The War Blog Pretends To Be A Feminist Book But,, It’s Really Not

Author: Glen Sobey
Genre: Contemporary // YA
Goodreads rating: 3.35
My rating: ⭐

Crystal Rose, a 17-year-old high school junior, and her younger brother were abandoned by their drug-addicted mother fifteen years ago in an Alaskan Native village, an event which Crystal resented for years. However, when she learns that her mother was raped in high school, Crystal declares war against a society which reduces girls to their looks, forcing them to feel worthless without the approval of guys.

While living in a small Alaskan town, she starts The War Blog website, along with her best friend and crush Kato—a brilliant Native boy—attacking everything promoting female objectification and offering ways to fight back, all supplemented by her original songs. Crystal rises from nothing in the wilds of Alaska to become a champion for change, risking her life against men who would force her to keep silent. She faces her parents’ abusive past and fights for a better world.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

Well this was a big yikes

When requesting The War Blog I didn’t know this was written by a man, I kinda assumed it was a woman when I started, but when I found out it was written by a man I had a lightbulb moment because um yeah that explains a lot. Not saying that a man can’t write a good feminist book! They can! But this guy can’t!

I have a lot of thoughts and my mind is all over the place, so let’s turn this into a list review.

💛 First of all, the writing was really bad. I wasn’t surprised to find out the author had never written a book before, because that was pretty obvious. The War Blog needs an incredible amount of editing, especially when it comes to the pacing, which honestly gave me whiplash. Everything was happening all at once and so very fast it was hard to keep track. Conversation topics changed within seconds and were brought up unnaturally, characters showed up out of nowhere… Actually, pretty much everything came out of nowhere. It’s not funny how many notes my ARC has saying ‘??? WHERE DID THIS COME FROM’ There are no natural transitions anywhere. I often also found myself quite lost and wondering if I had missed something? The fact that there are so many characters also didn’t help. I could barely keep up with who was who, and I read most of this in a day.

💛 The dialogue was so cringeworthy and unnatural. For example:

”You are staying tonight?”
”Yeah. My usual spot in the guest bedroom, where I’ve slept more than half my life.”

??? Crystal knows that?? She was there?? It’s her house?? This is all just for the benefit of the reader but it felt so forced. Who talks like that? Why would you mention that? I wrote like this when I was nine y’all

💛 Events were also just,, summed up a lot? Making the writing very dry (which it already was tbh) and there was no emotion in the writing at all. I honestly didn’t care what happened.

💛 Crystal’s grandmother hugs Kato and that’s the exact moment Crystal decides to describe her grandmother’s past beauty?? Like what??

💛 This!! Is!! Not!! A!! Feminist!! Book!! Crystal slutshames and bodyshames and there’s emphasis on girls and women’s bodies, especially their breasts which felt very odd to me (there’s a scene where a girl puts two erases in her shirt on her nipples?? And it’s supposed to be funny??) until I found out it was written by a man

💛 When Crystal’s grandmother tells her Crystal’s mom had many boyfriends, the first thing Crystal says is ‘so Mom was a slut?’ like jfc

💛 There’s also this wonderful quote: ”Maybe she fought her childhood trauma by acting the tough girl. So why did she choose pink underwear to flaunt?’‘ (earlier she bent down which revealed her thong) Like are you kidding me? She also shamed another girl for wearing thight leggings and her little sister for wearing a tank top. Crystal doesn’t support other girls at all, unless they fit a certain image.

💛 Crystal’s grandmother also says that ‘there’s no getting through this’ about sexual assault and rape, and this is never addressed. Personally I really don’t find this a good message to send to young girls. I get where she’s coming from and why she says this, but at no point is this message debunked and is it shown that you can get through an awful, traumatic event like sexual assault and/or rape, that you can get better.

💛 Crystal tells Kato that her fighting back against rape culture is ‘different than advocating for Natives. This will be an attack on what most people consider normal’ – um, I’m pretty sure racists think the way they treat Natives is normal? It just really rubbed me the wrong way, as if Crystal’s fight is harder than Kato’s.

💛 A lot of the women in this novel are in abusive relationships, which Crystal doesn’t understand. I quote: ”I could never understand why battered women stayed with their abusers. Maybe Angie had no sense of worth apart from her man. I felt very sorry for her.” Like fuck off? I can’t even express the anger I felt when reading this.

💛 Crystal also kept on outing her best friend which she’s never called out for

💛 Crystal’s brother tells her she could never be a cheerleader because she’s too skinny and NO ONE calls him out for that?

💛 It was also very uncomfortable to read how Crystal, a white girl, decided to criticise sexism in Native culture and I just don’t think it was called out enough? To me it reeked of White Saviour Syndrome. I can’t speak for Natives of course, but I did want to mention it in my review.

Some actually feminist books that The War Blog wishes it was and to read instead:

💛 My Whole Truth by Mischa Trace – Powerful, gripping, heartbreaking. Seelie Stanton is arrested for murdering the boy who attacked and raped her, showing how messed up our world is as she gets bullied, shamed and attacked for saving herself. Read my review here
💛 Sadie by Courtney Summers Sadie follows the titular character as she goes after the man responsible for her sister’s dead, and West McCray, who’s trying to figure out what happened to Sadie. Sadie is not a happy story, but it’s an important one. It’s not just the story of Sadie and Mattie; it’s the story of all the girls in the world who end up dead or missing simply because they’re girls. Read my review here
💛 Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu – The War Blog’s blurb actually reminded me a bit of Moxie, but boy does it wishes it was like Moxie. Vivian also decides to fight back, but it’s actually done well because you know,, Vivian doesn’t look down on and shames other girls. I loved seeing Vivian starting a revolution at her school and no longer taking shit
💛 Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali – Saints and Misfit has a perfect balance between heavy and light moments. Despite dealing with attempted sexual assault and fighting back, it was still overall a fun and light read.
💛 The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed – I didn’t really connect with this one as the writing style wasn’t my cup of tea, making it hard to connect with the characters, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a powerful story about rape culture. Despite what to me felt as a passive writing style, I still got chills while reading this one

What is your favourite feminist book? Let me know in the comments!

The Enchanted Sonata // The Nutcracker vs The Pied Piper

Author: Heather Dixon Wallwork
Genre: Fairytale retelling // Fantasy // YA
Goodreads rating: 4.08
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

Clara Stahlbaum has her future perfectly planned: to marry the handsome pianist, Johann Kahler (ah!) and settle down to a life full of music. But all that changes on Christmas Eve, when Clara receives a mysterious and magical nutcracker.

Whisked away to his world—an enchanted empire of beautiful palaces, fickle fairies, enormous rats, and a prince—Clara must face a magician who uses music as spells…and the future she thought she wanted.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review. Also apologies that this is a bit late

The Enchanted Sonata is a retelling of both The Nutcracker and The Pied Piper of Hamelin. While I don’t remember too much about The Nutcracker, it’s a story I always loved (most likely because of that one Barbie movie. I’m pretty sure I watched it over and over again. I also had the dolls. I LOVED it) so I was excited to read a retelling for it, especially since I don’t often see one? Despite it being a popular ballet? And then combined with The Pied Piper? Sign me up!

I have to admit I was a bit bored at times, especially because the story isn’t just told from Clara’s POV, but also other supporting/minor characters. At some point we even get the villain’s POV. This all just took away some of the surprise, plus I didn’t really care for the minor characters? I’d much rather follow Clara and the Nutcracker, who’s dynamic I loved. I’m weak for cute banter okay? Their romance definitely put a smile on my face.

As for the worldbuilding, I was a bit confused. It felt like the story relied too much on the reader knowing the original fairytale of The Nutcracker without explaining why there are giant rats attacking the kingdom? The rats are also kind of an afterthought, as the real villain is The Pied Piper. 

I was also disappointed in how they found out how to defeat The Pied Piper. Clara is whisked away to The Nutcracker’s world through a fairy book, which tells the story of The Nutcracker. Once she’s all caught up to the present, there’s nothing there for her to read anymore, as she’s now part of the story. But then the book updates, and literally tells her how she will defeat The Pied Piper. It felt so cheap and easy, whereas Clara figuring it out herself would’ve been so much more powerful, especially because in the beginning she’s very motivated by impressing the pianist Johann. Speaking of Johann, I do love how Clara realises that she barely even knows him and that she was more in love with the idea of him than with him.

That said, The Enchanted Sonata is a fun and cute retelling, that I definitely do recommend! I loved the atmosphere and the relationship between Clara and The Nutcracker. Maybe it was a bit insta-love-y (I don’t remember it that well) but in this case I didn’t mind.

Have you read The Enchanted Sonata? Do you know any YA retellings of The Nutcracker or The Pied Piper? What’s your favourite retelling? Let me know in the comments!

Mini Reviews // My Whole Truth and Hearts Unbroken

Hey look I’m alive barely I didn’t mean to disappear like that, but I’ve been really busy with doing both an internship and working at Ripley’s Believe it Or Not. I barely have any free time because of this, and during my free time I mostly,,, watch netflix and play video games I guess? I’ve been too exhausted to blog, that’s for sure. One day I’ll write a more detailed post about how I’ve been and what I’ve been up to, but I still don’t have the energy for that. The only reason I’m here now is because these books should’ve been reviewed at the start of the month woops

Author: Mischa Thrace
Genre: Contemporary // LGBTQIAP+ // YA
Rep: Fat sapphic MC, Japanese female love interest with two dads, f/f romance, black female lawyer
Goodreads rating: 4.03
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Seelie Stanton never wanted to kill someone. She never wanted to be invisible in her own family, never wanted to crush on her best friend Alyssa, and she definitely never wanted to know how effectively a mallet could destroy someone’s head.

But the universe doesn’t care what she wants. Shane Mayfield doesn’t care what Seelie wants either. When the former high school basketball star attacks her, she has no choice but to defend herself. She saved her own life, but she can’t bring herself to talk about what happened that night. Not all of it. Not even when she’s arrested for murder.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

Trigger warning: rape mentions

Oh where do I even start? My Whole Truth is heartbreaking, captivating and so so important. It perfectly captures sexism, rape culture and the corruption of the justice system. But despite the heavy topics, it wasn’t an entirely heavy read, mainly because Seelie has an amazing friend group. They aren’t perfect, neither is Seelie, but they’d go to hell and back for each other. They’re always there for her, no matter what. Even when some disagreements arise, they would never give up on each other.

My Whole Truth is definitely not for everyone, even though I didn’t find it very graphic, it’s still heavy. Knowing our society, it’s hard to stay positive while reading a story like Seelie’s. Just like her, I felt myself giving up hope so many times. But then there was Seelie’s lawyer, Cara, who’s smart, kickass and never wavers. She keeps believing in Sadie and never forces her to do anything she doesn’t want to do. She doesn’t know Seelie at the start of the book, but she’s ready to fight, just like her friends. In the end, she’s more like a friend or family than just a lawyer. Despite not having a great relationship with her mother, Seelie has found her family in her friends and Cara, which was beautiful to see.

Also the romance is adorable and I love it so much.

I honestly can’t say much more about My Whole Truth, except read it if you can handle it. I couldn’t possible do the book justice with a review, but I hope this mini review was enough to convince you.

Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Genre: Contemporary // YA
Rep: Own voices Native American (MC and family), Libanese male love interest, two minor sapphic characters who are in a relationship with each other (lesbian and bisexual)
Goodreads rating: 3.74
My rating: ⭐⭐

When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. From the newly formed Parents Against Revisionist Theater to anonymous threats, long-held prejudices are being laid bare and hostilities are spreading against teachers, parents, and students — especially the cast members at the center of the controversy, including Lou’s little brother, who’s playing the Tin Man. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey — but as she’s learned, “dating while Native” can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey’s?

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

This one had so much potential. I definitely do encourage everyone to try this one for yourself, as my biggest issue was the writing, which is something that is very subjective. The writing was very passive and just really missed emotion and tension. Some terrible stuff happens to the characters but I didn’t really feel anything while reading the book. Because of the writing it was really hard to connect to the characters and the story.

I also felt like this story still needed a lot of editing. Like Louise and Joey are making their way to the lockers and we get a description of their entire route which was very unnecessary. Or random notes like in this scene:

”Daniel can’t cover his own meets.” [about Daniel becoming the school paper’s sports reporter]
Alexis, the news reporter, had just returned from the restroom. ”I’ll take it. I have an older brother who wrestled. The coach loved him.”
(The first meet isn’t until December anyway.)

I mean??? It completely took me out of the story. It felt so unnatural and it’s not relevant at all?

Chapters often ended in a way that didn’t really make me want to keep reading, nor did they start that way. I mean this is literally how one of the chapters start: ”A freshly microwaved pillow radiated heat into my neck and shoulders as my feet soaked in a copper basin of warm, seasalted water and Legally blonde played on the overhead screens.’ Or another great start: ‘Joey ran with a story tip from Alexis on injuries at the skate park’.

The romance was incredibly forced. We’re literally told that Louise likes Joey, but?? The characters talk as if it’s so obvious but it really wasn’t. There wasn’t really any build up nor chemistry. Also I uhhh kept forgetting they were dating every time I picked the book up. And I read each day until I had finished it, so it wasn’t like that much time had passed.

The book does cover a lot about what it means to be Native American and racism. The plot itself is good, just the execution not so much. Again, I definitely encourage you to try this one for yourself.

How are all of you doing?? Have you read these books or are you planning to? Let me know in the comments!

Bonjour Girl // This Review is a Mess But It’s Okay Because So Is This Book

Author: Isabelle Laflèche
Genre: Contemporary // YA
Goodreads rating: 2.82
My rating: ⭐

 

 

 

When Clementine Liu arrives in New York City to study at the Parsons School of Design, she knows that she’s found her place. It isn’t long before she meets her fashionista soulmate, the loud and charismatic Jake, and Jonathan, a dreamy fashion photographer who turns her world upside down.

Between schoolwork and glitzy fashion shows, Clementine launches a blog, Bonjour Girl, and her wit, originality, and flair quickly catapult the site to cult status. Unfortunately, this comes with a price: Clementine is faced with online abuse and public humiliation. In the midst of all the drama, she finds out that a classmate is not what she seems, and Clementine has to find a way to save both her reputation and Jake’s fashion collection.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

Welp, this one was a disappointment. I was SO excited to see I got approved for Bonjour Girl because:

💛 LOOK AT THAT COVER! Cute AND rep? Yes please
💛 A biracial (half-Chinese!) protagonist??
💛 It’s all about diversity in fashion and making a change??
💛 It just sounded like a cute contemporary on top of all of that and I LOVE CUTE CONTEMPORARIES THAT ALSO DEAL WITH IMPORTANT TOPICS YES PLS THANK YOU

So yes excitement all around. My first red flag was this quote:

Fashion is my religion, fashion is my salvation, and fashion is the way I roll. I don’t do conventional fashion; I’m quirky and different, I have a funny-looking button nose and lots of freckles, and I go my own way.

seriously why does this have the same energy as ‘my name is ebony dark’ness dementia raven way and I have long ebony black hair (that’s how I got my name) with purple streaks and red tips that reaches my mid-back and icy blue eyes like limpid tears and a lot of people tell me I look like Amy Lee (AN: if u don’t know who she is get da hell out of here!). I’m not related to Gerard Way but I wish I was because he’s a major fucking hottie.’

I wish I could say that things went better from here on, but… Yeah.

First of, for a book about characters wishing to promote diversity in fashion it’s… not that diverse. While Clementine is half-Chinese and half-French, her Chinese heritage is barely brought up, whereas we’re constantly reminded that she’s half-French. Other than that there’s a supporting character who’s both fat and gay (and of course stereotypically flamboyant) and a disabled girl in a wheelchair. Maybe I’ve forgotten another minor supporting character, but that’s really it. Clementine is constantly preaching to the reader about diversity and why it matters, but yet the book itself doesn’t really live up to that?

Then there’s the writing itself. There’s so much telling instead of showing, that it got really annoying. There were also so many unrealistic plot elements?? Like how most students solely wear black except for Clementine like?? Yes, at a fashion school everyone dresses the same. There’s also the fact that the ‘bully’ throws a gum wrapper at Clementine. WHAT COLLEGE-KID WOULD DO THIS. know people in college can be mean, I’ve seen it myself, but this. And there isn’t even a reason for her to do this? She’s just a ‘mean girl’.

What also really bothered me is the random uses of French, especially when talking to other people, who don’t speak French. At some point she even says an entire phrase in French, and then repeats it in English. It would’ve been realistic if she had started in French, but then switched to English because she realised she was speaking the wrong language. Of course, I’m not French so I can’t say much about this, but like Clementine I studied abroad in a country where pretty much everyone spoke English, so this felt very unnatural to me. I’ve screwed up, trust me, but not like this!* Also while some of the French you can understand by context, not all of it? Like at some point someone texts her ‘bien joué’ (this person isn’t even French by the way sdbjgh) and like,,, I literally only know what this means because of Miraculous Ladybug sjbgh

* Once I was saying goodbye to my American friend and I wanted to say both ‘bye’ and ‘doei’ (Dutch for bye, you pronounce it kinda like do-wee) but said boei instead. This still haunts me. At some point she also thinks (and her mom later on says it to her) ‘kick some derrière’ can some French person pls tell me if this is truly something they would say (I may or may not be looking at you Marie) because all I could think of was me saying ‘kick some kont/billen’ and sdjsbhd no

There are plenty of small things I could point out that were just ridiculous* but there are A LOT. So let’s continue on to my biggest gripe after the lack of diversity: everything goes so smoothly for Clementine. Like apart from the bullying (which I can’t say much about because my ARC had a problem with showing the tweets?? Some were cut in the middle and some didn’t show up at all? So I had to figure out from context what was being said) which,,, was like one girl tweeting some kinda mean stuff about her, everything went right. She got into a prestigious school, gets to live in a great appartment with her aunt (which she doesn’t have to pay anything for), gets a scholarship to launch her blog, meets a ‘great guy’ (at least we’re told he is he barely has a personality and the romance is so forced), immediately gets a new bff, her first blog post immediately does well and so do all the others that follow, by her second post she gets an offer from a fashion brand to send her samples and by the end she even gets acknowledges by frickin’ Anna Wintour?? Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, reads her blog?? Not only is all of this super unrealistic, she doesn’t even really work that hard for it? And NOTHING goes wrong? Not for her anyway. The worst thing that happens in the book actually happens to Jake. Oh! I forgot! She even gets picked to study abroad in China (when suddenly the author remembers that her protagonist is supposed to be half-Chinese) like,,, why though.

* At some point Jake takes her to an ‘ice cream parlour for grown-ups’?? what is this. Is this a real thing. I am confusion America explain. Why can’t adults go to regular ice cream parlours what is going on at that ice cream parlour for grown-ups what do they do there that makes it ‘for grown-ups’ I have questions

So in conclusion: not that well-written, too much telling instead of showing, incredibly unrealistic to the point that it got ridiculous, for a book that supposed to be about promoting diversity it’s not that diverse and it’s just funny how it’s IMPOSSIBLE to forget that Clementine is half-French (like at some point towards the end she even SAYS ‘I’m half-French’ like yes honey we know couldn’t have missed it!!) but quite a few times I forgot she was supposed to be half-Chinese, and uhhh.. I don’t remember where I was going with this. This review is a mess. Though it did make me wonder why I rated this two stars? Did I even say anything positive. Okay so if you’re reading this and wondering ‘but Michelle your review says 1 star’ it’s because I changed it dsjfbh

Bonjour Girl is out now so uhhh, give it a try I guess*

* That sounds sarcastic but seriously if you wanted to read this, don’t let my review stop you! You might have a very different experience than I did

Have you read Bonjour Girl? What do you think? Any books similar to this you’d recommend? ALSO WHAT IS AN ICE CREAM PARLOUR FOR GROWN-UPS IS IT REAL WHAT DOES IT MEAN

Sadie // Heartbreaking, Intense But So So Important

Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: Contemporary // Mystery // YA
Goodreads rating: 4.42
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

Trigger warnings: hints of rape/child molestation, murder, mild violence

This book broke me. It’s gritty, real and oh so heartbreaking. I was thorn between not wanting to put it down and wanting to take a breather because oh my goodness.

Sadie is not a happy story, but it’s an important one. It’s not just the story of Sadie and Mattie, it’s the story of all the girls in the world who end up dead or missing simply because they’re girls. Throughout the entire book I just wanted to cry, because even though the story of Sadie and Mattie is fictional, it’s so so real.

Sadie is told through two perspectives: the first one being the podcast by West McCray, the second one by Sadie herself. McCray’s podcast takes place after Sadie’s story as he tries to figure out what happened. Even though we follow Sadie herself, we still don’t have all the puzzle pieces, so even though we sometimes know more than McCray does, it’s not much and you still find yourself wondering what happened. This way of storytelling kept me on my toes and immersed in the story.

But as I said before, it was also very hard to read. Sadie has gone through a lot of hardship, and the only thing that’s keeping her going after her sister’s murder is wanting to take down her sister’s killer. This isn’t just a revenge story, this is a story of a girl who wants to make sure no other kid has to go through what she did, of wanting to make sure that a monster is put away. She doesn’t even care what happens to herself, and that is so heartbreaking to read.

But most of all, she lives for her sister. She is overcome with guilt and grief and even though as a reader I’ve never met Mattie, it’s so easy to feel what she feels by the way it’s written. One of my favourite quotes to describe Sadie is from West McCray (this is NOT a spoiler. He speaks in the past tense because she’s missing):

‘If I’ve learned anything about Sadie Hunter, it was that she was almost a secondary player in her own life. She lived for Mattie, lived to love, care for and protect her little sister, with every breath.’

Even though a lot of the characters we only meet for a little while, some even only through McCray’s podcast, they all felt like real people to me which doesn’t happen that often with supporting and minor characters.

I honestly can’t do Sadie justice with my review or properly put my feelings towards this book into words. All I can do is tell you to read this important story (but do be careful if this material can be triggering for you).

Sadie is raw, real, heartbreaking and incredibly well-written. I couldn’t recommend it enough and I can’t wait to read more by Summers. I know Sadie will stay with me for a long time.

Sadie comes out on September 4th.

Have you read Sadie, or are you planning to? Do you know any similar books (YA please because I can’t handle adult books with these themes) that you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Summery Contemporary Mini Reviews // The Summer I Turned Pretty, Alex, Approximately and The Museum of Heartbreak

Last month I read a few summery contemporaries that were up for free on Riveted and since I can’t write full reviews for any of them why not review them all in one post?

Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Contemporary //  YA
Series: Summer #1
Goodreads rating: 3.95
My rating: ⭐⭐

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

To be honest if this hadn’t been free on Riveted I wouldn’t have picked it up. I love Jenny Han, but the blurb never appealed to me and it turns out my intuition was right. I’m honestly surprised that this is written by Jenny Han, because I absolutely love To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, but The Summer I Turned Pretty is nothing like that. Not much happens in this book, the characters are flat, Belly is whiny and annoying and the writing is just not that good? I know there are mixed feelings about this book out there, but personally I wouldn’t recommend anyone who hasn’t read TATBILB to read this, because it could seriously turn them off. There are more important topics discussed in this book, but it’s barely there and kind of felt like an after thought. I rated it two stars because it WAS a quick read. Don’t get me started on the romance though. I don’t see the appeal of one of the love interests at all and the endgame romance just didn’t feel built up to me? It didn’t come out of nowhere, but that’s mostly because it was predictable not because it was well written.

Author: Jenn Bennett
Genre: Contemporary //  YA
Goodreads rating: 4.01
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is a whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…

I ABSOLUTELY loved this one. I gave it four stars because I was missing something (not sure what? Sometimes that just happens) but oh my goodness I flew through it and it was so much better than I expected. It has some of my favourite tropes, including characters not realising who the other is, enemies to lovers, great banter and silly adventures. It’s adorable and fun, yet also meaningful as both Bailey and Porter have to deal with their own trauma. Bailey tends to avoid pretty much everything that’s difficult and that was SO relatable. I loved seeing this in a main character.

And the fact that she and Porter worked at this really weird museum? SOLD. What I didn’t know about this book before going in is that Porter is half-Hawaiian and Bailey’s new best friend (who’s amazing and I loved their friendship) is black. Bailey also has a great relationship with her dad so what more do you want??* Despite my four star rating this is definitely a new favourite. Maybe soon I’ll realise that this is more of a five star read? Who knows I change my ratings all the time lol #reliableblogger

* Honestly I should be asking myself this considering I gave this four stars but as I finished it that just felt right??

Author: Meg Leder
Genre: Contemporary //  YA
Goodreads rating: 3.7
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Welcome to the Museum of Heartbreak.

Well, actually, to Penelope Marx’s personal museum. The one she creates after coming face to face with the devastating, lonely-making butt-kicking phenomenon known as heartbreak.

Heartbreak comes in all forms: There’s Keats, the charmingly handsome new guy who couldn’t be more perfect for her. There’s possibly the worst person in the world, Cherisse, whose mission in life is to make Penelope miserable. There’s Penelope’s increasingly distant best friend Audrey. And then there’s Penelope’s other best friend, the equal-parts-infuriating-and-yet-somehow-amazing Eph, who has been all kinds of confusing lately.

But sometimes the biggest heartbreak of all is learning to let go of that wondrous time before you ever knew things could be broken.

My rating is probably more a 2.5 than three stars to be honest. I really loved the premise of this one. Each chapter starts with an item Penelope has curated in her museum of heartbreak: it comes with an illustration and a very short description (title, number of the item and how she’s gotten it, if I remember correctly). I love it when books have formatting like this, but the story itself… I wasn’t very impressed with. It had a lot of potential as Penelope gets into an unhealthy relationship, but the thing is it never really gets addressed how unhealthy and toxic it was? In the end she’s just like ‘I guess I never really liked him that much’ instead of addressing all the red flags that you should definitely avoid in a relationship. This could’ve been such a powerful story, but now I’m afraid it does a little bit more harm than good.

I was also really annoyed with the way Audrey treated Penelope. She wasn’t a bad friend per se, but her new friend Cherisse treated Penelope horribly and she never stood up for Penelope. Even after doing something really horrible to her at the end, Audrey is all ‘I want to be friends with you both I hope you understand’ and Penelope accepts that. In my eyes this just isn’t a healthy friendship and shows readers that you should just put up with everything

Other than that, it just felt a bit flat and underdeveloped to me and I honestly couldn’t tell you what really the point was? I did like the new friends Penelope made and it was a fun and cute read most of the time. If the book had addressed the toxic relationships in Penelope’s life it would’ve already been a lot better.

Phew, I’m glad I got those out of the way. I’m surprised at how long my review for The Museum of Heartbreak turned out because I really thought I had forgotten most of it lmao

Also I love how I reviewed books I read in July before pretty much all the ones I read in June adsgjh (help me)

Have you read any of these? What did you think? What’s your favourite summer read? Let me know in the comments!

Fawkes // Bored and Confused??

Author: Nadine Brandes
Genre: Fantasy // Historical // Retelling //  YA
Goodreads rating: 3.84
My rating: ⭐

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

I’ve started to make aesthetics for my reviews but I had no clue what to include for this one? Masks? London? I don’t know because barely anything happened.

I really don’t have that much to say about this book. I was honestly very bored and started to skimread early on, because I just wanted it to be over with. Just being bored with it just didn’t feel like a good reason to DNF it, considering it’s an ARC but oh my god if it hadn’t been.

I wasn’t impressed with the writing style at all, or with Thomas, as he’s very dull and whiny. There are quite a few characters in this book, but barely any of them stood out. By the end of it I had no idea who was who, nor did I care what happened to them. I was just very disattached from everything that was happening.

Also I have NO clue how the ‘magic’ works. They can control colours?? But I have no idea what that means or how it works? Nor do I know much about the world? It did help knowing a lil bit of the actual history, as the entire book is basically a religious allegory. Basically this war is between Catholics and Protestants, but in the world of Fawkes it’s not very clear WHY there’s a war. Just basing this on real history isn’t enough, I mean I had no clue who Guy Fawkes was so I had to look that up. Your readers shouldn’t do your work for you.

And uggggh you’d think a plot to kill the king would be exciting to read about, but they mostly just talked and talked and talked and

Basically I was bored and confused throughout most of this book. The only interesting character was the girl Thomas is in love with. I forgot her name. Does make you wonder how interesting she really was dsfjb No she really was, but since it’s told from Thomas’ pov and the writing was just so dull it made her less interesting as well. What I’m saying is, she had potential and I much rather would’ve read from her pov. Being black and a girl, she has to hide her skin colour because of the abusive family that has taken her in, but she’s determined to make a life for herself as an artist and fights back against racism. MUCH more interesting than whiny Thomas.

Fawkes is out today! Don’t let my negative review stop you from picking this up if it sounds like your cup of tea. This one just wasn’t for me, but maybe you’ll fall in love with it!

Have you read Fawkes? Or are you planning on it? What’s the last retelling you read? Let me know in the comments!