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Book Review: Love, Joy, Heartache and Pain, by John H. Ames

Love, Joy, Heartache and Pain

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A collection of new entwined stories by best-selling Young Adult author, John H. Ames. Love that reaches beyond the boundaries of the physical realm…

Swapatize!: The not so unrealistic detailed account of how my best friend and I swapped bodies for a short period of time. -High school is one of the most excruciating and painful periods of any teenager’s life. To Kyle, it’s hell on earth. Being the target of the jocks made him hate high school more than anything in the world. All he has is his best friend and the center of the jock’s interest, the beautiful Kylie Bursnell. But Kylie is not your typical beauty. She hates the jocks even more than Kyle, especially Lucas Edward Johnson, a jock who is madly in love with her and Kyle’s forbidden dream. After a bizarre and freaky night, they swap bodies and are force to live each other’s live. Can this actually be true? Has Kyle’s dream come true? Will he be able to love Lucas Edward Johnson unconditionally until the end of time? Or is their love nothing but a beautiful dream enveloped in heartache and pain?

The Spirit Indestructible – Brandon Angelo William has it all. He’s hot, popular, shy, humble, and one of the typical and regular guys in high school. But, unbeknownst to everyone, he’s a closeted gay teen who came out to his parents the previous year. They loved and accepted him with open arms so what more could Brandon want? Love. The one thing that his soul and body need. After a late night out with his best friend, Kevin, Brad sees one of the most beautiful guys he has ever laid eyes on. But could the teen in front of him be real? Or is he the legendary hitching ghost that everyone talks about? Brad needs to find out and what he discovers shocks him and changes his young life forever…

The Lake View Psychopath – Jocks beware, he’s here and he’s not scared. Ashton Hall hates his existence at Lake View High. The jocks have made his life a living hell and his friends have completely turned their backs on him. Why? For being gay and dating the love of his life, Austin Young. Almost overnight, they became the center of every joke and every bully’s paradise. To make matters worse, even the school’s coach allows his ‘jock superstars’ to make fun of them.

But everything the night Austin Young is brutally murdered by the jocks and they walk free. Something snaps inside Ashton’s head and the only think he can think of is revenge. Will Ashton come to his sense and let Austin go? Or will he become one of the greatest serial killers of all time?

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Book – Love, Joy, Heartache and Pain

Author – John H. Ames

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 207

Cover – Perfect

POV – 1st person POV

Would I read it again – Definitely!

Genre – LGBT, paranormal, contemporary, YA (with a lot of swearing/sex talk)

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** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

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Swapatized!

1-36%

1st person POV

★★★★★

I absolutely loved this story! For a short, it had more emotion, characterisation and plot than some novels I’ve read.

The idea of swapping bodies is nothing new, but Ames makes it new, with this refreshing take on an old classic. Not only does Kylie have to deal with morning wood and boys club rules, but Kyle has to deal with changing tampons, period cramps and make up!

Every moment of this was either a riot of fun and hilarity or heartbreakingly sad. The story is told like one of those Teen programs on TV, where the MC does a voice over, to let you know the ins and outs of their world. This is similar in that it’s a 1st person POV, but that the character, Kyle, talks to the reader at points. I normally hate this, but it’s done in such a clever, fitting way that it really works.

I love the realities of the teen romance. Girls never knowing what boys reactions mean and boys not knowing what girls reactions mean. Even boys not knowing what other boys mean by their actions.

Reading this was like flashing back to high school and reliving the dramas all over again. Excerpt this was quirky, funny and sad, and I didn’t have to live any of it, which was a relief. The switch back made me cry, as did the ending.

There were some unforgettable one-liners:

“For a brief second, I felt like I was in a Fast and Furious movie with Vin Diesel.”

“The following day, I decided to go to school and get brainwashed rather than witness another ghost on my front lawn.”

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Spirit Indestructible

26-76%

1st person POV

★★★★★

This was one heck of an adorable story. I was so near to tears, but smiling almost the whole way through. It made me realise something, too. So far, I thought Swapatized! And Spirit Indestructible were two separate stories, about the same two towns, in the same timeline. I mean, it takes place right after the events of Swapatized, but is about Lake View, the rival school, instead. It even has snippets of Luke and Kyle! I love all of that. But what I realised is that these two stories are about so much more than the individual couples. They’re about Skyler. About this young man who was wrong and has to make sure everyone else is taken care of.

Brad was a great characters. Quirky, interesting and a little bit insane with his thoughts. His friendship with Kevin was great and I kind of like that, although he never told Kevin the truth about the Lake View Ghost, he did that for Kevin’s sake. Because he knew how it would affect him.

As I said, I really loved seeing Luke and Kyle and finding out, in a round about way, that they were solid together. All cute and cuddly and adorable.

Overall, it was a fantastic story about self discovery, self belief and learning to trust the impossible. Once again, Sky worked a miracle.

My favourite quote has to be:

“The people we love the most and lose always come back to us…not the way we want, but they always do.”

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The Lake View Psychopath

76-99%

3rd person POV

★★★★★

Wow! By far, the best of the bunch, and that’s saying something when I’ve loved every story so far. I mean…speechless. Or, almost.

This one made me cry and it is easily the creepiest, most intense story I’ve read in a while. With a much darker tone than the others, it still takes place in Lake View (obviously!) with characters from previous stories. It mentions Brad and Sky in passing, but focuses on Austin and Ashton, who were the only openly gay kids at Lake View High, mentioned in the previous story.

With a shocking start, I was instantly drawn into the story. This one is different to the others in that it’s told in 3rd person POV, sometimes omni-present (at least for Connor and David’s parts), so that we get an overall view of what’s going on.

As well as having a great, compelling story that is really dark and twisted, it also exposes the awful, brutal homophobia that school kids face in the real world. Nothing mentioned here, in quite graphic detail, is an exaggeration. Stuff like this happens and I applaud Ames for addressing the issue, even in this slightly terrifying way.

I can’t say much, without giving too much away about this story, so I’ll just say that it was brilliant, creepy, sadly realistic and utterly devastating all at once. It just goes to show that, for LGBT kids, having support and understanding from family and friends can be the difference between life and death.

Bravo!

My favourite quote has to be this. I will never be able to read a pinky promise in a story again, without thinking back to this moment. It’s never sounded quite so sinister before, but it will certainly never sound innocent ever again.

“I didn’t pinky swear.”

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Overall

There are some small grammar issues throughout, but overall, it’s a fantastic collection!

This is more than just a collection of stories. It’s a lesson for life. Trust yourself, don’t let others confine you a life that makes you unhappy and, sometimes, what seems too good to be true can be true. Life is what you make it, not what makes you.

Covering a broad range of topics – coming out, domestic abuse, homophobia and gender issues – these stories will stick with me for a very long time. Particularly that last one. In a mixture of life lessons, harsh truths and rocky relationships, all three couples faces vastly different fates, thanks to vastly different experiences.

A touching recount of three couples, who experience love, joy, heartache and pain, at the hands of that horrible life lesson – High School.

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