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.

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Gay romance

Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert

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For a stationery store owner, the holidays are great for business. But for Hollis Alcott, Christmas reminds him of the tragic events of three years past, and the last thing he wants to do is take part in Portland’s over-abundance of festive cheer. But Sawyer Murphy, a hunky gift shop owner whose brother is married to Hollis’s sister, has made it his mission to pluck Hollis out of his holiday blues. And his plan is beginning to work. Wrapped in the warm glow of newfound passion, the former business rivals hit up Portland’s finest holiday traditions—and Hollis’s icy attitude begins to melt like snowflakes on his tongue. But he isn’t sure he can trust anyone with the only gift he has—his heart—without breaking it like an antique ornament. Unless he can find the courage to take a leap with the one lover he never expected.

I read Wrapped Together during the A Very Merry Readathon and really enjoyed it like I have with many other Annabeth Albert books this year. This was a part of the Portland Heat series. Each book is a standalone following different characters. This really got me interested in reading the rest of the books in the series.

The couple of characters we follow have a history together that is a little messy. There are misconceptions they have to dance around. Hollis is the character whose perspective we follow throughout and a lot of the time he annoyed me because I couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t let Sawyer in more.

Eventually, I could see that Hollis is stuck in a lot of ways. he hasn’t moved on from a tragedy in his family and hasn’t shifted in personality either. Because of this, he doesn’t see how much Sawyer has changed or even entertain the idea that Sawyer has changed.

This story had a good infusion of flashbacks. I’m usually not a flashback fan in stories.I liked the pace of the relationship developing. Hollis and Sawyer get into BDSM lightly and that was cool to see them explore that together. I do think the slow burn is worth it once they can figure things out together. Also loved the parts involving any of their family.

This is a nice story where someone needs to find their holiday spirit again. I really enjoyed it. The epilogue was cute even if it was a bit much.  Definitely, recommend you check out this book and more stories from Annabeth Albert.

 

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.