Tag Archives: YA

New Release: Tearing Us Apart by Amanda Clay #YA @aclaywrites

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Title: Tearing Us Apart
Author Name & Publisher: Amanda Clay (Torquere Books)
Publication Date & Length: October 21, 2015 – 50,000 Words

Synopsis

Julian Pham is surviving high school. Openly gay, flamboyantly goth, and Vietnamese-American, he’s just about as different as his Oklahoma City high school can tolerate. He has good friends and a supportive family, which helps, but lately his family is changing and his friends have troubles of their own. Julian is afraid he’s being left behind.

Then he meets Duncan. The star of the school basketball team, Duncan has never crossed Julian’s social path. A fateful encounter one cold night brings the two young men together, igniting a romance that neither of them expected, and that both can scarcely believe.

But Julian and Duncan are in different places. Julian is happily out, unconcerned with others’ opinions. And Duncan, while he knows who he is, isn’t ready to face the challenges of living out loud. Even as the two grow closer together, Julian begins to question whether he can live with Duncan’s desire for secrecy. And even if he can, does that mean he should?

When the crisis of their romance leads to a shocking betrayal, Julian must decide if he will fix this love or tear it apart.

Excerpt

“So,” I say casually, “Have you been down here before?”

“I’ve never been in there!” He’s practically shouting. “I’ve never been any place like that.”

This outburst earns a little frown from me. “So, by ‘that’ I assume you mean a gay club. But I have to ask, just how can the interior of a homosexual establishment be sleazier than hanging out in the alley behind one?”

He doesn’t answer right away, is silent with his jaw clenched long enough for me to brace for a kick in the ribs. But when he speaks, his voice is a defeated whisper.

“I’ve driven down the street a few times. Once I parked but I couldn’t get out of my car.”

I nod, give him a little smile, trying to keep it all light and bubbly despite the shock, amusement, desire, and more shock all swirling around in my head. “Well, you made it out tonight, Duncan Fisher, so that’s a celebration right there. Shall we go into the Wreck together? Maybe dance a step or two?”

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4 Stars for A Man’s Man by Genta Sebastian #YA #MM @GentaSebastian

1.2

Title: A Man’s Man
Author Name: Genta Sebastian
Publication Date & Length: June 19, 2015 – 174 pgs

Synopsis

“It’s like this, see. My dad’s a fag, his boyfriend’s a queer, and I think I might be gay. I mean, I think it’s catching or something.” When thirteen year old R.J. decides to turn his dad straight, unintended consequences mess everything up. His father is miserable, the kids at school hate him, and his best friend Jessica is furious. To make things right he will have to figure out for himself what it means to be A Man’s Man. (For readers age 12-16)

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Review

FourStars

I had a difficult time liking this book.  I gave it 4 stars because it was well written, but I think I had a hard time with this story because of how much prejudice was inserted.  I get the coming of age concept and that RJ had to fight through his insecurities, but it was the malicious intent throughout this book that I had a hard time with.

I guess I would say that Sebastian did an excellent job at provoking me.  I enjoyed Jessica and her mom immensely and they were what held this book together for me.

I wish that I would have been able to read the dialogue between Stephen and Robert – I felt that not having their conversation was a huge hole in the story.

Overall, this was a good story of someone coming of age – working through their own prejudices.

AvidReader

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New Release: Fiery by Alyssa Astra #Trans #YA #FF @AlyssaAstra

1.5

Title: Fiery
Author Name & Publisher: Alyssa Astra (Torquere Books)
Publication Date & Length: September 23, 2015 – 70,000 Words

Synopsis

Aiden Adams, a transgender teen, begins writing in a journal when he moves to a new town named Ashmore and begins “passing.” He is counting on everyone to believe that he is the every bit the male he appears to be. Writing in his journal helps him unclog his brain as he writes about the daily struggles he faces as a transgender teenager, his painful past that he is trying to forget, the new friends he is making, and the beautiful girl named Abby whom he has fallen in love with. Aiden has already come out to his open-minded mother, but will Abby be just as understanding?

When Aiden loses his journal, he worries that the secret he is trying so desperately to keep will come out. And if it does, how will everyone react? Will Abby be able to cope with everyone knowing that he is transgender? Will his new friends accept Aiden for who he really is—a boy—or will everything fall apart?

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Excerpt

The beautiful eyes belong to the beautiful girl from the library. The one I notice every day for one reason or another. The one I sketched on a page in my journal. I’m such a creep.

“Hi,” she says loudly.

I take out my earbuds and turn off my radio that’s still in my pocket. “Hi,” I say back.

She’s on one knee to be eye-level with me, but she spins and sits down beside me, really close. Wait a minute…

SHE’S GOT ON THE COOLEST BOOTS!

They’re shiny black leather and they go up to her knees. The bottom of them is a three-inch platform, all clunky and sexy—I mean cool. She has black skinny jeans tucked into them.

“I just wanted to make sure you were alive,” the girl says. “Why are you all the way over here, by yourself?”

“I don’t know anyone,” I admit.

She holds out her right hand. “I’m Abby Abernathy.”

I grasp her hand. Handshakes are always awkward. Her hand is really warm or mine is really cold.

“I’m Aiden Adams.”

“Nice to meet you—now you know someone.” She smiles.

“I guess I do.”

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THREE 4 Stars for New Release: A Story of Now by Emily O’Beirne #FF #NA

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Title: A Story of Now (A Story of Now #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Emily O’Beirne (Yiva Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: July 11, 2015 – 388 pgs

Synopsis

Nineteen-year-old Claire Pearson knows she needs a life. And some new friends.

But brittle, beautiful, and just a little bit too sassy for her own good sometimes, she no longer makes friends easily. And she has no clue where to start on the whole finding a life front, either. Not after a confidence-shattering year dogged by bad break-ups, friends who have become strangers, and her constant failure to meet her parents sky-high expectations.

When Robbie and Mia walk into Claire’s work they seem the least likely people to help her find a life. But despite Claire’s initial attempts to alienate them, an unexpected new friendship develops.
And it’s the warm, brilliant Mia who seems to get Claire like no one has before. Soon, Claire begins to question her feelings for her new friend.

The sequel, The Sum of These Things, will be released in late 2015. Paperback available July 15.

Length: approx. 140,000
Themes: Australia, lesbian, Melbourne, young adult, new adult

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 Review
FourStars
This is a very unhurried novel that appears to deliberately keep the emotions of the main two characters on a slow yet progressive awakening. Both young women have very different dispositions to one another. This carries over to their individual families and friends, in fact every aspect of each of their lives.
The novel is really well written and one I feel that many can and will identify with. Moving into the adult world, changing friendship groups, adapting family relationships and most of all evolving and realising just who we are and taking the first step on where we are heading.
Both women realise their worlds are changing around them, their emotions for each other are deepening and the insecurities and fears that come with this are all consuming and strange yet powerful new life has to be faced. Each woman learns to handle these new feelings and emotions in their own individual way.
As they each recognize and admit  their growing and intense feelings for each other, each handling it in their own individual and respective manner,  they both accept  the possibilities that their future together may hold.
A really interesting and well put together book, one which I feel many can relate too and understand. I am sure a sequel will really enhance this magnetic relationship, which the author has successfully established.
Chris
FourStars

3-1/2 to 4 stars (and yes, I’ll explain my wishy-washy rating)

This was a difficult book for me to rate, because how I feel about the first half of the book is vastly different from how I feel about the second half of the book. But let me take things in order. First and foremost, I hate the POV in this book. I love the third person POV – it’s my favorite! But I found myself extremely annoyed by the fact that it was written in the present tense. Now, at about 20% of the way into the book, I finally clued in to the literary device that connects the title with the style. And that was good for me. I’m sure most people would’ve clued in within the first five to ten pages, but high school was over twenty years ago for me so I feel pretty good that I can still be considered a semi-literate ape. It also connects to that transitional phase between high school and college, between teenager and adult, and the transitory nature of the turbulent feelings that period of time can engender. That all said, I still hated it. Every time I picked up the book, I felt like there was a tiny Rod Sterling in my head, narrating things for me. Probably not a problem for those younger than igneous rock.
So, on to the first half of the book. I had a great deal of trouble getting through this part. O’Beirne does an absolutely excellent job at capturing the sort of directionless apathy that a great many people go through during this time of their lives. Heck, I’m in my forties and I still feel like I don’t know what I want to do with my life. And Claire brought all of that into crystal clear focus for me. I remember exactly that sort of paralysis of motivation when I was her age. My problem was, that even with the superb writing, nothing really happens in the first half of the book. It was long, interminable, actually, and I found myself putting the book down and reading others in between. Her characters did capture my interest, and I did find myself thinking about the book again and again, but if I wasn’t actually reading the book for review, I might not have picked it back up. So my most generous rating for the first half of the book is 3 stars.

Then I got to the last half of the book.

The last half of the book more than made up for the first half. Here, the fact that O’Beirne somehow wrote all of those emotions that perfectly describe the terror and wonder and absolute joy of the first time someone has sex with someone who matters make the whole book. And the fact that she perfectly captures the insecurity of wanting it to mean more but not being sure how the other person felt about it and being too scared to ask, shows me that not only does she get it, but that those feelings must be universal. I loved that Claire, so unsure about where she wanted to go in life, was the one who was absolutely certain that she did not want to lose this relationship. And that she was able to completely understand how Mia kept talking herself in to not believing it could happen, because she kept trying to do the same thing. This part of the book would make me recommend this book to anybody. So the rating for this half would be somewhere between 4 and 5 stars, depending on which part I’m rhapsodizing about at the moment you asked me.

This book totally sucked me in, and made me care about the characters inside. So yes, at the end of the book, I find myself glad that I read the whole thing. But it took too long to get there. And I am uncertain whether I’d pick up the sequel, even though I find myself curious about what happens next.

Amy P
FourStars
This book had my attention fairly quickly and I caught myself silently (and sometimes not so silently) commenting on every character that crossed paths with Claire through her journey. The story and plot was unhurried while managing to maintain my interest, something I enjoyed immensely. Mia captured my heart immediately and I spent the book just wanting to hug them both, or occasionally feeling like slapping them both upside the head so they would get a clue. The slow progression of give and take between the two girls should have been frustrating but I almost didn’t notice because they were so adorable and humorous together it made it all worth the wait.
Claire’s frequent internal dialog made me smile, often allowing me a moment of laughter in scenes which would otherwise have been frustrating. The writing was strong with solid movement in the story and clean formatting which made it easy to read. I would definitely recommend this book to someone looking for a sweet romance with substance.
Rhayne

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5 stars for Coming Out Catholic by Alex Dunkin @AlexDunkin #MM #YA #Catholic #ComingOut

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Title: Coming Out Catholic
Author Name & Publisher: Alex Dunkin (Torquere Press/Prizm Books)
Publication Date: May 27, 2015

Synopsis

Like all good Catholic boys I care what Jesus thinks. Jesus the man, and the faith. Following him make me happy. There’s just one issue… I think I’m gay. Well, it’s hard to be sure going to an all-boys school. It could be simply liking what I know and really, oh so very, liking what I see all day, guys. Being gay and Catholic can’t possible work together. Can it?

Coming Out Catholic follows a year in the life of a private Catholic school student as he comes to terms with his sexuality. Armed with sarcasm and his best friend Mark, he prepares to take on the school thug and the awkward social encounters plaguing his late teenage years.

Confronting himself and his family are just the beginning of his trials. He learns he must find solace with his sexual desires without surrendering any of his faith. He loves both too much but when the time comes he will have to know which one he has to give up or prepare to succumb to a life of denial.

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ReviewFiveStarsWhat a fantastic read. This hit every high point to make a perfect adolescent journey of self-discovery.

The main character (who is never given a name, lending itself well to the “every boy” feel) is the right combination of largely likable, sometimes irritating, and now and again downright exasperating. He’s so easy to root for as he works through his challenges.

I loved the cast of supporting characters. It was fantastic how in a story set at an all-boys school and featuring a gay main character, even the girls/women were well-rounded. None fell into the too-common tropes. And I absolutely loved Mark, who is the ideal best friend. I really want to read more about him, as I think his own coming to terms with himself and his sexuality would make a much-needed read.

If nothing else, this was worth it for the huge surprise at the end, which I won’t spoil. I was utterly delighted! The payoff, and the lessons learned, were worth the wait.

Everything about this was wonderful. From nail-biting moments at each new coming out to cringing over various dating misadventures to holding my sides while I laughed myself silly, this was quite a ride. Every teen—regardless of orientation—should read this book. Simply marvelous.

~Amy

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5 Stars for Out of Order by Casey Lawrence #FF @dreamspinners

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Title: Out of Order
Author Name & Publisher: Casey Lawrence (Harmony Ink Press)
Publication Date & Length: March 21, 2015 – 180 pgs

Synopsis

Corinna “Corey” Nguyen’s life seems perfectly average for a closeted bisexual whiz kid with her eyes on college and a budding romance with her friend Kate. Sixteen and navigating senior year with her tight-knit group of best friends through crushes, breakups, and pregnancy scares, Corey mistakenly believes that running for valedictorian and choosing the right college are the worst of her worries. That is, until prom night, when she’s left alone and in shock, hiding inside a diner restroom, the only witness to a multiple homicide.

With graduation looming, the pressure is on for Corey to identify the killer and ensure that the crime that has changed her life forever will not go unpunished.

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Review

FiveStars

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book so fast cover to cover in my life. I couldn’t put this down. Everything, from the narrative structure to the scattered clues throughout, held my interest, page after page.

I loved the main character’s voice. I often dislike the way adolescents are written as fairly self-absorbed and unsympathetic or else completely victims of their circumstances. Corinna (and her friends as well, but it’s written first person) was neither of those. She was complex and interesting, probably one of the best young narrators I’ve read in a long time.

There isn’t much I can say about the plot that wouldn’t be spoilers. The timeline was interesting, with the whole story told in flashbacks. Each one provided one more piece to the puzzle. It was very well done, with enough clues to draw readers in but not so many as to  give everything away too soon.

This is a fantastic book, and there is no doubt I will be sharing it with my kids when they’re old enough to understand the complex themes and content.

Amy

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4 stars for The Boys on the Mountain by John Inman #MM #horror @dreamspinners

Boys on the Mountain

Title: The Boys on the Mountain
Author Name: John Inman
Publication Date & Length: May 12, 2015 — 330 Pages

Synopsis

Jim Brandon has a new house, and boy, is it a pip. Built high on the side of the San Diego mountains by a legendary B-movie actor of the 1930s, Nigel Letters, the house is not only gorgeous, but supposedly haunted. As a writer of horror novels, Jim couldn’t be happier.

But after a string of ghostly events sets Jim’s teeth on edge and scares the bejesus out of his dog, Jim begins to dig into the house’s history. What he finds is enough to creep out anybody. Even Jim. It seems long dead Nigel Letters had a few nasty habits back in his day. And unhappily for Jim, the old bastard still has some tricks up his sleeve.

As Jim welcomes his ex, Michael, and a bevy of old friends for a two-week visit to help christen the new house, he soon realizes his old friends aren’t the only visitors who have come to call.

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Review

FourStars

Part horror, part comedy, part murder investigation, this is a gory, terrifying ride. A writer buys the beautiful art-deco home of a Hollywood legend – only to discover that the stories surrounding his new home just might be true.

 

While Inman retains many traditional horror conventions, his cast is unconventional. James invites his best friends to stay with him in the house: a bitchy group of middle aged men from LA. They are joined by a flamingly camp seamstress and an octogenarian on day release from her care home. Between cocktails and poltergeists, James slow unravels his new home’s secrets.

 

This is the strangest, yet most compelling book I’ve read in a long time. I still can’t decide whether I enjoyed it – but I certainly couldn’t put it down. The plot dragged in parts, raced in others and time shifts didn’t always work – but the dialogue and characters were brilliant.

 

I will warn readers – if you can accept the ending, don’t read the epilogue!

~Sarah

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 AuthorBio

John has been writing fiction for as long as he can remember. Born on a small farm in Indiana, he now resides in San Diego, California where he spends his time gardening, pampering his pets, hiking and biking the trails and canyons of San Diego, and of course, writing. He and his partner share a passion for theater, books, film, and the continuing fight for marriage equality.

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