Hi guys, we have Ryan Loveless popping in today with her upcoming YA release Ethan, we have a brilliant guest post from Ryan and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Carter Stevenson is looking forward to a fresh start in a new high school on the other side of the country. It’ll give him a chance to escape his reputation for twitching and stuttering. He’ll have the summer to himself in his new home in California, and in the fall, he won’t get involved in any activity that puts his Tourette’s center stage. He won’t stand out as different.
But his new neighbor, Ethan, isn’t just going to change his plans. He’s going to change Carter’s life.
Ethan Hart is recovering from a traumatic brain injury, but it doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm or love for life. As soon as he sees Carter, who moves like the music Ethan sees between the clouds and the grass, he’s determined to become his friend, and then his boyfriend. And even if his parents say their romance can’t get physical, Ethan won’t let it stand in the way of falling in love.
Stepping into the spotlight was the last thing Carter ever wanted, but Ethan, along with a group of friends who like him just the way he is—tics and all—starts to change his mind.
Adapted as a YA edition of the award-winning novel Ethan, Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless.
Hi guys, we have Erica Cameron with her new F/F release Assassins: Discord, we have a Erica showing us her Moodboards for Assassins: Discord, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant giveaway, so check out the post and leave a comment to enter the giveaway! <3 ~Pixie~
Kindra’s moral compass has never pointed north, but that’s what happens when you’re raised as an assassin and a thief. At sixteen, she’s fantastic with a blade, an expert at slipping through the world unnoticed, and trapped in a life she didn’t chose. But nothing in her training prepares her for what happens when her father misses a target.
In the week-long aftermath, Kindra breaks ranks for the first time in her life. She steals documents, starts questioning who their client is and why the target needs to die, botches a second hit on her father’s target, and is nearly killed. And that’s before she’s kidnapped by a green-eyed stranger connected to a part of her childhood she’d almost forgotten.
Kindra has to decide who to trust and which side of the battle to fight for. She has to do it fast and she has to be right, because the wrong choice will kill her just when she’s finally found something worth living for.
Hi peeps, we have John H. Ames popping in with the cover to his upcoming release Love, Joy, Heartache & Pain, we have a tasty exclusive teaser and a fantastic giveaway so enjoy the post and click that giveaway link <3 ~Pixie~
Love, Joy, Heartache & Pain
John H. Ames
A collection of new entwined stories by best-selling Young Adult author, John H. Ames. Love that reaches beyond the boundaries of the physical realm…
The not so unrealistic detailed account of how my best friend and I swapped bodies for a short period of time. -High school is one of the most excruciating and painful periods of any teenager’s life. To Kyle, it’s hell on earth. Being the target of the jocks made him hate high school more than anything in the world. All he has is his best friend and the center of the jock’s interest, the beautiful Kylie Bursnell. But Kylie is not your typical beauty. She hates the jocks even more than Kyle, especially Lucas Edward Johnson, a jock who is madly in love with her and Kyle’s forbidden dream. After a bizarre and freaky night, they swap bodies and are force to live each other’s live. Can this actually be true? Has Kyle’s dream come true? Will he be able to love Lucas Edward Johnson unconditionally until the end of time? Or is their love nothing but a beautiful dream enveloped in heartache and pain?
The Spirit Indestructible
Brandon Angelo William has it all. He’s hot, popular, shy, humble, and one of the typical and regular guys in high school. But, unbeknownst to everyone, he’s a closeted gay teen who came out to his parents the previous year. They loved and accepted him with open arms so what more could Brandon want? Love. The one thing that his soul and body need. After a late night out with his best friend, Kevin, Brad sees one of the most beautiful guys he has ever laid eyes on. But could the teen in front of him be real? Or is he the legendary hitching ghost that everyone talks about? Brad needs to find out and what he discovers shocks him and changes his young life forever…
The Lake View Psychopath
Jocks beware, he’s here and he’s not scared. Ashton Hall hates his existence at Lake View High. The jocks have made his life a living hell and his friends have completely turned their backs on him. Why? For being gay and dating the love of his life, Austin Young. Almost overnight, they became the center of every joke and every bully’s paradise. To make matters worse, even the school’s coach allows his ‘jock superstars’ to make fun of them.
But everything the night Austin Young is brutally murdered by the jocks and they walk free. Something snaps inside Ashton’s head and the only think he can think of is revenge. Will Ashton come to his sense and let Austin go? Or will he become one of the greatest serial killers of all time?
Hi guys, we have Kate Sands stopping by to show off her upcoming F/F release As Autumn Leaves, we have a great excerpt so you can check out the book yourself and there’s a fantastic giveaway! So enjoy out the post and click that giveaway link <3 ~Pixie~
As Autumn Leaves
Sixteen-year-old Kayla Caruso, once a well-liked cheerleader, knows that something sets her apart from her classmates. Her reluctance to have sex with a boy she was seeing earned her both the title of “Ice Queen” and the disdain of the other students. Bullied and alone, Kayla finds solace in one of her dwindling group of friends. Althea Ritter is a volleyball star and rumoured to be a lesbian. As Kayla’s interest in Althea grows, so does her confusion. Is she attracted to men or women? Both? Neither? Why does sex even have to matter? Kayla explores her muddled feelings, trying to discover where she fits in, and soon realizes her identity might not be as simple as gay or straight.
Hiya guys, Mia Kerick pops in today with her new release The Art of Hero Worship, we have a great excerpt, a fantastic giveaway and Lisa’s review, so check out the post and then click that giveaway link <3 ~Pixie~
The Art of Hero Worship
Trembling on the floor, pressed beneath a row of seats in a dark theater, college freshman Jason Tripp listens to the terrifying sound of gunshots, as an unknown shooter moves methodically through the theater, randomly murdering men, women, and children attending a student performance of Hamlet. Junior Liam Norcross drapes his massive body on top of Jason, sheltering the younger man from the deathly hail of bullets, risking his life willingly and maybe even eagerly.
As a result of the shared horror, an extraordinary bond forms between the two young men, which causes discomfort for family and friends, as well as for Jason and Liam, themselves. And added to the challenge of two previously “straight” men falling into a same-sex love, are the complications that arise from the abundance of secrets Liam holds with regard to a past family tragedy. The fledgling passion between the men seems bound to fade away into the darkness from which it emerged.
Jason, however, is inexplicably called to rescue his hero in return, by delving into Liam’s shady past and uncovering the mystery that compels the older man to act as the college town’s selfless savior.
The Art of Hero Worship takes the reader on a voyage from the dark and chilling chaos that accompanies a mass shooting to the thrill of an unexpected and sensual romance.
Hi peeps, we have Cheryl Headford visiting us today with her new release Hostage, we have a great excerpt, a fantastic giveaway and Shorty’s review so enjoy the post and click that rafflecopter link <3 ~Pixie~
Astrin Raphael wakes up in a strange place, frightened and confused. He is told to trust someone who seems to hate him, and he tries—he really tries. However, things change rapidly when he discovers his friend is actually his archenemy, Rowan Gabriel, whose abusive behavior stems from a deeply ingrained, if unwarranted, hatred over something that happened many years before, and simply wasn’t Astrin’s fault.
When Rowan’s uncle and Astrin’s father are kidnapped by Strebo Michael, the two crown princes are catapulted into an adventure that forces them to work together, and along the way their feelings for each other grow. Rowan is quick to let his hate go, but Astrin can’t release his inhibitions. It takes Astrin almost dying from a poisoned dagger before he finally accepts Rowan’s love.
When they return home, their problems continue as their Houses try to negotiate a way for the young men to be together. It soon becomes clear at least one of them will need to relinquish his throne.
Series: No Letting Go Author: Danni Keane Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Length: Novella (159 pages) ISBN: 9781632167255 Publisher: Harmony Ink Press, Dreamspinner Press (February 5, 2015) Heat Level: Moderate Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 4.5 Hearts Reviewer: Zane Blurb: Still reeling from his father’s death and stuck in a job he hates, the only moments of happiness in Josh Roberts’ life are those he spends with his boyfriend, Bradley. The boys are inseparable, and when they lose their virginity together, Josh feels closer to Bradley than he ever imagined.
But Josh’s mum, proud of her son and his biggest supporter, expects Josh to go to university after his year off. He doesn’t want to disappoint her by telling her he’s changed his mind, and he struggles to find a solution.
When Bradley moves in with Josh and his mum, Josh truly believes life can be perfect again. But before long, their still-fragile feelings of connection and intimacy are tested when Bradley becomes secretive and distant. Anxious and confused, Josh is desperate to find out why Bradley is rejecting his affections. Bradley finally opens up, but what he reveals will change every aspect of their young love and quite possibly the rest of their lives.
Review: “No Big Deal” is the latest in the series “Not Letting Go”. Though you don’t need to read the first two short stories (Sunshineand Buttercups, Not Letting Go), I’d suggest you do so in order to get a better understanding of Joshua and Bradley, whom I don’t always like, but I absolutely adore.
Author Danni Keane has given a true portrayal of young love, not hesitating to show the flaws of selfishness and self-centeredness, which we know, is so prevalent in those years. The very same characters that come across as cocky and know-it-all still manage to show innocence and vulnerability, often in the same scene.
Though the things these young lovers have to deal with are gravely serious and would be hardships at any age, to say they don’t handle them well would be somewhat of an understatement. While there were quite a few moments that I wanted to wring their necks, I never stopped rooting for them. One of the things that I love and don’t always find in a young adult novella – Joshy and Bradley are painfully and honestly written. Kudos to Ms. Keane for this accomplishment and for having written what is one of the most realistic ‘first time sex’ scenes I have ever read.
Whether it’s the sweet mush of Right Hand Red or the wacky British humor of The Lord of Twink’s Bottom, I absolutely love reading this author. She writes sadness and pain in such a way that it brings tears to your eyes but not horrible angst to your heart. Her refreshing portrayal of young adults hits me in all the ‘feels’ every time.
Danni Keane has become an auto buy for me; I happily recommend this (as well as the other two reads I mentioned) in the hopes that she becomes an auto-buy for you as well.
** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through www.mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com **
Title: Maps Series: N/A Author: Nash Summers Genre: Young Adult/ Gay for You Length: Novella (71 Pages) Publisher: Nash Summers (January 12th, 2015) Heat Level: Low Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥5 Hearts Reviewer: Aerin Blurb: If Maps ruled the world, his best pal Benji would be court jester, and every day would celebrate a new experiment.
No, scratch that.
If Maps ruled the world, his best pal would still be living next door, and there wouldn’t be any gap-toothed new guy staring at him as if he’s bonkers.
Review: This is a fantastic book! I liked this author’s previous books a lot, but this…I absolutely loved!!! In fact, I still feel all gooey inside, all soft and bubbling with happiness; when a writer is capable of writing a book that affects me this way, I’m a forever fan.
This is a YA story and there’s no sex involved so if you’re looking for something steamier, you’re in the wrong place. That being said, this book is still worth reading, if only for a chance to meet these adorable and quirky characters.
Maps is a 16-year-old boy who’s being overly dramatic because his best friend Benji is moving away…..a block away. I adore Maps. he’s such a hilarious character! I started laughing at the first paragraph and I pretty much continued until right before the last one….because that one put this stupid smile on my face that doesn’t seem like it will go anywhere for a while.
Maps is geeky, smart, funny, sarcastic, overly dramatic, self-centered, and socially inapt; all those characteristics shouldn’t work together, right? Well they do and the end result is a character that’s going to stay with me for a long time.
Lane is Maps’ new neighbor, and he’s the polar opposite of Maps. Lane is a jock; he’s big and tall, manly, kind and not quite so smart. Lane and Maps become good friends but there’s this chemistry, this intensity between them that I felt every time these two were around each other. They’re both young and while Lane knows he’s straight, Maps is just now discovering his sexuality. The attraction Maps feels towards Lane doesn’t go unnoticed by anyone, including
Maps’ parents and his best friend Benji. Their acceptance and support was incredibly heartwarming. But Maps is unlike anyone Lane has ever met and he can’t help but be drawn to him. So, Lane likes girls…and Maps.
This isn’t one of those in-your-face love stories, it’s subtle and sneaky and it packs a serious punch, I’m still reeling from it. And that “ending” was so perfect…because it’s not really an ending, at least that’s not the way I look at it.
“Be mine, even just for a little while.”
I hope we see more of Maps and Lane, because I believe their story is just beginning.
I recommend this book to everyone, whether you like YA or not, I guarantee you’ll love it!
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *
Title: When Ryan Came Back Series: N/A Author: Devon McCormack Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Ghosts/Spirits, Young Adult, Paranormal Length: Novel (228 pages) Publisher: Harmony Ink Press, Dreamspinner Press (October 16, 2014) Heat Level: Low Heart Rating: ♥♥♥3Hearts Blurb: Steven’s life changes forever the day he discovers his childhood friend and lifelong crush, Ryan Walters, standing in his bedroom. The problem? Ryan Walters committed suicide just days earlier.
Ryan tells Steven that he didn’t kill himself. He believes he was murdered and that his death is linked to an article he was working on for the school paper. Steven sets out to solve the mystery. But as the story unfolds, so does Ryan’s secret life of sex with guys and depression.
Steven realizes suicide is more plausible than Ryan’s conspiracy theory, but he struggles to convince Ryan of the real cause of his death. And despite revelations of his friend’s closeted life, he must face the truth that Ryan doesn’t—and never will—love him.
Review: Ryan should’ve been truthful with Steven from the beginning about everything instead of letting him find out about all those things on his own. Steven should’ve confided in someone about the things that were happening. Steven’s parents shouldn’t have forced him to see a therapist unless he wanted to.
While the story was good, I thought that it was a bit much for a seventeen year old to be going through. Especially trying to figure out Ryan’s death on top of the cover up murder and conspiracy that a few men were involved in.
The teacher having sex with students and recording it disturbed me. I thought it was sad that Ryan and Steven never told each other how they felt when he was alive. It just amazed me how much Steven had to deal with on his own.
All in all, it was a good read.
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com*
Title: Ragnarök Series: Valhalla #2 Author: Ari Bach Genre: Science fiction/Lesbian/Young Adult Length: Novel (350 pages) Publisher: Harmony Ink Press, Dreamspinner Press Heat Level: Low Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3.5 Hearts Blurb: After a year spent hunting for Mishka and Wulfgar, V team is no closer to finding them. If they’re going to locate their nemeses, they’re going to have to break some rules. As they begin their most dangerous mission yet, the stakes grow higher than they ever imagined as they uncover not only the subjects of their hunt, but the greatest threat the Earth has ever known.
To save the planet, their path will take them across the globe, across the solar system, and deeper into their relationships with each other than they’ve ever dared to look. Sacred bonds will be tested, the closest alliances will fall, and Violet will come face-to-face with a far more daunting and dangerous challenge than saving the planet – her growing love for Vibeke – a lover that could be her salvation, or the cause of her ultimate downfall.
Review: This book is the second in the Valhalla series, which should be read in order as it has an ongoing story line. However, in saying that, I have not read book one and have had no problems with following the story. Ragnarök was an interesting choice for me. I do love sci-fi, but I have not read a lot of lesbian same sex fiction. However, just the name Ragnarök attracted me. It’s all about the Viking connection for me. I love history, particularly Norse mythology. However, as much as this is a good book, for various reasons, I am torn with this one. It is certainly a niche story.
The first book is called Valhalla, which many will recognise this as the Norse Viking belief that warriors who die in battle pass to the afterlife aided by Valkyries to reside in the hall known as Valhalla in Asgard with the god Odin. Ragnarök, this book, is named after a Norse poem, which basically talks about the End of Days. After the death of some key gods and many natural disasters which lead to the flooding of the earth, two humans remain to repopulate (not good for genetic diversity!) and the surviving gods will return to mortal realm (or Earth if you like the Marvel Comics version of the Norse gods).
Onto the actual story itself, it was easy to get into. I think it was the level of detail that drew me in, making it so easy for me to imagine this dystopian world of the future. However, the flip side of this being was that this detail occasionally made this a tad on the tedious side. But I am willing to overlook that.
The world we are presented with is partially recognisable to what we know now, but then again this is a few centuries into the future where Norse mythology has apparently taken root again, at least in order to organise resistance/military units. There have also been some catastrophic disasters that have changed the face of the earth. We dive straight into the action of Violet, the main character, who is undergoing a dangerous jump during a mission and a fight midair involving some pretty nifty, futuristic fighter jets. There is some jumping about, again this got a little tedious on occasion, but at the heart of this story is Violet and the beginning of her romance with Vibeke. Both Violet and Vibeke are very strong characters, though for some reason I don’t know, I found myself liking Vibeke more than Violet.
The action does not let up throughout the story, so it was an exhausting novel to read. If it weren’t so exhausting, I probably would have rated it higher. But the ending, oh wow, it was great and totally not what I expected. Neither did I expect to like an ending like this, which is most of the reason for the decent rating. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but the ending of it was my favourite part purely because of how it played out. Though it does make me wonder if Ari Bach is misleading us just a tad and there is going to be another book.
Some sci-fi you can read and know that anyone will enjoy it, but this is the type of sci-fi where you need to enjoy the genre. There is an abundance of sci-fi terms, some of which found in various other stories, but if you’re not into the genre, it may take more concentration to keep a track of what is going on. There is also biology jargon such (e.g. RNA and DNA), but I’m sure it’s nothing that will put anyone off and nothing beyond other sci-fi books.
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *
Title: By the Creek Author: Geoff Laughton Narrator: Paul Morey Genre: Contemporary/Young Adult Length: 5 hours and 29 minutes Publisher: Harmony Ink, Dreamspinner Press (06-18-2014) Heat Level: Mild (age appropriate for teens and young adults) Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥5 Hearts Blurb: Soon-to-be high school junior David Harper hates his family’s move to the country. There’s nothing to do, and he misses his friends in the city. But he doesn’t have a choice. His mother’s job is in Mason County now, so David and his mom are too, and he has to make the best of it.
At first, the only redeeming feature of David’s new home is the swimming hole across the field from his house. Then David meets Benjamin Killinger, and suddenly life stops being so dull.
Benjamin is Amish, and cooling off in the swimming hole is one of the few liberties he and his brothers enjoy. A friendship with an English boy is not—but that doesn’t stop him and David from getting to know each other, as long as it’s on the neutral ground by the creek.
After David risks his life to save Benjamin’s father, the boys’ friendship is tolerated, then accepted. But before long, Benjamin’s feelings for David grow beyond the platonic. Benjamin’s family and the rest of the community will never allow a love like that, and a secret this big can’t stay secret forever…
When I first took this book for review I asked the author to tell me about the story. He said he wanted to write a YA novel with a gay storyline because there really aren’t any available. I have to agree with him, at least not where the entire story is based on the two young men. This isn’t a sexy steamy M/M novel, this is a well written YA novel about young love, that love just happens to be between two young men.
David and Benjamin happen upon each other one afternoon at the swimming hole that lies between their properties. David has recently moved into his ancient country home with his mom, and Benjamin is a member of the Amish family that lives in a homestead across the road from David. The pair move at a steady pace starting with a friendship that is forbidden at first, and then accepted due to David’s actions, moving into something kind of like love. It’s not an instant overnight love, and it’s not a slow burn, it’s pleasantly steady and happens exactly when it’s supposed to.
Benjamin is wildly curious about the outside world and David is more than happy to fill him in. The swimming hole becomes their sanctuary where innocent conversations lead to looks of longing and ultimately, that first kiss. It’s during one of these afternoon frollicks when the boys are locked in a passionate embrace that Ben’s father finds them. David is inconsolable as his mom and two best friends rally at his side. Will Ben come back to him, or will he ultimately choose to stay with his family.
Laughton has a way of conveying emotions from pen to paper that is really unique in books today. I was seriously drawn into David and Benjamin’s reality, I grew with them, I fell in love with them, and I cried with them… it was fabulous!
I was reminded of one of my favorite movies while reading this book, Latter Days. There is a line in By the Creek where Ben questions if the love that he and David share is a sin, David quickly tells him that to be loved and love someone could never be a sin. At the end of Latter Days Jacqueline Bissets character has one of the best lines in any movie ever “So, your church forbids drinking and homosexuality. Well, forgive me for not joining. I can’t imagine Heaven without both of them.” That line is so perfectly, David and Ben!
Highly recommended! Well written. Characters have depth and realism. Overall an emotionally fabulous read!!
Updated audio review…
David is all but forced away from his home, job and friends due to his mom’s relocation for her job. Miserable to say the lease, and slightly bored with isolation, he ventures to the creek that lies between his home and the local property of the local Amish community. It’s here that he meets Benjamin, an Amish teenager that knows nothing other than the life he has been taught to lead. Through his friendship and mutual attraction to David, Ben starts to question the life he is meant to lead. The two teenagers build an unbreakable bound and love that will last a lifetime, by the creek.
The perfect marriage of narration and writing, Morey gives Laughton’s words a voice, he truly brings David and Ben to life. I love when I can listen to a story that I’ve already read, and find something new within the story or the characters that I missed in black and white. While I was so drawn to this story because of the passion and pain that was written into the relationship, hearing David’s pain at possibly loosing Ben at that point in the story just took it to an entirely new place for me.
These two young men were the very definition of endearing, the story just utterly engaging and now with the addition of Paul Morey’s voice to give the words new meaning, one word… Flawless! This is a YA story, but I believe it is written and conveyed in such a way that fans of all ages will fall in love with David and Ben and their journey.
Definitely a must read AND a must listen!
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *
Blurb: Never stop running. No matter how often life trips you up, or how many times your enemies knock you down, just get up and keep on moving until you find where you belong.
Kelly Phillips has been out of the closet since he was a young teenager, and thanks to the gay youth group he frequents, he has never been short on friends or lovers. But when you have almost everything, it’s hard not to focus on what’s just out of reach: A best friend, who would be Mr. Right if he weren’t already Mr. Straight. Or that handsome guy at school, who would be easier to wrangle if not for his angel wings.
And then there’s the one who might be a perfect fit, maybe even a soulmate… if only he wasn’t convinced he didn’t need anyone at all. Kelly has always been good at running. Now he must learn to chase, which will not only test his endurance, but the durability of his heart as well.
Something Like Lighting is a new beginning in the Something Like… saga, shifting the focus to a fresh set of characters while also revisiting a familiar face or two.
ISBN #: 9781310109133 Product Link: http://www.amazon.com/Something-Like-Lightning-Storms-Book-ebook/dp/B00N7OR36U
Review: I really enjoyed Something Like Lightening for its moments of self-realization. Kelly seems to have it all, confidence, speed, talent, looks, and plenty of attitude!!! But he really needs to take a closer look at himself…and it takes a huge tragic moment to do that. It’s the sadness, loss, aching awareness of flaws in ourselves and those we love, it’s those things that Jay Bell magically worked into …Lightening. Those are the themes that stung my heart and kept me glued to the pages.
Something Like Lightning is a coming of age, finding one’s true self kind of read. I’m not sure but I think this fits into the Young Adult genre…I’m not as familiar with that.
Now, I know I would have an even greater appreciation for this book if I had read the previous Something Like series…there are repeat characters, overlapping and intersecting plots, and a ton of character building for Kelly that I missed and thus lost a big chunk of the impact this book makes for those readers. So I really need to go back and do some more reading.
The writing is smooth, the characters rich, and the plot painful, somewhat predictable, and poignant at the same time. The big moment I had to read carefully, think about and reread comes before the big accident, it comes in the subtle details of a relationship in decline, the pain in recognizing that, and letting go for the sake of both people involved….such a big life lesson, a huge thing for an author to tackle.
I must also add, I really like the cover art for all of Jay Bell’s books! Yes, beat the stereotype baby!
Title: Guardians Series: The Woodmen Chronicles, #2 Author: A. M. Burns Genre: Young Adult/ Paranormal Length: Novel (180 Pages) Publisher: Harmony Ink Press, Dreamspinner Press (October 2014) Heat Level: None Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4Hearts Blurb: Thom Woodman is a Bigfoot, although he prefers to be called an Oh Mah. When it comes time for the Oh Mah biannual gathering, he’s excited to go with Ben Steele, the human he bonded with.
To Thom’s surprise, he is offered a place among the Guardians, the leaders of the Oh Mah. But since he grew up half in the human world, he can’t make a decision before he finds out more about these Guardians.
When an Oh Mah is killed by a human, the growing antihuman sentiment runs rampant through the gathering. Thom’s family swears to help protect Ben, but when some of the Guardians join the anti-human faction, they aren’t sure they can live up to their promise. Even when Ben is kidnapped, Thom doesn’t know what to say when the Guardians demand his answer. Thom feels like he’s not only being forced to choose between the Oh Mah and the human world, but also between a life with or without Ben.
Review: This is the second book to this series and they need to be read in order.
You will learn more about Oh Mah’s and their lives. It is also when you first meet Ben and Thom. These are two of the best young men I have ever met. They are so protective of each other and so very loving. Thom is the Oh Mah, which is basically big foot and Ben is his bond mate. Ben is human. The main problem I had with it was the fact that they were still children and it was a no sex book. It has a serious tone and very little humor to it. I found myself not as captivated by it as I should have. It is a wonderful book but for me it was missing something for me to truly love it.
Thom and Ben were going with Thom’s family to a gathering. The gathering was for Oh Mah’s to prove their strength, to find mates and a basic party situation. The Oh Mah’s are a very aggressive bunch and they use their strength to get many things. In fact, they have to fight to get the approval of their potential mates and for the bond to start. Now Thom and Ben had not had to do that. Thom had saved Ben’s life and it had started the bond for them. They were the lucky ones it would seem.
The gathering was in Texas this time and there are many surprises that lay in stride for all of them. Including the danger that comes for them. Many Oh Mahs are prejudice against humans and whites, so Thom doesn’t want Ben to leave his sight. He will do everything in his power to keep him safe. The guardians want Ben to join but there a many factors standing in the way and one of the major ones is the fact that there is something dark going on. Fear, anger, betrayal, and fighting are happening around the camp. Now it is up to Thom to not only protect his mate but also find out the truth.
This story was a fascinating one but like I said for me, it was too out there for me to love. I do love Ben and Thom though. There is so much strength in them both, but they still have quite a bit to grow into. Ben is in danger from the bigots and Thom is being asked to join the guardians. Many changes are coming and it doesn’t seem to be for the better. If you love a sci-fi feeling with a bit of darkness then this is for you. It will give you gorgeous mates, strength, and power, pure love, lots of danger and betrayal.
I would recommend reading this story. It did catch my attention from the moment I started reading and kept it all the way to the end.
Title: Unicorns and Rainbow Poop Series: Vocal Growth Author: Sam Kadence Genre: Young Adult Length: Novel (260 pages) Publisher: Harmony Ink Press, Dreamspinner Press (November 6th, 2014) Heat Level: Low Heart Rating: ♥♥♥3 Hearts Blurb: Ex-boyband member Dane Karlson is struggling to overcome an eating disorder and a body dismorphic disorder. His fall through a glass table puts him in rehab and on the road to recovery. Then a friend dies. When depression causes him to lose ground, he calls for the only person he trusts—former bandmate Tommy. But Tommy doesn’t know how to help. He begs his friend Sebastian “Bas” Axelrod to aid them through the emotional struggle.
Bas, an openly gay high school student who’s recently lost his grandmother, is trying to survive his last few months of school before escaping to Stanford. Having just lost the only person in his family to care for him, he is victim to the cruelty of the others. His younger brother bullies him, and his parents are suing him for his gran’s inheritance. When Tommy calls, Bas can’t help but run to his side.
Together Dane and Bas find a middle ground, supporting each other through the lows, dancing together during the highs. They build friendships and plan for the prom and graduation, thinking positively as long as they are together.
Review:Disclaimer: I have not yet read book 1 in this series (but I will be going back to read it).
WOW! I have to be honest that I wasn’t sure if I would like this book based on the title…but this is an absolute must read!! When you read the story, the title will make perfect sense and bring a smile to your face.
Let me get the basics out of the way first – the writing in this book is really good. I am a Nazi when it comes to grammatical and spelling errors and I found none in this book. I have never had a personal experience with eating disorders so I cannot speak to any of the technicalities about it. My review is based solely on the entertainment value of the book.
This story touched me on several different levels…as a mom, as a friend of gay couples that has suffered bullying for their sexual orientation and as a human being that believes all people should be treated equally.
Dane suffered at hands of his parents for most of his life, being subjected to physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. Even though he has lived through all this abuse and had to grow up pretty quickly because of his fame, he has an innocence and childlike essence that just makes you want to hug him. He has no filter and says whatever comes to his mind regardless of the consequences.
Thankfully he has surrounded himself with friends that can support and care for him and who can help him learn how to be comfortable in social situations. I personally love his lack of filter as I lack one myself. Regrettably, those around him are easily hurt and don’t always understand his comments as ignorance instead of malice.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I absolutely love the way Bas, Adam and Ru help him heal from not only his eating disorder, but the effects of 12 years of abuse. These guys are truly great friends to him.
Bas is just as broken as Dane. His only advocate has been his grandmother whom he just lost. His family is absolutely horrible. He has been bullied and abused. He hides behind his snarky comments and flamboyant behavior. Fortunately for him, Dane sees through that protective layer to the man Bas really is and loves him for it. The 2 of them balance each other and make a great pair – even if they were to remain just friends, forever.
I’m hopeful Bas and Dane are able to follow through with the life plans that Bas has as I think that would be an inspiration for all the troubled teens they come in contact with.
Adam and Ru obviously have a history that is told in book 1 but it is not necessary to read that book before reading this book. As I stated, after falling in love with this book I will be going back to book 1 because I do think that information would help understand some of their quirks in this book.
Tommy is one of Ru and Dane’s ex-band members and plays a pretty big role in this book. He is a good friend to all these guys and wants to help all of them. Unfortunately, he is just as lost as Dane and Bas are but his unraveling takes place over the entire story and leaves us not so patiently waiting for book 3 for his story.
Another 2 characters that I’m hoping we’ll see more of are Paige and Marissa. I can’t say too much about either of them without giving too much away but they both play integral parts of the story that I would like to see more of in future books.
This book is very touching and will stay with you for a long time. It is definitely one you must read.
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *
Title: Ben Raphael’s All Star Virgins Author: K.Z. Snow Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Length: Novella (124 pages) ISBN: 978-1-63216-257-1 Publisher: Harmony Ink Press, Dreamspinner Press (September 25th, 2014) Heat Level: Low Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4 Hearts Reviewer: Zane Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Jake McCullough and his friends Rider, Brody, Carlton, and Tim are the invisible boys of Ben Raphael Academy, an exclusive co-ed prep school. Brody decides they need “mystique” to garner attention. “Nobody has more mystique than a desirable virgin,” he declares. Thus is born Ben Raphael’s All-Star Virgin Order or BRAVO.
The boys polish their appearances. Brody launches a subtle but canny publicity campaign. Soon, the boys are being noticed. But they’re emotionally fragile. Two have succumbed to a seductive female teacher. Jake and Rider, roommates and best friends who are attracted to one another, fear the stigma of being gay.
It takes an unspeakable tragedy to make the BRAVO boys realize what’s important in life, and that “virginity” has more than one meaning.
Review: Friendship is tough to navigate at any age, but what about when you’re still growing into who you are and who you want to be? At the youthful age of sixteen, to these boys, away at school, their friends are their family. As close as they are, even families have their secrets, and as we know, secrets always come out. For Brody, Tim, Carlton, Rider and Jake, life is about to change, in a big way.
Though we don’t get a deep insight into all of the characters we get a basic idea of who they are via their interactions. Mr. Ringleader, Brody, has big plans to get them noticed by “the girls”. While the five boys follow through with these plans, there are other forces at work, things going on ‘behind the scenes’ if you will, much like what occurs in real life.
The story delves deepest into Jake and Rider, who give us their tale of young teens discovering and accepting their sexuality individually, as well as their feelings for one another, unbeknownst to the rest of their circle. I loved their friendship and watching it blossom into love. I enjoyed being privy to Jake’s thoughts, and having a front row seat to his and Rider’s self-discoveries. As they navigate young adulthood, things come to light that affect them all, and they way things are handled brings about drastic repercussions for not just the two of them, but for all of their friends, which causes them to lose the biggest virginity of all – loss of the innocence of youth.
There are very serious and controversial (and somewhat taboo) issues at hand here. And KZ Snow does not shy away from these. She has given us a very well written novella with believable characters and a strong storyline. If you’re looking for something light and sweet, this is not your book. However, if you are looking for compelling characters, a coming of age story, and an author willing to tackle the hard issues, look no further.
Though not a lengthy book, it does pack a punch. When the dust (and possibly a tear or two) settles, you’ve got a great coming of age story with love, friendship and a happy for now ending that works perfectly for those with the rest of their lives ahead of them.
Title: These Things Happen Author: Richard Kramer Narrator: Richard Kramer Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Length: 7 hours and 54 minutes Publisher: November 7th 2012 by Unbridled Books Heat: None Heart: ♥♥♥ 2.5Hearts Reviewer: Tams Blurb: A domestic story told in numerous original and endearing voices. The story opens with Wesley, a tenth grader, and involves his two sets of parents (the mom and her second husband, a very thoughtful doctor; and the father who has become a major gay lawyer/activist and his fabulous “significant other” who owns a restaurant).
Wesley is a fabulous kid, whose equally fabulous best friend Theo has just won a big school election and simultaneously surprises everyone in his life by announcing that he is gay. No one is more surprised than Wesley, who actually lives temporarily with his gay father and partner, so that he can get to know his rather elusive dad. When a dramatic and unexpected trauma befalls the boys in school, all the parents converge noisily in love and well-meaning support. But through it all, each character ultimately is made to face certain challenges and assumptions within his/her own life, and the playing out of their respective life priorities and decisions is what makes this novel so endearing and so special. Purchase Link: http://www.audible.com/pd/Teens/These-Things-Happen-Audiobook/B00I7V0XII/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1397049093&sr=1-1 Review: This story is told from multiple perspectives throughout, but the majority of the time the reader is hearing from Wesley himself and George, his father’s significant other.
Wesley is at a turning point in his life it seems, completely unsure of which fork in the road to take. He is living temporarily with his father Kenny and his father’s partner, George. While Kenny is an established gay rights activist and lawyer, throughout the story he is completely emotionally distant with both his son and his partner. George fits the older, self-aware gay man persona to a ‘T’. He is successful in his own right as the owner of the restaurant they live above, Echo, and wants nothing more than to connect with his stepson Wesley and reconnect with the love of his life, Kenny.
Wesley’s best friend Theo has won the class election for President, and announced to the entire school that he is gay. Now he wants his best friend Wes to talk to his two dads about the implications of Theo’s confession. He’s curious. Is it a choice? Was he born this way? While Wes, Theo, George, Kenny and all the other key players in Wesley’s day-to-day life circle through the story; Wes’s questions and contemplations are the heart of the novel. When the boys fall victim to a homophobic attack at school, Wes begins to question things even more so.
At the end of the novel, I learned that the author who is also the narrator is a former screenplay writer for some pretty successful TV shows. That made perfect sense then, as the story read like the script for a movie throughout, heavy on descriptive as if I needed to see what I was hearing and reading. It was difficult for me to really immerse myself into this story, as the narrator wasn’t really a narrator or a storyteller. He simply read the words from the book. And at times, I couldn’t differentiate which character was speaking because of the lack of emotion in his voice. I would like to see what a true narrator like Paul Morey or a storyteller like Sean Crisden could do with this novel.
I’m rating this one right down the middle because I’m really torn on how I feel about it. The narration was off and the story didn’t flow well, I also felt nothing but contempt for Wesley’s dad because of the way he was portrayed. My rating would be even lower if it weren’t for the character George. He was exactly as promised, utterly fabulous. His back-story and the way he was so intent on developing a sturdy relationship with Wesley made him very endearing to me.
While this wasn’t the audio book for me, I have to say, I’d love to see this made into something on-screen.
** I received a copy of this audio book from Unbridled Books in exchange for an honest review through MM Good Book Reviews ** http://www.mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com
Title: All the Colors of Love Author: Jessica Freely Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Length: 8 hours and 23 minutes Narrator: Paul Morey Publisher: Harmony Ink, Dreamspinner Press (1-31-14) Heat Level: Mild Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts Reviewer: Tams Blurb: It sucks being the son of a super villain. At home, Harry spends half of his time getting medical treatments and the other half tied up in his father’s underwater lair. It was different when his mother was alive, but she disappeared when Harry was six. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble at school, and his new roommate, Antonin, thinks he’s a spaz, but somehow Harry has to find a way to stop his father’s evil plans.
Antonin Karganilla wants to become a comic book artist, but other than that, being gay is the most normal thing about him. His uncle is an aquatic plant man, his aunt is a molecular biologist back from the dead, and his mom is an overprotective pain in the butt. Antonin’s in boarding school and it’s starting to look like he and this Harry kid might have a lot in common… and that means a whole new set of problems.
Review: The description of this story is a little bit misleading, or I misunderstood. I was expecting a darker type of Sky High (the high school for super hero’s kids Disney movie) with a gay twist. What I got instead was definitely dark in some places, but also an uplifting story about a young man trying to find his way in life, separate from his evil father, equating everything he feels to colors.
Harry’s mom left when he was six years old, supposedly on a trip with his father, but she never returned. His life from that day on was the content of nightmares. He had already been a medical guinea pig of sorts, enduring ‘life saving’ injections and now abuse across the board, physical, mental and verbal, all at the hands of his father. Harry bounces from school to school, as he lashes out at everyone and everything that isn’t his father, wishing that it were, resulting in nothing but trouble. He’s just been dumped off at his latest school with the threat of being locked under the sink for the rest of his natural life if he steps so much as one toe out of line.
Antonin is a model student, graphic artist and openly gay. And now he is Harry’s new roommate. Antonin comes from a loving, overprotective and slightly psychotic family. He’s very talented with his comic book with the writing and the art. He’s also very inquisitive by nature. Harry sees him as nosey and dorkish at the start, but when Antonin steps up to some bully’s in defence of Harry, the two become friends. Antonin accepts Harry as his friend and trusts him to spite his shady past. The two grow closer with each passing day. Harry seriously fights the attraction, but not for the reasons one would think. He see’s being gay as wrong but he is in no way hateful or hurtful to Antonin because of his sexuality. He just doesn’t understand how he himself could be bad at one more thing. His father has his psyche so twisted by this point.
Harry accompanies Antonin home for the Christmas break even knowing that his father agreeing to him going will come at a price, a price Harry isn’t sure he can pay. He tries very hard not to grow attached to Antonin, to develop feelings he knows will be returned. It scares him, to be loved unconditionally. It’s not something he comprehends. As Harry and Antonin navigate their way through family dramas, love, loss, betrayal and more abuse, Harry learns that love is a valid emotion, one that comes in many colors.
This really was an amazing story that defined the grey area between ‘children learn what they live’ and ‘we are our own destiny’. Harry’s father is a cruel bastard who doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Antonin’s mother is overprotective and overbearing to a fault, which cause some of the same personality conflicts between them that we see between Harry and his father. The two of them could become very dangerous people given the circumstances of their lives until now. But together, they can become something wonderful, something more.
Narrated by the best, Paul Morey, I don’t think there is anyone better at voicing those subtle nuances and changes in tones when going from one character and/or emotion to another as well as Morey.
There is one scene in the story that skirts the boundaries of YA and NA, it is passionate but appropriate. It’s all about a love and awareness between Harry and Antonin. The simulated rape scene is more graphic in nature to be honest, but nothing ever goes quite over the line of young adult and adult. As I said, there is a darkness to this story, but overall it’s very engrossing with the slightly sci-fi aspect. I’d definitely recommend this audio book. It has a little bit of everything and progresses so smoothly, your day will fly by.
** I received a copy of this audio book from Dreamspinner Press in exchange for an honest review through MM Good Book Reviews ** http://www.mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com
Blurb: In his junior year at a public high school, sweet, bright Casey Minton’s biggest worry isn’t being gay. Keeping from being too badly bullied by his so-called friends, a group of girls called the Queen Bees, is more pressing. Nate De Marco has no friends, his tough home life having taken its toll on his reputation, but he’s determined to get through high school. Zander Zane’s story is different: he’s popular, a jock. Zander knows he’s gay, but fellow students don’t, and he’d like to keep it that way.
No one expects much when these three are grouped together for a class project, yet in the process, the boys discover each other’s talents and traits, and a new bond forms. But what if Nate, Zander, and Casey fall in love—each with the other and all three together? Not only gay but also a threesome, for them high school becomes infinitely more complicated and maybe even dangerous. To survive and keep their love alive, they must find their individual strengths and courage and stand together, honest and united. If they can do that, they might prevail against the Queen Bees and a student body frightened into silence—and even against their own crippling fears.
Review: Casey Minton is young naive and jaded. An incident in his past brought on by his “best friends” has left him vulnerable and he suffers from frequent panic attacks. His family life is fantastic though. His parents know he is gay even though he isn’t out at school and they are very understanding, he has a great relationship with his little sisters, but his mother is extremely over protective after the incident in the 9th grade.
Nate De Marco is the poster boy for tall, dark, handsome and brooding. A loner at school and at home, having to live with an abusive uncle because his parents aren’t there. He takes the brunt of the abuse to protect his little sister. Again, he knows he’s gay but he hasn’t told anyone, not even his family. He just takes everything one day at a time, going through the motions.
Zander Zane is the popular guy, he’s in thick with the ‘in crowd’ but he’s not cruel or ignorant and passive like the rest of his peers. He’s kind of quiet and laid back, hiding under all that hair, until the day he’s partnered up for a class project with Casey and Nate. And so the story of the three unfolds told from three very unique and differing points of view. Nate tells his part through his personal diary. Zander’s thoughts and emotions show in email communications with his brother. and the reader follows the story in real-time with Casey, as he navigates through high school on the shit list of the Queen B’s and in the arms of the last two people on earth he ever fathomed would be there to comfort him when the bottom falls out.
What starts out as a commitment to work together turns into a genuine friendship as the three learn more about each other every day. Before long shy, longing stares and touches that start out innocent but grow with intensity and heat bring the three together in a dangerous but beautiful threesome. As with everything in their relationship, it’s a gradual growth, and Kerick manages to capture each different young man’s thoughts and feelings throughout.
Casey is just a genuinely good person with a soft heart and a kind soul. This gets him into some serious trouble that not even his guys can save him from. Some people are just evil to the core, their mission in life is to make everyone else miserable, but this particular Queen B has her sights set on Casey. Nate is the quiet giant. He makes it his mission in life to protect what he loves, and that is Casey and Zan. When he can’t protect Casey, it almost tears him apart. And Zan, he is the glue that holds these three together. He has the most laid-back attitude and everyday life of the three. He makes it his mission to raise awareness at school and get everyone under the Queen B’s influence to think for themselves. Individually each of these characters has their own weaknesses but together, as a trifecta, they find a love and a strength they never knew they had.
I just fell in love with this story and with these three guys. It took me a couple of chapters to get with the flow of writing as being told from three distinctly different POV with emails, diaries and in real-time. But once I figured out how the book was going to read, I was completely engrossed in the story. The storyline was engaging and thought-provoking and the three ML were so endearing. While there were a couple rough patches with some deep seeded hate, there was a lot of love in between. This is a must read guys, especially if you’re looking for a story about finding true love in the oddest of places and not only standing up for yourself, but what is right and the people you love. ** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through MM Good Book Reviews ** http://www.mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com
Three years after that first meeting in a theatre storeroom, Jayden Phillips and Darren Peace are separating for the first time, trading in school for the trappings of adult life. Jayden has achieved his dream of a place at Cambridge University; Darren has achieved his own of escaping the Cold War of home and tasting true independence for the first time.
A hundred miles apart and embarking on two very different paths, Jayden feels it is inevitable that time and distance will slowly pull them apart. School relationships, after all, don’t last. Darren disagrees — at first. Love is all they need, and they have weathered harder storms than chasing dreams.
That is until the separation, and the encroaching influence of Jayden’s new friends, begins to take its toll on Darren’s mental state. Alone, he descends in a rapid downward spiral that is finally arrested by one night and a drastic course of action. In the wake of a single unanswered phone call, Jayden learns that time and distance have the power to do much more than break a relationship.
The dream is over — and the reality is far, far worse.
Review: Jayden and Darren are back, this time facing new hurdles to their growing relationship and maturing lives. This story would be about the usual young love, tested by time and distance, which the odds are stacked against, but add to that one partner suffering from depression and you have even more trouble. Both fight an inner conflict about the distance college and job training are now putting between them as Jayden goes off to his dream of studying at Cambridge and Darren moves farther south to train as a crime scene investigator with the police force. They both know the odds, both Jayden and Darren struggle inwardly about whether or not it would just be better to break up now, instead of a slow drift apart. Even new friends suggest that high school love doesn’t last beyond college. But Darrin is determined to make it work, and Jayden is in love and can’t fold either. The pressure of new friends and the crazy workload at Cambridge are wearing Jayden down. He feels pressured to fit in with his snobby new friends and feels the distance between him and Darren grows each painful day.
Darren feels his depression creeping in, even the on the job training demands can’t keep him distracted, he’s starting to feel numb, even to the pain of Jayden drifting away. This story seems darker than Vivaldi in the Dark does, at least for me it brought me down to some very emotional lows. I held very little hope for the young couple, and became frustrated with the lack of coping mechanisms Darren had, not to mention how spineless Jayden became without him.
Parts of the story seemed to slow down and get drawn out, become …well….depressing. Which is kinda what the books is all about. Unfortunately, the main characters don’t pull their heads out of their bums in time to avoid a very tragic incident. Don’t worry though, the ending will satisfy you…but I think there’s more in store for our maturing couple.
This was yet another very well written story, very smooth, and the transitions in POV were clear. The sexual content is appropriate for YA readers, it’s intimate, but it’s vague. I felt the distance between Jayden and Darrin, and I felt the frustration too, the writing was most successful at that. I’m glad that in the end, Darren and Jayden didn’t just learn to cope with Darren’s depression. They took steps to learn to treat it. Empowering and encouraging!
Blurb: Born female, all Jordan wants is to slip under the radar and live the last year of high school as a boy. His parents and siblings support him, but he’d rather be recognized for his acting and musical talents than his gender issues.
When Shakespeare’s Puck gives him three magical potions—true sight, true seeming, and true love—Jordan discovers being true to himself isn’t as simple as he thought.
Jordan must navigate the confusion of first love, a controversial role in the fall musical, and his transgender identity, while fairy magic creates a net of complications over everything he does. In order to unweave the spells laid over his friends—his supportive older brother, James, his playwright friend, Pepper, and Maria, another transgender student—Jordan needs to understand exactly how far he’ll go to reach his goals of finding true love, true sight, and true seeming.
Review: Jordan awakes one night to find the mythical Shakespearean character Puck in his bedroom. The imp hands him three vials, explaining they are charms of “True Sight, True Seeming, and True Love” – and thereby hangs a tale. Jordan is a female to male transgender high school senior. Today he is auditioning for the school play, hoping to secure the role of Puck in a new play written by junior Pepper Sullivan. Pepper, who has caught Jordan’s eye, wants him to play the role of Viola, a woman whom Puck changes into a man, and Jordan’s gender identity dysphoria kicks in and sends him into a panic attack. He wants to turn the role down, but his growing attraction to Pepper convinces him to soldier on.
When it turns out the girl who originally wanted to play Viola decides to throw a fit, get her mother involved. Turning the play, with its controversial gender and sexuality themes, into a school board contention. Jordan, his brother James, Pepper and her brother Paul, James’s girlfriend Brittany and other cast members, including a gay couple, plot to oppose and defeat what they interpret as bigotry. In the meantime, Jordan accidentally unleashes the True Love serum first on his brother and Pepper and then on one of the gay boys and a girl, Jordan’s personal life, plans for transition, the play itself and Jordan’s transgender friend Maria are thrown into turmoil.
In many ways, this novel is the standard, and isn’t it amazing that we’ve advanced to a point where there is such a thing, story of a teen who is in transition in terms of his or her gender identity. Jordan, who has known he is a boy all his life and whose dysphoria resulted in a suicide attempt when he was eleven, is approaching eighteen and besides living as a boy fulltime is about to start taking testosterone injections. His parents have accepted his identity but are fiercely protective, fearing the sort of hatred and violence so common for transgender youth. What Jordan has not worked out yet is how to interact romantically with his remaining female biology, and that seriously complicates his desire to date Pepper, who does not know Jordan is not biologically a boy yet. So far, the usual transgender coming of age is typical and compared to other books an admirable dramatization thereof.
Where IF WE SHADOWS diverges from typical into extraordinary is in two respects, the framework of the play and its heritage in Shakespeare’s use of gender ambiguity and in the impact of the magical, the emergence of the trickster being Puck and his potions. The literary tribute to Shakespeare is brilliantly done, using the two comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night seamlessly and insightfully, exploring ideas that are relevant as much to the modern youth as more subtly to the Elizabethan poet and playwright. The book made this reviewer appreciate anew his exposure to Shakespeare’s plays and world so he could truly appreciate Atwood’s skill at bringing these elements together to create something new and remarkable.
The potions are more a convenient plat device and connection with the play and its appeal than actually necessary’ the influence of the potions, whose efficacy is in doubt, individually and plurally. The same effect could arguably have been managed through less fantastic circumstances, but the author is a fantasy writer and the use of fantasy just makes the story richer and better in its influence from the play.
As a transgender person, this reviewer found a great deal of truth not only in the process of transition but also in Jordan’s hopes and fears. It is extremely difficult to both be the gender you know you are but also cope with the “inconvenient” reality of what Jordan calls “the bits”. On top of that other relevant issues brought forward, how one can be true to oneself without lying to others, such as Jordan’s concern that he is forcing Pepper to make out with a biological girl without knowing it, and how other people’s reactions can be so unpredictable from moment to moment. The book does not shy away from the fact that potential violence is part of every transgender person’s life, mentioning the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a memorial for people attacked and murdered or who committed suicide purely because their brains’ and bodies’ don’t match.
This reviewer has been impressed with the quality of YA transgender novels that have come out over the past few years. Atwood’s IF WE SHADOWS stands out for its intelligence and its artistry with the use of Shakespearean and fantasy themes.