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 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!

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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 ebook

Have 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 review, 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 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 te 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 de 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!

💛 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

💛 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 relationship

Have you read Vengeance Road? What did you think of it? Any YA Wild West books you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!

It’s 2017 Let’s Stop Shaming Girls in YA | Paintbrush Review

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!

 

Much Confusion About Karina’s Silver Shoes

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!

Swan Song: A Story About Overcoming Your Grief, Finding Yourself and Ballet

Author: Charlotte Wilson
Genre: Contemporary | YA
Goodreads rating: 4.31
My rating:  ★★★

 

When iconic ballerina Beatrice Duvall died, a nation mourned – and a legacy was born. Sixteen years later, her daughter Ava comes to London to take part in a high-profile tribute to Beatrice, and to learn about the mother she never knew.

There’s just one snag: the tribute is a ballet, Swan Lake. Which is infinitely painful for Ava, because she can’t dance. Won’t dance. Not since she quit the Royal Ballet School last year and walked away from everything that defined her.

But this is London, colourful and crazy, and with actor Seb at her side, there’s so much to discover. Like Theatreland razzmatazz and rooftop picnics and flamingo parties. And a whole load of truths Ava never knew about her mother – and herself.

When the time comes to take the stage, will Ava step out of the shadow cast by her mother’s pedestal? And who will be waiting for her there, in the bright lights?

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review

While Swan Song didn’t blow me away, I really appreciated that this was first and foremost about Ava and her grief for the mother she had never known. She knows barely anything about her mother, so when she’s in London for her mother’s tribute she also takes that opportunity to go to all the places that meant something to her mother. This was really the most powerful aspect of the book, especially when Ava finally ‘finds’ her mother and connects to her. It’s heartbreaking to read about every time she doesn’t feel anything and very relatable to see Ava avoid her grief.

Because it hurts. Not the way it should. Not because I found an echo of my mother resonating through time; not because I stood on a pavement where she’d once stood and suddenly she was real, there with me, and I could feel her. Because I felt nothing.

While in London Ava stays with her mom’s best friend Thisbe and her son Seb, who have taken her in like she’s one of their own, which was heartwarming to read.Seb is Ava’s love interest and does play a big part in the book, but it never overshadows her own journey of self discovery and finding her mother. They start out as friends and the relationship is built at a regular pace. There is a misunderstanding at some point, but it isn’t dragged out and is resolved realistically.

I do wish Ava’s father had played a bigger role, but plot-wise it made sense why he didn’t and it was realistic. All the other characters Ava meets are all interesting and add something to the plot and/or Ava’s growth. I also liked that there’s no antagonist – in a way Ava is her own antagonist.

I do want to talk about something that could be considered a spoiler:

One of the characters is bipolar, which is revealed in a chapter titled ‘A bit cuckoo?’. That title actually refers to another character talking about themselves, but from the way the previous chapter ended it sounded like this was about the bipolar character. This was just an unfortunate mistake, but I wanted to point it out if like me you’d get really mad at seeing that chapter title, because it has nothing to do with that character.

All in all it was a fun and cute read, sometimes emotional and overal it could be considered a powerful read, but something was missing for me. Maybe it wasn’t emotional enough? I really can’t put my finger on what it is, but it’s definitely worth the read.

Have you read Swan Song? Any books about grief that you’d recommend to me? Let me know in the comments!