Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review: Loving Lakyn by Charlotte Reagan

Loving Lakyn 
by Charlotte Reagan
Publication Date: November 20, 2017
Format: ARC E-Book
Genres: Young Adult - LGBTQIA
Find it On: Amazon
My Rating: 


Lakyn James is sixteen years old and hating every second of it. He was supposed to be done, he'd tapped out. End of story, unsubscribe here. Suicide "attempt", they said. His intentions had no "attempt" in them. 

Re-entering normal life after ‘trying’ to take his own is weird. Especially when the world keeps going like it never happened. He still has to eat breakfast, go to school, and somehow convince a cute boy that he’s too damaged to date.

Scott White comes with his own problems, namely a habit of drinking too much and being indecisive about rather he wants in the closet, or out of it. Lakyn can’t stand him; he also can’t help smiling when Scott’s around.

Unfortunately - or fortunately - for Lakyn, life has decided to give him a second chance. He's not happy about it, but maybe, with a lot of hard work and a good therapist, he can learn to be. And maybe he can hold Scott’s hand at the same time.

No promises though.

About the Author:

Hey guys I'm Charlotte Reagan!

I'm 23 years old; born, raised, and currently residing in a small town in Texas with my cat. I've been writing pretty much all my life, even when I was too young to know how to put my stories down on paper. Once I started I couldn't seem to stop! I still have boxes of old notebooks filled with ideas and plots that I never finished. I write young adult romances focusing primarily on the LGBT+ community. I hope to have lighthearted stories that bring about hope, laughter, and maybe even a few tears. I can usually be found with my laptop or off traveling somewhere!

The LGBT+ Community and LGBT books have always been a source of great support for me and I hope that my books can maybe be there for someone else.

Goodreads / TwitterWebsite

My Review:

If you follow my reviews or blog, you’ve probably picked up on how much I utterly adored Just Juliet. Not only was the book amazing, but working with Charlotte for the launch was incredible as she is such a well spoken and lovely person. When I was approached about reading Loving Lakyn, I knew I wanted to be a part of the launch again, but here’s the thing: I don’t review books that include self-harm because it’s a hard subject for me. I’m in a better place than I was when I originally made a hard and fast rule for myself about that, and after sitting down and discussing it with my therapist, I sat down and binged this book in a day.

Here’s the thing I knew as soon as I picked up the book: it is a damn good book.

The title serves as a pretty good summary to the book: it’s about learning to love Lakyn. Lakyn is a high school boy with a hard life. He is gay in an unwelcoming family and an unwelcoming world. He suffers from mental illness and for many years, has no real support network for dealing with it. He handles it with self-harm and self-destruction. There are few people he cares about and the few he does have he pushes away.

Here’s the thing: Lakyn is not a pleasant character. He is throughly miserable and does miserable things, and while this book is about his happiness improving, there isn’t a magic fix-all that makes him as “happy” as he seems in Just Juliet. So that means that this book really is his inner dialogue, and this is about how far he gets in his recovery. That’s just so spot on to how it is, how different a person’s head is from the perception of those around them, and that was subtly and beautifully written.

The new perspective on Juliet was also fascinating. Aside from loving another glimpse into her character, she held an important place in this book in recognizing that you can’t save everyone. As a person who has been fighting depression for years, I can tell you, depression glasses make it a lot easier to see other depressed people. Lakyn spends so much time helping himself and helping Scott that, at a point, he realizes he has not been helping Juliet. It opens an interesting debate on whether he had a responsibility to help her just because he noticed her spiraling. Should he have said something? Should he have sat his uncle down and demanded help for Juliet? How could he have done that when he wasn’t even over the hurdle of asking for help himself? Without giving a direct answer or glorifying one way or the other, I think this painted a realistic relationship of one struggling person relating to another.

The love story itself is what really got me, though. Again, it’s spiraling person meets spiraling person. But Scott is a unique character in how deeply hidden his pain is. He’s a jock, he has friends, he has a stable life. But these things don’t protect your from prejudice, internal or external, and it really takes the whole book for Scott to unravel his struggles let alone overcome them. It’s also an exploration into the difference between being closeted or out, and the expectations of what acceptance will look like versus the reality of when it doesn’t. Without giving away the story, the romance plot is beautiful, and most importantly to me, it is not about them fixing each other. There is a point that Lakyn realizes how easy it is to fall down the rabbit hole of saying “Scott makes me happy and therefore Scott is the source of my happiness,” but there is a major hurdle he overcomes in recognizing that relationships cannot work with that kind of expectation. Not only does he not drag Scott down with that, but he also recovers with Scott’s *help* but not by pawning off his problems.

I’m ranting, I know I am, but this book is beautiful and deserves every star I can give it. I’m sorry this review is more of a discussion of the topics than the book itself, but I don’t think something this heavy deserves being reduced to a discussion of syntax and plot structure. It was a trip for me to read more so than a book usually is and I’m just so glad I had the emotional energy to tackle it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way Down 
by John Green
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Genres: Young Adult - Contemporary - Romance
Find it On: GoodReads - Amazon - iBooks
My Rating: 


Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. 

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

My Review:

Okay, I'm going to be really critical in this review, so to get this out of the way first: I love John Green. He is an amazing and imaginitive author. This book is *well-written.* the words are like poetry, the sentences and syntax fit together into objectively good writing, and a mediocre book by John Green is eons beyond the quality of the average book.

But man, was this not for me.

The best way I can describe this is that it felt like a shell of a book, like it was the plot outline before it was fully fleshed out. Maybe I'm nostalgic for the first time I read Paper Towns or Looking For Alaska--and mind you, I was a lot younger when that happened--but there was a certain magic that just wasn't there. 

My biggest problem was that Aza was a character of a disease. Don't get me wrong, OCD and anxiety are terrible and debilitating diseases. But it's so reductionist to assume that a disease is synonymous with a person's personality. Aside from Aza's love for her car, there is honestly no personality trait that I can use to explain Aza that isn't a textbook symptom of her mental illness. It's like John Green took his role as an educator of this illness so seriously that he forgot he was writing a fiction book. Maybe this book will help someone understand mental illness. Maybe it will make a teen with OCD feel understood. But honestly I feel like there's a real dangerous can of worms opened when you're teaching people that a person *is* their disease, and I was just not here for that kind of narrative.

The other characters were quirky, but dang, were they all supposed to be awful? Daisy was the worst. Davis was kind of boring and also kind of a jerk. (No, you don't get a sticker for loving someone who's sick!) Aza's mother was an enabler and even minor friends like Mychal were so damn rude. Can Noah be my favorite? He was pure and un-jerk-like. I nominate Noah as my favorite.

There was a plot, it was kind of cool, but for something along the lines of a mystery, there was no suspense. I liked the moral dilemma that Aza and later Davis faced regarding the importance of facing the truth, but it was so buried in everything else that the book was trying to do.

The whole "turtles all the way down" thing was a cool metaphor, but I find it hard to believe that someone in serious mental health care and years of things exposure therapy could have any new angle with which to consider her disease by her late teens. More of the same I said before: this book became so much of a mental health pamphlet that it forgot to be a novel.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Back to #Bookstagram!

Since moving, I haven't been posting on my bookstagram. My lighting isn't the same. All my "props" are packed away. Even most of my books are in storage.

But while I'm here, I didn't want to let something I loved doing so much fall by the wayside. I have a full, beautiful yard here, so I figured it was time to refresh my feed anyway. For now, all my photos are books held up with a backdrop of trees.

I'm loving the look and I'm so happy to be back to #bookstagramming!

Have a bookstagram? Comment your username below and I'll give it a follow! You can follow me @looseleafreviews

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Belated Book Release!

Happy belated book release to Bubblegum by Sari Taurez, which released on Monday!

Tiana is your typical pampered young blonde with a love for expensive shoes, hot guys, and murder.

After Tiana is cut off from her family’s riches, she takes advantage of her talents and becomes a killer for hire. It’s a lucrative business in her country, where a call to the police can amount to a lifetime of debt. 

Her first client: Julia, a lower-class IT genius, lesbian, and devout Catholic. When the orphanage Julia volunteers at is targeted by the infamous brothel-owner Bobby Nails, Tiana is excited to take the job. But when she discovers Bobby Nails has a full army of mercenaries at his disposal, Tiana wonders if she may be in over her head.

Tiana and Julia face an unexpected adventure as they seek vengeance against the elusive Nails. Along the way they are joined by Ruby, a pyromaniac ex-prostitute who catches Julia’s eye, and William, a mysterious acrobatic fugitive searching for his daughter.

In the end, will they be enough to stop Nails and the chaos he has created?

Check out my review and be sure to buy a copy for 99¢ on Amazon!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Book Review: Mick & Michelle by Nina Rossing

Mick & Michelle 
by Nina Rossing
Publication Date: October 31, 2017

Format: E-Book
Genres: Young Adult- LGBTQIA - Contemporary

Find it On: GoodReads - Amazon - B&N
My Rating: 


Fifteen-year-old Mick Mullins has a great life: his parents are sweet, his sister is tolerable, and his friendships are solid. But as summer descends on Queens, he prepares to turn his carefree existence upside down by disclosing a secret he has kept long enough. It’s time to work up the courage to reveal that he is not a boy, but a girl—and that her name is Michelle. Having always been the perfect, good boy, Michelle is terrified that the complicated truth will disappoint, hurt, or push away the people closest to her. She can’t continue hiding for much longer, though, because her body is turning into that of a man’s, and she is desperate to stop the development—desperate enough to consider self-medicating with hormones.

Most of all, Michelle fears that Grandpa, who is in a nursing home after a near fatal stroke, won’t survive the shock if he finds out that his favorite grandchild, and the only boy, is a girl. If she kills her beloved Grandpa by leaving Mick behind, she isn’t sure embracing her real identity will be worth the loss.

My Review:

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

There's always a hard balance between making a book about a trans teenager "happy" while also making it "real," and I think Nina Rossing hit this balance perfectly!

Mick & Michelle is about a teenager, Mick, who is a girl with a boy's body. She has an older sister whom she envies and two loving parents that are tough-as-nails NYPD cops. She has friends, but none that she's told, and she's on the cusp of sixteen when irreversible changes are about to happen to her boy-body.

With something of a ticking clock in her head, the book follows the time where she starts coming out to those around her. Michelle is an interesting character in that she experiences the physical and emotional dysphoria of being in the wrong body, but she's a very practical thinker, and she considers things like her grandfather's health and her family's money situation before even thinking about how or what she wants to move forward with in her transition. Now when I say "practical," I don't necessarily mean "correct" thinking. Though her narration is very level-headed, I think it's absolutely heartbreaking how much she puts others' comfort above her own. Without the author ever saying it outright, I think that's the real tragedy of this book.

But Rossing did pro
mise happy, didn't she? This book felt very real to me because Michelle got such a broad range of reactions from people when she comes out. Some give unconditional support, some don't understand but are willing to try, and some bursts of support from corners she had never expected. On the flip side, some people entirely make it about them, which, to Michelle, is almost worse than total rejection.

Michelle was a great voice in this scene of literature. Her family and friends were dynamic characters and I loved the story that Rossing created. Well done!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday Post

I'm trying out a new (to me) book meme called Sunday Post!

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

Last Week on the Blog
Next Week on the Blog
  • Monday I review Mick & Michelle
  • Top Ten Tuesday is about my Top Ten Books with Autumn Covers
  • Thursday I am writing a guest post about a topic near and dear to me. Keep posted for details!
In My Bookish Life
  • I am currently reading:
Hush, Now Forget
by Mary Gray & Cammie Larsen

  • My town had their annual book sale. 50-cent paperbacks and $1 hardcovers! I mostly filled out incomplete series, but I'm super excited for Boy, Snow, Bird.
  • I took a three day vacation, so I read a ton of books and cleaned up my blog!
  • All the Crooked Saints and Turtles All the Way Down both release Tuesday! I can't handle it!

What happened on your blog this week? I'd love to check it out!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Book Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End 
by Adam Silvera
Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
Genres: Young Adult - LGBTQIA - SciFi

Find it On: GoodReads - Amazon - B&N
My Rating: 


On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They're going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they're both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There's an app for that. It's called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

My Review:

You'd think with a book called "They Both Die at the End," I wouldn't be letting myself love the characters. But nope, I played myself. I cried like a baby at the end.

In an alternate 2017, there is a service that calls you at midnight on the day you're going to die. They don't know how or when, but sometime before the next midnight is your time. Of course because this is 2017 and America, there are plenty of companies profiting on this system, including an elaborate social media website that connects "Deckers" together and catalogues their last day.

Mateo and Rufus, the main characters, are drawn to this site because they really have no one in their life to mourn them. They eventually say "screw it" and try the site, and what they find in their "Last Friend" is each other.

This isn't a coming-of-age story necessarily, because it only takes place in 24 hours, but you start with Mateo, a socially awkward boy who barely leaves his apartment, and Rufus, a foster kid who's filled with rage, and the two of them spend their literal worst day ever together and somehow bring out the best in each other.

It isn't quite insta-love either. They're dying. They know they're dying. But their connection to each other is so genuine and addicting to read. I never thought I'd support an "I love you" dropped within a day of meeting, but damn do these boys love each other and you can't tell me otherwise.

There's a great cast of supporting characters in their friends and their misadventures throughout the day are fun to read. I could have done without the side-stories, but, to be fair, this book would have been about 200 pages without them.
I've never read Adam Silvera before, but you can bet I just ordered the rest of his books!