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: 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: 4.5 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."
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.
Rating: 4/4.5 STARS
How I got this book: Bought
You’ll make it out of here, Brian. I swear.
I had everything—school quarterback, popular with girls, and my dad was proud of me. I told myself it didn’t matter no one knew the real me. And then I nearly died. Landon saved my life. He’s the bravest guy I know. He came out a few years ago, proud and fierce, and he ran into gunfire to help others. Me, I’m a mess. Can’t even stand to be in a room with the curtains open. But here’s the thing about losing it all: You get a chance to start over and be someone new. Only how can I move on when the two shooters who attacked our school were never caught? And why do I feel like I’m still in the crosshairs?
Will you kiss me?
When I came across Brian Marshall,the hottest guy in school, dying on the cafeteria floor, I did what anyone would do. I tried to save him. His request surprised me, but I figured he needed comfort, so I kissed him on the forehead. When he survived and came back to school, he was broken in body and mind. He still needed me, and soon we were unlikely besties. But what I saw at school that day woke me up. I want to demand action on gun control, lead protests, raise my fist. I’ll tear the world down if I have to. And if I can get the man of my dreams and save the world at the same time? I’ll take it. Only I didn’t understand that the horror at Jefferson Waller High wasn’t over.
Trigger warnings: Mass shooting, PTSD, depression, homophobia, graphic violence.
Just from reading the synopsis I could tell that this book wasn't going to be an easy read.
I've only seen information about mass shootings and school shootings on the news and on Twitter. The coverage is always quite brief, giving only the details of what occurred, the death toll, and speculation about the shooter(s).
Boy Shattered went so much further by providing a completely vivid view of life as a survivor of a mass shooting that was incredibly painful and almost unbearable to read, but at the same time, so completely relevant and necessary that I urge you to read it.
This book is overflowing with heart-ache and tragedy, focusing on how the shooting affects the two main characters of the story in very different ways with one character retreating into himself and the other becoming an activist against gun violence.
It is a romance novel but there's a great deal of sadness, pain and angst between the two characters that makes the relationship feel raw and extremely powerful. It is a YA and so, whilst there is sex involved, it's much more character and plot driven.
To me, the book felt like a suspense novel. With the hunt for the shooters ongoing and Brian's PTSD, the pace was fantastic and the story completely engrossing.
Coupled with the tragedy, another painful aspect of this book is the homophobia which is rife in Brian's life, so much so that he's completely in the closet and terrified of making a wrong move that could reveal his secret.
I love how the characters' natures contrast and compliment each other. Brian is troubled, hiding who he is and constantly terrified, whilst Landon is compassionate, determined and supportive.
Overall, Boy Shattered is completely heartbreaking and the title couldn't be more accurate. Feeling Brian's pain and terror, experiencing Landon's fear and his need to do something about it, watching the seeds of their relationship take hold - it was beautiful, gripping and exceptionally painful.
Brace yourself going in and you'll quickly find yourself immersed.
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Series/Standalone: The Folk of the Air #1
How I got this book: Bought
Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.
One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered in front of them. The terrifying assassin abducts all three girls to the world of Faerie, where Jude is installed in the royal court but mocked and tormented by the Faerie royalty for being mortal.
As Jude grows older, she realises that she will need to take part in the dangerous deceptions of the fey to ever truly belong.
But the stairway to power is fraught with shadows and betrayal. And looming over all is the infuriating, arrogant and charismatic Prince Cardan . . .
This book was so massively hyped that I found myself subconsciously staying away from it. Even though I was aware of the book, I had no inclination to actually read it until I stumbled across a copy in Waterstones last week and got hooked whilst reading the back cover - I had such a strong urge to read it that I started it the moment I got home.
I can tell you one thing - the hype is real! This book was fantastic!
Holly Black's writing is completely immersive, the world is captivating and the characters are complex and deliciously twisted.
Jude is perfect in her imperfections. She's bad-ass, conflicted and haunted. Living with her parents murderer and being forced to move to another world where she's belittled, tortured and abused has hardened her into a fighter both physically and mentally. She's a force to be reckoned with and I love both her character arc and her sass.
"I thought I was playing the game of pissing off people who hated me already and eating the consequences."
This book is filled with deception - the twists and turns from each character are unexpected, the plot is dark and gripping, and the pacing is perfect.
If you're looking for something darker and more thrilling than your traditional fairytale, you'll love this.
“Nice things don’t happen in storybooks,” Taryn says. “Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it.”
The secondary characters were unexpected to say the least. I don't want to give too much away, but prepare yourself to be surprised.
This is a fantastic book and I can't wait to find out what happens in book 2 after that shocking ending!
If you loved the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas, you'll absolutely devour The Cruel Prince.
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Standalone/Series: Spellslinger #4
How I got this book: ARC from Bonnier Zaffre and Hot Key Books via NetGalley
The fourth book in the page-turning SPELLSLINGER fantasy series.
Perfect for fans of The Dark Tower, Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy, Terry Pratchett, Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher.
(Not much of a synopsis on Goodreads, but, if you haven't read the first three books in the Spellslinger series yet, you can find them here!)
I discovered the first book in the Spellslinger series in December 2017, and after reading the following two books in the series earlier this year, it's become a huge favourite.
So, I was more than excited to see Soulbinder pop up in NetGalley as I was desperate to find out what happened after the events of Charmcaster. I'm going to do my very best here to keep any spoilers out of this review, but if you haven't read the first three books of this series, you might want to look away now. You can find my reviews of book two (Shadowblack) and book three (Charmcaster) by clicking on the respective links.
This series goes from strength to strength with each new instalment that I read, and Soulbinder is no exception. It felt much more action-packed than the other books in the series, which really sped up the pace.
I have noticed a few recurring trends in these books, often with how they start (in the form of the trouble that Kellen is usually in), something bad happening to my favourite character, and the endings which lead Kellen on a new path and show how much he's grown, but each time it's something a little different that keeps things fresh and moving forward, and whilst each individual book has a sub-plot, the overall plot is continuously fuelled and driven forwards.
One of the best things about this book is the new characters, in particular, Butelios who is the absolute sweetest person, and the source of many, many smiles during his interactions with Kellen.
"...wearing an idiots smile so bright it made you want to kiss him. Even if you weren't into boys."
(Shame, because I'd totally ship these two!)
Kellen has developed beautifully throughout this series, discovering new strengths, facing his weaknesses, learning new truths and just becoming a better person. He truly rules this book (as does my little fur baby Reichis, of course) and his agony was so painful to witness, even though at the same time you can visibly see just how much he's grown and learned from Ferius and Reichis, becoming the hero (I personally believe) he was destined to be all along.
This book is the most heart-wrenching of the entire series, and I was so close to sobbing at one point that I almost didn't want to continue, so brace yourself for ALL THE FEELS!
"Life ought to be more than just losing the things you love one after another until you have nothing left."
As always, the politics between the various regions, clans, peoples etc. in this series, made the book extremely interesting, as did seeing the cast of new characters clashing with the old. Look out for some pretty awesome new displays of magic!!
The book itself is absolutely stunning, so far we've had beautifully illustrated covers in red, blue, orange and now green...I think the next one is purple and it's going to look stunning! The illustrations inside are also beautiful and work extremely well alongside the funny and poignant quotes at the start of each paragraph.
"Cages have bars and everyone knows you're supposed to escape a cage, but houses have walls and people lock themselves inside to feel safe. You ask me, it's a lot easier to break out of a cage than a house. - What passes for Squirrel Cat Wisdom."
After reading Soulbinder, I can't wait to find out where Kellen's journey takes him next, to discover new enemies, reface old ones, to reconnect with past characters, to be introduced to new ones, and above all, to see what kind of man he becomes.
"...I won't know for sure until I meet the man you're going to be once you finally get tired of being the boy you once were."
If fantasy and magic is your thing and you're looking for a story featuring an unlikely non-typical hero, a ferocious, bloodthirsty squirrel cat, beautiful friendships, brutal enemies and uncertainty at every turn, I highly recommend that you read this series!
Feel free to chat with me about it in the comments whilst I twiddle my thumbs waiting for book 5!
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Standalone/Series: Awkward Love #6 (Can be read as a standalone)
How I got this book: Bought
I’m the girl who likes ‘the cock in the back hole.’
At least, that’s what the dating profile my so-called friends set up for me claims. I’m also into BDSM, Furries and ‘I’ll try anything twice.’
I have no idea the profile exists until the replies start rolling in. They range from funny, to downright creepy and everything in between. Just as I’m shutting down my email account for good, a new message pops up.
He’s funny and he's the only one to suspect the profile is a joke, so I think what the hell? I reply.
When he suggests that we meet, I say yes. When I walk into that bar, he's sitting at a table, facing the other way. He turns his head just enough for me to be able to make out his face…
It’s Cameron Hunter, one of the rudest, most arrogant assholes I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting. He's also the son of one of the state's most influential judges.
The same judge who's about to become my step-father...
OMG! This book was hilarious!
I started reading this at about 11:30pm and didn't put it down until 2am when I'd finished, it was THAT addictive!
I could not stop giggling, snorting and swooning throughout the whole of this book. It's my first Missy Johnson book and I will definitely be reading more by this hilarious author.
The characters in this book were ridiculous, immature and sassy but it worked really well. I loved the clashing personalities, the unexpected comebacks and the pranks.
The romance in this book is off the charts. It's very hot and heavy when it gets going. The pacing is fantastic, the writing is easy going and had me unable to put the book down once I'd started.
I can honestly say that I don't regret the lack of sleep because Darcy, Cameron, Mack and the whole gang were too good to miss!
If you're a fan of outrageous enemies-to-lovers rom-com's like The Hating Game and authors like Tara Sivec, you're going to love Payback's a Bitch!
P.S. This book is part of a series but I happily read it as a standalone without feeling as though I'd missed anything.
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Genre: Contemporary Romance
How I got this book: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review
Brooklyn Manning thought her life was perfect in every way, until it crumbled down around her and turned into a dumpster fire. With her pride wounded and her tail tucked between her legs, she leaves New York and goes back to her tiny hometown of White Timber, Montana.
No more twenty-four-hour taco trucks, no more shopping at the best designer stores within walking distance, no more giving taxi drivers the finger when they angrily honk at her. She didn’t think it could get any worse. But then Clint Hastings walked into the room and insulted her.
Her arch nemesis from high school is no longer a nerdy computer whiz, masturbating to pictures in PC World magazine in his free time (allegedly). He’s grown up to be a hot-as-hell cowboy, and she has no other choice but to be a smart ass right back to him. After all, it’s what they do. It’s what they’ve always done, and twelve years apart hasn’t changed anything.
Only this time, getting under each other’s skin is a hell of a lot more fun than it used to be.
Pumpkins. Enemies to Lovers. Pumpkins. Cute Kids. Pumpkins. Sexy Cowboy. Pumpkins. Friendship. Pumpkins.
If, like me, you freaking LOVE AUTUMN and you're ready for falling leaves, chilly evenings, blankets, jumpers, gorgeous sunsets, morning frost and Halloween...I know, I know, I didn't mention pumpkins, fun fact, I don't like pumpkins (not that I take offence at the fruit itself, I love carving the buggers), I just hate the taste, so pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice latte, all that fun stuff that people go crazy for at this time of the year, I just can't stand...PLEASE DON'T BURN ME AT THE STAKE!!
Anyway, if you love Autumn, and you're looking for a book to match your Autumn mood, The Simple Life is the book for you.
Brooklyn is a hot shot writer living in New York City but her 'perfect' life quickly goes south and she's forced to move back home to the town she fled when she was younger. Forced to face facts, not to mention an incredibly handsome and infuriating man who she hasn't seen for years, along with a couple of fun, yet struggling kids, Brooklyn's life is about to be turned upside down.
This book is so much fun! Tara Sivec has this way of writing that just draws me in and hooks me from page one and I always have trouble putting her books down. The Simple Life was no exception. The characters are realistic, the humour is blunt and hilariously inappropriate and the chemistry is sizzling.
I loved the insult trading between the two main characters. I loved seeing each character grow and develop over the course of the book, especially Brooklyn who completely came out of her shell, and then there's the girls; the two amazing crazy girls, the youngest of which totally reminded me of my own crazy, free spirited daughter.
I love the farm life aspect of this book and I love the unfiltered humour. Brooklyn and Clint's sarcastic nature along with their sizzling off-the-page chemistry really made this book stand out and made their relationship one of my favourites.
I devoured the book, not wanting to put it down, which is how I am with almost all of Tara Sivec's books, so if you're looking for a cosy, romantic, autumn read, The Simple Life is definitely the book for you.
This book is a 100% feel-good romantic comedy from one of my favourite romance authors with a guaranteed HEA.
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
Genre: Contemporary YA/LGBT
Standalone/Series: Openly Straight #1
How I got this book: Bought via Audible
Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He's won skiing prizes. He likes to write.
And, oh yeah, he's gay. He's been out since 8th grade, and he isn't teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that's important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.
So when he transfers to an all-boys' boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret -- not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate break down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn't even know that love is possible.
This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate feeling different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.
While fantasy has always been my top choice of novel, particularly when it comes to YA fiction, I seem to be falling in love with contemporary novels more and more lately. It's strange that this is coinciding a little with my recent love-affair with audio books. I signed up for a 3-month free trial with Audible two-months ago, and so far I haven't looked back.
This book caught my eye as a recommendation from Audible after I'd finished listening to Leah on the Offbeat and The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue.
I hadn't actually heard of this one before but the sample and the synopsis piqued my interest.
I instantly found the narrator, Pete Cross, really likeable, I love his voice work for all of the different characters, giving each one their own different, distinguishable voice, which really helps the story to flow smoothly.
I love the life he brings to Rafe who is funny and witty, to the point where I found myself giggling away while I listened. The very different mixture of characters is something I really enjoyed, from the enigmatic, quirky Albie, sweet and crazy Toby, troubled Bryce, and Rafe's crazy parents, to the extremely complicated Ben, who is so very wise and thoughtful.
Openly Straight surprised me. There are so many laugh out loud moments but they're woven into a complex story about personal identity and the importance of being true to yourself whilst also containing a bittersweet love story that hurt a little to witness.
My heart goes out to both Rafe and Ben for their stubbornness and naivety, but the true beauty of this story wasn't their friendship but Rafe's journey of self-discovery, something that I think can be appreciated no matter your gender or sexual orientation.
This book made me think. It's something I'm really enjoying about a lot of the contemporaries that I'm reading lately, that they force you to look deeper, to assess your own life and reflect on it, and for the most part, I agree with Rafe, labels shouldn't matter. Whether it's your skin colour, your sexual preferences, your proficiency at a certain skill; that one thing does not define your entire being. But, I also understand the conflict, that you can't push aside an unchangeable, inextricable part of who you are.
What really cemented my love for this beautiful book was the finishing sentence:
"There was nothing anyone needed to accept or tolerate. We celebrated."
Which is exactly what this book felt like. A celebration of everything that makes us different, but how in that, we're all tied together, all connected.
So, if you're looking for a book that will make you smile, laugh and maybe even cry a little, and if you love books like Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and Running With Lions, I'd highly recommend Openly Straight.
Book two, Honestly Ben is now available, and will more than likely be my next Audible purchase because I NEED to find out what happens next!
A slightly odd, side note, is that this book really made me want to write. I haven't written anything other than my blog (and stuff for work) for a couple of months. I've been stressed, bogged down with life and just not feeling it, but the more I read this book, the more I just wanted to pick up my pen and write fiction. Finally, I did and it feels great again, so fingers crossed the feeling continues.
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