Brief blogs for busy bees

Author: Alyce

Review: Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Review: Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Addie is heartbroken, so spending the summer in Ireland watching her Aunt Mel get married (again) is not the one. It’s made even worse by the fact that her and Ian – her brother and her closest friend – are at each other’s throats constantly. […]

Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

“You know what I’m talking about,” she said. “You’ve known from the day we met. Even on text, where there are no inflections or nuance or tone for non sequiturs. You’ve always spoken fluent me.” When Sam’s ex-girlfriend Lorraine – the great love of his […]

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

‘It’s dope to be black until it’s hard to be black.’ 


When Starr’s friend Khalil gets shot and killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop, her world is turned upside down.

Already struggling to juggle two personalities – the person she is in her ‘hood, Garden Heights Starr, vs. the person she has to be at her majority white private school, Williamson Starr – Starr now has to contend with police interviews and the constant worry that One-Fifteen is going to be found innocent of murdering one of her oldest friends.

‘I’ve seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. 

I’ve tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr and signed every petition out there. 

I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down. 

Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.’

The Hate U Give is extremely hard to review, because it’s hard to put into words exactly why I loved it so much.

It’s unapologetic, attacking the American justice system and the systemic racism authority figures exhibit towards black people (even touching upon what happens when the authority figure is black).

It’s educational, breaking down stereotypes while offering a realistic snapshot of everyday life in the ‘hood. Filled with references to Huey Newton and The Black Panthers – a political party which I’d never heard of before – it’s the perfect way to begin learning more about black history.

It’s powerful, a pull no punches debut. Reading this book you’d genuinely believe Angie Thomas had been releasing novels for decades, because it takes a remarkable amount of bravery to write such a politically charged first novel.

But it’s also much, much more.

There are bits that will have you laughing out loud, which I certainly hadn’t expected. The conversations between Starr and her family had me giggling, all of them trying to out-sass each other – particularly her mother, Lisa, who takes no shit from any member of the clan.

Meanwhile there are bits that are utterly infuriating. The close-minded attitude of Hailey, one of Starr’s white friends, had me wanting to tear my hair out. Some of the things she said weren’t even that extreme, but they were still aggravating. It made me take a moment to think about how I’d feel if I was experiencing constant low-level discrimination on a daily basis and how quickly it would add up.

A book that makes you have to physically stop and think is rare, but I lost count of how many times I had to pause to take everything in during The Hate U Give. From Khalil’s funeral to the riots which erupt across Garden Heights, it’s surprising that a book focused on such serious subjects has had such a success in the mainstream, but it’s proof that this is a relevant subject which the general public are heavily invested in.

One of the aspects that stands out the most was the incorporation of online activism, and the way that it bled into the real world. As so many young people are heavily involved in online activism, it’s important to raise awareness of the good that it can do. It’s impossible for people to claim that sitting in front of a screen can’t do any good, because every little helps.

It don’t matter if you’re black or white, The Hate U Give teaches a very important lesson to all. I strongly believe it should be made required reading. However, I’m hoping that it’ll be a lot less relevant in five or ten years. It shouldn’t be possible that this book was released almost two years ago and there are new cases from the past six months – like those of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. and Jemel Roberson – in which black men have been killed by police officers who have faced little to no repercussions.

If you haven’t read The Hate U Give because you’ve been scared that it won’t live up to the hype, don’t be. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I wish I’d read it sooner.

Alyce

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Top Ten Tuesday: Underappreciated books I love

Top Ten Tuesday: Underappreciated books I love

It’s been two years since I last wrote a post about all of the underappreciated books I love, but it’s still one of the most fun lists I’ve ever made so I’m glad that I get to write a follow up. The topic for this […]

Review: Mossbelly MacFearsome and the Dwarves of Doom by Alex Gardiner

Review: Mossbelly MacFearsome and the Dwarves of Doom by Alex Gardiner

Mossbelly MacFearsome is a dwarf warrior on a mission. His nemesis, Leatherhead Barnstorm, has stolen the Doomstone Sword and is planning to use it to bring about the end of the human race. It’s up to Moss and his recently elected Destroyer, Roger – an […]

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite couples

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite couples

As it’s Valentine’s day in two days, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is focused on the ten best couples in books. I couldn’t think of ten bookish couples which didn’t feature ones I’d already gushed about in the past, so I’ve decided to pick couples from a few places. There’s even a few real couples in this list, because their romances are just too cute!

10) Hazel and Daisy – the Murder Most Unladylike series

This is cheating because Hazel and Daisy aren’t in a romantic relationship, but they are best friends who solve mysteries together. Their friendship is one of the best I’ve read, and with the word ‘couple’ being synonymous with ‘duo’, this investigating team deserved an honourable mention.

9) Sydney and Jean – The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown

I’ve only recently read The Truth About Keeping Secrets, but Sydney and Jean’s relationship is so realistic. They become close after Sydney’s dad – Jean’s therapist – dies, helping each other deal with their grief and slowly turning from friends into something more. I’m not exaggerating when I say slowly, as Jean is in a relationship with a guy for the majority of the book, but as it’s being marketed as f/f YA I’m not counting that as a spoiler!

8) Gerard and Lyn-Z Way

Gerard of My Chemical Romance and Lyn-Z of Mindless Self Indulgence are more private now, but the beginning of their relationship was the stuff dreams were made of. He proposed to her on Warped tour, for god’s sake! You can’t get more pop-punk than that.

7) Lights and Beau Bokan

Lights and Beau Bokan are another adorable musical couple. Their daughter, Rocket (side note: what a cool name for a kid!) is adorable, even providing vocals on one of the songs on blessthefall’s latest album, Hard Feelings.

6) Beast Boy and Tara –Teen Titans

I recently started watching Titans, the Netflix take on one of my favourite superhero teams, but it’s just made me nostalgic for the animated series of my childhood. Beast Boy and Tara were the first couple I ever shipped, way back before I even knew what shipping was, but my feelings for them are as strong today as they were the first time I watched the show.

5) Travis Clark and Jenny Robinson

Travis, frontman of We The Kings, and his wife Jenny are just so cute together. They recently announced that they were expecting their third child in the most adorable way – if your heart doesn’t melt watching the video, there must be something wrong with you.

4) Brendon and Sarah Urie

Brendon and Sarah Urie are a cute couple, although their adoration for each other can be a bit sickening sometimes (just listen to Sarah Smiles, the song Brendon wrote for Sarah just after they got together!).

3) Zorie and Lennon –Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Starry Eyes may be my favourite contemporary ever. I read it in the summer and I haven’t stopped going on about it since. It’s just wonderful. Not only is there an enemies-to-lovers situation going on, it’s also forbidden love (Zorie’s dad hates Lennon) which is totally realistic, featuring discussions regarding safe sex (and as much sex as you’d expect two teenagers to have while camping alone together in the middle of nowhere!).

2) Eleanor and Chidi – The Good Place

I only discovered The Good Place a few months ago, but I have SO MANY FEELINGS regarding Eleanor and Chidi. I’m a sucker for the idea of soulmates, so as soon as they were introduced to each other I was open to the idea of them developing a real relationship, and watching their friendship grow over the seasons has made me think that they might be the TV couple that I’ve shipped hardest in a good few years.

1) Josh Dun and Debby Ryan

When Josh Dun and Debby Ryan split up, I was absolutely devastated. They’d seemed to cute and happy together, so to see them separated – while obviously still filled with respect for each other, celebrating each other’s achievements – was bittersweet. When they finally got back together I was overjoyed, so you can imagine how hard I cried when they announced their engagement at the end of last year. Josh and Debby are proof that sometimes people need to grow apart to grow back together, and they seem stronger than ever now.

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday! Who are your favourite couple of all time?

Alyce

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Review: The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown

Review: The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown

‘I couldn’t look anywhere without seeing his silhouette; his ghost crawled from the sewer drains. But in a town covered in residue, how could there have been such a lack? Outrage. Sound. Where were the sirens? The panic? Benjamin Whitaker was dead! Dad was dead! […]

Review: The Colour of Shadows by Phyllida Shrimpton

Review: The Colour of Shadows by Phyllida Shrimpton

When Saffron discovers a briefcase in the attic of her family home, she discovers that her father has lied to her. Ten years ago, he told her that her mother was dead, but she’s alive and out there somewhere and Saffron is determined to find […]

Blog tour: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Blog tour: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Hello, and welcome to my stop on The Lost Man blog tour. I’ve taken part in the blog tours for both The Dry and Force of Nature, so I jumped at the chance to read and review another of Jane Harper’s novels.

My excitement grew when I learnt that this book was a standalone and not another Aaron Falk novel. Even though I absolutely love his character, I couldn’t wait to see how Harper’s writing changed with a completely new cast of characters.

I wasn’t disappointed.

If you don’t know what The Lost Man is about, check out the synopsis below, then keep reading to hear my spoiler-free thoughts on Harper’s third novel:

Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland, in this stunning new standalone novel from New York Times bestseller Jane Harper.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

Dark, suspenseful and deeply atmospheric, The Lost Man is the highly anticipated next book from the bestselling and award-winning Jane Harper, author of The Dry and Force of Nature.

As well as being Harper’s third novel, The Lost Man is the third of her books that I’ve given five stars to. It’s safe to say that she’s cemented herself as one of my favourite mystery authors, keeping me on the edge of my seat and making me consistently unable to predict the outcome to her stories.

At its core, The Lost Man is a tale about coping with adversity. Of course, the characters are all learning to cope with their grief at losing Cam, but as we learn more about each of their back stories it becomes apparent that nearly every member of this family has had a tough time of it.

Nathan has been an outcast – almost completely on his own in the outback – for a decade after making a decision which still haunts him. Liz, their mother, dealt with her abusive husband until his death, but each day she’s forced to confront the lasting impact of his actions. Then there’s Ilse, Cam’s wife, who’s adjusting to life without her husband while rapidly discovering he might not have been the man she thought he was…

The most impressive thing about The Lost Man is how few characters there are. It’s pretty obvious that Cam’s death wasn’t a straight-up suicide: I don’t think there’d be as much of a story here if that was the case, so I’m not counting that as a spoiler! But even though the action solely takes place on Cam’s farm, making the narrative stiflingly intimate, I still gasped with shock when Harper revealed exactly who was involved in his death.

It takes a special kind of writer to pull the wool over my eyes, because I’m notorious for seeing twists coming from a mile away, so I’m impressed that Harper has managed to do it not once, but three times. I’m already highly anticipating her fourth novel, and I’m looking forward to discovering whether she’s going to write another standalone or whether she’s going to catch up with her old friend Aaron Falk again.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to both Grace Vincent and Caolinn Douglas from Little, Brown, who are tireless supporters of Jane Harper and have put in a huge amount of work to run this blog tour. If you’ve got the time, you should check out the Little, Brown Twitter page to read some more of the posts on this blog tour – there are some brilliant bloggers involved, and I’m honoured to be one of them.

Alyce

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Top Ten Tuesday: Releases I’m on the fence about

Top Ten Tuesday: Releases I’m on the fence about

The prompt for this week specifies that we’re supposed to be talking about upcoming releases, but I’ve been absent from the blogging community for the best part of the last six months so most of the releases on the horizon have completely slipped under my […]