ARC Review: If We Were Us

Title: If We Were Us
Author: K.L. Walther
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐💫
Genre/s and Tags: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ+ rep, M/M romance
Publication date: June 1, 2020
Goodreads synopsis:

Everyone at the prestigious Bexley School believes that Sage Morgan and Charlie Carmichael are meant to be….that it’s just a matter of time until they realize that they are actually in love.

When Luke Morrissey shows up on the Bexley campus his presence immediately shakes things up. Charlie and Luke are drawn to each other the moment they meet, giving Sage the opportunity to steal away to spend time with Charlie’s twin brother, Nick.

But Charlie is afraid of what others will think if he accepts that he has much more than a friendship with Luke. And Sage fears that things with Nick are getting too serious too quickly. The duo will need to rely on each other and their lifelong friendship to figure things out with the boys they love.

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I received an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much Sourcebooks Fire!

When I first saw the cover of this book, I immediately liked it! And then I read the synopsis and I was just so excited because it seemed like a fun contemporary read for me. I was right!

If We Were Us is a fun and entertaining read, with similar vibes as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda!

My thoughts on If We Were Us

What I love most about If We Were Us is the fact that it’s funny, light-hearted, but can still be very gut-wrenching in some parts. It explored the characters’ flaws and issues, and their insecurities and mistakes. It was good to see these characters try to deal with them and overcome them by the end of the book. I also particularly adored the friendships and the dynamics between several characters! There’s Charlie and Sage, Luke and Sage, and Nick and Charlie!

I did, however, feel like it lacked in the romance department. I wanted more build-up, I wanted more flashbacks, I wanted more details, especially when it came to Nick and Sage’s relationship. Nick claimed he had feelings for Sage even before, but I didn’t see that nor did I feel it. I needed romance that’s believable, romance that will sway me. But in the end, I wasn’t fully convinced. So, I was disappointed about that.

Another thing is that, the writing style was okay, but sometimes it left me confused. Several times in the book, there were references to something or someone or some place or event, but those things/persons/places/events were not explained or given primary details.

On the other hand, I love how this book perfectly captured the ridiculously frustrating stereotype/idea that a girl and boy can’t be close friends without having feelings for each other. In the story, it has affected families, friends, the whole Bexley school body. This needs to stop, and this story just proves how bad that mentality can be.

Overall, If We Were Us was an entertaining read! I recommend this book to those who are looking for cute, short reads! (And those who are looking for books that has the same vibes as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda!)

Quotes from the book

We will hold that umbrella for you, I kept thinking. You won’t brave the storm alone.

“I’d realized Nick had feelings for Sage. She was smiling at the camera, but he was smiling at her.”

“I just had no idea,” he continued in a near-whisper, like he hadn’t heard me. “I had no idea it was even possible to feel this way about a person…””

*Note that these quotes may differ from the published copy.


Buy If We Were Us

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository


How about you guys? Is this book in your TBRs? Are you excited for its release? Tell me in the comments!

ARC Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea

Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre/s and Tags: Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, LGBTQ+ rep, M/M romance, F/F romance (mentioned)
Content Warnings: Prejudice/hatred
Publication date: March 17, 2020
Goodreads synopsis:

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

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I received an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much Tor Books!

The House in the Cerulean Sea

 

I went into this book not really knowing anything other than the synopsis and that it’s queer.

I never knew that it will blow me away with such a beautiful, breathtaking, wholesome story. Because that’s what this book is: a beautiful, breathtaking, wholesome story from start to finish.

(Sorry, my mind went blank somewhere around here. I was trying to think of other things to describe this book, but I don’t think they’ll ever be enough! *cries*)

My thoughts on The House in the Cerulean Sea

For starters, The House in the Cerulean Sea is wonderfully-written. It was able to capture the emotions and thoughts of the characters and project it to the readers. It was also funny, yet poignant and deep. I couldn’t simply stop reading, and if I did, the story stayed on my mind.

This book is character-driven, and the characters are just amazing. I loved Linus’s character arc. He starts as this obedient and loyal employee who feels small and unseen. At the end of the book he’s not any of those things anymore, and I loved that! He discovers and realizes many things, and he grows and he learns. My favorites would have to be the kids though, specifically Chauncey (the unidentifiable green blob) and Lucy (the Antichrist (yep, you read that right indeed)). They’re just so pure! I loved Arthur and Zoe as well. They completed the story and I loved that Arthur got some character development, too!

The plot, though simple, is incredibly profound. Linus is a case worker and the fate of this rundown orphanage and the dangerous, yet extraordinary kids lie in his decision and recommendation. The story follows Linus and his one month stay at Marsyas Island Orphanage. It’s slow going, but Linus gets to know the kids and the caretakers. He gets to know the island and the prejudice against the orphanage. He realizes the unfairness of many things. He realizes where he belongs. He finally finds his own home. Along the way, there are secrets, riots, self-realizations, love, and healing. It’s wholesome, pure, and absolutely perfect.

Above all, this is a story that teaches us to be kind, that the world is not merely black and white, and that it’s okay to feel small once in a while. I’m completely blown away by it. I fell in love with this story and I’ll forever cherish it in my heart.

Quotes from the book

“You are a fire, and they need to know how you burn. Not only because of who you are, but because of what they have made you into.”

“A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.”

“This isn’t simply an orphanage. It is a house of healing, and one that I think is necessary.”

*Note that these quotes may differ from the published copy.


Buy The House in the Cerulean Sea

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository


In conclusion, The House in the Cerulean Sea is definitely one of my favorite reads of 2020 and I am slowly becoming a fan of TJ Klune (I read his novella Blasphemy and it was hilarious!).

Anyway, please consider checking this book out on Goodreads and adding it to your TBRs!

Reading Challenge: 20 LGBTQ+ Books in 2020

Hi book nerds! 2019 is coming to an end! Anyone here doing any challenges for the new year? Have you already set yours? I usually stick to the usual Goodreads Reading Challenge, but that’s about it. This 2020, I decided to set one for myself!

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was going through my 2019 reads and realized that I only read 13 LGBTQ+ books this year. 13! I was shocked and saddened that I only read this amount. I love reading diverse books, especially those that explore gender and sexuality. I believe opening ourselves to these kind of books and thoroughly reading them is important as we have the chance to understand our LGBTQ+ friends, be aware of their struggles, and know more about their stories. (And also because I believe it’s about time that we see and read about the LGBTQ+ community in the media other than the usual heteronormative roles and stories, acchhkk!).

And so, for 2020, I came up with a reading challenge for myself: to read 20 LGBTQ+ books in 2020. I first thought of this on bookstagram, and after doing a poll, I found out that others want to join in! So, hey, if you think you’re also up for this challenge, go ahead! 

The challenge is to read 20 LGBTQ+ books this 2020 (but if we can push for more, why not? That’s even better!). It doesn’t matter if it’s a 2020 release or a book that’s been published a few years back. The main goal is to read books that feature LGBTQ+ characters and stories, and to share these with others!

I also encourage everyone to strive for a meaningful and diverse reading challenge, so go and try to read queer books with various kinds of LGBTQ+ representations in all sorts of genres you can get your hands on.

And to keep us motivated, here’s a book bingo to go with the reading challenge! (Plus a progress template!)

20 LGBTQ+ Books in 2020 Book Bingo     20 LGBTQ+ Books in 2020 Reading Template

Special thanks to @blvckhmn for suggesting a book bingo!

Last but not the least, share your reads! Share your progress and tell us all about the books you read for this reading challenge! Share photos on bookstagram/Facebook/Twitter, share reviews on your blogs, or mark your book bingo cards or templates and share them on your stories! Go use the hashtag #20LGBTQBOOKSIN2020 !

And of course, have fun!

So how about you guys? Do you have a reading challenge for 2020 yet? Thinking of joining in here? Comment down below! I’d love to know what you think!


1/7/2021 Update: We have another reading challenge for 2021! Introducing #QueerBookFun2021!

Book Review: Red, White & Royal Blue

Title: Red, White & Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre/s: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Comedy, LGBTQ+
Goodreads synopsis:

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which the First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

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Hi there book nerds! It’s been a while (life has been busy), but guess what? I managed to finish a book last weekend and IT IS AWESOME.

Red, White & Royal Blue is a delightful, heartwarming, and hilarious story that will surely make you cry, laugh, and ultimately, fall in love. This is one of my most anticipated reads this year, and boooyyy, it did not disappoint.

Y’all this book. I just feel like, this book has almost all the things I want to see in a contemporary novel: the angst, the fluff, the drama, the smut (YES, THE SMUT. This book is NOT YOUNG ADULT. The author has stressed this out so many times already.), lovable characters, excellent dialogue, interesting plot, family and friends themes, identity theme, coming-to-terms-with-sexuality bits, pining, enemies-to-lovers trope, and probably a lot more things but I just can’t remember them as of this moment! 😂 But anyway, I’ll try to talk about them one by one.

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ARC Review: The Infinite Noise

Title: The Infinite Noise
Author: Lauren Shippen
My rating: 4/5 stars
Genre/s: Young Adult, Contemporary, Science Fiction, LGBTQ+
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Goodreads synopsis:

Lauren Shippen’s The Infinite Noise is a stunning, original debut novel based on her wildly popular and award-winning podcast The Bright Sessions.

Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.”

Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand.

Caleb’s therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist—who seems to know a lot more than she lets on—and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.

“What if the X-Men, instead of becoming superheroes, decided to spend some time in therapy?” (Vox on The Bright Sessions)

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I received an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much Tor Teen!

This book, wow! The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen is a unique and diverse book—blending science fiction, romance, mental health rep, and LGBTQ+ rep.

I’ve been seeing this book frequently on Twitter and when I saw the synopsis, I was truly intrigued! When I found out my NetGalley request was approved, I dived into it right away!

But first things first. The Infinite Noise is based on the author’s audio drama podcast The Bright Sessions. This is really what intrigued me in the first place! This podcast is basically recorded sessions between Dr. Bright and her patients with supernatural abilities. I’ve already listened to a couple of episodes, and it was such a unique story. One of her patients is Caleb, and The Infinite Noise explores his story.

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