Rating: 4.5 STARS
How I got this book: NetGalley ARC
A stirring, bold and moving anthology of stories and poetry by top LGBTQ+ YA authors and new talent, giving their unique responses to the broad theme of pride. Each story has an illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Compiled by Juno Dawson, author of THIS BOOK IS GAY and CLEAN.
A celebration of LGBTQ+ talent, PROUD is a thought-provoking, funny, emotional read.
Contributors: Steve Antony, Dean Atta, Kate Alizadeh, Fox Benwell, Alex Bertie, Caroline Bird, Fatti Burke, Tanya Byrne, Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Frank Duffy, Simon James Green, Leo Greenfield, Saffa Khan, Karen Lawler, David Levithan, Priyanka Meenakshi, Alice Oseman, Michael Lee Richardson, David Roberts, Cynthia So, Kay Staples, Jessica Vallance, Kristen Van Dam and Kameron White.
It's really difficult to try and summarise Proud because there's just so much packed into a relatively short collection and I have so much to say about all of it.
First of all, the forward by Juno Dawson is incredibly powerful and moving to the point of tears. It completely sets the tone for what's to follow.
The artwork that accompanies each story is beautiful and I'm certain it'll look even more stunning on paper than it does on my Kindle.
This collection covers so many issues and gives voices to so many people within the LGBT community that it's almost overwhelming. I'm not sure that I've ever read anything that's quite so inclusive and that represents so many aspects of the lives of those of us who identify as LGBT+.
It was the perfect book to start LGBT History Month and I guarantee that readers will be moved to both joy and sadness by these stories.
My personal favourites include:
"Remember you have the right to be proud.
Remember you have the right to be you."
Whether you're part of the LGBT community or not, I urge you to read this collection to truly know that:
a. You are not alone.
b. You have the right to be proud of who you are.
The fact that this book exists is both humbling and powerful, and I hope that every young adult has the opportunity to discover this inspiring collection of written and visual art.
"Be the glitter that shows up in unexpected places."
Last month I went on a bit of a 'requesting' spree on NetGalley and requested a bunch of books, with little hope of being approved, but it turns out that I was accepted for almost all of them, so I thought it might be fun to share with you the books that I'll be reading over the next month or so.
They're mostly YA with one exception and all completely different!
As always, just click on the cover to add it to your TBR:
What do you think? Do any of these books take your fancy?
Keep checking back for my reviews of these four books over the next month or two. I'm particularly excited for Proud and We Are Blood and Thunder!
Welcome to my very first book roundup of 2019!
How is 2019 treating you so far?
I'm guessing it's not just me who feels as though January lasted forever! Honestly, it was not the best start for me and my family this year and so I just have to hope that the rest of the year will take it easier on us.
Oddly, despite all of that, I somehow managed to finish 9 books in January. I can only guess that we somehow had what felt like a 3-month, month. In addition to that, I actually started 12 books last month, which gives you an idea of the kind of head space I've been in lately.
Anyway, for those of you who haven't joined me for a monthly book roundup before, here's where I basically list all of the books I read over the last month and give much smaller 'micro' reviews.
It's also probably one of the only times you'll hear me saying anything negative about a book as I also list any DNF's and books I rated less than 3 stars etc.
Here goes (you can click on the title to see the full review if there is one or to visit GoodReads):
The Princess of Baker Street by Mia Kerrick - As my first book (and first ARC) of the year, this was a great way to start. This is a really powerful story about true friendship and being true to yourself, and it was definitely not an easy read. There was a lot of pain in this book, these two extremely young characters have so much to deal with that it's heartbreaking to witness. But, all the more important because of it.
Tell Me It's Real by TJ Klune - My first audiobook of the year was so much fun! TJ Klune is now one of my absolute favourite romance writers and it's all because of his fantastic characters. This book is the perfect mix of light, sweet romance alongside real sadness and heartache.
Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith - Admittedly, I felt a little let down by this book. I was excited by the synopsis but didn't like or feel any connection with the main character. There were so many clichés and so much drama that I did become slightly irritated. However, the writing and pace were great and I loved Logan, who was my saving grace!
Fake Out by Eden Finley - This is my first ever book by Eden Finley. I actually had really low expectations for this book but it was so much fun! Plenty of humour, great chemistry and a really sweet story.
Let's Get Textual by Teagan Hunter - Ah, this book was so cheesy but in the best possible way. I absolutely loved this book. Get ready to grin, laugh out loud and swoon!
The Wicked King by Holly Black - This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 and it did not disappoint. If anything, it drove me pretty crazy with all of the plot twists. If you enjoyed The Cruel Prince, you'll devour The Wicked King!
Trick Play by Eden Finley - Since I enjoyed the first book in this series (Fake Out) so much, I guess it's no surprise that I decided to read the second. Picking up where the last book ended, this one focuses on a different couple and I loved their dynamic. Funny, cute and sexy - this book checked all the boxes.
Kissing the Teacher by Nora Phoenix - So, it turns out that I'm really not into reading about BDSM. I guess I should have figured that much out when I tried (and spectacularly failed) to read Fifty Shades of Grey. Don't get me wrong, there were some really sweet moments in this book, Baxter is just precious but the trope/relationship just wasn't my thing. Baxter also came off waaay younger than he was supposed to be which made me feel a bit uncomfortable given the age difference.
Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat - Yeah, so I think when this book was recommended to me as an "amazing m/m romance" I was intrigued. Sadly, this book left me feeling absolutely sick to my stomach. I won't sugar coat this for you. This book strongly features; slavery, abuse, torture, rape, sexual abuse and paedophilia. To me, it felt glamorised and, even if the main character Damen abhorred most of what he witnessed, he still condoned slavery. To put it lightly this book horrified me and I massively regret the £8 I spend on the eBook.
The books that I started but haven't yet finished are:
Fairies, Robots and Unicorns - Oh My! by Sarina Dorie - I spotted this book (a collection of short stories) on NetGalley last month and was drawn to the humour. The first story was great but sadly, for me, it's gone a bit downhill from there. I blame the story that seemed to be only relevant to Star Trek fans (I am so not a Trekkie) which really threw me off.
The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess - I really don't know how to feel about this book right now. I'm around 1/3 of the way through and struggling with the narrative. I just don't feel any connection to the characters and it's written almost passively which is making it really hard to be invested in the story. I'm going to give it another try because I loved the opening scene which gave me huge Watership Down vibes. Fingers crossed I fall into it soon.
Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff - This book I am 100% into and eager to keep reading. The only thing stopping me has been the ridiculous illness I've been trying to deal with over the past two weeks. The first couple of chapters already have me fully immersed in the story and more than a little hot under the collar. How anyone could mistake these books for YA is beyond me!
Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
In my next blog post, I'll be sharing the books that are currently on my ARC shelf. What 2019 release are you most looking forward to?
Rating: 4 STARS
Series/Standalone: The Folk of the Air #2
How I got this book: Bought
You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself strong.
After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.
If you haven't already read the first book in The Folk of the Air series, feel free to check out my review of The Cruel Prince and stop reading to avoid potential spoilers from book one.
This book is complicated.
I don't know if I've ever read a book before where I've absolutely hated 99% of all the characters but still loved just how vile and repulsive they are.
They're so evil. ALL OF THEM ARE EVIL. Including the author because that ending was not fair!
The two characters I hate the most are Taryn and Locke, which makes them pretty well suited to each other. I love how at the beginning of book one we were presented with this meek, gentle and docile image of Taryn but as the book progressed she turned out to be the worst sister in the world.
Jude is fantastic. I love her ferocity even in the face of impossible odds and certain defeat. She's cunning, clever and complex and yet still manages to be blindsided by others (don't worry Jude, you're not alone!)
Cardan is still a, well, there aren't really words for what/how he is and I still have some huge problems about their relationship dynamic but the chemistry and tension between the two are so palpable that it seeps from the pages.
The plot twists in this book are EPIC! If you were shocked by The Cruel Prince trust me when I say that you won't even know what to make of The Wicked King. My jaw is still somewhere on the floor where it dropped whilst reading that ending...
The storytelling is compulsive. This book is filled with more politics than the first, which I thoroughly enjoyed and I was so excited to see new places and more backstory from several characters.
If you love fantasy with a dark, foreboding edge, an unpredictable plot line and characters you love to hate, you'll love The Wicked King.
Welcome to my stop of the Princess of Baker Street blog tour.
I'd been looking forward to reading this book for quite some time and I'm excited to finally share my review with you!
Big thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me to participate.
Rating: 4 STARS
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
“Always wear your imaginary crown” is Joey Kinkaid’s motto. For years, Joey, assigned male at birth, led the Baker Street kids in daring and imaginative fantasy adventures, but now that they’re teenagers, being a princess is no longer quite so cool. Especially for a child who is seen by the world as a boy.
Eric Sinclair has always been Joey’s best friend and admirer—Prince Eric to Joey’s Princess Ariel—but middle school puts major distance between them. As Eric’s own life takes a dangerous turn for the worse, he stands by and watches as Joey—who persists in dressing and acting too much like a Disney princess for anybody’s comfort—gets bullied. Eric doesn’t like turning his back on Joey, but he’s learned that the secret to teenage survival, especially with and absent mother, is to fly under the radar.
But when Joey finally accepts who she is and comes to school wearing lip gloss, leggings, and a silky pink scarf, the bullies make her life such a misery that she decides to end it all. Eric, in turn, must decide who he really is and what side he wants to stand on… though no matter what he chooses, the consequences with be profound for both teens, and they’ll face them for years to come.
Is there a chance the two teens can be friends again, and maybe even more?
Trigger warnings: Transphobia, suicide, parental abandonment.
I'm going to start by saying that I can't comment on how well this book represents trans issues/the trans community and that I am still myself learning more about the different genders and sexuality.
From the synopsis, it's clear that this is in no way an easy, fluffy read, and it features some incredibly heavy and hard to deal with themes.
It actually surprised me that the story was told from Eric's perspective, when, given the synopsis, I expected it to have been from Joey's.
Eric is an extremely complex character. He's living alone following his mother's abandonment, he's trying his hardest stay under the radar so that no one finds out and in his attempts he loses a part of himself, the part that cares for his best friend.
Joey is a truly beautiful soul. She wants to live her own life by being true to who she is, and the view, through Eric's eyes, of her struggles and challenges is more than traumatic.
"Are you the roadkill or the vulture?" I ask. "I'm the one who's getting ripped into pieces."
Personally, I struggled a little with the writing. I'm not sure if it was because of mistakes exactly, or the style itself, I just felt as though it jolted me out of the story a few times. But, saying that, the pace and character development was fantastic!
"Even through my coat, the weight of her hand feels good because I been so lonely in my cold house this week, but the panic in her expression rips the good away."
Whilst there is a lot of pain and torment in this novel, I do think that it's important for young people, especially those who are trans to know that they're not alone, and also for non-trans teens so that they can better understand the challenges faced by their peers and how just being a good friend can make all the difference.
"I flop back on the bed and say the only important thing left. "Just tell Joey I'm sorry."
Through all of the pain and heartache, I feel that at the very heart of this story is a strong message about being true to yourself, standing up for what's right and important, and the real power of friendship.
"But you're the princess of Baker Street."
Click the cover photo above to add the book to your Goodreads TBR and enter below for your chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card! The giveaway is open internationally so everyone can enter and it's hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.
Don't forget to click the banner at the top to follow the rest of the tour and feel free to leave your comments below :)
Rating: 4 STARS!
Series/Standalone: Fake Boyfriend #1
How I got this book: Bought
The reason I rarely go home is three simple words: I’m a liar.
When the pressure to marry my childhood sweetheart became too much, I told her I was gay and then fled to New York like my ass was on fire.
Now, five years later and after a drunken encounter, I find myself invited to her wedding. And I have to bring my boyfriend—the boyfriend who doesn’t exist because I’m straight.
At least, I think I am. Meeting the guy I’m bribing to be my boyfriend for the weekend makes me question everything about myself.
When my sister asks me to pretend to be some straight guy’s boyfriend, my automatic response is to say no. It’s because of guys like him people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m gay.
But Maddox has something I need.
After an injury that cost me my baseball career, I’m trying to leave my playing days behind and focus on being the best sports agent I can be. Forty-eight hours with my sister’s best friend in exchange for a meeting with a possible client. I can do this.
I just wish he wasn’t so hot. Or that he didn’t kiss like he means it.
Wait … why is the straight guy kissing me?
Trigger warnings: Homophobia
I had fairly low expectations about this book before I started reading, but OH MY GOSH THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN!
Let me explain why I had low expectations:
1. Fake Boyfriend - this is not my favourite trope (at all) and I thought that they were pretty over-done before reading this.
2. Pretending to be gay to ditch an ex - as you can see from the synopsis that's a key part of this story (and one that I was put off by).
But, the synopsis held something that sparked an interest in me and I just had to read it.
In the beginning, I was super sceptical. Maddox and Damon are literal strangers when they take off for the weekend to Maddox's hometown - to me, it seemed like they should have known each other a bit first.
But, once the story started and the humour came through, I couldn't get enough.
"It was only a dream. I once dreamed I was the spider from Harry Potter. Doesn't mean I want to f*** a spider."
First impressions of Maddox are that he's a complete ass. He lied to his ex about being gay because he didn't want to be tied down and he's a bit of a player. But, the author slowly reveals more layers to his personality, layers that make his actions more understandable. His funny side starts to come out more as the book progresses as well as revealing his fears and insecurities.
I particularly love that he has to come to a big realisation about himself and his journey of accepting this new truth about who he is was beautiful to see.
Damon on the other hand is a sweetheart from the very beginning. He's bitter about his past career and trying to work towards a future he never wanted. He's also dealing with the fallout from a past relationship that instantly puts him on his guard around Maddox.
I love the way that their relationship builds throughout the book. The chemistry is perfect, the tension builds and the result is some seriously H&H love scenes entwined with truly tender, heartfelt moments.
"I found it - where I'm supposed to be. It's with you."
There is some homophobia in this book, which both Maddox and Damon have to deal with, but it's addressed and fought against in an honest way, and I can't help but admire how selfless and understanding Damon is when dealing with some of the more difficult aspects of this.
Overall, this was a fun, fast-paced, heart-warming m/m romance with plenty of lust filled scenes. I read this in one sitting of a few hours and couldn't put it down.
Welcome to my stop on the Match Me If You Can Blog Tour!
It's my first blog tour of the year and I'm so excited to be back since I haven't done one of these since Halloween.
As always, a huge thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me to take part!
Now, on to the book at hand...
Rating: 3 STARS
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
Mia’s best friend Robyn is known for her matchmaking skills, which is perfect, because homecoming is just around the corner. But Robyn refuses to set Mia up with the guy of her dreams, which forces Mia to take matters into her own hands. She uses Robyn’s matchmaking service to make sure popular Vince Demetrius falls for her.
Vince asks her out, but Mia doesn’t count on Logan, the persistent school newspaper photographer who seems to like her out of the blue. Now she has to choose between Vince – the guy she knows is right for her – and Logan, who insists that she give him a chance. And she needs to make sure Robyn doesn’t find out that Mia’s been matchmaking behind her back.
Mia has two weeks before homecoming. Can she fix the mess she made or will she have to kiss her perfect match goodbye forever?
Romance and YA are two of my favourite things and I was really excited to start reading Match Me If You Can.
First impressions of Mia made me think of a younger Bridget Jones. Mia is a bit clumsy and fumbling, so it made her a more real and relatable character, to begin with.
I noticed on Goodreads that the book is a re-telling of A Midsummer Night's Dream which becomes more apparent towards the middle of the book when certain relationships begin to entwine and clash.
Whilst the plot is super predictable and full of rom-com style clichés, the writing did keep me engaged throughout the story.
My favourite thing about this whole book is Logan, who I love. He's sweet, supportive, funny, flirty and heartfelt, and I can't get enough of his scenes.
I did have a few problems with Mia's character. To me, she seemed quite shallow and a little vapid, she's constantly ignoring the very obvious truth, as well as her own feelings, and I felt as though I was several steps ahead of her throughout the entire book.
The drama also irked me a little as it just seemed a tad over the top and unnecessary but it did fuel the plot and kept the pace moving quickly.
The romance was very sweet but I don't want to go into too much detail and ruin the particulars for you, so all I'll say is that this book is a very light, fun and fluffy read, perfect for fans of quick-paced teen rom-coms.
Click the cover photo above to add the book to your Goodreads TBR and enter below for your chance to win a print copy of Match Me If You Can. The giveaway is open to US/CAN only and is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.
Don't forget to click the banner at the top to follow the rest of the tour and feel free to leave your comments below :)
If you come here often, you'll know that I'm slowly, and I mean very slowly, working my way through the award/tags that I was nominated for last year.
So, this month, I'm finally getting around to my Liebster Award post which I was nominated for in July 2018 (*facepalm*) by the very lovely Noly @ The Artsy Reader! Thanks Noly 😄
Let's get down to the rules (which I admittedly copied from Noly's post):
Here are Noly's questions for me:
1. What is your favorite time of year?
Those two weeks between autumn and winter where it's not too hot and not too cold. It's the perfect time for both reading outside and drinking hot chocolate.
2. If you didn’t have to worry about calories and health, which one food would you eat for the rest of your life?
Ice cream ...or bacon.
3. If you would write a book, which genre would it be?
I am writing a book lol but this is a tough question since I'm struggling to define the genre. The best way that I can describe it right now is a paranormal romance combined murder mystery, with some humour thrown in along the way.
4. What’s your favorite time of day to read?
I'd read all day if I could but it's usually in the evening after work.
5. What super power would you love to have?
The power to stop time. Imagine how much more you could get done!?!
6. What is the last book you finished but didn’t like?
Professor's Kiss - way too many issues for me in this one.
7. What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2018?
This is a tricky one as there were sooo many amazing books I read last year but two that really stood out were Nevernight by Jay Kristoff and The Bones Beneath My Skin by TJ Klune.
8. What is one book that surprised you (because you didn’t expect it to be so good)?
The Lightning Struck Heart by TJ Klune - I didn't expect it to be so hilarious!
9. Which celebrity would you most like to meet and why?
I'm not much of a celebrity nut and my mind has gone completely blank on this one...not a clue!
10. What place would you love to visit next?
I have my heart set on visiting Venice. Aside from a trip to Disney Land Paris when I was 11, I've never been out of the UK and I'd love to travel more.
11. What’s your most embarrassing childhood memory (only tell if you’re comfortable with sharing it)?
I have so many. I've always been a complete klutz so my life was basically a series of small disasters. I was also EXTREMELY OBSESSIVE and looking back, a pretty big liar when I was a child and so, the most embarrassing was probably telling everyone at school that I was second in line to play Hermione Granger in Harry Potter (and that I owned an Owl) 😂
After that embarrassing recap, let's move onto my 11 questions:
1. If you had to choose just one book to read for the rest of your life, which would it be?
2. What book are you most looking forward to in 2019?
3. What's the first book you remember reading?
4. When you're feeling low, what book is guaranteed to pick you up?
5. Do you listen to music whilst reading?
6. What's your favourite reading snack?
7. Bookmarks or dog-ears?
8. What's your favourite book-to-film adaptation?
9. Which book character do you relate to the most?
10. If you could pick any author's brain, who would you choose?
11. What standalone book do you wish had a sequel?
Phew! Now, let's move onto my eleven nominations:
1. Asha @ A Cat, A Book, and A Cup of Tea
2. Manon @ Cafe Manon
3. Nelo @ Booked Unicorn
4. Kayla @ A Book A Day
5. Amy @ The Little Booknerds in the Corner
6. Kelsey @ There's Something About KM
7. Luana @ Book Storm
9. Julie @ That Bookish Princess
10. Princess of Pages
11. Beth @ BooksNest
There we have it! 11 questions, 11 answers and 11 nominations. Feel free to take part if you want to, I'd love to read your answers!
Until next time x
Rating: 3.5/4 STARS
Series/Standalone: At First Sight #1
How I got this book: Bought via Audible
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Paul Auster doesn't. Paul doesn't believe in much at all. He’s thirty, slightly overweight, and his best features are his acerbic wit and the color commentary he provides as life passes him by. His closest friends are a two-legged dog named Wheels and a quasibipolar drag queen named Helena Handbasket. He works a dead-end job in a soul-sucking cubicle, and if his grandmother's homophobic parrot insults him one more time, Paul is going to wring its stupid neck.
Enter Vince Taylor.
Vince is everything Paul isn’t: sexy, confident, and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. And for some reason, Vince pursues Paul relentlessly. Vince must be messing with him, because there is no way Vince could want someone like Paul.
But when Paul hits Vince with his car—in a completely unintentional if-he-died-it'd-only-be-manslaughter kind of way—he's forced to see Vince in a whole new light. The only thing stopping Paul from believing in Vince is himself—and that is one obstacle Paul can’t quite seem to overcome. But when tragedy strikes Vince's family, Paul must put aside any notions he has about himself and stand next to the man who thinks he's perfect the way he is.
Trigger Warnings: Loss/grief and some homophobia.
I listened to an excerpt of this book on Audible and instantly fell in love with Michael Lesley's narration, in particular, his voices for Paul, Vince and Helena.
Over the past few months, I've fallen head-over-heels for TJ's work. His characters are fantastic - I love Paul's self-deprecating humour, Vince's sweet, persistent nature and Helena's fierce, no-nonsense attitude.
Tell Me It's Real starts off very lighthearted and funny but grows into an emotional, touching story with an unexpected element of tragedy and grief.
Paul's family are perfect! They're hilarious, accepting and truly loving whilst Vince's father is the complete opposite.
Paul and Vince's relationship is swift but no less beautiful and meaningful.
"Take that homophobes!"
TJ's immersive writing style and Michael Lesley's wonderful narration thrust me into this story and easily brought to the life realistic and relatable (even if they are a bit ridiculous and OTT at times) characters.
This is the sixth book that I've read by TJ Klune and it's completely unlike any of the others. I can't seem to get enough of his books right now and I love that he writes across so many different genres. Some of his characters share similarities i.e. Sam (Tales from Verania) reminds me a lot of Paul (Tell Me It's Real) whilst Helena (Tell Me It's Real) is very reminiscent of Gary (Tales from Verania) and yet they surprise me, make me laugh, and give me the feels each time I pick up a new book!
So, if you're in the mood for a very sweet, contemporary m/m romance that guarantees that you'll be laughing out loud alongside moments of sadness and heartache, 'Tell Me It's Real' is the book for you!
Who's excited for some amazing new books this year?
I certainly am! There are so many books I'm looking forward to reading this year, so to kick the year off to a great start, I wanted to share with you the books that are currently on my ARC shelf.
I'll be taking part in blog tours with Xpresso Book Tours for both of these books so be sure to keep an eye out for those as there's almost always a giveaway involved!
Just click on an image to add the book to your TBR:
I can't wait to start reading these two books! Check back on the 11th and 23rd January for the two blog tours or subscribe to the blog (top right) to never miss a post!
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Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, aspiring writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
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