Welcome to my stop on the All Boy blog tour.
Since reading The Princess of Baker Street by Mia Kerick last year, I've been looking forward to reading her next release and I'm so excited to be sharing this review with you!
A very big thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me to review the book and participate in the tour.
Keep reading to check out the synopsis, my review and for your chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card (open internationally!)
Rating: 4 STARS
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
Seventeen-year-old Callie Canter knows all about screwing up—and being screwed over. After her so-called boyfriend publicly humiliated her senior year, taking a fifth year of high school at Beaufort Hills Academy is her second chance to leave behind a painful past. But her need for social acceptance follows, and going along with the in-crowd is the difference between survival and becoming a target. Staying off the radar is top priority. So, falling for an outsider is the last thing on Callie’s “to-do” list. Too bad her heart didn’t get the memo.
With his strict, religious upbringing and former identity far away in Florida, Jayden Morrissey can finally be true to himself at Beaufort Hills Academy. But life as a trans man means keeping secrets, and keeping secrets means not getting too close to anyone. If he can just get through his fifth year unnoticed, maybe a future living as the person he was born to be is possible. Yet love is love, and when you fall hard enough, intentions crumble, plans detour, and secrets are revealed.
From multi-award-winning author Mia Kerick, comes a powerful, timely, and life-changing novel, which follows two teenagers nursing broken hearts and seeking acceptance, and who together realize running away isn’t always the answer.
TW: Transphobia, sexual abuse, humiliation, mental health, bullying
I have to start by saying that (as you can see from the trigger warnings above) Mia Kerick has written a book that is full of pain and that was very difficult to read - but that's by no means a bad thing. Now, I'm not the best person to say whether this book dealt with the subject matter in the ‘right’ way necessarily but it was a powerful and enlightening read.
One of the reasons I read so many different genres is to find as many different stories and voices as possible and All Boy does not disappoint.
I'd braced myself somewhat for this book after reading The Princess of Baker Street earlier this year but it's still not easy to digest what the characters have to face and overcome.
For the most part, I found Callie’s character really difficult to bear, I almost hated her at times and some of that was due to seeing parts of myself reflected in her (self-hatred is anything but a breeze) but also at her ignorance and self-destructive nature but (without giving too much away) her development arc is something to be admired.
Jayden is a stunning character with so much strength and heart and I would have preferred to read more chapters from his POV. It's Jayden who broke my heart in this book, the truth and reality of his story and his pain bleeding from the pages was almost unbearable at times and my heart ached for him.
Callie and Jayden’s stories, both together and as individuals, are very compelling to read, everything they have to face and overcome and the story as a whole gives a very powerful insight into life as a trans man.
At times I felt that some of the dialogue was a bit too scripted, too formal and not realistic for the age group but the pacing of the story was good and the themes tackled well, at least in my opinion.
One of the shining characters for me in this book was Lauren who's almost the personification of acceptance. She delivers some beautiful truths to Callie and is a great friend and ally.
Overall, this was a really powerful and painful read that deals with sensitive topics and delivers important messages of self-acceptance, doing what's right and above all, that love is love.
Click the cover photo above to add the book to your Goodreads TBR and enter below for your chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card! The giveaway is open internationally so everyone can enter and it's hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.
Don't forget to click the banner at the top to follow the rest of the tour and feel free to leave your comments below :)
And finally, for something a little different, why not check out the book trailer below:
Rating: 5 STARS!!
How I got this book: Bought
In the town of Newsands, painfully shy Alex is abandoned by his two best friends for the summer. But he unexpectedly lands a part-time job at Wonderland, a run-down amusement arcade on the seafront, where he gets to know the other teen misfits who work there. Alex starts to come out of his shell, and even starts to develop feelings for co-worker Ben... who, as Alex's bad luck would have it, has a girlfriend.
Then as debtors close in on Wonderland and mysterious, threatening notes start to appear, Alex and his new friends take it on themselves to save their declining employer. But, like everything in Wonderland, nothing is quite what it seems...
This might be my absolute favourite book of the year so far and it's easily my top Pride Month read!
I was in a bit of a funk when I picked up this book, but Simon James Green (and Alex) managed to flip my bad mood on its head.
This book is a riot, I started laughing on the very first page and I don't think I stopped until long after I closed the book.
Alex, like Noah before him (if you haven't read Simon's debut novel Noah Can't Even, you can find it on Goodreads here!) I adored Noah, but I LOVED Alex in Wonderland!
Alex is so instantly relatable with his shy awkwardness and his extremely bad luck that was so familiar it was unsettling.
I love the English seaside setting, reading about the pier, the mini doughnuts and, of course, Wonderland itself made me crave the seaside so much (I haven't been for years) that it inspired me to take my family to New Brighton Beach last weekend so that my four-year-old could experience the joys of playing in the ocean, sand between your toes and the intoxicating thrill of the 2p machines!
Alex in Wonderland is so many things; a coming of age story, a first-love story, a friendship story and a mystery. It also tackles sexual identity and diverse representation through Alex, Efia and Ben and divorce through Alex's family in a way that keeps the pace moving and the story so much fun to read.
Simon James Green writes with a fantastically comedic, authentic voice and brings Alex's character tripping off the pages. I also really enjoyed the other characters in this book; Alex's step-mum (who I loved to hate), Lemon Boy (the second pizza restaurant scene had me shaking with laughter), Ben (and his dimples), Efia (and her meddling) and Maggie (who's sarcastic and crazy but caring at heart).
Without giving too much away, the only part of this book that I didn't like too much was the ending, Alex deserved to be treated better, much better!
Overall though, this was the perfect summer read. It's light, incredibly funny, relatable and so awkwardly-romantic you'll be biting back a grin the entire way through!
Now, I'll just be sitting her not-so-patiently waiting to see what awkward, adorable muppet of a character Simon James Green blesses us with next.
RATING: 3.5 STARS
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Standalone/Series: Love Letters #1
How I got this book: Bought
A is for Ash Heartford.
Adorable, strong, and independent.
Abandoned by his parents and attached to only one person—his little sister.
Attracted to River, the sultry man who saunters onto his doorstep with startling news.
Always yearning for more River, yet afraid to let him in.
Should he play it safe, or claim his legacy and risk losing his heart?
A is for Admiring Ash.
Admiring Ash is the first book in Anyta Sunday's brand new Love Letters series. I absolutely love Anyta Sunday, she is one of my favourite romance authors and I was so excited to dig into this new series.
As with pretty much all of Anyta's books, Admiring Ash features a super-sweet, slow-burn romance.
Ash is a nice guy, with a wariness of men because of his mum's past experiences. He's raising his younger sister and working several jobs to take care of her. He hates his jobs and is struggling to make ends meet until he receives some surprising news that could change his life forever.
River and Ash are both genuinely sweet, good guys and watching their friendship blossom into an extremely sweet relationship was lovely.
This book is really sweet and was a nice, quick-paced read. In this book I was introduced to the other two characters in the series, and I'm looking forward to their stories.
Rating: 5 STARS!!
Standalone/Series: The Xenith Trilogy #1
How I got this book: Bought
Delaney’s entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on Earth in order to escape an arranged marriage.
Kidnapped by the princess’s head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race.
No pressure or anything.
Factor in Trystan, the princess’s terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secrets, and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head.
Get lost Amid Stars and Darkness, in this YA sci-fi romance from debut author Chani Lynn Feener.
I've been a HUGE fan of Chani Lynn Feener ever since I discovered her Underworld series last year - if you love Greek mythology, strong heroines, swoon-worthy boys and three-headed dogs, go check it out!
When I read Amid Stars and Darkness for the first time it was the first sci-fi I'd ever actually made it through, let alone enjoyed. It was so much fun and definitely a 5-star read! Book two, Between Frost and Fury, is coming out next month and it's one of my most anticipated reads this year, that's why I decided to re-read book one to refresh my memory.
Side note: I have a shocking long-term memory. It really is awful and in all aspects of life it really bothers me, except when it comes to reading books. Forgetting the details helps to make a re-read much more special.
This story is so easy to fall into, one second you're on page one, meeting Delaney and Olena, and the next you're almost finished. The pace is fantastic and I read the entire book in just a few short sittings. I just couldn't put it down and was hooked from the very beginning.
I instantly loved Delaney who's an amazingly strong, resilient and witty character whilst still handling her situation realistically, she's definitely braver than me, I'd have been curled up in a corner panicking the entire time!
The imagery and world-building in this book are fantastic, I love the comparisons between Earth and the aliens, especially the pool room which is simply magical. I hope there's more of this amazing world to explore in book 2.
What I love most is that this book isn't just a typical romance, it's full of action and dastardly plots that keep your eyes glued to the page.
I won't say too much about the other characters in this book as I really don't want to give too much away. Just know that I had so much fun with all of the characters. Ruckus is strong, loyal, sweet and HOT. Trystan is big, brooding and pretty malicious for the most part, so why is he my favourite?!?
Prepare yourself for one hell of a cliffhanger ending! That ending has had me hanging on so long for the sequel. I luckily managed to snag an ARC of Between Frost and Fury from the lovely team at Swoon Reads, so I'm reading it next!! I can't wait! I'm desperate to get jump back into this fantastic world!
If you're a fan of 'enemies/friends to lovers', strong-willed heroines, drop-dead gorgeous heroes & villains, and action-filled plots, you'll love Amid Stars and Darkness!
Rating: 3.5 STARS
Genre: M/M Fantasy Romance
Standalone/Series: Fae-Touched #1
How I got this book: ARC from NineStar Press, LLC via NetGalley
After returning to the straight and narrow, Cary Westfield hopes to rebuild his life as a stage magician. Only thing is, the success of his new show is entirely dependent on a strange medallion inherited from his late grandfather—an amulet that holds a rare and inexplicable power to captivate the wearer’s audience.
Ty prides himself on his ability to obtain any item of magical significance—for the right price. When a mysterious client hires him to steal a magical amulet from a neophyte illusionist, he’s sure it will be a quick and easy job, earning him a nice chunk of cash.
As it turns out, nothing is sure when greed and powerful magic are at play. When a mob boss with far-reaching aspirations beats Ty to the snatch, Cary and Ty form an unlikely partnership to get the amulet back. The unexpected spark of attraction between them is a welcome perk, but each man has his own plan for the prize.
All bets are off, however, when it is revealed the magical amulet holds a darker secret than either of them had bargained for.
If you’re looking for a sweet, fun m/m romance packed to the brim with magical artefacts, powerful sorcerers, a sorceress, mob bosses, thrills, danger, a daring heist, sleight of hand, and a hot and heavy romance, this is the book for you!
From the very first chapter, this book is packed full of action and chemistry.
Cary (I’m not too sure how to pronounce this so I went for Gary, with a C) – is an amateur illusionist whose popularity is spiking faster than it should which draws the attention of some rather unsavoury characters, and Ty, a very particular thief, specialising in magical objects.
After a rocky start to their relationship, involving a robbery at gunpoint, Ty and Cary’s relationship comes together really quickly (erm, no pun intended).
The romance/attraction did feel a little rushed at the beginning but as the story progressed it got decidedly better and felt much more natural. I think I swooned a little each time Ty said, ‘Baby.’ 😍
I really liked the magical element of the story and the supporting characters. There’s plenty of action and suspense that really help to keep the plot moving at a steady pace and I really enjoyed the light-hearted humour sprinkled throughout.
It was also a relatively short read which I read over two, 2-hour sessions.
Overall, I really enjoyed this sweet, action-packed story and I’m looking forward to the next in the series, which I hope answers some questions I still have.
Rating: 4 STARS
Standalone/Series: Ash Princess Trilogy #1
How I got this book: ARC from Pan Macmillan via NetGalley
Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess--a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.
For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.
Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield.
For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.
I've been hearing soooo many things about this book that I had to check it out for myself as soon as I saw it come available on NetGalley.
Whilst the storyline does seem a little familiar, an avenging princess is a fairly common theme in YA, the author executes this narrative extremely well through the complex characters.
The interweaving cast of characters are each driven by their own motives but tied to the past actions of their predecessors and those influencing them, making it so that even at the end of this book, I still wasn't quite sure who's side I was on or who to root for.
Theo is a fantastically compelling character, she has all the qualities of a badass heroine; she's strong, loyal, fierce, driven and tortured. The pain that she deals with each day from her memories, her subjugation, and her own inner conflict is staggering. Watching her evolve from the character we meet at the beginning of the book to who's revealed at the end is quite an adventure.
The opening of the book is brilliant! The first chapter was so compelling that I became instantly invested in Theo, wanting revenge for her on all who'd destroyed the very fabric of her world. And the second chapter even further cemented all that she's lost and who she's been forced to become.
"You know who you are," she said to me. Her voice didn't waver, even as drops of blood bloomed where the blade cut her skin. "You are our people's only hope, Theodosia."
I do love Theo's strength, especially as time progresses, I love that she's not afraid to recognise that she will never be who she once was, who she was supposed to have become, that she's been moulded and forced into a different version of herself, one that even she doesn't yet understand. I'm truly looking forward to discovering what she's capable of as the series progresses.
"My body remembers - even when the rest of me forgets - that I am not made for curtsying."
There is a love triangle aspect to this book which I really, really wasn't a fan of. I'm not a huge fan of love triangles anyway since someone almost always gets hurt (you know, unless the author decides to resolve it in a seriously creepy way *cough*Twilight*cough*).
I actually really love the symbolism of the ash crown, as horrible as it is, I can picture it clearly in my mind, and love the imagery.
The other characters in the novel are also really well done:
- Soren - I have so many mixed feelings about this character!!! He's pretty useless to be perfectly honest. But, I think Theo is confused by him too so I guess that's kind of the point.
- Cress - I hate her for the most part, but there's a spark of something yet to come.
- Heron - Needs a much bigger role (because he's awesome and to help boost the very minimal LGBT rep)!
- Art - I love her no-nonsense attitude, it will be interesting to see who she becomes in the next book.
- Blaise - I don't know whether or not I actually like Blaise, but it looks like he's in for a rocky road ahead.
There is a lot of plotting and deception in this book which leads to some great, 'heart in mouth' moments where you're really unsure what's going to happen next. However, I did struggle with trying to decide whether some of the actions of certain characters, were acceptable or not. I think this builds upon my uncertainty of who to root for, but there's a line in the book about not having to apologise for what we do to survive...it feels a little sketchy for me and an easy path to becoming just as bad as the oppressor you're fighting against. So, I'm interested to see what comes of that.
In whole, this book is a very powerful portrayal of privilege, power and abuse. Probably the most poignant line being,
"I suppose it is easy to be at home in a world where you are on top. It's easy not to notice those whose backs you stand on to stay there."
Overall, I'm really looking forward to continuing Theo's journey in the next book of the series and would highly recommend Ash Princess to lovers of strong heroines, subterfuge, revenge, love-struck princes, female pirates and maniacal villains.
My only (very minor) complaint was that there just wasn't enough magic in this book - I'm really excited to see how it works and hope this is illustrated in the next book.
I think fans of Throne of Glass and Children of Blood and Bone, in particular, would enjoy Ash Princess.
Rating: 3.5 STARS
Standalone/Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1
How I got this book: Bought
The Winter Solstice. In a week. I was still new enough to being High Lady that I had no idea what my formal role was to be. If we'd have a High Priestess do some odious ceremony, as lanthe had done the year before. A year. Gods, nearly a year since Rhys had called in his bargain, desperate to get me away from the poison of the Spring Court to save me from my despair. Had he been only a minute later, the Mother knew what would have happened. Where I'd now be. Snow swirled and eddied in the garden, catching in the brown fibers of the burlap covering the shrubs My mate who had worked so hard and so selflessly, all without hope that I would ever be with him We had both fought for that love, bled for it. Rhys had died for it.
I was so completely and utterly excited for this book! I fell in love with the A Court of Thorns and Roses series last year when I discovered it for the first time. I devoured all three books and couldn't get enough of Feyre, the Inner Circle, her sisters, the other courts, Velaris, the Suriel, the entire world. I was fully immersed, I wanted to live and breathe it and I was devastated when it was all over.
That is until I heard about A Court of Frost and Starlight. I could not contain my excitement, I pre-ordered it on Amazon the day it became available although I knew absolutely nothing about it. I just knew that I had to have it.
It felt like forever until the release day arrived and then it finally appeared two days ago. It was so small! I was initially shocked at the size, not having realised that it was a novella, but I wasn't deterred, nothing could contain my excitement.
Until I started reading. I quickly became frustrated with a few things, namely:
1. Not a great deal happens.
2. It's pretty depressing - understandable given the events of A Court of Wings and Ruin but still, there's a lot of pain in this book.
3. Feyre is portrayed as a saint.
4. All Rhys wants is sex.
5. Most of the characters besides Feyre and Rhys have very little page time.
6. There's a lot of shopping involved.
Then, I realised that the problem wasn't necessarily the book, it was me. I'd built up all this hype, OMG it's the next ACOTAR book!! I NEED IT NOW!! Etc. that I think I was expecting more from it than I was ever going to get from a novella which is basically trying to bridge the gap to the next book (spin-off book) whilst providing what is essentially an ode to Feysand.
So, let me start over.
I truly loved falling back into the ACOTAR world, back to Velaris and other parts of Prythian that I'd missed. I loved being back within the Inner Circle, even if it was hard to see how difficult some of them were finding it to adjust to life after the war.
It's was nice to see that some things never change. There are still lots of sweet moments, lots of fun (the snowball fight and sauna scenes), plenty of laughs (Elain's gifts to Az), and there were a lot of heated moments (all involving Rhys, of course).
What I would have liked more of, and what I really, desperately want from future books is:
What I loved most about ACOFAS was the sneak peek we get at the end into the next, as yet untitled, book that will follow. I won't give anything away but it looks promising and fingers crossed there will be more substance and a few of the things from the list above in the next one.
I'm giving this book 3.5 stars because, whilst I did enjoy being back in the world of ACOTAR, I just didn't feel that there was enough of a story here, or at least, not as much as I would have liked.
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Standalone/Series: The Naughty Princess Club #1 - (can be read as a standalone)
How I got this book: ARC from St. Martin's Press
Meet the Naughty Princess Club: a brand new series from USA Today bestselling author Tara Sivec that introduces readers to Fairytale Lane and the hilarity—and romance—that ensue when three women start a new business to make it rain.
Once upon a time Cynthia was the perfect housewife. Between being the President of the PTA and keeping her home spotless without a hair (or her pearls) out of place, her life was a dream come true. Her husband was once her knight in shining armor, but now he’s run off with all their money…and the babysitter.
Dressed as a princess at the annual Halloween block party on Fairytale Lane, she meets two other “princesses” also facing money troubles: antique store owner Ariel and librarian Isabelle. When the women are invited to wear their costumes to a party where they’re mistaken for strippers, Cindy, Ariel, and Belle realize that a career change could be the best way to make their money problems go bippity-boppity-boo.
But can structured Cindy approach a stripper pole without sanitizing wipes? And could the blue-eyed anti-prince that has been crossing her path become Cindy’s happily ever after? At the Stroke of Midnight is a hilarious, empowering story where princesses can save themselves while slaying in stilettos.
Tara Sivec is the queen of adult comedy!
I've said it before and I'll say it again, nothing makes me laugh like Tara's romantic comedies.
"Okay, I get it now. If he had said it makes his frickle hard, that wouldn't have been as hot."
The characters are fun, real and crazy (in the best possible way)! The one-liners in this book had me laughing so hard I snorted. I love the ladies in this book. Cindy is strong-willed, ballsey and sexy but years of oppression force her into the mould of a prude. It takes a crappy wake up call, new friends and a man who lights everything on fire with his smoulder to give Cindy the push she needs to take back control of her life. And she does it in style!
"You will tell me everything about why you walked over here an hour ago just to talk business and suddenly I find you riding him like Seabiscuit."
Fans of Tara's Holiday's series will also be happy to spot the little Easter Egg from two of our favourite Holiday's characters in this book.
This book is perfect for anyone who needs a side-splitting laugh with a heavy dose of grin-inducing romance, a hero to swoon for and three badass leading ladies (plus the other awesome ladies in this book) who pack punches, kicks and more dirty talk than a ship full of sailors. Fans of Tara's Chocolate Lovers/Chocoholics Series and Jed Had to Die will devour this book!
"My God, you have eye chlamydia! See, I told you it wasn't an urban legend!"
If you love princesses, but wish they were a little more 'real' you need to read At the Stroke of Midnight! I can't wait for Belle to tackle the Beast in book number two!! I'll be over here still laughing at this book while I wait, and ordering myself a few tequila t-shirts ;)
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Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, aspiring writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
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