In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens Book Review

Author Information


F.T. Lukens is an award-winning author of Young Adult fiction. A sci fi enthusiast, F.T. loves Star Wars and Star Trek and is a longtime member of their college’s science-fiction club. F.T. holds degrees in Psychology and English Literature and has a love of cheesy television shows, superhero movies, and writing. F.T. lives in North Carolina with their spouse, three kids, three dogs, and three cats.

F.T.’s urban fantasy novel The Rules and Regulations For Mediating Myths & Magic won several awards including the 2017 Foreword INDIES Gold Award for Young Adult Fiction, the 2017 IPBA Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Best Teen Fiction and the 2017 Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction. It was also named to the 2019 ALA Rainbow Book List.

Book Description

A young prince must rely on a mysterious stranger to save him when he is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour in this swoony adventure that is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.

Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.

That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…

Review

I won this book in a giveaway from Turn the Page Tours so thanks to them and Netgalley I am able to provide a review for you all.

Thoughts and Themes: It took me quite a long time to be invested in this book as I kept going back and forth in my interest in it. The book starts off quite slowly which is the main reason as to why I wasn’t drawn in immediately to this story.

I really loved how this story is so much adventure and so much different layers kept getting added to this as I read more. I liked reading along as different things happen to Tal and trying to see what he would do next just to survive. I liked that this was a story about survival and the things that one is willing to do in order to survive.

I really enjoyed the world-building in this book and how that was part of the adventure in this story. I liked how there were things that Tal was figuring out about alongside the reader and liked how his family’s past played into the present times. I really enjoyed learning about the different types of magic that was in this book, not just the magic that Tal had but the mystical creatures that were involved and the powers that some of his family members possessed.

Characters: In this story you get introduced to quite a few characters through their interactions with Tal and each of them is unique in their own way. I loved all of the relationships that Tal has with each person who is important to him and I even liked the villains in this story.

I liked the way Tal and Athlen’s relationship develops and how it changes over time. I like how not only is Tal second guessing Athlen’s feelings throughout the whole story but as a reader you are questioning Athlen’s motives. This part was the best thing for me because I loved trying to figure out who was trustworthy in this story and who wasn’t. I felt like Tal who was also trying to figure this out for himself.

I also really enjoyed the relationships that Tal had with each of his family members and especially his siblings. I liked how supportive they are of Tal and how protective they are of him as their youngest sibling. I really liked the scenes in which we get to see all of them talking to him and getting upset with themselves for “allowing” him to have been harmed.

Writing Style: The story is told in third person point of view and follows Tal. I really liked the story being told in this way because it doesn’t seem to be an all knowing narrator. We still get Tal’s feelings and confusion even if he isn’t the one telling the story to us.

Fresh by Margot Wood Book Review

Author Information

Margot Wood is the founder of Epic Reads and has worked in marketing for more than a decade at publishing houses both big and small. Born and raised in Cincinnati, and a graduate of Emerson College, Wood now lives in Portland, Oregon and works in comic book publishing. She once appeared as an extra in the Love, Simon movie.

You can find her online at margotwood.com.

Book Description

A hilarious and vulnerable coming-of-age story about the thrilling new experiences––and missteps––of a girl’s freshman year of college

Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all that college has to offer—from dancing all night at off-campus parties, to testing her RA Rose’s patience, to making new friends, to having the best sex one can have on a twin-sized dorm room bed. But she may not be ready for the fallout when reality hits. When the sex she’s having isn’t that great. When finals creep up and smack her right in the face. Or when her roommate’s boyfriend turns out to be the biggest a-hole. Elliot may make epic mistakes, but if she’s honest with herself (and with you, dear reader), she may just find the person she wants to be. And maybe even fall in love in the process . . . Well, maybe.

Review

Thank you to Amulet Books for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thoughts and Themes: From the first look at the cover and the description this isn’t the typical book that I would pick up, but I am so glad that I gave it a try since I winded up loving this story. This was a book that I just couldn’t put down once I picked it up.

This book instantly transported me back to my first year of college and while I was nothing like Elliot, I could still relate to the characters in this story. It was fun returning to this time in my life and also remembering what student’s lives are like when they are in college now that I work as an academic advisor. I thought that this story really captured the feeling of going away to college really well and all that comes along with being alone for the first time.

Something else that I really liked about this book was how sex positive it was. As an a-spec person, I tend to stray away from books that feature sex as I can find it overwhelming but I found this book wasn’t too much. I liked that we got a range of different opinions on sex in this book and how no one was shamed for their thoughts on it.

I really love the ending of this story and just screamed so much in the last 50ish pages of this book. I can’t say much more about this without ruining it but it was just too cute for my heart to handle.

Characters: In this story you get to meet Elliot, and several of the people she interacts with on a regular basis and her family members. I really enjoyed getting to read the pieces between Elliot and her younger sister. I loved the way their relationship was easy but you can feel how much she cares about Elliot.

I also really like the friendship between Elliot and her roommate, Lucy. I love the different challenges that they face through their friendship and how they navigate those challenges. I really like how we get to see the reality of several students at a private school through Lucy when she points out the privileges’ that Elliot has. I also like how different they are from each other especially when it comes to relationship and sex. What I really appreciated was how Elliot and Lucy respected each others perspective on things and supported each other’s decisions.

Writing Style: The story is told in first person point of view through the main character, Elliot, and it includes footnotes throughout. I really enjoy the footnotes that are included because it makes the book feel like I’m reading Elliot’s diary. The footnotes allow you to get her innermost thoughts and it also gives a chance to explain things outside of the main story. I also like how we only get the story through Elliot’s perspective because it reads like a college freshman trying to figure out her life.

Flash Fire (The Extraordinaries #2) by TJ Klune Book Review

Author Information

TJ KLUNE is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. His novels include The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Extraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories. 

Book Description

Flash Fire is the explosive sequel to The Extraordinaries by USA Today bestselling author TJ Klune!

Nick landed himself the superhero boyfriend of his dreams, but with new heroes arriving in Nova City it’s up to Nick and his friends to determine who is virtuous and who is villainous. Which is a lot to handle for a guy who just wants to finish his self-insert bakery AU fanfic.

Review

Thank you to Netgalley, Macmillan, and Tor-Forge for an advanced reader’s copy of the book in exchange for my review.

Thoughts and Themes: I really enjoyed book 1 so I was so happy to get a chance to read this one and this book did not disappoint. I rarely read series as they come out because I don’t feel the need to read the next book as soon as it comes out but this was one of those that I had to know what happens now.

It is quite difficult to provide you all with a review without ruining book 1 so if you haven’t read that book yet, go do that before you continue reading this review.

I love the way Nick finds out about certain things in this book, I also like the way he responds to the things that he finds out. It’s like his whole life is unraveling before his eyes and as he thinks he has it all together it only unravels some more. The way this is done kept me reading even when I guessed where the story was going.

Something that I was really hoping was going to change with this book or at least be brought up was the amount of police admiring went on in the first book. I am glad that this book did begin the conversation about police brutality especially as Nick’s dad did beat up a man. While I was quite upset that Gibby and her family were the ones to bring up the conversation, I am glad that it did happen. I also liked how we do see Nick struggle with what it means for his dad to be a cop and begin to ask questions rather than just having it be fact.

Characters: The characters in this book, Nick, Seth, Gibby, and Jazz are just as great as they were in book 1. I just love how they formed a found family and watching as how their relationships develop through the course of this book. I really like how we get brief glimpses of each of their parents and see how those relationships are developed as well.

I liked getting to see Nick and his dad’s relationship develop throughout the course of this book, both as he questions his dad being a cop and also questions his dad keeping things from him. I liked getting to see how their relationship changed throughout time and I just like how casual they are with each other. It very much is a teenage child and parental relationship which is funny at times.

Writing Style: This story is written in third person through the perspective of the main character, Nick. I like that the story is told in third person because you get a glimpse at what the others are doing but you don’t know what’s going on unless Nick is around. I like getting things through Nick’s perspective because it feels like things are all over the place the whole time so you are for sure inside his head.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass Book Review

Author Information

Ryan Douglass was born and raised in Atlanta, where he currently resides, cooking pasta and playing records. He enjoys wood wick candles, falling asleep on airplanes, and advocating for stronger media representation for queer Black people.

Book Description

Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA horror where survival is not a guarantee.

Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.

Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for the advanced reader’s copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Thoughts and Themes: I had only seen negative reviews on this book so I went into this one suspecting bad and I wish I had’t. I actually really enjoyed this book and the multiple things that were happening in the story. I usually don’t like for there to be many side plot lines because I worry that they will be left unresolved but I liked the side things happening in this story. I felt that the side things happening helped move the story forward and also allowed you to learn about the characters.

I liked how this book brought up the intersection of being Black and Gay and how that was very different than being just one or the other. I thought this was a important piece that was brought up. I can’t speak on the intersection of holding both of those identities so I suggest that you all read own voices reviews as well.

Something else that I enjoyed about this book was that there were moments in which I felt the characters were coming off the screen. I loved the scenes in which there are supernatural elements involved since I felt these features brought the book to life. It was like this book was a ghost in my own living room.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to quite a few characters through their interactions with Jake and through the journal entries that are provided from Sawyer. I liked the way that we get to meet the people who were in Sawyer’s life and get to understand Sawyer through the journal entries and not just his haunting of Jake.

Something that I really enjoyed about this book is that both Sawyer and Jake are gay males. I thought it was great to see how that identity played into their daily lives and also their interactions with each other. I thought that them both being gay added depth to the story and added more to the reason Sawyer was haunting Jake. I felt that this fact made Sawyer feel like he could relate with Jake, and slowly it felt like Jake was able to relate with Sawyer.

I also really enjoyed the brief romance that we got through this book between Jake and Allister. While the romance wasn’t front and center in this story, I liked the glimpses that we get of their relationship and how it develops.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person point of view through Jake’s perspective and it also includes some of the entries from Sawyer’s journal. I like that this book goes back and forth between Jake’s life and Sawyer’s journal entries. I liked getting to know who Sawyer was prior to the shooting and try to see why that event occurred. I also thought it was great to see that this journal was being read by Jake and it was informing him of why this ghost was now haunting him.

Impacted by Benji Carr Book Review

Author Information

As a child growing up in the South with cerebral palsy, Benji Carr developed an eye for the bizarre and quirky, which provided all of the stories he told his friends and family with a bit of flavor. Working as a journalist, storyteller and playwright, his work – whether the stories be personal tales of struggle and survival or fiction about cannibal lunch ladies, puppet romances, drag queen funerals, and perverted killer circus clowns – has been featured in The Guardian, ArtsATL and Pembroke Magazine. Onstage, his pieces have been presented at the Center for Puppetry Arts, Alliance Theatre, and as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival in Manhattan. He lives in Atlanta and helps run the online literary magazine, Gutwrench Journal. Impacted is his first novel.

Book Description

With every trip he makes to the dentist, Wade’s pain only gets worse. His smile has faded. He’s clenching his jaw and grinding his teeth more, not because of bad oral hygiene or any mishaps in orthodontics. Wade’s teeth don’t need straightening out, but the rest of his life could use that kind of adjustment. Wade has fallen in love with handsome Dr. Emmett, and their office visits in the afternoon have become decidedly more personal than professional. And poor Wade is sure his girlfriend Jessa would punch him in the mouth if she found out.

After all, Jessa did just abandon her church and her family to be with him. And she did just have Wade’s baby. So their relationship has already caused enough gossip in the small Georgia town of Waverly.

When Wade tries to end the affair, the breakup takes a brutal turn, leaving Wade in a state of panic. His life is under threat. His secrets could be exposed, and his family may fall apart before he realizes what kind of person he wants to be.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: It took me a while to really get into this one and I made the mistake of looking at other people’s reviews in the middle of reading. I really didn’t see the humor in the story even if it was supposed to be dark humor. That being said, I did still enjoy the story that was told in this book.

I was a bit worried that the center would focus more on the relationship between Dr. Emett and Wade and I really didn’t want that. I was glad that we get to see more of Wade’s life with Jessa, Lydie, and his mom. I thought this was a good coming of age story as Wade figures out who he is and tries to cope with the mess he made, and then deal with being told he was abused.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to quite a few characters that all have different relationships with Wade. I really liked getting to know each of the characters that we meet and getting to see how their story comes together around Wade. There were some characters like the Reverand and Jessa which I was frustrated by and could’ve done with less of them.

I liked getting to see how much more of a mess Wade’s life gets with more people being introduced into the story. I thought it was great to see how these people play into his life and how they help him make sense of the things that have happened to him.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person with an knowing narrator as you read the story through jumping from one character to another. At first I really didn’t like that this book was going back and forth between characters and wished that we got more of Wade. As the book progressed, I understood the need to show us what was going on with the other characters to really tie them together and tie the loose pieces together.

What Fresh Hell Is This? by Heather Corinna Book Review

Author Information

Heather Corinna is an insufferable queer and nonbinary feminist activist, author, educator, artist, organizer, and innovator. They’re the founder, director, designer and editor of the web clearinghouse and organization Scarleteen, the first comprehensive sex, sexuality and relationships education site and resource of its kind. Heather and the team at Scarleteen have provided millions of young people accurate, inclusive information and support for over two decades. They’re often tired.

Heather’s also the author of the inclusive, comprehensive and progressive sex, sexual health and relationships book for young adults, S.E.X: The All-You-Need-To-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties (Hachette, 2006, 2017), now in its second edition; and, with Isabella Rotman and Luke Howard, Wait, What?: A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up (Oni Press/Lion Forge, 2019), for older middle readers and younger teen. They’ve been an early childhood educator, a sexuality, contraception and abortion educator and counselor, a member of the editorial board for the American Journal of Sexuality Education and the Board of Directors for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington; a writer and contributing editor for the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and a plaintiff for the ACLU where they eventually got to stick it to the Bush administration, which was one of their Best Days Ever. By working themselves to a pulp, Heather has won acclaim and several awards in their field, and a lot of places and people say they’re awesome. Some do not.

They’re navigating middle age and all it entails with as much grace as they can muster (spoiler: not much), and currently, and begrudgingly, live and work in their hometown of Chicago after 20 years away. When not locked in a small room feverishly writing a book in a pandemic or otherwise overindulging in labor, Heather hangs out with their dog, partner and friends, goes outside, makes and geeks out about music, cooks, babies houseplants, and tries to enjoy the purportedly existential theater of life. 

Book Description

An informative, blisteringly funny, somewhat cranky and always spot-on guide to perimenopause and menopause by the award-winning sex ed/health educator and author of S.E.X.
If you don’t know award-winning sex educator and all-around badass Heather Corinna, let them introduce themselves and their new book:
“I’m going to do what I’ve done for millions of people of all ages with sex and relationships: to simplify and share solid, explicit information, to provide support and be sensitive, and to help make everyone feel less alone and get us all through hard, thorny, touchy stuff so we can make it to the other side. I’m going to do this in a similar way I’ve done it for sex and relationships in my work over the last couple decades for young people and adults alike: by talking out loud, shamelessly and frankly, about what others are afraid or ashamed to, much in the way your favorite loudmouth aunt might have if she made this kind of stuff her life’s work and if your family also didn’t always apparently forget to invite her to everything.”
Corinna has been on the cutting edge of health for more than twenty years, always talking about what people are most afraid, ashamed, or embarrassed of. What Fresh Hell Is This? is no different. It’s a companion for everyone who’s reached this “what to expect when you’re not expected to expect anything” time of life. It’s a health-forward, feminist, no b.s. (and damn funny) perimenopause guide for the generation that time forgot (aka GenXers), offering straightforward descriptions of our bodies, minds, lives and what’s going on with them during this time of hormonal chaos. Heather Corinna tells you what to expect and what to do, all while busting some myths and offering real self-care tips so you can get through this. With practical, clear information that also includes affected populations who have long been left out of the discussion, like those with disabilities, queer, transgender, nonbinary and other gender-diverse people, the working class and other marginalized folks, What Fresh Hell Is This? an accessible and inclusive guide for anyone who is experiencing the hot fire of perimenopause.

Review

Since this book is non-fiction, there is no need for me to have this separated into characters and writing style. I was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed this book as I was worried it wouldn’t be relevant to me.

I really liked the way that this book was written and how everything is separated into different chapters based on what is being discussed. I liked how this book talked about a lot of the changes that happen with menopause and not just what happens to the reproductive system. I was quite surprised about the many things that people who may go through menopause don’t know about their bodies. I shared a copy of this book with my mom and kept one for myself so I can reference it in the future.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this book was how the language that is used throughout this book is gender neutral. As someone who is non-binary and one day will experience menopause, it was nice to not have this tied to being a woman. There was no point in this book that I felt like they were not including me in the group of people who experience that phenomenon.

I highly recommend this to those of you who may experience menopause, who are currently experiencing menopause, and those of you who want to better understand those of us who go through menopause. There was so much that I learned through reading this book and a lot of things that I was amazed by. I think its very important to be familiar with the changes that happen to your body so you are prepared when they come.

Girls at the Edge of the World by Laura Brooke Robson Book Review

Author Information

Laura Brooke Robson writes books about snarky girls and climate peril. She’s from Bend, Oregon, which means she’s contractually obligated to talk about the fact she’s from Bend, Oregon. As a college student, she did English shenanigans at Stanford, which some were known to describe as “a feat of daring” and “probably not going to make you as much money as CS.”

Her debut novel, GIRLS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, will come out on June 8, 2021 with Dial Books/Penguin Teen. Laura is represented by Danielle “Superhero” “Cheerleader” “I would literally be crying without her” Burby at Nelson Literary Agency.

Book Description

In a world bound for an epic flood, only a chosen few are guaranteed safe passage into the new world once the waters recede. The Kostrovian royal court will be saved, of course, along with their guards. But the fate of the court’s Royal Flyers, a lauded fleet of aerial silk performers, is less certain. Hell-bent on survival, Principal Flyer, Natasha Koskinen, will do anything to save the Flyers, who are the only family she’s ever known. Even if “anything” means molding herself into the type of girl who could be courted by Prince Nikolai. But unbeknownst to Natasha, her newest recruit, Ella Neves, is driven less by her desire to survive the floods than her thirst for revenge. And Ella’s mission could put everything Natasha has worked for in peril.

As the oceans rise, so too does an undeniable spark between the two flyers. With the end of the world looming, and dark secrets about the Kostrovian court coming to light, Ella and Natasha can either give in to despair . . . or find a new reason to live.

Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for the advanced reader copy in exchange for my review.

Thoughts and Themes: The minute that I see a book is LGBT+, I know that I have to read it. I was so pleased with so many aspects of this book and really hope that there’s more to this story. I like that this story leaves me wanting more, wanting to know what happens next but also that it does close nicely for the reader.

I really liked how this book talks about Sirens and the original meaning for the term and how that term has shifted in their world. I liked the world-building that occurs throughout this story and how that world-building just was integrated into the plot.

I also really liked how we don’t know who the villain is throughout the story. You get glimpses at who it might be and the reason that Ella believes that they are the villain but never a confirmed answer. You don’t even get that answer at the end of the book which left me with so many questions. Like who was I supposed to believe, do we go with Ella’s point of view, or what Natasha knows?

Characters: This book introduces you to several people through their interactions with Natasha and Ella. You also get to meet both of these characters not only through each of their chapters but also in the moments in which they interact with each other.

Something that I really liked about the characters in this story was the friendships/relationships between each of the flyers. I loved how connected they were with each other and how we see this through the addition of Ella. I really liked seeing how even if they were skeptical of who she was, they still accepted her as one of them and made her feel like she had a family.

I really liked the slow burn romance that happens between Natasha and Ella. I liked that they tip toed around each other for the majority of the book and kept their feelings for each other to themselves. I liked how you know that the feelings are there and its going to happen but we don’t get the on page revelation of these feelings till near the end of the story.

Writing Style: This book goes back and forth between our two main characters, Natasha and Ella. I liked being able to see both of their perspectives on the events going on. I think that being able to see how they both felt allows us to understand their feelings and also feel sympathy for both of them.

Guest Post by The Seasonal Pages “5 Wonderful LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels to Read This Summer”

5 Wonderful LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels To Read This Summer

Hello readers of The Unconventional Quirky Bibliophile! I am Isaly, the owner of the stationery store The Seasonal Pages and I am guest blogging to tell you about a few books that I think you will love for this summer season. June is officially here and you know what means, it is PRIDE month. Pride Month is the perfect time to tell you about wonderful LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels to read this summer time. The books listed below are some of my personal favorites and I think you will enjoy them too!

Title: Bingo Love

Author: Tee Franklin

Genre: Romance

Synopsis: “When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage.”

Bingo Love is one of my favorite books to read every couple of years when I am in the mood for romance and a graphic novel. The characters are fun to read and the illustrations captured my art soul so much. You will adore this book with humor and romance. I had to add Bingo Love to this list!

Title: The Prince & The Dressmaker

Author: Jen Wang

Genre: Graphic Novel

Synopsis: “Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!”

This adorable story about a person finding themselves is needed on your next to be read list. Sebastian is a character that you want to learn more about and see what happens at the end, I highly recommend this graphic novel.

Title: You Brought Me The Ocean

Author: Alex Sanchez

Illustrations: Julie Maroh

Genre: Teen & YA Romance Graphic Novel

Synopsis: “Jake Hyde doesn’t swim-not since his father drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which is in the middle of the desert, yet he yearns for the ocean and is determined to leave his hometown for a college on the coast. But his best friend, Maria, wants nothing more than to make a home in the desert, and Jake’s mother encourages him to always play it safe.

Yet there’s nothing “safe” about Jake’s future-not when he’s attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. And certainly not when he secretly applies to Miami University. Jake’s life begins to outpace his small town’s namesake, which doesn’t make it any easier to come out to his mom, or Maria, or the world.

But Jake is full of secrets, including the strange blue markings on his skin that low when in contact with water. What power will he find when he searches for his identity, and will he turn his back to the current or dive head first into the waves?”

Between the ocean theme, the romance and the illustrations — You Brought Me The Ocean will not disappoint. It is a stunning story of self love, romance, and another world. I think that this graphic novel will leave you wanting more from the author and artist. This book introduced me to the author and the artist I have read before, so I recommend her books as well.

Title: The Banks

Author: Roxanne Gay Genre: LGBTQ+ Graphic Novel

Synopsis: “For fifty years the women of the Banks family have been the most successful thieves in Chicago by following one simple rule: never get greedy. But when the youngest Banks stumbles upon the heist of a lifetime, the potential windfall may be enough to bring three generations of thieves together for one incredible score and the chance to avenge a loved one taken too soon.”

Roxanne Gay is an author that I try to read more and more after reading some of her writing recently. I love the way she writes and how she tells such detailed plots that leave you on edge. The Banks is one of her newest books and it is a graphic novel that I think will be great for this spring season. The cover draws you in and the green tone makes you feel like you are going to enjoy a book that is fit for spring time.

Title: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

Author: Mariko Tamaki Genre: LGBTQ+ Graphic Novel

Synopsis: “Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.

Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But

Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever.

Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.”

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is perfect for a fun read that will lighten your mood. I enjoyed this story for the self reflecting and the teen in love trope. I think this book will be a great read for the summer time!

Since it is the beginning of June, I plan on rereading this 5 books for Pride Month and enjoy even more books with a focus on POC LGBTQ+ characters and/or authors. What do you plan on reading in June? Do you have a book that you really want to read for Pride month? Thank you so much for reading about my 5 chosen LGBTQ+ graphic novels that I think you will love during Pride Month. You can find me at The Seasonal Pages Stationery Shop anytime by visiting my website theseasonalpages.com or my Instagram page: instagram.com/theseasonalpages. Happy Reading!

The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver Blog Tour Post

I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by Hear Our Voices Book Tours . Make sure you check out the rest of the posts that are a part of this tour by looking at the schedule for the tour found here.

Author Information

Born and raised in a small North Carolina town, Mason Deaver is an award-nominated, bestselling author and designer living in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Besides writing, they’re an active fan of horror movies and video games. As you can see from the photo above, they’re a big fan of plants as well.

You can find them online at various places,
Instagram – @mason_deaver
And their website – masondeaverwrites.com

Book Description

When Liam Cooper’s older brother Ethan is killed in a hit-and-run, Liam has to not only learn to face the world without one of the people he loved the most, but also face the fading relationship with his two best friends.

Feeling more alone and isolated than ever, Liam finds themself sharing time with Marcus, Ethan’s best friend, and through Marcus, Liam finds the one person that seems to know exactly what they’re going through, for the better, and the worse.

This book is about grief. But it’s also about why we live. Why we have to keep moving on, and why we should.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I’ve been reading a lot of books on grief lately and I really do enjoy how different each of them are. I like how each book deals with grief but the characters all deal with it differently, and these books normalize the grief process.

I really liked that this book shows us multiple people grieving the loss of Ethan, and the way that people who have different relationships with the deceased grieve. I thought it was important to see Liam’s reaction to his brother’s death, and see how he treats others because of this. I thought it was important that we see Liam be insistent that no one could possibly understand how they are feeling, and not allow anyone to try to understand them.

Something that I also really liked in this book was how our main character is non-binary but that isn’t what the story centers around. I think we need more stories where Trans characters just get to live and the story isn’t focused on their coming out. I also really liked that all of our characters were LGBTQ+, it really just was great to have this representation through each of the characters we were introduced to. It also just reminded me of how often times LGBTQ+ people tend to flock to each other for safety and comfort.

Characters: There are a few characters that we get to meet through their interactions with Liam. The main characters that we are introduced to were Liam, Marcus, Vanessa, and Joel. Through this story you are also briefly introduced to Liam and Ethan’s parents, and also briefly get to meet Ethan when the book flashes to the past.

I really liked how this book shows Liam’s friends reactions to them grieving. I like how we get to see how they don’t know how to respond to him pushing them away and how Liam gets angry for this. I thought it was good to only see Liam’s perspective of this because it kind of lets you think about what the others must be feeling.

I liked the way that Liam and Marcus’s relationship developed but it never gets beyond them just being their to process their grief. I think that this relationship that they develop with each other is needed for both of them to move on. I love that this relationship is able to provide Liam with answers that it seems that he needs but there are also moments in which I am angry with the way Liam treats Marcus. I think Liam is so angry with the death of his brother that he takes it out on those around him and its really frustrating to watch.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through Liam’s perspective and it goes back and forth between before and after Ethan’s death. I liked getting a chance to see how things were before Ethan died and seeing how his relationship was with Liam. I thought this was a nice addition to see the impact that his death had on him but also to see why Liam was feeling pressured to know be their parent’s golden child.

I also liked getting to read this story only through Liam’s perspective because we don’t get a chance to see others grieve. We get a chance to see Liam’s thought process and his opinions on other’s grieving which I thought was a nice addition. I think this made it so that the focus really was on Liam rather than other people and them learning that other’s are going to grieve differently and he has to respect that.

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons Book Review

Author Information

Isaac Fitzsimons is the author of The Passing Playbook (Dial BFYR/PRH, 2021). He
writes Young Adult fiction featuring intentionally marginalized characters so that every
reader can see themselves reflected in literature.

His background includes performing sketch comedy in college, learning how to play
three songs on the banjo, and, of course, writing.

His dream vacation would be traveling around Europe via sleeper train to see every top-
tier soccer team play a home game. He currently lives outside DC and works for an arts
advocacy nonprofit in the city.

Social Media Links:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/isaacfitzy
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/isaacfitzbooks/

Book Description

Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother and a Messi-in-training. He’s also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of bullying, Spencer gets a fresh start at Oakley, the most liberal private school in Ohio.

At Oakley, Spencer seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boy’s soccer team, great new friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The problem is, no one at Oakley knows Spencer is trans – he’s passing.

So when a discriminatory law forces Spencer’s coach to bench him after he discovers the ‘F’ on Spencer’s birth certificate, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even if it means coming out to everyone – including the guy he’s falling for.

Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is coming to shelves near you on June 1st.

Thoughts and Themes: I was a bit skeptical about starting this book because I don’t really like sports themed books but I’m glad that I kept reading on. There is so much more to this story than just the sports plot line.

I liked so much about this and my feelings were all over the place as I read this story. There are some heartwarming moments that I was just rooting for Spencer and Justice in, and then there were heart breaking moments too. There were moments in which I was angry along with Spencer but then sad for Justice. I just wanted to protect both of the main characters from enduring any harm, and give them the safe space that they longed for.

I liked how this book has being queer and belonging to a religious family. I thought it was good to see how Justice’s family being religious affected him being out and how that went into his relationship with Spencer. This was such a hard thing to read through and recall how my coming out experience was because of my religious upbringing.

I have so much to say about this book and all of the feelings that I had while reading it. This is definitely going to be added to my list of comfort reads as I loved it so much.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to several characters in their interactions with Spencer. You get to meet the love interest, Justice, the coach, another trans student, Riley, Spencer’s brother, Theo, Spencer’s best friend, Aiden, and several of the soccer team players.

I found each of the characters that you meet through this story to be lovable. I really loved the way the soccer team embraced Spencer when he comes out and how unexpected that is. I like how this shows a different side to sport team members, and how transphobia doesn’t have to exist in that space. I thought that was the most important thing that was shown, the book really shows that transphobia and homophobia have no place in sports, and that they don’t have to exist in sports.

I also really loved how supportive Spencer’s family is of him, I like how even if they struggle with the right thing to say or do they still support him. I liked getting pieces of Spencer’s brother in the story and seeing how Spencer tries to take up less space because of Theo being Autistic. I think seeing Spencer navigate being out and knowing how much attention that would bring to his family was good to see because we see him finally think about himself rather than everyone before him.

I really enjoyed Justice as our love interest and as a side character. I thought he was well developed and really liked the complexity he deals with being queer and having religion play a large role in his life. I thought this was really important to see especially as we see that both those identities can coexist, both peacefully but also negatively. I thought it was good to see the contrast between Justice’s families’ beliefs and what he believed. I also really liked how Justice just accepted that Spencer is trans and there was no dilemma with that.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person with a somewhat all knowing narrator. I tend to get frustrated with stories being told in third person but I actually liked this pov for this book. I liked that we got to read about so many different feelings and thoughts. I also liked that we got to follow different characters but I thought it was well done so that it didn’t feel like there was too many things going on.