Review: If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale DietrichIf This Gets Out by Cale Dietrich, Sophie Gonzales
Published by Wednesday Books on December 7, 2021
Pages: 404
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
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Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

I was so engrossed in this book, I really didn’t take enough notes to properly write this review, so I’m sorry if it’s not long enough or good enough. I just… REALLY loved it, so much. Even if I HAD taken proper notes, I don’t know if I’d be able to properly put into words how much I loved it. It was just beautifully written, and the characters were incredibly relatable. The plot was intriguing. There were moments where it was just fun and entertaining, seeing this group of friends live their dream, traveling across Europe and performing for their fans. And then there were moments that were incredibly heartbreaking, watching these characters try to live as their authentic selves while fighting against their management team and public image.

I absolutely loved Ruben and Zach and their dynamic. I loved that Ruben was a musical theater nerd, and I loved how down to earth and relatable Zach was. Zach’s confusion was relatable, and I loved watching his journey and seeing his growth from beginning to end. The way his and Ruben’s relationship unfolded just felt so authentic. I loved the band as a whole, and how each member interacted with each other. My heart broke for Angel, especially.

The ending was just… Absolute perfection. I don’t want to spoil anything, but… It was just absolute and utter perfection. This was my first Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich book, but it definitely won’t be my last. I HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone who loves queer romance, coming-of-age stories, and books about characters living in the spotlight. I know words are kinda failing me on this review, but seriously, go buy this book! You won’t be disappointed!


Spotlight Post: Gone Dark by Amanda Panitch

Hey everyone! Gone Dark by Amanda Panitch (April 12, 2022 – Margaret K. McElderry Books) comes out in ONE WEEK!! Have you checked it out/pre-ordered yet??

Dry meets Hatchet in this thrilling tale of survival following a teen girl who must lead her friends across country to the safety of her estranged father’s survivalist compound after a mass power failure leaves the country in chaos.

When seventeen-year-old Zara escaped her father’s backwoods survivalist compound five years ago, she traded crossbows and skinning hides for electricity and video games…and tried to forget the tragedy that drove her away.

Until a malware attack on the United States electrical grids cuts off the entire country’s power.

In the wake of the disaster and the chaos that ensues, Zara is forced to call upon skills she thought she’d never use again—and her best bet to survive is to go back to the home she left behind. Drawing upon a resilience she didn’t know she had, Zara leads a growing group of friends on an epic journey across a crumbling country back to her father’s compound, where their only hope for salvation lies.

But with every step she takes, Zara wonders if she truly has what it takes to face her father and the secrets of her past, or if she’d be better off hiding in the dark.


Spotlight Post: Into the Midnight Void by Mara Fitzgerald

Hey everyone! Into the Midnight Void by Mara Fitzgerald (January 25, 2022 – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) has been out in the world for a little over two months, and I still can’t get over how gorgeous the cover is or how much I want to read it! Have you checked it out yet?? It’s book two in the Beyond the Ruby Veil series, so be sure to check out book one first!

Emanuela has finally gotten what she wanted. Since escaping her catacomb prison, she’s started running things her way. Under her rule, citizens no longer give up their lives at the first, tiny appearance of their omens. As long as they aren’t caught bad-mouthing their queen, they can live out their days like everyone else.

But when cracks in her magic start to show, Emanuela begrudgingly allies herself with her enemies, including her frustratingly alluring archnemesis, Verene. Together, discover deeper truths about the mysterious blood magic Emanuela and Verene both wield. There is a higher, otherworldly authority outside the veils, and in order to save Occhia and the other realms, Emanuela may just have to rip another crown off someone’s head.


Author Interview: The Chandler Legacies by Abdi Nazemian

Hey everyone! I’m BEYOND excited to have Abdi Nazemian, author of The Chandler Legacies (Out now – Balzer & Bray/Harperteen), here for an interview! So, without further adieu, here’s more about the book:

A novel about the enclosed world of privilege and silence at an elite boarding school and the unlikely group of friends who dare challenge the status quo through their writing.

Beth Kramer is a “townie” who returns to her sophomore year after having endured a year of judgment from her roommate, Sarah.

But Sarah Brunson knows there’s more to that story.

Amanda Priya “Spence” Spencer is the privileged daughter of NYC elites, who is reeling from the realization that her family name shielded her from the same fate as Sarah.

Ramin Golafshar arrives at Chandler as a transfer student to escape the dangers of being gay in Iran, only to suffer brutal hazing under the guise of tradition in the boys’ dorms.

And Freddy Bello is the senior who’s no longer sure of his future but has fallen hard for Spence and knows he has to stand up to his friends after what happened to Ramin.

At Chandler, the elite boarding school, these five teens are brought together in the Circle, a coveted writing group where life-changing friendships are born—and secrets are revealed. Their professor tells them to write their truths. But is the truth enough to change the long-standing culture of abuse at Chandler? And can their friendship survive the fallout?



And now for the interview! Enjoy!

Describe your book in ten words or less. Go!
Honesty and creativity of writing students challenges boarding school secrecy.

How did the idea for The Chandler Legacies come about? What inspired the story/characters?
I went to boarding school in the 1990s, and the book is directly inspired by my time there. It was an incredibly impactful and complicated experience for me. On the one hand, I started my boarding school years experiencing the worst hazing, abuse and cruelty I’ve ever seen. On the other hand, boarding school is where I met my best friends for life, and where I met mentors who recognized the creative spirit in me. The book is my attempt to make sense of these conflicting emotions toward a place I’m angry at, a place I’m grateful for, a place where the person I am today was born, and a place I can still travel back to when I close my eyes.

What was your favorite scene that got added during edits?
The very end of the book. I won’t describe it since it’s the end, but it wasn’t there in early drafts, and something about writing that ending made everything that came before it feel more personal and complicated. The book is in part about the act of writing, and the end brought that theme into sharper focus.

Craziest thing you’ve had to Google for a work in progress?
Well, I’ve written or re-written my share of true crime movies and I often feel nervous when I’m looking up specifics about these crimes. Anyone looking at my search history when I’m working on those movies would probably run in the other direction. Luckily, my books have tended to lead me down less frightening rabbit holes of information. Though one thing that’s come to light as I’ve researched certain projects is how, despite the vastness of the internet, there is still so much information we don’t have and will never have, especially about queer histories that were always hidden. I’ve been working on multiple projects about queer history, and in many cases, I’ve done as much research as I can and the rest I’ve had to fill in using as much empathy as I can.

What books would you recommend to a reader who loved yours, and wants to read something similar?
Anyone who wants a deeper exploration of Iranian life should be reading Adib Khorram’s Darius books, which are achingly beautiful. I feel a kinship with two Brazilian authors, Vitor Martins and Lucas Rocha. Lucas’ book, Where We Go from Here, deals with three Brazilian teens impacted by HIV / AIDS and is a great complement to Like a Love Story. For anyone who loves The Chandler Legacies, I would recommend the books of E. Lockhart.

What are three must-have items when you sit down to write?
Coffee, very good headphones, a journal.

Are you working on anything new?
Always. I’m currently working on my next young adult novel, which I’m very excited about. I think it’s my favorite thing I’ve ever written, but the editing process hasn’t even begun yet so maybe it’s too early to say that. And I have a short story, Concerto, in the upcoming anthology Out There: Into The Queer New Yonder. I wrote the short story in early pandemic days, and it’s an ode to the power of love and art to triumph over everything, even time.


About the Author:
ABDI NAZEMIAN (he/him) is the author of Like a Love Story, a Stonewall Honor Book, and The Authentics. His novel The Walk-In Closet won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Debut Fiction. His screenwriting credits include the films The Artist’s Wife, The Quiet, and Menendez: Blood Brothers and the television series The Village and Almost Family. He has been an executive producer and associate producer on numerous films, including Call Me by Your Name, Little Woods, and The House of Tomorrow. He lives in Los Angeles with his husband, their two children, and their dog, Disco. Find him online


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Review: Heartstopper Vol. 1-4 by Alice Oseman

Review: Heartstopper Vol. 1-4 by Alice OsemanHeartstopper by Alice Oseman
Published by Graphix on May 5, 2020
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Buy on Amazon

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. A sweet and charming coming-of-age story that explores friendship, love, and coming out.

Shy and softhearted Charlie Spring sits next to rugby player Nick Nelson in class one morning. A warm and intimate friendship follows, and that soon develops into something more for Charlie, who doesn't think he has a chance.

Please Note: I decided to review the first 4 volumes in this series in one go because, collectively, I loved them, but I don’t have a lot to say about them individually. Most of the book info for this review was pulled from book one, including the release date and page count.

I’ve been waiting a long time to read these. I was hoping to binge them all, but once volume four was out, I couldn’t wait any longer. I read the first four in just a handful of hours, and I’m already desperate to re-read them and can’t wait to get my hands on volume five when it comes out.

I loved these characters so much. They all felt so real and so relatable. I loved Nellie!! I loved the progression of Nick’s character arc, the way he came to terms with his identity. His character growth was great. I loved Charlie, but I felt so bad for everything he went through. I loved the friend group – I wish I had a friend group as amazing as this one! I also loved that the adults all had stories and parts to play. I loved the teachers, especially!

I loved the overall plot. This series had the perfect balance of angst and fluff, hurt and comfort, serious moments and silly moments. It had me going “awwww” on one page, then crying on the next. Book three definitely started to take a slightly darker, more serious turn, and I loved the way the author handled everything. The way Nick accepted that he could be there for Charlie, but that Charlie needed more help than he could give; and the way Charlie accepted that he needed help.

There was so much representation in these books, both across the sexuality spectrum, gender spectrum, diversity spectrum, and mental health spectrum. It was amazing to see. I especially loved how they all kept correcting everyone who said Nick was gay when he’s bi – that matters so, so much.

Overall, I just really loved this series and I can’t wait to see how it ends. Highly recommend!


Review: Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June

Review: Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason JuneJay's Gay Agenda by Jason June
Series: Jay's Gay Agenda #1
Published by HarperTeen on June 1, 2021
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Amazon

There's one thing Jay Collier knows for sure—he's a statistical anomaly as the only out gay kid in his small rural Washington town. While all this friends can't stop talking about their heterosexual hookups and relationships, Jay can only dream of his own firsts, compiling a romance to-do list of all the things he hopes to one day experience—his Gay Agenda.

Then, against all odds, Jay's family moves to Seattle and he starts his senior year at a new high school with a thriving LGBTQIA+ community. For the first time ever, Jay feels like he's found where he truly belongs, where he can flirt with Very Sexy Boys and search for love. But as Jay begins crossing items off his list, he'll soon be torn between his heart and his hormones, his old friends and his new ones...because after all, life and love don't always go according to plan.

From debut novelist Jason June comes a moving and hilarious sex-positive story about the complexities of first loves, first hookups, and first heartbreaks—and how to stay true to yourself while embracing what you never saw coming.

Oh my gosh, I don’t even know if I can properly put into words how adorable this book was. The characters were incredible, the plot was amazing. The story was so relatable. I just… It was such a fun, fluffy, emotional read. I laughed out loud so many times, I lost count. There were hilarious moments. There were awkward moments. There were “oh shit” moments. It was so realistic, so well-paced, so well-handled. The character development and growth throughout the story was perfection.

I highly, highly recommend this book for fans of growing-up narratives, as well as for fans of Becky Albertalli and fun, fluffy rom-coms with HEAs.

And… Yeah. Short review, I know. But I think this book really speaks for itself. Just go buy it ASAP and read it ASAP, and also get hyped for Jason June’s next book, Out of the Blue (coming May 31, 2022) because IT’S QUEER AND IT HAS MERMAIDS. Also, Jay’s Gay Agenda apparently has a book two??? NEED!



Review: Here’s to Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Here’s to Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam SilveraHere's to Us by Adam Silvera, Becky Albertalli
Series: What If It's Us #2
Published by Quill Tree Books on December 28, 2021
Pages: 480
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera reunite to continue the story of Arthur and Ben, the boys readers first fell for in the New York Times bestselling rom-com What If It’s Us.

Ben survived freshman year of college, but he’s feeling more stuck than ever. His classes are a slog, his part-time job working with his father is even worse, and his best friend Dylan’s been acting weird for weeks. Ben’s only real bright spot is his writing partner Mario, who’s been giving him a lot of Spanish lessons and even more kisses. Mario’s big Hollywood dreams make Ben start to dream bigger—and the choices he makes now could be the key to reshaping his future. So why can’t he stop thinking about a certain boy from his past?

Arthur is back in New York City for the first time in two years, ready to take the theater world by a storm as the world’s best . . . intern to the assistant of an off-off-Broadway director. Of course, it sucks to be spending the summer apart from his sweet, reliable boyfriend, Mikey, but he knows their relationship is strong enough to weather the distance. Which is why it’s no big deal when his ex-boyfriend Ben stumbles back into the picture. And it’s definitely fine that Ben’s blissfully happy with some mystery boy. First loves are special, but it’s way too late for what-ifs. Right?

Even as the boys try to shake off the past, they keep running into each other in the present. Is this the universe trying to tell them there’s a do-over in their future?

I honestly don’t know if I can properly put my feelings about this book into words. I’m still kinda processing it. This book took me on an absolute emotional rollercoaster. It played my heart like a ping pong ball. I had moments where I had to put the book down and walk away, and moments where I cried so hard, it was embarrassing.

The pandemic hit me hard, emotionally, mentally and financially. It put me in the worst reading slump I’ve ever been in. The last book I read was in March 2020, and I didn’t read again until I picked up What If It’s Us in February 2021 and read it in 3 days. It was such a relief to be reading again after a year of being unable to pick up a book. I remember being sad with how it ended, but loving the book overall, and being super excited for the sequel.

And then Here’s To Us was in my hands and I started reading it right at the end of 2021. It felt right to end 2021 with Ben and Arthur, just as I had begun 2021 with them – and, consequently, began 2022 with them, as well. This series – and these characters – really were there for me when I needed them, and I’m forever grateful for that.

But it definitely put me through an emotional rollercoaster. The slow burn was torturous, and at one point, the book just… I’ve been struggling with my mental health, and it made me feel super depressed when I was halfway through and everything was still broken and a mess. I almost stopped reading. I really struggled to get through it. And I LOVE slow burns, but something about this… The idea that Ben and Arthur might NOT get an HEA…? I mean, Becky and Adam had done that once already. But I figured, why would they write a sequel just to have it end with Ben and Arthur apart? So I powered through. And I’m so, so, SO glad I did. Because that ending? Truly, absolutely, amazingly perfect. Worth every single moment that made me sad and made me cry. So damn worth it.

I loved seeing these characters grow up. Loved seeing them through their ups and downs, their good moments and their mistakes. Loved seeing their character growth and development. Loved seeing them find their way back to each other. I actually HUGGED the book when I was done reading it. Not gonna lie, I really wanted MORE of Arthur and Ben together and happy, but the ending was still utter perfection.

I know this isn’t much of a review, but… I just have so many thoughts and feelings and I’m really having trouble articulating them. All I can say is that I loved this book to pieces. I love this series to pieces. I loved these characters to pieces. I love Becky and Adam to pieces. And I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend everyone go read this book ASAP.


Review: Fresh by Margot Wood

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Fresh by Margot WoodFresh by Margot Wood
Published by Harry N. Abrams on August 3, 2021
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

A hilarious and vulnerable coming-of-age story about the thrilling new experiences––and missteps––of a girl's freshman year of college

Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all that college has to offer—from dancing all night at off-campus parties, to testing her RA Rose’s patience, to making new friends, to having the best sex one can have on a twin-sized dorm room bed. But she may not be ready for the fallout when reality hits. When the sex she’s having isn’t that great. When finals creep up and smack her right in the face. Or when her roommate’s boyfriend turns out to be the biggest a-hole. Elliot may make epic mistakes, but if she’s honest with herself (and with you, dear reader), she may just find the person she wants to be. And maybe even fall in love in the process . . . Well, maybe.

When I originally received this book as a digital ARC from the publisher, I was SO excited to read it, but I quickly discovered that the format wouldn’t be easy for my brain to read in digital form, thanks to footnotes that in physical book form were on the same page as the footnote number itself, but were 5-8 pages away in digital form. So I had to wait until this actually published and I could buy it before I could read it and… I’m SO mad I couldn’t read it sooner! Granted, part of that is on me, because then I was in a reading slump when it DID come out and I JUST got to it now. But holy crap, I finished this in roughly a day and I just couldn’t put it down. It was such an amazing story. The plot, the characters, the writing, the format itself… Despite my digital issues with the format, my brain LOVED the format in physical form. I’ve discovered a lot about myself over the last two years, and one thing I’m 80% certain of is that I have ADHD and I have trouble focusing on reading now. But the footnotes, the little “choose your own adventure” moments, the lists, etc… Just absolute perfection. The format made my brain so happy!

Okay that was a very rambly first paragraph for this review.. If you’re still reading, I appreciate you.

Anyway, moving on. The plot was amazing. This story was so amazingly sex positive, and it’s definitely something that YA/Upper YA/NA books need. I loved Elliot and the way she was unapologetically herself, but still owned up to her mistakes when she realized how badly she had screwed up. I loved her chaotic brain and how relatable she was. I loved living the college experience I never got to have vicariously through her. All the secondary characters felt like such real people, too.

I’ve been following Margot since she was working at Epic Reads. I still miss Tea Time, and I’m incredibly honored to have gotten to meet her at a signing many, many years ago. I was so pumped when I saw she was publishing a book, and what an incredible book it was. Simply put, I devoured it. And I encourage you all to do the same.

10/10 amazing book and can’t wait for whatever Margot comes up with next!


Review: Playing the Palace by Paul Rudnick

Review: Playing the Palace by Paul RudnickPlaying the Palace by Paul Rudnick
Published by Berkley Books on May 25, 2021
Pages: 272
Format: Paperback
Buy on Amazon


When a lonely American event planner starts dating the gay Prince of Wales, a royal uproar ensues: is it true love or the ultimate meme? Find out in this hilarious romantic comedy.

After having his heart trampled on by his cheating ex, Carter Ogden is afraid love just isn’t in the cards for him. He still holds out hope in a tiny corner of his heart, but even in his wildest dreams he never thought he’d meet the Crown Prince of England, much less do a lot more with him. Yes, growing up he’d fantasized about the handsome, openly gay Prince Edgar, but who hadn’t? When they meet by chance at an event Carter’s boss is organizing, Carter’s sure he imagined all that sizzling chemistry. Or was it mutual?

This unlikely but meant-to-be romance sets off media fireworks on both sides of the Atlantic. With everyone having an opinion on their relationship and the intense pressure of being constantly in the spotlight, Carter finds ferocious obstacles to his Happily Ever After, including the tenacious disapproval of the Queen of England. Carter and Prince Edgar fight for a happy ending to equal their glorious international beginning. It’s a match made on Valentine’s Day and in tabloid heaven.

I read this book back in June 2021, but I somehow forgot to review it after I finished it. Probably because it was a highly anticipated release for me, but I really didn’t end up enjoying it, unfortunately. The writing was all over the place, choppy and stilted and really awkward. It also leaned heavy on “tell” instead of “show” when it comes to the “show don’t tell” style of writing. It wasn’t very descriptive at all. It was almost like a bland, surface description of everything. I love cheeseball stuff, but this was… super cheeseball. I know that’s not a super professional way to describe something in a review, but I can’t figure out a better way right now. The book was also way too short, and everything seemed to happen way too fast and in an almost unrealistic timeframe/way.

Because the story was very short and too fast-paced, I also really couldn’t get into any of the characters because I just felt like I never really got to know them well. I wanted to learn more about them and their lives but I really wasn’t able to. A lot of things didn’t make sense and relied heavily on stereotypes.

I did love the broadway references and the whole “prince with normal person” trope – I love books that have a normal person dating some kind of celebrity. But that was about it.

I really did want to love this book, and I’m still glad I read it and still glad it exists. But I won’t be recommending it or re-reading it anytime soon.


Spotlight Post: The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder

Hey everyone! The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder (January 11, 2022 – Razorbill) comes out in THREE WEEKS!! Have you checked it out/pre-ordered it yet??

Sleeping Beauty meets Indiana Jones in this thrilling fairytale retelling for fans of Sorcery of Thorns and All the Stars and Teeth.

Fi is a bookish treasure hunter with a knack for ruins and riddles, who definitely doesn’t believe in true love.

Shane is a tough-as-dirt girl warrior from the north who likes cracking skulls, pretty girls, and doing things her own way.

Briar Rose is a prince under a sleeping curse, who’s been waiting a hundred years for the kiss that will wake him.

Cursed princes are nothing but ancient history to Fi–until she pricks her finger on a bone spindle while exploring a long-lost ruin. Now she’s stuck with the spirit of Briar Rose until she and Shane can break the century-old curse on his kingdom.

Dark magic, Witch Hunters, and bad exes all stand in her way–not to mention a mysterious witch who might wind up stealing Shane’s heart, along with whatever else she’s after. But nothing scares Fi more than the possibility of falling in love with Briar Rose.

Set in a lush world inspired by beloved fairytales, The Bone Spindle is a fast-paced young adult fantasy full of adventure, romance, found family, and snark.