A Book I Liked: All It Took Was One Look

Werewolves + gay people= happily ever after. Werewolves but also gay. That’s it, that’s the book. Which is not a complaint, trust me. There was a time I would have given almost anything for “werewolves but also gay” to apply to Teen Wolf.

I wanted to write a review for All It Took Was One Look, but I read it a million years ago and didn’t write a review then. I have the worst memory in the world, and I have better things to do than sitting here wracking my brain for the details. Okay, I might not actually have better things to do but that still doesn’t sound fun. What I remember is that I liked the book.

Maybe I will write a review one day. Maybe I won’t. We’ll see where life leads!

Summary: One boy is human and hella gay(hey title of my blog) and the other isn’t either of those things. He’s a wolf and thinks he’s straight. Commence angst, drama, action, and epic romance. This is an engaging tale about the future of a wolf pack and what happens when the pair meant to lead the pack is gay for the first time.

This novel is on the melodramatic side and there’s lots of staples you’ll recognize like the evil bitch girlfriend, the repressed bully, the tortured protagonist, and the nerdy gay kid. It’s got familiar characters and situations, but even the recognizable details feel fresh in a gay YA setting. The book fully embraced all the dramatic, important moments you might expect to find in a book like this and went wild with them.

AITWOL feels like the start of a series. There’s a whole huge world to play in with several main and supporting characters. If there were future books, I would definitely be interested in them.

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New YA Books

What’s new in YA right now and what’s on the horizon?

I have no idea!

Everything is just so much, all the time, you know? Maybe not, because what I said doesn’t make a ton of sense, but I can’t keep up with new releases. So it’s good there’s other people out there to do that for me.

I found this list of YA fiction being released in July-September. These are all sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. The full list is here, but I figured I would just mention the queer ones. Because Hella Gay YA and all that.

The Infinite Noise: A Bright Sessions Novel  by Lauren Shippen

Description: 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.

Release: Sept. 24

The only podcasts I’ve ever listened to are fictional ones about gay characters and true crime, and I’m sure there’s other types that are really good… but yeah, I’m only interested in podcasts if there’s true crime or queer characters and hopefully less crime.

Basically, it’s really cool that The Bright Sessions podcast is a book now.

 Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Description: There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question–How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

Release: Sept. 10

Jam is trans and selectively nonverbal, and this book sounds interesting and too scary for me. I have begun to very, VERY slowly enjoy a little bit of horror, mostly by accident. Otherwise I am a big coward and there’s no shame in that because I said so.

Red Skies Falling (The Skybound Saga) by Alex London

Description: Kylee is ensconsed in the Sky Castle, training with Mem Uku to master the Hollow Tongue and the Ghost Eagle. But political intrigue abounds and court drama seems to seep through the castle’s stones like blood from a broken feather. Meanwhile, Brysen is still in the Six Villages, preparing for an attack by the Kartami. The Villages have become Uztar’s first line of defense, and refugees are flooding in from the plains. But their arrival lays bare the villagers’ darkest instincts. As Brysen navigates the growing turmoil, he must also grapple with a newfound gift, a burgeoning crush on a mysterious boy, and a shocking betrayal.

Release: Sept. 3

Game of Thrones but gayer. And YA.

Is Game of Thrones already gay? I’m gonna get around to watching that eventually. I’m guessing there’s less gay people dying in horrific ways in this novel. Again, I don’t watch GoT, but it always seems like somebody is dying in horrific ways.

Of Ice and Shadows (Of Fire and Stars) by Audrey Coulthrust

Description: Princesses Denna and Mare are in love and together at last—only to face a new set of dangers.

Mare just wants to settle down with the girl she loves, which would be easier if Denna weren’t gifted with forbidden and volatile fire magic. Denna must learn to control her powers, which means traveling in secret to the kingdom of Zumorda, where she can seek training without fear of persecution. Determined to help, Mare has agreed to serve as an ambassador as a cover for their journey.

As rising tensions and unexpected betrayals put Mare and Denna in jeopardy and dangerous enemies emerge on all sides, can they protect their love and save their kingdoms?

Release: August 13

This is the book where, whenever I see the first one on the list of top 100 queer YA novels, I’m like that looks cool, I should read that. And then I remember my KU is filled with M/M teen romances because those are the ones I write and occasionally blog about, but I  read real slow, so I don’t read this yet.

True story. I’m sure all of this really helped you with your reading selections. I still want to read the first one, then this second one, because I have to go in order and because fantasy novel about princesses in love.

 

Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre

I’m including the cover of one book that may not be queer, or isn’t as far as I can tell, but I liked the tagline. So simple but memorable. This one also might be too scary for me, but again, love the tagline.

Diabolic Shrimp… just go with it

What do gay young adult books and seafood have in common? I have no idea! However, a blog quirky enough to be about YA lit and sending shrimp to space resonates with me on a spiritual level. Diabolic Shrimp has tons of book reviews for indie books across all genres and the website also raises money for different charities.

Joshua Grant is a YA author and book blogger like me, so we have that in common even though I don’t eat shrimp and all I know about space is that my nephew doesn’t like it anymore, he’s all about Godzilla now. Anyway, my books and this author’s aren’t exactly in the same sphere, but I have never stayed on topic once in my life and I don’t intend to now, mostly because I couldn’t even if I tried.

I’m a pretty small-time blogger, so it was cool when he emailed me about being featured on my site because it’s like I have arrived. I don’t know where I arrived, but wherever it is, that’s where I am now. When I stop making sense, it’s time to move on to the next thing.

One thing Joshua Grant is better at than me is reviewing books, so while his is on my list to read, I haven’t yet. His works have more of a sci-fi/dystopian vibe. I really like sci-fi, but I don’t think a lot of my interests at the moment are reflective of that, so I’m just going to say the first related words that pop into my head. Doctor Who, robots, Dungeons and Dragons, oh hey, I love Stranger Things! Does that count? I’m saying that counts.

Here’s a summary for one of his books, Nexus.

nexus

When the Hollow Men came, humanity fell. Forced to scrape out an existence from the rubble with the rest of the survivors, Jonah Byerly struggles to get by. Hunted by dark murderous things, he yearns for something more—a hope from civilization long past, for love and acceptance. But Jonah isn’t like the others as much as he would like to be. He harbors a secret, a shadow in his soul that could revive humanity…or see it drown in the endless hunger of the Hollow Men.

Book Review: Never Do a Wrong Thing

When it comes to blog posts, I often have trouble knowing how to start. I’m a stare at the blank page kinda person. I love the opening of Never Do a Wrong Thing. So, let’s start at the start (that’s a song right?) it’s a very good place to start (that’s totally a song).

When things start going awry is when the story starts, no sooner, no later. That’s what Mrs. Bartkowski told us in her Creative Writing workshop, but frankly, that doesn’t help me all that much if I can’t say for sure when things started going awry. If I were to ask you, Tom, you’d probably say things started going awry the day I was born, and you’d think your blunt force humor was very clever.

Great opening and it gave me a chance to use the quote thing.

Summary: Tim is in love with best friend, who will never, ever like him back.

I didn’t say stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but there you are, rolling your eyes and telling me yeah, yeah. I’ve heard this one before. But you haven’t! It’s not a besties to more thing. The story goes the perhaps more realistic route of what happens when that person you’ve had a crush on forever doesn’t like you back. Worse than that, when that person you love not only doesn’t love you in the right way but doesn’t love you at all, just because of who you are.

Very serious reviewer comment: Tim being interested in Tom is weird. Pretty much only because there was a Tim and Tom a few grades older than me in school and they were twin brothers. So that’s what I think of when I hear the names Tim and Tom together and then it’s like, Tim, no, that’s your brother!

But this isn’t Flowers in the Attic.

The Plot: Liking someone you can’t have. Yeah, it’s as simple as that. The story still covers a lot of ground though. At the beginning of the book, Tim can’t imagine ever telling his best friend certain truths about himself and doesn’t want to risk jeopardizing their friendship.

The full quote in the title is “never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one.” And as the story goes on, having to keep part of himself private, never getting to be himself to protect someone else becomes more and more difficult.  He starts realizing who he is and becoming okay with that, even if means he might have to give up the thing that once mattered the most to him.

What Makes it Unique: The story is told as if the main character is explaining everything to his best friend. So some of it is first person and other parts are him addressing his best friend. The different style really makes it interesting and fun to read and because it’s all about the friendship between Tim and Tom, this way of telling the story really works and feels natural. It’s Tim saying all the things he can’t to Tom.

There’s also a lot of stories out there where the central conflict is parental strife because they can’t accept their children and while realistic, it isn’t the only way parents react. So, I like stories where the parents are pretty supportive and this fits that bill.

What I liked: This isn’t just telling the story of a young adult discovering who he is, it really captures the mindset of someone innocent. There’s a vibe of everything being new and strange and scary but good too. The pace is just right, it’s an exploration of what someone coming to terms with their sexuality might go through, fully exploring the topic without being too much or not enough, it’s just right.

What you may not like: I was tempted to put a what I didn’t like part but then it would feel like a cop out because the answer is ‘nothing!’ I enjoyed the whole thing. Though, the focus of the book is pretty narrow. I don’t feel like that’s a bad thing but if you’re looking for a larger world and more conflict, this isn’t the right book for you. It’s coming of age and all the angst is centered around one part.

The Romance: This book isn’t centered around romance, so there’s a little bit of a love story but it’s not the main focus. The relationship in this one is sweet and cute, basically what you’d want for your first boyfriend.

Other: I just wanted to say that I didn’t make it all the way through Cupid Painted Blind, so its kinda weird that I loved this one so much and didn’t care for that one but anyway, I might have to give it another shot because I really enjoyed Jack in this one.

I actually would have liked Jack and Tim together, but I think there was an age difference, and I thought they had good chemistry and they challenged each other and both made the other think. And I just like Jack, okay. Love me a tortured bad boy and Jack and Tim had good dialogue.

Final Thoughts: A great easy read with a lot of heart. There’s simple, engaging writing that flows well and has moments of beauty and deepness and humor.

Also, I googled it, the song I was thinking of at the beginning was Do Re Mi.

Gay YA Kindle Unlimited Reads

Kindle Unlimited has about a million books, but finding the readable ones is sometimes a challenge. Was that a diplomatic way to put it? I was trying to find a diplomatic way to put it. I like KU! My books are on there. That totally wasn’t a hint that you should go check out my books, but you can if you want to.

Anyway, if you’re looking for some young adult novels featuring gay romances that are available on KU, here’s some I found that are worth a look. Are there any others you like? Let me know!

 Cupid Painted Blind

Summary: Few things are more exciting and, frankly, unnerving than your first day of high school. Except, maybe, coming out to your friends when they already kinda knew you were gay. Or finding out that the breathtakingly handsome guy you’ve just met is best buddies with your archnemesis who happens to be a homophobic bully. Or being teamed up for a school assignment with that decidedly unattractive, facially-deformed, freaky-looking weirdo who hasn’t got a friend in the world. Or all of the above.

My thoughts: Anything by Marcus Herzig is a safe bet. I’m currently reading (and LOVING) Never Do A Wrong Thing. I had trouble getting into Cupid Painted Blind, but the writing is good and I bet a lot of people would like it.

Nail Polish and Feathers (Deep Secrets and Hope Book 1)

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Evan Granger has no problems with being gay. Despite his mother’s objections, he wears nail polish and makeup to school and pursues his goal of becoming a professional drag queen.

TV drag star Taffy Sweet gives encouragement and Evan’s cousin Holly tries to protect him, but school bullies abuse him so badly because of his sexuality and the girly way he dresses that he ends up at the hospital emergency room. After that, even his new crush, a closeted football jock named Moe Garcia, is unhappy about Evan’s choice to live his life openly gay. But even in girly clothes and nail polish, Evan is a force to be reckoned with, and he soon shows the bullies—and everyone else—that beating a drag queen up does not mean the queen is beaten down.

My thoughts: Slice of life story for a resilient young man who is determined to be himself. This is a series and the first two books are available on KU.

At the Lake

Summary: Shane Martinelli and William Houghton come from very different backgrounds. They meet at a high-end summer camp in the Adirondacks, where Shane works as a lifeguard to earn some money and begin saving for college. William is one of the guests, and he doesn’t want to be there. As far as William knows, his father only dumped him at the camp so he could spend time with his latest mistress. When Shane figures out William can’t swim, he offers to teach him. William enthusiastically responds, but when an unexpected storm blows in, William is caught in the water and Shane comes to his rescue. They barely reach shore before lightning strikes the dock—close enough to damage Shane’s hearing.

The following summer both boys return to the camp. Shane doesn’t let his use of hearing aids stand in his way. William is now a counselor-in-training. The attraction between them is undeniable, but how can they possibly make it work? Once camp is over, a week at William’s family home in the Hamptons will determine if the love that bloomed at the lake can survive in the real world.

My thoughts: Chronicles a developing romance with some drama and surprises thrown in. There’s lots of good characterization and descriptive settings.

Pride & Puberty

Summary: Diego Ramírez is an eighteen-year-old gay with niche internet fame who is just trying to get through high school without being recognized. Everything is turned upside-down when his Filmmaking teacher throws him into a group project, and of course one of his partners is Mauricio Fernandez, the quarterback. His plan of successfully making it through high school without anyone taking notice of him was beginning to fall apart as his group managed to insert themselves into Diego’s life. Somehow, he’s not even mad about it.

My thoughts: For those looking for cute, fluffy romances without angst or drama.

Book Review: Just A Dumb Surfer Dude

Quick summary: Cooper’s life is fine but uneventful. He’s smart, his classes are easy, he has people who care about him, but he mostly feels like he’s waiting for his life to start. Then a new kid comes to school and everything changes.

(I tried not to spoil things but there are probably mild spoilers and hints about what happens in my review.)

What I thought: Just a Dumb Surfer Dude: A Gay Coming-of-Age Tale is a quick, fun read that would work well for reading during the summer or at the beach but can be read anytime. The “surfer dude” is less important than one might think by the title, but those who like humor, sweet romances, and romantic comedies will enjoy this story.

I really liked the narrator’s voice and liked that there were multiple love interests, that’s not always something you see in LGBTQ teen fiction. It started out a little slow for me, but I got more interested as I kept going.

Depending on how perceptive you are, there may be a fun twist or two. I am usually much better at picking out this kind of thing, but I didn’t see it coming, so I really liked the surprising direction the story went in.

The Romance: Cooper is presented as an intelligent guy, but he has no experience with relationships or dating, so there’s a coming-of-age aspect where he explores getting close to guys romantically. It’s all new and intense and scary. While this story is on the shorter side, it still tells a complete story about finding love. It’s not heavy on the angst but has a few ups and downs and isn’t completely predictable.

If you’ve been reading a lot of stories about boy meets boy and then one or both boys freak out about liking another boy, this book offers variety. Cooper already knows he’s gay, so the story explores finding that special person more fully and what makes someone “the one” without any sexuality crises.

There’s also a sequel.

Plotty Details: Cooper’s life at his all-boys school is okay, but there isn’t much going on. He has one best friend he’s close with and his relationship with his father is important to him. Both he and his father don’t enjoy being single. He’s one of the only gay kids he knows and hasn’t had any romance yet and is sort of getting impatient waiting for it. While there’s no love interest in his life, his best friend is also gay. They aren’t out to everyone, but Cooper’s dad knows.

Cooper finally gets some excitement in his life when a new student comes to school. He’s even paired up with the hot guy in one of his classes. The problem? This new boy seems to like him even though his best friend really wants to go out with the new guy.

Best Part: Cooper has great relationships with his father and his best friend Alex. If you like your romances to have a little more depth, there is also plenty of father-son moments. Cooper and his dad don’t relate to each other perfectly but love each other and that comes through. The father is an English teacher and there’s a lot of little quips I enjoyed about different books. The dialogue was at its most witty when Cooper was with Alex or his father. Cooper’s a big smart alec who loves tormenting the people he loves.

Loving Lakyn Review

Loving Lakyn

Plot: Lakyn doesn’t want to live anymore, but he grudgingly attempts to make things better after a suicide attempt. His life might be improving: he’s with family who loves him, he finds a therapist he can tolerate and then there’s a boy. Scott’s a lot more enthusiastic and optimistic, but he also has his share of problems. They might be able to get through life together if their combined demons don’t drag them down first.

My Thoughts: I’ve been around for… an amount of years I don’t entirely admit to, but it’s been at least 20. And somewhere in those years, I’ve had my fill of dramatic gay tragedies. I tend to like things happy and lighter when I want entertainment. Some angst is okay, as long as there’s also some comedy.

Loving Lakyn has a lot of heavy elements, but there was enough sweetness and jokes that the darker elements weren’t too much for me. It’s a little bleak but also hopeful, which is a vibe I actually really dig.

It was an interesting read that doesn’t sugar coat things but isn’t completely a downer either. I liked the mix of romance with personal growth story lines and there was plenty of both.

Best Part: The chapter titles were great, though Scott and Lakyn’s relationship was also a highlight. Scott seems happy and well adjusted and Lakyn seems dark and sarcastic, but they’re both drawn to each other anyway and make a compelling pair.

Outshine the Stars review

 Outshine the Stars – Nash Summers

Plot: Witty and self-absorbed Justin catches feelings and has to admit the world is bigger than himself.

My thoughts: I don’t know the right way to describe the writing in this short story. I think of it as ‘poetic as hell.’ It’s gorgeous and lyrical. The format wasn’t my favorite but I’m glad I stuck it out because it’s a good quick read with witty dialogue and a sweet love story.

Fave Part: I really enjoyed the prose, but the dialogue was good too. The conversations were a mix of how I actually talked in high school and how clever I wish I was in high school.

Sam Dorsey and his Sixteen Candles

Sam Dorsey and his Sixteen Candles is right up my alley. It’s a definite rom-com where’s there’s a bunch of zany antics that could realistically happen in real life but probably wouldn’t, especially at the same time, but if you’re someone like me who can suspend disbelief and just read about the crazy week Sam turns 16, it’s a funny, enjoyable story.

Sam Dorsey And His Sixteen Candles (Sam Dorsey And Gay Popcorn) (Volume 1)

The Plot: Misfortune always befalls Sam Dorsey or his family on his birthday, so he’s dreading the consequences of putting off the celebration he doesn’t even want and having a whole birthday week. On the bright side, his crush Jake finally seems to know he exists. But his new friend Mitch doesn’t seem to like that.

My thoughts: The narrator in this story, Sam, has a good voice that adds a lot of character and humor. The tone stands out and lets you know what you’re reading, it’s not just another book that blends in with the rest.

I feel like I should say something about the references to the Sixteen Candles movie, but as I’ve never seen the movie, I can’t. As far as I know, some characters have similar  names, but it seems like it’s more the tone of the story that’s similar than actual details.

There’s a lot of guys in this story that seem to be at the very least bicurious. Just a whole lot of queer dudes, which is something you don’t see a lot anywhere, especially in YA. I think it’s great, especially as I tend to have multiple gay characters in my stories too.

Best Part: Many stories deal with the negative fallout of coming out and while that’s realistic, I don’t think disapproving parents are a universal experience anymore, so I enjoyed the approach this story took a lot.

I don’t know what classifies as full length or a short story and what this technically ranks as. Since the action takes place over a few days and it’s around 150 pages, it feels like a short story. It’s a cute, quick read. There’s other books in the series and they all seem to be available on Kindle Unlimited.

Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me Review

Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me: Love Stories Book 1by Becky Jerams

The Plot: Scotty is an out, self-described geek, or I suppose I should say nerd since it’s in the title. His life is comprised of schoolwork, a type-A, bossy best friend, and a bully who lives to terrorize him. Then the mysterious bad boy Vincent Hunter enters his orbit, and both are drawn to each other.

My thoughts: This reads like a quintessential YA rom-com. There’s a cast of zany characters, lots of opportunities for drama and misunderstandings and everything feels so important and immediate. There’s a lot of fun with classic types of characters like the jealous ex and the bad boy with the heart of gold.

Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me is an exciting, energetic read. I’m an American who doesn’t fully get the British school system but its still easy enough to follow. It almost felt like a soap opera, which I mean in a good way, there’s a lot of melodrama and high tension and it’s easy to just get absorbed and enjoy all the antics.

The best part: The two main characters are just so damn cute together. From nicknames to exchanging music to text message flirting, I loved reading their interactions and was really rooting for them. I had a smile on my face while reading, they were so adorable together. Scotty and Vincent’s love story starts slow as they get to know each other and is full of lots of sweet interactions that really make the story great.