Flight Season Review // A Beautiful Story About Grief, Moving On, Friendship and America’s Immigration System

Author: Marie Marquardt
Genre: Contemporary | YA
Goodreads rating: 4.29
My rating: 4.5 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back when they were still strangers, TJ Carvalho witnessed the only moment in Vivi Flannigan’s life when she lost control entirely. Now, TJ can’t seem to erase that moment from his mind, no matter how hard he tries. Vivi doesn’t remember any of it, but she’s determined to leave it far behind. And she will.

But when Vivi returns home from her first year away at college, her big plans and TJ’s ambition to become a nurse land them both on the heart ward of a university hospital, facing them with a long and painful summer together – three months of glorified babysitting for Ángel, the problem patient on the hall. Sure, Ángel may be suffering from a life-threatening heart infection, but that doesn’t make him any less of a pain.

As it turns out, though, Ángel Solís has a thing or two to teach them about all those big plans, and the incredible moments when love gets in their way.Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

Flight Season is a beautiful book about grief and how to keep living despite of it. It’s a story about moving on, finding your purpose in life and about friendship. But it’s also a story about the immigration system in America.

I don’t even know how to put my feelings towards this book into words. It touched me in so many different ways that I didn’t even expect it to. I don’t think I can write a coherent review, so let’s go with a list!

What I liked

💛 Vivi is a lil bird loving nerd and I loved it. She gets so excited about birds it’s adorable

💛 Birds play a huge role in the book – it’s not just that Vivi loves them, it’s that they come to her whenever it gets tough and they help her make decisions

💛 The romance is built up slowly, well developed, healthy and doesn’t take over the entire plot. TJ just wants to be there for her and understands when she needs some space. You know how they say a good romantic relationship is built upon friendship? That’s the relationship between Vivi and TJ

💛 The most important relationship in the book is the friendship between Vivi, TJ and Ángel and boy did it make me cry. These three love each other so much. They’d go to hell for each other without even thinking twice

💛 The fact that Vivi and Ángel just get each other and have this unspoken bond without any romantic feelings

💛 The friendship between TJ and Ángel was adorable and just a great friendship to see between two boys. They joke around and tease each other, and they just genuinely care

💛 The way Vivi’s grief is written is very relatable and beautiful. When we first meet her she isn’t in a good place. She’s flunking school and desperately trying to be able to get back to Yale after the Summer. She has panic attacks and feels like she’s incapable of caring for herself. In her own words: she’s like a common pigeon. But throughout the book she comes to terms with her father’s death, starts to think about what she really wants in life, takes care of her mother and is so important to Ángel – she’s so much more than a common pigeon.

💛 It puts a spotlight on how ridiculous America’s immigration system is

💛 And points out that the ICU at the hospital where TJ works and Vivi interns would be empty without immigrants or their children

unrelated to this review but like this gif? it’s from One Day at a Time pls watch it netflix might cancel this show even though it’s super important and critics love it??? @ netflix what u doing

💛 Bird facts!!

💛 Ángel is a lil cutie pie who breaks the fourth wall on several occasions without it feeling weird. Plus he’s super smart as he easily picks up languages. This poor boy has gone through so much yet he continues to be a cinnamon roll. I just want to hug him

💛 I also loved how much Vivi’s mom was in it and how we got to see her deal with her grief

💛 TJ’s cousins! They were such a fun bunch who didn’t judge Vivi – they just took her in and treated her as one of their own

💛 It also touches upon how Vivi has focused so much on her studies, that she’s never had a job before and just doesn’t know much about adult life, something I don’t see a lot in YA. I think this was the first time? Since I relate to this a lot (I too got my first job at nineteen because I was putting all my time and energy into my studies) I think I’d remember if I had read it before, but I also have terrible memory so who knows

Basically I have A LOT of feelings

What I didn’t like

💛 Sometimes there was a little too much telling. Not instead of showing, because we’re also shown these things, but especially because of that it feels like the telling was unnecessary. This is the only thing I didn’t like about the book and why I have rated it 4.5 stars. Despite that the writing was beautiful and made me cry multiple times

Again, I just can’t put my feelings towards this book into words and it annoys me so much. I can easily write a ranty review on why you SHOULDN’T read a certain book (*cough* Snowsisters *cough*) But when I love a book and want EVERYONE to read it?? I just?? michelle.exe stopped working

Flight Season is out TODAY! So what are you waiting for? Pick up this beautiful book

Have you read Flight Season, or do you want to? Any similar books you’d recommend? How do you feel about birds? Let me know in the comments!

Snowsisters Review // Transphobia, Sexualities Are Not Plot Twists and Bi-Erasure

Authors: Tom Wilinsky and Jen Sternick
Genre: Contemporary | LGBTQ+ | YA
Goodreads rating: 2.92
My rating: ⭐

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High school students—Soph, who attends private school in Manhattan, and Tess, a public school student who lives on a dairy farm in New Hampshire—are thrown together as roommates at a week-long writing conference. As they get to know each other and the other young women, both Soph and Tess discover unexpected truths and about friendship, their craft, and how to hold fast to their convictions while opening their hearts to love.Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

The biggest problem I had with this book is the way the trans character was written and treated.  Since I am cis I can’t speak on behalf of the trans community, but I do want to share my concerns. I couldn’t find any own voices reviews, but if you know of one or have written one please let me know so I can link to it!

Now, in the beginning of the book we get a warning that the two main characters are ‘unreliable narrators’ and there’s a link where you can find trigger warnings for the book (which I do applaud!) but… That’s honestly not good enough.

I’m going into details of how Orly was treated, so if that’s triggering for you, you might want to stop reading.

At the writing program, Soph and Tess meet a girl named Orly, who we soon learn from Orly’s roommate Chris is trans. You know how we learn this? Because Chris tells Tess that Orly is a guy. Chris constantly misgenders Orly and says she ‘feels unsafe’, but in actuality she’s trying to ‘get a story’ out of it to sell (she wants to be a journalist), bullies her and tries to get all the girls at the program to be against her. There’s a horrible transphobic ‘prank’ played by her and a lot more nastiness, but in the end, Chris is kind of forgiven. I’m not saying that the authors condoned this kind of behaviour, but they didn’t do enough to condemn it either. In a lot of ways it even felt like the authors were trying to get us to sympathise with Chris, by showing her crying, letting her tell ‘her side of the story’, Tess continously trying to be nice to her and trying to be her friend and she even says ‘All I was trying to do was understand both sides and not leave anyone out’ CHRIS IS A TRANSPHOBE THERE’S NOTHING TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT THAT AND HELL YEAH YOU LEAVE HER OUT 

Not to mention, Orly and how she was treated by the other girls felt like it was just there for the development of Soph and Tess, two cis characters. When the novel starts, Tess tells us she has an interview to get into a certain school, in which she has to describe a recent incident where she took the lead. Guess what incident she’s takes the lead in!!

Meanwhile when we meet Soph she tells us that her mom doesn’t get that ‘it’s completely safe for her to be out’ and ‘it’s not the 1950s. For about 90% of the novel Soph is constantly pressuring people to come out of the closet and preaching that ‘it’s better for everyone to come out’. I get that this was to emphasise that she’s from a big city or whatever, but I’m Amsterdam which is supposed to be a very LGBTQ+ friendly city and I don’t tell everyone that I’m bi?? Because I don’t know if that’s safe?? I also just don’t understand how someone can be this naive. Soph is from New York – are you seriously saying that she’s never experienced or saw someone else experience any form of homophobia? Even when Tess tells her it’s not easy for her to come out, that her friend was beaten up by his father, Soph still doesn’t get it and even says ‘You know it’s better to come out, Tess. Everyone is safer if we all come out and find each other. Don’t you want to live without having to keep that secret?’ She doesn’t think of Orly’s situation when she finally realises that coming out isn’t the same for everyone, but it did feel like Orly was being used for this purpose.

Orly plays a big part in this story and so does the transphobia, but the story is never told from her perspective, just the two cis main characters who are basically her cis ‘saviours’ and that just felt wrong to me, especially since all of this was used just to further Tess and Soph’s stories and development.

Another thing that really pissed me off, is the fact that Tess’ sexuality was basically used as a plot twist. Like I said, we are told Tess and Soph are unreliable narrators. I don’t know in which way Soph is an unreliable narrator, but Tess is one because throughout the entire book she keeps the fact that she’s gay and that she’s in a fake relationship with Joey to protect him from his homophobic dad from the readers. It made it feel like Tess’ sexuality was a big plot twist, especially the way it was revealed, which just left a vile taste in my mouth. There was no reason to keep this from the readers. The romance would’ve been relatively the same except build up better because now it seemed to come out of nowhere.

There’s also bi-erasure as Soph immediately assumes a girl is straight when she talks about her boyfriend. Other sexualities than gay and straight exist.

This book is just such a mess and I doubt the finished book will be much different, considering how big the transphobic arc is (which you don’t even get from the blurb, which is really insensitive considering how triggering all of this can be). I really wanted to like this book, as it takes place at a writing program and has sapphic girls falling in love. I thought it would be like Fangirl (Tess writes fan fic and excerpts of that fan fic are shared) but gay, but instead I got this mess.

NOTE: I may have forgotten to mention a few things as I’ve marked A LOT of things (mostly problematic stuff, a few just… bad writing which I didn’t even touch upon because that just feels insignificant in the light of the problematic aspects), but these are my biggest problems with this book.What do you think of all of this? I’m too angry to even form questions abghs Please share recommendations of good books with good rep about sapphic writers falling in love I need it

The Wren Hunt Review // WHERE IS THE HUNT

Author: Mary Watson
Genre: Fantasy | YA
Goodreads rating: 3.95
My rating: 2.5 stars

 

 

 

Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

I was really excited to see that I was approved for The Wren Hunt, as the premise (the summary on Netgalley was different than the one on Goodreads btw) really intrigued me. I thought The Wren Hunt, where Wren is chased through the woods, would play a bigger part than it did and that there would be a lot more tension, deceit, suspense, plot twists and just… overal a feeling of ‘hey we’re at the edge of a war things are really bad right now!’ but instead… I didn’t get any of that.

The Wren Hunt has a lot of potential: the worldbuilding, the mythology behind it and the magic system is all really interesting, but it kind of felt like all of that was in the background and not fully explored. The Augurs all have a specific talent, but I don’t really know how it works? I do assume that the magic of the Judges will be explored more in the sequel* as we’re not supposed to know that much about them, but… I just don’t really have a sense of what it means to be an Augur.

* I can’t find anything about a sequel but if this is supposed to be a standalone than I should really lower my rating because it read like a first book in a series and there’s so much that still needs to be explored, and that’s fine to do so in sequels, but if this is a standalone??

Also there’s a group of Judges called ‘Gardeners’ and they’re all boys??

It was also kinda easy for me to forget what certain terms meant and I had to go look them up again. There are plot twists that could’ve been interesting, but I already saw them coming and honestly, they’re even giving some of the stuff away in the new summary now?

Another thing I’m not impressed with is the romance. It was completely unnecessary, forced and just,, such forced heterosexuality? It just screamed ‘she’s a girl, he’s a boy, so they must kiss’ at me. It’s kinda insta-lovey and we don’t really see the romance build up. And of course we get a cliche ‘wow we’ve only known each other for two months!! how!!’ yeah how!!

Me every time books reveal that the main characters who have declared their undying love for each other have only known each other for a few weeks:

Also at the start we’re told Wren has to find something to help in the fight against the Judges, but when she does find it, it’s incredibly anti-climatic? It’s not like it’s the end of the book, so I get that there’s more to come, but it was so easy. Which it really shouldn’t be. She’s in enemies territory, but she just opens a box and

As I’m writing this review, I realise a lot actually went pretty smoothily for Wren. Sure, sometimes things went wrong but,, it was way too easy which is just unrealistic and boring

It was not all bad though. There’s definitely potential: the book caught my attention in the beginning and Mary Watson can write, despite sometimes phrasing sentences like this:

David immobile at the garden door, uncertain. Trapped

This may be a case of taste, but I really couldn’t stand sentences like this. Then again, I read an ARC, so maybe these have been edited. Sometimes there were also strange transitions which I really hope were also edited, as they really confused me, like a person showing up out of nowhere without any indication:

He returned the paper to the stack, and we walked out of the shop. A dark mood had settled on him.
‘Gallagher,’ said a voice from beneath the awning.
‘What the hell happened last night, Canty?’ Tarc’s fury was unexpected.

That’s what I’d like to know Tarc

But apart from these instances (which, again, may have been edited for the final copy!) Watson has a nice writing style to read. The plot has potential to be something really interesting, just needs more developing and either the romance needs to be developed more, or taken out completely (honestly I’m in favour of the latter as I didn’t find it interesting at all and just,, so typical). While I felt it was predictable, I did want to keep reading most of the time, I just wish things had felt more urgent and tense. Most of the time it didn’t really feel like she was in enemy territory

So to sum it up: potential is there, just needs to be developed more as that was my biggest problem. I don’t think I’d be on board with the romance if it were developed more, but at least it would be more realistic and nicer to read. The problem is that by the end it does feel like it was all more about the romance than anything else, which just feels so weird when it’s barely developed.

The Wren Hunt is published on the 8th of February! Don’t let my review stop you from picking it up, as things might have changed in the final copy and it’s also possible that this is just a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’.

Have you read The Wren Hunt? Are you going to pick it up? Any good YA that incorporates Irish mythology that I should read? Let me know in the comments!

None of the Above // An Important Read, But A Bit Lacking

Author: I.W. Gregorio
Genre: Contemporary | LGBT+ | YA
Goodreads rating: 3.89
My rating:  ⭐⭐⭐


When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?A really important read, but in some ways I found it a bit lacking. It’s clear that the author has done a lot of research and knows what she’s talking about. Kristen is well developed and her coming to terms with being intersex was well explored, but when I only had a few pages left I was wondering – is this it? It might be that I had different expectations, but for me the story was far from over. Of course Kristen’s story is never finished, and I’m okay with the fact that her story doesn’t have a definite end – but I just wish that some things had been explored a bit further, like the support group for intersex women and I wished Kristen had come to the realisation that her ex-boyfriend is a jerk and that he’s not the victim. At some point she thinks to herself that she doesn’t deserve him, that he deserves love – no girl, he doesn’t deserve you.

I also found it a shame that the supporting characters and their relationships with Kristen were quite underdeveloped. While reading I had no trouble remembering them, but I know that after a while I will have forgotten them.

While I’m glad the romance took a backseat, it may have taken a bit too much of a backseat*, as I felt like the love interest didn’t show up enough times and his relationship with Kristen wasn’t that well developed. When I got towards the end I was wondering how they were still going to end up together** as there just hadn’t been enough scenes between them for me. That said, the love interest is a sweetheart and I do approve.

* I can’t believe I’m complaining about this since I usually complain when a romance takes over the story lmao
** Them ending up together was obvious

All in all, I flew through this book and I’d definitely recommend it.

Have you read None of the Above? What did you think? Any other YA books with intersex characters that I should check out? Let me know in the comments!

Dreams Beyond the Shore // Help I Can’t Come Up With A Title For This Review

Author: Tamika Gibson
Genre: Contemporary | YA
Goodreads rating: 3.71
My rating:  ⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Chelsea Marchand was pretty satisfied with her life. Until recently. Willing to play the dutiful daughter as her father’s bid to become Prime Minister of their island home brings her family into intense public scrutiny, Chelsea is swept along by the strong tidal wave of politics and becomes increasingly disturbed by her father’s duplicity. She finds a reprieve when she meets Kyron, a kindred spirit encased in low riding blue jeans. The two share a bond as he too struggles to get beyond his father’s shadow.

But when Chelsea discovers an even darker more sinister side to her father’s world, a discovery that makes her question the man he is and the woman she wants to be, she must decide how much of her own dreams she is willing to compromise to make her father’s come true. But can she find the strength to stand up to her father and chart her own journey?Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Dreams Beyond the Shore had a lot of potential, but unfortunately it left a lot of plot points unexplored. The second part of the above summary promises political intrigue and a horrible discovery to be a big part of the plot. Yet when this reveal finally comes into play, it’s more like an afterthought.

The problem with Dreams Beyond the Shore is that it focused a lot on the romance between Chelsea and Kyron, instead of everything both of them are going through and the political intrigue that is promised. While a bit insta-lovey to me, it wasn’t rushed and it was handled realistically. When Kyron makes a pretty big mistake, it isn’t glossed over and he realises himself how wrong it was. So it’s not that it was a bad romance, I just wish all the other topics like politics, having demanding parents, parents using you for your own gain, standing up for yourself and finding your own path – had been explored more.

Once I got to the ending, the story didn’t feel over because of this. I was left with a lot of questions. It felt like the plot points were introduced only to be forgotten.

That said, it was really interesting to see a YA book set in Trinidad and Tobago, read about their culture and a bit about their politics. It’s not badly written at all either. There is a lot of slang, which was a bit hard to get through in the beginning, but soon I got used to it and I flew through the book.

In the end, it was an interesting read but just a bit underdeveloped. A lot of plot points felt barely touched upon to me, the characters themselves needed more development and we needed to see them more (like Chelsea’s grandmother who was an absolute gem) – I didn’t feel attached to these characters at all and didn’t really care what happened to them.

Have you read Dreams Beyond the Shore? What did you think? Have you read a YA book set in Trinidad and Tobago, or another place that’s rarely used as a setting in YA? Let me know in the comments!

Mini Reviews // How Much Do I Remember About Flame in the Mist and Marked?

Lately I’ve been able to review books quite quickly after I finish them, but there are some books that I just… forgot about. Thus why I decided to put them together in a post with mini reviews, because I don’t remember enough for full reviews. This shall be fun*

* Haha not help me please

Author: Renee Ahdieh
Genre: Fantasy | Retelling | YA
Series: Flame in the Mist #1
Goodreads rating: 3.97
My rating:  ★★★

 

 

 

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really enjoy it either. The writing didn’t really pull me in and made me feel quite detached from the characters. I didn’t care about any of them which made the action scenes feel lacking. I was also really bored and had to force myself to finish it, because despite being bored I did want to know how it would end.

The worldbuilding didn’t feel that developed to me. I didn’t really have a sense of the world that it was set in and I’m really confused about the magic system. I wished that had been explored and explained more.

And don’t get me started on the romance. I found it incredibly forced and it came out of nowhere. I also loathed the love interest so that didn’t help.

I absolutely love the concept – we need more Mulan retellings guys – but the execution not so much.

Author: Kim Richardson
Genre: Fantasy | YA
Series: Soul Guardians #1
Goodreads rating: 3.7
My rating: ★

 

 

 

 

Sixteen-year-old Kara Nightingale is unpopular, awkward and positively ordinary—that is until one day she is struck by a bus and dies…Within moments her life changes from ordinary to extraordinary as she wakes up in a mysterious world with a new career—as a rookie for the Guardian Angel Legion. Kara is pulled into the supernatural where monkeys drive the elevators, oracles scurry above giant crystal balls and where demons feed on the souls of mortals.

When an Elemental child is kidnapped, Kara is sent on a danger-filled quest and plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything she could ever imagine.Marked was not what I expected at all. There was a lot more focus on unnecessary relationship drama than on what it means to be a Guardian Angel, their world, the Elemental child and Kara coming to terms with being dead.

I have no idea why Kara was chosen to become a Guardian Angel, as we don’t know anything about her and the moment we’re introduced to her is the moment right before she dies. Then she even gets a ‘life-quest’, which is a special assignment and if you succeed you get your life back. But Kara is still a rookie, and not a succesful one. So why does she get it? Aren’t there Guardian Angels who would deserve it more? I found this really ridiculous, especially when it’s explained that ‘each guardian was chosen for their specific skills’ okay but what skills does Kara have.

SPOILER: It’s a really dangerous mission and out of all the Guardians chosen to try and succeed, all of them very skilled and with a lot of experience, she’s the only survivor lmao like sure that’s realistic

The characters were incredibly flat and the love interest downright annoying. I barely ever use the word ‘douchebag’ but this is the right word to describe him. His ego is not charming and funny, just rude. The romance came out of nowhere and we’re supposed to believe ‘they’re in love’

The Elemental child the summary mentions just felt like an afterthought and the entire book just read like a first draft. I have another book by this author on my Kindle app and I’m willing to give her another chance, but considering how much I hated the main characters of Guardian Angels I’m done with that series.

So I guess the common factor between these books is forced romance? I hadn’t even realised when I decided to review these together haha. I’m quite pleased with myself at how much I remembered* – I thought this would’ve been a disaster and I might end up deleting this post

* That’s half a lie – I didn’t remember anything about Marked but thankfully I had made notes in the ebookHave you read these? What did you think? How do you feel about forced romance? Do you know any good Mulan retellings? Let me know in the comments!

Take Me With You // Beautiful LGBT+ Poetry That Broke Me Hi I’m A Mess

Author: Andrea Gibson
Genre: Poetry | LGBT+
Goodreads rating: 3.38
My rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea Gibson explores themes of love, gender, politics, sexuality, family, and forgiveness with stunning imagery and a fierce willingness to delve into the exploration of what it means to heal and to be different in this strange age. Take Me With You, illustrated throughout with evocative line drawings by Sarah J. Coleman, is small enough to fit in your bag, with messages that are big enough to wake even the sleepiest heart. Divided into three sections (love, the world, and becoming) of one liners, couplets, greatest hits phrases, and longer form poems, it has something for everyone, and will be placed in stockings, lockers, and the hands of anyone who could use its wisdom.Disclaimer: I received arc of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, this means that the author may have made changes in the final print and some of the quotes used in this review may have been changed

Me during and after this book

This book was absolutely beautiful and it’s so hard to put my thoughts and feelings into words. First, let’s talk about the formatting though, because that confused me a bit at first and looking at some Goodreads reviews, I wasn’t the only one.

This book, as I understood it, consists of three poems. Not multiple short ones, but three long poems. You can distinguish them because they’re numbered and by their names: On Love, On The World and On Becoming, but I can see why some people on Goodreads are confused and thought there are multiple short poems, because I did at first too.

Another important thing to know going in this book, is that Andrea Gibson is at the forefront of the spoken word movement. Before I knew that, I thought the poems read like spoken word poetry. Knowing that Gibson is a spoken word poet, I think this was deliberate. Some reviewers on Goodreads criticised the use of all caps, but I read that as Gibson raising their voice, like they do in spoken word poetry.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about the book in more detail. I absolutely love spoken word poetry. I’m not an expert on poetry, but it’s probably my favourite form. Thus, Take Me With You was right up my alley, especially since it’s LGBTQ+ poetry.

I found Take Me With You absolutely beautiful, heartbreaking, powerful… I’m starting to feel like Lady Gaga here

But seriously, I am in awe and in love with this book. I have no words. Once I finished it, I immediately reread it again and cried my eyes out a little bit more. I’ve marked pretty much the entire book on my kindle app and I need a physical copy to hold close and take with me* asap.

* Ha see what I did there

There were so many powerful quotes, but I also loved how easily Gibson switched between serious or beautiful and funny

I find great comfort in believing anyone who has ever broken up with me has probably never gotten over my dog.

I cannot for the life of my choose one favourite quote, as there are so many. I laughed, smiled and cried (hard) at this amazing book. Some of the sentences in her poems are pure and wholesome, and like I said funny, others? Broke my heart completely and left me a mess.

When the first responders entered the Pulse nightclub after the massacre in Orlando,
they walked through the horrible scene of bodies and called out, ”If you’re alive, raise your hand.” I was sleeping in a hotel in the midwest at the time but I imagine in that exact moment my hand twitched in my sleep – some unconscious part of me aware that I had a pulse,
that I was alive

Again, I have no words to describe how I feel about this book, what it meant reading it and how much I love it. I highly recommend picking this one up when it comes out 23 January.Have you read Take Me With You, or are you planning to? What’s your favourite poetry book, or who’s your favourite poet? Do you like spoken word poetry? Let me know in the comments!

Vengeance Road // Lots of Potential, But I Was Bored

Author: Erin Bowman
Genre: Western | Historical | YA
Series: Vengeance Road #1 (though it seems to be a series of standalones?)
Goodreads rating: 3.88
My rating:  ⭐⭐⭐

 

 

Revenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.I have some mixed feelings about this one. There were definitely things I liked about this one, but it wasn’t enough to make me fall in love. So let’s break this down in two nice lists of things I liked and disliked!

What I liked

💛 The overal plot! I really liked the idea of Kate wanting to avenge her father and travelling through the Wild West
💛 Kate!! She’s such a delight. I love how she’s allowed to be morally complicated, that she doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger and get her hands dirty, but that she still feels remorse. She’s kick-ass and goes through some great character development
💛 I also really loved Lilye, the Apache girl Kate met along the way
💛 The brothers Jess and Will have a fun relationship to read about and it’s nice to see them bond with Kate
💛 The romance was cute, but it didn’t really leave a mark on me? I’m pretty sure I’ll forget about them soon. Still, considering how many unhealthy relationships there are out there in YA I appreciate this one
💛 The actions scenes were really intense. When shit was going down, it was really going down. It was hard to put the book down during these scenes and they were vividly described

What I didn’t like

💛 I was bored quite a bit, which is the reason behind my mixed feelings. As you can see above I liked quite a few things about this one, but I was bored a little bit too often for me to rate this higer than three stars. The action scenes were really well written like I mentioned before, but the scenes in-between weren’t always that interesting to read
💛 Despite liking the characters, afterwards I still felt like I didn’t really get to know the characters that well. That may also be why I wasn’t really feeling the romantic relationshipHave you read Vengeance Road? What did you think of it? Any YA Wild West books you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Paintbrush // It’s 2017 Let’s Stop Shaming Girls in YA

Author: Hannah Bucchin
Genre: Contemporary| YA
Goodreads rating: 4.14
My rating:  ⭐

 

Mitchell Morrison and Josie Sedgwick have spent their whole lives at the Indian Paintbrush Community Village, a commune full of colorful characters tucked in the mountains of North Carolina, and they aren’t particularly close–at least, not anymore. Josie wishes she could spend all of her time at Paintbrush planting tomatoes, hiking the trails, or throwing giant communal birthday parties, while Mitchell can’t wait to escape the bizarre spiritual sharing and noisy community dinners. Luckily for both of them, high school graduation is just around the corner.

But when Mitchell’s mother makes a scandalous announcement that rocks the close-knit Paintbrush community, and Josie’s younger sister starts to make some dangerously bad decisions, the two find themselves leaning on each other for support – and looking at each other in a whole new light. Their childhood friendship blossoms in to something more as they deal with their insane families, but as graduation approaches, so does life in the real world, forcing Josie and Mitchell to figure out what, exactly, their relationship is – and if it can survive their very different plans for the future.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I have a lot of thoughts about this one, so I’ve decided to go with a list review. Usually this means dividing things into two lists: things I liked and things I disliked but… There wasn’t much I liked and I feel like if I were to split my thoughts up things could get a bit confusing. This has gotten pretty long, and I’m sorry for that, but I have a lot to say and considering this has a lot of positive reviews on Goodreads, I find it important to get everything out. So here we go!

💛 Initially I thought the friendship between Josie and Mitchell was cute (like I loved that they traded books!) and that it would be a cute relationship. But, it wasn’t. I know they’ve known each other since forever and have been friends all this time, but it still felt insta-lovey to me, since both of them were suddenly in love with the other?

💛 My biggest problem was that I didn’t like Mitchell at all.Josie wasn’t very interesting either, but I just felt neutral about her.Mitchel though? Both of them are at a party (though they didn’t go there together) when this happens:

When I turn around again, I see Josie and Cord face to face. Literally. Their faces are touching. My face goes hot. They don’t evenk now each other. Josie must be wasted.

Then it switches to Josie’s POV, and it turns out Josie has had like one tiny sip of alcohol. Cord, Mitchell’s best friend, is wasted, and puts his forehead to her forehead, telling her that they need to keep an eye on Mitchell, because he’s having a rough time at home. Then Mitchell shows up:

I lean back a little to consider this, when I feel a hand on my arm. I look up to see Mitchell. And he does not look happy. ”Come on. We’re leaving.”

💛So he just decides that Josie has to leave the party?? Look, it’s great that he wanted to take his very, very drunk friend (Cord) home. But it’s pretty obvious that Josie wasn’t drunk. It was just his jealousy talking and,, ugh.

💛 Rightfully Josie gets pissed too when she realises that there’s no emergency or just a solid reason for why they had to leave. Honestly I’m a little disappointed that she just didn’t ask why they had to go while they were still at the party, but I guess since they’d known each other since they were five she trusted him.

💛 Anyway,she wants to know why he told her they had to leave. And here it comes!!!”It was just… too much,” I (Mitchell) say softly. ‘’I didn’t want to see you there, like that. Partying and drinking and whatever. That’s what other people do. Stupid high schoolers who don’t know anything about real life. But you’re Josie. You’re different.” Then Josie says that maybe she isn’t. But Mitchell insists that she is.

💛 First of all, you don’t get to decide what kind of person Josie is, and whether she should party and drink. He’s basically telling her ‘you’re not like other girls!!’ and he’s upset that she didn’t live up to his ideal of her at the party. Second, you don’t get to tell her that she’s wrong about herself, implying that you know her better?

💛 He even ditches her in the middle of a public dance, without explaining it, because he hates the thought of his mom (who he’s fighting with) thinking that she had anything to do with him and Josie getting together?? And then afterwards he just knocks on her window and he just grins at her like nothing happened? He doesn’t explain nor even apologise for what he did, and Josie just lets it go?

💛Both Josie and Mitchell had great best friends who were far more interesting than both of them. I also wish these friendships had played a bigger part. Leah stood up for Josie without even blinking, even if she had to stand up to Josie herself when Josie is feeling insecure. Leah just loudly yells ‘unacceptable!’ in the middle of the cafeteria and tells her how great she is. My favourite part:

As I walk past her on my way to the trashcan, she reaches out and smacks my butt.
”Leah!” I glare at her over my shoulder.
”I wouldn’t have to do stuff like that if you would just admit that you’re sexy,” she calls.
I shake my head and keep walking.
”I hate to see you go, but I love to watch you leave,” she calls again, even louder.

💛 Seriously why couldn’t this book be about Leah. Or Cord. Seriously I loved Leah and Cord and they were so much more interesting than Josie and Mitchell what the hell.

💛 ”The fact that Cord’s dogs are named after one of the three stooges, an animated Disney baboon, and the star of The Sound of Music is pretty bizarre but also totally fitting for Cord. He lives in the giant mansion but dresses like he’s homeless – homeless chic, he tells me – drives a fancy sports car but volunteers as a big broher at the local elementary school, loves old musicals, smokes more weed than anyone I know, obsessively reads classic novels and comic books, and knits.”

💛 And Mitchell?? I dunno he hates Paintbrush?? He’s done with high school? He’s in love with Josie all of a sudden? He’s upset with his mom right now?? Oh and he’s a Golden Boy™ and Perfect Student™ with no flaws!

💛 But I did appreciate their friendship. Like serioulsy when Mitchell just shows up at his doorstep late at night he doesn’t ask questions and just gives him a glass of water and extra blankets.

💛 Why wasn’t this book about Leah and or Cord why did it have to be about such stale characters

💛 Josie constantly looks down on and shames other girls. She notices a girl who’s flirting with Mitchell is eating an apple: ”Of course she’s eating an apple – just an apple – for lunch.” First of all! You don’t know if that’s all she’s eating!! Second of all! So what if she is!! Don’t shame her!!

💛 She also loves to shame her sister, Libby, for what she’s wearing. ”I don’t really care how old she is. No one should feel the need to wear clothing that tight. Or the need to wake up a full two hours before school just to curl her hair.’ ‘It’s 2017 I’m tired please stop shaming girls

💛 But it gets better!! At some point she starts to describe her other sister, Mae, Libby’s twin. ‘Mae’s hair is thrown into a messy ponytail and tied back with a red bandana. She’s wearing black leggings and an oversized white t-shirt that reads Eat Local in big black letters. There are cake crumbs all down the front of this shirt, and for some reason this makes me want to lean over and hug her as hard as I can. She looks like she’s a normal fourteen-year-old girl. Libby, with her bright-red lipstick and strategically tousled hair, looks like a vampire who’s trying to be sexy.” STOP SHAMING YOUR SISTER. STOP PITTING HER AGAINST YOUR OTHER SISTER.

💛 There is a of course a mean girl who doesn’t add anything to the story except that she’s jealous of Josie being close to Mitchell.

💛 Seriously she appears like,, twice,, throughout the whole book??

💛 Josie’s mom was in an abusive relationship, which I wish had been more touched upon. Josie and her sisters also lived in an abusive household for a while, but this hasn’t impacted her in any way apparently. She does seem to be mad at her father, but it’s more of an afterthought. It made me wonder why this was even part of the plot, since it barely played a part. Same with Josie’s sister Libby’s ‘arc’ (it’s too stale to even call it an arc)

💛 Actual quote from this book: ”Last one in the water gets sorted into Hufflepuff”

Live footage of my Badger Army™ preparing to fight for Hufflepuff’s honour

💛 The Paintbrush community also played a big part in the book (sort of? Mostly it focused on the romance), but they were barely developed and most of them were randomly introduced so I had no idea who was who. Nor could I tell them apart.In a lot of ways this read like a first draft.

All of the characters should’ve been developed more, their relationships with each other as well. I didn’t care what happened between the main characters and their families, because they barely played a part. I didn’t like Mitchell and the way he treated Josie at all, nor did I like Josie constantly shaming other girls. Again, it’s 2017. Why is this still a thing in YA.

How do you feel about the ‘you’re not like other girls’ trope and girls shaming other girls in YA? Will you join me and my Badger Army™ in my fight to defend Hufflepuff? Let me know in the comments!

Karina’s Silver Shoes // Much Confusion Such What’s Going On

Author: Denise Marques Leitao
Genre: Fantasy| YA
Goodreads rating: 3.65
My rating:  ★

 

 

 

 

She’s got the fate of a kingdom in her hands—or rather, in her shoes.
14-year old Karina is not sure what she wants, but she knows what she’s found: fascinating silver shoes. Fascinating, dangerous, and potentially evil. On the upside, they do bring cool visitors.

When two princesses ask her to go to Whyland, a kingdom in a parallel dimension, to destroy the shoes, of course Karina accepts. Who would refuse a free trip to an alternate world?

Advised by a wise master and threatened by a beautiful stepmother, Karina goes on a journey with a princess to defeat a powerful witch. But Whyland is nothing like she expected. Karina finds herself stuck in a kingdom she doesn’t understand, with no clue on who to trust. Before saving anyone, she’d better save herself—if she figures out how.Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

As I started to format this review I realised this is a YA book. I thought it was middle grade? Not when I requested it, but I had forgotten about that. It read like a middle grade book to be honest.

As the title of this post already suggests: I’M VERY CONFUSED ABOUT THIS BOOK.

Me trying to understand this book so I can write a proper review

Barely anything was explained, and if they did explain things, I was still left confused. I don’t get what the point of the silver shoes was, because apparently what we’re first told about the shoes wasn’t true? But now I don’t know what the shoes do? And what the point of them was?

Also there was some kind of revolution/coup sub plot going on, which kind of came out of nowhere and didn’t feel built up at all to me. We’re told that the king is apparently a tyrant, but we’re only briefly told this and never really shown. It was barely even touched upon. That’s another big problem of this book: lot’s of telling instead of showing.

But let’s get back to the fact that this book is incredibly confusing. The entire book felt incredibly rushed to me, so that didn’t help me understand what was going on either. I also didn’t understand who was on which side. The fact that they all seemed to constantly switch sides and pretend to be on one side but actually be on the other didn’t help. Especially one character constantly switched: first they’re good, then they’re evil, then good again, then evil, then good – AND THEY NEVER EXPLAIN THINGS.

Towards the end of the book we find out the king has locked someone up for years, but either I missed it because I was so bored or it was never explained why? I did consider that maybe the king was afraid that this person was going to try and overthrow him, as he fears his daughters would in the present, but if I was supposed to make that out myself… Then that’s really bad writing. In this case we should’ve been told, not very very subtly shown.

All the characters were really flat. They could’ve easily been replaced by each other. Karina could’ve been an interesting, complex character, as she wants to wish for world peace and is upset at the idea that people wouldn’t know that she was responsible for it:

”because she would like to have statues made for her and win prizes.”

This would’ve made a more unique, interesting kind of hero, since a lot of the time in YA and middle grade we see heroes who are heroes because they want to do the right thing. Unfortunately this is never really touched upon. Karina was too two-dimensional to even stand out.

Apart from the characters, I also didn’t have a clue about the world this was set in. It’s set in an alternative fantasy world, but I don’t know anything about it, nor really what it looks like.

Basically this book kind of read like a first draft. There’s too much missing, there are plot holes and it was incredibly confusing. I really wanted to like this one, but alas.Have you read Karina’s Silver Shoes? Have you read a book that confused you a lot recently? Any fairytale inspired books you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!