Book Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

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When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

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Based in the same setting that Albertalli created in Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda (and therefore one of my most anticipated reads of the year), Offbeat follows Leah, one of Simon’s best friends who is a self-confessed misfit, and in her own words, the school’s ‘resident fat Slytherin Rory Gilmore’. What can I say? Leah is a girl after my own heart. Well, mostly. Continue reading

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Book Review: The Wonder of Us by Kim Culbertson

Wonder of Us reasons to read

The first thought I had when I read the blurb for this book was UM, YES PLEASE.
A once in a lifetime European trip? Complex friendship dynamics and angst? GIMMIE. So many thanks to Walker Books for mailing an advanced reader copy so it could find its way into my grabby hands!

Riya and Abby are:
Best friends.  Complete opposites.  Living on different continents.  Currently mad at each other.  About to travel around Europe.
Riya moved to Berlin, Germany, with her family for junior year, while Abby stayed behind in their small California town. They thought it would be easy to keep up their friendship—it’s only a year and they’ve been best friends since preschool. But instead, they ended up fighting and not being there for the other. So Riya proposes an epic adventure to fix their friendship. Two weeks, six countries, unimaginable fun. But two small catches:

They haven’t talked in weeks.
They’ve both been keeping secrets.
Can Riya and Abby find their way back to each other among lush countrysides and dazzling cities, or does growing up mean growing apart? Continue reading

ARC Mini Reviews: Contemporary Fiction

Thank you to the publishers Walker Books and Alma Books who have been kind enough to provide me with wonderful review copies lately. I enjoyed each and every one of these!

Truth or Dare

 

BLURB: How far is too far when it comes to the people you love? 
Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take.
Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you’re willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose?

What I liked

Non Pratt’s latest novel Truth or Dare is right on trend. It’s sharp and current with its portrayal of social media, and it ticks a lot of diversity boxes including LGBT, Neurodisability and subtle nudges and observations of passive racism. (Not that these things should be seen as tick boxes because I am looking forward to the day where we don’t have to point them out like a rarity!) Continue reading

Top Ten Books that Surprised Me (In a Good or Bad Way)

 

Top Ten Tuesday DIFF TYPE

Top Ten Tuesday is an awesomely original weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief Marcus Zusak


ABOUT:
A young girl who loves books, set in the backdrop of World War II and narrated by death? Check, check and CHECK. This should be right up my alley, surely?

SURPRISE: Umm… turns out, not. I feel like the only person on the planet who is not in love with this book. I didn’t go into it with any particular expectations but had basically never seen a poor review of this. While I enjoyed the story and its twists and turns, I was surprised that I never developed any kind of emotional connection with it or the characters.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas Review 5/5

Overall Impression: A story about one girl’s struggle to stand up and speak the truth in a world of police corruption, racial inequality and classism.

The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasThe YA community has been awash with praise for Angie Thomas’s debut novel The Hate U Give, which follows young Starr, a girl from the hood who becomes a witness to a white policeman shooting her unarmed black friend. Can you say big, heavy HEARTBREAKING topic? I was concerned with how a YA novel would be able to tackle such a charged and current issue – but, I shouldn’t have fretted dear bookworms, because this was a respectful, honest, heartwarming tale, and well, I’m sorry to bore you but, I feel EXACTLY the same way as the majority of the blogosphere so you’re just going to have to put up with gushing about this novel like everyone else!
Thank you, Walker Books for the ARC ahead of the UK release date. Much appreciated!

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community.
It could also get her killed.

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Series Review: Why The Darkness Rising Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong was a Letdown

The Darkness Rising

5+ years ago I read and devoured the Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong, a series about teens who discover they have a variety of supernatural abilities and find themselves caught between people who want to manipulate their powers for their own purposes. Not a new concept – but oh was it executed well! I am not the type of reader that usually gobbles up a series in one go… but I got through all 3 books in a week. Afterwards, I was left with that satisfying yet hollow feeling you get when you finish a truly outstanding series and realise there are no more books.

However, I soon discovered there would be a follow-up series, The Darkness Rising, set in the same world but in a different town with different characters. Because I found the first series SO addictive, I decided to wait until all the books were out so I could binge read them, and here we are! Unfortunately, The Darkness Rising Trilogy wasn’t as good as it’s predecessor, so here’s the bullet point, bookish low-down so you can decide for yourself whether this series is for you!

So let’s start with the positives first. This series has some pretty cool things going for it:

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The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova Review 3/5

Overall Impression: A self-indulgent exploration of the well-known Dracula mystery in which the vampire has become oddly obsessed with hunting librarians.The Historian by Elizabeth Kostiva

The Historian has sat on my shelf unread for over seven years. Yeah, that’s pretty shameful! I picked up my battered copy for a whole 20p at a hospital book sale, unable to resist the fancy swirling writing and menacing blood droplets on its cover. Having been struck down with a seriously evil case of tonsillitis this week, and having already binge watched all of the Outlander Season 2 TV series, I decided it was time to pick up this neglected tome of a book and show it some love.
The best way I can sum up this novel is that it was a good, entertaining book…until suddenly it wasn’t.

 

To you my perceptive reader, I bequeath my history…
Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor.’ Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history.

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