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Book Review: Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar.

Title: Grace is Gone

Author: Emily Elgar

Length: 342 pages

Publisher: Sphere Books

Synopsis: Meg and her daughter Grace are the most beloved family in Ashford, the lynchpin that holds the community together. So when Meg is found brutally murdered and her daughter missing, the town is rocked by the crime. Not at least because Grace has been sick for years – and may only have days to live. Who would murder a mother who sacrificed everything, and separate a teenager from the medication that could save her life? Everyone is searching for an answer, but sometimes the truth can kill you…

This is going to be a hard book to review because I did like it. Well I liked a part of it. But I definitely didn’t love it. I’ll explain why.

Let’s start with what I liked. It was actually only one thing. But I liked the main mystery. I wanted to know what happened to Meg and where Grace was and who took her. I was genuinely intrigued to see what happened. It kept me reading through the things I didn’t like.

So shall we talk about the things I didn’t like? Yeah, let’s go for it. The story is told from two different perspectives, Cara and Jon, and I didn’t care about either of them. At all. There was a whole subplot of Jon’s marriage breaking down and it was unnecessary in this novel. I really didn’t care at all.

The ending that I was intrigued to know. I guessed what happened and I was right. It didn’t stop me from reading because I wanted it to be confirmed. But once the Meg and Grace ending is revealed, we were left with Jons ending. Not only did I not care, I also found it silly. I was reading it thinking ‘really’?? It felt like the author was just going for suspense and shock.

I just felt like it had all been done before. It felt like once Cara and Jon got a tiny clue, the suddenly solved the whole mystery quickly. The author even tried to put a little twist on the character of Grace in the epilogue and it made me realise I would’ve preferred the story to be told from Graces perspective. It would’ve made this story so much better and more layered and intense.

I don’t know if I’d recommend this one. I probably would, it was quick read and like I said it was intriguing for some of the book. You might love it. If you do let me know.

Thank you to Millie and Sphere books for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out September 3rd.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze

Title: Who They Was

Author: Gabriel Krauze

Length: 336 pages

Publisher: 4th Estate

Synopsis: This is a story of London you won’t find in any guide books. This is a story about what it’s like to exist in the moment, about boys to eager to become men, growing up in the hidden war zones of big cities – and the girls trying to make it their own way. This is a story of redemptions made and lost, of violence and vengeance – and never counting the cost. This is a story of concrete towers and blank eyed windows, of endless nights in police custody and prison cells, of brotherhood and betrayal. This is about the boredom, the rush, the despair, the fears and the hopes. This is about what’s left behind.

I’ve never read a book like this. How often do we get to say this as a book blogger? But I can honestly say I never have. It’s one of a kind. You’ll never read another book like this.

It’s totally immersive. It’s set in South London and follows Gabriel as he is a member of gangs and violence. It does take some getting used to in the beginning, but once you do it’s absolutely fantastic. You become accustomed to the slang and the dialogue. This is what makes this book so different.

I will say this book is an uncomfortable, brutal read. And I mean that In the best way. But this definitely isn’t any easy read. And we can’t forget the Gabriel Krauze is writing this book from his own experience or things, which is incredible. It really adds another layer to this story. This book literally opens with the main character violently robbing someone, see I told you it’s brutal. But it doesn’t take anything away from this hard-hitting novel.

As the book progresses, Krauze’s story becomes more of a redemption arc, as he is encouraged to leave the life of violence and gang life behind and focus on this studies. He’s continued to study English Literature at university and the juxtaposition between the separate parts of his life is fascinating.

I just want you to read this unique book. Because it’s so different and immersive, it makes it unforgettable. I know I’ll always remember this book. It’s also just been long listed for the Booker Prize and I’d love it to be shortlisted.

Thank you to Matt at 4th Estate Books for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out September 3rd (today).

Until the next review

JTH

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August Wrap Up

Another month has come and gone. Don’t they just fly by! We had a mini heatwave at the beginning of August and I found it hard to read. All I wanted to do was sleep. But I always want to sleep no matter the weather so I shouldn’t use that as an excuse.

I’ve managed to read eight books this month. Eight isn’t bad. And there’s been a few I’ve read this month that I really enjoyed. I don’t usually read thrillers, but I read three in a row! And I enjoyed two of them.

So let’s talk about these books shall we?

The first book I read was Fin & Rye & Fireflies by Harry Cook. What a great way to start the month. A super sweet gay YA novel. I really enjoyed it. I loved the love story. This one is out now and you can check out my full review here.

Then I read 10 minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak. I can’t stop thinking about this book. It was brilliant. Stunning writing, visceral story and fascinating characters. I’ll be looking out for more Elif novels. She’s a genius.

I then read How It All Blew Up by Armin Ahmadi. I was halfway through and I friend told me that the author is problematic, so I didn’t want to read it anymore, which I didn’t mind because it wasn’t very good. I could see what it was trying to do, but it failed.

Then I read This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I had absolutely no idea what was going on but I loved it. A beautiful, epic love story set in an epic world. I highly recommend this one.

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace. This was sooooo good. It’s everything I want in a YA fantasy plus it has mermaids! Good mermaids. Definitely don’t miss this one. It’s out now. Check out my full review here.

I then moved onto An Inconvenient Woman by Stéphanie Buelens. This was a great thriller that I couldn’t put down. It was fantastic. It also has a lot of heart which gives it another layer. This one is out September 3rd.

Surrender your Sons by Adam Sass. A queer YA book like I’ve never read before. It’s got a dark subject matter but I really did enjoy this one. I definitely recommend this one to you. It’s out September 15th.

Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar. I get what this book was trying to do and it was nearly there but for me it mostly missed the mark. Parts of it definitely intrigued me, but most of it I didn’t care about. But I definitely wanted to see how it ended. It’s out on paperback September 3rd.

Now I can’t wait to see what books September brings my way. Have you read any of these? Or are you interested in them? Let me know…

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: Ashes by Christopher De Vinck.

Title: Ashes

Author: Christopher De Vinck

Length: 325 pages

Publisher: Harper Inspire

Synopsis: Belgium, July 1939: Simone Lyon is the daughter of a Belgium national hero, the famous General Joseph Lyon. Her best friend Hava Daniels, is the eldest daughter of a devout Jewish family. Despite growing up in different worlds, they are inseparable. But when, in Spring of 1940, Nazi planes and tanks being bombing Brussels, their resilience and strength are tested. Hava and Simone find themselves caught in the advancing onslaught and are forced to flee. In an emotionally charged race for survival, even the most harrowing horrors cannot break their bonds of love and friendship. The two teenage girls will see their innocence fall, against the ugly backdrop of a war dictating that theirs was a friendship that should never have been.

I’m super thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour for Harper Inspire. You can check out all these fantastic blogs for this book here. You can also check my Instagram, Instagram.com/jthbooks and you can have a chance to win a copy of this book.

We follow Simone, who begins a friendship with Hava and as the war begins we see the two girls fight for each other and the bond they have.

I really did enjoy it. Its one of the finest historical fiction books I’ve read recently, it’s evocative and atmospheric. Everything we want from a good book.

I loved the friendship between Hava and Simone. It was the highlight of the novel. I totally believed in it. I could see why they would fight for each. It was heartbreaking when they got separated. Their friendship was the best thing about this novel, it gave it a centre which it desperately needed because some of the other parts felt a little misplaced for me.

I loved learning about the traditions of the Jewish and religion. It’s not something I’ve come across a lot in these types of historical fiction books and I absolutely loved it. It gave the novel real depth in this area. And also it made me believe in family more and their love for each other more.

But I really did like the ending. It was heartbreaking. Made me realise how much I was involved in the friend mashup. It also get the book true for me, but there’s was part of it that was really sweet. I won’t spoil the ending for you. But it doesn’t disappoint.

I would recommend this book. I’m it was a quick read. I wanted to see how it would conclude. It was good.

Thanks to Harper Insider for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out August 20th.

Until the next review

JTH

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

ARC Book Review: Fin & Rye & Fireflies

Title: Fin&Rye&Fireflies

Author: Harry Cook

Length: 320 pages

Publisher: Inkroad Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until the next review

JTH

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

ARC Book Review: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Title: Shuggie Bain

Author: Douglas Stuart

Length: 448 pages

Publisher: Picador

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until the next review

JTH

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

July Wrap Up

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

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

So let’s talk about the books shall we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you had a good reading month.

Until the next review

JTH

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

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

Title: Girl, Woman, Other

Author: Bernadine Evaristo

Length: 453 pages

Publisher: Penguin Books

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes

Title: Scabby Queen

Author: Kirstin Innes

Length: 400 pages

Publisher: 4th Estate Books

Synopsis: Three days before her fifty-first birthday, Clio Campbell – one-hot-wonder, political activist, life long-love and one-night stand – kills herself in her friend Ruth’s spare bedroom. And, as practical as she is, Ruth doesn’t know what to do. Or how to feel. Because knowing and loving Clio was never straight forward. To Neil, she was his great unrequited love. He’d known it since their days on the picket lines as teenagers. Now she’s a sentence in his email inbox: Remember me well. The media had loved her as a sexy young starlet, but laughed her off as a ranting spinster as she aged. But with the news of her suicide, Clio Campbell is transformed into a posthumous heroine for politically chaotic times. As word spreads of what Clio has done, half a century of memories, of pain and of joy are wrenched to the surface. Those who loved her, those who hated her, and those that felt both ways at once, are forced to ask one question: Who was Clio Campbell?

I absolutely loved the premise of this book. It was interesting and different, I’ve never read anything like it anyway.

I loved how you got to know every characters connection to Clio and also more about their life. With some of the characters she had intense relationships with, some she used to know and some she met for a day. It kept the story interesting and was such a great way to weave it together. They’ve all got such fascinating stories, especially ‘Sammi’s’, I was so engrossed in this one. It could’ve been a book all on its own.

It was full of fantastic characters, with Clio being the main one. She was so layered and complex. I’m not sure if I particularly liked her, but I don’t think you needed to. You could feel her stubbornness and vulnerability. I always got the sense that she didn’t quite know who she was, so we as the reader could never be sure and it made for fantastic reading. She was just so real. Not many authors manage to write characters as real as Clio, but Kirstin Innes has done it. I read this book a while ago, and I can say that I haven’t forgotten Clio and you won’t either.

Although though this book deals with heavy issues, such a drugs, death, politics and suicide. It was a quick read. It’s just got so many layers to keep you interested, that you never want to put it down. It’s also got a lot of heart and it’s got something to say and I always like that in a book.

Kirstin does such a fantastic job writing all these different characters and giving them there own voice. I can find books with this many perspectives in to be a bit tedious but it didn’t happen with this book. I also enjoyed the way some of them connected. Kirstin has written a book that it is totally immersive. If you’re like me you’ll get totally wrapped up in Clio’s story.

I really do recommend this book. It’s a fantastic with great storytelling and brilliant characters.

Thank you to 4th Estate Books for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out July 23rd.

Until the next review

JTH

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

ARC Book Review: All Of My Friends Are Rich by Michael Sarais

Title: All Of My Friends Are Rich

Author: Michael Sarais

Length: 293 pages

Synopsis: Orphan Leo Cotton has finally built a family, but the advent of bipolar and depression wakes him from this dream life to reveal dark truths about the man he’d married. One year later, Leo is lost. Embarrassed by a dead-end job that barely pays the bills, he can’t help but notice that those around him are all enjoying success. When his closet friend, Sara, asks him to be her best man, Leo reaches the last straw: how can he possibly afford these lavish festivities on his wages? A Grindr chance encounter reveals that a shortcut to riches does not exist… but in the end, this reckless route may cost him loved-ones he aims to impress and welcome terrible danger..

What a book!!

This is one of those books that just captured my heart with its great characters, it’s intriguing story and important message. All of my Friends Are Rich by Michael Sarais is a must read.

The main character is called Leo and I loved him. He’s was such a great character to follow. He was funny, honest and relatable. This is down to Michael, as he’s crafted a great character that has sincerity, especially when you find out the stories conclusion. I think a lot of people will be able to see themselves in Leo, for many reasons.

I love the friendship between Leo and his best friend Sara. They have the kind of friendship we all crave. It’s funny, real and has a real depth of sincerity to it. There’s this really sweet, powerful scene towards the end of the book and it made me cry. It was just profound honesty.

There was a romance in this book that I just adored. Oh boy, I was rooting for them to be together. I won’t spoil the ending and tell you if they do.

This book was very sexually graphic, which isn’t normally my kind of thing, but there was definitely reasoning behind it and it wasn’t in the book unnecessarily. And I’m not gonna lie, the sex scenes were hot! It all led to something more meaningful which I really liked, I explain a bit more about that in the paragraph below.

Here’s what I really liked about this book, is what it says about Mental Health. When I realised that Leo was actually having an episode, it brought the whole story together. It made everything he did make sense, it gave it context and a deeper meaning and I loved it. It shocked me a little that I missed it, but it really made the novel for me to be honest. It’s the perfect reminder how important it is to get help.

This is Michaels debut novel and it really packs a punch. Its full of heart, friendship. Michael has written a beautiful story, which perfectly showcases his talent as a writer. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

I definitely recommend this novel. It’s fun, sexy and it’s got something to say. I loved it. Make sure you definitely pick a copy of this book.

I was lucky to given a copy of this book by the author in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now. Don’t miss this one.

Until the next review

JTH