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.

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

Warning: If you’re at all sensitive to reading on-page depictions of major depressive episodes and/or severe anxiety/panic attacks, please use caution when reading this book.

Oh boy. Where to start with this review… I started The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun at the beginning of March thinking it would be a semi-lighthearted read with a bit of mental health and good asexual rep. Little did I know this book would make me feel a whole lot of things I didn’t expect to feel.

Yes, this book is cute as hell, but it also covers a lot of deep topics like Dev’s deep depression, Charlie’s anxiety disorder and OCD, discovering yourself, and learning to accept the love you deserve. This book gave me a lot of anxiety because it hits on a lot of insecurities I have and a lot of issues I’ve had in the past with relationships (both platonic and romantic). I am elated this book exists, but damn. It makes me feel shit. If you are at all bothered by descriptions of depressive episodes, OCD spirals, and/or anxiety attacks I would strongly use caution if you plan to read this one. My anxiety was triggered a few times while reading. I also want to mention that, while there is sexual content, it’s not super descriptive like a lot of other romances I’ve read.

Things I absolutely loved:

1. Charlie Winshaw. From the moment he stepped on the page I knew I was going to love him. He’s an absolute wreck and I love him so much. Seeing his journey of self-discovery as a queer man and opening up to someone for the first time that isn’t Parisa, his publicist/best friend.
2. Dev Deshpande. Even though a lot of his struggles hit way too close, I’m glad to have a character I can relate to via those struggles. To know that I can work through them and end up okay. I just have to put in the work.
3. Literally all of the side characters. This book has such a queer cast and I love it! I’ve never read a book with so many ace characters in so many forms. It was really affirming. All of the characters are funny, smart, and have absolutely great chemistry with each other. And the banter! I’m a sucker for fantastic banter and boy does this book have it.

Things I didn’t love:

1. All of the mentions of Charlie’s “giant hands.” I don’t know why it bothered me so much. It’s such a small thing, but every time it was mentioned I’d get quite irritated. Aside from fan art, I couldn’t get a good mental picture of what Charlie (or Dev, for that matter) really looked like. I knew Dev was taller than Charlie and Charlie was muscular, but other than that I couldn’t quite picture anything. *shrug*

2. Maureen Scott. I absolutely hate her. It wasn’t confirmed until around the middle to last fourth of the book, but gods I hate her stinking guts!

I’ve never been a fan of the Bachelor or the Bachelorette, but I quite enjoyed getting to see behind the curtain of Ever After, the show modeled after both these reality shows. It shows just how toxic the environment can be and how heteronormative the whole process is. (Which, let’s be real, is a huge reason why I’ve never been a fan. Even at a young age before I knew I was queer and a sex-repulsed ace.) It was interesting to see how Charlie was in front of the camera with the women he was supposed to be courting and how he was with Dev when the cameras were off. I loved getting to see him grow with Dev’s coaching. While I don’t want to get into too many details about my own issues that this book brought to the forefront of my mind while reading, I can absolutely guarantee The Charm Offensive will live rent free in my head for a really long time. I don’t think I’ve tabbed or annotated a book quite as heavily as I did with this one. And that’s saying something because I am a liberal tabber. Seeing the way that Charlie was celebrated for differences he was told his whole life were “quirks” and made him inadequate was so beyond anything I could have asked for.

I haven’t really been adding ratings to my reviews this year outside of StoryGraph because I don’t think they’re necessary, but give this book all the dang stars. It deserves them. It made me emotional on more that one occasion:  for having characters I could see myself in, for the aspec/queer rep, for showing that letting people be with us in our darkest and messiest moments is okay and that we deserve love even when we’re in those moments, and for showing that no matter what, it’s never too late to find out who you are and to find the kind of love you want. Whether it’s romantic or platonic, everyone deserves love regardless of their romantic/sexual orientation.

I hope to maybe see a second book set in this world featuring Daphne, the next chosen princess.

Content Warnings:
Graphic: anxiety, OCD, depression, homophobia, misogyny, grief
Moderate: sexual content (not super descriptive), language, germophobia, toxic work environment, acephobia/arophobia, biphobia, blood, injury, bullying
Minor: vomit, violence

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood (spoilers)

Fair warning that this review does contain spoilers, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.

Where to begin with this book? I bought The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood sort of on a whim after hearing just about every romance reader I follow fawn over it and seeing a tiktok video about how the main character is demisexual. That right there had me sold because I rarely see acespec characters in mainstream romance books. Shortly after that I learned the story originally started as a Reylo fanfic and that had me even more interested. Now, don’t misunderstand; I was never a Reylo shipper. I was firmly in the camp that Rey and Ben Solo were separated siblings like Luke and Leia and that’s why they had such a strong connection. I was wrong, but a girl can dream, right?

Quick synopsis:  Olive fake dates a biology department professor when a small lie gets out of hand.

Review:  I devoured this book in less than 3 days. I think I started it after midnight on January 2nd, read a few chapters, went to sleep, woke up, read all day, stayed up ‘til 4:30 am on January 3rd, read even more, and then finished it around 4 pm on January 4th. I could not put this book down. It’s been a good while since that has happened and I’m glad I’m starting the year off strong. The banter in this book is frankly TOP TIER. (Yes, the all-caps is necessary.) It had me smiling from ear to ear, grinning like a doofus, laughing out loud, and biting my lip to try to contain my joy. The fluff factor is spectacular. TLH combines my favorite things:  fake-dating, grumpy-meets-sunshine, slow burn and forced proximity. I’m not always fond of an age-gap romance, but this was done in a way that it wasn’t predatory or creepy. It does have a professor/grad student relationship, but Olive isn’t Adam’s grad and they made sure their fake relationship wasn’t going to be breaking any Stanford ethics guidelines. (Adam checked. 😉)

Throughout the book we see Olive talk about how she’s doesn’t experience sexual attraction unless it’s with someone she knew and trusted deeply and that was something she had only recently figured out. This was the first time I had ever seen a demisexual character talked about in such a way that wasn’t a big deal. There’s a bit of acephobia from Olive’s best friend Anh a bit later in the book, which, as an ace person myself I know all too well. We don’t get Adam’s point of view at any point during the book (which is a total shame), but from the way he talks/acts, and what we learn from his childhood best friend Holden, it seems that Adam may also be demi. Which, total win for me and my ace ass. (There’s a bonus chapter if you sign up for Hazelwood’s newsletter and it confirms that Adam is also demi.) I loved seeing bits of myself represented in a character in a romance book because I’m so very often not the target demographic as a sex-averse ace.

The writing style had me hooked from the very beginning. It was easy to follow and the story felt natural. You can tell that the author is a science academic herself and that she really knows what she’s talking about. My only complaint is about some of the word/descriptor choices during the sex bits, but that’s generally my complaint with all romance books so far. 

I absolutely love how Adam begrudges Olive her choices in coffee-like beverages and food. You can tell that he’s really besotted with her, even from early on in the book. The way that he lovingly calls her a smart-ass and how she calls him an old man (34 really isn’t that old). I loved everything about it.

I would rank this pretty low on the spice factor, though chapters 16 and 17 were definitely steamy. One thing I will say that sets this apart from the other handful of romances I’ve read is Adam made sure he had Olive’s enthusiastic consent every step of the way. There was even a point where he said something along the lines of “I know you said yes before, but you can absolutely change your mind at any point in this process.” I really vibed with that. At one point he could tell that Olive was really not having a great time with what he was doing, so instead of forcing things he changed course to get her more relaxed. I really don’t see that often; especially when one of the people involved was so inexperienced like Olive was. That made me love Hazelwood and her writing even more. Making me wish I had my own Adam Carlsen in my life. (Don’t get me wrong, my partner is fabulous. But sometimes you just want to be the main character in a romance novel falling for the tall, dark, and brooding love interest who is definitely modeled after Adam Driver/Kylo Ren.)

I cannot sing my praises about this book enough. I absolutely adore it and already want to give it a reread. That really says a lot.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆//5

CW: Graphic: Sexual content and Sexual harassment

Moderate: Cancer, Cursing, Death of parent, Sexism, Misogyny, Grief, Emotional abuse, Gaslighting, Toxic friendship, Bullying, and Abandonment

Minor: Alcohol and Acephobia

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