Every Word You Never Said by Jordon Greene

I had such high hopes for this book. I really did. Unfortunately it fell incredibly short. The whole time I was reading, I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what I didn’t like about it, but after reading lower rated reviews on StoryGraph, I figured it out thanks to people putting into words what I couldn’t.

The plot follows Skylar, a newly adopted nonverbal boy, who likes skirts and wears one to school. This sends the conservative Christians into a spiral because “boys in skirts are against God!” *eyeroll* This prompts a super sexist dress code proposal spearheaded by none other than Jacob’s toxically Christian father. All with the sub plot of romance between Skylar and Jacob. It’s also a dual POV in 1st person which I didn’t love, but that’s not the book’s fault. I’m just not entirely a fan of 1st person.

Don’t get me wrong, this book was cute—in an extremely superficial way. The nonverbal rep is good, though you’re trying to tell me that people can lip read literally everything this boy says? When only about 30% of the English language is lip readable? Sounds fake, but okay. The only thing really diverse about this book is Imani, the Black pansexual witch. Though she’s written as the stereotypical Black sidekick which wasn’t great. I did like how Wicca was explained though. It was a nice contrast to the extreme of Christianity. The only other “diverse” characters were Jacob (a white, gay, rocker boy) and Skylar (a white, nonverbal, gay boy who likes wearing skirts). Otherwise there was zero diversity because cis-het white boys is the opposite of diverse. The characters were underdeveloped and all we got was surface level personality. Even the romance wasn’t developed well. It starts out as a love-at-first-sight slow-burn, which I absolutely love. However, everything gets thrown away after Skylar throws a tantrum and then guilt trips Jacob because he can’t read sign language well. So much of the development was off-screen and that was incredibly frustrating. And don’t even get me started on the amount of homophobia.

The toxic Christianity runs strong in this small North Carolina town and gods forbid you’re gay. The first time the f-slur was thrown around I almost rage quit the book. Then it was used again and again and again. Jacob even said something along the lines of “they can’t call me that slur, but I can use it on myself and that’s okay.” And like, I get reclaiming things that were once seen as slurs (i.e. queer), but I draw the line at the f-slur. Their classmates slinging it at them was bad enough. There was also one use of the r-slur by Skylar towards himself and that wasn’t okay either. I get that he’s extremely traumatized from years in bad foster/group homes, but never once did a character on-page ever call him that. So I felt it was extremely uncalled for. 

Overall there was a lot more telling than showing and it made for a clunky reading experience. There was supposedly a conversation about sex between love interests that we only find out about because Skylar mentioned it, and there were a lot of random time skips (which is fine, but not when important stuff happens and we find out after the fact). Would I recommend this book? No. It had so much potential and it fell incredibly flat. For me, the only redeeming quality is the cover. Not even the conflict was satisfying because they failed. Then the decision was overturned after the fact by the NC Supreme Court. So what was the point?


  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It’s complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It’s complicated

Content Warnings:

Graphic: Bullying, Child abuse, Emotional abuse, Homophobia, Religious bigotry, Ableism, and Sexism

Moderate: Abandonment, Child death, Death, Hate crime, Sexual content, Suicide, and Violence

Minor: Injury/injury detail

Frequent use of the f-slur and one instance of the r-slur.

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee (Spoilers)

Naked cover of A Lesson in Vengeance featuring a Ouija planchette inscribed with EX SCIENTIA ULTIO

I recently finished A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee. This was a sapphic dark academia thriller that I thought was going to live up to the hype, but unfortunately it fell a little flat for me.

The boarding school setting is one that tends to draw me in like catnip, and this book was no exception. Mush like Ellingham Academy in Truly Devious, Dalloway School has a long, dark history that is solidified by its slightly creepy historic buildings, expectations of academic excellence, and a history of death and murder. The girls at Dalloway are given a lot of freedom and that plays a big role in the book.

We’re initially met with Felicity, our narrator, who immediately turns out to be unreliable. She’s come back to Dalloway after the death of her best friend/girlfriend and a stay in a psychiatric facility. This leads the reader to never really know what information can be trusted. Shortly after Felicity arrives back at school she meets Ellis, a famous writer working on her second book based on the murders that took place at the school. Quickly, Ellis sets her sights on Felicity and their relationship unfolds over the course of the book. The plot revolves around the mind games they play with each other, themselves, and the other students of Godwin House. It doesn’t help that Felicity is trying desperately to forget what happened last fall and Ellis wants so desperately for her to remember.

After talking to a few other readers about the book I found that my feelings regarding Ellis Haley weren’t unwarranted. The unlikability of her character was a bit of a turn off and made me not want to pick the book up as often. We talked about how she’s super toxic yet everyone idolizes her because she’s famous. I mentioned how I thought the aim for Ellis’ character was for her to be super toxic yet everyone loved her, causing Felicity to second guess what she thought she figured out. This reminded me of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green. The main character is also awful and unlikeable, but that was the whole point. People put others on these pedestals because they’re famous and don’t realize what kind of person they really are until maybe it’s too late. They’re just people who happen to have done something to make them famous. The consistent gaslighting of Felicity by Ellis took me out of the romance element. Talk about not seeing the toxicity until it’s too late because you’re star-struck that someone famous is giving you the time of day and seems genuinely interested in you. Not to mention being mentally ill and getting taken advantage of.

Overall, I enjoyed the spooky vibes of this one—it had me genuinely freaked out a time or two—but I can’t get past the toxicity.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐//5

CW: Death, panic/anxiety, mental illness, murder, animal deaths, underage drinking and smoking, body horror, gaslighting, alcoholism, toxic relationships

Some Faraway Place by Lauren Shippen


I received an eARC copy of Some Faraway Place from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Lauren Shippen is a storytelling genius. The Bright Sessions has been a favorite podcast of mine for years and I’m so glad she brought this vibrant world to the pages of a book.

I knew this book was going to be great, but dang, I think this is my new favorite of the three (sorry, Damien). I definitely didn’t expect it to make me cry (no spoilers). Some Faraway Place is the perfect conclusion to this podcast. The book was written mostly as journal entries from Rose (the book is mainly in her POV) with a combination of letters from a mysterious someone (it’s revealed later in the book) and reddit-like entries from Aaron, Rose’s brother, that help add depth to the overall plot. We met Rose originally towards the end of the podcast and getting to have more insight into her character was a blast. The way Shippen weaves details from the podcast into the book without verbatim giving us episodes is *chef’s kiss*. We learn way more about Rose’s totally Atypical family, her interactions with Emily (her girlfriend), her relationship with Damien (I fully support that, by the way), and how she really navigates her dreamdiving (changed from dream walking for the book). Rose is so sure of her place within  her Atypical family but all that gets knocked on its head when she finds out that she also has an ability: dreamdiving. Throughout the book we see several characters grappling with who they are and where they fit into their world. It’s a book of discovery and learning that having an ability isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

As someone who has listened, and relistened, to the podcast I absolutely loved this book and would recommend it to fans and non-fans alike. It’s a coming-of-age story, a love story, and will leave you on the edge of your seat. You get answers to questions you have along the way like just what happened to Damien and what is the nature of his’ and Rose’s relationship, do things work out for Rose and Emily, and what is the Atkinson family dynamic really like (especially now that a huge wrench was thrown into the mix)?

I was beyond thrilled to find out that we got a lot more Damien in this book. As much as I loved reading about Rose’s story, her family, and her dreamdiving, Damien has been my favorite character from the beginning (despite thinking he was a little creepy at first). Overall, I am so glad this was the story to wrap up The Bright Sessions and give us some closure. Shippen has such a way with words and storytelling and it’s what drew me in all those years ago. I will be a lifelong fan of this series and I’m so glad I was able to read an early copy of this book.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐//5

Rep: sapphic (lesbian and pansexual), mlm (unspecified), Jewish, Latinx, mid-size
CW: graphic: confinement, terminal illness, death || moderate: addiction, grief, medical content, abandonment