ARC Review: I Kissed Shara Wheeler // A YA romcom debut to look out for

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Title: I Kissed Shara Wheeler
Author: Casey McQuiston
Genre/s and tags: Young adult, contemporary, romance, LGBTQ+, mystery
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication date: May 3, 2022
Content warnings: homophobia, religious trauma
Goodreads synopsis: 

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston Book Cover

From the New York Times bestselling author of One Last Stop and Red, White & Royal Blue comes a debut YA romantic comedy about chasing down what you want, only to find what you need…

Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny.

But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.

On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair-and-square.

Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too.

Fierce, funny, and frank, Casey McQuiston’s I Kissed Shara Wheeler is about breaking the rules, getting messy, and finding love in unexpected places.

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A big thank you to Macmillan International and Fully Booked PH for the e-ARC!
(This, of course, did not affect my overall opinion of the book.)

Hello book nerds! I am back again with another book review. And it seems like another top 2022 read for me. I am talking about I Kissed Shara Wheeler! This is the much anticipated YA debut from Casey McQuiston. Now, because I enjoyed RWRB, I can’t help but be excited for this one as well! I have to say though, I started reading without really knowing much about what I was getting into. I ended up enjoying it way more than I thought I would!

I Kissed Shara Wheeler is a funny and heartfelt journey of queer identity, of finding love, and realizing that there’s more to the people around us. This is a YA romcom debut to look out for!

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ARC Review: Kiss & Tell // Romance, boybands, and queer people in the limelight

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Title: Kiss & Tell
Author: Adib Khorram
Genre/s and tags: Young adult, contemporary, romance, LGBTQ+, music
Publisher: Dial Books/Penguin Teen
Publication date: March 22, 2022
Content warnings: homophobia, leaked privacy/private texts being leaked, slut-shaming, body shaming, racism, sexual content
Goodreads synopsis: 

Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram Book Cover

A smart, sexy YA novel about a boy band star, his first breakup, his first rebound, and what it means to be queer in the public eye, from award-winning author Adib Khorram

Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend–leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all–and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens.

But Hunter isn’t really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T’s shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the star of the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble—for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself.

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A big thank you to Dial Books/Penguin Teen for the e-ARC!
(This, of course, did not affect my overall opinion of the book.)

Hello book nerds! I feel like it has been a while! I’ve been struggling with some reads recently. However, I’ve still been blessed with great reads. This book? It’s one of them!

Kiss & Tell is another novel from Adib Khorram everyone should look out for. Romantic, inspiring, and socially-conscious, this book is a journey of queer love, identity, and pressure under the limelight.

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ARC Review: The One True Me and You // Fandom, community, and queer identity

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Title: The One True Me and You
Author: Remi K. England
Genre/s and tags: Young adult, contemporary, romance, LGBTQ+, fandom
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication date: March 1, 2022
Content warnings: homophobia/lesbophobia, bullying, outing of nonbinary and lesbian characters
Goodreads synopsis: 

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?

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A big thank you to Wednesday Books for sending an e-ARC my way!
(This, of course, did not affect my overall opinion of the book.)

Hello book nerds! Today I’m sharing my review for one of my most anticipated releases this year! Now I’ve already heard some positive reviews prior to reading it, but no one could have prepared me for how much I was going to love this book.

The One True Me and You is simply heartwarming. It perfectly captures what it means to be in a fandom, the beauty of community, and exploring and owning your queer identity.

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Book Review: Almond // Simple yet profound

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Title: Almond
Author: Won-Pyung Sohn
Genre/s and tags: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Mental health
Publisher: Harper Via
Publication date: May 5, 2020
Content warnings: Physical assault/harassment, graphic violence, bullying, gore/blood, death of family members
Goodreads synopsis: 

The Witch King book cover

This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster.

One of the monsters is me.

Yunjae was born with a brain condition called Alexithymia that makes it hard for him to feel emotions like fear or anger. He does not have friends—the two almond-shaped neurons located deep in his brain have seen to that—but his devoted mother and grandmother aren’t fazed by his condition. Their little home above his mother’s used bookstore is decorated with colorful post-it notes that remind him when to smile, when to say “thank you,” and when to laugh. Yunjae grows up content, even happy, with his small family in this quiet, peaceful space.

Then on Christmas Eve—Yunjae’s sixteenth birthday—everything changes. A shocking act of random violence shatters his world, leaving him alone and on his own. Struggling to cope with his loss, Yunjae retreats into silent isolation, until troubled teenager Gon arrives at his school and begins to bully Yunjae.

Against all odds, tormentor and victim learn they have more in common than they realized. Gon is stumped by Yunjae’s impassive calm, while Yunjae thinks if he gets to know the hotheaded Gon, he might learn how to experience true feelings. Drawn by curiosity, the two strike up a surprising friendship. As Yunjae begins to open his life to new people—including a girl at school—something slowly changes inside him. And when Gon suddenly finds his life in danger, it is Yunjae who will step outside of every comfort zone he has created to perhaps become a most unlikely hero.

The Emissary meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime in this poignant and triumphant story about how love, friendship, and persistence can change a life forever.

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Hello book nerds and bookmys! Happy December! Can you actually believe it’s the last month of 2021?! I mean, I’m still processing March 2020, to be honest. But let’s not dwell on the past! Today, I am here to talk about a recent read and one of my favorite reads this year—Almond!

Now, I first learned about Almond because BTS members RM and Suga were seen reading this on their show, In The Soop (Season 1). Upon knowing the synopsis, I was even more interested! I’ve heard mixed reviews prior to reading, so I was a little bit hesitant. But now that I’ve finished it, I can say that I was truly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book!

Almond is a gem. This book explores adolescence, the meaning of emotions, the diversity of people’s lives and journeys, and friendship. It was tender, honest, simple yet profound.

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Book Review: The Witch King // This queer YA fantasy has everything

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Title: The Witch king
Author: H.E. Edgmon
Genre/s and tags: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication date: June 1, 2021
Content warnings: Physical assault, sexual harassment, child abuse/neglect, suicide attempt; misgendering, deadnaming (off page); consensual sex (not too graphic), physical violence, gore/blood, parental death
Goodreads synopsis: 

The Witch King book cover

To save a fae kingdom, a trans witch must face his traumatic past and the royal fiancé he left behind. This debut YA fantasy will leave you spellbound.

Wyatt would give anything to forget where he came from—but a kingdom demands its king.

In Asalin, fae rule and witches like Wyatt Croft…don’t. Wyatt’s betrothal to his best friend, fae prince Emyr North, was supposed to change that. But when Wyatt lost control of his magic one devastating night, he fled to the human world.

Now a coldly distant Emyr has hunted him down. Despite transgender Wyatt’s newfound identity and troubling past, Emyr has no intention of dissolving their engagement. In fact, he claims they must marry now or risk losing the throne. Jaded, Wyatt strikes a deal with the enemy, hoping to escape Asalin forever. But as he gets to know Emyr, Wyatt realizes the boy he once loved may still exist. And as the witches face worsening conditions, he must decide once and for all what’s more important—his people or his freedom.

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Hello book nerds and bookmys! Happy September! It’s been a little while, I know and I’m sorry. I have been quite busy these past few weeks, and my stress and anxiety are on another level unfortunately. I wanted to take it slow for a moment and just take a break. But now I’m here to share my review of one of my anticipated releases! I’ve already shared my a mini review on my bookstagram account, but I feel like a detailed review is necessary for this one.

The Witch King has everything for me. Political intrigue, romance, honest discussions of gender and sexuality, world building, hilarious writing, all of these make up this unforgettable queer YA fantasy novel.

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