The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey

Book Description

A heartfelt and timely middle grade story about a transgender boy’s journey toward acceptance and empathy. Perfect for fans of George and Gracefully Grayson.

Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his teammates, to Josh, and to his new crush, Madeline. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I winded up checking this out from the library since it was one that I hadn’t heard of and I was intrigued by the description of the book. Something that I had to keep reminding myself is that this book was written in 2016 so I couldn’t compare it to the things that have come out recently. I was also really glad that this book existed for middle graders but I do think it is written more for people who want to learn about Trans people rather than for Trans people.

While there were a few things in this book that I enjoyed, there were more things that frustrated me about it. One of the things that frustrated me about this book was just how easy it was for Shane to get access to therapy, and then hormone therapy. While I know that this is just one experience of Trans people I felt that this was just the privileged experience because Shane is white and his family is well off.

I also thought that this book had a lot of stereotypical pieces in it, like the mother being the supportive parent and the dad taking longer to come around. There was also the fact that Shane knew he was a boy because he liked stereotypical boy things and not girl things. This was something that was really off to me because we are trying to move away from assigning colors, clothes, toys to gender at this time.

Characters: In this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with the main character, Shane. You get to meet both his mom and dad, his dad’s girlfriend, his best friend, Josh, some other Trans kids, and some of his classmates.

What I did enjoy about this book was the relationships that Shane has with everyone in this book. I really liked the relationship that Shane and Josh have with each other and how supportive Josh is of Shane before and after he finds out that he is Trans.

I also really did like the relationship that Shane has with both of his parents and the way in which this develops over time. I like that we get to see Shane have a conversation with his dad about what being Trans is like for him and how we get to also see the dad have feelings but be reminded that in this situation his feelings aren’t the most important ones. I also liked how the mom was supportive of Shane but I wish she would stand up for him more rather than just take him away from the situation with his dad.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through Shane’s perspective. I liked that the story is told through Shane’s perspective because you get the sense that you are listening to a kid tell you this story. I think because of the way that this is written it would be a good book for children ages 10+ to read and I think its a good way to learn about Trans people. it is important to note though that this is one experience and is not all Trans youth experiences.

Author Description

M.G. Hennessey loves Star Wars, the San Francisco Giants, strawberry ice cream, and dancing. She mentors teens at the Lifeworks program/LA LGBT Center and volunteers as a CASA with L.A. foster kids. She’s also the dean of Camp Transcend Family Camp, and an organizer of the  Gender Odyssey LA conference. A supporter of the Transgender Law Center, Gender Spectrum. and the Human Rights Campaign, she lives in Los Angeles with her family.  She/Her

Sfé R. Monster is a comic artist and illustrator who is deeply invested in the telling of transgender stories, whose own work includes the comic Eth’s Skin and The Beyond Anthology.  Sfé lives on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in Nova Scotia, Canada, and enjoys conspiracy theories, eerie beasts, and folk music.  They/Them

Felix Ever After By Kacen Callender Book Review

Book Description

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I am so glad that this was the book I chose for stealing a book from someone’s TBR on the Read Your Own Adventure Challenge. I’ve had this book on my shelf for a while but have barely got to it and decided to listen to it on audio. I wish I would have read this book sooner because of how much I loved it. This is one of those books that I wound up tabbing a bunch because so much of it spoke to me.

There is so much that is included in this book that I really enjoyed. I love how throughout this book Felix is questioning their gender and we get to see how that affects him and the feelings that he has regarding love. I also really like how we get to see how Felix feels about relationships and being in love, and how much he wishes that he could have this experience.

Characters: In this book you meet several characters through their interactions with our main character, Felix. You get to meet Felix’s best friend, Ezra, his nemesis/person he is catfishing, Declan, some classmates, and his dad. Each of the characters that are included in this story are lovable and you can’t help but want to know more about them.

I really enjoyed the relationships that Felix has with each of the people that are included in this story. I really liked the relationship that Lucky and Declan have because they get to learn about each other when Declan doesn’t know that Lucky is Felix. I like how this is the way that we get to learn more about Declan.

I really like the friendship between Ezra and Felix and how oblivious Felix is to Ezra’s feelings which everyone else can see. I liked watching their relationship develops throughout the course of the book and how they eventually reveal their feelings for each other. I also liked how someone had to bring up the possibility to Felix before he even considers Ezra in that manner.

Writing Style: This story is told in the first person from Felix’s perspective. I like that we get to see the unsent emails that Felix is writing to his mom in hopes of having a relationship with her. I like that we also get to see Declan’s feelings regarding his father kicking him out of the house for being gay. I love that we get to see this idea of found family and chosen family through both of these characters and we also get a glimpse of this with Ezra as well.

Author Information

Kacen Callender is a Saint Thomian author of children’s fiction and fantasy, best known for their Stonewall Book Award and Lambda Literary Award-winning middle grade debut Hurricane Child. Their fantasy novel, Queen of the Conquered, is the 2020 winner of the World Fantasy Award and King and the Dragonflies won the 2020 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

Callender is Black, queer, trans, and uses they/them and he/him pronouns. Callender debuted their new name when announcing their next young adult novel Felix Ever After in May 2019. 

Books by Trans and Non-Binary Authors Publishing in 2022

The One True Me and You by Remi K. England 

One small fandom convention. One teen beauty pageant.
One meet cute waiting to happen.

Up and coming fanfic author Kaylee Beaumont is internally screaming at the chance to finally meet her fandom friends in real life and spend a weekend at GreatCon. She also has a side quest for the weekend:

Try out they/them pronouns to see how it feels
Wear more masculine-presenting cosplay
Kiss a girl for the first time

It’s… a lot, and Kay mostly wants to lie face down on the hotel floor. Especially when her hometown bully, Miss North Carolina, shows up in the very same hotel. But there’s this con-sponsored publishing contest, and the chance to meet her fandom idols… and then, there’s Teagan.

Pageant queen Teagan Miller (Miss Virginia) has her eye on the much-needed prize: the $25,000 scholarship awarded to the winner of the Miss Cosmic Teen USA pageant. She also has secrets:

She loves the dresses but hates the tiaras
She’s a giant nerd for everything GreatCon
She’s gay af

If Teagan can just keep herself wrapped up tight for one more weekend, she can claim the scholarship and go off to college out and proud. If she’s caught, she could lose everything she’s worked for. If her rival, Miss North Carolina, has anything to do with it, that’s exactly how it’ll go down.

When Teagan and Kay bump into one another the first night, sparks fly. Their connection is intense—as is their shared enemy. If they’re spotted, the safe space of the con will be shattered, and all their secrets will follow them home. The risks are great… but could the reward of embracing their true selves be worth it?

The Feeling of Falling in Love by Mason Deaver

From the bestselling author of I Wish You All the Best, comes a new kind of love story, about the bad decisions we sometimes make… and the people who help get us back on the right path.

Perfect for fans of Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli.

Just days before spring break, Neil Kearney is set to fly across the country with his childhood friend (and current friend-with-benefits) Josh, to attend his brother’s wedding—until Josh tells Neil that he’s in love with him and Neil doesn’t return the sentiment.

With Josh still attending the wedding, Neil needs to find a new date to bring along. And, almost against his will, roommate Wyatt is drafted.

At first, Wyatt (correctly) thinks Neil is acting like a jerk. But when they get to LA, Wyatt sees a little more of where it’s coming from. Slowly, Neil and Wyatt begin to understand one another… and maybe, just maybe, fall in love for the first time… 

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist reimagines the love story in this fresh and seductive novel about a young woman seeking joy while healing from loss.

Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.

It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.

She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?

Akwaeke Emezi’s vivid and passionate writing takes us deep into a world of possibility and healing, and the constant bravery of choosing love against all odds. 

Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore 

In this young adult novel by award-winning author Anna-Marie McLemore, two non-binary teens are pulled into a magical world under a lake – but can they keep their worlds above water intact?

Everyone who lives near the lake knows the stories about the world underneath it, an ethereal landscape rumored to be half-air, half-water. But Bastián Silvano and Lore Garcia are the only ones who’ve been there. Bastián grew up both above the lake and in the otherworldly space beneath it. Lore’s only seen the world under the lake once, but that one encounter changed their life and their fate.

Then the lines between air and water begin to blur. The world under the lake drifts above the surface. If Bastián and Lore don’t want it bringing their secrets to the surface with it, they have to stop it, and to do that, they have to work together. There’s just one problem: Bastián and Lore haven’t spoken in seven years, and working together means trusting each other with the very things they’re trying to hide.

Café Con Lychee by Emery Lee 

Theo Mori wants to escape. Leaving Vermont for college means getting away from working at his parents’ Asian American café and dealing with their archrivals’ hopeless son Gabi who’s lost the soccer team more games than Theo can count.

Gabi Moreno is miserably stuck in the closet. Forced to play soccer to hide his love for dance and iced out by Theo, the only openly gay guy at school, Gabi’s only reprieve is his parents’ Puerto Rican bakery and his plans to take over after graduation.

But the town’s new fusion café changes everything. Between the Mori’s struggling shop and the Moreno’s plan to sell their bakery in the face of the competition, both boys find their dreams in jeopardy. Then Theo has an idea—sell photo-worthy food covertly at school to offset their losses. When he sprains his wrist and Gabi gets roped in to help, they realize they need to work together to save their parents’ shops but will the new feelings risi

Man o’ War by Cory McCarthy

The jellyfish commonly known as a Portuguese man o’ war is neither Portuguese, nor a jellyfish, nor a man, nor even a singular organism. If you can cope with those facts, you can begin to understand River McIntyre, an elite high school swimmer who’s bad at counting laps.

River McIntyre has lived all their life in the shadow of Sea Planet, a now infamous ocean theme park slowly going out of business in the middle of Ohio. As Sea Planet drifts toward its final end, so does River’s high school career and, worse, their time as a competitive swimmer. Or maybe not. When River makes an impulsive dive into Ocean Planet’s shark tank, they unintentionally set off on a wrenching journey of self-discovery, from internalized homophobia and self-loathing through layers of coming out, gender confirmation surgery, and true love. And at the end of this race? Who knows. After all, counting laps has never been River’s strong suit

ng between them be enough to send their future plans up in smoke?

Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly 

The first openly nonbinary contestant on America’s favorite cooking show falls for their clumsy competitor in this delicious romantic comedy debut “that is both fantastically fun and crack your heart wide open vulnerable.” (Rosie Danan, author of The Roommate)

Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she’s focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money.

After announcing their pronouns on national television, London Parker has enough on their mind without worrying about the klutzy competitor stationed in front of them. They’re there to prove the trolls—including a fellow contestant and their dad—wrong, and falling in love was never part of the plan.

As London and Dahlia get closer, reality starts to fall away. Goodbye, guilt about divorce, anxiety about uncertain futures, and stress from transphobia. Hello, hilarious shenanigans on set, wedding crashing, and spontaneous dips into the Pacific. But as the finale draws near, Dahlia and London’s steamy relationship starts to feel the heat both in and outside the kitchen—and they must figure out if they have the right ingredients for a happily ever after.

Obie is Man Enough by Schuyler Bailar Book Review

Book Description

 coming-of-age story about transgender tween Obie, who didn’t think being himself would cause such a splash. For fans of Alex Gino’s George and Lisa Bunker’s Felix Yz.

Obie knew his transition would have ripple effects. He has to leave his swim coach, his pool, and his best friends. But it’s time for Obie to find where he truly belongs.

As Obie dives into a new team, though, things are strange. Obie always felt at home in the water, but now he can’t get his old coach out of his head. Even worse are the bullies that wait in the locker room and on the pool deck. Luckily, Obie has family behind him. And maybe some new friends too, including Charlie, his first crush. Obie is ready to prove he can be one of the fastest boys in the water–to his coach, his critics, and his biggest competition: himself.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I am always happy to see Trans books that are written by Trans people and especially when those books are meant for a younger group. I love that this book is written for middle grade and gives the experience of being Trans in middle school.

First off, I did find this book challenging to read at times as a Trans person as it does include instances of bullying and Transphobia both by Obie’s peers and adults in his life. While these parts are difficult to read, I did think that they are important topics that this book addresses. I think that the book portrays this in realistic ways and shows how difficult it could be for a Trans person to just exist much less thrive.

There was so much that I really enjoyed in this story and I am so glad that it exists for the younger generation. I loved that the author points out that there is no one way to be transgender and how this is only one story about a Transgender youth. I also like how the author constantly tells the reader through the story and in the author’s note to make sure we aren’t using other people’s words against ourselves.

Characters: In this story you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with Obie. You get to meet some people who are supportive in Obie’s life as well as others who are not as supportive.

I really liked the relationship that we get to see between Obie and each member of his family. I liked how each member of his family supports him and each of them are able to help him in different aspects of his life. I loved seeing how Obie would rely on his brother for relationship advice and loved how Jae-sung supports him through his first relationship.

I also loved the relationship between Obie and Charlie, and how Charlie was just so willing to learn. While I hated that Obie was outed to Charlie, I do like Charlie’s response in that moment and how she is able to walk Obie through that moment while allowing him to also have mixed feelings about it.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person and is told through Obie’s perspective. I really liked that we get to see everything through his point of view and follow along as he experiences different things.

Author Information

Schuyler is the first trans athlete to compete in any sport on an NCAA D1 men’s team, and the only to have competed for all four years. He is an internationally-celebrated inspirational speaker and a respected advocate for inclusion, body acceptance, and mental health awareness.

Schuyler graduated from Harvard College in May 2019 with a degree in Cognitive Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology. His studies focused on social emotional learning, emotional intelligence, and education. He is a tireless advocate for inclusion through speaking engagements and social media. Schuyler also holds on-going advisory roles with Monte Nido & Affiliates (the leading eating disorder treatment provider), USA Swimming, the Harvard Medical School Primary Care Review – among others – and is a research assistant at Harvard University.

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.

Sasha Masha by Agnes Borinsky Book Review

Author Information

Agnes Borinsky is a writer from Baltimore, now living in Los Angeles. She mostly writes

essays and plays, and has collaborated on all sorts of projects in basements, backyards, gardens, circus tents, classrooms, bars, and theaters. Sasha Masha is her first novel.

Book Description

Alex feels like he is in the wrong body. His skin feels strange against his bones. And then comes Tracy, who thinks he’s adorably awkward, who wants to kiss him, who makes him feel like a Real Boy. But it is not quite enough. Something is missing.

As Alex grapples with his identity, he finds himself trying on dresses and swiping on lipstick in the quiet of his bedroom. He meets Andre, a gay boy who is beautiful and unafraid to be who he is. Slowly, Alex begins to realize: maybe his name isn’t Alex at all. Maybe it’s Sasha Masha.

Review

Thank you to Libro.Fm for the advanced listening copy of this book so that I could review it. It took me a while to start this one because I wanted to follow along with the ebook but that was taking too long to get to me. I found that there is no need to follow along with this one as it is an easy listen to.

Thoughts and Themes: I listened to this book on audio and thought that it was a great book to listen to. This book is a coming of age story that focuses on gender identity and sexuality.

This book has a lot packed in to such a short book and it is mostly character driven rather than plot driven. I really liked how we get to see what Sasha Masha is thinking and how much of his figuring out who he is is done through internal dialogue.

What I really liked about this story is how unclear everything is for Sasha Masha, this makes the character read as a teenager which I find important in a coming of age story. I thought it was realistic to see his struggles as he thinks about being trans and how that would affect him and his relationships with his parents and friends.

The ending of this book felt unfinished and honestly I really liked that. I felt that the story was saying Sasha Masha’s journey is unfinished so the ending is open ended. I think its important to show that this journey can be ongoing and doesn’t have to end at any point in time.

Characters: Through this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with Sasha Masha. I really liked seeing that Sasha Masha has a supportive friend group through the whole story even if a few people struggle with coming to terms with who he is.

I liked that we get to see Sasha Masha dating Tracy and how that figures into him figuring out who he is. I thought that him figuring that out along with how that played into his relationship was an interesting aspect to add to this story.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through Sasha Masha’s point of view and often through internal dialogue. I think its important that we are mostly inside of Sasha Masha’s head because it leaves us with the same confusion that he is going through.

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.

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.

Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve Book Review

Author Information

Ray Stoeve is a queer & nonbinary writer. They received a 2016-2017 Made at Hugo House Fellowship for their young adult fiction.

They are a contributor to Take The Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance, an anthology out now from Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic Books. Their first young adult novel, Between Perfect and Real, will be published by Amulet Books in April 2021, with a second standalone novel to follow.

When they’re not writing heartfelt queer stories, they can be found gardening, making art in other mediums, or hiking their beloved Pacific Northwest.

Book Description

Dean Foster knows he’s a trans guy. He’s watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he’s a lesbian—including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theater director, who just cast him as a “nontraditional” Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to wait until college to come out. But as he plays Romeo every day in rehearsals, Dean realizes he wants everyone to see him as he really is now––not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life. Dean knows what he needs to do. Can playing a role help Dean be his true self?

Review

Thank you to the published for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Look for this book coming to your shelves April 27th.

You can pre-order this book at:

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ IndieBound

Thoughts and Themes: This book I had been putting off reading because the center of the story was focused on Romeo and Juliet and I am not a Shakespeare fan. I really should have started this book sooner though since it was able to take me out of my reading slump. There is just so much to love in this book and you can tell by the amount of tabs I put into it. There is a sticky note that I literally just put if I could I would just highlight this whole page because of how much I related to it and was rooting for Dean.

I really liked the way that this story is told because of how much of myself I saw in it. I really related to some of Dean’s feelings about being Trans and how it affected his dating life. I also just love how there is one token straight friend in the group as that reminded me of my college life. I love that this book just shows how much queer people tend to gravitate towards each other and the safety that they find with one another.

My heart breaks several times in this story as Dean faces transphobia not just from his peers but from his family as well. There are scenes with Dean’s mother that I just had to put the book down because it hurt to read. I can’t say I’ve been there but I feel like what Dean’s mom is willing to voice is what is inside of my parent’s heads that they are not willing to put into words.

I really like how wholesome this book is, yes there are some conflicts and troubles that arise but overall its a heartwarming book. I really like the message that Dean learns in the end and how he learns that he is whole just by being himself.

I could go on and on about this book but I would rather leave it at this so you all can go read it.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to several characters and I found them all loveable, well minus the bully you know. I even warmed up to the mom at some point even if she was hard to read at times. You get to meet each of these characters through Dean’s point of view and the interactions that they have with him.

I really liked the relationship that Dean has with his best friend Ronnie, and like the conversation that they have about their identities. I like how Ronnie points out to Dean that he doesn’t always understand him because he’s white for Dean to understand that he might want to talk about Trans things with other Trans people. I like how this conversation was brought up and how real it felt.

I also really liked the way that Dean and Zoe’s relationship is handled throughout this whole story. I liked the complexity that is included through this and how we get to see Zoe’s feelings but in the end it really isn’t about her. I thought that was the most important part to include when discussing their relationship, Dean’s transition was not about Zoe no matter how hurt she was.

Writing Style: This story is told through the perspective of Dean and is in first person. I think this is a great choice because it centers Dean and while we see other people’s feelings, we never center them. I love that in order to know how anyone is feeling they need to put it out there so there is no hiding. I thought that was a great choice because Dean now knows where everyone stands with him.