Don’t Let in the Cold by Keely Parrack #bookreview #YA #survival #thriller

The storm isn’t the only thing they’ll have to survive.

It was supposed to be just one night in the cabin: one night for Lottie and her brand new stepsister, Jade, to try to get along. When a solar flare causes a massive blackout―no power or cell signal―Lottie knows they’ve got a long night ahead of them.

Then, in the dark, someone else shows up at the cabin―a stranger named Alex, claiming to be lost and needing shelter from the coming snowstorm. But later that night, Lottie spies him in the driveway talking to two mysterious men in a pickup truck, and she’s sure he’s lying about why he’s here.

Before Lottie can find out more, a fire forces her, Jade, and Alex out into the blizzard, where they must rely on one another to get to safety―wherever that is. In the remote, freezing Tahoe wilderness, they have to survive more than just the elements. Soon it becomes clear that Alex’s accomplices are hunting for all three of them, in a scheme that’s gone too far and taken a chilling, deadly turn. 

I always enjoy a good survival story, and with a blizzard and massive blackout this one promised high stakes.

Lottie and Jade are on day one of being a blended family. When their parents (Lottie’s mother and Jade’s father) go on a brief, one night honeymoon, the girls are left alone at their Lake Tahoe cabin. Neither are thrilled to be there. Little do they know how much they’ll have to rely on each other over the next couple days. When Alex and his dog show up during the storm claiming to be lost, you just know it’s not a good idea to invite them in. But thegirls do, of course, and that’s where most of the problems begin.

The setting is arguably the biggest character in the story. With a blizzard, blackout caused by a solar flare, below freezing temperatures, cabin fire, and wild animals, these teens had a lot thrown at them. And they encountered much more than that with one disastrous or dangerous situation after another. With so many problems, the storyline felt scattered to me. The stakes are already incredibly high, so I feel like focusing on just a few of the issues could have the same impact on their survival.

With a dangerous, wintry setting and plenty of life-threatening situations, this is a tense survival story that can be easily read in a couple of sittings.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I’ll be traveling today, so I may not get to comments until tomorrow. Thanks for visiting!

Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah #bookreview #YA #fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Koral and her older brother Emrik risk their lives each day to capture the monstrous maristags that live in the black seas around their island. They have to, or else their family will starve.

In an oceanic world swarming with vicious beasts, the Landers―the ruling elite, have indentured Koral’s family to provide the maristags for the Glory Race, a deadly chariot tournament reserved for the upper class. The winning contender receives gold and glory. The others―if they’re lucky―survive.

When the last maristag of the year escapes and Koral has no new maristag to sell, her family’s financial situation takes a turn for the worse and they can’t afford medicine for her chronically ill little sister. Koral’s only choice is to do what no one in the world has ever dared: cheat her way into the Glory Race.

But every step of the way is unpredictable as Koral races against contenders―including her ex-boyfriend―who have trained for this their whole lives and who have no intention of letting a low-caste girl steal their glory. When a rebellion rises and rogues attack Koral to try and force her to drop out, she must choose―her life or her sister’s―before the whole island burns.

She grew up battling the monsters that live in the black seas, but it couldn’t prepare her to face the cunning cruelty of the ruling elite.

Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and These Violent Delights, this South Asian-inspired fantasy is a gripping debut about the power of the elite, the price of glory, and one girl’s chance to change it all. 

Gotta admit, it was the title and cover that drew me to this book. Comp titles of The Hunger Games and These Violent Delights told me I was in for an exciting read.

Koral and her family live in a dangerous world filled with deadly creatures both in the sea and air. As hunters, Koral and her brother must capture maristags, arguably the most deadly of these creatures, for the Glory Race. Trust me, this is not a job you want. Hunters risk their lives with every capture. This society is a caste system of Landers, the ruling class, and Renters, those on the bottom rung. Falling in the latter group, Koral and her family are lucky to have a roof over their heads and food on the table, but struggle to provide medicine her younger sister desperately needs. When their financial situation drastically changes, Koral has no choice but to enter the Glory Race. The problem? Only Landers may compete.

The race is very similar to The Hunger Games in that some of the contestants don’t survive, and the challenges aren’t for the faint of heart. Action moves at a breathtaking pace during these challenges, and I even gasped at certain points. The contestants ride maristags (the picture on the cover), and although they’re not horses, I was still reminded of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races. Clearly the stakes are high and the odds of survival slim, but Koral has no choice if she wants to save her sister and secure her family’s financial future.

This world is full of unrest and power struggles. I was a little confused, but it seemed as if several rebel groups operated under the same umbrella. With no clear leader, they fought not only against the Landers, but also against each other and lacked communication. It’s not the primary focus, but romance is included in the story, and I was intrigued by the unusual dynamic between Koral and Dorian.

With numerous power struggles, deadly creatures bent on killing humans, and a race with few survivors, this novel engaged me from beginning to end. After that cliffhanger, I’m anxious to see where the next book goes.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

All of Our Demise (All of Us Villains #2) by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

The epic conclusion to Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman’s New York Times bestselling All of Us Villains duology that’s The Hunger Games with magic.

“I feel like I should warn you: this is going to be absolutely brutal.”

For the first time in this ancient, bloodstained story, the tournament is breaking. The boundaries between the city of Ilvernath and the arena have fallen. Reporters swarm the historic battlegrounds. A dead boy now lives again. And a new champion has entered the fray, one who seeks to break the curse for good… no matter how many lives are sacrificed in the process.

As the curse teeters closer and closer to collapse, the surviving champions each face a choice: dismantle the tournament piece by piece, or fight to the death as this story was always intended.

Long-held alliances will be severed. Hearts will break. Lives will end. Because a tale as wicked as this one was never destined for happily ever after.

With every protagonist morally gray and some close to black, All of Us Villains blew me away. This sequel was absolutely one of my most anticipated reads this year.

This is one of those reviews where I can’t reveal too much without giving away spoilers. I’ll start by saying Alistair remains my favorite character, and my heart ached for him. He’s been told his whole life he’s a monster, raised to know he’ll have to kill people, and told bedtime stories about his relatives and the heinous acts they committed. Someone he trusted, and you can count on one hand how many people attained that status in his life, betrayed him in the last book. As you can expect, this isn’t something he’ll let slide. Still, I only wanted good things for him.

If I thought the first book contained shocking twists, it had nothing on this one. Some I had an inkling of, others not a clue. Alliances are formed and expected, which is pretty much the only way to survive the tournament. Then came a hint of a surprise pairing – and I nearly jumped with joy. I was totally on board with this relationship, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the book. But my lips are sealed.

To get readers to cheer for a bunch of villains says something about the talent of these authors. Character development is outstanding and one of the strongest aspects of this duology. Be prepared – not everyone survives, but that’s something to be expected in a tournament based on death. I’m sorry to see this series end, but I count it as one of my favorites in the YA fantasy genre.

I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral by Darlene Foster #bookreview #childrensbooks #travel #mystery

Amanda explores the exciting streets of Paris, the fabulous Palace of Versailles and the gardens of the painter Claude Monet, while being drawn into the mystery surrounding the destructive fire of Notre Dame cathedral.

Amanda is in love! With Paris – the city of love. She’s in awe of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and Notre Dame Cathedral. While there, she gets to work as a volunteer and stay in a famous book store, along with her bestie, Leah, and Leah’s eccentric Aunt Jenny. A dream come true for a book lover like Amanda.

Except, while she’s at the Paris Opera House there is a bomb threat. Then the lights go out during their visit to the Louvre. Worst of all, a devastating fire blazes in Notre Dame. Why does a mysterious man, who claims to be a busker, writer and artist, show up every time something bad happens?

Join Amanda as she explores the exciting streets of Paris, the fabulous Palace of Versailles and the gardens of the painter Claude Monet, all the time looking for clues as to who would want to destroy such a beautiful, historic cathedral.

Join Amanda as she explores the exciting streets and sites around Paris, all the while looking for clues as to who would want to destroy such a beautiful, historic place.

I’ve armchair traveled with Amanda a few times now, and I was thrilled to experience France with her this time around.

Even though these books are geared toward the younger crowd, I learn something about the different countries every time. Here are just a few examples from France: the purpose of gargoyles, there’s a lake beneath the Palais Garnier (just like Phantom of the Opera!), and the Louvre was originally a royal palace. Evidently I never paid much attention in history class.

Amanda has a talent for attracting trouble, and she’s not in Paris long before strange occurrences begin. Why do they keep running into the same man everywhere they go? Who went through Aunt Jenny’s belongings in their room at Shakespeare and Company? Can their new friend Pierre be trusted? Amanda and her friend Leah (who’s beginning to show signs of classic teen moodiness) find themselves in the middle of a mystery all while touring the wonderful sites (and food!) Paris has to offer.

This is a fast-paced story easily finished in under two hours. I highly recommend this series as a way to introduce kids to different countries and cultures. Solving mysteries with Amanda is just a bonus.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus #bookreview #YA #mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

Be sure to keep your friends close . . . and your secrets closer.

Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favorite teacher—a story that made headlines after the teacher’s body was found by three Saint Ambrose students in the woods behind their school. The case was never solved. Now that Brynn is moving home and starting her dream internship at a true-crime show, she’s determined to find out what really happened.

The kids who found Mr. Larkin are her way in, and her ex–best friend, Tripp Talbot, was one of them. Without his account of events, the other two kids might have gone down for Mr. Larkin’s murder. They’ve never forgotten what Tripp did for them that day. Just like he hasn’t forgotten that everything he told the police was a lie.

Digging into the past is bound to shake up the present, and as Brynn begins to investigate what happened in the woods that day, she begins to uncover secrets that might change everything—about Saint Ambrose, about Mr. Larkin, and about her ex-best friend, Tripp Talbot.

Four years ago someone got away with murder. The most terrifying part is that they never left.

I’ve read several books by this author and always know I’m in for a compelling mystery that keeps me guessing.

Brynn has known since middle school that she wants to be a journalist. After a juvenile prank she’s blamed for (she’s innocent), she’s fired as editor of her school newspaper. Luckily, due to her dad’s job, the family relocates back to the town they left four years ago. Brynn then takes a leap of faith, uses a clever approach, and talks her way into an internship on a true crime show. She even pitches a story idea to them – the unsolved murder of her favorite teacher, Mr. Larkin, four years ago. The catch? Three of her classmates, including one who’s her ex-best friend, found the body. Her assignment is to snoop around and see what she can dig up. Someone’s not talking, and once she’s focused on a story, Brynn is like a dog with a bone and refuses to give up. Even when it may endanger her life and others.

Tripp, Brynn’s ex-bestie, won that title when he humiliated her in front of their gym class shortly before she moved away. He regrets what he did, although he had his reasons. Since the horrific day he, Shane, and Charlotte discovered Mr. Larkin’s body, Tripp has been hanging onto secrets that are slowly eating him alive.

I thought I had this one figured out somewhere around the middle, but after previous experiences with McManus’s books I should have known my early assumptions are usually way off base. With her stories I’ve learned that my perceptions will change and new layers to the plot are waiting to be revealed just around the corner.

With plenty of suspects to put on your list and lots of intriguing characters (shoutout to Brynn’s clever sister, Ellie), this mystery will keep you glued to the pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#BlogTour The Necromancer’s Daughter by D. Wallace Peach #fantasy #dragons #magic

I’m so excited to participate in the blog tour for Diana’s new release, and it’s always a pleasure to host her. Make sure to read my review of The Necromancer’s Daughter at the bottom of the post.

A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant, and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, he breathes life into the wisp of a child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she learns to heal death.

Then the day arrives when the widowed king, his own life nearing its end, defies the Red Order’s warning. He summons the necromancer’s daughter, his only heir, and for his boldness, he falls to an assassin’s blade.

While Barus hides from the Order’s soldiers, Aster leads their masters beyond the wall into the Forest of Silvern Cats, a land of dragons and barbarian tribes. She seeks her mother’s people, the powerful rulers of Blackrock, uncertain whether she will find sanctuary or face a gallows’ noose.

Unprepared for a world rife with danger, a world divided by those who practice magic and those who hunt them, she must choose whether to trust the one man offering her aid, the one man most likely to betray her—her enemy’s son.

A healer with the talent to unravel death, a child reborn, a father lusting for vengeance, and a son torn between justice, faith, and love. Caught in a chase spanning kingdoms, each must decide the nature of good and evil, the lengths they will go to survive, and what they are willing to lose.

Diana’s Bio:

A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life when years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books. She was instantly hooked.

In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography.

Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

Website/Blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com

Website/Books: http://dwallacepeachbooks.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dwallacepeach

Purchase Links:

US: https://www.amazon.com/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach/dp/B0B9FY6YZJ

IN: https://www.amazon.in/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

My Review:

This isn’t my first rodeo with this author’s books. I know to expect writing that reads like prose, beautiful imagery, and top-notch world-building. My expectations were exceeded.

Diana’s done it again. She’s created wonderfully flawed characters who wormed their way into my heart. I cheered for them, nearly cried (seriously, I was close to needing a tissue), and sincerely hoped Teko found a good woman to make strange or magical babies with (you need to read the book to understand, but I promise you’d wish the same for him). It began with Barus, a disfigured orphan taken in by a healer, and then he held the door open for the rest of them (Aster, Joreh, and Teko especially) as they entered my heart. The father/daughter relationship and incredibly strong bond between Barus and Aster is one of my favorite things about this novel. The author certainly knows how to place her characters between a rock and a hard place, and she forces them to make gut-wrenching decisions. Each had their share of difficulties, but I felt Joreh in particular grappled with his beliefs.

There’s no shortage of deadly battle scenes between warring countries and tribes and a bloody struggle for power after the king is assassinated. And dragons! Somehow I missed in the description that they’d be a part of the story, but as a dragon lover I was thrilled and intrigued by Aster’s unique connection with them and how that factored into her identity.

The Necromancer’s Daughter is an exciting adventure filled with magic, epic battles, strong friendships, warring kingdoms, and a bit of romance. Find yourself a comfy chair to curl up in, make sure you’re not interrupted, and then fully immerse yourself in this world.

Three Kisses, One Midnight by Roshani Chokshi, Evelyn Skye, and Sandhya Menon #bookreview #romcom #YA

New York Times bestselling authors Roshani Chokshi, Evelyn Skye, and Sandhya Menon craft a spellbinding novel about discovering the magic of true love on one fateful, magical night in Three Kisses, One Midnight.

The town of Moon Ridge was founded 400 years ago and everyone born and raised there knows the legend of the young woman who perished at the stroke of twelve that very same night, losing the life she was set to embark on with her dearest love. Every century since, one day a year, the Lady of Moon Ridge descends from the stars to walk among the townsfolk, conjuring an aura upon those willing to follow their hearts’ desires.

“To summon joy and love in another’s soul
For a connection that makes two people whole
For laughter and a smile that one can never miss
Sealed before midnight with a truehearted kiss.”

This year at Moon Ridge High, a group of friends known as The Coven will weave art, science, and magic during a masquerade ball unlike any other. Onny, True, and Ash believe everything is in alignment to bring them the affection, acceptance, and healing that can only come from romance—with a little help from Onny’s grandmother’s love potion.

But nothing is as simple as it first seems. And as midnight approaches, The Coven learn that it will take more than a spell to recognize those who offer their love and to embrace all the magic that follows.

I don’t read a ton of books in this genre, but I’m a fan of Chokshi’s Gilded Wolves series, and her name on the cover immediately caught my attention.

Bring on the pumpkin spice! With much of the story taking place at a Halloween party, it’s full of autumn vibes. I loved the descriptions of the quaint town that goes all out for Halloween and the legend of The Lady of Moon Ridge who helps people follow their heart’s desires.

The main characters are a trio of best friends whose nights may not turn out exactly as expected. Onny is a true believer in magic and has a very specific love potion recipe bequeathed to her by her grandmother. True was recently burned by an unworthy boyfriend and only trusts scientific facts. Ash is an artist who’s loved someone for several years (she’s totally unaware) and takes an unexpected opportunity to create his own luck. The book is divided into three sections, with each character telling their own story. I enjoyed all of them, but my favorite is a tie between Onny’s and Ash’s. Science teacher Mr. Brightside and his husband, Mayor Grimjoy, are perfect supporting characters and add even more humor to the mix.

A black cat who interrupts a long-awaited kiss, zodiac signs, odd potion ingredients, awesome costumes, and the best Halloween decorations I’ve heard of – this is a light-hearted, magical read guaranteed to put you in the autumn mood.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix by Anna-Marie McLemore #bookreview #retelling #LGBTQ #TuesdayBookBlog

New York City, 1922. Nicolás Caraveo, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Minnesota, has no interest in the city’s glamor. Going to New York is all about establishing himself as a young professional, which could set up his future—and his life as a man—and benefit his family.

Nick rents a small house in West Egg from his 18-year-old cousin, Daisy Fabrega, who lives in fashionable East Egg near her wealthy fiancé, Tom—and Nick is shocked to find that his cousin now goes by Daisy Fay, has erased all signs of her Latina heritage, and now passes seamlessly as white.

Nick’s neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious young man named Jay Gatsby, whose castle-like mansion is the stage for parties so extravagant that they both dazzle and terrify Nick. At one of these parties, Nick learns that the spectacle is all for the benefit of impressing a girl from Jay’s past—Daisy. And he learns something else: Jay is also transgender.

As Nick is pulled deeper into the glittery culture of decadence, he spends more time with Jay, aiming to help his new friend reconnect with his lost love. But Nick’s feelings grow more complicated when he finds himself falling hard for Jay’s openness, idealism, and unfounded faith in the American Dream. 

The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite classic novels, so I was thrilled to came across this LGBTQ retelling.

I listened to the audiobook ARC, and the narrator did a wonderful job with these characters. Prepare for the writing to transport you to the glitz and glamor of the Roaring 20s in a setting of extravagant parties and mansions in East Egg. The author states that she always felt like Nick was in love with Jay, and I also got the same vibes when I read the original Gatsby many years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed her queer and more diverse version of this classic. I also appreciated the content warnings and context notes she gives before the story begins.

Some of these characters are struggling with 20s perceptions of race, sexuality, and status. Nick, a trans Latinx boy, continually has to prove himself in the business world where he’s judged by the color of his skin. When he arrives in New York he discovers that Daisy, his Latinx cousin, has changed her last name and now passes for white. I was never a fan of Daisy in the original version and found her shallow and frustrating. She has her moments in this retelling, but I was in her corner by the end.

The story sticks to much of the original structure – until around the last twenty percent. And I have to say I greatly prefer this ending, but no spoilers here. If you’re a fan of retellings and are looking for a new spin on a classic, you can’t go wrong with Self-Made Boys. It’s a beautiful story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Belladonna (Belladonna #1) by Adalyn Grace #bookreview #YA #gothic #mystery


Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her well-being—and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy. Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realizes that the family she depends on could be in grave danger and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.

However, Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful—and more irresistible—than she ever dared imagine. 

A restless spirit, mysterious illness, family estate, and Death helping solve the mystery? This checked so many boxes for me.

I love a gothic atmosphere, and it absolutely dripped from the pages throughout this book. I’m also a fan of the 1850s time period. Signa hasn’t had an easy upbringing. Orphaned as an infant, she’s passed around to several guardians, most of them caring more about the allowance that comes along with her than Signa herself. When she’s taken in by the Hawthornes, distant cousins, her dreams of a stable home and the opportunity to be introduced into society are finally coming true. But there’s something she’s never told anyone – she can communicate with spirits. When the ghost of recently deceased Mrs. Hawthorne requests her help, and maybe not in such a nice way, Signa finds herself in the middle of a mystery. Time is of the essence because the family’s daughter seems to be suffering from the same illness that killed her mother.

I haven’t come across many novels featuring Death as a character, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about him at first. He escorts people to the other side, so that can’t be good, right? My perception of him gradually changed throughout the story as I came to understand exactly what he does, and it’s actually kind of beautiful. He and Signa share an unusual bond I won’t spoil. She’s still unsure of exactly where she belongs, but her journey to understanding is wondrous. Signa makes some reckless decisions, but she’s persistent, and I enjoyed watching her and Death solve the mystery. I had part of it figured out, but the final reveal was a shocker. Didn’t see that one coming.

I’d originally believed this to be a standalone, but was thrilled to see another book is coming. If you’re a fan of atmospheric, gothic mysteries interlaced with a bit of romance and magic, you can’t go wrong with Belladonna.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

This Is Why They Hate Us by Aaron H. Aceves #bookreview #YA #LGBTQ

Enrique “Quique” Luna has one goal this summer—get over his crush on Saleem Kanazi by pursuing his other romantic prospects. Never mind that he’s only out to his best friend, Fabiola. Never mind that he has absolutely zero game. And definitely forget the fact that good and kind and, not to mention, beautiful Saleem is leaving L.A. for the summer to meet a girl his parents are trying to set him up with.

Luckily, Quique’s prospects are each intriguing in their own ways. There’s stoner-jock Tyler Montana, who might be just as interested in Fabiola as he is in Quique; straight-laced senior class president, Ziggy Jackson; and Manny Zuniga, who keeps looking at Quique like he’s carne asada fresh off the grill. With all these choices, Quique is sure to forget about Saleem in no time.

But as the summer heats up and his deep-seated fears and anxieties boil over, Quique soon realizes that getting over one guy by getting under a bunch of others may not have been the best laid plan and living his truth can come at a high cost.

Quique has a plan for the summer before his senior year – to get over his long-time crush on close friend Saleem by checking out some other guys. And he has a few very different prospects to accomplish his goal. It might not be the best plan, but Quique is a flawed character who may not make the best decisions sometimes. Some of these prospects aren’t worth his time, but he learns some valuable life lessons the hard way during his journey.

I adored Quique from the first page. He’s dealing with a lot in his life – he’s only out to best friend Fabiola, worried about how his parents will react to his bisexuality, and he’s head over heels for Saleem, who’s spending time with extended family this summer. Family who are interested in an arranged marriage for him. Quique also struggles with several mental health issues, and I loved that he recognized the signs and wasn’t afraid to ask for help. His parents and Fabiola are a strong support system.

He also has a safe, wonderful resource in Mr. Chastman, his teacher. An extremely awkward and unexpected scene between them could have gone wrong in so many ways, but is brilliantly handled. I wish all high school students had someone like this in their corner.

This is a beautifully written story filled with poignant, humorous, and bittersweet moments that shines a light on some very important topics. It’s an incredible debut, and a novel I highly recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.