This was such a beautiful and heartfelt story about love and queerness against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis. It told the important story about the LGBTQ movement in New York in 1990, the homophobia and mistreatment at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but most of all it told a gripping coming of age story and a story about first love and finding the courage to be true to who you are.
When You Call My Name reminded me a lot of one of my absolute favorite books, Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemian, which is truly high praise, but it still had a very distinct own voice and story. It follows the two gay teens Adam and Ben as they both go through life-changing moments.
Adam lives with his supportive and openminded parents (really loved them!) in Greenwhich when he’s asked out on his first date by a cute customer at the movie rental store where he works. Over the weeks when they meet up each Saturday he falls in love with Callum, but feels that Callum never fully lets him in. Not until he figures out that Callum has AIDS and will never fulfill his director dreams. But Adam refuses to give up on Callum and in the shadow of death, their love story blossoms.
Fashion-lover Ben used to live upstate with his mother, but when she found out about his sexuality she kicked him out. When we meet him, he’s moving in with his older brother in downtown New York and gets to meet his brother’s girlfriend, a fashion photographer who invites him into her exciting life. But Ben will soon find out that even in New York, the world is full of close-minded and homophobic persons.
In a chance meeting near the hospital where Callum is being treated, Ben and Adam meet, and a lifelong friendship with a promise of something more, starts to grow.
I absolute adored this book! The characters were amazing, so lovable and unique, and the story was so gripping and heartfelt. It was also something of a love letter to New York and a homage to the music, artists, fashion icons and super models of the 1990s, which gave me such wonderful nostalgia. From the very first page, the story just pulled me in and I couldn’t put it down until I found out what would happen with all the characters who completely stole my heart.
The topic was heavy at times, with all the sickness, the fear of dying, the homophobia and violence and parental rejection, but it was nevertheless a beautiful love story and a story full of hope. It was also a story about friendship and how meeting the right person at the right moment in time can heal a broken heart and give you the courage to be true to who you are and learning to love and be proud despite all discrimination and cruelty around you.
And the author’s note at the end… it truly brought tears to my eyes and gave the story added closure.
“They say that memories fade with time but I don’t believe that’s true. You carry them with you like stones in your pocket. Sometimes when it’s quiet you take them out and roll them between your fingers. Then you put them back in your pocket, safe again. You don’t leave them behind.”
I will definitely carry Adam, Callum and Ben like stones in my pocket from now on.
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The moment I saw the gorgeous cover and learned that it was a gay magical story with a plot that reminded me of Carry On I knew I needed to read this book. But unfortunately, even though it was really fun and cute, I had hoped for more in regard to the plot, the characters and the romance.
So This Is Ever After is a YA story about what happens after the chosen one, seventeen-year-old Arek, wins the kingdom and has to get married to keep it (and to stay alive). It’s written in a light and fun way, and there were some truly hilarious moments while we get to follow the group of companions as they try to settle into the new life in court and helping Arek finding a spouse to save his life. But after a while the jokes got a bit repetitive and I kept wishing for more substance. I wished for more character development and more world building. There wasn’t much happening and the romantic misunderstanding was so obvious that it couldn’t keep me engaged enough.
But all in all, even though it didn’t live up to its potential, it was certainly an entertaining and fast-paced story that made me smile a lot.
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1/2/2023 0 Comments
Café Con Lychee by Emery Lee
I had such high expectations for this one - the blurb sounded adorable, especially the enemies-to-lovers part, and the fact that there was a lot of diversity in the characters - but unfortunately it wasn’t what I’d hoped for. Mostly because I couldn’t root for one of the main characters and because the plot just didn’t keep me engaged enough.
Cafe Con Lychee follows two teen gay guys (one closeted and one not) whose parents run competing businesses in smalltown Vermont. According to the blurb, they are archrivals who then start to work together to save their respective businesses from the threat of a new fusion cafe, which sounded like a really cute enemies-to-lovers romcom. But unfortunately the archrivals part was very one-sided, so it wasn’t the kind of enemies-to-lovers trope that I was hoping for. Especially since I really disliked one of the main characters, Theo, and couldn’t understand, nor root for, Gabi’s crush on him.
Theo felt so whiney and was so mean and angry all the time, without any reason that justified it, and he treated everyone around him without any respect or sympathy. (Not that his parents necessarily deserved it, they were not any favorites either, but still.)
All four parents in this story were actually quite unlikable, so unsupportive of their sons (Gabi’s parents were even homophobic) and so passive and incompetent to save their business on their own that I almost didn’t care if they would lose it or not.
I also had problems with Gabi’s best friend Meli and all her obsessive Homecoming naggings. After a while I even found myself skimming all parts where she was present.
The only character I truly rooted for was Gabi, and I really enjoyed seeing his character growth and the ballet parts. But his crush on Theo felt a bit like it was more about Theo being the only openly gay guy in school rather than a deep attraction and the romance part never had the right kind of chemistry for me.
The ending was really adorable though and made up for a lot of the prior things, but it was a little too late to save the story by then.
So, even though there were a lot of things that I really enjoyed, and even though I rooted for Gabi, all in all this book was quite the disappointment.
2.5 stars rounding up to 3
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed Aislinn Brophy AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alex Beltran Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Ashlyn Kane Audrey Coulthurst Ban Gilmartin Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Cara Dee Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.F. White C.G. Drews Charlie Adhara Charli Meadows Chasten Buttigieg Chris Bedell Christina Lauren Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Courtney Kae Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Dallas Smith Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton D.N. Bryn Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elisa A. Bonnin Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E.L. Massey E. Lockhart Emery Lee Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens F.T. Lukens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hannah Grace Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving H.S. Valley Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson James L. Sutter Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jen Bailey Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray Jesse H. Reign Joelle Lynne John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé Kathy Anderson KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Lauren Shippen Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Magdalena Di Sotru Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot Morgan James M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nathaniel Shea Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Nyla K. Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Racquel Marie Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Renée Dahlia Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Saxon James Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophia Soames Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tal Bauer Tamara Girardi Taylor Jenkins Reid Teagan Hunter Terry J. Benton-Walker Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Tracy Deonn Tucker Shaw Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez