TITLE: May the Best Man Win
AUTHOR: Z.R. Ellor
PUBLISHER: Roaring Brook Press
RELEASE DATE: May 18th, 2021
GENRE(S): YOUNG ADULT FICTION--Contemporary, Romance
BUY LINK: https://bookshop.org/a/11727/9781250625120
A trans boy enters a throw-down battle for the title of Homecoming King with the boy he dumped last summer in ZR Ellor’s contemporary YA debut.
Jeremy Harkiss, cheer captain and student body president, won’t let coming out as a transgender boy ruin his senior year. Instead of bowing to the bigots and outdated school administration, Jeremy decides to make some noise—and how better than by challenging his all-star ex-boyfriend, Lukas for the title of Homecoming King?
Lukas Rivers, football star and head of the Homecoming Committee, is just trying to find order in his life after his older brother’s funeral and the loss long-term girlfriend—who turned out to be a boy. But when Jeremy threatens to break his heart and steal his crown, Lukas kick starts a plot to sabotage Jeremy’s campaign.
When both boys take their rivalry too far, the dance is on the verge of being canceled. To save Homecoming, they’ll have to face the hurt they’re both hiding—and the lingering butterflies they can’t deny.
To begin, I think I should clarify that this book is wholly different from the expectations brought upon by the cover and early descriptions I’d heard of the book. Rather than an enemies to lovers fluffy fun highschool YA that the book and description give off, this book is without a doubt a hard hitting YA that deals with serious topics such as transphobia, sexual assault, and many other heavy themes. However, I think that this confusion in no way tampered with my reading experience and had some of the elements I liked most of this book.
There isn’t a day when a kid wakes up and knows that they’re gay or trans, rather it’s a awkward and confusing time of self-discovery that Ellor is perfectly able to encapsulate in the two leads, Jeremy and Lukas. Firstly, the depictions of being a Trans kid in highschool (especially in a place like the DMV area) were absolutely relatable in truth and experiences. Regardless of being in a mostly-white and rich highschool in a fairly liberal area, the transphobia that is thrown at Jeremy were like a step back in time for myself as a queer teen.
Despite this realism, however, I ended up not being able to like any of the characters which for me is a very off-putting in a book. I know other readers who love books where the leads are awful yet they rate the book highly anyway. If you love morally gray characters then this book is absolutely for you. Ellor has said he tried to write a story in which two people fall in love that aren’t perfect. Completely realistic and admirable to add to the ever growing genre of LGBT+ YA books, but the actions taken by some of the leads are unforgivable in my book.
Jeremy, the trans main character, is convinced that everyone is being rude to him since he is trans which was so infuriating because this entire book Jeremy is an asshole to everybody. No matter their good intentions or even trying to be kind, he time and time again chooses to alienate everyone around him through his classist and rude attitude. I could go on for the reasons I don’t like him, but the other lead, Lukas, is a mess entirely on his own.
Lukas has the same mentality that Park from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell had by being so internally hateful to aspects about himself that he couldn’t change. With Park being internally very anti-Asian and racist towards himself while Lukas has a lot of internalized ableism. Since I, myself, am not Autistic I would highly suggest going to book reviewers who do have Autism to look for their stance on that representation within this book. However, this internalized ableism against his own Autism was very off-putting as a reader.
Other aspects of this book such as the odd pacing, vilifying of all the wrong people and more made this book not for me unfortunately. But! I do think that this book definitely would check off boxes for many other people and so if you like any of the following, you’re sure to want to grab this book:
Blurb: 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.
While I may have picked up this book from a major 50% off sale, I would pay full price ten times over just to reread the thrilling wonder that is Sadie. I am one of the biggest true crime people you will ever meet, so to hear this book be compared to Serial, I knew this would be the love of my life and I was right! This was the first and one five star book I’ve read so far in the year and I’m not surprised considering it is so captivating to read. There really weren’t complaints to the book as far as I’m concerned (though the ending is a little infuriating depending on who you ask.) It was unique to read since Sadie’s perspective was written in a normal novel form, while the podcast following Sadie’s disappearance is written entirely in script form. The script form for half of the book made it a super-fast read and was how I was able to devour the whole thing in about two days. Sadie is a very unpredictable character since her actions mirror someone with a Kill Bill level of vendetta and Bear Grylls level survival instinct hidden within her, which made the book inherently surprising. I never could predict her next move and even if I got a glimpse as to what it might be, the scene would cut away and change perspective right before I could find out. Summers did an amazing job of keeping the readers in the dark for a lot of the book until she wanted them to know something. A scene would be written vaguely not because she lacked a descriptive vocabulary, but because the details of the scene would only be fully divulged later on. The book is not only a mystery but a tragedy and a thriller. My emotions would be dragged from one way to the next as the podcast chapters unveiled her backstory and more fully made you question whether Sadie is a reliable narrator or not. As you follow her path that gets darker and more tiring over time, the risks she takes lead to scenes grabbing at my heart and holding my breath as if I were watching the whole thing unfold rather than reading about it. While many rocks are left unturned, that aspect of the book didn’t bother me since it felt closer to how a real true-crime podcast would play out. So if you’ve just finished Serial or Crime Junkies and need another hit of a true-crime podcast, don’t go looking through podcast charts, instead, try and find Sadie on your local shelf.
(Also, though I personally didn’t read it as an audio book, my friend did and said the quality was that of a real podcast for that perspective and that the narrator really is able to peg Sadie’s voice perfectly!)
Blurb: Three friends, two love stories, one convention: this fun, feminist love letter to geek culture is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.
Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.
Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.
At one of my first times in a library earlier this year, I had checked my Goodreads to try and find more books like Ship It and books within that ‘fandom’ realm. While it was fairly hard to find something that was more fan-ish than romantic, I discovered the intoxicatingly pink cover of Queen of Geeks and after reading the summary, instantly got good vibes. (And you’re probably like, but Cole, it ‘two love stories’ right on the cover!!! But listen, there definitely are two romances going on, but that’s not the only plots going on, there’s absolutely a lot of man vs. self and man vs. society that goes on.) The only main thing that might irk people is that some of the dialogue was pretty cheesy or stiff at times, but it still maintained to be fluffy and cute. In the same vein, some sections of the writing felt simple or choppy, but quite honestly I got so lost in the story that it didn’t end of mattering all that much later on. There was, however, just so much that this book got utterly right. Firstly, the lead character. Yes. Charlie was hands down more than I could ask for. From being so casual about her sexuality to speaking up against the double standards she faces as a female actress, it was unlike something I’d seen in similar books where usually a character’s sexuality that dithers from straight always has to be a big deal or how little I see of sexism discussed in scenarios outside the character’s school. Charlie is both the celebrity and the fan, leaving readers more readily able to relate to her as a teenager than if she were just some thirty-something celebrity (as was the case in Ship It.) Charlie being a Bi POC and the lead definitely also added something to be desired when reading. Alongside her diversity, Taylor, her best friend, is autistic and has anxiety. While she was a mix between a side and a lead character, having this realistic mix of diversity in a book makes it more appealing to people that are sick of the binary. Taylor and Jaime are written very much like two characters that are inherently a dynamic duo, they get perfectly in and out of sync with one another that their scenes are noticeably more tied together than Charlie’s POV. One little thing I really loved was that since a majority of the fandoms within the book were fake or were classic references, the book never really seemed aged to a 2019 reader like myself, unlike What If It’s Us where the Hamilton references really make it less ‘relatable’ or ‘in’ since the references date the longer the book’s out. The diversity alone should be a draw for readers and since a majority of us our fans, the book only fuels the fire internally the entire time the gang goes to their first convention and geeks out. To sum it up, I finished this book in just a little over one sitting. It was quick, fun, and about the perfect pallet cleanser, I’d recommend to anyone looking for something to read between heavy, physically or emotional, books.
Blurb: Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
(From now on all of my reviews will be spoiler-free FYI!)
This extremely thick - 500 page - book made its way into my library by word of mouth and tons of praise by LGBT+ blogs I follow. The second my eyes saw “waking up in the arms of women or men,” “hedonistic hurrah,” and “harrowing manhunt” all on the same summary page, the book immediately found its way into my cart. While I’ve owned the book for quite a while and finished it up in February (it’s been a bit, folks), what sparked me to read it was the fact that its sequel has recently arrived and that the show had been optioned for TV and I thought now was the best time to read it. While it sure was a thick one to get through, oh man did this book deliver. I’ve never ever been one for historical fiction but since reading this book it’s been the only thing I’ve been reading. I’m talking genre-changing good, guys. To jump right into it, some of the main issue I took with the book was just some of the vocabulary tossed around, Since the novel takes place in the 1700’s it’s understandable and inviting that the author throws you into the world, but there was a good chunk of reading time that was just me and my phone researching what a fancy word for a vest was. But despite some of the dissonance that comes from the new vocabulary, the characters were still just teenagers facing problems that we have to deal with today which made them all very relatable (for the most part, one or two issues just seem downright medieval). While I always will love a book with a wise-cracking protagonist, I love that we’re also able to see another side to Monty that makes us see how much he really needs to mature and learn over time. His sister, Felicity, who ends up being the lead in the sequel made me so excited to read it after I finished this book, she was so independent and smart she was in comparison to the typical girl that was written about in books pertaining to this era. Finally, Percy. Percy. Besides being the idol of Monty’s dreams, he creates subplots of his own by being the only Black lead character and speaking up about it and his life as an aristocrat surrounded by white people. I became so involved in all of their personal plots and how they intertwined, I entirely forgot this book was sold as an adventure novel. And you know the second that happens because everything in the book just shifts. Characters change, plot change, the whole vibes that come off of the book make your heart race and have you questioning everything. All I was expecting was some Georgian Era bisexual boy crushing over his bestie and having some fun but oh no it turned much more than that and was honestly the book that made me question how I’d never picked up a historical fiction book in my life before this one. The whole Grand Tour aspect of the book really ties it together. From country to country there’s always something new developing in the plot leaving there to be never a dull moment. Whether historical fiction or adventure is your jam or not, this book really is able to get you to invest in both of those genres. I’d extremely recommend this book to anyone, especially people interested in seeing a bisexual lead, talking about racism in a taboo society, and Felicity who is just downright an amazingly intelligent female character.
Blurb: When Griffin's first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he's been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin's downward spiral continues. He's losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he's been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.
(Spoiler review below)
Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
(Spoiler review below)
Blurb: Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?
(Spoilers review below)
The new year has finally been rung in and while a plethora of book bloggers and youtubers go to stack their shelves for the new year, I can't help but try and clear mine out. As told through my dumb graphic t-shirts and glaring braces, I'm still in high school, yet soon to leave it. As I tried to think of countless book and reading goals I could have for the year, my mind kept feeling so crowded by the book I already owned. After watching a handful of videos on book consumerism, I decided it be best to follow what booktubers like Beyond the Pages are doing and not buy any books for the new year.