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ARC Book Review: Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass

Title: Surrender Your Sons

Author: Adam Sass

Length: 392 pages

Publisher: Fluxbooks

Synopsis: Connor Major’s is turning into a nightmare. His SAT scores bombed, the old man he delivers meals to died, and when he came out to his religious zealot mother, she had him kidnapped and sent off to a secluded island. His final destination: Nightlight Ministries, a conversion therapy camp that will be his new home until he “changes”. But Connors troubles are only beginning. At Nightlight, everyone has something to hide-from the campers, to the “converted” staff and cagey camp director-and it quickly becomes clear that no one is safe. Connor plans to escape and bring the other kidnapped teens with him. But first, he’s exposing the camps horrible truths for what they are – and taking this place down.

As soon as I heard about Surrender your Sons it’s been on my radar. It’s definitely one of my most anticipated queer books of the year. So many people I know have loved it and that just made me more excited and intrigued. But did it disappoint? Read more to find out.

I won’t keep you in suspense (like this book will) and I’ll tell you that I loved this book. It met all my expectations and surpassed them. It was suspenseful, thrilling, romantic and honest.

This book centres around teenagers at a gay conversion camp. And there were points in this novel when I couldn’t believe any of it was true. But of course it is, I think mainly I don’t want these kind of camps to be true, and I think it’s a testament Adams writing that he captures the horror and brutality of the situation and it just made the whole book believable. He captures the atmosphere perfectly which really makes book stands out. You’ll love the teenagers in this book especially the main character of Connor. I also loved that Adam has given every character depth, even the ones we hate.

There was also something I didn’t expect in this book was the romance. How can a romance blossom in this situation and work? But trust me, it did work. Don’t worry I won’t spoil it for you, but it really does work. Again it’s another showcase of Adams brilliant writing and talent. It gave me everything I want in a romance. It also gave the novel some hope, which was nice as the book is very dark.

The story really goes to places I didn’t expect, which obviously makes it excellent. I don’t want to say too much and spoil it for you but when the kids start to fight back against the councillors it just adds so many layers to the story. It became so intense. You could really feel the story building up to its thrilling climax. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough (I was reading it on kindle but you know what I mean). It was full of twists and turns and so many things surprised me. It really was a fantastic ending.

This is Adams debut novel, and it’s such a strong book. He manages to capture all the horror, the darkness, yet he manages to show hope and vulnerability. It takes real talent to blend all these cohesively. It’s so real. Also with this book being about Conversion Camps, it packs a powerful message. Ultimately, I think, it shows you that queerness is a power and we always need more books like this.

I would definitely recommend this book to you, as I’m sure you can tell. Don’t miss this one. I think I might’ve convinced myself to re-read it. I’ll look forward to reading what Adam does next.

Thank you to Netgally and Flux for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out September 15th.

Until the next review

JTH

book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, gay, lgbt, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

Book Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Title: Cinderella is Dead

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Length: 400 pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Synopsis: It’s been 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over. Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she’s tiny until the night she’s sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows she only has one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball… are forfeit. But Sofia doesn’t want to be chosen – she’s in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia’s night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world…

This book was enjoyable, but I have to be honest and say for me, there was just something missing. Something that would’ve taken the book from good to great.I love the premise. It was really interesting, and I thought it was such a good idea. I was really invested in the first few chapters. I was ready to explore the world, the story, the history but unfortunately I just can’t but think that I wanted the story to go deeper. Maybe there needed to be more world building? I wanted to know more about the grand Balls, and in the palace walls. To truly get the sense of the evils Sophia was fighting against. I wonder if it focused too much on Cinderella. I know that sounds silly to say as it’s literally called Cinderella is Dead.

I loved that this book has a F/F relationship. But again, it needed to be more. It felt a bit flat. I just didn’t feel the connection, I knew there was supposed to be one between the characters but it never happened for me. I loved both of these characters separately, but they didn’t click for me as a romantic pair. They definitely worked as pair trying to change history. But it’s always good to see LGBTQ+ representation in books.

I did however love the characters. Sophia is a great character to follow. She was fierce, brave yet had a vulnerability in her bravery that I absolutely loved. I loved Constance too. She was funny and sharp. I cared about them. Towards the end, when they were in a bit of danger, I was genuinely worried what was going to happen to Sophia. Kalynn Bayron has written some fantastic characters. For me, overall this book did need more. It was still good, it certainly wasn’t a bad read. But I just felt at times the author was telling me what to feel, instead of actually letting me feel it. It was a bit lacklustre. And also i felt the story needed a bit better structure.

Again, this book wasn’t bad. I wanted to see how the author would wrap the story up and I wasn’t disappointed. And there was a twist that I didn’t see coming and it shocked me. That’s always a good thing. It was enjoyable, I just feel like it had the potential to be great. But I know so many people loved this book. Listen to them, not me.

I would recommend this book. I even wonder if I read this again, would I like it more. And I’m excited to see what Kaylnn writes next.

Thanks to Bloomsbury UK and Netgalley for a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now in the UK.

Until the next review

JTH

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WWW Wednesday – 26th August.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts (ok it’s been months but who’s counting). But I love doing them and I love keeping you up to date with what I’m reading.

What is WWW Wednesday? WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme where all you have to do is answer three simple questions. Look at me using the word meme! I feel so young!

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What have you finished reading recently?
  • What are you planning to read next?

So shall we get started and talk about these books?

What are you currently reading?

So I’m currently reading Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar from Littlebrown Books. I only stated this last night but I’m definitely intrigued. It’s also the third thriller I’ve read in a row and I don’t usually read them so we’ll see how it compares. I’m excited to see where the story goes. So I guess I’ll keep you updated. The paperback is out 3rd September.

What have you finished reading recently?

I recently finished Surrender your Sons by Adam Sass. This was a highly anticipated read for me and it didn’t disappoint. I really enjoyed it, definitely a tough read at times, but I’m so glad I got to read it early. It’s a great piece of queer fiction with a difference. It’s out September 15th.

What are you reading next?

This question is always the difficulty one because my tbr is so huge, but I think I’m going to go with Summerwater by Sarah Moss. It’s just calling to me from my shelf and I’ve heard such fantastic things. So I think it’ll be that one.

But it could all change.

Have you read any of these? Or got your eye on reading some? Let me know.

Until the next review

JTH

book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, gay, lgbt, queer, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

ARC Book Review: Fin & Rye & Fireflies

Title: Fin&Rye&Fireflies

Author: Harry Cook

Length: 320 pages

Publisher: Inkroad Books

Synopsis: Fin Whittle is sixteen and he likes guys. A fact which seems to be complicating his life. One minute Fins kissing the godlike Jesse; the next he’s been cruelly outed. His family’s response? To up sticks in search of a fresh start. A fresh start won’t change who Fin is. Obviously. But it does introduce to the best squad in town: kick-ass Poppy, her on-off girlfriend June and the super cute, super irresistible Rye. Fin soon has a serious crush. And Rye might just feel the same way. But Fin’s parents aren’t happy. If their son won’t change his ‘lifestyle’, they’ll force him onto the straight and narrow… by way of ‘conversion therapy’. An outrageous plan is needed to face down the haters and to give Fin and Rye (and their fireflies) a chance at the happy-ever-after their story deserves…

This book is told from the perspective of two characters Fin & Rye. I really enjoyed both perspectives. At times at the beginning I did get confused as to which perspective I was reading but that didn’t happen once the story progressed. And of course, I fell In love with both of them.

This was the love story I didn’t know I needed. It was beautiful. It was a nice slow burn that felt really real to me. I got that feeling in my stomach, and that means I totally fell for the romance. I needed them to be together. It was so nice to get lost in their love story. It was just really sweet and sometimes we need sweet gay romances because they simply make the world better.

This book also deals with some really tough issues. And I have to say it deals with them really well. It captures the severity of them, but manages to avoid any triggering words and I really, really liked that. There was transphobia, there was conversion therapy. They still had the impact, but Harry dealt with them in a really classy way.

There were many types of relationships dealt with through out the book. There was obviously the romance which I spoke about above. There was the friendship between the four friends which was so beautifully organic. Rye and his mum relationship was super fun and how all mum/son relationships should be.

The relationship between Fin and his parents is a highlight for throughout the book. It’s not easy to read, as deals with a heavy subject of Conversion Therapy. You can feel the tension between them and I was so hoping for a good outcome. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but I wasn’t disappointed. It also felt like a real organic ending.

I would definitely recommend this book. I know many of you are too, as you’ve messaged me saying so. Harry Cook is a new YA LGBTQ+ author that I’ll be watching out for in the future because I need more of his books.

Thanks to Inkroad books for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out August 12th.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review and Interview with the Author. Boy Queen by George Lester

Title: Boy Queen

Author: George Lester

Length: 389 pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Synopsis: Robin had it all figured out: a future on broadway, a top secret boyfriend and two ride-or-die best friends. Then all his worst nightmares came true. Now, his life is a hot mess. With nothing left to lose, Robin falls wig-first into the glittering embrace of Drag, and comes face-to-face with the queen he was always meant to be. Robin’s about to lest that sometimes your new self is your true self.

This was absolutely delightful. That was literally my first thought when I finished the book. I put it down and said in my head ‘that was absolutely delightful’. I would even quite like a sequel if I’m honest.

I loved the characters. They are eccentric but so real. Robin is a fantastic character. He was a wonderful protagonist for us to follow on his journey of self discovery. His friends were great. George made us care about these characters and it gives even more meaning to the book.

I love to read this in a book, a femme character taking centre stage. Robin at one point in the novel says ‘I’m camp’ and he wears it like a badge of honour and I love that. It’s representation like this that will help so many young people reading this book. It’s so important. Representation matters and I’m so proud of George for writing a character like this. I love it.

The relationship in the book are so important. I loved the relationship between and his mum. It was beautiful to read. I loved the romance too, but I won’t say anymore on that because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it was swoon worthy. And a slow burn and you know I love those. I also love the relationship Robin has with himself, it’s amazing to read how he comes to realise what he deserves and it’s so important for young queer people to read.

Of course the drag is fabulous. I want to go the club, I want to see Robin perform and I want to hang out with him and his wonderful friends. It makes me a little sad that I can’t.

I can’t recommend this book enough, it’s once of those charming, important quick reads (because you won’t be able to put it down, I couldn’t). And like I said, I want a sequel!

Thanks to Amber at panmacillan and MyKindaBook for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review.

And now for the interview. Thank you so much George for agreeing to do this. I really appreciate it.

1) What was your main inspiration for the book? This book is very much the combination of a lot of the things I love rolled into one. First of all, I am a theatre kid. I am a performer under a different name ( George Lennan, if you must know) and did dance classes and theatre growing up. I even did an MA in theatre at Mountview. It’s been a massive part of my life and is now one of the many careers I am pursuing. Second of all, I am a huge drag race nerd and on my MA I did a 45 minute solo drag show and created That Gurrrl (my drag persona) who has had such a huge impact on my life. And finally, I am a huge fan of queer romance and YA contemporary fiction, so if you put all those things in a pot, throw in a Lorelai Gilmore/Rory Gilmore mother/son dynamic and some glitter. You probably have Boy Queen. The other thing have that inspired this book heavily was wanting show drag as something more that what is shown on Drag Race. I feel like I’ve written this sentence some many times over the past few weeks, but there is so much more to drag than you see on Drag Race. I love the show, I do, but what you see on the show is just a fraction of the absolute magic and brilliant creativity and imagination that exists on the community. If you are a fan, I urge you to go out and look for it! It will blow your mind!

2) I love the relationships in this book. Can you talk a little more about them? Absolutely! As I mentioned in the previous question, was the Gilmore Girls-esque mother/son dynamic. I am a huge fan of the show and remember tweeting many moons ago that I wanted a YA novel version of it but ( as far as I’m aware) that just never happened. So I decided to write it into Boy Queen. This wasn’t just fun for the mother/son dynamic though, I really enjoyed having that in other characters too. My favourite kind of books and tv shows are the ones where characters have their own language that they speak in, a collection of references that each other just get that implies a history and I hope that came across with Natalie, Greg, Priya and Robin. The snappy dialogue and quips were honestly one of the most joyful parts of the book to write. And then of course comes the drag artist where I really had to sharpen my reading glasses. Where this probably became the most fun was with Seth because he was brand new to Robin, so he had to spend some time establishing exactly how to speak to him. And getting tongue tied because… you know… cute boys.

3) What do you hope young queer people get out of this book when they read it? Above anything else, I hope they get a really fun and joyful read featuring queer characters. Sure, the book has it’s dramatic moments and it’s sadder moments, but above everything else I wanted the book to be joyful and a celebration of queerness and drag. I hope it puts a smile on some faces. That would be wonderful! The other thing would be that not getting into drama school isn’t the end of the world. I know for a fact (having experienced it first hand) that it really can feel like that. When you live and breathe theatre, everything becomes a few clicks more dramatic, so not getting into drama school can feel like your life/career/everything is over. It’s not. Rejection is hard, it really does suck the big one, but it’s a part of life! ( A very big part of life of you’re going into the creative industry! Wow!) So take a deep breathe, reassess, do not give up. Keep working. I didn’t go the drama school when I was 18/19 years old. I got rejected from almost everywhere. I ended up studying for a BA in drama and Creative Writing, following which I went to work in publishing. When I realised just how much I missed acting, I started doing amateur theatre and, when I felt like I was ready, did an evening course at ArtsEd followed by my MA at Mountview. It was all about timing. This was the right time for me. Sometimes the universe just knows better!

4) Did the story change over time? Oh absolutely! Every single draft there was something new going in and something old coming out. We tried a lot of different things as the story went by and I am certain there has to be a good twenty to thirty thousand words on the cutting room floor. (They were replaced by other things in the book, I didn’t write a 110,000 word book! Jesus!) But that is the magic of editing. I don’t know where I would’ve been without my editors. They aren’t as close to the book as you are so they see things that you can’t and help you hone the story in ways you couldn’t even imagine. Priya wasn’t even in the first draft and now I can’t imagine the book without her. There is a scene where Robin and Seth are at Eternity together, and that wasn’t in the original draft either but it is such a fab scene that I can’t imagine it any other way! The only problem with this is when I come to write my next book and I find myself comparing the draft zero to my fully edited, copy edited and proofread draft of Boy Queen. Don’t do that. That way sadness lies.

5) How does it finally feel to have your first book out in the world? It is honestly the most surreal feeling in the world. This has been such a dream for me and has been for so many years that it is just surreal, that’s the best word for it. The team at PanMacmillan are working so hard on this book, and I feel every day something cool gets tweeted or posted and I have to pinch myself because I cannot believe it’s been happening to me. I feel so lucky. I have had a literary agent for about six years, I’ve written four books with him ( this is book five), and there were I wondered if maybe it would just never happen for me. So the fact that this is happening, just at the right time (pandemic aside!) with what turned out to be just the right book (I honestly couldn’t be happier Boy Queen is my debut!) is just wonderful.

George’s new book Boy Queen is out from August 6th 2020, £7.99 and is available from all good Bookshops. You can find him on Instagram @TheGeorgeLester or in drag @ThatGurrrlQueen.

A huge thanks to George for agreeing to do this little Q+A. It was absolutely fantastic and is filled with some brilliant advice.

It’s out now.

Until the next review

JTH

book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, gay, historical fiction, lgbt, queer, thriller, Uncategorised, ya

ARC Book Review: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Title: Shuggie Bain

Author: Douglas Stuart

Length: 448 pages

Publisher: Picador

Synopsis: It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from her life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one the must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he shares his mother’s sense of snobbish propriety. The miners’ children pick on him and adults condemn him as not right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.

This book was so immersive. I forgot about the outside world when I was reading it. I can’t really think of a higher compliment for a book than that. It’s a story of addiction, survival, love and heartbreak. It’s bleak but so beautiful.

The central theme for the novel is the relationship between Shug and his mother. It was so endearing but so heartbreaking. His protection of her, his willingness to look after her. Even when she was so cruel sometimes. He captures working class estates perfectly and I of course loved the queer element to this novel. There’s a subtly to it that is unbelievably powerful. There was an intensity to this whole novel and I haven’t read a book like that in a long time.

Shuggie Bain is full of Brilliant, brilliant characters. Anges, her addiction problem was heartbreaking. I was willing her to get better. Shug, everytime someone said to him ‘be like other boys’ it made my heart ached. And leek, who just crumbled under his own hurt. They were just all so complex, and intimate. I just felt so connected to them. They felt so real. I know I won’t forget these characters for a long time. Each of them will break your heart in their own way as the fight for the life they want and they life they are desperate to get away from. They are the shining force in this brilliant novel.

This story was taken to another level with the beautiful, powerful writing from Douglas Stuart. He somehow manages to capture an intimate relationship between mother and son, and capture the feeling of a place and time and blend them all together seamlessly. His writing has such depth. The descriptions of people and place are so good.It’s brilliant writing. It really is.

The ending, I cried. I had to. I don’t want to say to much a ruin it. It was heartbreaking, yet there was this sense of freedom. I don’t even know how to explain it. You’ll just have to read it for yourself and find out.

This book has just been shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2020 and I’m not surprised at all. It’s a powerful book.

I can’t recommend this book enough. I have a feeling you’ll be seeing a lot of this book around. It’s going to be on a lot of people tbr piles and I don’t blame them. It’s just that good. I see a few prizes in the future for this book.

Thanks to Picador for a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out August 6th.

Until the next review

JTH

book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, gay, historical fiction, lgbt, queer, review, thriller, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

July Wrap Up

Ahhh July, I want to thank you because for me you’ve been a good reading month. You’ll notice there was no June wrap up, that’s because I didn’t read a single book in June. But thankfully I came back strong in July. To be fair, even reading one book would’ve been an improvement but let’s not dwell on the negative.

I read some fantastic books in July. I found a new favourite. I read diversely, I read to learn and all in all it was a great reading month. I also returned to work after lockdown ended here in the UK, so I was definitely looking for an escape.

So let’s talk about the books shall we?

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. This should be required reading. I can’t explain how much I loved this book. As a member of the queer community this book made me feel seen. Please read this book if you haven’t. It’s out now.

The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune. I really enjoyed this one. More than I thought I would. I did find it a little tedious at the beginning but I grew to love it. And the characters. There’s a sequel which I can’t wait to read so that’s always a good sign. This one is out.

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron. This one was good, but there was something missing from it that would’ve made it great. I don’t know if it was the plot or the pacing. Or maybe the romance. But it was good and definitely worth a read. It’s out in the Uk August 14th.

Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like this. It was so immersive and brutal. It’s truly a unique novel. I can honestly say I’ll never forget this book. It’s also just been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It’s out in September.

The Black Kids by Christine Hammonds Reed. Damn this book was good. This one of those books that you get wrapped up in and learn something from. So good. So important. I loved it. It’s out in August.

Girl in the Walls by A.J. Gnuse. Oh this was so good. At times terrifying and heartbreaking, it really was a captivating novel. I couldn’t turn the last few pages fast enough. It’s not out till March 2021 but definitely keep an eye out for this one.

That’s it for this month. I definitely didn’t read as many books as I usually do, but it was nice to be reading again. And so many of the books were excellent. Truly excellent. It’s was quality over quantity this month and I’m ok with that.

I hope you had a good reading month.

Until the next review

JTH

#literature, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, gay, historical fiction, interview, lgbt, review, Uncategorised, ya

Book Review: ‘Girl, woman, other’ By Bernadine Evaristo

Title: Girl, Woman, Other

Author: Bernadine Evaristo

Length: 453 pages

Publisher: Penguin Books

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This novel (like many people, I’m sure) was bought to my attention because of the Booker Prize, so I decided to pick up a copy.

Synopsis: This is Britain as you’ve never read it. This is Britain as it has never been told. From the top of the country to the bottom, across more than a century of change and growth and struggle and life, Girl, Woman, Other follows twelve very different characters on an entwined journey of discovery. It is future, it is past. It is fiction, it is history. It is a novel about who we are now.

Like I said, this book won The Booker Prize (along with Margaret Atwood for ‘The Testaments’) and that’s how it was brought to my attention, and I’m a sucker for a prize winner. I’ll be forever grateful to the Booker Prize for bringing this to my attention, I fear it would’ve passed me by otherwise.

I can’t explain how much I loved this book, but I guess I’ve got to try and explain otherwise this wouldn’t be much of a blog post.

It’s told through the perspectives of 12 womxn. Each character gets their own chapter and I’m amazed at how Bernadine has crafted the story so cohesively. Each one is full of heart, love, depth. You learn so much about these characters in the chapters, you really come to care for them. It’s a glimpse into modern day Britain through the eyes of these magnificent characters.

What’s really great about this book is how Bernadine connects them all. It’s genius. It’s so subtle. Sometimes they’re best friends, sometime student/teacher, sometimes employee/employer. It really combines the novel as a whole. It gives it a wonderful fluidity.

Full of powerful messages told through exquisite, impactful prose, the stories resonate because they are basically a glimpse into each characters soul. It’s one of those books that I read slowly, carefully. Mainly because I didn’t want it to end, but also because I didn’t want to miss a single word. It’s the kind of book that captures your heart.

‘Girl, Woman, Other’ is a book I can’t forget. I look back on it and smile. If feels like Bernadine has written a love letter to Black womxn, to Britain, and the human race.

As soon as I read it I knew there would be no doubt in my mind that this will be in my Top 10 books of the year, to be honest it’s probably one of new favourites of all time. This book has a special quality that I can’t put my finger on. My review will never be able to do it justice.

I recommend this book to everyone. It’s a must read. I read it a while ago and I still think of it. In fact I think I’m due a reread to relive some of the magic. I also own two copies of this book, that’s how much I love it.

Please know there are other reviews out there that will do this book the justice it deserves. I also need to buy everything else Bernardine has written.

I seriously can not recommend this book enough. There is just something about it. Do yourself a favour and read it, you will not regret it. It’s out now.

Until the next review

JTH

blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, gay, historical fiction, lgbt, queer, review, Uncategorised

ARC Book Review: The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore

Title: The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle

Author: Neil Blackmore

Length: 320 pages

Publisher: Penguin

Synopsis: When Benjamin and Edgar Bowen embark on a Grand Tour of Europe, they are ready to meet people of Quality. They have trunks full of powdered silver wigs and matching wigs, a hunger to experience the architectural wonders of Ancient Rome, and an ability to quote Voltaire (at length). They will make connections and establish themselves in high society, just as their mother had planned. But it soon becomes apparent that their suits are not quite the right shade of grey, their smiles are to ready, their appreciation of the arts ridiculous. Class, they learn, is not something that can be studied. Benjamin‘s real education become when he meets Horace Lavelle. Beautiful, charismatic, seductive, Lavelle delights in skewering the pretensions and prejudices of their milieu. He consumes Benjamin’s every thought. Love can transform a person. Can it save them?

In ‘The Intoxicating Mr Levelle’ we follow twin brothers Edgar and Benjamin as the begin their Grand Tour of Europe ready to meet the elite and begin the rest of their lives.

My expectations for this book were high, and ultimately it failed to live up to them. For a while I thought it was going to meet them, I thought it might be the queer historical fiction novel I’ve been waiting a long time for. But unfortunately it wasn’t.

Now, don’t get me wrong I did enjoy the book, it was good. There was much to enjoy. It had some fantastic characters (not all), i loved the Grand Tour aspect, I loved the relationship between the brothers.

I loved the period of history it was set in. Loved it, I’ve been waiting for a queer book in this setting for a long time. I loved all the details, they added some much to this novel. The clothing, the places I really did enjoy this aspect.

Now the romance, it kind of feels like the whole novel depends on it to work and for me it just didn’t work. I absolutely loved fun element to the romance, and the sex scenes were good. I think it’s always a good thing when queer love is done well in book but probably of the actual romance was just a bit off because Lavelle treated Benjamin like shit and somehow Benjamin was besotted with him. I know Lavelle showed him a new side to himself and a different way to live but he didn’t have to be a dick while doing.

I absolutely hate Lavelle. Hated him. I get what author was tiring to do, but it didn’t work for me. I couldn’t have put up with him for two seconds. I think he needed to be likeable for it to work and he wasn’t. I liked the message that Lavelle brings to the book, just not the character. I couldn’t understand why Benjamin would be in love with him.

I would recommend this book. It was a bit of fun, and I’m sure some of you would even like Lavelle. It was a quick read too. But when I remember this book, I just remember being annoyed by it. So make of that what you will.

Thanks to Penguin Random House for a copy of this book in exchange for a honest, unbiased review. It’s out August 13th. Out in EBook now.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

Title: The Extraordinaries

Author: TJ Klune

Length: 400 pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Synopsis: In Nova City, there are extraordinary people, capable of feats that defy the imagination. Shadow Star protects the city and manipulates darkness and Pyro Storm is determined to bring the city to its knees using his power of fire. And then there’s Nick, who… well, being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right? Instead of fighting crime, Nick must contend with a new year at school, a father who doesn’t trust him, and a best friend named Seth, who may or may not be the love of Nicks short, uneventful life. It should be enough. But after a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do with or without Seth’s reluctant help.

The plot was super interesting, even if I did have a few problems with the pacing. I loved the whole superhero aspect to it. I hadn’t read a book like this before and I enjoyed it. Also gay superheros FINALLY. I also loved the relationship between Nick and his dad, it was dealt with beautifully.

My favourite thing about this book was the friendship between the main four characters Nick, Seth, Gibbi and Jas. I absolutely adored it. They all had such great chemistry. I loved the dynamics between them all. All the characters had such strong personalities, but they blended so well together. I had a real soft spot for Gibbi. She made me laugh out loud.

I loved the romances. Nick and Seth were absolutely adorable and total end goals, would I have liked them to get together sooner as it was so obvious, yes, but it was worth it when they did. I also loved Gibbi and Jas’s relationship. They had a real solidity to their relationship that you don’t see often in YA.

There was definitely some things I wasn’t to keen on about the book, I definitely found it to be a bit tedious at times, mainly about the 25% mark. It just needed to move on quicker. I guess I had a little problem with the pacing. And it was also a tiny bit predictable, it took it further than I thought it would, but it made me struggle to pick it up at times.

I loved TJ’s writing. It was witty, it had me laughing out loud but it was also really heartfelt and honest. He managed to combine the two perfectly. This is the first book I’ve read by him and I look forward to reading another of his. So many people have recommended The House on the Crulean Sea, so I’m going to check that one out.

I really would recommend this book. Look all I know is I had to ask people if there was going to be another book in this series because I want to got back to this world. So keep a look out for that one, I will be.

Thank you to Hooder & Stoughton and Netgalley for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. This one is out now.

Until the next review

JTH