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:
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.
Rating: 5 STARS!!
How I got this book: Bought
In the town of Newsands, painfully shy Alex is abandoned by his two best friends for the summer. But he unexpectedly lands a part-time job at Wonderland, a run-down amusement arcade on the seafront, where he gets to know the other teen misfits who work there. Alex starts to come out of his shell, and even starts to develop feelings for co-worker Ben... who, as Alex's bad luck would have it, has a girlfriend.
Then as debtors close in on Wonderland and mysterious, threatening notes start to appear, Alex and his new friends take it on themselves to save their declining employer. But, like everything in Wonderland, nothing is quite what it seems...
This might be my absolute favourite book of the year so far and it's easily my top Pride Month read!
I was in a bit of a funk when I picked up this book, but Simon James Green (and Alex) managed to flip my bad mood on its head.
This book is a riot, I started laughing on the very first page and I don't think I stopped until long after I closed the book.
Alex, like Noah before him (if you haven't read Simon's debut novel Noah Can't Even, you can find it on Goodreads here!) I adored Noah, but I LOVED Alex in Wonderland!
Alex is so instantly relatable with his shy awkwardness and his extremely bad luck that was so familiar it was unsettling.
I love the English seaside setting, reading about the pier, the mini doughnuts and, of course, Wonderland itself made me crave the seaside so much (I haven't been for years) that it inspired me to take my family to New Brighton Beach last weekend so that my four-year-old could experience the joys of playing in the ocean, sand between your toes and the intoxicating thrill of the 2p machines!
Alex in Wonderland is so many things; a coming of age story, a first-love story, a friendship story and a mystery. It also tackles sexual identity and diverse representation through Alex, Efia and Ben and divorce through Alex's family in a way that keeps the pace moving and the story so much fun to read.
Simon James Green writes with a fantastically comedic, authentic voice and brings Alex's character tripping off the pages. I also really enjoyed the other characters in this book; Alex's step-mum (who I loved to hate), Lemon Boy (the second pizza restaurant scene had me shaking with laughter), Ben (and his dimples), Efia (and her meddling) and Maggie (who's sarcastic and crazy but caring at heart).
Without giving too much away, the only part of this book that I didn't like too much was the ending, Alex deserved to be treated better, much better!
Overall though, this was the perfect summer read. It's light, incredibly funny, relatable and so awkwardly-romantic you'll be biting back a grin the entire way through!
Now, I'll just be sitting her not-so-patiently waiting to see what awkward, adorable muppet of a character Simon James Green blesses us with next.
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
Series/Standalone: The Christmas Angel #6 (Can be read as a standalone).
How I got this book: Bought
Pax Polo is the swashbuckling guitarist for Serenity Free.
Correction: Was the swashbuckling guitarist for Serenity Free.
Now he sports a black eye and his bros have kicked him out of their band—three weeks before Christmas. It’s an unfamiliar kick to his over-inflated ego, but . . . whatever.
Thanks to some stellar eavesdropping, an unexpected angel ornament, and a bribe to open for his favorite band ever, Pax will weasel his way back into his mates’ good graces.
All he has to do is friend Clifford, the neighborhood man-shrew, for the summer. Distract him a bit so Clifford’s younger sister can sneak around.
It sounds like a piece of beginners Beethoven. Jolly good fun.
Because, Pax totally knows how to friend people. He has heaps of friends. This shrew’s no match for his shrewd ways. Or is he?
TW: Grief and homophobia.
EEEK! This book has me all mushy and gooey just thinking about it (even though I finished it days ago!)
It might be the middle of summer here in the UK (not that you could tell from the awful weather) but this Australian Christmas romance has melted me like chocolate by the fire.
You know one of those books where you bite your lip almost the entire way through, just to contain the big goofy grin that's desperate to break out? Well, this is one of the best.
Anyta Sunday knocks slow-burn romance out of the park each and every time with her friends-to-lovers romances and I just can't get enough of her characters!!
This book is also hilarious, from the back and forth banter, the scheming teenagers, and those perfect Clifford the Big Red Dog jokes.
Clifford and Pax are the perfect pairing, they have amazing chemistry, great dialogue and are so stupidly cute. Watching as Pax tries to bring chaos into Cliff's well-organised life was so much fun!
Cliff cast his gaze heavenward. “Really? This is the guy I . . .?” Pax leaned against the doorframe and arched a cocky brow. “The guy you what?”
Anyta has this amazing talent of being able to bring the most loveable idiots to life with a story that's fairly drama free but that keeps you wanting more.
Throw into the mix the varied supporting cast (and sub-plots) and this was a book I could not put down. The trio of love-struck teens were great fun to read about, especially Luca who's just the cutest little cinnamon bun of a character - I wish I had his cheery outlook on life.
“English is my third language. Italian, my second. Emotion, my first.”
“That is easily the corniest line you’ve said.”
There are some heavier topics in this book (see trigger warnings above) that both characters have to face but they're dealt with well and in a manner that doesn't detract from the warm feeling you get from reading this book as a whole.
What I love about this book also is that it's a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew (with some great 10 Things I Hate About You references). It works really, really well!
Shrewd Angel is part of a collection of Christmas romances called 'Christmas Angel' in which an angel figurine passes through the generations and weaves its magic. However, each story can be read as a standalone. I think I'll try Eli Easton's contribution to the collection next.
So, if you're in the mood for a toe-curling, grin-inducing m/m romance featuring two surprisingly mature leads who have a great deal of fun stepping on each other's toes, Shrewd Angel is the book for you.
Rating: 2.5 STARS
Genre: YA/LGBT/Graphic Novel
How I got this book: Bought
Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Cox is an outsider to the competitive fencing world. Filled with raw talent but lacking proper training, he signs up for a competition that puts him head-to-head with fencing prodigy Seiji Katayama...and on the road to the elite all-boys school Kings Row. A chance at a real team and a place to belong awaits him—if he can make the cut
I wasn't sure what to expect from this, but after loving Heartstopper by Alice Oseman so damn much I just wanted to sink my teeth into another LGBT comic and considering this series has amazing reviews and the synopsis sounded great, I decided to buy all three volumes and dig in.
Before I start, I should say that the only other book I've read by this author I did not like at all. I tried to read The Captive Prince but truthfully, and I don't say this a lot, I couldn't stand it. However, I did try my best to approach this with fresh eyes and an open mind, which I think I did, helped along by the fact that Fence is a graphic novel and so completely different than The Captive Prince.
To begin with, I love the graphics. The illustrator (Johanna the Mad) did a truly fantastic job and honestly, the stars I've given above aren't a reflection on the visuals but on the story itself.
The thing is, I started by buying issue one and read it in around 15 minutes. I was intrigued, I wanted more. So, I bought the next issue. Again, I read it in around 15 minutes and not a lot happened but I wanted more, I wanted more from the characters, more relationships, more dialogue, more interaction.
This went on for 12 issues until I reached the end and sighed in frustration as I realised that I'd bought 12 issues of a story that I personally felt went absolutely nowhere.
The thing is, all the ingredients are there - interesting characters, conflict, fantastic visuals and the desire to keep reading. The huge problem for me was that the plot was solely focused on the fencing competition, to the detriment of everything else. There was no relationship exploration, no further character development, a couple of very, very minimal subplots that had the potential to go much further and that was it.
I honestly got to the end and asked myself, "Where's the rest? What have I missed?" because I just felt that there should have been more.
The potential was there, I just couldn't connect with the minimal material.
But hey, I'm in the minority here, the reviews for all 12 issues of Fence are 4+ stars across the board on Goodreads and, as I mentioned in my last post, I'm new to graphic novels, they aren't something I've really explored before, so maybe this is just something that I don't get.
All I can say is that, for me, and I can't help comparing this to Heartstopper which I loved so much, it just didn't float my boat.
What about you? Have you read Fence?
If you have recommendations for other graphic novels you think I might like, please do let me know in the comments!
Rating: 5 STARS!
Genre: LGBT/YA/Graphic Novel
Series/Standalone: Heartstopper #1
How I got this book: Bought
Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn't been too great, but at least he's not being bullied anymore, and he's sort of got a boyfriend, even if he's kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.
Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He's heard a little about Charlie - the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months - but he's never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.
They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn't think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner...
TW: Homophobia, mental health and manipulation.
1. I honestly thought I'd already written the review for this but I guess not because I can't find it anywhere. Not that I'm complaining too hard as it gave me the perfect excuse to re-read this again for pride month.
2. This is the only graphic novel I've read that I actually loved and couldn't put down. I read this in around an hour.
So, onto the review.
Heartstopper started life as a web comic and I did attempt to read it on the website but I found the format a little too distracting so, when I found out that a book was coming I couldn't get hold of it fast enough.
Nick and Charlie attend an all-boys British Grammar School which sort of reminds me of my own high-school except that mine was co-ed and nowhere near as posh!
Charlie is 14 and Nick is 16 and their story is most definitely a super-cute YA.
What's amazing about this graphic novel, aside from the gorgeous art and realistic British dialogue is that it's so inclusive. It has gay, lesbian and bisexual (whoop whoop!) rep. It's racially diverse and has mental health rep.
I'm not sure that I've ever read anything quite so instantly adorable as the story of Charlie and Nick and in volume one it's lovely to see their friendship begin blossom and effect how they each deal with their own demons.
Pictures really are worth a thousand words, and Alice's are worth even more. After just a few scenes, I wanted to wrap Charlie and Nick in a giant hug, punch Ben in his stupid face and be best friends with Tori and Tara.
I've pre-ordered Volume Two which comes out next month and I can't wait to get it because the ending of Volume One is too sad and I need the infectious happiness that bursts from the earlier pages.
Charlie and Nick are precious and if you want a reason to smile today, go grab this book and fall in love.
What about you? Have you read Heartstopper by Alice Oseman?
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
Series/Standalone: Light Years #1
How I got this book: Received in May 2018 'Hidden Talents' Illumicrate Box
Reeling from the latest attack by a mysterious enemy, the Quatra Fleet Academy is finally admitting students from every planet in the solar system after centuries of exclusivity.
Hotshot pilot Vesper, an ambitious Tridian citizen, dreams of becoming a captain - but when she loses her spot to a brilliant, wisecracking boy from the wrong side of the asteroid belt, it makes her question everything she thought she knew. Growing up on the toxic planet Deva, Cormak will take any chance he can get to escape his dead-end life and join the Academy - even if he has to steal someone's identity to do it. Arran was always considered an outsider on icy Chetire, always dreaming of something more than a life working in the mines. Now an incoming cadet, Arran is looking for a place to belong - he just never thought that place would be in the arms of a Tridian boy. And Orelia is hiding a dark secret - she's infiltrated the Academy to complete a mission, one that threatens the security of everyone there. But if anyone finds out who she really is, it'll be her life on the line.
These cadets will have to put their differences aside and become a team to defend their world from a cunning enemy - but the danger might be lurking closer to home than they think...
This book took me entirely by surprise - I just did not expect to love it as much as I did!
I received an ARC copy of Light Years as part of the Illumicrate May 2018 'Hidden Talents' book box subscription - gosh I miss book boxes so much (damn you financial responsibilities!!) - and had intended to read it immediately, but I'm sort of glad that I left it for over a year because now I don't have to wait as long for book two (out October 2019) which is already too long because this book has a really, really good cliffhanger that I both did and didn't see coming and I need to find out what happens next.
As is the never-ending circle of pain you get when starting a new series! You'd think I'd be used to it by now...
Anyway, back to the book. It features a 4-way split narrative which at first, I couldn't get enough of because the pace was fantastic, very quick (I finished the book in under two days) and the characters were great. They were each distinct enough that I knew who's chapter it was without looking at the name.
However, as the story became a little more complex, the split narrative and fast pace did grate a little as some things that I felt deserved more time just flew past and also, some of the relationships and character developments seem to happen really quickly because the book would go three chapters between each character's viewpoint, but overall, it was a very immersive read and I still enjoyed the narrative style.
Light Years gave me massive Divergent/Hunger Games/Illuminae vibes the whole way through, which was great. It also has LGBT representation (PRIDE MONTH Y'ALL) and whilst I would have preferred a little more build-up, what I love in particular about the LGBT rep is that it's not a 'big issue', there's no drama because the two characters in question are queer, it's just accepted. #loveislove
This book also contains a racially diverse set of characters, although, without the cover, you wouldn't really know it, as the author sort of leaves the visualising of the characters to the reader. The book does tackle racism, but it's more specifically targeted to where a person is from (i.e. their home planet) than their appearance.
I loved the main plot and the intertwining sub-plots in this book. The whole journey from the character's various planets and through their journey was very vivid and detailed without being overbearingly so.
The characters were all unique with their own backgrounds, challenges, inner demons and abilities. They clash and they gel at different times which made for really interesting relationships both platonic and romantic.
The writing was addictive, it's one of those glorious books that I just couldn't tear myself away from and as I've mentioned twice already, the cliffhanger was great, it was both predictable and unpredictable simply because of the timing. Just when you think everything's going to work out(ish), bam! Everything changes and now I have no idea what to expect, so I'll just be anxiously counting down until book two is released later this year!
Have you read Light Years? Let me know what you thought in the comments!
Rating: 3.5 STARS
Series/Standalone: Soulbound #1
How I got this book: Bought
When the gods come calling, you don’t get to say no.
Patrick Collins is three years into a career as a special agent for the Supernatural Operations Agency when the gods come calling to collect a soul debt he owes them. An immortal has gone missing in New York City and bodies are showing up in the wake of demon-led ritual killings that Patrick recognizes all too easily from his nightmares.
Unable to walk away, Patrick finds himself once again facing off against mercenary magic users belonging to the Dominion Sect. Standing his ground alone has never been a winning option in Patrick’s experience, but it’s been years since he’s had a partner he could trust.
Looking for allies in all the wrong places, Patrick discovers the Dominion Sect’s next target is the same werewolf the Fates themselves have thrown into his path. Patrick has been inexplicably attracted to the man from their first meeting, but desire has no place in war. That doesn’t stop Patrick from wanting what he shouldn’t have. Jonothon de Vere is gorgeous, dangerous, and nothing but trouble—to the case, to the fight against every hell, and ultimately, to Patrick’s heart and soul.
In the end, all debts must be paid, and Patrick can only do what he does best—cheat death.
Okay so lately, I'm starting to wonder if the problem is less with what I'm reading and more with me because I'm starting these books and enjoying them and then somewhere along the line, something stops connecting.
I mean, the premise of this book sounds amazing - it's why I chose to read it and I loved the main character. Patrick is gritty, his past is dark and painful and yet he's struggled to keep going, against really sh***y odds.
I loved this book for quite a while, the characters are varied, unique and fun. There are vampires, werewolves, mages, witches, demons, Greek gods and so much danger and action that I couldn't get enough. Hell, here was my tweet about the book when I was around 30-50% of the way through it:
Really enjoying my current read, I'd love to see a movie of this book, lots of action, demons, gods and other fun stuff!
Jono was a slightly less interesting character with an interesting 'secret' but even though I did feel that their relationship was a little too forced and somewhat rushed, I enjoyed the development.
So, what went wrong? The truth is, I don't really know and I know from the Goodreads reviews that I'm in the minority here with my lower than 4-star review. I guess at one point I started to notice the descriptive writing a little too much and it sort of rubbed me up the wrong way at how certain (completely insignificant things) were overly described.
As mentioned above, I also felt that the relationship was a little forced but then that's sort of part of the plot so maybe it was intentional, either way, it just didn't work that well for me personally (I guess I'm more of a slow burn kinda gal than insta lust).
I loved the action but felt that it was dampened a little in parts by too much description.
Overall, I really liked the characters, enjoyed the action and all of the paranormal elements whilst the pace and relationship let it down for me.
I probably won't continue with this particular series but never say never.
What do you think? Have you read A Ferry of Bones & Gold, do you agree or disagree with my review? I'd love to know your opinion in the comments below!
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
How I got this book: Bought via Audible
It’s not easy for a young gay artist like Jordan Carson to grow up in Jefferson, Wisconsin, where all anyone seems to care about in middle school and high school are the sports teams. But Jordan was lucky. He met Owen Nelson in the second grade, and they’ve been BFFs ever since. Owen is a big, beautiful blond and their school’s champion wrestler. No one messes with Owen, or with anyone close to him, and he bucks popular opinion by keeping Jordan as his wingman even after Jordan comes out at school.
Their friendship survives, but Jordan’s worst enemy may be himself: he can’t seem to help the fact that he is head-over-heels in love with a hopeless case—his straight friend, Owen. Owen won’t let anything take Jordan’s friendship away, but he never counted on Jordan running off to find a life of his own. Owen will have to face the nature of their relationship if he’s to win Jordan back.
TW: Homophobia, suicide, consent.
I just want to start by saying how much I LOVED the narrator! Eli Easton is a fantastic author and Tristan Wright truly bought this book to life and injected so much emotion that I could not put it down and ended up starting the book before bed and finishing it at around 1:30am (oops!)
I love Jordan (Jordi) - he is so, so sweet and relatable and adorable and I just felt my heart breaking for him throughout the entire book.
Owen is a pure soul and so incredibly naive that I often found myself wishing I could wake him to the truth.
The friendship between these characters is just beautiful, made even more so by the pain and turmoil they each face. Eli Easton writes drama, tragedy and pain incredibly well, none more so (for me at least) than in Boy Shattered but there are sections of this book that are equally moving and heart wrenching.
There was so much drama, emotion, humour and friendship in this book and it was just fantastic!
Rating: 4 STARS
How I got this book: Read for free on Wattpad.com
They were naturally disposed to hate each other. And for a while, they did.
Bite Me is a YA, m/m paranormal romance that's currently available for free on Wattpad.com (just click the image to read!)
If you read my last blog post, you'll know that I've been spending a fair amount of my time discovering Wattpad. For those of you that don't know, Wattpad is a social storytelling community made up of readers and writers. Writers post stories for free on Wattpad for anyone to enjoy, vote and comment on - and it's completely free to join!
Bite Me is the first story that I've read via Wattpad and I truly enjoyed it!
It's full of vampires, werewolves, teen angst, insta-hate and an enemies-to-lovers style slow-burn romance that's packed to the brim with drama and lust.
There were a few problematic things about the book in terms of editing (i.e spelling and grammar and a couple of sections that were a little confusing) and there was a fairly big issue with the way that one character described another (that a lot of readers picked up) so (as is the beauty of Wattpad's edit functionality), I'm hoping the author will change this in future.
Other than that, I truly enjoyed my first Wattpad read. There were moments of humour, tension and plenty of chemistry between the two main characters.
I enjoyed the author's new take on Vampires even though I felt that the concept of 'trading your immortality' could have benefited from a little more development and backstory. '
I particularly liked Kieran who, despite being a grade A jerk from the offset is likeable, relatable and witty. Mason is a sweet, puppy dog with the best intentions even if he comes across a little strong and makes so many bad, impulsive decisions.
The book contains a nice mixture of contemporary/paranormal and, whilst I would have liked to see a little more paranormal 'stuff', the romance was sweet and kept the story moving.
Have you read any stories on Wattpad? What would you recommend?
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