None of the Above (I.W. Gregorio)

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned — something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

I’ve had an eye on this book since it first came out, so I was ecstatic when I saw it on Netgalley for it’s reprint edition, because I wanted it so badly. And then I was super duper happy because I got approved for it! 😀

I had never read any book about the subject, and I have to say that I really loved this one. I loved Kristin’s voice, she was so heartbroken and confused, and I thought that’s probably a very good representation of someone finding out they have AIS at such an important and defining age. I thought I.W. Gregorio did an amazing job, and the writing is beautiful.

Like I said, I loved Kristin’s voice. She wasn’t perfect by any means, but she just came out as honest, and human, and I loved her to bits. I really liked her dad too, I loved how present he was in her life, and how, even trying to be supportive, he didn’t allow for stupidity and senseless behaviour. He was there for her, and I loved their relationship.

But I did have a lot of issues with a lot of characters, mainly most of Kristin’s friends, and her boyfriend Sam. It’s one thing to be confused, don’t understand, not being informed, or even scared, but some behaviours are unforgivable. I hated the people who made her feel less than awesome.

I really liked the plot, because it was all about acceptance and understanding who you are, and not be defined by what other people think you are. I loved the support system and confidence that she found.

I only wish the book hadn’t ended so abruptly, even though I got it. She got to a point where she understood what was important and that her chromosomes didn’t define who she was, but I needed more somehow. More conversation with her dad, with Darren, with Vee and Faith. I just wanted a bit more.

But still, I loved this book, and I think it’s such an important theme, and I’m so glad this book exists. Have you read None of the Above? What are your thoughts on it?

Noteworthy (Riley Redgate)

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which — in the musical theatre world — is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped … revered … all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Guys guys guys, I finally finished Noteworthy!!! I have to say that I really enjoyed this book, even though it took me about one month to get over it.

I really liked the writing, it was funny and witty, and I really liked Jordan’s voice. But the pacing was a bit off at the beginning for me. The book moved just a tiny bit too slow in those first few chapters. But then the pacing got right, and I flew through the book, and it was immensely enjoyable.

I couldn’t completely connect with Jordan, but I appreciated how she thought about the issues she was involved in, and how her behaviour could affect some important things, and I thought she grew up a LOT during the story, and I loved that.

But my favorite part was the relationships between Jordan and the boys, and the boys between themselves. I kind of wanted more of that. I wanted to know a bit more about all of them and see how they ended up.

I thought it was commendable the way the author dealt with all the sexuality related questions within this book, and I loved the racial diversity.

I thought the plot would be a bit MORE, you know? Everything was going great, but I found the whole reveal a bit anticlimactic, and I kind of wish that a couple of elements weren’t there. But either way, I loved the love and support between the characters, and that’s what drove this book for me.

There is a slight romantic element on this book, and I loved that it didn’t overpower the story, and the relationship was just so cute and sweet. It was awesome.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I would highly recommend it.

Could You Love An Apple? (Becky Jerams)

Taylor Raven is starting over.

After a few difficult college years, he has decided to finally move away from Havensdale (and away from his father) to take a tennis coaching course in the tiny village of Westerfield.

The peaceful country life is exactly what Taylor needs to get away from it all. However, it is also incredibly lonely living by himself in the middle of nowhere. And no matter how far he runs, Taylor just can’t seem to escape the mistakes of his past.

As he struggles to find any kind of meaningful connection, he comes across a place on the outskirts of the village that will soon change everything. The Apple Inn – a pub run by a curious, slightly eccentric family who welcome Taylor into their world with open arms.

Soon Taylor finds his guard dropping, particularly around the kind and fun-loving son of the family, Benjamin Apple. But the closer Taylor gets, the more he feels compelled to pull away…

Can Taylor ever fall in love again when the one obstacle in his way… is himself?

Hey guys! I don’t know if you remember – it was along time ago – but I read the first book of this series a while back, Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me, and I really enjoyed it at the time. So when Becky Jerams asked me if I wanted to read and review the sequel, I of course said yes. But I have to say, even though I did like the theme of the story and the overall plot, I had some major problems with the characters, some actions, and most of all, some things said within the book. I’ll try to explain the best I can, without giving it much away, ok?

This book follows Taylor, who was a very important character in book 1 of this series, as in, he was Scotty’s first love and also his bully. Taylor does have a transformative arc in the first book, and he regrets what he did to Scotty immensely, and they are even able to get past it and become good friends. While I liked his arc on the first book, the friendship was something that was always just a bit too much for me, but I rolled with it.

Now, a couple of years later, Taylor is trying to rebuild his life distant from his toxic father, and far away from the town he grew up with, and acted horrible. While trying to keep his distance from everyone, he ends up meeting the Apples and he forges a relationship with Benjamin, and the two of them face a lot of problems and setbacks to be able to be together.

My first huge problem with this book was how unlikable I found Taylor. He was already not easy to love due to his past, but even understanding his issues and knowing where he’s coming from, it was kind of hard for me to like Taylor when he was treating people terribly. This was sort of mild when he was trying to keep people away from him, but there’s a point in the book when he says horrible things to Benjamin, and while I understand that Taylor has some serious issues, he did believe the things he said and I don’t think they’re excusable.

With that said, I did like Taylor’s growth. He goes through some major things in this book, and he’s overall trying to be a better person, and he is. I really liked Benjamin though, even if I’m not sure he was always a consistent character.

This romance develops kind of slow, and for the most part, I liked Taylor and Benj together, they were so different that they kind of balanced each other out. I also liked the overall story and plot, so that was a major point FOR the book. But the relationship does go through a lot of stuff, and I didn’t think they were all necessary, to be honest.

Now, my major, and I mean MAJOR issue with this book was the homophobic language and messages. I found this extremely problematic.

The first thing that truly bothered me came from Taylor himself, a gay character, when he insinuates that being topped during sex is somehow bad, or would make him somehow LESS. That it would be a source of shame. I do understand that Taylor has not come to terms with his sexuality completely and lives with some huge hangups, but the whole language and situation were just wrong. And while he later sort of understands that he’s not “less of a man” for it, I still felt like that wasn’t enough to make up for all the hate speech done earlier.

One other thing was the homophobic language and stereotyping done by some secondary characters. Homophobic people will always exist and ignorant people too, but the impact wouldn’t be so huge if the characters had less dialogue page time, because they were really not important. Most of those comments were not necessary and didn’t contribute to the story at all, so they weren’t useful at all, and they made me seriously dislike this book.

Finally, I have to talk about the writing and the pacing. One of my issues with the first book was its length, and at the time I thought that book 1 could have used some editing, because it dragged on a bit. I have to be honest and say that I felt like this one dragged even more. It took me a long long time to get through it. And I also wasn’t a huge fan of the way the more intimate scenes were written, and I didn’t feel like there was a seamless flow, you know?

Either way, to sum it up a bit, because I do realize that the last few paragraphs have been kind of negative… I did like the story and some of the characters, especially the Apples. I saw a huge potential in the plot, but I couldn’t totally enjoy it due to the issues mentioned above. Not really liking the MC is a huge issue for me, and that along with everything else, didn’t make for a very enjoyable reading experience.

Goodbye Paradise (Sarina Bowen)


Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?

Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone.

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As usual, I read this book as a buddy read with Cátia @The Girl Who Read Too, so go to her blog in the next few days to read her take on Goodbye Paradise.

Ever since I heard about this book, I’ve been super excited to read it. Why? It’s Sarina Bowen! Enough said! So far, I’ve read quite a few (almost all) of her books, and I loved them all, so yeah, I was ecstatic 😀 .

I really liked this book, and once again, I cried like a baby – which did not surprise Cátia, because like she so eloquently put it “everything makes you cry”… TRUE! But hey, this was painful.

I really liked the writing and the way this book is structured. Goodbye Paradise is told through both perspectives of Josh and Caleb, but it isn’t alternating. Instead we have blocks narrated by Josh and others from Caleb’s POV, which gives an interesting dynamic to the story, as in, we’re not sure at first what’s going on on Caleb’s head, and so on. They also have completely different voices, which I loved, and it went right along with their personalities.

I loved both boys, but mostly Josh. Josh had lived on the compound (a.k.a. CULT) all his life, with very little to no interaction with the real world. His head was messed up. He thought that his likes and his wants were sins. He was plagued between the feeling of happiness and guilt. And my heart broke for this guy. But he also has an amazing character development, and the first time he truly stands up for himself, I had tears in my eyes.

Caleb had a little different background, because even though he had grown up with Josh, he had outside world privileges, so he knew what he was missing, and he knew that there was a better life for them waiting on the outside. Caleb was also more confident and sure of himself.

I liked their relationship a lot. These guys had been in love for all their lives without truly acknowledging that, so it was so good to see how their relationship evolved after they left.

One thing I wasn’t truly expecting but truly liked was the pacing and the time span of the book. The book emcompasses over one year of their lives, and shows how they adapt to the world. Nothing is hurried and everything takes a long time to be achieved, whether a job or the ability to be honest about their feelings to other people. This is also mostly a character driven story, and I loved the growth that both boys did during the book, and the bonds of family, friendship and love they created. I really loved how they achieved a good step on their relationship, and they became more equals. I loved that.

Also, Josh and the kids? ADORABLE!!!

It’s tough for me not to compare this book to Him and Us, because Jamie and Wes have my heart, but I really enjoyed Cable and Josh’s story, though the Him series will forever be my favorite.

One thing to keep in mind is that even though Caleb and Josh left a religious cult, the religious aspects of this book are very minimal. And on the other hand, they sure get to explore all that sexual tension that built up for years and years…

If you’re a fan of Sarina Bowen, and love a good romance, give this one a chance.

The Backstagers #1 (James Tynion IV & Rian Sygh)

James Tynion IV (Batman Eternal, The Woods) teams up with artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) for an incredible yet earnest story about finding a place to fit in when you’re kinda an outcast.

When Jory transfers to the private, all-boys school St. Genesius, he figures joining the stage crew would involve a lot of just fetching props and getting splinters. To his pleasant surprise, he discovers there’s a door backstage that leads to different worlds, and all of the stagehands know about it! All the world’s a stage…but what happens behind the curtain is pure magic!

This review will be super super short, because the book is only 25 pages long. Eheh

This is the first comic in a series, so it’s really just an introduction to the characters and the overall idea of the story. And first of all, I LOVED the illustrations! LOVED THEM! The graphics are so well done and colorful, and it just gives live to this comic, you know?

Then the story is mostly about a boy finding a place where he belongs, and that is with the Backstagers. The group of boys he finds is super diverse, and really supportive of one another, and I loved them instantly.

I would love to continue with this comic, because it’s just so adorable!!! 😀

If you love comics and diversity, give this series a chance.

Outside the Lines (Caitlin Ricci)


Alex has always wanted to help people, so when he finds a scared, homeless child, he doesn’t hesitate to take ‘Socks’ to the shelter where he works, Trinity House. 

Over the course of four years, a chance meeting turns into friendship. When Socks turns eighteen, they’re excited, because it means they can move in with Alex — until Alex rejects them, and Socks realizes an affection they thought mutual was only ever one-sided.

Years later, Socks has become Trin, a psychiatrist who specializes in helping children. And they still want desperately to know why Alex rejected them long ago…

When I read this blurb on Netgalley, I was instantly intrigued, because I had never read a book with a genderless or gender neutral character, and I thought it was about time to change that.

This isn’t really a full fledged book, and it reads like a novella more than anything, because it is super super short. I did like it a lot though, and I think I’ve learned a few things too, even if there were some aspects of the book that I had a few problems with.

The writing is great, and while I admit that I was a bit scared of being lost in the pronouns, because I find it slightly confusing to refer to a single individual by plural pronouns – sorry!but it was easy to follow and I think it made me understand the use better now.

Just to clarify, I mean no disrespect about my pronoun comment above, I hear you, I respect you, but I personally never used it, so I find using they/them difficult when referring to a single person, my brain just doesn’t compute. But my brain learns, and I think that’s a great thing, to learn!

Both characters were great, I especially liked Trin, but I felt like they were both very underdeveloped. I do think the author fleshed out the essential on both of them, and brought to light their biggest fears, especially about each other.

I especially liked how Trin was comfortable in their own skin. I liked how they explained what being agender means and how they learned to accept it and don’t question it. I liked how the book talked about the difference of gender identity, biological sex and sexuality. And I liked that the book had a good representation of the spectrum, with Alex being a gay man, Trin being agender and bi, and Andy being trans and pan, and how it explained the fluidity of sexuality.

I also appreciated a lot Alex’s POV, from someone in love with a gender neutral person. I loved how supportive he was of them and never pushed for more than they were ready for. Also, he truly didn’t care what they were biologically, and the way he felt was heartwarming.

Like I said, I think this is a book that covers many important issues and I really liked the way it breached these subjects and how they were explained. This is ultimately a romance, and I thought it was sweet. However, I did have a few issues with this short book.

My first issue is that I think there was enough core story to build a full book around. The story felt rushed. I wish there had been more build up since the first meeting between Alex and Socks and when they meet again 9 years later. We are told that they were super close, enough that they loved each other, but that unfortunately is never seen. Another thing that felt rushed was the romance… slight spoiler here, but at the end of their second date, and the first time they were intimate, Alex was asking Trin to move in with him in the future… and not just that, but the plan included Trin’s roommate Andy and one of her patients. I thought that was too fast, even though it wouldn’t happen for several months after, it still felt like too much… they had just reconnected.

Another issue that I had was with Trin’s studies… I didn’t exactly buy that they had accomplished so much of the studies required to be a psychiatrist in just 6 years…

There was one thing that bothered me, and this might be a non-issue… Trin’s biological sex is never mentioned, and it really shouldn’t matter. But several tiny things in the book lead me to believe that their biological sex was female, and I wish that the matter of protection would have been referred to when they finally had sex. Not that they shouldn’t use protection no matter what, but the possibility that there was an added risk of pregnancy and my brain just wouldn’t shut up about it.

Overall, I think this was an important book and a great read. I just wish the author would get this short story and expand on it, make it a full-300-pages book, full of character development and more details about Trin and Alex’s lives.

Off Base (Annabeth Albert)


After trading the barracks for a fixer-upper rental, navy SEAL Zack Nelson wants peace, not a roommate — especially not Pike, who sees things about Zack he most wants to hide. Pike’s flirting puts virgin Zack on edge. And the questions Pike’s arrival would spark from Zack’s teammates about his own sexuality? Nope. Not going there. But Zack can’t refuse. 

Pike Reynolds knows there won’t be a warm welcome in his new home. What can he say? He’s an acquired taste. But he needs this chance to get his life together. Also, teasing the uptight SEAL will be hella fun. Still, Pike has to tread carefully; he’s had his fill of tourists in the past, and he can’t risk his heart on another, not even one as hot, as built — and, okay, yeah, as adorable — as Zack. 

Living with Pike crumbles Zack’s restraint and fuels his curiosity. He discovers how well they fit together in bed…in the shower…in the hallway… He needs Pike more than he could have imagined, yet he doesn’t know how to be the man Pike deserves.

In the summer I read Connection Error by Annabeth Albert and I really enjoyed it, so when I saw this one on Netgalley, and with that blurb, I decided to request it. It shouldn’t be a surprise by now that I do love a good M/M romance, and throw a SEAL in the mix? YES PLEASE!

However, I have to say that this book didn’t really do it for me, and I found it OK, but not exactly great. Somehow I couldn’t connect with either character, or their decisions.

Again, this book is told on the third person and dual POV, and while Pike and Zack are very different people with very different takes on life, the fact that they live together for most of the book made some POVs indistinguishable at points. But that’s always a bit of a problem with the third person POV, unfortunately.

This was not my first story about a romance between an openly gay guy and a closeted one, but I felt like the characters weren’t fleshed out enough individually, you know? I liked Pike, he was out, he was never actually in the closet, he was just him and he was unapologetic about it and I loved it, but I wanted to see more from him. Maybe I’m not being fair, because we do have a lot of plot centered on the guys’ lives outside of each other, but I just felt like it was missing something. That was my problem with Zack too, though I had other issues with him too. He was always so scared of people finding out about him and Pike, that I feel like I didn’t really get to know much about him, besides the fact that he was bullied all his life and being out was an impossibility in his mind.

I loved seeing Ryan and Josiah (from Connection Error) here, especially Ryan. But here is one of my biggest issues with Zack… one of his best friends,  Ryan, is an ex-SEAL and he was always out, so why did Zack never felt like he could talk to him? Or even talk about the subject without outing himself? I understand that it was hard, and he felt like he was in an impossible situation, but it made no sense to me that he didn’t seek some support with his work issues at least.

I had a few problems with Zack’s teammates… yeah, there’s a lot of homophobia running around on this book :(.

The romance was ok, sweet and all, I did like to see them act all domestic and shit together. But I felt like there was a connection already when the book started, that was never really explained. I missed that, I felt like I needed a bit of background.

I did like the flow of the plot and the catalyst of things. It made sense, and I really liked their reactions to it and what followed. That was probably my favorite part of the book, to be honest, with Pike and Zack both standing up for themselves.

Overall, this was an OK romance, I will keep my eyes opened for more books from this author though, because I do like her stories. 😉

The Understatement of the Year (Sarina Bowen)


What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now. 

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.

By now you know that I’ve read a lot of books by Sarina Bowen, right? After I finished the True North series, I still needed more awesome words, so I decided it was time to keep going with The Ivy Years series.

Unlike the previous two books of this series, The Year We Fell Down and The Year We Hid AwayThe Understatement of the Year features a same sex couple. Again, this isn’t my first book featuring a M/M couple from Sarina Bowen, because I’ve read Him and Us and those are two of my overall favorite novels, ever. So, while reading this one, it was hard not to compare to Him, because the books had some things in common.

I’m not going on again about how much I like Sarina’s writing, let’s just assume that’s a given, ok?

About the characters… I have to say that it took me a little bit to warm up to Graham. I understood him, completely, but he shouldered a weight that was just too big, and the way he saw things bothered me a bit. I understood how he was not ready to be out, but I didn’t like how he saw the label, if you know what I mean. I felt sorry for him though, because he was so miserable… 😦 Michael Graham broke my heart each time I was reading his POV!

Rikker was a lot easier to love, probably because he also accepted himself, which was something that Graham didn’t do. I really liked his openness and his sense of humour. I wanted him to stand up for himself more when it came to Graham though, because for awhile there it hurt me that Rikker was willing to settle for something less than he deserved.

Contrary to the two previous books, this one focused heavily on hockey and on the team dynamics, and I really liked that. It was interesting to see the group working together, and how they dealt with Rikker’s sexuality. I loved most of the guys and especially that coach, he was awesome.

Another person that I absolutely loved was Bella, and I loved her relationship with both boys and how supportive she was of them – individually!

The couple of events that advanced the story were something that I wasn’t expecting, and I really liked them, though, again, they were heartbreaking. I liked seeing the guys support each other they way they did… true love there!

I have to complain about something though, and it was that abrupt ending. After Graham’s repressed feelings throughout the whole book, I thought that the resolution was rushed. I needed more from them after they got home. I needed to see Graham being as least partially ok with the fact that people knew he was gay. I wanted to see the team and their reactions. I needed at least an epilogue… Guess I’ll read book 4 and hope that Bella talks about it a little, right?

The Art Of Being Normal (Lisa Williamson)


Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan.

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a long time now, and I finally bought it earlier this year and finally – FINALLY!!! – I read it. This was my first read about transgender issues and I really loved it.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but it surprised me right from the start by how young the two main characters are. David is 14 and Leo is 15, and for a moment I was afraid that the voices would be just a tad bit young for me, but nope, no problem at all there. Another thing I really liked was the setting – this book is UK based, and I just find the british way of writing amazing.

The book is told in dual POV, from David and Leo’s point of views, and although there’s no indication in the beginning of the chapters about to whom it belongs to, it is done in a clever way: each boy has a different font.

I really liked both characters, how their lives interconnect and how they help each other grow. I felt like David’s storyline had somehow more weight than Leo’s, at least at the end of the line, but  I really liked that we know what’s going on with David from the start, while Leo’s story takes a little bit longer to unravel. It does though, and it’s sad, amazing and complex.

I loved how David’s character puts us in his head and makes us know exactly how he feels about his body – it isn’t his, and he hates almost everything about it. I think this was important, because most people, and most of us readers, are not familiar with these feelings.

The character growth and progression is awesome for both boys, and the story is very much character based, though the plot is still well achieved. In the end though, I felt like some plot points weren’t completely wrapped, and while the last few scenes are important, I still didn’t quite like the way it was done.

I would highly recommend this contemporary, because it deals with such important issues, and it was kind of refreshing to read a contemporary that wasn’t about a romance.

So, tell me guys, have you read The Art of Being Normal? What did you think about it?