Devil’s Chew Toy by Rob Osler Book Review

Book Description

Seattle teacher and part-time blogger Hayden McCall wakes up in a stranger’s bed alone, half-naked and sporting one hell of a shiner. Then the police come knocking on the door. It seems that Latino dancer Camilo Rodriguez has gone missing and they suspect foul play. What happened the night before? And where is Camilo?

Determined to find answers, Hayden seeks out two of Camilo’s friends–Hollister and Burley–both lesbians and both fiercely devoted to their friend. From them, Hayden learns that Camilo is a “Dreamer” whose parents had been deported years earlier, and whose sister, Daniela, is presumed to have returned to Venezuela with them. Convinced that the cops won’t take a brown boy’s disappearance seriously, the girls join Hayden’s hunt for Camilo.

The first clues turn up at Barkingham Palace, a pet store where Camilo had taken a part-time job. The store’s owner, Della Rupert, claims ignorance, but Hayden knows something is up. And then there’s Camilo’s ex-boyfriend, Ryan, who’s suddenly grown inexplicably wealthy. When Hayden and Hollister follow Ryan to a secure airport warehouse, they make a shocking connection between him and Della–and uncover the twisted scheme that’s made both of them rich.

The trail of clues leads them to the grounds of a magnificent estate on an island in Puget Sound, where they’ll finally learn the truth about Camilo’s disappearance–and the fate of his family.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: When I was given the chance to read this book I decided I had to read it because I love LGBTQ+ books and this one has a mystery component to it. From the start of this book, I love that it opens with the main plot of the story and doesn’t take long to delve right into the story. I also really enjoyed that each of the chapters vary in length but they are all short and quick.

Something else that I really enjoyed about the book was the balance between dialogue and narration. I like that the majority of this story is told through dialogue between all of our characters and rarely is there narration. I also like that the story doesn’t spend a lot of time in Hayden’s head as things are playing out.

Something else that I liked about this book was how it pointed out why Camillo wouldn’t be the police’s first priority. I liked how it jsut got even more layered as we learn more about Camillo and why his friends believe that the police aren’t really searching for him.

Characters: In this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with our main character, Hayden. You get to meet some of the people who work at the club where Camillo was employed, his best friends, Hollister, and more.

I really liked the friendship that develops between Hayden and Hollister as they are looking for Camillo. I liked the dialogue that occurs between them and how funny moments are slipped in seamlessly.

Writing Style: This book is written in first person through the perspective of our main character, Hayden. Something that I really enjoyed about Hayden telling the story is that he is just as knowledgeable about Camillo as we are. I like that Hayden doesn’t know much and he finds out things as he interacts with the different people that run in Camillo’s circle.

This book also includes snippets from Hayden’s blog which is something that I really enjoyed. I like how we get to learn pieces about Hayden and his feelings about several different topics through these blog pieces. I also like that the blog allows for a different voice than what we get throughout the rest of the story.

Author Information

Rob’s debut mystery DEVIL’S CHEW TOY is the first book in the Hayden & Friends Series–traditional mysteries featuring a rainbow cast of amateur sleuths.

Rob’s debut mystery short story, ANALOGUE, published in 2021 in ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE won the Mystery Writers of America 2022 Robert L Fish Award for best debut short story by an American Author.

After many years of living in Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco, he resides in southern California with his long-time partner and a tall, gray cat. Discover more at www.robosler.com 

The Language of Seabirds by Will Taylor Book Review

Book Description

A sweet, tender middle-grade story of two boys finding first love with each other over a seaside summer.

Jeremy is not excited about the prospect of spending the summer with his dad and his uncle in a seaside cabin in Oregon. It’s the first summer after his parents’ divorce, and he hasn’t exactly been seeking alone time with his dad. He doesn’t have a choice, though, so he goes… and on his first day takes a walk on the beach and finds himself intrigued by a boy his age running by. Eventually, he and Runner Boy (Evan) meet — and what starts out as friendship blooms into something neither boy is expecting… and also something both boys have been secretly hoping for.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This was a book that I was drawn to because of the beautiful cover and was very happy to get an advanced reading copy on Edelweiss and in the mail. I am very glad that I read this one because there was so much to love and I think middle grade readers would really enjoy this book.

I really enjoy how flustered Jeremy is about his crush and how it reminds me of just being that age when everything is confusing, scary, and overwhelming. I loved getting to read his reactions to things and him struggling just to send a message to Evan.

I loved the setting of this book because of how carefree it made everything seem. It was nice to see both of the boys just kind of enjoy their time together even if they are aware that this time isn’t forever. I liked how they just got time to be kids especially away from their parental figures. I really enjoyed the scenes in which you remember that they are in between being children and being teenagers, and what that must be like.

Characters: In this book you are introduced to a few characters through their interactions with our main character, Jeremy. You get to meet his crush, Evan, his dad, mom, Evan’s grandmother and a few other people on the beach.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Jeremy and Evan and how that develops through the course of this book. It just took me back to my first relationship and how carefree it was and how different dating as a teen was compared to now. I loved how they had their own language to communicate with each other regarding birds. I loved how they had this little world that was their own and it was like nothing could go wrong in that space.

I also liked getting to read about Jeremy’s relationship with his mom, dad, and uncle. I liked seeing how each of those relationships were different from one another. I liked to see why they responded in certain ways and I really liked to see how Jeremy’s relationship with his parents shifted how he responded to certain things.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person through the perspective of Jeremy which is something that I really enjoyed. As the story is told through Jeremy’s perspective it is clear that you are reading a story about a young teenager.

Author Information

Will Taylor (he/they) is a reader, writer, and honeybee fan. He lives in the heart of downtown Seattle surrounded by all the seagulls and not quite too many teacups. When not writing he can be found searching for the perfect bakery, talking to trees in parks, and completely losing his cool when he meets longhaired dachshunds. His books include Maggie & Abby’s Neverending Pillow Fort; Maggie & Abby and the Shipwreck Treehouse; Slimed; Catch That Dog!; and The Language of Seabirds.

If This Gets Out By Book Review

Book Information

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

Review

CW: coming out, closeting, parental abuse, excessive drinking, substance abuse, psychological abuse, car accident

Thoughts and Themes: I had heard so many great things about this one on Booktok and Bookstagram so I was so happy to get access to it on Netgalley. I really enjoyed so much about this book and how there are so many different pieces to it. I loved the boy band aspect to it, the coming out story, the romance, and the friendships throughout this book.

There was so much in this book to examine which made there just so much to love about this book. I really enjoyed the romance in this book but also how that romance was complicated by Saturday’s management not allowing Ruben and Zach to be out. I thought that it was great to see what being out meant for both of them and how it meant different things for both of our characters. I also liked how management tried to make it seem that them coming out would affect the other band members and to have Angel and Jon disregard management’s concerns.

Something else that I really enjoyed in this book was the push back that you get from each of these characters with their parents as well as their management team. I thought it was great to see how these characters developed through the story as they first try to please everyone but then they realize that to be happy they have to do what is important to them.

Characters: In this book you are introduced to our main characters, Ruben and Zach as well as the other two band members, Angel and Jon. You also get to meet each of their families as well as some of the people who are involved in the band.

I loved getting to know each of the four band members both as themselves but also when they were with each other. I loved the romance that occurred between Ruben and Zach and how supportive the whole band was of this. I also really liked how their friendship develops into this romance and how they each push each other respectively to be better for themselves. I like that Ruben has had time to be out and figure out who he is but Zach has just come to the realization that he is bisexual. I liked the way that Ruben wanted to protect him from what the reality of being out meant but he also wanted Zach to stand up for what he wants.

I loved Angel as a character and all that he added to this story. I thought it was great that we got to see him struggle with the image others wanted him to project of himself and the person he wanted to be. I thought the storyline of him turning to drugs and alcohol was done well and that resolves itself nicely as well. I thought it was great to show how his friends played into getting him the help he needed when management wasn’t being very helpful.

Writing Style: This story is told in a dual perspective through the eyes of Ruben and Zach. I liked that we got both of their perspectives as they each have different thoughts as the story takes place. I like that we got to see Zach not knowing how to navigate his queer identity and Ruben just wanting to be allowed to embrace his queer identity publically. I thought it was also great to get both perspectives as they each have different relationships with the other members of the band.

Author Information

Sophie Gonzales writes young adult queer contemporary fiction with memorable characters, biting wit and endless heart.

She is the author of THE LAW OF INERTIA, ONLY MOSTLY DEVASTATED and PERFECT ON PAPER. IF THIS GETS (co-written with Cale Dietrich) is forthcoming in Fall 2021 from Wednesday Books / Macmillan.

When she isn’t writing, Sophie can be found ice skating, performing in musical theatre, and practicing the piano. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia where she works as a psychologist.

She is represented by Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency.

Cale Dietrich is a YA devotee, lifelong gamer, and tragic pop punk enthusiast. He was born in Perth, grew up on the Gold Coast, and now lives in Brisbane, Australia. His debut novel, The Love Interest, was named a 2018 Rainbow List Selection. He can be found on Twitter.

All Kinds of Other by James Sie Blog Tour Post

I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by Turn the Page Tours. 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

JAMES SIE is the author of STILL LIFE LAS VEGAS (St. Martin’s Press, 2015), a Lambda Literary Award finalist for Best Gay Fiction, and the YA novel ALL KINDS OF OTHER (Quill Tree Books, 2021) He is an award-winning playwright of literary adaptations, receiving a Joseph Jefferson Citation for his adaptation of ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS, and an After Dark Award for the original work THE ROAD TO GRACELAND. He has contributed essays for The Rumpus, Pen USA, FSG’s Book Keeping and The Advocate. In addition to writing, Sie can currently be heard as a voiceover artist in animation and audiobook narration.

Author Links:

Author Website ~ Instagram ~ Twitter

Book Description

Publisher: Quill Tree Books

Release Date: May 4, 2021

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54798457-all-kinds-of-other

Book Purchase link: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/all-kinds-of-other-james-sie?variant=32260054155298

Book Description: 

In this tender, nuanced coming-of-age love story, two boys—one who is cis and one who is trans—have been guarding their hearts to protect themselves, until their feelings for each other give them a reason to stand up to their fears.

Two boys are starting at a new school.

Jules is just figuring out what it means to be gay and hasn’t totally decided whether he wants to be out at his new school. His parents and friends have all kinds of opinions, but for his part, Jules just wants to make the basketball team and keep his head down.

Jack is trying to start over after a best friend break-up. He followed his actor father clear across the country to LA, but he’s also totally ready to leave his past behind. Maybe this new school where no one knows him is exactly what he needs.

When the two boys meet, the sparks are undeniable. But then a video surfaces linking Jack to a pair of popular transgender vloggers, and the revelations about Jack’s past thrust both Jack and Jules into the spotlight they’ve been trying to avoid. Suddenly both boys have a choice to make—between lying low where it’s easier or following their hearts.

GIVEAWAY

Enter to win one finished copy of All Kinds of Other by James Sie! Open USA only. There will be 1 winner.

Giveaway starts: Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Giveaway ends: Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CST

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d39/

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This one I had to sit on before writing the review because of how much I really enjoyed it. As a trans person there was several portions of this book that I had to just set the book aside because the Transphobia was too much. Our main character never really gets a break from all the transphobic people in his life and the first thing that I noted was see these things happen in liberal spaces too.

As soon as I started reading, my favorite thing was that this book took place in Los Angeles. I think the setting is really important for many of the events that occur throughout this book. I think the book shows how sometimes people like to think that transphobia and homophobia only exists in small towns and conservative places, but this book shows how it exists in what we think of as a safe town. I also really loved the setting because it felt like I was going to these places with the characters, I could picture all the places they went as these are the places I grew up going to.

Something else that I really loved that this book addresses is the transphobia within the queer community. I thought it was important that the lack of trans awareness in the school’s GSA was addressed and we also saw some of the LGBTQ+ characters having a hard time when Jack is outed.

The reveal of who outed Jack was so hard to read but also I kind of liked Jack’s response to the person who outed him. I thought it was nice that he took this as a teaching moment while still expressing his anger about what happened. I can’t speak much about this without giving spoilers but I have a lot of feelings about how it went down.

This book has so much packed into it and discusses many topics. This book also briefly goes into being mixed race, and we also see how Jack is treated because he is half Indian. While there is so many layers to this book, and so many different things going on, I don’t think that any of it takes away from the book.

Characters: Through this book you meet several characters through their interactions with Jules and Jack. I really liked getting to know Jack and Jules and thinks the book does a great job of letting you know them both with and without each other.

I really liked reading as the relationship between Jack and Jules developed and then what happens when Jules finds out that Jack is trans. I think this non-linear development of their relationship was realistic. I thought that their relationship was realistic for their ages and really liked how they both were figuring out themselves and what they wanted. I really liked that we do get a happy ending for their relationship because it felt wholesome and I love happy endings for trans people, we deserve them.

I thought that both sets of parents played an important role in this story and was really glad that they were included. I thought it was important that we see Jules’s mom being transphobic and read as how that figures into the story. The dinner scene was so hard for me to get through because of all the transphobia that is packed into just a few pages. It was hard to read as Jack’s dad didn’t stand up for his son, and Jules’s didn’t know how to make it all stop. I did think it was important to see Jack’s dad struggle in this moment and to also see Jack’s response to this.

Writing Style: The story is told through two perspectives and in first person. The book also includes some tumblr posts that Jack is making to Evie along with some video transcripts Jack and Evie made. I liked getting to hear both of their sides to the story and see what was happening for each of them as the story progressed. I really liked getting to see parts of Jack’s past through the tumblr posts and youtube videos because they show how he came to be who he is now.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas Book Review

Author Information

Aiden Thomas is a YA author with an MFA in Creative Writing. Originally from Oakland, California, they now make their home in Portland, OR. As a queer, trans, latinx, Aiden advocates strongly for diverse representation in all media. Aiden’s special talents include: quoting The Office, useless trivia, Jenga, finishing sentences with “is my FAVORITE”, and killing spiders. Aiden is notorious for not being able to guess the endings of books and movies, and organizes their bookshelves by color.

Book Description

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

Review

Thank You to The Clever Reader for ensuring this book got into the hands of an own voices reviewer by passing along this book to me so that I could get a chance to read and review it early.

There are so many things to love about this book right from the start of it, well actually more like right from reading the blurb about it. I loved this book right from knowing the protagonist was a gay, Latinx, transgender guy. Books that have so many of my identities in one character are rare to find so I was just happy to be able to see myself in something that I was reading.

One of my favorite parts of this book is the conflict that Yadriel has with the love he has for his family and their unwillingness to accept him as a brujo. There is a portion where Julian questions who Yadriel is trying to be enough for and I put down the book to cry my eyes out at this. My family is so important to me and I feel like I hide so much of myself or make adjustments to who I am to be enough for them without questioning if I am now not being enough for myself. It is such a hard feeling to put into words but that scene just captured so many feelings in a few words.

I love the world building and the character development in this book. Each scene was well crafted and I could picture things as they were happening. The characters all had vivid descriptions of them and they all were easily identifiable. I loved how Yads changes through the course of the book as he learns to love not only someone else but himself as well. I thought that was such an important aspect that this book shows and really was the most important part to this book.

Dia De Muertos is not something that I am entirely familiar with as American culture was what was emphasized for me growing up so I don’t know the traditions of where my parents are from. I love getting to read about this holiday though because each book has a different way of describing it even though it comes down to being about celebrate our loved ones who have passed.

Books can usually make me tear up but not full on cry but this book had to be put down because of the tears. There is so much emotions packed into the last few pages of this book and I just couldn’t get enough. Not only are the last few pages packed with emotions but you get one twist right after another which I really enjoyed.

I really hope that you all go out and read this book that means so much to me. You can pre-order this book at:

Eso Won Books ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ The Book Depository ~ Kobo ~ Google

To check out an interview with the author, Aiden Thomas, learn more about them and their debut novel, click here.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Summary: (Borrowed from Barnes and Noble) Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Thoughts: This one I’ve had on my shelf for quite some time now and have seen the movie so I had to read it. The audiobook was available so I decided why not listen to it. I was sadly disappointed in this book and for once found a movie better than the book.

I thought that the main characters were cute and I really liked how valuable Simon’s friends were to him. I did feel that they were one dimensional though and I wanted to know more about them. I felt that they weren’t developed throughout the story. While Simon was the main character of this story I felt that all we knew about him was the he is gay and is in a play.

My main issue with this book though is that it feels like this plot kind of overdone and the LGBTQ+ available now are so much more complex. I kept having to remind myself that when this was written we were glad to just have a gay protagonist. Even then I feel like it doesn’t excuse how this feels half done, like here I gave you a gay character, everyone fawn over him, which is what everyone seemed to do.

Something else that I wasn’t a fan of was just how unrealistic the whole story was. It was just too coincidental and too always happy. Like even when bad things are happening, they just seem to work out in too good of a manner. I felt that this really took away from the plot of the book.

If you’re looking for a light read then I think you may like this book. You can get it at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.