{Review} Let’s Talk about Love by Claire Kann|Let’s Talk About This Adorable Read!

Let's Talk About LoveLet’s Talk About Love

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.
But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).
When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Before you continue on, I would like to highlight THIS OWNVOICES REVIEW. They can speak more for the Ace representation for this book (I can only speak for the black and queer rep).

Initial Thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised that this book was read as a Rom-Com! I thought the repetitive parenthesis and overall cheesiness of the book would bug me, but this honestly had me laughing out loud.  Alice’s thought process was just too cute to ignore, and it was fun to be in her head

This was also almost near perfect. I had everything I look for in a YA contemporary romance novel: cute romance, lively narrative, relatable characters and complicated home life. However, not all is perfect, but I will get to that part later.

Alice 

Our main character, Alice is black and identifies as biromantic asexual. She had a relationship with a woman at the beginning of the novel and but develops a new one with a man. She comes a long line of lawyers and her family continually puts a lot of pressure on her to continue that legacy. She works in a library, and it’s also the place where she meets Takumi who immediately catches her eye.

I loved Alice. She’s flawed, has an attitude that almost reflects my own and also develops nicely throughout the story. She’s already come out as asexual to her best friends but struggles with her asexuality when it comes to relationships and her family. Her ex-girlfriend dumped her because she thought Alice “hated” sex which is, unfortunately, a common misconception when it comes to asexuality.

I also liked our Alice being asexual wasn’t just a slapped on label. We get to learn more about Alice such as her love for online streaming and food (so me). We learn she has a cutie meter which is equally adorable and creative.

Asexual/Biromantic Rep

I won’t say if this was a good representation (again refer to the own voices review) but I will say it’s nice to see “Asexual” and “Biromantic” ON PAGE. No, it’s not implied, but Alice and several other characters actually use the label. Greysexual is also mentioned on the page! A Triple YES! The book also dives deep into the differences between arousal and attraction, which is too important when trying to explain asexuality. Misconceptions are also shot down, and stereotypes are never used.

Race

There wasn’t a lot of discussions about race in the book, but there were subtle racist comments about Alice that many black people, especially black women, have to face today. I don’t know why the phrase “you’re cute for a black girl” is still used as a pickup line! Alice doesn’t necessarily call them out on it, but she doesn’t blatantly ignore these comments either. The book also discusses how black folks have to work much harder in school and the workplace to be taken seriously in which I can attest to. Although my GPA is gogreatod, I always feel I have to prove myself, especially when I’m trying to get the respect of my peers and classmates. I appreciate seeing this struggle in book form since I sometimes I feel alone ( *sigh* there’s little to no black people where I live).

The Relationship

The relationship between Alice and Takumi was honestly adorable. Both were intrigued by each other from the start, but it was still slow burn. This book didn’t really have a plot, and it was more of the development of their relationship, but I did not care at all. I loved their dates, their dialogue, their facial expressions, just everything. However, at times, I felt they were a little too dependent on one another, but it wasn’t too bad.

The Friendships

Okay, in MY OPINION, I didn’t like Feenie or Ryan. I thought they were too petty when Alice started hanging out with Takumi more than them even though they ditch Alice all the time. I get the message that when you get into a relationship, you should never ditch your friends or forget about them but their fight was still tiresome. I felt like I was supposed to care about this subplot but all I didn’t???? BUT, I did like how Feenie and Ryan weren’t judgy with Alice being asexual, even though they already knew since the beginning. I can tell there is a deep bond between the trio and maybe I wish there were more chapters that really explained their friendship so I can further understand their connection.

Therapy

A positive therapy book is my favorite book, especially one that doesn’t have a main character with a mental illness. Alice seeks therapy to talk through her struggles with being asexual and how to be more open in general. Therapy is NORMALIZED in the book. I also love how her therapist doesn’t just “solve” the problems. The therapist isn’t always right, but Alice still considers his suggestions. Oh, the therapist is a man who is never seen in book form (or if he is, he is the “ineffective” therapist).

Final Thoughts

I heard the original draft was a mess when it came to the ace rep and the relationship between Alice and Takumi. I can say that initial draft problems didn’t enter the final draft (again can’t speak about the ace rep)! Even if you’re not black or identify as ace, you can take something from this book. It’s a heavy friendship book and also chronicles the struggles of college students.

Also, even though the writing takes getting used to, I thought it was always engaging, and the pace was excellent. The reason why I give a lot of contemporaries 3 stars is that they’re times where the story just drags, or I’m just flat out bored. With this one, I never felt such. I highly recommend, but again, I would refer to the biromantic rep review as they can offer more in detail about the representation.

Memorable Quote: ” I am very loving, I cry at the end of romcom. My favorite movie is Splash. I want someone to give me flowers and take me on dates. I want to fall in love and wear a giant princess dress at my wedding. I want to have a happy ending, too, and all that other magical stuff. I want what books and TV and the world has promised me. It’s not fair that I should have to want sex to have it.”

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{Review} Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert|A Coming of Age Story with a Complex Sibling Relationship

 

25062038Little & Lion

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and finda way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

TW/CW: Biphobia, Homophobia, Homophobic Slurs, Self Harm, Racism, Subtle Racism, Bipolar disorder, anxiety

Initial Thoughts

I really really REALLY wanted this to be a new favorite. Like a Black Jewish Bisexual main character? Like um please this is all over me. Although I enjoyed the story as a whole, there were some parts that “irked” me quite a bit. From tropes to some of the characters, I couldn’t justify some of the annoyingly gruesome characteristics of Little & Lion 

RACE

Though I will say again, I enjoyed the majority of the book. Colbert dives into race really well, challenging the stereotypes and subtle racism that black people have to endure every day of their lives. There are scenes where one character will say something that’s not okay, and another will call out and educate the person on why what they said is problematic. I also liked some of the family dynamics, especially between Suz and her “stepdad.” “Both may look quite different regarding their race, but they both still have unconditional love for one another. It reminds me of my relationship with my “stepdad.”

The Representation

The rep in this story is terrific. To start off, our main character, Suz, is a black, Jewish and bisexual. Her brother, Lionel, is diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and is also Jewish. One of Suz’s love interest, Emil is half black half Korean and also is hard of hearing. Her other love interest, Rafaela, is Latina and Pansexual. The list honestly goes on from there with even more side characters with different backgrounds and who are queer. For the most part, this was done beautifully, and none of these identities felt forced or used as a “check mark.” I’m glad more YA books are having more representation in their releases.

Bisexuality Mentioned on Page

OH PRAISE THE BOOK GODS, the actual word “Bisexual” was on page MULTIPLE TIMES. I also appreciated Suz’s internal and external thoughts when it came to bisexuality. Harmful stigmas around bisexuality were noted, and I was happy that our main character Suz shot down those perceptions in a heartbeat. I was also glad that when she was trying to figure out her sexuality, she mentions bisexuality because sometimes a character will go from “straight to gay” in which that trope alone promotes bi erasure. I will say there is one bi trope that I HATE the most but I will get to that later. Overall, from my personal experience, it’s a pretty good representation of bisexuality. Pansexual, lesbian, and gay were also specifically on the page.

Interracial Relationships+Families

I come from a VERY diverse family. We half black, white, Latinx, Dominicans, Filipinos, etc. in my family, so everyone is mainly mixed. For some reason, even in today’s progressive society, it’s still an exotic thing for some people. My mom almost got arrested because someone thought she kidnapped a black girl. Suz considers her mom’s boyfriend as her stepdad, so when she’s out in public with him, she still gets those shocking, weird, worrying stares from other people. The book also talks about merging of cultures and adopting other’s customs. It was nice seeing that topic discussed because it personally resonated with me to the core.

The relationship between Suz and Lionel was also nicely developed, and I could tell Suz was trying to do her best to protect Lionel. From her being upset with her friends who abandoned Lionel to trying to connect and understand his illness, there is an underlying deep emotional bond between the two. I kind of wish there were more flashbacks to fully understand their relationship but I still I loved seeing complex yet adoring sibling relationship. It shows that blood doesn’t matter.

The two love interest also comes from marginalized backgrounds which normalize interracial relationships. I feel like there aren’t enough interracial relationships between two nonwhite people, so it was incredibly refreshing to see multiple in this story.

THE LOVE TRIANGLE OH WHY aka the WORST BI TROPE EVER (honestly not a fan of the general love triangles too)

*sigh* Not everything can be perfect. We, unfortunately, have this annoying love triangle. There is a love triangle that involves {gasp} both a guy and a girl. The worst part of this was the girl is her brother’s love interest so yeah an ADDITIONAL love triangle. Then there’s another girl that Suz is also still hung up on back at her old school…A LOVE PENTAGON?!?! I knew about this going into the book, but if done right, this could have been decent and not annoying buuuuuut it was. The reason why I hate love triangles with a bi people involved is that it’s already hard to convince people we’re not in love with everyone, so the love triangle ordeal does not help our argument in any way. Also, bi people in love triangles are already overused and not needed.    

Relationships

I feel as though Lion and Rafaela being together was rushed and a little instalovey. It was like we were supposed to be anti-LionalxRafaela because they literally had no chemistry, like at all. I felt the only reason why they were put together was too “raise the stakes” or to piss off our main character, but it didn’t seem necessary. 

Then we have Suzette and Rafaela which in my opinion is…trash?!? I’m sorry, I feel like I should want them together but I did not like their relationship at all. This was also almost like insta-love too, and I didn’t see anything there other than their bond over their sexual identities. The party at the end just sealed the deal when it came to my overall feeling about their relationship (ew no I don’t like).

Suzette and Emil was the only relationship that I truly cared about. Emil deserves so much but gets so little. He was always patient with Suzette, cared for and respected her and overall, their relationship had a lot of potentials. When Suz accused him of something in the end that just rubbed me the wrong way.

I also was EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED with this ending when it came to these relationships. Felt like the whole story didn’t really matter.

Bipolar Disorder

The central conflict of the book is that Lionel decided to no longer take his medication for his Bipolar Disorder and only tells Suzette. It was interesting to see the disorder depicted in fiction, especially since I just finished my abnormal psych class and we talked in great detail about bipolar disorders. I already knew where the story was heading when Lionel decided he didn’t want to take his meds, it won’t end well because bipolar disorder is a lifelong battle and I too wish there was an easy solution. I wish there were the magic pill and boom you’re cured. I wish someone can go to one therapy session and feel amazing right after. I wish someone can go off the meds and not face any consequences. We, unfortunately, don’t live in this ideal world and Lionel has to come into terms this realization on his own.

However, a person is never just their disorder, and I felt Lionel was just that, his bipolar disorder. All we know is that he reads and he has bipolar disorder, and that’s basically it. I wish we knew more about him and his personality besides his disorder. A lot of mental illness stories struggle with this, and I felt this wasn’t any different. Who is Lionel? It felt like the reader was just waiting for him to blow up in the end which made me really uncomfortable. 

Final Thoughts

Even though it looks like I hated this book, I still believe it has some merit. No, it isn’t perfect. While listening to the audiobook, I couldn’t help myself but be excited that I saw myself throughout the book. Suz and I are both black and bisexual. Suz and I both come from mixed families. Suz and I love our mixed families. Suz and I both constantly have to defend our race and our sexuality. I can’t ignore the hopeful feelings this book brought me, despite its flaws.

So I’m giving this 3 stars with a grain of salt. I still recommend it, just know what you’re getting into.

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LGBTIA+/Queer Book Resources! #1

Don’t get me wrong, I love Goodreads and their “listopia” feature. However, one problem is that those list are extremely flawed and often has books on that list that do not belong into that category. What’s also annoying is that it’s almost always the same books on these lists and I just want something new (whether it’s an unpopular backlisted book or new release).

Therefore, I decided to compile a list of bloggers, Youtubers and other resources that spread queer books/content. From book reviews, to recommendations, to important discussions, all these blogs, creators and advocates have done a lot for the queer book community so I want to further amplify their influences! These creators often praise the unpopular, underappreciated, underrated Queer books but also highlight the popular ones.  I’m only doing a few in each category but I might do more of these because there’s honestly so many! Maybe a weekly/biweekly/monthly post I do!?!

So, are you looking to find yourself represented in a book or just want to expand your reading? Check out these resources !

Blogs

theillustratedpage: This blog is for all the Fantasy and Science Fiction fans, especially if you’re looking for queer protagonists. I personally have found some awesome books. I often try to search for books with ACE main characters and this is my go to blog for that! There’s also a lot of resources about diversity (women, POC, etc) in these two genres as well. The creator of the blog, Sarah Waites, is also a very talented artist!!! Note: I just realized I was not following this blog, even though I have it bookmarked and check it regularly :0!

lgbtqreads: Just like it sounds, the blog is dedicated to queer books! They post queer author interviews, recs, book releases and more! There are also specific lists that includes  YA, Adult, New Adult, Middle Grade Graphic Novels, Genre and Representation . I often search for black bisexual (ya girl) on this blog and they always give me a lot of recs! Another amazing resource.

lesbrary: This blog focuses on F|F books. There’s a full team ofLesbrarians” who all have different identities who review popular books to independent books to people submitting their own work!  Girls who loves girls, I could die happily on this blog. Again, another great blog to follow.

YOUTUBE

Perpetualpages: Adriana is a fantastic queer Youtuber who actively reviews, recommends and discusses books, especially queer books (a lot of QPOC!) Here and here are my favorite videos of theirs! I love love LOVE their discussion videos and I wish I can eloquently speak my thoughts the way they do. Also, if you love manga, they frequently have manga content on their channel. I honestly binge watch their videos all the time!

ProblemsofaBookNerd: CeCe is such a delight! She actively spreads queer books and Harry Potter content on her channel! I’ve gotten a lot of my F|F recs from her and she uploads a lot of other pop culture videos. She’s actually one of the first Booktubers I discovered so she’ll always be my ultimate fave. The videos that I highly recommend from her are here and here.

TeaLeavesAndBookBindings: I love Ashley because she’s always excited about the books she reads and wants to read so her videos always brightens my day. Again, she uploads of videos about queer books and she recently did a really adorable video with her girlfriend here. I also love this and this video as well!!!

OTHER

100 must read bisexual books: I often refer to this list when I’m trying to find the next bi read! I’m constantly looking for books that would represent me and this list does the job (low key am trying to read this entire list in my lifetime). 

23 LGBTQ Books With A POC Protagonist, Because It’s Time To Diversify Your Reading List: A great list of books with Queer POC characters!

A Trans* and Gender Nonconforming Reading List for All Ages: A list of books that features Trans/gender-nonconforming characters/people. From middle grade to memoirs, your next great read will sure be right here!

I have so many more resources (Especially Booktubers and Bloggers!) that I hope to share in the future! Do you have any suggestions or any blog/Youtuber/website that I should check out and feature next? Let me know!

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Bi Recommendations #1|Comic Book Convention + Futuristic World

I thought I would start a new series where I recommend 2-4 books that has bisexual main characters. I hope that I can convince more people to read these books, especially fellow bi people as we don’t get represented nearly enough! Not all the books I mentioned in the posts are perfect (plot, writing, character development, etc.) but the books I mention are going to be books that I personally believe write bi folks in a represented way.

Queens of GeekQueens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

INITIAL THOUGHTS: This was INCREDIBLY adorable.

TW/CW: Fatphobia, Biphobia

REPRESENTATION: Charlie: Chinese-Australian vlogger/actress who identifies as Bisexual, Taylor: Has autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, plus size, Varies of other characters who are poc, queer, mental+physical disabilities.

Themes: Issues that come up includes body positively, overcoming bisexuality/queer stereotypes, dealing with anxiety, trusting of friends and accepting who you are. The book also dives into change, especially transitioning from high school to college and how to cope with that change  Also, all the people who said problematic things were immediately challenged.

My Personal Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Why YOU should read this: This was a highly entertaining read but it also delve into important discussions that I believe teenagers desperately need. One part that made me a little emotional was when Taylor saw herself in a comic because as an aspie, she doesn’t get represented nearly enough. That’s why I believe that more diverse books that has queer, persons of color, different religions, and persons with disability MAIN characters are needed, especially in YA. Many teenagers read YA to explore new worlds but also connect with character but only seeing one archetype (white, cis, able-body, etc) paints a problematic picture on who can be a hero or who can fall in love or who can be a problem solver.

Any Gripes: Cheesy writing+Dialogue. The parts where the important topics discussed weren’t consistent to the dialogue in terms of writing style.

Favorite Quotes

“Things that most people consider to be normal, daily parts of our life are the very things we fear and struggle with the most, and yet here we are, moving forward anyway. That’s not weak…we are the brave ones”

“I pull the plastic red handgun out of the holster and get ready. A selection of avatars appear, and I’m thrilled to see I’m one of them. Me. The geek-girl from the suburbs of Melbourne. The youngest daughter of Chinese immigrants. The only openly bi kid at school. The drama freak who makes vlogs in her bedroom. I’m the hero. Finally, I feel like the rest of the world is starting to see me the way I’ve always seen myself.”

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Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad, #1)Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

INITIAL THOUGHTS: The swoon-worthy romance was top-notched

TW/CW: Racism, racial stereotyping

Representation: Jess: Biracial/ Vietnamese-Chinese American who identifies as bisexual. Other LGBT and POC side characters

Themes: Heroism vs. Villianism,  Invisibility of bi people especially n LGBT+ organizations, inclusiveness,  friendship, trusting of friends, biracial problems

My Personal Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Why YOU should read this: This books offers an unique cast of characters that you grow to love at the end. I also thought the world was cleverly written and  I thought the class system was easy to understand.  However, the romance is what really made this book shine for me. Jess and her love interest Abby were just the cutest and I love their scenes. I’m not going to lie, I would sometimes quickly scan a page until I see dialogue between them because they were just adorable. I also related to Jess a lot when it came to her LGBT club at school and how she felt excluded because she wasn’t considered “gay” enough. I also have those feelings so it was nice to know that I’m not completely alone when it comes to these organizations.

Any Gripes: This felt more middle grade than YA to me. The writing just seemed more juvenile but that might be because the world is kind of juvenile?!?! Also, this was pretty predicable in terms of some of the revealings and I’m really bad at predictions. I was unfortunately right on like all of them so there really wasn’t any shock value in this book for me.

Favorite Quotes

“Jess often feels as if she’s not Chinese enough in certain situations and not Vietnamese enough in others. It’s awkward when you’re not quite one but not quite the other.”

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any recommendations for books with bi representation? Let me know so I can check them out!

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Queer Lit ReadaThon+Cramathon TBR|I’m Extremely Busy This Week but Let’s Give This a Try Edition

Two Readathons in one week?!?! The one week where I’m extremely busy?!?! My birthday week?!?!

Yes, I’m going to attempt to do two readathons even though both have a bunch of challenges. However, some of these should cross paths so I’m not too worried! I also still have my PRIDE Challenge so yeah, a lot of challenges.

Queer Lit Readathon (June 10-June 16)

This readathon is hosted by Rogan and Kathy (Great Booktubers!) I saw their annoucemnt videos and TBRs and I was like, “hey, I’m already reading exclusively queer lit this month, might as well join in!” They have 16 challenges but a lot of the challenges will overlap so it’s not too difficult. My goal is to maybe, sort of complete all the challenges but I’m not sure because again, I’m busy.  Also, I won’t be doing to the group read because I can’t for the life of me find it anywhere!

 

Cramathon (June 10-June 17)

Cramathon is hosted by Dylan, Ali, Jay, Julia. Bacially, this readathon challenges you to read as many books from your TBR as possible in one week. And of course, they’re challenges that people can complete and I don’t know if I’ll be one of those people but we shall see.

Here are the EIGHT books that I am planning on reading this week. However, I will most likely change it, add more books, take away books, etc. All of that business will be in my wrap up!


 

Let's Talk About Love

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann.

This Satisfies:

ACE SPEC MC/POC MC/HYPED+POPULAR/CONTEMP/REC FROM FRIEND or OTHER/ EITHER NON-COMING OUT OR REALIZATION/ A BOOK W/FAVE COLOR ON COVER/ PREDICTED 5 STAR BOOK

 

 

 

Good Enough to Eat (The Vampire Diet Series, #1)

Good Enough to Eat by Alison Grey +Jae

This Satisfies:

SCIFI or FANTASY/MOST RECENTLY ACQUIRED/OUT OF COMFORT ZONE/EITHER NON COMING OUR OR QUEER REALIZATION

 

 

 

All In The Family

All in the Family by Q.Kelly

This Satisfies:

DISABLED MC/BOOK OUT OF COMFORT ZONE/EITHER NON-COMING OUT OR QUEER REALIZATION

 

 

 

 

They Both Die at the EndThey Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera 

This Satisfies:

A LGBTQIA+OWN VOICES/#OWNVOICES/HYPED+POPULAR/EITHER NON COMING OUT OR QUEER REALIZATION

 

 

 

I Was Born For This

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

This Satisfies:

CONTEMP/COVER COLOR/REC/POC MC(?)/SOMETHING THAT’S NOT A STANDARD NOVEL (AUDIOBOOK)

 

 

 

 

Nimona

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

This Satisfies:

GRAPHIC NOVEL/TBR FOR A LONGTIME/SCIFI+FANTASY/HYPED+POPULAR/EITHER NONCOMING OUT OR QUEER REALIZATION/SOMETHING THAT’S NOT A STANDARD NOVEL (GRAPHIC NOVEL)

 

 

Lost BoiLost Boi by Sassafras Lowrey 

This Satisfies:

SCIFI+FANTASY/RETELLINGS/EITHER NONCOMING OUT OR QUEER REALIZATION

 

 

 

GeorgeGeorge by Alex Gino

This Satisfies:

LGBT OWN VOICES/ #OWNVOICES/TRANS SPEC MC/CONTEMP/EITHER NON COMING OUT OR QUEER REALIZATION

 

 

 

 

Look, this is ambitious as hell but I’m ready for the challenge. I got public transportation, Lunch Breaks, Working Out, Car Rides, etc. I think I will be able to get at least 4 books done?!?! But I want to read them all so we’ll see.

 

Are you participating in any of these readathons? What are you going to be reading? Let me know in the comments!

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{review}Keeping You a Secret by Julie Ann Peters|That’s it?!?!

272315Keeping You a Secret

With a steady boyfriend, the position of Student Council President, and a chance to go to an Ivy League college, high school life is just fine for Holland Jaeger. At least it seems to be. But when Cece Goddard comes to school, everything changes. Cece and Holland have undeniable feelings for each other, but how will others react to their developing relationship? This moving love story between two girls is a worthy successor to Nancy Garden’s classic young adult coming out novel, Annie on My Mind. With her characteristic humor and breezy style, Peters has captured the compelling emotions of My young love.

 

TW/CW HOMOPHOBIA, ACCEPTING PARENTS

Initial Thoughts

That’s it?!?!

 

Was the Plot Good?

This is your generic coming out story of a popular beloved high school girl with the equally popular boyfriend but then this new girl shows up and shakes the female protagonist world and discovers her true sexuality.  I understand this was published in 2005 but it just wasn’t engaging and I didn’t care what happens in the story because I already knew the ending. I was bored most of the time and I was close to DNFing the book.

Since this was published in 2005, it definitely seemed outdated such as the homophobia graffiti, lockers, slashing tires, the language in general. Although this stuff may still happened, it just seemed extreme. Though, this could be because I live in a bluer than the sky state and that shit would never been tolerated here.

 

Engaging characters?

Holland was very 2 dimensional and her thoughts were a tad bit questionable.

I felt Cece’s character was just centered around her sexuality and nothing else. Everytime she’s on page, she’s wearing a new gay pride shirt and we are told constantly about her sexuality. I don’t know if this is done to contrast her from the closeted Holland or what but it grew annoying as the reader. It strained the character development because we didn’t really get to know Cece apart from her sexuality (even at her performance because it was mostly Holland gawking at Cece).

I didn’t understand Holland’s mom because her logic never made sense to me. She kicked Holland out, then was like no baby come home but come back home straight please and when Holland refused she said leave but then she was like nevermind come back home. Also Holland’s mom went through a lot of BS in her life yet she’s still holds oppressive ideas????

All the other characters seemed forgettable, I forgot Holland’s sister’s name oops!

 

Relationship

I was disappointed with this relationship. I was expecting something adorable and enduring. However, the relationship seemed unnatural and a little unhealthy. I liked how it was one of those slow burn relationship since those bring light into my ever so cold world but once they proclaim their attraction towards one another, BOOM INSTA-LOVE. “I love you” was said after 5 minutes into the official relationship, alright okay.

This relationship also made me feel icky because Cece told Holland how she followed her to/in school. work, home, dates with Seth and Holland is like “OH SHE LIKES ME YAY” Like no, she’s stalking you. Cece in general was manipulated and I just couldn’t ship them at all. I didn’t really care if they were going to last till the end because they were just MEH and again it was a little bit toxic.

Messages/Themes

 Alright let’s get started

Bi rep: I’m bi myself so when I see the actual word “bisexual” on page, I get a little excited. However, I do wish this was delved into a bit more because Holland dismissed the idea so fast.

Coming out: Being a coming out story, this topic was apparent throughout the story.  There’s no right way to come out, even if someone says otherwise. Though, I could have not done the whole “someone else pushes me out of the closet” trope but you get what you get. Even though Holland’s was a little extreme, these stories are important. That being said, I still haven’t come out to my family (friends know though) so reading this and having basically having the same type of family members as Holland, this scared the shit out of me.

Cheating: Holland kissed Cece while still in a relationship with Seth. So yes, Holland cheated on Seth even though she was going to break up with him the next chapter. It’s pretty easy to break up with Seth BEFORE she kissed Cece but nope this happened because SUSPENSE.

Girl Hate: Holland hates all the girls in the story except Cece and maybe her irrelevant friend Leah. There was so much slut shaming and unnecessary hate. Holland literally imagined her killing on a character because she was talking to Cece. Holland just hated all girls (even her “friends”)

Homophobia: I don’t know what Peters was trying to accomplish when depicting homophobia. We have Kirsten, the typical homophobic of the story. When she said homophobic things, no one really called her out on it. Holland would just get mad and complain about it but like, I don’t know SAY SOMETHING?!?! Even at the end, Holland still never said anything. Kirsten probably thinks her homophobic beliefs are valid because no one told her why she’s wrong, like NO ONE. I understand that someone might be scared/anxious to go against someone like that but there was no redemption arc for Holland or Cece or Kirsten. Even with everything else when the guys try to “convert” Cece. Holland was like “go away” and that was it. Like okay?!?! Nothing was accomplished and that’s what annoyed me. HOWEVER, I will give props to the novel for giving resources on what a teenager should do if they have overly unaccepting parents (clinics, homes, etc).

 

Would I recommend?

Yes and no. Some people say that closeted people should read this but I’m going to say maybe no?!!?!? Or yes?!?! I don’t know. As one who is basically half in and half out of the closet, this book made me put one foot back in the closet.

Final Thoughts

So yeah, I just feel like this wasn’t for me. I couldn’t identify with any of the characters, the plot was meh, and I just had problems with it overall.

There are better f/f romance out there and I encourage you to read those and perhaps pass on this one. OR not, maybe someone might gain something from the book but I gained absolutely nothing.

 

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{review} The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka|A Compelling Mystery With an Even More Compelling Bisexual Protagonist

The Last Place You Look (Roxane Weary, #1)The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka [Goodreads]

Sarah Cook, a beautiful blonde teenager disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton – black and from the wrong side of the tracks – was convicted of the murders and sits on death row, though he always maintained his innocence. With his execution only weeks away, his devoted sister, insisting she has spotted Sarah at a local gas station, hires PI Roxane Weary to look again at the case.
Reeling from the recent death of her cop father, Roxane finds herself drawn to the story of Sarah’s vanishing act, especially when she thinks she’s linked Sarah’s disappearance to one of her father’s unsolved murder cases involving another teen girl. Despite her self-destructive tendencies, Roxane starts to hope that maybe she can save Brad’s life and her own.

TW: Murder, Rape/Sexual Assault, Alcohol/Substance Abuse

Initial Thoughts

I had no expectations when it came to The Last Place You Look. I never heard of the author, never seen a single review on Youtube or on WordPress, and honestly only found it because I looked up “LGBT mystery/Thrillers.” The Synopsis looked compelling enough and luckily, my library had it available.

After finishing this, it’s astonishing that no one ever talked about this series, like at all.

This was fast-paced, where we were immediately pulled into the plot. Brad Stockton is sitting on death row after being convicted for murdering his girlfriend’s (who is also missing and assumed dead) parents. Roxane gets hired by Brad’s sister after claiming that she saw Brad’s girlfriend at a gas station, hoping that Roxane can prevent her brother’s execution. When she looks at her father’s unsolved cases, she makes a connection with one of them, wondering if they can be related. From there on, the story goes full speed.

Although this short summary may seem like a simple case, Roxane discovers that it’s going to be a lot harder to find the answers she seeks. Every other 2 chapters there is a new discovery that throws Roxane and the reader completely off and the case becomes even more complicated. It’s a page turner and I was never bored.  

I also liked that Brad’s race wasn’t ignore and Roxane even admits that him being black may have a role in the entire case.

The Twist

In every mystery/thriller there’s going to be an unexpected twist, especially near the end. Of course that is what happened in this book. The ultimate twist at the end kind of shocked me but at the same time, I sort of saw it coming. The journey getting there was executed really well and everything made completely sense. 

Our Main Character

I’m a Gillian Flynn fan. She creates these anti-hero, aloof, morally gray characters and that’s what generally like in most of my mystery novels.

However, with our main character Roxane, she’s quite the complete opposite. Yes, she is on the brink of a serious alcohol problem, has the complicated relationships and her father’s death definitely put a huge toll on her, but overall, she’s an amiable go-getter private investigator. She’s very cooperative with the police but also doesn’t let them push her around. Her father’s death is always on her mind, especially since she believes that he wasn’t proud of who she became. She originally took the case because she needed the money and was tired of sulking but she didn’t half-assed her job, even if at times she wanted to. She finds things and she’s great at it. As I read, I want to both be and be with Roxane because she is such a kickass character. 

Roxane is also bisexual! I loved seeing representation in the novel since I never read a mystery book featuring a bi main character. What I liked about bisexuality in the book is that no one questions it. Maybe because Roxane isn’t a teenager but it’s awesome to see other characters understand rather them stereotyping Roxane. It’s prominent that Roxane is bisexual but it isn’t really part of the plot which is honestly really refreshing.

Tropes/Themes

This book does have one of my least favorite bi tropes: the girl/girl/guy love triangle.I will say that it isn’t that in your face where the main character contemplates who she really wants to be with in the end. This love triangle is  definitely not part of the major plot or even the major side plot. It’s a tiny part of the story but doesn’t deter the narrative or Roxane’s character which I can appreciate especially from a non-romance book.

Aloof PI/Detective Female Character: Another trope I’m glad this book did not fall victim of is the typical woman in a mystery/thriller novel. For some reason, a lot of thrillers have women seem to always be involved in casual sex, who are aloof and sarcastic I mean, hey, I love those characters but it’s nice to see some variety in characterizations and personalities, especially in adult thrillers. 

Race: Although this was not the vocal point of the story, it was not ignored. Brad is black and the author dives into the prejudices that people may have towards black men.  The conversations of dating outside ones race and attitudes of black men in jail was done well, even if it wasn’t a black #ownvoices book.

Negatives

There isn’t really a lot of weaknesses. The only minor flaw I found is that there are a couple of mental health/psychological terms used to describe someone who does not fall into that mental illness but is just used as an insult/adjective.I hate that a lot of crime thrillers have these terms so it’s one of my personal pet peeves. Other than that, this story was pretty solid.

Final Thoughts

This is one of the best mystery thrillers I’ve read in awhile. The characters are full of depth and the story is fleshed out without any plot holes. I’m glad to that there’s more books in this series and I can’t wait to read the rest! Highly recommend The Last Place You Look. 

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