Member Reviews

Ryan La Sala's debut fantasy REVERIE was a delight, so I was really looking forward to reading BE DAZZLED, and he did not disappoint. BE DAZZLED has the same energy as his previous novel, but moves in to contemporary YA romance, with a story about doing what you love. With glitter. And sequins.

The story flips between past and present timelines, but La Sala handles the switches well.

It's a fun look into the work and passion that goes into making cosplay costumes. Raffy loves to craft, but what he does with his cosplay costumes goes far beyond crafting - something that his artsy mother doesn't give him credit for. She doesn't see crafting as ART, so Raffy hides his creative gifts from her. Their relationship is complicated and hard to read.

Raffy falls for Luca, a soccer player who is bi and closeted (particularly with his family.) Their relationship is both sweet and frustrating, depending on which timeline you are reading.
The characters are well-crafted, layered people - all but perhaps Raffy's mom, who is an unlikable pill. The story is excellent, the crafting a delight.

The only part of the story that frustrated me to no end was Raffy's response to his mother at the end of the story - i really wish he had been able to give her a piece of his mind, because I definitely wanted to.

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La Sala manages not to make it just one character’s story but both. The becoming of Raffy and Luca as a couple, yes, but also who they want to be as themselves in the future. Yet another example of a story not queer-coded but queer-affirming and embracing different kinds of people with more than just shared sexuality, but shared interest and concern for one another that extends beyond the surface and allows each other to grow.

Cosplay has more to say about queerness than we think. The admission of a sexuality other than straight is often treated as an addition. A bauble that even our own families and those who know us well claim not to have noticed. Something we can take on or off as easily as a costume.

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ARC Provided by the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Relationship drama. Finding ones true self. Competition. And cosplay?

The main character, Raffy, loves to create cosplay. He live streams his creative process and ends up receiving a package from one of his viewers. This unexpected package becomes an unexpected friend, who turns into a relationship. Raffy learns a lot about himself through the process of creating cosplay and the unexpected romance. In the narrative that flips back and forth between the cosplay competition and the months leading up to it, the reader gets an inside look at the characters and their emotions.

The world of cosplay is extremely new to me, so it was exciting to get a glimpse into this world and the creative and competitive aspect. This is a geeky, cute story that celebrates two boys becoming their own person.

Favorite Line: "Some kids do drugs. Some kids start fires. I embroider in the dead of night, for the attention of strangers."

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Be Dazzled is cute, witty, and begging to be read. In a time when there's not so many conventions to go to or so many opportunities to attend events that involve creativity and the camaraderie that conventions bring. La Sala writes in a fun, silly way that really makes the characters come to life on the page, and the way the book is set up is intentionally interesting -- the story doesn't stagnate as flashbacks are intertwined within the present-time storyline. Raffy and Luca are funny and believable, even if a little outrageous at times, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to immerse myself in their world. This book sets itself apart from others in the genre by putting itself into a different setting, and even past that, the uniqueness of the characters and the surroundings isn't something that I see in YA a lot. It was a refreshing change of pace.

I actually just love the whole 'met in a craft store' thing -- that's probably what's funniest and most charming about this to me. As a long-time lover of conventions, I really loved that this took place at a convention and is set as a contemporary romance.

La Sala is also freaking hilarious on Twitter - I followed him for his humor and silliness and was rewarded with a snarky, funny, super gay book.

Honestly, if you like glitter, you'll like this book.

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Raffy has a passion for crafting...and bedazzling. He spends his days roaming the aisles at the Craft Club and filming his projects for the internet. Despite his mother’s disapproval, he channels this passion into gorgeous cosplays and crafting competitions. But things get complicated when Raffy is forced to partner with his ex-boyfriend, Luca, at a big convention. Last year, they almost made the perfect team, and couple, until Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s perfectionism drove them apart. Can Raffy resolve his feelings for the boy who broke his heart while battling his own self-doubt and crafting his most challenging project yet? Or will everything fall apart at the seams?

As a huge fan of cute love stories, I was hooked from the very first page! Ryan La Sala crafts a beautiful, queer romance between two protagonists you can’t help but love. Raffy is a passionate artist who channels all his energy into his creations, while Luca is a carefree soccer player with a heart of gold. While Raffy and Luca easily fall for each other at first, they struggle through tough relationships with their families and themselves: Raffy hides his talent from his mother, who is an artist herself, and Luca’s family has a hard time accepting his sexuality and his interest in cosplay. While a difficult journey, I loved seeing Raffy and Luca work to pursue their dreams, and each other, in what can only be described as an adorable, swoony ride with themes of persistence, creativity, and second chances. If anyone is looking for a fun, geeky, feel-good story, Be Dazzled is the novel for you!

(Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change.)

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I really liked this book! I enjoyed reading about Raffy's creative passion, and his desire to be better at what he does. As someone who is very goal-driven, I saw myself in Raffy, even if my sewing skills are terrible! I also enjoyed the relationship dynamics between Raffy and Luca, especially how Raffy's perfectionism hindered their relationship and he had to learn to work around this.
Overall, Be Dazzled is an entertaining book that can be read quite fast, and which deals with topics that are relevant to teenagers. However, I don't think the book would be a five-star read because I felt that the pacing was a bit odd at some points.

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I loved Ryan Le Sala's debut and way of writing YA that is fun, believable and still heartfelt and complex. The minute I saw his name pop up again I HAD to read this book <3

It is an unapologetically fun and fabulous book with nerdiness, fashion, cosplay, romance and friendship.

There is so much to love in this book and it's sweet to see some super cute queer rep that doesn't feel forced or fake <3

Definitely worth the read!

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Having loved La Sala's debut Reverie, I had a feeling that I would really enjoy this one. I was completely wrong: I didn't like it, I loved it. Be Dazzled has it all. A contemporary that pairs heartwarming and tearjerking with cosplay, sparkles and ties it off with a hearty dash of 'lovers-to-exes-to-working-together', there's so much to love about this fantastic showstopper.

Raffy was a dynamic character, both compelling but not without his flaws. He was very driven, which definitely came through in the story, but there were moments when he was able to step back as well. The main thread of the book was tied to his journey as a creator and cosplayer, so it did rely quite heavily on his character, but this never felt too much or like there wasn't enough other stuff going on. His drive was also his greatest flaw: he truly wanted to be a great cosplayer and create amazing things, but this also resulted in people being pushed away. This balance between good main character and flawed main character was done really well, and was a large part of why Be Dazzled was so enjoyable to read.

The relationship between Raffy and his ex Luca was shown via alternating scenes, from the time when they were just starting their relationship, to the present when they were competitors and exes. This worked so well for the reuniting part of the plot, because the reader is shown exactly why they were so good together, and why they didn't work out the first time. The conflict was realistic, but it wasn't unrealistic for them to be getting back together, and their chemistry was so undeniable that it was hard to not root for them, even if they were just to stay friends in the end. The alternating timelines also meant that there was a heavy dose of 'oh no, they're breaking up' with a side of hope that they might work out in the end, which balanced the angst levels really well. The scenes where Raffy and Luca had to work together just built on their past, which worked out really well for both their relationship and the story, and altogether this weaving of relationship strands helped make Be Dazzled the awesome book that it was.

The setting of Be Dazzled was very vivid and very easy to picture. The cosplay elements were developed in detail, but they were still accessible to those with no crafting experience, and honestly I'd love to be able to subscribe to Raffy's livestreams. The costumes were described in a way that made them easy to picture, and the feel of the con came through the pages too. Reading Be Dazzled was a dazzling, immersive experience, perfect for getting sucked into. The pacing worked well with the convention timeline, because there was a specific end goal but the result of the end goal was uncertain. The timeline also had the tension build up as the cosplay competition progressed, which kept the stakes well balanced and made the plot feel well rounded and flowing.

I think the only thing that could make this book more enjoyable, in my opinion, is seeing the creations described in real life. Be Dazzled balances all the elements at play really well, with an immersive, sparkling sequin of a book as the end product. If competitions and glamour are your thing, this is not one to miss out on.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. This review will be posted on my blog on February 6th and a link added here.

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Be Dazzled was a fun and gripping romantic comedy full of art, pop culture, crafts, and geekery. The relationship of the main characters was adorable and felt realistic. I really did love most of this book but I couldn’t give it five stars because the adult characters, Evie in particular, read like caricatures to me and the family conflicts were a little too easily solved. However, the main points of the novel: the m/m teen romance, their mutual love of cosplay, and the idea that doing what you love with who you love is worth fighting for were all done superbly and made for a compelling fast-paced read.

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For my full review please check out the latest issue of BooksEtc Magazine.

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<i>A huge thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.</i>


I'm so torn. I wanted to love this book, adore it. I was ready to yell about my love for this book to anyone who would listen (and those who wouldn't).

And instead here I am, disappointed. I'm aware I'm in the vast minority here. As you can tell from the rating I didn't hate it, not by any means. I enjoyed it, even. Maybe my expectations were too high? Maybe I'm *gasp* too old? (please note I have refrained here from using a '(theatre) gay gasp' because I don't think I could have lived with myself if I had) Maybe I'm just bitter.

Let's face it. That's probably it *shrugs*

(Minor spoilers ahead! and damn this got long, woops)

So let's start with the good stuff, and try to make this a comprehensible review for a change!

- COSPLAY. ALL THE COSPLAY AND CONS. It was a bit bittersweet, actually, because it just made me miss cons, but to be back in that world, even if only for a bit, was amazing. I've never done cosplay myself, and I attend mostly for actors, but I have friends who do, and I adore it. This was by far my favorite part of the book, although I felt that at times the responses from the crowd were a bit exaggerated. But who knows? Maybe it's different over in the USA! Really wishing now I was creative enough to make my own cosplays!

- May. I <i>love</i> her. She is a wonderful friend and probably more than any of us would deserve. I really want to read her comic, just saying.

- Raffy. His determination is something I totally understand, his desire to prove himself. He cares so much about what he does, and him struggling to work with someone is something I know all too well. He's a brooding teenage boy, sure, but I personally felt his feelings were valid. Although I am biased, given one of the things I didn't like which you can find below.

- Queerness! Of course I love that! Raffy is gay, Luca is bi, and May is lesbian, although the latter is mentioned just the once. One of Evie's friends (whom I love, despite her short appearance) is trans.

- The humor. There are some great one liners in this book that had me snorting and laughing out loud!

- <spoiler>THEY DON'T WIN! Possibly the only thing I'm truly happy with in terms of the ending, hah! It would have been entirely too predictable if they had won. Though I hate that Inaya won after being an absolute bitch (and using RAFFY'S design at the start without asking and lying to Luca about it) and still gets called a friend again. The things that get done for a happy ending...</spoiler>

...yeah that's about it. Luckily the cosplay takes up most of the book and I truly loved it! The building, the competitions, all of it! It's probably why I don't hate the book, haha! The romance is ever present, but to me it never truly felt like the (only) focus.

Which brings me to the things I didn't like, and let's face it, it's so much easier to sum that up than the things you loved, so please remember I enjoyed this book! Frankly I hardly know where to start.

- Evie. I absolutely hate her, which I know is probably the point, but still. I don't feel like there was a need for this much cruelty. I don't even want to spend much time on her because she's not worth it. She's cruel, mean, and feels so fucking superior it makes me want to scream. At one point it's said that she hates Craft Club because she hates 'accessible art'. Well, Evie, please make sure that all your artists make their own pain, then, instead of buying it somewhere. She is so incredibly condescending to Raffy, and he installs so much fear in him, it's unhealthy. Raffy doesn't really want to put the label 'abuse' on their relationship, but I'm more willing. There's a massive humiliating display <i>in public</i> at once point. She cuts up one of his projects, while knowing it's not the school project he said it was. And then, at the end <spoiler>she is turning around? because of Tobias' history with cosplay? She's gonna try? Because of a successful man telling her he used to do cosplay? After all she put Raffy through? I knew it was coming but fucking hell am I angry about it. Does Raffy deserve a shit mom? Of course not. But I'm also quite done with rushed happy endings just because the ending needs to be 100% happy.</spoiler>

- Luca's parents. Homophobic pieces of shit. Once again, the point, once again the ending ruins it. This is where all the stereotypes and toxic masculinity come in, because watching anime? You're gay. Cosplay? You're gay. Going to cons? You're gay. Which is just total nonsense. Luckily at least Luca seems to realize it's bullshit, but he's still stuck with parents who believe it. At one point it's mentioned that his mom is kinda okay with him not being straight, but that it's his dad who's the real problem. Yet it's her who keeps giving him shit for it. And at the end <spoiler>she too comes around, out of nowhere. Is supportive and happy. Invites Luca over for dinner. As if Luca's dad suddenly is no longer a problem. We don't get to see this dinner so we don't even know how it goes. It's completely glossed over and I hate how unrealistic the entire ending is.</spoiler>

- Dare I say it? I dare. Luca. I didn't like Luca. There you have it. My notes mention several times how much I cannot stand him, and how some of the stuff he does, how he acts, is absolutely disgusting. I know it's supposed to be cute and all, but no. The staring until Raffy looks back? Just so Raffy can see Luca watching him? *shudders* No thank you. I'm aware he's struggling due to his situation at home, and some of it is explained because of it, but it's no excuse for all of it. I truly felt for Raffy, <spoiler>when Luca ditched him at Blitz and then came back. Only for them to be together at the very end because Luca is out now and his mother doesn't hate him? I think I would have liked it better if the book ended with them being tentative friends, willing to see what happens but knowing they have a lot to work through. Or even if we saw more of Luca's growth, but since the whole book was from Raffy's perspective, we didn't and the turn around seems incredibly sudden.</spoiler> Somebody get me a novella or something from Luca's perspective, because I feel if I knew more I'd like him better.

- (Theatre) Gay Gasping

- The ending. Which is discussed in several spoilers up above. I am not a fan of rushed endings, or unrealistic happy endings, and this was both, so yay for me!

Writing this review exhausted me; I don't actually take joy in writing down things I didn't like, especially when on the whole, I liked the book. So please, read it if it sounds interesting, or like something you'd like, because it truly is much easier to write whole paragraphs on what you didn't like, and so hard when it's about the things you did like!

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I’m in love this book!
Luca and Raf hace a part of my black heart I love them. I haven’t read something involved with crafting and I loved it.
Ryan did a good job 👏 explaining all the things that have to do with cosplay which I didn’t knew a lot about.

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Mixed feelings. On the one hand, I like the portrayal of cosplay, the deep dive into all of the work that goes into these costumes. It elevates comic con beyond "that weird thing that nerds do" to an acknowledgement of real art, creativity, and hard work. That's what our protagonist is really fighting against. He's trying to be appreciated for his strengths by the world at large and by his mother. And we also see the mismatch of a relationship between a person who is out and one who is still closeted. How love isn't enough to keep a relationship together when there are secretes and subterfuge. Its realistic. It also acknowledges the shifts in how teens look at their future now.
On the other hand, the plot is very predictable and the characterization is uneven.
Entertaining but definitely a product of a particular time period.

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Be Dazzled was an absolute delight to read, I had ben eagerly anticipating Ryan La Sala’s next novel after reading and loving Reverie. In my opinion, this author is much more suited to contemporary writing and that was evident in the joy and emotion that this novel delivered. I could easily see myself rereading this novel as I found it so fun and uplifting, Raffy is pure sweetness in his love of crafting. Any expectations I had for Be Dazzled were certainly exceeded, I loved it!

Raffy’s story is told over a dual timeline, in the present tense he’s competing in a famous cosplay competition against his ex-boyfriend, and over a series of flashbacks to months prior to the competition we witness the blooming romance of Raffy and Luca from conception to destruction. There’s a very high level of intrigue throughout the novel as we only find out why Raffy and Luca split towards the very end, they’re both extremely well suited but have their own issues they need to overcome which affects their relationship over the duration of the novel.

The main character, Raffy, came across as relatively naïve at times, he struggled to understand the issues Luca faced as someone who wasn’t out about their sexuality. But he also had his own issues with his mother, who he had to lie to and deceive about his cosplay and crafting. I thought the relationship between Raffy and his mother came across as very authentic and although it was a secondary plot line to the main story, I liked how it progressed throughout the book.

When reading the author’s previous novel, Reverie, I found the writing style confusing at times but Be Dazzled was so easy to read, the words flowed off the page. If you’re looking for an enjoyable and fun LGBTQ+ novel, I highly recommend Be Dazzled.

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After reading ‘Reverie’ by Ryan La Sala I was so in love with the writing style, that I just had to have more! I was so excited for ‘Be Dazzled’ and to read about a more realistic world than the one from La Sala’s first book. The writing wasn’t as whimsical in this as it was in ‘Reverie’, though this is probably due to the difference in genres. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the alternating timelines and how it changed every chapter. It made it hard to get into the story, because the order of events, changed your perception of each character, which made it hard for me to care for Luca for example. In one chapter we love him, in the next we hate him. This made it hard for me to get a grasp of who he was (other characters as well) and I never really got to connect with anyone. The alternations took me out of the story and therefore made it all a bit messy. There were, of course, some cute moments between the two that I appreciated, and in the end, I did favor the chapters written in the past. I might’ve enjoyed the story more if it was told chronologically instead.

I quite liked the setting and since I’ve recently binged four seasons of ‘RuPaul's Drag Race’ and three seasons of ‘Project Runway’, this was just what I needed! Though the book is more influenced by cosplay than drag, it still had some of the same elements as what I love about Drag Race, and it was such a fun concept for a book! I do think it relied a lot on pop-culture references, that the reader needs to have some sort of knowledge of, in order to enjoy the story to the fullest. It wasn’t all that I knew, but thank God for Google ;)

Storywise it was super predictable and there definitely were some points that were only added for drama and didn’t make sense at all. For example, when Raffy has a “fight” with his supposed best friend, May, over why she went to the convention early. This was resolved so quick and so easy and it honestly just felt pointless.

I loved how the book tackled the subject of coming out and the portrayal of different families who didn’t all share the same opinions. It shows that not all stories are the same and that there’s room for everyone. I also loved how it portrayed creativity and how we all are creative in different ways, none more “important” or “right” than any other. I also learned a lot about the cosplay community and it was like getting an inside scoop, which was really fun and interesting.

The “villain” of the story is the mother of Raffy. I didn’t quite like how we were told how big and bad she was, instead of it being shown to us. We didn’t get to meet her until more than halfway through the story and even at that point, the comments she made weren’t that bad if one were to ignore what we’d been told, and instead just observed the conversation. She didn’t live up to the reputation made by her son, and therefore when she finally showed up on the page it all just fell flat for me. Later on, however, she does act more cruelly yet at that point, I, unfortunately, didn’t really “buy” their feud.

All in all, “Be Dazzled” was a quirky contemporary with a lot of potential. It had a great mix of fun and seriousness, especially when tackling topics like coming out and feeling like an outsider. Though it had some bumps on the road, I’ll look forward to reading La Sala’s next work.

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Ryan La Sala knows how to pen a wonderful ride of a story, with glitter and glam and emotions. HIghly recommended, especially for queer teens.

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‘ℕ𝕠, 𝕀 𝕥𝕖𝕝𝕝 𝕞𝕪𝕤𝕖𝕝𝕗. 𝔻𝕠𝕟’𝕥 𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕜 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕨𝕒𝕪. ℕ𝕠 𝕡𝕣𝕠𝕛𝕖𝕔𝕥 𝕚𝕤 𝕒𝕦𝕥𝕠𝕞𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕔𝕒𝕝𝕝𝕪 𝕖𝕒𝕤𝕪. 𝕐𝕠𝕦 𝕙𝕒𝕧𝕖 𝕥𝕠 𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕜 𝕠𝕦𝕥𝕤𝕚𝕕𝕖 𝕠𝕗 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕔𝕚𝕣𝕔𝕦𝕞𝕤𝕥𝕒𝕟𝕔𝕖𝕤, 𝕟𝕠𝕥 𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕜 𝕕𝕖𝕖𝕡𝕖𝕣 𝕚𝕟𝕥𝕠 𝕥𝕙𝕖𝕞. 𝕐𝕠𝕦’𝕧𝕖 𝕘𝕠𝕥 𝕥𝕠 𝕕𝕖𝕤𝕚𝕘𝕟 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕨𝕒𝕪 𝕗𝕠𝕣𝕨𝕒𝕣𝕕. ℝ𝕖𝕝𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟𝕤𝕙𝕚𝕡 𝕒𝕣𝕖 𝕣𝕖𝕒𝕝. 𝕋𝕙𝕖𝕪 𝕒𝕣𝕖𝕟’𝕥 𝕒𝕝𝕨𝕒𝕪𝕤 𝕛𝕦𝕤𝕥 𝕗𝕦𝕟 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕘𝕒𝕞𝕖𝕤. 𝕋𝕙𝕖𝕪 𝕒𝕣𝕖𝕟’𝕥 𝕒𝕝𝕨𝕒𝕪𝕤 𝕔𝕦𝕥𝕖.’

Cataloguing BE DAZZLED by @ryas just another gay fiction would be to underestimate the enormous potential of this book.
BE DAZZLED has been like a breath of fresh air for me: a bewitching story with colorful and endearing characters, twists and turns that will take you by the guts, but what is most remarkable here is the author's pen.

I let myself be swept away by the adventures of Raffy, a young geek who believes in and believes in his artistic talent and the power of his passion for cosplay but above all to transform raw material into something beautiful.

A fantastic novel about coming of age, about coming out (Luca about his identity and his geek side and Raffy about his art), about the ups and downs of a young love and the power of friendship.

The author has surely drawn on his own passion for manga and anime (Sailor Moon) to write this dazzling story.

Thank you @sourcebooksfire and @netgalley for sending me an arc of this incredible novel.

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Project Runway goes to Comic Con in an epic queer love story about creativity, passion, and finding the courage to be your most authentic self.
This book has a little bit of everything, that when combined, leaves a reader smiling. Ryan La Sala has quickly made a name for himself and become an auto-buy author for myself and many others. If the last year has left you in need of some positive energy, you have to give this book a try.

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Disclaimer: I got this ARC from @NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I heard about this book from one of Cait's videos and it sounded like something I'd love. Raffy's into be dazzling everything. Raffy is also interested in sewing and other crafts. Raffy enters the cosplay competition but his main competition is Luca. Raffy's ex. Raffy's got some unresolved feelings but their relationship didn't work out in the beginning for a reason. I'm not usually a fan of second chance romances, but I really enjoyed this one! This is perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli's books.

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When I read the synopsis for Be Dazzled and saw gay and cosplay, I knew this would be the book for me. And I was right.
There is something about nerdy gays that just gets me. I felt that same way about Conventionally Yours. Raffy was a delight. Often in contemporary YA, I am turned off by the first-person narrative. But I never found Raffy to be whiny or immature like I usually do in other YA books. It probably helped that he was basically an adult as his mother seems to all but abandon him regularly. The story is told in alternating timelines - the present - in which Raffy has entered a cosplay contest at a con, and the past - which shows the progression of his relationship with Luca.
I enjoyed switching back and forth, and I was interested in both timelines. I wanted to know what happened with Raffy and Luca and the outcome of the cosplay contest. The only thing I didn’t love was Raffy’s mom. She seemed way over the top and almost unbelievable in the way she was portrayed. It was almost too much. But that was a small thing I can overlook, and I still absolutely adore this book.
If you are looking for a sweet nerdy read, look no further than Be Dazzled.

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