Tag Archives: young adult

Blog Tour: Two Princes by Maggie Blackbird

Two Princes | Maggie Blackbird

BANNER

Publisher: Devine Destinies

Cover Artist: Martine Jardin

Release Date: June 12, 2020

Heat Rating: No sexual content – only kissing

Length: 67,345 words/235 pages

Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Devine Destinies | Kobo | B&N | Apple

Google Play | BookStrand

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TWOPRINCES2

Blurb

To win over the chief’s haughty son, a drug-dealing punk from a dysfunctional family must risk the only two things he has: his reputation and freedom.

Billy Redsky, a rebellious punk who loves art and nature, is saddled with a welfare-leeching, alcoholic mother and criminal older brother who are the joke of their Ojibway community. Sick and tired of being perceived as a loser, Billy deals drugs for his older brother to earn quick money. He hopes if he buys a dirt bike, he’ll finally impress the chief’s popular and aloof son, René Oshawee.

When the two are forced to serve detention together, a friendship blooms, but much to Billy’s frustration, René keeps putting him on ice. To make his biggest dream come true if he finally wants to call René his own, Billy must make a huge decision that could cost him everything.

It is the second book in the When We Were Young series.

TWOPRINCES

Excerpt

TWO PRINCES

At the same time, they entered the office doorway. Billy’s side received a sharp elbow jab, and his lungs almost hurled from his throat. Pain. Major pain.

René pointed at the chair. “Sit. I’m going first. Unlike you, I don’t got all day to be playing around.” He strode to the counter. “Is Mr. Carlson in? Mrs. Lamb sent me.” The attitude in his voice melted into an ass-kissing, respectful tone.

“What for?” The secretary, with a big beehive straight out of the sixties, stood.

René pointed his thumb over his shoulder. “Redsky got into my little cousin’s face. I have to talk to Mr. Carlson about it.”

“Okay. Let me buzz you in.” The swinging-sixties secretary reached for the phone.

Never mind his aching side. Billy scrambled from the chair. “I ain’t taking the rap for this. You started it, loser.”

René whipped around. “What’d you call me?”

“I called you a loser.” Billy fisted his hands.

“You worthless punk.” René held up his finger in a lecturing gesture just as the teachers did. “Wanna talk about losers? Your mom and brother are total alkies and welfare leeches. It’s people like your family who give reds a bad name. That’s why everyone hates on us and says we’re a bunch of drunks sucking the taxpayers dry.”

“Is that what Chief Oshawee says when you’re having your fancy steak supper? Or maybe your mom says it ‘cause she’s some bigshot accountant?” The jeer flew from Billy’s mouth.

“Give it a rest, boys.” Mr. Carlson’s thick voice whirled into their argument. “My secretary told me you both were sent here. René,” he pointed at the door, “into my office. And, Billy, sit down. We’ll talk once I hear René’s version.”

It figured Prince Oshawee would get to go first. At least Billy had been smart enough to pass off his stash to Lonn before being sent to the vice principal’s office.

For ten minutes, Billy waited, and waited, and waited, the second bell having already rung. René was probably painting a sham picture of Billy shoving dope down Stuart’s throat.

The door to the vice principal’s office opened. René huffed out. He shook back his shoulder-length, thick, almost-black hair and trounced from the reception area into the main hall.

Instead of raw fury searing Billy, being ignored by the royal spare was sharp teeth sinking into his skin. Big deal. He didn’t give a shit about anyone or their opinion. Especially an Oshawee.

“Billy…” Mr. Carlson and his big gut filled the doorway. “In here. Now.”

Billy slunk into the office and flopped in the usual stiffer-than-a-board chair opposite the massive oak desk. He dropped his backpack and his frustration onto the floor. There was no point in arguing. Chrome Dome would believe an Oshawee over a Redsky.

Mr. Carlson sat on his king-style throne. “Fighting again?”

What could Billy say? Nothing.

“I didn’t think so.” Mr. Carlson picked up the phone and flipped through his Rolodex. “I have business to attend to. You’ll report to room two-o-two after school. We have a new strategy when it comes to physical disputes. You’ll find out then when you get there. Dismissed.”

Maggie_Blackbird_Author_Photo

About the Author

An Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario, Maggie resides in the country with her husband and their fur babies, two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes.

When she’s not writing, she can be found pulling weeds in the flower beds, mowing the huge lawn, walking the Mals deep in the bush, teeing up a ball at the golf course, fishing in the boat for walleye, or sitting on the deck at her sister’s house, making more wonderful memories with the people she loves most.

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A YA superhero breath of fresh air from the pen of TJ Klune

TJ ExtraordinariesThe Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think if I was a teenager, queer, or had grown up under difficult circumstances, this book would be like a breath of fresh air, a lifebelt in the sea of turmoil and something to bring hope and a feeling of “normalcy” as it is an encouraging homage to the great superhero stories of the Golden Era of Comic Books.

For Nick, his fanfiction is something vitally important, a connection to the Extraordinary he has a huge crush on and there were lots of “Superman/Lois Lane” vibes in his queering of the relationship between Shadow Star and a character who may be just a tiny bit like Nick.

It’s TJ Klune, so there is all the hilarity and wonderful use of language you’d expect to find in any book from this author. And, because it’s TJ Klune, there’s so many more layers and depth to the story being told.

It’s YA superhero fiction so as a 50-year-old woman, I’m not the key demographic for reading it, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t relate to the struggles Nick goes through in his day-to-day life as he juggles with his best friend (and possible love of his so-far very short life) Seth, his unfailing desire to become an Extraordinary, his ADHD, and his dad’s fears.

The relationship at the heart of this teen romance is just a hug in a sweetie wrapper. The depiction of how the ADHD affects everything Nick does felt honest and true to me even though I am not experienced with the condition myself, I have friends with atypical children and it rang similar to their lives.

It ends with a cliffhanger, as this is a trilogy of books being published by TOR Teen, and it didn’t surprise me as this is basically your typical Sci-Fi/Fantasy superhero book – but queered up, which I absolutely love. I love that this book will be on the shelves of all the major bookstores not hidden away in some online only corner of the internet.

I love that a big five publisher, (and the most respected name in Sci-Fi/Fantasy publishing in the industry), picked this series up and is putting all its considerable weight behind it. For any teenager wondering if they’re ever going to see themselves represented in a superhero book, The Extraordinaries is that book.

ARC kindly received from Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review

View all my reviews

New Release Blitz: Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza? by Andy V. Roamer

Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza? |Andy V. Roamer

The Pizza Chronicles #1

Why Can't Life Be Like Pizza Banner

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 30, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 55,100

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon

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Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Blurb

RV is a good kid, starting his freshman year at the demanding Boston Latin School. Though his genes didn’t give him a lot of good things, they did give him a decent brain. So he’s doing his best to keep up in high school, despite all the additional pressures he’s facing: His immigrant parents, who don’t want him to forget his roots and insist on other rules.

Some tough kids at school who bully teachers as well as students. His puny muscles. His mean gym teacher. The Guy Upstairs who doesn’t answer his prayers. And the most confusing fact of all—that he might be gay.

Luckily, RV develops a friendship with Mr. Aniso, his Latin teacher, who is gay and always there to talk to. RV thinks his problems are solved when he starts going out with Carole.

But things only get more complicated when RV develops a crush on Bobby, the football player in his class. And to RV’s surprise, Bobby admits he may have gay feelings, too.

Excerpt

Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza?
Andy V. Roamer © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One—Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza?
Why can’t life be like pizza?

I’ve been asking myself the question a lot lately. I love pizza. Pizza makes me feel good. Especially since I discovered Joe’s. Joe’s Pizza is quiet and out of the way and allows me to think. And Joe’s combinations are the best. Pepperoni and onions. Garlic and mushroom. Cheese and chicken. And if you really want that little kick in the old butt: the super jalapeno. Mmmm, good. Gets you going again. And lets you forget all your troubles.

What troubles can a fourteen-year-old guy have? Ha! First of all, I’m not a regular guy, as anyone can guess from my taste in pizza. My parents are immigrants who are trying to make a better life for themselves here in the United States. Besides the usual things American parents worry about, like making money and having their kids do well in school, my parents spend more time worrying about the big things: politics, communism, fascism, global warming, and the fact they and their parents survived violence and jail so I-better-be-grateful-I’m-not-miserable-like-kids-in-other-parts-of-the-world.

Grateful? Ha! As far as I’m concerned, life is pretty miserable already. Instead of thinking about the World Series or Disneyland, I worry about terrorists down the street or the dirty bombs the strange family around the corner might be building.

I don’t know why I worry about everything, but I do. It’s probably in my genes. Other guys have genes that gave them big muscles or hairy chests. I got nerves.

And then there’s my name. RV. Yeah, RV. No, I’m not a camper or anything. RV is short for Arvydas. That’s right. “Are-vee-duh-s.” Mom and Dad say it’s a common name in Lithuania, which is the country in Eastern Europe where my parents were born. A name like that might be fine for Lithuania, but what about the United States? Couldn’t Mom and Dad have named me Joe, or Mike, or even Darryl? My brother, Ray, has a normal name. Why couldn’t they have given me one?

I even look a little weird, I think. Tall and skinny with an uncoordinated walk because of my big feet that get in the way and make me feel like a clod. Oh, yeah. I’ve been getting some zits lately, and I wear glasses since I’m pretty nearsighted. Not a pretty sight, is it? At least the glasses are not too thick. Mom and Dad don’t have a lot of money to spend, but they did fork up the money to get me thin lenses, so I don’t look like a complete zomboid.

What can I do? I try my best, despite it all. I’m lucky because I’ve done well in school, so at least my genes gave me a half-decent brain. Hey, I’m not bragging. It’s just nice to feel good about something when most days I feel pretty much a loser at so many things. When I was in grammar school, there were enough days when I came home from school and cried because some big oaf threatened me, or I got hit in the stomach during my pathetic attempts to play ball during recess.

Mom always tried to comfort me. “Nesirūpink,” she would say. “Esi gabus. Kai užaugsi, visiems nušluostysi nuosis.” We talk Lithuanian at home. Translated, that sentence means, “Don’t worry. You’re smart. When you grow up, you’ll show them.” Actually, not “you’ll show them,” but “you’ll wipe all their noses.” Lithuanians have a funny way of expressing themselves. Not sure I aspire to wiping anyone’s nose when I get older, but that’s what they say.

Whatever. I’m determined to put all that behind me. I’m starting a new life. My new life. Today was the first day of high school. I’m going to Boston Latin School. You have to take an exam to go there, so it’s full of smart kids. Besides smart kids, it has heavy-duty history too. It was founded in 1635, a year before Harvard. They already gave us a speech about that.

And about pressure. The pressure to succeed with all this history breathing down our necks. Pressure, ha! Doesn’t scare me. I know all about pressure. I’ve gotten pressure from cretinous bullies at school. I get it from cretinous Lith a-holes, who Mom and Dad keep pushing me to hang around with because they say it’s important to be part of the immigrant community. And I even get pressure from cretinous jerks in the neighborhood.

Cretinous. A good word. That’s something else about me. I like words. Real words and made-up ones. There’s something cool about them. Yeah, yeah, I know what people would say. You think words are cool? Kid, you’ve got more problems than you thought.

Well, I’m sorry. I do think words are cool. There’s something fun about making them up or learning a new one. Kind of unlocks something in the world. And I like the world despite all my worrying. It can be an okay place sometimes.

Okay, okay, I’m getting off track. I want to write about my first day of school. Mom and Dad gave me this new—well, refurbished, but new to me anyway—computer for getting into Latin school, and they keep after me to make good use of it. So, I’ve decided I’m going to write about my new life. My life away from cretins—Lith, American, or any other kind.

The first person I met at school today was Carole. Carole Higginbottom. She’s in my homeroom. She was sitting in the first row, first seat, and I was sitting right behind her. We started talking. She’s from West Roxbury, too, which is where we live.

West Roxbury is part of Boston. You have to live somewhere in Boston in order to go to Latin school. West Roxbury is a nice neighborhood, for the most part, with houses, trees, grass, and people going to work and coming home. Kind of an all-American place, I guess. We used to live in a different, tougher part of Boston, but Mom and Dad moved away from there because they said the neighborhood was getting too rough. They promised I wouldn’t get beat up so much in West Roxbury. I don’t know. West Roxbury is better, but I still have gotten a few black-and-blue marks with “made in West Roxbury” on them, so as far as I’m concerned it isn’t any perfect place either.

Carole lives in another part of West Roxbury, near Centre Street, which is the main street in the area. People like to hang out there. Mom says that part of West Roxbury is a little dicey. (Mom thinks a lot of neighborhoods are too dicey. Maybe that’s where I get my worrying from.) Anyway, Carole sure doesn’t seem dicey. As a matter of fact, she’s a little goofy. Tall and skinny with red hair, red cheeks, and a million freckles. And she has a really sharp nose that curves up like those special ski slopes you see in the Olympics. But I get the feeling she’s smart. She says she likes science. That’s good because I might need help with science. I’m better with other subjects like history and English.

Our homeroom teacher is Mr. Bologna, Carmine Bologna. He’s a little scary with slicked-back dark hair and even darker eyes that stare at you forever. He looks like he’s part of the organization we’re not supposed to talk about—you know, the scary one from Italy that’s into murder, racketeering, and drugs. Two guys were horsing around in the back of the class and Mr. Bologna came right up to them, said a few words under his breath, and just stared at them. Boy, did they settle down fast. I’m no troublemaker, but I’ll really have to watch myself. Don’t want to deal with the Bologna stare if I can help it.

Today was mostly about walking around, learning about our subjects, and meeting teachers. Besides all the regular subjects, I have to take Latin. I don’t have anything against it per se, but is it really necessary to learn a dead language? And then there’s the teacher, Mr. Aniso. He’s kind of light in his loafers. That’s another new phrase I learned recently. It refers to gay guys, and Mr. Aniso is so gay it hurts. I just hope he can’t tell anything about me. I don’t wave my wrist around the way he does, do I?

Yeah, that’s something else I have to come to terms with. I might be heading in that direction. Yeah, me. I can hardly believe it. Me! Why? It can’t be true, can it? I’ve been praying to God, asking Him not to make me gay, but I don’t think He’s listening. If He exists, that is. Maybe He’s not answering because He doesn’t exist.

I don’t know. People on TV and in books say being gay is okay. Movie stars and rock stars are gay. There are gay mayors and other gay political types. That’s fine for them, but they don’t live with my family. Mom’s a heavy-duty Catholic. Dad’s a macho, “what-me-cry?” kind of guy. And my younger brother, Ray, well, Ray probably doesn’t care one way or another, but he doesn’t count anyway since he hates everybody. And then there are all those Lith immigrants, the community that’s so important to Mom and Dad. Most of them are so Old World and conservative. I don’t think being gay would go down well with them.

Not that I am gay for certain. I’m just saying it’s crossed my mind because…well, because I think about guys sometimes. And I notice them. Notice how they look when they’re coming down the street. Notice their eyes or their hair or the way they move. Just notice them.

Oh, I notice girls, too, but something about guys is different. I can’t put my finger on it, but I think about them as much or maybe more than girls. And I want to be with them. Is that normal? What’s normal anyway? To be honest, I’m so inexperienced. Never dated. Never even kissed anyone. Not like that anyway. No, I’ve spent my time worrying about communism, terrorism, and global warming. Like I said, I’ve always felt a little out of step with the rest of humanity.

Dealing with all this is just too much. To be nervous about things the way I am. To be speaking a language most people haven’t heard of. To have a strange name. To wear glasses and look nerdy. And now I might be gay? It’s all too confusing. I might as well start on antidepressants, or something stronger, right now.

But no. I try to look on the bright side of things. Take Carole for instance. She seems nice and fun, and maybe we’ll be friends. And if she likes me, I can’t be too weird, can I? I guess I’ll find out. I better not think about it. There’s enough to worry about as it is. I just have to take a breath and focus on my homework. Yeah, we got homework already. At least that’s one thing I’m good at. And when I go to Joe’s, well, life’s not so bad, at least while I’m eating my chicken and cheese or super jalapeno slice.

About the Author

Andy V. Roamer grew up in the Boston area and moved to New York City after college. He worked in book publishing for many years, starting out in the children’s and YA books division and then wearing many other hats.

This is his first novel about RV, the teenage son of immigrants from Lithuania in Eastern Europe, as RV tries to negotiate his demanding high school, his budding sexuality, and new relationships.

He has written an adult novel, Confessions of a Gay Curmudgeon, under the pen name Andy V. Ambrose. To relax, Andy loves to ride his bike, read, watch foreign and independent movies, and travel.

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