Reviews of Rainbow Reads

I’ve been reading a bit of LGBTQIA+ fiction lately and thought I’d do some quick reviews! Clearly I’ve been reading lots of MLM (man loves man) fiction and need to discover some other reads – suggestions welcome in the comments please!

Young Adult Fiction

Heartstopper is an oldy but a goody and is widely acknowledged as a great read. I’m eagerly awaiting Volume Five at the moment.

The storyline of this graphic novel series follows Charlie and Nick. Charlie is out and Nick is beginning to question. This story is holds such a special place in the hearts of its readers because these two characters are just so cute and precious.

There’s nothing malicious or evil in this story. It’s wholesome, realistic, and touches on some pretty important themes in a beautiful way. It’s pretty obvious why fans get hooked and then stay on the line to continue the story of Nick and Charlie.

I recommend this series to anyone of the age of 12 or older – you could even give this to younger people if you like as there’s nothing worrisome in it at all. It’s cute, the artwork is beautiful, and the story is just good fun.

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales is a twist on the story of Grease. Will and Ollie meet each other at the lake over the summer holidays. They have a wirlwind summer romance and then say goodbye, never expecting to see each other again. Ollie’s family then end up staying in the area after the summer to help out Ollie’s aunt and uncle – Ollie’s aunt is battling cancer and they need help looking after their young children.

Ollie ends up changing schools and on day one sees Will, except Will is a different person. Ollie is out and Will is not – enter the “don’t out me but I want to keep seeing you” storyline. There are some problematic moments in this love story but that’s life and I applaud Sophie for this.

There’s real substance to this book. It’s a great modern take on the Grease story with elements of commitment to family and unconditional love. I’d recommend this for slightly older readers – 14 years or older – but don’t remember there being anything worrisome in it.

You should see me in a crown took off a couple of years ago when people were getting on the bandwagon of reading books by black authors. While that in and of itself is problematic in different ways, I’m very glad that the profile of this book was raised so that it came across my radar.

I ended up having to order it in at the time and it was worth it. I ended really enjoying this story.

You should see me in a crown is the story of Liz ends up running for prom queen in a small, majority white town with lots of ‘legacy families.’ Liz is not the typical prom queen winner – she’s black, poor and gay – but she needs the scholarship associated with being crowned prom queen to make her ambitions a reality.

The struggle in this book is real. Liz faces horrible discrimination for both her race and her sexuality. It’s a realistic portrayal of the experience of being different in a small town that conforms to certain norms. The story is powerful and so important. I’m looking forward to reading more by Leah Johnson!

I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a contempory read that will make you think and has a little romance on the side.

Relatively new and a lot of fun, Anything but fine really hit home for me as someone that has had surgery on their ankle from falling down stairs. Admittedly, my injury was no where near as bad as Luca and it certainly didn’t stop me from pursuing my lifelong dream of being a ballet dancer, but I certainly empathised with the recovery and the feeling of tackling stairs afterwards…

Anyway, in this story, Luca loses his scholarship and has to change schools. He starts to question his friendships that are based on ballet and struggles to figure out what to do with his life now that his dreams are no longer a reality. Enter Jordan.

Luca and Jordan meet at the physio’s office and have an instant connection. Luca is out and Jordan is questioning but also terrified of people finding out. Again, there are problematic parts of this story but that’s because it’s reflective of real life and real life is not perfect.

I do like the element of injury management and mindset in this story. I also like the ‘finding your tribe’ approach too. I recommend this book for readers 13 years or older!

I absolutely love The Extraordinaries and am dying for the third one to come out later this year. Honestly, I’ve never read anything like this…

Nick is such an ‘extra’ character. The story is told from his perspective and his inner monologue is an absolute treat. Another highlight is his relationship with his dad and their interactions. I laughed so hard throughout this book. There’s so much I could say about this book, but I’ll keep it brief.

There are superheroes and Nick has a crush on one of them. He writes fanfic where he is in a relationship with them. Nick then decides to bring his online fantasy to life by BECOMING a superhero to meet his crush and honestly, his journey to have the ultimate origin story was hilarious.

Due to the fact that this story is written from the perspective of a 16/17 year old boy, I’d recommend this for readers of 15 years or older.

What if it’s us? is the ultimate meet cute gone awry and the quest to find each other. Set in New York, Alex is a local and Ben is in town for a summer internship. Alex is jaded by the city that has not been kind to his family and Ben is blinded by the city lights and romance of Broadway. They meet in a post office and don’t exchange details but can’t stop thinking about each other. The quest to reconnect is on and honestly, it’s super cute and very fun.

Once they do reconnect, they end up having ‘do over dates’ to try and create the perfect first date. I really liked this part of the story as it shows that not all first dates are comfortable and sometimes the best first date is one where both parties aren’t trying too hard.

The will-they-won’t-they thread throughout the story keeps the tension between the characters. There’s also some incredibly fun friends with their own drama along for the ride.

There’s nothing overly worrisome in this story but I’d still recommend it for older readers because of the tone of the narration.

Adult Fiction

Red, white & royal blue is all over #BookTok (TikTok). I’ve also had many past students requesting this book from our school library and I’m glad I read it. This story follows the lives of two adults, therefore I was unable to keep it on our fiction shelves in my school library. In saying that, this book is not problematic, there’s just a lot of sex.

I enjoyed the tension between these two characters. First Son of the America President Alex and Prince Henry from England do not like each other. Due to their well connected, important families they run into each other regularly at various events. Tensions run high as they accidently create an international level incident and are forced to ‘play nice.’ As they are forced to hang out as friends, they start to realise that perhaps they are the only ones that can understand the pressure they’re each under.

I liked this story because the tension between the characters was well done. I liked the slow build of trust. I would recommend this to adults looking for a contemporary romance.

The geek in me loved this story. Convetionally yours is the story of two rivals battling it out for a pro invite to their game, Odyssey. There’s only one place available and to be eligible they have to compete at a Convention that requires a road trip. Long story short, rivals Conrad and Alden end up taking the roadtrip together. Tension turns to interest as walls come down, but the question of who will get the pro invite and what will happen afterwards remains.

I enjoyed the geekiness of this story. I also loved the complexity of the characters. Both are flawed and struggling with the big question of “what’s next?” I appreciated this as its a question that all of us face.

I will say that there is a lot of sex in this story as well, and that’s what takes it out of young adult fiction and into the realm of adult. Therefore, I’d recommend this to adult readers.

Last up is Boyfriend Material – my most recent read. Luc is the son of an 80s rockstar and as such, has been plagued by the parazi his entire life. His last relationship ended with his ex selling their story for quick buck to a magazine and since then, Luc’s mental health and ability to trust has been greatly damaged. What’s worse is that the media attention is starting to impact Luc’s job as the event coordinator for a charity. To fix this, Luc is told he needs a respectable boyfriend; enter Oliver.

There is some discussion around the probelms of peoples’ perceptions of what’s an ‘appropriate gay’ versus a ‘problematic gay’ which is good. I would have loved a greater exploration of this though.

The story is told from just Luc’s perspective – I wish we got Oliver’s too, Luc’s mental health journey is one that I really identified with. His realisation of how bad it got and reaching out for help to get things back on track is well done.

I recommend this to adults looking for a fun contemporary romance.

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