Beautiful and important: George by Alex Gino [REVIEW]

25615902Title: George
Author: Alex Gino
First published in August 2015
Tags: Middle GradeContemporary, LGBTQIA (T)

Source: Storytel (audiobook app)
Rating:  photo five stars_zpsr2o5iiuv.png

“When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her (4th grade) teacher announces their class play is going to be “Charlotte’s Web.” George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part …because she’s a boy.


With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte – but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.”


“Mom, what if I’m a girl?”

A mini-review for a mini-book. It’s short and sweet and definitely worth picking up because oh my god, this book is so lovely. I adored it to pieces. I listened to it on audio, and it was such a pleasant experience. 

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My problem with New Adult: Come What May by A.M. Arthur [ARC REVIEW]

29505971Come What May by A.M. Arthur
Series: All Saints #1
Expected publication on May 23rd 2016 by Carina Press 
Tags:
New Adult, Romance, LGBTQIA
Buy: Amazon | B&N

Source: NetGalley

Rating:  photo three stars_zpsohkkn6ww.png

Jonas needs Tate. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Or at least, he doesn’t want to admit it. Because there is no way Jonas Ashcroft is gay. He’s a straight, carefree frat boy player, just like any good son of a conservative state senator. If only his struggle to convince everyone—especially himself—didn’t leave him so miserable. No matter how many girls or bottles he drowns himself in, Jonas can neither escape nor accept who he is.


Enter Tate. He’s smart, confident, and instantly sees right through Jonas’s surly exterior. Sure, he’s done things in life he’s not proud of, but he knows who he is and what he wants. And what he wants is Jonas. As their easy friendship intensifies into something more, Tate introduces Jonas to a life he’s never known. One filled with acceptance and sex and a love that terrifies and excites them both.


But some inner demons refuse to be shaken off so easily. When Jonas’s old life barges in, he faces a shattering choice, one that could destroy everything he and Tate have fought so hard for. Sometimes love just isn’t enough—and sometimes it’s exactly what you need.

 I received a free copy by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The thing with New Adult, or at least my impression of New Adult, is that it’s not really anything new or exciting all that often. No new plots, new characters, or new relationships. To me, this is nothing different from what I read on AO3 every day and have been reading online every day for the last decade or so. 

Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

lgbt books for young adultsCarry On by Rainbow Rowell
Published by Pan Macmillan in February 2016 (first pub. October 2015)
Pages: 528

Genres:
Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBTQIA
Source: NetGalley
Buy:
Amazon | Book DepositoryBarnes and Noble
Rating: lgbt books for young adults

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.


Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

I received a free ebook copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

lgbt books for young adults

 

I hadn’t originally planned on reading this, both because I didn’t like Fangirl and because it seemed too similar to Harry Potter and that bugged me. But then I saw this as a “read now” book on NetGalley and I couldn’t resist that. 

And what do you know, I actually enjoyed it. It starts off very similar to Harry Potter, that it does. For those who don’t know, the story of Simon Snow started in Fangirl as the main character’s fanfiction. And in that universe, Simon Snow is like their Harry Potter, it’s an eight book fantasy series with a huge fandom about a magic school and a Chosen One. And then this book, Carry On, isn’t Cath’s fanfic, but it’s still the characters and story Rowell invented in Fangirl. Though in Fangirl, all the fic excerpts were terribly boring and this is a lot better. Are you with me? Alright. 

So yes, it starts off with a lot of Harry Potter-isms. There’s an orphan boy who goes to a magical school. People whisper about it being a school for unruly or criminal kids. He’s the Chosen One, but’s not really feeling it. There’s a prophecy that says he’s the most powerful mage there is and he’s been chosen to save the magical world and defeat the Big Bad. He has a really clever friend named Penelope, who would remind anyone of Hermione. He has a rich asshole ~nemesis~ that he’s obsessed with ala Harry and Draco in The Half-Blood Prince. The nemesis lives in a mansion. The headmaster is Simon’s mentor. 

But most of these elements are pretty basic. There are lots of stories about Chosen Ones and magical schools. Yes, the similarities are many, because after all Harry Potter is the inspiration, but as far as the plot goes it’s not Harry Potter. I stopped reading it as Harry/Draco fanfiction in not too long. 

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ARC Review: Getting Him Back by K.A. Mitchell

k.a. mitchellGetting Him Back by K.A. Mitchell
Series: Ethan and Wyatt 1#
Published by Carina Press in February 2016
Pages: 133

Genres:
New Adult, LGBTQIA, Contemporary, Romance
Source:
 NetGalley
Buy:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble
Rating: gay books

An unexpected fresh start leads to an unlikely-but-absolutely-perfect pairing in this male/male new-adult novel from bestselling gay romance author K.A. Mitchell

Ethan may have followed his high school sweetheart to college only to get dumped his first day there, but he’s not going to let that stop him from exploring all his new life has to offer. Sex-only hookups, his photography, new friends and a campus-wide game of zombies vs humans all help keep his mind off his broken heart and move him toward building a new, better life without his ex.

And then there’s Wyatt. Mysterious, grouchy—hot. And possibly not gay. But Ethan’s not going to let that stand in the way of figuring out what makes Wyatt tick. New college goal? Get Wyatt into bed and into Ethan’s life.


Step one: arrange a “tutoring” date. Step two: “accidentally” bump into Wyatt as often as possible. Step three: explore the sexy body under that ever-present hoodie. And when their friendship deepens into something neither of them expect, convince Wyatt he’s not just a pity fling or a one-time hookup, but that Ethan is in it for the long haul.

I received a free ebook copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

First off, I don’t think the synopsis does a good job of really describing the novel. Or short-story maybe, because it’s very short, it’s a couple thousand words shorter than a NaNoWriMo story. I think the synopsis is talking about a book much longer than this one, because Getting Him Back is too short to really be about all these things the synopsis claims is in the book. Sure, it mentions some of it, but it’s not part of the plot. At all. Sex-only hookups? Not really. Photography? I can’t even remember that. New friends? They’re there, I guess. Zombie vs. humans? It’s there, kind of, but doesn’t really have any significance. 

The plot is basically 1) Ethan arrives at campus looking for boyfriend 2) Boyfriend breaks up with him 3) Ethan is sad/angry 4) Ethan needs info about ex-boyfriend so he makes ex-boyfriend’s grumpy but cute roommate tutor him 5) Grumpy but cute roommate likes him??? 6) Ethan hooks up with ex-boyfriend’s grumpy but cute roommate 5) Some angst 6) The end

But even though it should have been longer, I thought this was incredibly cute, I was smiling almost all the way through and towards the end I even felt a little tug on my heartstrings because of the angst. I think that if you view this book as simply a small slice-of-life type story then it works. Don’t expect a deep plot or grand character development, but simply expect a little peek into Ethan and Wyatt’s lives. 

I read a hell of a lot of fanfiction. A lot. This reads a lot like one because of how it’s built up. I don’t read a lot of NA, maybe it’s like that a lot? There’s nothing new here for me, I’ve read it all before, I’ve even read about this couple before, but who cares, it was cute and I enjoyed it. Ethan and Wyatt as a couple is my favorite type of couple. You know, the couple where one is sunshine, kittens and rainbows while the other one is a tiny grump with a filthy mouth and a bad attitude.

“I didn’t realize that a smile from someone who acted like they didn’t know how to meant a lot more than one from someone who smiled at everyone.”

So not surprisingly, they reminded me of my OTP, Ian and Mickey from Shameless US. Really, Wyatt is basically Mickey. And since Mickey is my all-time favorite character you better believe Wyatt moved into my heart. 

gay booksgif by tinkrdust

Slight spoiler maybe? What set this book apart a little is Wyatt and his Waardenburg Syndrome. The moment Ethan noted that Wyatt had a white streak in his hair I knew it, and I was excited, because I haven’t seen a character with Waardenburg in a book before. I only know about this syndrome because of Stef on youtube, she’s absolutely adorable. 

I really do wish this had been longer, a lot of things could have done with some expansion, but it was adorable and I’m happy. 

I have to add that I loved that this book used the term “dude-bro.” 

k.a. mitchell

Do you read a lot of NA? What do you think about it? Have you read this particular one? Discuss! 

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Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

19547856Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Published by Penguin Random House UK
in 2015
Pages: 303
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQIARomance
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository
Rating:
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So this is one I’ve been looking forward to read ever since I heard about it, and I wasn’t disappointed. 

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is about Simon, a closeted gay teenager, and his online relationship with the mysterious Blue. Simon doesn’t know who Blue is, but he knows they go to the same school and he knows that he likes him and that they can tell each other things they don’t tell anyone else. Then a guy from school happens to see Simon and Blue’s emails to each other and begins to blackmail Simon, forcing Simon to become his wingman or else both Simon and Blue will be outed. 

This review will talk about Blue’s identity, so if you haven’t read this book yet then please skip that part. I will warn you before that part comes. 

This book is cute. Dangerously so. I’m so weak for plots like this one, there are a lot of them in the fanfiction world but not too many in the published world (I don’t think). The emails between Simon and Blue are adorable and funny and overall just very believable. The dialogue and the voice in this book definitely speaks teenager, complete with teenage vocabulary of today like “I can’t even.” They even use Tumblr. Simon’s school has one of those awful anonymous “secrets” blogs, you know what I’m talking about. Only drama comes out of those but damn if they’re not addictive. Anyway, while the book reads like teenager, I didn’t find it annoying (as someone who is not a teenager anymore) and that’s a big plus. 

While the blackmail aspect of this book sounds quite angsty, it’s actually pretty light in the angst department. There’s a lot of humor in this book and the way Simon kinda sorta became friends with Martin, his awkward blackmailer, was very funny. 

Maybe he’s my blackmailer. Maybe he’s also becoming my friend. Who the hell knows if that’s even allowed.

One part of Simon vs that I really liked was how I could identify with the part of Simon that hates “coming out” and I’m not talking about sexuality here, but just in general. He hates feeling like everything new he does is a big deal to everyone, and I just feel that so much, it actually surprised me when I read that because I thought I was alone in that. I guess adults can learn something from YA novels, take that, book snobs! To show you what I mean I’ll add this quote below that resonated with me so much. 

But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.

My mind was a little bit blown when I read that, to be honest. 

Hmm, what else. Oh yes, Blue.

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SPOILERS BELOW!

I read some reviews where people were surprised to find out who Blue was and some that had figured it out. I had definitely figured it out. I knew it wouldn’t be who Simon thought it was (even though Cal is adorable) because come on, we all know how mysteries work, and I knew it probably wasn’t Nick, and Martin wouldn’t make sense. So when Blue told Simon in an email that he goes all silent when he talks to guys in real life I had a main suspect, and I was right. That scene in the classroom was the give-away and the hints kept proving my theory. 

END SPOILERS!

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So yes, I was definitely a fan of the mystery aspect of this book, even if I figured it out early on. The final scenes were just too cute and all in all the word to describe this book is CUTE. This was a great debut novel, I’ll definitely keep an eye out for other books by Albertalli. 

Have you read this book? Are you going to? Did you guess Blue’s identity? 

Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness


MORE THAN THIS by Patrick Ness

Published by: Candlewick Press
on September 1st 2013
Pages: 472
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, LGBTQIA
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository
Rating:
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“Here is the boy, drowning.”

This book starts with the main character drowning. Yep, he dies. That’s not a spoiler because that’s there in the very first sentence. Seth is a 16 year old boy and he drowns in the ocean. And then he wakes up, bruised and thirsty but seemingly alive. Where is he? And how did he get here? 

You shouldn’t go into this book knowing anything more about it than that. I knew nothing more than that and I’d have been a bit angry if I did, because the thing that makes this book so good and so exciting is not knowing what the hell is going on. Did he actually die? And if he did, why and how is he here? Is he in hell? Heaven? Or somewhere else entirely? And why was Seth in the ocean in the first place? 

This book is so. good. I was hooked from the very beginning on both the plot and the writing. It’s a survival story and I love those. It keeps you guessing. It keeps you scratching your head and asking yourself “how??” “why??” I personally love that about books, as I’ve previously said in my review of The Knife of Never Letting Go, also by Patrick Ness.

More Than This is split into 4 parts and while the first part might come across as slow to some, that first part was my favorite. I found it intense, engaging, and quite terrifying in its utter desolation. In the second part things changes, and you might have to reconsider your theories on what’s going on. You will have to do that a lot while reading this. 

The characters in this novel are great too. It alternates between present time and flashbacks to Seth’s life before, dealing with his family and friends, where we find out about a tragedy from his childhood that has shaped his entire life. Tomasz is one character that I really liked. What a cutie-patootie.

Another thing I really loved is the casual homosexuality in this book. It’s very matter-of-fact, like it should be, no big deal. 

This book has a pretty open ending and while I liked how it ended I’d kill for a sequel. You’ll find out why that is if you read this book, which you should. John Green says it best in the blurb: “Just read it.”

Have you read this one or other Patrick Ness books? Have your read anything similar to this, because if so I want it right now. 

Review: Mad About the Hatter by Dakota Chase

Mad About the Hatter by Dakota Chase
Published by: Harmony Inc Press
on August 20th 2015
Pages: 190
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQIA, RomanceFairytale Retelling,
Insta-love?
 Yes
Buy: Amazon
Rating:
 photo two half_zpsfshnyiqu.png photo greendots2_zpsskhe4bqu.png

I received a free ebook copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A retelling of Alice in Wonderland with Alice’s brother in a relationship with the Mad Hatter? Sign me up. Plus I adore both the cover and the clever title of this book, so those were some good draws too. 

Henry, Alice’s younger brother, never believed his sister’s tales of Wonderland and has deemed her crazy. Then he finds himself in this strange Wonderland, being escorted to the Red Queen by someone called Hatter. The two don’t like each other at all. Until they do. 

Let me start by saying that this book isn’t heavy with action. It’s not exactly slow per se, but I didn’t feel like that much was happening. I somehow felt that it pretended a lot was happening but in reality there was just a lot of walking back and forth and easily avoiding dangerous obstacles. If you prefer books to have more action and things constantly happening, then maybe this book won’t be for you. If you don’t mind a slower pace and if you like “going on an adventure” books and cute M/M romances then go for it. 

The book alternates between two POVs, Henry’s and the Hatter’s. We get to see Henry being confused with and frustrated by the workings of Wonderland, and we get to see Hatter’s nonchalant reaction to it all. 

I really liked Hatter. He’s funny and charming, and I enjoyed the chapters from his perspective. I found myself chuckling a lot through his chapters. At one point in the second half of the book I wish one chapter (or was it more than one? I can’t remember if these particular scenes took place during more chapters) was Hatter’s point of view instead of Henry’s. It was still funny, but the other way around would have been much funnier. It would have been very interesting to see our own mundane world through the eyes of someone used to a world with magic. “Magic” is so subjective, anything you’re not used to can seem magical, and we see that in Mad About the Hatter

“Your world is amazing, Henry! First popped corn and moving pictures of giants, then this Pete’s Ah. It’s wonderful!”

What I said above about magic being everywhere, in “the eye of the beholder” so to speak, is one of the themes I found in this story. It’s a nice sort of moral and I didn’t feel like it was spoon fed to me like many of the other morals in this book. I got a bit annoyed by the way some things were spelled out to me as if I wouldn’t get it otherwise. Yes the Red Queen is only human, no your size alone doesn’t make you superior, we don’t need an entire paragraph (or paragraphs!) where this is spelled out directly. There are other ways to include morals like these without underestimating the reader’s intelligence. These were cases of telling instead of showing. If it was a children’s book it might be different, but this is teen and young adult and neither teen nor young adult need to be talked to like children. 

There was a lot of unnecessary repetition. Like the above it was like the author didn’t think we’d get it unless she reminded us of something from just a couple pages or chapters back. For example, Hatter thinks about his curse several times and the reasons why he doesn’t like it. The impact would have been better if that information had been spared until he tells Henry about it later.  

This book also set off my insta-love alarm. Granted, it is a fairytale, but still. If that is something that grinds your gears to the point where it completely turns you off then you might want to skip this. It’s still cute but it develops way too fast for me. How long has it been, a few days? I doubt you love him after a few days of just walking around. Despite this the book wasn’t romance heavy, which only made the insta-love stand out even more, in a not-so-good way. I just didn’t buy it. 

I thought this book was charming and funny, but it didn’t do much for me outside of that. I think it might be a better fit for someone a bit younger than me. I rate books mostly based on how much I enjoyed reading them, so because of that I’m giving it 2.5/5. Not terrible, I didn’t hate it, but nothing special either.