From the author of Darius the Great Is Not Okay comes a novel about being queer in the public eye. Set to be published on March 22nd, Adib Khorram’s Kiss & Tell is a fun and binge-worthy book that still tackles tough topics that many teens can relate to.
Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend--leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all--and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens. But Hunter isn't really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T's shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the drummer for the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble—for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself.
This book really dives into what it’s like to always be in the spotlight and I loved how honest it was about fame and what it can do to a person. Readers see the way Hunter has to grapple with figuring out who he is as an artist and person, while the media, his record label, and his fans all try to tell him who he should and shouldn’t be. Not only does Hunter struggle being young in the public eye, but also with being queer in the public eye. The focus of this novel was more of a coming-of-age-in-the-spotlight story and how the media, the internet, and all these external people are now influencing and picking apart everything you do and Khorram does a great job of showcasing Hunter’s experiences in a fun, but also real, way.
Despite the tough topics, readers can’t help but root for Hunter and want to see him discover his true self. The little bits of romance sprinkled throughout the story were fun and seeing Hunter want to make things work with Kaivan, his friendships with his bandmates, and his grasping onto his Canadian Roots makes him such a fun and relatable character to read about.
What makes this novel really unique is the mixed media aspect of it. While most of the novel is in Hunter’s POV, there are snippets of news articles and transcripts from interviews that showcase the influence of the media on Hunter and the rest of his bandmates' lives.
If you were ever a fan of a boy band (or still are) then this is a great peek behind the curtain of what it’s like living the rockstar life and having everything you do picked apart. However, the glitz and glamor of stardom still shine and you’ll be wanting to go to a Kiss & Tell Concert by the time you’re done reading this book!
*I received an ARC from Penguin Teen in exchange for my honest opinion.
From the author of Running with Lions comes a new YA book about a last-ditch effort at summer fun between two best friends. Julian Winters’s Right Where I Left You, which comes out on March 15th, is light-hearted, fun, and a great book to add to your Spring/Summer TBR.
School’s out, senior year is over, and Isaac Martin is ready to kick off summer. His last before heading off to college in the fall where he won't have his best friend, Diego. Where—despite his social anxiety—he’ll be left to make friends on his own. Knowing his time with Diego is limited, Isaac enacts a foolproof plan: snatch up a pair of badges for the epic comic convention, Legends Con, and attend his first ever Teen Pride. Just him and Diego. The way it should be. But when an unexpected run-in with Davi—Isaac’s old crush—distracts him the day tickets go on sale, suddenly he’s two badges short of a perfect summer. Even worse, now he’s left making it up to Diego by hanging with him and his gamer buddies. Decidedly NOT part of the original plan. It’s not all bad, though. Some of Diego’s friends turn out to be pretty cool, and when things with Davi start heating up, Isaac is almost able to forget about his Legends Con blunder. Almost. Because then Diego finds out what really happened that day with Davi, and their friendship lands on thin ice. Isaac assumes he’s upset about missing the convention, but could Diego have other reasons for avoiding Isaac?
This book was a fun and quick read. This friends-to-lovers YA romcom leaned more on the side of coming-of-age story as Isaac navigates how the relationships in his life are changing and how he wants to move forward in his life before starting college. Additionally, this book also touches upon topics like sexuality, divorce, family relations, and more. However, readers definitely get their fill of relationship drama between Isaac, Davi, and Diego!
I enjoyed the parallels between the comic book series referenced throughout the book and Isaac’s own life. I also appreciated the way this book tried to highlight LGBTQ+ voices and diverse love stories. This book will really resonate with anyone who is part of a fandom, relates to certain characters in their fandoms, and bonds and creates friendships with those with similar interests to them.
Isaac can be a bit oblivious at times which can be frustrating, but I don’t think that there would even be a book if Isaac was as perceptive as I was while reading this book. Aside from Isaac, who highlights diversity as a gay, black/Latino teenager, this book is full of diverse characters of all ethnicities, sexual orientations, and backgrounds.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I think young adult audiences looking for books that highlight diversity will really enjoy this fresh and relevant read.
*I received an ARC from Penguin Teen in exchange for my honest opinion.
In her sophomore novel, Allison Saft brings readers into a mystical fantasy world filled with alchemy, prejudices, and love. A Far Wilder Magic, which was released on March 8th, is a captivating and enthralling story about two people who find comfort in each other despite their vast differences.
When Margaret Welty spots the legendary hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. Whoever is able to kill the hala will earn fame and riches, and unlock an ancient magical secret. While Margaret is the best sharpshooter in town, only teams of two can register, and she needs an alchemist. Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist—yet. He's been fired from every apprenticeship he's landed, and his last chance hinges on Master Welty taking him in. But when Wes arrives at Welty Manor, he finds only Margaret. She begrudgingly allows him to stay, but on one condition: he must join the hunt with her. Although they make an unlikely team, they soon find themselves drawn to each other. As the hunt looms closer and tensions rise, Margaret and Wes uncover dark magic that could be the key to winning the hunt—if they survive that long.
Saft’s sophomore novel is brimming with alchemy, tales, and romance. While the plot got off to a slow start, the story picks up about a third of the way through and has you yearning to see what will happen next.
Though it’s classified as a young adult book, I’d probably say it’s more on the mature side of YA. While I think 17 year old me would’ve loved this book, 14 year old me might have been a bit confused with all of the lore in the beginning (and a bit scandalized at some implied steam).
Our main characters, Margaret and Wes, are both vastly different people on the surface, yet find more similarities as they get to know each other. Saft also makes it a point to show how religious prejudices play into a person’s life and how it shapes us and our dreams. This addition to the world-building of the story artfully crafts an allegory to modern day’s persecutions and injustices.
Despite a slow start, this standalone fantasy novel is well-written and is sure to be a fan favorite in the book community!
*I received an ARC from Wednesday Books in exchange for my honest opinion.
Taking a chance at something you really want sometimes requires a risk. In Trish Doller’s new novel, The Suite Spot (set to be released on March 8th), our main character learns what it means to not only risk your career and life, but your heart.
One of the few bright lights in Rachel Beck’s life is her job at a Miami Beach luxury hotel—until she’s fired for something she didn’t do. As a single mom, Rachel knows she needs stability, and fast. On impulse, Rachel inquires about a position at a brewery hotel on a tiny island in Lake Erie called Kelleys Island. When she’s offered the job, not even the grumpy voice on the line can dissuade her from packing up her whole life and making the move. What she finds on Kelleys Island is Mason, a handsome, reclusive man who knows everything about brewing beer and nothing about running a hotel. Especially one that’s barely more than foundation and studs. It’s not the job Rachel was looking for, but Mason offers her a chance to help build a hotel—and rebuild her life—from the ground up.
The Suite Spot hits the spot!! This is the perfect book to pull you out of a slump and/or binge read. This novel toes the line between romance and women’s fiction and Doller does a great job of giving the readers a romance-forward book without letting it encompass the entire plot. At its core, this is a book about a single mother trying to make her dreams come true, while also caring for her child and those she loves.
I almost wish this book had dual POVs so that we could hear more of Mason’s inner thoughts, but I still loved Rachel as a narrator. Another thing I loved was the little cameos of Anna and Keane from Float Plan (which if you haven’t read already, you must)! I appreciated the way Rachel and Mason’s relationship blossomed and how they acknowledged their rough pasts before just jumping into a new relationship.
This single-mom, grump/sunshine, forced proximity romance was just so endearing and has instantly made Doller an auto-buy author for me. While I think I liked Float Plan a bit better, I still really enjoyed this book. I look forward to seeing what Doller will write next.
*I received an ARC from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest opinion.
Hi! My name is Elisa and my bookshelf is quite literally overflowing! Join me in my journey of reading as many books as humanly possible!