Member Reviews

What a book! If you're not immediately sold by the cover, you'll be sold by the one-sentence summary of 'a socially awkward nonbinary teen lesbian birder accidentally witnesses their neighbor's murder and decides to launch an amateur investigation that leads them into the depths of a dangerous bird cult.' Come on! What's not to love?!?! Bianca is such a charming narrator, with so much bravery and heart battling with so much anxiety. I loved their relationship with their family and even more with their friends/new crush. The plot is bonkers and, of course, totally unrealistic, but that's decidedly not the point. I'll be recommending this book to everyone!

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A compelling and well-written YA mystery. Really awesome to see a non-binary main character in the genre.

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I love this book, it was fun and quick to read!

Bianca is an awesome character and I loved their friends too.

I love reading books that I finish in a day because they are so engaging, and this was definitely one if those

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Bianca Torre is Afraid of Everything has a giant heart. Bianca is one of those characters with a strong internal narration which will sweep you away. I wanted to be Bianca's friend immediately. But not only is Bianca such a strong character, I love their friends and all the side characters. Even if they only have a few scenes, you can sense their depths and unique personality. Bianca Torre is Afraid of Everything is a book that screams character. It's like one of those thrillers with inside jokes, charming characters, and a sense of fun.

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5 stars

Here’s another book that I finished in one day! You may think from this post alone that I do that often since there is another one, but this just isn’t the case! Bianca Torre is Afraid of Everything is a fast paced young adult thriller filled with loveable characters, humor, and a captivating mystery that will have readers on the edge of their seats.

Bianca was such a relatable character as like them I have many fears that hold me back sometimes from expanding my horizons. Winans does an exceptionally good job of executing Bianca’s personal journey, which was one of my favorite parts. Bianca starts the story as timid, allowing their fears to have control over them, but they work to overcome their long list of fears and put themselves out there to form new relationships with others.

The story also highlights Bianca’s journey as they question their gender identity and come to the realization that they might be nonbinary. While I’ve never questioned my gender identity and can’t speak on the nonbinary/lesbian representation, I could still feel for Bianca and put myself in their shoes. I was very happy to see the intersection of both nonbinary and lesbian representation (as well as trans representation in a minor character) as it’s often not highlighted which will allow readers of those identities to see themselves in the stories they read.

The murder mystery aspect of this story was so entertaining, which will keep readers on the edge of their seats begging to know how it will all end. While this mystery had its fair share of horrifying and scary moments, it was able to balance it with more amusing and lighthearted moments as well. The key to a successful mystery is to leave the reader guessing and dropping bread crumbs along the way but still managing for them to be shocked by the big reveal. Let me say that this was surely the case here.

Besides having an incredibly well-developed character arc and a captivating murder mystery, this story is genuinely funny. I’m not the type of reader who laughs out loud when reading, but this book was the exception. From the banter between characters, Bianca’s long list of fears, and comical chapter titles, this book nailed the comedy and playful elements perfectly.

The last thing I wanted to touch on is the supporting cast of characters in this story. While Bianca is the shining star of this story, the supporting characters were such a joy to read, and it was especially rewarding to see Bianca open up to them slowly. The dynamics between Bianca, Anderson, their best friend, and Elaine, Bianca’s crush, was entertaining to read as they worked together to unravel the mystery.

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Thank you to NetGalley for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Honestly, I didn't love this book. I DNFed it pretty early on and I don't feel right giving it a full review. I'm sure some people will love this book, it just wasn't for me.

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The premise of this is awesome, and the execution was really solid too. As an older reader, the tone didn't always work for me, but that probably speaks very highly to it fitting the YA category. Can't wait for this to be out in the world for teens (and plenty of others) to read!

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I am going to be honest I am stressed reviewing this one. The HC strike has allowed me to not say anything about this one for at least a couple of months and let my thoughts marinate. I am glad I did not post my review when I first read it.

No one is more disappointed writing this review than me. Bianca Torre Is Afraid of Everything was one of my most anticipated reads of 2023. Openly advertised as having a nonbinary lesbian protagonist (not the first in YA though, that's the Scapegracers but one of the dew traditionally published ones), it was also described as a mystery with a lot of bird stuff. I am a nonbinary lesbian, I like a good mystery and I like birds, what could go wrong? Well, I opened this book, and I knew something wouldn't click between us. I had already read several books with uninteresting to bad prose this month and reading the first few chapters of Bianca Torre I knew it would be another one of those. Before anyone tells me it's YA prose, I can promise you that there are well written YA books. I am afraid I am making it sound worse than it is. in truth, it's not good or enjoyable, but it's not *bad*. Younger teenagers will probably not be bothered by it, but due to the book centring an 18-years
old, I am expecting this book's audience to be older.

Side note: this one paragraph below really made me laugh in cringe.
"The kitchen itself would be enough to make my dad cry. She has two
ovens and an island with a standing mixer!
And an espresso machine.
Wow, Jillian is living the life."

The book opens up with Bianca going to her birdwatching group. We are introduced to a bunch of characters, including the obvious love interest (I am sorry it was two weeks ago. I don't remember much about her except the fact that she's pan. I don't believe she was memorable at all). Then Bianca goes home, spies on their neighbors, and see one of them get killed. The death is later ruled as a suicide, but Bianca knows it's not and decides to investigate with their friends while at the same time juggling with school. I quickly got disinterested in the mystery plot. There was the cool concept of the murderer with a plague mask, but nothing kept me interested. There are a lot of storylines (murder mystery, Bianca's gender identity and going to support groups, a little love story, school, and college application) in this book, and while some of them converged, it did feel like some of them could have been cut or reduced to let the others shine.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the depiction of Bianca's anxiety and how it impacts their budding romance. It felt very realistic and even comforting to see them struggle with all of this. As I have said the love interest was not really memorable and more a prop for Bianca to work through their fears about dating.

Now, the nonbinary lesbian part. Let me first say that other nonbinary lesbian reviewers have really appreciated it, and therefore, I am not here to say it is not "valid". I am not here to say the representation was bad because there is not one way to be a nonbinary lesbian. I just wish we could have some more insight from Bianca on certain things. Being nonbinary and a lesbian is controversial those days. While the exact label is new, this intersection of lesbianism and transness has a long history in the lesbian community. I was disappointed that the book brushes off the tension between the labels really quickly and we never learn what this intersection of labels means for Bianca. Again not saying it’s bad but it seemed like a missed opportunity that could have given us more insight into Bianca’s complex understanding of their gender (since this is a central theme of the book).

The pacing of Bianca's gender journey felt strange, but I assume this is how some people experience it? Bianca expresses feelings of feminine inadequation a couple times before suddenly thinking "what if i am nonbinary" queue a scene listing nonbinary identities like a wiki. This scene was a bit abrupt, but I feel like this is due to the writing and introduction of this specific scene. But again all my issues about this book come back to the writing so I should stop myself before a rant.

Now the resolution. I assume it was meant to be comical to cover up the predictable. And it was funny and made the book way more worth engaging with. I wish that this absurd tone would have been more present in the rest of the book because while the author managed to make me smile, it did feel out of place with the established grim murder mystery.

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This book’s pitch wasn’t lying when it said “Perhaps the real murder investigation is the friends we make along the way.”

BIANCA TORRE IS AFRAID OF EVERYTHING is a book that feels so personal to me it might as well have been written for me. Not only does it have birds (BIRDS!!), but also lesbians, murder, gender questioning, heartwarming friendships, and anxious teens. It just SCREAMS my name at this point!

Justine writes some of the most fun books out there. They’re a little weird, but so exciting, heartwarming, and highly relatable. I flew through this book thanks to the voice, the mystery, and of course the incredible cast of characters.

Seriously, I could rave about this book for hours, but I’ll just leave it to this: I can’t wait for Justine to take over the world very, VERY soon!!

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BIANCA TORRE IS AFRAID OF EVERYTHING is the voice-driven mystery we’ve all been waiting for.

Both laugh-out-loud funny and heartfelt, this book is an immediate page-turner. (Plus, you can’t go wrong with punny chapter titles.) The titular protagonist Bianca is easy to root for, the anxiety representation feels so truthful, and the mystery — with its unexpected turns — keeps you on your toes the whole ride. Bianca will resonate with readers as they discover themselves while unraveling the mystery behind a murder they witnessed — but you don’t have to be an avid birdwatcher or amateur sleuth to love this book. The cast of characters in endearing from the get-go, but the character development throughout the novel is really what kept me reading.

The levity in this book is what keeps it afloat. Even when addressing nuanced topics or hip-deep in a murder mystery, Bianca’s wit keeps you laughing the whole way.

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Bianca Torre was such a fun character, and the entire expanse of this novel was just so fun!

Bianca, like myself is an anxious nonbinary person, getting to see someone that much like myself and getting to see them live unapologetically was just so heartwarming to read. There were so many moments I found myself laughing (or should I say squawking, on the theme of bird puns ;)) and smiling and tearing up and just.. feeling a lt of emotions. This book kept me hooked and on the edge of my seat throughout.

I'll admit, I'm not usually a thriller person but this one absolutely captivated me from the get go! I loved the dynamics between Bianca and Anderson but also just, everyone they interacted with. They had such a radiant personality and were such a dimensional character, which was exceptionally orchestrated by the author.

There were so many good conversations brought up, but the fact that we have an on-page nonbinary lesbian is revolutionary. Bianca is a character long overdue and a character who will truly become a beacon in the literary world.

The plot as well was so atmospheric! Whilst I did struggle with a few semantics, the novel is basically all done on a matter of convenience which detracts from the genuine side of the story. But then again, most mysteries are, clues will fall into people's pockets and go from there. Some sentences also didn't really match the story but I think that was more to do with missed edits than anything. But again, I still thoroughly enjoyed!

Overall, Bianca was a story I loved and a story I will look fondly on as my gateway into the mystery/thriller genre. But I will also look back on this book as a little piece of myself and a little piece of home. Maybe Bianca Torre is afraid of everything, and maybe so am I, but really what's wrong with that?

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Bianca Torre is Afraid of Everything was such a fun book to read. It was so clever and full of unexpected twists and turns. This book is worth it for the chapter titles alone, but the story itself is just so well balanced between coming of age and a madcap murder mystery.

I loved how Bianca’s gender questioning journey was presented throughout the book, and how as they became more comfortable with themselves, they became so much more confident. I also loved how tight and supportive the friend group was. They made such a good team.

So, if you are looking for something with Scooby-Doo vibes that you will legitimately not be able to put down, this is the book for you.

Thank you so much to HarperCollins Children’s Books, Clarion, and NetGalley for this ARC. All opinions are my own.

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I thought this book had good queer representation and good anxiety representation, but I felt very weird about the mystery plotline. Investigating a cult/conspiracy, calling it "feathergate", and uncovering a secret lair in the basement of a Jamba Juice felt too "pizzagate" / alt right pipeline-y to me, and I just worry about anything that could lead young readers to that kind of social media content.

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#BiancaTorreIsAfraidofEverything #NetGalley Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this novel. I encourage you to check this one out!

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Big thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC.

Bianca Torre, like the title suggests, really is afraid of everything. So when Bianca sees a murder through their telescope (that is mainly used for bird watching, not spying on neighbors, well most of the time), they are very much overcome with fear. Especially when the police don't believe Bianca and Bianca starts to get threatening messages. Bianca's at least lucky that their best friend and also their crush from their bird watching group have decided to help Bianca solve this mystery, but can they figure out what happened to their poor neighbor before ending up the next victim?

This queer book was so good! I loved that there was non-binary main character and how real this character felt. It was also a really funny book and I laughed aloud on multiple occasions. I also really liked the side characters, they had a lot of depth to them. The book kept me guessing the whole time and I kept flying through to see who was the murderer. Highly recommend this YA queer book and can't wait to read the author's next book.

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No one told me how funny a book about a murder could be. I’m so glad Bianca could show me!!! There’s so much I loved about this book. First of all, once I started I couldn’t put it down. Perfectly paced and punctuated by puns, Bianca is bound to soar (pun absolutely intended). Featuring a cast of diverse queer characters, all of whom bring the skills needed to solve a most mysterious murder, and starring a non-binary anxious teen trying to figure out themselves and their romantic feelings all while trying to solve a murder, Bianca has everything! I found the MC Bianca to be particularly moving. They have themselves quite convinced that they are afraid of everything but they decide to not let it stop them from doing the right thing. They navigate normal teen drama (a crush! Friendships! Awkwardness!) and less normal (the murder of a neighbor) with humor and bravery. I can’t wait for the wide release of this book so I can tell all my friends to read it!!

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I immediately related to Bianca because I, too, am afraid of everything. This book is a much needed breath of fresh air regarding non-binary rep, anxiety, and lgbtq+ stories for teens. I want more non-binary protagonists! This was also a genuinely funny book that I found myself wanting to reread. The jokes were quick and the characters talked like teenagers. I'm so glad that I was able to read this one early because I will be shoving it into everyone's hands.

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Thank you so much to netgalley & the publisher/author for this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

I was drawn to this book by the title first and then the summary. A non binary teen who is obsessed with anime and birdwatching has to solve a bird themed murder mystery?? It sounded super fun! Also I’m in love with how beautiful and detailed the cover is. It was another thing that drew me into reading.

I really enjoyed this one and I really liked Bianca. I’ve read a few different murder mysteries this month and I’ve enjoyed all of them. We are able to look into Bianca’s head and see their insecurities from the beginning. Bianca obviously has very bad anxiety which manifests as extreme fears. They even have a list of fears that are numbered in their head. They are socially awkward and don’t really have many friends except their neighbor they watch anime with and the people in their birdwatching group. I saw a bit of myself in Bianca seeing themselves as weird and unlikeable.

Another huge part of this book is Bianca’s struggle with their gender identity. They go through a lot of dysphoria and have to come to terms with what their pronouns should be and accepting who they really are. I know a lot of people can relate to these struggles and that’s always helpful as a YA book.

There were a few parts in this book I thought felt a little stale, if that’s a good word for it. I felt like maybe people would act a certain way in certain situations and it was weird. The characters were all really likable and I liked how accepting and loving everyone seemed to be of Bianca. They have such a great support system and it was so cute. This debut was great and all the anime references had me dying laughing. Someone really likes One Piece out there I see and I’m sorry.

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BIANCA TORRE IS AFRAID OF EVERYTHING equals Rear Window but with an Only Murders in the Building vibe, topped with a cult, racially diverse cast, and spot on queer rep, and seasoned with wit & self-awareness. Starting on page one, you'll fall in love with Bianca Torre, their list of fears, and extreme level of awkward.

An avid bird watcher, Bianca swears she witnessed a murder in the building across from them. After the death is ruled a suicide, Bianca teams up their maybe friend Anderson to investigate. Allies will become foes! Crushes from afar will become friends (maybe more!)! A gender identity crisis will be addressed!

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The opportunity of a lifetime awaits for Ann Stilwell when she is given a job at The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for it’s medieval art collection and its enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination. Ann is desperate to escape her small town and so when she travels to New York City for a summer job at the MET she finds that the position was actually closed but then she finds herself being offered a job at the Cloisters and she is willing to do anything to stay in New York. She then befriends Rachel, the stunning “IT” Girl of the Cloisters, Patrick the head of the program who has a relationship with Rachel, and Leo the gardener who also has an interest in Rachel and Ann. Ann also begins to study the history of tarot and the researcher’s theories on fortune telling. She finds herself drawn in by Rachel, from her wealth to her looks, to even her secret relationships. When Ann discovers a hidden 15th century tarot deck that could be the key to predicting the future, a dangerous game of power and seduction begins at the Cloisters. Everyone is out for themselves and Ann needs to learn who she can trust and how far she is willing to go to get what she wants. This one started off great but then fell flat for me. It had all the dark academia vibes I normally adore and it even had deaths.... but the overall story itself felt lacking and rather anti-climatic and felt like it dragged on. Ann felt kind of like a Mary-sue and the overall “seduction” and relationship element in the book was bland for me. I had high potentials for this because I thought it would be somewhere between Ninth House and A Discovery of Witches with the dark academia, seductive relationships, a bit of haunting and deaths... but it fell flat overall for me.

*Thanks Atria Books for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*

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