Book Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

This is my FAVORITE Creekwood book. Like, Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was great, but this one spoke directly to my soul.

Leah Burke is LITERALLY me. In high school I was the impoverished bi girl who had severe mental illness issues and preferred to BURN EVERYTHING TO THE GROUND rather than let anything slightly inconvenience me.

She, of course, has more supportive friends and family than I did, but her character resonated so much with me I literally cannot stop yelling about it.

All her fears, her wants, her needs…everything. She’s literally perfect. Or…well…fundamentally flawed, which is how I like my characters.

Her relationship with Abby literally had me SCREAMING for most of the book. They’re so cute and so precious. And I really wish they’d gotten together in book 1, but alas. It wouldn’t have been as sweet, in my opinion.

But seriously, Leah is my absolute favorite. And I feel like she really got shafted in the Love, Simon film because they made her openly like Simon. That does not fit her character at all, she only liked Simon when they were really young. Then she had a crush on his older sister.

I did spend a little bit of the book hoping she’d fall for Simon’s younger sister, but Leah/Abby is my OTP for life now.

This book is one of my absolute favorites!

Overall rating: ★★★★★★★★★★
(10/5 Stars. )

Rating breakdown:

Prose: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Plot: 💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜
Characterization: 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕
Boredom meter: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

More About Leah on the Offbeat

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Get your copy here on Amazon.

Review: Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Oh my hecc, I don’t know how I waited so long to read this book! I even saw the movie first, but the book is so much better!

I feel like the movie really missed a lot of the best things about the book. Like, Abby being a literal cinnamon roll and Leah having Borderline Personality Disorder. Plus, the whole arc between Simon and his nemesis Martin was way better in the book.

In the movie it made things more about Simon’s relationship falling apart with his friends, but in the book it was more about Simon and his friends rallying around him surrounding this. There were other ways where his friendships sort of fell apart and mended throughout the story and none of it revolved around Simon’s sexuality. Not really.

The love letters between him and his love interest literally melted my whole heart. This was such a good coming of age queer story I literally am so mad at myself for not reading it until NOW. Like how could my gay ass miss this?

I absolutely LOVED it too. Simon is such a sweetheart, but my fave is Leah! Obviously. Haha. I can’t wait to read more books by Becky Albertalli!

Overall rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(5/5 Stars. )

Rating breakdown:

Prose: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
Plot: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
Characterization: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
Boredom meter: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

More about Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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.

Get your copy here on Amazon.

Book Review: I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

I really liked this book, but the writing style was actually really hard for me to get into. So it took me quite a long time to read it because of this.

The romance was really sweet, I thought Ben and Nathan meshed really well together. And Ben really needed some good in their life after what happened with their parents after they came out. Like that for SURE broke my heart.

I wish Ben had a better relationship with their sister. I did really enjoy their relationship with their best friend, Miriam. Who was also my favorite character in the entire book.

I felt like a lot of the other characters outside of Nathan, Miriam, and Ben were very flat. Which makes sense since they were only supporting characters, but considering side characters always end up being my favorites in a book, I was a little sad about this.

And I don’t know if it’s because I listened to the audio book instead of reading an ebook or print book, but I really genuinely had a hard time getting into the story. It was very, very good, but I did struggle a little bit.

I felt like the narrative was a little lacking. The story was good, it was a very good queer story. And I loved how Ben spoke about being bisexual for males and other non-binary people because it is so rare to see people actually understand bisexuality.

Overall rating: ★★★★
(4/5 Stars. )

Rating breakdown:

Prose: 🥳🥳🥳🥳
Plot: 💅💅💅💅
Characterization: 👯‍♂️👯‍♂️👯‍♂️
Boredom meter: 🔥🔥🔥

More About I Wish You All the Best

When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.

Get your copy here on Amazon.

Review: Return to Sender by Roberta Blablanski

I am literally still happy sobbing as I type this. I am so glad I read this book!

This story is so beautiful and kind from the very beginning. I’m not a fan of M/M stories, which I know is really unfair because I’m an LGBTQIA+ author, but I find that most M/M stories are not written by people in the community and aren’t a good representation of gay culture as a whole, but that was definitely not the case with Return to Sender.

From the very beginning, this story had me hooked. The romance and family and just love in this book had me crying happy and sad and just emotional tears almost the whole time I was reading it.

I read this story in literally a single day. It’s a novella, so it wasn’t that hard, but that is a feat for me. I usually have to keep putting books down to do other things, but this book in particular just really spoke to me and was always on my mind.

I loved that all the smut scenes were fade to black because that was so on brand for Drew and Wes! They deserved all their privacy and their secret stolen moments after everything they’d been through.

The writing was amazing and expressive and full of emotion and I didn’t ever once think “this is a first-person POV novel” because I was never pulled out of the narrative long enough to ever question anything about the mechanics of the book. I cannot praise Return to Sender enough. It was truly an amazing read.

Roberta, this story was literally brilliant. I cannot think of a story more deserving of a 5-star review from me. I loved it so much and I cannot wait to see what you write next.

Overall rating: ★★★★★
(5/5 Stars)

Rating breakdown:
Prose: 👍👍👍👍👍
Plot: 😄😄😄😄😄
Characterization: 👨‍🔧👨‍🏫👧👨‍🔧👨‍🏫
Boredom meter: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

This book brought me so much joy and so much pain. Honestly, I recommend it to everyone who loves LGBT lit.

Review: The Poison Within by R. M. Pearcy

This is the second book by R M Pearcy that I have read and it was AMAZING.

I loved the worldbuilding and the map and almost all the characters. Plus the descriptions? were fantastic. I got so lost in the story I felt like I was there and that’s all I ever want out of a book.

To be honest, though, I wasn’t a huge fan of Cam because she was kind of just blah, buy Rya, Norell, and Thane? I LOVED them. I was a huge fan of the love story between Cam and Rya mostly because of how different they were and how Cam threatened to kill an assassin to save her.

Though I just had a really hard time connecting with Cam throughout the story.

Rya, though. Rya’s my girl. As someone who has been through physical and emotional abuse, I really understood her. I understood her choices and all of the seemingly bad things she did. I too am not a bad person, but people view me as such because of my no tolerance policy for bullies, abusers, and bad people. I get it, Rya. I see you.

I really didn’t like Norell in the beginning, but she grew on me. Especially when she met up with the Ebez, but I really would have liked to see her stay behind and learn from them. I get that her life was in the Ashen Forest, but she could’ve stayed for a little while to connect with family after they brought Rya to the Obsidian Isles.

I think the only thing I really had a huge issue with was the ending. It kind of ends really abruptly and I feel like I would’ve liked an Epilogue if this is going to be the last we see of these characters. Other than that, this book really was truly great. I would recommend it for anyone who is interested in F/F romance and fantasy worlds.

Overall rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(5/5 Stars. )

Rating breakdown:
Prose: 👍👍👍👍 👍
Plot: 😄😄😄😄😄
Characterization: 👸👸👸👸
Boredom meter: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Very excited to see what R. M. Pearcy comes out with next.

Book Review: Not Your Sidekick by C.B Lee

I listened to this book on Audible as I do with most of my traditionally published reads these days.

Also, has anyone else noticed my penchant to read Asian Authors who write LGBT? Malinda Lo, Stephanie Ahn, Natasha Ngan, and now C.B Lee.

Not Your Sidekick is a book that follows Jessica Tran, a very awkward disaster bi (who is openly bi in the book) with a crush on the beautiful Abby Jones.

Now with the whole crushy crush business out of the way, allow me to tell you, while there is plenty of cute mushy (and awkward) moments between Abby and Jess, most of the story revolves around Jess trying to find out if she has superpowers.

There has been a crazy influx in superpower books being published as of late. I know, because I’ve read a bunch of them. Because for some reason, and thank god for this, a lot of them are LGBT (with a focus on FF) and this one did not disappoint.

Not only is bisexuality represented, so is homosexuality, transsexuality, and heterosexuality. Hell, there’s probably a few ace people sprinkled in, but I’m only listing what people openly identified as in the book.

The story is excellent. There are times where I felt it was a little too juvenile for me, but since I’m well over the age of the main characters, this was to be expected. This is an excellent YA title with LGBT themes.

I absolutely adored the awkward slow burn between Abby and Jess and the side flirtation between Bells and Emma. I am really, REALLY looking forward to the second book with Bells as the narrator: Not Your Villain that is on my TBR next!

Overall rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5 Stars.)

Rating breakdown:

Prose: 👍👍👍👍
Plot: 😄😄😄😄
Characterization: 👩👩👩
Boredom meter: 🔥🔥🔥

I loved this book, but sometimes the characters could come over really whiny or one-dimensional. And I’m really mad about what happened to Claudia.

Book Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Going into this book I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it was an LGBT read, and anyone who knows me knows those are my kryptonite, as in I will literally give any LGBT book or author a chance in the name of supporting LGBT becoming a future staple of the writing industry.

A lot of reviews of this book were on the negative side, bashing Ngan for writing a book containing a lesbian relationship. Because, god forbid gays find the representation they deserve in the writing community 🙄 .

Let me start this review by saying this book has excellent worldbuilding. There were so many times where I sat here in silence processing the beautiful picture Ngan paints.

The moon caste demons are a feast for the eyes. Their descriptions are rich and wondrous. So are the steel caste demons and hell, even the descriptions of the paper caste humans were incredible.

I was so invested in the world Ngan created I definitely slacked off on reading all my other books. I have to say I was a little disappointed that Lei fell in love with a paper caste woman and not a moon or steel caste, but that’s just the teratophiliac in me.

There was one thing other than the world building and characterization I found to be incredible. And it isn’t something a lot of people think about, but there’s a scene in the book where Lei wonders why it’s okay for men to be with other men while it was taboo for women to be with other women.

To be honest, I think this reflects keenly on the writing industry as a whole. The entire reason I became an author was because of this whole mess of MM books being the only LGBT offerings when the world needed more FF representation (and rep for the more marginalized LGBT groups: trans, bi, poly, pan, ace, etc.). That scene really struck a chord with me because of this.

Now, Ngan may not have meant it that way, but that’s how I interpreted it and it made me feel really seen.

I cannot wait to read book 2.

Overall rating:★★
4/5 stars

Rating breakdown

Prose: 😻😻😻😻😻

Plot: 👹👹👹👹

Characterization: 👩‍❤️‍💋‍👩 👩‍❤️‍💋‍👩 👩‍❤️‍💋‍👩

Boredom meter: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

The beginning was really slow to start and it took me a long time to get into it, but once I hit my stride, I listened to it every single night.

More about Girls of Paper and Fire

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.

But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

TW: violence and sexual abuse.