blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Things to do Before the End of the World – Emily Barr*

A timely and powerful coming-of-age thriller from the bestselling author of The One Memory of Flora Banks.

What would you do when you hear the news that humans have done such damage to the earth that there might only be a limited amount of safe air left – a year’s worth at most?
You’d work through your bucket list, heal rifts, do everything you’ve never been brave enough to do before?

Olivia is struggling to do any of this. What it is she truly wants to do? Who do she wants to be?

Then out of the blue comes contact from a long-lost cousin Olivia didn’t even know existed. Natasha is everything Olivia wants to be and more. And as the girls meet up for a long, hot last summer, Olivia finds Natasha’s ease and self-confidence having an effect on her.

But Natasha definitely isn’t everything she first appears to be . . .

My thoughts: this was an interesting take on all the apocalypse fiction around at the moment – instead of a plague, the permafrost has melted releasing tons of carbon dioxide into the air, basically suffocating the world. But before that happens, people are going all out.

Libby heads to Spain with her mum and stepdad for a once in a lifetime (literally, the world ends in a month) holiday. Where they’re joined by her estranged cousin Natasha. Who isn’t entirely who she claims to be.

Hijinks ensue and Libby winds up in Paris, where things start to unravel. Can she make it home before the air runs out?

I liked Libby, I liked her determination to do things “one day”, I recognised that feeling. She was a lot stronger and more able than she felt, and as her confidence grew and she started to come out of her shell, she became more interesting and 3D.

Natasha was an interesting foil to Libby’s innocence and book smarts, with her street hustler skills and devil may care attitude, but she’s definitely not likeable. Her “take what you can” ways are cruel and manipulative, I like to think she gets her comeuppance at some point for the way she tricks people.

As someone who would die quite early in this world ending scenario (hello asthma!) I was intrigued by the idea of everyone being smothered. What about the carbon sinks? I was reading about the peat moors the other day and how they can hold an insane amount of carbon. Wouldn’t a lot of it escape into the outer atmosphere? I wish the science had been a little clearer but I suppose that like Libby and her family I wouldn’t necessarily want all the gory details about how we’re all going to die.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Kate in Waiting – Becky Albertelli*

From bestselling YA rom-com queen Becky Albertalli (author of Love, Simon) comes a new novel about daring to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight in love, life and theatre.
[PRINCIPAL CAST LIST]
Kate Garfield
Anderson Walker
Best friends, and contrary to popular belief, not co-dependent.

Examples:Carpooling to and from theatre rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient.
Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment.
Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.
But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script.
Enter Stage Left: Matt OlssonHe is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.
Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship…

Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at

She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at www.beckyalbertalli.com.

My thoughts:

I knew I would enjoy this for two reasons – one, it’s about theatre kids and two, it’s by Becky Albertalli.

A really fun and totally enjoyable read about crushes, friendship, first love and putting on a show. Kate and Andy’s bond is strong and genuine and those are the ones you hold onto. It’s also very funny.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Zara Hossain is Here – Sabina Khan*

Zara’s family has waited years for their visa process to be finalized so that they can officially become US citizens. But it only takes one moment for that dream to come crashing down around them.

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

From the author of the “heart-wrenching yet hopeful” (Samira Ahmed) novel, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, comes a timely, intimate look at what it means to be an immigrant in America today, and the endurance of hope and faith in the face of hate.

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Sabina Khan is the author of ZARA HOSSAIN IS HERE (Scholastic/ April 6, 2021) and THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI (Scholastic, 2019). She is an educational consultant and a karaoke enthusiast. After living in Germany, Bangladesh, Macao, Illinois and Texas, she has finally settled down in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, with her husband, two daughters and the best puppy in the world.

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My thoughts:

This was really good, a powerful novel about our differences and our similarities, about race, religion and sexuality. A book about family in all its different guises and friendship.

The fun stuff; bits are really funny, like Zorro the dog and his pizza hedge or Zara’s dad getting carried away on the karaoke machine. There’s so much food I was practically drooling all the way through – South Asian food is delicious and I was extremely hungry (I made curry after I finished it, also you should definitely try bhel puri, it’s amazing). The romance between Zara and Chloe was sweet and tender.

The not so fun stuff; racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, bigotry. What happens to Zara’s dad is really awful, what she and her family endure from the small minority of idiots that think the colour of someone’s skin or the way they practice their faith is an acceptable thing to attack. It’s very sad and it made me very angry. Some of my best friends are Indian and Pakistani, some of them are Muslim too and I hate how they have to deal with ignorance and bigotry.

There is hope in the book, though, Zara has so much hope and that is so so important when dealing with things like this. She’s determined to stand up and fight back against the racists and the bigots. I stand with all the Zaras out there dealing with this nonsense (trying really hard not to swear) as an ally.

An important, timely book and one I hope lots of people choose to read.

To follow the tour, click on the banner.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery – Rosalie Knecht*

Read my review of Who Is Vera Kelly?

Recently out-of-the-spy-game heroine Vera Kelly finds herself travelling from Brooklyn to a sprawling countryside estate in the Caribbean in her first case as a private investigator.

When ex-CIA agent Vera Kelly loses her job and her girlfriend in a single day, she reluctantly goes into business as a private detective.

Heartbroken and cash-strapped, she takes a case that dredges up dark memories and attracts dangerous characters from across the Cold War landscape. Before it’s over, she’ll chase a lost child through foster care and follow a trail of Dominican exiles to the Caribbean.

Forever looking over her shoulder, she nearly misses what’s right in front of her: her own desire for home, connection, and a new romance at the local bar.

In this exciting second instalment of the ‘splendid genre-pushing’ (People) Vera Kelly series, Rosalie Knecht challenges and deepens the Vera we love: a woman of sparkling wit, deep moral fibre, and martini-dry humour who knows how to follow a case even as she struggles to follow her heart.

Rosalie Knecht is the author of Who Is Vera Kelly?, Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery and Relief Map. She is also the translator of César Aira’s The Seamstress and the Wind (New Directions). She lives in New Jersey.

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My thoughts:

This second outing for reluctant former CIA agent, Vera Kelly, is another fun misadventure. This time Vera is down on her luck, dumped and fired, she sets up shop as a PI.

Struggling to get clients who trust a woman, she takes on the case of a missing boy. Only she senses something off about her clients. So it’s off to the Dominican Republic to find out more, and then back to New York in a hurry as she tangles with the bad guys.

She’s also trying to find love, will something happen between her and Max, the bartender from the gay bar she frequents? In a dangerous time to be queer, Vera treads carefully but might just need to trust a bit more.

I really enjoyed this book and Vera’s adventures, despite the lack of training the CIA gave her, she’s good at disappearing into a role and has a strong sense of right and wrong. She tangles with dangerous people and risks her neck a few times, but somehow always gets through. I hope there’s more to come.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Unbroken – C.L. Clark*

In an epic fantasy unlike any other, two women clash in a world full of rebellion, espionage, and military might on the far outreaches of a crumbling desert empire.
Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.

Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.

Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.

My thoughts:

This was a brilliant read, so well written with the world building inspired by North African history and its peoples. The way it’s set up is clever, parts are very moving and gripping, there’s magic and pitched street battles, negotiations and secret rendezvous.

Both Touraine and Luca are intriguing, devisive characters, it’s easy to like and dislike them at the same time. They share an optimism, Touraine’s a little more jaded, but both want change, a better life for the people of Qazal and the people but have very complicated paths ahead of them to achieve it.

A fantastic first book from a new voice in modern fantasy.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Atonement Camp for Unrepentant Homophobes – Evan J. Corbin*


The oldest translation of a Gospel is returned to the world by a secret society long dedicated to its preservation. In it, Jesus explicitly condemns bigotry and homophobia.

In a new world in which LGBTQ passengers receive preferential boarding for flights and the United States has elected its first lesbian President, Pastor Rick Harris is stalwart, closeted preacher who doggedly holds onto his increasingly unpopular convictions.When an incendiary sermon goes too far and offends an influential family, Rick makes a painful choice to keep his job: He attends an atonement camp run by drag queens for society’s most unrepentant and terminally incurable homophobes.

Atonement Camp is immersion therapy for Pastor Harris, and it might be working. An open bar with pedicures, a devastatingly attractive roommate and an endless supply of glitter help him manage to make new friends. Soon, Rick and his cohorts learn the camp may hold its own secrets. Amid the smiling faces and scantily clad pool boys who staff the camp, a clandestine group plots to discredit the New Revelation and everything it stands for.

If Rick has the conviction to confront his own hypocrisy, he might be able to uncover the conspirators with help from his adopted flock-and find new truths within himself.

My thoughts:

This was a blackly comic fantasy about a future where being gay isn’t a sin anymore – in fact the Church has done a complete 360 and now it’s homophobes they abhor.

Rick, whose father was an old school preacher, has kept up with his family’s beliefs, which sees him packed off to a camp to atone. Where he uncovers an entire scam and goes on the run with some drag queens – one of whom is very familiar.

I really enjoyed this, it was campy, and clever and reminded me of some of my favourite books and films – How I Paid for College, But I’m a Cheerleader, Camp, in its tone and ideas. A reminder to be yourself, and be honest whatever society says.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Sword in the Street – C.M. Caplan*

To learn more read this post: Launch of the tour

Trial by battle is a holy rite on Hillside. Hired blades bleed their foes in savage duels, settling everything from petty grievances to the corporate laws that keep their citizens in line. Embroiled in these cutthroat political games is John Chronicle, an impoverished swordsman with no better prospects, seeking the duel that will free him from the Dregs.

Meanwhile, John’s boyfriend Edwin, an autistic university student, befriends a fellow scholar who claims to study the arcane art of thaumaturgy. When she offers to teach Edwin this subtle magic, he hopes that he can use it to bolster John’s skill with a blade. But thaumaturgy is a dangerous magic, and the forces that drive it have other plans.

The couple soon find themselves entangled in the web of intrigue surrounding the swordsmen and their sponsors, and they’re forced to question how bloody they’re willing to get to escape poverty — and they don’t come away with the same answer.

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C.M. Caplan Is the author of The Sword in the Street. He’s a quadruplet (yes, really), mentally disabled, and he spent two years as the Senior Fiction Editor on a national magazine – while he was still an undergrad in college. He has a degree in creative writing from Salem State University and was the recipient of the university’s highest honor in the arts. His short fiction also won an Honorable Mention in the 2019 Writers of the Future Contest.

Caplan’s introduction to fantasy came through J. R. R. Tolkien and George R. R. Martin. He has a tattoo that roughly translates to Valar Morghulis, as written in Tolkien’s Elvish script, in an acknowledgment of that fact. Other influences include Robin Hobb, Ellen Kushner, N.K. Jemisin, Katherine Addison, John Irving, Ann Petry, K.S. Villoso, and Neil Gaiman.

He currently lives in New England, where he works remotely for a social justice theater company.

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My thoughts:

This was a really interesting, fun read, about relationships of all forms, about struggling for financial independence, about learning to understand each others’ differences and adjusting our behaviour when we need to be easier to understand.

John is a quick tempered swordsman, his boyfriend Edwin is quieter and his autism means he finds it hard to read people – especially John. They struggle with their relationship at times – neither are great communicators.

Edwin finds his friendship with fellow student Audrey easier to understand and deal with – she’s better at expressing herself clearly.

John loses his job after losing a duel for his employer and has to make a new life for himself. He mishandles some things and upsets people who considered him a friend. But slowly, and with Edwin and Audrey’s help, he comes to realise the person he’s become isn’t who he wants to be.

He and Edwin have to decide what will make them happier – being together and being poor but decent human beings, or going their own ways and perhaps being less likeable.

I would have liked more on the thaumaturgy that Audrey is studying and that Edwin takes an interest in, but then I’m a sucker for a magic system and I can imagine that in a second book the focus might shift to their studies and investigations into magic as a way of affecting things, rather than John’s brute strength and ignorance style.

Overall this is a really strong first novel and does a nice job of world building, with the Haves living at the top of the hill and the Nots literally living in a place called the Dregs. I liked that there seemed to be more gender parity in this world – the lordess John works for is just as obnoxious as her male counterparts and holds the same power.

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books

Book Blitz: Love Him Hate Him – Chris Bedell

LoveHimHateHim

Today we are celebrating the release of Chris Bedell’s latest novel, Love Him/ Hate Him! Read on for more details!

LHHM digital coverLove Him/ Hate Him

Publication Date: February 16th, 2021

Genre: YA Thriller/ LGBQT

Publisher: Willow River Press

17-year-old Connor doesn’t believe his best friend’s death was an accident. Falling down the stairs was random, and Connor can’t help but wonder if someone might’ve pushed her…

Determined to find out the truth, Connor starts his own investigation. Along the way, he discovers Evelyn’s affair with a married man and thought she was pregnant before she died. Connor thinks he’s found her killer, but an airtight alibi forces him to look in a new direction. Perhaps closer to home.

Complicating the situation more is Connor’s own secret – an unexpected hook up with Evelyn’s twin brother, Liam, at a party the previous spring. Afterward, Liam goes on a homophobic rant and punches Connor, leaving him confused. His confusion deepens when, after Evelyn’s death, Liam apologizes and they start to hook up secretly.

Liam is trapped between his attraction to Connor and his abusive father. Connor struggles with his growing attraction for Liam. Their secret rendezvous are fun, but if Connor is going to have more with Liam, he’ll have to be honest about his feelings and his suspicions on who killed Evelyn. Will either survive the truth coming out?

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About the Author

My previous publishing credits include Thought Catalog, Entropy Magazine, Chicago Literati, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, among others. My debut YA Fantasy novel IN THE NAME OF MAGIC was published by NineStar Press in 2018.

My 2019 novels include NA Thriller BURNING BRIDGES (BLKDOG Publishing), YA Paranormal Romance DEATHLY DESIRES (DEEP HEARTS YA), and YA Thriller COUSIN DEAREST (BLKDOG Publishing). My 2020 novels include my YA Thriller I KNOW WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED (BLKDOG Publishing), YA Contemporary I’LL SEE YOU AGAIN (Deep Hearts YA),  YA Thriller BETWEEN LOVE AND MURDER (Between The Lines Publishing), YA Sci-fi DYING BEFORE LIVING (Deep Hearts YA), and YA Thriller LOVE HIM/HATE HIM (Between The Lines Publishing). I also graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2016.

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blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Not Quite Out – Louise Williamson*

William Anson is done with relationships, thanks. He’s starting the second year of his medicine degree single, focused, and ready to mingle with purely platonic intentions.

Meeting Daniel, a barely recovered drug addict ready to start living life on his own terms, might just change that.

There are two problems.

One: William isn’t out.

What’s the point in telling your friends you’re bisexual when you aren’t going to date anyone?

Two: Daniel’s abusive ex-boyfriend still roams the university campus, searching for cracks in Daniel’s recovery.

No matter how quickly William falls for Daniel, their friendship is too important to risk ruining over a crush.

William is fine with being just friends for the rest of forever.

Well, not quite.

Content warning This book includes references to abortion, PTSD, drug addiction, abusive relationships, and self-harm.

My thoughts:

I really felt for Will, being 19 and at uni is tough enough without trying to come to terms with your sexuality and come out. I know, I’ve been there.

But I’m now in my 30s so a lot more time has passed, those late teens/early twenties are tough.

Plus Will’s new friend, Dan, has a lot going on too, an abusive hovering ex, a drug habit he’s trying to kick and no family to support him. So Will is trying to provide that support while wrestling with his feelings and worries.

The book is very thoughtful, like its protagonist, and his other friends, Peter, Cas and Lilley are also dealing with the things life likes to throw at you, and uni, so there’s a lot going on around Will.

A sweet, sensitive, heartfelt portrayal of working out who you are, what you want, and where you fit in to the world. Friendship, love, pain, heartbreak and joy are all in the mix.

Really worth reading and then pressing a copy into the hands of a young person you know who looks like they could use some solidarity.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: White Trash Warlock – David R. Slayton*

Not all magicians go to schools of magic.

Adam Binder has the Sight. It’s a power that runs in his bloodline: the ability to see beyond this world and into another, a realm of magic populated by elves, gnomes, and spirits of every kind. But for much of Adam’s life, that power has been a curse, hindering friendships, worrying his backwoods family, and fueling his abusive father’s rage.

Years after his brother, Bobby, had him committed to a psych ward, Adam is ready to come to grips with who he is, to live his life on his terms, to find love, and maybe even use his magic to do some good. Hoping to track down his missing father, Adam follows a trail of cursed artifacts to Denver, only to discover that an ancient and horrifying spirit has taken possession of Bobby’s wife.

It isn’t long before Adam becomes the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, save his sister-in-law, and learn the truth about his father, Adam will have to risk bargaining with very dangerous beings … including his first love.

David R. Slayton grew up in Guthrie, Oklahoma, where finding fantasy novels was pretty challenging and finding fantasy novels with diverse characters was downright impossible. Now he lives in Denver, Colorado, with his partner, Brian, and writes the books he always wanted to read. White Trash Warlock is his first novel. In 2015, David founded Trick or Read, an annual initiative to give out books along with candy to children on Halloween as well as uplift lesser-known authors or those from marginalized backgrounds. Find him online

My thoughts:

This was a really fun read, it reminded me a bit of the very short lived TV series Midnight, Texas (of which I may be one of a total of three viewers) in that there’s a hero with the Sight and a ragtag band of supernatural friends along for the ride.

It’s also hella gay, which is very much my bag. Supernaturals, gays, monsters, yes please!

Adam is an everyman figure who really wishes he didn’t have any magical powers thanks all the same, but he does and he wants to use them for good. He’s been tracking a warlock making artifacts containing the souls of various creatures and then his brother, who he very much does not like, calls and he, being a better person than he wants to be, goes to help.

I basically love, want to be his best friend, although the scary elf queen might have a problem with that, and why are you still here? Go read the book.

As someone who would quite happily drown a certain boy wizard and his Terfy creator, this was a balm, sometimes you need to learn what they can’t teach you in any fancy pants wizard school, and the only way to do that is by, well, doing.

This was a fun, funny (the dry humour was very much my thing too) and clever romp of magical proportions and I enjoyed it very muchly. It has really heart too, in the shape of Adam and Vic and the whole reluctant hero thing.

Can’t wait to see what madness book two will hold in store, since Adam still has a few things left to tick off his to do list…

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.