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Book Review: ‘What If It’s Us’ by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Title: What If It’s Us

Authors: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Length: 433 pages

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I mean, this book is the dream. Two amazing authors, a M/M romance. It sounds like my idea of heaven.

Meet Arthur and Ben.

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a show-stopping romance when you least expect it. Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its own business. If it had his back, he wouldn’t be carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But after a chance meeting at the post office, they boys leave wondering what exactly the universe does have in store for them. What if they can’t find each other again? What if they do… and then can’t nail a first date? What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work, and Ben doesn’t try hard enough? What if life isn’t really like a Broadway Musical? But what if it’s us?

‘I barely know him. I guess that is every relationship. You start with nothing and maybe end with everything.’

I once again, have been waiting to read this book for a long time. So what better month to read it than Pride Month, were I’ve been reading LGBT+ all month long.

I enjoyed parts of this book a lot. It was such a sweet romance. It was one of those books that sweeps you up in the whirlwind of the characters romance. It gave me all the feels.

I mostly enjoyed both characters perspectives. Arthur and Ben were really likeable, although at points Arthur was a little annoying. They were also a little similar. Sometimes I did have to check which character I was reading. I did however, love the relationship between Ben and his best friend Dylan. Such a positive representation to put out in the world.

As for the plot, there wasn’t much of one. It was all about the romance, which at times was a little too sweet. Just a little. Like I said, I did get swept away in the romance, but sometimes it was so sweet, it was a little unbelievable. Only at times though. This book also had few cliches. The ex-boyfriend, the arguments. It was just a little unimaginable. I mean, hasn’t this all just been done before??

Now let’s talk about that ending. It basically ruined the book for me. If you’re going to spend the whole book making this epic romance, just to do that too it. What’s the point? If that happens, you need more of a plot. The Epilogue just wasn’t needed.

Ugh, I just don’t how I feel about this book. When I started this review, I had it at 4 stars but since writing I’ve put it down to 3 stars. Maybe my expectations were too high? I don’t know if I’d recommend this book. A lot of people have loved it. I’ll leave this one up to you.

Until the next review

JTH

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Upcoming Releases!

Hello my fellow book lovers. I haven’t done one of these posts before, mainly because I usually find out which books I’d like to buy after they’ve been out for a month, I’m always behind the times. But as we are in the second half of the year, there’s a few books I’m looking forward to and I thought I’d share them.

There’s been some great books the first half of the year, and I’ve read some fantastic ones but thankfully we’ve still got more to come.

As I’m sure you might know if you follow my blog, I read many different genres, so this going to be a real mixture of books.

So I guess I should get started:

First up is ‘Find Me’ by André Acimen. I’m sure you guys know about this one, it’s the sequel to ‘Call Me By Your Name’. It’s probably my most anticipated book of the whole year. I’ve actually been blessed by the book gods and I’ve got an ARC copy of this book. I don’t know how I got it, but I’ll be forever grateful. I’m just waiting for the right time to read it so I can savour every word.

Out 29th October

Another book is ‘Serpent & Dove’ by Shelby Mahurin. This is a Young Adult book. I’ve been hearing great things about this one. It’s the start of a new series. It’s got romance, witches, action. I’m super excited. It’s another book I’ve managed to get a ARC of and I can’t wait to dive in.

Out 19th September

‘Kingdom of Souls’ by Rena Barron is another high fantasy Young Adult book I’m looking forward to. I’ve heard such great things about this one. I have to be honest, I’ve preordered a special signed edition of this book! I told you I was excited.

Out 19th September

‘Wayward Son’ by Rainbow Rowell. Another highly anticipated sequel. Yes, I may have preordered an exclusive Waterstones edition with sprayed edges. This is Young Adult queer fiction at its finest. Well at least I hope it will be.

Out October 3rd

‘The Fountains of Silence’ by Ruta Sepetys. Tell me you’ve Salt to the Sea by this author. It’s simply fantastic. That’s why I’m so looking forward this one! I am really! I should go and preorder this now in fact! I’ll be right back!

Out October 1st

‘The Testaments’ by Margaret Atwood. How can you not be looking forward to this one? The Handmaids Tale is just wonderful. I’ll sure be buying this one and adding it to my TBR

Out 19th September

‘Ziggy, stardust & me’ by James Brandon. I’m excited for this one. It’s another one I’ve preordered. I never usually preorder so you can tell I’m excited. Can’t wait to get stuck into this one. Another queer fiction to add my growing collection.

Out September 1st

I kind of feel I should be looking forward to more books, but I’m not! Sure there’s some honourable mentions like ‘Ninth House’ by Leigh Bardugo, but I think these are my main ones!

So, these are the books I’m looking forward to. And you can best believe my reviews will be up once I’ve read them. Are you looking forward to any of these? Or is there a book I should be looking forward to reading and it’s not on the list! Let me know

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: ‘The Song of Peterloo’ by Carolyn O’Brien

Title: The Song of Peterloo

Author: Carolyn O’Brien

Length: 376 pages

Publisher: Legend Press

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was published in early August to coincide with the 200 year anniversary of a The Peterloo Massacre.

Manchester 1819: Prices are high and wages are low, but as the poor become poorer, the rich are alarmed by their calls for reform. Mill-worker Nancy Kay struggles to support her ailing mother and sensitive son. Desperate to provide for them, she is inspired to join the growing agitation. But, as she risks everything to attend a great assembly on St Peter’s Field, Nancy is unaware the day will go down in history, not as a triumph but as a tragedy: the Peterloo massacre.

This book is throughly enjoyable. It’s a heartfelt, brutal look at a turning point in British history.

We see the story of Nancy unfold through the eyes of people around. It’s such a interesting way of telling the story, and you get to know Nancy is such a detailed way. There’s such a sense of foreboding for what’s to come for Nancy and the story. Carolyn has created such a fantastic character in Nancy, I loved reading Nancy bettering herself. It’s what gives heart to this tremendous historical fiction novel.

This novel starts off quite slowly, with it really setting the scene for time and place. Due to Carolyn’s atmospheric prose and wonderful description the slow start really lets the reader immerse themselves in the story.

The ending of the book is absolutely thrilling, yet heartbreaking. Carolyn O’Brien makes such a clever choice when the massacre starts to keep chapters short and to change which character we see the story from. It makes it so invigorating. It creates such a fantastic atmosphere. The pacing at the end of ‘The Song of Peterloo’ is brilliant and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. It’s a highlight of the book for me. Like I said, it also was heartbreaking. It just made the ending better. I’m so glad Carolyn chose to end the novel this way, to further show the brutality of the event.

This novel has been meticulously researched. It’s full intricate details that make it a fantastic historical fiction novel. You know I absolutely love a book that is not only excellent, but teaches you something and ‘The Song of Peterloo’ sure did. This isn’t a time in British history I knew much about, but through this novel it felt like I was a part of it.

I can’t recommend this book enough. If you love Historical Fiction, or British history then this is the book for you.

Thank you to Legend Press for gifting me with a copy in return for a honest, unbiased review.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC BLOG TOUR Book Review: ‘The Woman in the White Kimono’ by Ana Johns

Title: The Woman in the White Kimono

Author: Ana Johns

Length: 298 pages

Publisher: Legend Press

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I was so thrilled to be asked to join this wonderful blog tour for ‘The Woman in the White Kimono’. I couldn’t wait to get started on the book

Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage secures her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community. However, Naoko has fallen for an American sailor and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations. America, present day. Tori Kovač, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation. Setting out to a learn the truth, Tori’s journey leads her to a remote seaside village in Japan where she must confront the demons of the past to pave way for redemption.

‘A white mist rose from the curved clay tiles as the sun warmed the morning dew and rolled over the edge like the dangling petals of a cherry blossom in a ornamental hair comb. Backlit by the sun, the large, white-walled structure almost glowed. There was a quiet, understated elegance to how it perched atop the hillside.’

This book was a wonderful, heartfelt trip into post-war Japan.

With the story being set in present day America and Japan in 1957, it could be tricky to blend to two stories, but they work so cohesively together. Both times in the story are absolutely wonderful to read, but there’s something special about the story when it’s set in Japan.

Naoko is such a warm, compelling character. I just connected to her right from the start. I just immediately felt for. She’s been bought in the traditional Japanese way but her spirit, her attitude is so modern. To see her struggle between the two is heart wrenching to read.

I loved the relationship between Naoko and Hajime. It was so sincere and true. Even though you know how this love story will end, I was still rooting for them. Their love story was presented in the perfect way, it was grand and dramatic. It was honest. It was real.

In the present day American timeline, the reader sees the story through Tori’s eyes. We are discovering everything at the same time as her. It keeps this part of the story interesting and moving at a nice pace.

For me, what makes a great historical fiction novel is that it can teach you something. This book did. I didn’t know to much about this time in Japan, and I couldn’t even of imagined the things that happened. I had no idea those kind of ‘Maternity Homes’ existed. It a really powerful moment in the book when Naoko finds out what’s happening.

Now, the ending, although I know how the story reaches its conclusion, I was excited to see how each character got their ending. And it didn’t disappoint. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. It was so pleasing. The conversation between Naoko and Tori bought tears to my eyes. Such a satisfying ending.

The reason this novel works is because of Ana Johns superb writing. She’s formed such fantastic characters. Also, the descriptions of the scenery, of Japan, are stunning. It’s so evocative. The whole book. The fact that is Ana Johns debut book is crazy. Whatever she writes next, I’ll sure be reading it.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It’ll have you hooked from the beginning till the end. It’s also been picked as a selection for BBCRadio2’s bookclub. How amazing is that!

I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. Thanks Legend Press.

Until the next review

JTH

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July Wrap Up

Well, another Month has come and gone once again. We had a little heat wave here this July, but I wasn’t out enjoying the sun. I was reading, which in my opinion is much more enjoyable.

Now, last month I managed to read 8 books. It was my personal best. And I sooooo wanted to match it this month, but alas I haven’t quite done it. I have read 7 books, which I’ll take. I was so close to matching my personal best, I’ll try again next month but I don’t mind that number.

I also completed my Goodreads challenge of 40 books read this year. I’m not as slow of a reader as I thought. But I’ve decided to up it to 60 books! So I’ll see how get on.

Anyway, here are the books I’ve read:

First up was ‘On My Life’ by Angela Clarke. This is not my usual genre of book but I really enjoyed this book. Such a great story, with a clever twist. It was gripping! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Second Up was ‘The Woman in the White Kimono’ by Ana Johns. Loved this book, it was evocative, sweet, heartbreaking. Just a really nice read. Highly recommend. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Third was ‘Six of Crows’ by Leigh Bardugo. Had this on my shelf for ages, wasn’t sure if I would like it! I’m an idiot! Loved it. Why did I wait so long? Although it did start off a little slow. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Fourth up was ‘Crooked Kingdom’ by Leigh Bardugo. Could this one be better than the first. Yes it can! I loved it! Such a great conclusion! I was crying at the end. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Fifth this month was ‘Follow Me To Ground’ by Sue Rainsford. This was an ARC. Not my type of book usually but I absolutely loved it. One of my favourite reads of the year. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sixth was ‘Secret Keeping for Beginners’ by Maggie Alderson. Without being to harsh this book was just meh. Something of nothing. It was the worst book I’ve read this month. ⭐️⭐️

Seventh up was ‘The Song of Peterloo’ by Carolyn O’Brien. Such a fantastic book. Great historical fiction. Excellent writing! Had me turning the pages so first at the end. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Well that’s my monthly wrap up. Roll on the next month, more reading and more books! How did you do this month? Let me know.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: ‘Spellbound’ by Allie Therin

Title: Spellbound

Author: Allie Therin

Length: ebook

Publisher: Carina Press

⭐️⭐️

This book is the first in a new series called Magic in Manhattan.

I read this book during Pride Month, were I only read books that featured LGBT+ plus mainly characters.

This book sounded perfect for me, an LGBT love story and magic. What a perfect combination. However something just missed the mark for me.

The story was interesting, but it just wasn’t interesting enough. It didn’t have me hooked. I found myself struggling pick it up to read it. The magic was there, it just wasn’t magical enough. The love story was there, it just wasn’t enough.

The whole premise sounded interesting. This book is set in old New York, during the prohibition area. I love that. I just don’t think it was explored enough. It wasn’t detailed enough. It was just lacking.

Then there was the magic, this is where the twist comes in. This is what would make this book other worldly, but it didn’t. It wasn’t explored that much, and when it was, it wasn’t interesting. Rory’s gift is being able to scry, which is could have been super exciting but again it just came off as dull. It also seemed that there was a villain they were working to stop, but in all honesty I’m still not sure who that is.

Now the love story, the bit I was most looking forward to. It was a slow burn romance, and you know I like that. But this one was very slow, leaning towards being boring. When the characters finally did get together, it was lacklustre. Then out of nowhere, the author tried to say they were meant to be together, meant to find each other. That didn’t come across to me. It wasn’t believable. It just made me think of better love stories.

There’s better books out there set in this era. There’s books with more imaginative magic. There’s better books with more heartfelt, genuine romance.

The writing was all over the place, it needed clarity. The action (when it finally happened) wasn’t exciting. The story was all over the place. It just totally missed the mark for me. It’s the first in the series, but will I be reading the next book? I don’t think so.

When I started this review, I had this book at 3 stars, but after writing this it’s gonna down to 2.

Thank you to Carina Press and Netgalley for a copy of this book in return for a honest, unbiased review. It’s comes out July 29th. Check it out, it might be the book for you.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: ‘The Subtle Art of Blending In’ By Angelo Surmelis

Title: The Subtle Art of Blending In

Author: Angelo Surmelis

Length: 336 pages

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ve had this book on my kindle for a while. I sort of treasure my M/M books so I was waiting for the right time to read it and Pride Month seemed perfect.

Seventeen-year-old Evan doesn’t know where he fits in. He loves his family, but is terrorised by his abusive mother and confused by his father’s silence. He has friends, but one of them – Henry – has become distractingly attractive, and seems interested being more than just a friend. Oh, and yes, Evan kissed a boy this summer. As things with Henry heat up and the violence escalates, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has always survived being silent.

‘The person who was supposed to love me the hardest – the most unconditionally – has always wanted me gone. No matter how hard I tried to be perfect. Now, this boy-who knows all my imperfections and has seen all my hurt laid bare- wants me to stay.’

This was another book I’ve read for Pride Month. Where I’m reading books only featuring LGBT+ characters. Once I got started on this book, I found it hard to put down. I read it in two days, that never happens.

Let’s talk about the romance first, shall we? At first I thought it was going to be the cliche of the gay guy in love with his best friend but thankfully it wasn’t. It turned out to be a good one. A slow burn. Just how I like them. Evan and Henry made a great couple, I could feel their chemistry. The most wonderful thing about it was the acceptance Henry had for Evan. It was so nice to read Evan opening up to him.

This book wasn’t all romance. It also deals with the issue of abuse. Wow, it was hard to read but in the right way. The way that makes you think, question. Evans Mother was so manipulative. It also showed how she justified her actions through religion. I’m sure there’s a lot of people who will see themselves in this situation, regardless of your religion. She wasn’t a just a villain though, towards the end of the book, you got to see that she had more depth to her.

Throughout the whole book I was rooting for Evan, for him to open up to Henry, for him to get away from his Mother, for him to question his Father. I think that was the best thing about this book, were the characters. They were so real, whether good or bad. I won’t spoil it in case you haven’t read it, but I raced towards the end to find out.

I recommend this book if you love YA M/M stories, it’s a good one. But it was more than that, this one had bit of depth to it. It’s a nice coming of age story.

Until the next review

JTH