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Top 10 Books of the year.

Well my friends 2020 is finally over. Finally. Shall we all breath a collective sigh of relief. It’s been a tough year hasn’t it? But I always try and look at the positive side of things, and being in a nearly 4 month long lockodown I have managed to read more books than ever before. I had a lot of time on my hands.

Throughout this year I had books. Books that let me discover new worlds while I was stuck inside. Books let m meet new characters while I was stuck inside. They’ve been a gift to me. Of course my reading had dips when I just couldn’t manage to pick up a book.

I’ve read some brilliant books this year. Absolutely brilliant. I’ve loved them. There’s been new found favourites, books that surprised me, books with writing that has moved me. There’s definitely an eclectic selection of books here which I love. There’s some young adult books, queer books, literary fiction.

So shall we talk about these books? Just to clarify they are in no particular order.

1) The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr

I knew I was going to love this book, but I didn’t know I’d love it this much. It’s a masterpiece. It’s genius. It’s the book I’ll recommend to everyone. The writing is stunning beautiful. It’s sublime. I’m already planning on rereading this one next year. It’s truly a work of art. It’s out on January 5th. You can read my full review here.

2) The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Everyone was recommending this to me and I’m so glad I read it. It pulled me out of a reading slump and it changed my life. It had me crying through at its sheer beauty and honesty. It’s a Young Adult book but I think it should be required reading for everyone. What a message. I love this book so much.

3) How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

This one took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Cherie creates such real characters that stay with you. It’s the book I was talking to all my friends about at work. It had me gripped from start to finish. It’s truly a wonderful piece of fiction. I won’t forget these characters or the book for a long time. What a brilliant debut. I’m on the blog tour for this one, so look out for my review on January 17th.

4) Camp by L. C. Rosen

I adore this book. It’s the book I needed as a teenager, i still needed as a 28 year old. It’s got brilliant representation and it shows you all kinds of queer is valid and worthy and i think that kind of representation is important. Of course its funny, romantic and a brilliant story. You can check out my full review here.

5) Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

This fantasy book stole my heart. I loved the characters, the story and the African inspired world Jordan has created. It’s so much fun, its got a brilliant message of Black Girl magic and its so captivating. I want more. I’m basically just spending my time waiting for the sequel to come out. You can check out my full review here.

6) The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwartz

I’m sure this is going to be on a lot of people’s lists this year and its got a firm place on mine. It’s just a brilliant, moving book that is so original and enthralling. Addie and Henry just take up a place in your heart. And what an original concept. I can’t wait to read more from Schwab as this was my first book from them. You can read my full review here.

7) Girl In The Walls by A. J. Gnuse

This is not my usual type of book but I absolutely loved it. What an original premise. It’s so clever and the author makes it so believable. It had me on the edge of my seat, and my heart was pounding and I just had to know how it would end. Surprisingly emotional also. I really loved this book. It’s out in March and I can’t recommend it enough.

8) Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

I just think this book is so important. Once again showing how important representation is. Of course its entertaining and you’ll enjoy the characters but this book at its core has something to say. It’s just brilliant. You can check out my full review here.

9) Kingdom Tide by Rye Curtis

Now, I didn’t expect this book to be on the list but as I came to write this blog post I realised I couldn’t stop thinking about this book. Then I realised I’d been thinking about it all year. I remember the brilliant writing and the characters and the powerful connections between. And that to me is a sign of a great book. I read this back in January. You can check out my full review here.

10) Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez.

I read this early on in the year and just knew it would make it on the list. I loved every page. It has so much to say on queerness and race in the uk. It’s so captivating and beautifully written and I’d love more people to read this one. It’s stunning. I’ll look forward to whatever Paul writes next. You can check out my full review here.

So there we have it. My top 10 books of the year. And what a crazy year its been. But I’m so thankful to these books for letting me escape inside them and keeping me sane.

Have you read any of these? Or do you plan to? Let me know in the comments.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

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Top 10 Queer books of 2020

Has this been the year I’ve read the most queer books I’ve ever read? Yes, yes it has. Does that make creating a top ten list very hard? Yes. Yes it does. Am I still going to do it? Yes. Yes I am.

2020 has been the year I’ve really expanded my queer reading. As a white gay man, I was mainly reading stories by white gay authors about white boys falling in love. But I’m pleased to say my queer reading has really diversified this year. I’ve read more queer books by black authors, more sapphic books, some queer fantasy, some books by trans and non binary authors. Books like these will only get published if we support them.

So lets talk about the queer books shall we? (These are in no particular order)

1) The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. This is the most incredible book. It’s the queer historical fiction book I’ve been waiting for. It’s heartbreaking, its life affirming, its got the purest and the most intimate love story I’ve read in a long time. It’s a love story between two black slaves, its never been dove before and it needed to be. It gives a voice to queer history.

2) The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta. This book is phenomenal. It had me in an absolute flood of tears. It is so beautifully written. It just captures all those feeling of being a young gay person and feeling lost. It truly is brilliant. I think this book should be required reading for everyone. And it’s got some beautiful poetry in too.

3) Camp by L. C. Rosen. I adore this book. It’s the first book I read that tackled toxic masculinity. It was the first time I read a book that saw femme guys as the love interest and I think its so incredibly powerful. It’s the book I wish I had when I was younger. It’s also incredibly fun and entertaining. It’s also got a wonderful love story.

4) Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender. This book is so powerful. It’s the kind of book that will capture your heart and educate you at the same time and to me that great fiction for you. It follows are trans big who is the main character, who is the love interest and that kind of representation is so important. I know this book has helped so many people. Please read this one if you haven’t.

5) Hideous Beauty by William Hussey. This is an incredibly addictive and thrilling young adult book. I read it in one night. I’ve never done that before. I just couldn’t put it down. It’s got a mystery you just want to know the answer to and a sweet lovely. I’m looking forward to Williams next book. You can check out my full review here.

6) You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson. This is a brilliant young adult contemporary novel that celebrates black girl magic and the first time falling in love. The romance between the two girls is so adorable and charming, but this book as has an important message. You fly through it and be left wanting to read more from this author. You can check out my full review here.

7) All Of My Friends Are Rich by Michael Sarais. This book is wild and sexy and provocative but underneath it all it has a really important message about mental health and the pressures we all face, and I think the author highlights these all so well. It’s an honest and emotional account that had me crying by the end of this book. You can read my full review here.

8) Boy Queen by George Lester. This is such a wonderful book about finding yourself and finding the courage it takes to do what you want. In this book again, we see a femme boy at the centre of the story and I love it. This kind of representation matters. All there’s some fantastic drag featured in this book that is so much fun. You can check out my full review and an interview with George here.

9) Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez. I read this one at the beginning of the year and its stuck with me. It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking look at growing black and queer in Britain. It’s written beautifully and will stay with you. I’m looking forward to what Paul writes next.

Swimming In The Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski. Another book I read earlier in the year that has stayed with me. It’s such a beautiful, intimate love story between two me in Poland. It’s got a goodbye that’ll make you cry. It’s such a beauty of a book. You can read my full review here.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

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

5 Books to read in 2021

With 2020 coming to an end (I know we all can’t wait right?) I figured it’s time to start talking about some books that are coming out next year. You can never be to prepared can you?

I’ve been lucky enough to be sent some proof copies for next year and in today’s blog post I’m going to talk about some of the ones I’ve loved. I will be doing a post about ones I haven’t read yet but I still want you to know about.

So let’s talk about the books shall we?

First up we have The Prophets by Robert Jones jr from Quercus Books and this out on January 5th. This book is probably my most anticipated book of 2021 and I consider myself very lucky to Have an early copy. I can’t tell you how incredible this book is. It’s outstanding. It’s firmly a new favourite of mine. I’m going to have to read it again just to fully take everything in. The writing is absolutely stunning. STUNNING. This available for preorder now and it’s out January 5th. I urge you to pick this one up.

Synopsis: Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was they way it was since to beginning, and they way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a space of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man – a fellow slave – seeks to gain favour by preaching the masters gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is now seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.

The next one is How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones. This one is out January 21st from Headline Books. I didn’t know what to expect when I picked this one but I absolutely adored it. It is so engrossing. The characters are so beautifully crafted. And the ending is such a page turner. It’s truly a brilliant debut. Its out January 21st.

Synopsis: In Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, Lala’s grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister, a cautionary tale about what happens to girls who disobey their mothers. For Wilma, its the story of a wilful adventurer, who ignores the warnings of those around her, and suffers as a result. When Layla grows up, she sees it offers hope – of life after losing a baby in the most terrible of circumstances and marrying the wrong man. And Mira Whalen? It’s about keeping alive, trying to make sense of the fact that her husband has been murdered, and she didn’t get the chance to tell him that she loved him after all.

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson from Viking Books UK out February 4th. This is a short novel but it packs a punch. The writing is absolutely phenomenal. Phenomenal. It’s such an intimate look into the life of a young black man in the UK. It writing like this that makes the book unforgettable. Out February 4th.

Synopsis: Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both now are artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – trying to make their mark in a city that both celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence.

Then we have Girl In The Walls by A. J. Gnuse from 4thestate and it’s out March 4th. This is a book I can’t stop thinking about. It went above and beyond my expectations. And at times I was genuinely scared. It’s got that kind of ending where you’ll be turning those pages as fast as you can. My heart was genuinely pounding. It’s that’s good. Out March 4th.

Synopsis: Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the Walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what. Eddie is a teenager now, almost a grown-up. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his fierce older brother senses her, too, they are faced with the question of how to get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists. And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite into their home?

Lastly is The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. I finished this just last night and I loved every page. It’s an epic tale with brilliant characters that really capture your heart. If you loved The Nightingale then you’ll love this one. And yes I can confirm you’ll be weeping at the end. I definitely was.

Synopsis: Texas, 1934. Elsa Martinelli has finally found the life she’d yearned for: a family, a home and a farm on the Great Plains. But when drought threatens all that she and her community hold dear, Elsa’s world is shattered to the winds. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. Fearful of the future, when Elsa wakes to find her husband has fled, she is forced to make the most agonising decision of her life. Fight for the land she loves or take her beloved children, Lorena and Ant, west to California in search of a better life.

So there you have it, five books that are coming out early next year. And they are all brilliant. I loved every single one, each in there own way. I can’t recommend them enough to you.

Are any of these books on your tbr? Have you been intrigued by any? Comment and let me know.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

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

Book Review: The Prophets by Robert Jones jr

Title: The Prophets

Author: Robert Jones Jr

Length: 400 pages

Publisher: Quercus Books

Synopsis: Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was they way it was since to beginning, and they way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a space of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man – a fellow slave – seeks to gain favour by preaching the masters gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is now seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.

I’m going to start this review and say that this is probably the best book I’ve ever read. It is simply outstanding. I’m also going to say that this is the hardest review I’ve ever had to write because I know I’ll never do the book justice.

There are so many elements in this book that just hit you in your soul. The writing is so sharp it gets to the core of you. The characterisation is phenomenal. It all just comes together to make a brilliant book.

And let me say this, in literature, we often read about Queer movement or Queer Historical figures but in The Prophets Robert Jones jr has given a voice to Queer Love. In a historical period were queer love has never been considered. Two black slaves choosing each other and love is so powerful to read. I’ve never read Queer Love in this period of history. And by doing this Roberts given queer people of this time a voice.

The romance between Samuel and Isiah is so tender, yet constricted. You can feel the characters, especially Samuel, be afraid to fully give into the relationship because of the ramifications it will have, not only for what will happen to them from their masters point of view, but what would happen if they admit it to themselves. But you also can tell that they need each other, they wouldn’t survive without each other. And somehow Robert conveys all so poignantly and so powerfully. He makes their love feel so deep. It feels like you’re reading about true love, I know that sounds silly to say, but It doesn’t always work in books but in The Prophets it feels real. It’s achingly beautiful. It captures you. It feels so intimate and special, but it feels grand and opening. It’s one of the best love stories I’ve ever read.

There are so brilliant characters in The Prophets, like Maggie, Adam, Sarah and Essie. Here’s what I thought was genius and such a smart, brilliant choice by Robert is that you learn about all these characters through their connection to Samuel and Isiah and their love story. I love how it connected them all. I love how Robert has put Queer love at the centre of the novel. It gives the love such a power. It makes the whole book feel like magic to me. I haven’t felt like this about a book since Girl, Woman, Other. It’s got the same feel to me.

Now of course this book is set in America before the Civil War and its set on a Plantation. So at times it’s hard to read. It’s harrowing and brutal. But Robert handles it with honesty. There’s also some chapters that show White people capturing and enslaving Black people and bringing them over on the ships. They are short chapters but they are so enraging and engrossing. They are incredibly powerful. It just shows what a masterful writer Robert Jones is.

I’m not going to say much about the ending, but all I’ll say is that it broke me. It absolutely broke me. I was crying so loudly my sister came into my room to ask if I was okay. And I’m not even embarrassed about that fact. Robert builds so much momentum and atmosphere. Utter brilliance.

Roberts writing is so breathtaking that he conveys all this without ever really saying it. It is absolutely phenomenal. It’s the kind of book I’ll reread, and I never reread, and I’ll find more meaningful beautiful prose. I can’t tell you how many times I cried because of the honesty and the rawness of the writing, especially about the love between Samuel and Isiah. It’s majestic. All queer love stories will need to live up to this one for me now.

I think it’s pretty obvious that I’d recommend this one. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I think it’ll be award winning. I’m gonna say Booker 2021 now. Please read this book. You won’t regret it. I know I’ll be rereading it.

Thank you so much to Quercus for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out January 5th. It’s available for preorder now. I’ve preordered mine and it’s a signed copy and I’m so excited!!

Until the next review

JTH

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

November Wrap Up

Now, I’ve been on lockdown this whole month and I really thought I was going to read more, but of course these lockdowns are hard and my reading took a while to get going.

I really started off the month slowly, just not reading much. I was finding it really hard to concentrate. But when I finally did get going I read some brilliant books. Absolutely brilliant. But I don’t only manage to read seven books. Not great, but not bad. Still I’ve found a new favourite so it was a good month.

Towards the end of the month my reading sort of tapered off again. But hey, that’s lockdown for you.

Let’s talk about these books then shall we?

First up I read The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell. This was a good book, not my favourite of the month, but still good. It kept me intrigued throughout. And I’ll definitely be checking out Laura’s other books. It’s out in January.

Next I read These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong and I really enjoyed this one. It took me a little why to get into it, but once I did I loved it. Great characters, a great story. Action packed. You can check out my full review here. Can I have book two now? This one is out now.

Then I read Between The World and Mw by Ta-nehisi Coates. This is a brilliant non-fiction book. I don’t think this is something you review. It’s just something you learn from. It’s a must read.

Up next was The Prophets by Robert Jones jr. Is this my new favourite book? I think so. It’s absolutely outstanding. The writing is phenomenal. Phenomenal. I can’t recommend it enough. This one is out January 5th. Thank you to Quercus books for my copy.

Then I read Love Is A Revolution by Renée Watson. This is a quick YA book that I really enjoyed. It had some fantastic characters, and I loved the message that this book gets across. This one is out in February. Thanks to Bloomsbury YA for my copy.

Next up was Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson. This book was short but it really packed a punch. The writing was absolutely stunning. It really was stunning. This one is out in February and I can’t recommend it enough. I look forward to rereading it. Thanks to Viking Books UK for my copy.

Then I read While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart. Loved this one. I love historical fiction and this is an excellent one. Thank you to Headline books for my copy. It’s out in March.

Lastly this month I read The Seven Husband’s of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I absolutely loved this book. Brilliant characters, a brilliant story. I can’t stop thinking about this book.

So that was my reading for the month. Are you interested in any of these? Or have you read any? Let me know.

Until the next review

JTH

author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, gay, historical fiction, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

WWW Wednesday – November 11th

We are in Lockdown here in the UK, and I hate to say it’s been affecting my reading. I just don’t want to pick up a book, but I can slowly feel it coming back so I figured I do a one of these blog posts to keep you all up to date.

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?

Let’s talk about the books shall we?

What are you currently reading?

Ok so I’m currently reading The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr from Quercus Books. This is one of my most anticipated reads for 2021. I’m not very far in, I think around 60 pages, and it’s pretty incredible so far. I can just tell it’s going to be brilliant. The writing is so good. It’s out in January.

What have you finished reading recently?

I recently finished, just yesterday, Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and it was absolutely brilliant. After the American election, I saw a video clip of Van Jones speaking so emotionally and eloquently about what it’s like to be a black parent in the US and I just knew I had to read this book. If you’re looking to further understand and educate yourself on Black History and racial inequality this is the book. It’s so moving and powerful. I highly recommend. Everyone should read this book. It’s out now.

What are you reading next?

This is such a hard question. I’m really trying to make my way through my proof books for next year. So it’s definitely going to be one of those, but which one is the choice to make. This is why I don’t set tbr’s because I can never stick to them. But I think it’ll be between these two.

Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson which is out in February

Or

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson which is also out in February.

They both sound incredible. Can someone pick for me?

Until the next review

JTH

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October WrapUp

I know I say this in every monthly wrap up but this month flew by. It really did. Last month I only read six books, so I really wanted to do better and I did.

I managed to read nine books this month. This probably has something to do with the fact that I had a week off work (which was heaven) and I spent a lot of my time reading. I also really enjoyed the books I was reading at the beginning of the month. I couldn’t wait to pick them up.

Right let’s talk about the books shall we?

The first book I finished this month was ‘The Devil and the Dark Water’ by Stuart Turton. Ugh, this was so good. I didn’t expect to love it so much. Suspenseful, immersive. And that ending! I’m still in shock. I was lucky enough to be sent this by Bloomsbury and it’s out now.

The second book for October was All This Time by Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott. Damn this book was an emotional rollercoaster. But I loved it. And it had the BIGGEST TWIST. I’m still shock now. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for my copy. It’s out now.

Next up was The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu. I absolutely loved this book. It is so beautifully written. So beautifully written. It’s full of fantastic characters. I don’t think I’ll forget this book for long time. Thanks to Dialogue books for my copy. It’s out now.

For the fourth book this month I read Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender. I’ve had this on my tbr forever and it didn’t disappoint. I adore this book with all of my being. Why did I wait to long? So powerful and moving.

Then I read Trio by William Boyd. This was my first William Boyd book and I really enjoyed it. I was full of great characters, and I was really intrigued to see how it ended and where the characters would end up. Thanks to Viking Books for the copy. It’s out now.

Next I read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. Of course I had to read this and of course I loved it. Beautifully written. So emotional. So romantic. I loved it.

Then I decided to read Here The Whole Time by Vitor Martins. I really loved this book. I loved the sweet queer love story and I loved the self acceptance and different representation. We need more books like this one. It’s out January 21st.

Next up I read How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones. This is one of my favourite reads of the year. I loved every page. It’s just brilliant. Thanks to Tinder Press for my copy. It’s out in January.

Lastly I read The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell. This was my first book by this author and I enjoyed it. I did take me a long time to read. It definitely kept me intrigued. This one is out in January. Thanks to Bloomsbury for the copy.

And that’s it. That was all the books. Have you read any? Or are any on your tbr?

Also, Lockdown has just been announced here in the uk, which means I now have a month of work as I work in hospitality, so I think they’ll be a lot of books read in the next month.

Until the next review

JTH

#fiction, #literature, author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, historical fiction, lgbt, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya

Book Review: Trio by William Boyd

Title: Trio

Author: William Boyd

Length: 341 pages

Publisher: Viking Books UK

Synopsis: It is summer in 1968, the year of the assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. There are riots in Paris and the Vietnam War is out of control. While the world is reeling out three characters are involved in making a Swingin’ Sixties movie in sunny Brighton. All are leading secret lives. Elfrida is drowning her writer’s block in vodka; Talbot, coping with the daily dysfunction of making a film, is hiding something in a secret apartment; and the glamorous Anny is wondering why the CIA is suddenly so interested in her. But the show must go on and, as it does, the trio’s private worlds begin to take over their public ones. Pressures build inexorably- someone’s going to crack. Or maybe they will.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit but this is my first ever William Boyd book, but I can definitely tell you it won’t be my last. And at least now I have a big back catalogue to get through.

In Trio we follow three character perspectives, Talbot, Elfrida, and Anny. I can honestly say I really enjoyed each perspective (it’s not often that happens is it). I also really enjoyed how they were all connected. It made the novel really interesting.

I really liked all three of the main characters, if I had to pick a favourite I would probably have to say Elfrida. I don’t know why she’s just the one I felt for the most. I so wanted her to write her Virginia Wolfe book and for it be a success. But I loved Anny and Talbot too. Anny’s story was definitely the most plot driven and I was willing her to make good decisions. And Talbots was really interesting. I think William manages to capture that moment in time where homosexuality has just become legal but attitudes, and internal attitudes haven’t caught up. It was really quiet powerful. I think the characterisation was one of the best things about this book. They were all complicated and real.

I loved the setting too. One, I don’t live very far away from Brighton so that was cool. But I also loved the movie set. It was really interesting and detailed. It just had that old glamour feel to it. The plot was also so intriguing. I wanted to see what would happen. I wanted to see where the characters would end up.

Now let’s talk about it that ending shall we? I can honestly say I didn’t expect it to end like it did, especially Elfrida’s. I was so shocked. I never saw it coming. It also made me sad. In so many ways. But I’m not going to say anymore, as I don’t want to spoil it for you. But you’ll know what I mean when you read.

I can’t recommend this book enough. I as was reading it, I just knew I was throughly enjoying it and it made me not want to put it down. I read it in just over a day. Now I’m off to buy some more William Boyd books.

Thank you so much to Alexia at Viking Books 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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September Wrap Up

Another month has come and gone. September was a strange month. I only managed to read six books. I haven’t read that little in a long time. I wonder why? Oh well, we can always hope for more books next month.

Also when I’m reading so little, it certainly doesn’t stop buying more books. I’ve bought and received double the amount of books than I’ve read this month. But I’m not complaining. There’s nothing better than book mail.

Anyway, let’s talk about these books shall we?

The first book is The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi and what a way to start the month. I loved this book. I’ll be surprised if it’s not in my top 10 for the year. Beautiful, beautiful writing! It’s out now.

I then read You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson. This was just incredible! I loved it from the first page to the last. Queer Black girl love and I need more. It was Brilliant. It’s out now.

Next up was Beloved by Toni Morrison. I can say this wasn’t my favourite Toni Morrison book, but the writing was still exceptional as always. A masterful storyteller.

Then I read Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. This was absolutely fantastic. A brilliant fantasy book with every done so well. I loved it. Now I’ve got the long wait for book two. It’s out now.

I then finished Just Like You by Nicky Hornby. This book managed to capture a time and a place well. But there was also something lacking in this book. But it was a quick read. It’s out now.

Next up was The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffith. I really, really enjoyed this one. It was so good. Full of twists and turns. A fantastic mystery. Great characters. I loved it. It’s October 1st.

This is what it for me this month. I guess it wasn’t my best month. But let’s hope October goes better.

I also have a new Blog Photo which I absolutely love. My wonderful friend Hugo drew it for me. You can find him on Instagram.

Until the next review

JTH

#fantasy, #fiction, #literature, #yafantasy, author, blog, blogtour, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, historical fiction, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

Interview with Tracy Deonn and Book Review: Legendborn

Title: Legendborn

Author: Tracy Deonn

Length: 490 pages

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Synopsis: After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family’s memories or childhood home. A residential programme for bright young high-schoolers at UNC- Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape – until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying Demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called ‘Legendbornstudents that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a ‘Merlin’ and who attempts- and fails- to wipe Beees memory of everything saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if it means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates. She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets – and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveals themselves as descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down – or join the fight.

For more stops on this blog tour, check out these other fantastic bloggers and see how much they love this book.

This is the kind of fantasy book I absolutely love. It had everything you could ever want. Fantastic characters, detailed magic, a brilliant plot and romance . Have I convinced you to read this yet?

We follow Bree, who joins a secret society to find out the truth about her mother’s death and gets so much more than she bargained for. It’s such a brilliant plot that I don’t want to go into too much detail and ruin it for you. I want you to be swept away like I was.

Bree is such a fantastic main character to follow. She’s smart, brave, gutsy. I loved her. You can’t help but root for her throughout. I even felt protective over her. I also have to give a shoutout to Sel. I also loved him. He had that classic arc of he’s a bad guy but is he really? I love him. Check out the answers below in the interview for some Sel information in book two!

There was a romance between Bree and Nick that was pretty inevitable but it was still fantastic. I totally believe it and was into it. But without saying too much, I wonder if there’s another character that could interrupt Bre and Nicks romance and i think I want it to be explored. It actually need it to be explored. I need it. It excites me.

The magic in this book is brilliant. It’s a real highlight. It’s incredibly detailed so pay attention. When Bree joins the secret order, it’s so interesting to learn about Shadowborns, Onceborns, Merlins. And I love how it all ties into King Arthur and the nights of the round table. It’s genius. I love the blend of modern and historical fiction. And just when you think it can’t get anyone detailed and intricate we learn about Rootcraft. Which celebrates black history and the power of your roots. Which I actually believe is genius and so powerful.

This book also has so many important messages. I love what Tracy has to say about grief. It was so powerful and poignant. It definitely made me tear up a few times. It’s just so honest and real. Such brilliant writing. It also makes you love Bree more. I’ve also lost my mum, like Bree and Tracy the author. So it really hit home for me. It also deals with race and it’s handled honestly and powerfully. It’s black girl magic. It’s what we need more of and this book is perfect at capturing it.

Ugh the ending. It was sooooo good. Tracy manages to build such momentum that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Seriously. It felt like I was in the action. And there was a lot of action. With so many twists and turns. I didn’t guess the ending. It totally surprised me. It was so powerful. I absolutely loved it.

I guess all there’s left to say it, when is book twoout? I need it. Like yesterday.

There’s so much to enjoy about this book and I really want you all to read it. You won’t regret it. Also, it’s just become a New York Times Bestseller

Now it’s time for the interview.

Thank you so much to Tracy for agreeing to do this. Enjoy the answers!

1) What inspired you to write this story?

The first early kernel of Bree, the main character of Legendborn, was born when I lost my mother. At that time, I found out that she had also lost her mother when she was my age, and that the same was true of my grandmother. Being a writer, I immediately wondered how such a pattern could have happened in my family. Of course, there’s no real answer here – life is strange and sometimes the odd and sad things happen to us and that’s that. But as a writer, I decided to create an answer. I began writing from a place of grief and mystery, and in the book Bree begins from that same place, too. I wanted to explore the idea of legacy and whose lives and deaths are lost to history and whose become legendary. That naturally led me to Arthuriana, as I’ve been a fan of the legends for most of my life, and I felt as though I could contribute something new to the 1500 year old storytelling tradition of growing the Arthurian canon. That’s really the source of Bree’s story—a book-length, contemporary fantasy answer to an impossible real world question.

2) Was it always going to be a school setting?

Yes! Once I decided to work with Arthuriana to explore some of my favorite legends, I immediately thought of Susan Cooper and The Dark is Rising Sequence. In those books, part of her brilliance was allowing Arthur and the stories to be pulled forward into the future in a sense. I gave myself the same challenge – How could Arthur and the Table exist in the modern day? The answer seemed very clear here in the US; the Round Table would embed themselves into a secret society somehow! Secret societies are a great cover for very old generations of power. I was familiar with secret societies at UNC-Chapel Hill because I went to school there for both of my degrees, and the campus is very much embedded in my mind. There are a lot of mysterious and fascinating societies at that school, being the oldest public university in the country. I did a lot of primary source research within UNC’s own archives. Tying in UNC’s history was actually quite easy with my background and because I’d been thinking about how that history impacts students for a long time

4) The magic system is so intriguing, how did you come up with it?

In the book, the Legendborn are descendants of the knights of the round table and have inherited magic because of that legacy. I wanted to believably stretch Arthur and the knights and the Table forward in time, and needed magic to make that happen. I also knew I wanted a magic system that had nothing to do with the Order of the Legendborn, and that they needed to have different uses and origins but work within the same environment.

Since the magic systems in the book are very, very old and fairly strict; they needed to be functional and solid over dozens of generations in order to work as I needed them to! So, my first step was to write them out in prose form first, in mostly full sentences, to test whether I could actually verbalize them. Then each system was moved to whiteboards to play out examples or work out problems. I have three whiteboards in my house: one in my kitchen for brainstorming while cooking or doing other tasks, one in my office that I can write on and refer back to as I work at my desk, and another that is portable so I can use it while sitting on the ground.

I used more than a dozen spreadsheets over the course of drafting and revisions, and they kept growing or getting re-organized. Some sheets were just about keeping track of recurring details. For example, I have a sheet that is just about the Scions and their bloodlines, their rankings, their inheritances (powers and personality traits), preferred weapons and character traits. I also collaborated in Google Sheets with my Wales-based Welsh language and medievalist consultant for all of the Welsh vocabulary, both made up magical terms and real ones. I think the magic systems took about a year and a half to design and “test” in revisions.

3) Have you always been interested in history, did this influence the book?

First – thank you for asking this question, because history is such a big part of Legendborn. How we talk about history, how it gets recorded, who gets to record it and why. I’m not a historian by trade, but I have always been interested in those sorts of issues around history. I am deeply fascinated with human storytelling, which is really the most critical component of history in my eyes. History as a strictly official, academic study feels to me like the stories that got written down or that have artifacts; But the history of humanity is much broader than we can possibly conceive and includes stories and tales that were never written down, or that were recorded using different methods and not captured by historians. The interesting thing about legends is that they’re different from myths because there’s a historical component – usually legends are based on a small sliver of truth revolving around a real person, or based on a communally believed history that doesn’t require a documented truth to persist. Legendborn is my way of playing with all of these ideas while working within some of the enduring themes of Arthurian literature and my own storytelling style.

4) Can you tell us anything about book two?

I can’t share anything too juicy, but I will say that the sequel builds on what is exposed in the first book, all of the magic levels up, and we meet brand new characters. And if you enjoy Sel, just know that we don’t see nearly the full extent of his powers in book one! Now that the groundwork is laid for the universe, we’ve got tons to explore.

Thank you Tracy for answering the questions. Such brilliant answers! Obviously I had to ask about book two, I’m obsessed. And we get more Sel!!!

Thank you to Daniel at Simon and Schusters Kids 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