Audio Book Review: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, Narrated by Logan Rozos

Book: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, Narrated by Logan Rozos

Published May 2020 by HarperAudio|Length: 8 hours, 24 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

FROM STONEWALL AND LAMBDA AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR KACEN CALLENDER COMES A REVELATORY YA NOVEL ABOUT A TRANSGENDER TEEN GRAPPLING WITH IDENTITY AND SELF-DISCOVERY WHILE FALLING IN LOVE FOR THE FIRST TIME.

Felix Love has never been in love – and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but hime to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many – Black, queer, and transgender – to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages – after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned – Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi-love triangle…

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning a self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself. ‘FELIX EVER AFTER’ is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

I really liked Felix Ever After!  I’m really glad I read it.

I really felt for Felix, and I hated that someone was so jealous of him that they shared a name and photos that they had no right to share.  I was so angry for him, and the person behind it had no right to do what they did.  I hate that his existence is considering flaunting, and I’m glad that person is no longer around.  All I’m going to say is that people are horrible.  Absolutely horrible.  It’s brutal, and hard to listen to, so please keep that in mind if you pick this book up.  But it’s important to not shy away from something just because it’s hard to listen to.  It’s a big part of Felix’s life in this book.

Even with the messages he was getting, Felix learned a lot about himself.  He learned to recognize that he has a father who loves him, no matter what.  Even though things aren’t easy for them, we see that money isn’t everything, and doesn’t make up for parents who don’t care about their kids, or that his parents didn’t disown him because he’s gay.  Yes, he sees some of his classmates as privileged, but that is definitely challenged as he learns more about them.  Things aren’t what they seem, and I liked seeing Felix see that.

I loved seeing Felix see that he deserves love and letting it into his life.  He’s a good kid, and I just want all of the happiness, joy and love in the world for him.  We all want love, but we also have to accept that we are worthy of it.  It’s not always an easy path, but I’m glad Felix found love.  He has such a great group of friends, and he has a lot of support, even though it was hard for him to accept for a long time.  Still, I’m glad he has some people in his corner.  He really needed it!

He’s not sure about his gender identity but takes the time to think and learn and question it.  He is comfortable and okay with who he is, even if he’s not always sure who he is.  Honestly, I just wanted to give Felix a hug.  I know it won’t make things better for him, and I know transphobia will always be a part of his life.  I know people are judgmental as hell, and not willing to looking part surfaces to who people really are.  Felix made a lot of decisions out of anger, fear and hurt, and that’s something I think I would have done as well.  He reaches out to others, though, and that’s a huge step because he realizes he’s not alone.  There are people going through something similar, and he has people he can lean on if he has questions or needs some support.

I love the cover!  It’s absolutely beautiful, and I really hope it’s one of Felix’s self-portraits.  If I could have that cover hanging on my wall, I absolutely would.

And Logan Rozos did a great job narrating.  I will say, since I did go for the audio book, it was sometimes hard to distinguish between Felix’s thoughts and his conversations with someone.  I’m sure it would have been a lot more clear if I read it in print (at least, I hope so), but it wasn’t something that was really clear when I was listening.  Still, it’s great on audio, and I really recommend this book, regardless of how you read it.

4 stars.  This is such a great book, and worth reading!

Book Review: Rent A Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Book: Rent A Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Published November 2020 by Simon Schuster Books For Young Readers|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets The Farewell in this incisive romantic comedy about a college student who hires a fake boyfriend to appease her traditional Taiwanese parents, to disastrous results, from the acclaimed author of American Panda.

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?

I really liked Rent A Boyfriend!  I really liked Chloe and Drew, and I really felt for both of them.

As much as I liked this book, and (some of) the characters, I found that I was angry at Chloe’s parents for most of the book.  I know they want to make sure she’s okay and taken care of and happy, especially in the wake of her dad’s illness.  She’s more than capable of taking care of herself, and she doesn’t need a guy to take care of her.  Of course, love’s important, but it’s sad they’re pushing her to someone she doesn’t want and who is pretty terrible person.  I’m angry that they didn’t tell her why they were pushing so hard for her to get married, I’m angry that her virginity was a selling point, and that not being a virgin would ruin her, and I’m angry that she had to rent a boyfriend so they’d leave her alone, only for them to still push her towards Hongbo.

It also makes me sad that this is something she needs to worry about and deal with.  She eventually tells her parents about Drew, and while it makes things really difficult between them, they do come around.  I understand why she feels like two different people and being ourselves around family can be really hard.  Especially with her parents, but she figure out what she wants and becomes honest about it, even though it’s really hard and it gets complicated along the way.

I like her and Drew together.  I loved their random conversations, and their text messages, and they’re just really cute together.  Meeting each other ended up being a really good thing for both of them.  It’s a really cute romance while also dealing with some pretty serious things.  There was a really good balance between everything.  If you like the fake relationship turning into a real one trope, this is a great book for you!

I’m glad we got to see his POV, because I really liked seeing how he saw things.  Don’t get me wrong, we spend plenty of time with Chloe, and I’m glad we do, but it was also nice to get a different take on things, and see how he saw her.  Also, I’m sad for Drew.  Chloe has her own issues to deal with, but so does Drew.  And it just made me sad that his parents cut him off just because he’s an artist, and wants to pursue that.  Also, the comparison to someone he didn’t know made me sad for him as well.

I totally want to use sleep loose from now on, by the way.  It’s totally random, but true!

I really liked Chloe, and I can relate to how insecure she is.  It’s no wonder she is, with all the things she’s heard over the years.  Words have more of an impact than people think, and though people might not mean to be hurtful or think they’re actually helping, it doesn’t mean that words don’t hurt, and that we don’t internalize it and start to believe it.  I think it’s part of why I was so angry on her behalf.  I really do hope that things get better between Chloe and her parents, and that they (but especially her mom) are more accepting of her.

4 stars.  I really liked Rent A Boyfriend.  I was angry and sad but also happy and this is a cute romance with some seriousness as well.  I’m glad I picked this book up!

Audio Book Review: Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera, Narrated by Lillian Claire

Book: Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera, Narrated by Lillian Claire

Published July 2016 by Audible Studios|Run Time: 7 hours, 35 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

I liked Juliet Takes A Breath!  Juliet’s pretty cool, and I loved seeing her as an intern in Portland.  She learns a lot about herself and others, and it was great to be along for the journey.

I was pretty angry at her family when she came out to them.  I was angry that they saw it as a joke, and didn’t take it seriously.  I was angry that they saw it as a phase she’ll grow out of.  I know not everyone has supportive families, but I still found myself angry at them and their reaction, because Juliet deserves so much better than that.

She had quite the summer in Portland.  She’s a world away from New York, and her time in Portland wasn’t what she expected.  We see social justice, feminism, race, sexuality, and how they do (or do not) intersect.  We see that the people we look up to are flawed, and that meeting our heroes can be hard, and that they’re not who we thought they were.  That the words they write can be hard to separate from the person writing them, and that they can get some things wrong, while also getting some things right.  That people can be allies in some ways, but ignorant in other ways.  I can see why Juliet clung to Harlowe’s book- we all have that something we hold onto for dear life, that thing that means the world to us, and the realization that we can’t put the creator of it on a pedestal.  Still, I’m sad that Harlowe was great in some ways, but horrible in other ways, and that Juliet had a front row seat for it.

Still, I loved some of the people Juliet met over the course of the summer, and I hope that she stays in contact with some of them.  Like Kira, and Harlowe’s ex.  And the women from the workshop that wanted Juliet to submit her story to the anthology she was putting together.  I wish I could remember their names, but they seemed really cool and supportive, and I hope Juliet talks to them long after the book is over.  I also hope Juliet’s family comes around as well, and they’ll be more accepting of her and whoever she brings home to meet them.

Honestly, I just enjoyed seeing Juliet figure things out and what she learned about life, other people, and herself.  She has a clear, honest voice, and I found myself rooting for her the whole time.

3 stars.  I didn’t love Juliet takes a breath, but I still liked it!  Juliet had an interesting summer, and I was glad I was there for it.

Book Review: Harley In The Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Book: Harley In The Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Published March 2020 by Simon Pulse|416 Pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

The Greatest Showman meets This Is Us by way of Sarah Dessen in this heart-wrenching, hopeful contemporary novel about a multiracial teen who risks it all to follow her dreams by joining the circus, from the critically acclaimed author of Starfish.

Harley Milano has dreamed of becoming a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her heart and soul that she would be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family, and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion, and collaboration. At the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.

From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, unforgettable examination of love, loyalty, and the hard choices we must make to find where we truly belong.

I loved Harley In The Sky!  It’s such a beautiful book, and I loved it so much I ended up buying a copy to keep on my shelf.

I really loved Harley, who has to deal with a lot.  She left her family and friends behind, and hardly talks to them.  I loved the emails from her mom, though, and I really felt for her mom.  It seemed like her mom really loved her and wanted the best for her, even though Harley didn’t see it.  I also really felt like her mom regretted some of the things she did, in terms of how she dealt with Harley.

I understood why her mom acted the way she did.  It made a lot of sense, and once I read that part of the book, everything really fell into place for her mom.  Okay, this isn’t about Harley’s mom, but what Harley wants and what her parents want for her lead Harley to leave the family circus to join another one.  She betrays her family to follow her dream of being a trapeze artist, and while I love that she wants to follow her dream, I also hate how she does it.

Things aren’t easy for her at this new circus, but I also feel like Harley learns a lot.  Not just about being a trapeze artist but who she is.  She learns some very hard lessons along the way, and the guy running Maison is a horrible, horrible person.  I really hated that guy, and I felt really bad that Harley was taken advantage of.  He is not a good guy, and even though Harley made some friends at Maison, I was also glad when she realized she wanted to go home.

I was crying by the end, and I was glad Harley was able to work things out with her parents.  Things aren’t going to be easy for them- and for Harley especially- but it seems like they’re headed to a better place.  It seems like Harley may have some mental health stuff going on as well.  It wasn’t directly mentioned, but it was hinted at, and I hope that is something she works on and gets help for.

5 stars.  I LOVED Harley In The Sky, and it was worth reading.

Book Review: Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

Book: Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

Published March 2020 by Katherine Tegen Books|240 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

The world is not tame.

Ashley knows this truth deep in her bones, more at home with trees overhead than a roof. So when she goes hiking in the Smokies with her friends for a night of partying, the falling dark and creaking trees are second nature to her. But people are not tame either. And when Ashley catches her boyfriend with another girl, drunken rage sends her running into the night, stopped only by a nasty fall into a ravine. Morning brings the realization that she’s alone – and far off trail. Lost in undisturbed forest and with nothing but the clothes on her back, Ashley must figure out how to survive despite the red streak of infection creeping up her leg.

I am glad I picked up Be Not Far From Me!  I really liked Ashley’s story, and I really liked this book!

If you like survival stories, this is the book for you!  I’m amazed Ashley managed to stay alive, but if anyone could, I think it would be her.  She seemed pretty equipped to stay alive, and definitely spent enough time both hiking in the woods and being outdoors to know how to stay alive long enough to get find someone who could get her help.

I knew she’d survive- this is YA after all, but I really liked seeing how she survived, alone in the forest, with an infection creeping up her leg.  I’m pretty impressed she got out of the forest relatively okay.  She has a long road to recovery ahead of her.

The fact that she went through a lot trying to get out of there…I don’t know know that I would have been able to do what she did in order to save herself.  Her recovery isn’t going to be just a physical recovery, but an emotional/mental one as well.

The writing was beautiful and you could tell in the way Ashley thought about the forest.  It was clear she had a lot of respect for the forest and nature and the circle of life.  It was clear she understood nature does what it does, and that the world is not a tame place to live.

The great outdoors is her home away from home, but in her time trying to get back home, she does realize that home is a pretty important place to be.  She realizes a lot, because she has a lot of time to think and appreciate what she has back at home.  I’d probably feel the same way if I were her.

Ashley was pretty easy to relate to, and I thought she handled everything pretty well.  I’m not sure I would have handled it that well, but I’m also not the hiking in the woods type.  I did like that about her, though.  It seems to fit her pretty well, and I think it’s pretty cool she’s into hiking.

I also really admire that she wanted to go back and find her former camp counselor.  I’d like to think I’d go back and get him, just so his family has closure but I think it would also terrify me after going through what she went through.  Ashley is pretty awesome, and she is most definitely a survivor.

4 stars.  I really liked Be Not Far From Me, and I especially liked the moment the title made sense.  It really fits what Ashley went through to survive.

 

Book Review: The Gravity Of Us by Phil Stamper

Book: The Gravity Of Us by Phil Stamper

Published February 2020 by Bloomsbury UK|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

In this smart, heart-warming YA debut perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, two teens find love when their lives are uprooted for their parents’ involvement in a NASA mission to Mars.

Cal wants to be a journalist, and he’s already well underway with almost half a million followers on his FlashFame app and an upcoming internship at Buzzfeed. But his plans are derailed when his pilot father is selected for a highly-publicized NASA mission to Mars. Within days, Cal and his parents leave Brooklyn for hot and humid Houston.

With the entire nation desperate for any new information about the astronauts, Cal finds himself thrust in the middle of a media circus. Suddenly his life is more like a reality TV show, with his constantly bickering parents struggling with their roles as the “perfect American family.”

And then Cal meets Leon, whose mother is another astronaut on the mission, and he finds himself falling head over heels–and fast. They become an oasis for each other amid the craziness of this whole experience. As their relationship grows, so does the frenzy surrounding the Mars mission, and when secrets are revealed about ulterior motives of the program, Cal must find a way to get to the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

I really liked The Gravity Of Us!  I was intrigued, of course, but also not sure if I would like it.  I am so glad I picked this book up!

I really liked Cal, and what I felt for him.  Especially with everything that happened with Kiera, who seemed so cool at first.  But she ended up not being as cool as I thought she would be, and what she did was pretty horrible.  And his life changed because of his dad’s desire to be an astronaut.  Who didn’t want to be an astronaut as a kid, though?

Life definitely wasn’t perfect in Houston, and not how reality t.v. made it seem.  He made fast friends with Leo and Kat, and overall, I liked seeing how the whole community came together to make the Mars mission happen.  There were a lot of ups and downs, of course, and Star Watch really took things out of context.  That wasn’t surprising at all, and it felt very realistic.  I loved how Cal stood up for Mrs. Bannon, and that overall, he wanted people to see things how they really were.  I’d definitely follow Cal, if he were a real person.

I loved that it was about keeping NASA funded and getting to Mars!  I don’t pay attention to NASA enough, but with reading this book, I felt really excited that they got to see people travel to Mars!  I can’t help but wonder if that’s what it was like when we went to the moon decades ago.

I really liked seeing that Cal’s family wasn’t perfect.  Leo’s family wasn’t perfect either, but I felt like this book really highlighted that things aren’t what they seem, and that we put people on a pedestal only to tear them down.  It was sad that this mission almost lost funding because of some things that came out about this particular mission.

Cal worked so hard to make things right, and it really made me believe in this mission and what they were trying to do.  There were so many people involved in making this happen, and I didn’t want anyone to lose their dream or their job because of some pretty terrible people.

I thought the romance was really cute, and I like Leo and Cal together.  I really hope it works out for them and that Leo figures out what he wants to do.  I’m also hoping things work for Cal, and that he gets to be the journalist he wants to be.

4 stars.  I really liked The Gravity Of Us, and I really recommend it, especially if you like cute romances or space!

Book Review: The Map From Here To There by Emery Lord

Book: The Map From Here To There by Emery Lord

Published January 2020 by Bloomsbury YA|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Start Of Me And You #2

Genre: YA Contemporary

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions.

I loved The Map From Here To There!  Her books always get me emotionally, and this book was no exception.  I’m definitely glad I read this book!

I loved seeing Paige and Max deal with things.  And they deal with a lot of things in this book.  There’s a lot of ups and downs for them, and things did not go how I expected them to.  I really hope that things are okay for them, if not now, then in the future.

Paige had so many big choices to make- it’s her senior year, and college is looming over her.  Deciding which school she wants to go to, and which degree she wants to get.  Max is a pretty big factor in her decision, and I think it’s a big reason why there are so many ups and downs for them.

It really did bring me back to my senior year, and wondering what was going to happen.  There’s a lot going on for Paige- personally, with Max, with her friends…it felt very real, and me being me, I couldn’t help but cry my heart out, especially towards the end.  I really felt for Paige, and I loved being there for every part of her journey.  I could definitely relate to the anxiety she felt, and Emery Lord did a great job at showing what Paige was thinking and how she dealt with it.

Even though this book is a sequel, you can read it without reading The Start Of Me And You.  I hadn’t re-read it prior to reading this one, and I can honestly say that you know what happened before but you can still follow the story.  It’s a great book, and I do recommend reading it first.  I think Paige will make a lot more sense and have a greater impact if you read The Start Of Me And You first.

Part of me wishes I had re-read it first but I can’t do anything about that know.  Either way, I loved this book, and it’s worth reading, especially if you like contemporary!

5 stars.  I loved this book, and I can’t wait to see what Lord writes next!

Book Review: Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks

Book: Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks

Published August 2019 by First Second|211 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: None

Genre: YA Graphic Novel- Contemporary

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .

What if their last shift was an adventure?

Beloved writer Rainbow Rowell and Eisner Award–winning artist Faith Erin Hicks have teamed up to create this tender and hilarious story about two irresistible teens discovering what it means to leave behind a place—and a person—with no regrets.

I LOVED Pumpkinheads!  I wasn’t sure what to expect, because overall, Fangirl is the only book of Rowell’s that I’ve liked.  At least from the ones I’ve read, so even though I was intrigued, I wasn’t sure if I’d like it.

But I loved it just as much as I loved Fangirl, which really surprised me.  This graphic novel is hilarious and nostalgic, and I had so much fun following Josiah and Deja as they had adventures all over the pumpkin patch.  Everything that could go wrong did, and the names for the fudge girl were really funny…I mean, Fudge Judy, Vanessa Fudgens, Cornelius Fudge…I wouldn’t expect anything else from Rowell, because she is good at incorporating pop culture in her books.

I loved the nostalgia factor of one last night before everything changes.  I wasn’t expecting to cry at the end but I did.  I loved the moment Josiah realized something important, and I’m glad he had one last adventure at the pumpkin patch.  It’s March, and Halloween is months away, but I really, really want to go to a pumpkin patch.

Especially this pumpkin patch.  I would love to go to this one, and I loved that we were able to see so much of it.  It really came to life in this book, and Hicks did a great job with the illustrations.  I really could see everything that was happening, and being able to see what was going on was great.  The story really is suited to a graphic novel format, and I really hope they work together on another project one day, because I’d love to see what they come up with.

5 stars.  I loved Pumpkinheads and it’s a great story with great visuals!

Book Review: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Book: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Published October 2019 by Knopf Books For Young Readers|290 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

In a community that isn’t always understanding, an HIV-positive teen must navigate fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love–and lust–for the first time. Powerful and uplifting, Full Disclosure will speak to fans of Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon.

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…

I liked Full Disclosure!  I really felt for Simone, who’s pretty amazing.

It can’t be an easy diagnosis, and you see how much it affects her.  Whether it’s telling friends, or a guy she likes, it’s not an easy thing for her to share.  When it does get out to the whole school, people are completely horrible to her.  People just don’t want to take the time to truly understand what it means.

Miles, Claudia and Lydia are pretty supportive, and even though Simone has her issues with them, they do care about her, and it’s clear they support her and still want to be around her.  It’s especially important with Miles, since they’re pretty into each other.  Being HIV positive is a pretty big deal in any romantic relationship, but he was great because it honestly didn’t seem to bother him or scare him away.  It seemed like he was willing to take things slow and wait.

Her dads are pretty awesome too, and I love the relationship she has with both of them.  It’s obvious they love her and would do anything for her.  It’s also nice to see a YA book where the parents are around and involved in her life.  A lot of times, it feels like the parents are absent or barely there, so it’s nice that they actually show up more than once or twice, if at all.

I also liked that we got the whole story with Sarah.  It’s interesting that there was no flashback, but I thought it’s inclusion was well-done.  And I get why it’s hard for Simone to trust people because of what happened with her.  I really felt for her when it happened again.  Because people can be horrible, especially with things they don’t understand.  But she has a great support system with her dads, her best friends, and Miles.  And even her support group was pretty cool too.  They definitely understood what she was going through when no one else did.

It’s definitely an important read, and I’m glad I read it.  I think Positive by Paige Rawls is a good read-alike for this one.  Positive is a memoir, but I was reminded of it the whole time I read this book.  Simone is more than her diagnosis, and she really came to life in this book.  I’m not a musical person by any means, but for some reason, I feel like I’d get along with her.  I thought it was interesting that Rent was the school musical, though I got really angry when one of the teachers involved with the musical was hoping that Simone, as a student director, would win the school a lot of theater awards.  I hated she would try to use a student like that, but thankfully, the other teacher involved wasn’t about to let her do that.

3 stars.  I liked Full Disclosure, though I didn’t love it.  I’m not sure why, but regardless, this is a must-read!

Book Review: The Princess And The Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Book: The Princess And The Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Published April 2019 by Quirk Books|320 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Once Upon A Con #2

Genre: YA Contemporary

The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

I loved The Princess And The Fangirl!  I wasn’t sure what to think about because I did like Geekerella, but I ended up loving this book.

Something I thought was interesting, and was one of my favorite things about the book, was seeing the girls step into each other’s shoes.  They learn so much about each other, and I loved seeing how much they change.  They see a side of fandom they never considered before.

This book is narrated by both Imogen and Jess, and it worked so incredibly well for this book.  With Imogen, we see how much Amara means to her, and why she wants to save her favorite character.  The campaign she put together was absolutely amazing.  But you also see her realize why Jess wouldn’t want to be Amara anymore.  I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a fandom like Starfield with everything Jess has to put up with.

Imogen, masquerading as Jess, sees the ugly side of things, and I think she realizes that things aren’t easy for Jess.  Yes, she wants to #saveAmara, but it comes at a price for the person playing her.

With Jess, she starts to see why people love Amara.  For Jess, she starts to find joy in life again, and she starts to see the part of Starfield she never got to see because of horrible people who think she’s not their Amara.  Unfortunately, it was a little true to life, and I’d be surprised if what happened to Jess didn’t happen to other actresses.

I’m not going to lie, I was crying by the end of it.  The crying made it a not good choice for a laundry mat read, but at least there were only a couple of other people in there, and they were pretty busy, so I guess it worked out.  But it did get me more emotionally than Geekerella.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Geekerella, but there’s just something about this book.  I have not been to a con, so that part goes way over my head.  But there was something about seeing Jess and Imogen switch places and learn a lot about themselves and each other.  I loved seeing them pull off this insane plot to figure out who leaked the script of the next Starfield movie.  I especially loved seeing them work together to figure this out and to save Amara.

And even though this book is part of a series, you really don’t need to read the first book to read this one!  I read Geekerella a few months ago for book club, but didn’t re-read before reading this one.  Some of what happens in that book is mentioned in this one, and it’s nice to see what happens to some of those characters, but this is definitely a book that stands on its own pretty well.

5 stars.  I loved The Princess And The Fangirl so much, and Imogen and Jess are great characters.  I don’t think I’ve loved character names as much as I loved Imogen Lovelace and Jessica Stone.