Lazy Saturday Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas #YA #MiniReview

icon7

I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

thugTitle: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 438 pages
Publication Details: April 6th 2017 by Walker Books
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary;
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora, thanks Dora!

Goodreads 

bookdepo

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.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Review

I’m only doing a lazy review for this one because I honestly don’t think there’s a lot I can say that hasn’t been said already.

The Hate U Give is brilliant. It’s heart-wrenching. It’s funny. It’s completely compelling. And it’s a book that we needed. Everyone should read it. It should put on the high school curriculum. There, I got it off my chest.

In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what THUG is about, in a nutshell it’s about Starr, a girl who struggles with her identity because she’s living two different lives. The one where she lives – in a poor black neighbourhood where Ganglords rule- and the posh, predominately white high school she attends. Starr’s two lives don’t mesh well with one another, but when her oldest friend Khalil is shot by a police officer for no reason whatsoever, Starr has to make a choice. Stay a silent witness or come forward and risk her two worlds colliding.

THUG was really hyped up in the book-world and that always worries me, but this time it was completely deserved. It’s a great read that isn’t just powerful and important but also a genuinely gripping, enjoyable read.

It was my book of month.

unicorn rating

 

 

When Everything Feels Like the Movies #BookReview #YA #LGBTReads

summer16.2Title: When Everything Feels Like the Movies
Author: Raziel Reid
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 176 pages
Publication Details: August 4th 2016 by Atom
Genre(s): Contemporary YA; LGBT
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Everyone wanted to break me. But stars aren’t broken, they explode. And I was the ultimate supernova.

My name was Jude. They called me Judy. I was beautiful either way.

School was basically a movie set. We were all just playing our parts. The Crew, the Extras, the Movie Stars. No one was ever real . . . especially me. I didn’t fit any category.

All the girls watched me – I could walk so much better than them in heels, and my make-up was always flawless.

All the boys wanted to, well, you know . . . even if they didn’t admit it.

They loved me, they hated me, but they could never ignore me.

I only had eyes for Luke. A red carpet rolled out from my heart towards him and this year, on Valentine’s Day, I was going to walk that carpet and find my mark next to him. It would be like a dream.

But my dream was going to turn into a nightmare.

This is my story.

Review

*spoilers ahead*

 

Contemporary YA is always quite hit and miss for me. Usually I either completely fall in love, or end up despising them – it’s definitely a Marmite genre for me. When Everything Feels Like the Movies was an exception to the rule – I’m still torn. 

Jude, (who is mockingly called Judy by his schoolmates – a nickname he chooses to embrace) thinks of his life as a movie, and he is the star. The haters at school are the bit-part actors and he lets their insults wash over him like confetti at an awards show. The more they talk about him, the more famous he gets. 

Jude is hopelessly in love with Jock-type Luke and dreams of going to the Prom with him. No amount of rebuttals (or the fact that Luke appears to be very straight) will deter him from asking him to the dance, but little does he realise that this one question will be his ultimate downfall. 

I don’t think it’s  a huge spoiler to tell you that Jude is killed by the end of this book because that’s one of the things I didn’t like about it – the reader is told quite early on that Jude does not live to tell the tale and I really wish it was kept as a surprise. However, I think it’s so important for books like this to exist. It was heartbreaking and sadly plausible, and for me that’s what gives it the impact. 

I really didn’t enjoy the beginning of this book. I found it overly vulgar and cheap, and it takes a lot for me to think of something as vulgar – I’m not easily shocked and I think I’m about as open minded as they come – but it took me a while to understand the tone of this book. Once I did, it was more enjoyable though.

The more I read, the more I understood Jude’s character, and I did end up loving him and his I-give-no-shits attitude. However, I found the endless movie analogies a little bit clichéd and irritating, but saying that, it did ring true to who Jude is. 

#WEFLTM is a short novel, and a really quick read in terms of pace too. If I had to rate it at the 25% mark it wouldn’t have been as favourable but I’m glad I gave it a chance. maybe you should too…

unicorn rating 3

DNF Review: The War Against the Assholes by Sam Munson

waragainstTitle: The War Against the Assholes
Author: Sam Munson
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 272 pages
Publication Details: June 9th 2016 by Atom
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Mike Wood is a teenager at a decidedly unprestigious Catholic school in Manhattan, accustomed to solving problems using brawn rather than brains.

One day, his nerdy classmate Hob Callahan persuades him to read a mysterious old book of unknown authorship, The Calendar of Slights. On the face of things, the book is a guide to performing clever card tricks; but in fact, it is a test for recruiting new members to join a secret cell of radical magicians.

Amazingly, Mike passes with flying colours unlocking not only his potential magic powers – but also the door to New York City’s vast and hidden underground network of warlocks, sorcerers and mages.

Here, with Hob as his unlikely guide, Mike’s role as a steadfast soldier begins. For there is a war being waged. A war between rivaling factions of magicians that has spanned the ages. A clandestine war against the establishment: a war against The Assholes.

Review

I completely misjudged this book. From the cover and the title I assumed it was going to be a contemporary YA high school read when in fact it’s more of a contemporary fantasy. I realised that I was wrong quite early on and I was then looking forward to it even more… but unfortunately I just couldn’t gel with it. 

Mike is the average guy at school. He’s not the most popular, he’s not the most nerdy. He’s not a bully, but he will (and does) pull punches to defend himself. 

Hob is a loner who is always lurking around reading the same little book with intensity. He never participates in anything and therefore no one really knows him. But when Mike and Hob are thrown together by a common enemy, Mike is intrigued and pleasantly surprised by him.

Hob gives Mike his little green book and urges him to read it, and from there on out things get crazy-weird. 

Even as I was typing that summary I was thinking ‘this sounds great, why couldn’t I get into it!?’ And the only answer I can think of was the writing style. 

It felt very disjointed and jumpy to me. I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t paying enough attention, but it seemed like the characters jumped from one scene/location to the next without an explanation. It may well have all been explained by the end but I’m sorry, I just had to give up. 

I love the idea of a secret magic circle, and being initiated via his strange little book, but I couldn’t follow the story. The world-building didn’t seem fully developed, nor did the characters. 

I struggled through 30% of The War Against the Assholes and I had to give up. There is a huge chance that it could have gotten a lot better after that so I don’t think it’s fair to give it a rating, or put people off it. Maybe try it for yourself and let me know? 😉

Top Ten Tuesday: Fish out of Water #TTT

icon4-ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is…Ten Books I Enjoyed Recently That Weren’t My Typical Genre

We all know that my favourite genre is YA but I do think it’s completely necessary to read other genres too, especially adult fiction. As far as AF goes, my comfort zones are crime fiction, thrillers and horror. After that, things get a bit sporadic and I flail around like that titular fish up there.

I like reading out of my comfort zone, although I don’t do it nearly enough. Probably because my success rate hasn’t been so great. Here are ten ‘uncomfortable’ books I’ve read in the last year or so and how successful they were in making me more prone to read that genre.

  1. Bookishly Ever After ~ Isabel Bandeira (YA Contemporary)

    bookishlyThis book only confirmed why I fell out of love with contemporary YA. It was so whiny and will they/won’t they it made me want to do a little sick in my mouth

    Success Rate 0%

  2. Sixteen Sixty One ~ Natalie Lucas (Memoir)

    sixteen61
    I did enjoy this, in that I found it interesting. I was impressed by how it read a lot like fiction. That didn’t really help me believe it though… 

    Success Rate 60%

  3. The Frenchman ~ Lesley Young

  4.  Fearless ~ Devon Hartford

    (New Adult)

    frenchmanfearlessI was pretty surprised how much I enjoyed both of these steamy novels. We all need a bit of sexy trash in our reading now and again, right? And to be fair, they were a lot less trashy than I thought they would be.

    Success Rate 66%

  5. The Barefoot Queen ~  Ildefonso Falcones

  6. Rush of Shadows ~ Catherine Bell

  7. Burial Rites ~ Hannah Kent

    (Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction)

    barefootarc3burialIf these novels were anytting to go by (lesser so with The Barefoot Queen) then I should definitely read more historical fiction. It’s a genre that I always think I have to be in the right mood for, but I find that they are often more rewarding than other genres. 
    Success Rate 85% 

  8. You’re the One that I Want ~ Giovanna Fletcher

  9. After Wimbledon ~ Jennifer Gilby Roberts

  10. The Magic of Christmas ~ Trisha Ashley

    (Women’s Fiction)

    yourewimbwinter7I enjoyed all three of these books which I would class as ‘chick lit’ although I’m aware a lot of people don’t like that term. It’s another genre that I can’t read too much of as I feel like they can become quite samey. But I definitely enjoy the genre more than I let myself believe. Success Rate 80%

 

 

Lazy Saturday Review: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira #YAreview

I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot and writing and more on my general feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

bookishlyTitle: Bookishly Ever After
Author: Isabel Bandeira
Series: Ever After #1
Format: Digital ARC, 416 pages
Publication Details: January 12th 2016 by Spencer Hill Contemporary
Genre(s): YA Contemporary
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

Review

Oh, this book!

I was totally into it at first. I think any book-lover would find it hard to resist the premise of Bookishly Ever After, but unfortunately my initial love for it was short lived.

I liked that Phoebe is flying the flag for ‘kooky’ introverts. I liked that she’s a geek and OK with that. What I didn’t like was the painfully drawn-out he likes me, he likes me not… OMG he text me and so on and so on.

On one hand I had totally lost interest by about half way through, but for some reason I couldn’t stop. I did feel compelled to find out the outcome of all the will-they-won’t-they whiny teen angst, so I guess it was successful in that way, but I’m sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy the journey, or where the journey led. It was very bland for me.

I would like to say however, that I’m not really the target audience and I do have a love/hate relationship with contemporary YA at best. If I’d read this when I was in school, I probably would have empathised with the characters a lot more. It also didn’t help that the advanced readers copy I received was really distracting with missing words, jumbled up sentences and ADVANCE COPY plastered all over it. I really tried not to let that influence my feelings towards the book, but it made what was, for me, a slow-paced book even more tedious.

This won’t put me off reading other books by Bandeira in future; I enjoyed her fluid writing style, but not the story.

unicorn rating 2

 

 

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

ARI
Title: Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 359 pages
Publication Details: April 1st 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary; LGBT
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it

Goodreads // Purchase

Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

Review


So you know the other week when I said I’m over Contemporary YA and have had enough of traumatic school-days reads? I take it all back. This book made me take it all back and eat my words. The shame!

Oh this book, you guys.

I fell in love with it instantly and read it in two sittings. The story is set in El Paso, Texas, and narrated by Ari. Ari’s a loner and more troubled than he even lets himself acknowledge. He’s clever and funny, but he’s angry too. He’s angry that his dad won’t talk about the war that has affected him so badly. He’s a angry that his brother is in prison and that his family won’t tell him why. In fact they pretend he doesn’t exist at all.

Ari meets Dante, who offers to teach him how to swim. On paper they are complete opposites. Dante is effervescent and loved by everyone who meets him. He finds it easy to open up to people and talk about his feelings; everything Ari isn’t, and can’t do.

The two become inseparable during one summer, and together they try to make sense of the world.

I’m reluctant to say much more plot-wise but just know this: Aristotle and Dante is a beautifully written, heart-wrenching coming-of-age story that I know will stay with me for a long time. I’ll definitely be reading this again in the future.

I love the setting, I loved the relationship between Ari and his mum, and obviously the relationship between Ari and Dante…I just can’t even… have ALL THE UNICORNS. I need to get my hands on Alire Sáenz’s other books STAT!

unicorn rating

When Mystical Creatures Attack by Kathleen Founds

netg3
Title: When Mystical Creatures Attack!
Author: Kathleen Founds
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital Reader’s Copy, 206 pages
Publication Details: October 1st 2014 by University Of Iowa Press
Genre(s): Short Stories; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Goodreads // Purchase

In When Mystical Creatures Attack!, Ms. Freedman’s high school English class writes essays in which mystical creatures resolve the greatest sociopolitical problems of our time. Students include Janice Gibbs, “a feral child with excessive eyeliner and an anti-authoritarian complex that would be interesting were it not so ill-informed,” and Cody Splunk, an aspiring writer working on a time machine. Following a nervous breakdown, Ms. Freedman corresponds with Janice and Cody from an insane asylum run on the capitalist model of cognitive-behavioral therapy, where inmates practice water aerobics to rebuild their Psychiatric Credit Scores.

The lives of Janice, Cody, and Ms. Freedman are revealed through in-class essays, letters, therapeutic journal exercises, an advice column, a reality show television transcript, a diary, and a Methodist women’s fundraising cookbook. (Recipes include “Dark Night of the Soul Food,” “Render Unto Caesar Salad,” and “Valley of the Shadow of Death by Chocolate Cake.”) In “Virtue of the Month,” the ghost of Ms. Freedman’s mother argues that suicide is not a choice. In “The Un-Game,” Janice’s chain-smoking nursing home charge composes a dirty limerick. In “The Hall of Old-Testament Miracles,” wax figures of Bible characters come to life, hungry for Cody’s flesh.

Set against a South Texas landscape where cicadas hum and the air smells of taco stands and jasmine flowers, these stories range from laugh-out-loud funny to achingly poignant. This surreal, exuberant collection mines the dark recesses of the soul while illuminating the human heart.

Review

I can honestly say this was one the strangest things I’ve ever read. And I usually like strange, but for some reason I couldn’t get on board with this.

The book begins with a series of short stories/essays in which students use all manner of mystical and mythological creatures to solve the world’s problems. They are sometimes funny, and always bizarre, but none of them really worked for me. I don’t think I quite got the point 😦

We soon learn that the school teacher, Mrs Freedman, has been admitted to an insane asylum and through letters from two of the students we follow their lives, and the impact that the teacher’s incarceration has had on them.

This part of the book I enjoyed more, but again, I wasn’t gripped. It was very fantastical and unfortunately I couldn’t get into it. The story is revealed through many different mediums; short stories, advice columns, diary entries and it made the book feel very disjointed to me. There was just too much going on.

I thought this was a huge shame, because I think the idea is very unique and could have been great. There was just nothing that made me want to keep reading. Perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood for something so different, I don’t know.

What I would say, is that if you’re a fan of the short story format, and want to try something a bit different, this may be the book for you. I thought it was a very ambitious book, even if it didn’t work for me. I certainly wouldn’t write it off.

unicorn rating 2

Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated British Authors

toptentuesday Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is: Top Ten Underrated Authors or Books in X genre

Woah, this is a tough one. It was taking me a really long time to even chose a genre, so I’m just going for underrated British Authors!

I feel like authors are mainly underrated because of the genres they write in. I like to read a lot of different genres as I’m sure most bloggers do, but I think the average reader is more set in their ways and tend to overlook certain authors for that reason.

That was the basis of my thinking for this list. If it’s not a genre you usually go for, give these authors a go.

TTT

  • Scarlett Thomas – Contemporary with a Sci-Fi twist
  • Derek Landy – Children’s Fiction
  • Darren Shan – Horror; Children’s Fiction
  • Marcus Sedgwick – YA
  • Mark Haddon – Contemporary
  • Kate Morton – Historical/Women’s Fiction
  • Ann Cleaves – Crime Fiction
  • Trisha Ashley – Women’s Fiction
  • Malorie Blackman – YA
  • John Connolly – Known for his Crime series, but check out his YA

Lazy Saturday Review: She is Not Invisible

sini
Title: She is Not Invisible
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 240 pages
Publication Details: July 3rd 2014 by Indigo
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary
Disclosure? I borrowed it off Dora. Thanks Dora!

Goodreads
Purchase

Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers – a skill at which she’s remarkably talented.

Her secret: she is blind.

But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness.

She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.

I went into this book with a little trepidation because it’s a huge departure for Sedgwick, whose previous books I’ve loved.

All of the other Sedgwick books I’ve read have been dark and quirky gothic reads with an almost fairy-tale feel. So when I realised he’d ventured into the world Contemporary YA (something I don’t read enough of), I was intrigued but slightly concerned. If it’s not broke, why fix it, right?

But of course, I was wrong.

I realised straight away that SINI was going to be something special. I devoured it in two short sittings.

Protagonist Laureth is worried about her semi-famous father, author Jack Peak. He seems to have gone missing and his precious notebook has turned up in New York, where he wasn’t even supposed to be.

Laureth’s mother doesn’t seem to care one bit, but Laureth has had enough. With the help of her younger brother, who acts as her guide and her eyes, she sets off to find him, and things go from weird, to weirder.

I loved everything about this book. The way it looks at Laureth’s impairment was refreshing and often beautiful. The mystery surrounding Jack’s disappearance was exciting and just the right amount of bizarre, and I loved that it was almost a book within a book.

But most of all, I think I loved the duality between Sedgwick and his character, Jack. In the author’s notes, Sedgwick admits that he himself became obsessed with coincidence and had been trying to write a book about it for some time. An obsession with coincidence almost sends Jack to the brink of madness in the novel, and even before reading the notes at the back of the book, I was picturing Jack as Sedgwick.

Coincidence?

Jack is also constantly reminded that his old ‘funny’ books are great, with an underlying message that his latest ‘serious’ books are not, and I couldn’t help thinking that this new direction of Sedgwick’s is something that worries him too.

Don’t worry Marcus. You get all the unicorns!

unicorn rating

She is Not Invisible is available from Waterstones in hardback and paperback now.