Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

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Be Prepared is a middle grade graphic novel by Vera Brosgol. We found this book at the town library, and my girls were very excited because they’ve enjoyed some of her other books.

This is a semi-autobiographical story about Vera’s childhood, although she explains at the end how some details were exaggerated, etc. As the story begins, Vera wants nothing more than to fit in with her American classmates. They have American Girl dolls, Carvel ice cream cake, and stuffed crust pizza, and Vera’s single mother simply cannot provide such luxuries. There is only one “fancy” thing that Vera can do to emulate her wealthier classmates, and that is go to sleepaway camp.

Vera’s Russian cultural camp is nothing like the posh camps that her friends attend, and it takes awhile for her to get used to new people, new routines, and of course, the stinky outhouse. It’s not as easy as Vera thought it would be to make friends, and she wonders if she’ll ever find her place. Read more

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American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera

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I bought American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera on its release day because all my friends were talking about it. I didn’t get a chance to read it right away, but then I received the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the second book, so I bumped American Dreamer to the top of my reading queue.

Nesto Vasquez has lived in NYC for his whole life, but he’s leaving the city to move upstate with his food truck. He doesn’t know how Ithaca is going to respond to his Caribbean fusion cuisine, but he’s got to shoot his shot. He’s here to focus on building his business, so he certainly not looking for romance.

And then Nesto meets Jude Fuller, a shy librarian. Jude’s not looking for romance either, because it hasn’t worked out so well in the past. Nesto and Jude hit it off right away, and everything seems to be going well, but can their happiness last? Read more

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

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I found The Music of What Happens at my town library. I’ve read some of Bill Konigsberg’s other books, so finding this on the new release shelf was a nice surprise.

When Max steps up to a food truck to place an order, he doesn’t expect to see Jordan, a kid from his school. Max certainly doesn’t expect to walk away with a job offer, but there you have it.

Jordan’s dad died a few years ago, and Jordan and his mom have been living off of the life insurance money. They’ve exhausted their savings, and they’re now a few months behind with the mortgage. Revitalizing the food truck that Jordan’s dad used to run is their final hope; if they don’t earn enough money to pay off the accumulated debt, they’ll lose the house.

Max and Jordan might go to the same school, but they aren’t friends. Things are awkward at first, but they quickly realize that they are going to need to communicate with each other if they want their endeavors to be successful. Read more

Red White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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From the moment I heard about Red White & Royal Blue, I knew that I would absolutely fall in love with it. I received an ARC via Netgalley, but I have purchased my own copy of the Kindle edition AND I added the Audible. I’m probably going to buy the paperback as well; that’s how much I love this book.

Red White & Royal Blue is Casey McQuiston’s debut novel, and wow, what a debut. Alex Claremont-Diaz is the son of the President. Prince Henry is- well, a prince. They have been lowkey feuding for years, and their mutual animosity leads to a disaster at a wedding they are both attending. With the fiasco showcased around the world, they are forced to spend time together in an attempt to minimize the fallout.

And then they realize that all of their preconceptions might not be entirely accurate.

Finding excuses to visit each other and keeping their relationship a secret from the paparazzi isn’t easy, but Alex and Henry have never been happier than they are when they’re together. But how long can this last? Read more

Play It Again by Aidan Wayne

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Play It Again was written by Aidan Wayne. The blurb on Netgalley piqued my interest, so I sent out a request. This is a m/m romance novel, but it’s slightly different than most of the other books in the genre.

Dovid Rosenstein is an American YouTube sensation. He and his twin sister Rachel produce Don’t Look Now, and they’ve amassed a substantial following; Dovid is blind, so he his reviews usually offer a unique perspective on accessibility.

Sam is an average guy living in Ireland. He has a very small YouTube following for his videogame playthroughs. When Dovid mentions Sam’s show on Don’t Look Now, Sam’s follower count immediately sees a dramatic increase. Read more

Gotta Catch Her by Kelly Haworth

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I read a lot of m/m romance- mostly, but not always, historical. I have recently decided that I need to make more of an effort to find and read more f/f romance. So, when I saw Gotta Catch Her by Kelly Haworth on Netgalley, I knew that I had to check it out.

Ann spends most of her time at her job, so in her downtime, she likes to unwind by taking her dog for walks and playing Ani-Min Move, a phone game that is just like Pokemon Go without any pesky licensing issues.

One day at the park, Ann meets Rachael, a single mother who also plays the game. There’s clearly a rapport, and there’s potential for their friendship to change into something more, but there’s never enough time for them to get to know each other- Ann’s job becomes more demanding, Rachael’s son gets sick; it seems as though their fledging relationship is doomed to fail. Is something so new worth fighting for? Read more

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance by Madeline J. Reynolds

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The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance was written by Madeline J. Reynolds. I’ve been reading a lot of YA lately, so I was excited about the opportunity to read this book.

Elias Caldwell is a young man in the Victorian era who simply doesn’t fit in. He sees no escape from the future his parents have laid out for him, but then his grandfather presents him with an opportunity: a pocket watch that allows him to time travel.

Elias ends up at an American boarding school, where he meets Tyler Forrester. Ty, an aspiring filmmaker, manages to catch Elias appearing out of thin air. The story is too fantastic to be believed, but Ty suspends his disbelief and agrees to help Elias acclimate to the 21st century.

It’s certainly a culture shock, but Elias quickly sees the benefits of modern life. He doesn’t feel as stifled as he did in his own era, and he is pleased to discover that it’s okay to be gay. Even better, he finds friendship and more with Ty.

Ty knows that sharing Elias’ story would almost definitely lead to his big breakthrough in the film world. But what about the ramifications of time travel being real? And what would happen to Elias if everybody knew that he was from over 100 years in the past?

This was a fun story. It unfolds from both Elias and Tyler’s points of view. The plot moves along at a fairly brisk pace, and sometimes it would have been beneficial to slow down for full effect. This is especially noticeable when examining the “relationship” that develops between Elias and Tyler. It’s almost instantaneous, and I would have loved to see the tension drawn out a little more.

I would recommend The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance. This will definitely appeal to the target demographic. Readers should know explanations behind the “science” of time travel are fairly light, but there’s a nice balance between the other elements of the plot. Overall, this is a fairly light book and a quick read. I’m looking forward to reading more from Reynolds in the future.

 

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.

 

Between the Lines by Sally Malcolm

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Between the Lines was written by Sally Malcolm. This contemporary m/m romance novel is set in the same world as Perfect Day, one of Malcolm’s other books. I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance, but the plot of this book piqued my interest.

Theo has arrived in New Milton to close the deal on purchasing the Majestic, a seaside hotel that has fallen into disrepair. This is a big opportunity for Theo to finally impress his father, who sees him as incompetent.

Luca has returned to the Majestic to try to talk his mother out of selling the hotel to a big corporation. Luca grew up at the Majestic, but it hasn’t felt much like home to him for years. His stepfather does not accept that Luca is gay, and so Luca lives a nomadic lifestyle- living by the beach during the summer and the ski slopes in the winter. Read more

King Consort by J.R. Gray

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King Consort is a contemporary m/m romance novel written by J.R. Gray. I found this book on Kindle Unlimited, and it piqued my interest because I love all things royal family.

Louis is the heir to the British throne, and he maintains a carefully crafted playboy persona in order to hide his sexuality. While on a goodwill trip to North America, Louis meets Xavier, who he later finds out is a paparazzo. But what seems like a disaster turns into an odd sort of partnership. There’s clearly a connection, but there are so many reasons for why something lasting between them can never work. They’re determined to enjoy their present, with no expectations of a future together. Read more

Bloodline (Whyborne & Griffin) by Jordan L. Hawk

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Bloodline is the fifth book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series. I started reading the series this summer, and I try to have large gaps between each book; there is only a finite amount of material, and I want my experience to last as long as possible.

After their adventure in Egypt, Whyborne and Griffin return to Widdershins. Their lives to return to whatever passes until normal until they are faced with a new predicament involving abandoned ships, cryptic notes, a murder, and mysterious cousins from England. Once again, Whyborne and Griffin see the hallmarks of something supernatural, and find themselves racing to save humanity (or at least the city of Widdershins) from an unknown threat. Read more