Review: Camp QUILTBAG

Title: Camp QUILTBAG
Author: Nicole Melleby and A.J. Sass
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary, LGBTQ
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: March 21, 2023
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

From the acclaimed authors of Hurricane Season and Ana on the Edge, an unforgettable story about the importance of and joy in finding a community, for fans of Alex Gino and Ashley Herring-Blake.

Twelve-year-old Abigail (she/her/hers) is so excited to spend her summer at Camp QUILTBAG, an inclusive retreat for queer and trans kids. She can’t wait to find a community where she can be herself—and, she hopes, admit her crush on that one hot older actress to kids who will understand.

Thirteen-year-old Kai (e/em/eir) is not as excited. E just wants to hang out with eir best friend and eir parkour team. And e definitely does not want to think about the incident that left eir arm in a sling—the incident that also made Kai’s parents determined to send em somewhere e can feel like emself.

After a bit of a rocky start at camp, Abigail and Kai make a pact: If Kai helps Abigail make new friends, Abigail will help Kai’s cabin with the all-camp competition. But as they navigate a summer full of crushes, queer identity exploration, and more, they learn what’s really important. Camp QUILTBAG is a heartfelt story full of the joy that comes from being and loving yourself.


Twelve-year-old Abigail (she/her/hers) is excited to attend Camp QUILTBAG for the first time. It’s an inclusive two-week long camp, where she can finally be herself. After her crush on her friend’s mom was discovered, she was teased by her friends. She hopes to discover some new friends with similar interests. Thirteen-year-old Kai (e/em/eir) is reluctant to attend Camp QUILTBAG. E would rather stay at home with eir best friend. After an incident at school left Kai with a dislocated shoulder, eir parents thought it would be a good idea to meet kids like em. Both kids went to the camp for different reasons, but learned to accept their true identities. 

This was such a sweet story about an LGBTQ+ inclusive camp. I didn’t realize until I began reading that the name QUILTBAG is made of many of the letters in the LGBTQ acronym, though it left out some identities. The leader of the camp acknowledged that they should come up with an even more inclusive name. I liked the gender neutral pronouns that Kai used. Those pronouns were much easier to read than the gender neutral pronoun “they,” which can be confusing to read as it gets mixed up with the plural pronoun “they.” There was a wide variety of different gender identities and sexualities represented in this story. Every child at the camp came from a different background and experience but they were all accepted at the inclusive camp. 

Camp QUILTBAG is a great LGBTQ+ middle grade story!

Thank you Algonquin Young Readers for sending me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

In the Role of Brie Hutchens… by Nicole Melleby

Have you read Camp QUILTBAG? What did you think of it?


Review: The Alchemy of Moonlight

Title: The Alchemy of Moonlight
Author: David Ferraro
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQ, Historical Fiction, Gothic
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Source: Manda Group
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: May 30, 2023
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

When Emile’s aunt declares he must marry or be disowned for being gay—he runs away to hide as a servant in Count Montoni’s mansion. In their service, Emile tends to the family who all suffer a strange affliction on the full moon. And after overhearing suspicious family arguments, he finds a body on the estate, drawing the attention of a handsome doctor as well as the count’s charismatic nephew, Henri. 

Before Emile can sort out his affections or unravel the growing Montoni family mystery, his identity is revealed and his aunt comes to collect him.

When she arrives, Count Montoni forces everyone to depart to the remote Udolpho Castle—where there are no witnesses and no chance for escape. There, Emile realizes that he will have to risk his life to find the love he deserves—and survive the Montoni family.


When Emile’s aunt insists he get married or be sent to an asylum for being gay and lose his inheritance, he runs away and gets a job as a servant in Count Montoni’s mansion. He finds a dismembered hand on the property which introduces him to the local doctor, Valancourt. Emile also draws the attention of the Count’s nephew, Henri. As Emile finds more bodies on the property, he wonders if the Count has a dark secret. He hopes to figure it out so that he can blackmail the Count so that he no longer has to wait for his inheritance. However, Emile’s past catches up with him and the family moves to Udolpho castle, where there is no chance for escape and the danger lies within the castle walls. 

This story is a queer retelling of The Mysteries of Udolpho. I haven’t read that story but I am familiar with it. Though I can’t speak to the way this story was adapted, I liked the other nods to classic gothic novel. For example, there was a character in a scene named Carmilla, whose skin was cold to touch, like the vampire in the book Carmilla. This story was exciting, with twists that I didn’t see coming. There was also a love triangle, but it actually ended in a healthy relationship, that I won’t give details on to avoid spoilers. 

The Alchemy of Moonlight is a spooky new gothic novel!

Thank you Manda Group for sending me a copy of this book!

Content warnings: death of parents, mentions of suicide, dismemberment, homophobia

What to read next:

Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

Have you read The Alchemy of Moonlight? What did you think of it?

Review: Junko Tabei Masters the Mountains

Title: Junko Tabei Masters the Mountains
Author: Rebel Girls
Genre: Nonfiction, Middle Grade, Children’s
Publisher: Rebel Girls
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 25, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

From the world of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes the historical novel based on the life of Junko Tabei, the first female climber to summit Mount Everest.

Junko is bad at athletics. Really bad. Other students laugh because they think she is small and weak. Then her teacher takes the class on a trip to a mountain. It’s bigger than any Junko’s ever seen, but she is determined to make it to the top. Ganbatte, her teacher tells her. Do your best

After that first trip, Junko becomes a mountaineer in body and spirit. She climbs snowy mountains, rocky mountains, and even faraway mountains outside of her home country of Japan. She joins clubs and befriends fellow climbers who love the mountains as much as she does. Then, Junko does something that’s never been done before… she becomes the first woman to climb the tallest mountain in the world.


Junko Tabei was the first female climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest. She wasn’t an athletic child, but when her elementary school teacher introduced her to mountain climbing, she found her passion. She spent her entire life climbing mountains and setting records. 

I always enjoy the Rebel Girls books because I learn so much from them. I had never heard of Junko Tabei before reading this book, but I’m glad to have learned about such an inspiring woman. Junko’s biography was in a narrative format, which makes it easy to read and remember. This book is appropriate for a middle grade reader, but I enjoyed it as an adult reader.

Junko Tabei Masters the Mountains is a great Rebel Girls book!

Thank you Rebel Girls for providing a digital copy of this book.

What to read next:

Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business by Rebel Girls

Have you read Junko Tabei Masters the Mountains? What did you think of it?

Review: Cinder and Glass (Cinder and Glass #1)

Title: Cinder and Glass (Cinder and Glass #1)
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Son Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 8, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

For this princess, winning the crown is no fairytale. 

1682. The king sends out an invitation to all the maidens in France: their presence is requested at a number of balls and events that will be held in honor of the dashing Prince Louis, who must choose a bride. 

Cendrillon de Louvois has more grace, beauty, and charm than anyone else in France. While she was once the darling child of the king’s favorite adviser, her father’s death has turned her into the servant of her stepmother and cruel stepsisters–and at her own chateau, too!

Cendrillon–now called Cinder–manages to evade her stepmother and attend the ball, where she catches the eye of the handsome Prince Louis and his younger brother Auguste.

Even though Cendrillon has an immediate aversion to Louis, and a connection with Auguste, the only way to escape her stepmother is to compete with the other women at court for the Prince’s hand.

Soon, as Cendrillon glows closer to Auguste and dislikes the prince more and more, she will have to decide if she can bear losing the boy she loves in order to leave a life she hates.

Melissa de la Cruz takes a lush, romantic hand to this retold fairy tale classic.


France, 1682: Cendrillon de Louvois was the daughter of the King’s trusted advisor. However, once her father died suddenly leaving her to live with her stepmother and stepsisters, Cendrillon disappeared from the Royal court. Now, her goal is to get a better life for herself and her family’s seamstress, Elodie. When their family receives an invitation to a ball held in honour of Prince Louis, Cendrillon’s stepmother ensures that Cendrillon doesn’t attend with them. Cendrillon’s godmother helps her get to the ball and she is reunited with her childhood friend, Auguste, at the ball. Cendrillon is chosen to compete for Prince Louis’s hand in marriage. Marrying the prince seems like the perfect way to escape her evil stepmother, but Cendrillon must decide if she’s willing to marry him and give up the possibility of true love with Auguste. 

This story was a beautiful retelling of Cinderella. There was some basis in real history, being set in Versailles in 1682. Cendrillon is Cinderella in French. I enjoyed the mini competition that the Prince had to find a wife. Instead of just choosing Cendrillon to be his wife after the ball, he chose 25 girls to spend more time with and choose one for a wife. It was like a “Bachelor” competition. That was a fun twist on the usual Cinderella story. 

Cinder and Glass is a fun retelling of Cinderella!

Thank you G.P. Putnam’s Son Books for Young Readers for providing a digital copy of this book.

What to read next:

Snow and Poison (Cinder and Glass #2) by Melissa de la Cruz

Other books in the series:

  • Snow and Poison

Have you read Cinder and Glass? What did you think of it?

Review: Meet Me at the Lake

Title: Meet Me at the Lake
Author: Carley Fortune
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Viking
Source: Tandem Collective
Format: Paperback
Release Date: May 2, 2023
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Fern Brookbanks has wasted far too much of her adult life thinking about Will Baxter. She spent just twenty-four hours in her early twenties with the aggravatingly attractive, idealistic artist, a chance encounter that spiraled into a daylong adventure in Toronto. The timing was wrong, but their connection was undeniable: they shared every secret, every dream, and made a pact to meet one year later. Fern showed up. Will didn’t.

At thirty-two, Fern’s life doesn’t look at all how she once imagined it would. Instead of living in the city, Fern’s back home, running her mother’s Muskoka lakeside resort–something she vowed never to do. The place is in disarray, her ex-boyfriend’s the manager, and Fern doesn’t know where to begin.

She needs a plan–a lifeline. To her surprise, it comes in the form of Will, who arrives nine years too late, with a suitcase in tow and an offer to help on his lips. Will may be the only person who understands what Fern’s going through. But how could she possibly trust this expensive-suit wearing mirage who seems nothing like the young man she met all those years ago. Will is hiding something, and Fern’s not sure she wants to know what it is.

But ten years ago, Will Baxter rescued Fern. Can she do the same for him?


On June 14, ten years ago, Fern Brookbanks spent twenty-four hours with Will Baxter. He was an artist who took her on a tour of Toronto for one of her final days in the city. They hadn’t met before that day, but they made plans to meet exactly one year later at Fern’s family’s resort in Huntsville. The following year, Fern waited for Will but he didn’t show up. Now, thirty-two year old Fern is returning to her family’s resort because her mother died in a sudden accident. Fern is trying to take over the resort with no experience or desire to work there. Then, Will shows up at the resort with an offer to help her figure it out. Fern needs the help and she has been waiting for Will for ten years, but she must decide if she’s willing to open herself up to possibly getting hurt again. 

It is very hard not to compare this book to Every Summer After. It’s by the same author and has a similar storyline: a woman who grew up in Ontario’s cottage country, moves to Toronto as an adult but must return home after a death in the family and face the love of her life who she hasn’t seen in years. Probably if I hadn’t read these books back to back and if they hadn’t come out a year apart they wouldn’t have seemed as similar. Every Summer After was relatable and had a lot of strong emotions. Meet Me at the Lake didn’t evoke the same emotions in me but I liked the ending. I appreciated how much the author said in the acknowledgments that writing this one was more difficult than her first book. Every Summer After would be a hard book to follow up due to its huge success, but this one is a good summer beach read. 

Meet Me at the Lake is a great second chance summer romance!

Thank you Tandem Collective and Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy!

Content warnings: death of parent, anxiety, marijuana use, death by car accident, parental abandonment, teen pregnancy

What to read next:

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

Have you read Meet Me at the Lake? What did you think of it?

Review: Every Summer After

Title: Every Summer After
Author: Carley Fortune
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Tandem Collective
Format: Paperback
Release Date: May 10, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past. 

Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic look at love and the people and choices that mark us forever.

Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right.


Persephone Fraser made the biggest mistake of her life twelve years ago. She no longer spends summers at a cottage in Barry’s Bay, now working as a magazine editor in Toronto. However, when she receives a phone call that her former neighbour passed away, she rushes back to her summer home and back to her former best friend, Sam Florek. Percy and Sam were inseparable for six summers in their teenage years, working together in his family’s restaurant and swimming in the lake. But then something happened to make them not speak for twelve years. Now, Percy has to confront her past and try to fix her big mistake. 

This story really tugged at my heartstrings. It was an extremely slow burn romance. I kept wishing Sam and Percy would get together sooner because their chemistry was so strong. The big revelations at the end were heartbreaking. My only critique is that the ending seemed quite short. I would have liked to see more of a happily every after for Percy and Sam because their romance was short lived on the pages. 

Every Summer After is the perfect summer romance!

Thank you Tandem Collective and Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy of this book!

Content warnings: death of parent, panic attacks, anxiety, alcohol use, cheating

What to read next:

Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

Have you read Every Summer After? What did you think of it?

Review: Legends and Lattes (Legends and Lattes #1)

Title: Legends and Lattes (Legends and Lattes #1)
Author: Travis Baldree
Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQ
Publisher: Tor
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: June 7, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time.

The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success — not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won’t be able to go it alone.

But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.


Viv, an orc warrior, decides to hang up her sword for good and open a coffee shop. No one in the town of Thune has heard of coffee, but she enlists the help of a few locals to get her shop renovated and open for business. Viv also has a secret weapon which she’s buried beneath the shop in the hopes that it will bring her success. As the shop continues to grow and expand, both in menu and amenities, Viv learns to trust and love. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book but I’ve seen nothing but good reviews for it. It was a very cozy story about a coffee shop in a high fantasy world. It was funny to see these fantasy characters discover coffee and cinnamon rolls, which seem so ordinary to our world. The story started out at a slow pace, as Viv slowly built the shop from the ground up, but it was comforting to see how well things progressed for her. The tension picked up at the end but I was so happy with the ending. 

Legends and Lattes is a warm and cozy read! I can’t wait to read the next book!

Have you read Legends and Lattes? What did you think of it?

Review: The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games #2)

Title: The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games #2)
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Mystery. Riches. Romance. Betrayal.


Overnight, Avery Grambs went from sleeping in her car to billionaire heiress. Now ensconced in a world of opulence, riddles, danger, and family secrets, Avery is on the hunt for the one person who might hold the answers to all her questions—including why eccentric billionaire Tobias Hawthorne left his entire fortune to Avery, a virtual stranger, rather than to his own daughters and grandsons.

Avery has a DNA test that proves she’s not a Hawthorne by blood, but cryptic clues begin piling up, hinting at a deeper connection to the family. Soon, Avery finds herself pulled into another game just as twisted as the first. As she works her way through puzzle after puzzle, it becomes clear that nothing is what it seems. Grayson and Jameson, two of the enigmatic and magnetic Hawthorne grandsons, continue to pull Avery in different directions, and it’s getting harder to tell who her allies are and who will stop at nothing to see Avery out of the picture—by any means necessary.


Avery Grambs is still looking for answers as to why Tobias Hawthorne named her as his heir instead of his relatives. After a DNA test, the family knows she isn’t related to the Hawthornes by blood, but she is still hunting for some kind of connection. As Avery finds more clues, she’s torn between Grayson and Jameson, Tobias’s two charming grandsons. The threats to Avery’s life and fortune are getting more dangerous with every puzzle she solves on her hunt to find out why she is the Hawthorne heir. 

I absolutely loved The Inheritance Games so I was so excited to read this one right away. I haven’t read a sequel so soon after reading the first book in years! The stakes were raised, with many life threatening situations that made the story suspenseful and thrilling. The relationships between characters became very complicated and a little confusing throughout this second book. Though the connection between Avery and the Hawthorne family seemed to be revealed at the end of the story, I wasn’t satisfied with it. I’m hoping the next book will tie everything together!

The Hawthorne Legacy is a suspenseful sequel!

What to read next:

The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Hawthorne Legacy? What did you think of it?