Posted in book reviews

Sawkill Girls – Claire Legrand

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.


Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Trigger / Content Warnings: animal death, (physical) assault, acephobia (challenged), blood, dismemberment/disembowelment (mentioned, seen briefly on page), emotionally and physically abusive parent (on-page violence), grief, mention of flaying, murder (sometimes described in graphic detail, bloody), shooting (shot in leg), spiders, sick

Sawkill Girls creeped me out so much that I had to fall asleep with the light on, too scared that I might conjure up images of The Collector in the dark. Yes, I am a giant wimp, but also the description was that vivid, the atmosphere so tangible, that it shook me (repeat, I am also just a giant wimp).

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I really quite enjoyed Sawkill Girls, which says a lot, since I typically stay very far away from anything horror, since, as I mentioned once or twice already, I am a giant wimp… But Legrand was able to keep my eyes trained on the page, invested in the mythology of this monster, captivated by the narrative voice of the Rock, and just wondering what the heck is going on?!

I enjoyed that this had multiple POV’s, however Zoey’s felt the strongest to me – narrative voice, and personality. I feel like her character was more vivid, and her actions and motivations were much clearer than either Val’s or Marion’s. Which, to begin with, I understood that their pov’s might be more unreliable/unclear because they were. For example, Val – she is morally grey, and her pov often reflected that as it was not always clear where she stood. With Marion, her grief, and the supernatural, often confused her and her pov’s were filled with that chaos, with the reader having to sort through the noise with her. But this grew tiresome after the while, and it just begin to feel like it was poorer writing, as Legrand struggled to define who these characters exactly were and show their character ARC – it often just happened quite suddenly (despite the long page count!)

Additionally, I did find myself getting lost in the POV’s as I would lose track of whose chapter it was. I’d be like wait, this is Zoey’s perspective, no Val’s, and then the text would remind me who. It was only for a few seconds, but it was jarring and often took me out of the story, feeling frustrated.

But overall, I rate this novel four stars because it did create a fantastic atmosphere, having the Rock as a personified presence was interesting and well done, and I did genuinely enjoy the message about female empowerment, grief, forgiveness, and anger.

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Maya and the Rising Dark – Rena Barron (Maya and the Rising Dark #1)

Twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world.

Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams. Her friends try to find an explanation—perhaps a ghost uprising or a lunchroom experiment gone awry. But to Maya, it sounds like something from one of Papa’s stories or her favorite comics.

When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Maya herself is a godling, half orisha and half human, and her neighborhood is a safe haven. But now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.

Rena Barron’s MAYA AND THE RISING DARK is an excitable and enjoyable read, featuring West African Mythology and a cast of wonderful characters.

The novel follows the titular character Maya, and her best friends Frankie and Eli as they venture in to the Dark to face the villainous Lord of Shadows and to save her Papa. The friendship between Maya, Frankie and Eli was the best part of the novel for me. I loved each of their characters individually, and the dynamic between them. I loved that each of them had their own striking personality. They had some delightfully hilarious scenes, and I really enjoyed the unconditional support that they had for each other.

Another highlight of the novel for me – bouncing off of the last one – was the feeling of community in the novel. I loved how the neighbourhood felt like a family. I do wish that we got to see more of the people in the neighbourhood and the relationships between them (I would’ve liked more than just them arguing). I hope this is something we see more in the sequel.

I enjoyed the aspects of West African Mythology, learning about Orisha’s and the other creatures. Again, I do hope we get more of them in the sequel.

I enjoyed the quest aspect of this novel, as Maya and her friends were faced with Darkbringers who are determined to stop Maya from rescuing her Papa and securing the Veil between their two worlds. While the quests were interesting, something was missing for me. The novel just jumped from quest-to-quest, and then it ended, and I was like hm. Wish there was a bit more too it than jumping from action-to-action. While Maya – and her friends – did go on a character ARC of learning more about themselves, and the world around them, ultimately I felt like the overall ARC was lackluster. I don’t want to say too much because I do not want to spoil, but I feel like there could have been more development to Maya’s realisation of her powers & more exploration of the past etc. I feel like Barron may be saving a lot of the information/reveals for further novels in the series.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I am looking forward to seeing where the series goes.

3/5 stars!

Thank you Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group for giving me access to this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

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Pretending – Holly Bourne

WHY BE YOURSELF WHEN YOU CAN BE PERFECT?
‘Perceptive. Hilarious. Reassuring. Brilliant.’ Laura Jane Williams
The highly-anticipated new novel from Holly Bourne, bestselling author of HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW?

He said he was looking for a ‘partner in crime’ which everyone knows is shorthand for ‘a woman who isn’t real’.

April is kind, pretty, and relatively normal – yet she can’t seem to get past date five. Every time she thinks she’s found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken. And angry.

If only April could be more like Gretel.

Gretel is exactly what men want – she’s a Regular Everyday Manic Pixie Dream Girl Next Door With No Problems.

The problem is, Gretel isn’t real. And April is now claiming to be her.

As soon as April starts ‘being’ Gretel, dating becomes much more fun – especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua.

Finally, April is the one in control, but can she control her own feelings? And as she and Joshua grow closer, how long will she be able to keep pretending?

Pretending isn’t a bad book, but it’s not the greatest either.

Bourne’s novels always discuss important subjects, such as different forms of assault, toxic relationships, mental health struggles, and, to put broadly, feminism. And this is so important. Her novels have opened a wider discourse and conversations with people, offering a new perspective, and has provided an accessible and new space to discuss the trauma, and advise on how to seek help/recognise negative behaviour.

And this novel did that. This novel follows the protagonist April, who works as part of a charity on the front-lines, helping people with their struggles. This can range from helping them dealing with their rape, alcohol abuse, or suicidal thoughts, etc. And while April is working there, she finds herself dealing with the trauma and the effects of when she was raped a few years beforehand.

The novel does a deep dive in to April’s trauma, her coping mechanisms. Part of this is her deep distrust and hatred of men. So April forms the stereotypical, satirical alter ego of ‘Gretel’ who is basically – what she thinks, and what we often see in various forms of media – the mans perfect woman. April thinks if she becomes Gretel, she will be free from being harmed by men: she has the control.

But this isn’t as easy as April thinks it is, and this all pans out throughout the course of the novel. In conversations with herself, her friend, her therapist, her newly met friends at a boxing class for other survivors. While that is all very in-depth, I found the novel to be lacking something…

Originality. I think if this was the first novel of Bourne’s I read, it would get a much higher rating. But to me, this feels like the adult version (or the finalised draft) of Bourne’s YA novel before this, The Places I’ve Cried in Public mixed in with her first adult book (which I dislike), How Do You Like Me Now? They all just feel interchangeable. The characters, the plots, the narrative style and their discourse.

April feels like the same character as the other protagonists in Bourne’s other novels. Very cut-and-paste like. And while this a novel about the female experience, I don’t think it does it justice when every male character in Bourne’s novels are also the same cut and paste dry cardboard characters.

I don’t know how I feel judging this based on her other work, but at the same time, having read the majority of the catalogue I am familiar with Bourne’s writing style and thus have a critical eye and opinion on the development of her writing. That I can’t ignore. Bourne, the more and more I read, just seems like she knows how to write the same characters and stories over and over. . . and that doesn’t insinuate good writing to me. (Basically just copying herself).

So it’s a really hard one, because the message of this book is important, and it has some really great moments that explore issues that all women can (sadly) relate to. But then, I find it lacks putting across the emotion it could have done, due to the not-so-greatly written characters (this novel could’ve had a wonderful supporting ensemble, but Bourne gives them a moment of screen time, tries to make them look *layered* and then moves on) and plot.

So this one is a 3 stars for me. I don’t entirely hate it. It’s decent. But I’m not head over heels for it. Nice idea, poor execution.

Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for kindly giving me a copy of this novel  in exchange for an honest review. 

Posted in book reviews

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, comes an unforgettable edge-of-your-seat mystery that is at once heartbreakingly tender and morally courageous about what it means to be human.

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.

It’s been several days since I finished this, and I have to say how thought provoking this novel is. As I said in my first/immediate review, this has such an interesting concept – and it lingers with you way after you’ve finished reading. This doesn’t change my overall opinion or rating of the book, as I still found it to be lacking in pace and falling flat at times, but I am growing a greater fondness and appreciation to the clever-writing style and structure of this novel.

I have mentioned that one of my issues with the book is that I was let down by the lack of exploration and ‘factual information’ surrounding cloning and the social and political climate within the novel (i.e. a lack of worldbuilding) but I think to explore that would take away from the emotional impact of Kathy as a first person narrator. We see what Kathy sees, we know what information Kathy knows. She is an unreliable narrator – willingly so, and unintentionally – and what this does is place us, the reader, her audience, in to her mind. We are complicit with her. We are empathetic, especially as Kathy addresses us straight on – challenging us, asking us, to engage in this conversation with her.

So while a lot of the puzzle pieces can seem to be missing [worldbuilding, more info on the lives of the clones in other facilities, etc] this works to build Kathy’s story, in letting the audience see the world as she does. To fill in those gaps, to fill in those silences, I feel would take away from Kathy’s story.

The euphemistic language in this is also brilliant, and wasn’t something I picked up on from the start – I only did in a later discussion. Words and roles like ‘guardians’, ‘carers’ and ‘donor’ are all misleading, to hide the hard, uncomfortable, painful truth. It is masking something horrendous with pretty language, manipulating the reader, and the characters – like Kathy – in to thinking this is okay, it isn’t as bad as it seems. Kathy thinks she cares for people; but really she is assisting them, aiding them, and is complicit with sending them to their deaths. Tommy and Ruth think they are donors, but that applies a sense of free will, that they are making this choice – but are they? Their sole purpose for existing is to have their organs harvested. And the guardians – this implies that they are caring. But are they nothing but prison wardens, or inspectors, ensuring that the product is good?

This use of euphemistic language, flowery words to cover up a brutal truth, demonstrates how easily Kathy, and the other characters, follow this path and are complicit in their own ‘completion’ – death. Their ‘destiny.’ It speaks to a wider topic of free will & agency. It speaks to resistance. The power of the media. And it is a dramatic irony, because we as readers feel an empathy – an anger, a frustration, a sadness – as we want the characters to *realise* that this is brutal and unfair and they should fight back. And just as you feel the characters get this sense – they go back to deluding themselves, convincing themselves otherwise…

They desperately try to convince themselves that they are human…
They have souls…
They are like everyone else.

But they are never given the tools, the opportunity.
Raised on half-truths. Words with a double meaning.
Never given a choice to do anything else, to survive outside their school, their cottages, their set roles…

And you begin to see and understand why these characters went along with this narrative they are told. It’s brutal and heart-breaking and you wish otherwise. You engage with the moral dilemma of cloning and organ harvesting…

And ultimately I think the question that it asks you to consider is,

What does it mean to be human?
Immediate review after finishing:
This was a decent read, with an interesting concept. While the subject matter was fascinating, I found that it focused too much on the speculative element surrounding the morality / philosophical ideologies surrounding cloning and scientific advancements. I was constantly yearning to hear more about the system surrounding the cloning, the rules, etc – I would’ve liked for it to have been more in-depth.

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Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy


Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin'” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body.

With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant–along with several other unlikely candidates–to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any girl does.

Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City–and maybe herself most of all.

I am so incredibly underwhelmed by this. I remember the hype surrounding this book when it first came out: all I heard was incredible 5 stars reviews, THIS was the book to read. And I wanted too. BUT IT WAS SO EXPENSIVE! And eventually, as the hype died down and the price lowered, I was so apprehensive to read it and my hype for it faded…

And then the film came out and THAT LOOKS SO GOOD AND I STILL WANT TO WATCH IT, so I decided to FINALLY read this.

And yeah…Underwhelmed af. It’s not that this book isn’t good. It is. It’s just not GREAT!!!! capital letters, exclamation marks. Where was the plot, really? I’m a person that quite likes a good plot but this just meandered through her everyday small-town life and that’s not something I’m really interested in, especially when I’m not that in love with any of the characters.

And the pageant was so hyped up???? And then it happened in like 50 pages and just ended? DID IT EVEN SAY WHO WON? I remember it saying who came in second place, but not who won (I read this book today. . . I can’t remember things. . . does that say something about me or the book?)

And then the BOOK ENDED. I literally turned the page, ready to start the next chapter, excited because oooo the pageant is over and what’s going to happen now with Bo, etc, but no. . . I came face to face with ‘Acknowledgments’ and I was like. . . wait, what? That’s it???? You built the book up to this AND THIS IS ALL THAT YOU GIVE ME? WHAT?

Also. I feel like this book was a love story between Willowdean and Ellen. Their relationship was the greatest. Seeing them grow up and grow apart and then try and find ways back to each other I LIKED IT. I WISH I HAD MORE OF THIS. The friendships between the girls was good.

Then we have the romance element…and let me tell you, I am a SHIPPER. But WHERE WAS THE CHEMISTRY? I swear Mitch and Bo could’ve been interchangeable. I’m not MAAAAAAD about it but it was such a let down…pretty much the whole book was a let down…

So 3 stars. Wasn’t terrible and had a lot of bits I did like but I don’t like it enough to give it any higher.

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Serious Moonlight – Jenn Bennett


After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

SOMEBODY PINCH ME, IS THIS BOOK REAL? I’ll count my fingers to make sure this wasn’t some dream…

I loved this. Before I would’ve said oh thats unsurprising, as I loved both [book:Night Owls|25327818] and [book:Alex, Approximately|34927042]. But after reading [book:Starry Eyes|35297469] with my book group, A Book Nirvana a few months ago, I had apprehensions about this. (I’ve also been debating if I’d have liked Starry Eyes if I wasn’t fast to a) lead a discussion and b) avoid awkward spoilers!! Sometimes people make mistakes. It happens).

Ultimately, everything Starry Eyes got wrong, Serious Moonlight got right. The parents in this aren’t always present – there’s a mixture of different family structures. Single parents, to being raised by grandparents and ‘aunt’s’. And it was beautiful. Where as in Starry Eyes it all felt very cheap and eh, in this it felt real. Authentic. Seeing that people aren’t always there but forming new connections with others and learn working to build bonds. Honestly, I cried.

THIS BOOK MADE ME CRY A LOT.
(Also I’m reviewing this as an ARC so I can’t use quotations BUT WOOW!).
So yes. The parental/family aspect was great. It showed blended families and how people work to build their bonds and dealing with guilt and grief and anxiety and it was wonderful and felt real and JUST GREAT.

Also the mental health aspect was very well done. I cried (again). The way they made it clear that this was a process, and that they don’t believe in the ‘love heals all’ mantra, but that it certainly can’t hurt, I liked it. I did. It was just two people coming to terms and understanding themselves. They were getting better for them. And they encouraged and supported each other and it was honestly beautiful.

THEY WERE JUST GREAT COMPLEX CHARACTERS. With Daniel’s partial deafness and other life issues, and Birdies sleep issues and life issues, there was some greatly done representation. The characters weren’t always PC in their thoughts but it was done in an inoffensive way that just showed an ingrained bias that people have and how to healthily challenge those thoughts and overcome a prejudice in a calm, respectable manner. I loved it.

As always, this is something Bennett seems to always do well in her books, is the positive representation of sex.

Anyways this book is great for so many reasons and I really liked it. It was cute, while a bit out there, but it managed to stay grounded in an authentic representation of reality – not just for those who are teens, but for everyone. While it embarked on ‘heavy’ subject manner, it did not patronise the reader or feel like it was pushing an agenda on you, but it was able to communicate the importance of listening and it demythologised the stigma and addressed many modern day fears we have surrounding public image/mental health/invisible diseases. These kids weren’t made out to be special snowflakes because of their illnesses, but at the same time it didn’t dismiss them in the fact that the way they experience some things in life are different from the ‘normal’ person & how they work around these obstacles.

The plot was well done. Usually in YA’S I can predict the plot twists etc but I DID NOT. I audibly gasped and was like NO. And then I immediately messaged Emer whose also read this, and promptly was like !!!! SHOOK. (She was too)

Also. WE NEED TO FREE OCTAVIA AND THE GOLDFISH.

I am just very happy with this book.
It doesn’t quite reach the four stars because sometimes I got fed up with the stalker-y aspects of it, and sometimes it felt a bit disjoined on where exactly this book was aiming to go and the point of it.

Anyways this is not an eloquent review at all but basically I have the FEEEEEELS for this and therefore !!!!! READ IT. It’s great.

Thank you Netgalley and the Publisher for this arc in exchange for an honest review.

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Crushed: A Hockey Love Story – Brit DeMille (Vegas Crush #1)

“No-fraternization policies were made to be broken.” Evan Kazmeirowicz, VEGAS CRUSH

This may sound reasonable coming from the star winger for the VEGAS CRUSH the day he lays eyes on the new social media manager for the team, but for Holly Laurent it’s a whole different story. Dating a “player” is a risky business, especially if she wants to keep the job she just landed with the hottest team in the NHL.

Holly loves her independence and her career. She’s doing just fine on her own, thank you very much. Allowing her head to be turned by a hot hockey player and putting her job at risk?

Not. Happening. Ever.

Not even if he looks like a god. Not even if he possesses enough charm to tempt the panties from a nun. Not even if she has to cross her fingers behind her back every time she tells him she’s not interested.

Policies exist for a reason. Rules are not meant to be broken and sexy players are not to be trusted. Right?

*CRUSHED is a full-length stand-alone novel of 60,000 plus words.
You’ll also receive the first chapters of SIN SHOT, another book in the VEGAS CRUSH HOCKEY SERIES.

‘She looks back at me as she leaves and I legit want to jump the barrier, skate to the glass, and beg her to let me sink my biscuit into her net.’

Like…page 4.

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I bought this. I ACTUALLY SPENT MONEY ON THIS AND I WOULD LIKE A REFUND.

I’m finding it hard to rate this any more than one star. It feels harsh in one way, because I’ve definitely read texts that were more offensive and badly written then this . . . but wow.

I mean, where was the editor for this? At one point the MC remarks that ‘he kissed from my belly to by public bone.’ Her PUBLIC bone???? P U B L I C BONE? Do not get me started on the amount of issues with the speech marks. How did they manage to miss it like FOURTEEN TIMES???? So, a character would start talking, “Hi my name is Gabby,” she said, I think this is a badly edited book,” she finished. DO YOU SEE WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT SENTENCE? I am no grammatical wizard but when this is meant to a published book (that I spent money on!!!!) it’s unacceptable for this ‘mistake’ to happen SO FREAKING OFTEN.

Sometimes insta-love stories can work out but this one was a right lol.
The characters were just . . . wow. They were alright I guess, but where was the character development? Evan stopped sleeping with multiple girls and Holly slept with one? Cool cool cool cool.

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Not every character has to be likeable/perfectly/politically correct, but I did not like the discourse surrounding womanly bodies. I’m not sure if the author was trying to do some sort of subverting to the typical norms of what we as a society deem attractive, but the phrase “skinny bitches” is used, and later on Holly (the mc) remarks that she isn’t as “womanly as her” friend because she is too skinny and athletic (where her friend is curvy) Just . . . next.

Not to mention the usual slut thing (oh haha you slut, the character will exclaim. It’s meant to be in a joking way but you can tell the standards for the female characters and the male characters on sex are different.)

(Also this book would not past the Bechdel test AT ALL).

What also annoyed me – in relation to the woman/slut thing – is that men are being presented and promoted as sex craved monsters that are starved without it???? Evans (the MC) manager suggests he sleeps with the reporter to give her what she wants and implies that because he is a man he should just do it . . . and that’s so wrong. Like what the heck. We shame women for having ‘too much sex’ and then we shame men for ‘not having enough sex’ and we value people based on their sexual experience and ???? NO.

(Evan expresses how he feels ‘personally victimised by this statement’ but haha yeah let’s just laugh it off…UGH. DEMILLE I AM FRUSTRATED WITH YOU.)

I think this could’ve been very sexually liberating for Holly (personal pleasure, sexual experiences) and for Evan, challenging the tropes surrounding sex and the stigma…but no. It went one step forward, and then just jumped ten steps backwards. AND FOR WHAT?

Like look, I shamelessly love my steamy NA hockey player romances . . .
But not like this.

Not when it is just shady all the way through, lacks any sort of plot (will they ‘bone’ or won’t they?!?! Will the married female boss lady to Holly fire her for her relationship with Evan???? Because she’s jealous as her ‘hard nipples’ in a convo with Evan indicate!!!! Wait no???? It’s because her husband and her are having issues and a bunch of other thrown in backstory which is all to influence and inspire Holly to GO AND GET HER MAN!!!!)

I think the decent relationship in this is probably Holly and her Uncle Troy.

But yeah, this book was badly edited, not greatly written, shaming to multiple different groups of people (like, it didn’t even have a point to work on body image – beautiful comes in all shapes and sizes, or to talk about the double standards of sex, etc. It was just like hah I think I’m doing something clever but really I’m kind of an arsehole).

ONE LAST POINT!!!! Could the author make up what type of character they wanted Evan to be???? Sure characters are multi-faceted and come from diverse backgrounds but WOW. Here he is, showing off his fancy sport car (I think he even says how much it is lmao) but then oh no he lives in a humble apartment…and guess what. He’s Russian, but he’s American, BUT HE HAS A BRITISH ACCENT? WAIT – EUROPEAN. WAIT – SLIGHTLY RUSSIAN. I don’t know. I’m confused. His mums from Boston I think, his dad from Russia, and his mum wanted him to go to school in Britain. I don’t know. There wasn’t much about his family but a couple of throw away comments to layer his character but they were so brief in passing that it did jackshit but make me like ????

Yeah…I think the one star suits this and I want my money back.

Posted in book reviews

Light Years – Kass Morgan

Light Years is the first book in a thrilling new sci-fi series from the bestselling author of The 100.
Reeling from the latest attack by a mysterious enemy, the Quatra Fleet Academy is finally admitting students from every planet in the solar system after centuries of exclusivity.
Hotshot pilot Vesper, an ambitious Tridian citizen, dreams of becoming a captain – but when she loses her spot to a brilliant, wisecracking boy from the wrong side of the asteroid belt, it makes her question everything she thought she knew. Growing up on the toxic planet Deva, Cormak will take any chance he can get to escape his dead-end life and join the Academy – even if he has to steal someone’s identity to do it. Arran was always considered an outsider on icy Chetire, always dreaming of something more than a life working in the mines. Now an incoming cadet, Arran is looking for a place to belong – he just never thought that place would be in the arms of a Tridian boy. And Orelia is hiding a dark secret – she’s infiltrated the Academy to complete a mission, one that threatens the security of everyone there. But if anyone finds out who she really is, it’ll be her life on the line.
These cadets will have to put their differences aside and become a team to defend their world from a cunning enemy – but the danger might be lurking closer to home than they think…

OOOO I really liked this.

At first, I thought the multiple POV’s would get annoying and too much for me, but I enjoyed each and every one of them. I think they were all nicely paced, but my favourites probably have to be Cormack/Arran. Followed then by Orelia and Vesper. I liked the cast of all the characters – the mix of different planets and social classes they came from made it very interesting to see them interact, connect, and grow with each other.

The world building was pretty decent in this too. Usually I find in Sci-Fi’s that they info-dump and I find it hard to keep track, but this one was fairly easy to understand. I might not remember all the names of the planets etc . . . or if Earth was ever a thing in this one . . . but I appreciated that it wasn’t that complicated. People settled on different planets: the rich rip off and use the poor. There’s discrimination between the social classes, etc, etc.

I loved the whole crew dynamic with their banter and encouragement with each other, but also the conflict and the weariness. It was just really nice to read and watch them develop.

OH MY GOD THE ENDING!! I was for sure the ending was going to go a certain way and I was like 85% right. But I am H Y P E D. I’d very much appreciate having a book two to read right about now.

So yes, I did really enjoy this one. I read it all in one day because I liked the characters, the plot, and the writing. It was just very quick and easy to flick through – before I knew it I was 63% in and it felt like I’d only just started reading. I appreciated that. I can imagine that if I wasn’t in the mood for something like this then I might find it a bit more slower-paced, not a lot happening in plot wise for a while, but eh.

I just found it enjoyable.

CW, particularly Jason Rothenberg, keep your hands off this. I will not allow you to screw up another one of my ships.

I am expecting a lot from book two!!

3 (or maybe 4) stars!

Posted in book reviews

Moxie – Jennifer Mathieu

Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

I wish I liked this.

It’s hard to explain quite why this didn’t click with me – is it more on a personal level? Or the style of writing? I think it’s both.

The problem I found with this is that this lacked the ability to give readers freedom of thought. It seemed very one-stroke of a paintbrush, and if you didn’t get on with that, well then, you suck.

That is not to say by any means that I did not agree with the messages this book was trying to get across: I do. I agree schools and authority figures often use their power in the wrong ways, and females can be disadvantaged and treated differently. Dress codes can be sexist and barbaric. People can be wilfully ignorant and arseholes.

The problem with me is how it chose to show those who weren’t wilfully ignorant, just confused, lacking understanding. Due to the genre and the writing style, this is aimed towards young adults, and that’s why this is so frustrating. So you have Viv, the main character, and then Seth. New boy in town / love interest. This relationship dynamic was used to highlight how it is that boys can be ignorant and not quite understand (and probably can’t ever truly understand as they don’t live through the experience) but that just because they are doesn’t mean they’re ‘bad’. It’s the whole we’ve painted every other man in this story as jackass, but we must have a special snowflake (don’t worry photo store man, I see you). Viv and Seth’s relationship was there for used as an example and tool to how people can say things that perpetuate a matter of behaviour etc, but then this is how we should talk it out and discuss it.

Which is great. The only way to learn is to ask questions and discuss and be mindful. Love that.

However, it didn’t go like that for me. Everytime Seth seemed to ask a question Viv would get frustrated with him (understandable at times, when you’re fed up with the world treating you a way which isn’t just), but then she never really learned how to . . . not be. She’d talk to him. It would end in her going off and thinking they’ve broken up blah blah blah, multiple times. Or she’d tell him how she felt and then ended the conversation to avoid it. So Viv went the whole book moaning about how people are wilfully ignorant and stand by and let these things happen . . . and then just does it herself? For the sake of not losing her relationship with Seth? Even though the second her mum found a guy, that Viv immediately didn’t like because of his political views and profession (works with jocks, therefore he must be an arsehole too) she was recalling about how her younger version of her mum (which Viv idolises as some sort of ultra feminist) would’ve never done that?

So there comes to end of my first problem. Freedom of thought: this book often lacks giving good encouragement to readers to ask there own questions because hey, if you do, you’ll piss someone off or the issue will just get swept under the rug. But that’s not a way to learn. Questions etc should always be respectful and mindful but people growing up in this society aren’t always raised and born with these feminist values. So it sucks the book is shitting on that (and I will come back to more on this later).
Problem two: Viv and her ultra-feminist mum. If I hear Viv say she’s going to go and put on her Runaways t-shirt once more I swear I’ll burn it. Viv has this idolisation with the Riot Grrrls or something (can’t ever remember the name, oops) and always talks about how her mum was this ultra feminist with her coloured hair and rebellious streaks. This is then compared with her saying about how she’s so dutiful and looking around at the other girls and criticising them for all just being normal/boring . . . like ?? I’m not sure I understand this. It just really rubbed me the wrong way with how it was like well to be awesome feminist you’ve got to be a rebel and FIGHT BACK AND BE ANGRY AND YAY ANARCHY but like . . . no? You can still do your homework and not get in to trouble but still hold these values? There’s different ways of fighting back?

Yes, it’s impossible for a book to explore this all at once without feeling too long, messy, etc. But that’s the thing. It had these things in and S T I L L felt messy. I’m not sure if we’d call this problem number three or just the same problem but here: this book did try to include other issues – i.e. issues about race. Yet once again, it felt flat. It would make a comment here and there about race, saying about how unjust POC have it, and then . . . plateau off. Like CHECK!! THERE GOES MY INTERSECTIONAL BOX!!

This whole book just felt so very white feminist. There’s nothing wrong with white feminism. But it’s bad when you try and tick off these other ‘issue boxes’ in order to try and show hey look!! I am a good one!!!!

I want to compare this to Asking For It. That book is set in a small, mostly white town, in Ireland. It’s narrative focuses on rape culture. Never once when reading that was I fed up about how (privileged seems the wrong word here, but we’ll use it) privileged the feminism was. Because it just worked. It was able to tell a story and the impact of rape culture and how we can be our own worst enemies without every feeling preach-y. It made the reader THINK. It indirectly questioned them. Where this, this didn’t. Moxie just felt too preachy, and too cardboard cut out. I guess it never felt authentic.

And I think that’s because of the over exaggerations. When talking about this with my friends, I compared this to an early 2000’s movie or something like Mean Girls, that has everyone segregated off in to little factions, which are associated with certain behaviours. I.e you have the jocks, and obviously because they play sports they have to be a rapist arsehole.
I give this book it’s dues: it did sort of work past this towards the end. We had people interacting from different groups (oh yay the cheerleader isn’t a stuck up non-feminist bitch like we all assumed based on her status and one action – turns out she was being blackmailed and we shouldn’t judge!!) but that was it. And I wonder – why? Why segregate them like this? Schools, at least from my recent experience, weren’t that cookie cutter. So why not be in touch with more on how it is? Surely the story would’ve worked better if you did it more casually, instead of having to dramatizes every small thing? Readers aren’t stupid. It’s show not tell. So don’t fall back on those basic tropes. . .

I lost where I’m at now.

Anyways. There isn’t one type of feminism. This is a part of it. And the book did good towards the ending in showing about how you learn and grow and how it can be a powerful thing etc.

But then I question if the ending was even good. I guess sure, it was realistic that there was no real resolution for the rapist jock (it happens) but also the big dramatics at the end . . . was it too much?

Or was it just highlighting the power people can have? Who knows. I wish this book highlighted more though that feminism is something that some people desperately need & that it’s not just a cute little side club you sign up too as a hobby. It was getting there in the end, of you know, we should all be feminists and work to work on each others feminism, but it just seemed too well hey this is our cool little feminist club. But then again again, Viv realised that her mum in her flowers and her maybe not-so-perfect boyfriend still is a feminist and there’s no one right way to be one and that was good. You do grow as people, and because of this, your values grow and change. Mine certainly have within the last year. Heck, I can change my values and views within a month. It’s called evolving – but I think this book took too long, too many cheap shots, and just a lot of eye rolls, to get there.

I think I would’ve loved this book when I was 15. I’d be with you all screaming about how this makes my heart scream because YAY GIRL POWER AND FEMINISM AND FINALLY SOMEONE GETS IT but now, after reading so many of these books, I’m tired. I’m tired that these ya books are all mostly told in the same preachy, almost patronising fashion, that can often contradict itself and weave in unfeminist points while trying to make feminist points . . .
Who knows. Maybe I just read this in a grump

2 STARS.

Posted in other bookish posts

Reading Wrap Up – June 2018.

Hi all! I managed to read quite a few books in June of 2018! Here’s the list of what I read:

  1. Asking For It – Louise O’Neill

I read this novel with my Goodreads book group, A Book Nirvana. I did enjoy this read, and how it highlighted the problems with rape culture and showed the impacts it can have both on the victim, family, and friends. I think it did well on making the reader question and debate their own prejudices and opinions. The reason why this wasn’t a five star was because I found sometimes it was too-narrowed. This is understandable as it was told from one strict point of view, but I still think the book would have benefitted from fleshing out the story. For what it did though, three stars. Sometimes the writing and pacing slacked.

2. By Your Side – Kasie West

Once again, I read this for my Goodreads book group, A Book Nirvana, summer’s reading challenge. I did enjoy this book but found the characters to lack depth and any real purpose, and for the plot to be a mess. For more of my thoughts you can find my review by clicking here.

3. The Room mate, the Soul Mate, The Play Mate – Kendall Ryan

These are three individual books, but I listed them all together as they are part of a ‘Roommates’ series. These are some New Adult books, and I enjoyed them. I think on average I gave them all a two stars. While they were enjoyable there wasn’t that much to them. Just a quick, popcorn read, which I’ve now ultimately forgotten most of their plot lines. Books for when you’re bored, can’t be bothered to read something ‘more serious’, and just want some entertainment.

4. Nyxia – Scott Reintgen

Another book read for my groups Summer Reading Challenge, and I really enjoyed this one. I’m usually not the biggest fan of sci-fi, but this was very light on that aspect while still giving it a sci-fi feel. So if you’re not a big fan like I am, I find this a very accessible book in the genre. I did write a review on goodreads that you can find here. However, the review will be available sometime here on my blog. I gave this a high end three stars, and can’t wait for the sequel.

5. Warcross – Marie Lu

Another book read for the reading challenge, and I LOVED this one. I’ve always been a big fan of Marie Lu’s, so I had many expectations going in to this one. Previous to reading this I felt in a bit of a reading slump, not really enthralled with the idea of picking up a book and slugging through it in the hopes that it’ll be enjoyable. But this one! It reminded me why and what it is I love about reading. Look, I don’t deny the fact that this book isn’t perfect. You could call it cheesey and predictable and cliché, but I don’t care. It was brilliantly entertaining, I loved the characters, and really was a dose of medicine that made me feel better. My review for this will be up on my blog sometime but for now you can find it here on Goodreads.

6. Royally Bad – Nora Flite

I gave this book one star. This was another new adult book, and it was just . . .  meh. I found it very problematic with the way she was forcibly locked away so she couldn’t leave, and how she did it because she loved the boy (I think they’d only known each other a few days) and didn’t want to get him in trouble. The ending tried to pull a ‘wow, look at this shock factor’ but it just didn’t hit right. I think one star was generous for this.

7.  A Bad Boy Stole My Bra – Lauren Price (click the title to go to my review)

Funny, cute, and a quick read. This was previously a Wattpad novel, and one of the better ones I’ve seen come from the site. Thanks NetGalley for sending me this! In the end I gave it 3 stars.

8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K Rowling

I did it guys. I finally finished reading the Harry Potter series for the first time. YAY! This one had me gently sobbing during The Battle of Hogwarts. Anyways, I was a bit disappointed in this book because a lot of it didn’t seem to make sense (or maybe I’m just thick). There seemed to be a lot of plot holes and contradicting the previous laws of magic it had set up in the previous books? In the end I gave this a 3.

9. All Played Out – Cora Carmack (Rusk University, #3)

Another new adult book, and I enjoyed it. I have the whole entire series. They’re just purely ridiculous but they make me grin and entertain me. 3 stars.

10. The Score – Elle Kennedy (Off-Campus, #3)

This one made me laugh so much!! Another new adult series, and I really enjoy this one!! Once again, purely ridiculous but I can’t help but love them. 3 stars.

 

That’s it! That’s all I read in the month of June. It was a very good reading month for me, thanks to all those addictive and trashtastic New Adult novels. How many books did you all read in the month of June and which one was your favourite?