Rating: 4.5 STARS
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Series/Standalone: Winternight Trilogy #1
How I got this book: Bought
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa's new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa's stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse's most frightening tales.
TW: Death, rape, child-marriage, paedophilia, mental health, religion
I finished reading this last night and couldn't wait to write my review.
Unlike the last book I read and reviewed, I had absolutely no trouble rating this one; it was fantastic!
"Sleep is a cousin to death, Vasya. And both are mine."
The Bear and the Nightingale was so much better than I expected it to be, partially because the synopsis hadn't actually won me over and so I wasn't sure whether I'd like it.
Think of this book like a really dark Russian fairytale. It centres around the household of Pyotr Vladimirovich; his three sons and three daughters. The landscape is wintery Russia, and the story begins on a dark, freezing night in mid-winter as four of the six children gather around the fire, listening to an old fairytale about the winter demon, as told by Dunya, their nurse.
I struggled a little at first with the different names for each character, trying to stay wrapped up in the story while getting my head to understand that Sasha, Sashka and Aleksandr were all the same person. But it didn't take long for me to figure it out and fall back under the author's spell.
The writing in this book is beautiful and gripping, and the author paints a gorgeous picture of the wintery Russian landscape, made even more immersive given that I read this while watching the snowfall outside my window.
The masterful storytelling and dark plot held me under its spell from start to finish, and I never wanted to stop reading. But I honestly hadn't expected the book to be so dark. It reminded me a little of The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, which was equally gripping.
In terms of the historical accuracy of the book, i.e. the prejudice, the expectations and superstitions rife at that time, I felt the author captured the period perfectly.
Not long into the book, we meet Vasya, our heroine. Vasya is a headstrong character who I grew to love immediately. Her fire and stubbornness created a character who was instantly compelling, and I truly enjoyed the growth and strength of her character.
This book is filled with characters to love and hate, and the author does another trick that I love in books, where she changes how you feel about certain characters from one point to the next. When we first meet Anna, Vasya's soon-to-be stepmother, we pity and sympathise with her, hoping she'll triumph in the story, but as time passes, she becomes a character almost to despise.
The opposite can almost (but not quite, as he's quite a repulsive character) be said about the priest who comes to live in Vasya's home. When we first meet him, he's a dark, untrustworthy character, but as things befall him, there's a point where he's quite pitiable.
Then we have all the mythical creatures in the book. They're so varied, each having their own purposes and personalities that I could picture them clearly and there were so many times when I just wanted to step between the pages and explore this dark and magical land.
From what felt like an almost subdued beginning, this book grew in intensity until everything came to a crashing climax.
I flew through pages, and after finishing the book, I'm completely ready to continue the story and dive into the second instalment.
"Now here me. Before the end, you will pluck snowdrops at midwinter, die by your own choosing, and weep for a nightingale."
Overall, The Bear and the Nightingale was one of the best debut novels I've ever read, and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read this book. I'd recommend it to absolutely everyone who enjoys dark, twisted fairytales and monsters, and heroines who defy all expectations.
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: 4.5 STARS!
Genre: Adult Fantasy/LGBT
Series/Standalone: The Nevernight Chronicle #2
How I got this book: Bought
Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.
When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.
If you're looking for a bloody spectacle of a book with more 'boobs and blood' (Jay Kristoff's words, not mine) than its prequel, you'll love Godsgrave.
At the beginning of this book, we rejoin our heroin but not where I expected to. The first half of the book jumps between the present day and four mounts prior and leaves you doing a lot of guesswork as to what's going on and why.
Mia is still on her quest for vengeance and blood and it leads her in new directions and to new, shocking revelations.
What I love most about Mia is her 'couldn't care less' attitude and I think, in particular, the way that Jay Kristoff writes her sexuality (and her self-discovery) is really beautiful (not a word often used to describe this series) but the fact that when Mia recognises her sexuality and just accepts it, without a thought of what anyone will think, it's just perfect and personally, I want more bisexual heroines like this.
I'd waited a while since finishing Nevernight to read Godsgrave (I wanted to read it closer to the Darkdawn release - more on that later) and I was so excited to get back to the characters that I'd grown to love in book one, but what I hadn't expected was so many amazing new characters that really made this book something special.
I'm going to start with my absolute favourite new character Sidonius who is an absolute legend. I love him and his crass, no filtered mouth and personally, after reading this book I just want someone to be proud enough to call me a 'magnificent little bitch!'
The author introduces several other characters; Maggot, Bryn and Byern, Wavewalker, Bladesinger, Furian, Arkades and Dona Leona - all fantastic (and terrible) in their own ways and fantastic additions to the cast.
I loved each and every moment with these characters including the unexpected surprises they delivered at the end.
Now, I have rated Godsgrave at 4.5 stars instead of 5 and that's simply because I enjoyed Nevernight more. Nevernight blew me away, I'd never really read anything like it and it both shocked and thrilled me.
With Godsgrave there were certain parts, and please don't hate me for saying this, that felt a tad predictable and a few revelations that I'd already guessed back in book one and so, whilst the characters themselves deserve the full 5 stars, for me at least, the book itself didn't grab me quite as much as Nevernight but it was still an immersive, thrilling second book of the trilogy and I'm both excited and terrified of what's yet to come.
A Conversation with Jay Kristoff in Manchester
Last night was the Manchester stop on Jay Kristoff's Darkdawn book tour and I was lucky enough to grab two tickets for my partner (also a huge Jay Kristoff fan) and I.
Let me just say that the 1.5 hour drive to Manchester was not enjoyable in the slightest, neither is driving in central Manchester - why do pedestrians just walk in the middle of the road and where the hell are the road markings???
Anyway, after holding our breaths as we dodged pedestrians, trams and other vehicles, we finally made it to Deansgate Waterstones in time for the event.
Listening to Jay Kristoff was a slightly surreal experience. I've read a few of his books (admittedly not that many); Nevernight, Godsgrave (which I finished at 1:30am the day of the event) and Illuminae (which is incredible) and I was almost nervous to meet him if that makes sense; you know what they say about meeting your heroes.
But Jay was fantastic, he was incredibly funny, intelligent, kind and witty and hearing about his methodology (writing Godsgrave in Venice), his inspirations (Roman history/politics and Ludovico Einaudi) his funny anecdotes (like the time he almost died in Venice, and getting his wife to proofread his sex scenes) and gaining a little insight into the mind behind these incredible books was a fantastic experience and well-worth the wait, even if we sadly couldn't get any of our books signed due to the massive wait time (5 year old girls will wait for no one, even someone as talented as Jay Kristoff).
Now I'm off to try and pry Darkdawn from the hands of my partner who stole it while I wasn't looking!
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
How I got this book: ARC via NetGalley
All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.
As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.
I love it when you read a book that isn't tagged as LGBTQ+ but it turns out that it is! (Especially when it's representing your own identity!)
It wasn't much, just a fleeting mention, but it sort of changes the way you connect with a book and it's characters when you see part of yourself reflected back at you.
I was completely intrigued by the bio of this book (and the cover because let's be honest, it's gorgeous and looks a lot like an A Court of Thorns and Roses novel) and when I started reading I instantly fell under its spell.
The main draw for me at first was the books, which are fantastic and such a great concept - it reminded me so much of The Pagemaster (if you haven't seen this gem, just go and watch it, you won't be disappointed!) and I felt so nostalgic! I love how the books are such an integral part of this story from start to finish, how they change and the secrets they hold, it's all fantastic!
What's also amazing (and unusual) about this book is that I loved each and every one of the characters. Elisabeth is so relatable and if you love books, you're going to love her and see a lot of yourself in her. She's fierce, courageous, loyal and true. Her bravery in the face of insurmountable odds is stunning and she makes a fantastic heroine.
Nathaniel's expression grew odd. "You like this place?"
"Of course I do. It has books in it."
Then we have Nathaniel, who is just delightful and now one of my favourite male characters. He's a tortured soul (because this is a YA and he has to be dammit!) with a dark secret (see last bracketed note), but he's so sweet and just adorable. I love how his and Elisabeth's relationship grows, their chemistry is so sweet. The fact that he continually calls her 'menace' and 'terror' is too adorable and their story has a real Pride and Prejudice vibe to it (but with magic and swords!)
"Of course you can stay, you menace. It isn't as though I could stop you even if I wanted to."
Then we come to my absolute favourite character in this whole book - SILAS!
Silas is amazing, he starts the book as such a sinister, menacing character and by the end, you just want to put him in your pocket and protect him from the world. He's such an incredible character with a level of sass that's off the charts. At one point he basically bitch slaps another character and it's glorious!
He looked aggrieved. "I have hardly been absent for twenty-four hours, and already the world has descended into ruin."
Through Elisabeth, the author weaves a fantastic feminist tale, putting into sharp focus the hardships faced by women at the hands of men, and the struggles women have to stand up and be heard when opposing a man. I particularly love the juxtapositions between certain real-life events.
To think that the world could fall to ruin due to the decisions of a single small-minded man in charge - that was all it took to doom everyone-
The ending of this book almost had me in tears, and truly, I'm so glad that this book is a standalone because, whilst I would love to revisit these characters, this book is fantastic as it is because of that stunning ending.
So, if you're looking for a feminist fantasy with a Pride and Prejudice style romance, magic, demons, swords and more books than you could hope for, go read Sorcery of Thorns.
Have you already read it? Come chat to me because I have so much to rave about with this book!
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: 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.
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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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