ARC Book Review – The Blood Mage

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Title: The Blood Mage (Changing Tides #2)

Author: Aimee Davis

Synopsis:

Monster. Murderer. Oathbreaker.

Three years after the events leading to the deaths of her friend and lover, twenty-one-year-old Alena Kozlov is still trying to outrun her past. But the darkness within her is not something she can simply leave behind.

The nightmares plaguing her become reality when a familiar face seeks her out in her isolated desert home bearing news that awakens all she’s tried to keep locked inside. There’s a promise she made long ago she’s determined to keep, even if it means she will have to tear what remains of herself, and her world, apart.

To save her friends, she may have to become the monster once more. But fear is not for the damned.

Rating: 4 stars

Review: First off, a disclaimer – I received this ARC right from the author in exchange for an honest review. No money exchanged hands, only this wonderful book that I’m about to dissect for your reading pleasure. Now onto the review:

Holy crap this book was good. That’s all I can think of to start it off. No, actually, I know the perfect thing to start this off with – the cover. I am so in love with this cover that I actually want to marry it (and the girl on the cover, but that’s a whole other thing).  I mean, look at it!

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Okay, now we’ve got that out of the way, we can get to the actual story,

This book picks up three years after the events of ‘The Wheel Mages’ and when we meet Alena again, she’s hiding out in the middle of nowhere like a hermit, trying to leave behind all that she did at the end of the previous book. However, she gets thrown back into the world of the Sanctum, when she discovers that something’s happened to her beloved Genevieve. That’s when she meets the charming and disarming Lukas.

Okay, so Lukas? Actual angel. He’s an air mage who’s become Genevieve’s new mentor before the events of the book happens, and I’m having an internal battle whether or not I prefer Lukas over Nikolai….. Lukas is so laid-back most of the time, and he lets most of Alena’s bite just wash right over him, but he isn’t afraid to step up and be serious when he needs to be.

Casually he wormed between them and draped an arm around Celine’s shoulders. He was about to replicate the movement with Odeth when she stopped him. “Try it, and I will remove it from your body.” He chuckled but kept his hand tight at his side.

 

Alena on the other hand… Yeah, I’m generally not a fan of the whole tortured soul who blames herself and lashes out at everyone for it. Somehow Alena came back around though, and I warmed to her again. She’s prickly on the outside, but she does have a soft centre under all those layers of titanium.

Then we get the power couple of the whole book – Celine and Odeth. If you remember the first book, Celine was one of Allard and Henri’s pet mages, but in this book she really comes into her own. Right as the book opens, we meet Celine again, along with her Amazon-like warrior lover Odeth, and they’re wonderful.

“Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite. Well, not outside the bedroom anyway.”

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Celine stretched onto her toes and kissed the other woman lightly on her cheek. “You’ll get used to it.”

Their care for one another seemed so easy, so uncomplicated. It was comforting to see them, to know there was something pure and good still left in such an unforgiving world.

They’re a same-sex couple, that don’t get written into unnecessary relationship drama or into an untimely death, and it’s nice to have a same-sex couple like ‘Odine’ in a fantasy series such as this. You don’t see that often.

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I am just so in love with Aimee Davis’ writing – she describes this world so beautifully, and it feels like you’re coming home, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like you’ve read the same thing a million times before. It doesn’t read as contrived in any way, or unoriginal, and I feel so happy to have gotten an ARC of this book.

One thing I was surprisingly miffed to have though, was a lack of Felipe. I actually missed him. Imagine that.

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Basically, if high fantasy is your thing, and you like well-written LGBT characters, and engaging characters (because who doesn’t like that?), then you should get into this series.

If you want to read more, I reviewed the first book in this series – The Wheel Mages – and I also got to interview Aimee herself – awesome, right? She’s a very cool person, and I’ll link you to her various pages at the end of this.

The Blood Mage is released on July 18th, so add it to your calendars because this is a must-read.

Now for some quotes to whet your appetite for this wonderful piece of literature:

“You are more than darkness, more than rage and regret. You are also light. You are also hope.”

“I don’t want you to be Nikolai,” I said. “I want you to be you. I want your irritating charm and your sarcasm and your bad jokes. I want you, Lukas.”


“Yes, Alena, you were a gutter rat, and Felipe was a highborn bastard, but magic is the great equaliser.”

“You will love many people in your life, my sprite, but there will never be a bond like the one you and I share,” Nikolai had once said to me.

 

~~~~

Meet The Author:

Aimee’s Blog | Twitter |

My Interview with Aimee

Book Review – Lord of Shadows

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Yes, I know I’m very late with this review – don’t shoot!

 

Title: Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Synopsis: Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

 

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.

Rating: 5 Stars

Review: I started this book with high expectations, and those expectations were exceeded. Let me explain just how amazing this is.

Lord of Shadows takes place a short while after Lady Midnight, and the Shadowhunters of the LA Institute have been kept busy by sea demons appearing from the sea – until the Centurions from the Scholomance arrive, and bring a whole set of troubles with them. That’s not even taking into consideration the emotional problems amongst the teenagers.

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Okay, so I’m going to split this up into various ships, because that’s where all my feelings are. Starting off with….

Gwyn and Diana

 

Oh my god, this came out of nowhere, but I ship it so effing much now! Gwyn’s this big bear-like guy, and he’s intimidating, and rough, but he’s also a total gentleman, and he woos Diana like she deserves to be. He brings her flowers, and he listens to her backstory – representation by the way! – and ugh, they’re just so perfect!

 

Ty and Kit

 

This ship has now become my favourite out of the entire universe (except for Malec, obviously) and I’m dying for them to actually become a thing. Argh, slow burn relationships! So good, yet so hard! I mean, how could you not hardcore ship them after these parts:

He grinned, and the grin changed his face completely. Ty when he was still and expressionless had an intensity that fascinated Kit; when he was smiling, he was extraordinary.”

 

“You want a … wait, you’ve been sleeping outside my room because you want a sort of Watson for your Sherlock Holmes?”

 

Ty smiled. It was a genuine light-up-your-face-type smile, and it made Kit remember the first time he’d met Ty.

 

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If Ty was someone else, Kit would have tried to catch his eyes, but he knew Ty wouldn’t look at him directly.

 

I mean, Kit actually understands that Ty’s autistic, and it doesn’t faze him one bit. In return, Ty sees past Kit’s brave facade, and he gets to the scared boy underneath – just, they really work well together, and I’m in love with my adorable boys.

 

Her eyes were much bluer than the Thames. Ty’s eyes were really more the river’s colour.

 

“Waste of a perfectly good starfish,” muttered Kit, and Ty laughed. The salt air had tangled his arrow-straight black hair, and his eyes glowed like the moonlight on the river. Kit just stared, unable to think of anything else clever to say.

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Kieran and Mark

 

I have so many feelings about these two that there aren’t actually words for it. I’m just going to use a whole load of gifs, which actually express my emotional state better than words could right now. Also, this:

Intellectually, he knew the word “lover” was part of traditional speech, but he couldn’t help it: He was from Los Angeles, and as far as he was concerned, Kieran had just said, Hello, I have sex with Mark Blackthorn. What about you?”

 

Julian and Emma

 

To be perfectly honest? Meh. Parts of this relationship just felt like Jace and Clary, circa ‘City of Ashes’ and I wasn’t especially into them this time around. I loved them a lot more in ‘Lady Midnight’, especially Emma, but in this book they just seemed more interested in their romantic problems than anything else – even Emma, and I loved how defiant and badass she was in the first book. It was a little disappointing, but because I enjoyed this so much, I’m not going to take any stars off for it.

As for the writing overall though, I am still a huge Cassandra Clare fan, and I love how she always has a twist around the corner – still dying over that cruel, cruel ending – which always keeps me on my toes as a reader. Seriously, she could write anything, and I’d read it.

If you like fantasy, well-written LGBT characters, and complicated teenage relationships, this is a series for you.

Now, to whet your appetite, here’s a few parts from it – enjoy.

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“All I am saying is give it a week. After all”—Jace grinned—”Herondales can’t resist a challenge.”

 

“You know my rules about forsoothing in my room. Also the use of the words ‘howbeit,’ ‘welladay,’ and ‘alack.’”

“What about ‘zounds’?”

“The punishment for ‘zounds’ is severe,” she told him.

 

“I wonder what other family mottoes are,” Emma mused. “Do you know any?”

“The Lightwood family motto is ‘We mean well.’ ”

“Very funny.”

Julian looked over at her. “No, really, it actually is.”

“Seriously? So what’s the Herondale family motto? ‘Chiseled but angsty’?”

He shrugged. ‘If you don’t know what your last name is, it’s probably Herondale’?”

Emma burst out laughing. “What about Carstairs?” she asked, tapping Cortana. “ ‘We have a sword’? ‘Blunt instruments are for losers’?”

“Morgenstern,” offered Julian. “ ‘When in doubt, start a war’?”

 

 

“I mean, your house is pretty screwed up, what with your agoraphhobic uncle and your weird brother.

Julian’s hands tightened on the wheel, but the only thing he said was, “Ty isn’t weird.”

“I meant Mark,” said Kit. There was an odd pause. “Ty isn’t weird,” Kit added. “He’s just autistic.”

The pause stretched out longer. Kit wondered if he’d offended Julian somehow. “It’s not a big deal,” he said finally. “Back when I went to mundane school, I knew some kids who were on the spectrum. Ty has some things in common with them.”

“What spectrum?” Julian asked.

Kit looked at him in surprise. “You really don’t know what I mean?”

 

“Come to the library,” she announced. “The tentacle is starting to dissolve.”

“You drive me wild with your sexy talk,” said Jace, pulling on his gear jacket.

 

“Whoa, sexy weirdness,” said Emma. “This may be more sexy weirdness than I can handle.”

“It is not weird!”

“It is,” said Emma. “You are headed for a faerie threesome. Or some kind of war.”

“Emma!”

“Hot faerie threesome,” said Emma cheerfully. “I can say I knew you when.”

 

But to me everything about him said “Love me, because nobody else has”. It was all over him, like fingerprints.”

 

“Move, Kit. I want to get a closer look at that bust.”

To Kit, bust only meant one thing, but since the only breasts in the room belonged to Ty’s sister, he stepped aside with alacrity.

 

“I can’t believe you’re going,” she said to Julian. “The minute you leave, Livvy and Ty start treating me like a servant.”

“Servants get paid,” Ty observed.

 

[Mark] was standing with his hands behind his back, exchanging a mistrustful look with a carved stone gnome. “Your pretense does not fool me, gnome,” he muttered. “My eye will be upon you.”

 

Kit recognised the words as Latin, which he’d taken three months of in school before he decided there was no point in knowing a language you couldn’t converse in with anyone but the Pope.

There was no reason to sail down Sexy Thoughts River to the Sea of Perversion when it wasn’t going to go anywhere.

“The Herondales have always been famous for their good looks,” said Bridget, “but if you ask me, the Lightwoods are the more sexually charismatic of the bunch.”

Alec spit out his tea. Magnus seemed to be keeping a straight face, but with an effort.

 

ARC Review- The Upside of Unrequited

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Title: The Upside of Unrequited

Author: Becky Albertalli

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

Rating: 4 and a half stars

Review:

First of all, thank you so much to Penguin Random House for supplying me with this review copy to read – when I read the email that said my review request had been accepted, I think part of me died and went to heaven, purely because this happens to be the book I’ve been most looking forward to reading.

Okay, for this review, I think I’ll do it a little differently – first I’ll quickly go through why I didn’t rate this a full five stars, and then I’ll list some of the reasons why you HAVE to read it. Sound good? Okay, lets get cracking.

 

I didn’t relate to Molly as much as I related to Simon in the first book – Simon’s the adorkable Harry-Potter-loving, secret romantic, and I get that so much, whereas with Molly, I didn’t connect with her in the same way. That’s nothing against the author – it’s a purely personal thing. I understood how Simon was feeling, because I’ve had to deal with similar stuff myself, but since I’ve never had to experience Molly’s issues, I didn’t fully connect. Hence, the four and a half stars.

Another little thing that I find issue with, is the use of the word ‘fat’ to describe Molly. Again, maybe this is just me, but I hate that word and the connotations behind it. I’d much rather have preferred to read other words like ‘big girl’  or ‘plus-size’ rather than ‘fat’ – that word gives me the squicks, and a horrible feeling inside.

Other than that, I adored this book, and these are just five of the many reasons you should read it when it’s released in April:

  1. SO MUCH DIVERSITY!! I love how much diversity is in thi
    s book – there’s Molly’s who’s a plus-sized Jewish girl; Cassie who’s gay; their interracial mums, one of whom happens to be bisexual (!); Mina who is pansexual….the list goes on and on, and it’s wonderful.

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  1. Reid Wertheim – just….Reid. He’s a Game of Thrones/Tolkien fan, and he’s just amazing. I want to marry him so freaking much, and just have lots of little nerd babies with him….and I’m getting carried away now. Moving on-
  2. Cameos from ‘Simon Vs’ characters – you better believe I was fangirling when Simon appeared suddenly. I was basically like this:

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  1. The mothers – Patty and Nadine are so cool, I almost want them to be my mums too! They’re so chill about basically everything, and they treat Cassie and Molly like adults, instead of little kids, which is very nice to read.
  2. The Supreme Court legalising same-sex marriage – part of the book happens at this time, and it actually talks about it, and I’m so happy that something as important as this ruling was given its own moment in the book. This alone should be reason for you to read ‘The Upside of Unrequited.’

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And now, let me tease you with some of my favourite quotes from the book:

Classic adult logic. Reid and I are vaguely the same age, so of course we’re basically soul mates.

That’s two legit new friends today, and it’s not even four thirty. Mina of the Labia and Middle Earth Reid.

I’ve had crushes on twenty-six people, twenty-five of whom are not Lin-Manuel Miranda.

It would be nice if I were the kind of person who didn’t require a battalion of wingwomen to make this happen.

I mean, how does a person explain YouTube to her seventy-year-old grandmother?

When Patty came out, the first thing Grandma did was try to set her up with the cantor’s daughter. Who is actually straight, but Grandma gets thrown off when women have short hair.

“Yeah, so this one and his boyfriend just spent two hours arguing about whether I’m a Gryffindor or a Hufflelump.”

Hufflelump?” Simon covers his face. “I can’t. Jesus Christ. Abby, you’re embarrassing yourself.”

 

The Upside of Unrequited is being released on April 11th 2017

Book Review – Matched

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Title: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Synopsis: In the Society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

Rating: 3 and a half stars

Review: I got this book from my local library, and honestly? I was expecting to enjoy it more than I did.

Set in a dystopian world where the goverment decides what your optimal age is for getting married, having kids, dying, and where they decide who you marry, everything seems ideal. Nothing is left to chance. Cassia’s Matching seems to go perfectly – she gets paired with her best friend, who’s pretty awesome in his own right – but then things start happening, and she isn’t sure what’s right.

Am I the only who thinks that Cassia’s a very unlikable character? I just found her to be so damn irritating in so many ways. I mean, all she had to do was be with Xander, and not poke her nose into anything else. Yet she couldn’t even do that. I just didn’t like her throughout the book.

I liked Ky Markham though – he was, in my opinion, one of the the few characters who didn’t have the personality of a robot. I really liked the writing scenes, because it showed Ky’s personality, not his social status, and that he really does have a heart.

I’m rating this book as a ‘three-and-a-half stars’ book, because even through the good parts of the book, I think it’s too similar to other dystopian books out there at the moment – a goverment who has changed a lot, but over the generations, it’s become normal even though it’s messed up.

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I probably won’t read the second one, but if you like dystopians, I recommend at least trying this one. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it more than I did.

Man Crush Monday #2 (16/01/17)

 

Man Crush Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Sheri, aka Read In A Flash.Read In A Flash. This is the place where I tell you every week about the bookish men I’m hopelessly devoted to. Trust me, it’s a long, and ever-growing list.

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This week’s Man Crush Monday is Jem Carstairs from the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare.

 

 

“Will has always been the brighter burning star, the one to catch attention — but Jem is a steady flame, unwavering and honest. He could make you happy.”

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“Will: “Nice place to live, isn’t it? Let’s hope they left something behind other than filth. Forwarding addresses, a few severed limbs, a prostitute or two …”

Jem: “Indeed. Perhaps, if we’re fortunate, we can still catch syphilis.”

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“I can offer you my life, but it is a short life; I can offer you my heart, though I have no idea how many more beats it shall sustain.”

 

Oh, will the list of handsome Shadowhunters never end? This particular Shadowhunter’s got me like:

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Book Review – Making Love

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Title: Making Love

Author: Aidan Wayne

Synopsis: Carla the cupid is an excellent shot, but her chemistry is so bad that most of her matches don’t last. Her dream is to shoot a True Love pair, but until her scores improve, she’s relegated to the Puppy Love division of Aphrodite Agency.

Leeta, a succubus, is looking for a True Love match. Which is highly unusual, as most succubi are aromantic. But Aphrodite Agency—her only hope—turns her away because the receptionist can’t believe she’s not just looking for an easy meal.

Carla agrees to take Leeta’s case on freelance. She figures it’s a win-win: Carla gets to put a succubus’s True Love match on her résumé, and Leeta gets to find her True Love! Except as Carla tries to find a match for Leeta, she finds herself maybe . . . relieved when the matches don’t end well. And Leeta seems to be getting pickier and pickier. Things will never work out until Carla learns enough about chemistry to figure out who’s truly best for Leeta, and until Leeta can admit what—or who—she truly wants.

Rating: 3 stars

Review: I received this title from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was an incredibly short read – only just under 100 pages long in total – but it was sweet. When I saw this on Netgalley, I was intrigued by the notion of a romance between a succubus and a cupid, so I gave it a go.

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Personally I found it to be overly brief, if that makes any sense? There wasn’t a lot of character building, and everything seemed to be over with very quickly. If it had been a full length novel, I would have gotten into it more, but this was very short and over too fast.

 

 

The concept is fantastic, I admit, and after finishing my last ARC (a serious romance novel), I was delighted to be able to indulge in a spot of super-cute fluffiness, because it really was very cute. I loved the upbeat nature of Carla, and her determination to find True Love for everyone, even for someone whom everyone says is incapable of True Love. I do wish we had more character building for Carla and Leeta though – they have the potential for so much development, but the novella was so short that their whole interaction seemed rushed.

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If you’re looking for a cute novella to read over your lunch break, with a demisexual Cupid and a succubus who just wants love, then this is something you’d enjoy.

 

Making Love is due to be published by Riptide Publishing on Jan 30th 2017.

Book Review – Symptoms of Being Human

Title: Symptoms of Being Human

Author: Jeff Garvin 22692740

Synopsis: The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Rating:  4 Stars

Review: This book has been on my TBR ever since it came out months ago, but I’ve only just been able to finally read it, and honestly, I wasn’t disappointed.

“The world isn’t binary. Everything isn’t black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it’s not a switch, it’s a dial. And it’s not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission or approval.”

 

Riley’s gender fluid – but also so far in the closet that he/she’s almost in Narnia. Riley also suffers from anxiety, which isn’t made any better by his/her dad running for re-election as a Congressman. Add onto that the normal stress of starting at a new school, and you’ve got a pretty messed up day to day life. Things start to seem a little better though, when Riley starts writing a blog under a pseudonym about being a gender fluid teenager, and he/she actually finds a cause to get behind.

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I absolutely loved this book from start to end – especially the character of Riley him/herself. One of my own original characters is a gender fluid character called Riley, so I found myself attached to this Riley from the start because of that, but as the book went on, I genuinely found myself empathising with this Riley and what they were going through.

 

I’m gender fluid. Not stupid.

 

I just loved Riley altogether – Riley’s snarky and sassy and will give as good as they get, but they’re also very emotional, and insightful. Some particular parts of the book just explain gender fluidity so well, even to someone who already understands it well enough.

 

It’s like I have a compass in my chest, but instead of north and south, the needle moves between masculine and feminine.

 

One of the things I really appreciate as well, is that despite the events that happen near the end of the book, we never find out what biological sex Riley is – because it doesn’t matter. Riley is both a boy and a girl and somewhere in the middle, and the point of this whole narrative is that it doesn’t matter what’s between Riley’s legs, or between anyone’s. It’s the person who matters, not their genitals. That’s just a lovely concept, isn’t it?

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As for the supporting characters, I found Riley’s friends Solo and Bec to be a little off at the start, but I warmed to them quickly. I ended up disliking both Riley’s parents through most of the book, just by how they were acting, but they redeemed themselves eventually.

 

Want to hear some of my favourite parts? Of course you do. Here you go:

 

“People do judge books by their covers; it’s human nature. They react to the way you look before they hear a single word that comes out of your mouth.”

 

“My mom says crying is just your body expelling all the bad stuff. Like a sneeze. Like your soul sneezing.”

 

“That’s none of your business,” I say. “And, while I’m flattered by your interest, you’re really not my type.”

 

I give this book a four star rating because despite loving it, and having absolutely devoured it within the course of one day, it doesn’t make me want to squeal with excitement and fangirl about like other books do. It’s great, but not fangirl-worthy for me at least.