Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How We Began by Alexis Hall, Delphine Dryder, Vanessa North, Amy Jo Cousins, Annabeth Albert and Geonn Cannon

How We Began

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How does love begin? 

A glance, a gesture, an unexpected offer of help from a stranger…or from a good friend. A smile across a counter at a coffee shop or video store. A secret revealed in a song from another place and time. Or in a love ballad crooned at a high school dance. 

In this anthology of never-before-published sweet LGBTQ+ stories, six authors explore the beginnings of love between young and new adult couples. All proceeds will support The Trevor Project's work with crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.


When we started our blog, I was skeptical of short stories and novellas.  With the exception of the stories forced on me in high school and college, I had never read one that was very good.  And yes, I did read a lot of them.  Mostly of the romance variety.  But since we started blogging?  Every single book of short stories I have read has been absolutely stellar.  How We Began might be tied with The Curiosities as an all-time favorite.  The stories are sweet and the writing is spectacular.  But that shouldn’t be a surprise when you have contributing authors like Alexis Hall, Annabeth Albert and Amy Jo Cousins. Just to name a few.  I was familiar with these authors within the adult romance genre.  They blew me away with these Young Adult stories and I can only hope that I might see full length YA novels from some of them in the future.  

Since these are short stories I am limiting myself to just a few sentences on each story in an effort to not spoil any of it for you.  In the end I hope you guys give this one a try.  It’s a book full of beautiful and diverse stories that include characters from all over the LGBT spectrum.  And to top it off, proceeds from the sale of this book go to The Trevor Project.  So you not only get a great book but you also contribute to a wonderful organization.

TruNorth by Alexis Hall – This is the story of Noah, the least visible member of the boy band TruNorth.  In a future world where management tracks members every movement, it’s impossible for Noah to explore and be who he really is.  When he spies fellow bandmate and crush, Callum, sneaking out, he follows him to discover a secret club where no one has to hide their secrets.  Alexis Hall never fails to write characters that are hyper-realistic and draw you in emotionally.

Unexpected Dragons by Delphine Dryder – Zev is afraid that he will never figure out how to shift to his dragon form.  But when it finally and unexpectedly happens he has to face a future of still being different and a possible future without his friend Rook.  Because Rook hasn’t changed form yet either. I rarely pick up fantasy anymore and I have never read a dragon-shifter story (please don’t hurt me, Bel and Shel) but this story was simply amazing and visually beautiful that I’ll probably add some dragon-shifter amazing-ness to my TBR this year.

A Song for a Sweater-boy by Vanessa North – Jamie lives with autism and is known as the Sweater-boy at school because he knits during class to help keep him focused and to control his ticks.  When Jamie’s classmate, Ash, shows up at his aunt’s yarn shop as part of his probation (it’s a long story), they form an unexpected friendship that Jamie hopes might grow into something more.  Gah!  This story was so darn adorable I could barely stand it.

A Taste of Coffee and Cream by Amy Jo Cousins – Saturday’s are the best day of Jude’s week.  Those are the days she can escape town and be who she really is.  Owen is the barista at the coffee shop where Jude changes her clothes for the day.  Jude doesn’t necessarily want any connections but Owen not only wants to be her friend but also might have access to the resources that could allow Jude to be who she is all the time and not just on Saturdays.  She’ll have to decide if she can take the necessary leap to trust Owen chase after her future.  Amy’s combination of empathy and reality always works for me.  Perfection is overrated when you are handed honest characters like the ones in this story.

First in Line by Annabeth Albert – Ethaniel has finally arrived at school and he can finally step out of the closet.  But something that he thought would be easy once he was away from home is extremely difficult.  It would seem, even across country, his parents’ opinion on things can affect him. But, as he navigates campus, he finds allies in the most important places, including campus GSA member, Nesto.  Annabeth Albert writes the best geek romances and this one is no exception.

Extinction Level Events by Geonn Cannon – Cassandra’s list of things to do before she leaves for college include, having a garage sale, putting in her two weeks’ notice, telling her parent’s she’s gay and telling her best friend, Natalie, that she’s in love with her.  Yeah, those last two are eating her up a bit.  But she won’t be a coward and she will get it done.  I really loved this story.  Cassandra is one of those rare girls that has really taken advantage of her teen years to discover who she is.  This story contains a now favorite book quote of mine.  Cassandra’s mom tells her, “High school is your fitting room stage.  Try on everything and see what fits.  Otherwise how will you know who you really are?” And Cassandra really takes that advice to heart.  I’ve never read anything by Geonn Cannon before but, based on this story, I will definitely  be reading her books in the near future.


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