REVIEW: I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

**I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

Release Date: May 3, 2022

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Rep: bisexual protagonist, lesbian love interest, dyslexic gay Black main character, Black nonbinary achillean main character, lesbian side character, gay side character, nonbinary side character, bisexual side character; (queer author)

CW: religious homophobia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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REVIEW: Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen

**I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley (thank you, Delacorte Press and Gina!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: Violet Made of Thorns (Violet Made of Thorns #1) by Gina Chen

Release Date: July 26, 2022

My Rating: 5 stars

Rep: East Asian-coded protagonist, bisexual brown side character, lesbian side character; (Chinese-American author)

CW: self-harm in a ritual/magical context, body horror

Summary: A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.

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REVIEW: Heartbreakers and Fakers by Cameron Lund

**I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley (thank you, Penguin Teen!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: Heartbreakers and Fakers by Cameron Lund

Release Date: June 8, 2021

My Rating: 4 stars

Rep: Japanese-American love interest, lesbian side character, bisexual side character

CW: vomiting

Summary: From the author of The Best Laid Plans comes another fresh voiced, hilarious rom-com perfect for fans of Tweet Cute and The Rest of the Story.

Penny Harris just ruined her life.

As one of the most popular girls in school, she’s used to being invited to every party, is dating the Jordan Parker, and can’t wait to rule senior year with her best friend, Olivia. But when Penny wakes up on Jordan’s lawn the morning after his first-day-of-summer bash, she knows something went terribly wrong the night before.

She kissed Kai Tanaka.

Kai, her long-time nemesis. Kai, Olivia’s boyfriend. Penny can’t figure out what could have inspired her to do it–she loves Jordan and she would never hurt Olivia–but one thing’s for sure: freshly dumped, and out a best friend, the idyllic summer she pictured is over.

And despite the fact that Jordan seems to be seeking comfort (and a whole lot more) in Olivia, all Penny can think about is winning him back. Kai wants to save his relationship too, so they come up with a plan: convince their friends that they really do have feelings for each other. After all, no one can resist a good love story, and maybe seeing Penny and Kai together will make Jordan and Olivia change their minds.

But as summer heats up, so does Penny and Kai’s “relationship,” and Penny starts to question whether she’s truly faking it with Kai, if he’s really as terrible as she always thought he was, and if the life she’s fighting so hard to get back is the one she really wants.

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TOUR / REVIEW: These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy

**I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley for this blog tour. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: These Feathered Flames (These Feathered Flames #2) by Alexandra Overy

Release Date: April 20, 2021

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Rep: lesbian protagonist and love interest

Summary: A queer retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale

When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.

But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.

As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.

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REVIEW: What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

**I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley (thanks, Penguin Teen!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Release Date: April 20, 2021

My Rating: 4 stars

Rep: bisexual side character

CW: emeto (food poisoning, first two chapters)

Summary: An academic enemies-to-lovers YA with all the nerdy drama, high school antics, and heartpounding romance of the Netflix original series Never Have I Ever

Since high school began, Alison Sanger and Ethan Molloy have competed on almost everything. AP classes, the school paper, community service, it never ends. If Alison could avoid Ethan until graduation, she would. Except, naturally, for two over-achieving seniors with their sights on valedictorian and Harvard, they share all the same classes and extracurriculars. So when their school’s principal assigns them the task of co-planning a previous class’s ten-year reunion, with the promise of a recommendation for Harvard if they do, Ethan and Alison are willing to endure one more activity together if it means beating the other out of the lead.

But with all this extra time spent in each other’s company, their rivalry begins to feel closer to friendship. And as tension between them builds, Alison fights the growing realization that the only thing she wants more than winning…is Ethan.

Continue reading “REVIEW: What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka”

REVIEW: She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen

**I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen

Release Date: April 20, 2021

My Rating: 4 stars

Rep: ownvoices lesbian protagonist, lesbian Indian-American love interest, Black side character

CW: toxic relationship

Summary: High school nemeses fall in love in this queer YA rom com perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Casey McQuiston.

After losing spectacularly to her ex-girlfriend in their first game since their break up, Scottie Zajac gets into a fender bender with the worst possible person: her nemesis, the incredibly beautiful and incredibly mean Irene Abraham. Things only get worse when their nosey, do-gooder moms get involved and the girls are forced to carpool together until Irene’s car gets out of the shop.

Their bumpy start the only gets bumpier the more time they spend together. But when an opportunity presents itself for Scottie to get back at her toxic ex (and climb her school’s social ladder at the same time), she bribes Irene into playing along. Hijinks, heartbreak, and gay fake-dating scheme for the ages. From author Kelly Quindlen comes a new laugh-out-loud romp through the ups and downs of teen romance.

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REVIEW: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

**I received an ARC from the author’s giveaway (thank you, Rachel!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Release Date: January 26, 2021

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Rep: Korean-American love interest, bisexual Chinese-American side character, Indian-American side character, Nigerian-American side characters

CW: mentions of death of a parent (father)

Summary: Public radio co-hosts navigate mixed signals in Rachel Lynn Solomon’s sparkling romantic comedy debut.

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.

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REVIEW: Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald

**I received an ARC from the #bookishwish tag on Twitter (thank you, Mary @ knoxdiver!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: Beyond the Ruby Veil (Beyond the Ruby Veil #1) by Mara Fitzgerald

Release Date: October 13, 2020

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Rep: lesbian protagonist, gay main character, wlw main character

CW: blood, violence, gore, magic using self-harm, full list here

Summary: A dark, queer YA fantasy that’s perfect for fans of the Three Dark Crowns series and Wicked Saints. After Emanuela Ragno kills the one person in Occhia who can create water, she must find a way to save her city from dying of thirst.

Emanuela Ragno always gets what she wants. With her daring mind and socialite schemes, she refuses to be the demure young lady everyone wants her to be. In her most ambitious move yet, she’s about to marry Alessandro Morandi, her childhood best friend and the heir to the wealthiest house in Occhia. Emanuela doesn’t care that she and her groom are both gay, because she doesn’t want a love match. She wants power, and through Ale, she’ll have it all.

But Emanuela has a secret that could shatter her plans. In the city of Occhia, the only source of water is the watercrea, a mysterious being who uses magic to make water from blood. When their first bruise-like omen appears on their skin, all Occhians must surrender themselves to the watercrea to be drained of life. Everyone throughout history has given themselves up for the greater good. Everyone except Emanuela. She’s kept the tiny omen on her hip out of sight for years.

When the watercrea exposes Emanuela during her wedding ceremony and takes her to be sacrificed, Emanuela fights back…and kills her. Now Occhia has no one to make their water and no idea how to get more. In a race against time, Emanuela and Ale must travel through the mysterious, blood-red veil that surrounds their city to uncover the secrets of the watercrea’s magic and find a way to save their people-no matter what it takes.

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LIST: hate to love

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I’m a huge fan of the hate-to-love trope because I feel like it adds a tension to the book that is unparalleled. Also, amicable bickering can be so fun. Anyways, I know that a lot of other people love this trope as well, so here’s a list of books that have the hate-to-love trope!

The enemies-to-lovers trope is often thrown around like it’s synonymous with rivals-to-lovers or just hate-to-love, but they’re really different dynamics so I wanted to differentiate between them. Thus, this list is split into four different categories:

dislike-to-love
hate-to-love
rivals-to-lovers
enemies-to-lovers

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REVIEW: Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

**I received an ARC from Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Release Date: July 28, 2020

My Rating: 4.25 stars

Rep: Jewish-Mexican-American protagonist, ownvoices Jewish-American main character/love interest, bisexual side character, lesbian Cambodian-American side character

Summary: The Hating Game meets Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by way of Morgan Matson in this unforgettable romantic comedy about two rival overachievers whose relationship completely transforms over the course of twenty-four hours.

Today, she hates him.

It’s the last day of senior year. Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been bitter rivals for all of high school, clashing on test scores, student council elections, and even gym class pull-up contests. While Rowan, who secretly wants to write romance novels, is anxious about the future, she’d love to beat her infuriating nemesis one last time.

Tonight, she puts up with him.

When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan has only one chance at victory: Howl, a senior class game that takes them all over Seattle, a farewell tour of the city she loves. But after learning a group of seniors is out to get them, she and Neil reluctantly decide to team up until they’re the last players left—and then they’ll destroy each other.

As Rowan spends more time with Neil, she realizes he’s much more than the awkward linguistics nerd she’s sparred with for the past four years. And, perhaps, this boy she claims to despise might actually be the boy of her dreams.

Tomorrow…maybe she’s already fallen for him.

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