The Fox’s Mask by Anna Frost [blog tour + giveaway]

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The Fox's Mask coverThe Fox’s Mask by Anna Frost @|www
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Blurb: Demon hunter Akakiba keeps many secrets from his human companion. The fact he’s a werefox isn’t the worst one.

In feudal Japan, magic is dying. As a demon hunter, Akakiba finds this problematic. The evil he’s been trained to destroy is disappearing and, along with it, the shape-shifting abilities of the clan he left behind. With his only companion, a determined young human named Yuki, Akakiba traverses the country slaying demons and performing odd jobs.

But when an army of demon possessed humans masses to exterminate his clan, Akakiba must put aside old feuds and protect his family–all while hiding an important secret from Yuki. Will they find a way to defeat the demon possessed before it’s too late? With magic dwindling, will it matter either way?

I received an ecopy of this book from the offer in exchange for an honest review!

I’m not sure if I would have picked out The Fox’s Mask to read on my own, which is one of the great things about book blogging! I haven’t read many (if any) books that take place and incorporate Japanese culture, and I’m always open to more LGBT reads.

Akakiba is a demon hunter, and he kind of ambles around looking for stuff to do. He has a companion named Yuki who he saved and began teaching. They do a lot of odd jobs like help take care of dragon eggs for poor villages. When Akakiba’s clan and family is under attack, he must do what he can to help them (obviously) and this opens up parts of his life he’s kept hidden to Yuki.

Akakiba’s clan has a lot of secrets and they’re special and magical in a world that’s losing magic. Because they are, they’re targets for demons. Akakiba has been away from his family for a long time, and when he returns, he has to face some unpleasant realities of his past. Yuki is even more curious about Akakiba, and wants to know more about his family and his past. Akakiba’s family wants him to be a part of the clan and they’re very interested in his new friend.

I enjoyed The Fox’s Mask! The one thing I kind of had an issue with was some of the demon POV stuff, sometimes I was really confused by what was happening, but I think that was more on me! I loved the setting and that it took place in Japan, and there were dragons, demons, werefoxes. The protective spirits and magic that were missing were really interesting. I loved the relationships, and the twists and turns of the story. The final twist was exciting and heightened my interest: it wasn’t completely shocking because of other events in the story, but it wasn’t something I expected and added a lot to the story. I’m interested to see where the story goes in The Fox’s Quest!

Be sure to click and check out the giveaway for a $30 Amazon or B&N gift card, ran by Anna::

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One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva [thoughts]

one man guy coverOne Man Guy by Michael Barakiva  www
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: May 27th 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Series: none

 

Goodreads description: Funny and heartfelt, One Man Guy serves up the raucous family humor and gentle romance of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, as told with David Sedaris–style wit

Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.

Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again

I chose to read this book because it sounded cute. That’s all the reason I need!

Alek is Armenian and his family is very serious about culture and background. They’re also pretty strict and make him go to summer school to stay in honors. He has a crush on the Ethan, a bad boy type. Romance and family issues ensue.

One Man Guy was pretty cute. I loved that Alek was Armenian, it was really interesting to read about Armenian culture and Alek’s exasperation with certain things his parents thought were serious. He got annoyed with how intense they were about social things that just seemed ridiculous to him. It was fun to watch him grasp and learn, and I really enjoyed the development between Alek and his brother Nik.

The romance between Ethan and Alek was mostly cute, but for some reason Ethan rubbed me slightly the wrong way. I should have written this review right after I read it, but it’s been a while so I don’t have examples. It could have been a personal thing, it wasn’t huge or I’d be able to remember it better. I also wasn’t a huge fan of Becky. She just annoyed me, but a lot. I’m sure the friend situation represented here might be common, but it didn’t sit well with me.

3 star rating

I enjoyed One Many Guy, but I don’t think it’s a book I’d want to pick up again. I re-skimmed some of it for this review (because I read it so long ago) and I didn’t feel super connected with it. But it is cute and it has depth and diversity, and it’s definitely worth a read, and I feel like my annoyances might be personal things that other people might not feel the same way about. I plan on reading more of Michael Barikiva’s work!

Have you read this one/Do you plan to?

 

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan [LGBT April]

Two Boys Kissing coverTwo Boys Kissing by David Levithan 

Published August 27th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers 

Goodreads description: New York Times  bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. 

While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other

Confession time: I was actually not all that excited about this book once I learned the exact meaning/premise of  Two Boys Kissing. I am, in general, not a huge fan of world records. To a certain point, they are amusing. But mostly I just think they are pointless. So wen I found out that the book had boys going for the world record of longest kiss recorded (at 32 hours, 12 minutes and 10 seconds For some reason, they have to stand up the whole time. What about kissing means you have to stand up? I’m really confused about that point. People can kiss sitting down, obviously.), my interest level dropped considerably. Why would you want to kiss someone for so long? For your name to be in a big book and maybe you get some sense of achievement or recognition, but it just doesn’t seem that amazing to me. BUT I knew there was more to the story than just the kiss. I’ve seen some amazing reviews and for LGBT month, I knew this was one I should pick up. I’m glad I did, weird world record and all. AND that part of the story is based on actual events that happened in 2010, and I had never heard about it, but it was interesting to find out about after reading the book.

There is so much to say about this book and I don’t feel like I can do it justice at all. It was touching, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. I wanted to know more about the characters, I didn’t feel ready to say goodbye. I actually wasn’t completely sold on the chorus style narration, though I do think it got the point across and added a lot to the story, sometimes it felt distancing for me, which might have been on purpose. I wouldn’t say this is a favorite book, but I enjoyed it and appreciated it. It definitely made me cry on several occasions, but it also made me smile and want to hug it.

Since I don’t really know how to eloquently explain my feelings for this one, I’m going to share three quotes:

 “Love is so painful, how could you wish it on anybody? And love is so essential, how could you ever stand in its way?”

“But does he see everything, or only what he wants to be seeing? This is always one of the greatest questions of love.”

“We wish we could show you the world as it sleeps. Then you’d never have any doubt about how similar, how trusting, how astounding and vulnerable we all are.”

And also direct you to three reviews that are better than mine:

DanielleChristinaJamie

And one confession for the road: I’m not actually a David Levithan fan. I’ve read Naomi & Ely, Nick & Norah and Every Day and while I liked certain aspects of the last two, I mainly think of them all as being kinda meh. But maybe I will try some of his other work at some point in the future, based on this read. If you’re interested in LGBT books, you should definitely check this one out!

Fighting Dreamer

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth [book review]

The Miseducation of Cameron Post coverThe Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: February 7th 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship–one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self–even if she’s not exactly sure who that is.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules

I chose The Miseducation of Cameron Post randomly (like I choose so many of my reads) because it was a really hot day and I was tired of looking at the library. I had no clue what it was about.

I am really not sure how to review this book, and I feel like I say that all the time lately, sorry. There were moments in this book that I really enjoyed, and there were moments that were angering and painful. I felt so much for Cameron, and I was extremely invested in her story. I didn’t love the book, but I think it was important.

I liked Cameron Post as a character. She is dealing with the loss of her parents, the introduction of a new family system, the development of her personality and sexuality, and school and friends all at the same time. When her parents die, she’s relieved because they won’t know she likes girls. After that, she lives with her aunt and her grandmother. She kind of gets away with a lot for a while. She hangs out with a group of guys, she swims and she runs track. She watches tons of movies and connects with a girl from out of state who kind of helps her learn about certain things.

Her aunt, her main legal guadian, is extremely religious. She makes Cameron go to church with her, which leads to even more confusion and a lot of guilt. Cameron has to worry about people finding out about how she feels and not knowing if it’s right or wrong. She goes through different stages in dealing with her own acceptance of her sexuality.

Cameron faces some really heartbreaking things, and I just wanted to hug her. She’s already lost her parents, and then she has to face a lot of shit with her family and friends. She definitely gets an ugly glimpse of how awful some Christians can be about anything different, which is really disgusting. Cameron does learn a lot about herself and I liked learning with her. She was such a great character. The book has an open ending, and while I would have loved to know more about Cameron’s life, I think it fit the book pretty well.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a haunting look at how GLBT/LGBT teens can be treated. It is upsetting and uplifting. There were parts I enjoyed and parts that were difficult to push through. It wasn’t exactly an enjoyable read for me overall, but I’m glad I read it! I definitely think it’s a worth a read. I wouldn’t really want to read it again, but I’d happily read anything else by Emily M. Danforth in the future. You should check out The Miseducation of Cameron Post if you like a realistic look of what GLBT (or LGBT?) teens deal with in intolerant families and religions.

Check out Emily M. Danforth‘s website and twitter!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz [book review]

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: February 21st 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be

I went into Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe with limited knowledge. I knew it was about friendship and GLBT subjects. I had seen some good things about it and I wanted another book for Bout of Books so I picked it up.

Aristotle or Ari is 15 and unhappy. He lives in El Paso, Texas. He is Mexican American. He speaks English and Spanish. It’s 1987. He doesn’t have many friends. He meets Dante, who also does not have many friends. They become friends and grow and learn things.

I will be honest: I almost didn’t finish this book. There was something about the writing and the beginning felt so slow to me. I’m so glad I didn’t stop reading it, because while it’s not a favorite, I really enjoyed it! It took me a while to get into the flow of Ari’s head and for me the writing didn’t feel lyrical (as the description states). Once I got used to the voice, I got more into the story and it flowed a lot quicker, which made me more interested in what was happening.

The whole story is in Ari’s point of view and it’s first person. Ari is lost, lonely, and confused. In other words, he’s a typical teenager. He has issues with his father, a quiet Vietnam vet with his own problems. His mother is always worried about him and he wants space. He misses a brother he doesn’t know. A lot of the story focuses on his relationship with his father and brother. I loved seeing how much his father loved him even though it was an obvious struggle for him to be open about his experiences and feelings. When they do open up to each other and talk about things, it’s so lovely and heartwarming. I liked Ari’s mom, too. She is a teacher and she has already lost a son to prison, so she’s worried about Ari’s teenage angst and wants the best for him. Ari’s relationship with her was reluctantly sweet and I loved it.

Dante is a fun character. He’s smart and he’s freer and more open about how he feels. I love that at first Ari wasn’t sure if the friendship was worth it, because he’s so sour. Dante is just a positive and hopeful person, which is refreshing. He’s crazy about his parents, which is so nice. He’s different and he knows he’s different. I like that Ari knows that Dante is different and while he thinks about it, it never gives him pause. I enjoyed when Dante was open about anything awkward and it kind of weirded Ari out.

Aristotle and Dante together are fun. Their story developed a bit differently than I expected. There’s a big emphasis on friendship, and I loved their friendship! There were a few things that felt off to me. I liked what happened in the end, but what led up to the ending was kind of weird to me. I also wanted a bit more from the ending, but it still left me happy!

The book does deal with difficult subjects and I think it deals with them very well. Fitting in, family, sexuality, growing up, and so much more.  It was heartwarming and heartwrenching. I had a few issues, but it left me feeling warm and fuzzy!

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

For a book I almost didn’t finish, I really enjoyed Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I had issues with pacing and a few other details, but overall I think it was a lovely book. I don’t see it being a book I’d read again, but I definitely think it’s a book worth reading! If you like discovery, growth, well-written families, friends and more, you will probably enjoy this book. I think most people will enjoy it!

You can learn more about Benjamin Alire Sáenz here!