Saturday, September 13, 2014

Timmy's Review of Pukawiss the Outcast by Jay Jordan Hawke

I truly believe some days that I am not a normal 12-year-old, because I must say that the best part of this book was the history in it. There is nothing I love more than learning, and to add that with my second favorite thing, reading fiction books, you have a happy reader on your hands. There were no parts of the book that I didn’t like. It was interesting and engaging from the very beginning. The story had two key elements for me, history and hope. I also like that though this book’s main character is gay, it’s not about romance. That to me means this is a book every kid should be comfortable reading.

In the story, we follow Joshua while he tries to find himself. All he wants is to fit in somewhere. He learns about his roots and where half of his ancestry comes from, and while doing that he finds where he fits into life. Being abandoned by both parents, he was lost and hurt when he was dropped off with a grandfather he barely knew.

Joshua meets fun and interesting people on his journey and they teach him parts of his heritage. He instantly connects with a Legend, and he works to better understand himself by learning more about the Legend. He takes an instant liking to his new friend and mentor, Mokwa, who teaches him the customs and stories of the Ojibwe people. He also learns to trust and respect Gentle Eagle, his grandfather. Little Deer, Mokwa's friend, takes a while to get to know, but when Joshua gets to know him, they hit it off in spite of Little Deer’s quirky demeanor. Though Joshua is jealous of Jenny for her relationship with Mokwa, and though he tries hard not to like her, Jenny wins her way into his heart as well.

I really hope there is a second book to tell more of Joshua’s story, because I don’t feel it is done. I would have liked to know more about his father, and I would have really liked to have seen his mother drive off a cliff. (Oops, I didn’t say that.) I would like to see how things end with his mother, and whether his mother and him settle their differences.

I give this book 4 marbles, and I recommend this book to any and all kids trying to find their way in life.~Timmy

Pukawiss the Outcast by Jay Jordan Hawke
Available in Print and eBook 

About Pukawiss the Outcast

When family complications take Joshua away from his fundamentalist Christian mother and leave him with his grandfather, he finds himself immersed in a mysterious and magical world. Joshua’s grandfather is a Wisconsin Ojibwe Indian who, along with an array of quirky characters, runs a recreated sixteenth-century village for the tourists who visit the reservation. Joshua’s mother kept him from his Ojibwe heritage, so living on the reservation is liberating for him. The more he learns about Ojibwe traditions, the more he feels at home.

One Ojibwe legend in particular captivates him. Pukawiss was a powerful manitou known for introducing dance to his people, and his nontraditional lifestyle inspires Joshua to embrace both his burgeoning sexuality and his status as an outcast. Ultimately, Joshua summons the courage necessary to reject his strict upbringing and to accept the mysterious path set before him.

Find Jay Jordan Hawke on his blog, on Goodreads,
on Facebook, on Twitter @JayJordanHawke, and on Tumblr

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Timmy's Review of Carnival Decatur by Zoe Lynne

This story follows four boys in a two week period of time. It tells of love, friendship, and first times. Carnival Decatur was an emotional story that was heartbreaking in some ways and heart stealing in others. Like all books I read, there are things that I loved and things that were not great for me, but overall this was an excellent book and a great story to read.

Jesse is a carny’s son, who has traveled with the carnival for as long as he can remember. Though he lost his mother when he was young, he has great memories of her. He and his father live and travel together, never staying in a town for more than two weeks. This life is hard on Jesse because he wants friends and a chance at love. He doesn’t believe he can have love because he is never in the same town long enough to have a real relationship with anyone.

Tate is the Mayor’s son. His father is religious and cares a lot about appearances. He is afraid to be himself and be out because he doesn’t know how his father will take the news. He believes he is falling for the carny boy as soon as he sets eyes on Jesse, however there is also someone else in Tate’s life who is very important to him.

Rand is Tate’s best friend. He is secretly in love with Tate and just waiting for Tate to figure it out for himself. He is very confident that Tate will figure it out and is not afraid to push Tate into becoming friends with the Carny Boy. Though not out to the public, he also doesn’t try to hide his sexuality.

Donny is the new guy at the carnival. He has a past that haunts him, but is ready to move on with his life, and become independent. He shies away from questions of his sexuality even with himself. He wants to pretend that the right girl will make his thoughts of being gay go away.

I like how the story is told in all the points of view. They each have a few chapters then the story evenly cycles through each boy’s POV. This worked very well for the story. I felt I got to know and understand each of the boys and their feelings. I never needed to question whose POV it was. I like stories that make that clear. It helps keep me in the story if I don’t have to skip ahead just to see who is thinking, speaking, or acting at that time. Though, one bad thing about this is, by the time we cycle back to the first of the boys, big things have happened and I didn’t feel as connected to them or why they made the decisions they made.

All the feelings and actions seemed to work with each boy, and the author did a great job describing what they all felt. Another thing that was not great for me in this story was the over describing and detailing. There is a point where there is too much description in a story. There were a few parts where I got lost in the words. Using too many metaphors in a paragraph, or to explain the same thing, can pull me out of a story. That may be because in my mind I think with images more so than words. Too many images at one time will throw me off.

The story has a few surprises and three of the boys have special talents. It was interesting to see how these gifts were used and/or not used. I like how the author explained them in the book and made it easy to follow what each gift did for each boy. The author also left the ending wide open for more books to follow, however I would have liked a bit more closure on a few things before we ended this part of their lives.

I give this book 3 marbles. I recommend this book to others and will definitely be waiting for the second book to come out.~Timmy

Carnival Decatur by Zoe Lynne
Available in Print and eBook 

About Carnival Decatur

In a world of lights, music, fanfare and fun, there’s not a lot left to the mundane, and nothing can be truer for four special boys whose lives intertwine in a most unusual, unexpected way. They all have secrets and supernatural powers that set them apart from the average small town high-schooler. 

Jessie’s world revolves around his family’s traveling carnival. Tate’s busy being the good son to Decatur, Alabama’s first black mayor. Rand knows everyone’s secrets. And Donny wants a family. When sexuality and special abilities become each boy’s focus, a whole new realm of possibilities opens up. With an uncertain road ahead of them, their talents to see the future, hear other people's thoughts, and manipulate wills might help them change their destined courses and find the right path. 

Four boys. Each with his own cross to bear. Just trying to grow up.

Find Zoe Lynne on her blog, on Goodreads,
on Facebook, and on Twitter @ZoeLynneBooks

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Timmy's Beta Review of Slaying Isidore's Dragons by C. Kenendy

One thing that is totally awesome about being friends with a YA author is I get to beta-read for him. However, neither my friendship with Cody or the fact that I was a beta-reader played any part in my review of Slaying Isidore’s Dragons. 

Jean-Isidore de Sauveterre and Declan David de Quirke II are both sons of ambassadors, and they both have a lot going on in their lives. Isidore is dealing with an abusive home life and the loss of his mother, while Declan is dealing with the loss of his father. They meet at school, and Declan starts protecting Isidore almost immediately. As soon as Declan learns of Isidore’s troubled home life, he takes action. Isidore is moved into Declan’s home and begins to recover. However, that’s not the end for them. There are Isidore’s four brothers and father to deal with, problems at school, and assassination attempts. This book is one you won’t want to put down. There is so much going on and more than one mystery to unravel. Through it all, you get to watch Declan and Isidore’s feelings evolve into a great love. 

I have read a total of two full books, one novella, and a free serial story by C. Kennedy. I am in awe of his ability to tell a story in any form, and I was not disappointed when I beta-read Slaying Isidore’s Dragons. It takes great talent to be able to tell a story that is based on negative situations in such a way that it gives hope to the reader. Cody has done that in every book I’ve read of his, but especially in Slaying Isidore’s Dragons. Coming from a troubled home myself, I really appreciate how Cody can tell stories of abused kids and still leave me feeling hope after reading it.

Happiness is a hard thing for abused kids to see in their futures. It’s like that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. We want it to be real but can’t seem to actually find it. Books like Cody’s give us hope for our futures, and he does it by telling his stories without dwelling on all the negatives in our lives. It’s not that he skims over the negative aspects, because those are all there, but he shows us how we can still have the elusive happiness by learning to trust the right people who want to help us. So, I would like to thank Cody for the time and effort he puts into his books for the kids that need it the most. 

I give this book 5 marbles and would give it more if I could. It is a must read (as soon as it comes out). Be sure to buy your own copy rather than borrow, because you will want to read it more than once. ~Timmy

This review is based upon the book pre-publication and may change following publication.

Slaying Isidore's Dragons by C. Kennedy
Coming in 2015!

About Slaying Isidore's Dragons

5 Best friends
4 Vicious brothers
3 STD tests
2 Guys in love
1 Car bombing
Nowhere to run

Slaying Isidore’s Dragon’s follows the burgeoning love of two high school seniors during the worst year of their lives. Irish born Declan David de Quirke II is the son of two Ambassadors, one Irish and one American. He’s come out to his parents but to no one else. French born Jean-Isidore de SauvĂ©terre is the son of two Ambassadors, one Catalan and one Parisian. His four half-brothers have been told to cure him of his homosexuality. Declan and Isidore meet at the beginning of their senior year in high school at a private academy in the United States. Declan is immediately smitten with Isidore and becomes his knight in shining armor. Isidore wants to keep what little is left of his sanity and needs Declan’s love to do it.

5 Weeks of hell
4 Attempts on their lives
3 Law enforcement agencies
2 Dead high school seniors
1 Jealous friend
A love that won’t be denied

One is beaten, one is drugged, one is nearly raped, one has been raped, they are harassed by professors and police, and have fights at school, but none of it compares to running for their lives. When the Headmaster’s popular son attempts suicide and someone attempts to assassinate Declan’s mother, they are thrown headlong into chaos, betrayal, conspiracy, allegations of sexual coercion, pornography, even murder. And one of them carries a secret that may get them killed.

5 New family members
4 BFF’s
3 Countries
2 Extraordinary Psychologists
1 Courageous Mother
A new beginning for two young men in love

Find Cody here, on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter @CodyKAuthor,

a postscript from Cody: 
Timmy made the Slaying Isidore's Dragons banner that you see above.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Queer Romance Month - Get Involved!

October is Queer Romance Month and I'm a participating author! You can be too! Get involved!

Queer Romance Month exists to celebrate queer romantic fiction in all its aspects. We believe that love is love, and nobody should be relegated to a sidebar or a subgenre. Queer romance is romance.

We welcome anyone who believes in love, irrespective of gender or orientation. Allies, supporters and the curious are all part of QRM. We support the right to read what you like, write what you love, and be who you are. We love romantic fiction. We want to share the love and help some amazing books and authors reach a wider audience.

A couple of notes:
Some of the text content on this QRM website may be 18+ or include swearing. Use your judgement when reading.

This is a celebration of queer romance and its allies. You are welcome to discuss posts and (respectfully) disagree, but aggression and hatefulness will not be tolerated. In other words, don’t be a jerk.

Any money raised by clickthroughs to Amazon will be donated to Stonewall UKPFLAG

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Timmy's Review of You Don't Know Jack by M.C. Lee

This is a book that I didn’t think I would like at first, but it proved me wrong around the fourth chapter. It was hard to get into, because it was so totally different from anything else I had ever read. This turns out to be one reason why I really liked the book. Once I was able to get a grasp on what was going on, I had no problem putting myself in the main character’s mind. I threw myself into Jack’s point of view and I LOVED the story after that. I could totally relate to Jack’s feelings if I were placed in the life he lived in. 

Jack isn’t the empty shell that we first think he is. He proves that by his feelings toward his last mission, and the fact that he feels guilty about it. He also shows it in his feelings about his new mission. It isn’t because he had no thoughts and emotions before this. It’s that he never had a chance to explore them. He doesn’t have a life like all the other kids, and simple things such as popular drinks and styles, have no meaning to him. Not because he wants them not too, but because he hasn’t experienced them or had a chance to really learn about them. 

Jack’s whole life is The Center he grew up in and works for. He has never known anything but portraying someone other than himself for the missions he goes on. He can figure out and analyze the situations and people he is in or around, but not himself. I’m very curious to see how he grows in the next book. 

I really enjoyed trying to figure out the secret organization Jack works for and what they could possibly stand for, but this author has a knack for suspense and mystery, so I still I don’t know! Luckily the ending left a huge gap for more to come. That made me really happy in this instance and when it usually leaves me feeling cheated. 

I’m excited to see what comes of Jack and Leo. They have a sweet romance that I would like to see it continue. I want so badly for Jack to have a happy ending. Though this book didn’t really have a happy ending, it didn’t end like it was over. It was almost as if this was just the first chapter of a continuing story. Now, normally I don’t like that kind of ending. I don’t like when a book ends right when it gets good, but MC Lee pulled it off well. I felt that this part of the story was done, and now we will move on to the next chapter of Jack’s life. 

The story has a heartbreaking unexpected twist at the end that even surprised me, and that is unusual. I normally can guess what will happen in a book or movie. This was a really interesting mystery story that kept me interested until the very end and more. I will be bugging the author for another book! (Well, I would if I knew the author, which I don’t, so if anyone that reads this and knows him/her please bug for me. ;)  ~Timmy

You Don't Know Jack by M.C. Lee
Available in Print and eBook 

About You Don't Know Jack

Jack has never known an ordinary life. “The Center,” a shadowy organization with its own hidden agenda, has been his home, his school, and his job. Under the command of a man he knows only as his guardian, Jack has trained relentlessly in order to carry out the Center’s secret missions. In the three years since he turned thirteen, he’s been given more and more complex assignments, rarely questioning the reasons behind each operation. Now, going by the name Jack Carlisle, his orders are to go to Maine and befriend high school track star Leo McCormack. 

Jack finds Leo easy to like, and soon the like becomes something more. He knows he shouldn’t act on his attraction—it’s against all the rules. However, Leo wants Jack in his life as much as Jack wants Leo, and soon the two begin a relationship. Jack gets a sweet taste of real life, but when the mission ends the fallout could be disastrous--and not just because Leo’s father is the target of the operation.

Find MC Lee on Goodreads 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Timmy's Review of Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

This story had great characters that were very believable. Every character in this story could have been a kid I went to school with. The average gay boy trying to hide and stay just there on the line between popular and bullied, the gay jock that is scared of being outed, the friend that would do anything to be popular, the lesbian that hides her relationship, but is proud of it as well, and the boy nobody likes and was always bullied and abused. 

The feelings that Russell displayed were similar feelings to what I had felt at one time or another in my life, and this helps to bring out the “real” in the story. Kevin, I believe could have been so much more then he ended up being. (More on this later.) Gunnar was a self-absorbed ass who was willing to sell out and exploit his best friend for a chance at a girl that didn’t even exist (she didn’t like him). Sadly not uncommon in school. Min was very laid back, but also very true to herself and her beliefs. She was willing to fight for what he believed in. Brian was my favorite character in the book. He had the strength and poise under attack that I wish I could master. Though, I would like to point out that there were a few parts about Brian I didn’t believe. I have been bullied and abused all my life, so to me it’s hard to believe that he didn’t remember who bullied him especially when it’s a new bully. While at school, a bullied kid ALWAYS remembers and knows whom to hide from. Now, no longer at that school, I can understand why only the worst bullies stand out in his mind. 

I loved the club idea and thought that played well in the story. It started for only LGBT and grew from there. I loved the way that the club members interacted, and could see this as a real club at school. 

One thing didn’t like was that I felt the author was telling me the story instead of me being able to get in the story as I was living it. I would prefer to feel what the characters feel and not be told what they feel. 

When I look for the perfect book for me, I look at whether I can relate to the book and its characters and, whether the book left me with hope. I have said it before, but I feel it bears repeating: hope is a very important and can be a very strong, sometimes the only, inspiration to a kid who needs help. This book was well written, and the scenario could be something that does happen high school life. Sadly, it was not the book for me. This is not to say many of you won’t like it. It was made into a movie so there are many who did like it. I feel there were many ways this book could have ended that would have brought me hope. I have a hard life, so I understand that life is not easy and not perfect. I however, would like to hope and wish for the better future.

I have read books that have ripped my heart to shreds and I have hurt along with the characters in the book, but a good story for me, will sew my heart back together and leave me feeling hopeful. The end of this book just didn’t do it for me. I was so mad that Kevin couldn’t take the pressure. He became exactly what that club was against. Though Russell started to lose himself, he found himself again. Kevin just became the jock that gives gay Jocks a bad name. I feel that by doing that, the author gave those actions approval. I truly work hard to overcome the abuse I endure at school, so it hurt me a little when I felt that this book was saying it was ok to hide and not be yourself out of fear. It’s ok to turn your back on someone you claim to care about, as long as you are safe. There was no hope in that message for someone like me, and it goes against what I feel a YA LGBT author should show us kids. I give this book 2 marbles. ~Timmy

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger
Available in Print and eBook

About Geography Club

Russel Middlebrook is convinced he’s the only gay kid at Robert L. Goodkind High School. Then his online gay-chat buddy turns out to be none other than Kevin, the popular but closeted star of the school’s baseball team. Soon Russel meets other gay students too. There’s his best friend, Min, who reveals she‘s bisexual; Min’s soccer-playing girlfriend, Terese; and Terese’s politically active friend, Ike.

But how can kids this diverse get together without drawing attention to themselves?

Find Brent Hartinger on his website, Tumblr, Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook
Like Geography Club, the movie, on Facebook