ARC Book Review – Back Piece

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Goodreads | Amazon

Title:  Back Piece

Author: L.A Witt

Synopsis: Colin Spencer is a tattoo artist with a past he’d prefer to keep a secret. Actually, he has a few secrets that he’d rather people didn’t know about, which is why Colin doesn’t do commitment. But when a shy naval officer approaches him at the gym, Colin finds this guy pushing all his buttons.

Growing up in a conservative family, then escaping with the Navy, Daniel Moore is an unsure virgin who feels like he can’t share his true self with anyone. Seeing Colin—and his tattoos—at the gym are the sign Daniel needs to finally get those tattoos he’s always wanted, and maybe try his hand at flirting.

As Colin and Daniel spend more time together, their awkward hesitations turn into a deep passion neither expected. But with both men harboring secrets, will their relationship be able to survive their insecurities and become something beautiful?

Back Piece is a sexy, emotional journey of two people learning to love and finding acceptance for who they really are.

Rating:  4 and a half stars

Review:  I received this ARC from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Colin and Daniel meet at the local gym – Daniel, a young Naval officer, and Colin, a local tattoo artist – and sparks fly almost immediately. Both men have their insecurities, however, and despite their initial ‘casual’ relationship, feelings and inner demons soon appear.

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of L.A Witt, so getting this ARC on Netgalley was amazing. First, I’m going to quickly go into why I only gave this one four and a half stars, instead of the usual five star rating, and then I’ll explain further why I loved this book.

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The only qualm I had with it was the extensive sex scenes. I know it’s the point of the book, but to me, there was too much sex in this one, and not enough other scenes to balance it out. That’s a personal opinion though, so just ignore that.

Now onto the good points:

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I loved how Witt wrote one of the characters as being a man with an eating disorder. That’s something that’s not represented well in media as a whole, so I appreciated the diversity there, where a lot of authors just have women with the eating disorders. Respect. Also, there’s a character who’s 26, and still a virgin, and I appreciated that even more, because in books, you generally find teenagers finding each other and losing their virginity to each other, and whatever, but as someone who’s 22 and never even dated before, it was especially nice to see a character in a book like that.

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As usual, the sexy scenes were brilliantly done – if a book can get me hot and bothered with just the sexual tension? It’s a keeper. I mean, damn! I loved reading about Colin and Daniel getting together, and figuring out what they both liked to do, and seeing that develop over the book? Wow.

Now for some quotes that I particularly liked – think of them as little tidbits to whet your appetite for this book:

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He was lucky to have shipmates who weren’t homophobic at all, let alone the type who could be menacing or dangerous Quite the opposite in fact – mostly they just tried to get him laid. Maybe not very skillfully, but they tried.

That was Colin’s Achilles’ heel. Hot men were great. Adorable guys? Want.

 

So that’s why everyone likes blowjobs so much.

The thought almost made him laugh out loud like a drunken idiot. And he still didn’t care.

 

“Well if you’re worried about your lack of skill, you’re more than welcome to practice on me.” He sighed melodramatically. “If that’s the sacrifice I have to make for the good of gay mankind, then…. Then-” He took a deep breath. “-I’m ready.”

Was this karma for taking so long to find someone? It was like the universe was saying, Sorry about keeping you a virgin for twenty-six years. Here’s an ex-porn star with tattoos and a six pack. Enjoy.

Don’t mind if I do.

 

Was Colin going to be upset? Think he wasn’t really enjoying it? Oh Christ, had he actually found a way to fuck up being fucked?

 

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Back Piece is the first in a brand new series, and was released on April 25th 2017.

 

Happy reading!

13 Reasons Why (You Should Read….)

As you probably know already, ‘13 Reasons Why’ recently premiered on Netflix (and if you didn’t know, then which rock have you been living under?!) and while I haven’t seen it yet, I’ve been inspired to start a series of posts, in which I will detail 13 reasons why you should read a certain book.

Now – 13 Reasons Why You Should Read Fans Of The Impossible Life

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“May we live impossibly,” Sebby said when he opened his eyes. “Against all odds. May people look at us and wonder how such jewels can sparkle in the sad desert of the world. May we live the impossible life.”

 

  1. The amazing writing style of Kate Scelsa – the book’s chapters alternate between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person POV, by Jeremy, Sebby, and Mira respectively, and while other people might not pull this off, Scelsa really does.
  2. Hint of polyamory? The tagline for the book is “The story of a girl, her gay best friend and the boy who falls in love with both of them.” And that’s basically what you get – a whole lot of love. Also, there’s one scene in particular, that will get the good kind of goosebumps popping up over your skin.
  3. Diversity – Sebby’s a foster kid with drug problems, Mira deals with serious depression and an unsupportive family, and Jeremy’s painfully shy as a result of past bullying. Mira’s also biracial, half-Jewish; one of the other characters is Korean, Jeremy has two gay dads – just….so much diversity.
  4. Complex characters – none of the characters are just one thing. They all have these really intense layers to them, and they have problems, and those problems are dealt with. They’re not shied away from.
  5. Open ending – books with open endings are always the best, because then you can imagine whatever you want to happen to the characters after that. It’s not set in stone, and your imagination can wander.
  6. Mental health issues – this is a big thing in the book, and I like that it’s something that’s dealt with, since it is a real thing that affects real people. In this book, we see Mira struggle with her issues, and Sebby with his, and Jeremy trying to handle both of their problems as well.
  7. Sebby. Literally, just Sebby. He needs to be protected at all costs, and I adore him.
  8. If you like ‘Perks of Being A Wallflower’, then I guarantee you’ll like this.
  9. Very distinct personalities – even though the chapters alternate between the trio, and the POV narratives change, each character has a very distinct voice, so at no point are you confused about whose thoughts we’re seeing.
  10. It’s just really hella intense – from page one, you’re hooked, and that’s it. You’re enveloped in these characters’ lives, and their problems, and you’re there until the last word.
  11. The slight flirtation with going against gender roles – when Jeremy wears one of Mira’s dresses and lets her put makeup on him – is freaking awesome, and I need more of that in books.
  12. A gorgeous cover – not that the cover really matters in the big picture, but still. The three sets of feet on the bed, just truly incapsulates what the book’s about. It’s wonderful.
  13. Absolutely beautiful language, and quotes that will stick in your head long after you’ve closed the book.

 

 

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Credit To Kylee on Tumblr

 

“In a really good thrift store you feel like you’re in a room with all of these stories, and it’s up to you to go and find the stories that you want to bring home with you. And then when you wear the clothes, they help you tell a new story, but they’re bringing that old part with them and with you and you’re benefiting from that in a way that you can’t even really understand.”

 

LGBTQ Favourites

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of LGBT-themed books – I’m always either reading one, or looking for another to read – so I figured I’d let you in on my personal list of favourites that I’ve read in past years. Some are recent, whereas others, I haven’t read in a while. These are in no particular order, just because I’m the most indecisive person in the world, so just enjoy.

Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli)

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Synopsis: 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.

My Feelings: If you’re looking for a cute YA boy-on-boy romance that ends with a ‘Happily Ever After’, then this is bound to leave you smiling from ear to ear by the end of it. It’s sweet and adorable, without being too cliche and sugary. Also, the sequel (of sorts) is coming out this year!!!!!

You can read my review here.

 

Fox-Hat And Neko (August Li):

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Synopsis: Tokyo high school student Tsukino Ayumu never wanted to stand out. He’s always been content to run at the middle of the pack and go unnoticed, and he doesn’t expect much to change when he moves to the small fishing village of Yuuyake to live with his grandfather.

In Yuuyake, Ayumu makes his first real friend in Ikehara Haruki and forges close ties with two girls, Shizuka and Chou. Together, the four friends muddle through the messy world of dating and relationships while trying to succeed in school and prepare for the world they’ll enter when it ends. Fate has other plans for them, though, and Ayumu in particular, as an invisible threat targets the village’s young people.

After being plagued by disturbing, violent dreams, Ayumu learns what the spirit world expects of him. He must learn to fight and to lead—but he’s only ever been ordinary. With the support of friends he would die to protect, Ayumu faces a destiny only he can fulfill. But others have taken an interest in Ayumu. The mysterious Fox-Hat and Neko know more about Ayumu than he knows about himself, and they lead him onto a path that might end in the destruction of them all.

My Feelings: This was the first ARC I ever recieved, and it’s a delightfully quirky mix of fantasy, and folklore, and romance. Warning though, you’ll get way too invested in these characters by about halfway through the book. That’s how good it is.

You can read my review of this here.

 

What Happened To Lani Garver (Carol Plum-Ucci):

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Synopsis: The close-knit residents of Hackett Island have never seen anyone quite like Lani Garver. Everything about this new kid is a mystery: Where does Lani come from? How old is Lani? And most disturbing of all, is Lani a boy or a girl?

Claire McKenzie isn’t up to tormenting Lani with the rest of the high school elite. Instead, she befriends the intriguing outcast. But within days of Lani’s arrival, tragedy strikes and Claire must deal with shattered friendships and personal demons–and the possibility that angels may exist on earth.

My Feelings: This book brings together philosophy and teenagers in a way I wasn’t expecting to get drawn into so much. Lani Garver, this androgynous angel, who is just what Claire needs, is absolutely perfect. Everyone needs a Lani in their life in my opinion – someone who isn’t afraid to tell you the hard truth when you need a reality check, but who’ll also hug and comfort you when you need that as well. This is a must-read for everyone.

You can read my review of this here.

 

Lies My Girlfriend Told Me (Julie Anne Peters):

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Synopsis: When Alix’s charismatic girlfriend, Swanee, dies from sudden cardiac arrest, Alix is overcome with despair. As she searches Swanee’s room for mementos of their relationship, she finds Swanee’s cell phone, pinging with dozens of texts sent from a mysterious contact, L.T. The most recent text reads: “Please tell me what I did. Please, Swan. Te amo. I love you.”

Shocked and betrayed, Alix learns that Swanee has been leading a double life–secretly dating a girl named Liana the entire time she’s been with Alix. Alix texts Liana from Swanee’s phone, pretending to be Swanee in order to gather information before finally meeting face-to-face to break the news.

Brought together by Swanee’s lies, Alix and Liana become closer than they’d thought possible. But Alix is still hiding the truth from Liana. Alix knows what it feels like to be lied to–but will coming clean to Liana mean losing her, too?

My Feelings: If you want an adorable girl on girl romance that’ll keep you on your toes, this is something you need to read. The whole time I was reading it, I was waiting for the moment when the truth was going to come out, but it was a good feeling. It’ll make you shiver with….

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You can read my review of this here.

 

Anything Written By L.A. Witt.

 

This is more of a generalisation, but seriously, I am in love with all of L.A Witt’s books, and she’s one of my top auto-buy authors at this point, even though I only discovered her back in 2015 when I started this blog and started looking for ARCs on Netgalley. She writes these intriguing Male/Male romances, with just enough steam in them to get you a little hot under the collar. I know, I’ve felt hot and flustered quite a few times while reading (especially with Running With Scissors).

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Here are ones I’ve read and reviewed, and if you click over to my Book Review page, you can read the reviews for each of these.

 

Also, I just finished reading Just Drive by L.A. Witt, and To Live Again, so look out for those reviews coming up soon!

The Art of Being Normal ( Jeff Garvin):

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Synopsis: The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

My Feelings: Yay for diversity! This is a heart-wrenching novel about someone who just doesn’t fit in – the lost sock in the dryer of life. I was entranced the whole way through, and I just became so invested in all of these characters – Bec, Riley, Solo. If you’re looking for a book that deals with gender fluidity, and identity, this is a must-read. Well, it should be a must-read anyway, but that goes without saying.
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If you have any recommendations for me, my comments section is right down below, and I always want LGBTQ books to read! The more diverse the better.

Happy reading!

Book Review – Making Love

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Title: Making Love

Author: Aidan Wayne

Synopsis: Carla the cupid is an excellent shot, but her chemistry is so bad that most of her matches don’t last. Her dream is to shoot a True Love pair, but until her scores improve, she’s relegated to the Puppy Love division of Aphrodite Agency.

Leeta, a succubus, is looking for a True Love match. Which is highly unusual, as most succubi are aromantic. But Aphrodite Agency—her only hope—turns her away because the receptionist can’t believe she’s not just looking for an easy meal.

Carla agrees to take Leeta’s case on freelance. She figures it’s a win-win: Carla gets to put a succubus’s True Love match on her résumé, and Leeta gets to find her True Love! Except as Carla tries to find a match for Leeta, she finds herself maybe . . . relieved when the matches don’t end well. And Leeta seems to be getting pickier and pickier. Things will never work out until Carla learns enough about chemistry to figure out who’s truly best for Leeta, and until Leeta can admit what—or who—she truly wants.

Rating: 3 stars

Review: I received this title from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was an incredibly short read – only just under 100 pages long in total – but it was sweet. When I saw this on Netgalley, I was intrigued by the notion of a romance between a succubus and a cupid, so I gave it a go.

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Personally I found it to be overly brief, if that makes any sense? There wasn’t a lot of character building, and everything seemed to be over with very quickly. If it had been a full length novel, I would have gotten into it more, but this was very short and over too fast.

 

 

The concept is fantastic, I admit, and after finishing my last ARC (a serious romance novel), I was delighted to be able to indulge in a spot of super-cute fluffiness, because it really was very cute. I loved the upbeat nature of Carla, and her determination to find True Love for everyone, even for someone whom everyone says is incapable of True Love. I do wish we had more character building for Carla and Leeta though – they have the potential for so much development, but the novella was so short that their whole interaction seemed rushed.

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If you’re looking for a cute novella to read over your lunch break, with a demisexual Cupid and a succubus who just wants love, then this is something you’d enjoy.

 

Making Love is due to be published by Riptide Publishing on Jan 30th 2017.

Book Review – Afraid To Fly

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Title: Afraid To Fly (Anchor Point #2)

Author: L.A Witt

Synopsis: Once a fearless fighter pilot, Commander Travis Wilson is now confined to a desk. It’s been eight years since the near-fatal crash that grounded him, and it still rules his life thanks to relentless back pain.

Lieutenant Commander Clint Fraser almost drowned in a bottle after a highly classified catastrophe while piloting a drone. His downward spiral cost him his marriage and kids, but he’s sober now and getting his life back on track. He’s traded drones for a desk, and he’s determined to reconcile with his kids and navigate the choppy waters of PTSD.

Clint has been on Travis’s radar ever since he transferred to Anchor Point. When Clint comes out to his colleagues, it’s a disaster, but there’s a silver lining: now that Travis knows Clint is into men, the chemistry between them explodes.

It’s all fun and games until emotions get involved. Clint’s never been in love with a man before. Travis has, and a decade later, that tragic ending still haunts him. Clint needs to coax him past his fear of crashing and burning again, or their love will be grounded before takeoff.

Rating: 3 and a half stars

Review:

I got this book from the publisher on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Between Travis and Clint, two military veterans, they don’t just have issues – they have the whole freakin’ subscription. Clint’s trying to regain his family life after alcohol destroyed it, and Travis is dealing with PTSD – his own, and his daughter’s – along with pain problems that give him serious limitations in daily life. However, one night after the Navy ball, they find comfort in each other, and things get romantic pretty quickly.

Okay, I have a lot of feelings about this.

Me before reading this (when I saw it was another L.A Witt book):

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Me halfway through:

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Me after finishing: 

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First of all, I love how both the main characters here are bisexual, and nobody at the base seems to really care about it. That’s just very nice to see some positive bi representation, especially in a military background like this.

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I also liked that both MCs were in their forties, instead of the usual early-20s twinks you tend to get in MxM fiction. The characters had history, and their own back-stories. Clint has his kids and his ex-wife that he’s unable to see, and Travis suffers from serious back pain that’s barely manageable even with his TENS machine and a whole load of pain medication.

However, the main thing I didn’t like was that there’s a whole lot of military jargon that’s difficult to understand if you’re not intimately familiar with it already. There were times when I found myself having to stop reading to Google what certain phrases and abbreviations meant, because I was clueless. That’s the downside which is why I brought my rating down to a three and a half star rating, because it is a big thing, but I enjoyed the book nonetheless.

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I’ve read quite a few of L.A Witt’s books in the past, and I always enjoy her writing – this was no exception. Despite the military jargon that caused me so much confusion, I found myself invested in the characters, and wanting them to have a happy ending. If you enjoy male on male romances with some sexual scenes, this is one for you.

 

Afraid To Fly is to be published on Jan 19th 2017 by Riptide Publishing.

Book Review – Symptoms of Being Human

Title: Symptoms of Being Human

Author: Jeff Garvin 22692740

Synopsis: The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Rating:  4 Stars

Review: This book has been on my TBR ever since it came out months ago, but I’ve only just been able to finally read it, and honestly, I wasn’t disappointed.

“The world isn’t binary. Everything isn’t black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it’s not a switch, it’s a dial. And it’s not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission or approval.”

 

Riley’s gender fluid – but also so far in the closet that he/she’s almost in Narnia. Riley also suffers from anxiety, which isn’t made any better by his/her dad running for re-election as a Congressman. Add onto that the normal stress of starting at a new school, and you’ve got a pretty messed up day to day life. Things start to seem a little better though, when Riley starts writing a blog under a pseudonym about being a gender fluid teenager, and he/she actually finds a cause to get behind.

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I absolutely loved this book from start to end – especially the character of Riley him/herself. One of my own original characters is a gender fluid character called Riley, so I found myself attached to this Riley from the start because of that, but as the book went on, I genuinely found myself empathising with this Riley and what they were going through.

 

I’m gender fluid. Not stupid.

 

I just loved Riley altogether – Riley’s snarky and sassy and will give as good as they get, but they’re also very emotional, and insightful. Some particular parts of the book just explain gender fluidity so well, even to someone who already understands it well enough.

 

It’s like I have a compass in my chest, but instead of north and south, the needle moves between masculine and feminine.

 

One of the things I really appreciate as well, is that despite the events that happen near the end of the book, we never find out what biological sex Riley is – because it doesn’t matter. Riley is both a boy and a girl and somewhere in the middle, and the point of this whole narrative is that it doesn’t matter what’s between Riley’s legs, or between anyone’s. It’s the person who matters, not their genitals. That’s just a lovely concept, isn’t it?

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As for the supporting characters, I found Riley’s friends Solo and Bec to be a little off at the start, but I warmed to them quickly. I ended up disliking both Riley’s parents through most of the book, just by how they were acting, but they redeemed themselves eventually.

 

Want to hear some of my favourite parts? Of course you do. Here you go:

 

“People do judge books by their covers; it’s human nature. They react to the way you look before they hear a single word that comes out of your mouth.”

 

“My mom says crying is just your body expelling all the bad stuff. Like a sneeze. Like your soul sneezing.”

 

“That’s none of your business,” I say. “And, while I’m flattered by your interest, you’re really not my type.”

 

I give this book a four star rating because despite loving it, and having absolutely devoured it within the course of one day, it doesn’t make me want to squeal with excitement and fangirl about like other books do. It’s great, but not fangirl-worthy for me at least.

Book Review – The Summer I Wasn’t Me

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Title: The Summer I Wasn’t Me

Author: Jessica Verdi

Synopsis: Lexi has a secret.

She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there’s nothing she wants more than to start over.

But sometimes love has its own path…

Rating: 4 stars

Review: Why, why, WHY do I torture myself with angsty LGBT books? Even when they have happy endings…..wait, that’s why I do it.

Lexi voluntarily signs herself up for de-gayifying camp so she doesn’t cause her mum any stress or trouble, but when she gets there, she ends up falling for an absolutely gorgeous girl. Problem? The other girl’s there to rid herself of the ‘gayness’ as well.

“I didn’t want to marry Mr Darcy. I wanted to marry Elizabeth Bennet.”

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This book deals with a lot of serious issues – the problems with homosexual therapy camps, religious views on homosexuality, suppressed sexuality, sexual abuse, even family bereavement – and the way that Jessica Verdi deals with them is just perfect. They’re not brushed aside, and they’re not ignored, which is amazing to read, no matter how serious the story is.

The characters were all portrayed great as well – especially Matthew, one of the boys that Lexi befriends at the camp. He’s defiant, and unapologetic, and a damn good friend. He’s not perfect, obviously – he doesn’t know when to shut up sometimes – but that’s what makes him more realistic. I would love to meet a real-life equivalent to Matthew.

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Admittedly, the whole cult vibe of the camp, and the behaviour of the head guy Mr Martin made me so angry, but the relationship between Lexi and Carolyn made it all worth it in the end. They bond over ‘The Great Gatsby’, even leaving each other messages in the margins of the novel, and they confide in each other, and eep. It’s just so adorable!

“I guess I belong to the Church of Running. And now the Church of Gatsby.” When I read that last part, an incredible warmth fills me right down to my soul.

I think my favourite part is definitely when Mr Martin tries to convince them that things like Harry Potter are corrupting them, and one of the other boys in the camp retorts with some well-reasoned facts about the actual themes of Harry Potter.

“Harry Potter is luring innocent children to witchcraft and the occult,” he explains. “It teaches that you can leave the world of structure, safety and family and go to a place where the rules don’t apply.”

Ugh, such bullshit.

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If you want to read something that’s LGBT but with a religious undertone to it, I thoroughly recommend this. As this review so succinctly said,

Take “But I’m a Cheerleader”, replace comedy with drama, keep the happy ending.

Yep, pretty much.