Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Never Ever Getting Back Together

Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales


Recommended: sure
for a cute reality-show-esque love story, for vengeance satisfactory, for characters who make bad choices often but you can love them anyway

WARNING: you probably will have the T. Swift song stuck in your head every time you pick up this book. Recommend reading in one sitting to minimize earworms. 😅

Summary

It’s been two years since Maya’s ex-boyfriend cheated on her, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country and he captured hearts as her charming younger brother. If the world only knew the real Jordy, the manipulative liar who broke Maya’s heart.

Skye Kaplan was always cautious with her heart until Jordy said all the right things and earned her trust. Now his face is all over the media and Skye is still wondering why he stopped calling.

When Maya and Skye are invited to star on the reality dating show Second-Chance Romance, they’re whisked away to a beautiful mansion—along with four more of Jordy’s exes— to compete for his affections while the whole world watches. Skye wonders if she and Jordy can recapture the spark she knows they had, but Maya has other plans: exposing Jordy and getting revenge. As they navigate the competition, Skye and Maya discover that their real happily ever after is nothing they could have scripted.

Thoughts

People say it’s not about the journey, but the destination. In the case of this book, the destination is also incredibly satisfying. What I’m saying is I really liked the ending. This story is based on vengeance, and vengeance comes up constantly as it’s the main focus for one of the MCs (at least one!). That comes with all the drama required of sacrifices made to pursue vengeance and questioning what truly matters in life. In this case, I enjoyed the way each character came to their final decisions, and the “results” of it all in terms of the show.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore
Recommended: yep
For a heartbreaking but beautiful story and way of writing, for revelations that constantly hurt more

Summary

When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown, in Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season

Graciela Cristales’s whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.

Thoughts

This book took me a long time to actually read because I knew it would be difficult. How could a book about a girl who was sexually assaulted, at the same time as a boy was as well at the same party, be anything but? There’s some magical realism in here that helps, mercifully, to distance and navigate the the pain. It does so much more than that, but for me it was extremely helpful in that way too.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan

Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan
Recommended: yep!
for a story of fighting abuse and inequality, for a story that will piss you right the fuck off and make you want to fight alongside them

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

From the author of the “heart-wrenching yet hopeful” (Samira Ahmed) novel, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, comes a timely, intimate look at what it means to be an immigrant in America today, and the endurance of hope and faith in the face of hate.

Thoughts

This is one of those books that I’ve really wanted to read for a while, but also knew that it would not be an easy read emotionally for me because of it’s topic. Zara and her family are getting harassed at school and in the town and as it gets worse, the family struggles with how to handle it. I would recommend this for classrooms, but only ones led by a teacher who can teach to the empathy required to have this story matter and make an impact.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June

Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June

Recommended: sure
For a book about identity, for a character with a clear voice, for a look at how lots of lying is generally not worth the result

Summary

There’s one thing Jay Collier knows for sure—he’s a statistical anomaly as the only out gay kid in his small rural Washington town. While all this friends can’t stop talking about their heterosexual hookups and relationships, Jay can only dream of his own firsts, compiling a romance to-do list of all the things he hopes to one day experience—his Gay Agenda.

Then, against all odds, Jay’s family moves to Seattle and he starts his senior year at a new high school with a thriving LGBTQIA+ community. For the first time ever, Jay feels like he’s found where he truly belongs, where he can flirt with Very Sexy Boys and search for love. But as Jay begins crossing items off his list, he’ll soon be torn between his heart and his hormones, his old friends and his new ones…because after all, life and love don’t always go according to plan.

Thoughts

The defining style of this book is humor. If you read the first chapter or two and are finding yourself smiling and loving Jay’s voice, then you’re in for a happy rest of the book. If not, then you’re in for a struggle, because there’s a lot of his joking through it all, even in the narration itself and not just the dialogue. I was about 60/40 on usually enjoying it but sometimes feeling like he could take a break and be serious for a minute, no?

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Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: We All Fall Down by Rose Szabo

We All Fall Down by Rose Szabo
Expected Release Date: June 7, 2022

Recommended: not really
For folks who like character identity exploration, for almost-meetings and vague magic saturating the real world. Not for a strong, clear plot or robust exploration of magic

Summary

In River City, where magic used to thrive and is now fading, the witches who once ruled the city along with their powerful King have become all but obsolete. The city’s crumbling government is now controlled primarily by the new university and teaching hospital, which has grown to take over half of the city.

Moving between the decaying Old City and the ruthless New, four young queer people struggle with the daily hazards of life―work, school, dodging ruthless cops and unscrupulous scientists―not realizing that they have been selected to play in an age-old drama that revives the flow of magic through their world. When a mysterious death rocks their fragile peace, the four are brought into each other’s orbits as they uncover a deeper magical conspiracy.

Devastating, gorgeous, and utterly unique, We All Fall Down examines the complex network of pain created by power differentials, even between people who love each other―and how it is possible to be queer and turn out just fine.

Thoughts

I really struggled to get sucked into this. It was a strange bunch of flip flopping. The first 50 pages had me hooked. By 150, it felt like nothing was happening and when I put the book down, picking it back up felt like a chore. By halfway, I was relatively invested and curious to see where it was heading. But by the end again, I wasn’t sure why any of what I read was important to the next part of the story.

Continue reading “ARC Review: We All Fall Down by Rose Szabo”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Lesbiana’s Guide To Catholic School 5/17

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonoroa Reyes!
Expected Release: May 17, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • I don’t know much about Catholicism or Catholic school, but I do have a feeling non-straight-ness is not usually smiled at. I hope I’m wrong about that, but at least in Yamilet’s experience in this book, it’s definitely the case. So it’s probably going to be pretty uncomfortable navigating her Catholic school as a lesbian.
  • And also as a Mexican. Jeez, not only does this girl have to deal with the judgment of her outward appearance as a Mexican in a very white rich school, but her inner self as well (though can we all just get each other’s noses out of sexual preferences unless you’re being invited into those sexual preferences??).
  • Clearly she’s dealing with a lot, and I can’t wait to read the moment when she sheds her fear and is able to embrace her whole self without fear of repercussions. Plus that can’t-resist love is always a pull (though hopefully it’s not just a “she’s the only option” kind of scenario).

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Yamilet Flores prefers to be known for her killer eyeliner, not for being one of the only Mexican kids at her new, mostly white, very rich Catholic school. But at least here no one knows she’s gay, and Yami intends to keep it that way.

After being outed by her crush and ex-best friend before transferring to Slayton Catholic, Yami has new priorities: keep her brother out of trouble, make her mom proud, and, most importantly, don’t fall in love. Granted, she’s never been great at any of those things, but that’s a problem for Future Yami.

The thing is, it’s hard to fake being straight when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, is so annoyingly perfect. And smart. And talented. And cute. So cute. Either way, Yami isn’t going to make the same mistake again. If word got back to her mom, she could face a lot worse than rejection. So she’ll have to start asking, WWSGD: What would a straight girl do?

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: So This is Ever After, 3/29/22

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is So This is Ever After by F.T. Lukens!
Expected Release: March 29, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • I love that this focuses on the part of the story we don’t usually get to see. The focus is typically on the battle to overthrow, and ends once the rightful person is on the throne. The rebuilding after is skipped, but I think it poses it’s own struggles that are a different kind of story, but still one I want to read.
  • And oh, of course, the love story within it is one I am smiling about already. I mean, look at the cover. It’s very clear what the end of the story is going to be, but I am thrilled for the whole journey of getting there. 😍
  • Part of that journey is going to be a series of what I imagine to essentially be awkward bad dates. Since Arek has to find his spouse in short order, I”m picturing it a bit like Princess Diaries 2 where she’s going through the photos of princes trying to decide who might work. I’m so in for some laughs! ^.^

Summary

Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.

As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.

With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong…until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.

Posted in Chatty

How the times have flipped!!!

Hey y’all!

I had heard of this new release that sounded super cute and just like what I was looking for: The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun. I’ll put the book details at the end, but it’s a lot of fake dating and reality TV and mental health and sexual identity and cute AF moments with truly loveable, whole characters.

So obviously I was incredibly pumped to read this, until I went to place a hold on it from the library and saw something like 82 people ahead of me and an estimated wait time that was “incalculable” because it was so long. 😅 That was dismaying, but then I remembered something:

Continue reading “How the times have flipped!!!”
Posted in Release Day!

Just published: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé published today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy for yourself!

Recommended: YUP
For a high school drama that turns into a mystery that turns into an actual oh-sh*t situation, for a story of friendship and identity and isolation and trust and race, for a story where you get halfway through and wonder how it could get any more intense

Summary

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Honey girl, 2/23/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers.
Expected Release: February 23, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • As my friend said when she was able to get an early copy, “I’m so pumped for lesbian romance. There are so few books on it in this genre.” Thanks Erin, for writing my post for me, because I’m totally on board as well. I’ve found a nice surge in lesbian young adult novels, but for a slightly older audience it’s been a bit scant still (or maybe I’m just missing them all). Give me that unexpected romance every day please!
  • Intersectionality! Not just lesbians, but Asian and black rep as well! Look, I’m not defining this book by these elements of the characters, because there’s so much more I’m excited for (see point 3) BUT I am still so excited when I see stories with characters who have a story beyond their labels and categories and whatnot.
  • IT SOUNDS DAMN GREAT. Drunken marriage to a stranger in Vegas? Falling in love with your accidental wife? Striking out on your own to figure out who you are and who you want to be? It’s got so much good packed in. It’s a whole crazy blend of moments that force Grace to grow up real fast.

Summary

With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.

This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.

In New York, she’s able to ignore all the annoying questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.