Tag Archives: Young Adult

Film Review: Alex Strangelove (2018)

At first glimpse, Alex Strangelove looks like a mere rip-off of Love, Simon but far from its smiliar LGBTQ+ lead characters, this coming-of-age film has a charm of its own with Daniel Doheny adorably playing the role of Alex Truelove and his quest – with the help of his supportive friends – to lose his virginity to his awesome girlfriend / bestfriend Claire (Madeline Weinstein).

Unlike Love, Simon – this isn’t as wholesome and as realistic in terms of how accepting the high school kids are and virtually just about everyone around Alex. That is where it falters a bit in my opinion. Alex Strangelove is a cliché yet poignant and optimistic movie in an unforgiving high school setting moving towards acceptance, rather than just mere tolerance when it comes to sexuality and individuality. It is beautiful yet too ideal a scenario that we only see on TV and the big screen – this time, through my smartphone.

That being said, Alex Strangelove is a step forward towards education. A step towards acceptance. We’ve already made some progress. One step at a time. One step at a time.

Director: Craig Johnson
Cast: Daniel Doheny, Antonio Marziale, Madeline Weinstein, Daniel Zolghadri, Nik Dodani, Fred Hechinger

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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Book Review: The Lord of Opium – Nancy Farmer

Published: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Format: Novel
Genre And Themes: Young Adult, Dystopia, Romance, Drugs, Death
Length: 411 pages, Hardcover
Ebook ISBN/ASIN: 1442482540 (ISBN13: 9781442482548)
Characters: Matteo Alacran, El Patron, Tam Lin, Maria Mendoza, Chacho, Fidelito, Ton-Ton, Celia, Mirasol

Now, The Lord of Opium may not have the same literary awards received by its predecessor – The House of the Scorpion but it’s still as strong, story-wise.

This book started a good few hours during the funeral of El Patron and from thereon, Matt’s young life is about to really change because he is technically The Lord of Opium (still no spoiler) thus becoming the most powerful man in the world (by default).

This one is as riveting as the first book. I loved the characters of the “Lost Boys” especially little Fidelito. He is my favorite character here aside from Matt. I really connected to his character because he kinda reminded me of my 6 year old nephew.

Then there’s Mirasol. The author really knows where to give us the feels. The ‘relationship’ between her and Matt was just heartbreaking. I dare you not to feel anything for her. You’d lose.

There are tons of things here that maybe a bit too much for some I think. I mean, I loved every single details of it although some readers may find it too crowded. Nevertheless, it’s good to imagine such things and wish for a possible third book.

The relationship of Matt and Maria was finally rekindled here and I loved that Matt was finding his own identity separate from El Patron. It’s odd that he is basically the same person but different at the same time.

I just want to dissect everything about this book, including the zombie-like eejits, the drug lords, the countries surrounding Opium and more importantly – how Mattero will run it as a totally grown man! Man’ I’d kill for a third book!

Again, my friends – I cannot recommend this high enough!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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About The Author
Nancy was born in 1941 in Phoenix and grew up in a hotel on the Arizona-Mexico border where she worked the switchboard at the age of nine. She also found time to hang out in the old state prison and the hobo jungle along the banks of the Colorado River. She attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, earning her BA in 1963. Instead of taking a regular job, she joined the Peace Corps and was sent to India (1963-1965). When she returned, she moved into a commune in Berkeley, sold newspapers on the street for a while, then got a job in the Entomology department at UC Berkeley and also took courses in Chemistry there. Restless, again, she decided to visit Africa. She and a friend tried to hitchhike by boat but the ship they’d selected turned out to be stolen and was boarded by the Coast Guard just outside the Golden Gate Bridge. Nancy eventually got to Africa on a legal ship. She spent more than a year on Lake Cabora Bassa in Mozambique, monitoring water weeds. Next she was hired to help control tsetse fly in the dense bush on the banks of the Zambezi in Zimbabwe. Part of the time she spent in the capital, Harare, and was introduced to her soon-to-be husband by his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. He proposed a week later. Harold and Nancy now live in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona on a major drug route for the Sinaloa Cartel. This is the setting for The Lord of Opium. They have a son, Daniel, who is in the U.S. navy.
Nancy’s honors include the National Book Award for The House of the Scorpion and Newbery Honors for The Ear, the Eye and The Arm, A Girl Named Disaster and The House of the Scorpion. She is the author of nine novels, three picture books and a number of short stories. Her books have been translated into 26 languages.

ARC Book Review: Do-Gooder – J. Leigh Bailey

DooGooderDate of Publication: September 15, 2016
Genre and Themes: LGBTQI, Young Adult, Kidnapping, Africa
Format: 200 pages, ebook
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
ISBN: 9781634775281
Characters: Isaiah Martin, Henry

Blurb: No good deed goes unpunished, and for seventeen-year-old Isaiah Martin, that’s certainly the case. The gun he was caught with wasn’t even his, for God’s sake. He only had it to keep a friend from doing something stupid. No one wants to hear it though, and Isaiah is banished—or so it seems to him—to live with his missionary father in politically conflicted Cameroon, Africa.
However, when he arrives, his father is so busy doing his good deeds that he sends Henry, the young, surprisingly hot do-gooder with a mysterious past, to pick up Isaiah and keep him out of trouble. Even while Isaiah is counting down the days until he can go home, he and Henry get caught in the political unrest of the region. Kidnapped by militant forces, the two have to work together to survive until they are rescued—unless they manage to find a way to save each other first.

***

I’m still contemplating my feelings towards this book so the things you’re about to read would be my ‘just-finished-reaction’ towards it. I so enjoyed Isaiah’s perspective – voice alive, thoughts so vibrant and just overall fun to read. When you say young adult – Isiah is the perfect embodiment of it.

Henry meanwhile is a very fascinating character. I loved that he represent a strong character – a character you’d root for once you get to know him.

The Do-Gooder theme between the men in this book is lovely and all but I find it extremely annoying in the case of Chuck / Dr. Martin because of that twist about his character. It’s so not acceptable for me If I were Isaiah – I am so gonna flip the way he did.

I’m probably going to be in the minority here and I feel that I will be getting a bit of a flock for writing this one because it would seem like I’m making a big deal out of the circumstances the boys have found themselves into but it’s seriously bothered me to no end since finishing the book the other day. I didn’t like what happened with Henry during their captivity. It maybe one of those inevitable things given their circumstances but it was too much for me. Hasn’t the boy endured enough? It was a bit disheartening and I don’t believe for one second that it was nothing to him, that he’s done it before and all that shit. It’s a cruel twist of fate and the story could’ve go on without that scene.

I find the writing extremely thoughtful overall though, I’ve some issues with the story, I still had fun reading it. I also wouldn’t mind reading more from the boys in the future!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Pre-Order Link

About The Author
j. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending.

She wrote her first story at seven, which was, unbeknownst to her at the time, a charming piece of fan-fiction in which Superman battled (and defeated, of course) the nefarious X Luther. She was quite put out to be told, years later, that the character’s name was actually Lex. Her second masterpiece should have been a best-seller, but the action-packed tale of rescuing her little brother from an alligator attack in the marshes of Florida collected dust for years under the bed instead of gaining critical acclaim.

Now she writes Young Adult LGBT Romance novels about boys traversing the crazy world of love, relationships and acceptance.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an impartial review.

Book Review: Not After Everything – Michelle Levy

Not After EverythingI am not exactly sure how I really feel about this book yet – I guess, I’m still trying to absorb the way the author chose to end it. Some would say that it has a hopeful ending for our main character Tyler, whose last year in high school was marred by the suicide of his mother for which he blames himself and everything in between was just a cacophony of hurt, betrayal, discovery, recovery and most importantly love. I loved the fact that despite the heavy plot lines in the story and the too angsty plight of Tyler – new author Michelle Levy was able to relay the book into something that is not overly dramatic with an overabundance of purple prose. Thank the gods she didn’t because it’s what some authors tends to do with such theme.

If you are up for something that will leave you just so sad like someone just ate your puppy or just be depressed like shit, this book is enough to leave you in such state. Written entirely from Tyler’s point of view, it let us see how barely legal Tyler pick up his life after the heartbreaking loss of his mother and how he tried to just go with the flow. Readers will feel that grief (I know I did – gaah, I told myself before that I’m gonna try to stop reading such book because they just destroy the hell out of me – emotionally, but gahh – this book! *sigh*) and all that hurt Tyler is keeping for himself. And if I can just suckerpunch his dad, I know I’d totally do it. At first, I really didn’t see the need to keep himself from punching his asshole of a dad. I was like, cmon’ man – just one punch pppllleaseee… but no. Did not happen. Tyler’s a tough kid. Blame game. It’s a blame game all over again.

I loved how Jordyn and her family came into the picture. It’s just one of the bright spots in Tyler’s shadowed moment in his young life. It’s almost heartbreaking how they cared so much for him. The subtle blossoming in their relationship was fun to watch because you know that there’s true caring in there and there’s understanding. Most of the times it’s true – all you need is love.

The conclusion of the book was rather heartbreaking to say the least. It’s hopeful yeah but I find it really sad. There. I guess at the end of writing this review, I finally decided to put into words what I feel about it. It’s actually pretty believable. If I were on Tyler’s shoes, I don’t think I could come back. I just don’t see myself coming back to that place in time. Just like Tyler, he will move one and will never or perhaps it’d be a long time before he’d find himself looking back. Not after everything…

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Published August 4th 2015 by Dial

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About The Author
Michelle Levy was born and raised in Littleton, Colorado, where she memorized books before she was able to read, tricking her parents into thinking she was a genius. At eighteen she moved to Los Angeles, to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Michelle always secretly harbored a desire to write. She spent many insomnia-filled nights dreaming up stories that she never thought to write down. When she finally set out to get something on the page, the words flew out of her until she had her first completed manuscript, and she never looked back.
When Michelle isn’t writing she is most likely working at her other job as a casting director, where in her many years of casting she has been privileged to work on projects such as Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Bruce Almighty, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, and many more.
She still lives in Los Angeles but desperately misses thunderstorms and clouds and, well, weather really (even the occasional snowstorm), so she visits Colorado quite often.

Book Review: Reign of Shadows – Sophie Jordan

Reign of ShadowI’m kind of on the fence with this book. I thought the writing’s really good. I loved the fast pacing of the story. It doesn’t feel like I’m reading a 300-page book. I also loved the chemistry between Luna and Fowler because even if their romance seems instant, there’s this sweet subtlety in it.

I’ve also got a few issues with it though. The first would be the novel’s world building. It was not clearly established why the eclipse transpired in the first place that became the focal point of the story – with the characters simply stating that the kingdom of Relhok simply was covered in a perpetual darkness that started seventeen years ago and along with it, is the emergence of the dwellers. There come my questions about the dwellers. Who / What are these creatures? I mean, who created them? Uhm, we’re all left in the dark here.

Speaking of the dark, another issue for me is about Luna’s blindness. I find her skills utterly unrealistic to be honest. I could totally go with her great sense of feel, her instinct and all but she’s just way too good (even better than Fowler most of the times). At one of the latter scenes in the book where she was chased by Anselm, I was like in awe how she easily navigates the tree village and that lift. I’m like – did just that happened? Just not realistic at all.

I guess there are just too many questionable stuff about this book that needs to be be address in the next installment/s. So to end this review on a more positive note; I really liked that little twist regarding Fowler. It was almost a giveaway but it’s a pretty good one. I didn’t know at first that this would be a series but I’m really gonna keep watch for the second book regardless of the issued I have with it.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Expected publication: February 9th 2016 by Harper Teena

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About The Author
Sophie Jordan grew up in the Texas hill country where she wove fantasies of dragons, warriors, and princesses. A former high school English teacher, she’s also the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Avon historical romances. She now lives in Houston with her family. When she’s not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes and Diet cherry Coke preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with true-crime and reality-TV shows. Sophie also writes paranormal romances under the name Sharie Kohler.

website: sophiejordan.net

An ARC of this book was provided by the published in exchange for an honest and fair review.

Book Review: More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera

More Happy Than NotAfter reading so much acclaim about this debut novel with several folks even comparing this to Benjamin Alire Sáenz’ Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe, I finally decided to give it a go. That comparison alone and all the reviews I’ve been reading just totally did it for me.  Of course, I am not going to obsessively compare these two books throughout this review. I’ve enough to say about Silvera’s book that will entice you to experience it yourself.

More Happy Than Not made me feel a lot of things over the course of reading it and a few good hours after. There’s just this plain sadness that’s overpowering the book’s hopeful tone as I ponder upon the main character’s fate.

Aaron Soto is not happy about being gay. He felt responsible for his father’s suicide so he decided to take the same route and thankfully, did not succeed. He doesn’t want to be “different” and be alienated from his friends. He wants to forget about all of these things and he did.

The almost magical Leteo Institute does a procedure that could make you forget things.

BUT…

“The procedure cannot be faulted for the heart remembering what the mind forgot”

The author’s portrayal of Aaron’s struggles encompasses not only the youth under the low-socio economic class but also the ones in general that seeks acceptance, longs for help and those who find it hard to live life on a day to day basis for whatever reasons.

Suicide is a serious issue that the author tackled here with tact. It’s a cry for help from Aaron (as he mentioned) but I did asked at one point, what about his father? Just how does one cope with that? How do I feel about that? Who’s to blame? Is there someone to blame? Should there be a blaming game for these cases?

“So I did this as a cry for help, I guess, because I didn’t like the bad place I was in.”

Then there’s homophobia. We’ve all heard (rather KNOW) that this DISEASE – sorry (not sorry) ya’ll bigoted piece of shit who thinks that you’re above anyone that’s not like you leads people (especially the young ones) into hiding what they are that in some extreme cases, leads to suicide. I despise the hating  and I know I am hating the hater so I’m no good to judge but fucking fuck – who the fuck are they to deem themselves having the right to alienate people because they’re different from them?! FUCK!

Okay, so I just rambled a little in there but seriously… homophobia certainly was the catalyst of the twist in the story. It was very easy to guess but with or without the twist – the abject stuff that the protagonist faces was more than enough to render its readers stunned or mad for that matter.

I know I WAS mad. I’m mad because his friends aren’t his real friends. With bigoted people, friendship won’t matter. History will be erased as if it never happened.

I am mad at his parents. Aaron’s dad was an asshole who deserves all kinds of hell for what he did when he was alive and what he did to himself eventually.

I am mad at Aaron’s mom because she signed on with the procedure to escape her responsibility. Sure, she’s got good intention and all but in my opinion, she should’ve known better.

I am mad at Thomas because I feel like he led Aaron on. I do not like his character at all. At first I did because of his somewhat philosophical shit that may have helped Aaron in some ways but somewhere in the middle, he simply became void of anything that is worth liking (at least for me).

I am mad because all of these things led to what Aaron has eventually become.

Ending with a promising and hopeful tone, the author made me ponder many things. Mainly because Aaron’s character totally resonates with me and his fate makes it more painful for me to read the novel’s last page. He’s one of the bravest characters I’ve ever encountered and I’m so glad that at the end of everything he’s been through, he’s finally more happy than not.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Published June 2nd 2015 by Soho Teen

Buy now:
 Amazon | Barnes and Noble| Kobo | AllRomance | iTunes  | Indiebound Book Of Wonders | Penguin Random House

About The Author
Adam was born and raised in the Bronx and is tall for no reason. He was a bookseller before shifting to children’s publishing where he worked at a literary development company, a creative writing website for teens, and as a book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. He lives in New York City.

More Happy Than Not is his debut novel.

Represented by Brooks Sherman of the Bent Agency.

Book Review: Lucky Linus – Gene Gant

Lucky LinusThis is the first book I’ve read by Gene Gant and I am not disappointed at all. Lucky Linus is one good book that I’ll probably recommend to all of my friends because it speaks volume despite the simple storytelling. I loved that the drama was heavy, and very much so (realistically) for a 14-year-old boy yet the writing isn’t too complex.

Fourteen-year-old Linus Lightman has bounced through the foster care system since he was six-years-old when he was taken away from her neglectful mother. With his newest foster family, the Nelsons, Linus didn’t really want to get too close because he’s very much sure that they will let him go once they found out he’s gay. Building a friendship online with Kevin Mapleton, young love blossoms between them until a sex scandal involving the two was discovered that may very well cost Linus’s new home and sense of belonging.

You just got to love how the author delivered the story in such a way that is more telling than showing. I think the style was very apt with the age of our main protagonist Linus. Here, we watch Linus as he goes with the flow of the system with a foremost aspiration of getting adopted – finally belonging. There is a line that cause me much a bit of heartache when Linus was  narrating it.

“The chances of finding forever parents shrank as foster kids got older, especially for those of color or with disabilities.”

The kid just wanted to belong and I feel like giving him a warm hug and adopting him myself. So obviously, there’s a lot of heartbreaking details about our little Linus but perhaps, it could only get better in time…

When the storm passes and Linus thought that it’s the end for him, we’re gifted something that is so beautiful. In a rather hopeful tale albeit heartbreaking at the beginning – we see Linus getting his own personal rainbow.  Despite everything that he went through his young life, Linus discovered how strong he was more than he could hope for to be… Linus is lucky to finally be granted his wish and readers will be lucky to be on a journey with him.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Expected publication: July 23rd 2015 by Harmony Ink Press

Buy now:
All Romance | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Harmony Ink Press | Kobo Dreamspinner Press

About The Author
I’m Tennessean by birth, a resident of Memphis for most of my life. I tried living in a few northern cities after graduating from college, but I couldn’t take the brutal winters, and I missed good ol’ southern barbecue. Now I make my home on a country lane outside of Memphis. When I’m not reading, working out, watching movies or spending time with family and friends, you can find me tapping away at my computer.

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review.