Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Oh my god where do I start on this book.

cw: closeting, mormons, homophobia

Autoboyography is about Tanner, a boy who had to move to Utah and go back in the closet after being out as bi in California. In his final year of high school he takes a class where he has to write a book in a semester. And he begins to fall for the mentor of this course, who is a mormon boy.

I absolutely adored this book. I read it just after I dropped out of my uni course and had tons of time on my hands and just sped through it in one night. I think it tackled the issues involved beautifully. I just felt so heartbroken and so full at the same time when I finished it. I had to hold myself back from buying a copy in Waterstones the other week, but I really want to buy it and read it again to be honest.

I absolutely adored Sebastian and Tanner, and their relationship. They both make some dodgy choices and mess up, but it just reads so well because you know they are just trying to find their place in their world.

It was interesting to read about their relationship as someone who doesn’t know too much about Mormons I felt like I learnt about them with Tanner. It felt well researched.

Making Tanner a bi character was a really good choice from the author, they could’ve made him gay, but they chose to have him represent a sexuality that can often get left behind and it’s so important to have more representation for bisexual people. I think it also brought some more interesting situations that wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t bi. And whilst I’m not bi, I am pan and those sexualities are pretty similar and some of Tanner’s emotions were so relatable to me. Ugh I just loved him.

I honestly don’t really know what else to say bar loving this book and wanting everyone to read it.

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Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame | Addictive but Not Good

Where to start with this book?

Content warnings: slight incest, cheating

So I got this out of the library because I wanted to read something “trashy” and Joanne has read it and said it was ok and she knows someone who knows the author because hey she’s from Scotland, and everyone in Scotland knows each other.

And yeah this book is pretty trashy. But it keeps you reading it. Like I couldn’t stop reading it even though I was rolling my eyes constantly.

Basically, our MC goes to LA for the summer to spend time with her estranged father and his new family. There she meets her step brother Tyler who she immediately does not get along with. But then she finds out things more about him and begins to understand.

Now I didn’t make any notes for this because I’m an idiot and read it so quickly. I think had I not been so addicted to this I would’ve put it down and not picked it up again, which is what happened with Book 2. However, I did read this in the space of a day.

The characters are so draining. Eden is your typical “I’m not like other girls” who looks down on others and whilst there’s some positive female friendships there’s also some really catty parts. And don’t get me started on Tyler, that boy is such a prat. And like yeah he has past trauma and he’s like actually a multifaceted character but I’m supposed to like him when his development is like a snail pace. He made me so angry.

Also like this book is almost incest. If you watch porn you’ve probably seen the influx of “doing my step sister” videos. If you like those this is for you. And like, ok they’re step siblings but it was still weird.

All in all, if you want to read something that’s not deep just for a bit of a breather then read this but then maybe look up the blurbs of the sequels because I couldn’t make it past 2 chapters of the second book. I was so bored.

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It Started With Goodbye by Christina June

Thank you to netgalley and Blink for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book follows Tatum, who in an unfortunate chain of events she has managed to be arrested for a crime she didn’t commit and charged with community service. She’s lost her only friend and is stuck in house arrest with the step mother she doesn’t like. She does however get on with her Abuela and decides to start a graphic design company. In doing so she starts to exchange emails with someone and begins to fall for them.

I’m going to be honest: I have very little recognition of this novel. I remember liking it at the time but I don’t remember much of the plot or what I thought about it. And that’s partly because I didn’t take any notes but it seems to be a theme in reviews I read to remind myself.

I remember liking this book, enjoying the story but it was nothing new. It was a kind of Cinderella retelling that felt like it didn’t bring anything fresh to the table. As I’m writing this I have just finished reading Geekerella by Ashley Poston and this was a Cinderella retelling that was different and was fresh and it’s hard not to compare the two.

I think if you haven’t read many Cinderella retellings or watched them then hey you might like this more than I did. And don’t get me wrong I thought this book was fine, it just wasn’t anything to write home about, clearly, as I have forgotten it.

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Love Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Thank you to Hot Key Books and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Content warnings: terrorism, islamophobia

This was one of my most hyped books of the year, I can’t tell you how many emails I sent to the publisher asking for an arc (I think I have the wrong email for them so clearly it never mattered).

Maya is an American born Indian Muslim growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. She doesn’t know how to tell her parents she wants to go to school for film and she doesn’t know how to tell them she likes a white boy. But then her life changes when there is a terrorist with the same name as her and her community turn against her.

Now I’m not Muslim or Indian so I cannot talk about the rep for this book but I have found reviews for this conflicting for representation. From Fadwa absolutely adoring the book, to Ilsa not being convince by the representation, so just be aware.

I absolutely adored this book. I liked that it wasn’t completely centred on the terrorism and Islamophobia, though it plays a huge part, but just about the life of a Muslim Indian girl growing up in America. It’s part of it, because hey terrorism is so part of all our lives now and it’s so important to show that from the perspective of someone who is POC in America. But we also see her life as your average teenage girl and I think Ahmed balances both part of the novel perfectly.

I read this book super quickly and could not put it down. At times I wish it had been just a little bit longer but that’s just me.

This book is, cute, poignant and heartbreaking and along with books like THUG should be core reading for anyone growing up in today’s world, and adults too.

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Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper UK for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Our main characters are unlikely friends, Gabby is completely introverted whereas Ryan is a huge extrovert. But they are super close and the novel starts with them sleeping together at the end of their final year of high school before going back in time so the reader can find out the top ten moments of their friendship that lead to this moment.

This was fun if slightly disappointing. I’ve heard good things about Cotugno and how she’s one of the queens of contemporary YA, but this was just fine.

One thing I liked about this book is that the main character is bisexual and this is on page. She talks about her attraction to boys and girls, and if my memory serves me correctly she has relationships with both (I read this a while ago and my memory is hay I’m sorry). This isn’t something we find often in YA contemporary with an opposite sex main relationship.

The way the story was told was really interesting, it’s told from dual points of view and through 4 years of high school. I thought this was a cool different take on contemporary, but because this is only the top 10 moments of their friendship/relationship we only get to see those 10 moments and I would personally prefer seeing more, I would prefer seeing the day to day life as well as these moments.

I think this is what caused me to not connect with this novel in the way I would like to. The pacing is good because it is super fast to get through the 10 moments but that caused me to not really connect to the characters, like I didn’t have any emotional feelings towards the relationship and just didn’t really care. That isn’t to say I won’t try more of Cotugno’s work because it was fun to read and one of those books that you read when you’ve got a lot going on and you don’t need to pay a lot of attention to the plot.

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I Heart Hollywood by Lindsey Kelk

Content warnings: outing ultimatums, gay closeting

I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as the first in the series, I felt like some of the characters were slightly off. Kelk’s writing was as humorous as ever, but something wasn’t quite right.

The title being I Heart Hollywood when Angela absolutely hated it was wildly confusing. I felt like because Angela just felt so awkward and uncomfortable and sad the entire time she was there diminished my enjoyment.

The biggest problem I had with this book was that a character is gay and in the closet, and Angela finds out and (I can’t quite remember it exactly as I read this a while ago) but there was some kind of ultimatum/forced outing kind of plot to it. I realise that this may be seen as a spoiler but stuff like this shouldn’t be as it’s something that can be harmful and we should be aware of this. I hope that Kelk is aware that this is something that isn’t ok, but this book was written some time ago so I’m not super angry about it. But I did not like it. And I feel a little less positively about the series. I do however still want to continue it.

I really felt for Alex in this novel as he was just in New York whilst his girlfriend was off on some work thing falling apart and being a general nuisance. I hope the next book has more Alex because I really like his character.

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I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk

Now as I’ve been away I’ve kind of fallen out of my way of reviewing so I apologise if it’s a bit clunky. I also read this way back in September so my memories are a bit hazy but I’m going to try.

CW for: cheating, slut shaming.

After Angela finds her boyfriend of X amount of years having sex with another woman at her best friends wedding, and they all knew about it, she makes a last minute decision and flies across the pond to New York. She has no return flight and limited funds but she ends up really finding her feet and a new best friend. And her love life is heating up too.

I love Lindsey Kelk’s writing. She’s so funny and her characters’ voices are always just so real for me. This is Jess’ favourite book so I’ve always had my eye on it and I finally got it from the library and whilst it wasn’t perfect I did really enjoy reading it.

In regards the slut shaming it’s not great. There’s often mentions of sleeping around not being great and that it’s something to be judged for but there’s also some really sex positive scenes. However, as much as I felt uncomfortable reading the slut shaming, I tried to remember that this came out in 2008 and SO much has changed with people’s attitudes to sex especially with the mainstreaming of hook up apps.

Now because I went to a signing I already knew who the end game was out of the semi love triangle that there was in this book. But I don’t think that ruined it for me because reading it you could just tell from Kelk’s tone who she wanted her character to be with.

It may read to you as questionable what the main character does in this book after having her heart broken by someone cheating on her but it happens in real life. You get treated like an idiot by a man who completely betrays you so you just want to get back at all man kind and date a couple guys at once. Obviously it’s not the best thing to do. But it’s understandable.

This kind of book is perfect for when you want a light read to just take your mind off of everything and I love that sometimes as I have a lot of stress in my life. Eventually I’ll get around to reading the whole series.

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The Lady of Royale Street by Thea De Salle – Everyone is back for a reprise but main romance is less than I hoped

Rain and Sol from The King of Bourbon Street are getting married (oops spoilers), and everyone is flying in to be there for the special day, but a week before the wedding the wedding planner dies after leaking all the wedding information. So income Theresa, Rain’s best friend, and Alex, Sol’s brother, to save the day, and maybe develop some feelings along the way.

I’ll be honest, this is my least favourite of the series so far. I wasn’t drawn to either of the characters and I didn’t find their relationship particularly compelling. It’s not a bad book, but it’s not as good as the previous two.

TW for ableism. There was a few parts where Theresa is described as being “crazy” or a “lunatic” which just felt really unnecessary. Other words could’ve been used.

What really helped this book for me was because it focuses around Rain and Sol’s wedding we get to see all the previous characters, whom I adore. We got to see my faves get married and continue to be absolutely wild.

Like I said in my Sanctuary review I’m super sensitive to Scottish descended characters and Theresa was the opposite of what I like in Scottish characters. She just felt super cringey to me, and it felt like the author was just putting it in there constantly. And she used the wrong form of whiskey.

It was just as easy to read as the previous novels from it’s style and you can definitely get through it in one sitting if you’re so inclined. And whilst I definitely had my qualms with this one I still enjoyed it.

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The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Kasie West and was really excited to read a book by her.

Caymen works in her mothers doll shop and they are struggling pretty hard with money. In walks Xander who Caymen instantly knows is rich and she wants nothing to do with him. But Xander just wants to get to know Caymen.

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t hugely into this book. It felt very white. Like the characters had such white troubles. Which sounds like a weird complaint but all the problems just felt so over complicated and pointless. It was pretty predictable as well.

I did however like Xander, the love interest. He was a sweetie and it often felt like Caymen was being horrible to him just because he’s rich and like he can’t help that. I also enjoyed that a lot of the novel was set in the doll shop that Caymen’s mum owned. Though it did make the book slightly creepier than it needed to be.

The pacing was really good, I sped through the book. Apart from the problems I had with it I did enjoy reading it. I just wanted more from it.

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Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Thank you to netgalley and Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Somehow when scheduling my posts I missed this one so I’m sorry if my review isn’t great because when I read this it was still May and now it’s September.

Alice buys her best friend, and crush, a lottery ticket for his 18th birthday and somehow it’s the winning ticket and Teddy comes into more money than you could even imagine. Then they have to navigate the new rich world they live in.

This kind of read just like any tv program where a young person comes into a lot of money. They go silly spending a lot of money, their friendship suffers, then they realise what they’ve done. And I’m sorry if you thank that’s a spoiler but I mean it’s the same story every time. The writing was good though, so I’d definitely be open to reading more stuff from Smith as I think she would be good with a less cliche story line.

There were 2 love interests in this book, though it wasn’t a love triangle it was just the main character trying to explore new people. Honest to god though Teddy was the worst guy ever, like honestly. He was just such a dick for the majority of the novel and I really struggled to feel sympathetic to Alice when her best friend was an arse and she knew it but continued to be upset by it. I get that they had a long history but my god I just wanted to slap that boy.

However I did feel like I read the book pretty quickly, so if you’re wanting a light read this might be the one for you. If you haven’t seen to many shows/films with a kid coming into a lot of money give it a shot because it was ok, but I’ve just seen it too many times.

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