is. I’d like more confirmation. There are not enough Ace characters at all. As someone on the Ace spectrum, it was still nice to see. I would love a Toby or Alby centered book honestly. I think I would have been more excited for a Toby centered sequel. Toby had other interesting things going on in the first book that were not touched on here. We just don’t get a chance to see Toby enough because he doesn’t have the biggest connection to Ben.

Speaking of connections to Ben. I do see Ben and Rafe’s connection but am still skeptical about how well the two could work long term. I liked the ending of the first book because it wasn’t that magical fix like I said. I know people shipped it and wrote fanfics of the two getting back together but I never thought it should happen and even as I liked seeing them become friends and close again I still struggle to feel that they are a pairing that could work for long.

 

Book Reviews

The Before Now and After Then by Peter Monn

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Danny Goldstein has always lived in the shadow of his identical, twin brother Sam. But when a hurricane of events forces him into the spotlight, he starts to realize that the only thing he’s truly afraid of is himself.

With the help of his costume changing friend Cher, a famous gay uncle with a mysterious past of his own, two aging punk rocker parents and Rusty, the boy who will become his something to live for, Danny begins to realize that the music of the heart is truly the soundtrack for living.

For a book with such a dark thing starting it off there was a lot of great humor. Moments that really made me laugh. I like when books can do that and still hit you emotionally. Seeing Danny’s grieving process and his family’s grieving process over the course of this book was really interesting to me. I feel like is in one state for so long he never lets himself really move past it until it just breaks through. I thought it was well done.

The romance was way too fast.I much prefer lust to romance stories over instalove. I think it’s more realistic. It’s not just too fast for the MC Danny. It’s both of them falling way too fast and it didn’t work for me.I tried to let myself live with the cheesiness of the romance around the middle,but I think I couldn’t because Rusty and Danny are so emotive.The way they show their anger, sadness,love, etc. I kept thinking it’s been less than a week. Please chill out. I don’t even think their chemistry was that strong honestly.

Speaking of emotions, though.There are moments where things escalated in like a snap of a finger. Things happened so quickly. I liked some of those moments,but other times wanted things to be drawn out a bit more. A particular argument in the book is one of those moments. I felt it would have had more effect if drawn out.It didn’t really have an effect at all to me with how fast it was over.

Uncle Alex is fantastic. Loved thinking about his story and the book he wrote that became so popular. Plus what happened at the end with him. I didn’t see it coming at all and probably should have.i thought something completely different was happening so I couldn’t see the signs. Everyone should have  a cool gay uncle. I want to be a cool gay uncle.

Cher is interesting. So is her mother. I don’t know what to say about her after all this. There are a couple conversations I wished I’d seen on her end. She’s a really colorful character in an interesting situation. I think Danny is so focused on Rusty that I miss some things going on with her, unfortunately.

Danny’s moms may be one of my favorite moms I’ve read in a book. She’s honestly just so great .She stands up for her kids and his boyfriend. Even when the romance moves way too fast and she knows it too you’ll. She also just rocks. Definitely a cool mom. Not like the one in Mean Girls , though.

Rusty is Venezuelan. I liked seeing elements in his life that made sense for his character. His family was great to read.I had some issues with his character that may have just stemmed from the  messiness of how fast this relationship went. I really liked him for a lot in the beginning. Not right at the beginning. At their first real conversation, I liked him. Not fully sure why it didn’t stay that way for me. I’ve been trying to figure it out. I think I wanted to see more of who he was.

From the beginning, I thought this would be Danny’s journey to finding himself.Getting his own identity instead of just following someone else.I just didn’t feel like he fully got there. I couldn’t see it.There were “breakthroughs” in the story that didn’t work. It lined up nicely with things in his process of grieving. I felt like his personality was still tied into Rusty too much. Maybe that’s just because of how crazy obsessed and in love his was in that week. I don’t know.

I did love one thing that was a standout in Danny’s personality. He didn’t want to let his sexuality define him. He does something at the beginning that might contradict that and I think that may have just been a result of him not really knowing himself then. When others try to define him by it Danny rejects that. It reminded me of Astrid from Ask The Passengers and Simon from Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda in some ways. It’s a quality I like to see in characters and made me like Danny more.  I still don’t feel like he developed much of an understanding of himself or a personality of his own that I could see by the end,but I think he was on his way.

I did have some issues with the book but overall really enjoyed it.I’d definitely recommend it to some people.

Book Reviews

Money Boy by Paul Yee Review

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This book takes place over the course of just seven days of Ray’s life. We see him get kicked out for being gay and we see him become a male escort. I ended up giving this story 3 stars I felt the plot was interesting. I liked that the story centered on an Asian character and family. I thought the elements of the story that talked about immigration and his family history. The comparison to other families like theirs. There were little things that worked well.

The biggest problem I had with this was the pacing. It didn’t really work for me. I also felt like the issues could have been gone into more thoroughly.It talks about coming out, homelessness, and immigration. I don’t feel like any  of them are hit on really well.

The main character Ray is also just too aloof. He is kicked out of his house and doesn’t ever seem to understand the severity of his situation. No matter the many bad things that happen to him along the way.It became annoying at one point.

I did really like the ending, though. It felt really hopeful.There were some great comedic moments in parts of the book and one of the best ones is near the ending. I just felt like there could have been so much more based on the premise of the story.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Rise and Fall of The Theater Geek

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Broadway, New York. The shows, the neon lights . . . the cute chorus boys! It’s where Justin has always wanted to be–and now, with a winter internship for a famous actor, he finally has his chance to shine. If only he could ditch his kind, virtuous, upright, and–dare he say it?—uptightboyfriend, Spencer. But once the internship begins, Justin has more to worry about than a cramped single-guy-in-the-city style. Instead of having his moment in the spotlight, he’s a not-so-glorified errand boy. Plus, Spencer is hanging out with a celebra-hottie, Justin’s best friend Becky isn’t speaking to him, and his famous actor boss seems headed for flopdom. Justin’s tap-dancing as fast as he can, but all his wit and sass might not be enough to switch his time in New York from nightmare-terrible to dream-come-true terrific.

I did not finish this book at about 54% before skimming through the rest to see if it got any better. Justin is probably the most selfish and egotistical character I’ve ever read. This story sounded really fun and like it could be interesting , but the main character was unbearable. He gets called out on his selfish behavior and reacts with that big ego he has. He is obsessed with a guy who dumps him, even though  he was planning on dumping the guy anyway.He uses people’s and lies without any real remorse.

He became so unlikable to the point that a turnaround for his character wouldn’t work. The point of no return was hit.It’s like what the show Arrow did to Helena Bertinelli.If his friends forgive him by the end of the book and he has some big turn around it won’t be believable. If his world ended in shambles I’d like this book because that’s what Justin deserved.It wasn’t heading in that direction. I couldn’t even enjoy the mystery aspect of the book because of how aggravating the character was. Really unfortunate considering I was looking forward to reading this. 

Book Reviews

M/M eBook Reviews for May #1

Hidden Talents by  Claire Cray

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Hidden Talents is part 1 of a serialized set by Claire Cray. This story ends kind of abruptly. We get a major introduction to the character of Jin. We understand he has some kind of obsession with Ken right away. There is a sex scene that actually made me uncomfortable between Jin and another character. It was a really weird story.I think the switches in perspective hurt the story more than it helped it.I couldn’t find myself  really getting attached to any of the character’s stories. I like the concept behind the Talents( the people with abilities) in this, but that wasn’t nearly enough to make me want to read the next 7  little novellas in this series. It could be for you though the book was free so if you like super powered people and gay sex go check it out.

Language Lessons by Jay Bell

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This is the story of Joey. Joey is a have sex with them and leave them kind of guy. He doesn’t do boyfriends and relationships. He never has trouble getting laid. That is until he meets Phillip. Phillip is the type of guy who is all about having a connection to someone and therefore doesn’t want to get involved with Joey. After Joey sets up two guys that he knows he realizes that he might want something more.It’s not that easy though. You’ll have to read to find out. I will say that I did really enjoy this story. Jay Bell is becoming one of my favorite authors.

Let Me Invest In You by Desiree Silver 

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I really liked this story. I think Paul and William both needed each other. Their romance was interesting. Not the most natural romance, but I didn’t mind.  The two had both been through some interesting relationships and I liked that they found each other through their business because you can see how much Paul focused on his work.  I loved  William’s ex-wife Maddie. Really great side character that I felt attributed something to the story. The section at the end with the reporters felt really weird to me though. I felt like they were telling them a bit much. overall it was a great story.

Book Reviews

Beach Patrol by Michelle Moore

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This story is about jay and Dan.Dan is an oceanography student studying turtles in Playa Escondida. Jay is a lifeguard Dan meets his first night out on the beach.One night out something happens to Dan that he can’t explain. The next day has a mark on his hand and it’s possible he’s been marked by a demon.

I loved the paranormal aspects of this book. I love a good ghost story and even better if we’ve got a demon to deal with.I was surprised by how interested I was in trying to figure out the mysteries of the town.

Sometimes in stories like this there are characters who will have all the supernatural things going on around them, but still be skeptical. That’s fine when it doesn’t last too long. I felt like Dan’s progression was really natural for him. He has a scientific mind, but after witnessing the impossible a few times you have to eventually believe your eyes.

I don’t know how I felt about Jay. He has to deal with a lot in this story so I cut him some slack after not initially liking his character much. I think the things I liked about the character had a lot to do with his role in the paranormal elements of the story.I found myself rooting for him as the story went on.

The big action moments at the end felt a little rushed, but I might feel that way because of how enthralled I was with the mystery of the Mary Louise. I was so excited to figure out how they would end the curse and stop the demon. There was definitely some suspense. I wanted to see more in the ending though. I would have loved to find out what Eloise and Joseph were doing during the big scene.They were just really odd characters that I liked.

I felt like the relationships were really realistic in the story. Jay and Dan’s attraction to each other is pretty evident at first.They definitely act appropriately for the situation they are thrown into. I also really loved the direction their relationship went. This story is short, but you don’t have to worry about it being an instant romance story either. I felt like this was an instant attraction that grew to a place where they can start a relationship.

There was definitely more that could have been done in a few areas. I just wish it was longer because I would have loved to see either more development of the relationship between Jay and Dan, or information on Eloise and Joseph, or get a bit more action in the final scenes against the demon.

Playa Escondida is a really interesting town. I’d definitely want to go there. I need to read the other book in the series so that I can see more of it.

**ARC was kindly provided by Less Than Three Press via NetGalley for an honest review.**

Book Reviews

Sam Dorsey And His Dirty Dancing

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This is the second book in the Sam Dorsey and Gay Popcorn series. The problems I had with the book outweighed the positives for me. Mitch was missing from this story and he was my favorite thing from the first book. I also really could not stand Sam in this one even more than in the previous one.

I thought that Melissa, Keenan, and Mitch deserve a better person in their lives.They were my favorite people in the first book and still were my favorites in this one. Unfortunately my least favorites Sam and Jake got the most time in the book.

I did enjoy some of the references that were made in this book as I did with the first in the series. I liked that we had more time with Keenan and Melissa. Sam definitely feels older. I just hope he actually becomes a good person that regrets doing bad things and apologizes for them like a real person or stops himself from doing them at all in the next book.

Sam commits my biggest pet peeve in real life or books and I just couldn’t handle it. I’m hoping the series can pull me back in in the next one although I really just want Mitch to move on now. I doubt that will happen since Sam Dorsey can do no wrong (sarcasm). Mitch deserves a great guy who will love him back and that is not Sam in this book. Hope that Sam actually matures more in the next book of the series.

Book Reviews

The Game Master of Somerville Book Review

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This was a really fun mystery. It was fast paced and easy to read It had some great twist. My favorite thing is the characters. The young amateur detectives who keep finding things out before the cops can even if their parents tell them to stay away. The relations between the members in the group are great. the main character Jerry had insecurities that felt realistic for a teenager in high school.

Even though this is the second book in the series we get enough info on the previous book for it to be a great stand alone. I was told this before, but I felt like i would be more confused jumping into this one. We learned what we needed to know from the first one right at the intro.

At the end of the book I wished I could have gotten more from some of the characters . We got too much info on Kevin for me considering that it didn’t do much for the plot of this story. I’d much rather see more about Kate, Ash, Nick or even Jason. Maybe I need to just go read the first one to learn more on them though. Hopefully we will see more of those characters in the next one, especially since there are some questions after that ending.

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Top 5 Wednesday | Books I Want to See As TV Shows

                                                           Top 5 Wednesday

     Created/Hosted by Lainey

I definitely prefer the idea of a book becoming a TV show to it becoming a movie. in a show I feel like there is a opportunity to really cover the entire book and an entire series well. you don’t have to leave anything out because you can have each episode focus on a different section of the book. This won’t necessarily always be the case, but I like the idea of it. I’ve also seen way too many book to movies fail. not enough have been as successful as Harry Potter.Still it was really hard do come up with five for this list. Here’s the list and a video where I talk about it on YouTube is going up when I no longer have technical issues,

5. Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon

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I actually have heard there are talks for a movie with this series, but I feel l;like I’d like Nick way more as a TV character than in a book or movie.You’d get the time to really see him develop into the person he becomes in the later half of the series. The Dark hunter world is really great as well.

4.Sam Dorsey and The Gay Popcorn/ Turning 16 series by Perie Wolford

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Loved the first book and hated the second. I somehow feel like the second book would work so much better as a TV show. It feels like the appropriate amount of drama and comedy to be like Faking It or Awkward on MTV. I’d definitely rather watch a character like Sam than read him.

3. The Gay Youth Chronicles by Mark Roeder-

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This is a series with thirty something books all about growing up, discovering one’s self, coming out, and living life as young and gay. So many different topics are hit in this series that follows the lives of interrelated characters from the 1940’s to now. The television series could start at so many different points, but I feel like it would be amazing wherever it started.

2. Heroes of Olympus/Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

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I loved  the Heroes of Olympus way more than Percy Jackson and the Olympians, but I understand you really need to start with Percy Jackson. Give it a chance on TV so that it will be done so much better than the movies did. They missed so much and changed so much in the two films that I could not stand it. I’d want it to get another chance.

1. Circle of Magic book Series by Tamora Pierce –

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I would do anything to get this book series turned into a TV show. Honestly I feel like it would be amazing.The entire magic system in the books. Creating the world of Emelan would be brilliant. Plus I feel like you could have two of the four’s stories going on at once sometimes. Specifically when you got to the Circle Opens and the Circle Reforged series. That sounds like it could mess things up , but I believe it could be done really well. Tamora Pierce has written amazing female characters that deserve to be seen by and influence more people.  I believe Tamora Pierce does not want her books to be movies, but if she hasn’t thought about TV shows I hope she does.