Camp by L.C. Rosen Book Review

Author Information

Lev Rosen is the author of books for all ages. Two for adults: All Men of Genius (Amazon Best of the Month, Audie Award Finalist) and Depth (Amazon Best of the Year, Shamus Award Finalist, Kirkus Best Science Fiction for April). Two middle-grade books: Woundabout (illustrated by his brother, Ellis Rosen), and The Memory Wall. And two young adult novels: Jack of Hearts (and other parts) (American Library Association Rainbow List Top 10 of 2018) and Camp (School Library Journal Best Books of 2020, Elle Magazine Best Books of 2020). His books have been translated into different languages and sold around the world, nominated for awards and featured on many best of the year lists.

Lev is originally from lower Manhattan and now lives in even lower Manhattan, right at the edge, with his husband and very small cat. You can find him online at LevACRosen.com and @LevACRosen

Book Description

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is? 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I read this one as it was a pick for one of the book clubs that I am a part of. It was one that was already on my shelves so I was glad to have a reason to read it.

This story reminded me of the time that I went to Trans camp and how that made me finally feel at home and at ease with who I am. I love the idea of LGBTQ+ kids getting a space where they are free to be who they are amongst others who are also like them.

When I first started this book there were so many times that I was annoyed with it and the stereotypes that were being shown. It felt that the whole thing was stereotypes and trying to go through so many tropes in a few pages. I was also worried that we would see a lot of stereotypes and problematic behavior without any commentary on it. I was pleased that this shifted mid way through the book as Randy gets called out for his plan and things between him and Hudson shift as the truth is revealed.

I liked that this book focuses on toxic masculinity within the gay community as well as internalized homophobia. The book doesn’t straight out say that that’s what it is addressing which is something that I like. These topics get addressed through conversations that Randy has with Hudson and conversations that he has with his friends. I like that there isn’t a sudden shift in the way Hudson’s parents think because it makes the story relatable.

I teared up at the conversation that Connie has with Randy about Hudson and his parents. It was just so real and relatable. I really felt for Hudson as he shifts back into someone his parents are more comfortable with for his safety and well-being back at home.

Characters: I really enjoyed all of the characters that you meet throughout this story even if Hudson and Randy would annoy me at times. There were times that I just couldn’t stand Randy at the beginning of the story and halfway through as well. My feelings towards Randy shift as he develops as a character and begins to understand where he went wrong.

I love that each of these characters learns more about themselves as the story goes on and we learn more about them. I love that they change throughout the course of this book and they aren’t one dimensional. I really enjoyed the side characters throughout this book and thought that they really added complexity to the story. I like the side story between George and Brad, as well as Ashleigh and Paz.

Something else I loved is that we get a demisexual character in this story. I have yet to read a book that has a demisexual character so it was really nice to see my sexuality represented.

Writing Style: The story is told in first person through the perspective of Randy which is something that I like because we don’t really get into the other’s thoughts. I like that when there is problems occurring we only get to see Randy’s side and feelings because it makes you angrier with him. I think it is good that we don’t get to really sympathize with Hudson until later on and we don’t find him a likeable character immediately. Well at least I didn’t find him likeable as it seemed he was trying to trick Randy into something Randy wasn’t ready for.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo Book Review

Author Information

Malinda Lo is the critically acclaimed author of several young adult books, including most recently the historical novel Last Night at the Telegraph Club. Malinda’s debut novel, Ash, a lesbian retelling of Cinderella, was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, the Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and the Lambda Literary Award for Children’s/Young Adult, and was a Kirkus 2009 Best Book for Children and Teens.

She has been a three-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, and her novels have been selected for many best-of lists, including the American Library Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults, the ALA’s Rainbow List, Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Books, the Amelia Bloomer Project List, the Locus Recommended Reading List, and the James Tiptree Jr. Longlist. Malinda’s short fiction and nonfiction has been published by The New York Times, Autostraddle, Foreshadow, The New York Times Book Review, NPR, The Toast, The Horn Book, and multiple anthologies.

Before she became a novelist, Malinda was an economics major, an editorial assistant, a graduate student, and an entertainment reporter. She was awarded the 2006 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Journalism by the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association for her work at AfterEllen. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and has master’s degrees from Harvard and Stanford Universities. She lives in Massachusetts with her partner and their dog.

Book Description

Acclaimed author of Ash Malinda Lo returns with her most personal and ambitious novel yet, a gripping story of love and duty set in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the Red Scare.

“That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other.” And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: “Have you ever heard of such a thing?”

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my review.

Thoughts and Themes: It took me longer than intended to get through this book. At first it was because the story was quite slow and I was having difficulty getting engaged, but then it was because it was bringing up memories of the past for me and I had to take a minute to take care of myself. While I did have to take a step back because of the feelings this book was causing, I loved that this book took me back to my high school years and that feeling of falling in love for the first time.

I rarely read historical fiction but I really enjoyed this story and really enjoyed how this story feels like you are there with the characters. Throughout this story I felt that I was there walking the streets of San Francisco with Lily and there at the telegraph club with her. I liked all of the descriptions that are provided through this book and enjoyed getting to see San Francisco through a different time and parts of San Francisco that I had not seen before.

I also really liked the relationship between Lily and Kath and how that relationship develops from their friendship. I liked seeing how Lily was questioning her sexuality and how she didn’t want to be out as a lesbian. I thought it was great that we see the fear that hew new found sexuality installed in her but saw how that changed once she fell in love with Kath.

Characters: There is a range of characters that you are introduced to throughout this story and each of them are relatable. I really liked getting to know Lily and the rest of the people that she comes into contact with. I like that you start with Lily not knowing a lot about herself and questioning her sexuality. I think that it was great that we get to see that she is questioning this and then we see the moment where she confirms that she is a lesbian.

The story is slow paced throughout the whole book even when action scenes take place. I really liked the pacing of this story though because you watch as Lily and Kath’s relationship slowly develops over time. The pacing allows you to see the small aspects of this relationship and the little details that go into them sharing their feelings with each other.

Writing Style: This story is written in third person and goes back and forth to their present time and the past. We get to see the perspective from Judy as well as the story told by following Lily. I really liked that we got to see some snippets from when lily was younger as well as some parts of her family’s history.

How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi Book Review

Author Information

Arvin Ahmadi is the author of Down and Across, Girl Gone Viral, and the forthcoming How It All Blew Up. He graduated from Columbia University and worked in the tech industry prior to becoming a full-time writer. When he’s not reading or writing books, he can be found watching late-night talk show interviews* and editing Wikipedia pages. He lives in New York City.

*His favorite late-night talk show hosts, in no particular order, are Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, and Seth Meyers. He also really likes Jimmy Fallon and James Corden. Outside of late-night, Arvin is a big fan of the following interviewers: Ellen DeGeneres, Wendy Williams, Robin Roberts, Kelly Ripa, Gayle King, Norah O’Donnell, Christiane Amanpour, Anderson Cooper… this list could go on for a while. He just really likes interviews.

Book Description

Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy–he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?

Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.

At turns uplifting and devastating, How It All Blew Up is Arvin Ahmadi’s most powerful novel yet, a celebration of how life’s most painful moments can live alongside the riotous, life-changing joys of discovering who you are.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I have seen mixed reviews of this book so I was a little skeptical about finally reading it. The reviews that I had seen had called this book out for calling this a Muslim story but then not centering the religion. The reviews that I saw also

Before I begin my review, I want to state that I am not Muslim so I recommend that you all find some own voices reviews for this book that can comment on those aspects of this story.

I think that Amir explains the complexity of his family not being religious but it still being a cultural thing quite well. I think we also do see how his family being Muslim affects the way he perceives them and how others perceive them. I think we see this in his initial belief that he couldn’t come out to them and how quick his new Italian friends were to believe that his family did kick him out.

Something that I do really like about this book is the conversation that Amir’s mother and father are having about him in the interrogation rooms. So much of what they are saying really spoke to me and made me feel like I could better understand my parent’s initial reactions to me coming out. I like when the whole family comes together and begins to discuss the event that happened in the airplane.

What I really didn’t like was how this story centered both on Amir not coming out to his parents but also him living a lie in Italy. I thought that the scenes in Italy were beautifully written and some of the end scenes were well-done. I just didn’t like that through the whole first part his new friends had a different image of his parents. I think the fact that they had this image of his parents really made it hard for Amir to think his parents would respond in anything but a negative manner.

Characters: There are several characters that are involved in this story. While Amir is the main character we also get to meet the friends he makes in Italy, as well as his family. I liked seeing how each of the interactions affected Amir and changed him and his way of seeing things. I really liked all of the people that he met in Italy and liked how they each served a purpose in his life. I liked getting to know Amir’s family in the interrogation room scenes and seeing how much they cared for their son and brother.

I liked Soraya a lot and was hoping to see more of her relationship with Amir and to see if it shifted at all. I really like the things that she points out both about the way her family is being treated in the interrogation room and about Amir. I like that she isn’t afraid to call people out on their behavior even if it means she is calling out her parents.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person and includes Amir’s perspective throughout as well as interrogation room scenes with his family. The story starts in the past prior to Amir graduating as someone is blackmailing him, and he runs away to Italy rather than come out to his parents. It then goes through Amir’s adventures in Italy and includes the interrogation room scenes throughout as they discuss a scene that happens on the plane. The story focuses both on this scene as well as Amir’s coming of age story as he figures out who he is and wants to be while in Italy.

I liked that we got to see both the scenes in Italy as well as some of the interrogation scenes. Something that I liked about the way the interrogation scenes are written is that we are only seeing what each of the family members are saying and we know nothing about the interrogator.

A Neon Darkness Book Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Tor Teen for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Author Information

Lauren Shippen is a writer most known for her work in fiction podcasts. She was the creator and sole writer of the popular audio drama The Bright Sessions, which ran from 2015 to 2018. She went on to executive produce The AM Archives and co-produce Passenger List before founding Atypical Artists, a company dedicated to audio storytelling. Most recently, she wrote MARVELS, an audio adaptation of the popular comic, set for release later this year by Marvel and Stitcher.

Lauren was named one of Forbes 2018 30 Under 30 in Media and one of MovieMaker Magazine and Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch. Her first novel, The Infinite Noise, will be released through Tor Teen in September 2019. Shippen grew up in New York, where she spent most of her youth reading and going to Panic! at the Disco shows. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she does the same thing.

Book Description

The second Bright Sessions novel from creator Lauren Shippen that asks: “What if the X-Men, instead of becoming superheroes, decided to spend some time in therapy?”

Los Angeles, 2006. Eighteen-year-old Robert Gorham arrives in L.A. amid the desert heat and the soft buzz of neon. He came alone with one goal: he wants to see the ocean. And Robert always gets what he wants.

At a very young age, Robert discovered he had the unusual ability to make those close to him want whatever he wants. He wanted dessert instead of dinner? His mother served it. He wanted his Frisbee back? His father walked off the roof to bring it to him faster. He wanted to be alone? They both disappeared. Forever.

But things will be different in L.A. He meets a group of strange friends who could help him. Friends who can do things like produce flames without flint, conduct electricity with their hands, and see visions of the past. They call themselves Unusuals and finally, finally, Robert belongs.

When a tall figure, immune to their powers, discovers them, the first family that Robert has ever wanted is at risk of being destroyed. The only way to keep them
all together is to get his powers under control.

But control is a sacrifice he might not be willing to make.

A Neon Darkness is the origin story of Damien and the second stand-alone story
in the Bright Sessions Novels.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: There are so many things that I love about this book and the main thing is the narrator of the story. The narrator makes the story really easy to follow and makes it so easy to get caught into the story. I listened to this one while following along with the e-book because I find that this way of listening to audiobooks worst best for me.

I have so much notes on this book that I ran out of space for notes in the page that I was using. Most of these notes are focused on the characters so that I could tell them apart but there is also a lot of notes about the world building. I really enjoyed the back story that you get for each of the characters and how things are slowly elaborated on.

I really like how often they point out to Robert that he is an adult and responsible for his actions. I love how they point out that Robert is a White guy who has power of persuasion and what that means for his friends and everyone else. I really like how Robert just doesn’t get what his powers mean for others and only focuses on how his powers affect him. This is such a frustrating thing but such an important part to this story.

Characters: There are several characters that you get introduced to throughout this book and I actually liked each one of them. I even managed to like Marley who seems to be the character not everyone would like. I was confused about their ages and wondered if they were all within the same age range or not.

I liked the mystery of the bad guy and how we don’t know much about him. I also like how the mystery of each character is kept until the ending chapters. We get a little bit of each person revealed to us through their conversations with each other and as they learn more about themselves and each other.

I was so glad that we got several queer characters in this story and that their queerness is spoken about. I also like the relationships that we are shown throughout this book and the ones that are developed or restored. I liked that we get to see Indah and Neon struggle through establishing their relationship and what they mean to each other. I also like how different each of the characters are from each other and then also seeing their similarities.

“Understanding is like love, you can’t tell someone how to do it” There are so many things in the last few chapters of this book that I really enjoy. I love watching Robert develop and go back and forth with who he is. He makes me so angry because he doesn’t understand how his influence is affecting anyone because he hasn’t used it for bad. He doesn’t understand the problem with using his influence on anyone and it’s so frustrating but I love when his friends speak out against what he’s done to them.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person and told through Robert’s perspective, though there are times when it switches to third person with Indah’s view point or Blaze’s view point. I also listened to this story as an audio book so I’ll also be commenting on the narrator in this section. I thought the narrator was great and easy to listen to. This is one that the voice could’ve changed with each character that was speaking but I was glad that the voices were all similar. It made it so the story flowed better and there were no breaks between characters changing.

Summer of L.U.C.K. by Laura Segal Stegman

Thank you to the author for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Author Information

Laura Segal Stegman is a Los Angeles-based arts publicist and author whose middle grade debut novel, Summer of L.U.C.K., was released in September 2020 by INtense Publications and will be followed by a sequel in 2021. Having grown up in Southern California with parents who valued reading, she remains spellbound by kidlit. Some of her favorite middle grade novels, then and now, are The Diamond in the Window, Ellen Tebbits,
All of A Kind Family, Wonder, A Patron Saint for Junior Bridesmaids, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Miraculous. Laura’s non-fiction credits include collaboration on the travel book Only in New York, and her feature stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Westways Magazine and Christian Science Monitor, among others. A long-time publicity consultant, she owns Laura Segal Stegman Public Relations, LLC, which has represented a wide-ranging client list of businesses, arts organizations and
non-profit events over the years. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UC Irvine with a B.A. in Drama. Laura and her husband live in Los Angeles and part-time in New York City. She loves reading, L.A. Dodgers baseball, classical music and theater.

Book Description

Stuttering Darby is never perfect enough for her mother. Justin’s been silent since his dad died. Naz is struggling to learn English. But after they meet at summer camp, mysterious calliope music from an abandoned warehouse grants them power to communicate without words. When they sneak inside, the dark, empty space bursts into a magical carnival. They’re greeted by the ghost of Leroy Usher, who asks for their help convincing his family to restore the carnival to its former glory. In return, he promises to teach the kids how to find their voices. As Darby, Justin, and Naz are swept off on a series of midnight adventures via Mr. Usher’s carnival rides, they discover they’re capable of more than they ever imagined. With each challenge, their confidence in communicating – and in themselves – grows. Meanwhile, they scheme to persuade the Usher family to revive the carnival. But when Darby’s bunkmates trick her into starring in the camp talent show, her budding confidence falters. Can she risk being less than perfect by performing in the show and speaking up to Mr. Usher’s resistant son? If not, she’ll put the carnival in danger and sabotage her most important quest: to believe in herself, stutter and all.

You can Find this book at:

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ BookShop ~ IndieBound

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I think that this book is great for middle grade readers ages 10+. The fantasy elements to this story were really great and I loved the message that it taught in the end. I think this is a great book for young readers to read on their own or for a parent to read with their child. I also liked that this is a story that adults could enjoy and find things to take away as well.

I really enjoyed that this story teaches kids to embrace themselves and their differences. I like that it also shows the positive effect that friendship can have on someone and how your friends are there to support you when things are hard. I liked that the three children each had something different that they had to overcome yet these things brought them together.

Characters: There are three main characters, Darby, Justin, and Naz. You are also introduced to Mr. Usher and his children throughout the story. I really liked how Mr. Usher was introduced to the story and how these children build a relationship with him. I liked how the friendship between the children and Mr. Usher is developed and how he is used as a way to support them.

I also really liked the interactions that the children have with others at their camp. I thought it was great to see them overcome their challenges not just with each other but with other children. I liked that we got to see two settings in this story and not just the portion with Mr. Usher.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person and gives you three different main view points along with side viewpoints as well. It also goes back and forth from the present times and showing you some of the past with Mr. Usher’s children. I thought that it was great to see each of the children’s perspectives and see how different they were from each other yet how similar they were. I did find the pieces with the adults to be a little distracting from the rest of the story and could see children not being intrigued by those portions. I think that there isn’t too much of it though which was a plus for me and the parts that the adults interact with the children make the story come together.

What Mother’s Withhold by Elizabeth Kropf Book Tour Post

Thank You to Poetic Book Tours for allowing me to be on this book tour to let others know about this book published January 4, 2021.

Author Information

Elizabeth Kropf earned her Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Perelandra College. Kropf has had over twenty poems in publications including The Texas Poetry Calendar, the DEFY! Anthology by Robocup Press, and several editions of di-verse-city, the anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival. A dream called her from California to Austin, where she now lives with her husband and daughters. The poems in what mothers withhold were written over a span of over ten years, bookending the birth and babyhood of her delightful daughters. Kropf’s next book might be about fruit, pavement, or volcanoes. She is currently working on an ekphrastic poetry collaboration with artist Tamryn Spruill, who created the cover art for what mothers withhold.

Book Description

The poems of “what mothers withhold” are songs of brokenness and hope in a mother’s voice, poems of the body in its fierceness and failings. Elizabeth Kropf’s poems revel in peeling back silence, and invite us to witness a complicated and traumatic world that is also filled with love.

–Cindy Huyser, poet and editor, author of “Burning Number Five: Power Plant Poems.”

With these visceral poems, poet and mother Elizabeth Kropf has composed a chant of the vocabulary of vulnerability. From fertility to conception to birth—or not—and into motherhood, Kropf’s recounting of her experiences compels the reader to enter and acknowledge the power of what mothers endure and withhold.

–Anne McCrady, author of Letting Myself In and Along Greathouse Road

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This is a short book of poetry that discusses motherhood from the beginning and through it all. I thought that it was good that it went back and forth with time so we saw before her children, during, and the process of having them.

Something that I really enjoyed about this set of poems was how it felt like this was a letter from a mother to her children. I love how this is something that very personal to the author that she is deciding to share with you as a reader. I thought that really made the emotions in each poem really stand out and seeing how she has mixed feelings about motherhood. I thought it was great that she included these mixed feelings but also made it a point to include love along with those feelings.

Characters: There is one central theme in this whole book and that is motherhood and because of the theme, there are several characters involved. Each poem is told through the perspective of the mother but it includes the daughters as characters and her mother.

Writing Style: I really enjoyed how short each of these poems are and how they are told as a story. As you read each poem, it is as if you are reading a short story that the author is telling you. I love how this book feels like the author is telling you about her life and as if you are listening to her speak. I think that this would be a great book to get a chance to hear live or even on an audiobook.

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour Book Review

Thank you to HMH Books and Libro.Fm for an advanced copy of the book and audiobook of this story.

Author Information

MATEO ASKARIPOUR was a 2018 Rhode Island Writers Colony writer-in-residence, and his writing has appeared in EntrepreneurLit HubCatapultThe RumpusMedium, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn, and his favorite pastimes include bingeing music videos and movie trailers, drinking yerba mate, and dancing in his apartment. BLACK BUCK is his debut novel. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @AskMateo. You can also subscribe to his monthly newsletter here. 

Book Description

For fans of Sorry to Bother You and The Wolf of Wall Street—a crackling, satirical debut novel about a young man given a shot at stardom as the lone Black salesman at a mysterious, cult-like, and wildly successful startup where nothing is as it seems.

There’s nothing like a Black salesman on a mission.

An unambitious twenty-two-year-old, Darren lives in a Bed-Stuy brownstone with his mother, who wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential as the valedictorian of Bronx Science. But Darren is content working at Starbucks in the lobby of a Midtown office building, hanging out with his girlfriend, Soraya, and eating his mother’s home-cooked meals. All that changes when a chance encounter with Rhett Daniels, the silver-tongued CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup, results in an exclusive invitation for Darren to join an elite sales team on the thirty-sixth floor.

After enduring a “hell week” of training, Darren, the only Black person in the company, reimagines himself as “Buck,” a ruthless salesman unrecognizable to his friends and family. But when things turn tragic at home and Buck feels he’s hit rock bottom, he begins to hatch a plan to help young people of color infiltrate America’s sales force, setting off a chain of events that forever changes the game.

Black Buck is a hilarious, razor-sharp skewering of America’s workforce; it is a propulsive, crackling debut that explores ambition and race, and makes way for a necessary new vision of the American dream.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This book tells you the story of Darren through different portions of his life. When I first started this book there were several things that through me off and things that made me not want to continue reading this story. This book is much more than just a fictional story of a Black salesman who was successful in his job. While I hated the way that Clyde treated Darren at the start of the book and how the others treated him I also saw how this was indicative of what this environment is like for a Black man.

There were some moments that I really felt for Darren through the first half of the book as everyone pushed him to achieve more. I also felt bad for him as he achieved more but didn’t know how to stay connected with who he used to be. I really was hoping that Darren would be able to find himself after the tragic events that take part in the middle of the book but was glad to see that it took longer than that.

Through the third and fourth portion of this book Darren becomes one of these unbearable characters but I kept reading because I was hoping there would be some redemption for him. While a lot of the things that he did were things that made you dislike him as a character, I could also see the things that made him this way. I really did like what Darren did through the fourth portion of the book and what he built for himself and other people of color.

I really liked how this book closes out and the lessons that are thought throughout this whole story. I really did like the twist in this portion of the book as it was really something that I didn’t see coming. I think while it is heartbreaking to watch this part unfold it also taught Buck a lesson that he needed to learn. I don’t want to ruin the book so I won’t elaborate much on this portion. The lessons are going to be different for each person who reads this book but I think the main message is to remain true to yourself even through your success.

Characters: There are several characters that you get introduced to throughout the different portions of this story. There is one character that made it really hard for me to get into the story at first because of the way that he treated Buck. It was good to see the story come full circle though and to see that while this character didn’t develop at all, we did get to see Buck develop throughout this book.

I think that the relationships that Buck has with everyone are well developed and I really liked how he realized who the important people in his life are. I liked how Buck learns about himself through the relationships that he develops and destroys throughout this story.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person and it is told in five separate parts. I thought that the separation of each of this parts was done in a great way and the transitions between each section were done well. I liked that each section was a different stage in Buck’s life and how you see his relationships with others change.

Glimpsed by G.F. Miller Book Tour Post

I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by TBRandBeyondTours . Make sure you check out the rest of the posts that are a part of this tour by looking at the schedule for the tour found here. 

AUTHOR INFORMATION

G.F. Miller can write 80,000-word novels, but ask her to sit down and write 250 true and meaningful words about herself and she is likely to have an existential crisis. Who am I, really? She ponders. What do I want to be known for? Does anyone even read the back flap or visit author websites?

But eventually she will pull herself together and tell you that…She married her college sweetheart and is mom to three littles who routinely make her heart burst and her head explode (it’s a messy business, love). There are puppies big and small residing at her house (you’ll be seeing a lot of them if you follow her on Instagram). She’s been to a dozen countries, but not nearly as many as she would like. She loves learning all the things. She cries at all the wrong times. She makes faces at herself in the mirror. She believes in the Oxford comma. And she’s always here for a dance party.  

While the stories she has brewing in her soul vary wildly from one another, there are three things they will always have in common: love, snappy dialogue, and happy endings.

AUTHOR LINKS

Website ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads~ Youtube

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy

Publishing Date: January 5, 2021

Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of Geekerella and Jenn Bennett, this charming, sparkly rom-com follows a wish-granting teen forced to question if she’s really doing good—and if she has the power to make her own dreams come true.

Charity is a fairy godmother. She doesn’t wear a poofy dress or go around waving a wand, but she does make sure the deepest desires of the student population at Jack London High School come true. And she knows what they want even better than they do because she can glimpse their perfect futures.

But when Charity fulfills a glimpse that gets Vibha crowned homecoming queen, it ends in disaster. Suddenly, every wish Charity has ever granted is called into question. Has she really been helping people? Where do these glimpses come from, anyway? What if she’s not getting the whole picture?

Making this existential crisis way worse is Noah—the adorkable and (in Charity’s opinion) diabolical ex of one of her past clients—who blames her for sabotaging his prom plans and claims her interventions are doing more harm than good. He demands that she stop granting wishes and help him get his girl back. At first, Charity has no choice but to play along. But soon, Noah becomes an unexpected ally in getting to the bottom of the glimpses. Before long, Charity dares to call him her friend…and even starts to wish he were something more. But can the fairy godmother ever get the happily ever after?

BOOK LINKS

GoodReads~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indigo ~ IndieBound

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

Finished copy of Glimpsed. The giveaway ends on January 12th. Click Here to Enter.

REVIEW

Thoughts and Themes: It took me a while to get into this story because I wasn’t really connecting to the characters right from the start. It took me a while to really begin to like the characters and want to know what happens to them. I wanted to know more about Charity’s family and their dynamic right from when you meet everyone in her family so for a while I kept reading because of that. I wanted to know if there was a reason that Charity’s mom and sister were keeping their distance, and why she was going to her grandmother for everything.

I really enjoyed this Cinderella retelling and the twist on the original Cinderella story. I liked that this story focuses more on the fairy Godmother rather than the Cindys that Charity was working on. I liked that you get a bit of the story of each of the Cindys that Charity has worked on and any that she was working on throughout this book.

I cried at the ending of this story because of how cute it all was. I don’t want to ruin the second half of the book so I can’t give too much away through my review. I really did love the way the story wrapped up though but I want more of the characters that I met through this book and their story.

Characters: While there are several characters you get introduced through their interactions with the main character, there are two main characters in this story. Charity and Noah are the two main characters that this story centers around. You get introduced to Charity’s grandmother, mother, Cindies, and friends throughout the story as she speaks with each of them or tries to get help from them.

I liked the relationships that Charity develops with others throughout this story and love the focus on friendship and family. I liked how the mystery of Charity being a Godmother unravels and how she finds out more about herself and her family.

Writing Style: This story is written through first person told through the perspective of Charity who is our main character. I thought this was great because you can see the hints of things other characters were giving off but if Charity wasn’t picking up on those things then you moved past it. Charity not picking up on a lot made it so that I wanted to keep reading to see if she would ever pick up on the things others were showing her.

The Last Queen: Elizabeth II’s Seventy Year Battle to Save the House of Windsor by Clive Irving Spotlight

Author Information

Clive Irving has had a long and career in journalism on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been managing editor of the Sunday Times in London, he was director of current affairs programming for London Weekend Television, and a consulting editor for Newsday in New York. He was the founding editor of Conde Nast Traveler, where he is still Editor Emeritus, and is a regular columnist for the Daily Beast. Most recently, he was a key contributor to the acclaimed two-part BBC documentary, Margaret: The Rebel Princess, which was broadcast on PBS in America. Irving lives in Sag Harbor, NY.

Book Description

Clive Irving’s stunning new narrative biography The Last Queen: Elizabeth II’s Seventy Year Battle to Save the House of Windsor (Pegasus –January 5, 2021), probes the question of the British monarchy’s longevity. In 2020, Queen Elizabeth II finally appears to be at ease in the modern world, helped by the new generation of Windsors. Through Irving’s unique insight there emerges a more fragile institution, whose extraordinarily dutiful matriarch has managed to persevere with dignity.  Yet in doing so made a Faustian pact with the media—something that we’re seeing with the new season of The Crown just about to launch and the introduction of Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher to the narrative.

The Last Queen is not a conventional biography—instead, it follows Elizabeth and her family’s struggle to survive in the face of unprecedented changes within the monarchy and Britain.  As well as the world’s increased fascination with the royal family.  “Royal journalism became the most profitable stream of celebrity journalism, and the royal family assumed the role of a compulsively viewable soap opera.”

Therefore, it became impossible to see the lives of the Queen and her family “clearly and fairly because of the way it was always conveyed in the terms and language of the tabloid circus that now always follows the family.”  Irving masterfully details the truth behind England’s longest reigning monarch with the added perspective of his own first-hand, personal insight as a journalist whose career has paralleled Elizabeth’s reign. 

January 2021 TBR

These are the books that I plan on reading throughout the month of January. Come back to my blog throughout this month to find reviews of each book. At the end of the month, you can see what I managed to read this month.

Glimpsed by G.G. Miller

Charity is a fairy godmother. She doesn’t wear a poofy dress or go around waving a wand, but she does make sure the deepest desires of the student population at Jack London High School come true. And she knows what they want even better than they do because she can glimpse their perfect futures.

But when Charity fulfills a glimpse that gets Vibha crowned homecoming queen, it ends in disaster. Suddenly, every wish Charity has ever granted is called into question. Has she really been helping people? Where do these glimpses come from, anyway? What if she’s not getting the whole picture?

Making this existential crisis way worse is Noah—the adorkable and (in Charity’s opinion) diabolical ex of one of her past clients—who blames her for sabotaging his prom plans and claims her interventions are doing more harm than good. He demands that she stop granting wishes and help him get his girl back. At first, Charity has no choice but to play along. But soon, Noah becomes an unexpected ally in getting to the bottom of the glimpses. Before long, Charity dares to call him her friend…and even starts to wish he were something more. But can the fairy godmother ever get the happily ever after? 

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

For fans of Sorry to Bother You and The Wolf of Wall Street—a crackling, satirical debut novel about a young man given a shot at stardom as the lone Black salesman at a mysterious, cult-like, and wildly successful startup where nothing is as it seems.

There’s nothing like a Black salesman on a mission.

An unambitious twenty-two-year-old, Darren lives in a Bed-Stuy brownstone with his mother, who wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential as the valedictorian of Bronx Science. But Darren is content working at Starbucks in the lobby of a Midtown office building, hanging out with his girlfriend, Soraya, and eating his mother’s home-cooked meals. All that changes when a chance encounter with Rhett Daniels, the silver-tongued CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup, results in an exclusive invitation for Darren to join an elite sales team on the thirty-sixth floor.

After enduring a “hell week” of training, Darren, the only Black person in the company, reimagines himself as “Buck,” a ruthless salesman unrecognizable to his friends and family. But when things turn tragic at home and Buck feels he’s hit rock bottom, he begins to hatch a plan to help young people of color infiltrate America’s sales force, setting off a chain of events that forever changes the game.

Black Buck is a hilarious, razor-sharp skewering of America’s workforce; it is a propulsive, crackling debut that explores ambition and race, and makes way for a necessary new vision of the American dream.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Acclaimed author of Ash Malinda Lo returns with her most personal and ambitious novel yet, a gripping story of love and duty set in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the Red Scare.

“That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other.” And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: “Have you ever heard of such a thing?”

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

“Lo’s writing, restrained yet luscious, shimmers with the thrills of youthful desire. A lovely, memorable novel about listening to the whispers of a wayward heart and claiming a place in the world.”—Sarah Waters, bestselling and award winning author of Tipping the Velvet and The Night Watch 

Summer of L.U.C.K. by Laura Segal Stegman

Stuttering Darby is never perfect enough for her mother. Justin’s been silent since his dad died. Naz is struggling to learn English. But after they meet at summer camp, mysterious calliope music from an abandoned warehouse grants them power to communicate without words. When they sneak inside, the dark, empty space bursts into a magical carnival. They’re greeted by the ghost of Leroy Usher, who asks for their help convincing his family to restore the carnival to its former glory. In return, he promises to teach the kids how to find their voices.

As Darby, Justin, and Naz are swept off on a series of midnight adventures via Mr. Usher’s carnival rides, they discover they’re capable of more than they ever imagined. With each challenge, their confidence in communicating – and in themselves – grows. Meanwhile, they scheme to persuade the Usher family to revive the carnival. But when Darby’s bunkmates trick her into starring in the camp talent show, her budding confidence falters. Can she risk being less than perfect by performing in the show and speaking up to Mr. Usher’s resistant son? If not, she’ll put the carnival in danger and sabotage her most important quest: to believe in herself, stutter and all.

A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen

Los Angeles, 2006. Eighteen-year-old Robert Gorham arrives in L.A. amid the desert heat and the soft buzz of neon. He came alone with one goal: he wants to see the ocean. And Robert always gets what he wants.

At a very young age, Robert discovered he had the unusual ability to make those close to him want whatever he wants. He wanted dessert instead of dinner? His mother served it. He wanted his Frisbee back? His father walked off the roof to bring it to him faster. He wanted to be alone? They both disappeared. Forever.

But things will be different in L.A. He meets a group of strange friends who could help him. Friends who can do things like produce flames without flint, conduct electricity with their hands, and see visions of the past. They call themselves Unusuals and finally, finally, Robert belongs.

When a tall figure, immune to their powers, discovers them, the first family that Robert has ever wanted is at risk of being destroyed. The only way to keep them
all together is to get his powers under control.

But control is a sacrifice he might not be willing to make.

A Neon Darkness is the origin story of Damien and the second stand-alone story
in the Bright Sessions Novels. 

What Mothers Withold by Elizabeth Kropf

The poems of “what mothers withhold” are songs of brokenness and hope in a mother’s voice, poems of the body in its fierceness and failings. Elizabeth Kropf’s poems revel in peeling back silence, and invite us to witness a complicated and traumatic world that is also filled with love.

–Cindy Huyser, poet and editor, author of “Burning Number Five: Power Plant Poems.”

With these visceral poems, poet and mother Elizabeth Kropf has composed a chant of the vocabulary of vulnerability. From fertility to conception to birth—or not—and into motherhood, Kropf’s recounting of her experiences compels the reader to enter and acknowledge the power of what mothers endure and withhold.

–Anne McCrady, author of Letting Myself In and Along Greathouse Road