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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12/29/2022 0 Comments
Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
This was such a beautiful, wholesome and emotional story about finding your path in life. Tanner and Sebastian, you have my heart. Thank you to everyone who urged me to read this amazing book, I just wish I’d followed your advice sooner!
Autoboyography follows the bisexual teen Tanner, who finds himself back into the closet when moving with his family from California to Utah and its influential Mormon community. All Tanner wants is to graduate and clear out of Utah, but then his best friend Auddy nudges him into taking a prestigious book-writing seminar. But one of the mentors at the seminar is the Mormon prodigy Sebastian Brother, and the second Tanner notices him, he knows he’s in trouble. But more so, when the feelings seem to be reciprocated, their relationship will cause even more trouble for Sebastian.
I absolutely loved following Tanner and Sebastian on their heartfelt journey on finding each other and finding out about each other, finding the courage to take a chance on love even though the consequences and finding out how or if it would be possible to be a part of the Mormon community for Sebastian while being true to himself.
Sebastian was just such a loveable and amazing character that completely stole my heart. I also rooted for Tanner, but there were times when he came across as a bit selfish and I had some issues with the way he treated his best friend Auddy. There were especially two situations that didn’t sit well with me (I don’t want to give any spoilers away so I’m not going into detail about them). The story also dragged a bit in the middle. So for this, I will give it 4.5 stars and not 5, even though I loved everything else about it and will never be able to forget Sebastian and Tanner and their life-changing love story.
4.5 stars rounding up to 5
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12/27/2022 0 Comments
There Is A Light by Ban Gilmartin
Such a beautiful little gem of a book! It truly warmed my heart and gave me such hope – no matter how broken you are, there is always a second chance to love!
There Is A Light is a heartwarming story set in Edinburgh following two very broken men in the 1980s and how they find each other and eventually, dare to open up to each other. I love second chance romances and this was certainly an emotional ride with second, third and fourth chances…
Jamie is a charmer, who might seem carefree, but who has problems with drinking, making bad decisions, chronically being late and messing everything up. But now he’s starting over, moving to a new city to be closer to his childhood best friend.
Jude is the opposite. He’s overstressed and depressed and has to convince himself every morning that he wants to live, even though he’s not sure that is true.
When Jamie gets a job at Jude’s family bookstore, Jamie immediately falls for Jude, but can they find a way of living and loving in their messy lives and not be too much or too little to each other.
This was such an emotional, realistic and heartfelt story with complex, messy and imperfect main characters, who nevertheless completely stole my heart. I just wished for them both to find happiness and to take a chance on love.
I also loved the side characters, with Jude’s feisty aunt, and Jamie’s best friend, the kickass, kind and amazing transgender woman Billie, and the LGBTQ representation throughout the whole story. And the pop culture references truly made my day! I loved the music references and the way Jamie held on to children’s fiction.
All in all, this was an emotional read, dealing with mental health and alcoholism in a realistic way, but it was also a book that was full of humor, hope, love and friendship and the important message to never give up on love or life. It’s a story that lives up to its name and truly shows that there always is a light even in the darkest moments!
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This was such an adorable enemies-to-lovers magical teen story with amazing representation! A beautiful and sweet story about figuring out your bisexuality set at a magical boarding school, highly recommended for anyone who loves the combination of a cute queer story with some fantasy on the side!
The story is set at a magical boarding school somewhere below a glacier in New Zealand, where eighteen-year-old Tim Te Maro has just been dumped by his girlfriend and assigned to a life skill project to parent a magical egg together with his nemesis Elliot. But partnering up with his former enemy turns out not to be as bad as it first seems, when it comes with some extra benefits…
I really enjoyed this cute story about figuring out your bisexuality and the enemies-to-lovers trope is one of my absolute favorites! I loved both main characters and the way they opened up to each other and how they explored their sexuality together in such a kind, positive and healthy way, always ensuring the other’s consent. I also really loved all their diverse friends, the representation was simply amazing!
I would have wished for the enemies-part to have lasted a little longer though, and for the world building to have been a bit more developed, especially in regard to the magical system. I also had some issues with the pacing in the second half and how some of the major events remained open in the end.
But other than that, this was such a cute little gem! It gave me a lot of Carry On (SnowBaz) vibes and truly warmed my heart!
Thank you to NetGalley and Independent Publishers for the ARC of the book, which I have voluntarily reviewed.
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12/16/2022 0 Comments
Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn
I adored Legendborn and was so excited for this sequel, but sadly it fell a bit flat for me. My main issues were the plot that was kind of all over the place, the weird love triangle with one party completely absent and left in the dark about it, and the way Bree was not the badass heroine from the first book but felt like a completely different character. It was still a unique and intriguing contemporary fantasy with retold King Arthur legends, Southern Black Girl Magic, and LGBTQIA+ representation, just not as amazing as the first book in this series.
But if you haven’t read Legendborn yet, please do yourself a favor and pick it up asap! The first book in this series is absolutely brilliant!
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12/6/2022 0 Comments
Darkhearts by James L. Sutter
I absolutely loved this boyband enemies-to-lovers romance! It was such an adorable and heartwarming, but also emotional and poignant, story with amazing fleshed-out and complex characters that completely stole my heart. I binged it all in just a few hours, that’s how addictive it was!
The three best friends David, Chance and Eli started the boyband Darkhearts together when they were young teens. But eventually the three of them fought more and more, and when lead singer Chance started to steal all the spotlight, David left the band. Of course, shortly thereafter the band got its big break. Now, two years later, David is left living an ordinary Seattle high school life, while Darkhearts is touring the world as the hottest teen pop act. But then Eli dies, and David and Chance reconnect, trying to overcome their old conflict in Eli’s honor.
This was such an amazing book! It didn’t shy away from ugly feelings such as bitterness, jealousy and betrayal, nor the dark sides of fame, but it was also a heartwarming, sweet and adorable story about friendship, forgiveness and finding love where you least expect it.
I rooted so for both the main characters, David and Chance, but also the wonderful side characters. All characters were so relatable, complex and lovable, and James L. Sutter did an amazing job capturing all their suppressed feelings and secrets. Especially David’s insecurity and his fear of rejection that always made him walk away before getting hurt whenever things got though. The journey of self-discovery and character growth that David did throughout this story was remarkable. My heart ached for him, even when he was not on his best behavior or made the most stupid choices.
I also really enjoyed the insights to the music industry and how the not-so-great sides of fame were portrayed, with the feeling of being trapped, of everyone knowing of you but no one really knowing (or wanting to know) the real you and how you must always second-guess everyone’s motives. The way Chance’s and David’s different views of the world and their separate realities collided were so well done. And don’t get me started on the romance… it was so wholesome seeing Chance and David slowly understanding their feelings for each other and their chemistry was amazing.
All in all, Darkhearts was an addictive, emotional, poignant and sweet queer teen story about friendship, first love and fame that was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I can’t recommend this book enough!
Thank you Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read an ARC of this gem! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
5 shining stars
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James L. Sutter
I think I had too high expectations going into this book, considering how much I loved the Hunger Games and Aiden Thomas previous book Cemetery Boys. The Sunbearer Trials was an enjoyable read, with amazing diversity and representation, but the story was a bit too predictable and felt more of a middle grade book than a young adult one. And whereas there were some great characters, there were also many one-dimensional one and a world-building with wide plot holes.
Aiden Thomas is one of my favorite authors when it comes to strong diversity and representation, and The Sunbearer Trials was no exception. I truly enjoyed the trans and nonbinary representation and the Mexican-inspired mythology. I especially loved how the whole world was queer normative, with the highest God being nonbinary and with gender confirmation ceremonies being a common thing for people who indentify themselves with a different gender from the one they were assigned at birth. Aiden Thomas is also one of the best authors I’ve ever read when it comes to describing dysphoria and the way Teo’s experience of the wing color show that was brilliant.
Teo was a likeable character, but he felt a bit pre-teen. I adored Aurelio, but the enemies-to-lovers trope never really took off between them. It was more of a friends-to not friends-to friends-again thing, that felt more middle grade than a YA romance. And many of the other characters were quite one dimensional.
I enjoyed the world building and the relationship between Teo and the birds in Quetzlan, but when the trials started the world building got a bit thin and very similar to Hunger Games. But compared to Hunger Games, the intensity was missing. Maybe because the stakes weren’t as high in the competitions, or because there was a nerv lacking in the plot or writing style? I can’t quite pinpoint what about the trials and the characters that didn’t fully work for me, but it all felt a bit juvenile and underwhelming unfortunately.
But still, it was a very enjoyable and quick read, and the amazing representation made up for a lot of the other aspects that were missing.
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12/5/2022 0 Comments
Unexpecting by Jen Bailey
When I read the blurb for this new queer YA story I was immediately intrigued. “Juno meets Heartstopper in this poignant and emotional story about found family, what it means to be a parent, and falling in love.” That definitely sounded like something that would be right up my alley. And I really did enjoy this adorable story about a teen pregnancy with a twist, but not quite as much as I’d hoped for.
The story follows sixteen-year-old science geek Ben Morris shortly after he (1) has come out as gay and (2) has received the surprise of his life when an experiment at science camp has had completely unexpected consequences: a baby. When the mother in question, Ben’s best friend Maxie, wants to give the baby up for adoption, Ben tries to fight for his rights and to prepare himself for fatherhood as a single dad. Starting junior year, Ben struggles with the weight of this decision alongside the financial problems for his beloved robotics club, the challenge to keep up with school and friends, and not the least a budding romance.
Unexpecting had such a huge potential to tell a unique story and show the side of a teen pregnancy from the young dad’s view, especially with the added twist that he’d already come out as gay. And while some of these aspects were explored in a great way and the story all in all was a heartwarming and sweet portrait of an awkward and anxious yet strong and brave teenage boy facing the biggest and most scary thing in his life, I still feel like it could have been so much more.
My main issue was the plot premise itself. Firstly, about the actual act of conceiving. I mean, I could understand how the act itself happened as an experiment between two science geeks, where one wanted to make sure he was gay and one wanted to dissect virginity as a social construct, but not how the broken condom wasn’t even mentioned until halfway in the book. For a long time, it seemed like they’d been reckless enough to not even use a condom, which made no sense at all for these two characters. Especially since they weren’t drunk and it wasn’t in the spur of the moment or any other circumstances that could explain it. And even after the revelation that they had used a condom, but it had broken, it would have been better to make it into a bigger deal for the credibility of the story. Ben and Maxie should have been worried when it happened and after, at least addressing the possibility she could get pregnant before she just handed the adoption papers to Ben. Secondly, I also had issues with how quickly Ben came to the conclusion to keep the baby and how he still acted kind of childish and worried mostly about the job schedule to have time for the robotics team. He should at least have come to realize that raising a baby gives you no time for extracurricular activities whatsoever. I also really think that before coming to the conclusion to become a dad at sixteen he also should have had some doubts about giving up college or questioning how to make it work. It took until half of the book until he finally realized that raising a child has some real consequences and that he wouldn’t be able to go to MIT or the robotics summer camp as planned. And that was only because his mother told him so, not because he figured it out himself.
For the most part of the book, I felt a lot like Maxie when she confronted Ben about why he wanted to keep the baby. “Ben, I don’t get why you’re pushing this. Why would you let this disrupt your life, your plans, when you don’t have to.” and all Ben had to say was “You wouldn’t understand.” No, of course she wouldn’t, since I as a reader truly couldn’t understand it either.
Because of this, and because of the way Ben not once considered how Maxie was dealing with everything and offering his support, but just focusing on himself, he felt very childish and whiny and nowhere ready to be a parent. I also never understood the rationale for treating his other best friend, Mo, the way he did.
But on the other hand, I’m also glad that the author allowed Ben to completely be himself, not shying away from his flaws and less likable traits. His character development in the end was also truly great, and the decision he eventually made in the end was so wholesome. So a bit of mixed feelings for Ben as a main character, but eventually he made his way into my heart.
Some of the other main characters were truly amazing from the very beginning though. Like Ben’s mother who right away took Ben’s side even though she realized the hardship it would bring, and Roger, Ben’s supportive step dad. And of course Gio, Ben’s love interest. Gio was my absolute favorite, such a sweetheart, and so wise, empathic and caring. I really rooted for him right from the start, even though I didn’t fully understand what he saw in Ben and therefore never felt fully invested in their romance.
But all in all, Unexpecting was an entertaining, sweet and heartfelt YA story, with great representation and a unique plot with a fresh take on a teenager’s struggle to learn what matters most in life. So even though it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for, I am definitely curious to read more of Jen Bailey’s books ahead.
Thank you Wednesday Books for the ARC and the opportunity to read this book! All opinions are my own and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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11/29/2022 0 Comments
Brothersong by T.J. Klune
My poor heart… What an epic conclusion to an epic series. I just want to start this series all over again, not at all ready to leave these beloved characters yet. I really don’t know how to explain how much I love these characters and their love for each other, the world building and the magical, poetically writing. All I know is that this is a series that hit me straight in the heart and will stay there forever. It will be one of my comfort books that I know I’ll reread it many times onwards.
“We must be the gayest werewolf pack ever.”
Yes, this pack sure is. And the most wonderful one. With characters I love. And who love each other. And who make fun of each other. And who tells each other everything. And nothing. And with Carter realizing that his forever love is a dude and he’s never been with a dude, but how hard can it be… he’s brothers seemed to figured it all out. Right?
I absolutely adore T J Klune’s wit and humor, and all his characters. They will all have a special place in my heart. And I know that I will return to this series and read it again. Very soon. But for now, all I want to say is that I couldn’t have been happier with the way this story was concluded and how all lose ends were tied up and the happy wholesomeness after all.
It was warm like a summer day. It was candy cones and pinecones, it was epic and awesome, it was dirt and leaves and rain, it was grass and lake water and sunshine.
I truly love this epic saga about love and friendship, pack and mates. It’s nothing less than a masterpiece. If you haven’t started reading it yet, you should. Please give yourself the gift of experiencing the magical and heartfelt world of Green Greek and get to fall in love with Ox, Joe, Gordo, Mark, Kelly, Robbie, Carter, Gavin, Rico, Bambi, Chris, Tanner, Will, Jessie, Dominique and Elizabeth you too!
5 epic stars
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