2

The Boxer and the Butterfly: A Romance Full of Floats and Stings

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The Boxer and the Butterfly

Autumn Chamberlain has everything: a rich family, connections and a perfect GPA. Autumn’s satisfied being the perfect daughter until she engages in a game of dare and loses.

Her punishment for destroying school property? Tell her parents and face the consequences or tutor bad boy, Mickey Costello. The problem? He’s the principal’s nephew and has more demons than Autumn could’ve ever imagined.

Living life on the edge, Mickey’s everything she isn’t. Once tutoring begins, he shows her a world where everything that glitters isn’t gold. As their attraction grows, long buried secrets resurface. Inside the ring Mickey’s never lost a fight, but when tragedies come back to haunt him, he’ll have to conquer past sins, guilt and a hate crime that pushes them both to the edge. Can Mickey fight his way through his troubled past to have a future with Autumn or will the truth shatter them both forever?

YA/Contemporary/Romance/Diverse Reads
353 Pages
Evernight Teen Publishing
Publication Date: October 21st, 2016
Get a copy here!

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: some mature themes and situations; these characters are endearing and easy to love; tons of character growth; intense scenes; some unexpected plot twists; just a small case of, “woah, slow down, you’re moving too fast!”; whirlwind romance; diverse loves/characters

Huge thanks to Sasha Hibbs and Evernight Teen Publishing for sending me a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Firstly, penguins–there are some mature themes and situations in this book. There is one scene, in particular, in which a hate crime takes place. There is also a mention of parental, physical abuse. The main male character, Mickey, is ALSO a fighter in an underground boxing ring–and several fights are detailed from the POV of our narrator. If you are a sensitive reader or are easily triggered by acts of violence or abuse, please make sure you keep yourself safe. This might not be the read for you.

That being said–there is SO MUCH character growth happening in these pages! I will be honest: at the start of this read, I really loathed Autumn. She was snooty; she was spoiled, even if she didn’t realize it. She came off as the kind of character I generally don’t like. BUT. I promise you, penguins, she changes–and quickly. Autumn shows so much growth throughout this journey, I was left with a cricked neck, so hard was I craning to keep up with her as she ran. Autumn’s parents also make quite a shift in their ways at the end of this book, and Mickey has a growth journey all his own. In all, this book most closely focused on growth…and the ways it can both drive us apart and bring us together. The many, MANY ways it can change us, touch us, push us.

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This plot is FAST. In fact, I found myself doubting, at times, the romance aspect itself–I felt as if Autumn and Mickey weren’t so much falling in love, as throwing themselves off a cliff in hopes of flying. Of course, this doesn’t mean it was badly written–there was, it turns out, a reason for the set up. The rest of the events were well-paced and believable–and there were several moments I was sure my heart had stopped. This is a heart-wrenching, beautiful read with so many important subjects and morals; Sasha Hibbs did a great job crafting this to make exactly the points she wanted to.

Overall, this was a fluffy romance with just the right touches of danger and drama. I really enjoyed following Autumn and Mickey on their journeys–both together and apart. It seems every character featured had some small amount of growth, some tiny lesson to both learn themselves and share with readers. I will be seeking out more of Sasha Hibbs in the future. For now, I recommend THIS book to readers of contemporary romance, star-crossed loves, and journeys that pack an emotional punch. This read is a knock-out; why don’t you step into the ring and take it on?

2

In A Gilded Cage: This Rapunzel Prefers Strawberry Sundaes

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In a Gilded Cage

Lucci Grimley is indeed alluring—crowned with a mane of long blond hair, and blessed with an enchanting musical talent that draws a brave rescuer to a high tower hidden in the forest.

However, this modern-day Rapunzel is a young man, sold as a child to the wealthy and childless Damien Gotham for the price of a fast car and a pile of cash. And Lucci’s heroic prince is William “Prin” Prinzing, a handsome college student and star soccer player, hired to care for the grounds of the lavish Tower Estate. Prin climbs an extension ladder rather than a long golden braid to gain access to Lucci’s second floor bedroom window, ultimately penetrating the secrecy surrounding the cloistered young man.

Friendship, and soon romance, blooms. The tower captive eagerly gives his loving innocence to his brave rescuer, which sends the strict and reclusive Gotham into a frenzy of jealous rage. With Prin, Lucci gets a taste of real life, and he wants more. Together, the young men must face Gotham’s ruthlessness and pay the price of liberating Lucci.

Romance (M/M) / Erotica / Retellings / Diverse Reads
166 Pages
Evernight Publishing
Publication Date: October 21st, 2016
Get a copy here!

3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: fluffy, steamy, adorable romance; I’m branching out again!; a disturbing, dark take on Rapunzel; seriously, the “father” was terrifying; quick read with lots of adorable, quirky moments; I love?! this relationship; diverse read!

Huge thanks to Mia Kerick, Evernight Publishing, and YA Bound Book Tours for sending me a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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As per usual lately, I want to start with a trigger warning for sensitive readers: there are some violent scenes, and there is abuse (mostly emotional/mental), present in this book. Please be careful, and keep yourselves safe!

Also, this book explores some very mature themes/ideas. There are several explicit M/M sex scenes. Ideas like abuse, human trafficking, self-discovery, self-harm, and diverse love all play a role in this read. If these upset you or make you uncomfortable, this is probably not the right fit for you. Keep that in mind!

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All that being said: I REALLY enjoyed this journey! The characters are endearing and adorable. I easily empathized with and found myself rooting for them both, in very different ways. I feel like the romance itself might have been just a little bit rushed, though. Given how little Lucci was allowed to experience the world, the insta-love on his end makes sense–Will is the first person to actually interact with and treat Lucci decently, so of course he’d be star-struck and infatuated. Will, after all, represents hope for Lucci. But I’m not sure it’s entirely believable, especially on Will’s end of things. He accepts his feelings toward Lucci almost TOO easily, in my opinion (having never been interested in anyone prior to this), and he doesn’t seem to struggle with it at all. Perhaps he’s just super resilient and adaptable, but I had a hard time believing it.

This was a quick read with some gorgeously written moments. I sat down intending to only read a small part of this…and ended up finishing it off within a couple of hours. The plot is well-paced, and I adored the ways Mia Kerick wove inspiration from Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretelthroughout the story. It’s a darker take, though–Lucci especially, while coming out stronger and standing on his own at the end, remains traumatized. So if you’re going into this read expecting a “magical happily ever after”…well, you won’t find it here. The ending is happy, of a sort, but it’s not all magically better.

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Overall, I enjoyed this read. The characters were mixed parts snarky and endearing; the plot was driven and easy to slip into; and the subject matter was just dark enough to test my comfort zone. I will be keeping an eye out for Mia Kerick in the future–I can’t wait to see where she leads readers next! I recommend this to readers of diverse romance, journeys that make a statement, and stories inspired by fairy tales. This was exactly the adorable, steamy, dark romance I’ve been craving! Now, on to the next one.

4

Saving Hamlet: With Two Worlds on Your Shoulders, You Gotta Stand Tall

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Emma Allen couldn’t be more excited to start her sophomore year. Not only is she the assistant stage manager for the drama club’s production of Hamlet, but her crush Brandon is directing, and she’s rocking a new haircut that’s sure to get his attention. But soon after school starts, everything goes haywire. Emma’s promoted to stage manager with zero experience, her best friend Lulu stops talking to her, and Josh–the adorable soccer boy who’s cast as the lead–turns out to be a disaster. It’s up to Emma to fix it all, but she has no clue where to start.

One night after rehearsal, Emma stays behind to think through her life’s latest crises and distractedly falls through the stage’s trap door . . . landing in the basement of the Globe Theater.

It’s London, 1601, and with her awesome new pixie cut, everyone thinks Emma’s a boy–even Will Shakespeare himself. With no clue how to get home, Emma gamely plays her role as backstage assistant to the original production of Hamlet, learning a thing or two about the theater, and meeting an incredibly hot actor named Alex who finds Emma as intriguing as she finds him. But once Emma starts traveling back and forth through time, things get really confusing. Which boy is the one for her? In which reality does she belong? Will Lulu ever forgive her? And can she possibly save two disastrous productions of Hamlet before time runs out?

LINKS: Amazon | B&N

molly-boothABOUT MOLLY BOOTH:

Molly Booth grew up homeschooled in Massachusetts with her four boisterous siblings. She stage managed for three different community theatres in high school. Her first college was Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown, MA; she then went on to study writing, literature, and Elizabethan history on a very cold hill at Marlboro College in Vermont. There, she wrote the first drafts of Saving Hamlet, her debut novel, coming 11/1/16 from Disney Hyperion. Her second book, Nothing Happened, will be coming spring 2018.

Molly also writes for The Mary Sue, and sometimes other sites like HelloGigglesThe Tempest, and McSweeney’s.  She spends most of her time snuggling her adorable dog Suzie, pet rats Meg and Marigold, and Harriet the queen cat.

She’s represented by Alex Slater at Trident Media Group, and edited by Kieran Viola at Disney Hyperion.

 

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram

Interested in winning a finished copy of this awesome read?!  CLICK BELOW (US entrants only, please)–

Giveaway:  THREE (3) Finished Copies of Saving Hamlet!


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4.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: hello, well-written diversity!; hugely entertaining; loaded with snark; love the mix of sci fi and historical fiction; complex, awesome characters; realistic “love” story; I laughed out loud–loudly!; such an entertaining, hilarious journey

Huge thanks to Molly Booth, Disney-Hyperion Publishers, Irish Banana Tours and Netgalley for granting me early access to this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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I have a confession to make, penguins. Lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of only skimming a book’s blurb once…and then going into the read basically blind. This is, in my opinion, the best decision I’ve ever made–because I never know for sure what to expect when picking up a book. It’s also, often, an exciting adventure. Take THIS book, for instance–I forgot everything about the blurb…except that there was something to do with Shakespeare/Hamlet. Imagine my surprise–and delight!–when the plot REALLY got underway and the time travel began! What I guess I’m saying is, if you’re the type of reader who lives for adventure, maybe you should think about adopting a similar habit.

Which is a round-about way of saying I ADORED this read! Particularly the diversity. There are several key characters from the LGBTQIA communities–and they are possibly the BEST and most well-written characters I’ve come across in YA fiction recently. They are complex, well-rounded, and individualized; they are in NO way the “token” diverse characters so many novels fall into the habit of employing. Lulu and Stanley (the two) were also my FAVORITE characters from this book, though only outranking the rest by just a little. I blame their fiercely independent and snarky tendencies–they were just too awesome to NOT love immediately.

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The plot is multi-layered and interesting. While not necessarily filled with a ton of action, I found myself on tenterhooks throughout the entire read–always wondering what was going to happen next. There are so many life lessons/morals floating throughout, including: self-confidence; self-love; acceptance; and tolerance. While Emma is on a journey toward confidence in and acceptance of herself, the rest of the crew face their own struggles and life lessons. There is so much going on, from page one–but Molly Booth blended everything into a seamless, cohesive, heart-wrenching, hilarious journey.

This was such a fun, awesome read–I am definitely impressed, and will be impatiently awaiting Molly Booth’s next release. I recommend this to lovers of time travel, diverse characters, and realistically-written romances. Also, a love for Shakespeare doesn’t hurt. Pick this book up, penguins–and let the giggle fest begin!

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2

Blog Tour and Review: Night Ringing

night-ringing-bannernight-ringing  “I revel in the genius of simplicity” Laura Foley writes as she gives us in plain-spoken but deeply lyrical moments, poems that explore a life filled with twists and turns and with many transformations. Through it all is a search for a fulfilling personal and sexual identity, a way to be most fully alive in the world. From multicultural love affairs through marriage with a much older man, through raising a family, through grief, to lesbian love affairs, “Night Ringing” is the portrait of a woman willing to take risks to find her own best way. And she does this with grace and wisdom. As she says: “All my life I’ve been swimming, not drowning.” -Patricia Fargnoli, author of “Winter, Duties of the Spirit, ” and “Then, Something

“I love the words and white space of poetry. I love stories even more. In this collection, Laura Foley evokes stories of crystallized moments, of quiet and overpowering emotion, of bathtubs and lemon chicken. The author grows up on the pages, comes of age, and reconciles past with present. Almost. Try to put the book down between poems to savor each experience. Try, but it won’t be easy. -Joni B. Cole, author of “Toxic Feedback, Helping Writers Survive and Thrive”

Plain-spoken and spare, Laura Foley’s poems in “Night Ringing” trace a life story through a series of brief scenes: separate, intense moments of perception, in which the speaker’s focus is arrested, when a moment opens to reveal a glimpse of the larger whole. Memories of a powerful, enigmatic father, a loving but elusive mother, a much older husband, thread Foley’s stories of childhood, marriage and motherhood, finally yielding to the pressure of her attention, as she constructs a series of escapes from family expectations, and moves toward a new life. In these lucid, intense poems, Foley’s quiet gaze, her concentration, and emotional accuracy of detail, render this collection real as rain. -Cynthia Huntington, author of “Heavenly Bodies”

Foley’s voice rings with quiet authority undercut by calamity, examining a life so extraordinary, she seems to have lived several people’s lives, setting a high bar for poetic craft she meets, in great mystery perfectly expressed in the tiny, quotidian, “spent matches pressed on wet pavement,” to soulful beauty, “as wind lifts/every shining wave”; in wisdom rooted in humor, from the deliciously funny “Flunking Jung,” to self-deprecating wit, misreading “poetic” as “pathetic,” reminding us wisdom is love, grown from self-compassion. -April Ossmann, author of “Anxious Music”

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About the Poet:Laura Foley is the author of five poetry collections. The Glass Tree won the Foreword Book of the Year Award, Silver, and was a Finalist for the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, Outstanding Book of Poetry. Joy Street won the Bi-Writer’s Award. Her poems have appeared in journals and magazines including Valparaiso Poetry Review, Inquiring Mind, Pulse Magazine, Poetry Nook, Lavender Review, The Mom Egg Review and in the British Aesthetica Magazine. She won Harpur Palate’s Milton Kessler Memorial Poetry Award and the Grand Prize for the Atlanta Review’s International Poetry Contest.

Find Her:
Website | Goodreads

Buy Night Ringing here:
Amazon


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4Penguins

Quick Reasons: gorgeous, powerful, poignant; the poetry in this collection is emotive, evocative, and thought-inspiring; while the progression isn’t always clear, it’s obvious there’s a story to be found here, interlaced with both the abstract and the realistic; human nature–and personal growth–are very strong focuses throughout

HUGE thanks to Laura Davies Foley and the crew atWorldwind Book Tours for sending me a copy of this poetry collection in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title.

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Let me just start by saying…. POETRY, HOW I MISS YOU!

I mean, honestly–this collection? makes me want to go out and scoop up as many poetry books as I can find, to devour, to be inspired by, to fall in love with. Laura Davies Foley has woven a journey–to self-acceptance, to loves and to heartbreaks, to the abstract and the realistic–that I both related to and was captivated by. This collection is FULL of human nature and the assurances that everything you do–even the worst mistakes you think you’ve ever made–make up exactly who you’re supposed to be, and that’s just beautiful to me, as a reader, to come across in poetry.

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The poetry herein is emotive and evocative. Subjects range from the abstract to the wholly realistic–from sea turtles on page one, to experimentation with partners later on. Marriage, children, divorce; happiness, disappointment, anger–all are touched upon and explored, a tapestry of emotions.

Every sense is ALSO brought into play, though sometimes more subtly than you’d expect. Laura Davies Foley chose her words with care in order to take readers along a path of reminiscences, heartaches, and self-discovery. Split into different sections, each portrays a different event in the poet’s life. Sometimes, this connection is easy to spot. Other times, readers will need to piece the seams together as the poems come.

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I really enjoyed basking in the beauty of Laura Davies Foley’s words–and the journey transcribed within these pages. There’s something heart-wrenching and honest about this collection that is bound to be relatable to even the newest readers of poetry. I definitely recommend this read to lovers of the poetic, the juxtaposition of abstract with realism, and seekers of an emotionally evocative journey. I am determined, after reading this exquisite collection, to read much more poetry in the near future!

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5

Of Better Blood: This World is Terrifying

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Of Better Blood

Goodreads Rating: 3.76 Stars
304 Pages
Aw Teen Publishing
Published: February 1st, 2016
Get a copy here!

Teenage polio survivor Rowan Collier is caught in the crossfire of a secret war against “the unfit.” It’s 1922, and eugenics the movement dedicated to racial purity and good breeding has taken hold in America. State laws allow institutions to sterilize minorities, the “feeble-minded,” and the poor, while local eugenics councils set up exhibits at county fairs with “fitter family” contests and propaganda. After years of being confined to hospitals, Rowan is recruited at sixteen to play a born cripple in a county fair eugenics exhibit. But gutsy, outspoken Dorchy befriends Rowan and helps her realize her own inner strength and bravery. The two escape the fair and end up at a summer camp on a desolate island run by the New England Eugenics Council. There they discover something is happening to the children. Rowan must find a way to stop the horrors on the island if she can escape them herself.”

5Penguins
Quick Reasons: life-ruiner!; the world in 1922 was absolutely terrifying, I am so glad I didn’t live there; this historical fiction is SUPER important, even today; lots of focus on human nature and ingrained paranoia; atmospheric, beautiful prose; the main character has a ton of personal growth; snarky, sassy characters made for some entertaining dialogue

HUGE thanks to Susan Moger, Media Masters Publicity, and Aw Teen Publishing for sending me a free copy of this title in exchange for an unbiased review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

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This book is terrifying. And not in a, “big vicious monsters and alternate worlds” sort of way. No, this book is terrifying in a completely realistic, human-nature and ingrained paranoia way. This book bleeds human nature, seeps each page in ingrained paranoia…and attempts to show readers how such judgments, how such actions, can be hugely damaging in the long-run. This story is packed with morals—and comes out a life-altering, breath-stopping read.

 

I thought, going into this, that the book was going to be nonlinear. The first few chapters are set up just as if it were—they jump times, they switch settings. They took me on a journey, and sucked me in. But once the backstory is established and Rowan’s journey begins, the time-hops stop. I didn’t notice much while reading; I was so focused on the story being woven around me, the trials and tribulations faced by our characters, that I didn’t even notice the world. I do wish the time skips had been kept throughout, even if only sporadically—they helped to show us the many different sides of the characters we grew to know so much about throughout the read. Regardless, I still love this book!

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The prose is gorgeous—poetic, atmospheric, and steeped with historical accuracy. While not every bit of this world is “real,” the ideas, the human-nature shown, all of it is realistic enough to leave me with goosebumps even now, almost a half hour after closing the covers.

 

And the characters! Rowan and Dorchy go through so much, and learn so much from each other—and the world around them. Rowan, especially, is marked by a wide-arcing and inspiring journey of self-discovery and self-love. While some of the other characters fall a bit flat and come off as 1-dimensional, I feel this is not so much a fault of the writing but instead a testament to how little Rowan, our main character, spent with those characters while such traumatizing and horrifying events were occurring. She was, after all, a bit preoccupied with other things. She was more concerned with making it through the events in one piece, and getting as many others out as possible—where Dorchy, her foil, was much more impulsive. Such vast differences helped to shape and mold our characters—and show readers that things are only impossible if YOU think they are.

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In my opinion, this book is SO important. It’s also absolutely terrifying—and wholly realistic. The lengths that people in Rowan’s world went to for the eugenics movement… There are no words to explain how impacted I was by this read, and the characters who so valiantly faced whatever obstacles were thrown at them. This is a life-ruiner, guys—if you’re a lover of historical fiction, stories focused on human nature/ingrained paranoia, or atmospheric prose, this is definitely the book for you! I recommend picking it up, for sure.

4

Teaser Review: The Steep and Thorny Way, by Cat Winters

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A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

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5 Stars

Quick Reasons: educational, awesome glimpse into 1920s Oregon; entertaining, fun characters; a sense of mystery and flair for drama; some interesting/unforseen plot twists; complex, heart-wrenching story; subtle but easy-to-spy influence/references to Shakespeare’s Hamlet; LIFE RUINER!

Huge thanks go out to Cat Winters, Amulet Books, and Netgalley for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered how I read or reviewed this book!

GUYS! I forgot how much I absolutely love love looooove reading historical fiction! And this?! This book is the perfect melting pot of historical, diverse, and absolutely brilliant. Also, apparently it’s a Hamlet retelling, which I didn’t know going in…but can definitely see now! I have to admit, when I found out that little tidbit, I squealed a bit TOO loudly in the husband’s ear. I don’t think he likes me very much right now; I proceeded to go on a five minute rant about how much I love Hamlet. Oops!

Also, my apologies, but you’re going to have to wait until February to see my full review. Rules are rules!

16

A Review of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli

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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.

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4.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: adorable characters; mature subject matter written with sensitivity and poise; realistic, hard-hitting, and fluffy all at once; striking, poignant prose; a small bit of “unravel it” mystery; many squee-worthy, giggle-inducing moments

This book is everything other reviewers have promised and more. I went in knowing there was a ton of hype surrounding this read, and unsure whether I’d agree. Lately, certain hyped books have not quite matched up to my standards, and I was worried I’d dive in only to find myself putting it down.

Instead…I dove in, and read the entire thing in one sitting. I feel this read can be summed up, for me, with just a few small words: exactly the type of realistic, hard-hitting, fluffy read I’ve been seeking! Okay, so maybe that’s more like a sentence worth of words…but you get the point! I adored this read, and am so glad I picked it up!

Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.

First things first: the POV. I was leary, headed in, that this would be just another first person narrative written to read more like a diary entry than a novel. And to be honest, it WAS written that way—Simon’s voice is so strong, so clear, so unique you can’t help but imagine him sitting at his desk, clacking away at the keyboard, summing everything up on a blog somewhere. The difference? Simon’s voice. He’s so quirky and entertaining, no one part of this read came off as redundant or boring. Instead of being, “so I did this, and then I ate, and then I showered, and then school happened…” it was more journey than I’d been expecting. We see, we breathe, we live the world through Simon’s eyes; every detail, every word, every nuance is branded with his own personal flair, and that brought a ton of personality to the book overall.

The characters, also, are entertaining and complex. Because of the nature of some of the subject matter, certain characters are given more focus than others—but they all sort of meld together in this clashing calamity of high school life and high school relationships. It’s so artfully realistic, it isn’t hard to slip into the story. Characters like Abby, Nick, Leah, Martin—they all weave themselves into a patchwork quilt of love and loathe, of friendships and frenemies. I tip my hat to Becky Albertalli for being able to strip this down to the most human aspects, and work the story up from there.

The way I feel about him is like a heartbeat — soft and persistent, underlying everything.

The romance, also, is pretty realistic and almost “natural” for our time. The anonymity that the internet provided for our love birds enabled us to see them (particularly Simon) through different eyes—because in those moments, Simon as his alter ego is more the Simon he WANTS to be. It’s interesting, and awesome, to be able to learn about and see them as their walls come down and things begin slipping through the cracks—and watch as they stumble more fully into the people they’d rather be than the masks they wear around the rest of the world.

I feel the need to point out that there IS some bullying happening here, especially near the middle of the book. There are certain things said that might offend or insult, so if things like that get to you, only read this if you’re certain you can handle it.

People really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.

I really enjoyed this read and am so so glad I decided to kick off the new year with it! I can’t wait to see what Becky Albertalli has in store for readers in the future. I’d definitely recommend this to lovers of contemporary reads, fluffy romance with a flair for drama/hard-hitting subjects, and diverse characters. 2016, keep it up—you started off fantastically already!