Book Review – ‘Jay’s Gay Agenda’ by Jason June

An #ownvoices story that missed the mark.

Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT+

No. of pages: 368

There’s one thing Jay Collier knows for sure—he’s a statistical anomaly as the only out gay kid in his small rural Washington town. While all this friends can’t stop talking about their heterosexual hookups and relationships, Jay can only dream of his own firsts, compiling a romance to-do list of all the things he hopes to one day experience—his Gay Agenda.

Then, against all odds, Jay’s family moves to Seattle and he starts his senior year at a new high school with a thriving LGBTQIA+ community. For the first time ever, Jay feels like he’s found where he truly belongs, where he can flirt with Very Sexy Boys and search for love. But as Jay begins crossing items off his list, he’ll soon be torn between his heart and his hormones, his old friends and his new ones…because after all, life and love don’t always go according to plan.

This is cute and adorable, I liked the frank representation of sex and some of the spectrum of the LGBTQIA+ community. But for an #ownvoices author to write a story about a gay character where his entire story was about being gay in a sea of community members screaming that gay characters are more than the sexuality, that there is nuance, other motivations… and it was addressed in this novel, but it just left me with a big, disappointed sigh. If you removed all the talk about sex, or the actual chapters of sexual activity, this novel would be lucky to be 50 pages long. It just felt like it took up too much of the plot and left me somewhat bored.

Our protagonist Jay has a decent character arc, but from thinking him cute in the first few chapters to completely disliking him by the end of the novel is some achievement. I question a lot of Jay’s actions and decisions… and to be frank, there are some issues about sexual responsibility, trust, and honesty that are glazed over for the sake of making this a light fluffy romance.

I felt like we could have gotten more development on all of the characters – I don’t feel like I really got to know them properly.

This story was very predictable, and for me, not in a good way. I would have preferred a different ending.

Jason June’s writing style is pleasant and I really enjoyed their flow and humour… I just felt like the story needed a bit more dimension, some subtext, and not such a prominent role of sex in the storyline – it removed some realism for me.

Also it felt like the author wrote themselves into the story in the form of Max, and once I saw it, I couldn’t shake it. I don’t know if I appreciated the representation, or found it cheesy.

I have noticed that Jason June has put up that a sequel in coming on Goodreads. I’m not sure how eager I am to continue with this series – we’ll have to see what kind of story they intend to tell. If it is more of a redemption arc for Jay, I may give this author a second try.

Jay’s Gay Agenda‘ was cute. Don’t necessarily agree with some of the messages it was sending. I don’t think I would recommend this one.

Overall feeling: What a let down.

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Indignities’ (#2 Vanity Fierce) by Graeme Aitken

All the trappings of Aussie gay culture…

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, LGBT

No. of pages: 301

Stephen ingeniously bypasses his landmark 30th birthday, only to have the cosy life he took for granted unravel completely. Abandoned by friends and lovers, he finds distraction in online dating websites and real-life impersonations. But has Stephen met his match in Damon, the wicked witch of the inner west, whose conniving tricks threaten to eclipse Stephen’s own antics? Life for Stephen beyond his twenties just seems fraught with heartaches, deception, and humiliation in this witty, sexy satire on contemporary gay Sydney life.

I was so excited to return to Stephen’s story that was introduced in ‘Vanity Fierce’ and see how he further fares in the Sydney gay scene, how he has grown. Aitken’s writing was so comedic and satirical ‘The Indignities’ should prove to be a snapshot of Aussie queer culture.

Not so much… this was basically a sex romp. The characters feel two dimensional and there isn’t much character development… mainly because the story is so focused on sex there isn’t much room for anything else. The novel was very predictable, the tone and hints were set in the first chapter – and there were no surprises. To be frank I found myself speed reading most of this book because I wanted more substance. ‘The Indignities’ should be categorized as erotica instead of contemporary.

Disappointed and recommend everyone give this a big miss. It adds nothing to the story established in the debut ‘Vanity Fierce.’

This feels like it hasn’t aged well (written nearly 15 years ago.) I could almost taste the self-obsessed white privilege dripping from the pages. I was hoping to see a transformation in our protagonist Stephen from the debut, but he is the same body-conscious, sex obsessed, whining-that-my-life-is-over-because-I’m-thirty, gay man that had me rolling my eyes. So superficial – I’m bored. I can’t express how much I wish I could thwack Stephen over the back of the head with a two-by-four!

When I reached the halfway and there was still no plot: just all this talk about sex, cheating, sexcapades, a so called married couple bickering and trying to seduce the hot neighbour. None of this was even delivered in a comedic way or sexy way (like it was in ‘Vanity Fierce’) – it just fell flat. It’s all kind of pitiful, sad, and distasteful. It was disheartening after such notable works from Aitken like the debut and ’50 Ways of Saying Fabulous.’

Where book one, ‘Vanity Fierce’ was ground-breaking when it was first published, launching into a landscape that had little mainstream GLBTQIA+ representation, and was unapologetic about the nuances of gay culture in Sydney. It broached serious topics like AIDS, discrimination, and the youth/looks obsessed culture prominent in the club scene. It was witty and satirical and not afraid to poke fun at itself. ‘The Indignities’ by comparison has the tone of some whiny old queen who can’t understand why he isn’t the centre of attention anymore. Totally not cute. Like the protagonist, this book has not aged well.

Overall feeling: *face palm*

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Friend Scheme’ by Cale Dietrich

The Sopranos with queer protagonists.

Genre: YA, Thriller, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTIA+

No. of pages: 346

High schooler Matt’s father is rich, powerful, and seemingly untouchable—a criminal with high hopes that his son will follow in his footsteps. Matt’s older brother Luke seems poised to do just that, with a bevy of hot girls in tow. But Matt has other ambitions—and attractions.

And attraction sometimes doesn’t allow for good judgement. Matt wouldn’t have guessed that when he makes a new friend, one who is also carrying a secret. The boys’ connection turns romantic, a first for both. Now Matt must decide if he can ever do the impossible and come clean about who he really is, and who he is meant to love.

The Friend Scheme’ brought all the angst and coming out vibes alive on the page. A mob family and a masculine and toxic environment don’t make the best place when Matt starts having feelings for another boy. But Matt is used to keeping secrets – but is it time to start revealing truths in order to get close to Jason… it’s a big decision and Matt with have to dig deep to find the courage if he wants to find love.

There was something about this though that kept me from being fully absorbed into the story; and it took me a while afterwards reflecting on the book to pinpoint what it was… Matt is a member of a criminal family, and this involves murder, a protection racket, and a war with competing family over controlling parts of the city (who deal in drugs). It was how Matt seems to have morals and does not want to be a part of this lifestyle, and yet the hard questions about the consequences, beliefs and integrity of these criminal actions aren’t really addressed. They are mostly in the background or ignored in favour of Matt dealing with his friendships. I felt Matt was so isolated from the reality of his families actions, from the real world that it kept something inside me squirming. I guess I was indignant and wanted him to scream from the rooftops about all the injustice. That by his actions he is complicit in all the corruption and illegal activity.

You can say that he is effectively innocent, and that he doesn’t know any different having grown up in that environment, but I just feel his character is painted in a way that is contra to that life. He was too passive. And in that vein ‘The Friend Scheme’ felt like it was a bit of a fantasy scenario for the sake of the romance.

Even love interest Jason is some too-perfect hunky guy that is chasing after Matt.

All of this does bring up some important themes about organised crime and how Matt is practically held hostage through loyalty, and maybe even the threat of death. There is also a lot of toxic masculinity woven into the family culture that prevented me from really getting into ‘The Friend Scheme,’ half the time I wanted to reach into the book and either throttle or swing an uppercut at the ignorant cast.

All of these things felt a bit triggering about the type of discrimination gay youth have faced.

There is some lovely character development for Matt, but as I mentioned, his role felt passive; this story was so focused on the romance that I felt like his character was done a bit of a disservice. He could have been given a greater opportunity for growth, forming stronger ideals in the face of the extreme challenges his family posed. Plus there was a bit of that privileged white man thing going on – and that privilege, the money they have, was all blackmailed from hard-working family businesses. It’s not easy to deduce that ‘The Friend Scheme’ really had me standing on the soapbox over so many injustices and ignored issues.

I will say that Cale Dietrich has such an endearing writing style, it shows vulnerability and really drags out the feels for the protagonist. I had several moments where my eyes filled with water or I got pins and needles. There are some great little plot twists that kept me engaged too. They weren’t completely a surprise, but definitely a delight.

I was a little conflicted about the attitude of sex around our protagonist. I like how it is sex-positive and safe in nature, but it didn’t feel like it was coming from a built up place of love and affection; more a casual lusty encounter – which for first times, and the angst that was built up didn’t quite ring true for me. Especially for such a romance-centric storyline.

This was a fun read, I would have liked to seen Cale Dietrich tackle some of the heavier issues presented in the narrative through Matts eyes, but other than that it reads like a cute wish-fulfilment scenario that I would happily recommend.

Overall feeling: *bats eyelashes*

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Boyfriend Material’ (#1 London Calling) by Alexis Hall

A clash of culture in this gay romantic romp…

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, LGBT

No. of pages: 425

One (fake) boyfriend

Practically perfect in every way

Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.

What a gorgeous and adorable romp! ‘Boyfriend Material’ has a certain English charm dripping with comedy and angst.

There is a heavy undertone of homophobia and microaggression throughout the story which added some nice colour and tension. It wasn’t my favourite part, but it helped to add shades of light and dark to ‘Boyfriend Material.’ I’m a fan of some tropes, and fake boyfriend/girlfriend happens to be one of my favourites; and Alexis Hall really pulled this off… though it didn’t really feel like a fake boyfriend storyline, because it was obvious there were real feelings there from the start.

Our protagonist Luc and his love interest Oliver are charming and not the overly fantasised perfection you sometimes get in contemporary romance – though there is a lot of overtly good-looking characters – our cast are all flawed in some respect to give them a point of view, or something that makes them stand out. I can’t say how much that delighted me.

Luc and Oliver’s relationship is a rocky one, they are both navigating past trauma and trust issues, and while not totally believable, and their journey is both touching and at times hilarious. Just the right amount of angst, genuine affection, and comedy to keep me glued to the page.

Alexis Hall managed to get me out of a mini reading slump with ‘Boyfriend Material,’ with an imperfect protagonist and love interest, I was pulled into the world of aristocracy, charity events, and quirky friends. There were only two minor details that held me back from fully being immersed into the story; the length and stylized characters. While the pacing was great and the story moved along at a clip, there was an awful lot of detail that increased the page count which I would have like to see edited down. And some of the secondary characters are so scatter-brained and stereotypically British (like what you see in rom-com movies) that they did not feel all that real. But it was most definitely a lot of camp fun.

The writing style is as charming as the main characters. I loved the idiotic scenes with oddball characters that brought levity and poked fun at English culture and aristocracy. But as I mentioned earlier I felt it could have been a good 50-100 pages shorter to keep the story punchy, the pacing even, and juxtapose the key scenes more effectively if they weren’t spaced out so much with detail. (Overwriting.)

There were a number of things that I felt weren’t quite resolved properly – it was more about the two main characters getting out of their own way to find a chance a happiness, but knowing that this is the first part in a trilogy lets me cut some slack in the plot points left hanging. Definitely eagerly awaiting the sequel ‘Husband Material’ in the near future.

A high recommendation from me.

Overall feeling: Snuggly and cuddly.

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Fascinators’ by Andrew Eliopulos

Outlawed magic, a group of teens, and a new romance…

Genre: Y/A, Fantasy, Romance, LGBT

No. of pages: 352

Living in a small town where magic is frowned upon, Sam needs his friends James and Delia—and their time together in their school’s magic club—to see him through to graduation.

But as soon as senior year starts, little cracks in their group begin to show. Sam may or may not be in love with James. Delia is growing more frustrated with their amateur magic club. And James reveals that he got mixed up with some sketchy magickers over the summer, putting a target on all their backs.

With so many fault lines threatening to derail his hopes for the year, Sam is forced to face the fact that the very love of magic that brought his group together is now tearing them apart—and there are some problems that no amount of magic can fix.

A small town gay romance with outlawed magic thrown in – this sounds like such a great premise and definitely roped me in. Especially the dreamy cover art!

The blurb sounded really exciting… the execution of the story was somewhat lack lustre. I found the pacing slow throughout, and the climax – well there was no climax. I’m still scratching my head trying to decipher what this story was all about. It reads like just a bit of a story, an instalment in a series. But given this story was so long, and not a lot happened, and the ending was kinda… blah. Well I just don’t see myself investing in this any further even if it does franchise. The characters weren’t particularly interesting. They all felt fairly vanilla.

We start off for the majority of the book following Sam’s POV but in the second half we get small chapters or paragraphs from other random characters POV’s – it came out of nowhere and flew in the face of what had already been established as the mode of storytelling. It was a little jarring at first.

The writing style is nice. But I often found my mind wondering while I was reading, and when I snapped back to reality to find I’d completed a page, only to have to re-read it to find out what I missed… that’s not a great sign. I needed richer prose, better world building, some angst and tension in the characters that drive the plot forward. There were elements of all of this, and I feel if this book had been more heavily edited it would have met the brief. It has a lovely feel about it, but on the whole a tad waffly.

I can see the potential of Andrew Eliopulos, but I feel ‘The Fascinators’ would have performed better from a heavier hand in a developmental edit to make the plot more explosive and really jump from the page, and a content edit to help reduce superfluous words and let the characters and world building shine.

I want to say this was a very predictable story – but I can’t. It doesn’t feel finished. It has to be the biggest disappointment for an end to a novel I’ve read in a very long time. I did not get a sense of completion, or of hope; instead I was flipping through those last pages wondering if there was something I had missed.

I’m sorry but this is one book I won’t be recommending to my friends. They would feel as despondent as I am. Which is such a shame. Eliopulos has all the tools to be a great storyteller, but this one just needed a little more work.

Overall feeling: Where’s the rest?

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘We Contain Multitudes’ by Sarah Henstra

A tumultuous romance between a 15 year old and an 18 year old with a plethora of trigger warnings.

Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT

No. of pages: 377

Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam “Kurl” Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that eventually grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying, and devastating family secrets, Jonathan and Kurl struggle to overcome their conflicts and hold onto their relationship…and each other.

I have mixed emotions about this book. The events that happen are truly shocking and really pack a punch to my heart. But I wasn’t sold on the delivery… letter writing is fine, but there was something about the style of the writing; how many of the letters were repeated snippets of conversation, or moments spent together for no other reason than to inform the reader. There was no relevance to the characters, their motivation, or the environment to carry this out. Plus even though I’m not a huge fan of poetry, I can appreciate it, but the continual references to Walt Whitman and his works come across as a little ostentatious, and I had a hard time believing its effects on the main characters.

The story is compelling, and the writing style is definitely engaging. There were parts where I could not put the book down, and others where it was difficult to read (because of the content.) I was a little confronted with all of the sex – I can see a couple of scenes being relevant for the developing storyline, but the rest felt gratuitous. Plus the actions described in some did not feel particularly passionate or enjoyable in my own personal tastes. I also took issue with some of the latter events in the story – I mean if felt implausible.

It also felt like there was something in the water and everyone was on crazy pills. Some realism and common sense would have gone a long way. It’s like their reality was warped through the romanticism of Walt Whitman’s poetry. A lens that didn’t quite make sense in context.

Some of the character choices really rubbed me the wrong way – challenged my sense of trust, so the ending of the book left a rotten taste in my mouth. Even having said that, ‘We Contain Multitudes’ is an intriguing read – a little pretentious, but I enjoyed how it affected me deeply and brought out so many emotions. It tells a tale of something that has a great plot and interesting characters.

There are a number of trigger warnings for this novel – abuse, assault, bullying, homophobia, PTSD, drug use, death, grief, loss, sex, dysfunctional families… like I mentioned earlier, at times this was a difficult read. That’s why I’m of two minds, It did not really feel like it was written to a YA demographic, but more to an adult audience who enjoys YA. There are a lot of themes, literary subtext, and trigger warnings that bring me concern. As a high school teacher I can confidently say that half of my students would have difficulty grasping the full meaning of this novel.

Told in alternating perspectives through the medium of letters, our protagonists Jo and Kurl are both flawed and had a habit of dumping something big on the reader (and on each other) and then ignoring it until they are forced to deal with things. It felt as though they made a cry for help and then did nothing. That frustrated me no end.

I was a bit uncomfortable that it was an 18yo and a 15yo in a sexual relationship… legally that is paedophilia.

As with the mixed feelings I have over ‘We Contain Multitudes,’ so too do I have over recommending it. It’s not for all readers, I had issues with the form and function of the delivery; and yet it was compelling, drags out some raw emotion, and is a traffic accident in the nicest way. So I’ll just say… maybe?

Overall feeling: A car crash you can’t look away from.

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Fell of Dark’ by Caleb Roehrig

A paranormal romance with vampires that totally breaks the mould… it surprised me!

Genre: Y/A, Paranormal, Romance, LGBT+

No. of pages: 384

The only thing August Pfeiffer hates more than algebra is living in a vampire town. Located at a nexus of mystical energy fields, Fulton Heights is practically an electromagnet for supernatural drama. And when a mysterious (and annoyingly hot) vampire boy arrives with a cryptic warning, Auggie suddenly finds himself at the center of it. An ancient and terrible power is returning to the earthly realm, and somehow Auggie seems to be the only one who can stop it.

I was dubious going into this novel. Another vampire novel… I cringed a bit, but my friends had told me it was good. And ‘The Fell of Dark’ definitely surprised me. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It delivers the same tone as Buffy the Vampire Slayer with sassy characters, twisty plots, scary bad guys: and the only way to get through is for the protagonist to trust their instincts.

Auggie was such an endearing character, I fell in love with the protagonist in the first chapter. And the writing style, combined with the plot reveals lead you in one direction and then flip you upside down. I really enjoyed this so much, I was kept on my toes the entire novel. We get bits of info dumping which I can excuse, because we needed context and back story – but maybe a different approach could have been more effective. But given how long this novel is, maybe it was for the best. Even though the story is only 384 pages long, the font is smaller than your average YA, and I think if the typesetting and formatting matched that of an average YA, the page count would have easily doubled.

The Fell of Dark’ is one reveal after another leaving Auggie scrambling to keep his feet on the ground. There is character development galore here, and character motivations coming to light – it is truly a delicious read – cute boy angst aside.

This is my first read from Caleb Roehrig, but it has made me an instant fan. I love his writing style and quirky sense of humour (and how he can craft a story) I’m already eyeing off his back catalogue to see what I can tackle next.

I’d like to say the story is predictable – I mean the notion of it is – but the specifics and the constant re-orientating of the plot made it nearly impossible for me to figure things out. It’s the kind of read I like – one that keeps me on my toes.

There is a little bit of stupidity coming from Auggie, like he is just stumbling through the story at times, but it fits with the character and his age. (And his lustiness for cute boys) Until he starts seeing the ramifications of this thoughtlessness… A really strong recommendation from me.

                                                                            Overall feeling: An unexpected delight!  

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Sky Blues’ by Robbie Couch

A story about resilience and first love…

Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT

No. of pages: 328

Sky Baker may be openly gay, but in his small, insular town, making sure he was invisible has always been easier than being himself. Determined not to let anything ruin his senior year, Sky decides to make a splash at his high school’s annual beach bum party by asking his crush, Ali, to prom—and he has thirty days to do it.

What better way to start living loud and proud than by pulling off the gayest promposal Rock Ledge, Michigan, has ever seen?

Then, Sky’s plans are leaked by an anonymous hacker in a deeply homophobic e-blast that quickly goes viral. He’s fully prepared to drop out and skip town altogether—until his classmates give him a reason to fight back by turning his thirty-day promposal countdown into a school-wide hunt to expose the e-blast perpetrator.

But what happens at the end of the thirty days? Will Sky get to keep his hard-won visibility? Or will his small-town blues stop him from being his true self?

I read this in one sitting. It was emotionally compelling… I had tears falling from my eyes so frequently because I was all torn up in the challenges our protagonist Sky was facing. There are moments of hopelessness, of powerlessness, and moments bringing back all of that teenage angst and anxiety. I forgot how that age of high school was living like a guitar string pulled too tight.

We are introduced to Sky as he is reeling from the fact his religious mother has kicked him out of home for being gay while Sky is still grieving for the loss of his father. But luckily he’s landed in a safe place with his bff’s family. Now he’s navigating the rest of high school to a looming graduation, an uncertain future, dodging bullies, and growing the courage to prom-pose to his crush. The build up to the inciting incident was a little long, but I barely noticed it because Robbie Couch’s writing style makes everything so compelling. Sky is all of those teen insecurities we have all felt at one time or another, but with the support of his chosen family and friends, Sky manages to push through all the turmoil.

This is a positive story about endurance, and the realisation that it does get better. Not to be afraid to ask for help from those who truly love and accept you for who you are – because that love is given freely and without conditions. It shows how a chosen family is stronger that some of those blood ties. And the reality of the challenges LGBTQIA+ youth faces when coming to terms with their identity. I loved ‘The Sky Blues,’ it was like the cutest, warmest hug imaginable.

There are a lot of characters in ‘The Sky Blues’ but it was easy to distinguish them all and I never lost track of who was who. Some authors cannot do this so effectively. The stand out aspect of this novel was the friendships. Even though most of the story is discussing Sky and his crush, the friendships are what impacted me the most. Bree and Marshall are the besties I wish I had in my life. But the friendship circle grows as the narrative unfolds to include so many more interesting individuals.

It also challenges perceptions, or preconceived notions we have about people – you never know what someone is about, or going through until you get close to them. You better check those assumptions. And another aspect of behaviour and respect… always be aware of how your words and actions can affect someone else. Be kind, reserve judgement. I know all this sounds preachy, but ‘The Sky Blues’ is anything but, it’s a compassionate snapshot about all of these themes.

I felt I wanted a stronger threat with the romance stakes with Sky, but that’s just a personal preference for my taste in contemporaries. Though, I feel the narrative made sense for the character. And although the book concluded on a positive note and all the plot threads were tied up, I felt it needed a more romantic punch. Again, just the angst-ridden teen in me begging for more. Insatiable and insufferable she it at times.

The overall plot is fairly predictable, but the nuances are surprising, the strength of moral character in the subtext and the strong connection I had with the protagonist are what drives this story more than anything else. It’s a book I’d enthusiastically recommend to all who enjoy this genre.

Overall feeling: Really packed a punch to my heart

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.