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.

 

 

 

LGBTQIA+, YA

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

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I’m in love with this book. It’s definitely my favorite read of the month right now. We follow three characters on the day of the terrorist attack on the two towers in New York. These are three teenagers that live in New York and all experience this event in different ways. I always think Levithan does an amazing job with alternating chapters. These three characters seem like they have no connection at first but all know each other in some way. Gave me Realm of Possibility feels. I liked it. It was able to take you through their experiences on the day of the event then go on to inspire the reader and lift them up.

Claire is a great character. From the first chapter in her perspective, I knew her experience with everything would be different. Claire’s personal journey is really well written. You know that her experiences on 9/11 are going to change her but I didn’t expect the extent that it does. She has some of the more intense passages in this book for me as she’s trying to figure out what to do. How do you move on as a city after something like this? As a country?

There is a moment in the opening of the book where I realize how strong Claire can be. She really holds it together for her younger brother and the kids in his classroom. When she lets herself feel and these intense moments come later and when she lets herself say what all she is feeling to one of the other characters it’s really wonderful. Claire puts in whatever effort she can to make things better in the world. I honestly love this character so much. Claire finds a connection to other people. She seeks out others who are affected in the way that she is.

Two of the three main characters in this book are gay. I didn’t know that going in but it’s a David Levithan book so I should have expected a little gay. Was very happy to have it.  Peter and Jasper are both great characters. They both change a lot because of the events of 9/11 like Claire do. Even if they are in completely different ways.

Peter is so hopeful and innocent in the beginning to me.I really get that impression.He’s the type of character I root for in books. He’s a gay guy who was just super excited about going on a date with a guy he met at a party. He was just hoping for a great experience with someone he’d awkwardly flirted with at a party. Then he runs down the street from his favorite store and sees the first tower of the World Trade Building collapse. His immediate disconnect from what is his norm there was poignant. He isn’t able to play his music when he walks toward school. I loved that part of Peter’s process. His grieving or finding a way to move on process involved music. Music can really help people get through things. I find that so relatable. Music is a big part of my life. His experience at a concert a few days after 9/11 was so nicely written. The camaraderie of the people who still showed up to this show was beautiful.

Jasper wakes up on the day of 9/11 to a phone call from his parents who are visiting his grandmother in Korea. I feel like Jasper is in some ways the most lost of the three characters. I feel like Jasper isn’t sure of his place in things before 9/11 happens. He seems like he’s waded through life. He hasn’t lived much or decided who he is or wants to be. I feel like thinking about all the lives lost really impacts him. Jasper even feels separate from what other people around him are feeling because his experience on 9/11 was very different from most of the people that he knows. It’s definitely different from Peter and Claire. Even though he lives in New York he experiences a lot of the after effect.he doesn’t see the planes hit. He’s not on the streets trying to get away from the wreckage or worrying about where his family is. He’s safe. His parents are away. He doesn’t know what to do or how to feel. As the story goes on I really started to like Jasper and the changes I saw in him.

I can’t even explain what I felt about Jasper and Peter fully. I shipped it so hard but also so hesitantly. Having a first date the day after 9/11 is not the best sign. I still wanted it to work so bad. I love both of the characters. I said before that I could see all these characters were somewhat lost after what happened. Jasper and Peter needed different things in order to find themselves again.Things they needed to find separately. Still, they are able to help each other in small ways. They are so different at the end of the book than they are at the beginning and I love them.

Claire bridges the gap between the three main characters of this book. I feel like she brings the group together. They all know each other in passing small ways. I feel like Claire ultimately is the force that brings three people who need each other together. They find something special. All three of these characters gain something from each other. Something they need to help them along on their journey. Claire really is able to glue them together over time. She keeps that connection to both of them because it’s something she needs. These are two people who have helped her by just listening and understanding. All three characters are different people by the end of the book.

This book left me in a light mood. It was so hopeful. It made you have faith in people. It’s truly excellent. Really happy I finally got around to reading it. I was hesitant because of the topic and I had taken out from the library once in the past without ever picking it up. I’m so glad that I did not do that this time. I definitely recommend you give this book a chance.

 

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.

 

ARC's, Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+

Looking For Group by Alexis Hall

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A guy falls for a girl while playing an online MMO. The girl turns out to be a guy. The guy is mostly okay with that. After having a mini sexuality crisis moment. The guy starts the new relationship. He messes up a lot in the new relationship.He might tick you off. Eventually, things get fixed and it’s all cute and stuff, though. Yay!

That’s a simple reaction to this. Let’s go into a little more detail. There are things I loved about this and problems I can’t really get over too. At the same time, I still recommend this to people.

I loved how geeky this story was. The main character Drew is going to school for video game design. His conversations with his friends about gaming and so many other geeky things were fantastic for me. I was geeking out.

The relationship development was pretty good in my opinion. I thought the two were great together before they met at least. Drew starts to love the game again because of Kit and I liked seeing that happen. I liked how they interacted in the game and how I could see the parallel when they were together IRL. they were just really cute together. Top ten couples of the year material.

I like the in game portions of this a lot. I liked seeing them go on raids in the game. The description of the combat and the lore in the game. The issues with the world building in the game. I liked that the author thought to bring these elements into the storyIt was all pretty great.

Drew’s friends are great and annoying. His best friends comments throughout the book just annoyed me. It really made me wonder how they became friends of stay friends. Sanee just kept getting worse as the book went on. Not knowing how to react when he met Drew’s boyfriend was one of those moments.

Luckily we had Tinuviel, Drew’s pansexual poly friend in the mix too. I loved her. She actually reminded me a little of a friend from college. When Sanee said things he shouldn’t either Sanee’s girlfriend of Tin would shut it down if they were around. Tin also helped guide Drew in his crisis moment.

I said I wondered why Sanee and Drew were friends. Then I realized Drew could be just as much of a dick as Sanee. He was such a jerk for a portion of the book. I was sitting there like you are so in the wrong right now and you don’t even understand why. Eventually, he does realize the error of his ways but it bothered me a bit too much.

I loved Kit, though. I honestly found him really relatable. Since high School, I’ve had many of friends that I met online that I was closer to than people I knew day to day. I really saw where Kit was coming from.Maybe that’s why I was so ticked at Drew when he started messing things up. This book was good. Not my favorite of the year but good.

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.

 

 

 

 

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

Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt Book Review

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The inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family’s extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all, from the Pulitzer Prize–winning science reporter for The Washington Post

This book was really wonderful. It follows the story of the Maines’ family. Starting with the parents and their background. We learn how they met and how they ended up adopting twins. Then we see the long journey of trying to accept that one of the twins is transgender and after they accepted it we see the family take a fight they’d been having over their child’s rights to a public level. This was a rollercoaster of a book for me. You will have a really heartwarming moment in the Maines’ lives followed not long after by some unforeseen setback. it kept taking me up and down there,which is likely how the family felt on this journey as more obstacles showed up for them.

I really appreciate the work the author had to put into this. I can easily see how much work was put in. The amount of interviewing, note taking, and researching done is appreciated.

I liked that there were full sections separate,but not separate from the family’s story. Sections where we are able to get more information on transgender history, laws,accounts of what other transgender people went through, etc. One that strangely stood out to me was a section on a doctor that helped homeless teens and often ended up working with LGBT homeless teens because of the high percentage of LGBT teens among the young homeless population. It was a short chapter really but it stood out to me.

I also really like that the story really does show the whole family. There was a period of time where I was wondering about Nicole’s brother Jonas was going through and right after that thought we got a chapter on how Jonas was processing things. I thought this book’s layout really worked. It covered a lot of ground in a short time and did so really well. Definitely, would recommend it.

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.