Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy | Julie Murphy Hits Me in the Feelings Again

content warnings: biphobia/homophobia (challenged on page), poverty, hurricanes, emotional abuse

Ramona is just trying to keep her head above water. Her family lives in a trailer (caravan) after hurricane Katrina ruined their lives. Ramona works crazy jobs for terrible pay just so she can afford to live and and maybe save a little. But then her childhood friend Freddie returns, and her sister gets pregnant and suddenly everything is up in the air and Ramona doesn’t know what’s going on. She thought she was a lesbian but she can feel romantic feelings growing for Freddie, and she feels like she isn’t as sure of herself as she once was.

What a fantastic portrayal of poverty. I feel like that’s one thing that’s missed out on in YA. But this did not beat around the bush. Ramona lives in a trailer in Louisiana and has done since Hurricane Katrina with her dad and her older sister. And as someone that has affected so many people in America I’m actually so surprised I haven’t read something from this perspective before. And to be honest I’m surprised I’ve never read a book from a teen in poverty like this. It was no holds barred and so harsh but that’s what poverty is.

There was also some discussion about racism in the book, as Freddie is black and Ramona is white and she isn’t as aware of the racial problems in America and they have fights and discussions about that and I thought that was important and you could see Ramona learning from it.

Ramona was a very interesting character. She’s very real, in that I went through stages of really liking her and then not really caring for her. And I loved that. It didn’t feel like Murphy was pandering by making her overly likeable in such a terrible situation.

The characters around Ramona were a mess. Her mother was just ugh, her dad tried really hard, her sister was supportive of Ramona but easily walked over, her friends were at time super supportive and others not the best, and Freddie was definitely an idiot a lot of the time. But the person I loved the most was Freddie’s grandma. She was an absolute sweetheart and I wish I knew someone like her.

I grew up really loving swimming and still love it so that element of this was so nice. Like he scenes where Ramona was in the pool and getting back into the swing of the strokes was so relatable and lovely.

I’ve read all but one of Murphy’s books that are out so far and at this point she is 100% an autobuy author. Everything I have read has been so good. She has this wonderful way of making some heavy topics light hearted but not in an offensive way, and hitting you in the feelings when you least expect it, whilst also being so easy to read.

This book was hit with negative press before it was released because people read the blurb in an entirely wrong context and thought it was about a lesbian being turned. Which is just a mess, and more than a bit biphobic to be honest. Don’t let the negative press sway you. This book is GOOD.

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Youtube
Goodreads
Instagram

Advertisements

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Thank you to Amulet books and netgalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! I was so glad I was approved for this because it was definitely one of my most hyped books.

Laila is a teen writer and her English teacher is her biggest fan. She is forever giving him her new stories and he tells her how much he adores them. Until her teacher gets in a big car accident and she gets a substitute. To start Laila is excited as the new teacher is also an award winning writer, but she is very hard on Laila and this causes her to struggle with not only her writing but her identity.

The main character of this story is pansexual. Do you know how much that means to me? Laila really struggles with this part of herself as she has been raised to believe that girls should be ashamed of their sexuality. This is said on page. And this is the first time I’ve actually been able to comment on sexuality representation from an experienced perspective and I’m so happy about this. I absolutely adored the representation. I wish this book had been around when I was younger because I think I may have realised I was pan much sooner than I did. She also is plus size and has anxiety, so I related to Laila so much to be honest. And if you consider yourself to be any of these things I would thoroughly recommend reading it. Laila is also half Ecuadorian, but obviously I can’t speak on this representation. However it was plainly obvious that the author wanted to make this an important part of the novel. All throughout there is discussions over being mixed race and being Ecuadorian, and not knowing where she fit in. I’ve never read an Ecuadorian MC and I found that so refreshing. I did try to find a review from an Ecuadorian person but I could not, if you know of any let me know!

This book is sapphic, but I don’t want to spoil that for you. However the one thing for me that let this book down for me and meant it wasn’t a favourite was that the romance was just a little too subtle for me. I kind of didn’t recognise it happening at all until about 70% of the way in. And that might be great for you! That might be the type of romance you like. I’m more of a heavy hitting romance type.

The narrative of this novel is very much internalised, there is a lot of Laila’s struggles with her writing, her friendships and her anxiety. Sometimes I struggled with reading the book because of this, not in a bad way but it could get heavy occasionally and I wasn’t quite in the mood for that.

As this was my first Riley Redgate novel I wasn’t sure what to expect, and whilst people were hyping it up, I was pleasantly surprised (I have trust issues with hyped books). Now I need to catch up on all Redgate’s books!

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Youtube
Goodreads
Instagram

Contour by Meg Harding

Content warnings: homophobia, biphobia (i think), transphobia

Jamie, also known as Roxy is a huge beauty youtuber, who takes no nonsense. He’s gained a lot of fans through his very blunt attitude but he’s not been so lucky in love. And then he stumbles on an instagram account, owned by a fit model who owns a gorgeous dog, Tyler. They DM back and forth and things get serious real fast.

So Roxy reminded me a bit of Jeffree Star but if JS wasn’t an absolutely terrible human. And it was so good to read what I want him to be as a character. Using your social media presence for good. I say Roxy because Roxy and Jamie are 2 completely different characters. Roxy I didn’t care much for but Jamie was my absolute fave he was so self conscious and just so scared to let anyone in. And then Jamie was so instant on getting Jamie out of his shell as the part of him that isn’t projected on thousands of people’s screens.

I just loved that they connected over instagram. It felt like looking into the lives of the influencers/youtubers that I follow. The way it was written by Harding really made me feel like the characters were actual people.

The writing was super addictive. I think I read this really quick. I felt so invested in this relationship and when things were going well I just wanted to read more of them and when things weren’t going so well I wanted to read more until things were good again.

There was some really nice friendships in this and I loved that there was a lot of discussion over blurring the gender binary lines. Jamie is both feminine and masculine at the same time, and it’s super important to him. And Tyler is so accepting and I just love it.

 

Amazon

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

Permanent Ink by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

Content warnings: sex, substance abuse, arrest, alcoholism, age gap, s&m.

As the cover suggests, Permanent Ink contains a Daddy and tattoos. And I am a big fan of both concepts. Poe is a mess, he doesn’t know where he’s going in life and only cares about tagging. Until he gets arrested. Then his dad helps him get a job in a tattoo parlour and thats where he meets Jericho, the gruff older man who Poe is instantly head over heels for.

I read this after Off the Ice, and I liked it but because Off the Ice was so good for me this was a bit of a disappointment. Not that it’s bad in anyway but when you go from one of your new fave books to a book by the same authors that doesn’t quite live up to it you just feel a bit meh. I think this paled in comparison simply because I didn’t feel quite as much of a connection to the characters.

I really loved the relationship between Poe and Jericho. They respect each other and work hard on keeping each other’s trust. Poe wants to be better for Jericho and Jericho wants to help a kid he sees a lot of himself in.  I think Jericho is a stand out for me. he’s just such a sweetheart. Whereas Poe is a bit of a knob at times and I didn’t like him sometimes and wanted to smack him. I did however love that Poe is bi. Too often m/m romances are just 2 gay guys and it made me happy to see a lil bit of diversity in that respect.

The age gap works really well, both characters are really aware of it and try to work around it and make sure there is 100% consent and nothing’s dodgy. The language in sex scenes kind of bothered me. Mainly because I don’t really like dirty talk, and I was just uncomfortable, I just cringe. So y’know be aware if you also don’t like dirty talk.

Amazon

Follow me:
Twitter
Youtube
Goodreads
Instagram

Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

Content warning: homophobia, teacher student relationship, sex

Tristan is a pretty famous hockey player but knows his career won’t last forever so in between practices he is working on getting his degree. What he doesn’t expect is for one of his classes to be taught by a very attractive professor, which could stand to affect not only his schooling but his career.

I read this book pretty soon after I quit uni and it was honestly the perfect book for that period of time. Expectedly I was in a bit of a funk and whilst this didn’t pull me out of it, it definitely was a bit of a release.

As someone who was training to be a teacher the concept of teacher/student really grosses me out unless it’s like this book in which its 2 adults close in age who can consent or stuff like grad students who assist undergraduates.

I think what I really loved about this book was the characters. Neither Tristan or Sebastian wants anything to happen to begin with but their attraction to each other is no joke. I fell in love with them as they fell in love with each other. They were just so easy to read.

There was also a lot of discussion throughout about gay guys in sport, and being in the closet etc. Whilst the authors aren’t gay sports stars it felt like they did a lot of research and put a lot of care an attention into it. This has made me more interested to read books from these authors because they obviously put a lot into their work.

I’ve read a lot of romance novels of late as I haven’t been super in the mood for fantasy or anything between going from quitting uni to working night shift to now having a 9-5 job things were a bit of a mess and now they’ve settled down I am getting back into more heavy reading. This book was a definite stand out for me in the mix of romance novels I was reading.

Amazon

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski – Could’ve been cute but was let down with poor language and characterisation

Content warning: Ableism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia

Meg and Linus are queer best friends, who love Star Trek and each other. As they start their senior year things start to change in their lies, some for the good and some not so good. This is your classic coming of age story but from 2 queer kids.

So basically I just did not give a flying toss about Meg. The book is all about her and Linus’ friendship but I just wish it had been only from Linus’ POV. Yeah it’s great to have a half sapphic half m/m novel, but she was just infuriating. Whereas Linus is a small bean who just needs to be protected. Now I’m a fan of anti-heroes and unlikeable characters as it brings something different to the table but this was more a case of she was just an annoying character that you could tell the writer wanted to be likeable but did not come off that way.

The language use in this book is not great, there’s a lot of casual ableism, and some transphobic language too. Linus is fat, and whilst it’s not shown necessarily as a bad thing it’s also got a couple of moments where the way he’s regarded by the author is less than positive. Like it was nice to read a contemporary with a fat boy but it felt a bit rocky.

Despite this, as my only trigger is death, it was an easy read for me. And it was nice to read a contemporary of this type. But I just expected more really.

In terms of the plot, I felt like at times it dragged a bit, the book is short but with Meg’s story line it kind of felt like pulling teeth. Linus’ story move a much steadier pace but I would’ve liked to have it continued and have some more about his life.

I was glad this was a library book rather than a book I purchased because I think I would’ve been annoyed I paid for it, but it was an ok light read and was good for the reading mood I was in at the time.

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Content warnings: abuse, parental abuse, runaways, homophobia, eating disorders, depression

Frances is obsessed with a podcast of outer space adventures, and she is known for doing incredible fan art, in her spare time between studying for her exams to get into Cambridge.Then she meets Aled, who is the writer and voice behind her podcast and they realise who each other are and begin to collaborate. But then life takes a bit of an unexpected turn.

Radio Silence wasn’t what I expected. I saw a lot of people I follow on twitter talking about it throughout my time in the book community and I thought it would be some sort of thriller contemporary but it was not. And whilst I was a bit confused for a lot of this book, like a thriller would be, but it was more just figuring out what’s going on with characters and why they choose to act the way they do.

There were some super strong friendships between people of the same gender and of different genders and I loved that about this book. As well as a diverse range of sexualities, including our MC being bisexual and Aled being either ace or demi. And there is lots of on page discussion of sexualities and feelings and what not and it was good to read.

I wasn’t really sure what to make of the writing style. It didn’t grab me as much as I would’ve liked. It took me a while to finish this book. And I would say it started off really slow and whilst it eventually got going about the midway point it didn’t have the pace I normally like from novels.

I liked that there was discussion of fandoms as well as podcasts. As someone who is an avid listener of My Favourite Murder, occasionally Lore and Serial and some others it was cool to read about a viral podcast.

There is also a lot of discussion of abusive behaviour from behaviour that is not physical and is about forcing your children to do things through manipulation. Whilst this could be triggering for some folk I feel like it could also be helpful depending on where your mind is at.

All in all I would recommend Radio Silence if you’re into more character driven stories, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Alice Oseman’s work.

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

Heart of the Steal by Avon Gale and Roan Parrish

Content warning: age gap, sex

So this is the first book I’ve read by Avon Gale or Roan Parrish who I’ve seen a lot of buzz for in the romance reading side of the community that I follow on twitter. I adore age gap fiction (so long as it’s done consensually and tastefully of course) so I thought this would be a great start.

Amory Vaughn is rich as heck but he enjoys stealing. He doesn’t need to do it, everything he steals he could buy, but he enjoys the thrill. When he comes across William Fox he decides he wants to show off by stealing him a super expensive painting but what Vaughn doesn’t know is that William is part of the stolen art task force of the FBI.

I think my one problem with this book is that there was a little bit of drama but it just made my eyes roll. And yeah of course books don’t need to have a drama, you can just have a happy book but the plot was kind of just dull for me. What kept me reading this book was the characters and how much I loved them.

There’s a really sweet part of the story where William wants to adopt a kitten and Vaughn isn’t for it, but eventually Vaughn comes around and falls for the kitten. It really kind of describes them as characters. William is a massive softy and keeps coming back to Vaughn despite him being a thief and the type of rich who pays for problems to be erased. And Vaughn is a massive hardass, with a secret soft centre who just wants to protect those he loves in the best way he knows how, with his money.

I really did love reading the interactions between the two when they were getting to know each other and when they were fighting over certain things. I wish the plot went a little bit further than it did but that’s more my tastes than the book. I will be reading more from this pair in the future though because they write lovely characters and fantastic sex scenes.

 

Amazon

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If you know anything about lgbt+ YA books then you will have heard of this book. It has been everywhere the past couple years, with a huge reason behind that being that this book was part of the Zoella book club. This is why I will never say anything bad about Zoella’s book club because she is bringing books like this to teen girls who either aren’t huge readers or just may not have heard of this.

content warnings: transphobia, homophobia, sexual harassment, suicide attempt discussion, forced outing

If I Was Your Girl follows Amanda who is a trans teen who has moved to a new school. She wants to start off at this new school on a whole new leaf, without anyone knowing her history. She makes friends with a few people but she is always concerned that they will find out and all her new relationships will fall apart. On top of all that she has a fragile relationship with her dad.

Right off the bat, I am not trans, I am a cis woman so I don’t pretend to know about the representation in this book or the challenges that trans people go through. I tried to find an own voices review to link to but struggled, and I don’t have much time on my hands right now but if you know of one please send me the link and I will edit this review to include it.

This book was so easy to read. Now when I say easy I don’t mean the subject matter was easy to read because it 100% was not but the way it was written it just flowed and was unputdownable. I had to know what was going to happen next. I ate it up. Sometimes I had to put it down for a minute just to gather myself because it’s intense, but so worth it.

I adored Amanda, I just wanted to take her under my wing and look after her. She’s just a poor wee soul and deserves all the love. The rest of the characters are so well developed as well and it makes reading really tough content a joy. You hope Amanda’s new friends are accepting when they find out because they’re just so nice in the course of their friendship with Amanda and are so welcoming. You want Amanda to have friends who will be friends with her no matter what.

I’ve read a few reviews talking about the fact that Amanda gets forcibly outed and how they hated reading that and they wish that it had happened for Amanda a different way. And I totally get that, I felt so uncomfortable reading it and I could tell from the way it was being written that it was going to happen, there was this kind of gloomy feeling building up (great technique by the way). But I feel like marking the book down for that isn’t the right way to go about it, as it is an own voices review. Yeah sure if it was from a cis writer I wouldn’t be happy because it wouldn’t be their place to have the discussion, but this is Russo’s lane and she felt that this was this discussion needed to be had i the literary world from her own experiences.

Overall I think this book tackled the trans issues so well, now of course every human is different and every experience is different so if you are going into this thinking that this is the epitome of the trans experience it is not and nothing ever will be. The author herself is trans and the cover picture on the US edition also features a trans girl which is so damn important. Russo has 2 authors notes at the end of the book, one for trans readers and one for cis readers. The one for trans readers nearly had me in tears and the one for cis readers was really important for highlighting to readers what I have just said about this not being THE experience of trans people.

Also I just want to highlight how disrespectful I think it is that whoever wrote the blurb did not include that Amanda is trans just that she has a “secret” like that completely alienates the people that this book is for.

This book does tackle a lot of really intense issues and I just want to make it clear that if you are interested in reading this book now but are worried it may trigger you and you would like to have a discussion with me to see if it something you can read my inbox is always open, my contact email is listed on my about page and my twitter is listed below.

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

 

Mini Reviews #4

22929829

Glutton for Pleasure by Alisha Rai

This is a polyamorous book with chubby Indian representation. I liked the idea of this book and the book itself is good for the most part, however I did occasionally find the twins awkward to read and I sometimes felt uncomfortable by it. This is possibly because the were twins but I don’t know.

 

 

31193155

 

The Melody of You and Me by M. Hollis

This is a short and sweet sapphic book that if you’re looking to read something f/f could warm you up. I have to say thought, I read this sometime ago and can’t much remember it, but I did enjoy it.

 

 

 

35606210

 

Team Phison by Chace Verity

You know I love modern romances and this one springs from a video game multiplayer. It’s age gap m/m, and quite funny and sweet. I enjoyed this one and if you’re in a romance mood I recommend it.

 

 

29331371

 

Prom Queen Perfect by Clarisse David

Ah this one was so adorable, hate to love of some kids who grew up together, starring a queen bee, as opposed to an unpopular person. Super sweet and has some Filipino representation.

 

 

 

23459908

 

Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans

This is 2 trans people with chronic pain falling for each other, and it’s kind of heart breaking but kind of lovely at the same time. I wasn’t really sure about the characters to be honest but I think it’s an incredibly important book that can help people who are trans with chronic pain in finding someone they can relate to in a book.

 

 

 

23357716

 

Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler

This was really sweet and I’m excited to read the rest of the series as there is some pansexual representation in the third book. I really loved the relationship with a teaching assistant as it doesn’t have the power imbalance that dating a professor does but it’s similar in the trope context, and personally makes me more comfortable considering how old some professors are. And the MCs brothers were absolutely adorable.

 

 

 

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram