Brief blogs for busy bees

Tag: five star review

Review: Vote For Effie by Laura Wood

Review: Vote For Effie by Laura Wood

Effie Kostas is new at school and she’s struggling to fit in. She’s intelligent and confident, but she feels basically invisible until she gets into an argument with Aaron Davis – Student Council President – when he abuses his lunch pass privilege to buy the […]

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 life, the one who got away – tells him she’s pregnant, he has a panic attack. It’s the first time he’s ever experienced anything like it and he thinks he’s dying, so he’s lucky when his step-niece’s new college roommate appears out of nowhere and saves the day.

Penny is that roommate. The perpetual outsider, she struggled to fit in at high school and is already having the same issues at college. At least there are some pros: she’s managed to escape from her mother and is studying how to be a writer, her dream career. She exchanges numbers with Sam, vowing to be his emergency contact, but their blossoming text friendship makes her far too anxious to confront the possibility of seeing him IRL again.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know anything about Emergency Contact when I saw it on the list of Free Reads that Riveted Lit were offering near Valentine’s day, but I fell in love with the cover instantly. Not only does it introduce you to Penny and Sam, it’s also not ashamed to reveal that their friendship primarily plays out through their phones – an aspect of teenage life that a lot of YA authors avoid exploring.

I’ve made plenty of friends online who I’m unlikely to ever meet face-to-face (one of the perils of being a blogger!), so I very much related to the story. Some of the deepest friendships I’ve had have developed and grown through texts – sharing secrets in the dead of the night, able to voice thoughts that you’ve hardly even looked at head-on before – and I think that’s likely to become even more common in future generations. Technology and social media are here to stay, and they’ve altered the way that friendship works for good.

It’s difficult to review Emergency Contact without giving too much away – something I’ve been trying to avoid, which is why it’s taken me a week to write this post – but I will say that it’s a story about falling in love, not about being in love. Penny and Sam are the definition of a slow burn romance, and you will find yourself screeching in desperate need of a sequel when you turn the final page.

Emergency Contact is the most enjoyable YA contemporary I’ve read in a very long time, and it’s uplifting despite the fact that it deals with serious issues such as alcoholism and anxiety. Aimed at the upper YA age group, this book is perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl or anyone who is going through a big life change and feels alone.

Alyce

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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 […]

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 […]

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

‘Even when there’d been a whole universe to explore, Cloud Lake and Tommy had been my everything.

“So that’s it?” I said. “I’m just supposed to go on living my life no matter how much the universe takes from me or how small it gets?”

Dr. Sayegh nodded. “It’s what the rest of us do, Ozzie.”

Ozzie’s boyfriend, Tommy, has vanished. Poof. Gone. But not just from their hometown, Cloud Lake. Tommy has vanished from the memories of everyone who knew him, and Ozzie is the only one who knows something has changed.

Oh, also the universe is shrinking. No one else has any idea that that’s happening, either.

I wasn’t sure what to make of At the Edge of the Universe to start with. A few bloggers I follow are huge fans of Shaun David Hutchinson, so when I saw the book pop up on Riveted Lit’s Free Reads I couldn’t resist giving it a go, but I almost abandoned it within the first few chapters because it’s just weird.

For the majority of the book, it’s impossible to tell whether Tommy is a figment of Ozzie’s imagination. I wondered whether he may have been suffering from a mental disorder causing him to personify his anxieties about the future, but the next thing the sun disappeared and no one would listen to Ozzie, let alone humour him by explaining how they thought daylight worked.

From that point on, I was hooked. I read the rest of the novel in one sitting, a direct contrast from the slow and steady pace at which I read the first half.

It helps that the cast of characters are all so intriguing. There’s Lua, a rock star whose gender identity is in flux; Dustin, the class valedictorian who has no choice but to apply for local colleges over Ivy League schools; and Calvin, Ozzie’s new physics partner who has had an unexplained and utterly drastic personality change over the summer.

Ozzie himself deserves an award for being one of the most sarcastic characters I’ve ever read: despite going through some seriously tough stuff, he retains a wry sense of humour that had me snorting through my nose at multiple moments.

I’ll be honest, although I grasped the overarching moral of the story – that losing yourself in a relationship at a young age isn’t worth it, because there’s a whole world out there to explore – I’m pretty sure there’s loads of important allegories that have completely gone over my head. This is a book filled with philosophical aspects, but I was so focused on the mystery of Tommy’s disappearance that I missed a lot of the nuance in this story.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this book finds itself on required reading lists within the next ten years, as it makes you ask yourself a lot of tough questions.

I’m still wondering whether I would be as strong-minded as Ozzie, refusing to accept that Tommy wasn’t real despite hearing it repeatedly asserted by everyone around him. How do you think you’d respond?

Alyce

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Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

‘I’m so unwhole. I don’t know where all the pieces of me are, how to fit them together, how to make them stick. Or if I even can.’ Self-harm is a sensitive subject, no matter what form it takes. Some people find reading about cutting triggering, while others find it makes them feel seen and understood for the first time in months or years. It’s difficult to write about, […]

Review: Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

Review: Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

‘This is the true core of human nature. When we’ve lost the strength to save ourselves, we somehow find the strength to save each other.’ California has been experiencing a drought for a while. The Tap-Out has led to the introduction of the Frivolous Use […]

Review: Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

Review: Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

There’s something different about Clementine, and Jago is the only one who can see it. He ceaselessly bullies her at school and before long Clem snaps, shoving him across the room with an unnatural strength. Clementine is suspended, so her father takes the opportunity to pass on the journal that her mother left behind when she abandoned the family a decade ago.

Looking through her mother’s journal, Clem discovers beautiful illustrations of a huge house… A house which appears in the abandoned park in the middle of town the next time she goes out. Clementine can’t resist going inside, and as soon as she opens the door she discovers hundreds of snowglobes.

But these aren’t regular snowglobes. They’re prisons containing anyone who shows the barest hint of being a magic user. Clem flees, but not before spotting Jago’s best friend, Dylan, in one of the globes. It’s up to Clementine to return to the house and save Dylan using the magic she’s only just discovered she has.

There’s something captivating about Snowglobe. The combination of the story behind the snowglobes, the magical family and the lovely dog companion blend together in a way that delights me, making this a thoroughly enjoyable story. If you like magical realism, this novel does it really well: I often find it too jarring, but this is so subtly weaved that it feels completely natural.

This is the first of Amy Wilson’s books that I’ve read, but the way she tells stories makes them feel like classics. Snowglobe has all the charm of one of my old favourites, and I’m already looking forward to revisiting this title in a couple of years when my daughter is a little bit older.

I enjoyed this book more than most of the books that I’ve read in the past year or so. Wilson employs accessible language to appeal to her target audience but ensures that it’s not overly simplistic, allowing it to appeal to an older reader, too. This universal appeal makes Snowglobe the perfect story to share with children of a variety of ages, and I recommend this wholeheartedly if you enjoy reading to your children but can’t find a story that can entertain all of them.

I’ve heard a lot of praise for Wilson’s two other novels, A Girl Called Owl and A Far Away Magic, and now I’ve experienced her writing for myself I know it’s going to be impossible for me to resist picking up those two sooner rather than later.

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 15: Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Blogtober Day 15: Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

‘In the end, I guess Mom was right. I have one foot in winter and one in spring. One foot with the living, and one with the dead.’ Cassidy Blake has a pretty interesting life, but it’s not for the reasons you’d expect. Daughter of […]