Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: GLBTQ

They Both Die at the End
Silvera, Adam
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

They Both Die In The End is about two boys who find out they have one day left to live, and end up finding each other to spend their last day together. The book is very sad, yet really makes you think about what would you do if you only had one day left to live. This book has so many twists and turns, but in the end everything comes together and makes sense, which I loved. The author did a great job of having pieces from everyone's lives play a part in other peoples, but people don't know this only the reader sees these connections. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a sad book that is very well written, and doesn't really touch on any hard subjects.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
We Are Okay
LaCour, Nina
4 stars = Really Good

We are Okay is about a girl who goes through some tragic events in her life, and is now trying to deal with them. The book has quite a few twists and turns that can throw you off, but I really liked that. I did not like how short the book was though, and I felt the author could have added more in. The book ended off at a happy spot, but as a reader I wanted to know more about what happens after. Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an easy read that you won't want to put down until it is over, which is fairly quick.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
Wilder Girls
Power, Rory
4 stars = Really Good

The Raxter School for Girls is located on a secluded island off mainland America. They have been under quarantine for over a year because of the "tox" that has infected the students and teachers there. The tox gives the girls strange mutations like a hand covered in scales, two hearts or two spines, but it can also kill them. There are few students or teachers left on the island, and with little food and dwindling supplies it's a struggle to survive. Hetty is just trying to keep herself and her friends alive long enough for someone to find a cure but when one of her friends, Byatt, go missing Hetty takes it upon herself to find her and learns that things on the island aren't all that they seem to be.
This book is mainly told in two perspectives, Hetty and Byatt. I like this because it gives more insight to other parts of the story. I enjoyed being in Hetty's head. It was interesting to see her look back at her time before Raxter and to see the reasoning behind the decisions she makes. I also liked reading about this new world the girls are living in.
The ending was left very open ended which was kinda annoying. I also think the characters could have more personality outside of how they have been affected by their circumstances. They often lacked depth

Reviewer's Name: Savannah
The Pros of Cons
Cherry, Alison & Ribar, Lindsay & Schusterman, Michelle
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

The Pros of Cons is a book about three girls at different conventions become friends. Vanessa Monotoya-O'Callaghan is going to a Fan Fiction convention with her friend Soleil. Pheobe Byrd is going to a Indoor Percussion Association convention with her percussion friends. Callie Buchannan is going to a Taxidermy convention with her dad as his assistant.

Vanessa and Soleil had never met but at the convention. They were online friends and they wrote fan fiction together, but they never met. It all started out great. The one issue is that Vanessa thought that Soleil was her girlfriend. On the first day Soleil read her own story in front of people instead of the one they worked on together. This made Vanessa angry but she kept it to herself. Then a few nights later Vanessa kissed her and that's when they fought. She had already met Callie. Soleil kicked her out of the
hotel room, and she went to stay with Callie. The the three friends decide to make a podcast for Vanessa's Creative Corner entry.

Pheobe runs into Callie while her and her friends where bringing percussion equipment places. They run into each other than Pheobe and Callie accidentally switch bags. In the group ensemble performance she realizes that she does'n't have her mallets. Then her friend Scott takes the mallets she was using for a solo. She ends up have to us scalpels from the solo and cuts up her hands. After the performance she has to put band aids on her hands. She gets in a fight with her best friend, Scott, and her roommate. The ends up in Callie's room.

Callie is with her dad and his turkeys. She is her dads assistant. On the first of the convention Callie meets her dads old assistant Jeremy. Jeremy is one of the judges, and Callie makes fun of her dad in front of him. After Jeremy leaves her dad yells at her for making fun of him in front of a judge. Callie is mad at her dad after this because he yelled at her and doesn't know she is even alive sometimes. Callie decides to sabotage her dads turkey seminar. During the seminar he deals with everything as if it was on purpose. Then Callie and her dad get in to a huge fight, because her mom left and court only gave Callie 4 weeks to live with her mom, but her mom offered full time. Her dad without even talking to Callie told her mom she didn't want to go. Callie was upset, but in the end they made up and are all good now.

I chose this book because of the clever title and how it was written in different point of views. I think the plot is excellent.

Reviewer's Name: Jaime
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Sáenz, Benjamin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Aristotle is 15 and has no friends. One day at the pool Aristotle metDante, Dante offered to teach Aristotle how to swim. After swimming they became fast friends. They laughed and joked together. Then one day Dante saw a bird in the middle of the road with a broken wing then picked it up. Dante stood in the middle of the road and didn't notice the car coming. The next thing Aristotle remembered was waking up in the hospital. Then Aristotle's parents told him that he pushed Dante out of the way. After the accident
Aristotle learns that Dante's family is moving to Chicago for the school year, for Dante's dads job. They wrote and they called each other. In one letter Dante told Aristotle that Dante would rather kiss boys than girls. Aristotle didn't think much of it till 4 people beat up Dante so bad he has to go to the hospital. In the end they go out in the desert and Aristotle realizes something with help from his dad. The ending was quite different then what I expected. The book is happy and sad. I recommend this book to any one who likes to have a good cry. It is really good. I also recommend the authors other books.

Reviewer's Name: Jaime
Book Cover
Bayron, Kaylynn
2 stars = Meh

Cinderella is dead is about a girl in a society where women are expected to behave like Cinderella in the beloved (well, they're forced to love it) fairy-tale: wait until you're somethingth birthday and then you must go to a ball to be chosen by a boy/man/grandpa who you will be forced to obey for the rest of your life. Those who refuse are executed. When our main character falls in love with another girl instead of waiting to be chosen at the ball, she decides it's time for a change.

I saw this book ages ago on Netgalley and while I love the cover (and don't be afraid to chose a book by it's cover, kids!), I'm pretty over anything to do with Cinderella as I feel as though I've read around 8 million re-tellings in the last five years or so. Then, I heard some folks from Bloomsbury talk about this book at a recent conference, and I was sold! Unfortunately, though, there was way too much Cinderella in it for me to truly enjoy it. The worldbuilding and plot waffled between being creative and a bit silly. The characters were one-dimensional and the romance unearned. That said, I think the book's audience, younger teens, will enjoy it, so I'll definitely be recommending it.

This is the perfect book for younger teens who just can't get enough of Cinderella or who are looking to make the jump from middle grade to young adult fiction. For this older reader, the coolness of the author's innovation with the Cinderella fairytale was outweighed by bland characters and forced romance. 2 stars - it was ok.

Thanks to Bloomsbury YA and Netgalley for the eARC which I received for an unbiased review. You can put Cinderella is Dead on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Book Cover
Cho, Zen
4 stars = Really Good

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water follows a nun who joins a group of bandits trying to protect a religious relic from those who would destroy it. It's a novella, so that's really most of the book, but Zen Cho crams a ton of character development and plenty of plot into this short little read. The two main characters are so well drawn, and I absolutely fell in love with them. The banter between the bandits is loads of fun - I laughed out loud on multiple occasions. There are plenty of fight scenes. I got to learn the word wuxia (think Chinese martial arts heroes). It's very rare that I want a book to be longer, but I so wanted more of this. I'll be checking out Cho's backlist work, Sorcerer to the Crown. 4 stars - that was very good.

Thanks to Tor and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected on Water is available now - put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
The Obsidian Tower
Caruso, Melissa
4 stars = Really Good

Obsidian Tower still fills Readers with Mystery….and Dread…..

4 Stars. Bit dramatic for my taste.

This book is about a young woman living in a world of magic, where the world is divided up by people who have different kinds of magic. Ironically, she lives in the section of people with life magic, but she possesses the magic to kill… An outsider, rejected by her parents, she was made the warden of the Obsidian Tower by her grandmother, who saw promise in her. I loved this book for the magic, and the realistic fear of people passing her, afraid to touch her. Lonely she is, she keeps going because the Obsidian Tower needs her.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
I'll Give You The Sun
Nelson, Jandy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

When books have awards on the cover it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll enjoy the book because the reviewers/critics are often adults and have a different perspective on teen/YA books. However “I’ll give you the Sun” actually lives up to the awards and reviews. This book has a complex plotthat weaves between the perspectives of Noah and Jude. Noah and Jude are twins who were always inseparable until high school and their mother’s death. Noah’s portions of the story are from before their mother’s death at age 13 and Jude’s perspective is from 16. Between the three years they both change dramatically, and you can see why they changed, and how everything became different. I really liked the title of the book, it fits the story without giving away too much. The characters are amazing, they all have depth, complexity, and a unique background, which drives the plot. This also made it easy to relate to the characters because they felt very real and human. Noah has a very clear way of seeing the world through color, and art. Jude sees the world through a very physical sense. It is pretty easy to get into this book and I found it hard to put down. This book has a great message of love and its complexities as well.

Reviewer's Name: McKenzie
My Fairy Godmother Is a Drag Queen
Clawson, David
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

The book 'My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen' by David Clawson is a funny LGBT version of Cinderella. The main character Chris lives with his step-mother, step-sister, and step-brother who have recently lost their family wealth. The family wants to keep up with their rich lifestyle, and the best way to do that is to try to find his step-sister a wealthy boyfriend to marry, which they will do by attending a fancy ball. Chris's family does not buy him a ticket to the ball, but he meets a drag queen who helps him get into the ball. What happens when Chris meets the richest boy in the state and falls head over heels for him?
I thought this book was absolutely amazing! I would definitely give it five stars. It is very funny and entertaining, I spent hours reading this book without even moving because it was so captivating.

Reviewer's Name: Lillian L.
The Upside of Unrequited
Albertalli, Becky
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

This book 'The Upside of Unrequited' is by the popular author Becky Albertalli, who also wrote 'Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. This book follows Molly, a hopeless romantic who has never even had a boyfriend. When Molly introduces her twin sister, Cassie, to a new girl who Cassie may be developing a crush on, Molly realizes that she and her sister may be growing apart. This book goes through the journey where Molly struggles between her two new crushes, Will and Reid. The boys are very different... who will she end up with?
This book was absolutely amazing! A must-read for fans of 'Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda'. This book easily earns five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Lillian L.
Book Cover
Levine, Laura
4 stars = Really Good

Jaine Austen is relieved to receive a gift trip to the Haven, a luxury resort
along the California coast, from her flamboyantly gay neighbor Lance.
However, upon arriving there, she realizes that the Haven is a fat
farm in disguise run by Olga, the Diet Nazi (her words and not mine). She's
sharing her "luxury vacation" with Mallory Francis, a famous movie star, and
her staff. While gracing the big screens is Mallory's job, her true calling seems to
be making enemies with everyone she comes across. So when Mallory is found
strangled by a piece of kelp during a seaweed wrap, the suspect list is
longer than Rapunzel's hair with added extensions. Not wanting to spend any
longer in Diet Hell than necessary (and yes, she does call the Haven that),
Jaine puts on her detective slippers once again to catch a culprit once
again. However, this will prove to be Jaine's most challenging cases yet, and
her chase to catch the culprit will put her life on the line more than ever

Let me just get this off my chest. I-love-this series! It's so well-written,
and never ceases to amuse me. I love how this series waits until later than
most for the murder to happen,making the reader make assumptions on who the
culprit is before the murder takes place. However, every book I've read from
this series so far has a major flaw. While the actual investigation for each
book is individually unique, the main climax always follows the same format.
It goes as follows:

1) Jaine is left with no clear culprit until she remembers a piece of
evidence she missed
2) The person who seems like the furthest thing from the culprit is always
the culprit
3) Just as Jaine finds the culprit, they try to kill her
4) Something saves Jaine last-minute
5) The culprit is arrested

This book is no different. I really wish Laura Levine would break away from
this format, as it makes the series very repetitive. However, I just hope she
does it in future mysteries. But overall, I'd highly recommend this mystery,
especially for a good laugh. The mystery kept me guessing while still keeping
me relaxed, Jaine Austen is the most relatable protagonist ever, the sub-plot
with her parents is hilarious in an "I really shouldn't be laughing at this"
kind of way, and Prozac is-well, Prozac! Just make sure to have something to
strangle with (noose, execution chain, chimichanga, whatever suits you),
because I assure you that no Jaine Austen mystery has made me want to
strangle Lance more than this one by the end. You have been warned.

Reviewer's Name: Naomi S.
Book Review: Starry Eyes
Bennett, Jenn
4 stars = Really Good

Zorie, a young girl who lives with her mother and father who are happily married; or so she thought they were happy. Zorie is suddenly struck with life altering information when her neighbor/ ex-best friend, Lennon hands her a manila envelope that had accidentally been delivered to the wrong house. Zorie is mortified when she opens it only to see photos of her dad with another woman, and is even more mortified that there was a possibility Lennon and his family had seen the photos too. Struggling to figure out what to do with the photos while juggling work and drama with friends, Zorie is all too happy to say yes when her best friend Reagan asks her to come on a camp trip. However, Zorie forgot about a previous commitment she made to go to the astronomy clubs stargazing party just one peak over from where Reagan's camp trip was. Wanting so badly to leave home for as long as possible and put her worries behind her Zorie decides she can do both, she will go on the camp trip and from there take a bus to Condor Peak for the star party. Zorie’s plans are turned a little upside down when Reagan picks her up for camping and Lennon is with her and some other familiar faces from school sitting in the back seat. Once they reach the campsite things take a turn for the worst when a fight between Reagan and Zorie ends up with Reagan and her other friends abandoning Zorie and Lennon in the middle of the night. Zorie and Lennon are then forced to talk about the past and all of the miscommunications that led them to hate each other as they hike their way to Condor Peak. This novel had a very intriguing plot, I loved the unpredictability of every page turn.

Reviewer's Name: Madison S.
Book Review: The Guinevere Deception
White, Kiersten
3 stars = Pretty Good

Premise: Guinevere died in the convent where she'd been sent by an her father. An imposter, Merlin's daughter and Arthur's new protector, is her replacement, and all have been fooled into thinking she's the "real" Guinevere, save Arthur, who she immediately marries and starts to protect.

I found the beginning of the book, with its delicious hints of a larger story of evil and darkness, to be captivating. Unfortunately, those hints, for the most part, stay hints, and the book ended up being a pretty predictable retelling of sorts that was paradoxically too faithful and not faithful enough to its predecessors. It had glimpses of the humor from Mallory, T. H. White and Steinbeck. It had the promise of the adventure that lies in those tales. It just never fully delivered. And the end, when it finally came, was predictable enough to be a bit disappointing.

That said, I do love Arthurian legend, and this version of Guinevere is not without promise. If the next entry gets great reviews, I'll give it a go as my familiarity with the characters and story would render a re-read unnecessary. 3 stars. I...liked it? I'll recommend it to younger readers new to the legend.

Thanks to Netgalley and Delacorte for the advance copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Guinevere Deception will be on sale on 05 November, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Book Review: A River of Royal Blood
Joy, Amanda
4 stars = Really Good

Eva's nameday is coming up. And on that day, she'll become a Rival Heir. From then on, she'll be expected to try to kill her sister (or die in the process), so that one of them could take the throne. Eva's always been her father's favorite, but in this matriarchal society, her mother, the Queen, who, of course favores Eva's sister Isadore, would do anything to make sure that Eva doesn't get the throne. Including helping Isa with her magic while trying to keep Eva from accessing hers. But the throne is Eva's destiny. It's that, or death.

This was another instance of the plot being hard to describe, though that's mostly due to the fact that there are so many things happening in this book. It's pretty complicated. Not in a bad way - I really enjoyed it. The worldbuilding was very cool, I loved the khimaer. A lot of it was new to me, or a fun twist on a familiar concept. I loved the book's mythology. Something about it felt fresh. I also bizarrely really liked the middle part of the book - its full of layered mysteries, court intrigue, training montages and the right amount and type of romance. It's built on mutual and earned respect (and yes, hotness). There's a lot to like in this book, and it won't be the last by this author that I read.

That said, the beginning and ending were rote and felt a bit weak. The end, in particular, felt like it existed only to get you to read the next installment. There was no resolution, and it felt very rushed, especially after a story that was otherwise taking its time unfolding. I don't want to spend a lot of time criticizing what was otherwise a fun read - give it a go!

TLDR: This was so close to being really good, but it just missed the mark (rote beginning and ending, super strong middle and worldbuilding). I quite enjoyed it, nonetheless. 3.5 stars - I almost really liked it. :)

Thanks for the eARC Netgalley and Putnam for the advance copy! A River of Royal Blood will be available for purchase on 29 October, but you can put your copy on hold today.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Book Review: War Girls
Onyebuchi, Tochi
4 stars = Really Good

Onyii and Ify live as sisters in an all-girls refugee/war camp on the edge of the Redlands, an area riddled with radiation from a long-ago nuclear disaster. Nigeria, their home, is in the midst of a civil war. Children are conscripted as soldiers and pilots for mechanized warrior robots. Onyii and Ify are separated, and as truths are revealed to each of them, they must decide where, and with whom, their loyalties lie all while trying not to die a terrible death in a bloody civil war.

Going into this, I knew nothing about the Nigeria - Biafran civil war of the 1960s, which is at the heart of this novel. Personally, I enjoy learning about parts of history that I know nothing about (I typically don’t gravitate to one of the 1,983,784,767 WWII novels, for example), and I really enjoyed the unique setting. The book is set in the future, and the futuristic elements really added a lot to the plot and were well employed by the author. Onyii, for example, is an Augment, meaning that she’s a little bit of a bionic woman. While I didn’t really relate to the main characters, I did really like them. They didn’t always make the best decisions, but their decisions made sense to their characters and their respective arcs. They were easy to root for. Really, my only complaint was that it felt overlong, and I skimmed through some of the battle scenes, but that’s more a matter of personal preference.

TLDR: Looking for something to read after Children of Blood and Bone? You’ve found your next great Nigerian inspired read! (And, honestly, if you haven’t read Children of Blood and Bone but it’s on your TBR, I’d suggest replacing it with War Girls, which is a much more original, engaging book). For readers who like apocalyptic novels and futuristic sci-fi battles. 4 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley and Razorbill for the eARC which I received in exchange for an honest review. War Girls will be available for purchase on 15 October, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Book Review: Drama
Telgemeier, Raina
4 stars = Really Good

This was a very sweet book. The three things I liked best about it were the following:
1. It was a play within a play.
2. A character breaks up with his girlfriend because she was trying to get someone to cheat on a test.
3. The main character doesn't give a second chance to the boy who disrespected her.
It's a lighthearted book that addresses some deep themes and is fun to read.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
The Future of Another Timeline
Newitz, Annalee
3 stars = Pretty Good

Tess is a time traveling member of the Daughters of Harriet, a group that does it's best to make their present time, 2022, a safe place for women, whether cis or trans. There's a men's right's activist group from further in the future trying to undermine their efforts by erasing the Daughters of Harriet and women's rights folks from the timeline. Meanwhile, in 1992, teenager Beth, a friend from Tess' past, finds herself in a bit of a pickle. She and her friends kill a boy who was in the process of sexually assaulting their friend. This starts the girls down a murderous path that Tess will do her best to stop.

For the most part, I enjoyed this book. I usually enjoy time travel, unless its being used as a cheap plot device which was definitely not the case here. Newitz did a lot of homework for this one - the historical notes at the end were really interesting and trips to the past often include historical figures. The story alternates between Tess and Beth with a few other perspectives thrown in on occasion. Tess mainly splits her time between the late 1800s (easily my favorite parts), the early 1990s and her present in 2022, while Beth's story is firmly situated in 1992. While I enjoyed both stories, I never really felt compelled to read the book. Both perspectives were interesting, but not captivating or thought-provoking (though I suspect the book will provide plenty of thinking material for some readers). As a result, certain plot points felt unnecessary and the book felt overlong. I really hated the way Tess' story ended. Nonetheless, its an enjoyable read that makes a great point (women are people too, who knew?) that I would recommend to science fiction readers that are interested in women, women's and LGBT rights. There's also quite a bit of 90's punk rock that readers of a certain age will love. The ending is also quite optimistic, which I wasn't expecting, but did welcome.

TLDR: The Future of Another Timeline is interesting book full of time travel shenanigans that is plagued by the same issues that all time travel book face. Ultimately, while the book was fun, feminist and full of salient social commentary, it wasn't compelling.

3 stars - I liked it.

Thanks to Netgalley and Tor for the advance copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Future of Another Timeline will be available for purchase on 24 September, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Soul of the Sword cover
Kagawa, Julie
4 stars = Really Good

Soul of the Sword picks up directly at the end of the events of the first book in the series, Shadow of the Fox. If you haven’t read Shadow of the Fox, and you like Japanese mythology, what are you waiting for? Pick it up now! Also, skip this review, because spoilers.

If you liked the first book, you’ll like this one too. I did not remember the first book that well as I read it last summer, but Kagawa writes this in such a way that it’s easy for the reader to jump right back in. Most of our characters (save Tatsumi, because he’s mostly a demon now) get further development, and Yumeko in particular really seems to have grown a lot throughout the course of the book. My favorite character, the ronin Okame, has an exceptionally fun development. The worldbuilding, which was fantastic in the first book, continues to be alluring as Kagawa further fleshes out what was already a well-drawn world. The plot, like the first book, is fast-paced and while this is definitely something of a bridge book, it’s a bridge book that is really fun to read.

Readers of Rick Riordan who are looking for something a little more grown-up, or folks who like their fantasy to be steeped in mythology, you won’t go wrong with this series. I’m excited for the next one to come out. 4 stars – I really liked it!

Thanks to Harlequin Teen & Netgalley for the advance copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Soul of the Sword will be available for purchase on 18 June or you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
The 57 Bus
Slater, Dashka
4 stars = Really Good

The book, The 57 Bus, by Dashka Slater, is quite the moving novel. The author does a great job of solidifying the main characters, Sasha and Richard, and develops there characters in a beautifully realistic way. The sudden transition for just normal everyday life to a calamity also flows well with the book. The fact that this story actually happens is also very interesting. Overall, The 57 Bus is a fantastic book and I would recommend it to anyone. The novel is a decent length but will have you engrossed in it until the end.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L