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May Wrap Up

I’m posting my May Wrap up now, this is because I haven’t read a book throughout June. I wish I could say this wasn’t true but my mental health took a bad turn and I just couldn’t pick up a book.

So, in May I many to read twelve books. That’s not bad, compared to June it’s fantastic but let’s hope I can start reading again in July.

Let’s talk about these books shall we?

A Room With A View by E.M Foresster. This classic so not my usual kind of book, but a friend suggested it so I thought I’d give it a go. And I really enjoyed it. Especially the end. A short and sweet novel with fantastic characters.

The Hunted by Gabriel… This is a horror, so this again is not my usual type of book, but I actually really enjoyed it. It was genuinely creepy. Full of suspense and action. It would make the perfect film. This one is out August 6th

Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore. This was another good book, full of some fantastic characters but I was left wanting a little more at the end. But it was really good. It’s out on June 16th.

Fall Out by C.G.Moore. I could feel this book trying so hard, but it just didn’t do it for me overall. There were some parts that I thought were handled well, but unfortunately it most of it wasn’t great. It’s out June 16th.

True Story by Kate Reed Petty. I really enjoyed this one, it started off fantastically. I was instantly intrigued and it was dealing with a difficult subject, but it definitely lost it for me towards the end. It became a bit silly almost, but it was enjoyable. It’s out June 11th.

Boy Queen by George Lester. Yaaaaaassss, this book was fantastic. I really, really loved this one. It was a great queer book, that I can’t recommend enough. A great story, great characters. I loved it. It’s out August 6th.

All Of My Friends Are Rich by Michael Sarais. Another fantastic book, this one is filthy, fun but packs an important message, that comes across in a great way. I highly recommend this one. A brilliant own voices novel. It’s out June 16th.

Tell Me How It Ends by V.B. Grey. I really enjoyed this one, I loved the period of time it was setting in. It just has that old Hollywood glamour. It had great characters and it was an enjoyable, easy read. It’s out July 9th.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. Took me a little while to get into this one, but I’m so glad I stuck with it. It was heartbreaking in the end, with a character I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I loved it.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. I had such high hopes, but I unfortunately was disappointed. The ending was strange, the whole book was strange, and a bit dull. This is a hard one for me to take. It’s out now.

The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff. I really enjoyed this book, it was so powerful but had such a subtly too it that I haven’t read before. Full of fantastic characters and interesting dynamics, you definitely don’t want to miss this one. It’s out in July.

The Tuscan Contessa by Dinah Jefferies. I’m a huge fan of Dinah’s and I really enjoyed this book. Full of mystery and intrigue. Fantastic characters and a great historical setting. It was just a great book. It’s out July 23rd.

These are the books, I hope you’ve read some fantastic books in this time.

Until the next review

JTH

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Pride Month Adult Recommendations

It’s Pride Month. *Does celebratory dance*. While many pride events have been cancelled this year. Maybe it’s time to lose yourself in some wonderful queer fiction.

I’ve picked a few adult queer fiction books that I’m going to recommend to you. Now trust me when I say there’s plenty more out there, and trust me even more when I say I want to read them all. I’ve recently put up a post for YA pride recommendations (which you can check out here) so I thought it’s time to share some adult fiction.

These books are raw, hard-hitting and wonderful. I’m going to try and feature as many own voices as I can but some won’t be. They are just too good to not to share.

So here they are.

‘Lie With Me’ by Philippe Besson. Remember when I said these books were raw and hard-hitting? This one takes the cake. It’s so beautiful but it broke me. It left me weeping in a mess. Real ugly crying. But it’s beautiful. I’m actually looking forward to rereading it. I also feel like this one is a little bit slept on, so definitely check it out.

‘Less’ by Andrew Sean Greer. This book is so good. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2018 and I can see why. It’s such a beautiful, in-depth look into someone soul. And there’s a twist at the end that I’ll never forget. I just loved it so much.

‘Call Me By Your Name’ by André Aciman. I think most people have read this by now, but it’s sort of become a staple for queer fiction. The intensity and longing André creates in the romance between the two characters is one of a kind. I’ll never forget reading this for the first time.

‘Rainbow Milk’ by Paul Mendez. This was released in April and needs to be on your list. It’s fantastic. My favourite queer read of the year so far. It deals with so much and Paul handles it all effortlessly. It’s amazing. Seriously, don’t miss this one.

‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara. Well, I read this on vacation by the pool and I cried. In front of everyone and I have no regrets! This will break you. There’s no other way to say. It deals with some hard issues, but there’s a tenderness and vulnerability to this book that is breathtaking.

‘All Of My Friends Are Rich’ by Michael Sarais. This is my most recent queer read and it was a good one. A wonderful own voices novel, that is very sexual, but has a strong message with it. This is a debut novel from an Indie author that made me care about the characters and it also made me cry.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. I haven’t read this one. But it is so high up on my list, people have been recommending it to me for years. I’ve not met anyone who hasn’t loved it. I like to think this one I’ll read in June for Pride Month, but we’ll have to wait and see.

There are so many more books that I could go into detail about, but I won’t. I’ll name a few and let you check them out. ‘Swimming in the Dark’ by Tomasz… , ‘What Belongs to you’ by Gareth Greenwell, ‘The Line of Beauty’ Alan Hollinghurst and ‘The Great Believers’ by Rebecca Makkai.

I’m always looking to add to my collection, especially hardbacks. It’s my little mission for 2020, to buy more queer hardbacks.

Let me know if there’s any here you love, or if there’s any that I’ve missed that I should read.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: Queen of Coin and Whispers’ by Helen Corcoran

Title: Queen of Coin and Whispers

Author: Helen Corcoran

Length: 464 pages

Publisher: O’Brien Press

Synopsis: When Lia, an idealistic Queen, falls for Xania, her new spymaster – who took the job to avenge her murdered father – they realise all isn’t fair in love and treason. Lia won’t mourn her uncle: he’s left her a bankrupt kingdom considered easy pickings by its neighbours. She’s swarm to be a better ruler, but if she wants to push through her reforms, she needs to beat the court at its own games. For years, Xania’s been determined to uncover her fathers murderer. She finally gets the chance when Lia gives her a choice: become her new spymaster, or take a one way trip to the executioner’s axe. It’s an easy decision. When they fall for each other, their love complicates Lia’s responsibilities and Xania’s plans for vengeance. As they’re drawn together amid royal suitors and new diplomats, they uncover treason that could not only end Lia’s reign, but ruin their weakened country. They must decide not only what to sacrifice for duty, but also for each other.

This book was so enjoyable. For so many reasons. Full of romance, intrigue and fantastic characters. I needed a good YA book in my life and this one was it.

We follow Lia, who is a newly crowned Queen, with big ideas to return her kingdom to glory. We also follow Xania, who is hired as the queen’s spymaster.

There’s so many things I loved about this book. I don’t know where to start. I guess I’ll start with the intricacy and the detail. I loved how it allowed you to really loose yourself in the story. When a story is as detailed as this, it sets such a solid foundation for the rest of the story and it’s works beautifully in this book.

The romance! Oh the romance. It was F/F and it was heaven. It was a lovely slow burn romance (you know I love those) and it was so well done. I loved that it wasn’t the main plot, but was still so beautifully done. It always great so see LGBTQ+ representation in books, especially when it’s so well done like it is in ‘Queen of Coin and Whispers’. There’s some beautiful, tender scenes between the two. I also loved how the relationship dealt with the political side of things.

Queen of Coin and Whispers read to me at times like a political thriller. Full of the inner workings of a queen and her government, it has some great characters and I didn’t know who to trust, it was wonderful. It really kept me intrigued as a reader. With the assassination attempts in queens life and the spymaster trying to solve it, it gave the story and the characters a great dynamic. It all made for a thrilling read.

Can I say how much I loved the characterisation in this book. It didn’t focus on either characters looks, of course they were described, but it was refreshing to read about to two strong, fierce, flawed, intelligent women. Especially in young adult. It’s so desperately needed and Helen Corcoran delivers.

This is Helens debut novel and I can firmly say she has made a fan! To create such a well rounded, intriguing story with fantastic characters, I was hooked from start to finish. I’ll look forward to seeing what she does next. I couldn’t recommend this book more. Don’t miss this one. The perfect read for Pride Month.

Thank you to O’Brien press for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out June 1st.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: Camp by L. C. Rosen

Title: Camp

Author: L. C. Rosen

Length: 384 pages

Publisher: Penguin

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only in straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists. This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him. But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself, how much is he willing to change for love? And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?

I absolutely loved this book. I just think it’s brilliant. And more than that it’s important. For me, it was the perfect YA. Can we have more books like this one please? Especially own voices, like this one.

I loved the premise and the setting for this book. I don’t know if this kind of place is real (I’m old) but it’s fantastic. It great place for the story to take place. It was so inclusive. It also gives the story a great foundation and it really takes off from there.

‘Camp’ has such amazing characters. I love Del, he was sweet. I loved that he was so multifaceted. Even though he’s changed himself to be loved, he accepted that this part of himself was also real. But he also knows who is and loves himself for it. Ugh, I love him. His two best friends George and Addy were amazing. They made me laugh out loud. I even liked Hudson, even though he had the most problematic views, he was never unlikable. L C Rosen really has created fantastic characters. They were also beautiful written. All complex and real.

I love the romance. I just loved it. It was so well done. Even though a lot of it’s circumstances were fake because of both boys lying. There connection felt real. I was rooting for them. It was also very sex positive. Which is important for young adults, especially queers one to read.

This book is loveable and fun, but it definitely shouldn’t be underestimated because it is so important. This is a book where queer kids shine. In every way. They aren’t the sidekick, or the one being bullied. They are all the stars and it’s fantastic to read. This book isn’t another of those stories of the straight acting guys who just happened to be gay, these are femme gay guys who love themselves.

L C Rosen is out here giving a voice to so many people that have often been overlooked in every way. I can’t think of another author that is doing it, especially not this well. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

I hope every young adult (even adults) reads this book. Queer teens we see themselves represented in this book, many for the first time. Representation is so important. We see so many different kinds of queer representation in this book. I know I keep going on about it really is important. I think this book will give so many people hope. It’s the kind of book I wish I had around when I was younger.

I can’t recommend enough, in case you couldn’t tells tell. I loved every second of this book. I already know this is going to be on all my books of the year lists. It’s that good.

Thank you to Penguin for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: Hideous Beauty by William Hussey

Title: Hideous Beauty

Author: William Hussey

Length: 336 pages.

Publisher: YA Osbourne

Synopsis: Dylan is forced to come out after his secret relationship with Ellis is exposed on social media, but to his surprise everyone is really supportive-or at least they appear to be. But Dylan and Els relationship is short lived, and following a tragic accident, Dylan begins to realise how little he knows about the boy he loves, or those who knew him.

I read this book in one night, I never do that. I actually read it in under 3 hours. I couldn’t put it down. That tells you just how much I enjoyed it.

For Hideous Beauty to work as a novel, for the secrets to be in intriguing you have to believe the love story at the centre of the novel between Dylan and Ellis and I can say I did. It was incredibly sweet and was the heart of the book. It’s really heartbreaking what happens ( no spoilers). It deals with that first young love and all joys and heartache that comes with it. Hussey handles it beautifully. It’s so believeable.

I loved the characters. Hussey has created characters that are real, and heartfelt. William also show the complexity of gay teens, the feelings we feel growing up. Those moments of insecurity, those fleeting moments of self acceptance. I also loved the connection they had. It also deals with coming out and it’s dealt with well. It’s dealt with the way only an own voices author can.

This book is full of so much intrigue and mystery. It’s going to hard to talk about without any spoilers but as the story progresses and Dylan begins to receive drawing in the post that are clues, I couldn’t wait to find out who was sending them and what happened. It’s full of shocking, dark secrets that keep the novel moving at a fantastic pace. I couldn’t turn those damn pages fast enough.

The ending, it shocked me. Again, I really don’t want to spoil anything for you, but it made shed a little tear. Grab the tissues, you’re going to need them. I didn’t see it coming, and yet it perfectly fit the story. It was actually really heartbreaking.

I’ve really tried to talk about this book without giving any spoilers so you can experience every bit of this book.

I can’t recommend this book enough. William Hussey has written a beautifully complex, heartfelt novel. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next.

Thank you to Osborne YA for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out May 28th.

Until the next review

JTH

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Pride Month YA recommendations.

Pride Month is upon us. It’s a very exciting time. Last month, I spent the whole entirety of June nothing but queer books and it made my heart very happy. Very happy indeed. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do that this month, so I thought I’d share my recommendations.

These book are all YA. I truly think YA books have some fantastic options for us to read with some fantastic representation. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again. Representation Matters. I’m trying to keep all these books as Own Voice options, but at the bottom of the blog, I’ll put a little section that aren’t own voices.

These books will help young queer people to find themselves, find others like them and I can’t tell you how important that is. It’s all about acceptance. I remember being a young queer boy and desperately trying to find the courage to be able to buy a queer book in my local bookstore. Now, there’s only a little hesitation when I buy them.

I’ll be doing another post for some adult literature queer books, a bit later.

So let’s get started shall we.

‘History Is All You Left Me’ by Adam Silvera. This book is so beautiful, heartbreaking and emotional. It was the first queer book I read, so it owns a very special place in my heart. It deals with so much, and there’s some beautiful queer representation at its heart. This was the book I had to pluck up the courage to buy and I’m so glad I did. In the photo above are some more of Adams books if you’d like to check them out. But History really is the most beautiful for me.

‘Camp’ by L.C.Rosen. Boy oh boy, do I love this book. It took queer to another level. It put femme characters centre stage and it’s brilliant. It’s not something I’ve seen before, and I hope more books follow. It’s a beautiful story of self acceptance, queer love, and being proud to be you. It’s just so celebratory. Rosens other book ‘Jack of Hearts’ also very good. I really can’t recommend this one enough. It’s out May 28th. Just in time for Pride Month.

Felix Ever After by Kacen …. Now, I am going to be honest and say I haven’t actually read this one, but I’m going to recommend because it’s got Trans POC representation, which is so underrepresented. The story revolves around Felix, who learns to love himself. And I can’t think of a more positive message than that. Also, let’s just look at the cover. STUNNING.

Hideous Beauty by William Hussey. This is a queer thriller and it’s fantastic. While this one had a love story that will make you heart soar, it’s also going to break it. It’s filled with mystery and romance. It’s a little darker than some of the others on this list, but just as beautiful. This one is also out on the 28th. Just in time for Pride.

Boy Queen by George Lester. Another book I’ve read recently and loved. Again, we have another femme character at the centre and I love it. This book is delightful. It’s full of drag queens, romance, self pride and love. This is definitely one to add to your queer collection. It’s out August 6th.

Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemian. Again, I have to confess I haven’t read this book. I’m mentioning one I haven’t read just to bring them to your attention and maybe you’ll like the sound of them. This one is set in the 1980s and centred around the Aids crisis, a moment in queer history we can never forget. But it’s from teenagers perspective. I can’t tell you how badly I’m looking forward to reading this one.

Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram. Again, this is another one I haven’t read but want to highlight. This has got an abundance of different representations. Queer, Mental Health and POC. And this book is getting a sequel so it can’t be bad right? A friend recommended this to me and I trust their opinion highly. I am incredibly excited to read it.

‘Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe’ by Benjamin Alice Sáenz. Well this book reads just like a love song. It’s stunning. Quiet and impactful and it will have you weeping at the end. Beautiful. Just beautiful. And highly underrated.

There are so many more books out there, like ‘ I Wish You All The Best’ by Mason Deaver, ‘The Gravity of Us’ by Phil Stamper, ‘ziggy, stardust & me’ by James Branderson. ‘Alex in Wonderland’ by Simon James Green, ‘The Black Flamingo’ by Dean Atta and ‘Wranglestone’ by Darren Charlton. I encourage you to look all these Own Voice books up.

Now for some of those books that aren’t own voice. ‘Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda’ by Becky Albertalli. ‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ by Casey McQuiston, ‘Only Mostly Devastated’ by Sophie Gonzales, ‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell and ‘I’ll Give You The Sun’ by Jandy Nelson.

I also really need to add some F/F books. I did recently read ‘Queen of Coin and Whispers’ by Helen Corcoran which was fantastic. And waiting for ‘The Henna Wars’ by Adiba Jaigirdar to arrive, which I can’t wait to read.

So there we have, some fantastic books that celebrate inclusivity, queer love, queer pride and self acceptance. They all teach such valuable lessons.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Let me know if there’s any I’m missing, or if you’ve read some of these and you love them, or if they’ve helped you.

Until the next review

JTH

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April Wrap Up

Well my fellow readers, I think it’s fair to say it’s been a strange month right? I know most of us have been or still are on lockdown. I know, in terms of reading, it’s affected everyone differently. I’ve had ups and downs. I’ve had times where I all I wanted to do was read, and others where I haven’t even wanted to look at a book.

I’ve been off work, so I’ve managed to read more than ever this month. I read 14 books. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to read that many. But again, it’s just because of circumstances that it’s happened. I’ll definitely take it as a win.

Anyway, let’s chat about them shall we?

You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr. This was good, it could’ve been great but was a little mix matched for me. Although the ending was brilliant, I just wanted the whole book to be like that. The connection just didn’t feel right throughout. It’s out now.

The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore. This was good, there were parts I really enjoyed. But revolves around Mr Lavelle and I absolutely hated him. So it made the book feel a little off. Ugh, I really hated him. This one is out on ebook now and published in August.

The Prisoner’s Wife by Maggie Brookes. I really enjoyed this one. It was a super emotional, intense read. It gave a different side of the story to WW2. A great piece of historical fiction. It’s out now.

Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez. Oh I loved this book. I loved, loved, loved it. It was just brilliant. I hope it’s nominated for all the prizes. I adored it. It’s out now.

The Revolt by Clara DuPont-Monod. I like my historical fiction detailed and this certainly was. It’s very short, about 190 pages but it kinda lost me after 130 pages. But it was good. Out May 12th.

Only You by Kate Eberlen. I really enjoyed this one. It was sweet, romantic and emotional. It was the perfect escape for these times and made me feel like I was walking the streets in Rome. It’s out now.

Love is For Losers by Wibke Brueggemann. A fresh and funny f/f romance that’s got a lot of heart. I did really like this one. Although at times felt a little long. It’s out 2021.

People Like Us by Louise Fein. This is a great historical fiction book. Again, a different look at the Nazi approach to telling the story. It had a really wonderful ending. Made me emotional. This out May 7th.

Writers & Lovers by Luly King. This was a quiet book, I didn’t realise how much I was enjoying it until things started to work out for the main character and I was pleased. It definitely grew on me. It’s out May 28th.

Camp by L.C. Rosen. Fantastic, absolutely fantastic. The kind of book I wished I had when I was younger. Unashamedly queer and beautiful. I highly recommend. It’s out May 28th.

Ashes by Christopher De Vinck. This was good, with a sweet ending but wasn’t the best historical fiction book. Parts of it felt rushed. I can’t even really remember what happened in it now. It was okay. It’s out May 28th.

The Magnificent Sons by Justin Myers. I hated this book. Hated it. Hated it. It was boring, bland and dull. Unlikeable characters I cared nothing about. It put me in a reading slump. I never want to think about this book again. It’s out May 28th.

The Stray Cats of Homs by Eva Nour. This was good, but not great. It captures the horror of what’s happening really well, but there’s was something missing and I don’t know what. I have a feeling I won’t remember this book in a few weeks. It’s out May 7th.

Hideous Beautiful by William Hussey. This was another great queer fiction book. Full of mystery and intrigue with a great love story. I definitely recommend this one. It’s out May 28th.

So that’s it. That’s my month. Definitely a few hits and definitely a few misses. One even put me in a reading slump for a few days! Ugh, I hated that book with a passion. But oh well, there’s better books out there.

I hope you’re all safe and well and enjoying your reading as much as you can.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ by Ocean Vuong.

Title: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Author: Ocean Vuong

Length: 256 pages

Publisher: Jonathon Cape

I had this book on my shelf for a while and I wanted to read it before the end of the 2019 and I managed to sneak it in and I couldn’t be more pleased I did.

Synopsis: ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ is a letter written from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born – a history whose epicentre is rooted in Vietnam – and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class and masculinity. Asking questions central to the American moment, immersed as it is in addiction, violence and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness.

‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ is a letter written from a son to his mother. But for me, it felt like the son wrote this for himself to save his own soul, and the outcome is exquisite.

So first up, let’s talk about how beautifully this book was written. It’s gorgeous. It felt like I was reading a book of poetry. With lyrical prose and searing honesty it honestly left my speechless at points. I always like to be honest in my blog posts, so I have no shame in telling that it’s beauty made me cry on page 4. Yep, you read that correctly, page 4.

At times when reading this book, it felt like I shouldn’t have been. It felt to personal, to intimate, like I was reading someone’s diary. I mean all this in the best possible way, it’s a testament to the wonderful writing and storytelling of Ocean. It was like reading 242 pages of the characters soul. It really was beautiful. Yet it was also expansive, it felt like the story between mother and son, yet it’s somehow encapsulated so much more. Just genius. It also deals with the unpleasant side of their relationship. It details the abuse, the trauma. It shows him realise that she was more than just him mother, but a person who had been through her own trauma. But the overall out come for me, I felt was love.

There was a love story in this book, that was stunning. It was so real. It was the kind of lone that was never shared between anyone but Little Dog and his lover Trevor. It was full of first love and experimentation. What makes it outstanding is that it perfectly captures that feeling of first love. And because it was a gay love story, it was different. Different in the sense that the love was never said out loud, it was just felt. Although the characters didn’t even know it themselves. That’s what makes it wonderful. How Ocean captures this perfectly.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It was just beautiful and heartbreaking. Searingly honest and gorgeously written. It’s made both my top five queers reads of the year and my top ten overall reads of the year. Don’t let this one pass you by. It’s short but gloriously sweet.

It’s out now.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez

Title: Rainbow Milk

Author: Paul Mendez

Length: 384 pages

Publisher: Dialogue Books

You know when you have high expectations for a book and it surpasses them. That’s what did Rainbow Milk.

Synopsis: In the Black Country in the 1950s, ex-boxer Norman Alonso is a determined and humble Jamaican who has moved to Britain with is wife to secure a brighter future for themselves and their children. Blighted who unexpected illness and racism, Norman and his family are resilient in the face of such hostilities, but are all too aware that they will need more than just hope to survive. At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London – escaping from a broken immediate family, a repressive religious community and the desolate, disempowered Black County – but finds himself at a loss for a new centre of gravity, and turns to sex work to create new notions of love, fatherhood and spirituality.

It’s starts of with Robert, a Jamaican man and his wife, moving to Britain in the 50s, where they hope for a better life, but have to deal with racism. The story then moves onto Jesse, a young Jehovah Witness, who leaves his family behind for a new life in London.

I’m just going to start by saying that my review will never do this book justice, so just go out and by it already. I had pretty high expectations going into this and it surpassed them. It really was everything I wanted it to be and more. I loved it. Absolutely loved it.

The novel just works as a whole. Every element on its own is sublime and it all comes together cohesively. It’s got a fantastic story, fantastic writing and fantastic characters. Every part is fantastic. Can you tell I love this book?

Jesse, a young gay black man, is a wonderful character to follow. Paul creates such depth, his portrayal of him will absolutely break your heart, but I do believe it will be put back together again. In terms of his sexuality, it’s so well done. Paul perfectly captures the fine line of acceptance/ hating yourself. Jesse goes on such a journey. Paul captures his confusion over everything in his life brilliantly. You just become so invested in his life. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a character that captures your heart. Jesse is character I won’t forget for a long time.

Most books just tackle one subject, but this book tackles race, religion and sexuality and intertwines them all fantastically. There’s just so much inside this book. It deals with some harrowing things. It also deals with parts of British history that are often forgotten about. Racism that happened (and still does) that just seems to be ignored and it’s heartbreaking and infuriating. But it’s what makes the novel so special. I don’t want to say to much, because I want you to read it and just be blown away by the depth of this novel.

I also loved, loved how the two stories connected. I was worried that was going to be a bit of a let down but it really wasn’t. It ties the novel together perfectly. It gives Jesse some real clarity and the story. The book is just so bold and fresh. It tackles the exploration of finding ones self and the world around.

This is Paul’s debut novel and a debut it is. It’s moving, delicate and assured. What a talent. He’ll capture your heart with this book. I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s one of those books that I’m just grateful to have read. It’s one of the Observer’s top ten 2020 debuts and I can totally see why. Paul is a writer that I’ll definitely be looking out for in the future.

Easily my favourite novel of the year, I know it’s only April but it’s going to be hard to beat. I want it nominated for every prize. I’d to love to see it on the Booker prize list. I just don’t think novels come along like this very often. It’s the queer novel I’ve been waiting a long time for.

Again, I haven’t done the book justice.

Thank you Millie at Dialogue Books for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now.

Until the next review

JTH

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March Wrap Up

Well aren’t we glad March is over, even though I know there are more times a head for many of us. I normally say the months flew by, but this one certainly did not. Obviously it’s horrible what’s going on in the world right now, so I hope you are all managing to escape into different worlds with the books you are reading.

I’m off work for a while, so I’m sure I’m going to get some more reading done, but I found it hard to read. I couldn’t concentrate or focus. One book took me over a week to read and that hasn’t happened in a while.

I still managed to read 10 books, so let’s have a chat about them shall we?

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales. A big anticipated book for me that just fell a little short. I enjoyed every thing but the romance, which was the main Plot. I wasn’t bad, just wasn’t great. This one is out now. 3⭐️

Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran. An intriguing, political, clever queer YA book. I loved this book. It was super enjoyable. Great characters and a dynamic book. I highly recommend. Out April 23rd. 4.5⭐️

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora. A bit of a slow start, but ultimately I ended up loving it. Fantastic characters that I won’t forget for a long time. Intricate and brilliant. A great piece of historical fiction. Out April 16th. 4⭐️

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko. Brilliant. This is the best YA book I’ve read in a long time. I adored every part of this novel. I Didn’t want it to end but I couldn’t put it down. READ THIS BOOK! Out April 6th. 5⭐️

Crescent City by Sarah J Mass. A little slow at first and extremely long, but once I got into I couldn’t put it down. Full of great characters and captivating story. I loved it. 4.5⭐️ It’s out.now

Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins. Such my intrigue and mystery in this one. I just didn’t know how it was going to end and I couldn’t wait to find out. I really enjoyed it. This one is out April 2nd.

The Austen Girls by Lucy Worley. I’m such a fan of Lucy and her book didn’t disappoint. Such a fun story full of historical information. Lovely to see Jane Austen in there too. It’s out April 2nd.

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd. What a title. It’s just fantastic. I loved it. Amazing characters, so beautifully written. I absolutely adored it. It’s out April 21st.

Scabby Queen by Kristin Innes. I really enjoyed this one. Full of interesting characters. Love the premise of it. Super enjoyable. It’s out April 30th.

The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick. I really enjoyed this one. It built really nicely and I couldn’t wait to find out how it was going to be resolved. I enjoyed the ending too. It’s out April 20th.

So that was it for me this month. How did you get on? Let me know

Until the next review

JTH