Desdemona Wren’s Top 10 Books of 2019 (Let’s face it, 99% of these are gay)

Most of the books I read are either about queer life or by queer authors. So if they do include a romance, which I do generally like to see in stories because I love romantic subplots, the romance is usually queer or they’ve got a queer side romance.

From this list you’ll learn that I’m obsessed with coming of age stories and I read probably way too much YA, but since YA and NA are the genres I usually write for, that makes a lot of sense.

Below my ratings include both stars and rainbows. The stars are my general overall rating of the book (these will all be 5+ stars) and the rainbows are the overall queerness rating (rainbow ratings with a 3 and below only contain queer side romances and not a main romance ALSO rainbow ratings that include a purple heart have canon bisexual characters).

I also include one of my favorite quotes from the book and in lieu of a review, I’m just going to speak briefly about what each book meant to me. That way this blog doesn’t get too long. And if I’m being honest most of these books I never even reviewed because I’m about 40 book reviews behind.

So, without further ado, here is my top 10 reads of 2019 (they’re not all from 2019, I know, but shh).

10. This Time Will be Different by Mia Sugiura

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People talk about starting over after they’ve made a big mistake or a bad choice in life. But you can never really start over. You can’t fully reset. And I don’t think you should. There’s no point in dwelling on the past, but you can acknowledge it and try to make things better. Or try a new way, and know that this time will be different.

Description: Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: The reason this book made it onto my list despite only have a queer side character is because the main character, CJ, struggles so much emotionally throughout the book and all of her mistakes and anger really made me identify with her. Also it’s set in San Jose and I’m a sucker for anything set in California.

9. Sadie by Courtney Summers

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“I can’t take another dead girl.”

Description: A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: While there is bisexual representation in this book, the point of Sadie is not romance. The entire point of this book is that it’s literally just from start to finish incredible. It’s told from two differing points of view, one being a podcast, the other being the story Sadie herself tells. This resonated with me because I was a victim of childhood abuse and also sexual trauma. I spent most of this book openly weeping and every time they kept saying “I can’t take another dead girl” I got so scared and the ending literally just ripped my whole heart out.

8. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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“And so at the age of four, I learned someone could cry from a happy memory.”

Description: With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: The reason I picked this up was in part, because of the gorgeous cover and also because it is so hard to find books with Black Puerto Rican rep. This story was so beautifully written and Emoni’s passion for cooking and for her daughter was so incredible to me. I just…I wanted a mom who would love me that much.

7. Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

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“The most important four-letter word in our history will always be LOVE. That’s what we are fighting for. That’s who we are. Love is our legacy.”

Description: It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart–and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: How do I even begin to explain how much this book means to queer culture in America? I wept so openly while reading this book. There was so much about the AIDs crisis and the fear the queer community experienced during that time. Honestly this book was just heart-wrenching and so unbelievably important.

6. Reverie by Ryan La Sala

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“Just because something is imagined doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous.”

“It’s just gay enough to work.”

Description: Inception meets The Magicians in the most imaginative YA debut of the year!

All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.

As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.

This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light.

Get your copy here, on Amazon

What this book meant to me: Ryan La Sala basically owns my soul now. Everything about this book was poignant and just full of rich description. Honestly, this has got to be one of my favorite books I’ve ever read in my life. Which is why it’s on my list of top 10 from 2019. Hell, if I had to pick my top 10 of the decade, I’m pretty sure Reverie would make the cut. It is so rare I come across so richly woven queer-centric stories. I recommend this to everyone who loves good writing and questionable villains.

5. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

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“I can’t help it. I’m a Slytherin.”

And I’m the worst kind of Slytherin. I’m the kind who’s so stupidly in love with a Gryffindor, she can’t even function. I’m the Draco from some shitty Drarry fic that the author abandoned after four chapters.”

Description: 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.

What this book meant to me: Leah’s experiences are so close to mine as a fat queer growing up in the deep south that this book has a special place in my heart. I love everything Becky Albertalli has ever written, honestly. Her stories are the kind of gay adventures I wish I’d been able to have growing up and Leah is my soulmate.

4. Slay by Brittney Morris

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“Je viens de la putain de toundra”

Description: By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: This book takes place in my hometown of Bellevue, WA and everything about it is incredible. I love the story of how Kiera is portrayed and how her creation of Slay gave people of color a place to be who they are in games. This book was very educational for me and it also spoke to a lot of what growing up in Bellevue is like. This book is so important, funny, and has a great story. I’m so glad I picked this up.

3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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“The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody.”

Description: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: As soon as I finished reading this book I immediately went home and made my (now ex) boyfriend watch the movie with me. I cried from the very beginning of this book to the very end. It’s not technically a 2019 title, but since I didn’t read it until 2019, I’m putting it on this list. The struggles Starr and her family face throughout this novel completely gutted me and this book is just incredible. The way Angie Thomas tells this story through Starr’s eyes is breathtaking and the writing style stuck with me. It felt less like a book and more like living life through someone else’s eyes.

2. We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

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“If we’re not all free, none of us are free.”

Description: At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: This book was basically everything I wanted out of 2019. Women helping women and falling in love. The enemies/rivals to lovers thing that happened between Carmen and Dani really spoke to my soul and Tehlor Kay Mejia blew me out of the water with her storytelling and world-building. This is honestly one of my favorite books I’ve read in a long time. I cannot wait for the sequel to come out next month!

Honorable Mention: All the Things We Do in the Dark by Saundra Mitchell

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“Everybody else gets to leave a mark on me. Why can’t I leave my own?”

Description: There’s no such thing as a secret.

SOMETHING happened to Ava. The curving scar on her face is proof. But Ava would rather keep that something hidden—buried deep in her heart and her soul.

She has her best friend Syd, and she has her tattoos—a colorful quilt, like a security blanket, over her whole body—and now, suddenly, she has Hailey. Beautiful, sweet Hailey, who seems to like Ava as much as she likes her. And Ava isn’t letting anything get in the way of finally, finally seeking peace. But in the woods on the outskirts of town, the traces of someone else’s secrets lie frozen, awaiting Ava’s discovery—and what Ava finds threatens to topple the carefully-constructed wall of normalcy that she’s spent years building. Secrets leave scars. But when the secret in question is not your own—do you ignore the truth and walk away? Or do you uncover it from its shallow grave, and let it reopen old wounds—wounds that have finally begun to heal?

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: This book hurt me. The experiences of the main character, Ava, are so similar to my own that I experienced a lot of flashbacks to my life as a child and a victim of pedophilia and sexual assault. I understood her so well and the way these things make you feel and shape you into the person you become. This book resonated with me so much I still think about it even though it’s been almost a whole year since I read it. Remembering Jane still tugs at my heartstrings.

*Also this is a special case. I believe the MC, Ava is canonically bisexual, but I think Mitchell preferred not to “label her” which I think is a cop-out so I didn’t mark the MC as canon bi.

1. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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“History, huh? Bet we could make some.”

And way too many others to name, but there’s a twitter account that tweets quotes from this book and I’m obsessed with it.

Description: What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: I know this might be a little cliche to all of you, but this book was so unbelievably important to me that nothing else could’ve been number one. I don’t usually read and enjoy M/M books, but I picked this one up on a whim after seeing it advertised everywhere. And honestly? I’m glad I did. Reading a book about someone figuring out they’re bisexual after years of thinking they were straight and then launching into a wholly forbidden relationship with a prince? Yes, please. I loved everything about this book. I loved the sarcastic writing style, the characters, Henry and Alex’s complete inability to process their feelings because they’re both total idiots, and all the girls being like “Wow you’re all idiots.” 2019 and 2020 is going to be the year of all the queer books and Red, White, & Royal Blue is driving the ship.

Respect: An H20: Just Add Water Oneshot

I was going through some old stuff and stumbled across this. It’s not that good seeing as how I wrote it about a year ago, but I thought I’d upload it because I really like H2O. And I can’t wait for the next season =).

Respect

Oneshot

. . . . . . . . .

“Zane?” she whispered harshly, knocking on his balcony door with her fingertips, “Zane?”

He stirred in his sleep, disturbed slightly by the noise she was making against his window, but did not awaken. She growled and knocked louder, praying that she would’t wake his father up in her haste to wake up his son.

Zane groaned, pulling himself into a sitting position and squinting at the doors that led to his balcony. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and stood up. Rikki smiled at him and lowered her hand, waiting for him to unlock the door and let her in.

“Rikki…” Zane said with a yawn as she stumbled into his room, “What’re you doing here?”

“I..had to get away,” she whispered, trying not to release the tears she had been holding back until this point.

“You sound upset,” he whispered as she turned to gaze into his brown eyes, her blue ones shimmering with tears. He reached out and cupped her face, she closed her eyes and let a lone tear drop fall. He wiped it away quickly.

“What happened, Rikki?” he asked as she moved closer to him, her hands sliding up against his bare chest and her cheek leaning against his shoulder. He waited for a long time for her to answer, but she didn’t. He ran his fingers through her hair as a sob escaped her lips.

“Rik-” he started, but she interrupted him.

“Can I stay here tonight?” she asked, staring down at the floor as her cheeks lit up in embarrassment. Zane smiled softly.

“Yeah,” he answered, “You can take the bed, I’ll sleep on the flo-” she stopped his words with a kiss, tangling her fingers in his brown hair and backing up so that she could sit on the edge of his bed.

He grunted, bending to follow her down and placing his hands against the bed on either side of her thighs. She smiled against his lips, and began to lay back slowly, coaxing him to follow her until her back was against the mattress and he was on top of her.

She slowly unfastened her hands from his neck and reached to grip his hands which were positioned near her shoulders and she gripped one of them tightly, leading it to the hem of her shirt before trailing it over her abdomen slowly. She shivered at his touch and he pulled away from her.

“Rikki,” he said breathlessly, moving his hand from where it had once been against her stomach.

“Am I doing something wrong?” she whimpered, looking away from him.

“No,” he said, resting his forehead against hers, “you’re doing everything right…” She sighed and looked up at him. He closed his eyes tightly, trying to avoid her gaze.

“You don’t want me,” she whispered. He shivered at the pain he heard in her tone and opened his eyes wide to gaze into hers. They were shimmering with tears again and he could feel his heart breaking.

“I do,” Zane argued, “I do want you…”

“But?” Rikki asked, shifting beneath him. Zane whimpered softly and willed himself not to be aroused by the beautiful woman who lay beneath him.

“Stop moving,” he gasped, gripping the sheets on either side of her face. Rikki stopped and stared at him.

“Zane…” she whispered, “Why don’t you want…” he growled and kissed her roughly before he answered.

“I…respect you, Rikki,” Zane said, “I don’t want to…hurt you.” Rikki stared at him in disbelief.

“Are you saying you don’t think we’ll last?” She asked. The pain was there again and he looked away.

“That’s not what I’m saying,” he said, “I just…don’t want you to regret this.” Rikki stared at him and smiled softly, cupping his face in her hands and forcing him to gaze into her eyes.

“You’re worried about my…” she giggled and kissed the tip of his nose, “who would’ve thought-“she giggled again-“Zane Bennett is old fashioned.” A light blushed settled across Zane’s cheeks as he tried to look away again, but she held his gaze.

“I just…” he started, but she put a finger to his lips.

“I love you,” she said, staring into his eyes. He swallowed hard, seeing the truth in her eyes. He paused for a long moment, thinking of all the things she has made him feel and searching deep within himself for the way he felt. He wouldn’t lie to her, her couldn’t. She was everything to him; everything.

She traced her fingertips over his face.

“Rikki-” he started but she shook her head.

“Shh,” she whispered, “take your time, there’s no rush.” Zane closed his eyes and pressed his forehead to hers once more. He felt the tears welling up in his eyes, and tried to hold them back, but it was too late.

“Zane,” Rikki whimpered.

“I love you,” he whispered as a strange calmness washed over him, “I love you.” Rikki stared up at him with a smirk.

“I knew it,” she said. Zane smirked back at her, rolling off of her and to her side as the two scrambled up to the top of the bed, laughing softly as to not wake his father.

“I’m glad you came,” Zane whispered as she buried her face in his chest and closed her eyes, breathing in his scent deeply.

“Me too,” came her muffled reply as the two drifted off to sleep.

. . . . . . . . .

I am so LAME.

Fireworks

It was breathtaking, the silence between us. The way he looked at me, brown eyes searching for something familiar in my eyes. He wanted to know that I still felt the same. He wanted to make sure that being there with me was okay. I didn’t know what I should reflect in my eyes. I was finding it hard to breathe. The way he looked at me was suffocating.

I could hear distant explosions in the sky; fireworks. I broke his gaze and looked up. I heard him shift next to me and sigh. He must think I’m over it. That I don’t feel the same. He must think I’m through waiting for him. I feel him grab my hand, but I don’t look down again. I’m too busy looking at the rainbow of explosions in the sky. I don’t know how to tell him I’m still waiting.

I can’t even see the stars tonight, the fireworks are overshadowing them. Explosions of fire and gas that are closer than the stars twinkling beyond this world. He squeezes my hand tight, but I still don’t look down. The fireworks have captured my gaze. I sat there on the blanket next to him, hypnotized by the beauty of the explosions. I don’t think he knows how I feel.

His touch shoots electricity through my body as he moves closer, and I feel my heart race, confused by the sudden, unwelcome, feeling. I try to keep myself composed, but in the darkness my cool expression falters and it takes all I have not to look at him. I don’t know how to tell him how I feel. The words don’t come. There really aren’t words to describe this.

More fireworks go off. I hear all the familiar noises. The siren sound of the ascent, the explosion and the shower of sparks that fall back to the earth, but I’m not really watching anymore. I’m just feeling now. My heart races, my body tingles, his breath against my face. He’s still watching, waiting for his moment.

I’m not ready to see him yet. I’m not ready to feel the familiar ache in my heart. The ache I feel when I want him to hold me. When I’m dying to feel his arms around me. I don’t think he knows that I cry at night, my body shaking, waiting for him. He doesn’t know that I’m still waiting.

His eyes are still glued to my face, his breath hitting against my cheek in waves. I imagine the ocean, the sound of the waves hitting the shore. He’s my ocean and I’m waiting for him to pull me under. I want to drown in this sea. I’m not ready to see him yet.

He says my name softly, practically begging for my attention. I bite my lip, trying to focus on the fireworks and not drowning in this ocean of pain and suffering and maybe even love. I don’t know why I’m still waiting for something I never thought would happen. Maybe this is a dream. Maybe after tonight I’ll wake up and I wont see him ever again.

That’s a chance I’m willing to take as I turn to meet his eyes. They’re full of the love I always imagined that he had for me. The sort of feelings I only thought he felt for me in my dreams. I’m hit by a wave of emotions. I’m still struggling to breathe, drowning in the middle of this sea.

He catches sight of my eyes, watching them with curiosity, probing for the answers I would never be able to tell him with my words. I wanted him to kiss me, to smother me with his lips, to crush all the air out of my body until all I could feel was him on top of me. I wanted it so bad I could almost taste his mouth. I don’t think he knew.

The fireworks were winding down. The explosions were getting farther apart as the people setting them off ran out. I felt a sense of urgency. Was time running out for us too? I stared at him intently, not sure what he was reading in my eyes, but I hoped he knew what I wanted.

His eyes lingered on mine for only a few moments more before settling on my lips, asking his silent question. The one I had already said yes to. Did he even have to ask? He should know by now that he makes my heart race, he crushes the air out of my lungs, he makes it impossible for me to feel normal. He should know by now that I’m completely, totally, irrevocably in love with him. Nothing could change that. Not even the years of heartbreak I had to endure to get to this point.

He leans forward as more fireworks go off overhead and I stop breathing, waiting for him to claim my lips, to make me slip away into this ocean. More fireworks go off while I’m waiting, my eyes slipping closed, my lips parting slightly. I can feel my heart aching. I’ve waited so long for this moment.

It seemed like forever before he was finally there, kissing me softly, crushing the rest of the air out of my lungs. I try not to sob as he takes my face into his hands, his whole body pressing against mine. I need this, I’ve wanted this for so long. I can feel the sting of tears and I pull away, my eyes watering. He stares at me, his brown eyes questioning as the tears fall.

He tells me he’s sorry, he tells me he didn’t mean it. He doesn’t know that’s not what I want to hear. He thinks he did something wrong. He wants to fix it. He wants to be friends. I don’t want any of that. He begs me to forgive him, but I don’t know if I can. What he’s apologizing for isn’t want I’m crying about.

I tell him I’m happy, I tell him to stop saying he’s sorry for the things he did right. He looks confused, but I don’t want to explain it anymore. I wipe away my tears and I kiss him, long and hard. He kisses me back, cradling my face, caressing my neck, fingers trailing down my shoulders.

I feel like my heart is going to stop beating, like I’m going to die right here in his arms. And I think, that if I did I would be happy. If I died here with his lips against mine and the fireworks dying overhead, I wouldn’t regret one moment.

I’m not even afraid.

Book reviews: Sub Tweet – A Crazy Ink Anthology

With a title like Sub Tweet I was excited to see what this was going to be about. Everyone knows I’m the master of subtweeting people (not really, I lack a whole bunch of subtlety, lbr).

I was blown away by the sheer talents of the authors in this anthology. I absolutely adored every second of this book. I ended up reading it in just a single day, and while I did skip one or two stories (because of triggering subject matter – sexual assault, kidnapping) I’m happy I read it.

It was more than just an anthology about subtweets, it was a whole commentary on technology and how we as humans have come to rely on it so much. The authors used subtweets or vague books to start off their stories and launched into an entire world of what said tweet or Facebook post could mean.

It gives life to the reality behind posting these types of things about people and makes you think. There are people you’re hurting with these things you say, but the person you’re hurting the most is yourself. This anthology does a good job of making sure people know that it is entirely unfair to say these types of things because all it’s going to do is come back on you.

Overall rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5 Stars. )

Rating breakdown:

Prose: ????
Plot: ????
Characterization: ?‍??‍??‍??‍?
Boredom meter: ?????

Some of these stories were total knock outs. I adored them. Crazy Ink really knows how to put together a good anthology!

Book Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

The pining between Ten and Killian was kind of drawn out for a little too long, but other than that I really enjoyed this story.

I picked it up because the cover looked like one I’d done sketches of for a book I wrote. Plus, I love YA so reading about Ten and her fight against her parent’s wishes was right up my alley. Right out of the gate, this book is entertaining as heck!

I think my favorite part was the song Ten’s Aunt Lina sings and how that helps her later in the story. I knew it would come back to do something awesome and I was not disappointed. Ten is totally awesome in this story and I’m really glad Showalter didn’t opt for an Archer/Ten/Killian love triangle because I would’ve DNF’d this book so fast.

Instead of relying heavily on romance, Showalter tells a story worthy of her heroine. It is dark, intricate, full of action, and full of glittery beasts (done right, of course).

This was an excellent read!

Overall rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5 Stars. )

Rating breakdown:

Prose: ?????
Plot: ???
Characterization: ☀️☀️☀️
Boredom meter: ?????

I’m struggling through the second one right now, so I wish book 2 was a little better, but book one definitely held my attention very well!

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.

Book Reviews: Fight or Flight by Liv Devereaux

This book was really interesting. Initially, I debated hard on giving it a higher rating, but I didn’t really like how this was a very thinly veiled fanfiction for the Freeform show “The Fosters” with a few of the names and situations changed.

In all honesty, the book wasn’t that bad. It was better (and longer) than the first I read of Liv Devereaux’s work, More Than Friends, but Devereaux could have done a little bit of a better job separating her narrative from the ongoing narrative of The Fosters.

There is nothing wrong with writing fanfiction, especially if it leads you to pursue a career as a writer (of gay fiction, especially. I see you, Devereaux), but I personally would prefer something a little more original. That is not to say that Fight or Flight is a direct copy of what happened in The Fosters, it isn’t, but it follows the narrative very VERY closely in a way that made it hard for me to see the characters as anything other than the ones featured in the show.

All that being said, I found the relationship between Hayden and Cameron to be an interesting one. A lot of the prose was missing a good bit of description, something I found eternally irritating, but it did make for a quick read. It also makes a lot of sense considering this was so obviously based on a fanfiction that there would be a good amount of description missing (as that is the writing style of fanfiction authors, something I know intimately).

I would actually recommend this book to anyone who likes quick, cute reads for WLW and lesbian romance. I genuinely did enjoy the book despite all its shortcomings and look forward to reading as much as I can by Liv Devereaux.

Overall rating:
3/5 stars

Rating breakdown

Prose: ???

Plot: ?️?️?️?️

Characterization: ??

Boredom meter: ???

The story had it’s moments that were heartwarming, but ultimately I found myself trying to finish it ASAP so I could move on to something else.

More about Fight or Flight

Cameron Hale had it all. A high school sophomore that was well on her way to being the best swimmer on the swim team, had excellent grades, and an amazing family. To anyone else, Cameron’s life was perfect. And it was. That was until this past summer when Cameron’s life changed forever. One night with one boy that she could never forget, as much as she wanted to. 

When Cameron starts buying Adderall from Hayden, the new girl in school, she’ll send herself down a spiral that will end in her having to make a choice. Does she fight and confront her demons? Or does she run and suffer the turmoil of knowing the boy that raped her is getting away with it?

Read it here, on Amazon



Our Game

It’s like this:
you wait a lifetime to hear hello
but all they wanna say is good-bye
you wait forever to be their reason
but all they wanna tell you is a lie.

It’s like you smile for something you’re gonna lose
waiting for that person to notice you’re not playing
you want something serious, but they’re not into it.

So they leave you there and you don’t know what to say
they break your heart and you wait, just wait.

There’s really nothing left now
so you shrug your shoulders and try to get over it
but this is the time when you realize it’s different.

The feeling isn’t the same
this isn’t how you play the game.

You’ve never felt this way
but you blow it off as just another stupid excuse
you’ve said things like this before
to those friends who are forced to listen.

Then you realize, it’s really different
and now you’re too afraid to say the things you’re feeling
because this isn’t what this is supposed to turn into.

It’s supposed to be a game.