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

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

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

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

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

Well this was a big yikes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sugar Lump // A Disappointing, Over The Top ‘Mystery’

Author: Megan Gaudino
Genre: Contemporary // Mystery //  YA
Goodreads rating: 4.07
My rating: ⭐

 

 

 

 

 

Seventeen-year-old travel blogger CC is stuck on a never-ending road trip with her wanderlust-addicted father. When her dad lands the job of his dreams in Sugar Lump—wedding capital of the world—CC finally finds a place to call home. Complete with two quirky best friends and a quixotic guy to crush on, Sugar Lump is more shades of perfect than she can possibly count.

But when CC accidentally overhears the mayor complaining that she has to “take out” a rogue employee for not fulfilling the terms of his contract, the idyllic town’s facade crumbles. Devastated by the possibility of having to move yet again, CC discovers everyone has been keeping a massive secret from her—including her own father.

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

I’m sorry but this was just,, not great. The writing wasn’t very good and the telling instead of showing started to drive me crazy, especially because a lot of it felt like it had already been said a bunch of times. The characters were flat and stereotypical (token gay friend who I found very over the top, brooding love interest), there are a lot of things left unresolved and the mystery? SUCH a let down.

There were quite a few characters, most of which I had no idea who they were except for the main ones. I almost actually screamed ‘WHO ARE YOU’ multiple times because?? Confusion?? I have the memory of a goldfish so if it had taken me a while to read this I would’ve blamed in on myself, but it was only a few days.

I really liked that CC was a travel blogger, but we never actually see her blog? She’s just taking pictures all the time, and at first that was fine, because she had just moved to a new town, but as us bloggers know, blogging takes up a lot of our time and we constantly think about it. Considering she has a huge following, surely it’s a big part time of CC’s life too? So why don’t we see that?

I loved the relationship between CC and her dad – pretty much the only saving grace of this book, but the ‘mystery’ completely ruined it as her dad just went along with it and didn’t tell her about it.  It’s such a shame too because her dad was such a sweetheart and they had such fun interactions? Like when Thorn, the love interest, is there to pick her up and asks if she’s ready, he accidentally says that she’s been sitting ready for forty-five minutes waiting for him:

Dad came through the living room with an expression on his face that matched my insides.
”I’m sorry I said that.” He crouched next to me on the floor like we were both hiding from Thorn. ”What do we do now?” he whispered.

And then when Thorn asks if she can go to the lake:

”She can’t.” Dad clutched my elbow and pulled me closer. ”CC’s grounded for… for… knocking over a licquor store.”
I shook my elbow free. ”Are you having a stroke?”
Dad laughed in a totally fake way then pulled me in close again. ”I don’t know if you want to go with him or not, and I wanted to say you did something cool to make up for before.”

SEE? Such a nice dad I loved him. But the mystery bnfshdg Okay we’ll get there, let’s get to the romance first. The love interest is of course a broody bad boy, who everyone is telling CC to stay away from but she’s immediately intrigued and wants to ‘tame the wild beast’ I shit you not. She constantly refers to him as a ‘wild beast’ like???

It’s also insta-love and honestly was very annoying to read about.

And now, finally, the mystery. Like I said, it was SUCH a let down. It was ridiculous and over the top and just… Not realistic? This a big spoiler but I need to rant about it, so open at your own risk:

 

 

 

Spoiler!

The big secret that everyone is keeping is that everyone is signing contracts to not get a divorce. The mayor is offering them a huge sum of money in return, because she wants to keep up the zero divorce rate of the town to attract more people to get married there. Because of these contracts people are getting married to someone they have a good platonic relationship with, and then just cheat on them with someone they love akndgjhs The mayor even offers CC, a 17-year old, a million dollars or something to marry her son Thorn, give birth to his children and become the next mayor. Oh and when people want to get divorced or just don’t want to live there anymore, they have to either pay back the money or fake their death and start a new life as someone else jghjsfgb CC’s dad knew about all of this before they moved there and though he doesn’t want to cheat on his future wife, he’s just?? A-okay with all of this?? Plus he never tells CC about it, even when she’s getting really worried that something weird is going on. The ending just makes this whole thing worse, because CC and Thorn solve everything by blackmailing the mayor into resigning and helping Thorn, who hasn’t even graduated high school yet, become mayor instead even though he has no skills or qualifications to be a good mayor dkngsjh And then they just ride off into the sunset singing Kumbaya. This whole thing is just so ridiculous and weird and over the top to me. It makes no sense?? The author made it sound like something terrible was going on and then I got this instead.

 

 

 

The writing and characters weren’t that great, so finding out what was going on was the only thing that kept me going. To say I was disappointed is an understatement.Have you read Sugar Lump? What did you think? Any good YA small town mysteries you’d recommend to me? If you read the spoiler, what do you think about the mystery? Let me know in the comments!

More Than We Can Tell Review // An Important Story About Abuse

Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Contemporary | YA
Goodreads rating: 4.32
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected.

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

I’ve been putting this review off for a few days, not just because I was too stressed and tired because of schoolwork, but also because I don’t really know what to say. More Than We Can Tell is an important book, and a well written one. There are many good things about it, it just didn’t blow me away or resonated that much with me (or maybe my expectations were a little bit too high?

There are not enough (ya) books in my opinion that deal with abuse, let alone properly*. The way Rev was written felt real to me – I felt his fear in my bones and whereas I haven’t gone through what Rev did, I did find the way he was written relatable. His father is never normalised nor does the author try to get you to symphatise you with him, but she does show us that he’s still a human being, which is so important. Whenever someone is accused of abuse you get the old ‘but they’re so nice!!’ ‘i know them they would never do that!!’ which is exactly the point. Abusers aren’t just going to go around with a big neon sign that says ‘I HIT MY PARTNER/KIDS’. They don’t go around wearing a cape cackling and rubbing their hands. You can’t identify an abuser on the spot 

* I mean in my opinion there actually ARE a lot of books with abusive relationships in them but they’re normalised and romanticised instead afjhsbdg

Another message I really liked was that pain is not a competition. We so often feel that way, especially because a lot of us are brought up with the idea that it can be a lot worse. And of course it can be! But that doesn’t make whatever you’re going through any less valid.

I liked how Rev and Emma were able to confide in each other and how their relationship developed. While they do start to form a crush fairly quickly, it starts with a friendship and supporting each other in what they’re both going through. I’m also okay with quick crushes, because those are realistic**. Declaring your love to each other after like day is not. And that doesn’t happen! They’re just a boy and a girl who like each other. That’s it. Also, while the romance is a big part of the book, both Rev and Emma have their own arcs and the romance doesn’t overshadow that.

** Considering my best friend is a real life Clover from Totally Spies I can vouch for this

Both Rev and Emma tend to push people away – Rev because of his abusive father and Emma because of her absent father and controlling mother. It felt like a realistic touch to me, and I like that despite that they still manage to work out their relationship. It takes some work and there are some arguments, but in the end it works out. I also liked that despite that they both had some great relationships in their life. Emma has been horrible to her best friend, and she knows this and hates herself for it. Yet Cait understands that she’s been going through a lot and after Emma apologises, they still work it out.

Then there’s Rev’s best friend Declan, who is such a sweetheart? He’d drop EVERYTHING to be there for his friend which is such a great thing to see since we barely see friendships like that between boys.

Also Emma built her own game!! I always love to see gamer girls in fiction (we do exist!!) and this gal even built her own game? She learnt to code as a little kid and is just a complete badass. Yet there were still some flaws in her game! She was constantly improving it, which is realistic.

While there’s a lot of good things about this book, in the end it just gave me a three-star feeling. I have no idea why, which is really frustrating, but I’d definitely recommend this book.Have you read More Than We Can Tell? Are you planning to? What are some good ya books that deal with abuse? 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!

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!

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!

Chasing Eveline // A Breath of Fresh Air

Author: Leslie Hauser
Genre: Contemporary | YA
Goodreads rating: 4.35
My rating:  ★★★★★

 

 

 

 

 

Sixteen-year-old Ivy Higgins is the only student at Carmel Heights High School who listens to cassettes. And her binder is the only one decorated with album artwork by 80s band Chasing Eveline. Despite being broken-up since 1989, this rock band out of Ireland means everything to Ivy. They’re a reminder of her mom, who abandoned Ivy and her dad two years ago. Now the music of her mom’s favorite band is the only connection she has left.

Even though Ivy wavers between anger and a yearning to reconnect, she’s one-hundred percent certain she’s not ready to lose her mom forever. But the only surefire way to locate her would be at a Chasing Eveline concert. So with help from her lone friend Matt—an equally abandoned soul and indie music enthusiast—Ivy hatches a plan to reunite the band.

The road to Ireland won’t be easy, though. And not just because there is no road. Along the way they’ll have to win over their Lady Gaga-loving peers, tangle with some frisky meerkats, and oh yeah, somehow find and persuade the four members to play a reunion gig. It’s a near-impossible task, but Ivy has to try. If she can’t let go of the past, she’ll never be able to find joy in the present (Goodreads).DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Chasing Eveline is such a refreshing, cute and realistic contemporary. While going in I did expect more of the book to take place in Ireland, I’m not disappointed at all. The road to get there was fun to read, and it made sense that it took a while. Plus it meant focusing on Ivy’s home life, her pain over her mom leaving them, her relationship with her dad and the friendship between her and her best friend Matt.

Ivy is desperately chasing Chasing Evline*, as it’s the only connection she still has to her mom. She’s slowly forgetting more and more about her, which freaks her out. Chasing Eveline’s music helps her get through her pain, which I found such a beautiful aspect of this book.

One day while I waited, I listened to every Chasing Eveline casette I owned. When the final song ended, I drew the hand clutching my mom’s Walkman to my chest. A faint tingle covered every inch of my skin. My river of misery had turned into a sea of tranquility, and I closed my eyes, desperately wanting to savor the feeling. A lyrical life vest had saved me from another day of drowning pain.

* Ha see what I did there

The writing was absolutely beautiful, especially whenever Ivy was listening to Chasing Eveline and was carried away by their music. It was so easy to feel her pain, yet the book still didn’t feel heavy at all. This was mostly due to her friendship with Matt, which was such a delight to read. At first I was a bit worried that romance might blossom between the two (which wouldn’t have been that bad, since their current relationship was good and healthy) since I absolutely loved their friendship and good friendships between girls and boys are such a rarity in YA. But! Romance never blossoms between the two. Not even a minor crush. Nothing.

Ivy and Matt bond over the fact that they’re both trying to get over someone leaving them and their love for Chasing Eveline. The way they meet is super cute and funny, and I’d love to share it with you but you should just read it for yourself. I marked so many scenes and quotes related to their friendship, because they’re absolutely adorable and just #friendshipgoals. They constantly quote and talk in Chasing Eveline lyrics to each other (dorks) and they constantly support each other. At some point Ivy doesn’t go to school because of a family emergency, and Matt is so worried that he ditches school to find out what is happening, and then just stays with her to support her. Matt is just a part of their family, which really warmed my heart.

Ivy’s relationship with her dad is also beautiful. He’s the only family she has left, so of course she’s very worried about him and constantly takes care of him. I can’t say too much about it since I don’t want to spoil anything, but their relationship is a big part of the book. Also!! When Ivy’s mom left he got her the cuttest dog ever and oh my god I would die for that doggo.

While Ivy’s relationships with Matt and her dad are an important part of the book, the plot itself of course is about trying to reunite Chasing Eveline for one last concert. And that would be in Ireland.  Of course when you’re two regular teens that’s not easy, so lots of shenanigans ensue. While some of those aren’t entirely realistic, they are fun to read about.

I can’t say anything about the ending without giving it away, but I absolutely loved it. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was incredibly realistic. While some of the shenanigans I mentioned earlier weren’t always entirely realistic, the book as a whole did feel realistic. Not just the ending, but the way the romance was handled as well. It didn’t take over as soon as the love interest was introduced, wasn’t forced nor rushed. Chasing Eveline being so realistic is what made it such a breath of air.

I would definitely recommend this one, whether you love contemporaries or not.

Have you read Chasing Eveline? What’s your favourite contemporary? Can you relate to Ivy’s relationship with music? Let me know in the comments!

Masked // Wasted Potential, Abusive Relationships, White Superhero Named G*psy and More

Author: J.D. Wright
Genre: Superheroes | It’s advertised as YA, but this is NOT for a younger YA audience
Series: Superheroes UnderCover #1
Goodreads rating: 3.62
My rating:  ★

 

Vada’s To-Do List:

– Turn 18 (check!)
– Register super name
– Order supersuit
– Attend superhero indoctrination
– Graduate high school
– Start kicking criminal tail

Vada Lawson can’t wait to be a superhero. Born into a family with special powers, she’s been training to fight criminals and villains her whole life. But her indoctrination into the underground super community is derailed when normals start breaking out in superpowers themselves.

Not trained to control their new abilities, the normals are frightened and vulnerable. Then their mutilated corpses begin turning up all over town. What the heck?

Somehow, with the help—and hindrance—of an annoying newly-minted super named Orion, Vada has to stop the chaos before it destroys her and everything she holds dear…and ruins her superhero debut.

No one ever said that being a superhero was easy…DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Because this is going to be a long one

Since I love superheroes, I was really looking forward to this one. The preface only made me more excited, since the author wrote that since there aren’t that many superhero books, ‘especially with female readers in mind’, she decided to write one.

When the story starts it immediately gives us a look at Vada and her superhero family (who I absolutely love by the way), celebrating Vada’s 18th birthday, which is also the day she can officially become a superhero. Soon we meet her best friends Henley and James, the latter also having superpowers but wanting to be an agent, specifically Vada’s, instead. Things were looking up and I was definitely enjoying it, until one of the villains showed up and made a very crude comment that I didn’t see coming at all. While Vada is 18, the tone of the book still felt pretty young to me. Not that young, but not mature/old enough for me to expect language like that. Crude language like that is found multiple times in the book, and there are also graphic sexual scenes (at some point there’s even a straight up sex scene?? Which really weirded me out because minus these sort of scenes it really read like a YA book – which it’s also advertised as)

I’m not saying that the more mature content in general ruined this book for me. Though the way it was written is not my taste at all (too graphic) and I definitely don’t want to read an actual sex scene. I could’ve done without it, but if these scenes didn’t come out of nowhere, fitted the tone of the book and weren’t about an abusive couple maybe it wouldn’t have ruined the book for me this much.

This abusive couple, two villains, were pretty much my biggest problem with this book and kept me from really enjoying this. From the moment these two meet, I felt very uncomfortable.

[Spoiler] couldn’t stop the shiver she felt under [spoiler]’s intense gaze. When he swept his eyes over her, he seemed to almost be… absorbing her. Every hair on her body stood at attention. On one hand, she felt violated by his gaze and wanted to slap him for it. On the other hand, she secretly enjoyed the attention.

This girl is having a hard time at home and is constantly lashing out, trying to see how far she could get with her parents. She also has an unrequited crush on someone who doesn’t even know she exists. What I got from this is that she really wants someone to pay attention to her and love her. The guy she falls for though? Not the right person. He doesn’t have a good influence on her, is predatory, manipulative, possessive, objectifies her and it’s pretty clear that she’s afraid of him:

Whatever the reason, she wouldn’t disobey him. He was gentle with her most of the time, but if she ignored his message, she would surely pay for it later when they were alone.

YIKES. But it gets worse!

[Spoiler] favoured spanking, and she’d ended many nights with rosy red ass cheeks. She wouldn’t give him a reason to use the spankings as a punishment.

Look, I’m not saying the author is condoning or even romanticising their relationship. But it’s also never really pointed out that it’s not a healthy relationship and they’re still together by the end of the book. Of course they’re villains, so maybe the author thinks it’s obvious that this isn’t a good relationship, but look at how many people ship Harley Quinn and the Joker and think that’s #goals. I also considered that maybe this relationshop is a nod to that one, as there are several other DC Comics references, but that doesn’t make the way this relationship is written as okay.

That being said, the girl herself is pretty problematic too. She has the power to make people do what she wants:

”I can make them say things, give me things, do things for me… do things to me…” She licked her lips and thought about the young man from next door and how he had bent to her will just two nights ago.”

Of course, she is a villain, but this is rape??

Besides these two villains, I also had some other problems with this book. Like James slutshaming Henley for the way she was dressed. While the friendship between James and Vada was really refreshing and fun to read, that slutshaming comment (and the fact that his first design for her supersuit was really sexual?? And when she tells him she won’t wear that, he says ‘it was worth a try’??) kept me from enjoying it.

Then there were the other superheroes besides Vada and her family. Honestly I enjoyed this book most when it was written from either Vada or Orion’s POV. Not that that says much. To be honest I think it mostly had to do with my relief of not having to read about the villains. Anyway, the other superheroes! One of them is a white girl who’s described like this:

Majestic took a brief moment to study the girl next to her, who was wearing a layered dress and strappy gladiator-type sandals. The entire ensemble started with a tan ruffled top, then changed to dark purple, lightening as it went down. The bottom layer was gold. Bells hung from her skirts and jewelry dangled on both arms and ears. The final touch, in lieu of a mask, she wore a sheer purple half-veil that somewhat masked the bottom half of her face, from the nose down.

Her name?

*whispers* Merlin

Just kidding. Just got serious Merlin opening vibes. All kidding aside, her name is G*psy

That’s a slur that you shouldn’t use. It pains me every time they use it on The Flash (I know that’s her name in the comics, but use her real name! Give her a different superhero name! I don’t care! Just don’t call her that) and it definitely pains me in this book, especially when it’s a white girl dressed like that who decided to call herself G*psy. Also her superpower is that she’s a psychic because of course.

I have some other problems as well, but I decided to write them down as a list because #yaylists!

💛 Can authors please stop writing about people purring unless they’re part cat or something
💛 SERIOUSLY HOW DO PEOPLE PURR WHAT DOES THAT SOUND LIKE SOMEONE DEMONSTRATE IT FOR ME I’VE BEEN QUESTIONING THIS SINCE SARAH J. MAAS
💛 Vada’s debut as a superhero is constantly called a debut, except this one time when it’s called a coming-out party?? Dude?? No??
💛 Both main superheroes are white, while their agents aren’t. In fact, said agents are the only ones in the book who aren’t white
💛 No YA book can do without your stereotypical mean girl of course *eye roll*
💛 ‘If she never had to hear [her mother] moan over her father’s multiple infidelities again, it would be too soon. She’d chosen to marry the bastard, after all. Whatever she reaped was what she sowed.’ Because let’s blame the victim here!
💛 ‘Turning happened when a super stayed in suit for too long and essentially became the alter identity. They lost touch with who they had been before and usually never found it again. Supers who turned were destined to stay that way forever. It usually happened to villains more than heroes, but it did happen to both. It was what Vada had been afraid had happened to [spoiler].’ Gurl she raped someone pretty much at the beginning of her career as a villain. Also I thought this explanation was a bit… cheap? And stupid? It’s not like you’re a completely different person when you’re in your suit. It’s like how we all act differently in different environments. I’m not the same person with my friends when I’m with my grandfather. I always saw the dual identity of superheroes the same way.
💛 The murders could’ve been an interesting mystery if the story had only been told from Vada and Orion’s POV, and not also from someone who knew what was going on. Bye bye murder mystery

But you know what the worst part of this book is? IT HAD SO MUCH POTENTIAL. It could’ve been such a fun read! Vada’s superhero family is so much fun and I loved their scenes together. The siblings had pillow fights, supported each other, teased each other. The parents were actually involved, cared about their kids, protected them, made sensible decisions and were just good eggs. They had inside jokes!! There was female friendship and if James hadn’t made comments like that their friendship would’ve been great to read about. Also superheroes!! Superheroes are fun. But the graphic sexual scenes, the focus on such an abusive couple and having to read from their pov, the inclusion of a white superhero named G*psy, and just so much more, really kept me from enjoying this book.

What really rubbed me the wrong way is, that the author says she wrote this because there aren’t that many superhero books with girls in mind. This is such a harmful book for girls. If you want superhero books/comics for girls, read Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Squirrel Girl or Not Your Sidekick (which I haven’t read yet but I’ve heard good things so I’m positive I can recommend this). I appreciate the thought, but the execution? Not so much.

Have you read Masked? What did you think? Any superhero books that you would recommend to me? (Besides Heroine Complex which I absolutely love and Not Your Sidekick which I need to get my hands on asap). Let me know in the comments!