Tag: four star review

Blog tour: Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

Blog tour: Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Foul is Fair blog tour. It has been a whopping six months since I last took part in a blog tour – I know, where has the time gone?! – but when Meghan from Wednesday Books reached…

Blog tour: Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Blog tour: Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Fallen Angel blog tour. This is the first Chris Brookmyre novel I’ve ever read, but as soon as Caolinn invited me to take part I knew I had to say yes – she described Fallen Angel in…

Review: Happy Girl Lucky by Holly Smale

Review: Happy Girl Lucky by Holly Smale

“I’m not just happy, Eff, I’m Happy Girl Lucky. People have always said that’s what I am, but I’ve never really understood the expression before… because why can’t boys be it too? But now it truly capsules me perfectly.”

Happy Girl Lucky introduces us to the Valentine siblings – Hope, Faith, Max and Mercy – children of Judith Valentine and Michael Rivers, one of the hottest celebrity couples around. But when news breaks that they’re getting divorced, Judith checks herself into a rehab facility and the kids are left to fend for themselves.

Hope, youngest of the gang, has been on the search for her leading man for as long as she can remember. Constantly playing out scenes in her mind – editing the lighting and angles and tweaking the script as she goes – she’s overjoyed when she meets Jamie, someone who’s finally worthy of acting opposite her in the film of her life.

Everything is perfect… Until Jamie has to fly home to California at the end of his holiday. Bummer. But if two people are really destined to be together, there’s no way that distance will keep them apart – and no one’s more determined than Hope Valentine to get their happy ending.

Happy Girl Lucky is the first Holly Smale book I’ve read so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it definitely wasn’t this. To go from writing a series called Geek Girl (about a super smart girl who’s also a model) to writing a book focused on an air-headed girl who thinks it’s ‘a doggy-dog world’? It’s a complete 180. I didn’t think Smale would decide to write such a vastly different character and it threw me to start with, because the narration feels more middle-grade than young adult.

I struggled through the first half of the book, because Hope is a very difficult character to read. She’s extremely naive and innocent (so naive that she’s verging on stupid) and I spent almost a quarter of every chapter rolling my eyes.

Hope completely misunderstands tons of popular idioms despite being corrected by multiple family members throughout the novel, because she just doesn’t seem to be interested in learning anything – she’s far more interested in fantasising rather than applying herself to anything other than her mental movies. I felt sorry for her teacher: he deserved a sainthood for putting up with her daydreaming for as long as he did!

Then Jamie comes along, and their whirlwind instalove romance makes the novel completely unpalatable. I considered abandoning ship, and I’m anti-DNFing so that shows how bad things got. However, you could tell something was going to go wrong and make the story more interesting, and when it eventually got there it became very satisfying.

Although it takes a while to get there, Happy Girl Lucky redeems itself towards the end of the novel. Bits had me giggling instead of groaning, because as you get used to Hope it’s easier to take everything she says with a pinch of salt. To some extent, her air-headed attitude is a persona that she’s putting on to fit in with other people’s expectations of her (a cross between a security blanket and a shield). It’s Hope’s way of protecting herself from the badness in every day life by pretending her life is a classic romance film and the happy ending is 100% guaranteed.

This might be a story about a relationship, but the moral is how important it is to have a good relationship with yourself above everyone else. As Hope learns to stop living in her dreamworld and to embrace every emotion – not just happiness – she develops into a far more interesting character.

I don’t want to give too much away, because this book has only been out for a few weeks, but I will say that one of the best parts of the book is Hope’s reaction to Roz. She thinks Roz is her father’s assistant, but when she realises who she actually is she reacts maturely: that was the moment when I knew I liked Hope a lot more than I thought I did, and I couldn’t resist bumping the book up to four stars.

If I’m right, Happy Girl Lucky is the first book in a trilogy – the other two novels focusing on Hope’s sisters, Mercy and Faith – and I’m looking forward to picking up the other two books when they’re released. The three sisters are polar opposites, and it’ll be interesting to see Holly Smale’s writing style change throughout the Valentines series.

Perfect for fans of Holly Bourne’s It Only Happens in the Movies, I’d recommend picking up Happy Girl Lucky if you want to read a fun contemporary but you’re tired with the end goal always being a relationship.

Alyce

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Review: Proud anthology

Review: Proud anthology

I was lucky to be invited to Stripes YA Afternoon Equali-tea back in January, where I picked up an early copy of Proud. Since Proud was announced last February, it’s been my most anticipated release of 2019, so I’m so excited to be able to…

Blog tour: Trapped by Nick Louth

Blog tour: Trapped by Nick Louth

Hi there! Last week I took part in the blog blitz for Vivian Conroy’s A Testament to Murder and I told you that I had another exciting Canelo blog tour coming up, and today’s the day. As always, I’m going to give you a bit…

Review: Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan

Review: Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan

A school ski trip turns deadly when a storm springs up out of nowhere, cutting the town where the group are staying off from the rest of the world. The ski lifts are out of action, the townsfolk seem to have evacuated and the teachers have all disappeared, leaving the students to fend for themselves.

But there’s something happening in Kaldgellan, and it’s far worse than just a freak weather incident. When they try to look outside the next morning they’re greeted by the sight of blood. By the end of the day monsters are bursting through the windows, murdering students left, right and centre, leaving an increasingly smaller group teaming up in their quest to make it home alive.

A fight for survival set in the most harrowing of conditions, Whiteout is one of the best teen horror novels I’ve ever read. It’s legitimately chilling (and not just because of the zero temperature setting).

It has been an extremely long time since I’ve read a novel featuring scary, bloodsucking and throat-tearing vampires – especially not featured in a new release – and I’m hoping that this could be the beginning of a trend, because I’d forgotten how horrifying vampires could be. Although it’s not explicitly agreed that they are vampires, all of the traits are present, and for once the characters are actually aware of it. Film buff Nico referencing pop culture vampires and the ways that they’re similar and different is one of my highlights of the novel, because we’re normally expected to suspend belief and accept that the characters have no idea or prior knowledge of what they’re up against, and that makes no sense when vampires are a universal big bad!

There’s a huge cast of characters in Whiteout – a cast which rapidly decreases in size – but Gabriel Dylan does a great job of making all of them different from each other. Some only have minor parts to play so aren’t that developed, but the main characters are all fleshed out and easy to get emotionally attached to (a problem, when the death toll marches quickly into the double figures!).

However, I wasn’t too convinced by the epilogue tacked on to the end of the novel, as Whiteout works perfectly as a standalone and seems to have a rather neat resolution until the possibility of a sequel is added on. Honestly, if there is a sequel released I’ll probably read it – this is Gabriel Dylan’s debut novel and I’m already gagging to get my hands on more of his work, because his writing style is so gripping – but it would have been nice for any potential sequels to be more of a surprise, because it cheapens the impact of the last few chapters a little bit.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Stripes, for providing me with a copy of Whiteout in exchange for a fair and honest review, and a huge thank you to Gabriel Dylan for keeping me so entertained throughout this story!

Alyce

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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…

Review: The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

Review: The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

‘Is this what marriage is like? she wonders. A constant balancing act between infatuation and impatience.’ At first glance, it appears as though The Flower Girls is going to be a pretty cut and dry thriller. A girl disappears from a hotel on New Year’s Eve, and when a terrible storms starts raging outside it’s a race against time to try…

Review: Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Review: Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Courtney Aloysius Cooper IV is in love with his best friend, Jupiter, but there’s not likely to be a Jupe-and-Coop romance anytime soon, because Jupiter is gay. He’s always struggled to accept this fact, but his girlfriends have found their closeness even harder to accept, which is why Coop’s just found himself dumped. Again.

Coop heads to Jupiter’s house to mourn the loss of his latest relationship, but when he gets there he finds her obsessively texting someone called Rae. He’s jealous, a feeling which only gets worse when he meets Rae: a biracial girl with the vocabulary of a dictionary. Rae’s beautiful, funny and smart, and Jupe can see it just as clearly as Coop can.

Rae quickly becomes the filling in the Jupe-and-Coop sandwich, but that doesn’t come without its fair share of issues. Jupiter’s affectionate nature sends Rae into a questioning tailspin. It’s undeniable, her attraction to Coop… But why does Jupiter send her heart racing, too?

“Can’t a person be attracted to a boy and a girl? Is that not allowed or something?”

It took me a little while to get into Odd One Out. When the book starts the story is being told from Courtney’s perspective, and I’m not a huge fan of the ‘straight boy madly in love with a gay girl’ thing. I was tempted to put the book to one side and move on to something else, but so many people recommend Nic Stone’s novels (more specifically Dear Martin, but this was the one that was available at the library so this was the one I went for) that I felt like I’d be missing out if I didn’t give it a proper try.

Although Courtney’s section introduces the story and the other characters, it’s definitely the hardest to read. The slang and informal language feel forced rather than natural, a direct contrast with Rae’s section (which is chock-a-block with words that had me running to Google to check their definitions but felt far more genuine).

Meanwhile Jupiter’s narration was a nice blend of both of them, but stood out the most as each of her chapters corresponded with a different Queen song on her playlist. I’m a huge music fan, so any books that embrace their character’s passion for a band are always going to get a thumbs up from me, and Jupiter’s kinship with Freddie Mercury was well written (and related to the plot, too).

The main focus of Odd One Out is on sexuality, and the changing nature of individual identities. I’m bisexual, so I related to Rae’s inner tension as she struggled to come to terms with her feelings for Jupiter, but I was a little disappointed that other definitions of sexuality were so lightly brushed over. Jupiter makes a point of dissecting negative definitions of bisexuality (specifically the belief that bisexual can equate to transphobic) but only lightly touches upon the ideas of pansexuality and demisexuality, neglecting to properly define them.

Odd One Out is a good starting point for anyone who may be questioning their sexuality, as it includes enough information to encourage people to go off and research the terms for themselves, but this book would have been perfect if it included a glossary or a list of resources for readers. Please correct me if this is included in the print version, as I read a library eBook and am aware that it might not have featured all of the extras!

Have you read either of Nic Stone’s novels? I’m hoping to read Dear Martin at some point in the next few months, so if any of you have read it please let me know whether you’d recommend it.

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 17: Review: Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon

Blogtober Day 17: Review: Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon

Rosie Loves Jack begins with a newspaper article detailing the story of a teenager with Down’s syndrome who has gone missing after running away from home to be reunited with her boyfriend. When we join Rose, it’s before she embarks on her cross-country adventure to Jack,…