Tag Archives: YA

5 Star Review for Finding Shawn (Dangerous Lives of High School Athletes #1) by Phil Marcello #MM #YA

FindingShawn_600x956Title: Finding Shawn (Dangerous Lives of High School Athletes #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Phil Marcello (Wayward Ink Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: March 10, 2016 – 178 pgs

Synopsis

BOOK ONE: DANGEROUS LIVES OF HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES

Shawn and Alex have been friends since first grade.

Alex, the rock star quarterback, appears to be basking in the limelight of his success and his new romance with Pam. But appearances can be deceiving.

Shawn is the key man in the football team’s solid defense. He’s also the senior class’ most eligible bachelor. But Shawn has no time to get involved with a girl—at least, that’s what he tells his friends.

In reality, he does have a love interest… Tony Valito.

Side-by-side, the relationships between the two couples blossom. One in the open. The other in secret. That is, until Shawn’s world erupts when the rumor that he’s gay gathers momentum.

In trying to find Shawn, perhaps his friends will end up finding themselves. And everyone will discover how dangerous are the lives of high school athletes.

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Review
FiveStarsThis book is as nothing like I expected it to be but so much more.

Bullying is such a huge problem in our world today and then you have the ones that are bullied. In the case of this book it was Tony. Tony is gay and he is not an athlete so in the bullies opinions he is the easy target. It is aweful the things that Peter and Dan do to him but what is worse is the number of people who stand around and watch and do nothing. I think that is the catalyst of the escalating problem in this story.

Shawn is also a main character in this book and he has his owe secrets to hide but not because he is ashamed of who he is but because he knows how his father will react. And reality is that he does react badly to finding out his son is gay but realizes almost immediately that he reacted the wrong way when Shawn disappears.

This is where the real troubles begin. Not only for Tony but Shawn. Their lives are in danger but the question is will they be found in time or will it be too late.

Phil Macello did an excellent job at writing this book and making it very believable. Phil was able to instill the emotions of not only the situation but also of the characters, not just the main characters either but each character in the book. This was a very sad but touching story and very well written at the same time. I cannot wait for book two to come out. This was an amazing read and I hope many more will read it and feel the same as I do.

Tosha

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5 Star and 4 Star Reviews for Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me by Becky Jerams @beckyjerams #MM #YA

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Title: Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me
Author Name & Publisher: Becky Jerams
Publication Date & Length: October 12, 2015 — 508 pages

Synopsis

Scotty Williams is the nerdiest 17-year-old at Havensdale College – and proud of it. However being a nerd can have its downsides, particularly when you’re constantly being targeted by the school bully Taylor Raven and his cronies. As Scotty tries to navigate his final college years with the aid of his best friend Olive, he also finds himself on the radar of the mysterious and intimidating Vincent Hunter, toughest guy in the Sixth Form. Is Vincent really as bad as he seems? Will Scotty’s darkest secret ever be revealed? Can he ever just finish his last few college years in peace? But most importantly… will any guy ever find the reasons to love a nerd like him?

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Review

FiveStars

This turned out to be a really good story about the trails and tribulations that some of the youth face in today’s time.

This is a book about the school jock in the closest but in love with the nerd. Instead of be brave he is cruel to him and turns the time they spent together into nothing but a bad memory.

Then there is the school bad boy who is also gay but no one knows who falls inlove with the same nerd and becomes his protector from the bad. He light of the nerds life. His best friend. And his love.

Scotty in my opinion is just trying to make it till the end of his high school days in one piece. It is like he has so many different people coming at him from different directions he does not know which way to turn.

Vincent has got to be my favorite character in the book. He acts bed but really he is a good guy. He is strong from all that life has thrown at him and he is not scared to take a risk with Scotty. But he is scared of being betrayed.

These two really do make an awesome couple and once they learn to communicate they are really an amazing couple that will probably make it a long way together.

As I said this a book about young adults finding their way the best they know how. With all the bumps along the way.

Tosha

FourStars

Triggers: Bullying, Abuse

This is a sweet YA story.  There is so much drama that you can’t help but laugh and remember high school.  Despite them calling their school college, I still felt that they were high schoolers in maturity.  Scotty and Olive and the fearsome twosome – they would die for each other and protect each other with such a fierceness that you don’t think anything will ever change their relationship.

Then you have the dynamic between Scotty and his nemesis, Taylor.  I really disliked Taylor and his evil ways.  However, throughout the story, you’re able to see Taylor evolve in to something other than the mean, immature, moronic teen that he started as.  I liked that Jerams showed a very clear progression of Taylor maturing.  That being said, in the end, the reader was able to know Taylor really well and I appreciated that his story wasn’t left behind.  Yes, it was secondary, but without it, this story would not have been as good as it was.

Vincent is another enigma in this story.  He is dangerous, mysterious, sad, broody and the all around high school bad boy.  He’s a guitar player, singer, friend adn confidant.  However, he is also still, just in high school and thus prone to stupidity just like everyone else.  His sidekick is somewhat scary and I picture her more as a goth than what she’s described as.  She’s also scary and a little possessive, but has a very fierce devotion to Vincent, just like Olive and Scotty’s relationship.

Throughout the story, I was constantly thinking, “this is it, the secret is going to come out now” or “come on Scotty! Grow a pair!!!”.  It was frustrating, sweet, sad and emotional, but in the end, it was just the story that was meant to be told. I really enjoyed it.  It was a coming of age, accepting who you are, leaning to love and all the other things that come with growing up and going through high school.

~AvidReader

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5 Star, 3.5 Star and 3 Star Reviews for Fall by Michelle Chow #MM #Paranormal #Romance @LT3Press

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Title: Fall
Author Name & Publisher: Michelle Chow (Less Than Three)
Publication Date & Length: April 20, 2016 — 99 pages

Synopsis

Jeremy’s always looked after his little brother, Callum, and it’s his responsibility to make sure he’s safe. When Callum wanders too far into the woods, and finds himself at the mercy of two wolf shifters, Jeremy’s forced to act quickly.

It’s not ideal waking up in a strange house, with two shifters that scare him more than he’ll admit, but it’s temporary. Or it should be, until Jeremy realises getting rid of the wolves is far easier said than done.

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Review

ThreeandHalfStars

This was a cute story. More of a young adult read than romance, although it had a romantic theme. This is more about opposites attract and learning to just be who you are.

 

The story flowed well. There wasn’t much if any drama, unless you wanted to count Callum, the younger brother of Jeremy. Towards the end though, Callum explains why he does what he does and it all makes sense and you melt a little for Callum. Jeremy was pretty much in his cat form the whole story (for a very good reason), and his best friend Duke is human. Not being able to converse while Jeremy was in cat form, their conversations at times made me giggle. Sam who is a wolf shifter, was such a young gentleman that my heart tugged for him even before he mentions his family and growing up. I wanted Sam and Jeremy to have their HEA and I wasn’t disappointed.

 

This was a short simple story of boy meets boy, boy likes boy, boy gets his boy, and they live happily ever after without drama. There were no kissing or physical scenes. The ending (a span of 7 years) was quite rushed and was told in 3 short paragraphs. It did make you smile and giggle though.

~Keri

FiveStars

This turned out to be a really good short story. It is a definitely a book about opposites attract. And add in the fact that it is about shifters and you have a winner.

Jeremy is a shifter bob cat that follows his parents rules and tries not to rock the boat when they say not to do something. His little brother Callum is the opposite and does whatever he feels like doing which usually lands them both in trouble cause being a good big brother Jeremy will not leave his brother behind or left to get hurt. That is exactly how they meet Thom and Sam.

Thom and Sam are shifter wolfs and Jeremy’s parents have always told the boys to stay away from them because shifter wolves are dangerous. Stay out of the woods because shifter wolves are territorial. But Callum being Callum does not heed the warning and that is where the trouble begins and how all four boys meet. While I guess I should say five boys because Duke (Jeremy’s best friend) meets the wolf shifters because of Callum doing what he was not supposed to do.

This was a very interesting story because it is the perfect example of when a boy likes a boy he picks on said boy to show him he likes him. It is such a cute story and I really enjoyed it. It was very refreshing. For a while I wondered who was going to end up a couple in the end but I was very pleased with the way it turned out. Very good short story.

~Tosha

ThreeStar

Fall has an interesting premise and great potential in the beginning. But there were things about the book that turned me off the further I got into it.

I was engaged right away by the unique start to the potential romance between Jeremy and Sam. There were some great moments along the way – some cute, some romantic, some moving.

But the story moved along very slowly, and it was hard to stay interested. Things pick up near the end, but then the actual ending feels very abrupt. I feel like if the first half of the book was condensed and the ending was fleshed out, then this would be a great story.

If you’re looking for a unique paranormal romance you might like this book. As there is no sexual content, I wouldn’t recommend this to someone looking for an erotic romance.

Amanda

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NEW RELEASE! 5 stars for Spy Stuff by Matthew J. Metzger @MatthewJMetzger #MM #YA

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Title: Spy Stuff
Author Name & Publisher: Matthew J. Metzger (JMS Books)
Publication Date & Length: May 1, 2016 — 226 Pages

Synopsis

Anton never thought anyone would ever want to date him. Everyone knows nobody wants a transgender boyfriend, right? So he’s as shocked as anyone when seemingly-straight Jude Kalinowski asks him out, and doesn’t appear to be joking.

The only problem is … well, Jude doesn’t actually know.

Anton can see how this will play out: Jude is a nice guy, and nice guys finish last. And Anton is transgender, and transgender people don’t get happy endings. If he tells Jude, it might destroy everything.

And if Jude tells anyone else … it will.

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Review

 FiveStars

Transition is difficult and complex. Change often makes us feel betrayed.
Anton is transitioning from living as a girl to living as a boy and simultaneously transitioning from having a female body (a prison) to a male body (liberation). Jude is transitioning from a regular bloke to something more. They’re both transitioning to adulthood. Society around them is transitioning too, becoming more open and tolerant. But what does it actually mean to be tolerant? This YA problem novel touches on the eternal question: Is it better to treat people as special or as not!special?
Matthew J. Metzger handles what could be tedious, harrowing, or upsetting with cheer and kindness. There’s no melodrama here. The idea that YA means “immature” or “histrionic” draws in many an author, but not Metzger. He’s presenting normalcy as it should exist. Whether it truly exists in the real world is a question he dismisses, instead presenting us this British-ese utopia where bad things happen but they’re always overcome. This novel is drenched in shades of gray.
It’s delightful novel. Funny and humorous and foreign (as I’m an American reader), the protagonist Anton is presented as someone in control of his own destiny, and capable of dealing with his emotions, his family, and his new boyfriend. Jude reminds us that open-mindness is not just a state of being, but deliberate action, and taking risks with our hearts.
There are the usual bad parents, but there’s no “Us v. Them” mentality, there is violence, but there’s no victimization.
There’s also quite a bit of sex for two fifteen year olds. That’s the other YA question: How do you deal with sexuality issues (and the implications of gender) without dealing with sex? So, there’s sex. It’s cheery and funny and mature, too.
If you’ve been generally supportive of LGBT rights but feel trepidation at what that entails for YA literature, Spy Stuff is the book for you. Metzger is as gentle with his audience as he is with his characters. I enjoyed every word.
~C. E. Case

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NEW RELEASE: 5 stars for Rufus & Syd by Robin Lippincott & Julie Watts #MM #Romance @HarmonyInkPress

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Title: Rufus & Syd
Author Name & Publisher: Robin Lippincott & Julia Watts (Harmony Ink)
Publication Date & Length: May 5, 2016 — 204 Pages

Synopsis

The world is big and changing, but Vermillion, Georgia, like so many small towns, exists in a time warp. Rufus—a fifteen-year-old budding painter with flame-red hair—is so pale and skinny that one of his nicknames is “Matchstick.” He is also gay and a synesthete, with right-wing Christian parents. Syd—spiky-haired, smart-mouthed, and tired of having to act like a parent to her own mother—isn’t sure what she’s into, except for old movies, black eyeliner, and black coffee.

When Rufus and Syd find one another, they start finding themselves too, with the unlikely help of two Vermillion natives—Josephine, an old bohemian, who for many years ran a repertory cinema in Chicago with her late husband, and Cole, a middle-aged gay man suffering from brain damage due to the horrific hate crime perpetrated against him in his youth.

When the pressures of small-town life in the Bible Belt begin to build, Rufus and Syd, proud atheists, need the strength they’ve found together to survive.

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Review

 FiveStarsThis quirky, irreverent and perfectly observed book is a story for every kid who just doesn’t belong in the Bible Belt.  Alternately narrated by Rufus, a skinny ginger artist and Syd, a newcomer from the wrong side of the tracks, both voices are witty, sarcastic and uncomfortably honest.   Both Syd and Rufus are desperately lonely but unable and unwilling to attempt to fit in with their peers.
I love the unlikely friendships Syd and Rufus forge with the other outsiders in their small town and I love their passionate plans to “get out” of the same small town.  Syd and Rufus’ judgemental observations of their hometown are uncomfortably accurate and beautifully written.
As a fellow escapee from the Bible Belt, this book resonated as truthful, honest and hopeful.  I wish I’d had access to writing like this as a teen and I hope it offers hope of a more vibrant future to small town misfits everywhere.  
But this isn’t an inspiring Hallmark Channel movie.  These kids are sarcastic, irreverent and delightfully flawed.  At their worst, Syd and Rufus are bitchy and judgmental.  And while this story offers hope, it refrains from happily-ever-afters.  I loved it and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  

~Sarah

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5 stars for Fjord Blue by Nina Rossing @ninarossing #MM #YA #Romance @Dreamspinners

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Title: Fjord Blue
Author Name & Publisher: Nina Rossing (Harmony Ink Press)
Publication Date & Length: March 10, 2016 — 256 Pages

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Benjamin is shipped off to work on his grandparents’ remote farm in the fjords of Western Norway for the summer. It’s not like he didn’t deserve it. After all, he crashed his dad’s vintage Bonneville in a car-chase duel on a Miami freeway. Ben is mad at the world and not ready to reveal the reason for his bad behavior the past year, when he partied and got into fights to forget his attraction to his best friend’s hot cousin Dino.

Norway is cold and rainy, the farm is desolate and resists modernization, and the grandparents are quiet and religious. On to the scene waltzes Even, the eighteen-year-old farmhand, who counters Ben’s restlessness and complaints with friendship, fresh perspectives, and problems of his own.

With the mounting expectations of Ben taking over the farm one day, getting closer to Even becomes Ben’s only reason to stay put. As the friendship deepens, the two boys learn that secrets can turn into both beautiful and ugly truths, and that support can be found in unexpected places.

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Review

FiveStars

What a fantastic book!  I am so jealous of the young adult books that today’s teens have access to.  Gone are the preachy, condescending books of my own youth and in their place are stories by writers like Nina Rossing.  Here, her protagonist isn’t terribly likeable, the adults in his life are flawed but human and this is more a story of the challenges of growing up than morality tale of any sort.  

While it took me a good while to love Ben, I loved the story of the Cuban American/Norwegian boy from Miami who is sent to live with his traditional Norwegian grandparents after crashing his father’s classic car.  Ben’s parents and grandparents are refreshingly well developed and surprisingly unpredictable.  Even, his co-worker is a complex and confusing love interest for Ben, struggling with his own issues and just as insecure as Ben in many ways.  

Fans of John Green and David Levithan will enjoy these complex characters but this is a quieter, more thoughtful book. Neither Even or Ben is inclined towards precocious literary references or clever musings about the meaning of life.  For me, the subtlety of the relationships and the stilted conversations here are more real and Ben’s flickering self confidence resonates more deeply.  

The Norwegian setting is wonderful.  Isolated and austere, the contrast with Miami is sharp and the quiet environs and hard physical labour force Ben to grow up and confront some harsh truths.

And the romance.  Somehow, Nina Rossing has perfectly captured the magic of a first crush, a summer romance and all the heightened sensations that come with first experiences.  While the sexual content isn’t graphic, it is moving and the relationship between the two young men is just beautiful.

~Sarah

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4 stars for The Space Between by Michelle L. Teichman @MLTeichman #YA #FF #Romance #lesfic

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Title: The Space Between
Author Name & Publisher: Michelle L. Teichman (Ylva)
Publication Date & Length: March 2, 2016 — 298 Pages

Synopsis

Everything’s great for Harper Isabelle, the most popular girl in grade nine. That is, until she meets Sarah Jamieson. Sarah is a reclusive artist, a loner who wears black makeup and doesn’t have any friends, but for some reason, Harper can’t stop thinking about her.
Sarah isn’t used to people looking her way, especially popular girls like Harper Isabelle. Scared, religious, and unsure of herself, when Sarah begins to realize that her feelings for Harper might go beyond friendship, she is afraid to take the plunge and tell Harper how she feels.
Emotions build between these young women until they both reach their breaking points, and they need to make a choice about coming to terms with who they really are, and what they can and cannot live without.

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Review

FourStars

We meet Harper and Sarah in this sweet story. Harper is one of the most popular girls in school and Sarah is her exact opposite. The two meet and neither can deny the connection that they feel; however, high school is a cruel place and neither of their parents would welcome the news that their daughter had a girlfriend.

 

This story is a lovely coming of age story about figuring out who you are and having the courage to go after what you want. I loved getting to know Harper and Sarah and watch their story unfold. I had hoped from the beginning that everything would turn out alright for them.

 

I saw a bit of myself in Sarah; questioning your feelings and assuming that something must be wrong with you because of your feelings, the hesitance to be who you are because of your family’s religious beliefs, and giving up someone that could have made you the happiest person because of the fear and confusion you feel.

 

I would have liked to know a little more about how Sarah’s family had reacted. Especially given that the last chapter is after high school. Even a sentence or two about it would have worked.

 

All-in-all it was a well written and engaging young adult romance that I most certainly recommend. Well done!

~Tori

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