blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Dead Moon – Keith Crawford*

Humanity will be extinguished in less than seven days.

Wing Commander Jude Styles is a Starfighter Pilot trying to get pregnant before the world ends. Her wingman, Hamid Ashkami, just wants to block the spam messages he is receiving from someone claiming to be his dead ex-husband.

Instead, they are locked in a media tour, shown off as the heroes that stopped the alien invasion by destroying the massive mothership known as the “Dead Moon”, persuading the masses that all will be fine if they keep calm and carry on.

Trapped telling the same lies, driven over the edge by post-traumatic stress and the constant flow of alcohol, it is only a matter of time before Jude and Hamid break down – and the fragments of the Dead Moon have already begun to fall from the sky.

Dr Keith Crawford is a retired naval officer, disabled veteran and qualified barrister with a PhD in Law and Economics. After years of crazy adventures, from speedboats and aircraft to theatre and lecturing at Sciences Po, my French wife and I decided it was time to properly settle in Paris and have babies. Being the good feminist I try to be, I quit my job to look after the kids, support my wife’s career and write books. Each time I get offered a job my wife says “stop looking at jobs and get back to writing books.” Which shows, with marriage as with everything else, it is better to be lucky than good!

Dead Moon is my second novel. The first, Vile, a science-fantasy about toxic-patriarchy, the evils of aristocracy and swordfights, is available on Amazon.

After years of crazy adventures, from speedboats and aircraft to theatre and lecturing at Sciences Po, my French wife and I decided it was time to properly settle in Paris and have babies. Being the good feminist I try to be, I quit my job to look after the kids, support my wife’s career and write books. Each time I get offered a job my wife says “stop looking at jobs and get back to writing books.” Which shows, with marriage as with everything else, it is better to be lucky than good!

Dead Moon is my second novel. The first, Vile, a science-fantasy about toxic-patriarchy, the evils of aristocracy and swordfights, is available on Amazon.

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My thoughts:

This was completely bonkers, but in the very best way. Hamid and Jude ricochet around the country trying to solve various mysteries, being pursued by different dangerous people and slowly utterly destroying the luxury vehicle they’ve accidentally stolen, all before the world ends on Monday.

Both of them are dealing with the aftermath of the space battle that killed the rest of their squad and left them being hailed as heroes, while feeling anything but.

Their Survivors Guilt and PTSD lead them to do some very questionable things, including head off on their crazy adventure, technically going AWOL from their TV appearances reassuring the public that all is well.

The plot races along with the protagonists as they flee Manchester via Yorkshire, Milton Keynes and London on their way to Bexhill in Kent to find the person sending Hamid messages claiming to be from his dead husband.

Along the way they discuss gender, sexuality and how to get Jude pregnant, they team up with some scientists attempting to get humanity off the planet, engage in several gunfights and drive a tank.

It’s all completely crazy, and trememdously enjoyable and great fun.


*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: Vampires Never Get Old – edited by Zoraida Cordova & Natalie C. Parker*

In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.

Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.

Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.

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Zoraida Córdova

Zoraida Córdova is the author of many fantasy novels, including the award-winning Brooklyn Brujas series, Incendiary, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, and The Way to Rio Luna. Her short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, Star Wars: Clone Wars Stories of Light and Dark, and Come On In. She is the co-editor of Vampires Never Get Old. She is the co-host of the writing podcast, Deadline City, with Dhonielle Clayton. Zoraida was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. When she’s not working on her next novel, she’s finding a new adventure.

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Natalie C. Parker

Natalie C. Parker grew up in a Navy family finding home in coastal cities from Virginia to Japan. Now, she lives surprisingly far from any ocean on the Kansas prairie with her wife where she writes and edits books for teens including the acclaimed Seafire trilogy.

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My thoughts:

This is a really enjoyable selection of vampire stories that play with the conventions of the mythology that starts before Dracula, exploring issues of race, sexuality and gender.

As a massive Buffy fan my favourite two stories dealt with slayers – Julie Murphy’s Senior Year Sucks and V.E. Schwab’s First Kill.

They were different from each other but explored the difficulties of juggling your secret identity and high school, getting a crush on inappropriately fanged hot girls, and not ending up friendless and alone as the “weird girl”.

I loved the twists on the genre and the interplay of various themes around identity and the ultimate outsider – the blood drinking, nightwalking vampire.

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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, reviews

Blog Tour: The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life – Dani Jansen*

Alison Green, desperate valedictorian-wannabe, agrees to produce her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her first big mistake. The second is accidentally saying Yes to a date with her oldest friend, Jack, even though she’s crushing on Charlotte. Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.” Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.

Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.” Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.

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Indigo

Dani Jansen is a teacher and writer who lives in Montreal. She should probably be embarrassed to admit that she has performed as part of her school’s Glee Club for eight years. She should probably also be ashamed to tell people that she named her cats after punctuation symbols (Ampersand and Em-Dash, in case you’re curious).

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My thoughts:

I am a recovering theatre kid so this book spoke to me on so many levels. I have been involved in shows where things can go wrong, as an extra I once stood on an actor’s stomach and thought I’d injured her badly (Romeo & Juliet 70s punk style, she was on the floor and I had to jump off a box and she wasn’t supposed to be there, then I fell off the stage and almost landed on the mayor!), then there was the year our leading man got stoned on opening night and couldn’t remember his lines in front of the headmaster, mayor and other local notables – as stage manager I had to stop our director/drama teacher from killing him during the interval. Basically I’ve seen a lot of drama on stage and off.

So I empathised massively with Alison, producing her school’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, when an actor quits, her costume designer has a relationship malfunction and she gets threatened by the theatre mafia!

This book was a total hoot, I was laughing out loud at times (cue some strange looks from my very own Mr Shakespeare, my husband (yes that is our last name)) and cheering Alison on as she went on a date with the hot girl of her dreams (and corgi lover), Charlotte.

I highly recommend this book to any theatre kids out there, or anyone who loves funny, entertaining books with heart.

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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.

books, reviews

Book Review: The Scapegracers – Hannah Abigail Clarke

I was sent this book to review at the beginning of the year but then 2020 went insane and publication was delayed, so I held this back and re-read it. Hope you enjoy my thoughts!

An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.
Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends.

But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven.

They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent on stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing.

Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?

My thoughts:

When I was 14 or 15 I wanted to be a witch, Practical Magic and The Craft made me wish for powers, a way to drown out the intense sadness and loneliness coiling in my brain. Instead I had books, which have a kind of magic all their own.

Even now, I sort of wish I had the ability to cast spells and make things happen, I wish I was a Scapegracer.

Sideways, Daisy, Jing and Yates are baby witches, taking back control from fuck boys and doing fun magic things, like levitating. Sideways has always been an outsider, but the ultimate cool girls are inviting her in.

Obviously it all goes a bit wonky, there are witch hunters, and dangerous love interests and book demons and gay dads (I adore Boris and Julian and would happily read a book all about them) and some parties to throw and high school, yada yada.

Sideways takes Jing to her first gay bar, Dorothy’s, and they meet a sort of witch librarian, who I would also happily read a book about, and I just love the idea of witches living amongst us, hidden by their ordinariness.

Basically this is a really fun book with teenage witches, some of whom are gay, and I want the next book ASAP!!!

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Always Human – Ari North*

First serialized on the popular app and website WebToon, Always Human ran from 2015-2017 and amassed over 76,000 unique subscribers during its run.

Now reformatted for a print edition in sponsorship with GLAAD, Always Human is a beautifully drawn graphic novel about a developing relationship between two young women in a near-future, soft sci-fi setting. Always Human is drawn in a manga-influenced style and with an incredible color palette that leaps off the page!

In the near-future, people use technology to give the illusion of all kinds of body modifications-but some people have “Egan’s Syndrome,” a highly sensitive immune system that rejects these “mods” and are unable to use them. Those who are affected maintain a “natural” appearance, reliant on cosmetics and hair dye at most to help them play with their looks.

Sunati is attracted to Austen the first time she sees her and is drawn to what she assumes is Austen’s bravery and confidence to live life unmodded. When Sunati learns the truth, she’s still attracted to Austen and asks her on a date.

Gradually, their relationship unfolds as they deal with friends, family, and the emotional conflicts that come with every romance. Together, they will learn and grow in a story that reminds us no matter how technology evolves, we will remain . . . always human.

Rendered in beautiful detail and an extraordinary color palette, Always Human is a sweet love story told in a gentle sci-fi setting by a queer woman cartoonist, Ari North.

Ari North is a queer cartoonist who believes an entertaining story should also be full of diversity and inclusion. As a writer, an artist, and a musician, she wrote, drew, and composed the music for Always Human, a complete romance/sci-fi webcomic about two queer girls navigating maturity and finding happiness. She’s currently working on a second webcomic, Aerial Magic, which is about the everyday lives of the witches who work at a broomstick repair shop. She lives in Australia with her husband.

My thoughts:

This was adorable, a sweet, pastel coloured love story about falling in love, making mistakes and finding a way back to each other and developing a deeper understanding.

Sunati and Austen are young women on the cusp of their adult lives, Sunati works as a programmer and Austen is a student, struggling with her course load and stressed about exams.

Set in a future where people use ‘mods’ to alter their appearances, Sunati uses technology with ease, while Austen’s allergy to these patches mean she retains her features and can’t alter them.

Both women try to do what they think the other wants, instead of actually speaking to one another. After a rocky start, their affection for each other grows and blossoms.

A gentle, sweet, old fashioned love story with a high tech twist. Simply charming.

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

Images reproduced by kind permission of the publisher.

books, reviews

Book Review: Camp – L.C. Rosen

I was gifted a copy by the publisher with no requirement to review.

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?

My thoughts:

One of my favourite films is an indie called Camp, which is about an arts camp with a drag queen coming into their own and Anna Kendricks as a rather evil young woman, determined to be the star.

This book reminded me of that in more than just the title, because this book is also set at summer camp and is also full of joy.

There’s a love story, there’s learning to be yourself and embrace it, there’s so much hope for the future and there’s a group of wonderful, funny, talented friends at its core.

We dont really have summer camps in the UK in the same way as the US, so most of my knowledge comes from books and TV (Lumberjanes and Wet Hot American Summer are my favourites), but I worked at a summer playscheme (a sort of day camp) for 3 years and it was the best job I have ever had.

Anyway, I loved this book, it’s very upbeat and fun, and I think I would have loved this camp.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Kissing Daisy Parker – Michael Milton*

First loves. Last chances. Street Fighter II.

Daisy is a Sylvia Plath reading, Robert Smith devotee, planning on a summer of Australian beaches with or without her two favourite boys. Obsessed gamer and jealous boyfriend Greg needs the prize money from the Scottish Street Fighter II championships to join Daisy in Oz. She wouldn’t really go without him. Would she?

Scottish-born, English-accented Junaid is the couple’s best friend. Haunted by that school dance and terrified of the future, he finds himself falling for his best friend’s girl. When a disastrous event at the video game tournament brings Daisy and J closer together, Greg attempts the ultimate redemption.

Each makes decisions which alter the course of their friendship, and their lives, forever. But do the answers to life’s biggest questions truly lie in kissing Daisy Parker?

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Michael Milton spent the first 25 years of his life pretending to be other people. After switching drama school for university, he travelled the world as an English teacher and returned home to complete his MA in Creative Writing.

His stories have been long and short listed for the Fish Prize, the Bath Short Story Award, the Mogford Prize and the Emerge Impact Creative Writing Prize. Kissing Daisy Parker is his first novel, and yes, he can beat you at Street Fighter.

My thoughts:

This was a delightful read about finding yourself and your place in the world. Set in the 90s, complete with a soundtrack of The Cure and the sound effects of Street Fighter, three friends spend their gap years travelling the world and discovering who they want to be.

A really enjoyable book, that made me laugh but also with some heart stopping moments. An accomplished first novel and a great addition to recent YA publications.

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

books, reviews

Book Review: Even If We Break – Marieke Nijkamp

I was gifted a copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley with no requirement to review.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp comes a shocking new thriller about a group of friends tied together by a game and the deadly weekend that tears them apart.

FIVE friends go to a cabin.
FOUR of them are hiding secrets.
THREE years of history bind them.
TWO are doomed from the start.
ONE person wants to end this.
NO ONE IS SAFE.

Are you ready to play?

My thoughts:

I don’t really know what to say about this book except it was so powerful and moving that I sat after reading it in stunned silence.
It had such a massive impact on me that I find it hard to articulate. As someone who has recently come out as non-binary, and who is disabled and autistic, seeing facets of myself on the page was profound.

The story of broken and breaking friendships resonated as well, we’ve all lost friends that once meant everything to us, my best friend of 20 years told me she never wanted to hear from me again and that was genuinely heartbreaking.

There is also new love fluttering in the pages of this book, like the butterfly at the bottom of Pandora’s Box. The hope and opportunity for renewal it brings is ultimately redemptive and a reason for the characters to fight on.

This book was genuinely the most incredibly powerful and moving that I’ve read in quite some time.

blog tour, books, LGBTQ+, reviews

Blog Tour: Fin & Rye & Fireflies – Harry Cook*

Fin Whittle is sixteen and he likes guys. A fact which seems to be complicating his life.

One minute Fin’s kissing the godlike Jesse; the next he s been cruelly outed. His family’s response? To up sticks in search of a ‘fresh start’.

A fresh start won’t change the truth of who Fin is. Obviously. But it does introduce him to the best squad in town: kick-ass Poppy, her on-off girlfriend June and the super cute, super irresistible Rye.

Fin soon has a serious crush. And Rye might just feel the same way. But Fin’s parents aren’t happy. If their son won’t change his ‘lifestyle’, they ll force him onto the straight and narrow . . . by way of ‘conversion therapy’. An outrageous plan is needed to face down the haters and to give Fin and Rye (and their fireflies) a chance at the happy-ever-after their story deserves . . .

From moonlit meet-ups to vintage diners, pride parades to a passion for old vinyl, Fin & Rye & Fireflies is a gloriously upbeat tale of being true to yourself no matter what.

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Born in the UK, Harry Cook is an Australian actor and international LGBTQI+ activist. He has starred in major film, TV and theatre productions, including the lead opposite Geena Davis in Accidents Happen. In 2013, at age 22, Harry came out to his fans on YouTube. The video went viral and Harry became front-page news in Australia, the UK and the US. Harry lives in Sydney with his rescued English Bulldog Poppy.

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My thoughts:

This is a sweet, lovely story of first loves, fireflies, being true to yourself, and the importance of friendship.

It’s also got a dark side, and I would be remiss to say it’s not something every reader will feel comfortable with. Conversion therapy is horrible and cruel and harmful.

There is light in the darkness too, from fireflies and knowing that people can change, that parents make mistakes too.

As Mrs Potts sings in Beauty & the Beast “bittersweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong” – I think Fin’s family would agree.

Find your tribe, the people who will always have your back, like Fin does, and you’ll be OK.

This is powerful, moving story telling and I hope it finds its audience, because we need stories like this to counteract the sadder ones.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Boy Queen – George Lester*

Fall wig first into a world of big hair, high heels and even higher stakes in George Lester’s debut novel Boy Queen.

Life’s a drag until you try . . .

Robin Cooper’s life is falling apart.

While his friends prepare to head off to University, Robin is looking at a pile of rejection letters from drama schools up and down the country, and facing a future without the people he loves the most. Everything seems like it’s ending, and Robin is scrabbling to find his feet.

Unsure about what to do next and whether he has the talent to follow his dreams, he and his best friends go and drown their sorrows at a local drag show, where Robin realizes there might be a different, more sequinned path for him . . .

With a mother who won’t stop talking, a boyfriend who won’t acknowledge him and a best friend who is dying to cover him in glitter make up, there’s only one thing for Robin to do: bring it to the runway.

My thoughts:

Oh my wigs and lashes, this was such a fun read, I loved it. Written by a real life drag queen, aka That Gurrrl, this is such a delight.

Robin is out and surrounded by fantastic friends and a loving mum, a committed Drag Race fan, a birthday night out at a local drag night lights a spark in him and off he goes to discover his inner diva and drag up his life.

As a lifelong theatre kid and glitter aficionado who gets make up tips from drag queens at Pride, this book made my queer little heart sing. It’s so much fun and real and I just loved it.

My inner drag queen had her heels on and was dancing a boogie when Robin finally took the stage and it just ticked so many boxes for me.

Drag has become more and more mainstream over the last few years and the more positive stories about LGBTQ+ lives that get published the better.


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