Welcome to yAdult Review, a space where two girls review novels from across the genres, from YA and MG, to fantasy and sci-fi, to historical fiction and mystery, with a sprinkling of non-fiction too. We hope you enjoy your stay here as much as we enjoy ours.

Tag Archives: genre: lgbt

keeperA History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies.

But when Beckan’s clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn’t have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected.

This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love. – Goodreads

Review:
The only other Hannah Moskowitz book I’ve read is Teeth, which I loved, but when I read this review over at the Book Smugglers, I knew I had to read it. Fairies? Check. Crazy ass storyline featuring gnomes and a war? Check. Unreliable narrator? Check. Everything I love, basically. And love this one I did. This is a hard review to write, because this book isn’t like normal books, not even normal fairy books, if there is such a thing.

Before the war, there was a foursome, Beckan, the only girl, Josha, Scrap, and Cricket. Beckan was in love with Josha for years, but Josha loves Cricket and Beckan has made her peace with that. After the war, there are only three. Cricket has been eaten by the king of the gnomes. The weird thing about fairies, though, is that they lose limbs to the gnomes and see it as a tax for the help the gnomes give them. The gnomes suffer no consequences. And the other weird thing about fairies is that they are immortal but not invincible, so that when they lose arms, or legs, or bodies, what’s left of them can still feel the limb they’ve lost, can still make it dance, can feel that it’s out there somewhere, afraid and unattached. These fairies also shed glitter at all time, and they can feel that too, can feel when someone else sweeps their glitter aside, can feel it falling off. Fairies live in a perpetual state of heightened sentience.

There is talk of peace and war and revenge and grief, but there is also talk of racism. Fairy women cannot bear children, so the men must further their line by mating with other species. Gnomes, nymphs, sprites. Whatever comes along. Most of the women are happy to do so, because they’re making an immortal child, but they are not allowed to stay and raise their baby. Whatever race the mother is, the baby is considered fairy, and that is the most important. When the tightropers come to “liberate” the fairies, it is because they believe the fairies are above the gnomes (and also tightropers are conquerors), but Scrap, the resident fairy historian, discovers that Ferrum was once the city of gnomes, who lived aboveground and ruled like kings. There are so many themes of exploration in this novel that it was simply a joy to read about it.

This book also features an unreliable narrator, though not in a fashion we’re used to, because there is no big reveal of what the narrator is hiding or lying about. They aren’t hiding or lying about anything. The book itself is an exercise for the narrator. The fourth wall is broken repeatedly. It is different and strange and just a treat to read. I loved this. I think everyone should read it. It’s twisty and strange and beautiful, just like the fairies.


24612624George by Alex Gino
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: ALA2015
Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

BE WHO YOU ARE.

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all. – Goodreads

Review:

This book is life changing. That’s the best way to put it. It’s a book I couldn’t help but read in one sitting. It’s a book I couldn’t help but cry at. It’s a book I want to get into the hands of everyone. When I finished it I actually turned to the right of me, put the book out to my mom and went “read this.” I very rarely give my mom books to read because my mom’s not a reader, but because this isn’t on audio…yet. I gave her my ARC and she started to read it right away and couldn’t stop.

George transcends age ranges. It really does. George is about a girl, who the world views as a boy. George just wants to be herself, but it’s hard when everyone thinks you’re making a joke about your situation (which you aren’t.) Slowly George starts to tell people “hey, I’m a girl.” And it doesn’t go well. George is in fourth grade. Bully’s are strong. Crying in class is rough for anyone that age, but the end of Charlotte’s Web really got to George. Her mom sees her as her “little boy” and her brother, well he’s in high school. Who know’s what’s going on in his brain. George decides her moment to shine will be when the class puts on Charlotte’s Web.

Of course, her teacher, who she thought was on her side, thinks George is making a joke out of the situation, but her principal seems to get it. It’s hard for George. It’s hard for anyone that age. Why this story transcends age ranges is because George just wants to be accepted and loved for who they are. It’s also a story about friendship and love and one that needs to be read by all.


22754644Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.– Goodreads

Review:

There are very few people who’s book taste I trust because they know what is an “ASHLEY BOOK!” My friend Jen is one of those people, who have A+ tastes (besides her love of me obviously), so when she loved this book, I knew I had to read it. And I did not disappoint. I was on vacation recently and during a torrential downpour in which we stayed inside for pretty much 24 hours straight, I devoured this book. As soon as I started I was drawn into Simon’s story. I wanted more. Heck, I still want more.

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda starts off on a sour note; Simon is being blackmailed by a classmate named Martin. While Simon is gay, and he doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it, Martin does. Martin wants to black Simon into helping Martin getting a date, with one of Simon’s friends who has no idea that Simon happens to be gay.

Simon doesn’t care that he’s gay, he knows his family and friends who care that he’s gay, but what he doesn’t understand is why he must come out and announce it. None of his straight friends come out with “HEY GUYS! I’M STRAIGHT!”

As a side note, don’t you think everyone should have to come out? Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it should be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying. —50%, eARC

What I loved about this book, and I loved a lot of things, was the fact at its heart this is a story about friendship. The friendship between Simon and Blue (who’s privacy he is fiercely protective of), his friendship with his family (who are a bit weird, but they’re his weird), and his group of friends who are changing (because it’s high school and everything is changing.) Simon vs The Homo Sapien Agenda hurt, but it hurt to read in a good way. This is easily a universal story which everyone will be able to seem themselves in, even those parts that hurt.

I didn’t know it was possible to laugh so hard at a book and debate crying as often as I did. Please note the only reason I didn’t cry was because I was surrounded by dogs who already tried to tackle me when I made a single noise. While I got a copy of this from my public library, I cannot wait to purchase a copy for myself.


22896551None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: starstarstarstarstar (4.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she’s intersex . . . and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. 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.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

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?  – Goodreads

Review:

My heart. This book. I do not know where to begin if I’m being honest because it effected me that much. I did not expect to care about this book as much as I did if I’m being honest. But what I know is I stat down to start None of the Above and the next thing I knew the book was done and I was full of feelings wanting more from these characters. I loved None of the Above and I’m a believer that this book will start the next wave of YA books where it isn’t “typical.”

Kristin is a very every day high school girl. She’s on the track and field team, she has a solid group of friends, a boyfriend, and was even voted Homecoming Queen (even though she still doesn’t understand why.) After a horrible painful, first time, Kristin decides to be logical and go to the doctor and that is when the doctor tells her the “bad” news. Seeing Kristin’s mother died of cervical cancer, her father and her jump to the fear that it’s cancer, but it’s not. Instead the doctor tells her that she’s intersex, or the extremely outdated term of hermaphrodite. Kristin sees this as her life is ending.

For a bit Kristin keeps it to herself, then a snowball effect occurs and everyone knows. Kristin again, sees this as her life ending, but not once did I feel like she was being over dramatic, I saw this as how anyone, or in particular, Kristin is handling the news. None of the Above  was a painfully realistic book about not only finding out what it means to be intersex, but ultimately finding yourself.

However, with her father’s assistance and ultimately herself, Kristin ends up finding that being intersex isn’t that bad and that maybe, just maybe that previous life wasn’t everything you thought it was. What was also interesting to me, as a reader, was how much I learned while reading None of the Above, but this book never once felt clinical or like a textbook. I am resisting quoting during the review because there is so much of the book I would end up, proudly quoting because I felt that Gregorio understood me as a reader, and as a person, even though she doesn’t know I exist and I am definitely not intersex. My heart constantly went out for Kristin as she found out who her true friends are and how life doesn’t always get wrapped up in a bow, but it’s often better than we could ever expect it to be.


20312458Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: ALA2014
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.– Goodreads

Review:

As a mood reader, who has been in a reading slump lately, I am thrilled that I was able to devour this book. Although Farizan wrote a previous book, this is my first book that I’ve read by her, but it will not be the last. I loved Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel. It is the story of Leila, a high school junior who is proud of the fact she does not have a single crush on anyone in her school. Of course, this is a relief to her because not only does her Persian heritage make her stand out from her WASP-y classmates, but if people found out she liked girls, life would become even harder for her and that isn’t something she wants to deal with. It’s understandable, being a teenager is hard enough and she already stands out. Does she want to stand out even more?

What she doesn’t expect is the beautiful new student Saskia to make her have hearts in her eyes which make her question everything. Saskia is not remotely perfect, but Leila doesn’t care. What Leila doesn’t expect is to struggle with Saskia and the feelings she has, particularly because Saskia is very back and forth with her feelings and this causes Leila to be even more confused. Particularly because no one knows that Leila likes girls, including her one family. Farizan wrote the scenes between Leila’s family and her so well that my heart constantly went out to Leila. I marked up multiple pages of the ARC because I enjoyed so many scenes with her mother who just wants Leila to talk to her and love her. Then there is her conservative old world father, who doesn’t always know what to do but always has a dad joke, and her older perfect sister who is everything her parents want from a child. Of course, throughout the book, Leila begins to see that she doesn’t have everything figured out, including her own family.

I found Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel to be realistic in the fact, while I have next to nothing in common with Leila, I related to multiple aspects of her life. High school, cliques, after school activities. While I didn’t have much in common with Leila on the outside, the themes that Farizan wrote are so universal that they are ultimately relateable. Love, heartbreak, friendship, family. Things that everyone wants, doesn’t matter on their age or background.


18667779Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Release Date: May 15, 2014
Publisher: Dutton
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.– Goodreads

Review:

Heartbreakingly beautiful. That is the easiest way to sum up Everything Leads to Youto me, no words will properly justify this book and how much I needed it in my life. I read Everything Leads to You in about one day and the only reason I took THAT long is because I read and re-read everything slowly because I never wanted it to end.

Everything Leads to You is the story of Emi, a recent high school graduate who is already working in Hollywood. Not only is Emi a film buff with an understanding family, she is a Romantic (with yes, a capital R) who understands that movies paint the illusion of true love but that true love and real-life is a lot messier than the movies. Thankfully Emi’s life is full of good people including her BFF Charlotte who leaves soon for Michigan and college, and her brother Troy who is currently in London and letting Emi use his apartment. A rule came with the apartment though: she must do something with it. And not something ordinary.

What happens is nothing that Emi saw coming. Emi grows a lot that summer between high school and college, what she doesn’t plan on is falling in love.; in deep madding true love. Emi thought she had that and then they broke up and Emi finally moved on. Her and her ex could be friends and work together without wanting to kill each other and all was okay and good. Emi was content. One day however when Emi and Charlotte are at an estate sale, Emi finds a letter that leads her on the path to this deep true romance.

What LaCour is able to do in Everything Leads to You is create a romance story that really isn’t about romance, it was more about family, and friendships and that stuff that happens in the middle, which often happens to be romance and for Emi a mystery. This mystery has Emi’s cross paths with Ava, who happens to be related to the writer of the letter. What I also loved about this story is it is a LGTBQ love story but it’s not it’s a story about two people falling in love. It’s not a coming out story. It’s not a story about anyone trying to accept themselves, minus what every teen goes through when they’re between high school and college. It’s a YA romance novel and it is heartbreakingly beautiful.


16100972Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

A funny, honest novel about being out, being proud . . . and being ready for something else.

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He’s won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he’s gay. He’s been out since 8th grade, and he isn’t teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that’s important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret — not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn’t even know that love is possible.

This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate being different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself– Goodreads

Review:

I must be honest with you, Konigsberg is a local author who I have met numerous times. I’ve also heard him read from Openly Straight more times than I should admit. That being said, it does not sway my review. At. All.

This is the story of Rafe. The gay guy. Because that is what he is known for. Being the gay guy at his school and in his life. For once he would like to be seen as Rafe and just Rafe. But since the moment he came out to his parents, who openly embraced it, he’s never been just Rafe. But Rafe has a chance. Rafe goes to an all-boys’ boarding school on the East Coast and for the first time has the chance to become just Rafe.

Of course nothing is that easy. In the course of being just Rafe, he becomes more sure of who he was and you know what, he kind of liked who he was back home in Colorado. Because at least there he was himself. On the East Coast, he’s Rafe. But not really. He’s hiding a big part of himself from everyone. There is a point there that straight people don’t hide who they are, because they don’t have to, and I agree with it. But, understandably the story would not have been the same if Rafe would have went to the East Coast the same person he was in Colorado.

The interesting part to me was the relationships that Rafe made while in New England, not only with those at the boarding school: his teacher (the one person who knew the truth), his roommate and his roommate’s friend, and of course Ben (more on Ben soon) but also his relationships with those at home. His parents never really understood why he had to do this, and his best friend from Boulder? Well they got into a huge fight throughout the novel because of this development in his life. And then there is Ben. Ben who becomes Rafe’s best friend in New England. They are extremely close and then something happens. Something that Ben isn’t really ready to figure out because Ben’s family isn’t Rafe’s family. And while I love Ben, I am of course upset that his ending isn’t tied up in a neat happy bow because my heart broke for him numerous times throughout this novel, there was really nowhere else Konigsberg could have ended it because the ending worked.

It broke my heart, it made me laugh. I cannot recommend this book enough.