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.

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.

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.

Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore Book Review

Author Information

Steven Salvatore is a queer (gay and genderqueer, using he/him and they/them pronouns — please default to they/them) writer who lives in New York with their husband. Steven has worked in higher education since 2011, teaching composition courses across curriculums. When not writing or teaching, you can find Steven rewatching any and all Star Wars media or listening to Mariah Carey’s extensive and impeccable catalog. Their debut CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY is forthcoming (March 9th, 2021), and AND THEY LIVED… will be their follow-up (March 1st, 2022) from Bloomsbury YA. 

Book Description

An empowering and emotional debut about a genderqueer teen who finds the courage to stand up and speak out for equality when they are discriminated against by their high school administration.

Carey Parker dreams of being a diva, and bringing the house down with song. They can hit every note of all the top pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars from an incident with a homophobic classmate and their grandmother’s spiraling dementia make it harder and harder for Carey to find their voice.

Then Carey meets Cris, a singer/guitarist who makes Carey feel seen for the first time in their life. With the rush of a promising new romantic relationship, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the school musical, setting off a chain reaction of prejudice by Carey’s tormentor and others in the school. It’s up to Carey, Cris, and their friends to defend their rights–and they refuse to be silenced.

Told in alternating chapters with identifying pronouns, debut author Steven Salvatore’s Can’t Take That Away conducts a powerful, uplifting anthem, a swoony romance, and an affirmation of self-identity that will ignite the activist in all of us.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: It took me a while to get into this book but once I sat down with it, it was hard to put down. There was so much to love about this book, from the characters, to the plot, and more. I had to wait to write this review because there is so much that I want to discuss for this book and if I wrote it once I finished it, it would be more rambling than anything productive.

I really enjoyed how this book focuses o the power that students have to create change and how much impact their voice has. I really like how this is about the students but we also get the adults stepping in to assist the student’s with their movement. I thought it was important to see the difference in how the student’s voices were received and how that changed when the press was involved.

I really enjoyed the setting of this book along with the fact that these were high school students. I liked the message that the book sent across about having a voice and using that voice for what you believe in. I really liked that at no point in the story do these students give in to the pressures trying to silence them.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to several characters through their interactions with Carey, and I loved each one of the supportive characters. You get to meet a few supportive people in Carey’s life, such as her mom and grandma, Cris- the love interest, Mr. Kelly- the theatre teacher, Zoey- his best friend, Phobe- new friend from the show, Blanca- friend who helps with protests and Monroe- Zoey’s sister and Carey’s friend. You also get to meet some of the people who make life difficult for Carey, Mr. Jackson- a teacher at school who is homophobic, and transphobic, and Max- who is a bully.

I really loved the relationship that Carey has with their grandmother and it was so hard to read as that relationship shifted and changed. I love how Carey gets a lot of strength from his grandma and how she has always been supportive of who they are. I love that this really shows how someone’s age doesn’t really dictate how they will respond to the LGBTQ+ community. It reminded me how often times we dismiss homophobia and transphobia with the idea of people being older and so they won’t learn but this shows how we don’t have to dismiss this because of that.

I really love how Carey’s mom steps up and tries to help her child as much as she can. I liked how she was there for him no matter what and offered her support even if she didn’t always understand them.

The relationship between Cris and Carey is instant love from the moment that they meet and sometimes this is something that I don’t really like. In this case though, I actually enjoyed their relationship because its not like it didn’t have any obstacles they had to get through.

Writing Style: This book is told in first person through the perspective of Carey. Each chapter heading has the pronouns that Carey is using at that time which is something that I really enjoyed. I thought it was great to have this be a part of the story along with including which bracelet Carey was using in that section of the book. I liked that we got to see how seamless it is for Carey’s friends to switch pronouns for them as it is needed.

May The Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor Blog Tour Post

I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by Turn the Page 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

Z. R. Ellor (he/him) is the author of MAY THE BEST MAN WIN and the forthcoming adult fantasy SILK FIRE (written as Zabé Ellor.) He holds a BA in English Lit and biology from Cornell University. When not writing, he can be found running, playing video games, and hunting the best brunch deals in Washington D.C.. Find him online at https://zrellorbooks.com/

Book Description

TITLE: May the Best Man Win

AUTHOR: Z.R. Ellor

PUBLISHER: Roaring Brook Press

RELEASE DATE: May 18th, 2021

GENRE(S): YOUNG ADULT FICTION–Contemporary, Romance

BUY LINK: https://bookshop.org/a/11727/9781250625120

SYNOPSIS:

A trans boy enters a throw-down battle for the title of Homecoming King with the boy he dumped last summer in ZR Ellor’s contemporary YA debut.

Jeremy Harkiss, cheer captain and student body president, won’t let coming out as a transgender boy ruin his senior year. Instead of bowing to the bigots and outdated school administration, Jeremy decides to make some noise—and how better than by challenging his all-star ex-boyfriend, Lukas for the title of Homecoming King?

Lukas Rivers, football star and head of the Homecoming Committee, is just trying to find order in his life after his older brother’s funeral and the loss long-term girlfriend—who turned out to be a boy. But when Jeremy threatens to break his heart and steal his crown, Lukas kick starts a plot to sabotage Jeremy’s campaign.

When both boys take their rivalry too far, the dance is on the verge of being canceled. To save Homecoming, they’ll have to face the hurt they’re both hiding—and the lingering butterflies they can’t deny.

Giveaway

Up for grabs, we have ONE (1) copy of May the Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run from May 16th to May 23rd at 12 AM CST. No giveaway accounts allowed.

ENTER HERE

Review

Thoughts and Themes: The minute that I saw this book had Trans rep and Autistic rep, I knew I had to read it.

Once I started reading there were too many moments in which I put the book down because of how angry I was with the characters. It took me a little bit to really get into this story and not be so angry with the characters. I had to give them time to grow on me and also to understand why they acted the way that they did. Once I understood them a little more and gave them permission to be messy because they were teenagers, and also just learning about who they are.

There were quite a few things that I really enjoyed that occur over halfway through the book, so if you’re struggling with the first half, I highly suggest continuing until over halfway point. I liked as Lukas and Jeremy talk to each other rather than just trying to one up each other. I also really like a lot of the activities that take place in the week leading up to homecoming. I also really enjoyed the outcomes for the homecoming court and thought that was a great unexpected twist.

Characters: In this story there are two main characters and you get introduced to others in the interactions that these characters have. Through the interactions in the story, you get to meet some of the main character’s friends, family members, and bullies.

At the beginning of the story, I really wasn’t having it with Jeremy. Jeremy was pushing all of his friends away and being an ass to anyone who tried to get close to him. It wasn’t until over halfway through the book that I felt for Jeremy and started to understand why he would push the others away. I thought that Jeremy read as realistic and I did appreciate that especially as he is trying to figure out how his trans identity affects him and his relationships with others.

Lukas was a character that I liked from the beginning of the story yet there were times in which I was angry with him as well. I felt bad for Lukas as he has to hide that he’s Autistic while at school and feels that his Autism keeps him from being the child his parents want. I would have liked to see there have been more character development when it came to Lukas being Autistic and there have been more positivity around this rather than it feeling like it was just a side trait.

Something that I do like is how Lukas and Jeremy’s competition with each other and the way that they treat each other, really shows a lot of their insecurities. I thought it was great to see how their insecurities played out, and also to see how they dealt with those insecurities. I also really liked how others were involved in this story and thought that the main side characters really added a lot.

I really enjoyed reading about Sol, a nonbinary Latinx computer nerd who is a sophomore. I really liked what they brought to the story and how they taught Jeremy the importance of having a LGBTQ+ community, and how his Trans identity is important to who he is.

Writing Style: The story is told in dual perspective through the point of view of Lukas and Jeremy. I really liked getting to see both of their sides to the story and all of the events that take place. I liked how we go back and forth between both of these characters as it gives you a full picture of the events that occur between them. I think having both of the perspectives shown allows you to not take sides even when you are really angry at either of them.

Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan Book Review

Author Information

Jennifer Dugan is a writer, geek, and romantic who writes the kinds of stories she wishes she had growing up. In addition to being a young adult novelist, she is also the writer/creator of two indie comics. She lives in New York with her family, dogs, and an evil cat that is no doubt planning to take over the world.

Book Description

In this YA contemporary queer romance from the author of Hot Dog Girl , an openly gay track star falls for a closeted, bisexual teen beauty queen with a penchant for fixing up old cars.

Morgan, an elite track athlete, is forced to transfer high schools late in her senior year after it turns out being queer is against her private Catholic school’s code of conduct. There, she meets Ruby, who has two hobbies: tinkering with her baby blue 1970 Ford Torino and competing in local beauty pageants, the latter to live out the dreams of her overbearing mother. The two are drawn to each other and can’t deny their growing feelings. But while Morgan–out and proud, and determined to have a fresh start–doesn’t want to have to keep their budding relationship a secret, Ruby isn’t ready to come out yet. With each girl on a different path toward living her truth, can they go the distance together?

Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Teen for the advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

Thoughts and Themes: It took me a bit to really get into this story as I wasn’t really a fan of either of the characters or the plot when I first started reading it. Once I got to about 50% in though I was hooked and needed to know what really would happen to our two main characters, and not just to their relationship.

Something that I really enjoyed in this book is how it explores discovering queerness and being visibly queer. I really enjoyed the nuanced discussions that this book brings up about being out and what that means for different people. I thought it was important that the discussion about what it means to be out, and how being out may do more harm than good happened. I really liked how this book points out that queer people don’t have to be out in order to be valid, and how coming out doesn’t have to be the goal if you are queer.

I really enjoyed reading these characters be teenagers and have some of the typical teenage problems. I liked that we got to see them both in their classroom setting and also in their respective activities. I liked the setting for the story as it made sense to me, but sometimes I did wonder why those around them didn’t get more involved. I did wonder how some of the characters kind of faded into the background as you read on when they were important at the start of the book.

Characters: In this book you are introduced to a bunch of characters, but our main characters are Morgan and Ruby. You also get to meet both of their friends, and get a glimpse into their home lives as well when we meet their family members.

I have mixed feelings about the relationship between Morgan and Ruby, and was not content with the way that the story ended. There were moments that I just kept getting angry with either character as they kept hurting each other, and this doesn’t really solve itself in the end.

On the other hand, I thought that the two characters had great chemistry with each other and really enjoyed reading as they figured out their feelings for each other. I think their relationship with each other is so nuanced because of outside things that impact how they interact with each other. Morgan is so stuck on not wanting to have to hide her queerness and her belief that no queer person should be in the closet, that she doesn’t really see beyond that. Ruby is scared of what others would think if she pursues a relationship with a girl, and also knows what her mother’s reaction would be so she holds herself back from pursuing what she wants.

When it comes to the family units in this book, I couldn’t stand Ruby’s mother. She just was looking out for herself and blamed Ruby for so many of her shortcomings. I thought it was so sad that Ruby felt that she was living for someone else rather than for herself. I really did enjoy the relationship that Ruby has with Billy though and how supportive he is of her through the whole book. I liked that his support was more silent than vocal but he made it known that he loved her.

I really liked reading about Morgan’s family and seeing the contrast of her family and Rubys. I think this also really added to the complexity of their relationship and it was something that Morgan never really acknowledges. Morgan has parents and a brother who support her being queer and also are able to financially provide for her. I think it was important to see the divide between Morgan and Ruby when it came to socioeconomic status and how this also plays into the dynamics of their relationship.

Writing Style: This book is told in first person through dual perspective which I love. I can never decide if I prefer one POV or multiple POV because I think both work. I think that each book really calls for different styles and dual POV works for this book. I liked getting to see both of their perspectives of different events.

If this book did not include dual perspectives it would be really easy for you to sympathize with only one character and really hate the other. The way it is written, you start to sympathize with one as you read their section but then you get the other’s POV and realize that they both have their flaws. I think this was one of my favorite things in this book, neither of our main characters is perfect.

All Kinds of Other by James Sie Blog Tour Post

I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by Turn the Page 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

JAMES SIE is the author of STILL LIFE LAS VEGAS (St. Martin’s Press, 2015), a Lambda Literary Award finalist for Best Gay Fiction, and the YA novel ALL KINDS OF OTHER (Quill Tree Books, 2021) He is an award-winning playwright of literary adaptations, receiving a Joseph Jefferson Citation for his adaptation of ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS, and an After Dark Award for the original work THE ROAD TO GRACELAND. He has contributed essays for The Rumpus, Pen USA, FSG’s Book Keeping and The Advocate. In addition to writing, Sie can currently be heard as a voiceover artist in animation and audiobook narration.

Author Links:

Author Website ~ Instagram ~ Twitter

Book Description

Publisher: Quill Tree Books

Release Date: May 4, 2021

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54798457-all-kinds-of-other

Book Purchase link: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/all-kinds-of-other-james-sie?variant=32260054155298

Book Description: 

In this tender, nuanced coming-of-age love story, two boys—one who is cis and one who is trans—have been guarding their hearts to protect themselves, until their feelings for each other give them a reason to stand up to their fears.

Two boys are starting at a new school.

Jules is just figuring out what it means to be gay and hasn’t totally decided whether he wants to be out at his new school. His parents and friends have all kinds of opinions, but for his part, Jules just wants to make the basketball team and keep his head down.

Jack is trying to start over after a best friend break-up. He followed his actor father clear across the country to LA, but he’s also totally ready to leave his past behind. Maybe this new school where no one knows him is exactly what he needs.

When the two boys meet, the sparks are undeniable. But then a video surfaces linking Jack to a pair of popular transgender vloggers, and the revelations about Jack’s past thrust both Jack and Jules into the spotlight they’ve been trying to avoid. Suddenly both boys have a choice to make—between lying low where it’s easier or following their hearts.

GIVEAWAY

Enter to win one finished copy of All Kinds of Other by James Sie! Open USA only. There will be 1 winner.

Giveaway starts: Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Giveaway ends: Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CST

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d39/

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This one I had to sit on before writing the review because of how much I really enjoyed it. As a trans person there was several portions of this book that I had to just set the book aside because the Transphobia was too much. Our main character never really gets a break from all the transphobic people in his life and the first thing that I noted was see these things happen in liberal spaces too.

As soon as I started reading, my favorite thing was that this book took place in Los Angeles. I think the setting is really important for many of the events that occur throughout this book. I think the book shows how sometimes people like to think that transphobia and homophobia only exists in small towns and conservative places, but this book shows how it exists in what we think of as a safe town. I also really loved the setting because it felt like I was going to these places with the characters, I could picture all the places they went as these are the places I grew up going to.

Something else that I really loved that this book addresses is the transphobia within the queer community. I thought it was important that the lack of trans awareness in the school’s GSA was addressed and we also saw some of the LGBTQ+ characters having a hard time when Jack is outed.

The reveal of who outed Jack was so hard to read but also I kind of liked Jack’s response to the person who outed him. I thought it was nice that he took this as a teaching moment while still expressing his anger about what happened. I can’t speak much about this without giving spoilers but I have a lot of feelings about how it went down.

This book has so much packed into it and discusses many topics. This book also briefly goes into being mixed race, and we also see how Jack is treated because he is half Indian. While there is so many layers to this book, and so many different things going on, I don’t think that any of it takes away from the book.

Characters: Through this book you meet several characters through their interactions with Jules and Jack. I really liked getting to know Jack and Jules and thinks the book does a great job of letting you know them both with and without each other.

I really liked reading as the relationship between Jack and Jules developed and then what happens when Jules finds out that Jack is trans. I think this non-linear development of their relationship was realistic. I thought that their relationship was realistic for their ages and really liked how they both were figuring out themselves and what they wanted. I really liked that we do get a happy ending for their relationship because it felt wholesome and I love happy endings for trans people, we deserve them.

I thought that both sets of parents played an important role in this story and was really glad that they were included. I thought it was important that we see Jules’s mom being transphobic and read as how that figures into the story. The dinner scene was so hard for me to get through because of all the transphobia that is packed into just a few pages. It was hard to read as Jack’s dad didn’t stand up for his son, and Jules’s didn’t know how to make it all stop. I did think it was important to see Jack’s dad struggle in this moment and to also see Jack’s response to this.

Writing Style: The story is told through two perspectives and in first person. The book also includes some tumblr posts that Jack is making to Evie along with some video transcripts Jack and Evie made. I liked getting to hear both of their sides to the story and see what was happening for each of them as the story progressed. I really liked getting to see parts of Jack’s past through the tumblr posts and youtube videos because they show how he came to be who he is now.