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Book Review: 10 minutes 38 seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak

Title: 10 minutes 38 seconds in this Strange World

Author: Elif Shafak

Length: 308 pages

Publisher: Viking Books UK

Synopsis: For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, the goat sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee the Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her…

Ahhhh I loved this book. Really loved it. I actually can’t stop thinking about it.

Let’s start with the premise. It’s genius. After our main character Tequila Leila has been killed, her brain continues to work for 10 minutes 38 seconds and that’s how we see her life. She remembers significant moments from her past and that’s how we get to know her.

The writing is beautiful throughout. From start to finish. It’s so beautiful, I was crying by page 20. Elif Shafak is a huge talent. She has such a unique Ann’s and so nsnnsndndndnenndnand distinctive voice. You can tell Elif has a real understanding of human souls and countries and religions. Is it weird to say I think she’s a genius. The whole book is so visceral.

Also, I can’t stop watching videos of Elif talking about her books and life on the internet. I highly recommend them and this book. I told you I think she’s a genius!

It’s full of characters that I won’t forget for a long time. They are just absolutely fantastic. Elif has given all these characters powerful, immersive voices. They are all minorities living in a religious country but Elif makes them so much more than this. It’s so hard to explain, but they encompass so much.

There really is a sadness to this novel, that doesn’t mean it’s depressing, it’s a beautiful sadness. It’s the kind of sadness that makes you think about life and what you want. How others are treated. What really happens after we die? This is all because of Elif Shafak’s glorious writing and the impact it has.

I 100% recommend this book. I am far too unintelligent to properly review this book. Elif Shafak brain is 10 times better than mine, so just do yourself a favour and read it. You won’t regret it I promise.

This one is out now.

Until the next review

JTH

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

Book Review: You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

Title: You Should See Me In A Crown

Author: Leah Johnson

Length: 324 pages

Publisher: Scholastic

Synopsis: Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed Midwestern town. But it’s okay – Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend Uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor. But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plan comes crashing down… until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington. The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams… or make them come true?

Ugh, I loved this book. I loved it so much.

It just has everything you want in a book. It’s fun, it has a beautiful romance, it has a powerful message and brilliant characters.

Let’s talk about those brilliant characters shall we? Our main character, Liz Lighty, is absolutely fantastic. I absolutely loved her. I loved watching her journey. Her arc definitely felt like a coming of age, learning to be comfortable with her sexuality and learning to love and stand up for herself. I also loved Amanda, what a brilliant character and a burst of fresh air. She’s someone I’d like to know In real life. It’s full of fantastic characters. Read this book and discover them.

I also really loved the plot. We see Liz, who after not getting her musical scholarship for college, enter the race for prom Queen to earn the money. The race itself is so interesting and the complications that come along with. I’m not going to tell you if Liz succeeds but all I’ll say it this…

FUCK YOUR FAIRYTALE (if you’ve read it, you’ll know).

The romance, it was so good. It was a little bit of a slow burn, but the romance didn’t need to be slow burn because it was so bloody good. Their connection was amazing! I thinks it because the characters by themselves were so fantastic, when they joined together it was electric. And it was so sweet. It was just everything I wanted it to be. And more.

This book also deals with grief, family, anxiety and friendships. The friendship were so complex. It deals with race in the friendship and I loved reading Liz stand up for herself. It’s Black Girl Magic at its finest. I can just imagine how many young Black Queer girls who see themselves in this book and i love it. All these aspects just give this book such depth and a realness. I love it.

Leah’s writing is so powerful and beautiful that I enjoyed every page of this book. The story is so beautifully told, that of course i was crying by the end. I’ll look forward to whatever Leah writes next.

This one is out now.

Until the next review

JTH

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

ARC Book Review: Fall Out by C.G. Moore

Title: Fall Out

Author: C.G. Moore

Length: 323 pages

Publisher: uclanpublishing

Synopsis: For Cal, coming out is explosive. But that is nothing to the fall out from his family, friends and foes. When events in Cal’s life reach critical, he is shaken to his core. Can he rely on his loved ones to help avoid meltdown?

I enjoyed the novel, some parts were definitely hit and miss, but overall an enjoyable with an important message that gets across to the reader.

There was a romance in the beginning of this book that I really didn’t like. It was rushed, unbelievable and it was definitely instalove. But I can say that it didn’t last to long, and it had a much better ending than beginning.

I also have to say I didn’t like the main character Cal at the beginning or his friendship with Em. The friendship was often tedious. There was also Cal relationship with Ems nan Peggy which also felt a bit random. There was just something off about if to me. However both get better as the characters develop but it still wasn’t enough to save them. All relationships just felt a bit forced to me.

The story line with Cal and his family is my favourite thing of the novel. It’s dealt with well and it’s heartfelt and meaningful. It felt was very real to me. It was the highlight of the novel.

Throughout the novel Cal is being bullied and it’s dealt with so well in the novel. It was descriptive and hard to read in the best way. It made my stomach drop at points. It captured the brutality of the kind of bullying LGBT+ kids go through and it’s heartbreaking. It also captures the ramifications well. It goes into a lot of detail and it defiantly needs some trigger warnings.

The conclusion to the story was what it needed to be. I think that’s fair to say that a good summary for the whole novel, it finishes stronger than it starts.

Thank you to C.G. Moore for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now.

Until the next review

JTH

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

Book Review: The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

Title: The Death of Vivek Oji

Author: Akwaeke Emezi

Length: 245 pages

Publisher: Faber Books

Synopsis: One afternoon, a mother opens her front door to find the length of her son’s body stretched out on the veranda, swaddled in akwete material, his head on her welcome mat. The Death of Vivek Oji transports us to the day of Vivek’s birth, the day his grandmother died. It is the story of an overprotective mother and a distant father, and the heart-wrenching tale of one family’s struggle to understand their child, just as Vivek learns to recognise himself.

I’ve seen a few of my fellow bookstagrammers rave about this book so it was definitely on my radar and then I was lucky enough to be sent a copy and I couldn’t just had to start it.

And what a beautiful book The Death of Vivek Oji is. It had so much I love in a book, amazing characters, beautiful writing, and an intriguing story.

Let’s talk about the writing. It’s the highlight of this book. It really is stunning. Akwaeke manages to capture beauty, heartache and, confusion. It’s stunning. I can say I was crying by page eleven. I’m pretty sure that’s a new record. But one line was just so beautiful and struck a cord with me.

Osita wished, much later, that he’d told Vivek the truth then, that he was so beautiful he made the air around him dull’

Every character in this book is so complex. Vivek goes on such a journey that is both heartbreaking and beautiful. Akwaeke has a real talent for capturing souls. At least that’s how it felt to me. Vivek felt so real, so fragile yet strong as they became who they really are. There was a point in this book where I just stopped and realised how much I cared for Vivek and I also realised that this book will probably break my heart. I also loved Osita, Juju and Elizabeth. I also loved Vivek mum. She goes on such a journey and it’s so beautiful. I’m sure you can tell it’s full of fantastic characters.

This book has fantastic representation and they are all dealt with brilliantly. Emezi has captured a trans narrative that felt so real that it’s the heart of this book. I’m calling the character Vivek in this review purely so I don’t ruin the journey for you. But I know that you’ll feel differently about the name once you’ve read it. There’s also a romance in this book that is beautiful, but is very controversial, you’ll know what I mean when you read it.

Also the ending of this book is brilliant. Throughout the book it’s a mystery what happened to Vivek and it’s so heartbreaking when you find out. It’s just sums up the whole energy of the book. Heartbreaking and hopeful.

I’ll be surprised if this isn’t in my top 10 books of the year.

I hope I’ve managed to get across how much I enjoyed this book and how much I want you too read it. It’s amazing and it’s out now. Also I refer to the main Character as Vivek throughout this review, as that’s what in the title of the book. But it is a story about transitioning, and finding your true self and I’ve decided to let you find out Viveks true name when you read it as it’s a beautiful moment.

Thanks to Faber Books for gifting me a copy of this book in return for an honest unbiased review.

Until the next review

JTH

#fantasy, #fiction, #literature, #yafantasy, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, gay, lgbt, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

5 Books That Have Made Me Cry

I thought I’d do a fun, silly kind of post. I’m gonna talk about books that have made me cry.

Now, I love a book that makes me cry. If you care that deeply about a character, or they story that you openly weep, then the author has done a fantastic job.

Just because they’ve made you cry doesn’t make them depressing to me, sometimes sadness can be cathartic, beautiful even. I personally love the feeling of being so wrapped up in my book, that I begin to believe it’s real then become effected by it.

A good cry does the soul some good.

So here are the books that have made me cry.

First up is ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ by Sue Monk Kidd. My favourite book. The book that made me fall in love with reading. In the middle of this book, something devastating happens. STOP READING NOW IF YOU DO NOT WANT SPOILERS. May, a character who finds the world hard to bare, receives some sad news and it pushes her over the edge and she commits suicide. Not only is this sad, but her sisters reactions are heart breaking. Then, she leaves a note, which is so heartbreaking and true to the character, it just makes me weep. Glorious storytelling.

Next up is ‘Lie With Me’ by Philippe Bensson, translated by Molly Wringwald. This is one of those books that makes you believe in love. This book made me cry for two reasons, first it’s just written so beautifully. It’s so lyrical, honest and deep. Like taking a look inside someone’s soul. It’s beauty made me cry. Second, that ending. I was sobbing. Once I finished I had to sit there and let me feelings out. It’s taken me a long time to get over this book.

‘Crooked Kingdom’ by Leigh Bardugo. I think most people that have read this know which bit I’m talking about. AGAIN STOP READING IF YOU DO NOT WANT SPOILERS. When Mathias dies, there’s just so many layers to make you cry. There’s the fact that he genuinely cares about the group after her didn’t for so long. There’s the fact that he was shot by a young kid, the exact kind of person Mathias used to be before he changed. And there’s the fact he made it back to Nina, to see her one last time. The imagery of her lying next to his body on the boat as it sails was enough to make me cry In the bath.

‘Second Chance Summer’ by Morgan Matson. I read this a few years ago on vacation. I have to say, I rather embarrassingly cried like a baby by the pool. STOP READING NOW IF YOU DO NOT WANT SPOILERS, but when Taylor receives a letter from her Dad after he’s passed away from cancer, after spending one last summer together. Well I’m sure you can imaging how sad it was. Grab the tissues for this one.

Dear Lily by Drew Davies. This book deals with grief in such a real way. It asks the questions we all have when we’ve lost someone close to us. In Joys case, it’s dealing with the grief of losing her sister. In my case, the loss of my mother. I really had to take some time after finishing this one and just let the tears flow.

So, these are the books that have made me cry. In fact, writing this I’ve realised a lot more books have actually made me cry, so I’m sure I’ll be doing another one of this blog posts.

Until the next review

JTH

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

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

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

ARC Book Review: Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass

Title: Surrender Your Sons

Author: Adam Sass

Length: 392 pages

Publisher: Fluxbooks

Synopsis: Connor Major’s is turning into a nightmare. His SAT scores bombed, the old man he delivers meals to died, and when he came out to his religious zealot mother, she had him kidnapped and sent off to a secluded island. His final destination: Nightlight Ministries, a conversion therapy camp that will be his new home until he “changes”. But Connors troubles are only beginning. At Nightlight, everyone has something to hide-from the campers, to the “converted” staff and cagey camp director-and it quickly becomes clear that no one is safe. Connor plans to escape and bring the other kidnapped teens with him. But first, he’s exposing the camps horrible truths for what they are – and taking this place down.

As soon as I heard about Surrender your Sons it’s been on my radar. It’s definitely one of my most anticipated queer books of the year. So many people I know have loved it and that just made me more excited and intrigued. But did it disappoint? Read more to find out.

I won’t keep you in suspense (like this book will) and I’ll tell you that I loved this book. It met all my expectations and surpassed them. It was suspenseful, thrilling, romantic and honest.

This book centres around teenagers at a gay conversion camp. And there were points in this novel when I couldn’t believe any of it was true. But of course it is, I think mainly I don’t want these kind of camps to be true, and I think it’s a testament Adams writing that he captures the horror and brutality of the situation and it just made the whole book believable. He captures the atmosphere perfectly which really makes book stands out. You’ll love the teenagers in this book especially the main character of Connor. I also loved that Adam has given every character depth, even the ones we hate.

There was also something I didn’t expect in this book was the romance. How can a romance blossom in this situation and work? But trust me, it did work. Don’t worry I won’t spoil it for you, but it really does work. Again it’s another showcase of Adams brilliant writing and talent. It gave me everything I want in a romance. It also gave the novel some hope, which was nice as the book is very dark.

The story really goes to places I didn’t expect, which obviously makes it excellent. I don’t want to say too much and spoil it for you but when the kids start to fight back against the councillors it just adds so many layers to the story. It became so intense. You could really feel the story building up to its thrilling climax. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough (I was reading it on kindle but you know what I mean). It was full of twists and turns and so many things surprised me. It really was a fantastic ending.

This is Adams debut novel, and it’s such a strong book. He manages to capture all the horror, the darkness, yet he manages to show hope and vulnerability. It takes real talent to blend all these cohesively. It’s so real. Also with this book being about Conversion Camps, it packs a powerful message. Ultimately, I think, it shows you that queerness is a power and we always need more books like this.

I would definitely recommend this book to you, as I’m sure you can tell. Don’t miss this one. I think I might’ve convinced myself to re-read it. I’ll look forward to reading what Adam does next.

Thank you to Netgally and Flux for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out September 15th.

Until the next review

JTH

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

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

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

Book Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Title: Cinderella is Dead

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Length: 400 pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Synopsis: It’s been 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over. Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she’s tiny until the night she’s sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows she only has one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball… are forfeit. But Sofia doesn’t want to be chosen – she’s in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia’s night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world…

This book was enjoyable, but I have to be honest and say for me, there was just something missing. Something that would’ve taken the book from good to great.I love the premise. It was really interesting, and I thought it was such a good idea. I was really invested in the first few chapters. I was ready to explore the world, the story, the history but unfortunately I just can’t but think that I wanted the story to go deeper. Maybe there needed to be more world building? I wanted to know more about the grand Balls, and in the palace walls. To truly get the sense of the evils Sophia was fighting against. I wonder if it focused too much on Cinderella. I know that sounds silly to say as it’s literally called Cinderella is Dead.

I loved that this book has a F/F relationship. But again, it needed to be more. It felt a bit flat. I just didn’t feel the connection, I knew there was supposed to be one between the characters but it never happened for me. I loved both of these characters separately, but they didn’t click for me as a romantic pair. They definitely worked as pair trying to change history. But it’s always good to see LGBTQ+ representation in books.

I did however love the characters. Sophia is a great character to follow. She was fierce, brave yet had a vulnerability in her bravery that I absolutely loved. I loved Constance too. She was funny and sharp. I cared about them. Towards the end, when they were in a bit of danger, I was genuinely worried what was going to happen to Sophia. Kalynn Bayron has written some fantastic characters. For me, overall this book did need more. It was still good, it certainly wasn’t a bad read. But I just felt at times the author was telling me what to feel, instead of actually letting me feel it. It was a bit lacklustre. And also i felt the story needed a bit better structure.

Again, this book wasn’t bad. I wanted to see how the author would wrap the story up and I wasn’t disappointed. And there was a twist that I didn’t see coming and it shocked me. That’s always a good thing. It was enjoyable, I just feel like it had the potential to be great. But I know so many people loved this book. Listen to them, not me.

I would recommend this book. I even wonder if I read this again, would I like it more. And I’m excited to see what Kaylnn writes next.

Thanks to Bloomsbury UK and Netgalley for a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now in the UK.

Until the next review

JTH

#fiction, #literature, #yafantasy, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, gay, lgbt, queer, review, thriller, ya, young adult

WWW Wednesday – 26th August.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts (ok it’s been months but who’s counting). But I love doing them and I love keeping you up to date with what I’m reading.

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?

So shall we get started and talk about these books?

What are you currently reading?

So I’m currently reading Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar from Littlebrown Books. I only stated this last night but I’m definitely intrigued. It’s also the third thriller I’ve read in a row and I don’t usually read them so we’ll see how it compares. I’m excited to see where the story goes. So I guess I’ll keep you updated. The paperback is out 3rd September.

What have you finished reading recently?

I recently finished Surrender your Sons by Adam Sass. This was a highly anticipated read for me and it didn’t disappoint. I really enjoyed it, definitely a tough read at times, but I’m so glad I got to read it early. It’s a great piece of queer fiction with a difference. It’s out September 15th.

What are you reading next?

This question is always the difficulty one because my tbr is so huge, but I think I’m going to go with Summerwater by Sarah Moss. It’s just calling to me from my shelf and I’ve heard such fantastic things. So I think it’ll be that one.

But it could all change.

Have you read any of these? Or got your eye on reading some? Let me know.

Until the next review

JTH