ARC Reviews

ARC Review: Caterpillars Can’t Swim by Liane Shaw

SUMMARY

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Publisher: Second Story Press
Release Date: 12 Sep 2017
Received From: netgalley

Two boys look to the water for escape, but for very different reasons.

Ryan finds his freedom in the water, where he is not bound by gravity and his wheelchair. When he rescues his schoolmate, Jack, from the water their lives become connected, whether they like it or not. Ryan keeps Jack’s secret about that day in the water, but he knows that Jack needs help. The school is full of rumors about Jack’s sexuality, and he has few friends. Almost against his better judgement, Ryan decides to invite Jack on a trip to Comic Con he’s planned with his best friend Cody, the captain of the school’s swim team. The three boys make an unlikely combination, but they will each have the chance to show whether they are brave enough to go against the stereotypes the world wants to define them by.

GENDER SEXUALITY PAIRINGS

GENDER:  cisgender
SEXUALITY: heterosexual, queer
PAIRING:  none

TAGS TROPES WARNINGS

TROPES: accidental hero
TAGS: young adult, high school, queer
WARNINGS:  Slurs, bullying, attempted suicide, homophobia

REVIEW

I liked how Shaw created her characters- the main three developing in both different ways and different times. Especially Cody, I liked him the most out of the three. He went from the typical “jock” character to a somewhat of a cool guy. He’s got no filter sure, but his straight forward nature actually helped the other characters. and eventually he was the one saved Jack in the end.

Jeremy as a character was interesting. I loved Shaw’s take on cerebral palsy- it was factual and she obviously knew what she was talking about, granted she was a teacher and a special-needs helper for this reason. Also that he didn’t want peoples pity for him being in a wheelchair- he was him no matter what.

I feel like Shaw could have done much better for Jack as a character. He was nicely rounded and his emotions felt real for someone going through what he is experiencing, but I don’t think he got enough time on page to fully grow. He got the development he needed but there are still questions left unanswered.

I was excited by the plot of this book, but upon finishing it I have realized that it did not meet my expectations. It was good, but it could have been so much better. Jack’s coming out scene was too rushed and a lot more bonding could have happened at the Comic Con.

RATING

3 STARS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Liane Shaw is the author of several books for teens, including thinandbeautiful.com, Fostergirls, The Color of Silence, and Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell. Liane was an educator for more than 20 years. Now retired from teaching, Liane lives with her family in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario.

BUY LINKS

Secondstorypress

REVIEW BY KALLIN

 

Reviews for Already Published Books

Review: None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio

SUMMARY

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Publisher:  Balzer + Bray
Release Date: 04 Apr 2017
Received From: Netgalley

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong.

A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

GENDER SEXUALITY PAIRINGS

GENDER: intersex, cisgender
SEXUALITY:  heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual
PAIRING: F/M

TAGS TROPES WARNINGS

TROPES: friends to lovers, childhood friends
TAGS: School life, romance, drama, identity crisis, support groups
WARNINGS: slurs, violence, attempted rape, forced outing

REVIEW

I saw the cover and thought, “This looks cute,” and it turned out to be more than cute- amazing and heart warming with just the right blend of drama and fluff.

The beginning was a bit slow until we reached the moment Kristen’s life crashed down around her. Then the plot picked up and we got to witness both the negative reactions and positive reactions of her peers and family. Her boyfriend breaks up with her, she thinks her best friend spread bad rumors, and almost the whole school berates her. But then we have her friends Darren and Faith who reach out to her, we have her dad who is all too supportive, and her aunt who is always there for her.

I cried when her dad urged her to reach out to a local support group and she did- it’s a sweet reaction that not many parents give their kids in some situations like finding out she has male gonads. Her dad was amazing throughout the whole book- he was strong and willing to do anything for her to make her feel better.

As a sucker for inner struggles, seeing Kristen come to terms with both her identity and what she was going to do with her life was pleasing. Seeing her go from doubtful to hopeful and then repeat a few times was a bit tiring but it felt necessary to impact the story and the eventual ending.

That ending was amazing. It was well written and deserved for all the parties involved. Kristen got her old friends back and made new ones, got a cute, nerdy boyfriend, came to terms with herself, and got to keep her track scholarship.

My only real problem was on how quick Kristen was to accept the surgery.  Maybe another chapter or two of her debating it would have empathized the outcome.

I am definitely looking forward to reading more books from I.W. Gregorio.

RATING

4 STARS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 I. W. Gregorio is a practicing surgeon by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. After getting her MD, she did her residency at Stanford, where she met the intersex patient who inspired her debut novel, None of the Above (Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins), which is finalist for the 2016 Lambda Literary Award, a Spring 2015 Publishers Weekly Flying Start, an ALA Booklist Top Ten Sports Book for Youth, and a 2015 ABC Children’s Group Best Book for Young Readers. It was also named to the 2016 American Library Association Rainbow List and is under development as a TV series by Lifetime. She is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books™ and its former VP of Development. Her writing has appeared in The Washington PostSan Francisco ChronicleSan Jose Mercury News and Journal of General Internal Medicine. A recovering ice hockey player, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

BUY LINKS

Amazon
Barnes and Nobles

REVIEW BY KALLIN

 

Reviews for Already Published Books

Review: Blood Stained Tea (The Yakuza Path, #1) by Amy Tasukada

SUMMARY

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Publisher: Macarons & Tea Publishing
Release Date: November 28, 2016
Received From: Amazon

Nao hides from his violent past in the Japanese mob by opening a teahouse in Japan’s cultural center, Kyoto. His past comes flooding back when he discovers a gravely injured man with a tattooed chest, a bloody knife, and a Korean business card.

Saehyun would’ve died if not for Nao’s help. He knows nothing of his savior’s connection with the local mafia, but Saehyun has his own secrets. He commands the Korean mafia, the mortal enemy of Nao’s former syndicate.

As Nao and Saehyun grow closer, so does the strength of the Korean mob. A shocking murder pulls Nao back into a past he’d all but abandoned. War is looming, and Nao must choose between protecting Saehyun or avenging the honor of his old mafia family.

GENDER SEXUALITY PAIRINGS

GENDER: presumed cisgender
SEXUALITY:  Homosexual
PAIRING: M/M

TAGS TROPES WARNINGS

TROPES: turf wars, enemies to lovers, rival syndicates
TAGS: queer romance, organized crime, crime fiction
WARNINGS: violence

REVIEW

If there is one thing I love more than coke a cola–it’s tea. And you now what I love more than tea? Blood Stained Tea.

Amy Tasukada did not hesitate as she started the book off with violence and steamy action while introducing the main characters, Nao Murata and Saehyun Park. With elaborately placed tea metaphors and plot, Tasukada weaved an amazing tale about the Japanese and Korean yakuza and romance.

It was a slow build at first–trying to know the characters before everything spread like fire around the 15th or so chapter. But once everything had gone into motion, I couldn’t put this book down. I wanted to know every characters’ next move and I wanted to see how the relationship between Nao and Saehyun evolved. I was not disappointed until that one scene until the end where my heart was torn from my chest and doused in oolong tea–but I can’t tell you what happened because spoilers are no fun.

There were a few cringe-y parts where I had to put the book down, but with a book featuring violence, one has to expect that. There was also this one character that was too creepy even for my tastes but that didn’t stop me from reaching the ending and crying my heart out.

Now I really want tea.

RATING

4 STARS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amy Tasukada lives in a catless home in North Texas. (She enjoys cats but can’t quite make that kind of commitment yet.) As an only child her day dreams kept her entertained, and at age ten she started to put them to paper. Since then her love of writing hasn’t cease. When she’s not chasing after stray cats, she can be found drinking hot tea and filming Japanese street fashion hauls on her Youtube channel.

BUY LINKS

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
REVIEW BY KALLIN

ARC Reviews

ARC Review: An Unnatural Vice by K.J Charles

SUMMARY

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Publisher:
Loveswept
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Received From: NetGalley

Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.

Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.

But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.

GENDER SEXUALITY PAIRINGS

GENDER: presumed cisgender
SEXUALITY:  Homosexual, Bisexual
PAIRING: M/M

TAGS TROPES WARNINGS

TROPES: Long lost heir, accidental detective, enemies to lovers, found family
TAGS: queer romance, historical, Victorian era, mystery, fantasy
WARNINGS: violence, language, past child abuse

REVIEW

This was the first book by K.J.Charles that I picked up and I was not disappointed at all. Granted, I should have started with the first book of the Sins of the Cities series but I digress.

I started this book and got to chapter three when I thought I was going to hate Nathaniel as a character and then was pleasantly surprised when I finished it with the utmost love for him. It took some time and some nicely put character development and I was crying by the time I realized that I’d have to wait for the next book to be published before seeing him again. Speaking of character development, Justin’s slow change and realization that he is better than what he thinks of himself was thoughtfully well done and, as a sucker for character development, I was impressed.

The characters’ relationships with themselves and others definitely made me love the book more. Justin’s lowkey doting and highkey banter with his familiars (or children as Nathaniel sees it, which I completely agree with) and Nathaniel with his loyalty to his friends and of course, Justin and Nathaniel’s relationship being a slow-burn build up from enemies to lovers. Honestly, this book meets all my standards in terms of character creations and relationships.

The plot was interesting and easy to follow, leaving nothing too vague or confusing. Some parts did bring up questions but they were the suspenseful questions that would be addressed and executed later in the story–which is a great way to leave a reader hooked.

RATING

5 STARS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KJ Charles is a writer and editor living in London. She has a serious reading habit, two kids, a cat, a blog, and several books coming out. Somehow.

BUY LINKS

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Book Depository

REVIEW BY KALLIN