Book Reviews, diverse books, LGBTQIA+, YA

History is All You Left Me Review

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History is All You Left Me by Adam Silver is the second book chosen for The Rainbow Library.A landslide in the voting. A lot of members were excited about the book release.I’m really glad it was chosen as well. I was a big fan of More Happy Than Not and had the History Is All You Left Me book pre-ordered. I was going to wait a bit longer to dive into but I’m glad this group gave me the push to do it now.Apologizing now if this review gets too scattered. I took lots of notes.

This story intrigued me right away with the setup. You jump into the story and realize that the chapters will alternate between the present and the past.History and Today. We have a main character that is flawed in some ways too. I’m  talking about the way he handles a lot of the relationships in his life. I could see that it wasn’t the best right away. Especially after seeing how great Griffin’s relationship with Wade and Theo is in the first few history chapters. It’s so interesting trying to connect the history Griff gives us to his present. I was always looking for the clues to see how things came to be this way. Trying to figure out who is at fault for things before history could catch up with the present more.

I have to say I was surprised by how much I loved the history chapters. They start the day that Theo and Griffin admit their feelings for each other,  goes through their relationship and ends on the day that Theo dies. There were so many beautiful moments in their relationship and it really was bittersweet to read knowing that they eventually break up and that Theo dies. The first few history chapters really drew me in and I was excited that I was going to really enjoy those flashbacks.

Early on I wondered how reliable Griffin was as a narrator for not only the history sections. It was a small moment during the funeral of Theo that made me think it. It was just a perspective thing. The way he saw Jackson and how I could tell he blamed Jackson for Theo’s death to some extent. It made him think that other people might see Jackson similarly when that wasn’t the case. It was the first point where I realized there would definitely be some bias with anything revolving Jackson in the history or today part.

One really interesting thing about Griffin as a narrator is that he’s talking to Theo. The whole story is Griffin going over his history with Theo and also telling Theo the things he didn’t know. The things he wanted to but didn’t get a chance to. The “you” he references in the today sections is Theo.He models his actions toward Jackson based on what Theo would want him to do. If Theo would be disappointed in him. I saw it as another way for him to process Theo’s death. Believing that somehow Theo might be out there listening to him. A little odd considering that it’s pointed out that Griffin isn’t religious like Jackson.

Griffin has OCD. I really can’t comment much on the way it’s written besides that it feels accurate. I have a family member that has OCD and I grew up watching them deal with their compulsions. Compulsions that are very different from what Griffin’s are, though.His compulsions dealt with counting and even numbers. He always had to walk on one side of people or he became anxious. I liked the way it was shown throughout the story.I liked the way the people in his life reacted differently to it as well.

This story had what I call the January problem now. It’s where you only see a character through flashback and don’t always get the info you want. January from Last Seen Leaving was a character I had this kind of issue with. Theo can’t tell his story. Griffin has to tell it for him. Jackson and others can share stories of him but they can’t tell us what Theo was thinking. I really just wished I could get in his head. I got to the point in the history chapters where I had some questions. Theo, what are you doing? Do you really think you can stay friends with Griffin and be with Jackson? Do you not see how messy this situation is? Why are you a mess? Plus so many more questions as I realize things that Theo did or said. It’s not a problem that takes anything away from the story for me. I just will have those questions forever.

The last sixty or eighty pages I would read a page. Then stop to process because I needed to before reading another page.It was a long process. Sometimes I would lean against a wall or pace. Adam Silvera takes you on these really emotional roller coasters in his work. The situation between this group of guys was so messy and that was before Theo died. It really just gets worse. There were definitely some cringe moments because I didn’t want to think about how I’d handle the situations they were going through.  Pg 225 I for sure wasn’t ready for. I could not. I still cannot.I didn’t even know how I kept going toward the end right after that.

I really can’t knock this story rating down for anything that happens. There are things that were frustrating but it wasn’t frustrations that would affect the rating I’d give the book.If the situation was different these things would. I’m never a fan of people doing things to emotionally hurt people. Griff definitely does that at points in this story and I feel like Jackson does as well.Griff makes some bad decisions in his History with Theo that might make him unlikeable for people. Theo might be unlikeable for you.However, this was a story about people grieving over the death of someone they loved. It’s completely true that there were moments where I definitely have a problem with things done. Especially by the main character Griffin but all his emotions and actions were valid.This form of grieving was valid. Not right necessarily but it was valid. He’s in a rough spot and you see that throughout the entire book. I went along on this journey with Griffin knowing that he was going to possibly make some bad decisions.

There were chapters early on where I wished we could see more of Wade. I think it’s because I loved Wade in the chapters in the past. He was a great friend and added something to those scenes before Theo and Griffin start pushing him out a little unintentionally.I also wondered why he became more distant. What did Theo do or say to push his best friend away? Another question I had. Later in the story, we do finally get to see what’s going on with Wade. I have to say that there are things about Wade that I related to in a this is hurting my soul kind of way. I really wish we could have seen more of his character. Jackson and Griffin get to m0urn together for a big portion of this story. Wade mourns his friend alone and that is really rough.

I have to applaud Silvera on somehow throwing in a subtle twist that was just as jarring as the twist in More Happy Than Not even if on a smaller scale. More Happy Than Not had a sci-fi element.The thing that shocked me there was a big deal. History is All You left Me is just all real and still had these emotionally jarring moments that are so brilliant and unexpected. Adam Silvera is really becoming one of my favorite authors really quickly.I’m excited for his next book They Both Die At The End.I know I will likely be a complete emotional wreck after that one but I don’t mind that when it’s an Adam Silvera book. This story comes out to a 5-star read for me.

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diverse books, LGBTQIA+

Juliet Takes A Breath Review

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Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

This is a really good novel.I think a lot of that is because of Juliet’s voice. She’s beautifully insightful in some moments of the book. She’s nerdy and quite funny at times too.Juliet is just a great character and it’s great to see how much she develops over the course of this novel in various areas of her life.

Juliet goes on a journey throughout the four parts of this book and I didn’t really get into the story until further along her journey but all of it is wonderful. Juliet takes this internship and doesn’t really know what she wants to get out of the experience. In the end, she got a lot more than she really thought she could. She has a place to move forward from.

This book starts out with Juliet in a stressful and relatable time. She’s coming out to her family. Juliet decides to do it at a family dinner. I like how much this book dealt with family. Even with Juliet away from them for a majority of the book you could see how important family was. Just from conversations with her mom or cousin Ava over the phone. Sometimes just from Juliet contemplating the way they reacted to things or might react to something. She thinks about her family often and I liked the focus on the family bonds.

Juliet meets some amazing women of color in this book. I felt like I was learning from Maxine and Zaira through Juliet’s encounters with them in the novel. This is a novel about feminism but more importantly intersectional feminism. Juliet is able to start figuring out where she stands in the feminism she sees on tv or reads in one of her favorite books. I absolutely loved the conversations Juliet has around this.

Sometimes as Juliet struggled I just wanted to jump in the book and answer things when she had questions she wasn’t asking anyone out loud yet.It takes her a while to feel the confidence needed to do more than just contemplate the tings she didn’t understand about queer terms or why Zaira made spaces specifically for women of color. I liked seeing Juliet learn and make mistakes while learning.Her exploration into all things queer and feminism. It was really well done.

Sidenote.There is a really odd character who is only in the story for a short time and never appears again and I didn’t understand the point of his words toward Juliet and couldn’t stop thinking what was the point there or if it was needed.Juliet never really thinks of him again after that section so it didn’t feel like it mattered.

The most relatable moment in this book for me was a feeling. The feeling that Juliet has when she is in an all QPOC space for the first time. She’s freer than she has been able to in a long time.No one is going to judge her or say the wrong thing. She won’t have to deal with microaggressions or blatant racism there. She is able to make decisions about how she perceives herself.

For me, that was an impromptu caucus for queer people of color at TheMidwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Ally College Conference. It was a room filled with QPOC and a space for us to talk about issues we face separate from all the other events of the conference.I didn’t even know there was that many of us in the conference. It was a major moment for me. I was dealing with not being able to embrace all aspects of my identity depending on the situation I was in. I had some rough school years and I feel like that was one of the moments that got me through. It changed things for me.It gave me perspective, I really needed.You see how much Juliet’s experience changes her on the final sections of the book.She’s able to take on the world after having run away from her problems before that. It’s great storytelling.

ARC's, LGBTQIA+, Uncategorized, YA

Of Fire and Stars Review

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Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

I read it all in one night. This story gets to the action really fast which surprised me.Denna is sent off to a Kingdom to meet the man she’s been arranged to marry since she was born. This new kingdom is currently in a struggle with people who have magic. It’s preparing to persecute magic users. Denna has magic herself and must hide it from her future husband and his family. Then there is a magical murder Denna wants to solve along with the sister of the prince she is supposed to marry.

I have to say I loved Mare and Denna’s friendship and how it developed into real feelings. Denna and Mare are electric together on the page.

The mystery of who the killer is is and what is really going on with the magic is great too. Loved Denna’s slow acceptance of herself as a person with magic. It was beautifully written. It’s something that makes up who she is. Something she doesn’t want to reject but has to. So many parallels there for so many things.

There is a death in this book that surprisingly affected me. I was still thinking about it well after I finished the book.Still am right now. There is a type of side character I see killed off too often recently so that may be why. Won’t say much more because it would be a spoiler but it was a bit of a brutal way to die.

The magic in this book really jumps up toward the end. That makes sense because Denna really has to hide what she can do throughout. I just wish there was a bit more magic than we got actually. I love magic in books.

As a person who loves some of Tamora Pierce’s fantasy worlds I really gotta say this reminded me of them but way more queer. I was very happy with this book. Highly recommended. Excited to see where it goes from here and definitely hope the next book has more magic in it.

Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+, YA

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig | Book Review

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Flynn’s girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can’t answer, and her friends are telling stories that don’t add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January’s boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

I read most of this book in one night. I had such a hard time putting it down but I had to sleep. It’s a book that really pulls you in. I have to see how everything will end. I needed Flynn to find out what happened to January. I needed Flynn to figure himself out and find some kind of happiness hopefully in all of this tragedy. It’s a beautiful mixed bag. Mystery, self-discovery, friendship, love, and more.

As Flynn learns more about his girlfriend and the secrets she may have kept it gets harder for Flynn to keep his secret from coming out. Do you see what I did there? I think I’m funny.

This book does deal with a lot of dark topics and there are situations that may upset you. There are characters that will probably tick you off. There are characters that definitely should tick you off. Be prepared for some darker things to happen. It’s a story about someone going missing. Just a warning. Now, to nicer things.

I felt like the love story in this book was great. It’s really more in the background. I didn’t mind that at all. It made sense to me I felt like we were heading in that direction from early on. Their moments had me smiling while everything else in the book had me on the edge of my seat. I needed that. I also love them both to death. 

Roehrig does a great job with diversity in this book. I’m talking race, sexuality, and social class.he shows coming out in a different way than I’ve really seen it in other books as well. I really appreciated seeing something different in that narrative. Sometimes coming out sucks a little or a lot.

I love Flynn’s parents.I felt like they were very present in his life. I liked how they stood up for him. They support him when January goes missing and continues to during the search for her. They felt more important than other side characters and I really enjoyed that.

In my recent Q&A video someone asked me to pick five characters I’d want to be friends with in real life. Flynn is bumping someone off that list. He goes so far to figure out what happens to January in this for one thing. I also just feel like he needs hugs and support. I’d give him those freely.

This book needs a movie or a tv show.I need it. It’s number one on my adaptions wishlist right now. I think it read like a show or movie. I just want all of Tammy Walker’s scenes acted out by someone, please. I live for the drama. I feel bad for what’s she’s going through of course. I just honestly can think of so many actresses that could play her so well.

The last twist of this book had me still thinking about the book days later.I had some issues with January throughout this book but as you learn more about her I think I started to understand her. It’s hard to start another book right now because I’m still in the world of Last Seen Leaving. I will be recommending this book to people so much you all are going to get tired of me mentioning it.

 

Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+, YA

37 Things I Love Review

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Ellis only has four days of her sophomore year left, and summer is so close that she can almost taste it. But even with vacation just within reach, Ellis isn’t exactly relaxed. Her father has been in a coma for years, the result of a construction accident, and her already-fragile relationship with her mother is strained over whether or not to remove him from life support. Her best friend fails even to notice that anything is wrong and Ellis feels like her world is falling apart. But when all seems bleak, Ellis finds comfort in the most unexpected places.
Life goes on, but in those four fleeting days friends are lost and found, promises are made, and Ellis realizes that nothing will ever quite be the same.

I’m happy I took this with me when I went to watch my sister for a weekend. I didn’t think I’d have time to pick up a book but luckily I flipped this book open. After seeing the awesome format and getting an interesting glimpse into the main characters mind I knew I would be finishing the book soon.

I thought it was a beautiful book. Each chapter we get something that Ellis loves or things she might love. Sometimes those things changed. Sometimes I didn’t know why she loved certain things or people until we saw more of her life.It was really special.

This book has a romance element. It has some comedy. It’s really a story about a girl growing up . A girl coming to terms with the fact that her mother wants to pull the plug on her father. A girl realizing that she’s been holding onto a hope so tightly that she hasn’t been enjoying life like her father would want for her.

Ellis goes along with things. For example, everything Abby puts her through. Abby might be one of the worse friends I’ve ever seen in a book but Collin and Ellis let her be. Just when I thought I couldn’t dislike Abby more it happens but still no real immediate consequences for her actions in the book. At the end, I feel like there will be a change but I don’t know how much things will change.

Ellis also goes along with what Evan wants in this book a little. I feel like that part didn’t surprise me because I don’t think Ellis had much agency in other parts of the book. She made a dumb decision because she always did what was expected. I think part of that was because she has other focuses. Her main focus being her father. I feel like it’s something that will change down the line for her. Where this book ends there are a lot of changes on the horizon. I liked that it was a little open-ended about what some of those changes might be.

This is another queer YA book. It was one of the books I received in the YAPride Challenge.I did an unboxing video for the challenge on my channel. Go check it out. If there is a book from that video you want me to read and review soon then let me know.

 

Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+, YA

One Man Guy Book Review

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Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.

Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.

This book was an interesting experience for me.I stayed up all night reading it. It was 5am when I went back to my room. Right from the beginning, I knew it was going to be an amazing book. The opening is hilarious, fast-paced, and just fun. The rest of the book followed suit for me. It really was  actually funny. There were serious laugh out loud moments for me. I sat in the lobby of my building laughing at four in the morning at parts. The doorman was concerned.

I listen to music when I read often but it’s always great to listen to music featured in the book. So during this book I listened to Rufus Wainright. Alek and Ethan go to see a Rufus concert in the book.He’s Ethan’s favorite artist. It was fantastic listening to Rufus while reading this.I am a little Rufus Wainright obsessed right now because of it.(My boyfriend just said that I’m extremely Rufus obsessed) I listen to a lot of queer artists so I don’t know how I had not listened to him before now.

The families are eccentric and wonderfully written.Alek’s Armenian family were a big part of the book and I loved them. The restaurant scene with Alek’s family at the beginning of the book was amazing.The customs and history you learn in the book are fantastic. Barakiva writes really great family dynamics.I also thought the little bits where we see Becky and Ethan’s family were really great as well. You get to see different kinds of families in this book.

Now the relationship. Ethan and Alek are so freaking cute. I was so surprised at how well the relationship formed. It was kind of quick , but not really. It was quick but didn’t bother me like it could have. It just worked well. They are really different individual characters. I think Ethan needs more order in his life and Alek needed some freedom to learn who he really was.They are good for each other.I loved it.

I really am glad I picked this up from the library. It was so good. I want to get my own copy. I want an adaption of it so much. This would be such a great comedic movie. I could not help but think that throughout this. It would be so good. It’s at the top of my books I want adapted list right now.

 

 

 

 

LGBTQIA+

Drag Teen by Jeffrey Self

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A fantastic, fabulous, funny YA debut from Jeffery Self, one of the gay icons of the YouTube generation, that follows one high school student on a drag race to his future.

Debut YA author Jeffery Self takes us on a road trip with an insecure high school senior who has one goal: to be the first in his family to leave Clearwater, Florida, and go to college. The problem is, he has zero means of paying for school — until his friends convince him to compete in a drag teen competition for a college scholarship.

This book kind of went the way I expected it to for the most part. It was a good humorous story. I think the experiences the friends had on the road trip were some of the best parts of the book. One of the things I love about road trip books is the interesting people the characters meet along the way. JT, Seth, and Heather meet some great characters on their trip for sure.

I think this book took too long to get to the road trip. I say that because I know you are going to the Pageant JT. So the long period of time where he was telling everyone he wouldn’t and couldn’t do it was a little annoying. Especially because of the point here he finally decides he would. I didn’t think that moment would be such a big convincing moment. It only highlighted things he seemed to already know about his situation.

JT’s self-pity and lack of self-esteem probably annoyed me more than it did his boyfriend, but after the midway point in the book, it got a little more bearable. Seriously midway. I was reading the ebook and was at about 54% when it stopped bothering me as much.

Having low self-esteem is a thing. I understand that. It just felt like the reasons for it are kind of dumb in this. JT let things that were really stupid stop him from believing in himself. Homophobic jerks reactions the first time he did drag being one of those things.It just frustrated me. It made no sense. Of course, the reaction would be different in a different setting.

Seth’s big reveal is also pretty frustrating.It was so dumb.His reaction to I’m not perfect is I used to be not perfect essentially.They built it up to seem something really shocking and it wasn’t at all.You are great for being such a supportive boyfriend but get out. This is not that serious.” I think I said that out loud when I was reading the ‘reveal’ at Starbucks yesterday. I’m not even kidding with you I tend to mumble to myself as I read sometimes.Definitely said that part out loud.

I felt like Heather’s issues made the most sense.You saw what they were rooted from over the course of the book and it was logical. You saw people in the book not treating her the best they could. Her reactions to that were realistic and her reactions to that made me scared for her. I didn’t know what would happen with her in this book and still aren’t sure about where she’d progress to at the point where this book ends even with the hopeful tone at the end for all the characters really.

Not knowing what is in store for the future and living in the moment is one of the themes in this book, though. It’s something JT really needs to be able to do. You see really quickly it’s something he is going to struggle to do. Still thinking about past embarrassments or worrying about his future.

Things wrapped up okay at the end.Not exactly as you’d expect , though. One aspect of things didn’t make that much sense to me. I may have to reread some interactions down the line to see where the turnaround came from more. I really don’t like unrealistic 360’s in books.

Overall a good book. Sort of campy. Think it would make a great movie. The humor suits watching it well. Some jokes would land better hearing or seeing them out loud than reading it in a book for sure.

Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

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Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?

Enter Lisa.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.

I listened to this audiobook in one day. Most of the time I was trying to clean my apartment,but ended up just stopping to listen to the book a lot of the day. There were so many things I liked about this book and I had some problems with it too. Midway through the book I was invested because of how complicated and interesting the dynamics in the relationships were. Lisa, Solomon were each really interesting characters.

I did not expect to like Clark as much as I did. I usually don’t like characters like Clark very much. He was just different, though. It’s why he fit so well with Solomon really. He felt like a really genuine character. I liked it all a lot. Their friendship is one of my favorite friendships ever. I was jealous. The whole plot with Clark and Solomon in the book was really familiar for me. It was relatable in some ways.

Lisa is something else.I honestly found myself laughing at Lisa’s life when I shouldn’t have been. Like the entire last half of the book. The situation she causes with her own insecurities. I laughed. I couldn’t help it. I could see what was going to happen and just had to.

The book is one of those where it all starts off because of questionable and immoral decisions of one character. Books like that can work, but often don’t. This works because people are telling Lisa that what she’s doing is wrong each step of the way. There is always a tension building as you think about when Solomon will find out what she did or if he even will.

Solomon’s grandmother is amazing. I wish I had a close relationship with one of my grandmother’s like what Solomon has with his. It’s really great to see.I loved their conversations in the book.

One more side character. At first, I didn’t like Janice. I still don’t but I don’t hate her. Janice isn’t the best person in the world, but neither is Lisa. Their friendship actually makes sense to me, which is crazy. It did not for a while there. Then I woke today and it just made sense. People who are sometimes horrible people being friends makes sense.

Solomon isn’t in therapy for his agoraphobia. I really liked that his parents saw that it wasn’t helping. Therapy isn’t for everyone. I liked that the other two characters went to that as a solution first telling him that’s what he needed because people really do that. It was realistic and didn’t have any affect on Solomon. Them saying that didn’t make him run to his parents and ask for a therapist. He understood what worked for him and someone telling him what they thought he needed didn’t change anything about what he thought.

If you don’t like when characters joke around mental health.Maybe don’t read this. Solomon does it himself and so does his parents. I mostly felt fine with it in this. Why?

  1. His family’s sense of humor made sense to me.The family unit in this book seemed like one that really worked.I feel like Solomon’s parents understood him.
  2. I know a lot of people who joke about their conditions in the same vein for whatever reason. My sister used to all the time. I have.

Still, there were moments where things made me felt a little off. It depended on who was using the language. So if Lisa, Clark, or someone else like Janice did it I didn’t like it much.You could argue that Lisa and Clark become as close as family,but there are things said really early in the book by them that I didn’t like.

It’s a book about friendships and being oneself. It had its problems , but I still recommend it. I feel like at the end Lisa is at a point where she realizes her actions were wrong. That’s what you would hope for. I’d like more there. I’d like her to really recognize the specific things she did and said that were wrong. Her attempts at different kinds of therapy when she is not a psychologist yet. I’d want her to understand even more how the things she says to people matter.

You know what the problem actually is. The last chapter. There is a line from Lisa that really annoyed me. I think the one line drops the book a little. It was just not good. I really questioned if she really got it in the end because of it.If I ignore that then I’d say I liked the ending a lot more,but it’s hard to ignore. I’d still recommend people try the book like I said. The characters are really great. John Corey Whaley does a great job of pulling you into the story. 

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.

Gay romance, LGBTQIA+

Leech Trilogy by James Crawford on Sale

Leech Series JPG

There  are not enough fantasy or sci-fi books with gay main characters out there.I’m always looking for them. I wanted to let you all know about a great opportunity to pick up a queer fantasy trilogy for  99 cents on Amazon. The Leech trilogy by James Crawford is a series I’ve been interested in reading for a while now and I already bought the first book Caleo a while ago. I was super excited when I saw the promo sale because now I have the whole trilogy on my Kindle and can read the trilogy straight through. Check out the description for the first book below to see if you might be interested in the world Crawford has created like I am. If you do want to read it head over to Amazon to get your set.

Caleo Leech Book 1 

Every High School has their social outcasts. The band nerds, the math geeks, the chess club, the girl that chews her hair, but at Butler High, even the creepy nose picker in the chess club is more popular than Caleo Anima. No matter what he did, his pale skin, snow white hair, and piercing blue eyes always made him an easy target. He used to think that the only way things could get worse would be if someone found out that he was gay, but that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg of problems after a mysterious stranger shows up and changes Caleo’s life forever. Hidden amongst our society, a secret and magical race of people known as ‘Leeches’, have been engaging in civil war for decades. Both sides are desperately searching for a weapon with unlimited power that will give them the advantage they need to rule their world. This wouldn’t mean anything to Caleo, except for one problem…He is that weapon! Forget making it through High School. Caleo has bigger problems! As the search for him goes on, the world is quickly crumbling around him. He’s now fighting for his life and the life of what little family he has left. With the help of new friends, he has little time to try and master his newly found powers as he tries to figure out who he can trust, who is trying to use him, and who just wants him dead. One wrong step and being the awkward pale outcast will be the LEAST of his worries.
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