Mar
05

Title: Something Like Spring (Something Like #4)
Author: Jay Bell
Published: January, 2014 by Jay Bell Books
Pages: 452
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Nothing in this world is permanent. Friends, lovers, even family, can all disappear in the blink of an eye. Without these anchors, it’s all too easy to find oneself drifting.

Jason Grant doesn’t have much, aside from a beat-up old guitar and knack for getting kicked out of foster homes. His latest placement is set to be just another in a long line of failures. Then he meets Caesar Hubbard, a handsome guy who lives down the hall. For the first time in his life, Jason wants to stay, which means learning to be part of a family, and not letting his feelings–or his actions–ruin his first real chance of falling in love.

Final Thoughts:
I didn’t think anything could top Jace’s story, but Jason’s orphan tale is one that may have done it. With only a guitar to his name, he bounces around foster homes, his (intentional) bad behaviour getting him sent back to the group home, that is, until he meets the Hubbards. It’s hard to picture a family more frustrating to be in than this one. Attracted to your foster brother can’t be easy. With Jason lusting after Caesar, their eventual relationship was heart-warming, but also left me wanting more for poor Jason. Skip ahead a few years and Ben and Tim rejoin the book—this is where my love for the story really kicked off.

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Feb
18

Title: Something Like Autumn (Something Like #3)
Author: Jay Bell
Published: May, 2013 by Jay Bell Books
Pages: 368
Rating: ★★★★★ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Love can appear unexpectedly: a chance meeting at a friend’s wedding, the arrival of a handsome new co-worker… or while being robbed at a convenience store.

For some, love seems an impossible dream. Growing up gay in small-town Missouri, Jace Holden thought his chance would never come. When he meets Victor—a wild soul and fellow outsider—his chances of finding love go from bleak to a very uncertain maybe. Bracing his heart, Jace chases after his desire, hoping for a warm hand to hold his tight.

Final Thoughts:
Finally, Jace’s story. I wanted this book to go on forever, which is probably why it took me so long to finish. Being a companion novel and knowing I was in store for an unhappy ending kept me from racing towards the end, but even with that preparation, I still broke down in tears trying to finish that final page. While it is an emotionally draining book, it’s also a refreshing one. In fact, I found myself enjoying this a lot more than I did either Ben or Tim’s stories. Getting to know Jace as a teenager was a treat. It really opened my eyes to all that went into shaping the boy that went on to become the wonderful man we saw in Ben’s book. Starting out at a thankfully-botched suicide attempt, we get to meet Jace’s loving family, including his amazingly supportive best friend, who happens to be male, and straight (I know–there needs to be more of this), as well as his older boss/friend, Bernard. And Victor, I couldn’t forget Jace’s first love.

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Feb
12

Title: Something Like Winter (Something Like #2)
Author: Jay Bell
Published: November, 2012 by Createspace
Pages: 368
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

There are two sides to every story. When you’re Tim Wyman, sometimes there are three.

Tim hoped moving to Texas would mean a new beginning, a chance to spread his wings, but he soon finds himself falling into the same tired patterns. Until he meets recklessly brave Benjamin Bentley. Suddenly a whole new world opens up to Tim—love, sex, warmth… home. Certain that society won’t understand what he and Ben have together, Tim struggles to protect their relationship, even if it means twisting the truth. As his lies slowly push Ben away, Tim learns that the greatest enemy can come from within. Buried beneath a decade of deceptions, Tim must claw his way to the surface in the hopes of learning to fly.

Final Thoughts:
It’s hard to imagine finding Tim anything but unlikeable after Something Like Summer, especially in the wake of the amazing soul that was Jace, but surprisingly I found myself starting to warm towards Tim’s tortured persona in this companion novel. A lot more was going on inside his head, and around him, than Ben’s POV let on. There is some repetition as storylines intertwine, but this lessens once the high school years get left behind. Just like in the previous book, time jumps are used to progress the story, allowing us to feel like we’ve really experienced the lives of these guys, their struggles, loves and losses, rather than just a snippet with an open ended happy ending.

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Feb
10

Title: Something Like Summer (Something Like #1)
Author: Jay Bell
Published: January, 2011 by Smashwords
Pages: 292
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Love, like everything in the universe, cannot be destroyed. But over time it can change.

The hot Texas nights were lonely for Ben before his heart began beating to the rhythm of two words; Tim Wyman. By all appearances, Tim had the perfect body and ideal life, but when a not-so-accidental collision brings them together, Ben discovers that the truth is rarely so simple. If winning Tim’s heart was an impossible quest, keeping it would prove even harder as family, society, and emotion threaten to tear them apart.

Something Like Summer is a love story spanning a decade and beyond as two boys discover what it means to be friends, lovers, and sometimes even enemies.

Final Thoughts:
I’m shocked. This was so much more than a high school YA. It starts out like one when Ben, the out kid, with a loving mother, but a lack of a love life, basically becomes obsessed with the new guy he keeps spotting jogging through his neighbourhood, but that’s only the beginning. Spanning almost a decade, this story seems so indepth, really letting you discover these characters despite its short page count. Twisting my emotions in a bid to keep me hooked, I ended up finishing this in less than a day. I just couldn’t stop reading–well, only to update my boyfriend on what was happening with these guys, I was that invested.

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Feb
08

Title: Kamikaze Boys
Author: Jay Bell
Published: March, 2012 by Createspace
Pages: 278
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

If the world is against you, don’t give up. Find yourself a kindred spirit. Then you can start fighting back.

They say Connor, the one with the crazy eyes and creepy scar, tried to kill his old man. Lately he’s been seen hanging out with David, the gay guy who always eats lunch alone. They make an odd pair, the loser and the psychopath, and bad things happen to people who mess with them. Not that Connor and David are looking for trouble. Even when taking on the world, they seem more interested in each other than fighting.

Kamikaze Boys is a story about breaking the chains that bind you and using them to beat down anyone that gets in your way. Better yet, it’s about holding hands with the guy you love while doing so.

Final Thoughts:
Connor and David were quite the pair. With the chapters alternating back and forth between these two guys, it gave us a chance to see what made both of them tick. Connor was such a sweety, always looking out for David, trying to keep the romance alive for him. There were struggles, but I liked that it had very little angst for the first half of the book, making it a real feel good story if you looked beyond the bullying attempts. The second half is where it all kind of came crashing down, and I felt like I was reading a completely different book. Some of the chapters became hard to sit through, playing on settings I don’t really find comfortable, but it just made me power through to the end quicker hoping for that happy ending.

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Dec
23

Title: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Published: September, 2017 by Penguin
Pages: 349
Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.

The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.

Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.

Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.

Final Thoughts:
Where are all of these mental illness YA books popping up from? Though I have to say, I’m quite enjoying the change, finding some of what these characters go through relatable, sometimes even when I don’t want to. With a main character, Esther, caught up in the belief that her family is cursed, rather than mentally ill, this one takes us on a different kind of adventure as she tries to hunt down and confront the embodiment of Death to have the curse lifted. Inserting the occasional chapter recalling Esther’s grandfather’s encounters with Death created a bit of back and forth over whether the paranormal aspect was real. I found this to be the main drawcard with the rest of the book taking a fair few sittings to get through.

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Dec
01

Title: Forever Geek (Geek Girl #6)
Author: Holly Smale
Published: March, 2017 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Pages: 400
Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

My name is Harriet Manners and I’ll be a geek forever…

Harriet Manners knows almost every fact there is.

Modelling isn’t a sure-fire route to popularity. Neither is making endless lists. The people you love don’t expect you to transform into someone else. Statistically, you are more likely to not meet your Australian ex-boyfriend in Australia than bump into him there.

So on the trip of a lifetime Down Under Harriet’s to-do lists are gone and it’s Nat’s time to shine! Yet with nearly-not-quite-boyfriend Jasper back home, Harriet’s completely unprepared to see supermodel ex Nick. Is the fashion world about to turn ugly for GEEK GIRL?

It’s time for Harriet to face the future. Time to work out where her heart lies. To learn how to let go…

Final Thoughts:
Harriet Manners has been an interesting one. It felt like these books could go on forever, but it feels good to finally have an ending. While Forever Geek was fun, I don’t think it will go down as my favourite of the series. Set in Australia, Harriet’s adventures predominantly involve Nat (not that the extra time with Nat is a bad thing), as the bulk of the cast were left behind in England. With the plot focussed on making Nat a success, avoiding/trying to run into Nick, and causing havoc along the way, there’s a good chance fans of the series are going to eat this up.

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