Book Review – ‘Jay’s Gay Agenda’ by Jason June

An #ownvoices story that missed the mark.

Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT+

No. of pages: 368

There’s one thing Jay Collier knows for sure—he’s a statistical anomaly as the only out gay kid in his small rural Washington town. While all this friends can’t stop talking about their heterosexual hookups and relationships, Jay can only dream of his own firsts, compiling a romance to-do list of all the things he hopes to one day experience—his Gay Agenda.

Then, against all odds, Jay’s family moves to Seattle and he starts his senior year at a new high school with a thriving LGBTQIA+ community. For the first time ever, Jay feels like he’s found where he truly belongs, where he can flirt with Very Sexy Boys and search for love. But as Jay begins crossing items off his list, he’ll soon be torn between his heart and his hormones, his old friends and his new ones…because after all, life and love don’t always go according to plan.

This is cute and adorable, I liked the frank representation of sex and some of the spectrum of the LGBTQIA+ community. But for an #ownvoices author to write a story about a gay character where his entire story was about being gay in a sea of community members screaming that gay characters are more than the sexuality, that there is nuance, other motivations… and it was addressed in this novel, but it just left me with a big, disappointed sigh. If you removed all the talk about sex, or the actual chapters of sexual activity, this novel would be lucky to be 50 pages long. It just felt like it took up too much of the plot and left me somewhat bored.

Our protagonist Jay has a decent character arc, but from thinking him cute in the first few chapters to completely disliking him by the end of the novel is some achievement. I question a lot of Jay’s actions and decisions… and to be frank, there are some issues about sexual responsibility, trust, and honesty that are glazed over for the sake of making this a light fluffy romance.

I felt like we could have gotten more development on all of the characters – I don’t feel like I really got to know them properly.

This story was very predictable, and for me, not in a good way. I would have preferred a different ending.

Jason June’s writing style is pleasant and I really enjoyed their flow and humour… I just felt like the story needed a bit more dimension, some subtext, and not such a prominent role of sex in the storyline – it removed some realism for me.

Also it felt like the author wrote themselves into the story in the form of Max, and once I saw it, I couldn’t shake it. I don’t know if I appreciated the representation, or found it cheesy.

I have noticed that Jason June has put up that a sequel in coming on Goodreads. I’m not sure how eager I am to continue with this series – we’ll have to see what kind of story they intend to tell. If it is more of a redemption arc for Jay, I may give this author a second try.

Jay’s Gay Agenda‘ was cute. Don’t necessarily agree with some of the messages it was sending. I don’t think I would recommend this one.

Overall feeling: What a let down.

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Glad I got to re-visit the universe of the initial Legend trilogy. This time we follow Day/Daniel and is little brother Eden. A great addition to the franchise.

This quote resounds with so much truth – I love anything that challenges toxic masculinity.


I glimpsed back at some of the books I was obsessed with 10-15 years ago, some of them still stand up, some of them are cringe, and some feel very tone deaf… how do you feel writing has changed in the last ten years, and how has your reading tastes changed?


I loved the stark depiction of survival in this duology – McGinnis was not afraid to embrace the dark side of human nature.

When I think about this novel in perspective of gun ownership – how it is an essential tool for survival; and then hear about the awful and devastating shootings in the United States, it makes me question what the role of a gun is in that country… is it a status symbol? Power and control? It’s rarely seen here in Australia. The only times I’ve seen gun use outside of law enforcement was for things like culling and farm management.


Loving this series of panels comparing the graphic novels to the television show and how the mood is identical. Such a triumph!

Couldn’t resist slipping this last one in… Kit Connor has undergone such a transformation for the character.

#bookporn #coverlove

I’ve been waiting ages to complete this trilogy – the fantasy series that is the inspiration of the fan fiction the protagonist writes about in ‘Fangirl.’ It’s like a queer Harry Potter. Not big into fantasy, but this is deliciously ridiculous and has funny and sarcastic characters.

Has anyone finished this trilogy? Did you like it (no spoilers please.)


I’m not a big fan of fantasy novels with angels, but I do like the idea of being able to fly and the freedom it evokes.

What has been your favourite depictions of angels in a novel? So far mine has been The Mortal Instruments.

Book Review – ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ by Maurene Goo

K-Drama goodness!

Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 336

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends.

So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study.

Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

A nerdy insecure girl creates a list of things she’s seen on K-Dramas in order to entice her crush to fall in love with her. Our rom-com protagonist Desi is a list-maker after my own heart in all her flirt-failures.

I see the list Desi makes as a tool for her to deal with her grief and loss over her mother. She doesn’t have a female role model to refer to these things about. It’s also a way for her to distance herself from reality (and escape grief and/or embarrassment) as a means to step out of her comfort zone in a controlled way – because her life has always been about control and rule following – the list is another set of rules.

The level of importance, drama, and stress around things like boys, friends, grades, graduation, and university is major. It’s like I want to pull all the characters of this book aside for a moment so they can take a breath and chill – do they have to make life so difficult for themselves? Everything has world-ending consequences. For example, bFF June has a tendency to overreact to situations leading Desi right down the garden path. You don’t have to do everything at once. Having a boyfriend is not the answer to everything. I love the drama, but at the same time hate the drama. This book is like an episode of messy TikTok.

With small arcs for both main characters around not making assumptions – could have been avoided with some patience and long frank discussions… things teens are NOT known for. But this trope always urks me because it negates the plot – makes the story irrelevant in a sense, and I did not invest all that time for them to do something they should have done 100 pages previously.

There is a sweetness and innocence to ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ and it definitely has a heart. I really enjoyed my time reading this book – a nice little escape from real life. I just wanted it to be a bit less tropey and overdramatic to really let the tone of the narrative and writing style shine.

 ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ is a fast paced contemporary that I read in one sitting, with a breezy writing style and plenty of comedic moments that counter-balance the drama. A soft recommendation from me. A light romance great for a quiet afternoon of reading.

Overall feeling: teen angst x 100!

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.