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Queer Anthologies

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages

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Take a journey through time and genres and discover a past where queer figures live, love and shape the world around them. Seventeen of the best young adult authors across the queer spectrum have come together to create a collection of beautifully written diverse historical fiction for teens.

From a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in war-torn 1870s Mexico featuring a transgender soldier, to two girls falling in love while mourning the death of Kurt Cobain, forbidden love in a sixteenth-century Spanish convent or an asexual girl discovering her identity amid the 1970s roller-disco scene, All Out tells a diverse range of stories across cultures, time periods and identities, shedding light on an area of history often ignored or forgotten.

Roja - Anna-Marie McLemore
The Sweet Trade - Natalie C. Parker
And They Don`t Kiss at the End - Nilah Magruder
Burnt Umber - Mackenzi Lee
The Dresser & the Chambermaid - Robin Talley
New Year - Malinda Lo
Molly`s Lips - Dahlia Adler
The Coven - Kate Scelsa
Every Shade of Red - Elliot Wake
Willows - Scott Tracey
The Girl with the Blue Lantern - Tess Sharpe
The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy - Alex Sanchez
Walking After Midnight - Kody Keplinger
The End of the World as We Know It - Sara Farizan
Three Witches - Tessa Gratton
The Inferno & the Butterfly - Shaun David Hutchinson
Healing Rosa - Tehlor Kay Mejia

368 pages, Hardcover

First published February 27, 2018

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About the author

Saundra Mitchell

30 books530 followers
Saundra Mitchell is the author of SHADOWED SUMMER, THE VESPERTINE, THE SPRINGSWEET, THE ELEMENTALS and MISTWALKER. In non-fiction, she’s the author of the THEY DID WHAT!? series for middle grade readers. She’s also the editor of the YA anthology DEFY THE DARK. IN 2018, HarlequinTEEN will publish her next anthology, ALL OUT.

Writing as Jessa Holbrook, she published her first romantic contemporary YA with Razorbill, WHILE YOU’RE AWAY. In summer 2014, she debuted WILD, her first YA novel writing as Alex Mallory.

SHADOWED SUMMER was the 2010 winner of The Society of Midland Authors Book Award for Children’s Fiction and a 2010 Edgar® Award Nominee. It was chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection and an ALAN Pick in 2009.

Her short story “Ready to Wear” was nominated for a 2007 Pushcart Prize after appearing in Vestal Review Issue 27. Her short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in anthologies including A TYRANNY OF PETTICOATS, FORETOLD, GRIM, TRUTH & DARE and DEAR BULLY.

For twenty years, she was the head screenwriter and an executive producer with Dreaming Tree Films on their various teen filmmaking programs, including the largest teen filmmaking program in the United States, Fresh Films. They produced more than four hundred films from her screenplays, and she earned Academy Award eligibility ten times during her tenure.

In other arenas, Ms. Mitchell was interviewed by the New York Times and the BBC for her part in exposing the Kaycee Nicole hoax, and she’s been tapped by morning radio shows all over the United States as a guest expert on Urban Legends & Folklore.

In her free time, she enjoys fandom, studying history, papermaking, and spending time with her wife and her daughters.

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,944 reviews292k followers
February 28, 2018
Rosa was a summer girl, and I was a winter girl, but that fall we made magic.

You know, back when I was in my early teens, I once heard this old guy say “there weren’t all these queers around when I was younger”. Oh, but there were, sir. And long long before that, too.

All Out is a great fictional companion to last year's Queer, There and Everywhere. While the latter works to uncover the real queer - gay, bi, trans, genderqueer, nonconforming, intersex, asexual - people who have been erased throughout history, All Out is a collection of fictional stories that puts queer people into the Middle Ages, Victorian era, Gold Rush-era and more, where of course they were all along.

Most of these are adventure stories with positive representation. Adversity does rear its head, and some of the stories are a little bloody and unfair, but they nearly all leave us with a sense of hope. Though romance is a common theme throughout, not all the stories are love stories. The authors explore young adults coming to understand and accept themselves, or others, and some who still haven't quite worked it out.
"All I'm saying," said Vince, "is we don't need to have ourselves figured out in one night. You know?"

The anthology begins and ends with two of my favourites, each with especially lush, evocative writing. Anna-Marie McLemore retells Red Riding Hood with a transgender spin and a 19th-century Mexican setting. As expected from the author of When the Moon Was Ours: A Novel, the writing is gorgeous and the story beautifully-imagined. The last story is by an author I was previously unfamiliar with - Tehlor Kay Mejia - and she writes a dreamy gay romance between two women in 1930s New Mexico.

I also particularly enjoyed Elliot Wake's "Every Shade of Red" about a transgender Robin Hood, and "The Inferno & the Butterfly" by Shaun David Hutchinson in which two gay magicians' assistants fall in love, though all of the stories had something important to offer. Nilah Magruder's "And They Don’t Kiss at the End", about a black teenager coming to terms with her asexuality, was another highlight.

If anything, I wish the stories could have been a bit more geographically diverse. The vast majority take place in the United States, and there are no stories set outside of North America and Europe. This is not a criticism of any individual story, but rather what I would have liked to see from the anthology as a whole. Still, with so much great writing and imagination in one collection, it is difficult to complain too much.

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Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
December 1, 2019
Listen, I’ve been anticipating this anthology for months now, but this was so much better than I expected - I want to put this down as my favorite YA anthology I have ever read, and the ratings support that. Of the seventeen stories in this book, I gave nine five stars [holy shit], three four stars, three three stars, and only two two stars, for my highest rating ever - an average rating of 4.12. This is a true anthology. All other anthologies can leave.

Okay, so what is this book? All Out is a collection of historical fiction featuring queer characters being put back into their narratives. Most is romance between girls [relevant to my interests], feat. a few romances between guys, one [or arguably two] couple of stories that lack romance, and two stories with m/f romance where one character is queer. A lot of these are very speculative-fiction esque, which I found surprising but a lot of fun! And most of all, what this meant to me is something I discussed in my Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue review - this is historical fiction about people who don't get historical fiction. People love to declaim about how the historical fiction genre doesn't need diversity because, apparently, the only people who existed "back then" were white, straight, and abled. But unfortunately for those who don't like it, people like us have always existed. Seeing representation like this in historical fiction is seriously new and it means the fucking WORLD to me.

the standout stories to please please read:
Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee
Molly’s Lips by Dahlia Adler
Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake
The Girl with the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe
Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger
Three Witches by Tessa Gratton
The Inferno & the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson
Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia.

in terms of location, diversity, and timing: Waaaaaay too much of this is recent historical fiction that isn't really historical enough - a few could've been set today and I wouldn't know. Way too much set in America or Europe. As in, everything is in America or Europe. Boring. Could do with a lot more racial diversity. [I KNOW IT'S HISTORICAL FICTION BUT LIKE... IF WE'RE PUTTING QUEER PEOPLE BACK INTO THEIR NARRATIVES WE CAN DO THE SAME WITH PEOPLE OF COLOR, THANKS] I would’ve also liked more trans MCs? Two is great, but more would’ve been better. Also maaaaaaybe a couple more visibly bi or visibly gay MCs, because I feel like a lot of these characters are indeterminate sexuality! Which is awesome because mood and normalizing lack of labels, but also it would be cool to have a few characters who are perceptibly different identities even if they don't have a label?

Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore ← ★★★★★
✔ 1870 Mexico | mf, trans mc, latinx mcs
An bruja tries to break her trans lover, León, out of prison. God. Okay. I’m going to make my thesis statement about Anna Marie McLemore’s work and the theme of an evil or cursed family, because they play with that concept A LOT and it’s great every time. There’s also a short author’s note and I kind of adore the inspo for this story. I don't know, dude, they just know how to fucking write.

The Sweet Trade by Natalie C. Parker ← ★★★☆☆
✔ 1717 VA | wlw
Runaway bride Clara meets a girl named Pearl and they fall in love and have pirate adventures together. This was sweet, first of all, and had a good concept, but I just didn’t connect that much. When you don’t really connect to the characters it can be hard to really love the story.

And They Don’t Kiss At the End by Nilah Magruder ← ★★★☆☆
✔ 1976 MD | mf, a-spec mc, black mc
Black and ace Dee tries to figure out her relationship with local cute guy Vince. Liked this a little more than the last story, thought it was sweet - and then oh, it’s also really short? It’s not even the length, I just didn’t feel this went very far in terms of developing Dee’s arc, because it ended right after she got a chance to realize only holding hands for now was okay. Definitely on the positive side of a three, though. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE the title.

Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee ← ★★★★★
✔ 1638 Amsterdam | mlm
Painter Constantijn is much more talented at painting nude bodies than his fellow apprentices – until he’s asked to draw the guy he’s got a crush on. This was just… really cute. I really love Mackenzi Lee’s sense of humor and I laughed at this a lot.

The Dresser & The Chambermaid by Robin Talley ← ★★★★☆
✔ 1726 Kensington Palace | wlw
Dresser Mary and chambermaid Susannah bond over serving royalty... and then maybe more than bond. This was sweet and that’s basically my entire thought? I liked how normalized queerness was in the historical context. Didn’t think the characters were very well developed, but this worked in a story mostly about the relationship.

New Year by Malinda Lo ← ★★★★☆
✔ 1955 San Francisco | romance-free, sapphic mc, chinese-american mc
Chinese lesbian Lily tries to figure out her identity at the turn of the century. This was all over in the place but in a good way. This is one of the few stories that is not really a romance, and I have to admit I sort of wished there was one - I KNOW, I KNOW, but missed expectations are a thing. But points for the excellent historical elements around the San Francisco queer scene and the rocket scientist computers [yall should watch Hidden Figures to find out more]. Also, I liked Lily a lot as a character. Petition for more historical fiction by Malinda Lo.

Molly’s Lips by Dahlia Adler ← ★★★★★
✔ 1994 Seattle | wlw
This was my FAVORITE. I don’t even understand why but for some reason I started tearing up at this? Molly and Annabelle go to a memorial for Kurt Cobain’s death and… things occur. This is a deeply adorable story that is also obviously very deeply heartfelt for the author, and I love it. I don’t even know anything about Nirvana besides, like, one song, but I love this.

The Coven by Kate Scelsa ← ★★★☆☆
✔ 1920s Paris | wlw
Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas are witches who help girls get their lives back, apparently. and they help Dean to clear her mind of depression and get Vivie, her best friend and the girl of her dreams. I don’t know, man, I liked the writing style, but had no feelings.

Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake ← ★★★★★
✔ 1300s England | mlm, trans mc, qpoc cast
Okay, this story is Robin Hood, except it’s sort of a story about being yourself in the environment you can be - which is a great retelling concept - and Robin is trans and dating Will. I don’t think I’m the same person as I was before I read this story. This… listen, I have only once in my life been so completely destroyed by a short story. I CRIED at the end of this. In a good and bad way. I’m so deeply upset. Also, writing porn. There were like two descriptions of the people of color in the gang I was kind of iffy on - I think they were in for historical accuracy but also why? But this was…………… oh my god.

Willows by Scott Tracey ← ★★☆☆☆
✔ 1732 Massachusetts | mlm, possibly-enby mc
I’d review this, except I have no idea what the hell was going on? It’s a story about a boy who has been several people in the past [lacking in gender, which is cool, but also a process that is not really explained or clarified] and then… runs off with his boyfriend. I don’t know what this was about or what the ending means and the story structure is fuckin weird. Good writing, though.

The Girl with the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe ← ★★★★★
✔ 1839 Northern CA | wlw
This was BEAUTIFUL. Human Ella meets a wood spirit, Oria, through her dog, and then they fall in love. And it’s really sweet and creative. I’m still super into rational MCs in bad situations, and Ella’s narrative voice was really great. Also I’m a complete slut for vaguely creepy spirits and aestheticy forest descriptions porn!

The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez ← ★★☆☆☆
✔ 1969 VA | for-development romance, mlm mc, cuban MC
A teenage boy meets an older guy on his way to New York. Not to be this person, but honestly, the age gap was just too much for me. I’m seventeen and I should not be dating a twenty-year-old, much less a person a year younger than I am. The ridiculous amount of talk about kidnapping just makes it worse. Jesus, y’all. Points for a supportive family and a kind of sexuality crisis narrative, but that’s not really what I wanted out of this anthology - ya girl just wanted love stories for once. I’m so sorry.

Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger ← ★★★★★
✔ 1952 NY | wlw, a-spec MC
Awww, I love this. It’s about Betsey, a child actress on the way to New York for a play and a new future, and Laura, a girl she meets on the way. This story made me feel really deep about The Future and The Possibilities Of Tomorrow and I don’t even know, it just made me really happy?

The End of the World As We Know It by Sara Farizan ← ★★★★☆
✔ 1999 Boston | wlw, Turkish mc
Turkish Ezgi meets an old friend, Katie, on the New Year’s eve of the millennium. Loved the detailed bits about 1999, which were missing from a lot of the recent-history stories. The story was kind of just good for me, though? It didn’t really impact me as much as I’d hoped; I just finished with a sense of basic happiness.

Three Witches by Tessa Gratton ← ★★★★���
✔ 1519 Castile [Spain] | wlw
This story follows Violante, a girl in conversion therapy, and Gracia, the nun caring for her. This story is one about the nature of religion, and I think the reasons I loved it so much can be summed up pretty easily: 1) the writing and 2) the ending. The ending of this story is one of the most powerful endings in the collection and I just… gah.

The Inferno & the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson ← ★★★★★
✔ 1839 London | mlm
Magician’s assistant Alfie tries to save rival magician’s apprentice Wilhelm. This story is about believing yourself to be cursed and releasing yourself from that and it meant so much to me.

Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia ← ★★★★★
✔ 1933 New Mexico | wlw, latinx mcs
This is joining the list of things that were written so well they made me literally, actually cry. This follows a girl who falls in love with another girl, Rosa, and tries to heal her of the demon inside her. Oh my god, I loved this, I loved the leads, I loved the story, I loved the writing. 20/10 would reread and cry a bit and desperately await Mejia's gay as hell 2019 release.

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Profile Image for Melanie.
1,157 reviews97.9k followers
April 11, 2018

This was a blessing to read. This is a historical literature short story collection, showcasing LGBTQIAP+ characters. And all of the authors that contributed to this collection are LGBTQIAP+ and that is something that I don’t even have words for. I am forever thankful that Saundra Mitchell curated this, that Harlequin published this, and that kids and teens everywhere are going to be able to pick this up and know that they are never alone and that they have never been alone, throughout history.

These stories also are set all over the world, even though the majority of them do take place in The United States. I do personally wish that we had a little more variety, but the stories themselves are super important and I feel very privileged that I was able to read them. My only other minor complaint is that I also wish that there was a pansexual character. I get no titles were used in many of these stories, but I still wish there were bigger hints and/or possibilities that would have personally made my pan heart happy.

My personal favorite was The Inferno & the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson. It was so beautifully written, the messages were expertly woven in, and the characters are two that I won’t forget anytime soon. Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore and Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake were super close to also being my favorite. And both of these stories are ones I will carry in my heart forever. And I truly believe, without a doubt, that these three short stories are worth the entire price of this anthology alone!

I'm going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating!

Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore - ★★★★★
“I wanted them to know that I was my abuela’s granddaughter, that carried the blood of poison girls.”

1870 Mexico - I wish every anthology that I will ever read for the rest of my life started with a story by Anna-Marie McLemore. The beauty, the power, the magic in her words. It is something I can’t find words for, but it makes me feel everything. Absolutely everything. This story centers around an ownvoices Latinx main character, who is trying to get her trans lover out of jail. This story discusses trans issues and does it so damn well, and even though I am cis, I was still blown away at what this author was able to accomplish with this masterpiece of a short story. And the w/w romance in this is so awe-inspiring and just damn heartwarming. I loved it. And I loved this so very much. There is also so much beautiful magical realism in this, that deals with poison, and it has me super hyped to read more about it in Blanca y Roja this fall!

The Sweet Trade by Natalie C. Parker - ★★★
“Clara Elizabeth Byrd had been married twice by the age of sixteen and she had decided she had no taste for it.”

1717 USA, Virginia - I enjoyed this one, I just didn’t love this one. Clara is a runaway bride, who is sailing away for a getaway, when she comes across another girl that is running from the same future that neither one of them envision for themselves. Obviously a really cute w/w relationship blooms, and both girls have hopes and dreams of ruling the seas together as pirate queens disguised as kings. And this makes me excited to read this author’s LGBTQIAP+ pirate story, Seafire, this summer!

And They Don’t Kiss At the End by Nilah Magruder - ★★★★
“I like what I like and I don’t like what I don’t. I have nothing to apologize for.”

1976 USA, Maryland - This was so smartly created for this anthology. From the title, to Pride & Prejudice, to skating, to the music, to the amazing rep; this was nothing but a joy to read. This was a gift sent from above. This story features an ownvoices black main character, who is trying to figure out her sexual orientation, but she knows she’s on the ace spectrum. Hell, it’s hard enough for aro and ace kids to figure out their sexual ID even in 2018, and in the 70s there isn’t even a name for it. But this was the sweetest story, that even made me shed a few tears. Also, there was the Filipino boy in this who was a confirmed cinnamon roll. But, please, I want a full-length story of Dee!

Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee - ★★★★
“I am the boy most accomplished at not becoming distracted by the first naked woman we draw. Which is something, I suppose.”

1638 Netherlands, Amsterdam - Okay, this one was actually super funny. I was having a dang giggle while reading this one. And I felt like the main character talked a lot like I would in his situation, and, Lord, help me, I loved it. This one stars a boy in a prestigious painting class and, from the quote above, you can probably tell what they’re painting next. There is minor bullying in this, and an important discussion on how dangerous coming out was back then (and still can be). But the story really gets started when the main characters crush is the next subject they are about to draw.

The Dresser & The Chambermaid by Robin Talley - ★★★
“Susanna was accustomed to creeping about the palace in the dark.”

1726 England, London, Kensington Palace - This wasn’t my favorite story in the anthology, but I loved the setting so much. At this point, I think Robin Talley is the queen of atmosphere, and she proves it again in this short story. This is about two girls who are both servants to a very demanding young princess. One has lived her entire life in the castle, and the other is brand new and needs the assistance of the other to know how the princess likes her hair. This is a cute w/w romance, and I’d love to read more. Also, this was super sex positive, and I always appreciate that!

New Year by Malinda Lo - ★★★★
“Tommy Andrews, the male impersonator, brings something different in nightclub entertainment…”

1955 USA, California, San Francisco- This is a story about a (ownvoices) Chinese-American girl discovering who she is, and what her sexuality is, growing up in Chinatown. It also happens to be the Chinese New Year, and someone catches her eye when they walk into her friend’s restaurant. And I need this full story now! Ahhh, especially with that ending! But this was a great read, even though it was romance free, and it discussed so many important topics about immigration, and deportation, and how badly we treat immigrants, even in 2018. It also was a very feminist and empowering short story, and I loved the author’s note at the end of this one. I desperately need to read more by Malinda Lo.

Molly’s Lips by Dahlia Adler - ★★
“She’ll never love me like she loves a man she’ll never meet.”

1994 USA, Washington, Seattle - This had everything that I should have loved. I love everything 90s, especially grunge music, and the entire aesthetic just seemed like something I’d enjoy, as morbid as that probably sounds. This is a story about two girls grieving the death of Kurt Cobain, in the place where grunge music was born. And I loved the writing style, I just thought the story left a lot to be desired. I love me a good w/w best friends to lovers story, and I love the message that music truly has healing powers, but this one was just a bit boring for me. Which kind of breaks my heart, because I do really love Nirvana.

The Coven by Kate Scelsa - ★★
“It was Gertrude Stein who first introduced us to the coven.”

1920s France, Paris - This is about a girl grieving the loss of her brother and dealing with the depression that no doctor is able to diagnose. She then finds a coven with her girlfriend, that helps young girls like her. And I guess the w/w romance was cute, but this one just read so very boring for me personally.

Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake - ★★★★★
“If I must lie to the world to be true to my heart, then I’ll lie. I’ll cheat, I’ll steal and I’ll do it with a smile. Love is the only higher power I answer to, and my love is no less for being chaste.”

1300s England | - I thought this was going to be good, but it ended up being perfect. This is an awesome Robin Hood retelling. And Robin in this story is a trans boy, who is in love with our main protagonist, who ran away from a father that didn’t accept him. And this m/m romance had me swooning. Also, our main protagonist is hearing impaired and seeing him sign on page was something so magical to me. And the ending? I still feel absolutely gutted. But the heart of this story is about love; the love we have for others, but also the love that we must find in accepting ourselves for who we are. This was so brilliantly done and was honestly perfection in every way, and I loved it more than any combination of words I can come up with.

Willows by Scott Tracey - ★★
“That is the secret to survival. Teach fear to those who taught you to be afraid.”

1732 USA, Massachusetts | - This just didn’t work for me in the slightest. Maybe it was me and my reading comprehension, but this felt so incohesive to me and was super hard to follow. But it had witches in it? And being scared because of the way witches were dealt with back in the 1700s Massachusetts. But it was sort of like an exploration of a person that has been different people in different lives, while exploring gender, too. And in the end, they are in a relationship with a guy, and they run away together. But this just was so not for me in any way.

The Girl with the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe - ★★★★★
“And I am yours […] always.”

1839 USA, Northern California | - This was everything I wanted. This was whimsical, this was lyrical, and this was perfect. I would buy and read anything, and everything set in this world, and in those woods. Also, this is one of the few stories in the anthology that felt like a full story. This was beyond words good, and I had full body goosebumps at the very end of the story. This story centers around a young girl, with an abusive father, that lives in a town that fears going into the woods. Well, one day, after her dog escapes into said woods, the girl ventures in to find him and meets a girl who is not human (and there is no confirmation, but I want to yell at you all “FAE GIRL!”) And I was so damn invested in this tale. And I was so into the friendship, turned into something more between these very different girls, who both bond over feeling alone. This is easily one of my favorites in this entire collection.

The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez - ★★★★
“…Ready to tell Mom and Dad the thing they already know.”

1969 USA, Virginia | - This is about a boy who loves his family dearly but doesn’t know how to let them know that he is not straight. Him and his sister are really close, which I love, because my brother has always and will always be my best friend. And one day, a car breaks down outside their home, and our main character spends time with the young driver, while waiting for someone to repair the vehicle. Okay, I really liked this one, because even though this was set twenty years before I was born, I still remember a lot of the homophobia that went on in this story. Like, growing up, boys that only had one ear pierced were always considered gay, which makes me feel gross even to type. And just seeing this boy finally seeing someone that is happy and confident with their sexuality, and wanting to run away and be that too? That evoked some emotion from me. And this just felt like such accurate representation of all the thoughts you have when you’re young and discovering your sexuality (at least for me, personally) and I really enjoyed this one.

Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger - ★★★
“I’m never gonna see the world or do anything people will remember.”

1952 USA, New York | - This one was super adorable, I just didn’t fall in love with it the same way I did some of the other stories in this collection. This is about an actress, that is starting to feel past her prime, and she misses her train connection in a small town. A girl who is closing up a nearby diner see’s the girl and offers her somewhere to stay. This is a cute story about knowing your worth, and knowing what you want from life, and not letting anyone tell you differently. Also, I believe the main character could possibly be on the ace spectrum, so that’s awesome too! But I wish we could have seen both of these characters a year from when they first met.

The End of the World As We Know It by Sara Farizan - ★★★★★
“It’s kind of shitty to think that on the eve of the apocalypse, I’m wasting my last hours watching Carson Daly in Times Square awkwardly burgeoning pop star Mandy Moore the most banal of questions.”

1999 USA, Massachusetts, Boston | - You all, this one made me feel so… old… but so seen. Holy shit, so seen. Okay, I was a lot younger than the main protagonist in 1999, but I remember it. I was still in elementary school, but everyone was freaking out and I remember my parents being freaked out about the banks and them stocking up on bottled water and things like that! Also, me and my friends thought we were the absolute coolest, and we would always rush home after school to watch TRL, because we had to know if Blink 182 would actually beat Britney or Christina to number 1 that day. Also, this story mentions Aaliyah, who me and my best friend were obsessed with. Like, so obsessed with that she made it her daughter’s middle name when she was born a few years ago. And I also remember Matthew Shepard and what happened to him, and it being one of the first tragedies I actually remember happening. And it shook me, even as a little kid, to my very core. This is about a girl who is a senior in high school, and she is home on New Year’s Eve with her parents. Well, until her best friend who she hasn’t spoken to recently comes over. And a cute w/w romance brews. TL;DR – I’m giving this five stars because 1.) I loved it with my whole heart, but 2.) this was my very early adolescence, and around the time I started to realize that I wasn’t straight, so this story just really spoke to me.

Three Witches by Tessa Gratton - ★★★★★
“The ease with which s beautiful girl can seduce Violante has been the core of her troubles all her life.”

1519 Spain, Burgos, Castile | - Tessa Gratton is such a talented writer, and when I read her writing it feels truly like I’m reading art. This story is a bit of a darker one, because it’s about a girl in conversion therapy that is being administered by the Catholic church. And we get to see a relationship with our main character, Violante, and one of the nuns. This was powerful, this was haunting, and it truly is something I won’t be able to get out of my head. And I will always choose love, and I hope you all do too.

The Inferno & the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson - ★★★★★
“And it was in that moment that I understood what it meant to be loved.”

1839 London | - The last sentence of this story. God, I’m still weeping. This was such a masterpiece. I loved this with the sum of my entire being. This was the first thing I’ve ever read by Shaun David Hutchinson, and I promise it won’t be the last. This is a short story about two rivaling magician assistances, both learning to live with the pain from their pasts. Their paths cross, and they start to see that life doesn’t have to be all pain, and that everyone is worthy of love. I want more. No, I need more. I feel so in love with this world, this magic, and these two boys who completely captivated me and stole my heart. This was my favorite in the entire collection. This story alone makes the entire collection worth the purchase.

Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia - ★★★★★
“Rose was a summer girl, and I was a winter girl, but that fall we made magic.”

1933 USA, New Mexico | - This one was very powerful! This is an ownvoices latinx short story about a girl, whose grandmother was believed to be a bruja, and another girl who she can’t help but show her feelings for, regardless of what the girl’s father thinks, and regardless of what the demon inside her feels. And the magical realism in this was a blessing to my eyes and my soul. Beautiful, so beautiful. And this just was so unapologetically queer, and it just raised me up, and made me feel so happy, and reminded me to never feel shame. God, I just loved this one so much. And these two girls were my favorite couple in the entire anthology.

Overall, I loved this. And representation always matters, but it especially matters to kids that feel alone and feel like what they are feeling, or who they are, is wrong. LGBTQIAP+ isn’t a trend, or a theme, and it sure and the hell isn’t anything new. And no matter how much history books want to pretend we didn’t exist back then, they will always be wrong. I gave All Out four stars overall, because out of a possible 85 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 17 stories) this collection accumulated 66 stars (~77%).

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This is the group read for the biannual Prideathon that ran from April 2nd to April 8th! ❤🌈
Profile Image for may ➹.
471 reviews1,899 followers
December 16, 2018
Reading this anthology was such a cathartic experience. Getting to read a whole book full of short stories telling the experience of queer teens? In historical fiction, where a lot of people believe diversity can’t exist? It meant so much. I love reading about queer characters, of course, but there was something so validating about this anthology, especially since it was historical fiction. Even though I hate historical fiction.

Overall, the stories were really, really good. I’m actually not much of a short story fan and I think that being used to longer novels threw me off a bit. I struggled with some of the stories, especially the shorter ones in the beginning, to get a feel of what the characters were like and also how the relationship was developing.

I also think that this book could’ve been waaaay more diverse in terms of ethnic diversity. You got the queer characters?? In historical fiction??? You can make characters of color too, then. And if this is an anthology for queer teens, I would have loved to see more diversity in gender; that’s just as important as sexual orientation. AND it would have been really great to see more queer characters end up in non-same-sex relationships. Oh, and geographical diversity would be really cool as well.

(This is turning into a wishlist now.)

But despite my tiny qualms here and there, I really loved this anthology. I loved reading about people who are not usually featured like this in any book and do not usually have their queerness normalized, particularly in historical fiction. I finished so many of the stories with a big smile on my face, because not only were so many of the romances cute and sweet, but also they were exactly what every queer person deserves!!!

*Note: None of the characters in this book used actual labels—which is a great way to normalize not having labels, but it would have been so amazing to see historical characters using them—so I’m using more general terms to describe their sexuality.*


(🌿 = sapphic!)

|| Every Shade of Red
|| The Girl with the Blue Lantern 🌿
|| The Inferno and the Butterfly
|| Healing Rosa 🌿
|| Molly’s Lips 🌿
|| Three Witches 🌿
|| Walking After Midnight 🌿

🌷 Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore // ★★★★☆.5
|| romance between Latina girl & trans boy ☼ 1870 Mexico

As always, the writing is GORGEOUS and the romance is so well-written. The premise is fantastic, especially the magical realism aspect, and the characters are so beautiful. Also the AN really tied it in and made the story even more poignant! The only reason why this isn’t 5 stars is that it was too short for me. (I know, I’m so picky.)

🌹 The Sweet Trade by Natalie C Parker // ★★★☆☆.5
|| romance between two girls ☼ 1717 Virginia

Okay, this has SUCH an amazing premise. Two girls abandoning their new husbands to be gay pirates together?? HELL YEAH. But I think that the characters weren’t developed enough for me (nor their relationship) and I couldn’t connect to the story. It could have been SO good though, if it weren’t so short.

🌷 And They Don’t Kiss at the End by Nilah Magruder // ★★★☆☆.5
|| romance between ace-spec black girl & Filipino boy ☼ 1976 Maryland

This was really, really cute and sweet. It was great to see some intersectionality in this story, and I love how realistically some of Dee’s questioning was portrayed. This story didn’t stand out to me that much, but I still thought it was cute. Also, LOVE that title.

🌹 Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee // ★★★★☆
|| romance between two boys ☼ 1638 Amsterdam

God, the humor in this story is fantastic. Somehow Lee is able to craft a story that is soft and beautiful, but also really funny. Like the last story, nothing really stood out to me, but it was a super enjoyable read, and I really loved the characters in this. (Constantjin reminded me so much of Monty.)

🌷 The Dresser & The Chambermaid by Robin Talley // ★★★☆☆.5
|| romance between two girls ☼ 1726 London

Despite this being one of the longer stories, there wasn’t a lot of development...? Not a lot of development of the characters nor the relationship, at least in my personal preference. But it was cute and sweet, and totally what these sapphic girls deserved. And also surprisingly really humorous.

🌹 New Year by Malinda Lo // ★★★★☆
|| sapphic Chinese girl (no romance) ☼ 1955 San Francisco

I loved this story because sapphic Asian girl!! Me!!! I thought it was really cute and sweet, and it was a nice way of showing the culture back then (especially concerning Chinese immigrants and queer people in San Francisco), but god, I wish this was a romance. I just want a sapphic Asian love story goddammit!!

🌷 Molly’s Lips by Dahlia Adler // ★★★★★
|| romance between two girls ☼ 1994 Seattle

I don’t know exactly what made me love this so much? It was weird, and actually a little confusing, but god if I didn’t ADORE it. These two soft girls have been in love with each other for a long time but it’s only when they’re mourning Kurt Cobain that they act on it. And something about the way this was written was just so beautiful.

(To the short underdeveloped stories in this anthology: You want to know how to write development in a short story? Look at this one. This is THIRTEEN PAGES LONG and yet it was so beautifully developed.)

🌹 The Coven by Kate Scelsa // ★★☆☆☆
|| romance between two girls ☼ 1924 Paris

I have... no idea what was happening in this story. Like, absolutely no idea. I didn’t get a feel of who the characters or the relationship, and it was just too short for anything to be developed. It felt like I started the story and finished literally the next minute?? Also, WHAT WAS HAPPENING.

🌷 Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake // ★★★★★
|| romance between deaf boy & trans boy (+ side romance between two QWOC) ☼ late 1300s England

OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. I’m not a short story person, and it’s already hard for a regular novel to make me tear up. But god, this one just destroyed me. I don’t even want to talk about it. I can’t even talk about it. It’s just... a beautiful story about being yourself and coming to terms with who you are and loving who you love. I loved the characters, I loved the writing, and that ending ruined me.

Just thinking about it again makes me tear up.

🌹 Willows by Scott Tracey // ★☆☆☆☆.5
|| romance between a possibly non-binary boy & another boy ☼ 1732 Massachusetts

I don’t know if this was because I was up at 2 am reading this but I had absolutely no idea what was happening. I was so confused and I just... what?? The relationship didn’t even feel that developed, and WHAT WAS BENJAMIN. He apparently lived lives as different people (of different genders) before or something???? What was the curse thing. What was “the Return”. What happened at the end. I’m so confused.

🌷 The Girl with the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe // ★★★★★
|| romance between two girls ☼ 1839 California

God, this was such a cute and sweet and beautiful and sapphic story! THIS is character and relationship development. I haven’t read any of Sharpe’s work but her writing style is honestly gorgeous, and the whole story is just so sweet and cute and lovely!! I just [long gay sigh] really really loved this one. (And aesthetic foresty vibes? Sign me UP.)

🌹 The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez // ★★☆☆☆.5
|| romance-ish thing between Cuban boy & another boy ☼ 1969 Virginia

This was just so... weird? This is probably a matter of personal preference, but I think that it just moved so fast for me. (He wants to drive to New York with a stranger he just met like two minutes ago??) I thought there were some really sweet moments, though, and I liked the characters enough.

(I also feel the need to mention that there was a line that said “geyser about to burst” and I read it as “gayser about to burst”. #whenyouretoogay)

🌷 Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger // ★★★★★
|| romance between ace-spec girl & another girl ☼ 1952 New York

There was just something so pure and soft about this story that I can’t describe. It just left me with such a feeling of contentment and it made me all warm and fuzzy inside!! The way these characters were written and how they talked about the endless possibilities that tomorrow carries was emotionally beautiful. (I don’t know how else to describe it.)

🌹 The End of the World as We Know It by Sara Farizan // ★★★★☆.5
|| romance between Turkish girl and another girl ☼ 1999 Massachusetts

I honestly have no idea why I liked this one so much but it was just so soft. Former best friends meet up again and kiss on New Year’s Eve? My favorite song. And the reason why one of the girls dumped the other was because of their feelings towards her? MOOD.

🌷 Three Witches by Tessa Gratton // ★★★★★
|| romance between two brown girls ☼ 1519 Castile (Spain)

Sapphic girl goes to conversion therapy and ends up with the nun caring for her = a REALLY GREAT concept. And this story pulls it off so beautifully. Something just hit me so hard about this story—especially the quotes like “I cannot ask to be absolved of love. I won’t. I love.” It’s just… such a powerful and deeply moving story.

🌹 The Inferno and the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson // ★★★★★
|| romance between two boys ☼ 1839 London

Oh god, I loved this one? I remember finishing the story and having to close the book for a while and just feel. This story left me with so many emotions and thoughts and honestly? I can’t even describe half of them. The characters are so charming. The relationship is just stunning. This story is about thinking you’re cursed and learning to separate yourself from those thoughts, and it was just so so beautiful.

🌷 Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia // ★★★★★
|| romance between two Latina girls ☼ 1933 New Mexico

Magical realism is one of my favorite genres and this pulled it off SO WELL. The writing was perfect, and the characters were just so gorgeously written. The relationship developed so well and the concept of a girl healing her lover of the darkness inside her? Beautiful. It was good and gay and just so cathartic.

I hope you all will pick this book up, because I highly highly recommend it! And I don’t recommend it only because I’m queer and I love reading queer romances—these stories are just fantastically written and pulled at my heartstrings. It is truly a beautifully anthology.
Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,309 followers
May 3, 2018
For those of you who don't know, I have been anticipating this book since the very first Publisher's Weekly announcement almost two years ago. Since that time, I have read more books by more of these authors, worked shortly for the agency that represents many of them, and generally fallen into a rabbit hole of anticipation that I can't believe I've finally pulled myself out of. It has been a long journey. And now I'm thrilled to talk more about each of these stories and my overall thoughts on this collection.

♡Story Reviews♡

♡ Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore: 4/5
This was a brilliant start to the collection, and only solidified the love I have for Anna-Marie McLemore's writing. There is something so fierce and unyielding about her characters, and even in a few pages she was able to craft a deeply moving story full of characters and a world I instantly understood. I really appreciated her writer's note giving more context to the story, but overall I felt fully absorbed in the collection from page one.

♡The Sweet Trade by Natalie C. Parker: 2.5/5
In concept, this is brilliant. Two women run away from their husbands on the day of their weddings, steal boats, and happen to run into and fall for each other. However, in execution, I wasn't as big a fan. The story felt rushed, the romance uncompelling, and I was already forgetting it by the time it was over.

♡And They Don't Kiss at The End by Nilah McGruder: 3.5/5
I love stories set in the 70s, and this definitely delivered on that aesthetic element. The main character was sweet and I really liked the inclusion of a story with a character on the ace spectrum. It was a really nice story with a great setting, and I will 100% be on the lookout for more of Nilah's work.

♡Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee: 4/5
McKenzi Lee sure does know how to make me fall for an m/m pairing. This was hysterical and adorable, and without a doubt delivered on what I was expecting from this author. While I didn't love Gentleman's Guide, this renewed my confidence in Lee's writing and hyped me up for her book coming out in 2019. Seriously, blushing art boys falling in love softly with little bits of embarrassment thrown in? Exactly my cup of tea.

♡The Dresser and the Chambermaid by Robin Talley: 4/5
I will be the first to admit I have a huge weakness for palace drama, and I'm so glad at least one story in this collection gave it to me. While I have had my bouts in the past with queer characters in period palace shows and movies, this was finally what I've been looking for. The romance wasn't rushed, and the setting was excellent. I'm thinking I may have a particular fondness for Robin Talley when she writes shorter fiction, and I can't wait to read her story in after enjoying this as much as I did.

♡New Year by Malinda Lo: 3.5/5
So it turns out this is only part of what will be a full book by Malinda, which I suspected based on the summary of her next release, and I think that showed in the story itself. While it was nice, and I loved the setting of 1950s San Francisco, it felt incomplete and I'm excited to eventually read a deeper, more fleshed out version.

♡Molly's Lips by Dahlia Adler: 4.5/5
This was (I think?) the shortest story in the collection, but it absolutely blew me away. I mean.... Kurt Cobain? Best friends harboring secret crushes? Drama? I live for it all, and I can't believe this is the only thing I have ever read by Dahlia. My new goal is to read more of her work as soon as possible.

♡The Coven by Kate Scelsa: 3/5
I kind of expected more out of this story considering it was set in the 1920s, one of my favorite time periods to read about. I did love the witch element, and the setting, but it fell flat considering how many of my favorite things it was trying to deliver simultaneously. I will say I liked the very end of the story the best, though, and I think it made the whole thing feel like it had a solid landing.

♡Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake: 3/5
Oh, how I have tried to love Elliot Wake. His writing is very, very flowery and metaphorical, which was something I knew back when I read Black Iris. But while I know a lot of people love his writing style, it ends up being sort of a slog for me to get through. The story underneath heavy-handed writing was fantastic, though. I love a good retelling, and a m/m retelling of Robin Hood with a trans Robin as the love interest was just a fantastic concept.

♡Willows by Scott Tracey: 2/5
I'll be honest, I don't have a very full idea of what happened in this book or what the particular queer rep even was. I think it was possibly going for a gender fluid or non-binary main character, but the entire thing was unnecessarily confusing.

♡The Girl With the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe: 4/5
Can I get a "hell yeah!" for prairie vibes, bringing it back to the historical fiction I consumed constantly as a kid? Honestly, this was fantastic. Clearly I was a fan of the setting, and the fantastical element was really well done. I'm usually not a fan of anthologies that aren't fantasy having stories with fantasy elements, but I loved this. The f/f romance was great, the writing was solid, and this is a story I would love to return to in the future.

♡The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez: 4.5/5
I can't even fully describe why I love this story as much as I do, but even after just a few pages with the main character I got a little teary at the end? I do love the setting of a scorching porch in the summer and a stranger just wandering through who happens to catch the eye of a main character. I mean, I know that's a specific trope, but I love it. This wasn't a romance so much as a romance-to-aid-coming-of-age-narrative situation, but it was soft and quick and it just made me smile.

♡Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger: 2.5/5
I'll be honest, I had to flip back to this story later because I completely forgot what it was about, and that is the biggest problem. The romance doesn't feel earned, and the entire thing is just sort of a there-and-gone situation that I at no point felt particularly invested in.

♡The End of the World As We Know It by Sara Farizan: 3/5
First and foremost, I'm not that old so it was weird to read about a date I remember experiencing in a historical fiction collection? I mean, I was at a New Year's Eve party in December 1999. I know what that was like. But beyond that, I thought this story was nice. It didn't blow me away, but it was sweet and I did really like the New Year's Eve element.

♡Three Witches by Tessa Gratton: 3.5/5
I've upped my rating by half a star since I read this! There are multiple f/f witch stories in this collection, but I think this one is a bit stronger. The romance was wonderful, and I thought the magic was really off-kilter in a way that charmed me. I think the final POV kind of unsettled the rhythm of the story, but overall it was super enjoyable.

♡The Inferno & The Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson: 5/5
My absolute favorite story in this collection. As someone who loves The Prestige more than I would care to admit, the fact that SDH made it gay is??? Overwhelming??? I can't believe it?? I mean, battling magicians is great, but put a m/m romance at the center of it and my heart is completely yours. I want this to be a full novel. I would cry.

♡Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia: 4.5/5
An incredibly solid conclusion to this collection, and it blows me away that Tehlor doesn't have a novel out yet. I know one is coming soon (and!! she's writing one with Anna-Marie McLemore!! I'm not even kind of ready wow!), but I'm anticipating it even more highly after this story. There was so much work done here that it felt like I got the content of a full book in only a few pages. It was profoundly emotional, and there is a deep connection to family and tradition, with this through-line of respect and romance that pulls the whole thing together. Overall, fantastic.

♡Overall Thoughts♡
Like any anthology, I would say this had its ups and downs, but it was a really solid collection that allowed me to read some incredible stories by authors I already love, and some by authors I can't wait to read more from. I do wish, like many other reviewers, that more stories would have been set outside the United States and Europe? I think it would have offered a greater variety in storytelling and really opened up the potential to see so many more stories of queer teens. But beyond that, I really had no complaints, and I feel like my months and months of anticipation were met with a beautiful collection of queer characters living their lives throughout time.

Average rating: 3.6/5
Final rating: 4/5
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,625 reviews5,071 followers
February 24, 2018
His heart had been a boy’s heart, throwing itself against his rib cage with each set of white gloves for mass.

→ Roja – Anna-Marie McLemore ★★★★★ ←
What a killer of a beginning to this collection. Anna-Marie writes so beautifully, and this little magical realism story will be sure to please anyone who enjoys her novels. It follows a young woman with a curse of poisonous rage, seeking to free her lover from the local police before he is executed as a prisoner of war. It is so lovely, and lyrical, and even takes time to touch on colonialism and racism. There’s a lot packed into only a few pages, and it was just a truly incredible way to start the anthology.
rep: trans, Latinx

Clara Elizabeth Byrd had been married twice by the age of sixteen and she had decided she had no taste for it.

→ The Sweet Trade – Natalie C. Parker ★★★★☆ ←
A young woman decides to escape her own wedding – the second one, by the way – and make out for a life of her own, but finds an unexpected stowaway on her boat: another young woman, also escaping a wedding. This story was so precious, and fun, and I loved these girls so much. They had this undeniable, imminent chemistry and I would totally read a full novel about their adventures in piracy. I mean, come on – queer pirate girls being adorable. Can we make this happen?
rep: f/f

→ And They Don’t Kiss at the End – Nilah Magruder ★★★★☆ ←
A mid-70s story of a young black asexual woman, trying to learn how to explain her feelings to the boy she thinks she might like. This was such a fun, short little story – it felt like it only lasted two or three pages, and while I’m not ace and can’t speak for the rep, it seemed so positive and warm that I couldn’t help but love it. I was especially fond of the fact that Dee didn’t feel the need to be embarrassed by who she was in the end – she recognized that it wasn’t her who was messed up, but the people who teased her for who she had been born to be.
rep: black, Filipino, ace

Maybe sinful desires can be cleansed through prolonged exposure, like colors faded from a canvas by hanging too long in a sunny corner of the house.

→ Burnt Umber – Mackenzi Lee ★★★★★ ←
A young man is known for being the best apprentice in his painting class when it comes to sketching nude women, but things change for him when the new model comes in – a young man he’s been harboring a secret crush on for some time. In typical Mackenzi Lee fashion, this one was absolutely adorable, comical, and so much fun to read. Her writing style in the short gave me such a throwback to Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue that I immediately wanted to grab it from my shelf and reread it.
rep: m/m

→ The Dresser & The Chambermaid – Robin Talley ★★☆☆☆ ←
Chambermaids and dressers aren’t supposed to intermingle, but when a new dresser comes to the palace, fresh from the countryside, socializing with the chambermaid isn’t the only thing on her mind. This honestly should have been a really adorable, lovable little story, but it’s too emotional for having taken place in what is roughly a 12-hour time frame; as it stands, it started to look like a heavy helping of insta-love in the making. Besides that, the story had nothing particularly exciting or interesting to offer, and – don’t get me wrong, I’m saying this as a queer woman who adores normalization in stories – the idea that so many queer couples were so openly accepted by their peers in the 1700s made it difficult to maintain suspension of disbelief.
rep: f/f, m/m

→ New Year – Malinda Lo ★☆☆☆☆ ←
The daughter of two Chinese immigrants faces life with a curious interest in other women, as well as working through her family’s fears of deportation or unfair treatment. I honestly wanted to like this story because I’d heard Malinda Lo was an incredibly talented author, and I loved the idea of this family of immigrants being proud of their culture even in a country that fought back against them at times. Unfortunately, the story was so boring and incredibly disjointed. It shifted from one focus to another without ever tying up any of the endings, leaving it feeling as though there was no actual plot to it at all.
rep: Chinese, f/f

→ Molly’s Lips – Dahlia Adler ★★★☆☆ ←
A girl’s memory of where she was the day that Kurt Cobain died, and the ways in which she and her best friend – and object of her quiet affections – honored his memory and life. I’m so torn on this story, because, on one hand, I’m thinking that this is a YA collection and most of today’s teens honestly don’t care about Nirvana, or Kurt’s death, or listening to the narrator spout off obnoxious facts about which album was best or worst. On the other hand, the writing was short, but adorable and sweet.
rep: f/f

→ The Coven – Kate Scelsa ★★★★☆ ←
In 1920s Paris, a young woman is led by her girlfriend to meet a witch who claims to be able to help clear the “fog” from her mind. The writing was truly lovely in this one, but the plot was just okay. I think it was the sort of story that would’ve benefited from being a little bit longer and offering a little more explanation to everything, but it was still a cute little story.
rep: f/f

→ Every Shade of Red – Elliot Wake ★★★☆☆ ←
A Robin Hood retelling with more than a few twists up its sleeve. I’ll be honest: the bulk of this story was incredibly beautiful, but boring as hell. I mean, if you have ever wanted an example of incredible prose that tells no story at all, this short’s exactly your source – but the incredible representation and the bittersweet ending were enough to make it mostly worth its while in the end.
rep: m/m, trans, disability, POC

“That is the secret to survival. Teach fear to those who taught you to be afraid.”

→ Willows – Scott Tracey ★★★★★ ←
A young man faces the terrors of being an oddity in an 18th-century Massachusetts town, hellbent on drowning witches. This was one of my favorites of the collection so far – the writing is lovely, but more than that, it’s confusing and dark and utterly captivating. The main character discusses at some length having had past lives stuck in his head, and mentions having identified as female in the past but as male currently. His thought processes are tough to follow at times, but are truly a delight to read.
rep: trans spectrum, m/m

→ The Girl with the Blue Lantern – Tess Sharpe ★★★★★ ←
A starving girl’s desperation to feed herself and her father leads her into an unlikely friendship with a spirit protecting a river full of gold. This was my first time reading anything by Tess Sharpe, but I’d heard such good things about her writing, and I wasn’t disappointed! It was such a sad, sweet little story, and I was so pleased with the ending. These two girls are just the epitome of sweet little cinnamon rolls and I would love to have learned more about them both.
rep: f/f

→ The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy – Alex Sanchez ★★★★★ ←
Hot summer afternoons are the perfect setting for two boys getting to know one another (and themselves). If you follow my reviews, you already know how I feel about insta-love, or anything that even remotely resembles it – it’s usually more or less a deal-breaker for me – but it’s so adorable in this story that I couldn’t even be mad, because it’s so clearly a portrayal of a young boy and his very first experience with another guy, and accepting his own sexuality. It was so sweet, and his family is so loving, and I enjoyed every second of it.
rep: m/m, Cuban

→ Walking After Midnight – Kody Keplinger ★★☆☆☆ ←
When a former childhood actress gets stuck in a small town overnight, she makes an unlikely friend with a young waitress who recognizes her. This one was cute, and I enjoyed the demi rep, which is something I don’t see very often, but overall, left me feeling a little “meh” about it. I think a lot of it is due to the fact that the story felt to me like it relied a lot on the 50s Hollywood era aesthetic, which has never appealed to me, but if that does appeal to you, I think this could be a great story for someone who’s more suited to it!
rep: demi, f/f

So what kind of girl am I if I have no one to kiss on the brink of the world’s demise?

→ The End of the World As We Know It – Sara Farizan ★★★☆☆ ←
It’s New Year’s Eve 1999, the end of the world is looming ahead, and it’s the perfect time for rebuilding bridges. I loved the fact that the narrator of this one was Turkish, and I enjoyed how casual and normalized the two girls’ sexualities were (one bi, one lesbian), but the story itself didn’t do much for me. There was so little build-up and what was there, wasn’t anything to root for or swoon over. I think the only reason this got 3 stars instead of 2 from me was because I’m a 90s baby, and the Y2K theme was so familiar and fun.
rep: Turkish, f/f

→ Three Witches – Tessa Gratton ★★☆☆☆ ←
A 16th-century girl is committed to be imprisoned by nuns, as punishment for her lust after another woman. I was hesitant to even read and review this story, in light of recent events concerning Tessa Gratton, but I reluctantly decided that, if I was going to review the ARC, I should review each of the stories and not skip any outright. That said, the writing in the beginning of this piece is beautiful, as Tessa’s typically is, but the plot was incredibly boring and the ending feels disconnected and unfocused.
rep: f/f

→ The Inferno & the Butterfly – Shaun David Hutchinson ★☆☆☆☆ ←
A magician’s assistant is forced to make a choice: he can perform the most dangerous trick of his life, or he can seek out the secrets behind a rival magician’s most infamous trick. I like stories involving magicians, but typically there’s some rhyme or reason behind their tricks, and we’re privy to at least the surface of that. In this story, whatever isn’t explained away by actual magic is brushed off with the narrator’s insistence that it would be a betrayal of his boss. Breaking the fourth wall is fun, but in this case, it felt like a lack of commitment to the theme. Beyond that, the characters, plot, and dialogue were all just rather uninteresting.
rep: m/m

Rosa was a summer girl, and I was a winter girl, but that fall we made magic.

→ Healing Rosa – Tehlor Kay Mejia ★★★★★ ←
A young woman’s abuela is a healer, but when she passes away, the girl is forced to take up her tasks if she wants to save her beloved Rosa. This is a gorgeous, lyrical magical realism story that reminded me very much of Anna-Marie McLemore’s writing. The author has a debut novel releasing soon and I’ll certainly be picking it up, as this was such a lovely, sweet story – and, much like all of the best magical realism tales, I can tell you all day long how much I enjoyed it and what a fantastic finale I thought it was, but the best thing you can do is experience it for yourself.
rep: Latinx, f/f

→ final thoughts ←
Averaged out over the 17 stories in this collection, I gave it 3.4/5 stars, but I feel perfectly comfortable rounding up to 4 stars because I enjoyed a few of these so thoroughly that I wished I could have given them more than 5 stars each. If you enjoy historical fiction, queer fiction, or both… what else do I need to say? You need this book in your life.

All quotes come from an unfinished ARC and may not match the final release. Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review!

You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews188 followers
June 15, 2019
All Out is an anthology of historical fiction stories told from the point of view of queer characters. As a concept, I loved it, but the execution could have been better.

Before starting with the reviews of the individual stories, I want to say two things I didn't like about the anthology as a whole.
There was only one story set outside the US and Europe, and all European stories were - with one exception - set in Northwestern Europe. I don't know, as someone who is not American, I think this felt really unbalanced, and also: American history just isn't that interesting if you're not American.
My other complaint is that there was only one story with an asexual main character, only one story with a main character that could have been interpreted as non-binary, and no stories in which the existence of aromantic people was even acknowledged. I'm tired of seeing this happen, of seeing who is prioritized and who we like to ignore when we talk about queer people.
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad we can finally acknowledge in fiction that queer people have always existed and are not a 20th century invention, but I wish All Out had been more inclusive and intersectional, and had felt less like "Queer teens throughout the ages, because they've always existed! No, not you, we like to pretend you don't exist today, too".

Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore: El Bajío, México, 1870 - ★★★★★
The best story in the collection, even if it wasn't my favorite Anna-Marie McLemore short story. It's the only one set outside the US and Europe, and it follows a magical Mexican girl who wants to save the trans boy she loves, Léon. I loved how there was no naked reveal scene in this, and the beautiful atmosphere and magical realism aspects were as good as usual.

The Sweet Trade by Natalie C. Parker: Virginia Colony, 1717 - ★★★★
Girls run away from their abusive soon-to-be-husbands and avoid marriage to marry each other and become pirates instead. The characters weren't developed at all but this was funny and very cute and that was enough for me.

And They Don’t Kiss at the End by Nilah Magruder: Maryland, 1976 - ★★★★
A story about an asexual black girl trying to understand her asexuality when she doesn't have a word for what she feels. I loved how this story talked about how you don't have to know everything about your sexuality from the beginning and have time to figure things out.
Also, I really liked seeing a story about an asexual girl in a relationship with a guy in an anthology about queer stories because I am not there for gatekeeping.
I didn't care that much about the actual romance in this story, however.

Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee: Amsterdam, 1638 - ★★★★½
If you liked The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, you should read this story. It's similar and just as funny and it's great. It's about an apprentice who is great at painting nudes - until he has to paint the guy he likes. It wasn't as awkward as it could have been because of the humor and I loved that.

The Dresser & the Chambermaid by Robin Talley: Kensington Palace, September 1726 - ★ DNF
My concept of meet cute does not include fighting over a full chamber pot. The writing was just as awkward.

New Year by Malinda Lo: San Francisco, January 21, 1955 - ★★★★★
About being Chinese-American and a lesbian in 1955. I've heard Malinda Lo's next novel will follow similar themes (maybe the same characters?) and I can't wait. I loved the writing and how this was more character-driven than the other stories and had no romance. Queer romances are great, but there's more about being queer than romance and I'm glad that one of these stories talked about that.

Molly’s Lips by Dahlia Adler: Seattle, April 10, 1994 - ★★★★★
Two best friends who are Nirvana fans are mourning the death of Kurt Cobain and also falling in love. This was bittersweet but also hopeful? I really liked the writing and I believed in the relationship even though this was very short.

The Coven by Kate Scelsa: Paris, 1924 - ★ DNF
How can something about queer witches in Paris be this boring?

Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake: England, Late Fourteenth Century - ★★★★
Robin Hood is a trans boy! This is told from the point of view of a cis gay boy who is in love with Robin, and I loved the concept and the writing but the plot fell a bit short for me. However, I loved the deaf representation and the found family trope here.

Willows by Scott Tracey: Southwyck Bay, Massachusetts, 1732 - ★ DNF
Boring and confusing.

The Girl with the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe: Northern California, 1849 - ★★★
I wish I had liked this more. This is a f/f fairytale with a beautiful atmosphere, but the characters were really flat and nothing about this surprised me; the only thing I actually liked were the descriptions.

The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez: Tidewater, Virginia, 1969 - ★★★
I liked the narration in this one, but it was also 100% instalove - why does the main character want to run away with someone he has just met? - and the age gap was uncomfortable. On the other hand, I did like the main character and the writing.

Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger: Upstate New York, 1952 - ★
A story about an actress and a waitress falling in love in a graveyard and thinking about their future and possibilities. I found it boring, and also did we really need so many American stories? There was nothing interesting about this setting.

The End of the World as We Know It by Sara Farizan: Massachusetts, 1999 - ★★★★
This felt more like a scene from a novel than a short story, but I really liked it anyway. It follows two friends who grew apart as they meet again and confess their love for each other. I loved both girls and would have liked to know more about them.
Also, Turkish representation!

Three Witches by Tessa Gratton: Kingdom of Castile, 1519 - ★★★½
A story about religion and conversion therapy. It's darker than the other stories but the ending is powerful - and also, it has nuns that aren't straight. I love Tessa Gratton's writing style and while this wasn't my favorite story she has written (I prefer her fantasy ones, I think), I ended up liking this. It's also the only European story not set in Northwestern Europe.

The Inferno & the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson: London, 1839 - ★★★★★
"Magicians" - both actual and fake - in nineteenth century London. This was one of my favorites not only because I really liked how the relationship between the two boys developed, but also because I loved the narration and because the boys' feelings about their mentors were really interesting to read.

Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia: Luna County, New Mexico, 1933 - ★★★★★
This is about a girl whose grandmother was a curandera. She is trying to heal the girl she loves, but her own mother and Rosa's father make things more difficult. It's a beautiful story - that writing! - and the perfect ending for this collection, and I can't wait to read more from this author.

Average rating: 3.47
Profile Image for ✨ Helena ✨.
365 reviews959 followers
March 29, 2019
Special thanks to Tabi for bringing this to my attention! You're the best, girlie! <3

Now, typically anthologies aren't my thing. The only reason I admittedly picked this up was because I was promised a wonderful Robin Hood retelling in Elliot Wake's Every Shade of Red. ...And I have to say that Wake delivered on that promise. A transgender Robin Hood is such an interesting concept! :D

“If I must lie to the world to be true to my heart, then I'll lie. I'll cheat, I'll steal and I'll do it with a smile. Love is the only higher power I answer to, and my love is no less for being chaste.”


Set in 14th century England, Robin Hood is transgender and in love with a hearing-impaired Will Scarlet (our protagonist). Robin had left home, away from a father who didn't accept him for who he was. Robin and Will's relationship was so cute and I'm rather disappointed that this was merely a novella. I'd be so on board for a full-length novel. Can you make that happen, Wake? What a brilliant novella about learning self-love and accepting yourself for who you are. Bravo!
Profile Image for rin.
411 reviews490 followers
April 11, 2018
why does it always take me 200 years to read an anthology not matter how much i like it

anyway, there were so many sapphic stories

ill probably write something more later
Profile Image for Katie.dorny.
967 reviews497 followers
April 6, 2019
In 2019 we all deserve and get our happy endings and boy did this deliver. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
Profile Image for Emma.
899 reviews869 followers
August 26, 2018

This is a collection of short stories about queer teens. It was really interesting and fun to read, and also a good way to discover new authors.
One of my favourites was definitely Burnt Umber by Mackenzie Lee. Let me tell you, if she wants to write an entire novel about two gay painters in Amsterdam, just know I will buy that book without a second thought. It was so cute and so well done, I really wish there was a novel all about these two lovely painters.
Another favourite was The inferno & the butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson. I had never read anything by this author before but after this short story I'm definitely going to check out his books. I could have read about Wilhelm and Alfie's adventures forever.
Profile Image for Enne.
718 reviews113 followers
April 19, 2018
Actual rating: 3.882352941176

Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore - 4 stars
El Bajio, Mexico, 1870
I really enjoyed this one!!! I found the writing to be a bit simple, at times, but it was also threaded through with vocabulary that added to the whole atmosphere of the 19th century. I absolutely loved Emili and all that she stood for, and Leon was just so adorable. What romance we got to see between the two of them was really satisfying, and that ending was great!! 
Representation: latinx girl, transgender boy

The Sweet Trade by Natalie C. Parker - 3.5 stars
Virginia Colony, 1717
I wasn't really a big fan of the plot with this one - it was to fast for my liking. I guess it is a short story, so that would make sense. I found the characters a bit bland, as well. I just didn't enjoy this story very much at all. I felt a bit indifferent towards it. 
Representation: girls like girls like boys do (get ready for that reference)

And They Don't Kiss at the End by Nilah Magruder - 5 stars
Maryland, 1976
THIS WAS SO CUTE OMYGOD I CANNOT HANDLE MYSELF!! The writing style was everything, and the main characters internal struggle with being ace was absolutely wonderful, and the romance was adorable, so I guess that was helpful too.
Representation: black ace girl, Filippino love interest

Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee - 3 stars
Amsterdam, 1638
Uuuuuh, I love Mackenzi Lee, but I was a bit underwhelmed by this story. Strangely enough, I really didn't enjoy the writing style - I wasn't a fan of the lavish descriptions that the story was threaded through with. The characters were alright, but I didn't really get to fall in love with them over the 20 pages, so they weren't that great for me. Though the second-hand embarrassment and the cuteness were real. So real. 
Representation: boys like boys like girls do

The Dresser & The Chambermaid by Robin Talley - 4 stars
Kensington Palace, September 1726
I really really loved the romance in this one - both of the girls involved were just so cute!!! I love them so much!! My main complaint with this is, you guessed it, the plot! The author tried to fit everything into 30 pages and it was just so rushed! I mean, this is a short story, so I guess it makes sense, but maybe cut some stuff out to make it feel not as rushed. I really did love the writing style, though - it was very fitting of the time period, and the way the historical period and that world was developed was stunning. 
Representation: girls like girls like boys do

New Year by Malinda Lo - 4 stars
San Francisco - January 21, 1955
The plot didn't feel very clear or cohesive, in my opinion, and the pacing was definitely a bit off. It wasn't very clear as to what the story was about and a lot of it felt like just educating the reader about Chinese culture in a fictional setting. And don't get me wrong, I love that, but sometimes I just want a bit more from the plot, you know? I did enjoy the man character though, so that counts for something. The writing was a bit simplistic. 
Representation: Chinese immigrant family, Chinese MC 

Molly's Lips by Dahlia Adler - 5 stars
Seattle - April 10, 1994
This one was so short and sweet and I love it so much! The main character's voice was so wonderful and so unique and I love the MC and the love interest flirt. I love the fact that it wasn't set that long ago, and I loved that the two main characters are just two crazy fangirls. It's wonderful to see something like that. 
Representation: girls like girls like boys do

The Coven by Kate Scelsa - 4 stars
Paris, 1924
Okay, so first of all, I loved the fact that this was about a group of writers and I loved the fact that the love interest was a writer person c: I would like to join the secret sapphic writing cult we see in this story. Pretty please? I enjoyed the overall mysterious feel of this story. And the way the main character felt about her crush was very relatable to me, personally. 
Representation: sapphic girls

Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake -5 stars
England, Late Fourteenth Century
I loved loved loved the lush description of the setting and the raw emotion in the writing. I adored the cast of characters we got to see in this story and how diverse said cast was. I loved our main character, Will, and I loved the way the author displayed his desire and his love for Robin. I also loved the discussion on the different kinds of love that we get to see and how society viewed them in the 14th century. I loved that this was a retelling of Robin Hood. In fact, I don't think I can name a single thing that I didn't like. 
Representation: deaf/HoH Mc, gay MC, gay love interest, trans love interest, multiple gay side characters, some of them PoC, aroace side character

Willows by Scott Tracey - 3 stars
Southwyck Bay, Massachusetts, 1732
I really enjoyed the writing style - it was very lush and descriptive and the way it contributed to the setting was amazing. However, I was very confused by the plot. I didn't understand what it was about, really, and found myself confused, more often than not, as to where the plot was going. It wasn't really made clear what was the present and what was happening in the past - I couldn't really understand what the flashbacks were, and if there were any at all. I did rather enjoy the characters and the decisions they made though, so I guess that's also something. 
Representation: gender fluid MC, queer love interest (pan?? maybe??)

The Girl With The Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe - 4 stars
Northern California, 1849
This one was just adorable, wasn't it? I loved that it was set in California, and I loved that girls like girls like boys do. (I will stop at some point, okay, just not today). Okay, but seriously,  I loved the plot of this and I loved both of the characters, and I just artw45yerjutewqrhyj I love everything about this so much!!
Representation: girls like girls like boys do (nothin' new) 

The Secret Life Of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez - 4 stars
Tidewater, Virginia, 1969
I loved the writing style in this and I loved the summery feel it gave me! It was very light and very fluffy, definitely. I loved Cliff and the fact that he's becoming a Broadway actor. I loved Julio and his struggle with coming out was very very relatable. The one thing I have a complaint about is that the whole thing between Julio and Cliff felt a lot like insta love and the author tried to fit too many things into a 15-page story. 
Representation: Mexican family, boys like boys

Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger -3 stars
Upstate New York, 1952
The writing in this one was a bit simple for me. I really enjoyed the characters and the plot, though. However, I found that, at times, I would grow bored with the backstory we were getting or with the description. I don't know, these characters just didn't stand out to me, so I found myself bored on occasion. The overall plot of the story wasn't that bad, though.
Representation: girls like girls

The End Of The World As We Know It by Sara Farizan - 4 stars
Massachusetts, 1999
This is another absolutely adorable one. I just loved how cute it was. And unlike other short stories I have read, with this one, it did not feel like it was trying to fit too many things into a short story - it fits just the right amount of things into a short story. My one complaint is that the characterization was a bit iffy but other than that, I really enjoyed this one. 
Representation: girls like girls

Three Witches by Tessa Gratton - 3 stars
Kingdom of Castile, 1519
 I was a bit bored with the story at some points, but I loved the fact that it was set in the 1500s and that it was about a witch trials thing. To be honest, the musings of the main character kind of annoyed me, but I loved the side characters. The writing was very descriptive, and sometimes got too descriptive for my taste, so I would zone out and have to read chunks of it over again. 
Representation: girls like girls

The Inferno & The Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson - 3.5 stars
London, 1839
I enjoyed the writing in this one, but I think the thoughts of the main character could be a bit draggy at times. He worries so much about this and that and it got kind of annoying after a while, to be honest. The sections where the main character is with the love interest were so cute, though. I loved the love interest so much and the two were adorable together. I also love the fact that it's about a magician assistant - that was so fun to read. 
Representation: boys kiss boys

Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia - 4 stars
Luna County, New Mexico, 1933
This was adorable. (are you tired of me using that word by now?) I loved that this was magical realism. The atmosphere was so well developed and very very enjoyable. I also loved the romance, and the main character was very fun to read. So was the romance xD. 
Representation: latinx girls like girls
look look, I finally finished this!!! And I loved every second of it!!! Review to come.
Profile Image for kav (xreadingsolacex).
177 reviews345 followers
July 20, 2020
how I rate anthologies: in-depth thoughts about each story first, then my thoughts on the anthology as a whole

Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore: 5 stars
What a brilliant way to start this anthology. The only story set in a non-Western country, Roja is the story of a romance between a Latina girl and a trans boy. Anna-Marie McLemore is one of my favorite authors of all-time, and this story just emphasized that. The romance in this story was EPIC, and I love how McLemore always incorporates cultural elements from their life because their stories are ones that you will never see anywhere else. Everything about this story is PERFECT!

The Sweet Trade by Natalie C. Parker: 3.5 stars
This sapphic romance was definitely adorable and I absolutely loved the emphasis on women power (discussion of girl pirates?? I am ALWAYS down!), but there was just a bit lacking in the story. I did enjoy the connection between the two girls and their strength was great, but I just didn't feel what I wanted with this unfortunately.

And They Don't Kiss at the End by Nilah Magruder: 5 stars
The only story featuring an ace main character, this one was about a black ace girl and I was absolutely LIVING for it. Whereas the term "asexual" was not used in this one, the theme of asexuality was very obvious and I loved seeing a different perspective than we saw in any other story in this anthology, both with the black rep and the ace rep. Definitely a favorite of mine, I adored every aspect of this story.

Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee: 4 stars
This was definitely another strong story of the anthology, a m/m romance that I definitely did adore. I loved the incorporation of art in this story and it is definitely obvious that Lee knows how to write queer romance and how to write historical fiction, plus she has a lot of raw talent when it comes to writing. However, I did find the ending somewhat predictable which was the one downside of this story for me.

The Dresser & the Chambermaid by Robin Talley: 5 stars
Another sapphic romance, I loved literally everything about this story. The palace setting was just such a perfect choice, I am an absolute sucker for any story involving royalty/a palace. Furthermore, I also adored the connection between the two girls and loved that neither of them were actually royalty, but were workers in the palace.

New Year by Malinda Lo: 3.5 stars
A story featuring a Chinese-American girl who I interpreted as questioning her sexuality/being queer in some way, I did really enjoy this story, but was also somewhat confused by it until I read the author's note at the end. That being said, I enjoyed the incorporation of friendship in this one and the inclusion of a non-white main character.

Molly's Lips by Dahlia Adler: 5 stars
Holy shit, this is easily my favorite story of the anthology without a single doubt in my mind. I mean, a sapphic romance between two best friends and the incorporation of Kurt Cobain's death/Nirvana??? This was everything I never knew I needed. Honestly, I can't even form comprehensive thoughts about this story other than PERFECTION PLEASE READ IT THANK YOU GOODBYE!

The Coven by Katie Scelsa: 2.5 stars
Honestly, I completely forgot what this story was about and had to go back and look at it, so I think that confirms that it was one of the stories I didn't quite enjoy in this anthology. Overall, I just didn't like the premise of this novel and the romance did not give any strong feelings, so it was probably my least favorite of the anthology unfortunately.

Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake: 5 stars
A historical fiction Robin Hood re-telling featuring a m/m romance with a trans LI is just...perfection. Easily second place to Molly's Lips, I adored everything about this story as well. Listen, everyone who knows me KNOWS I am made for fairytale re-tellings, and giving me a queer fairytale re-telling is the happiness I deserve. I am so glad we got this story by a trans author and we got this beautiful rep in this story and also the m/m romance was so adorable and I go on and on, but just know you must read this piece of perfection.

Willows by Scott Tracey: 3 stars
I've seen that this seems to a popular least favorite of the anthology, but I actually enjoyed this story. At first, it was definitely somewhat confusing, but the m/m romance in it was so great and I loved the connection between those two characters with everything in me, and it definitely was more original than some of the others in this anthology. So, there was a mix of negatives and positives to this story, but I did enjoy it overall.

The Girl With the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe: 5 stars
This sapphic romance was so beautiful. Again, it was one of the more original stories of this novel and the connection between the two girls was undeniably perfect, plus Sharpe's talent with writing was the best way to perfect this story. I loved the fantasy elements of this story, the sapphic elements, and just everything about it.

The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez: 4 stars
Again, it seems many people didn't enjoy this story very much, but I really enjoyed it. I admit, the jokes about kidnapping and the age difference were not the best way to go about this story, and whereas it did have those pitfalls, there were many other elements I enjoyed. I loved the m/m romance and the emphasis on a sibling relationship which is not something any other story of this anthology had, plus the queer coming-of-age aspect of this story was just brilliant. So again, there were some positives and negatives to this story.

Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger: 4 stars
I liked the originality of this story, it dealt with a theme that none of the others did and it definitely had a coming-of-age aspect to it which was done well. I also liked the connection between the girls involved in the sapphic romance of it, but it did take me a bit to get into it and there was a bit lacking in it. Overall, I did enjoy it.

The End of the World As We Know It by Sara Faizan: 4 stars
There were so many positives to this novel, I liked seeing a non-white main character and the inclusion of family, as well as the brief discussion of women power and the uniqueness of it. I also did like the connection between the two girls in the sapphic romance, but something that did bother me was how quick the MC was to forgive her. I wish there had been more of a conflict resolution before they jumped into a romance, but outside of that one complaint, I really enjoyed this story.

Three Witches by Tessa Gratton: 2.5 stars
This was definitely the other negative of the anthology for me. I do want to admit that I appreciated the conversation of conversion therapy which wasn't really in any of the stories (which is also okay, but I liked that the anthology dealt with that theme!). Unfortunately, there were also a lot of parts I felt confused during, and just personally *for me* (JUST ME), the emphasis on religion was not my favorite. That's definitely personal to MY ENJOYMENT of the story, and it did make it hard for ME to enjoy (JUST ME).

The Inferno & The Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson: 4.5 stars
Definitely one of the stronger stories of the novel, I loved this m/m romance and the connection between the two love interests. My one issue is that it took a bit for me to get into the story, but that being said, I think this was one of the three most unique premises of the anthology and, as mentioned earlier, the romance was great. Overall, definitely one of the stories I enjoyed more.

Healing Rosa by Tehloy Kay Mejia: 4 stars
A strong way to end the novel, I loved the sapphic romance, especially considering it was between two Latina girls. This, like the last one, took me a little bit to get into, but by the end I thoroughly enjoyed it as it was so original, combined with the cultural elements included in this story as well as the amazing connection between the two girls.

Overall, I enjoyed this anthology and whereas I don't have a lot of anthology-reading experience, I definitely think this is one of the strongest anthologies out there. That being said, there were a few elements I didn't much care for, so let's discuss those.

I really wish there had been more than one story set in a non-Western country. ALL of the stories expect Roja were set in either America or Europe, and I would have loved having much more diverse setting. Going off of that, we could've had way more people of color in this anthology. There were only five confirmed POC MCs in this anthology and that is really disheartening. Intersectionality is a must for rep.

Going off of that, this was also very basic in it's representation of queer identities. I love the idea of an all-queer anthology, but why is it so basic in it's rep of queer identities. Most of the stories featured f/f romances or m/m romances (which are both great!), and there were about two stories with trans characters (and only one trans author that I know of) and only one story featuring an ace main character. With seventeen stories, there was definitely room for far more diverse queer rep - other gender identities (identities outside the binary?), an aromantic main character, I honestly would loved a polyamorous relationship as well!

To be honest, I did consider dropping a star when considering these facts, but I thought about it a bit and realized that overall, this is an amazing anthology and I loved almost all of the stories. I don't want to nitpick too much, but I think it's okay to celebrate this great anthology while also discussing how we can improve anthologies like these in the future. There are some negatives to consider, but overall I think the positives outweigh the negatives and would definitely recommend this anthology to a friend.
Profile Image for Lotte.
536 reviews1,106 followers
February 23, 2019
3.5/5. I love the idea behind this collection (queer YA authors give voice to fictional queer teens throughout history) and I enjoyed jumping between different historical periods within this collection (ranging all the way from the Middle Ages to 1999). However, lots of stories weren't particularly memorable to me personally and some I didn't like at all. My favourite stories were Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee, The Inferno & The Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson and The Dresser and the Chambermaid by Robin Talley. So yeah, great concept, stunning cover, but a very mixed bag content-wise.
Profile Image for Melanie (TBR and Beyond).
504 reviews360 followers
October 2, 2018
“That is the secret to survival. Teach fear to those who taught you to be afraid.”

This was another book on my most-anticipated books for 2018 list. Did it live up to it? Well let's let's get right into it.

I was so excited to hear that this anthology was being made. A historical fiction anthology with all LGBTQIA+ own voice rep - plus all the stories have LGBTQIA+ rep PLUS lots of other diversity, am I dreaming? Thank you 2018 for coming far enough where we can have a treasure like this in our collections. I've tried to break down the stories and my thoughts the best I could without being too long-winded (which is so me LOL) and I've listed the LGBTQIA+ rep the best I could. There is also tons of amazing PoC rep through-out this novel.

Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore - Four stars

Rep: Trans, Latinx

Beautiful story about a young woman is is trying to free her trans lover. I was really impressed with the writing and story in this one. The story was stunning and I was very invested in the characters in a very short amount of time. Although I think this worked well as a short story - I still wanted so much more. I'm so glad that there will be a full novel for this one. Anna-Maria has just a beautiful and lyrical voice about her. You can see and feel the imagery that she paints for you - she is just that good. It's my first introduction to her writing and I'm sure it won't be my last.

The Sweet Trade by Natalie C. Parker Three Stars

Rep: Female/Female Relationship

I'm not really sure this worked very well as a short story. There just wasn't even time to get to know these young women to really invest your emotions in them. All the same, I enjoyed the story but needed a lot more. I'm glad this one is also going to be a full story, I think it will work MUCH better that way. Also - PIRATES!

And They Don’t Kiss At the End by Nilah Magruder - Three stars

Rep: Ace

I was excited that they included a story with someone on the ace spectrum as I rarely get to read about characters with this identity and it just makes me happy that more and more rep is making it's way to us readers, even if it does feel like it's moving at a turtle pace sometimes. The story is cute - I enjoyed the characters and I loved the way the topic of being ace was dealt with. It felt very accessible and relatable and I really appreciated that. I wasn't totally sold on the story as a whole though because I just wanted more. There was nothing specific wrong with the story - it just didn't leave me thinking about it non-stop after I read it.

Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee - Five Stars

Rep: Male/Male Relationship

Yasss! Mackenzi's story was one of the ones I was most excited about and the woman didn't let me down. The sexual tension and all the awkward and unsure moments between these two young guys was just perfect. I could see me shipping this couple easy. I had a big smile on my face the whole time.

The Dresser & The Chambermaid by Robin Talley - Two stars

Rep: Female/Female Relationship

I honestly have a hard time even remembering this one. It was cute - the characters were sweet and likable but it was nothing special in my opinion.

New Year by Malinda Lo - Three stars

Rep: No romance

I liked this well enough. I feel like others liked it a lot more than me. The main character was great and her journey discovering who she is is very well done. It's another one that I can't remember very well though and it's not something that stuck with me enough to rate it higher than a three.

Molly’s Lips by Dahlia Adler - Four stars

Rep: Female/Female Relationship

This story was cute and packed full of 90s nostalgia for Kurt Cobain. I loved the connection to music and how truly important it can be in someone's life. I related to that on just about every level, even if I wasn't a huge Nirvana fan growing up. I've never read (or heard of tbh) Dahlia Adler but this entry definitely put her on my radar.

The Coven by Kate Scelsa - Two Stars

Rep: Female/Female Relationship

Sadly, this story didn't work for me at all. I went in with high expectations because I love anything with covens/witches and just found myself distracted the whole time because I was really bored. Premise was good, execution was meh.

Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake - Five Stars

Rep: Male/Male Relationship, Trans

Yas! A Robin Hood retelling with a Robin as trans and now dating Will?!?!!? Yes please! I loved this story so much. The concept was fantastic and the execution even better. Robin is essentially a runaway from a father who couldn't accept who Robin was. Robin's relationship with Will is so beautiful and the fact that they have to sign to each other because one of them is hearing impaired just made me so happy. I see so little of disability rep that is just a part of a character and not a main focus to overcome. The ending left me in tears and I'm not sure my heart will every fully repair from this one.

Willows by Scott Tracey - One star

Rep: Male/Male Relationship

What the what? Full disclosure, this story gave me a headache and made me question if I was just not smart enough to understand this story or if it was a complicated hot mess - after reading a lot of other reviewers thoughts on this one, thankfully it seems to be the latter. I can't review this and I can barely pick out the rep that was being shown in this story. It focuses on pasts lives but that is about all I can tell you. This story can be summed up in one word - CONFUSING.

The Girl with the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe - Five stars

Rep: Female/Female Relationship

This entry might be my favorite of the bunch, which isn't that surprising because it focuses on a girl that enters a dark woods that is forbidden only to come across a beautiful fae girl. The story is lovely and dark and mysterious and I just wanted it to never end. Perfection.

The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez - Four Stars

Rep: Male/Male Romance (of sorts)

I feel like this story could have been eye rolling so easily. Young boy meets older, sexy mysterious stranger and is instantly drawn to him - changing his life forever. I know, I know! It sounds like cliche tropes but even tropes can be done well. The main protagonist just felt so authentic and I was instantly invested in his story immediately. At the core of this story, it's about self acceptance and a desperate NEED to be allowed to be who you are.

Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger - Four stars

Rep: Female/Female Relationship

This is a bit of a strange entry for a YA novel, because one of the characters is an actress that is a little older and feels that she is a complete has-been. I have a feeling that this won't be the most relatable story in the bunch since it deals with a topic that is one that you aren't likely to connect with till you are a little further along in life. I thought this was a lovely historical romance entry and maybe it's not the most believable but it just gave me the warm and fuzzies by the end and I can't really ask for anything more than that.

The End of the World As We Know It by Sara Farizan - Five stars

Rep: Female/Female Relationship

Ok, can I just rate something five stars on nostalgia and the fact that deceased singer Aalyiah is mentioned in this? It's my review! I'm doing it! That one part gave me all the feels ever because I was so obssesed with Aaliyah as a young girl (and still throw her music on - I'm forever stuck in the 90s) that I actually named my dog the same name - my parents thought I was a little insane, fair. LOL I'm about to age myself even more here but I was in my late teens when the Y2K chaos was going on. I remember it very well and the depiction in this story is on-point. Oh yeah, I should probably say something about the characters and stop rambling about the setting. The two young leads were adorable and the whole story just made me smile - a lot. First love, young love - completely authentic and sweet.

The Inferno & the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson - Four Stars

Rep: Male/Male Relationship

Another solid entry and oddly enough my first taste of Hutchinson's writing. I have to start by saying I would love a full story with the two leads from this one. I just fell in love instantly with not only the characters but the setting and premise. I. LOVED. THIS. We have two magicians that are battling it out for fame and money by trying to one up each other with the most dazzling and dangerous act they can think of and in the middle are these two young boys who are trying to please their employers but through each other start to realize that they deserve better than the life they have been given. Beautiful story and I have to get me some more of Hutchison's work - pronto!

Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia - Five Stars

Rep: Female/Female Relationship

Another favorite. I don't even feel equipped to begin to review or put into words how beautiful this story is. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about these two incredible girls that I was so invested in through-out this story. Just read it, you won't regret having these characters in your life.

Ok, phew - finally done with this review. I rated this one four stars overall - I don't not rate by calculating all the scores - that is way too much math for me. I go by how much it affected me and how much I fell in love with the different authors and stories. I highly recommend this one and hope you see yourself in some of these stories as much as I did.
Profile Image for Yamaguchi.
154 reviews
May 1, 2021
I was soooo hoping I would love this (I mean lgbt+ and historical fiction?! sign me the f* up!), but with the exception of Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee which I absolutely loved and And They Don't Kiss at the End by Nilah Magruder, Molly’s Lips by Dahlia Adler and probably Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake that were pretty cute, I found myself completely bored and disinterested while reading those stories.

Now, I think most people know this already and I don't need to point this out, but having diverse and inclusive collections like this one is very important (oh, btw, a shout out to all those Bicycles out there represented by the B in the LGBT+ acronym... wait, what do you mean it stands for Bisexual? HERESY- Seriously though, not one? Not a single story? Aaaanyway). But what people apparently don't get when we say "we want more diversity" is that we don't mean "we want the most basic insta-romance you can find in every ya book ever, but gay". Seriously, in most of these stories, I felt like I was reading about your typical ya hetero fantasy and the authors just decided to change their protagonists' genitalia last moment. And lgbt+ relationships are simply not like that.

That was shocking because I know that the authors are all (or most? i'm pretty sure they are all) part of the lgbt+ community. So there is only one possible explanation in my mind. They wanted to create something free of the stigma, something cute and full of fluff. But... this is historical fiction. I'm definitely not saying "burn the protagonists" or "murder them", because I surely don't want to see that either and especially when I'm reading romance. But for fuck's sake, everyone is going to be cool with it? No one is going to be afraid or have second thoughts? There is a fine line between writing fluff and making it completely unbelievable and unfortunately (again, not for all stories, but definitely the most) absurd. And this is simply... not the type of representation I want.
Profile Image for prag ♻.
586 reviews584 followers
March 8, 2018

the finest of the bundle:
the dresser & the chambermaid by robin talley (aka the CUTEST short story on this planet)
● the fucking king walking in on mary & susanna kissing AND SAYING HE'S SORRY HE DISTURBED THEM
● ngl I laughed so hard at this part
“He said—” Susanna choked “—he said, ‘Right then, girls. Carry on.’”
Mary lost her composure all over again, collapsing against Susanna in a heap. They laughed and laughed as quietly as they could, holding each other through their tears.
“Well, then,” Mary said. “We ought to follow the royal command, should we not?”
And that was precisely what they did.

every shade of red by elliot wake
The last thing I saw was the green roof of the forest dulling into gray and falling down around me, and then darkness. But in the darkness all I saw was my beautiful boy. My golden boy, my Robin. No other name fit him, and never would. Sometimes sight is a more powerful way of hearing than sound.

● it's sort of sad but SO PURE AND QUEER and i was just so invested in it

the girl with the blue lantern by tess sharpe
Oriana shook her head. “It’s not your fault. They think you’re all the same. I thought so, too. Until...”
She reached over and took Ella’s hand in hers, stroking her fingers down the inside of her palm. Ella gasped, every feeling in her body focused on that spot, and when Oriana pulled away, Ella’s skin glistened with gold.

● ...all i have to say is that I love ella with all my life

the end of the world as we know it by sara farizan
“Happy New Year, Ez. The world has not ended. We’re going to be okay. Tell your mom I couldn’t stay for breakfast. I have to go break up with John. Talk soon.”
I read the note another twenty times on the first day of the New Year. I felt warm and thrilled, but a little uneasy as to why. Katie Brewer. Huh. Who knew? Maybe we both did. Maybe it was a long time coming or maybe it wasn’t. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to find a better New Year’s kiss for many New Years to come.
I had a whole slew of questions about what the future would hold now.

● this is my favorite trope ever jahfsag and it was so cute

the inferno & the butterfly by shaun David hutchinson
“I’m cursed,” Wilhelm said.
“Then we’ll be cursed together.”
Wilhelm’s hands trembled. “I’ll only bring you misery.”
“I’ll take a lifetime of misery with you over a day of love from Mr. Dubois.”
“Without their greatest acts, both our masters will be ruined.”
“Then let’s ruin them,” I said. “Will you come with me, Wilhelm? I’m asking.”
Wilhelm crossed the space between us and kissed me. He kissed me as easily as breathing. I wrapped my arms around his waist and we vanished, leaving only his chains behind.

● i didn't realize it was shaun when i read it but OFC IT WAS of course i love his writing and his stories

there was one story i kinda skipped and some of the stories were a little EH but honestly this anthology is a blessing so five stars here we go
Profile Image for Aleksandra.
1,388 reviews
March 7, 2018
All Out: The No Longer Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages is spectacular anthology! Easiest 5 stars I've given this year so far. Highest praise to Saundra Mitchell for editing the anthology! The book turned out to be a kaleidoscope of diverse stories about queer teens, different in mood or genre, but all filled with power, hope and finally acknowledgement that we've been here all along, look at us.

Memorable and beautiful stories of queer teens by queer authors.

Stats about the anthology:

•stories total: 17

•f/f (or sapphic lead) stories: 10 (incl. 1 story with homoromantic ace lead)
•m/f stories: 2 stories (incl. 1 story with trans boy as LI, 1 story with asexual female lead)
•m/m (or queer male lead) stories: 5 stories (incl. 1 with trans boy LI)

•stories with poc MCs: 6

• stories I liked or loved: 16(!)
I didn't particularly like just one story. This is unprecedented!!!

• my favorite stories are written by: Anna-Marie McLemore, Mackenzi Lee, Elliot Wake, Alex Sanchez, Kody Keplinger and Shaun David Hutchinson

Mini reviews & individual ratings for each story:

Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore - 4.5 stars! This is gorgeous and powerful and everything I've come to expect from Anna-Marie McLemore. A story about bruja La Roja and transgender French soldier Léon in Mexico, 1870.

The Sweet Trade by Natalie C. Parker - 4 stars. Two girl run away from unwelcome marriage in Virginia, 1717. Exactly the type of content I'm here for.

And They Don't Kiss At The End by Nilah Magruder - 4 stars! This was very cute. Story about asexual black girl and Filipino boy in Maryland, 1976.

Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee- 4.5 stars! This was adorable, endearing and so much fun. Constantijn is precious bean and I love him. You can expect from this story queer boys, artists and lots of awkwardness. Set in Amsterdam, 1638, kudos for Mackenzi Lee for setting story outside North America!

The Dresser & the Chambermaid by Robin Talley - 4 stars. This was good, I was hesitant about getting into this story because I didn't have a good experience with Talley, but this story is solid. Good characters, rich of plot for such a short story and of course two girls kissing in Kensington Palace, 1726.

New Year by Malinda Lo - 3.5 stars! Very insightful and interesting story about Lily, a Chinese American queer girl and her family celebrating Lunar New Year in San Francisco, 1955.

Molly's Lips by Dahlia Adler - 4 stars! Two best friends Molly and Annabelle grieving the death of Kurt Cobaine and confessing they are in love with each other. It's a touching story, set in Seattle, 1994.

The Coven by Kate Scelsa - 4 stars! This was a weird one! Story about a girl with a fog, her friend whom she wants to kiss, Paris in 1920s, witches and Ernest Hem? Gertrude Stein? Also kudos for old sapphic couple!

Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake - 4.5 stars! Godsdamn you, Elliot Wake. This was beautiful and tragic with nuanced and rich storytelling. It's a reimagining of Robin Hood tale with Robin as transgender man and his squad as outcasts, people of different sexualities and ethnicities. There are black boy, brown girl, asexual boy, gay deaf boy and lesbians. Also action, kissing and surprisingly detailed picture of England in late 14th century fir such a short format. I loved this story but it broke my heart.

Willows by Scott Tracey - 3 stars. Well, that was weird and confusing. It seems the story is speculative fiction with queer male protagonist who has memories of his past lives? Also there are curses, the Returned, witches and Southwyck village, events take place is Massachusetts, 1732. The village is ruled by Catholic Reverend and it's very strict and dystopian. The story was rather different but not in a good way.

The Girl With Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe - 3.5 stars . This was a lovely story about girl falling in love with wood spirit, set in Northern California, 1849. I wish I could care more about the characters but overall it was lovely.

The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez - 4 stars! Charming story about gay Cuban sixteen year old boy in Virginia, 1969. It gives the Benjamin Alire Saénz or André Aciman vibes!

Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger - 4 stars! *swoons* that was adorable! A story about an actress meeting a waitress in a small town in Upstate New York, 1952. The main character is Betsey, she's an actress and she's on ace spectrum. The romance was so sweet. I want the whole book about Betsey and Laura.

The End of the World As We Know It by Sara Farizan - 4 stars! This was very cute! Kissing on New Year Eve 1999/2000. The main character is Ezgi Olmez, she's Turkish and sapphic. Events take place in Boston, 1999.

Three Witches by Tessa Gratton - 4 stars! This was rather short, it's on a darker side of thing but a touch of magic saved the day. This is the story about Violante, whom her brother sent to coven to absolve her sins, because Violante loved a girl. In coven she meets Gracia, who's young sapphic nun. The story deals with forceful imprisonment and "pray-the-gay-away" attitude but in Kingdom of Castile, 1519. I liked how resilient and strong Violante is. She believes and she knows that what she feel is love and nothing wrong here's. Covent, her brother or the imprisonment won't change her mind because she knows she's right and it makes her powerful.

The Inferno & The Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson - 4.5 stars! This was fantastic! I love the writing and the characters and the story! Wilhem and Alfred are wonderful. It's a story about two magicians' assistants falling in love in London, 1839. And a spark of magic because it's SDH.

Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay-Mejia - 4 stars! Amazing magical realism story about young bruja trying to heal her Rosa from darkness, set in New Mexico, 1933. Beautifully-written and moving!

"Rosa was a summer girl, and I was a winter girl, but that fall we made magic."
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
618 reviews623 followers
October 21, 2018
Video Review

This anthology was everything I wanted and more. I'm gonna reread so many of these stories again and again and I can't wait for this to be out in the world. I'm sure y'all will love it!

While my average rating is way below 5 stars, I just love this concept and the overall way it was done so it deserves every star it can get. It was just incredible to read so many HAPPY QUEER STORIES all in one place. My favourite by far was the story by Elliot Wake but I also really loved Anna-Marie McLemore's. There's really so many stories that were great and I discovered so many authors I definitely wanna read more stuff from now! Dahlia Adler's story was the one that spoke to me the most and it's one that I deeply appreciate. It's not nearly as well-crafted as other stories but it showed me that not every story has to have magical writing to be beautiful.
I'm sure there's gonna be a at least one story in here for everyone that they will deeply resonate with!

I loved the race and disability representation we got although I really wish there had been way more.
I also definitely wish we had seen some more stories from other parts of the world. Most of the stories are set in the US, one in Mexico and a couple in Europe but that's it, sadly. I also think there could've been a bit more trans, ace and aro representation!
But really, that's nitpicking because this anthology did so many things right and I couldn't be happier about it.

Overall I absolutely loved this anthology and would highly recommend it.
Below you'll find my individual ratings and a couple of thoughts. I posted my ratings as reading updates but a couple of ratings have changed after I finished the whole anthology so it's definitely worth checking it out!

Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore: 5/5 stars. I loved the spin on Red Riding Hood and it was super easy to slip into this story even with its intricate style and world building. The writing was also beautiful.
The Sweet Trade by Natalie C. Parker: 4/5 stars. This story just made me unbelievably happy.
And they don't kiss at the End by Nilah Magruder: 4/5 stars. Oh my GOD, this was beautiful and put a smile on my face.
Burnt Umber by Mackenzie Lee: 4/5 stars. Some of this definitely made me cringe BUT I still found myself giggling a lot throughout it and the ending was so cute.
The Dresser & the Chambermaid by Robin Talley: 3/5 stars. This was good but definitely paled in comparison to the other stories.
New Year by Malinda Lo: 3/5 stars. I deeply appreciated the representation of Chinese-Americans in the 50s but it felt a bit like the queer element was forced so that it would fit into this anthology.
Molly's Lips by Dahlia Adler: 5/5 stars. This story resonated with me so much and I feel like it was a story written for my heart and my soul. I can't describe what I felt reading it but I cried my whole way through it. It's not as well-crafted as some of the other stories but it hit me in the feels.
The Coven by Kate Scelsa: 3/5 stars. This wasn't really my type of story but it was still very good.
Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake: 5/5 stars. This was incredibly beautiful and definitely my favourite of the whole anthology.
Willows by Scott Tracey: 2/5 stars. This was very confusing for me and I'm not sure how I feel about the representation in it. I'd recommend checking out #ownvoices reviews for this one in particular. It had potential and is beautifully written but seemed a bit all over the place.
The Girl with the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe: 4.5/5 stars. Yet another absolutely beautiful story. A F/F FAIRYTALE MAN.
The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez: 2/5 stars. I don't know, this just gave me weird vibes. While the age difference is ok, the power dynamic somehow seemed.. off?? Just wasn't a fan.
Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger: 3.5/5 stars. ADORABLE!
The End of the World as we know it by Sara Farizan: 3/5 stars. Another really cute one. Loved how it had a realistic storyline with a happy ending.
Three Witches by Tessa Gratton: 2/5 stars. This was just really not my thing.
The Inferno & the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson: 4.5/5 stars. MY HEART! Another one that was just SO GOOD and had such beautiful writing.
Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia: 4/5 stars. The atmosphere in this story was outstanding.

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I received an ARC of this through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for sofi.
57 reviews23 followers
May 9, 2018
average rating: 3.8 stars
my rating: 5 stars for gayness and awesomeness and emotions

This is the book that I didn't know I needed or that I've been waiting for my whole life. It restored my faith in anthologies (and in humanity, a little bit). I don't think I've ever read anything quite like this; it's a big "fuck you" to anyone who negates diversity in historical fiction because of so called "accuracy", and it's another big "fuck you" to anyone who has tried to actively silence and erase our voices, the voices of queer people, throughout history. Even being fiction, it's a reivindication of our past and it's validating and it's so. fucking. important, and I can't stress this enough.

Not only is it important, but it's also done beautifully. Each story completely transported me to wherever it was taking place; very often the authors managed to make me connect with the characters in such an amazing way, and having that much feeling in so few pages was definitely special. We're done with tragic stories and stories about loss and pain; these very real aspects are represented when necessary but it's ultimately a message about hope and acceptance. And they're mostly not coming out stories, which I loved. Some of them weren't even about the characters' identity, which is such a huge step for normalizing these relationships and these feelings.

So, in very few words, it was important and beautiful and it deserves all the stars I can give it.

(And after reading this, not that it's a surprise, I can safely say that witches are wlw culture.)

A sidenote is that I do feel like it could have been a bit more diverse in terms of gender identities, since, you know, the T in LGBT doesn't stand for Troy Bolton (I think there was only two stories with trans main characters, but I could be wrong. Still it's a low number). And all of the stories took place in either the US or Europe (with an honorable mention for the one by Anna-Marie McLemore, set in Mexico), so I was a bit disappointed by that; there was so much that could have been explored outside of these places, that could have made the collection of stories much more interesting and diverse.

I was going to make a list of my personal favorites, but I started naming them and I realized I was basically listing 3/4 of the book. So I'm going to just tell you to go read this, all of it, because it's absolutely worth it, and with a couple of 2-stars exceptions you're going to be left with something from every story. The ones that I remember LOVING and that I'll remember the most, that I'm naming off the top of my head, are Roja, Every Shade of Red, The Inferno and the Butterfly and Three Witches. (So I made a list anyway in the end, well. These are my top top favorites. It's shorter than the original at least.)

Yes, I am going to use rainbows as bullet points because this review needs to be as gay as this book. (I toyed with the idea of replacing the stars with rainbows, but I think that would've been redundant. Like and subscribe if you think I should have used rainbow ratings).

🌈Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore. ★★★★★ (plus infinity)
set in El Bajío, México, 1870.
"I let my rage stream into them. I let it become liquid and alive."

I absolutely adored the writing; it was rich and beautiful and conveyed so much emotion in so few pages. I quickly got attached to the characters. This had a mysterious, very dark and magical feel to it that was such an experience to read. I just... I loved it.

🌈The Sweet Trade by Natalie C. Parker. ★★★.5
set in Virginia Colony, 1717.
"We did it, Pearl. We left." "And tomorrow's all about the life we choose."

This concept! Lesbian/bi pirates! Yes! This was a very nice story with nice writing, but it was just... nice. For me, it lacked that something that I can't describe that makes me fall for the characters and the setting. Still super enjoyable.

🌈And They Don't Kiss at the End by Nilah Magruder. ★★★
set in Maryland, 1976.

The setting at the skating rink was really cute! The struggles and doubts the main character faced felt very real, I liked how they were presented. The writing was alright, nothing really special. Overall a cute story.

🌈Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee. ★★★★
set in Amsterdam, 1638.

YOUNG GAY ARTISTS YES I LOVE. The first in this anthology to be narrated from a boy's POV and it was lovely oh my god. It was a bit predictable but I still enjoyed every second and Constantijn's narration was Gold™.

🌈The Dresser & The Chambermaid by Robin Talley. ★★★★
set in Kensington Palace, September 1726.

This was BEAUTIFUL. I loved both of these girls so much and their relationship was so sweet and aaaaaaaaa. I want this to be a book so I can get to know more about all the servants they seem like such a Squad, their banter was awesome. Just. I want more but I'm also really content with what I got.

🌈New Year by Malinda Lo. ★★
set in San Francisco, January 21st, 1955.

Um, okay. This didn't feel fully... fleshed out? It's like I only got hints of an actual story, but not much really happened and there wasn't an actual plot. It sucks 'cause it had really good cultural representation and I would have liked to enjoy it more.

🌈Molly's Lips by Dahlia Adler. ★★★.5
set in Seattle, April 10th, 1994.

I just wish this had been a bit longer and had more substance to it, but other than that it was quite sweet and I really liked the setting and the friends-to-lovers. Fandom bringing gay girls together always.

🌈The Coven by Kate Scelsa. ★★★★
set in Paris, 1924.
"I was light. Everything was light."

I suddenly want to be a witch in early 20th century Paris. I LOVED the aesthetic this story had and the atmosphere was so well done. I wanted to see more of the actual coven but honestly the open ending left me with a special feeling inside.

🌈Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake. ★★★★★ (and all of the stars)
set in England, late Fourteenth Century.
"It was like the moment before lightning, but not the purifying, enlivening charge of Robin's kiss–this was the indrawn breath before calamity."

I am broken and this story broke me. The writing was beautiful and touching and the characters were amazing. Please just leave me crying in this corner. I NEED A PART 2 and I need it to be fluff.

🌈Willows by Scott Tracey. ★★★.5
set in Southwyck Bay, Massachusetts, 1732.
"That is the secret to survival. Teach fear to those who taught you to be afraid."

The writing in this story was delightful and the setting and atmosphere were done absolutely right. My only problem is nothing seemed to happen the first 3/4 of the story and then everything happened way too fast? I would have loved to read more like what happened in the ending.

🌈The Girl with the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe. ★★★★
set in Northern California, 1849.

THERE'S A DOG IN THIS ONE. This was super cute and I loved the characters and the concept a lot!!! My girl of golden freckles and light! The relationship and the conflict felt a bit underdeveloped and the resolution too easy but WHATEVER I enjoyed it.

🌈The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez. ★★
set in Tidewater, Virginia, 1969.

Look, I wanted to like this, I really did. I loved the concept in theory and it was cute, but I feel like it wasn't executed in a believable way. The characters had so much potential to be really relatable and for me to connect, but I didn't; there was a lot of telling and no showing. The story just seemed a bit stiff, I guess. (Also, there was apparently a relatively important age difference that I skipped past, and one of the characters was a minor? So there's that).

🌈Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger. ★★★★
set in Upstate New York, 1952.

The 50's vibe of this story was ON POINT. I can find some similarities between this idea and the one from the last story; THIS is how I wanted it to be executed. The girls felt so honest and real, and while it was insta-lovey it never felt forced, it was super sweet. I want to know more about them. It could've had a bit more feel to it, tho.

🌈The End Of The World As We Know It by Sara Farizan. ★★★
set in Massachusetts, 1999.
"Being a girl is so stupid. People only want to know whom you want to kiss and nothing else. So what kind of girl am I if I have no one to kiss on the brink of the world's demise?"

Being glad that you won't have to worry about your future AND the patriarchy if the world ends is a Mood. My problem was I felt like the girls didn't talk??? Like they had a bunch of issues and had grown apart and they kind of mention it but then they go straight (or not. haha) to making out? But it was still super enjoyable, cute and well done.

🌈Three Witches by Tessa Gratton. ★★★★★
set in Kingdom of Castile, 1519.
"Was that witchcraft? The heat of the hearth their only light, their urgent breath a music more sacred than any monastic song. Joyous life, like those birds outside the tiny window. Singing for each other."

OH MY GOD I loved this. I loved the concept, the POVs, the characters, the emotions, the girls' inner conflict, how religion was handled. The contrast between how Gracia and Violante felt. How it was kind of unresolved in the end. I want to know ! what ! happens ! next ! (But also I'm satisfied, it was really good)

🌈The Inferno & the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson. ★★★★★
set in London, 1839.

I can't find the words to describe how beautiful this story felt. It was so... liberating. Hutchinson's writing is amazing as always, and he managed to craft gorgeous and emotional characters in just a few pages. It was a romance but it was ultimately about self love and freedom; I read this quickly and I want to reread it to savor it more.

🌈Healing Rosa by Tehlor Ray Mejia. ★★★★.5
set in Luna County, New Mexico, 1933.
"The words were a string from her heart to mine, and in its pull I could read what would come. When I touched her forehead with mine, when I pressed my lips to hers, it wasn't because I couldn't be sure, It was because I could."

This was so angsty and so hopeful at the same time. The writing was beautiful, I loved the descriptions, it portrayed suffering in such a real way and still the focus was on liberation and love and... It was just really really good.
Profile Image for Anna.
581 reviews76 followers
December 15, 2018
17 stories that were all basically the exact same? this read like boring, badly done fanfiction and it sucked.

and it's not even really an lgbt+ collection, more like a lgt collection with one cishet ace character
Profile Image for Liz.
600 reviews505 followers
April 15, 2018

Probably the most beautiful anthology I've ever read. Bar none.
Representation matters, we all know that but so does the type of representation. Of course we need literature to be honest about the hardships of not being a cis heterosexual individual, but occasionally some positive, uplifting literature is nice too. Stories where the protagonists actually get a shot at happiness, where they aren't doubted and condemned and have to prove themselves to the whole world and all the deities you can think of. Just "normal" stories.
This is such an anthology.

Jokes aside, this is such a wonderful, heart-warming, completely enchanting collection. It does not only represent various sexualities and genders, but also all possible ethnicities, 'races', etc. Appropriate representation all around. I'd have loved to read a story by a Native American author, to be honest, but maybe another time.
I don't think there was a story that I didn't like, sure some impressed me more than others, but all of them were utterly amazing and necessary. Gah, I just have so many feelings.
Also, this anthology handles a wide variety of different centuries and social classes, some stories contain intriguing hints of magical realism, others involve characters from fairy tales, legends or even people that actually existed (though this story was perhaps the least impressive one) so I think there will be something for every type of reader.

Highly recommended!!!

My favourites were: Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore, Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee, Willows by Scott Tracey, The Girl with the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe, and Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia.
Willows was just magnificent. My mind was completely blown.
Profile Image for Chloë.
223 reviews81 followers
March 19, 2021
Although All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages started strongly, I found it to be truly lacking.

Lacking in LBGT+ representation, as there were no visibly bisexual characters nor any non-binary characters (except if Willows by Scott Tracey was supposed to be about one? It seemed more similar to a dissociative identity disorder to me) I also wish these stories hadn't focused as much on Europe and North-America, since queerness is present all over the world and not limited to these regions.

I also just wish the stories were less similar. Almost all of them ended with a kiss? Most of these stories had me shaking my head because of the naivety of the main characters. I get that they're (mostly) meant to be lighthearted stories, but still. Almost all of the characters were stereotypically "good", I just wish there had been a bit more moral ambiguity.

I also want to say I felt uncomfortable with how Mackenzi Lee focuses on a gay minors' boner throughout Burnt Umber. I also disliked how the romance in The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez was made up of a 16-year-old and a college student.

I'd like to end this review on a positive note by naming the short stories that made this anthology worth it. Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore was an incredible start, and The Sweet Trade by Natalie C Parker was a worthy follow-up. Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake stood out stylistically, the writing style was simply stunning. I also really enjoyed The Girl with the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe.

Check the trigger warnings, representation and more here.
Profile Image for bianca.
351 reviews178 followers
April 18, 2018
i can't believe this is A Thing™ and i am JUST finding out about it I FEEL ON TOP OF THE WORLD i need to read this fiGHT ME I'M SO EXCITED


i finished it and i cannot stop screaming.



I am SO GLAD I read this

rating: 4.5 stars
format: ebook

THIS is what I came here to read. THIS is what a true anthology looks like. I AM FLOATING WITH HAPPINESS RIGHT NOW. My expectations were SO HIGH and I am NOT DISAPPOINTED. I want to go to the top of the city's highest building and start screaming "READ ALL OUT YOU FUCKERS" until my throat gives out

This book right here is so important, you should all grab a cup of your favorite reading drink, sit your asses down on your favorite reading surface and READ IT. And do me a favor: don't talk to me until you are done.

Before I get down to it, the one problem worth mentioning I had with this book, the reason why I lowered the rating 0.5 stars, was the lack of ethnical diversity. Most of the stories were set in the US and, the ones that were not, developed in Europe. We are talking historical fiction here, push it further. Also, more trans rep would have been nice as well. But, anyways.

I will proceed to mention my own personal favorites and then review each of the stories. Put on your seatbelts, guys; you are in for a vertiginous ride.

the ones you NEED to read pretty pretty please
🌼 Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
🌼Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee
🌼Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake
🌼The Girl With the Blue Lattern by Tess Sharpe
🌼Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger
🌼Three Witches by Tessa Gratton
🌼The Inferno and the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson

Oh, just so you know, some of the ratings might be different from the ones I originally posted on my reading updates while I was reading the book. I changed my mind on a few stories, but nothing major.

🌼 Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

5 stars

I am blown away by Anna-Marie's talent. She never disappoints. The world building and descriptions are out of this world, and the characters are amazing. She knows her style so well, she writes magic realism like nobody's business. A cross-dressing girl coming to save his trans boyfriend's ass; it doesn't get any better than that, folks. PERFECTION.

🌼 The Sweet Trade by Natalie C. Parker

3.5 stars

This one was SO ADORABLE. Strong independent girls who fall for each other and become PIRATES. YES GAWD. Both characters felt so human, so real. None of the "I'm not like most girls" bullshit. The writing style was nothing special, but I still enjoyed every second of it. Nothing outstanding, but still really memorable.

🌼 And They Don't Kiss at the End by Nilah Magruder

3 stars

This was really cute! I won't get into details of the ACE rep because not being ACE myself is hard to tell if it was well represented or not, but still. The characters were likable and the plot was enjoyable. I liked it a lot.

🌼 Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee

5 stars

OH MY GOD. That was the cutest thing ever???? I LIVE for gay artists. Let's make a gay artists club. The scenario was spot on and the MC was adorable. I literally squealed when it was over. I need MORE.

🌼 The Dresser and the Chambermaid by Robin Talley

3.5 stars

Nothing outstanding but still very cute. I found the "problem" a bit silly but everything else was really enjoyable. I liked the two POVs, it added an interesting something to the story.

🌼 New Year by Malinda Lo

1.5 stars

I'm actually really disappointed. The cultural representation in this one was awesome, I really liked the visuals, but that's all there's to say about it. I felt like there were way too many elements and no plot, no way to link them together. It was kind of all over the place in all the wrong ways.

🌼 Molly's Lips by Dahlia Adler

3.5 stars

Cute, short and light-hearted. I loved that it was about fangirls during the 90s. Very relatable. It warmed my heart.

🌼 The Coven by Kate Scelsa

4 stars

I mean. WITCHES IN LOVE. I am a SUCKER for witches so I was destined to love this one. The Paris vibe was on point, the characters were really likable and the writing was amazing.

🌼 Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake

5 stars

ALL OF THE STARS. A Robin Hood retelling? And it was perfectly executed. THIS is how you write a short story oh my gOD that was so amazing, so outstandingly devastating, I think I'll be crying for all eternity. I can't deal. This one makes it to the top 3 of my favorite stories, hands down.

🌼 Willows by Scott Tracey

2 stars

I wish I could give this a higher rating bc the writing was delightful but... I didn't know what the hell was going on during 90% of the story. I am so lost I don't even know how to review this. Just when I was starting to get more involved and interested, it suddenly ended. I don't even know, guys.

🌼 The Girl with the Blue Lattern by Tess Sharpe

4 stars

That was soooo cuuuteeeee. I loved the aesthetic, the writing style was amazing and the two main characters were lovely. The fantasy vibe was spot on. Also, THERE WAS A DOG. I only wish it would have been a little bit longer. But everything else was on point.

🌼 The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez

2.5 stars

I'm so confused??? It started off pretty great, I was loving the main character and his relationship with his sister. But then this other guy appeared, and everything seemed to be going really well and then suddenly everything escalated so quickly and then it ended? And the MC went through some poorly executed character development? It was disappointing tbh.

🌼 Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger

4.5 stars

SO. FUCKING. CUTE. The atmosphere was amazing and both main characters were lovely. I loved it from beginning to end, and it ended with a message of hope, which I Adored. I feel warm and cozy inside.

🌼 The End of the World as We Know It by Sara Farizan

2 stars

This one started off so well, I loved the scenario and the whole concept of the world coming to an end with the change of century. But I wanted to like it more than I did. I hate the whole "I started having feelings for you so I took distance" situation, always have and always will. The MC's former best friend just randomly pops up at her doorway on New Year's Eve, apologies for being an asshole and suddenly everything is forgiven and next thing I know, they are making out? Yeah, sorry, no. It actually reminded me of the plot of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, and after I finished the story I looked up the author and found out they are both written by the same person. Shocking. Not.

🌼 Three Witches by Tessa Gratton

5 stars

So powerful, so soft, so gay. A girl who goes to conversion therapy and ends up falling for the nun in charge of taking care of her. The whole concept and setting was spot on, and the writing style was AMAZING. Religion was a big part of it and it was executed perfectly. My heart flutters with happiness.

🌼 The Inferno & The Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson

5 stars

Hutchinson never disappoints. I want to hug both MC until the world ends. Their relationship develops into such a cute amazing thing, I am mesmerized.

🌼 Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia

4 stars

I really liked this one, the story was well developed and the characters were well written. The thing is, for me, Anna-Marie McLemore is The Queen of magical realism and Latinx characters, and after reading Roja, this one just felt kind of lacking. I'm the issue tho. It's not you, it's me, blah blah blah. Still amazing.
Profile Image for Devann.
2,433 reviews131 followers
April 16, 2019
As with all anthologies, there were some stories I liked more than others, but this one was definitely above average. There were a lot of really great and different stories in here and I was also really impressed that there were SO MANY TRANS CHARACTERS! Usually a book like this will have maybe one or two trans characters and you can tell it's basically just so they can say they covered it, but there were a lot in here and I thought that was really great. I almost didn't read this because I'm always just so wary about anthologies these days, but I'm really glad I did.
Profile Image for ellie.
542 reviews166 followers
April 8, 2018
so i calculated the average of all the stories and i got 4.26. in other words, it’s a fantastic anthology. or should i say...anthologay?? :D

i WILL write individual reviews full of hearts soon, but it’s 3am so i gotta catch some z’s
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