#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

blog, blogtour, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, thriller, Uncategorised, ya

Book Review: An Inconvenient Woman by Stéphanie Buelens

Title: An Inconvenient Woman

Author: Stéphanie Buelens

Length: 302 pages

Publisher: Quercus

Synopsis: When Claire Fontaine learns that her ex-husband Simon is marrying again, to a woman with a teenage daughter, her blood runs cold. She is sure that years ago Simon molested her own daughter and was responsible for her mysterious death. She can’t let him get away with it a second time. Vandalism, harassment; whatever it takes, Claire will expose him. Simon doesn’t know where Claire got this delusion from; her daughter’s death was ruled a suicide. Why is she lashing out? Wanting to protect his new fiancée, he hires Sloane Wilson, an ex-cop turned ‘sin-eater’, whose job is to handle delicate cases without getting the police Involved. Simon gives her the task of getting Claire off his back. Sloane must navigate the wreckage of Claire and Simon’s marriage to discover the truth. Is she crazy, or is he manipulative? And can Sloane stay clear-headed enough to figure it out.

I’m also so excited to be on this social media blast for this fantastic book. Check out all these other reviews.

I don’t really read thrillers that often because I tend to find them a little disappointing, but I can gladly say I didn’t find this one disappointing at all. This is everything you want in a thriller. It was intense, suspenseful, intriguing, complex and just super enjoyable.

The question of An Inconvenient Woman is whether we believe Claire or her Ex-Husband Simon as to whether he abused his step daughter. This book definitely keeps you guessing as to who was telling the truth. I can say I believed Claire. There was just something about her character that made me. There’s another level to this book as Simon hires a ‘sineater’ to stop Claire trying to contact his future wife to warn her. This also made me feel like I believed Claire even more as Sloane the sineater was just ugh! But I’m not telling you the answer.

The plot goes to places I didn’t expect it to. It had many subplots and characters that all came together in ways I didn’t expect but it really made sense. The chapters were also short so it kept the pacing quick and fresh.

Here’s one of the (many) things I really enjoyed about this novel, it had so much heart. Claire had such a heartfelt, upsetting back story. It gave the novel and the characters another layer and so much depth. It really took this book to another level for me. Can we have more thrillers like this please?

The ending was so good. So, so good. I’m so glad it didn’t disappoint. It all came together in such a clever way and kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat until the end. It’s hard to write a review without giving it away. I’ll guess you’ll just have to read it. The ending felt very cinematic to me. It would make a fantastic mini-series.

I would definitely recommend this. It was engaging from the very first page to the end. I couldn’t put it down. It’s a novel I keep finding myself thinking about. It’s out now.

Thank you to Ella at Quercus for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review.

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

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

Book Review: All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

Title: All the Stars and Teeth

Author: Adalyn Grace

Length: 397 pages

Publisher: Titan Books

Synopsis: As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer – the Master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but to secure her place as heir to the throne, Amora must master the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic. But when her demonstration goes horribly wrong, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic. But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder – and more peril – than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stowaway she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

Royals! Magic! Pirates! What more do you want? Oh I know! Mermaids! Well this book has them all. And it’s good. It’s so good.

We follow the princess Amora who after she fails her magic demonstration to become High Animancer, she flees her island in search of the destructive new magic that’s rising.

I really, really enjoyed the world Adalyn Grace has created. It was fresh and super absorbing. I love the fact that there’s seven islands and they all practice different magic. We get to see a few of the islands in this book and I hope in book two we get to see this world explored more.

It’s full of fantastic characters. Amora is such a kick ass character to follow. I loved that fact even after her people became terrified of her she’s till fights to save them. I liked her. I wanted her to succeed. And we have Bastian and Ferrick who I also loved. And then we had Vataea who was my favourite. Such a brilliant character and she’s a mermaid. Do I need to say anymore? She’s such a good mermaid! I loved her. Again, I want more of her in book two! I love the gang the become. I hope we see more of the gang.

Loved the romance. Loved it. It was a beautiful slow burn that I totally fell for. I want more. I want this to be explored more in book two. I assume it will. Don’t break my heart Adalyn. I also feel like there’s another romance blossoming which I am totally here for. I want it. I need it. I hope I’m right.

I don’t want to give any of the plot or ending away, but it kept me guessing and intrigued throughout. It was exciting! This book didn’t end the way I thought it was going too, I don’t want to spoil anything but I thought the plot might continue into the next one, but it’s set up a new plot for the second one which I’m excited to see what happens. Very excited.

All the Stars and Teeth just has everything I love in a YA fantasy series. It had the fantastic characters, the interesting magic, the good plot and the swoon-worthy romance. I would definitely recommend this book. Can I have book two now please? Pleaseeeeeeee!

Thank you to Sarah at Titan 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

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

ARC Book Review: ‘Raybearer’ by Jordan Ifueko

Title: Raybearer

Author: Jordan Ifueko

Length: 368 pages

Publisher: Hot Key Ya Books

Release Date: 18th August

Synopsis: Tarisai has always longed for a family. She was raised in isolation buy a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of Eleven. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other council members through the Ray, a Bing much deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to being somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn – but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

How do I say this clearly so you all understand? I LOVED THIS BOOK! Did you get that? Do I need to say it again? Because I will…

In Raybearer, we follow the story of Tarisai who has been raised in isolation, only seeing her mother every so often and is then taken to the children’s palace, to try and become one of the princes eleven. But she got a secret mission from her mother.

Before I first started this book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. I don’t know why, but that’s how I felt. How glad I was to be wrong. Let me tell you, by page 50 I loved it. Absolutely loved it. I knew it was going to have to disastrously wrong for it not to be a 5 star read. It didn’t. It’s 5 stars.

Just to let you know, I’m going to try and review this book without giving any spoilers. I want you to experience it without it being ruined

There’s so many reasons why this book works. So many. I loved the plot. When Tarisai was given the plot to kill the Prince by her mother, ‘The Lady’, but Tarisai begins to care for the Prince, it’s such a great premise. What I thought would happen at the end of the book, happened in the middle and I knew this book was just going to go beyond my expectations. And it did, it soared. It was full of twists and turns. It was just fantastic. Captivating. Everything it needed to be. I know that was vague but just read the book, okay.

This book is set in a magical land, but it’s foundation, it’s roots are these African and Middle Eastern cultures and it really makes this book come to life. They lept off the page and it elevated this book to a whole new level. I love how much it celebrated these cultures, with a magical twist. The magical land is really wide and expansive without ever being overwhelming or opaque. It’s a testament to Jordan Ifueko’s writing. The magic was excellent as well. Really unique and intricate.

The characters, I loved them. Tarisai is the perfect main protagonist. Jordan has captured her perfectly. You can feel her power, her struggle, her heart. She’s fantastic. You can’t help but as a reader care for her instantly. There’s also fantastic side characters. ‘The Lady’ is a brilliant, you can’t help but see her as villain for a while, but she’s fantastic. I loved the Prince and Khira. All of them. There’s also a slow burn romance (my favourite) which is so good. It’s so good. I felt their connection. It was one of the best YA romances I’ve read in a long time.

Jordan Ifueko has crafted a wonderful Young Adult novel. The writing it lush and rich. The storytelling is out of this world. It’s got everything you could. It’s been a long time since I read a young adult novel this good.

I can’t recommend this book enough. I am so unbelievably glad I read this book. Now I’ve just got to wait for book two. And yes there is a book two coming. Trust me, I’ve checked. I implore you to read this book.

Thank you to Hotkey Books YA for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now. Don’t miss this one.

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

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

ARC Book Review and Interview with the Author. Boy Queen by George Lester

Title: Boy Queen

Author: George Lester

Length: 389 pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Synopsis: Robin had it all figured out: a future on broadway, a top secret boyfriend and two ride-or-die best friends. Then all his worst nightmares came true. Now, his life is a hot mess. With nothing left to lose, Robin falls wig-first into the glittering embrace of Drag, and comes face-to-face with the queen he was always meant to be. Robin’s about to lest that sometimes your new self is your true self.

This was absolutely delightful. That was literally my first thought when I finished the book. I put it down and said in my head ‘that was absolutely delightful’. I would even quite like a sequel if I’m honest.

I loved the characters. They are eccentric but so real. Robin is a fantastic character. He was a wonderful protagonist for us to follow on his journey of self discovery. His friends were great. George made us care about these characters and it gives even more meaning to the book.

I love to read this in a book, a femme character taking centre stage. Robin at one point in the novel says ‘I’m camp’ and he wears it like a badge of honour and I love that. It’s representation like this that will help so many young people reading this book. It’s so important. Representation matters and I’m so proud of George for writing a character like this. I love it.

The relationship in the book are so important. I loved the relationship between and his mum. It was beautiful to read. I loved the romance too, but I won’t say anymore on that because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it was swoon worthy. And a slow burn and you know I love those. I also love the relationship Robin has with himself, it’s amazing to read how he comes to realise what he deserves and it’s so important for young queer people to read.

Of course the drag is fabulous. I want to go the club, I want to see Robin perform and I want to hang out with him and his wonderful friends. It makes me a little sad that I can’t.

I can’t recommend this book enough, it’s once of those charming, important quick reads (because you won’t be able to put it down, I couldn’t). And like I said, I want a sequel!

Thanks to Amber at panmacillan and MyKindaBook for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review.

And now for the interview. Thank you so much George for agreeing to do this. I really appreciate it.

1) What was your main inspiration for the book? This book is very much the combination of a lot of the things I love rolled into one. First of all, I am a theatre kid. I am a performer under a different name ( George Lennan, if you must know) and did dance classes and theatre growing up. I even did an MA in theatre at Mountview. It’s been a massive part of my life and is now one of the many careers I am pursuing. Second of all, I am a huge drag race nerd and on my MA I did a 45 minute solo drag show and created That Gurrrl (my drag persona) who has had such a huge impact on my life. And finally, I am a huge fan of queer romance and YA contemporary fiction, so if you put all those things in a pot, throw in a Lorelai Gilmore/Rory Gilmore mother/son dynamic and some glitter. You probably have Boy Queen. The other thing have that inspired this book heavily was wanting show drag as something more that what is shown on Drag Race. I feel like I’ve written this sentence some many times over the past few weeks, but there is so much more to drag than you see on Drag Race. I love the show, I do, but what you see on the show is just a fraction of the absolute magic and brilliant creativity and imagination that exists on the community. If you are a fan, I urge you to go out and look for it! It will blow your mind!

2) I love the relationships in this book. Can you talk a little more about them? Absolutely! As I mentioned in the previous question, was the Gilmore Girls-esque mother/son dynamic. I am a huge fan of the show and remember tweeting many moons ago that I wanted a YA novel version of it but ( as far as I’m aware) that just never happened. So I decided to write it into Boy Queen. This wasn’t just fun for the mother/son dynamic though, I really enjoyed having that in other characters too. My favourite kind of books and tv shows are the ones where characters have their own language that they speak in, a collection of references that each other just get that implies a history and I hope that came across with Natalie, Greg, Priya and Robin. The snappy dialogue and quips were honestly one of the most joyful parts of the book to write. And then of course comes the drag artist where I really had to sharpen my reading glasses. Where this probably became the most fun was with Seth because he was brand new to Robin, so he had to spend some time establishing exactly how to speak to him. And getting tongue tied because… you know… cute boys.

3) What do you hope young queer people get out of this book when they read it? Above anything else, I hope they get a really fun and joyful read featuring queer characters. Sure, the book has it’s dramatic moments and it’s sadder moments, but above everything else I wanted the book to be joyful and a celebration of queerness and drag. I hope it puts a smile on some faces. That would be wonderful! The other thing would be that not getting into drama school isn’t the end of the world. I know for a fact (having experienced it first hand) that it really can feel like that. When you live and breathe theatre, everything becomes a few clicks more dramatic, so not getting into drama school can feel like your life/career/everything is over. It’s not. Rejection is hard, it really does suck the big one, but it’s a part of life! ( A very big part of life of you’re going into the creative industry! Wow!) So take a deep breathe, reassess, do not give up. Keep working. I didn’t go the drama school when I was 18/19 years old. I got rejected from almost everywhere. I ended up studying for a BA in drama and Creative Writing, following which I went to work in publishing. When I realised just how much I missed acting, I started doing amateur theatre and, when I felt like I was ready, did an evening course at ArtsEd followed by my MA at Mountview. It was all about timing. This was the right time for me. Sometimes the universe just knows better!

4) Did the story change over time? Oh absolutely! Every single draft there was something new going in and something old coming out. We tried a lot of different things as the story went by and I am certain there has to be a good twenty to thirty thousand words on the cutting room floor. (They were replaced by other things in the book, I didn’t write a 110,000 word book! Jesus!) But that is the magic of editing. I don’t know where I would’ve been without my editors. They aren’t as close to the book as you are so they see things that you can’t and help you hone the story in ways you couldn’t even imagine. Priya wasn’t even in the first draft and now I can’t imagine the book without her. There is a scene where Robin and Seth are at Eternity together, and that wasn’t in the original draft either but it is such a fab scene that I can’t imagine it any other way! The only problem with this is when I come to write my next book and I find myself comparing the draft zero to my fully edited, copy edited and proofread draft of Boy Queen. Don’t do that. That way sadness lies.

5) How does it finally feel to have your first book out in the world? It is honestly the most surreal feeling in the world. This has been such a dream for me and has been for so many years that it is just surreal, that’s the best word for it. The team at PanMacmillan are working so hard on this book, and I feel every day something cool gets tweeted or posted and I have to pinch myself because I cannot believe it’s been happening to me. I feel so lucky. I have had a literary agent for about six years, I’ve written four books with him ( this is book five), and there were I wondered if maybe it would just never happen for me. So the fact that this is happening, just at the right time (pandemic aside!) with what turned out to be just the right book (I honestly couldn’t be happier Boy Queen is my debut!) is just wonderful.

George’s new book Boy Queen is out from August 6th 2020, £7.99 and is available from all good Bookshops. You can find him on Instagram @TheGeorgeLester or in drag @ThatGurrrlQueen.

A huge thanks to George for agreeing to do this little Q+A. It was absolutely fantastic and is filled with some brilliant advice.

It’s out now.

Until the next review

JTH

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

Book Review Blog Tour: The Tuscan Contessa by Dinah Jeffries

Title: The Tuscan Contessa

Author: Dinah Jeffries

Length: 350 pages

Publisher: Penguin

Synopsis: Contessa Sofia de’ Corsi’s peaceful Tuscan home has been upturned by the arrival of German soldiers. Desperate to fight back, she provides shelter, medical aid and any help she can, keeping her efforts secret from husband Lorenzo – who is also passing information to the Allies. When Maxine, an Italian-American working for the resistance, arrives on Sofia’s doorstep, the pair forge an uneasy alliance. Practical, no-nonsense Maxine promised herself never to fall in love. But when she meets a young partisan named Marco, she realises it’s a promise she can’t keep. Before long, the two women find themselves entangled in a dangerous game with the Nazis. Will they be discovered? And will they both be able to save the ones they love?

I’m super thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for this book, here’s the other book bloggers for you to check out there posts.

Dinah Jeffries has done it again. How does she manage to do it? Another fantastic novel. I was hooked from start to finish.

The Tuscan Contessa has a riveting story, following Sofia and Maxine as they both help in the effort to defeat the Nazis in World War Two. The story is full of twist and turns that will keep you turning the pages. It’s a well paced plot that is full of mystery, intrigue and romance.

Here’s what amazes me about Dinahs writing, she always makes me want to go visit these beautiful places. She describes them so wonderfully and richly that just makes me want to visit. But obviously with this book being set during World War Two, things happen and Dinah manages the two beautifully. She really captures the beauty and the brutality.

Sofia and Maxine are two fantastic characters to follow. Dinah has written two strong female characters, who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable and it’s fantastic to read. There’s also a romance that runs throughout the book, that is lovely to read, but filled with tension because of the time the book is set in. It’s such an atmospheric book.

I won’t ruin the ending for you, but it was intense, heartbreaking and so satisfying. It’s built up throughout the whole novel and certainly isn’t a let down. But I’ll let you discover what happens when you read it.

I definitely recommend this book. It’s the perfect book to get lost in, you’ll travel to a different time and place and get totally lost in the story. It’s out now.

Thank you to Penguin for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review.

Until the next review

JTH