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!

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

What I liked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

💛 Bird facts!!

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

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

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

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

Basically I have A LOT of feelings

What I didn’t like

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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!

Introducing My Characters

Since I suck at summarising my Camp NaNo WIP (which I really need to get better at woops) I decided to instead show some aesthetics and talk about my characters, because I can talk about my children all day. Plus I always struggle with whether or not I really know my characters or not, so I’d figure this would be a helpful exercise. And hopefully at the same time this will be fun for you guys to read? I hope? LET’S GO

THE WIP

Okay so if you’re new/never read any of my previous posts on this WIP/forgot, what is this about? I suck at summarising it, but in an earlier post I explained my WIP as the following:

‘Friendship, banter, food, karaoke, The Gay™, Dora the Explorer Discourse (I’m not even joking I really hope people will find this very very long scene as hilarious as I do lmao)’

Anyway it’s very light and fluffy though it tackles some more serious issues like anxiety, bullying and abusive parents too.

Here’s a general aesthetic of the WIP to hopefully make it less vague?

It doesn’t take place in Rome. Okay, it partially does, because they go there on a schooltrip, but it mostly takes place in a fictional town in The Netherlands which I still need to name (my antagonist is also still called [antagonist] hahaha rip)

THE CHARACTERS

Yong-sun An

💛 Is a blue cow
💛 Very organised
💛 Needs to plan everything
💛 Confused lil bean
💛 Wants to be a journalist but is scared his anxiety will get in the way
💛 Keeps a diary
💛 Prefers to write down his feelings rather than talk
💛 Will think about the worst possible scenario
💛 Tried to hide under a bed once but there was no room rip
💛 Is immune to Drew’s puppy eyes
💛 Loyal friend
💛 Worries about his grades all the time, no matter how well he did
💛 Blows everyone away with his vocals
💛 Boots from Dora the Explorer was his favourite
💛 Hides in bathrooms
💛 Is tired of All I Want For Christmas – there are other Christmas songs
💛 Is not best friends with Drew (except he is)
💛 Completely clueless: ‘He felt an odd sensation at reading the message, probably a new level of annoyance.’ ‘There was also a weird feeling in his stomach. Annoyance, he decided.’ Yeah, ANNOYANCE
💛 Has no idea what flirting even is

Andrew ‘Drew’ Lewis

💛 Don’t call him Andrew
💛 Is a lil shit but everyone loves him anyway
💛 Will come up with the stupidest ideas
💛 Thinks he’s cool
💛 But he’s not
💛 Wants to see the world and get away from his past
💛 His flirting is very uneffective pls help him
💛 Is not subtle at all
💛 Always hungry
💛 Takes food very seriously
💛 Sleeps with a bunny sleeping mask on his face
💛 Feelings haha what are those
💛 Original Mom Friend™
💛 ‘I’m gonna wing it’
💛 Will fight you
💛 Asks deep questions about pigeons
💛 Just because he can’t sing doesn’t mean he won’t sing
💛 He’s a growing boy
💛 Believes ‘please’ is an actual magic word
💛 Hates Boots from Dora the Explorer

Reyna Vélez

💛 Former student council president
💛 Loved by pretty much the entire school because she stands up for everyone and is genuinely friendly
💛 Wants to become a succesful director
💛 Vlogger
💛 Will fight you
💛 ‘Do it for the vine’
💛 Netherlands is not Germany dammit
💛 Ships her friends
💛 Will not accept help
💛 Actual Queen
💛 Will drag you out of your bed in the middle of the night for karaoke
💛 ‘Like my picture’
💛 Has a youtube channel where she covers social issues and movies, tv shows, documentaries etc and posts cute vlogs about her friends
💛 Will never make you do something you don’t want
💛 Always looks good in pictures
💛 Can’t stop, won’t stop
💛 Will throw you out of the group chat
💛 Doesn’t like showing people her weaknesses
💛 Changes the group chat’s name all the time
💛 Will make you take awkward pictures (but won’t post them if you don’t want her to)
💛 Would jump out of a plane without a parachute
💛 Most likely to embarrass you with her speech at your wedding

Hye-su Seung

💛 Too pure for this world
💛 Shy lil bean
💛  Unless you’re close to her
💛  Very observant
💛  Looks like a cinnamon roll but could actually kill you
💛  Can’t even hurt a fly tho
💛  Forgives pretty easily
💛  Art hoe
💛  Doesn’t know what she wants to study because she wants to do all the art/theater things as long as it doesn’t put her in the spotlight
💛 Plays with her sleeves
💛 Don’t disrespect the Colosseum
💛 Will hit you if you disrespect the Art
💛 Second Mom Friend™
💛 Will pet a rock
💛 Always has good advice
💛 Paint. Paint everywhere. Behind nails, ears, eyelids, walls, windows. Everywhere
💛 Good listener
💛 Knows when you need a hug
💛 Biggest procrastinator of them all
💛 Stereotypical Hufflepuff
💛 Is sick of anxiety dictating her life

So that’s a short summary (meme??) of my kids! Turns out I know them pretty well, but I wonder if all of this is even in the WIP?? I know that Reyna being the previous student council president isn’t, because I came up with that not too long ago. But the other stuff?? I DON’T KNOW. I NEED TO EDIT. EXCEPT I WANT TO FINISH IT FIRST #writerproblems.

I hope that was interesting/fun to read? And hopefully that made my WIP less vague, at least a little bit haha. Can you relate to any of these characters? If you were to describe your characters in this way/as memes, how would you describe them? TALK TO ME ABOUT YOUR KIDS

The Upside of The Upside of Unrequited

No that title is not a typo, I didn’t accidentally write The Upside of twice – no it’s me trying to be witty and making a pun *finger guns*

Author: Becky Albertali
Genre: YA | contemporary
Goodreads rating: 4.08
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right? (Goodreads)

Becky Albertali has done it again. How does she manage to write such cute, fluffy, fun books, that are also important? I mean, I’m trying to do it myself with my current WIP, so I definitely look up to her.

Seriously though, The Upside of Unrequited is such a joy to read. My favourite thing about it is probably how diverse it is. Molly and her twin Cassie have two moms, of which one is black. They also have a little brother who’s also black (their white mom is their biological mom, while their black mom is their little brother’s biological mom), the family is Jewish, so is one of the love interests, Cassie is queer and of course so is her girlfriend Mina (to be specific she is pan), who is also Korean-American, Molly of course is fat and she also has anxiety (something I didn’t know going in) and there is so much diversity in the background too. Like one of Molly’s ex-crushes makes an appearance and he has a boyfriend. Also it basically starts on the day same-sex marriage is legalised which I absolutely loved.

Since I have anxiety myself, I was really thrilled to find out Molly has it too. Like I said in my Queens of Geek review anxiety is different for everyone, so of course there are differences between me and Molly, but I definitely related to her. Guys I’m so happy how many books are coming out lately with a protagonist who has anxiety (and they’re not necessarily about anxiety) – this is definitely a trend I don’t want to end (can we celebrate the end of abusive male love interests though)

Speaking of the end of abusive male love interests – I’ve noticed that this trend is dying out, especially because we’re getting such great male love interests lately. Of course they’ve always been there, but abusive male love interests are really popular in fiction (not just talking about books, tv and movies too) so I’m really happy to see less and less of them in books. Reid is such a cutie and he and Molly have great chemistry. I really hope this is the start of a new trend (as Jamie in Queens of Geek was a sweetheart too) and that abusive male love interests will be a rarity soon.

Another thing I loved was the focus on family. Molly and Cassie are very close, but throughout the novel they face some problems and Molly fears they’re growing apart. This was just as important to the plot as the love story and I feel like this is something a lot of people can relate to, though maybe with friends instead of family members.

The characters were all so much fun to read about. I loved all the little, quiet moments Molly had with her moms, where she confided in them and they were just there for her. My favourite moment is when one of them tells her that her getting a boyfriend at seventeen isn’t ‘late’, as Molly thinks and that it’s completely okay to not date in high school at all. I found this super important, since there’s a lot of focus on romance in fiction and media geared towards teens and a lot of them (me included, though I’m no longer a teen and I no longer feel that way) feel like there’s something wrong with them if they don’t date during this time. 

I also loved that Molly is basically a Pinterest Queen™ and loves crafting. I feel like there aren’t many YA protagonists with that hobby? Or at least that I’ve read about so it was a joy to read.

Basically: lots of diversity, focus on family, healthy relationship(s) (while there’s mostly a focus on Molly and Reid, the relationship between Cassie and Mina and Molly and Cassie’s moms are healthy too), positive messages, cute and fun oh and a big gay wedding

Have you read The Upside of Unrequited yet? What did you think? Any more books with great male love interests that you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!