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!

Over Raging Tides // Female Pirates Kicking Ass

Author: Jennifer Ellision
Genre: Fantasy // Pirates!! //  YA
Series: Lady Pirates #1
Goodreads rating: 3.66
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by many rules, but chief among them is this: they do not allow men on board.

That’s a rule that quartermaster Grace Porter is willing to break when a shipwrecked young nobleman offers her information of an omniscient map, stolen from his warship by an enemy vessel. Until now, the map was only the stuff of legend… but with its help, Grace may finally be able to hunt down the Mordgris, the sea monsters who stole her mother away from her.

Unfortunately, some members of her crew have other plans…

To find the map and face the Mordgris, Grace will have to confront her past, put the Luck between warring nations, and uncover treachery aboard the ship. And ultimately, her revenge and the destruction of the Mordgris will come at a hefty price: the betrayal of her crew.

Grace promised them they wouldn’t regret this.

She just isn’t sure that she won’t.Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book by the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review

This one was certainly fun! I mean an all-girls pirate crew? Yes please! If this had been developed a bit more it would have been a new favourite. Let’s break this down in some✨ lists ✨

What I liked

💛 Female pirates who are pirates in every sense of the word! They are ruthless, they steal, they murder, they are crude, they love their rum… They were nothing different from their male counterparts, except they also had to fight against sexism

”It is a fool who underestimates a woman because of her sex, Mr. Wesson,” I say, hearing a slight tremble in my rage. ”And an ungrateful one who forgets who just saved his life.”

💛 The relationships between the pirates – they were very much a family, even if not all of them got along. I wish we had seen more of this to be honest

💛 Gracie was a delightful protagonist, although I do feel like she was a bit flat. But we’ll get to that! She’s set on avenging her mom (though hopeful that she’d find her alive), but she’s still loyal to her crew and would never want to hurt her. While she’s a pirate in every way, she’d never kill someone purely out of bloodlust.

💛 The relationship between Gracie and Captain Ilene: Ilene is her stepmother/second mother, as she and Gracie’s mom fell in love (!!) years ago when Ilene infiltrated Gracie’s father’s ship. Ilene didn’t just teach her the way of a pirate, but also made sure she was very educated in other aspects (like knowing an ancient language). It was clear that they loved and cared for each other, which was great to see

💛 The friendship between Gracie and Sam. While it wasn’t said that they were best friends, it did seem that way as they would do anything for each other. I can’t wait to see more of their friendship in the sequel

💛 The fact that not all of the pirates are straight! I don’t know about Gracie (seems straight so far, but I might have missed something?) but Gracie says that some of her crew were off to ‘find themselves a man or woman for a few hours’ when they were on land, and Sam definitely is bi.

What I didn’t like

💛 I’m confused about the worldbuilding? There are countries at war, but we don’t know anything about these countries or why they’re at war. Outside of that war, it was hard to picture the world this was set in. There are apparently Eleven Seas and a few port towns are mentioned, but it was very vague.

💛 The plot was a bit rushed, which also left us with characters and relationships that felt a bit underdeveloped. Like I said, Gracie felt a bit flat to me, even though I loved her, and so did the other characters. The relationship between Gracie and Ilene is the only one that I felt was truly developed. The romance was… Okay? I felt very neutral about it, but I think I could’ve liked it if it wasn’t rushed and underdeveloped. It’s not that the relationship itself was rushed per se, but because the plot is, the relationship just went with it. There wasn’t really a gradual change in their relationship for me, all of a sudden they were on friendly terms and at some point he even takes huge risks that would not only endanger him, but would leave his little brother all by himself. I just missed the build up to this, which made this feel a bit unrealistic. I wouldn’t call this insta-love though.

💛 I wish we learned more about the Mordgris, but that may be something left for book 2? I hope so, because they were fascinating but I didn’t really fear them? Even though they were clearly creepy

All in all Over Raging Tide was a fun read about female pirates who’d die for each other (and for treasure and glory and all that – they want to be Pirate Queens lads!), but I just wish it had been developed a bit more. I have high hopes for the sequel!

And it had turned out my father was right. Women are terrible luck. At least, for anyone who crosses us.

Have you read Over Raging Tides? Or another (female) pirates book? Any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

Starfish // The Best Anxiety Rep I’ve Ever Read


Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman
Genre: Contemporary //  YA
Goodreads rating: 4.12
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time as her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the West Coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns transformative truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

A luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.Disclaimer: I was given an copy of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

Where do I even start? Starfish has been one of my most anticipated reads for a while now, and boy it did not disappoint in the slightest. In fact I think it went beyond my expectations.

I’ve been having trouble writing this post for weeks now, because putting my love for this book into words?

It’s been a while since I read a book that I loved this much, plus a lot of it hit me personally, making it even harder to write this review. While I haven’t gone through exactly the same thing as Kiko, her relationship with her mother really reminded me of mine with my father, something I haven’t really talked about on here. While of course there are differences between Kiko’s mom and my father, there were a lot of similarities and I’m just so happy to see this represented so well in ya fiction. Because I’m lucky to know that things weren’t okay, so I know that it’s okay to choose to not have a relationship with my father now, but there are so many kids and teens out there that don’t, that think they just have to accept the way it is because they’re family. 

She can’t be the villain if she’s the victim.

Starfish shows us that it’s not okay, not in the slightest, and never tries to normalise her mom’s behaviour or get us to symphatise with her.

One quote that hit me really hard, because I’ve heard pretty much the exact words (except in Dutch of course) were: ”I’m not some evil dictator.” Her mom constantly played the victim, made it all about herself, constantly looked down on Kiko, and meanwhile Kiko badly tries to be perfect as to please her mom. I still have issues trying to do everything perfectly because of my father, so I related to Kiko so much.

Kiko’s anxiety definitely stems from her mother’s abuse, but it also stems from (TRIGGER WARNING: sexual abuse. Yes, this is a spoiler, but I want to mention this so that people know what to expect going in) her uncle sexually abusing her when she was a kid. This only made her mother’s abuse worse, as she doesn’t believe her. Thankfully I haven’t experienced any sexual abuse, but I definitely got my anxiety from my father’s abuse, making me feel a lot more represented in this book than others that deal with anxiety.

That’s not to say that other books I’ve read don’t have great anxiety rep! One of the reasons I loved Queens of Geek and The Upside of Unrequited so much is because of their great anxiety rep, but Starfish? Starfish is so on point. It touched upon things that I haven’t seen before in YA (that’s not to say it isn’t there! I just personally haven’t read it or my memory is failing me once again) and it made me think about my own WIP, as these things Kiko felt and experienced are just so normal to me that I didn’t even think about including them in my own WIP that also deals with anxiety.

I loved the inclusions of what Kiko actually wanted to say, and what she really ended up saying, because same? Not being good at talking to people, hating parties and loud music*, not being able to have fun when there are people you don’t feel comfortable around**, needing someone to hide behind/to talk for you/just be there with you in new situations, quickly worrying that you said the wrong thing and upset someone just because they’re not immediately responding… and just so much more. Starfish captured anxiety so well – anxiety is different for everyone, so there were differences between me and Taylor (Queens of Geek) and Molly (The Upside of Unrequited), but Starfish is the first book that when it came to my anxiety I just felt fully represented in.

Normal people don’t need to prepare for social interactions. Normal people don’t panic at the sight of strangers. Normal people don’t want to cry because the plan they’ve processed in their head is suddenly not the plan that’s going to happen.

* Fun fact: when I was still in my mother’s womb and my mother would go somewhere with loud music I would protest by moving around and kicking until she left lmao sorry mom so yeah that’s something I probably wouldn’t like even if I didn’t end up with anxiety, but now it can be really hard for me to handle?
** Like it didn’t matter I had my friends at school parties I did NOT feel comfortable at all with all the other people around. During our senior trip in Barcelona our teachers surprised us by going to a club hahahaha thanks mates couldn’t you have warned a girl I had a panic attack :) bless the club for having wifi though so I could talk to my mom all evening

I loved how at the end of each chapter Kiko would describe what she drew or painted that day, which always reflected something she went through, felt or experienced during that chapter, and to see how she’d turn that into art. Sometimes it was heartbreaking, sometimes heartwarming, but it was always beautiful. The way Kiko’s written as an artist is something I aspire to write as one of my character is an artist as well. Plus as an art lover it was just fun to read about an artist!

I draw a woman wearing an elaborate dress, twirling like she’s made of light and sun. And then I draw a shriveled girl trapped within her shadow. She doesn’t want the light – she just wants her mom.

One of my favourite things in this book is her relationship with the artist Hiroshi, who doesn’t just take her under his wings as an apprentice, but welcomes her into his family. He gives her so much wisdom, love and kindess, and so did the rest of his family. I also loved that this way Kiko could reconnect with her Japanese roots, which is something she was missing. Speaking of the Japanese rep, I’m not Japanese, so I can’t speak for it, nor can I speak for her experience of looking Asian in a white society, as while I’m part Indonesian I’m very whitepassing. So far I have only seen positive reviews from Asian bloggers, but if there’s anything incorrect about the rep that you’ve mentioned in your review, please let me know so I can link to it!

Kiko’s development is incredible. In the beginning she can barely go out by herself (same girl), but in the end she does things outside of her comfort zone, despite her anxiety. She isn’t magically cured, she still suffers from her anxiety, but she learns how to live with it. And that my friends? Is the message I really needed right now as my anxiety has been pretty bad lately.

Starfish is an incredible read, and definitely my favourite of 2018. Of course it’s only May, but I just don’t see anything surpassing it. It has a great balance between heavy and light, but never downplaying the heavy elements. It tackles racism, abuse, family, belonging and so much more.

If you haven’t picked this up yet, I highly recommend it.Have you read Starfish yet? What did you think? Any other great anxiety YA books you’d recommend? What’s your favourite read of 2018 so far? 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!

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!