Review: Bad Boy by Elliot Wake

Posted December 6, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Bad Boy by Elliot WakeReviewer: Rowena
Bad Boy by Elliot Wake
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Atria Books
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 256
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.

But Ren has been living a double life.

Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.

But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.

Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.

Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.

I wanted to read this book because I was in the mood for something different and after reading the blurb, this one seemed to fit the bill. I thought it would be interesting to get to know a character that is a vlog star who filmed his transition and shared it on his blog for the world.

It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t all pretty roses and rainbows but I was very interested in Ren’s transition story. In Ren as a person. Getting into the story, I thought that I would feel a lot more for Ren as a person than I did but sadly, I didn’t. The story as a whole was interesting and it was what drove me to finish but Ren as a character was someone that I just couldn’t fully connect with. I’m not even sure why, he just, I don’t even know. He’s a pretty dark character, a character who has been through a hell of a lot but while I ended up okay with him, in the end, I still didn’t fully like him.

I wonder if I had read the other books before this one, if I would have felt different about it all because all of the Black Iris stuff had me rolling my eyes down the street. At first, I didn’t get it but the author did a good job in pulling it all together in the end. Once I was caught up with everything going on, I appreciated the story more so if I could recommend anything, it would be for readers to read Unteachable, Black Iris and Cam Girl.

I will say that Elliot Wake wrote a compelling story that was dark and twisted but necessary. The way that he made the dark and the light stuff in life come together was raw and gritty and that’s probably why I didn’t enjoy this book as much. I’m a fluffy contemporary romance reader at heart and the darkness in this book (and in Ren) was hard for me to get through, so while I’m glad that I gave this book a go, I probably won’t continue with the other books. This has nothing to do with the author or the book and everything to do with my reading preferences.

Grade: 2.75 out of 5

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About the Author


Elliot Wake


Elliot Wake (formerly known as Leah Raeder) is a transgender author of four novels: Unteachable, Black Iris, Cam Girl, and Bad Boy. Aside from reading his brains out, Elliot enjoys video games, weightlifting, and perfecting his dapper style. He lives with his partner in Chicago.


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Guest Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Posted September 3, 2015 by Whitley B in Reviews | 0 Comments

2Whitley’s review of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

So, two things as I go into this review:

  • I am so not the target audience for this book.
  • I was grinning uncontrollably through the last 50 pages or so.

But everything before that point, I was just kind of shrugging along with an “okay.”

This book is a light, frothy, cutie-pie little slice-of-life romance about gay teenagers. Which, you know, great! Except every now and then the text would try to “say something” about bullying or coming out and it created this sort of weird dissonance for me. Because it was just too frothy for the heavy stuff it was brushing against, and I really wanted it to commit one way or the other.

Maybe if I had more emotional investment in the subject matter, it would be different. If I were approaching this with a lot of feelz, then the random profound lines would resonate and I’d be oohing and aahing. They were pretty good random lines. However, there were huge chunks of this novel where Simon continually and emphatically insisted that he had no feelings about a thing. He was forcibly outed to his whole school and he went out of his way to tell the reader that the bullying wasn’t so bad and he felt nothing about, right before he ripped into someone. Even before that, with the blackmailing plot, it was pretty lackluster. I just didn’t feel anything when the main character doesn’t care and there’s no tension.

But that’s all pertaining to the blackmailing “plot;” the rest of the book is Simon emailing his not-boyfriend and having teenaged-boy-thoughts, and you know what? It was just plain old cute. Honestly, I could read a whole book that’s just Simon and Blue’s emails. (A short one, but still.) There’s not a lot of tension, it’s just teens being teens and having interpersonal drama, but I really liked Simon’s relationship with his parents and a lot of the things said between them, and…how many ways are there to say “cute”?

In the end, I wouldn’t call this just astounding or say it lives up to the utter hype, but eh, I’m a girl that likes higher stakes in my books, so that’s just me. If you just want some low-key teens who over-use the word adorable, then it’s well worth the ticket price.

Rating: 3 out of 5

This title is available from Balzer + Bray.  You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

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Review: My True Love Gave to Me Anthology

Posted December 3, 2014 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

my true love gave to meRowena’s review of My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins, Holly Black, Ally Carter, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Matt de la Pena, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, Kiersten White.

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

This book felt like it had a million short stories in it but I jumped in anyway because a lot of my favorite YA authors penned stories in this one so I was all about it. I’m going to briefly review each short story and hope that this review doesn’t end up being longer than the book. 🙂

“Midnights” by Rainbow Rowell: This was my favorite story in the entire book. Oh, how I adored Noel and Mags. I loved seeing how they met and then their anniversary celebrations each year. The way that their friendship blossomed over the course of their short story was too freaking cute and I just adored this book to pieces.

Grade: 5 out of 5

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link: This story was short but I didn’t connect with Miranda at all and that she fell in love with a ghost did absolutely nothing for me. I read through the whole thing waiting for that moment when I’d connect with Miranda and the story and sadly, it never happened.

Grade: 1 out of 5

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena:  This story felt like it took me a million years to read it. I didn’t connect with either Shy or Haley. I wanted to smack Shy every time he lied to Haley and then when we get to finally know about Haley, I wanted to smack her too. I wasn’t at all mad that the story ended.

Grade: 1 out of 5

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han: I haven’t read any books by Jenny Han (though I do have her latest release waiting to be read on my iPad) but I was really excited to read this one since I’ve heard a lot of good things about her books.  I’m sad to say that this book didn’t work for me at all. It was just…weird. Natalie grew up on the North Pole, having been adopted by Santa Claus? She lives amongst the elves and even has beef with one elf in particular because that elf is dating the elf she wants but can’t have? The only part that I thought was cute was the end when Flynn hands her what she wanted all along but even that wasn’t enough for me to like the entire story.

Grade: 2 out of 5

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins: I was excited to read this story. I adore all things Stephanie Perkins and I thought she delivered a great short story. Both North and Marigold were cute characters that really came to life in such a short amount of space. I laughed, I sighed and I grinned my way through this story. It was cute.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan: I haven’t read any books by Levithan but was hoping for great things since he’s a pretty popular author of LGBT YA fiction. Unfortunately, this story dragged and the longer it went on, the more I just wanted to skip to the next story. The bitchy sister got on my nerves but I did think that it was sweet of the boyfriend to play dress up to make his boyfriend happy. I just wish that I could have connected with the characters more.

Grade: 2 out of 5

Krampsulauf by Holly Black: Another story that was just …weird to me. It’s a contemporary YA but with some fantasy elements thrown in and throughout the entire story, I kept wondering, “What the heck am I reading?” when it was finally over, I was glad to move on to the next story.

Grade: 1 out of 5

What the Hell have You Done, Sophie Roth by Gayle Forman:  This is one of the stories that I was most looking forward to reading when I first got this book for review. I love Gayle Forman and knew that she would deliver another great story. I’m so glad that I wasn’t disappointed. I thought this story was well written, cute and I loved seeing Sophie fumble her way around Russell. It was just all around cute and I enjoyed this one.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire:  This story was cute. Bad boy doing bad things and Good Girl not casting any judgments, seeing the good in him. Something that not anyone else sees. I thought they were a cute little couple. I loved seeing them work together to try to fix the problems that were all around them. I’ve never read anything by McEntire before but I’m keen to try something else.

Grade: 3 out of 5

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White: This was another great addition to the book. I loved getting to know both Maria and Ben. They were a fun duo. I thought it was cute that Ben had a sixth sense for what customers and employees of the diner would want or in some cases, need. He brought life into that diner and in turn, into that town and also to Maria’s life. I loved seeing them grow closer with each passing day and I thought White did a good job of telling their story in such a short space. I enjoyed this one.

Grade: 4 out of 5  

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter: This was one of those change places with someone and see how they live, or well, close enough to that kind of story line.  I was interested enough in the story to read it but there were times when I just had to roll my eyes down the street. Still, in the end, I was glad that I read this book and would definitely read more from this author because, Ethan was a cutie pie.

Grade: 3 out of 5

Overall, there were some pretty great stories but there were also some pretty bad stories. I’m not at all mad that I read this book though because while it wasn’t perfect, the stories that I did enjoy were just fabulous.

This book is available from St. Martin’s Press. You can purchase it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Guest Review: The Secret of Othello by Sam Cameron

Posted September 25, 2012 by Ames in Reviews | 2 Comments

Ames’ review of The Secret of Othello by Sam Cameron.

Main Character: Denny and Steven Anderson
Love Interest:
Series: Fisher Key #2
Author: Website|Goodreads

A shooting star streaks across Fisher Key’s skies. Natural phenomenon or secret military satellite? For Steven Anderson, any mystery is a welcome distraction. He’s vowed to avoid all the island’s pretty girls until the SEALs approve his waiver request. Unfortunately his libido—and the girls—have other ideas. Meanwhile, Denny Anderson is busy wooing the boy of his dreams. If he plans things right, he won’t be the only virgin entering the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Too bad every romantic rendezvous is ruined by misunderstandings, interruptions, and pesky tourists. As the days get hotter, the twins are drawn into an underwater race against time, tide, and treason. Suddenly, true love is the least of their problems. Under the waves, no one can hear you scream…

The Secret of Othello picks up where Mystery of the Tempest left off. Denny has come out to his family and he and Brian are now seeing each other. Denny has only a few weeks left until he leaves for the Coast Guard Academy. Steven has also come clean about his failing the vision test to get into the training to become a SEAL. He did submit a waiver, so he’s on pins and needles waiting to hear back about that. In the meantime, he’s going to stay away from girls, since they’re nothing but Trouble. And Brian…because of the events of Mystery of the Tempest, his going to MIT is not exactly a sure thing anymore. So with the last few weeks of summer, all the guys have something going on. The last thing they need is to start snooping around after some spy satellite weather ballooon…whatever the government is saying that thing was that was shooting through the sky.

I was looking forward to read more about Denny and Steven because I wanted to know how things would turn out for them. But things start off a bit rocky. One night, during a storm, a tree falls through the roof in their bedroom, resulting in them living on a friend’s boat while their parents take over the suite above their mom’s bookstore. Brian and his mom are living in a hotel room and Brian wants to be there for his mother, so him and Denny aren’t connecting as often as they’d like. Also, Denny and Steven’s aunt has come to town and she’s not exactly accepting Denny’s orientation…something Brian wants him to step up about. And Steven, trying to stay away from girls results in three of them ganging up on him! LOL

I like how the mystery builds up throughout the story. Everyone sees something shooting across the sky and it’s alluded to a few times…and it’s always on the back burner but not really taking center stage. But as the story unfolds, so to does the mystery. And then boom, everything comes together at once and all the odd things that are happening start to make sense and then someone is in danger. I liked it, thought it was well balanced because I don’t like when the mystery overtakes the story.

However, I did not like how things ended between Brian and Denny. I liked the tension that was there between them, the restaurant scene and Denny’s reaction to what he saw and Brian’s reaction to Denny’s reaction. *sigh* I love that stuff. But the book ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, emotionally. If that makes sense.

Overall, I’m giving the Secret of Othello a B-. I enjoyed it, but that ending…I don’t want to wait for resolution!

..and that’s your scoop!

Buy the book: B&N|Amazon|Books on Board|Kobo
Book cover and blurb credit: http://www.goodreads.com


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Guest Review: Mystery of the Tempest by Sam Cameron

Posted September 18, 2012 by Ames in Reviews | 2 Comments

Ames’ review of Mystery of the Tempest by Sam Cameron.

Main Character: Denny and Steven Anderson
Love Interest:
Series: Fisher Key #1
Author: Website|Goodreads

Twin brothers Denny and Steven Anderson love helping people and fighting crime alongside their sheriff dad on sun-drenched Fisher Key, Florida. Steven likes chasing girls. Denny longs to lose his virginity, but doesn’t dare tell anyone he’s gay. Steven has a secret of his own. He lied to everyone, including his own brother, about being accepted into SEAL training for the U.S. Navy.

On the day they graduate high school, the twins meet the handsome new guy in town, a military veteran with a chiseled body and mysterious past. Meanwhile Brian Vandermark, a gay transfer student from Boston, finds himself falling for closeted Denny but hampered by his shyness. When an antique yacht explodes in Fishey Key harbor, all three boys are caught up in a summer of betrayal, romance, and danger. It’s the Mystery of the Tempest — and it just might kill them all.

This book came to my attention via Hilcia, who enjoyed it. I did too. 😛

I think the blurb does a good job of setting up the book. Denny and Steven are twins. Steven is a little bit of a player, the way good looking teen boys can be. He’s been dating his girlfriend for a while and he’s looking forward to deflowering her after grad. His brother Denny is worried about remaining a virgin forever. He’s gay but not out. He’s never even had a kiss and he doesn’t want things to stay like that forever. Just until he’s finished the Coast Guard Academy. Steven also is living a lie, letting everyone believe he got into BUD/s training for the SEALs. Brian Vandermark is a classmate of theirs. He’s recently moved down to Florida from Boston and he’s kept mostly to himself. For grad, he’s decided to fly an old boyfriend (but still a friend) down.

The day of their grad, Denny and Steven notice a beautiful antique yacht sail into the harbor, called the Tempest. That night, while everyone is heading to a grad party, the boat is blown up – with Denny and Brian Vandermark right there to see it go up in flames. Brian was catching a ride across the water with Denny to said party, where Christopher, the old boyfriend he flew in for his grad, already was. Denny, worried about someone possibly being on the yacht, starts swimming towards in. He’s close enough to get knocked out when the boat blows up – but he’s rescued by a handsome stranger. Was this stranger just in the right place at the right time or was he involved somehow in the explosion?

As Denny and Steven try to figure out who the handsome stranger is and where he came from, they realize that the whole mystery around that boat is a lot more dangerous than anyone expected.

I am not the biggest fan of mysteries but I really enjoyed this one. I liked Denny and Steven’s characters and the Florida setting made for an interesting read.

Denny and Steven’s father is the local Sheriff. Their mom owns a bookstore. Now that school is finished, Denny works at the bookstore and Steven bodyguards at the local pool. They have lots of free time to put towards this mystery they’ve found themselves in the middle of. And work on their love lives. Steven gets himself into trouble with his girlfriend and her best friend and Denny and Brian are getting to know each other, with Denny denying the fact that he’s gay to Brian, who’s out. Brian, even though he’s hanging out with his ex, is developing feelings for Denny. Denny reciprocates, but under a very heavy cloud of denial. LOL

I thought the author did an excellent job of combining the mystery with the juicy stuff. And I enjoyed the fact that our main protagonists were guys. Switches things up a bit. Steven, even though he likes to get around, is full of charm so his character doesn’t come off as a jerk even though some of his actions can be less than stellar. And Denny is more introspective and willing to let his brother stay in the limelight. I thought the relationship between the twins was interesting. Overall, I really enjoyed Mystery of the Tempest. Solid B.

..and that’s your scoop!

Buy the book: B&N|Amazon|Books on Board|Kobo
Book cover and blurb credit: http://www.goodreads.com


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