In some of my reviews I’ve mentioned how LGBTI young adult books are getting more diverse in the stories they tell. “One Man Guy” isn’t one of them. It’s a “boy meets boy” book, and “realising you might be gay” book, with a healthy dose of that young adult staple “forging your own identity separate from your family for the first time”. But just because it’s straight-forward and familiar doesn’t make it any less charming. The story’s “hook” is that the protagonist, 14 year old Alek Khederian is an Armenian-American living in the suburbs of New Jersey. He is saddled with high-expectation parents who have sentenced him to summer school for falling off the honours track in his first year of high school. And to top it off, he has a perfect older brother who is always showing off how committed to Armenian culture he is. It’s through summer school that Alek meets Ethan, the cute skater boy legendary for starting a food fight. Ethan is the classic older, cooler,Continue reading »

This month’s release is dedicated to the importance of friendship, and both @mike and Johnny from The Shack Forum have found us some great songs on that very subject! From Mike:   From Johnny:

Seed: Part 2 Prolog   Rita Allen clicks away at the computer in disbelief before she gasps, “No! T-This can’t be!” Using the hacking device she bought, she finally got access to the information on Rick Hayes’ flash drive in the form of a photo album called ‘Objective 1’. It had a picture of Chad as the cover photo, which piqued her curiosity even more. However when she double-clicks on the album, an unnerving picture of Rick’s head pops up on the computer screen that laughs evilly. His jaws open disproportionately. A blast of fire comes out that startles the school reporter before the screen simply goes black. “It was booby-trapped with a virus! I should’ve expected that from someone as twisted as Rick was!” She yanks the hacking device, with Rick’s flash drive in it, out of the USB port of the computer before she taps away desperately on her computer to get the screen back on. She had her stories and a plethora of important information for the schoolContinue reading »

Seed: Part 1 Prolog   It’s a crisp autumn weekend and the pep rally is underway for the semi-final game that marks the end of the first half of football season this year. Chad shows up at the football field and makes his way up to the bleachers through a moving crowd of other students finding their seats. He spots Vitani and Josh sitting in one row and heads over to sit next to them. He slides over and greets them. “Hey guys,” Chad says, “All of the kids in my class say SyndAcad pep rallies are ones to remember.” “Hey squirt!” Josh greets him, “And you heard right. I guess this is gonna be your first time at ours.” “I’m so glad you decided to come on out today, Chad,” Vitani smiles, “We were all just about to watch the Milano sisters and the rest of the cheerleading squad ruin the pep rally. It happens almost every year. Trust me, you won’t wanna miss it.” “C’mon, Vitani, I’m sureContinue reading »

Episode 8 Raze Prolog At the Libretta café, as students are coming in and out during lunch period, Chad, Vitani and Josh are at their usual table discussing Thanksgiving Day, which is coming up this week on Thursday. They all wonder what they are thankful for this year. Chad muses, “With Rita Allen in the way of me ever working things out with Ray, I just wonder how thankful I can be about these kinds of things.” Vitani adds, “And now that I’ve found out not only who Brett really was but that Vanessa dumped Josh when he got caught up in that whole mess thanks to me. Again, I just wanted to say I’m really sorry about that.” Josh admits, “The relationship has a problem if my girlfriends are gonna have a problem with you.” Chad smiles and says, “Maybe you can be thankful you have each other.” Vitani and Josh smile fondly at the comment. Vitani nods and adds, “Maybe we all should be thankful we’ve stopped allContinue reading »

Simon is gay, closeted, and emailing anonymously with another gay boy at his school he knows only as “Blue”. But now one of his class mates saw the email programme Simon left open, and is threatening to out him unless Simon sets him up with Simon’s friend Abby. The relationship between his friends is getting more complicated, opening night of the school musical is getting closer, and the emails with the frustratingly shy Blue are getting more flirtatious by the day. This is a fun read. The book is told from Simon’s point of view, but periodically interrupted by the email exchanges between Simon and Blue. The email conversations feel very true to life – occasionally revealing, occasionally flirty, filled with the type of things you might say to someone anonymously in an email but would be terrified to say to someone in real life. Simon starting to fall for someone he’s never met feels pretty natural, as does Blue’s reluctance to admit his identity or meet Simon in realContinue reading »

The Auranades Episode 7 Wild Prolog After the school bell rings for the end of class, the students are soon filling the hallway with their laughter and chatter. Chad meanwhile exits his Bio class with a pass for a class tour to the new jungle exhibit that opened just outside of town. Since Ray hadn’t been to class due to prep games for the third football game coming up this week, he figures he will head straight over to the Libretta café. However, just as he turns the corner at the lockers, he bumps into someone, knocking her books from her hands. Chad reaches down to help her until he looks up to see it’s Ray’s girlfriend, the school reporter Rita Allen. “Sorry I ran into you like that,” Chad quips, “I was just looking for Ray so I could tell him about how you’re plotting some scheme against me.” Rita Allen glares at him before looking around to pick up the rest of her things. Chad then notices anotherContinue reading »

While Comsie is away wrestling with an army of small children, the rest of us have to keep things ticking over here. So it’s time for another review! As you might guess from the title – this book is very gay. JT lives in Clearwater, Florida. He has a loud best friend called Heather, and gorgeous boyfriend called Seth that JT thinks is way out of his league. But he won’t be able to attend college without a scholarship, and the alternative is being trapped in Clearwater forever, working at his parents’ gas station. Then Seth springs a surprise on JT – a beauty pageant for teenage drag queens, with a college scholarship as first prize. JT is more than reluctant. His one drag queen performance, at his high school talent show, ended in disaster and humiliation, and he’s been too traumatized to try it in public again since. But with no other options for escaping Clearwater, JT agrees to enter, and he, Heather and Seth hit the road. It’sContinue reading »

Episode 6 Flaunt Prolog At the Libretta café, students are in and out of the bookshop café during the lunch period. Chad is at their usual table with a huge chemistry book as he is trying to grasp the concept of chemical equilibrium. However, he can’t quite get the point of it all at the moment. “Ugh. I don’t get this at all,” Chad muses, as he leans forward over the book on the table. “Well I know if anyone understands Chem, it’s you, C.K.,” Ray Torres says, appearing at the table. He takes a seat on the opposite side, “so I know it must be something else here you can’t understand.” “Oh hey, Ray,” Chad replies as he sits up, “I guess sometimes things can seem so simple but turn out to be a lot more complicated. Besides, it’s hardly ever one-plus-one for me these days.” “I get the feeling we aren’t exactly talking about chemistry,” Ray says with a curious grin. “Maybe it’s what kind of chemistry we’reContinue reading »

  Prolog   As students are walking about the hallways, Chad, Vitani and Josh turn the corner while chatting with each other. They are looking at a poster in Vitani’s hand and discussing whether they should all go to the Midnight Masquerade coming up later this week. It’s being hosted by the Milano sisters in the spirit of Halloween, coming up later this month. However, Chad muses with a grin, “Hey I’m supposed to be a nerd, guys. I don’t do much partying.” Vitani smiles, “Oh? That’s not what I heard about you at last week’s football party with Ray Torres.” Josh adds, “Your friend even took you home after you passed out from like four beers, remember?” Chad turns to them, “I remember you daring me to try the beer. I also remember feeling like I was gonna puke and heading upstairs in one of the dorm rooms to lie down, but I don’t remember anything about Ray taking me back to my dorm room. Are you sure aboutContinue reading »

No gay content in this novel – but it features teenage (and almost teenage) boys, plus it’s good. Fair warning: keep the tissues handy. This book is incredibly sad. Narrated by 12 year old Jack, it tells the story of 14 year old Joseph, who comes to stay on Jack’s dairy farm as a foster child. Emotionally and physically damaged by a stay in a juvenile prison, Joseph wants nothing more than to see the daughter he’s never met. It’s clear from the very first chapter that Joseph has suffered, but just how much isn’t revealed until halfway through the book, when the full story of how Joseph ended up in Stone Mountain is revealed. It’s not all unrelenting gloom; Jack’s parents are amazingly sympathetic and empathetic, and as the book progresses, you can see Joseph begin to imagine a future he never considered possible. The story is set in winter in Maine, and frankly you can feel cold just reading it at times… It’s a fast read, and toldContinue reading »

There are few authors for whom my eyes light up whenever I see a new book from them, because I know it’s going to be interesting. Patrick Ness is one of those authors. His first books were the utterly amazing “Chaos Walking Trilogy” (to feature in an upcoming book club) and then he followed it up with “A Monster Calls”. All of his books have intriguing premises and “The Rest of Us Just Live Here” is no exception. The book is a mash-up of two very typical young adult genres: the classic teenage “problem novel” and the “kids chosen by destiny save the world from destruction”. And these stories run alongside each other. Imagine Harry Potter written from the perspective of the muggles. Or “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as seen from the perspective of the other kids at school. Mikey and his friends know weird stuff is going on, because something crops up every few years… the undead invasion, the soul-eating ghosts, the vampire romances and deaths. But its alwaysContinue reading »

  Prolog   Just after class, the students are walking about from here to there. Chad decides to stop by his locker in the hallway to put his books away. As he is doing so, Ray Torres spots him and walks over to him patting him on the shoulder. “Hey C.K. Guess what?” Ray starts with a smirk and his hands behind his back. “You’re staying well on top of your Bio classes without my help now?” Chad says with a grin. “Well there’s that, as I did learn from the best,” Ray shrugs before moving his hands from behind his back to reveal a fancy blue football shirt, “But you were actually supposed to guess that the coach just gave me my very own special T-shirt to wear for the rest of the season. I think it’s to help me keep in mind that good things are up for me if I keep it up on the field.” “How many times have I told you that?” Chad nods, “IContinue reading »

A tour bus pulls to a stop in front of the main building at the SyndAcad campus, where its doors slide open and a line of students soon file out and back onto the school grounds and wait, including Chad Blackman and Ray Torres. They gather into a small group as the Bio teacher, Mr. Bailey, disembarks and the bus drives away. He turns to the students and informs them that based on what they learned at the museum today, he wants to see their essays on the Endosymbiont Theory by the end of the week. After he leaves, the students disperse and go their separate ways. “So Ray,” Chad asks, as they head inside the main building, “After what we learned today at the tour to the museum, do you really believe that one could evolve into something so big from such a small place?” Ray shrugs, “Well, I went from being the boy who was strung half naked to a cross by the football team to being theContinue reading »

“Savior” is a vampire story set in Chicago. The plot, setting and style are all very reminiscent of “Gone From Daylight” which may have been a major inspiration for the story. There are no obvious cross-overs with GFD – Comsie’s characters don’t appear, there aren’t visits to the junkyard, the intricate GFD lore is absent… and yet there is nothing which rules out the possibility that the stories might exist in the same universe. As a reader you could imagine it either way. Thirteen year old Tyler witnesses a vampire attack in an alley. At first he’s terrified… then one of the young vampires he witnessed follow him home, he becomes obsessed with tracking the vampire down. David has a nice clean straightforward writing style, and the chapters are short, so the story is a fast enjoyable read. I found myself increasingly caught up in the action as the story went on, and the bittersweet ending left me wanting more. I highly enjoyed “Savior” and would recommend it to fansContinue reading »

Today at Cirrus’ Book Club we’re featuring our first story by a Shack author. I’m always looking for more stories to review, so if you’ve written something you want me to look at, post a link. “Mad World” by Bobby (aka Brokendreamboi) As I started reading this story, it revived vague recollections that I might have read it before when the story first came out. It was fun story to revisit. This is a love story, but between two people who desperately need each other. Twenty-two-ish real estate agent Michael’s life has been torn apart by a sudden and unexpected tragedy. Sixteen year old Collin is homeless and living on the streets. What starts as Michael simply offering Collin a meal and a shower blossoms into a romance… but the road to happiness for both of them is far from smooth. There’s also a mystery element to the story as Michael tries to uncover the full story behind the tragedy. No sooner did I find myself finishing one chapterContinue reading »

Let’s get the obvious thing out of the way first. It’s impossible to read this story without noticing parallels with a certain phenomenally successful series of childrens’ fantasy books (rhymes with “Larry Otter”). Simon is The Chosen One, destined to save the World of Mages. He’s attending a British boarding school for mages. His best friend is a girl who is better at magic then he is. He’s an orphan, and the headmaster of the boarding school has taken on a surrogate father role. Then there’s the Draco Malfoy character, who comes from one of the Old Families, and is scheming against the headmaster. Baz is possibly evil. Probably trying to kill Simon. Almost certainly a vampire. And also Simon’s roommate. But if you think you’ve got the story all figured out from the description, it skews the familiar plot lines in new and interesting ways. At time it feels like you’re reading the last book in the series, because the story keeps alluding to events that happened in theContinue reading »

“The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that they don’t got nothing much to say. About anything”. That first line kicks off one of the best young adult / sci-fi stories I’ve ever read. It seems almost criminally unfair that a debut novel should be so good. The set-up for the story needs a bit of explaining. Thirteen year old Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown, a month away from some mysterious activity which will make him a man. Prentisstown town is a human colony on an alien world. A world where men broadcast every thought in their head for the entire world to hear. If you think the “Noise” would drive everyone a little mad… well, you’d be right. And I did a mention there are no women left in Prentisstown? Then an advanced scout ship from the next wave of colonists due to arrive on the plan crash lands near Prentisstown. The only survivor from the crash is a girlContinue reading »