Summery Contemporary Mini Reviews // The Summer I Turned Pretty, Alex, Approximately and The Museum of Heartbreak

Last month I read a few summery contemporaries that were up for free on Riveted and since I can’t write full reviews for any of them why not review them all in one post?

Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Contemporary //  YA
Series: Summer #1
Goodreads rating: 3.95
My rating: ⭐⭐

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

To be honest if this hadn’t been free on Riveted I wouldn’t have picked it up. I love Jenny Han, but the blurb never appealed to me and it turns out my intuition was right. I’m honestly surprised that this is written by Jenny Han, because I absolutely love To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, but The Summer I Turned Pretty is nothing like that. Not much happens in this book, the characters are flat, Belly is whiny and annoying and the writing is just not that good? I know there are mixed feelings about this book out there, but personally I wouldn’t recommend anyone who hasn’t read TATBILB to read this, because it could seriously turn them off. There are more important topics discussed in this book, but it’s barely there and kind of felt like an after thought. I rated it two stars because it WAS a quick read. Don’t get me started on the romance though. I don’t see the appeal of one of the love interests at all and the endgame romance just didn’t feel built up to me? It didn’t come out of nowhere, but that’s mostly because it was predictable not because it was well written.

Author: Jenn Bennett
Genre: Contemporary //  YA
Goodreads rating: 4.01
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is a whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…

I ABSOLUTELY loved this one. I gave it four stars because I was missing something (not sure what? Sometimes that just happens) but oh my goodness I flew through it and it was so much better than I expected. It has some of my favourite tropes, including characters not realising who the other is, enemies to lovers, great banter and silly adventures. It’s adorable and fun, yet also meaningful as both Bailey and Porter have to deal with their own trauma. Bailey tends to avoid pretty much everything that’s difficult and that was SO relatable. I loved seeing this in a main character.

And the fact that she and Porter worked at this really weird museum? SOLD. What I didn’t know about this book before going in is that Porter is half-Hawaiian and Bailey’s new best friend (who’s amazing and I loved their friendship) is black. Bailey also has a great relationship with her dad so what more do you want??* Despite my four star rating this is definitely a new favourite. Maybe soon I’ll realise that this is more of a five star read? Who knows I change my ratings all the time lol #reliableblogger

* Honestly I should be asking myself this considering I gave this four stars but as I finished it that just felt right??

Author: Meg Leder
Genre: Contemporary //  YA
Goodreads rating: 3.7
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Welcome to the Museum of Heartbreak.

Well, actually, to Penelope Marx’s personal museum. The one she creates after coming face to face with the devastating, lonely-making butt-kicking phenomenon known as heartbreak.

Heartbreak comes in all forms: There’s Keats, the charmingly handsome new guy who couldn’t be more perfect for her. There’s possibly the worst person in the world, Cherisse, whose mission in life is to make Penelope miserable. There’s Penelope’s increasingly distant best friend Audrey. And then there’s Penelope’s other best friend, the equal-parts-infuriating-and-yet-somehow-amazing Eph, who has been all kinds of confusing lately.

But sometimes the biggest heartbreak of all is learning to let go of that wondrous time before you ever knew things could be broken.

My rating is probably more a 2.5 than three stars to be honest. I really loved the premise of this one. Each chapter starts with an item Penelope has curated in her museum of heartbreak: it comes with an illustration and a very short description (title, number of the item and how she’s gotten it, if I remember correctly). I love it when books have formatting like this, but the story itself… I wasn’t very impressed with. It had a lot of potential as Penelope gets into an unhealthy relationship, but the thing is it never really gets addressed how unhealthy and toxic it was? In the end she’s just like ‘I guess I never really liked him that much’ instead of addressing all the red flags that you should definitely avoid in a relationship. This could’ve been such a powerful story, but now I’m afraid it does a little bit more harm than good.

I was also really annoyed with the way Audrey treated Penelope. She wasn’t a bad friend per se, but her new friend Cherisse treated Penelope horribly and she never stood up for Penelope. Even after doing something really horrible to her at the end, Audrey is all ‘I want to be friends with you both I hope you understand’ and Penelope accepts that. In my eyes this just isn’t a healthy friendship and shows readers that you should just put up with everything

Other than that, it just felt a bit flat and underdeveloped to me and I honestly couldn’t tell you what really the point was? I did like the new friends Penelope made and it was a fun and cute read most of the time. If the book had addressed the toxic relationships in Penelope’s life it would’ve already been a lot better.

Phew, I’m glad I got those out of the way. I’m surprised at how long my review for The Museum of Heartbreak turned out because I really thought I had forgotten most of it lmao

Also I love how I reviewed books I read in July before pretty much all the ones I read in June adsgjh (help me)

Have you read any of these? What did you think? What’s your favourite summer read? Let me know in the comments!

Let’s Celebrate Winning Camp NaNo With Some Snippets! // Part I

As promised in my July wrap up I will share some snippets from my WIP! I randomly selected some stuff that my eyes fell on/that I remembered liking while writing them, as I’m not ready to reread everything that I’ve written yet dsnkgj

Yong-sun An is worried about a lot of things, but at the top of his list? The future. Worried his anxiety will get in the way of everything he does, he has no clue what he’ll do after graduation. If he even graduates. Because that’s another thing he worries about. Not that his grades are bad, far from it, but one time it’s bound to go wrong, right?

Meanwhile, his not-best friend (except he is his best friend) Drew suddenly starts to act weird. Yong-sun has no idea how to help, but he has a feeling that it has to do with the mysterious text messages Drew has been getting.

My son is a (hopefully lmao) relatable Mess™

I love how Hye-su included Peach’ title – gotta show that girl the respect she deserves

sdhgj I couldn’t resist

More relatable Mess™ Yong-sun An. But seriously this is me. I have a hate/love relationship when it comes to presents. I love giving people I care about presents!! But what do I do with my body!!

I initially liked this snippet but now I don’t really anymore abfjh I can’t exactly put my finger on it but?? Something’s missing. I wanted to include it though because I started to worry that my book was going to look like one big meme

Long story short: Yong-sun ended up with Benny as a nickname adjg If you’re wondering who Benny the blue cow is then we can’t be friends

I’m going to leave it at that for now, but I have a few more snippets to share for a second part! Please believe me when I say this is NOT a big meme sdgjh There are lots of serious topics and moments but most of those are pretty spoilery plus I’m not in the mood to reread them now because I’m in a good mood and most of it is very personal, so I don’t want to be affected by it.

Want to know more about my WIP?

💛 Introducing My Characters
💛 Sharing 7 lines from the WIP
💛 Snippets: How To Flirt 101 by Andrew Lewis and Yong-sun is a Blue Cow
💛 All Hallows Write Tag 
💛 Winter Is Here Write Tag
💛 Your WIP in Gifs Tag

How did Camp NaNo go for you? How is writing going in general? Can you relate to Yong-sun? Have your friends given you a nickname which you’d rather not have? Let me know in the comments!

Fawkes // Bored and Confused??

Author: Nadine Brandes
Genre: Fantasy // Historical // Retelling //  YA
Goodreads rating: 3.84
My rating: ⭐

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

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

I’ve started to make aesthetics for my reviews but I had no clue what to include for this one? Masks? London? I don’t know because barely anything happened.

I really don’t have that much to say about this book. I was honestly very bored and started to skimread early on, because I just wanted it to be over with. Just being bored with it just didn’t feel like a good reason to DNF it, considering it’s an ARC but oh my god if it hadn’t been.

I wasn’t impressed with the writing style at all, or with Thomas, as he’s very dull and whiny. There are quite a few characters in this book, but barely any of them stood out. By the end of it I had no idea who was who, nor did I care what happened to them. I was just very disattached from everything that was happening.

Also I have NO clue how the ‘magic’ works. They can control colours?? But I have no idea what that means or how it works? Nor do I know much about the world? It did help knowing a lil bit of the actual history, as the entire book is basically a religious allegory. Basically this war is between Catholics and Protestants, but in the world of Fawkes it’s not very clear WHY there’s a war. Just basing this on real history isn’t enough, I mean I had no clue who Guy Fawkes was so I had to look that up. Your readers shouldn’t do your work for you.

And uggggh you’d think a plot to kill the king would be exciting to read about, but they mostly just talked and talked and talked and

Basically I was bored and confused throughout most of this book. The only interesting character was the girl Thomas is in love with. I forgot her name. Does make you wonder how interesting she really was dsfjb No she really was, but since it’s told from Thomas’ pov and the writing was just so dull it made her less interesting as well. What I’m saying is, she had potential and I much rather would’ve read from her pov. Being black and a girl, she has to hide her skin colour because of the abusive family that has taken her in, but she’s determined to make a life for herself as an artist and fights back against racism. MUCH more interesting than whiny Thomas.

Fawkes is out today! Don’t let my negative review stop you from picking this up if it sounds like your cup of tea. This one just wasn’t for me, but maybe you’ll fall in love with it!

Have you read Fawkes? Or are you planning on it? What’s the last retelling you read? Let me know in the comments!

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour // Not Really That Epic?

Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: Contemporary //  YA
Goodreads rating: 4.03
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

 

Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip – and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.
When I saw that Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour was up for free on Riveted (this was last month) I immediately started to read it, as I loved The Unexpected Everything and Since You’ve Been Gone. Unfortunately this one fell a bit short for me.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour was just a little bit too long for me, while not much happened. Or at least it felt that way to me. Of course everything they go through is important for Amy to overcome her grief and for her and Roger’s relationship to develop, but at times I wondered if certain events were really necessary to the plot. But most of all I really missed the things I fell in love with while reading Matson’s other novels: family and friendship. It does make sense plotwise why Amy’s family isn’t in this much, except for flashbacks, but I still wish we could’ve seen more of them. I felt incredibly detached to Amy’s family and while I’m a very emotional person, her having lost her father didn’t really make me feel anything. The book also ended before Amy’s mom could play a bigger part, which was disappointing (even though I did find the book too long) and left me with a lot of questions.

And then there’s the lack of friendship. Okay, so Amy and Roger start out as friends and that was great! I loved them! But I still really missed the friendship element that I loved so much in The Unexpected Everything and Since You’ve Been Gone. Amy does have a best friend, but she has moved away before the book begins and barely plays a part. Plus there’s some conflict there, as Amy has ignored her for quite some time now due to her grief. We never see this resolved which just felt weird to me. During the trip Amy does make some friends, but we never see them again.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour was both too long and too short at the same time. Too short because there’s just too much missing, too much left hardly touched upon or resolved, whereas the actual book was just a bit too long for me. I’m glad that this wasn’t my first Matson book, as I probably would’ve been hesitant to pick up her other books and missed out badly.

That said, it was a fun read – I mean road trip! I’m a sucker for road trips. Seeing Amy overcome her grief and trauma was also great. There’s a lot of potential for this to have been a great read, but it just fell a bit short.

Have you read Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour? What’s your favourite Matson book? How do you feel about road trips in books? Let me know in the comments!

Cinderella Boy // Genderfluid Cinderella and Queer Kids Fighting Back

Author: Kristina Meister
Genre: Contemporary // Fairytale Retelling // LGBTQIAP+ // YA
Goodreads rating: 4.59
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

Sixteen-year-old Declan is the perfect son . . . except for one tiny issue. When his sister Delia comes home to find him trying on her clothes, he fears her judgment, but she only fears his fashion choices. One quick makeover later, Declan is transformed into Delia’s mysterious cousin Layla and dragged to the party of the year, hosted by Carter, the most popular boy in school.

When Carter meets Layla, he fumbles to charm her. He adores her sense of humor and her poise. But when she vanishes in the middle of the night, he’s left confused and determined to solve the mystery of who she is.

As their school year begins, their high school embraces a policy of intolerance, and both Declan and Carter know they must stand up. Carter is tired of being a coward and wants to prove he can be a knight in shining armor. Declan is sick of being bullied and wants desperately to be himself. If they team up, it could be a fairy-tale ending, or a very unhappy ever after.

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

Note: Declan uses he/him pronouns

Well this was definitely a fun read! A genderfluid Cinderella, a queer Prince Charming, a cute romance and queer kids fighting for their rights? Yes please!

I definitely would’ve given this four stars if the first half hadn’t been so slow. The first half mostly consists of Declan/Layla going on dates with Carter and while they were cute I also didn’t really care? There just wasn’t much going on and the main plot was nowhere in sight yet. The first half was just really too long as it really felt like a build up to the second half. I would’ve preferred if it had been shorter and if some of the things that happened in the second half were build up more. Like I would’ve loved to have seen more of Declan’s friendship with Yuki who’s supposed to be his best friend, his relationship with his sister (which was great and adorable and I loved how supportive she was) and Carter’s relationship with his father, as that relationship was very important to him as a person and for his growth, and it kind of felt like it was just squeezed in there. Once we get to the second half though, that’s where the book got really good and I had to continue reading it to see what happens next.

One of Declan’s new friends at his new high school wants to start an LGBTQIAP+ club called The Rainbow Corps (A+ name obviously) but the homophobic principal forbids the club and starts to pull a lot of other homophobic crap after that, but the queer kids at the school don’t back down. Seeing them fight back was empowering and inspiring, and I love the way they went about it (really don’t want to spoil it because it’s so much fun reading it for yourself). While it deals with some harder topics, this book was fun, cute and empowering. The romance has some of my favourite tropes, like one of the characters talking about their crush to their crush without saying that they’re their crush. Did that sentence make sense. Also lots of banter and that epilogue was ADORABLE. Very fanfiction-y but hey it’s a fairytale retelling that’s allowed. 

”It’s not a costume for me. It’s not dress-up. It’s not pretend. It’s me, or part of me, an aspect of me that gets to be in that moment.”

I do however unfortunately need to point out that two characters make comments that erase multiple gender attraction. Like when Declan describes his crush to Carter he says ‘he’s just not gay’. Declan knows Carter had a girlfriend, but that doesn’t make him straight? If that comment had been addressed I would’ve been fine with it, but it wasn’t.

If you’re looking for a queer, fun and cute story where a genderfluid MC gets his fairytale ending I’d definitely recommend Cinderella Boy. Please keep going through if like me you have a bit trouble with the first half, because Cinderella Boy is so so worth it and an absolute gem.

Have you read Cinderella Boy, or are you planning on it? Any recs for YA books (fairytale retellings or not) with genderfluid MCs? Let me know in the comments!

All Of This is True // Boring, Flat Characters and Possibly Redeeming A Character Who Commited Sexual Assault???

Author: Lygia Day Peñaflor
Genre: Contemporary //  YA
Goodreads rating: 3.7
My rating: ⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a eing being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined.

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

I was really excited to see I got approved for this one, expecting something like Pretty Little Liars. Instead… I don’t even know??? The book is told from all three girls’ perspectives: Miri and Penny tell their story through interviews after Fatima Ro, the author they ‘befriended’ published her new book based on the three girls and Jonah, while Soleil tells her story through journal entries she wrote before  the new book was published. Then there’s also the excerpts of said book, which mostly tells Jonah’s story. I did find the of this interesting, but the writing itself not so much.

The writing was very simple, the girls don’t have different voices, I absolutely loathed the writing style of the excerpts (these especially were very passive, with lots of telling instead of showing leaving me wanting to bang my head against the wall like Dobby), a lot of the things the girls tell is not relevant – it could be seen important to establish their characters, but the characters are so flat and underdeveloped that it just felt unnecessary to me. Also most of these ‘chapters’ ended very abruptly, which kind of pulled me out of the story.

 Live footage of me reading this book

It’s such a shame, because the potential is definitely there. The way Fatima was subtly manipulating and using the teens is well done – to me as a reader, going in knowing that Fatima is shady, I could easily see how she was wrapping these girls around her finger and using them as her puppets to be able to write her book, but it’s so subtle that it makes sense that these teens, who already worshipped the ground she walked on, would fall for it. I was intrigued from the beginning to find out all the details of what happened: what exactly did Fatima write? How much of these girls’ lives did she use for her book? (Spoiler alert: A LOT. The tiniest details got worked in) Why is Miri stucking up for Fatima? What is Jonah’s secret? Despite not liking the writing style it kept me wanting to continue the book. Fatima was an incredibly intruiging character, but alas the others…

They were so underdeveloped. We get some glimpses that they are not so two-dimensional and flat but… God were they two-dimensional and flat. And then there’s the interviewer who interviews both Miri and Penny. WHAT IS WITH HIM I LAUGHED SO HARD AT HIS RIDICULOUS REPLIES AND QUESTIONS. Like when Penny tells him that Soleil, one of her best friends, lied to her and all he says is ‘Bummer’

Like apparently this is a big show and they send this guy?? Bummer. I can’t even. Anyway, back to the girls. By the end of the book I had no clue who was who and who they really were as a person. I expected to dive deep, to find out how complex they really were, to really get into how Fatima’s manipulation affected them but I didn’t get any of that. I didn’t care for the characters at all, which I don’t think should happen when your book is literally about teens being used and manipulated. By the end of the book I truly was Patrick

And then there’s the question of whether or not the author wants us to symphatise with/forgive/feel bad for a character who committed sexual assault?? Fatima Ro definitely redeems this character in her book and gives him a happy ending, but I’m not sure what Peñaflor herself is trying to say, as while Soleil and Penny stand up for him/feel bad (even though at first they were disgusted too??), Miri tells it like it is, but since the book ends with Fatima’s excerpt in which she gives him a happy ending, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

All of This is True definitely has potential, but because of the writing style and the characters I couldn’t really enjoy it. 

All of This is True is out now so if you’re interested go check it out, don’t let my review stop you!

Have you read All of This is True? Are you planning to? Any similar YA books you’d recommend? Would you reply ‘bummer’ in this situation as well? Let me know in the comments!

Anger is a Gift // A Powerful Look On Police Brutality (Also It’s Hella Queer™ )

Author: Mark Oshiro
Genre: Contemporary //  YA // LGBTQIAP+
Goodreads rating: 4.42
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.

Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

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

Honestly I don’t even know where to start I’m so blown away by this book. I’m honestly kind of disappointed at the lack of hype surrounding this one? I’ve barely seen it around and hadn’t even heard of it when I stumbled across it on Netgalley. Let me tell you: Anger is a Gift deserves all the hype and more. It’s incredible, intense, heartbreaking, yet also shows family, friends and an entire community having each other’s back, fighting for each other and always, always being there for one another.

Anger is a Gift is very graphic, and just gets more and more graphic as the book continues. The police brutality described just gets worse and worse, and gets described in some detail, which is something you should know going in if this triggers you. That said, it’s an incredibly important read and Oshiro has clearly done so so much research, making this incredibly realistic and brutal.

Moss watched his father get shot right in front of him by a police officer, leaving him with severe PTSD (it’s never stated that Moss has PTSD, I read it this way myself) and panic attacks, which is described really, really well. He’s also left with a lot of anger, naturally, which only increases in the book, but as the title of the book states ‘anger is a gift’, and Moss learns that his anger is not a bad thing, and that he could use it to try and change things. Moss’ character development is incredible: he went from not wanting to be anywhere near a protest because of his panic attacks to pretty much leading a movement.

While the entire book is very intense, it’s not all heavy stuff, especially when it comes to Moss’ family and friends. His relationship with his mother is so heartwarming to read: they share everything and are very open; something that all characters were with each other. They all just discussed everything, had no secrets for each other… It was so refreshing to see. Plus all the parents actually being involved!

”You realize how lucky I am that my son is one of my best friends?”

And then there’s his friends, who are absolutely amazing. These kids would do anything for each other – which they did. They always had each other’s back, no matter what. They went through hell for each other, and they’d do it over and over again. Also I loved how diverse (none of them are white) and queer they’re group was, without anyone seeming like the token anything. Moss himself is gay, Esparanza is a lesbian, Reg is disabled, Kaisha is ace, Njemile is trans (and has two moms!), Bits is nonbinary and Rawiya is a Muslim. They’re so unapologetically queer and Oshiro has gotten the queer friends group thing so right – the way they talked about their sexualities and gender identities, joked around etc. all felt very realistic and similar to me and my friends. While of course they face discrimination, the people that matter never give them a hard time and are very accepting and supportive, which was great to see.

And oh, oh my god the romance. The romance is just so good I’m still broken over it. It starts out very awkward yet also very cute, and just very realistic? The entire romance was – neither of them had been in a relationship before, neither knew what to do.

Another burst of nervous energy flushed through Moss’ body. ”Yes,” he said. ”I mean, no!” He blurted it out, then shook his head. ”Please sit down,” he finally said, certain he had embarrassed himself beyond repair.
(I made a note on my Kindle app about this that just says ‘Useless Gay™’)

As I said, all characters were very open with each other, and Moss and Javier were no exception. They shared their doubts with each other: doubts about themselves, but also doubts about the relationship because they were both clueless cinnamon roles. Moss felt so safe with him, sharing his insecurities and Javier making sure that he never felt that way. They were absolutely lovely. While they were never really friends before the romance developed, it still felt very much like the relationship was built on friendship. Also everytime Javier kissed Moss on the cheek I died.

Anger is a Gift  is a powerful, incredible, critical look on how rooted racism is in America and the corruption of the police. The ending is so powerful and heartbreaking, because it’s very realistic. I highly encourage you to read Oshiro’s author’s note, as it made the book even better (if that’s even possible).

I could never do this book justice. There are no words to do so, but I hope you’re going to pick this up, because Anger is a Gift is really important, touches on so many important issues that I can’t even begin to list because then we’ll be here for a while, and is just a must-read for everyone.

Have you read Anger is a Gift? Are you planning too? Let me know in the comments!

Over Raging Tides // Female Pirates Kicking Ass

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

Unfortunately, some members of her crew have other plans…

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

Grace promised them they wouldn’t regret this.

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

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

What I liked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I didn’t like

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Name Is Victoria // Two Victoria’s, One Queen, An Alternative History

Author: Lucy Worsley
Genre: Historical //  YA
Goodreads rating: 3.85
My rating: ⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

 

Miss V. Conroy is good at keeping secrets. She likes to sit as quiet as a mouse, neat and discreet. But when her father sends her to Kensington Palace to become the companion to Princess Victoria, Miss V soon finds that she can no longer remain in the shadows. Her father is Sir John Conroy, confidant and financial advisor to Victoria’s mother, and he has devised a strict set of rules for the young princess that he calls the Kensington System. It governs Princess Victoria’s behavior and keeps her locked away from the world. Sir John says it’s for the princess’s safety, but Victoria herself is convinced that it’s to keep her lonely and unhappy. Torn between loyalty to her father and her growing friendship with the willful and passionate princess, Miss V has a decision to make: continue in silence or speak out.Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

This one was a bit disappointing to me. Last month I read a similar book from Worsley, but about Queen Mary, which I had (mostly) the same problems with as this one, so I guess Worsley’s books are just not for me? Because I love lists* let’s sum up these problems

* And I’m too exhausted to write a full review lmao stayed up too long because I was on a Eurovision high and then found out that B99 is cancelled hahahaha everything is garbage 🙃

💛 Not much happens?? This is the biggest problem with both this one and Lady Mary: there isn’t much of a plot. I mean, there technically is, but it doesn’t feel like it because barely anything happens. There’s just,, a lot of talking?

💛 Because of this it’s just,, a bit boring? I feel like this book could’ve been so much more interesting given the concept and the historical people it focues on. I mean there’s so much political intrigue, but because we see everything through the eyes Miss V. we barely know anything about it

💛 That plot twist was,,, not to my liking. This is a very personal thing which led to my two star rating instead of three, and shouldn’t keep you from not reading this book. The plot twist itself was well-written as there were enough hints for it to not be entirely out of the blue, but not that many that it was predictable (though I did see it coming) and Worsley explains that this is an alternative history, just her exploring a ‘what if’, it’s not some conspiracy theory haha, I just personally didn’t like it?

💛 I feel like the characters were just not that interesting either? Worsley knows her stuff, especially when it comes to Queen Victoria, so it’s not a lack of research, but the characters were kinda flat and while we follow both girls through childhood to their teenage years, I just don’t feel they changed much? Also Miss V.’s voice was just,,, so lack-luster?

But!! There were definitely things I liked. Like I said, if it weren’t for the plot twist I would’ve given this three stars*

💛 The friendship between the girls!! They were probably not such great friends in reality, but Worsley wanted to explore this what if and honestly it was lovely. At first they didn’t really know what to make of each other of course, but in the end they love and support each other, want what’s best for the other, would risk anything and everything, know each other like the back of their hand, were willing to give up their own happiness for the other’s… It was so great to see, even though Queen Victoria probably hated Miss V. in reality lmao

💛 Despite not much happening and the characters feeling a bit flat, it’s clear that Worsley knows what she’s talking about. It really does feel like you’re transferred to the 1800s

💛 While Miss. V didn’t change that much, I do like how she eventually stood up to her father

💛 Queen Victoria’s support system! Of course she was isolated, but she still had a small group (including Miss V.) that would do anything for her and loved her with all their heart

💛 Not much is known about Miss V. Conroy, so it’s nice to see more about her

💛 Dash!!

* Honestly me not liking the plot twist probably has to do with the tv show and maaaybe with my crush on Jenna Coleman but,,

Gently, but inescapably, she pulled me nearer until our foreheads touched. ”You are my sister now,” she said quietly and and solemnly. ”Never forget it. I love you like my sister, and you are my only friend in all the world.”

I don’t think Worsley’s books are for me, but if you love historical fiction than I do recommend checking them out. There’s a good chance you won’t have these problems after all!Have you read My Name is Victoria, or one of Worsley’s other books? What did you think? Do you like historical fiction? What’s your favourite? And do you watch Victoria? (if so I haven’t seen season 2 yet please don’t spoil!) Let me know in the comments!