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

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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Dual Review: Two Amazing Books that Tackle Mental Health

Overall Impression: A feminism-focused book featuring heavily on mental health, that shows the importance of learning to accept who you are, faults and all.

Am I Normal Yet by Holly BourneAs soon as I knew what this novel was about, I had to have it and bought it the first opportunity, and I’m glad I did, because it’s the most realistic YA book about mental health I’ve ever read. Way to go Holly Bourne!!!

Am I normal Yet? follows the story of Evie, who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder (the more well-known contamination type where people feel the need to over wash/clean for fear objects and dirt will cause harm) and generalised anxiety disorder (which causes disproportionate worry about many everyday situations). Since being sectioned, Evie’s worked hard to get her life under control, she’s going to counseling, she’s on medication, she’s working on goals and concrete steps. But now she’s starting at a new college, she’s desperate and determined to be normal by keeping her mental health problems a secret. Evie wants to do all the normal things teenage do, having friends, going to parties and most importantly, dating and finding a boyfriend. But as she starts to slowly come off her meds, she’s constantly plagued by the fear that her bad thoughts are creeping back in…and the problem is that wherever you go, your problems go with you. Continue reading

The Death Cure by James Dashner Review 4/5

Overall Impression: A satisfying end to an overall enjoyable trilogy with memorable characters.

The Death Cure by James DashnerThis series kind of reminds me of takeaway pizza.
What, you say? Bear with me.
You know how occasionally, just occasionally, that takeaway pizza yearning kicks in, and you kind of know that it’s not the healthiest thing for you and that there’s much better, more sophisticated food out there? But it just tastes so darn good and so you devour it with great speed, enjoying every bite, but if you eat too much of it you become bloated. So you know that even though you really enjoyed it, you wouldn’t want takeaway pizza every week? Yeah, that sums up The Maze Runner series for me. It’s not the best written story out there or the most complex so you wouldn’t want to read too much of it in one go, but it keeps you turning the pages and you really enjoy it, even if you’re not 100% sure why. The final book in the series, The Death Cure also followed the same pattern for me!

The trials are over. WICKED is planning to restore the survivors’ memories and complete the final cure for the Flare.
But Thomas has already remembered more than they think. And he knows WICKED can’t be trusted.
The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine. Will anyone survive the Death Cure?
Continue reading