Welcome to my stop on the All Boy blog tour.
Since reading The Princess of Baker Street by Mia Kerick last year, I've been looking forward to reading her next release and I'm so excited to be sharing this review with you!
A very big thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me to review the book and participate in the tour.
Keep reading to check out the synopsis, my review and for your chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card (open internationally!)
Rating: 4 STARS
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
Seventeen-year-old Callie Canter knows all about screwing up—and being screwed over. After her so-called boyfriend publicly humiliated her senior year, taking a fifth year of high school at Beaufort Hills Academy is her second chance to leave behind a painful past. But her need for social acceptance follows, and going along with the in-crowd is the difference between survival and becoming a target. Staying off the radar is top priority. So, falling for an outsider is the last thing on Callie’s “to-do” list. Too bad her heart didn’t get the memo.
With his strict, religious upbringing and former identity far away in Florida, Jayden Morrissey can finally be true to himself at Beaufort Hills Academy. But life as a trans man means keeping secrets, and keeping secrets means not getting too close to anyone. If he can just get through his fifth year unnoticed, maybe a future living as the person he was born to be is possible. Yet love is love, and when you fall hard enough, intentions crumble, plans detour, and secrets are revealed.
From multi-award-winning author Mia Kerick, comes a powerful, timely, and life-changing novel, which follows two teenagers nursing broken hearts and seeking acceptance, and who together realize running away isn’t always the answer.
TW: Transphobia, sexual abuse, humiliation, mental health, bullying
I have to start by saying that (as you can see from the trigger warnings above) Mia Kerick has written a book that is full of pain and that was very difficult to read - but that's by no means a bad thing. Now, I'm not the best person to say whether this book dealt with the subject matter in the ‘right’ way necessarily but it was a powerful and enlightening read.
One of the reasons I read so many different genres is to find as many different stories and voices as possible and All Boy does not disappoint.
I'd braced myself somewhat for this book after reading The Princess of Baker Street earlier this year but it's still not easy to digest what the characters have to face and overcome.
For the most part, I found Callie’s character really difficult to bear, I almost hated her at times and some of that was due to seeing parts of myself reflected in her (self-hatred is anything but a breeze) but also at her ignorance and self-destructive nature but (without giving too much away) her development arc is something to be admired.
Jayden is a stunning character with so much strength and heart and I would have preferred to read more chapters from his POV. It's Jayden who broke my heart in this book, the truth and reality of his story and his pain bleeding from the pages was almost unbearable at times and my heart ached for him.
Callie and Jayden’s stories, both together and as individuals, are very compelling to read, everything they have to face and overcome and the story as a whole gives a very powerful insight into life as a trans man.
At times I felt that some of the dialogue was a bit too scripted, too formal and not realistic for the age group but the pacing of the story was good and the themes tackled well, at least in my opinion.
One of the shining characters for me in this book was Lauren who's almost the personification of acceptance. She delivers some beautiful truths to Callie and is a great friend and ally.
Overall, this was a really powerful and painful read that deals with sensitive topics and delivers important messages of self-acceptance, doing what's right and above all, that love is love.
Click the cover photo above to add the book to your Goodreads TBR and enter below for your chance to win a $15 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 :)
And finally, for something a little different, why not check out the book trailer below:
Welcome to my stop on the Within Ash and Stardust book tour. This is the third book in the Xenith Trilogy by Chani Lynn Feener.
Huge thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for the review copy and for including My Endless Shelf in the blog tour!
Before I get into the full review, if you want to avoid spoilers and haven't read the first two books in the series, feel free to check those out at the following links - Book 1: Amid Stars and Darkness and Book 2: Between Frost and Fury.
Rating: 4 STARS
Series/Standalone: The Xenith Trilogy #3
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
Having gone from kidnapped faux princess to the legitimate heir to an intergalactic throne, an impulsive, sarcastic teen must take charge of her own destiny in this epic YA novel.
On Earth, Delaney is a normal teenager who recently graduated high school with a fantastic best friend and a loving boyfriend.
But Delaney isn’t on Earth. She’s on Xenith, a war-torn planet half a galaxy away. Originally mistaken for an alien princess, Delaney has gone from kidnapped imposter to the recognized heir to an alien throne. Oh, and she’s engaged to the prince of an enemy nation whose ruthless father is on the warpath.
Torn between two planets, two fates, and two loves, Delaney is finally ready to choose her own destiny in Within Ash and Stardust, the stunning conclusion to Chani Lynn Feener’s Xenith Trilogy.
I can't believe it's finally here! The last instalment of a series that I fell in love with back in 2017 and have been desperately waiting for since the cliffhanger that left me absolutely reeling at the end of book two - honestly it was one of the most heart-wrenching cliffhangers ever and gave me ALL THE FEELS!!
I love this author's writing style, I've read a lot of her other books and her writing style is so easy to fall into, her characters are relatable and likeable and her world building is fantastic. She does seem to enjoy writing love triangles and for the most part, I do enjoy the complicated relationships.
I've been following the journey of Delaney from out-of-place Earth girl to the heir of an alien planet with rapture. Delaney is completely relatable, in book one she was frightened, in book two she was angry and in book three she's determined to make her own choices and forge her own path.
Some parts of the plot in this book did give me moments of deja-vu, especially in terms of Delaney being put into corners she can't get out of but there were plenty of new elements too with new character revelations, plot twists and more alien culture.
I did have a pretty big problem with Ruckus in this book. If you've read my other reviews, you'll know that I've been Team Trystan from book 1, so it's no shock that Ruckus isn't my favourite character. Trystan is a big, sullen sweetheart with a cheeky side that's just irresistible. Ruckus was a solid character for me in book 1, who I did like, but who, in book 2, was so clearly not the one for Delaney. Whilst reading Within Ash and Stardust I felt as though Ruckus's character just disappeared in terms of depth, he was pretty pathetic, trailing after Delaney like a puppy dog and with seemingly no personality at all. I mean, at one point the book reads:
"He didn't want to be an Ander anymore, he realised with a start. He just wanted to be Ruckus Wux. Boyfriend of Delaney Grace."
Which is pretty pathetic really, especially for someone who in the first book was portrayed as a tough-as-nails soldier.
The romance in this book is also a little off compared to the last book, where things between Trystan and Delaney had started to heat up despite the frigid ending. In this book, Delaney is all over the place trying to choose between Ruckus and Trystan (when the choice was clear from the start!) and it felt a little awkward, with the ending seeming a little too clean-cut. It had lost some of the sizzle that I'd enjoyed in Between Frost and Fury.
However, there is plenty of action in this book and the pace is great, I didn't want to put the book down at all. There's also more culture and world-building, especially in terms of the Dust Market which is both strange and wonderful.
I like that Delaney finally manages to break free of her chains in this book, to some extent, and can make her own choices and do what she believes is right instead of what's already been decided for her.
Overall, this was a nice end to what I feel is a very underrated YA series and one that opened the gates to sci-fi for me, but with the romance toned down, it felt as though it was suddenly aimed at a slightly younger audience.
My favourite book of the series has to be Between Frost and Fury, with Amid Stars and Darkness coming in at a close second.
I've truly enjoyed following Delaney's journey, exploring these new worlds, meeting interesting new characters and falling in love with Trystan's sweet, cinnamon centre along the way.
I can't wait to see what this author does next!
As always, you can add the book to your Goodreads TBR by clicking on the book cover above and feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below!
To win a print copy of Within Ash and Stardust enter the giveaway below (US/CAN only).
Rating: 5 STARS!!
Genre: LGBT/YA/Graphic Novel
Series/Standalone: Heartstopper #2
How I got this book: Bought
Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the second volume of HEARTSTOPPER, for fans of The Art of Being Normal, Holly Bourne and Love, Simon.
Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie's gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn't.
But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family ... and himself.
Heartstopper is about friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie's lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.
This is the second volume of Heartstopper, with more to come.
If you haven't read Heartstopper Volume One yet, you can catch my review here.
This is going to be one of those short and sweet reviews because, besides saying how much I truly love this graphic novel, I'm not sure how else to convince you all to read it!
I thought that Heartstopper Volume One was good, but this is even better. So many more cute, mushy feelings. As always Alice Oseman's illustrations are beautiful, the story is so sweet and Charlie and Nick are both likeable and compelling.
Alice also does a fantastic job of making you care about the supporting characters and their stories and we're treated to a fantastic snippet from another story at the end of this book.
The storytelling and voices are relatable and current, making the whole thing speed by far too quickly! I can't wait until I have every volume and can read through from start to finish!
If you're looking for queer, YA romance with tons of inclusivity and rep that'll make you feel warm and gooey on the inside, you need Heartstopper in your life.
Pride Month might be over now, but I will never stop reading all of the amazing LGBT+ books that keep on coming!
So, whilst this is my pride month book wrap-up you can still, as always, expect to see plenty of LGBT+ content on my blog.
I'm also thinking of posting reviews of the LGBT+ children's books that I keep buying for my offspring, so if you'd like to read those and hear more about our finds, just let me know in the comments!
Right, onto the wrap-up. For those of you who haven't joined me for one of these in the past, this is a post where I quickly list and mini-review the books I read this month. It's also one of the only places you'll see me mention any books that I reviewed below 3 stars or DNF.
Please note that any trigger warnings are in my full reviews so do feel free to check those out.
Here goes, (you can click on the title to see the full review, if there is one, or to visit GoodReads) I read 15 books this month (somehow!) so this might be a long one:
Mud & Lace (Rainbow Place Book 4) by Jay Northcote - In my attempt to find more own-voices books for Pride Month, I stumbled across this whilst browsing Amazon. Featuring a gender fluid protagonist and written by a trans author, I was intrigued, especially as the main character moonlights as a drag queen. The relationship pairing was unique, as was the kink, which worked. I also loved that this was a British story and I do like the author's writing style and pace, it's certainly not the first book I've read by Jay that had me chuckling aloud.
How to Howl at the Moon by Eli Easton - I was drawn to this one because it sounded a little like Wolfsong by TJ Klune, which is a truly stunning book. How to Howl at the Moon is a shifter book with a bit of an unexpected twist and truthfully, one that felt a little cringe-worthy at times but there were plenty of heartfelt moments and I adored the two main characters.
Within Ash and Stardust by Chani Lynn Feener - This wasn't a Pride Month read but it's a book that I read as part of a blog tour, so the full review for this is coming later this month. I won't give much away except to say that I love this trilogy and so I was interested to finally see how it came to an end.
Stuck With You by Jay Northcote - not too sure why I decided to read a Christmas novel in the middle of June, but hey, the weather in the UK was so utterly rubbish at the start of the month that it may as well have been the middle of winter. Sadly, this book just didn't do it for me. It started off really well with an enemies-to-lovers romance that was fun but then it took a turn for the far too predictable and whilst I did read it to the end, I found myself skipping pages just to get it over with.
Light Years by Kass Morgan - I really hadn't expected to love this book as much as I did. Think Hunger Games/Divergent but in space. It has a fantastic 4-way split narrative with a really great plot, distinct and diverse characters and LGBT+ rep! It was my first 4-star+ read of the month and I'm really excited for the sequel.
Bite Me by Beth Bolden - I'm not sure what went wrong with this book. I was enjoying it at first, it was funny, it's an enemies-to-lovers style trope (which I love) but then it fizzled out. It got so predictable and boring that I just couldn't read another word. Maybe it was me and my mindset at the time but I just didn't feel any chemistry in this book.
Blind Beauty by K.M. Peyton - This wasn't a Pride Month read but it was a book I loved as a teenager that I just desperately wanted to re-read. It's such a powerful book full of hope, determination and pain and it wrecked my emotions. It's one of the few books I've read that felt as though I was reading it for the first time all over again.
Heartstopper Vol:One by Alice Oseman - I read two graphic novels this month which is a complete first for me as I've never really read any before. Heartstopper was a re-read as I'd forgotten to review it last time. I adore this boy meets boy love story, the characters are the absolute sweetest, the art is gorgeous and the storyline is perfectly mushy. I cannot wait for Volume Two to come out next week!! I'm so excited!!
Fence Vol 1-3 by C.S. Pacat - Sadly, I didn't really enjoy this graphic novel. 1.) It didn't have as much LGBT+ rep as I'd hoped for and 2.) The plot was pretty limited, in that I felt there was hardly any. So, suffice it to say, this one just wasn't for me.
Shrewd Angel by Anyta Sunday - Gah! I LOVED THIS! I don't care that it's a Christmas novel, it was so so so so good! So much cuteness, witty banter and adorable, clueless dorks. Anyta Sunday writes the most amazing slow-burn romance!
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson - I love it when a book that isn't tagged as LGBT+ turns out to have some rep, especially when that rep is your own!! Readers of all ages with love this story - it's full of magic, deception, danger, demons and above all, books.
The Black Mage by Daniel Barnes - I struggled with this graphic novel. I almost didn't feel qualified to read it. It uses magic and adventure to clearly illustrate racism in a way that's completely uncomfortable to read, which is exactly the point. It was a difficult one to digest.
Alex in Wonderland by Simon James Green - My favourite book of the year so far and my favourite pride month read, Alex in Wonderland deserved a spot on its own. This wonderful book made me laugh right from the very beginning. Alex is the perfect character - so awkward, romantic and downright hopeless at times. This book was such a pleasure to read and I can't wait to see what the author does next!
And that's it!
What did you read during Pride Month? Let me know your recommendations in the comments below and feel free to chat about any of the books above too!
Until next time x
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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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