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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

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

Book Review: Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore.

Title: Valentine

Author: Elizabeth Wetmore

Length: 320 pages

Publisher: 4th Estate books

Synopsis: Mary Rose Whitehead isn’t looking for trouble – but when it shows up at her front door, she finds she can’t turn away. Corinne Shepherd, newly widowed, wants nothing more than to mind her own business, and for everyone else to mind theirs. But when the town she has spent years rebelling against closes ranks she realises she is going to have to take a side. Debra Ann is motherless and lonely and in need of a friend. But in a place like Odessa, Texas, choosing who to trust is a dangerous game. Gloria Ramírez, fourteen years old and out of her depth, survives the brutality of one man only to face the indifferences and prejudices of many. When justice is as slippery as oil, and kindness becomes a hazardous act, sometimes courage is all we have to keep us alive.

This is an incredibly powerful novel, with all the characters connecting around Glory, who has been attacked and turns up at the nearest house, after fighting back fleeing for her life.

Valentine is told through the perspectives of many characters, and it works perfectly. Wetmore weaves the story through all these perspectives and it elevates this story to another level. There was maybe one perspective that didn’t need to be there, it didn’t diminish the story in anyway, but i found myself wanting to skip it.

Each perspectives also reveals how a character is dealing with their own issues, as well as the effect the crime is having on the town. Mary Rose, who is answers the door to Glory and Corrine who just wants to be left alone to grieve her husband, are two of the standouts for me.

You can tell this novel is building to something, and I thought it would be the trial for Glory’s case, which it dealt with, but it went beyond what I was expecting and I found myself not being able to turn the pages fast enough. I’m not going to give anything away, or all the perspectives but it all came together so well.

Wetmore has created some fantastic characters that are real and heartfelt. You’ll root for them. Wetmore also captures the injustice and racism in a small town perfectly. This book at times will make your blood boil. This is a debut novel and it’s fantastic how much heart Elizabeth has managed to include.

I also can’t think of another novel that finishes so well, yet left me with some many questions. Some of the story was wrapped, but I wanted to know more about the characters I’d come to care for. It was a satisfying ending in many ways, but I can’t deny it left me wanting more.

I would definitely recommend this book, it’s raw and impactful. I think it’s a book you won’t forget for a while after reading it. It has something to say, in the many layers of this book.

Thank you to 4th Estate 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

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

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

#fantasy, #fiction, blogtour, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, gay, lgbt, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

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

#fiction, #literature, author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, historical fiction, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

ARC Book Review: People Like Us by Louise Fein

Title: People Like Us

Author: Louise Fein

Length: 496 pages

Publisher: Head of Zeus

Synopsis: Leipzig, 1930s Germany: Hetty Heinrich is a perfect German child. Her father is an SS officer, her brother is in the Luftwaffe. She believes resolutely in her country, and the man who runs it. But Walter changes everything. Blond-haired, blue-eyed, perfect-in-every-way Walter. The boy who saved her life. A Jew. As Hetty falls more deeply in love with a man who is against all she has been taught, she begins to fight against her country, her family and herself. Hetty will have to risk everything to save Walter, even if it means sacrificing herself…

I have to say I really enjoyed this novel.

There were many elements to this book, but for it to really work, it all depends on the love story. I have to be honest and say Hetty and Walter fell in love pretty quickly, I can say I believed it. Especially as the novel went on. It was a sweet romance, that I wanted to have a happy ending.

Hetty is a great character to follow. I really believed she was following her heart and I loved the slow, gradual build up of strength to fight for what she felt was right. It was a beautiful transition to read. I also loved her friend, Erna. I Loved that she was a resistance fighter. I adored the friendship they had. I loved the connection. between these two characters.

I though it was really interesting to place this novel at the time of the rise of the Nazi and not the war. It gave it a different perspective and I loved it. Also the the fact that her dad was SS officer was also a great plot point for these characters to be in. There was a great moment between Hetty and Erna where they told each other about being in the resistance and they weren’t sure if they could trust each other.

The ending. I’m not going to spoil anything but they really made me cry. You just find out so much, and it’s done in the most heartfelt way. It’s a testament to the writing and made me really realise how much I believed in the characters on this book. I was really pleased with the ending. I actually really think it was the perfect ending.

Louise has written a very atmospheric book, that captures the fear and hatred but it also manages to hold onto hope and love. It’s filled with lots of historical details, which I absolutely loved.

I can’t recommend enough. For fans of historical fiction and romance. It’s beautiful with a great ending.

Thanks too Head of Zeus for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now on ebook and comes out in August if you’d like a physical copy.

Until the next review

JTH

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

ARC Book Review + Blog Tour: The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick

Title: The Forgotten Sister

Author: Nicola Cornick

Length: 400 pages

Publisher: HQ

Synopsis: 1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn. Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape- one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries. Present day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.

I am super excited to be on the Blog Tour for this book with HQ and all these other wonderful bloggers, so make sure you check them out.

Told in two different periods of History, we follow Issey (present day) and Amy (1545) as one tries to clear her name, and the other fights to get her life back.

I love historical fiction and the premise for this book sounded so good, and very intriguing. It certainly didn’t disappoint.

I definitely connected, and was much more interested in the present day storyline than the 1945 storyline at the beginning. The present day was really gripping and it had so many twists and turns that I just never knew what was going to happen. I loved it. Throughout the novel I was interested to see how they would connect. I was a little unsure at first about the ‘psychic’ element to the book, but it was done really well and I ended up enjoying it. It added another level to this book.

Both Issey and Amy were both fantastic to follow. They were both so different, yet fighting for the same thing, the life they both actually want. They were both so strong, and I love the character development of Issey. I love to read about a character that really gets to know themselves and it was done really well in this book.

I loved also that Amy was a real life person (as are most of the characters in the historical fiction part of the book) but no one knows what happened to Amy and I love that Nicola decided to give her a voice, it makes my history loving heart very happy.

I don’t want to give too much away and spoil it for you, you’ll find out what happens when you read it but I really enjoyed the ending. I definitely didn’t see it coming, but it made total sense. Then it wrapped it up really nicely and sweetly. I also love that the same names were you used in both periods in the book. I thought that was really clever.

I would definitely recommend this book. It’s perfect for fans of historical fiction, who love some mystery and romance.

Thanks for HQ for the copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now.

Until the next review

JTH

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

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

#fiction, #literature, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, review, Uncategorised, ya

ARC Book Review: Only You by Kate Eberlen

Title: Only You

Author: Kate Eberlen

Length: 432 pages

Publisher: Mantle Books

Synopsis: Letty and Alf are the only English speakers at an Italian class in Rome, where they discover the language that really connects them is dance: Letty’s first love was ballet, while Alf was a junior ballroom champion. They come from different worlds until the moment they waltz around the Piazza Navona, and everything changes. But one moment can’t change the past, and it’s clear that Alf and Letty still have their secrets. What caused them to leave their lives in England behind? And who, or what, are they running from? As their relationship happens, it becomes harder and harder to tell the truth. When the unthinkable happens, Letty returns to London and Alf to Blackpool. Will they spend their lives apart, or discover future together?

I’ll start by saying I loved this book. It really was the perfect escape for these troubling times. I got lost in this book and it was a joy to do so.

Spilt into three sections, we find the two main characters Letty and Alf in Rome, both leaving behind things they’d rather forget, then we find out the reason why the came to be in Rome, and finally how it all ends.

I love the Rome section, I wanted to be in Rome with them. Kaye made it feel like I was. It had beautiful descriptions. I loved all the knowledge of the monuments and buildings put into the novel. You can tell an Kate did her research and for me it really added to the book. This Rome part wasn’t done in a silly way and I loved it. Sometimes it can feel like teens running away or just a summer fling, but it was done so well it made the love story incredibly believeable. I want my own summer in Rome.

I also loved the love story. It was so well done. Like really well done. It was organic and believeable and just beautiful. I was rooting for them. I got that feeling in my stomach, so that’s how I know it’s a good love story. But boy did it end on a cliffhanger.

Section two got darker than I expected, but I liked it. It dealt with some serious issues. It definitely gave the characters a lot of depth and explained somethings that happened in the ‘present’ section. Alf and Letty were just the best characters to follow. They were both sweet, kind, flawed, confused and loveable. I wanted them to have their happy ending.

Then the last section, the section I read so fast because I needed to know if all my questions would be answered. And I can safely say they were. Now, I won’t tell you how. You’ll find out when you read it. Because trust me you won’t want to miss this book.

I said it earlier and I’ll say it again, this book really was the perfect escape and I loved it. You’ll fall in love with the characters, the setting and the story. It’s a perfectly written, sweet story. It’ll make you believe in love, break your heart, but I think it might just put it back together again.

Thank you so much to Mantle Books for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. Its out now.

Until the next review

JTH

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

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

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

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