A totally catastrophic, unmitigated disaster.
What is a totally catastrophic, unmitigated disaster, you might ask?
Let me break it down for you real quick.
My life, my relationship, my job, my plans, my future, and this whole damn trip.
So, basically me.
I am the totally catastrophic unmitigated disaster.
Hamish Kenneally, thirty-one-year-old Australian, who quit his shitty job and sold his shitty apartment and left behind his shitty life in Sydney, packed his said-shitty life into two suitcases, and boarded a plane to spend Christmas with his sister in God-knows-where, Idaho, USA.
Well, Christmas first. Then two years, at least, in America trying to unshitify his life.
And if the trip to said God-knows-where, Idaho, was any indication of just how spectacularly extra-shitified my life was going to get, I should have turned around and stayed right where I was.
Because if the flight from Sydney to LA was bad, which it was, then the second flight, LA to Spokane, made the first flight look like a joy ride.
Because I didn’t get to Spokane, did I?
Oh no, of course I didn’t.
Because you see, Christmastime in America is in winter. Which is weird enough for this Australian. Christmas should be hot summer days at the beach, seafood and salads, beers and watching the bronzed surfers and drunk foreigners at Bondi. That is what Christmas should be.
None of this “sorry folks; to avoid flying into a massive snow blizzard, we’re being diverted to Missoula, Montana” crap the captain of the plane said when we were halfway there. Like the screaming baby in the seat next to me, or the vomiting lady in the row in front of me weren’t bad enough. Like we had any choice about which direction we were flying into.
I had no choice. I was now going to Montana. In a freaking blizzard, of all things. Ever been on a plane that flew into a snowstorm? There is zero joy in that kind of turbulence, believe me. It would also explain the screaming baby and the vomiting woman. And the man behind me saying Hail Mary’s . . . which you’d think might be comforting. But oh boy, is it ever not. Especially when he yelled the prayer every time we hit a particularly large pothole in the sky on the descent. Honestly, if this flight was a scene in a movie, you’d think it was too ridiculous to be real.
After the plane landed—to which I would have clapped and cheered like everyone else if I wasn’t stuck in the brace position after trying to kiss my own arse goodbye—we were kicked off the plane without so much as a good luck in the wrong bloody state.
So there I was, a clueless Aussie, after flying for twenty hellish-hours and now a few hundred kilometres from where I was supposed to be, trying to wrangle two overweight suitcases down the concourse, when one little wheel on my suitcase broke.
Because of course it did.
Frazzled and trying not to cry— Yes, cry. A thirty-one-year-old man can cry; shove your toxic masculinity in your cakehole and stop judging me. I was having a jetlag-fuelled shitastic day meltdown, trying to keep my shit together the best I could, and clearly not doing it very well. I was allowed a little saltwater leakage.
Anyway, getting back to my story. I tried to call my sister.
Because of course there’s not.
So, taking a deep breath and willing myself not to spiral, I found my car rental kiosk. Finally, something is going right. “I have a car booked,” I said, trying to keep my now-broken suitcase upright with my foot while rifling through my backpack for my booking confirmation and driver’s licence. After dropping my passport and half the contents from my backpack all over the floor, then scrambling to collect it all while still trying to keep my suitcase upright, I handed everything over with a flourish of triumph. “Oh, that flight was the worst,” I said, sagging onto the counter. I was about to tell her all about my day from the ninth circle of hell when she looked up at me with that look.
You know the one.
The look of superficial appeasement before they cut you off at the knees. “I’m sorry, sir. But I don’t have a reservation under your name.”
I stared at her. My brain short-circuited and the will to live left my body. It was an actual out-of-body experience, I’m sure of it. I could see myself staring at her, mouth gaping like I’d been lobotomised.
Because of course they didn’t have my booking.
Why would they? My rental car was waiting for me in Spokane. In Washington. Not in freaking Montana.
“Oh,” I whispered, and my left eye twitched. “That’s nice.” I looked around the airport, at the line of annoyed people behind me. “Excellent. I’ve seen that movie where Tom Hanks lives in an airport. It wasn’t so bad. Could be worse. Could’ve been the one where he’s stuck on the island, I guess. Though I didn’t pack a volleyball, so that would’ve sucked.”
She blinked and tap-tap-tapped away at her keyboard. “But sir, we’ve had a lot of cancelled flights today because of the weather. I can arrange a vehicle for you, if you’d like?”
Oh, my sweet baby Jesus in a manger, why didn’t she lead with that?
Note from Kayleigh @MyEndlessShelf:
How adorable does this sound?!?
I am so ready for this meet-cute, soppy and sweet Christmas rom-com! It definitely has a feel-good Hallmark movie vibe to it.
Follow the links above to add it to your Goodreads TBR or check it out on Amazon and let me know what you think!
Please note, the giveaway is international!
Big thanks to Giselle at Xpresso Book Tours!
Book Review: How to Steal a Heart in 500 Kisses & How to Evict a Hot Jock in Three Weeks by Anyta Sunday
Overall, I definitely like the first book in the series more than the second, and I would have preferred fewer sex scenes in both books because I just felt that they took something away from the sweeter nature of these stories.
In the second book, I think it would have been nicer to see more of the character's interaction and the 'slow-burn' I've come to expect from Anyta Sunday. But, saying that, I think the character pairing was interesting, as were the unusual circumstances in each book that drove the characters together and I'm looking forward to reading more in this series.
Both books are available from today, just click the images above to visit Goodreads and follow the links to your favourite bookseller!
Rating: 4 Stars
How I got this book: Bought
Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new--the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he's never really dated before.
Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.
Kai Sheridan didn't expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there's more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he's awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this "relationship" will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight . . . right?
TW: Racism, homophobia (violence & religion)
This book grabbed me from page one.
I absolutely loved the "fake boyfriend" trope in a YA format, and I think the author did a fantastic job of making it both believable and realistic.
I adore the main characters in this book.
At first, Kai is a complete wallflower. He's shy and reserved as he struggles to keep his secret from the world, but all that changes when he angrily (you'll find out why) asks Bryson Keller, the most popular boy in school, out on a date.
It's so much fun to see Kai come out of his shell as he starts to feel comfortable with who he is.
“I’m not joking,” I say. “Date me, Bryson Keller!”
Bryson is just as sweet as Kai and takes Kai's request in his stride. After all, he can't lose his dare, even if he doesn't believe in relationships.
Together, Kai and Bryson are adorable. They form a strong friendship, and support and care for each other through the hardships they each face.
"He breaks then. Whoever says that boys don’t cry—or shouldn’t cry—needs to walk off a very short pier into a shark-infested ocean."
The first half of this book is great. Kai's friends and family seem brilliant and supportive, and there's the strong feeling that all will work out in the end.
This book is definitely one for fans of Becky Abertalli's, Simon vs The Homo Sapien's Agenda, but one thing I adored about this book that I hated about Love Simon, are the best friends! They're so damn supportive and just brilliant, something that was truly lacking in Simon vs.
Sadly, the book takes a darker turn during the second half, and there's a lot of pain for both Kai and Bryson to deal with. I almost hate the author's choice to include this drama as it feels like too much on too many fronts, and the story would have been so damn sweet and beautiful without it.
I get that it's a coming-out story, and coming out is tough. Hell, I'm almost 30, and I'm still only open with a few select people in my life. But, for once, I'd love a sweet LGBT YA without all the pain and drama from a-holes who should never be forgiven for the crap they pull.
"Gay means happy, too, you know."
But saying all that, going through what they do does make the relationship stronger and drives the reader's compassion and need for everything to work out in the end.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, my first by this author, and I'm really looking forward to reading what they do next.
Just be prepared, if you cry easily, as I do, you'll definitely want to have some tissues to hand towards the end of the book.
"As my world burns down around me. This, right here, is enough."
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
Series/Standalone: The Extraordinaries #1
How I got this book: Bought
In Nova City, there are people capable of feats that defy the imagination. They're called Extraordinaries.
There is Shadow Star: a protector who can manipulate darkness in his quest to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
His arch-nemesis is Pyro Storm: an Extraordinary capable of controlling fire who is bent on bringing Nova City to its knees.
And then there's sixteen-year-old Nicholas Bell: who isn't Extraordinary in the slightest.
He's Shadow Star's number one fan, writing fan fiction of their adventures together and dreaming of a day where he too dons a costume and fights crime. Too bad ADHD isn't a superpower, otherwise Nick would be golden.
Instead of stopping villains and their convoluted schemes of global domination, Nick must contend with starting his junior year, a father who doesn't trust him, and a best friend named Seth, who may or may not be the love of Nick's short, uneventful life. It should be enough.
And it is...until a fateful encounter with Shadow Star forces Nick to realize his true destiny. He's tired of being ordinary, and he'll do whatever it takes to become something more.
I want this book to become a TV series!
This book was our third Turn The Page book club selection.
I loved this book. It was so fantastic to see, as always, the brilliant representation that you can almost guarantee from a TJ Klune book.
Nick is just a brilliant character; he's smart, funny and adorably clueless about what's going on. At the same time, he's struggling with the grief of losing his mum while feeling at odds with his dad, who he thinks wishes he were normal.
Nick is neurodivergent, and it was so refreshing to read a fun, sci-fi fantasy with a disabled hero.
“For the most part, he'd accepted that some people were born to be Extraordinaries, and some people were born to be medicated so they didn't spin out of control. Fair? Not really, but Nick was learning that his brain could do things that others couldn't. In a way, he had his own superpower, even if it was called a disorder.”
I really enjoyed following Nick's story as it takes unusual turns that are, for the most part, very funny, but sometimes much darker.
Surprisingly, the action sequences in this book were also really great, and it's those, interspersed with Nick's inner monologue, his awkward banter with Seth, his annoyance with Owen, and his hilarious friends, that I feel would make a fantastic tv show.
But, I did have a few issues with some aspects of the book. Nick's dad, I did not get on with. I just don't feel that he's a great parent. Yes, he worries about Nick, but he's also one of the main reasons that Nick feels so insecure about himself, and it's clear through much of what happens (no spoilers!) that he's lied to Nick a lot.
Then there's the issue with the glorification of the police force to a certain extent. I understand that this wasn't intentional and that the book was written, I think, before the recent light that's been shone on police brutality in America. However, the simple fact that Nick's dad is forgiven for doing punching someone in his position of power just doesn't sit well. That being said, the author did address this in his own blog post, so you're welcome to read that here and form your own opinion.
My other issue was that the plot twists were really predictable. But, saying that, I wonder if it was intentional because, while they're clear to the ready, they are not at all clear to Nick who's in the dark, meandering in all directions until he figures it out, which was actually a lot of fun to read. There were so many times where I just wanted to step into the book and help Nick, to tell him what was going on, but his cluelessness led to funny and heartbreaking scenarios that made his story all the more compelling.
Overall, I really enjoyed TJ's first YA novel. Having read a lot of his adult novels, I wasn't too sure what to expect, but I was really surprised. No, this book didn't affect me the way that The House in the Cerulean Sea did, but it's a very different book; it's harsher, and it has more grit to it.
But, I'd still highly recommend The Extraodinaries, and I can't wait to find out what happens to Nick and the gang in book two.
“Be gay. Do crimes.”
Rating: 5 STARS!!
Genre: LGBT Fantasy
How I got this book: Bought
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he's given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
I finished this book last night and, even though I don't know how to find the words to express how utterly perfect this book is, I just had to write my review.
This book is perfect.
There's a quote on the cover saying that it's almost perfect and honestly, I'm calling BS. This book is stunning and I wouldn't change a single word.
“I'm afraid I don't have magic."
"You do, Mr. Baker. Arthur told me that there can be magic in the ordinary.”
I've been a fan of TJ Klune's work for quite a while, and I've never been disappointed by his books, but at the same time, I've never been completely and utterly blown away either (although, it's come extremely close - see The Bones Beneath My Skin) until now.
There's something so magical, warm and heartfelt about this book and its weird and wonderful cast of characters, as they battle against a reflection of our society and government.
Watching Linus grow, and his unconscious effect on the inhabitants of The House in the Cerulean Sea was so moving it had me in tears numerous times.
"I am but paper. Brittle and thin. I am held up to the sun, and it shines right through me. I get written on, and I can never be used again. These scratches are a history. They’re a story."
The writing is beautiful and the message so very poignant as it drives home the importance of equality and the need to challenge prejudices.
“Your voice is a weapon. Never forget that.”
Every single character in this book is amazing. The children are wonderful, varied and not at all what you'd expect, and I love each and every one of them. If you asked me to choose my favourite, I simply couldn't; they're all too precious and unique.
Linus is a fantastic protagonist. His flaws are on full display and his transformation throughout the book reads like a phoenix rising from the ashes. He's a brilliant character to behold as he grows in confidence and awareness, and can we just take a moment to enjoy the fat main character rep we have here?!
“Why can’t life work whatever way we want it to? What’s the point of living if you only do it how others want you to?”
My only criticism has absolutely nothing at all to do with the book itself. It lies in the narration. I began listening to this book on Audible and no matter what, I just couldn't get into it, which led me to give up for a while until I could get my hands on the hardcover, which I then fell into and never wanted to leave.
Honestly, if you're actively looking for a book that will give you the mother of all book hangovers, this is it. Prepare to fall in love.
"Don't you wish you were here?"
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: MM/Contemporary Romance
Series/Standalone: Finding Home #1
How I got this book: Bought
What happens when temporary becomes forever?
Oz Gallagher does not do relationships well. Bored and jobless after another disastrous hook up, he decides to leave London for a temporary job in the wilds of Cornwall. Surely managing a stately home on a country estate will be easier than navigating the detritus of his relationships at home. Six months there will alleviate a bit of his wanderlust and then he can come back to London as footloose and fancy free as the day he left it.
However, when he gets there he finds a house in danger of crumbling to the ground and a man who is completely unlike anyone he’s ever met. An earl belonging to a family whose roots go back hundreds of years, Silas is the living embodiment of duty and sacrifice. Two things that Oz has never wanted. He's also warm and funny and he draws Oz to him like a magnet.
Oz banks on the fact that they're from two very different worlds to stop himself falling for Silas. But what will he do when he realises that these differences are actually part of the pull to one another? Will falling in love be enough to make him stop moving at last and realise that he's finally home?
TW: Homophobia, cheating
I've been working a lot lately and found myself in a bit of a book slump, just lacking the desire to read anything, but I had a few Audible credits and decided to pick something almost at random, which is how I settled on Oz by Lily Morton.
After the first couple of chapters, I was a little put off by the narration, not the Irish accent of Oz, but the posh-British accent of Silas which I felt was a bit too exaggerated, and after listening for a while, I decided to switch to the eBook.
Well, the joke was on me! I tried to read a chapter of the eBook but could not get (the narrator) Joel Leslie's voice out of my head and ended up switching back to the audio, which grew on me really quickly.
I absolutely love Oz's voice. He's a fantastic character and the narration brought him completely to life...I can still hear his voice now.
"I tap the magazine. 'The only job advert in there for me would one asking for someone who is PhD level stupid enough to move in with their boss.' I laugh. 'No references given."
Oz is a really great character to read, he's rough around the edges and people judge him based on his appearance and his background, yet he's so down-to-earth, flirtatious and plain hysterical.
The opening scene really sets the tone for Oz and the rest of the book, as the story begins with Oz walking in on his lover/boss having an affair with his new assistant (Oz's current job!) and we're instantly hit with Oz's snark, his capacity for revenge, his eviscerating tongue and also, his heart and vulnerabilities.
We're then introduced to his best friend who leads Oz to a job interview for a position managing the restoration of a high-end, dilapidated house, something that Oz doesn't believe he's at all qualified for and results in the most hilarious interview.
“He’s lovely,” I say, putting my hand out to the dog. “What’s his name?”
I blink. “Pardon?”
He smiles. “Because he’s blond and stupid and makes very questionable decisions.”
The man in charge of hiring him, however, doesn't agree, which leads Oz on a journey from London to the Cornish countryside and into the path of Lord Ashworth a.k.a Silas who's fresh out of his own bad relationship with the previous house manager and carrying several burdens on his shoulders.
Silas is a much more reserved character, and once I got used to the narration of his voice, I was charmed by his character. He's strong, reserved, humble and just the sweetest.
Oz and Silas's chemistry is off the charts and for some of the sex scenes, I would definitely recommend installing air conditioning or setting your room fan to the highest setting...
Not only has Lily Morton done a fantastic job of creating realistic, distinct, likeable characters, she's also made truly detestable 'villains', and a well-paced plot that's both incredibly funny and extremely heartfelt.
There was one scene in particular that almost reduced me to tears, especially when combined with the impassioned narration.
“Ask me,” I say quietly. I smile tenderly. “I guarantee I’m going to say yes.”
So, how can I summarise this book?
It's a little bit like Pride and Prejudice but everyone is gay, there's also lots of cursing, and characters in the Austen era would never be permitted to spend so much time naked, especially outdoors!
It was a fun, heartfelt read and I'll definitely be reading (and listening to) more of the books in this series!
Rating: 5 STARS!
How I got this book: Bought
Faking the best summer ever is a lot harder than it looks...
At the start of summer, Jack and Nate find themselves dumped as their respective exes, Dylan and Tariq, start up a new relationship together. Not only that, their exes start posting pics on social media, showing the whole world how fabulous their new life together is!
Jack and Nate are reeling. Not to be outdone, they decide to create their own 'highlights reel' and show their exes that they're having an even better time.
But between the depressing motorway service station motels, damp campsites, and an ultimate showdown with the exes, something epic really is happening: Jack and Nate are learning to get over their heartache and open themselves up to new possibilities for love.
I have been trying to write the review for this book ever since I finished it last week and I'm really struggling...because I loved it so much!!
It's so much easier to write about something that has faults and flaws, which is why this entire review should basically just be the following four words:
GO READ THIS BOOK!
But that probably wouldn't be very interesting, so I'll keep trying.
First of all, I just want to say that, as a 29-year-old, how jealous I am of the teens who get to read this book. This is probably the only book I've ever read that made me wish that I could go back to high school *shudders* so that I could do things differently. If I had this book as a teen I might not have felt so alone and unseen, I might have had the courage to be more me, and I can only thank authors like Simon James Green for writing books like this for kids like me who were too shy and insecure to say, "Hey, this is me! Deal with it."
"I want them all to see it, Dylan. I want everyone who made my life hell for the last three years to see they haven't won. I'm here. And I'm gonna shine so bright I'll blind the fuckers."
So, first impressions, Jack is literally my hero. He's incredible. He's an absolute sweetheart, instantly likeable and hilariously funny.
I love Simon James Green's writing and his impeccable British humour that's always had the ability to transport me back to a 90's childhood.
I admit that upon first introduction to Dylan, I thought he was okay, but no, Dylan is trash who gets worse and Jack deserved so much better!
Nate is a gloomy little cinnamon roll who I wanted to put in my pocket...and also slap a few times for getting 'swept up in the moment and ALMOST RUINING EVERYTHING DAMMIT!'
I absolutely love Jack and Nate together, their clashing personalities and dry humour are the perfect combination and, along with the ridiculous things that happen on their journey, help to keep a fast, interesting pace throughout the whole book.
The secondary characters are also fantastic, Nate's parents are brilliant and Elliot needs to have his own story (pretty please!)
As a bonus, this book was made even more perfect for me as the characters took a detour to my hometown with hilarious results.
Heartbreak Boys, just like Alex in Wonderland, made me instantly want to take a holiday and is definitely the perfect summer read!
If you're looking for a book that will have you laughing out loud and holding your breath at every almost, you should definitely read this book!
Rating: 3 Stars
Series/Standalone: VRC: Vampire Related Crimes #1
How I got this book: Kindle Unlimited
Getting into the vampire-only detective unit was the easy part; what’s going to be more difficult is dealing with my new partner, an ancient vampire who keeps threatening to eat me. The unit has never had a human in it, and Marcus—or as I like to call him, Fangy McFangface—would really prefer to keep it that way. He’s grumpy, short-tempered, and broody, but I have a way with words and I know he’s starting to like me, even if he swears he’s not. But what he doesn’t know is that I didn’t join the unit because I was tired of being a homicide detective, I joined because there is someone after me. They’ve already taken enough from me and I’m afraid they’re going to take all of me if I don’t find someone to help. That’s all Marcus was supposed to be, but now, he’s so much more and I can’t imagine my life without him.
The moment the pesky human walked through that door, I knew I had to get rid of him. He’s charming and almost everyone else instantly loves him, but he doesn’t understand how risky it is being part of this unit as a human. But as I get to know the stubborn man, I learn that perhaps he’s not as naive as I once thought. And maybe he’s what I needed to realize there is more to life than just work and my dog. A group arises who is threatening to disrupt the alliance between the humans and the vampires, but Finn is the one who shows me how strong that alliance can be and reminds me why it’s worth protecting. When threats hit closer to home, I realize I would do anything for Finn because he’s brought so much joy to my life—and because he’s mine.
TW: Trauma, physical and mental abuse, stalking, addiction
Ahhhh! This started so well...WTF happened?!?
Let me start from the beginning. I picked this book up on a whim when it came up on my Kindle Unlimited recommendations because the synopsis sounded interesting and had an enemies-to-lovers vibe to it.
It started off really well because of Finn. He's fantastic, he's sassy, cheeky and strong, but wears his heart on his sleeve, and reminded me so much of Sam from The Lightning Struck Heart by TJ Klune, who's one of my absolute favourite characters.
Finn is disabled, and I can't tell you how refreshing it was to have a disabled character as the hero, especially when paired with an old and powerful vampire. Finn holds his own throughout the entire book and, despite dealing with his own trauma, he's just as powerful and capable as any of the other characters.
Finn is full of awful jokes but he's lovable and gets everyone to like him, even grumpy, distant Marcus who becomes his friend without really knowing why or consciously agreeing to it.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say as I draw the curtain over the window so I don’t have to look into Marcus’s eyes as I steal his dog.
Also, I should mention Artie at this point, an Irish wolfhound who is a gentle sweetheart...and a bit of a creep at times.
Marcus is the typical brooding vampire, but his character shines when Finn finally breaks down some of his walls, allowing his caring, protective side to come through.
The chemistry between Finn and Marcus worked well and built, as did the constant banter between the two.
“I will try… this,” Marcus says as he waves between us. “But I’m promising nothing. And if I eat you, it’s one hundred percent your fault.”
The plot and pacing also started off strong and intriguing until at some point the story just meandered off and completely forgot about the plot.
There were a few scenes that felt completely irrelevant to the story and it appeared, for a lot of the book, that the author misplaced the big bad villain, only to bring him out when things got a bit dull.
Then there's the snark and humour, which started off as one of Finn's best qualities, but which grew into something quite annoying and distracting as pages and pages were full of
random back and forth.
"Did… Did you just ask me out and tell me you might eat me in the same breath? That’s so romantic.”
After all of this, the big build-up, the back and forth, the ominous figure in the darkness and the promises from Marcus to take care of it, we're met with a goddamn cliffhanger that really pi**ed me off.
I'm now at the point where I'm really bloody struggling to understand how the author is going to fill an entire second book finishing this plot when it could have easily fit into this novel, but, a part of me still wants to find out what happens next, as I want to see Finn get the resolution and the closure from his trauma that he desperately deserves.
Overall, the book started off really well, it's fast-paced and full of humour that's interwoven with darkness and tons of emotion. I liked the characters, particularly Finn, but would have liked more clarity from the plot.
Rating: 4 Stars
Series/Standalone: Seekers #1
How I got this book: ARC from the author
If the murderer you’re tracking is a vampire, then you want a vampire detective. Just maybe not this one.
It’s not that Jack Valentine is bad at her job. The youngest member of Oxford’s Seekers has an impressive track record, but she also has an impressive grudge against the local baron, Killian Drake.
When a human turns up dead on May Morning, she’s determined to pin the murder on Drake. The problem is that none of the evidence points to him. Instead, it leads Jack into a web of conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the country, people to whom Jack has no access. But she knows someone who does.
To get to the truth, Jack will have to partner up with her worst enemy. As long as she can keep her cool, Drake will point her to the ringleaders, she’ll find the murderer and no one else will have to die.
Body bags on standby.
TW: Abuse, rape, violence.
This is the first book that I've read by Josie Jaffrey, but when I saw the book advertised on Twitter as 'Vampires, murder mystery and a bi love triangle', I instantly wanted to read it.
As a side note, I'm loving that we're getting more bi-rep in Fantasy!
So, to begin with, I felt that the pace was a little slow, and it took me a while to get into what was happening. However, I think that may have been down to my reading preferences, more than the writing itself, as I rarely lean towards mystery/crime.
But, saying that, I quickly realised how great of a character Jack Valentine really is. I love how the author has created a hero who is not the typical gorgeous, glamorous, put-together person but is flawed and relatable.
Jack is a bit of a mess, she's always running late, almost always hungover, usually wearing the same unwashed clothes and she really couldn't give a shit what anyone thinks.
I love her. She's fiery, sarcastic, and she carries the story well.
"Come to think of it, being Silver is kind of like being bisexual. I came out to them when I was sixteen and they never believed that was real, either."
The pacing also picked up, for me, pretty quickly and I flew through the book.
I'm not going to lie, I think the pace really picked up and my interest piqued when we first meet Killian Drake who is just....*swoon*.
"Go on, Valentine." He pulls me in close with one hand and strokes my cheek with the other. "Pretend that you want me."
Killian is fun to read, he's dark and brooding but cocky and entertaining, and at times sweet and uncertain. Next to Jack, Killian is my favourite character, and I actually didn't feel that he was utilised enough in this book, I just wanted more.
Which brings me to my first actual issue with this book, the love triangle. I'm not an enormous fan of love triangles anyway, but I enjoyed how this triangle did a wonderful job of illustrating Jack's sexuality.
"And just because I'm bi...I mean, that's not how it works. I don't need one of each, you know? It's not like I'm missing out. That's not the way I am."
However, while I felt that Tabitha was a potentially interesting character, one that could build well overtime, I didn't sense any actual chemistry between her and Jack. There were no sparks, no sizzle, nothing. It felt like a dead relationship to me, and not one that could contribute to a believable love triangle.
So, for me, that element just didn't work, so it'll be interesting to see what happens in the next book and whether that dynamic improves/changes any.
In terms of the plot, I really enjoyed the mystery element, the setting and the variety of characters, and I spent a lot of time trying to work out who the 'killer' was, and I have to say that I didn't guess, it was a complete twist that I hadn't at all expected.
"We're not generally in the business of guarding the humans from themselves. We only exist to guard them from others like us.
I also felt the author handled a lot of darker themes (see TW above) woven into the story well, making the case not as straight-forward as I'd expected.
Overall, I think this was an interesting start to a new series, and I'm really looking forward to more of Drake's charm and Jack's wit in the next instalment.
Rating: 4 STARS
How I got this book: Library eBook
It's 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging.
And it's Sarah's first day of school, as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High.
No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist.
Sarah and Linda have every reason to despise each other. But as a school project forces them to spend time together, the less their differences seem to matter. And Sarah and Linda start to feel something they've never felt before. Something they're both determined ignore.
Because it's one thing to be frightened by the world around you - and another thing altogether when you're terrified of what you feel inside.
TW: extreme racism, hate, violence, domestic abuse, sexism and homophobia.
I don't typically lean towards historical fiction, so this book isn't one that I'd normally choose. However, the synopsis grabbed me, and I really wanted to discover how the love story played out.
At first, reading this book felt similar to how I feel when reading a classic, something that should be on the education syllabus for schools. In terms of educating yourself about racism and hate, I think it does a great job, showing clearly the damage that can be caused by words.
"It doesn't show much in the way of brains to decide you don't like people you don't even know. All because of their color."
I also felt that the depiction of life from the perspectives of both a black girl and a white girl in southern America during this time were painfully realistic and eye-opening.
I do feel that this book would make a fantastic educational tool as it illuminates perfectly the hate and prejudice of the time. It also begins to show how someone who is ignorant and who has been influenced by others can become educated and grow as a person.
"If something like this happened to me, I'd be shouting by now."
It was very difficult to put down and it's certainly Sarah's plight and pain, and my desire for her to succeed, that made it so compelling. The writing is fantastic, with each voice distinct and unique but I think, for me at least, it was my utter hatred of the white people and my continuous rooting for something good to happen for Sarah that gripped me and pushed me to keep reading.
"This should be the easiest, most natural thing in the world. Going on a date with a boy. Maybe if I try hard enough it will be."
For much of the book, I didn't feel that Linda was at all redeemable or worthy of Sarah, but the more I read, the more I understood that this book is about self-growth and how, by educating yourself and standing up for what is right, you can become a better person. That being said, I don't feel that she ever did stop being racist and bearing in mind the things that she said and did, knowing full well the consequences of what she was doing, the ending seemed more than a little unrealistic.
I did feel for both characters as they struggled in different ways with their sexuality and with their parents. Again, both very different situations but also similar in how the girls felt that they were unable to be themselves or that they would never be good enough for the people who'd raised them.
"The grown-ups always act like they're the ones who have it hard. None of them knows the first thing about what this is like for us."
This book did fuel my hatred towards people. My anger roiled as I furiously turned page after page, hoping naively for a happier turn of events. But, if nothing else, this book stays true to the period in which it's set and very clearly reflects the issues at the time.
Having said all of that, this is my review as a white person and so, what I'd like to see is a review from a POC to see how this book really stacks up.
Overall, I do feel that this book would make a fantastic educational tool for young people. But I am cautious that I can't be certain how well this book represents a person of colour and the struggles that were faced during this time, and those still being faced today.
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
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5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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