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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

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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

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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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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: 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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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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ARC Book Review: ‘Magpie Lane’ by Lucy Atkins

Title: Magpie Lane

Author: Lucy Atkins

Length: 368 pages

Publisher: Quercus

Synopsis: When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers. As Dee looks back over her time in the Masters Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl; Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother. But is Dee telling the whole story. Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why was Felicity silent?

In Magpie Lane, we follow Dee as she is sitting in the police station, answer questions about a missing little girl that she had recently became a nanny for. Dee is fighting for her innocence.

Magpie Lane has got such an interesting premise and as soon as you start the book you can’t help but wonder does Dee know anything? You spend the whole book looking for clues.

It’s full of intrigue and mystery, which I loved, but it didn’t over power the whole novel. It ebbed and flowed perfectly. It had moments of real emotion and sadness . Seriously, you spend the whole trying to figure out if Dee was involved!! As the story goes on you find some things out about Dee, and it just adds to the mystery. I will say I believed she didn’t have anything to do with the disappearance, but I won’t spoil it for you. Let you see for yourself what happens when you read it.

This book didn’t rely on the mystery to keep it you interested. It had some fantastic characters too. Dee was brilliant, it’s alway so fun to read a book when we don’t know if the main protagonist is trustworthy, especially when it’s this well done. Felicity, the little girl, had so many layers to her with her mutism, her sadness. You desperately wanted to know what happened to her because you liked her. I just loved the characterisation. There’s more characters, which are also fantastic, but I’m trying not to give any spoilers away.

It was so atmospheric. It’s set in a centuries old house in Oxford and it’s the perfect setting. The house had so much history and so does the town of Oxford and Lucy really cleverly weaves them into the story. It added a whole another element to the book. It also had a bit of supernatural element to it, with Felicity seeing ghosts. It fit perfectly with the old house, the graveyards in Oxford. I’m not ashamed to admit I got a little creeped out at times.

Here’s the most pleasing thing about Magpie Lane, the ending didn’t disappoint. I couldn’t turn those pages fast enough. When I thought it ended I was a little bit like ‘oh is that it?’ But then I read that Epilogue. That’s it, I’m not saying anymore. I won’t ruin it for you.

I highly recommend this book. If you like mystery, supernatural books that have also got some heart, then this is definitely the book for you. You won’t be able to put it down.

Thank you to Quercus books for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out April 2nd (today).

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: ‘The Guest List’ by Lucy Foley

Title: The Guest List

Author: Lucy Foley

Length: 384 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Synopsis: It starts with a party.On a remote island, the guest gather for the wedding of the year- the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater. Old friends. Past grudges. Happy families. Hidden jealousies. Thirteen guests. One body. The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as storm unleashes it’s fury upon the island, everyone is trapped. All have a secret. All have a motive. It’ll end in murder.

Now, I have to be honest and say this type of genre isn’t my favourite. I don’t read them very often at all, but I devoured this one. It was so good.

I’m sure a lot of you have read ‘The Hunting Party’ by Lucy and she’s back with this new book, and I think you’ll all love this one just as much.

The story starts on the wedding night, at the reception, when all the lights go out and a scream is heard. The story then goes back to guests arriving on a small island to attend the glamorous wedding of their friend June and her tv star husband. They are all staying together in a rundown castle before the big day.

The story is told through the perspective of five characters. Normally, I don’t like this many and this book even adds more towards the end, but I really enjoyed it this novel. Each character is different and has its own story that really adds to the overall story. This led to a twist I didn’t see coming! It was nice to have so many layers to this story.

Also, with the story being set on a island, and the wedding taking place on a stormy night, it really sets up the perfect atmosphere. It’s sort of got this gothic, derelict feel to it and it was great for the story telling. Lucy really uses it to her advantage. It’s another aspect of this book that’s fantastic.

Now let’s talk about that ending. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out who was killed and who killed them. I’m surprised the pages didn’t start to smoke! The mystery and the tension had been built up so perfectly. I couldn’t figure it out and when it was revealed I was little disappointed. I thought it was cliched. But then BOOM, another twist happened and I was incredibly shocked! I didn’t see it coming. I was so surprised. I loved it. That’s what an excellent thriller is all about.

I hope this isn’t a spoiler, I didn’t think it is.

Lucy really has crafted the perfect thriller. It’s got interesting dynamic characters, so many layers to the book. With the story building and building till it reaches a climax that doesn’t disappoint. And Lucy does extremely well, and is clever is it’s not just a twist of the sake of it. It all made perfect sense. There was some foreshadowing that after the ending is revealed makes perfect sense. I love that.

I can’t recommend this book enough, it was thrilling. I even stayed up late to read it, mainly because I couldn’t put it down and had to know what happened, but I never stay up late. Make sure you pick up this book. Now you’ll have to excuse, I’m off to pick up a copy of ‘The Hunting Party’.

Thanks to Jen Harlow and Harper Collins UK for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out February 20th.

Until the next review

JTH