If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

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?

The Review

If This Gets Out was a good read. If you’re a fanfic reader, you’re going to love this novel so much. It was easy to read. The dialogue flowed well, there was a lot of it (I LOVE DIALOGUE and LOTS of it, it’s my jam). I could picture the hotels they were at, and I could see them performing on stage.

Ruben and Zach make up half of the boyband Saturday. Saturday is touring through Europe and trying to deal with the stress of their fame and the pressures of being teenagers on the edge of adulthood.

Throughout the tour, Zach and Ruben become closer as they deal with the drama of Angel and toeing the line around Jon because his father is management. It’s easy to be free and themselves around each other. But the closer they got; the further apart management pulled them.

Their first kiss, and everything after was so … sweet. A lot of the romance happened off-screen to fit the YA Adult sphere. Their kisses and little touches between them? I lived for it. There were times they couldn’t keep their hands off each other and I was all, yes please, can I get more of this? Because it was just that good.

Drama happened (of course) and the boys tackled it together. They truly were a family and cared for each other. That was a special bond, and I was glad to see it strengthen over the course of the book.

Spicy rating? Two out of Five

Get your copy here

Hidden Powers – Tara Lain – DNF

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No Stars – DNF

Summary

Superordinary Society: Book One

Jazz Vanessen is weird—and not just because he’s a werewolf. For most of his life, he’s felt different from his alpha male brothers and friends. Since he’s adopted, he can’t even blame it on family.

Now eighteen, Jazz meets his idol, the social activist Lysandra Mason, and her breathtaking nephew, Dash Mercury. When Dash is around, even stranger things start to happen, including Jazz falling hopelessly in lust. Not only is Jazz having visions, making people disappear, and somehow turning invisible, but somebody’s following him and threatening to reveal his pack’s secrets to the world.

Together with Dash and Jazz’s equally amazing friends—Carla, BeBop, Khadija, and Fatima—they discover the danger is even more lethal than they thought, and Jazz’s weirdness may save all their lives.
 

Review

            I wanted to like this book. I did. LGBTQ+, YA, werewolves, and intrigue, are all excellent ingredients to an adventure I want to go on.

            My main issue is no knowing anything about the characters. If you hadn’t read any of the author’s other books, you’re going to be as lost as I was. As this was the ‘first’ in a new series, I didn’t think I’d be scrambling to figure out who all these people were. It’s a very established world and if you didn’t know that, you’d get frustrated like I did.

            I also had an issue with the language used. I’m not old by any means, I’m 30, and I read YA regularly across many genres. It was off putting to me. Not even in TV shows, do writers use that much ‘teen’ language.

            Will I be reading the next in the series? No. It just disappointed me entirely.

Give it a try if you’ve read previous books by this author, you may enjoy it.

Queen of All by Anya Leigh Josephs

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

The only interesting thing about fourteen-year-old Jena is other people. Her mother disappeared when she was a baby, and her best (and only) friend, Sisi, is not just the lost heir to a noble Numbered house, but also the Kingdom’s most famous beauty. Jena herself is just awkward, anxious, and often alone: not exactly heroic material. But when a letter summons Sisi to the royal court, both girls find their own futures, and the Kingdom’s, in Jena’s hands. Sisi, caught between the king and the crown prince, searches for a magical secret the Prince is willing to kill to keep. Jena can save her: but only if she is willing to let her go, maybe forever. It’s hard to do that when she’s in love with Sisi herself.

 

Review 

I have mixed feelings about Queen of All.

I was extremely excited to see a YA LGBTQ+ novel. Add the fact that it was branded as F/F and a fantasy world I was all about it. One of the main issues I had, was the main conflict was a little meh. There was so much build-up but by the end of the book, I was left wondering if I had missed something. What happened with the prince? Was Jena more than meets the eye like I thought she was going to be? I felt a bit lost.

Sisi and Jena are tight friends. So much so, that once Sisi is summoned to the royal court due to her rumored beauty, Jena goes with her. They take on the royal court and work together to ensure they are safe.

What I liked was Jena. She took the opportunity to read and learn as much as she could. She used her plain appearance to venture around the castle unnoticed. But I feel like she got pushed into the traditional role of supporting character who is the fat best friend. Nothing irritates me more. I had so many hopes for her and was let down.

There were few LGBTQ+ elements in this. Jena does admit to herself that she has feelings for another girl, but again, her happiness here gets sacrificed.

This was just a huge miss for me. Other readers absolutely adored this novel. Check out the reviews on Goodreads, they raved about it. It just didn’t work out for me.

To be released June 9 2021

I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

EVERY MISSING PERSON HAS A STORY.

In her small town, seventeen-year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is known as the girl who wasn’t taken. Ten years ago she witnessed the abduction of her best friend, Sibby. And though she told the police everything she remembered, it wasn’t enough. Sibby was never seen again.

At night, Dee deals with her guilt by becoming someone else: the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way.

When another little girl in town goes missing, and the case is linked to Sibby’s disappearance, Dee has a chance to get answers with the help of her virtual detectives and the intriguing new girl at school. But how much of her own story is she willing to reveal in order to uncover the truth?

Review

Dee Skinner’s life changed the moment she witnessed her best friend getting abducted at seven years old. Ten years later, she still lives in the same town, but in a different house. Sibby is a ghost that haunts Dee every day. She’s the girl who wasn’t taken. That guilt weighs her every action down.

She wasn’t able to help Sibby, but she finds a way to help others who have gone missing. As an anonymous podcaster, the Seeker, she hosts a true-crime podcast called Radio Silent. She focuses on missing person cases and works with the Laptop Detective Agency to find new leads and to find the missing.

Nearly ten years to the day, another girl goes missing in her town.

Dee struggles, wanting to stay away from the case but at the same time wanting to help find the missing girl. Is Sibby’s abduction related to Layla’s? A well-timed e-mail sends her down the rabbit hole to find out what has happened to both girls.

What I loved about the format of this novel, was the fact that the podcast scripts were included. I’m a huge true crime junkie and podcast lover. Being able to see how Dee worked to keep herself anonymous but she worked hard to help get answers from these families was exciting. She was determined to find answers and finally put in the work that her Laptop Detective Agency had been doing since episode one.

Dee meets Sarah, the attraction is immediate, but they balance each other. Where Dee is headstrong and throws caution to the wind, Sarah talks her off the ledge and finds a way to make sure they are safe from harm. Their romance takes a backseat to the plot, but the relationship was normalized in a way I wished my high school years could have been. She and Sarah got to go to the Winter Formal together, her parents didn’t make her sexuality seem anything but normal.

The action was a bit slow in the beginning, but once it got going? I couldn’t put the book down. I needed to find Sibby and Layla. I needed to make sure Burke was going to be okay by the end of it all. I had an inkling of who took Sibby, but the result for Layla? I wasn’t expecting that at all.

Get your copy here

I Knew Him by Abigail de Niverville

40711378Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: In his senior year of high school, Julian has one goal: be invisible. All he wants is to study hard, play basketball, and pretend he’s straight for one more year. Then, he can run away to university and finally tell the world he’s bisexual. And by “the world,” he means everyone but his mom and best friend. That’s two conversations he never wants to have.

When he’s talked into auditioning for the school’s production of Hamlet, Julian fears that veering off course will lead to assumptions he’s not ready to face. Despite that, he can’t help but feel a connection to this play. His absent father haunts him like a ghost, his ex is being difficult, and he’s overthinking everything. It’s driving him crazy.

The decision to audition leads Julian on an entirely different path. He’s cast as Hamlet, and the boy playing Horatio is unlike anyone Julian has met before. Mysterious and flirtatious, Sky draws Julian in, even though he fears his feelings at the same time. As the two grow closer, Julian begins to let out the secrets he’s never told—the ones that have paralyzed him for years. But what will he do if Sky feels the same way?

The Review

This book, I felt it in my bones, and I wished that I had something like this to read when I was in high school. To have something like this to relate to would have made it a little easier getting through the school day surrounded by people who didn’t have to fear being true to themselves.

Julian has a plan during his final year I high school. He’s going to pass his classes, play basketball, and not tell anyone that he’s bisexual. The best laid plans never work. He is talked into auditioning for Hamlet and it brings him down a path he didn’t expect. He lands the part of Hamlet, meets a boy who sparks feelings in him, comes to terms with why his father left his mother, and comes to realize that his happiness matters just as much.

I want to say how much I related to Julian. I’ve had friends who couldn’t believe in bisexuality. You either are, or you’re not gay. There’s nothing else. This was before I knew there was more than gay, lesbian or bisexual identifiers (I live in the deep south and still haven’t come out completely – gotta do this in my own time right?). I felt his fear at coming out to a friend who had a track record of calling him a coward or a liar for not ‘picking’ the gender he wanted to be with. It hurt seeing Julian struggle with all the feelings revolving around Will, but it was one hundred percent real.

Sky was such a beautiful, creative character. I was intrigued with his first appearance on page. He’s smart, kind, sensitive and is everything that Julian needs at this moment of his life. They were so great to each other. Listening, reassuring, understanding, supportive. It’s what everyone needs in a relationship and they had it.

Julian’s relationship with his Dad was touching. They were unsure of where they stood with each other but they learned how to be father and son again. Julian learned that family doesn’t have to be traditional, but happiness is important. To lie to yourself is to set yourself up for some pretty tough times. His mother’s reaction broke my heart. Like damn, why did it have to happen that way. I was pretty close to crying at one point and that isn’t an easy feat with me.

This book left me feeling hopeful, happy and excited for the possibilities that life could bring. I thoroughly enjoyed this, plan on buying a physical copy, and making sure I recommend this to everyone I think needs this in their life. If you are a YA fan, this is definitely worth a read – and very likely a reread.

Get your copy here

First Time by Stella Starling

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: Cody McPherson is a high school senior everyone says is destined for the NFL. Simon Andrews is the transfer student who doesn’t want any attention. It’s 2007 and no one is out at Hamilton High School, but there’s a first time for everything, and when biology tutoring sparks the kind of chemistry not found in textbooks, 2007 starts to look like the year that there will be a lot of firsts at Hamilton…

First Time is a coming-of-age gay romance novella of approximately 34,000 words. Every Stella Starling romance takes place in the same interconnected, contemporary world, and First Time is a prequel to Cody and Simon’s present-day love story, which will be told in the novel Second Chance, scheduled for release in 2019.

The Review

This was such a sweet read 😍 I wish there had been more. I love a good coming of age, first-time, YA Romance. And this had everything you could want for a mature reader (I say mature because there is a sex scene towards the end that definitely steps over into the NA genre)

Cody McPherson is the star of the football team and is expected to make it to the big leagues. He just needs to get his biology grade up to par to keep playing and to make sure he keeps those scholarships he’s been offered. He’s been keeping his head down, not looking at his team mates in the locker room and managed to get away with not dating throughout high school because he was focusing on football. Simon Andrews is a nobody and just wants to make it through high school without causing any waves and to make sure he gets a scholarship so he can finally be himself without any barriers.

Cody has been fighting his attraction to Simon since Simon started tutoring him. He’s smart, kind, funny, and sweet. He’s everything that Cody wants but thinks he can’t have. Simon thinks Cody is a straight jock that’s completely off limits. They are so cute with each other. They both get flustered, stumble over their words when they are around each other, and dissolve into shy smiles and laughter. It reminded me of the first relationship jitters that everyone gets. You’re happy, excited and want everything all at once. This was exactly how they were with each other.

Cody’s friends melted my heart. They were supportive and had his back, just like they would have on the football field. They had me smiling and laughing with how they were with both Cody and Simon. It didn’t matter that they were gay, or from different ends of the high school social ladder. They were there for each other.

By the time I finished reading this, I was in such a good mood. It was exactly what I needed.

I wish there had been more tutoring scenes, awkward dates and maybe meeting Simon’s mom scene. I know it’s a novella, and there’s a full length book featuring their second chance romance, but I just needed more!! I’m definitely going to be reading more by Stella Starling.

Get your copy here!

 

 

 

 

Struck by Victoria Kinniard

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary:

Capes are stupid.
Superheroes are just wishful thinking.
True love doesn’t exist.
I’m not a hero.
Well…not yet.

***

A seventeen-year-old hacker, a group of teenage superheroes and one hell of a family secret come together to form the perfect storm.
Are you ready to get struck?

The Review

I have a weakness for Superheroes and YA books. So I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read Struck. 

Ethan is a small-town hacker who already knows how to his own version of justice done until he was struck. Now he’s trying to figure out what exactly his power it is and how the Lightning Project is going to be doing good for the world. I loved Ethan. He is so freaking sarcastic and witty he had me cackling at times. Everyone needs a friend like Ethan in their lives.

Ethan doesn’t also immediately buy into the Lightning Project. He challenges it like a teenager would. He wants to know as much as he can about the Project and to understand it before he accepts his new role. I enjoyed all the other characters as well. They helped push the story along and each proved vital to the story line in their own ways. I particularly enjoyed Esther and her teasing nature. She was fun for more than just her powers.

I enjoyed the romance between Ethan and Adam. It wasn’t all roses and there were moments that I wanted to shake both of them but they got their act together. But they were sweet to each other in that teenage way. I loved the little flirty moments mixed in with all the action. It made this extremely fun to read and I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Get your copy here

Blackout by Kit Mallory

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: For 16-year-old Skyler, fear is a way of life. For three years, since the Wall split the UK in two, her survival as an illegal Northern refugee in the South has been a perilous balancing act between staying in the shadows and clinging to her reputation as the South’s best hacker.

Fellow refugee Mackenzie is a ghost from her past she’d rather ignore. But when their paths collide unexpectedly, Skyler sees an opportunity to exact revenge on the brutal regime that destroyed her home and family – even if it means she goes down with them.

Forced, with extreme reluctance, on the run together, Skyler and Mackenzie, along with enigmatic contract killer Angel, must find a way to outrun not only the Board and the South’s most sadistic crime lord, but their own personal demons. If they can manage to not end up murdering each other in the process, that’ll be a bonus.

But more is at stake than any of them realise. And Skyler, who has long believed she has nothing left to lose, is about to discover just how wrong she is.

 

The Review

Blackout by Kit Mallory is a post-apocalyptic story of survival, fighting for what is right and friendship. Skyler is an illegal Northern refugee who has been living in the South as a hacker. She’s been living in the cellar of one of the most ruthless of men in the North in order to continue living on the inhabitable side of the wall. When the opportunity comes knocking with the possibility of taking down the people who destroyed the North, how can she pass it by? Even if she goes down with them?

She can’t help but steal the extra drive off of Mackenzie. She gets far more than she ever thought she was end up with. She’s on the run from both the Board and Daniel Redruth’s men as she tries to find enough electricity, someone to fix her gear and a safe place to extract all the information that she can in order to make a move.

During the process Skyler ends up with a group of people who are just as dedicated to taking the Board down as she is. There’s Angel who is a contract killer and a healer, the twins, Mackenzie and others on the seedier side of the law who all aim to help. They each have their own history and reason for wanting to take down Redruth and the Board.

What I enjoyed about Blackout was the fact that I was able to get lost in the story. I was there with Skyler, Angel and Mackenzie. I could feel the tension, the anxiety and the fear that each of these characters felt throughout the book. The further along in their plans, the more and more I could see the attraction between Skyler and Angel. It was a subtle undercurrent. They cared about each other from the first meeting, developed a friendship and it ultimately culminated in a romantic attraction.

There are time jumps throughout that told as memories. These scenes are situated in a way that reads fluidly and helped push the story along. Usually I’m not a fan of this kind of writing but it helped me understand the motivations and how these teenagers grew to who they are.

And that ending?! Wow.

The romantic relationship isn’t the shining star in this novel but don’t let that stop you from reading this. I really enjoyed every page of this book.

 

Bonus, questions with the author, Kit Mallory!

 

Where did your inspiration for Blackout come from? I see parallels to events today and in the past but I wonder what sparked this for you?

 

I started writing Blackout back in 2012, and the original concept for the setting grew out of a few things. One was a long-standing fascination with the Berlin Wall and what that must have been like for the people who lived through it – it seems like such an outlandish concept, and yet it happened so recently – the Wall didn’t come down until after I was born.

 

The other big influence was the North/South divide in the UK, which is a thing that’s often talked about here – I spent a long time living in Yorkshire and it’s very clear that in many ways London and the south-east have access to a lot of finances and resources that are more limited in other areas. And finally, of course, there’s been an awareness for a long time that fossil fuels are a finite resource and that we over-rely on them, and ever since I was a kid I’ve wondered about what the eventual consequences of that might be.

 

Several people have commented on how the setup in Blackout seems increasingly plausible, and one of the most unsettling things for me is that although what happens in Blackout seems very extreme, we know that governments absolutely do do terrible things to their own people (Syria being an obvious current example, but there are dozens more, of course) and the political landscape in the UK and the US has changed so dramatically since I started writing Blackout in ways I would never have imagined were possible. It makes me think anything is possible, and not in a good way.

 

Are you working on or planning any future projects?

 

I’m working on the sequel to Blackout right now! I couldn’t possibly leave the gang there, haha. I am TERRIBLE with giving away spoilers so I won’t say too much about it, but it’s definitely coming! I’m aiming to have that out in the next 12 months. I’m also working on a YA contemporary fantasy series and another standalone book that’s technically YA fantasy but is turning out much darker and more of a psychological thriller. All of them are f/f.

 

Blackout is due out May 8, 2018 and is available for pre-order here !! 

Take Your Medicine – Hannah Carmack

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Four out of Five Stars!

The Summary:  Alice “Al” Liddell is from Echola, Alabama. She leads the life of a normal teen until the day she’s diagnosed with vasovagal syncope – a fainting disorder which causes her to lose consciousness whenever she feels emotions too strongly.

Her mother, the “Queen of Hearts,” is the best cardiothoracic surgeon this side of the Mason-Dixon Line and a bit of a local hero. Yet, even with all her skill she is unable to cure her daughter of her ailment, leading Al into the world of backwater witchcraft.

Along the way she meets a wacky cast of characters and learns to accept her new normal.

Take Your Medicine is a southern gothic retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The Review

Alice “Al” Liddel had lived a normal life until she was diagnosed with vasovagal syncope, a fainting disorder that causes her to lose consciousness whenever she feels emotions too strongly. Since her diagnosis she has been at home, bouncing between doctor and doctor to see if someone can find a cure for her illness.

One day as she’s out in the orchard behind the property of her house, she runs into Kat and Rabbit. Two very unique girls who offer to help her in a nontraditional way, with herbs, spells and potions. It’s a bit shocking for Al to see people so different than herself. I love the cast of characters that show up, they bring you deeper into Wonderland.

What I really admired about this was the fact that I felt like I was there. I live in the south (Louisiana) and I could hear the cicadas, feel the heat and know what it’s like to spend hours in the garden (vegetable in my case) making sure everything would flourish.

Al also normalized vasovagal syncope. It had become a part of her life that she dealt with and she wasn’t letting it stop her from exploring the world that Rabbit and Kate were willing to show her. There were times where I cracked up laughing because Al was going to get mad, or going to have a conversation but well, there went all her plans of doing so when she fainted. Oh well.

While some people would have seen Al giving the tea and everything else Rabbit offered her as crazy but I didn’t. I completely understood why she would try it. Even thought she was firmly rooted in traditional medicine, when you go to enough doctors who can’t figure out what’s wrong? You are willing to try anything. I speak from experience.

In the course of all of this, Al starts to learn more and more about herself and what true friends really are. You might get into an arguments like Rabbit and Kat did, but you find a way to work them out.

The only thing I didn’t like was it was so short! I wanted there to be more! (Which is always a good thing) I would have liked to see a bit more development between Al and Rabbit. I was really hoping for a little more than what we got but I loved this so much.

Would I recommend this? Oh definitely. Go pre-order it! I loved every minute of it and read it in one sitting. That’s how much I liked it.

 

Pre-Order Here at NineStar Press