Welcome to my stop on the Within Ash and Stardust book tour. This is the third book in the Xenith Trilogy by Chani Lynn Feener.
Huge thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for the review copy and for including My Endless Shelf in the blog tour!
Before I get into the full review, if you want to avoid spoilers and haven't read the first two books in the series, feel free to check those out at the following links - Book 1: Amid Stars and Darkness and Book 2: Between Frost and Fury.
Rating: 4 STARS
Series/Standalone: The Xenith Trilogy #3
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
Having gone from kidnapped faux princess to the legitimate heir to an intergalactic throne, an impulsive, sarcastic teen must take charge of her own destiny in this epic YA novel.
On Earth, Delaney is a normal teenager who recently graduated high school with a fantastic best friend and a loving boyfriend.
But Delaney isn’t on Earth. She’s on Xenith, a war-torn planet half a galaxy away. Originally mistaken for an alien princess, Delaney has gone from kidnapped imposter to the recognized heir to an alien throne. Oh, and she’s engaged to the prince of an enemy nation whose ruthless father is on the warpath.
Torn between two planets, two fates, and two loves, Delaney is finally ready to choose her own destiny in Within Ash and Stardust, the stunning conclusion to Chani Lynn Feener’s Xenith Trilogy.
I can't believe it's finally here! The last instalment of a series that I fell in love with back in 2017 and have been desperately waiting for since the cliffhanger that left me absolutely reeling at the end of book two - honestly it was one of the most heart-wrenching cliffhangers ever and gave me ALL THE FEELS!!
I love this author's writing style, I've read a lot of her other books and her writing style is so easy to fall into, her characters are relatable and likeable and her world building is fantastic. She does seem to enjoy writing love triangles and for the most part, I do enjoy the complicated relationships.
I've been following the journey of Delaney from out-of-place Earth girl to the heir of an alien planet with rapture. Delaney is completely relatable, in book one she was frightened, in book two she was angry and in book three she's determined to make her own choices and forge her own path.
Some parts of the plot in this book did give me moments of deja-vu, especially in terms of Delaney being put into corners she can't get out of but there were plenty of new elements too with new character revelations, plot twists and more alien culture.
I did have a pretty big problem with Ruckus in this book. If you've read my other reviews, you'll know that I've been Team Trystan from book 1, so it's no shock that Ruckus isn't my favourite character. Trystan is a big, sullen sweetheart with a cheeky side that's just irresistible. Ruckus was a solid character for me in book 1, who I did like, but who, in book 2, was so clearly not the one for Delaney. Whilst reading Within Ash and Stardust I felt as though Ruckus's character just disappeared in terms of depth, he was pretty pathetic, trailing after Delaney like a puppy dog and with seemingly no personality at all. I mean, at one point the book reads:
"He didn't want to be an Ander anymore, he realised with a start. He just wanted to be Ruckus Wux. Boyfriend of Delaney Grace."
Which is pretty pathetic really, especially for someone who in the first book was portrayed as a tough-as-nails soldier.
The romance in this book is also a little off compared to the last book, where things between Trystan and Delaney had started to heat up despite the frigid ending. In this book, Delaney is all over the place trying to choose between Ruckus and Trystan (when the choice was clear from the start!) and it felt a little awkward, with the ending seeming a little too clean-cut. It had lost some of the sizzle that I'd enjoyed in Between Frost and Fury.
However, there is plenty of action in this book and the pace is great, I didn't want to put the book down at all. There's also more culture and world-building, especially in terms of the Dust Market which is both strange and wonderful.
I like that Delaney finally manages to break free of her chains in this book, to some extent, and can make her own choices and do what she believes is right instead of what's already been decided for her.
Overall, this was a nice end to what I feel is a very underrated YA series and one that opened the gates to sci-fi for me, but with the romance toned down, it felt as though it was suddenly aimed at a slightly younger audience.
My favourite book of the series has to be Between Frost and Fury, with Amid Stars and Darkness coming in at a close second.
I've truly enjoyed following Delaney's journey, exploring these new worlds, meeting interesting new characters and falling in love with Trystan's sweet, cinnamon centre along the way.
I can't wait to see what this author does next!
As always, you can add the book to your Goodreads TBR by clicking on the book cover above and feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below!
To win a print copy of Within Ash and Stardust enter the giveaway below (US/CAN only).
Rating: 5 STARS!!
Genre: LGBT/YA/Graphic Novel
Series/Standalone: Heartstopper #2
How I got this book: Bought
Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the second volume of HEARTSTOPPER, for fans of The Art of Being Normal, Holly Bourne and Love, Simon.
Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie's gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn't.
But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family ... and himself.
Heartstopper is about friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie's lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.
This is the second volume of Heartstopper, with more to come.
If you haven't read Heartstopper Volume One yet, you can catch my review here.
This is going to be one of those short and sweet reviews because, besides saying how much I truly love this graphic novel, I'm not sure how else to convince you all to read it!
I thought that Heartstopper Volume One was good, but this is even better. So many more cute, mushy feelings. As always Alice Oseman's illustrations are beautiful, the story is so sweet and Charlie and Nick are both likeable and compelling.
Alice also does a fantastic job of making you care about the supporting characters and their stories and we're treated to a fantastic snippet from another story at the end of this book.
The storytelling and voices are relatable and current, making the whole thing speed by far too quickly! I can't wait until I have every volume and can read through from start to finish!
If you're looking for queer, YA romance with tons of inclusivity and rep that'll make you feel warm and gooey on the inside, you need Heartstopper in your life.
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: 2.5 STARS
Genre: YA/LGBT/Graphic Novel
How I got this book: Bought
Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Cox is an outsider to the competitive fencing world. Filled with raw talent but lacking proper training, he signs up for a competition that puts him head-to-head with fencing prodigy Seiji Katayama...and on the road to the elite all-boys school Kings Row. A chance at a real team and a place to belong awaits him—if he can make the cut
I wasn't sure what to expect from this, but after loving Heartstopper by Alice Oseman so damn much I just wanted to sink my teeth into another LGBT comic and considering this series has amazing reviews and the synopsis sounded great, I decided to buy all three volumes and dig in.
Before I start, I should say that the only other book I've read by this author I did not like at all. I tried to read The Captive Prince but truthfully, and I don't say this a lot, I couldn't stand it. However, I did try my best to approach this with fresh eyes and an open mind, which I think I did, helped along by the fact that Fence is a graphic novel and so completely different than The Captive Prince.
To begin with, I love the graphics. The illustrator (Johanna the Mad) did a truly fantastic job and honestly, the stars I've given above aren't a reflection on the visuals but on the story itself.
The thing is, I started by buying issue one and read it in around 15 minutes. I was intrigued, I wanted more. So, I bought the next issue. Again, I read it in around 15 minutes and not a lot happened but I wanted more, I wanted more from the characters, more relationships, more dialogue, more interaction.
This went on for 12 issues until I reached the end and sighed in frustration as I realised that I'd bought 12 issues of a story that I personally felt went absolutely nowhere.
The thing is, all the ingredients are there - interesting characters, conflict, fantastic visuals and the desire to keep reading. The huge problem for me was that the plot was solely focused on the fencing competition, to the detriment of everything else. There was no relationship exploration, no further character development, a couple of very, very minimal subplots that had the potential to go much further and that was it.
I honestly got to the end and asked myself, "Where's the rest? What have I missed?" because I just felt that there should have been more.
The potential was there, I just couldn't connect with the minimal material.
But hey, I'm in the minority here, the reviews for all 12 issues of Fence are 4+ stars across the board on Goodreads and, as I mentioned in my last post, I'm new to graphic novels, they aren't something I've really explored before, so maybe this is just something that I don't get.
All I can say is that, for me, and I can't help comparing this to Heartstopper which I loved so much, it just didn't float my boat.
What about you? Have you read Fence?
If you have recommendations for other graphic novels you think I might like, please do let me know in the comments!
Rating: 5 STARS!
Genre: LGBT/YA/Graphic Novel
Series/Standalone: Heartstopper #1
How I got this book: Bought
Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn't been too great, but at least he's not being bullied anymore, and he's sort of got a boyfriend, even if he's kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.
Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He's heard a little about Charlie - the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months - but he's never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.
They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn't think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner...
TW: Homophobia, mental health and manipulation.
1. I honestly thought I'd already written the review for this but I guess not because I can't find it anywhere. Not that I'm complaining too hard as it gave me the perfect excuse to re-read this again for pride month.
2. This is the only graphic novel I've read that I actually loved and couldn't put down. I read this in around an hour.
So, onto the review.
Heartstopper started life as a web comic and I did attempt to read it on the website but I found the format a little too distracting so, when I found out that a book was coming I couldn't get hold of it fast enough.
Nick and Charlie attend an all-boys British Grammar School which sort of reminds me of my own high-school except that mine was co-ed and nowhere near as posh!
Charlie is 14 and Nick is 16 and their story is most definitely a super-cute YA.
What's amazing about this graphic novel, aside from the gorgeous art and realistic British dialogue is that it's so inclusive. It has gay, lesbian and bisexual (whoop whoop!) rep. It's racially diverse and has mental health rep.
I'm not sure that I've ever read anything quite so instantly adorable as the story of Charlie and Nick and in volume one it's lovely to see their friendship begin blossom and effect how they each deal with their own demons.
Pictures really are worth a thousand words, and Alice's are worth even more. After just a few scenes, I wanted to wrap Charlie and Nick in a giant hug, punch Ben in his stupid face and be best friends with Tori and Tara.
I've pre-ordered Volume Two which comes out next month and I can't wait to get it because the ending of Volume One is too sad and I need the infectious happiness that bursts from the earlier pages.
Charlie and Nick are precious and if you want a reason to smile today, go grab this book and fall in love.
What about you? Have you read Heartstopper by Alice Oseman?
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: 3.5 STARS
Series/Standalone: Soulbound #1
How I got this book: Bought
When the gods come calling, you don’t get to say no.
Patrick Collins is three years into a career as a special agent for the Supernatural Operations Agency when the gods come calling to collect a soul debt he owes them. An immortal has gone missing in New York City and bodies are showing up in the wake of demon-led ritual killings that Patrick recognizes all too easily from his nightmares.
Unable to walk away, Patrick finds himself once again facing off against mercenary magic users belonging to the Dominion Sect. Standing his ground alone has never been a winning option in Patrick’s experience, but it’s been years since he’s had a partner he could trust.
Looking for allies in all the wrong places, Patrick discovers the Dominion Sect’s next target is the same werewolf the Fates themselves have thrown into his path. Patrick has been inexplicably attracted to the man from their first meeting, but desire has no place in war. That doesn’t stop Patrick from wanting what he shouldn’t have. Jonothon de Vere is gorgeous, dangerous, and nothing but trouble—to the case, to the fight against every hell, and ultimately, to Patrick’s heart and soul.
In the end, all debts must be paid, and Patrick can only do what he does best—cheat death.
Okay so lately, I'm starting to wonder if the problem is less with what I'm reading and more with me because I'm starting these books and enjoying them and then somewhere along the line, something stops connecting.
I mean, the premise of this book sounds amazing - it's why I chose to read it and I loved the main character. Patrick is gritty, his past is dark and painful and yet he's struggled to keep going, against really sh***y odds.
I loved this book for quite a while, the characters are varied, unique and fun. There are vampires, werewolves, mages, witches, demons, Greek gods and so much danger and action that I couldn't get enough. Hell, here was my tweet about the book when I was around 30-50% of the way through it:
Really enjoying my current read, I'd love to see a movie of this book, lots of action, demons, gods and other fun stuff!
Jono was a slightly less interesting character with an interesting 'secret' but even though I did feel that their relationship was a little too forced and somewhat rushed, I enjoyed the development.
So, what went wrong? The truth is, I don't really know and I know from the Goodreads reviews that I'm in the minority here with my lower than 4-star review. I guess at one point I started to notice the descriptive writing a little too much and it sort of rubbed me up the wrong way at how certain (completely insignificant things) were overly described.
As mentioned above, I also felt that the relationship was a little forced but then that's sort of part of the plot so maybe it was intentional, either way, it just didn't work that well for me personally (I guess I'm more of a slow burn kinda gal than insta lust).
I loved the action but felt that it was dampened a little in parts by too much description.
Overall, I really liked the characters, enjoyed the action and all of the paranormal elements whilst the pace and relationship let it down for me.
I probably won't continue with this particular series but never say never.
What do you think? Have you read A Ferry of Bones & Gold, do you agree or disagree with my review? I'd love to know your opinion in the comments below!
Rating: 4 STARS
Series/Standalone: The Folk of the Air #2
How I got this book: Bought
You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself strong.
After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.
If you haven't already read the first book in The Folk of the Air series, feel free to check out my review of The Cruel Prince and stop reading to avoid potential spoilers from book one.
This book is complicated.
I don't know if I've ever read a book before where I've absolutely hated 99% of all the characters but still loved just how vile and repulsive they are.
They're so evil. ALL OF THEM ARE EVIL. Including the author because that ending was not fair!
The two characters I hate the most are Taryn and Locke, which makes them pretty well suited to each other. I love how at the beginning of book one we were presented with this meek, gentle and docile image of Taryn but as the book progressed she turned out to be the worst sister in the world.
Jude is fantastic. I love her ferocity even in the face of impossible odds and certain defeat. She's cunning, clever and complex and yet still manages to be blindsided by others (don't worry Jude, you're not alone!)
Cardan is still a, well, there aren't really words for what/how he is and I still have some huge problems about their relationship dynamic but the chemistry and tension between the two are so palpable that it seeps from the pages.
The plot twists in this book are EPIC! If you were shocked by The Cruel Prince trust me when I say that you won't even know what to make of The Wicked King. My jaw is still somewhere on the floor where it dropped whilst reading that ending...
The storytelling is compulsive. This book is filled with more politics than the first, which I thoroughly enjoyed and I was so excited to see new places and more backstory from several characters.
If you love fantasy with a dark, foreboding edge, an unpredictable plot line and characters you love to hate, you'll love The Wicked King.
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: 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!
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