Posted in book reviews

What Magic Is This? – Holly Bourne

Sophia, Mia and Alexis are clinging on to a spark of hope that maybe – just maybe – they’re special. But could they really be witches with the power to cast life-changing spells? When the three friends gather to cheer up heartbroken Sophia, they’re ready to put their theory to the test. But when long-held secrets are revealed and hard truths start to hit home, their night of bewitching quickly takes an unexpected turn …

What Magic Is This? at it’s heart, is a tale of friendship. It is the binding agent to this spell, one of the most important ‘ingredients’.

Sophia, Mia and Alexis are all well-rounded, distinct characters, each going on their own personal journey in the course of this novella. This was very well done, as this is such a short book, but it manages to create and follow through on a story arc for all three of the characters. The characters deal with a discourse on self-love and self-worth, mental health, and explore relationship dynamics both romantic and platonic. These are similar topics/issue that we all have dealt and deal with – therefore, making this book instantly relatable. And hopefully, as it did for me, end with a heart warming feeling that these are things you can grow, evolve and learn from.

However, I do think I would have enjoyed this more if I haven’t read so much of Holly’s other work, or read this in such a close time frame to The Places I’ve Cried in Public, as they all begin to feel very similar. The relationship between Sophia and Aiden in this felt like a very watered down relationship to the one within The Places I’ve Cried in Public. This doesn’t mean that Holly can’t write about the same themes and topics more than once, but I find that her catalogue is beginning to feel like the same idea, over and over again.

3/5 stars.

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!