Posted in book reviews

Star Daughter – Shveta Thakrar

The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.

Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens–and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.

This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.

Trigger Warnings: imprisonment, physical assault (character beaten, not extremely graphic but there are details), ‘self-flagellation’ (term used in-text to describe character anxiously picking skin to the point of drawing blood), panic attacks, consuming blood, murder (method mentioned, not vivid, in-depth description)

Shveta Thakrar’s Star Daughter is a worthwhile, well-written, wonderfully magical debut novel. Star Daughter narrates the story Sheetal, the daughter of a star and a mortal, as she goes on a quest to save her father from the injury she accidentally inflicted on to him, which leads her to the Celestial Court where she reunites with the mother who left her . . .

What follows is a story of self-discovery as Sheetal is confronted with the knowledge of everything that had been kept from her, and all that they keep from her still. She goes on a journey to find out more about herself, her family, and their mysterious, murky past to find out who she is and where she should fit in to this world, while combatting with the strong wills of everyone else in the Star court who all have their own opinions & ideas of what they want her to do.

The best written part of this novel is Sheetal’s emotional turmoil as she tries to come to terms with who she is, after years of being told to hide parts of herself, and never being able to express herself in the way she wants to because she’s in the mortal world and it’s dangerous for a Star. You can also feel Sheetal’s anxiety and terror at the unknown world and situation she has been thrown in to, and the upset she feels about her mother seemingly abandoning her and her father when she was a child. With the latter, I did expect more from when they finally reunited in the Celestial court. It wasn’t awful, and the story ARC was satisfactory, but I often felt that they never could quite connect because Sheetal’s mother, even with better intentions, also had a scheme she couldn’t see past in order to just be there for Sheetal. The ending did touch more on her mother and her mending more of their dynamic, and we did get explanations, but I hoped for more emotion and more scenes of them talking/figuring it out.

I also felt disappointed by the competition aspect, which was a big aspect of the main plot. The whole reason Sheetal participated was to win, and most of the novel took span over the two days she had leading up to it, with all the training she had to do. I am not sure what I quite expected, I’m not sure Thakrar had a character paint it as anything else but a talent competition, but yet when it was revealed to be that I was like ?? This is it ?? And then the competition was over before we knew it, and it got all sorts of messy in between with peoples schemes, revelations, and grasps for power and then it came to a close and it was like . . . oh. Okay. That was that, then. That whole part of the novel I honestly failed to keep up, because one second everyone was on so-and-so’s-side, and then they weren’t, and then someone tried to kill/assault someone else, and then it seemed like the clothes were also healed with the magic, and then things continued, someone else was condemned, and then it continued – and it was ultimately just a long conversation (like this sentence) that I felt like I needed to make a flow chart for.

I do hope this novel gets a sequel, though, or at least a companion novel! It ended well, but I am curious about what is going to happen because there’s still a lot of turmoil, with sort of a half-resolution that was Sheetal being like ‘I’ll deal with that later’ and I wasn’t entirely satisfied I would also like to see more of the Celestial court, because what we did get to see was magnificent! I liked the incorporation of Hindu mythology, and I kept hoping we’d see more of the Gods/Deities and magical creatures show up.

I recommend Star Daughter to you if you’re looking for a book about a talent competition set amongst the stars, a character that goes on a journey to discover who she is, and a whole lot of family and political drama. I will be reading Thakrar’s next release (whatever it may be!) because despite my few issues with this one, I think she is a decent writer and good storyteller and am excited to see what she comes up with next! 

3/5 stars!

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10 Things I Hate About Pinky – Sandhya Menon (Dimple and Rishi #3)

The delightful follow-up to When Dimple Met Rishi and There’s Something about Sweetie, which follows Ashish’s friends Pinky and Samir as they pretend to date in order to achieve their individual goals, to disastrous and hilarious results.

Pinky Kumar wears the social justice warrior badge with pride. From raccoon hospitals to persecuted rock stars, no cause is too esoteric for her to champion. But a teeny tiny part of her also really enjoys making her conservative, buttoned-up corporate lawyer parents cringe.

Samir Jha might have a few…quirks remaining from the time he had to take care of his sick mother, like the endless lists he makes in his planner and the way he schedules every minute of every day, but those are good things. They make life predictable and steady.

Pinky loves lazy summers at her parents’ Cape Cod lake house, but after listening to them harangue her about the poor decisions she’s made (a.k.a. boyfriends she’s had), she hatches a plan. Get her sorta-friend-sorta-enemy—who is a total Harvard-bound Mama’s boy—to pose as her perfect boyfriend for the summer.

When Samir’s internship falls through, leaving him with an unplanned summer, he gets a text from Pinky asking if he’ll be her fake boyfriend in exchange for a new internship. He jumps at the opportunity; Pinky’s a weirdo, but he can survive a summer with her if there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

As they bicker their way through lighthouses and butterfly habitats, sparks fly, and they both realize this will be a summer they’ll never forget.

10 Things I Hate About Pinky is the third novel in the Dimple and Rishi universe, following on from When Dimple Met Rishi There’s Something About Sweetie. I liked When Dimple Met Rishi, really enjoyed There’s Something About Sweetie . . . and I loved this one.

10 Things I Hate About Pinky is told from the dual perspective of Pinky and Samir, as they both combat personal struggles over the course of a summer holiday. Pinky has a tense relationship with her mother, she feels as if she is never good enough for her parents, a constant disappointment . . . So she lives to that role, until she gets blamed for something she did not do one too many times . . .

This leads Pinky to inviting Samir to her holiday home, to pretend to be her fake boyfriend, to show her parents that she is not as much of a failure or disappointing as they think they are. (AHHH! Fake-dating trope!!!! Yes!!!!) Samir agrees to help Pinky. His internship in a prestigious law firm fell through, and its his hope, that by helping Pinky, he will gain an internship with her mother, who is known as ‘The Shark’. But like Pinky, he also has to confront his own behaviour, and the relationship with his mother…

These two characters were brilliant together! There was so much chemistry in their relationship – in the way they bantered with each other, with how they confront, challenge and support each other. Absolutely brilliant. They are very much opposites that attract – who compliment each other wonderfully – and the Menon has the characters confront whether or not a real relationship between them can withstand their differences . . .

Pinky and Samir learn so much about each other, but also learn so much about themselves. Some scenes incredibly frustrated me – I found I wanted to yell at the characters for how mean they were to each other, or out of order. But I held it in, and continued reading, and these moments were explored and developed upon in a way that I felt satisfied with.

I really enjoyed the supporting characters, as well. It would have been nice to have more time spent with them. For example, a large part of Pinky’s characterisation and struggle was to do with her relationship with her mother. Most of the novel concerned Pinky’s feelings of distance, anger, and upset with her mother, yet there was not much time spent on the resolution. I was not unhappy with how the novel resolved their relationship, but I do wish we could have seen more of that. Similar with Samir. We saw him make a decision about how he wants to move forward, yet we never got to see that dynamic with his mother play out. I understand, because the novel was set in a singular place and his mother was in another, but I do wish there was more of his relationships explored.

Overall, I loved this book! I was in the midst of writing my final university assignments at this point, and it provided much needed escapism. And when I put it down to continue on, it provided motivation to hurry up and finish so I could get back to reading it.

For that, I give this 5 stars.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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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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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!

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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 book reviews

From Twinkle, With Love – Sandhya Menon

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

Thank you NetGalley for providing me an e-arc to read!

YOU GUYS. THIS BOOK IS ABOUT FILMMAKERS – MAINLY FEMALE DIRECTORS AND I AM LIVING. If you know me, you know sometimes I go off on tangents, and one of those tangents is about how unequal the ration of male to female directors in big screen Hollywood films are. Like I think this year there’s only something like 3?? The director of the Darkest Minds, that wrinkle in time and blockers?? (This is in studio films – not counting Netflix films or indies). And that’s crazy. It’s like 3.3% are women. So I LOVED seeing this book highlight that women can and are great film makers.

I loved that Twinkle constantly wrote to her favourite female directors instead of “dear Journal” I think that added a cool, more personal touch to her diary entries. I thought I’d get annoyed with the fact that this story was mainly told through Twinkle’s diary entries, but after a while I forgot about it, and just really enjoyed the structure of diary entries, e-mails, note passing and text messages. I thought it was a nice way to tell the story and it flowed well.

I really enjoyed the female friendships in this, and how they weren’t always smooth, but no one person was demonised. In the end they all hashed it out and jumped over these stereotypes of what it is to be rich / pretty etc. I do think this could’ve been worked on better regarding more of how Dimple viewed herself (a groundling) but towards the end it was certainly hinted to.

I did just really enjoy this book – the filmmaking aspects, the characters, the romance, the plot. Definitely an improvement from When Dimple Met Rishi.

Posted in book reviews

A Very Large Expanse of Sea (SAMPLER) – Tahereh Mafi

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

I just read a sampler of this, provided to me by NetGalley, and I can’t wait for this book to be published so I can continue reading. Already I am captured by the story and the characters, and can’t wait to see where it goes and the emotions it explores on what it’s like to be a Muslim post 9/11, something I don’t know much about. I’m really liking the writing style, so will definitely be picking this one up when it’s published.

I think there’s already something very raw and authentic about this, with it being an own voices novel, and I hope this tone/theme of truthfulness and not holding back continues throughout the whole novel. From the first few chapters, it’s a heavy presence, but not too much in a heavy handed way that you feel like you’re being lectured to – it’s just there, and it’s a part of this characters experience and her story, and I’m interested to see how this folds itself in to a plot and how that develops.

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?

 

Posted in book reviews

A Bad Boy Stole My Bra – Lauren Price

Imagine waking up in the dead of night to find your hot new neighbour dangling out of your window. What’s more, he’s clutching your tattiest bra in his hand.

What. The. Actual. Fudge.

When bad boy Alec Wilde moves in next door to Riley, sparks fly. After their ‘unconventional’ introduction, Riley is determined to get her own back. A nemesis is just the distraction she needs: inside, she’s barely holding it together. It’s game on.

But behind the banter, there’s a side to Alec that Riley actually likes. How can she get through to the real him when she can’t even take herself seriously?

I’m 99% sure I read this on Wattpad, but I honestly didn’t remember much from the book so it didn’t really make any sort of difference in how I read this book (in terms of comparing it to the online, amateur, drafted version to this edited and professionally published one). However, knowing it came from Wattpad was always in the back of my mind, and I think even if you didn’t know, you could tell.

This book was very . . . typical teen-ish, I’m not sure how else to explain it. It had that typical high school setting with the jocks, the mean popular girl, and the main character who had to be awkward and sees herself as an outcast/loner (when she clearly wasn’t). I hate it when books do this. Riley kept repeating how she was an outcast, a loser, a loner, but the book never portrayed her that way. So why do it? It’s perfectly acceptable to write about a MC who just fits in. Is neither above the radar or on it. IT HAPPENS. (of course there’s nothing wrong with being above or under, but don’t say she is one of those things but then portray her as another. Where is the consistency?).

That grated on me slightly. As well with Alec, and how he’s a ‘bad boy’ but nothing about him is bad? People just make up rumours?? And she’s like wow what a bad boy?? Like once?? But he’s not?? I just.

This is where the whole ‘wattpad’ element comes in. For someone whose been on that site for seven years now, this is typical. You have these bad boy – loner female characters, who aren’t really either of those things, but the book ‘markets’ them in order to gain interest. However, the characters are neither of these things, and readers like them anyway.

I mentioned how this is typical teen-y, which I’m using as an umbrella term to also cover ‘cliché’. Hello, typical mean girl character. We have Tiana, whose reason for hating Riley we later find out (it’s ludicrous and pathetic, a bit of a stretch) and it’s just . . . ugh. She’s the typical mean girl, with the parents on the school board, who blackmails, wants the new hot boy, puts other girls down, etc. And she has no character whatsoever. She’s a very one dimensional ‘villain’ and it was boring. If her character was more developed and nuanced, it would’ve worked better. I didn’t care about her and ultimately knew what she was going to do to Riley (it was obvious, not much about the plot was). That took away from the excitement of the book.

I am truly just fed up of seeing these one dimensional female characters in YA. Stop making them just so tropey! This isn’t to say mean girls don’t exist but having them just one-dimensional and as bland as a piece of cardboard isn’t good writing.

Ah, the writing . . . it felt so childish, and amateur-ish at times. I’ve mentioned the lack on good characterisation, and that is down to poor writing. The writer relied to much on Riley telling the reader things, and not actually using her words to convey to the readers what she wanted to get across.

It was also typical cliché writing. It wasn’t terrible, but for a published book I think I expected better.

Just want to go back to the plot: ALSO SO PREDICTABLE. Of course (especially since this was a Wattpad book) you have the typical ‘gets too drunk and wakes up in his bed not knowing what happened’. Honestly. That needs to die. Just pretty much every *dramatic* thing that happened you could see coming a mile away . . .

I’ll move on to positives, because there are some of those:

NO SLUT SHAMING. YAY. I hate it when you have the females slut shaming each other, calling each other whores etc. There was none of that. There’s an incident with Tiana and Chelsea, but that’s about it. Yay. Congrats book.

The characters did have some development! Riley and Alec both learnt how to break down their walls. Riley gained confidence in herself.

(Just another negative now – I feel like there were too many side characters for them all to be developed. We also had her mum, her brother, his mum and sister, Violet, Chase, Joe and Dylan and too often they just blended in to one and had no real development of their own. I think if there were lesser characters then the author could’ve focused on developing these side stories (except they didn’t actually have much plots outside of Riley and Alec…but there you go)).

It was witty and funny. There were some moments that made me laugh and grin like a fool. Ultimately books, at least for me, are there to entertain and this certainly did that. I liked Alec (he wasn’t a douche YAY) and Riley, and the ‘slowburn’ of their romance.

Sometimes though the jokes got too dominating, and that’s where the amateurish writing came in. It focused too much on just having humorous scenes between the characters that didn’t really mean anything in the long run.

So yeah. The writing, plot, characters, could often be too cheesey and cliché that it became a little bit too like . . . ugh, but ultimately it wasn’t that bad. This is definitely one of the better books I have seen come from Wattpad (see my Bad Boy’s Girl review for reference on what a bad published Wattpad book looks like).

I think this is a 2.5. Maybe a 3. I need to think on it!