Rating: 3.5/4 STARS
Series/Standalone: At First Sight #1
How I got this book: Bought via Audible
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Paul Auster doesn't. Paul doesn't believe in much at all. He’s thirty, slightly overweight, and his best features are his acerbic wit and the color commentary he provides as life passes him by. His closest friends are a two-legged dog named Wheels and a quasibipolar drag queen named Helena Handbasket. He works a dead-end job in a soul-sucking cubicle, and if his grandmother's homophobic parrot insults him one more time, Paul is going to wring its stupid neck.
Enter Vince Taylor.
Vince is everything Paul isn’t: sexy, confident, and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. And for some reason, Vince pursues Paul relentlessly. Vince must be messing with him, because there is no way Vince could want someone like Paul.
But when Paul hits Vince with his car—in a completely unintentional if-he-died-it'd-only-be-manslaughter kind of way—he's forced to see Vince in a whole new light. The only thing stopping Paul from believing in Vince is himself—and that is one obstacle Paul can’t quite seem to overcome. But when tragedy strikes Vince's family, Paul must put aside any notions he has about himself and stand next to the man who thinks he's perfect the way he is.
Trigger Warnings: Loss/grief and some homophobia.
I listened to an excerpt of this book on Audible and instantly fell in love with Michael Lesley's narration, in particular, his voices for Paul, Vince and Helena.
Over the past few months, I've fallen head-over-heels for TJ's work. His characters are fantastic - I love Paul's self-deprecating humour, Vince's sweet, persistent nature and Helena's fierce, no-nonsense attitude.
Tell Me It's Real starts off very lighthearted and funny but grows into an emotional, touching story with an unexpected element of tragedy and grief.
Paul's family are perfect! They're hilarious, accepting and truly loving whilst Vince's father is the complete opposite.
Paul and Vince's relationship is swift but no less beautiful and meaningful.
"Take that homophobes!"
TJ's immersive writing style and Michael Lesley's wonderful narration thrust me into this story and easily brought to the life realistic and relatable (even if they are a bit ridiculous and OTT at times) characters.
This is the sixth book that I've read by TJ Klune and it's completely unlike any of the others. I can't seem to get enough of his books right now and I love that he writes across so many different genres. Some of his characters share similarities i.e. Sam (Tales from Verania) reminds me a lot of Paul (Tell Me It's Real) whilst Helena (Tell Me It's Real) is very reminiscent of Gary (Tales from Verania) and yet they surprise me, make me laugh, and give me the feels each time I pick up a new book!
So, if you're in the mood for a very sweet, contemporary m/m romance that guarantees that you'll be laughing out loud alongside moments of sadness and heartache, 'Tell Me It's Real' is the book for you!
Rating: 3.5 STARS
Genre: Dark Romance
Standalone/Series: Tales of Love & Woe #1
How I got this book: ARC from the author
Put away your magic wands and pumpkins.
These are not sweet, tender fairy tales.
Four flawed heroines.
Four classic tales of love and woe retold for modern times...
Because there’s never been an easy road to happily ever after.
The Lonely Crow—Surrounded by coyotes and unexpected magic, a heartbroken ornithologist becomes the target of a park ranger's aggressive affection. To survive, she must trust the instincts that failed her so completely once already.
Goose—After a one-night-stand leaves her belly swollen and reputation in tatters, an unemployed gas-station clerk finds herself at the mercy of her lover’s mother. But if her own troubled childhood taught her anything, it’s that she’ll fight to the death to protect her baby, and that love never comes the way we expect.
Rosie Waking—Following her father’s disappearance, a small-town waitress lives wedged under her boss’s thumb until a stranger forces her to view her life through a different lens. Can she decide, once and for all, where loyalty stops and subservience begins?
De Rege’s Laundry—When a mob boss’s desperate daughter makes a deal with the devil, she doesn’t expect a handsome ex-soldier to muck it all up. Suddenly, the woman who'd sworn to sacrifice anything for freedom must choose between escape and losing the one person who cares about her happiness.
Beautiful and atmospheric, Tales of Love & Woe is 110k word collection exploring modern womanhood through twisted retellings of The Little Mermaid, The Golden Goose and The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, Snow White & Rose Red, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses. While love and kindness are major themes in these stories, the darker sides of human nature are, too. As such, this collection is intended only for a mature audience. After all ... fairy tales were meant to be grim.
I decided to read this collection of dark fairy tales over Halloween and 'dark' is almost the wrong word, these stories are heavy and come with a ton of trigger warnings i.e sexual, physical and mental abuse.
I haven't yet read anything else by this author but I really enjoyed her writing style and found myself hooked within just a few pages of the first story.
I actually hadn't read the full synopsis before reading the book, and so I wasn't sure which story was connected to which particular fairytale. It turns out that the only story I was already really familiar with was The Little Mermaid and so I picked up on that one immediately whilst reading The Lonely Crow.
The heroines in these stories are almost impossibly strong in spite of the suffering, pain and misery they've experienced, and the villains are truly horrifying.
Goose was probably my least favourite story from this collection and that's only because the theme of the book resonated too much with me. We all have our fears and I've had more than enough nightmares surrounding someone or something taking my child from me, so whilst I can appreciate the story, it was almost too painful to read at times.
I think my favourite story was Rosie Waking, which I actually thought was a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but I guess that wasn't the case. For me, this story was the strongest, and also the most magical. I loved Rosie's story, painful and sinister as it was.
The romance in these novels are almost a sub-plot in comparison to the trials and tribulations faced by the heroines, and a lot of the romances were surprising and definitely not what I expected.
So, if you're looking for a collection of modern-day fairy tales that are sure to give you chills, make your skin crawl and have you gripping your book in terror, The Tales of Love and Woe novella collection is the one for you!
Welcome to my stop on the To Be Honest blog tour!
I'm so excited to share my review with you all! I've had my eye on this book for ages because I'm always looking for more body positive rep and I was thrilled at the chance to read it, so huge thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me to participate in the tour!
Rating: 5 STARS!
Genre: Contemporary YA
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her sister goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.
Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own. As Savvy and George grow closer, they help each other discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears.
I just want to jump up and down and rave about this amazing book, so you'll have to bear with me here! First of all, here's a quick summary of what I LOVE most about this book:
This book was impossible to put down from the moment I started reading, and I flew through it so quickly that I could honestly read it again.
I love Savannah, I love her confidence, her positive outlook and attitude, her loyalty and her compassion.
"News flash: fat isn't a bad word, Mom."
I also love that she's completely relatable. She has principles that she stands by, she has her own insecurities, and she has anxiety (something I feel is portrayed exceptionally well by the author, especially since not one single person treats it as a problem or a burden they have to deal with or as something that she should just 'get over').
"It suddenly felt like all the air had been pushed out of my lungs. I swayed on my feet as the ringing in my ears began. No matter how many panic attacks I had, my body always believed that it was dying."
I also found Savannah likeable and truly funny, this book had me chuckling so many times, especially when she's around George and her thoughts take a turn for the amusing.
"My mouth watered (for multiple reasons, mostly the pizza, though, to be honest) and I invited him inside."
Parts of this book were a little tough for me personally. I've "struggled" with my body image my entire life, and truthfully, a lot of that stems from people close to me telling me that they're worried for me, that I should try to be more healthy to the point where I no longer felt comfortable in my own skin.
The way Savannah's mum treats her perfectly illustrates the things I've gone through in my own life and honestly, there were moments that were so real they had me close to tears.
"You'd be a lot happier if you could just make the choice to lead a healthier life."
One thing that Savannah has that I didn't is an amazing, supportive friend. I absolutely adore Grace, Savannah's best friend, who is always in Savannah's corner.
Then there's George; sweet, naive, blushing George. The romance in this book is completely adorable, especially as both George and Savannah are a little clueless when it comes to expressing their feelings.
If you're looking for more body positivity in your life, if you're sick and tired of body shaming and reading books with toxic friendships, I urge you to read To Be Honest. I especially recommend to fans of Becky Albertalli who I think will adore Maggie Ann Martin's writing style!
I'm so thankful to Maggie Ann Martin for writing this fantastic book and to Swoon Reads for publishing it! We need more body positive YA. I feel certain that if I'd read more books like this when I was younger, I wouldn't have spent most of my teenage life feeling so insecure.
"There's no expiration date on acceptance."
What do you think? Remember that you can click on the cover photo above to add To Be Honest to your Goodreads TBR!
Thanks again for stopping by and joining me on my leg of the tour! Click here to follow the rest of the tour!
You can also enter below for your chance to win a print copy of To Be Honest (US/CAN only - giveaway hosted by Xpresso Book Tours)!
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Genre: Contemporary YA
How I got this book: ARC from Little Brown Books via NetGalley
Florence is pretty sure she's not got much in common with the other patients at Manor Lane Diagnostic & Therapy Centre. Wilf has ADHD and a tendency to punch doors, Andrew's ASD means he likes to run to a schedule as precise as a Japanese train, and Jasper would be far too perky if it wasn't for his moods at mealtimes.
It's only when Howard Green, the centre's psychotherapist goes missing that they start to share some common ground. They've told Howard things they've never told anyone before. They trusted him and were making progress. Starting again with someone else is an unbearable prospect. Together the four of them decide that they need answers and set off on a roadtrip, vowing to track him down.
I really wasn't expecting to like this book as much as I did!
I absolutely love the characters and their varying personalities. Each one is so distinct, diverse and compelling and I love how well the author portrays mental health in all its variations.
The book is set in the UK, which I really enjoyed. Since I'm British, I find I sometimes relate more to books with familiar settings etc, and it definitely felt that way with The Definition of Us.
Whilst reading this book it gave me a bit of a Breakfast Club vibe whilst also reminding me a little of Clean by Juno Dawson (which I highly recommend if you haven't read it!)
What I truly love the most about this book is how realistic the characters are, they were so relatable, and their journey both together and as individuals is really beautiful.
I can honestly say that this is the best book about mental health that I've read to date. The representation, understanding, acceptance and relatability of mental health portrayed in this book was, in my opinion, flawless.
It's juxtaposed with sweetness, humour, romance and friendship and I enjoyed every minute of it.
I was so caught up in these characters and their stories that it was only when I'd finish did I realise I saw so much of myself in them. Different insecurities, worries, and problems that I've struggled with throughout my life, reflected back at me in these characters, and I was left feeling better about myself.
This book is about hope, about strength and about how being human is complicated and that absolutely no one is perfect, everyone is facing some form of internal struggle, no matter how put together they seem on the outside.
I'm going to finish with a truly beautiful quote, and encourage you all to read this book!
"There is always a moment in the future you'll be glad you stuck around for."
Rating: 4 STARS
How I got this book: Bought
There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.
Caden is a Nice: the boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: the brooding, dark-souled guy who is dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose the Nice or the Bad?
Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be—whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.
What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.
This book is a prime example of why, whilst I absolutely love reading (spoiler-free) book reviews, I don’t allow them to completely dictate my reading choices.
It’s also why, whilst I love writing book reviews (so much so that I decided to start this blog), I will never write a review for a book that I didn’t connect with or enjoy because I firmly believe that each and every person gets something different from reading a book and that no two people will have exactly the same experience when reading the same book.
I came across The Love Interest on Twitter and was completely intrigued by the synopsis, an LGBT Spy YA novel!! When I went to add it to my TBR on Goodreads, I noticed a couple of not so positive reviews of the book, and whilst I respect the opinions of those readers, I enjoy forming my own opinions, especially since the book already had me excited from the synopsis alone, and I’m really glad that I did!
The Love Interest is fantastic! I think the concept is original and fantastic, it gave me sort of sci-fi vibes too which was really interesting.
The characters are likeable and somehow relatable even despite their unusual circumstances. I loved Caden and Dyl so much!! Every interaction made me smile and swoon just a little bit more.
I think the author does a fantastic job in providing a fantastical plot that’s filled with relatable characters who you can’t help but care about whilst also featuring a really strong LGBT message, as well as being a strong advocate for self-acceptance.
"I didn't exist to teach her a lesson, and it irks me that she thinks labelling me is okay now. Like, by liking guys I automatically take on that role in her life. That I'm suddenly a supporting character in her story rather than the hero of my own."
I was asked in another post if this story features a love triangle, and without giving too much away, whilst it does feature certain elements of a love triangle, it certainly doesn’t follow the usual stereotypes.
The pace is great, I never once found myself drifting off or getting bored, I was fully invested in the story from the very beginning. The characters are compelling, the ‘antagonists’ are menacing and, in some cases, downright creepy!
The slow burn romance was perfection, it was so sweet (even with the slight confusion towards the end) and features probably my favourite romance trope of all time! It was light-hearted, sweet and so much fun to read.
There were a couple of plot points I was unsure of and have a few questions about, like, why Dyl lied, and why the LIC feel the need to incinerate EVERYONE, but it was nothing major and certainly didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.
Overall, I’d highly recommend this fast-paced, action-packed, diverse YA to anyone looking for a new take on the traditional ‘spy’ storyline. It actually reminded me a little bit of the film ‘This Means War’ (if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it) but with more creepy robots, cool inventions and teenage angst.
Oh, before I forget, I also wanted to go on a weird tangent and talk about the book itself, as in the physical paperback. This book has a really stunning cover, and it feels so weird!! Most books are glossy and smooth, but this book is sort of rough, which I absolutely love for some reason! It really stands out!
Rating: 5 STARS!
Standalone/Series: Tales from Verania #1
How I got this book: Bought
Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.
Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam's pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the King's Wizard, Morgan of Shadows.
When Sam is fourteen, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.
At fifteen, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle. Sir Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.
Naturally, it all goes to hell through the years when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can't control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the King sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan's boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.
Or so he thinks.
Disclosure: Due to the explicit nature of this book, this review includes some mature content and is intended for readers aged 18+. You have been warned.
I’m gonna be honest, it was the prospect of the ‘gay, hornless unicorn’ that really made me click ‘buy’ when I read the synopsis, and Gary does not disappoint. He’s overflowing with glitter, sass and a serious case of potty mouth, and he’s fantastic!
I want to start by saying how disappointed in myself I am that I’d never heard of T.J. Klune, or read any of his books until stumbling across this one on BookBub, and so on that note, I want to thank BookBub (check them out for discounted and free ebooks!) for making me aware of one of the most outrageously funny books I have ever had the pleasure of reading.
I really don’t know where to start with this book, I finished it last night (read: early hours this morning) and I can’t get over how AMAZING it was. I don’t even have the right words to sum up how amazing this book is, I’m still so overwhelmed by it all, so I hope this review makes some sense.
From the moment I started reading, I fell in love with Sam, his friends and his world, and I was never once bored along the way. I was fully immersed in the world of Verania and its colourful characters from the very first page.
Sam is an incredible narrator, he’s sweet, caring, loyal to a fault, sincere, good, helplessly naïve and hysterically funny. Oh, he also does some pretty cool magic!
Even amongst all the sass, I found myself tearing up in certain parts for my beautiful, sweet Sam.
I love that this book isn’t a regular historical romance. It’s an epic fantasy adventure filled with magic, wizards (both good and bad), castles, knights, giants and dragons. It has literally everything you could want from an epic fantasy whilst also featuring a slow-burn, sizzling, pining M/M romance and more LGBT characters than I’ve ever seen in a single book.
There’s even a fairy drag mother, yeah, you heard me!
“Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Verania, there was a kickass boy born in the slums of the City of Lockes. His parents were hardworking, and at times, life could be difficult, but they were alive and had all their teeth. Which was important.”
Even more so, beneath all of that, this is a story with emotional depth spanning friendships, family bonds and true love.
Reading ‘The Lightning Struck Heart’ was no easy feat since I was reading mostly at night and having to smother my laughter at the sheer amount of sass and bitching from all the characters.
“’Horse?’ Gary snarled. The pretty unicorn act dropped immediately. Red sparks shot from his nose. ‘Did you just call me a horse? Listen here, you two-legged bag of shit. I’m not a motherfucking horse. I am a unicorn, and I am magic and a beautiful creature made of fucking sunshine and rainbows and good feelings.’”
“’Nicole,’ Tina hissed. ‘Keep your comments to yourself! Be a respectable fucking lady, for fuck’s sake!’”
“’Don’t marry Dimitri,’ he said. ‘You’re not meant to be a fairy queen. Not in the literal sense, anyway.’”
Somebody, stop me!
Sam of Wilds is such a fantastic protagonist. His inner monologue is perfect and from the very beginning, all I wanted was for him to succeed, to get what he wants, especially since he always puts everyone else first. He wears his heart on his sleeve and hides behind his words and I have everything crossed that he’s just as amazing in book two!
So, if you’re looking to be swept away on a magical, epic adventure with a love struck, oblivious wizard in training, a dashingly stupid night, a vengeful prince, a kind-hearted King, a loving family, a sassy, fabulous unicorn with a penchant for bondage, a half-giant trying to learn sarcasm, an overly sexual dragon-god, a bemused wizard, dick noses, almost gay fairy marriage, boys with ‘ears’, dark wizards, monologuing, fairy drag mothers, a corn cult, and cheesy dicks and candlesticks, then this is the book for you! Phew!
Recommended for anyone with a love for the ridiculous and preferably a room you can read in that's far away from people so that you won't startle anyone with your hysterical outbursts.
P.S: HaveHeart forever!
Rating: 5 STARS!
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy
How I got this book: Bought
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome
2) A person's undoing
3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She prides herself on being loved by everyone at work - except for imposing, impeccably attired Joshua Templeman.
Trapped in a shared office, they've become entrenched in an addictive game of one-upmanship. There's the Staring Game, The Mirror Game, The HR Game. Lucy can't let Joshua beat her at anything - especially when a huge promotion is on offer.
If Lucy wins, she'll be Joshua's boss. If she loses, she'll resign. So why is she questioning herself? Maybe she doesn't hate him. And just maybe, he doesn't hate her either. Or is this just another game . . . ?
I added this book to my TBR last September and then promptly forgot all about it until I saw someone raving about it on Goodreads. Their review was so good (sadly I can't remember whose it was) that I just had to read it, and I'm so glad I did.
This book is amazing. It's an enemies to lovers style trope with a guaranteed HEA and it's laugh out loud funny throughout.
"They’re brothers in arms. Comrades who’ve seen some seriously painty shit go down in this barren wasteland."
I literally read this book in 6 hours straight. I started it and could not put it down, I honestly don't even think I went to the bathroom.
It was cute, sweet, downright hilarious and super steamy! Brace yourselves for a few cold showers with this read, and some ridiculously high expectations in men once you're finished.
I also love the characters. Lucy is a book-nerd; she's sweet, she has a hilarious inner monologue and is so relatable it hurts.
"Josh watches ER and yawns, not at all suspecting I’m trying to estimate how big his rib cage is like a meat-eating predator."
Josh is the ultimate book boyfriend. He's sexy, sweet and drives Lucy crazy in all the best ways.
There were amazing laugh out loud moments in this book and I loved Lucy's rants and revelations.
“I want to know what’s going on in your brain. I want to juice your head like a lemon.”
The story is heartwarming, the development is perfect (a fantastic pace) and the love story comes together beautifully. This is the author's debut novel and it's so good, I just can't get it out of my head.
Fans of Tara Sivec's romantic comedies will absolutely love The Hating Game!
5 big, soppy, strawberry flavour stars from me.
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
Standalone/Series: The Smoke Thieves #1
How I got this book: ARC from Penguin Random House UK Children’s via NetGalley
A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict.
In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.
As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?
I absolutely LOVED this book.
You might have seen my earlier post when I first received the ARC from NetGalley along with a letter from the author, Sally Green, about her promise to provide an intelligent heroine.
Suffice it to say, I was excited to get started.
The book starts with 1 of our 5 main characters, Tash and her companion Gravell, setting a trap for a demon. I loved this opening chapter, it really gives a lot of insight quite quickly into who Tash is and what she does, as well as doing a great job of building the world that we're entering into.
Each of the characters' opening scenes works really well and what I love most about this book is how each characters' journey progresses until they all intertwine.
I did draw some comparisons with Six of Crows in terms of the 5 main characters, I'll list these lower down for those who'd rather not know. It also has a certain element of danger, mystery and magic to it that was also reminiscent of our beloved Grishaverse.
This book is very immersive, I didn't want to put it down once I'd started reading. Each character faces unique challenges and struggles on their respective journeys and I couldn't get enough. I love that the characters are diverse, I think the villain(s) are really strong, hate-able characters which drive the story really well and there's plenty of intrigue with a potential love triangle and 'forbidden' love brewing that I'm really looking forward to seeing more of.
My only complaint, and it's a very minor one, is that the book ends on a slightly sketchy cliffhanger. It didn't really feel like a neat place to wrap up this book and now I'm brewing with questions over what happens next but also feeling like there should have been a little more clarification on what the hell just happened?!?
Side note: This is probably just because all of the great books I've read lately end in cliffhangers and I hate waiting!!
I loved this book. The author fulfilled her promise of a strong, intelligent heroine and also delivered more in the way of the other characters who I really can't get enough of, alongside the fantastic, magical plot.
I do also have to mention Gravell, who I loved, and who almost made me cry.
Highly recommended for fans of Six of Crows, Children of Blood and Bone, Harry Potter etc
4.5 stars for this brilliant YA fantasy.
Six of Crows Character Comparisons:
In no way are the characters replicas, they're each interesting and unique, I just personally had a 'feel' about them that made me think of the Six of Crows gang. Although, no Kaz.
If you have/do read The Smoke Thieves, let me know what you think!
Rating: 5 STARS!
How I got this book: Bought
Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.
On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.
Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.
They Both Die at the End is one of the first books I've ever read where I literally knew what was going to happen at the end but I still wasn't prepared!!
If you're a big ol' softy like yours truly, be sure to have a box of tissues handy to catch all those bittersweet tears.
I love the concept of Death-Cast, as terrifying as it is, that you get notice on the day you're supposed to die (I think a minimum of 24 hours notice would be nice, otherwise that kinda sucks even more), so that you can do things you never thought to do or spend time saying goodbye.
No, I would not actually want this service. I think counting down the time until you die is probably worse than not expecting it, but then I guess, for the people you're leaving behind, Death-Cast would be better for them....since it involves death it's pretty much a no-win situation all round.
Anyway, I digress. I really, really enjoyed the storytelling in this book, I loved the format and that we are able to connect with Mateo and Rufus through their first person POV chapters whilst also getting snippets from other characters who are all connected to, and impact, Mateo and Rufus's last day.
Mateo is sweet, completely innocent and so wrapped in bubble wrap that it's lovely to see him finally break out of his comfort zone thanks to Rufus. Rufus is a bad boy with a soft center who isn't afraid to go after what he wants, is struggling with loss and yet is still willing to make sure Mateo (a complete stranger when they meet) has the best last day of his life.
The friendship that blooms between these two characters is real, genuine and beautiful. Together they are sweet, they push each other's limits and they both grow into new people.
The whole time reading, and getting to know Mateo and Rufus (and falling for them both), I just wanted to skip to the end and find out what happens...well, how it happens at least.
Warning: It was a shock and it really threw me - *tissues at the ready*
One thing I love, really love about this book is that their respective sexualities aren't made into a huge deal. It's nice that they're just who they are and that's it. No explanation needed.
Throughout this heartbreaking story of friendship, love, missed opportunities, second chances, loss and regret is a positive message that we should all do everything we can to live each day like it's our last. To not be afraid to do the things that scare us, to meet new people, experience new things and above all, live.
There's a line in this book that really, really made me laugh.
First, a bit of background: Did you know that there's a company that when you die, will turn your ashes into a bio urn, which when planted, grows a tree. I know right!! How amazing is that? Well, when I first saw this a while back I thought it was a great environmentally friendly idea and I will be a tree when I die! Maybe even one day I'll be turned into books which would be surreal. Although, I hope not for a while, we need oxygen guys!!
So, back on track, this whole concept is discussed briefly in the books and Rufus (I think) delivers my favourite line, "You can't go around telling people you wanna be a tree and expect them to take you seriously."
I guess no one's going to take me seriously from now on!
I'm wrapping this review up with a solid 5 bittersweet stars! I can't wait for Adam Silvera's next book with Becky Albertalli - What If It's Us!!
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Standalone/Series: Guide Series
How I got this book: Bought
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
By Jove, this book was good!
I had no idea what to expect from The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue except that I'd seen so many people raving about how great it was.
This book quite literally has everything in it I could ask for: grand adventure, love, friendship, sibling rivalries, sass, wit, mystery, deception, intrigue, slow burn romance, beautiful British humour, character development, a treasure hunt, pirates, gay and bi characters, diverse characters, and a strong-willed hellcat of a woman.
The entire novel is a coquettish rogue that seduces you from the moment you begin reading.
I adore the history in this book that sets the scene without being at all stilted or boring. I love particularly that we get to see what is probably an extremely realistic account of hormonal, ass-drunk teens during the period and all the amazingly fun and misadventures that follow.
The characters are wonderful. Monty is an arrogant, privileged rogue, but it's all part of his lovable charm. He has trials and torments that he needs to face, he misses the signs that are right in front of him, and in his own innocent ignorance, his mouth gets him into all sorts of trouble. But, it's Monty's witty, rambling, very heartfelt and at times naive narrative that really won me over.
"Lucky for me as well, or else we might never have met, and then what would have been the point of my life?"
I love that Monty isn't ashamed of who he is, or who he fancies, but that it's others who have the problem. He isn't actually afraid to express himself and I love that about him.
"I’ve always been of the mind that subtlety is a waste of time. Fortune favors the flirtatious. And by now, if Percy doesn’t know how I feel, it’s his own damn fault for being thick."
In case you hadn't guessed by now, this is a story with many themes. It's a love story, a coming of age story, a story of friendship, of loyalty, of overcoming fears and oppression.
"Rather, it is simply the tale of how two people can be important to each other their whole lives, and then, one morning, quite without meaning to, one of them wakes to find that importance has been magnified into a sudden and intense desire to put his tongue in the other’s mouth."
(I can't stop quoting this book!!)
Percy is Monty's best friend and he's the epitome of sweetness. He's loyal, steadfast and I want him to be my best friend!
"Percy had avenged me when no one else would look me in the eyes."
Then there's Felicity. My badass heroine who I was so excited to find out has a book of her very own coming out later this year!! YAY!! Felicity is sassy, intelligent, sharp and unafraid to be herself. She also incidentally delivers one of my favourite lines in this entire book!
“Ladies haven’t the luxury of being squeamish about blood,” she replies, and Percy and I go fantastically red in unison."
(No, they do not!)
The adventure that these three unlikely heroes undertake is packed full of hilarious moments (like this) -
"Which is how I come to be running through the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, dressed only as Nature intended."
(I really need help! I told you I couldn't stop quoting this book!)
Alongside, fight scenes, lots of 'almosts', lingering touches, longing glances, near misses (and near kisses) and through it all, Monty's beautiful, touching narrative that takes this story to new heights and depths.
"We are not broken things, neither of us. We are cracked pottery mended with lacquer and flakes of gold, whole as we are, complete unto each other. Complete and worthy and so very loved."
If you haven't read this book yet, do it.
In the meanwhile, I'll still be over here quoting every single line and counting down the days until The Ladies Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is Released!
A resounding 4.5 stars from me!!
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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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