Brief blogs for busy bees

Tag: three star review

Review: Perfect by Cecelia Ahern

Review: Perfect by Cecelia Ahern

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Flawed, the first novel in Cecelia Ahern’s young adult duology. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t exactly planned to carry on with the series, but I love closure so I couldn’t resist borrowing it when I spotted it on the library […]

Review: Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse

Review: Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse

If you were asked to describe a serial killer, you probably wouldn’t describe Rhiannon. That’s how she keeps managing to get away with murder. We meet Rhiannon on New Year’s Eve, mere hours before she chops a guy’s penis off for sexually propositioning her. That’s […]

Review: Because You Love To Hate Me anthology

Review: Because You Love To Hate Me anthology

‘Villains. Stories are nothing without them.’ 

It’s been difficult to approach writing this review, because I’m conflicted about Because You Love To Hate Me. On the one hand, I think it’s a brilliant idea – making the villains into characters which it’s hard to resist sympathising with – but on the other hand I just don’t really understand why it needed to be a collaboration with Booktubers.

Yes, it added a unique twist to the anthology, but with only a couple of the Booktubers contributions being worth the time it took to read them, I found myself puzzling over why they really had to be involved. The collection would have been stronger without their additions (with the exception of Jesse’s letter to Death, which was a beautifully written piece of prose which made me excited to read more of his writing in the future) so I ended up subtracting a star before I even started working out the ratings for the other short stories.

Here are some brief thoughts on each of the short stories, along with the individual ratings I gave them:

  • The Blood of Imuriv by Renee Ahdieh: a twist on the stereotypical family dynamic results in a boy killing his sister to gain the power which she would have inherited through the matriarchal nature of their monarchy. 5/5
  • Jack by Ameriie: a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk (mixed with the story of Phalaris of Agrigento, which I’d personally never heard of), in which Jack becomes close friends with the giant’s daughter… For a while. 4/5
  • Gwen and Art and Lance by Soman Chainani: the story of King Arthur, retold through increasingly cringey text conversations. 1/5
  • Shirley and Jim by Susan Dennard: a gender-swapped Sherlock, in which Holmes falls in love with Moriarty. I wanted to read so much more of this! 5/5
  • The Blessing of Little Wants by Sarah Enni: in a world where magic is rationed between a finite amount of witches and wizards, a girl decides she wants more for herself. Feels more like the prologue to a much larger piece, so wasn’t satisfying as a standalone story. 3/5
  • The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer: a very nice, twisted version of The Little Mermaid which is far more compelling than the Disney story. 5/5
  • Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pon: an #ownvoices retelling of Medusa, which tackles victim blaming culture. 4/5
  • Death Knell by Victoria Schwab: a girl ‘escapes’ Death after bargaining for one more day of life. Schwab’s story is followed by Jesse’s letter to Death, which as I’ve already said is the only worthwhile Booktuber contribution. 5/5
  • Marigold by Samantha Shannon: when Marigold is taken by the Erl-queen, her lover and brother attempt to ‘save’ her. I’d never heard of the Erl-queen, but this definitely made me interested in learning more about her. 4/5
  • You, You, It’s All About You by Adam Silvera: my first experience of Adam Silvera’s writing was a little underwhelming. This short story also feels like the prologue to a much greater piece, and by the time I’d wrapped my head around the different drugs that Slate was dealing the story was already drawing to a close. Confusing and jarring. 3/5
  • Julian Breaks Every Rule by Andrew Smith: in the same vein as the Adam Silvera story, by the time I’d gotten my head around the concept of Julian – who only has to wish someone dead for it to come true – the story was over, ending on a highly unsatisfying cliffhanger. 3/5
  • Indigo and Shade by April Genevieve Tucholke: a play on Beauty and the Beast, when the Beast is a girl and Beauty is the male hunter attempting to track her down. My second favourite story in the collection. 5/5
  • Sera by Nicola Yoon: the second most disappointing contribution to the collection. Sera is told in three parts, the majority of which are brief descriptions from throughout Sera’s life. The scale of the story being squeezed in is far too large, and needed many more pages to do it justice. 1/5 

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Because You Love To Hate Me, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

My actual rating for this collection ended up being 2.7 stars, but I rounded that up to 3 stars (which would have been four, without the Booktube essays). If you’ve already read Because You Love To Hate Me, did you love the Booktuber’s essays or are you on the same page as me?

Alyce

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Review: Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson

Review: Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson

Prom is rapidly approaching and everybody at Carceras High is going crazy for it – everybody, that is, except Ashley. But when their maths teacher steals the money meant for the prom, Ashley steps in to help her best friend Natalia save the special day for […]

Review: S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett

Review: S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett

‘I think I might be a murderer. Although, as I didn’t mean to kill, I suppose it was manslaughter, so technically I would be a ‘manslaughterer’, although I don’t think that’s a word.’  I finished S.T.A.G.S way back towards the end of April, but it’s almost impossible […]

Review: Make More Noise! anthology

Review: Make More Noise! anthology

The Make More Noise! anthology was released to celebrate the 100th anniversary of (some) women getting the right to vote, but that doesn’t mean that all of the stories are politically focused.

In fact, it’s a rather conflicting collection: some of the stories are set in the present day, while some are set many years ago; some of them are set in England, while some of them are set in different countries (and one is set in a mystical realm). The settings are often ambiguous, making it impossible to know which time period you’re supposed to be reading until the story is almost at a close. I found it disorienting as an adult reader, so I can’t imagine how the children this collection is aimed at figured things out!

Here are my thoughts on each of the ten stories individually, with the rating for the collection as a whole being the average rating:

Out For The Count by Sally Nicholls – 5/5: I hadn’t heard of the 1911 census boycott before, but that’s what this short story focuses upon. Peeking into an unknown aspect of the suffrage movement was a lot of fun, so Out For The Count was probably my favourite story of the entire collection.

The Bug Hunters by M.G. Leonard – 2/5: A girl is bullied for being fascinated by bugs. Had a nice moral about appreciating who your true friends are but I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style.

All Things Bright and Beautiful by Patrice Lawrence – 3/5: Based on a true story, which I appreciated, but it felt unfinished and a little bit bland. This was the most forgettable story in the collection, so I can’t really say anything else about it!

The Green-Hearted Girl by Kiran Millwood Hargrave – 3/5: I’ve never been a huge fan of magical realism, but I loved Hargrave’s The Girl of Ink and Stars. Her writing style doesn’t really work in short story form. There are too many aspects that are unexplored, which leaves the reader with a lot of questions, but if she ever decided to expand this story I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

Tea and Jam by Katherine Woodfine – 5/5: A girl explores the idea of freedom after her employer’s friend teaches her about libraries. The bookworm in me was drawn to the protagonist – even though it was left on a cliffhanger and felt unfinished, I was absorbed and couldn’t resist giving it such a high rating.

On Your Bike by Jeanne Willis – 2/5: A mother decides to cycle around the world, only cutting a few corners on the way. This was told through diary entries, which I liked, but they’re far too close together at the beginning and extremely spaced out at the end, making the story feel rushed and hard to follow.

The Tuesday Afternoon Ghost by Ella Risbridger – 1/5: My least favourite story in the collection. The voices are unrealistic – the adults sound like children, while the child protagonist sounds ancient – and the ghost but not a ghost plotline was cliched.

The Otter Path by Emma Carroll – 5/5: Beautifully written, making me want to read more of Carroll’s stories. The otters have strong personalities, while the English countryside is so realistically described that it threw me back in time to my childhood. Delightful from beginning to end.

The Race by Ally Kennen – 4/5: Another very fun story. A girl goes to stay with distant relatives while her parents go on holiday without her, racing against them to try to prove that girls are just as good as boys at riding horses. Wasn’t perfect – the time period was ambiguous and the ending was a little disappointing – but was one of the most enjoyable stories in the collection.

Discuss, Decide, Do by Catherine Johnson – 3/5: Another story with an ambiguous time period. The beginning of the story feels very modern, but it’s eventually established that it takes place in the past. It smoothly combines real historical events with fictional characters, making it a solid end to the collection.

Taking all of that into consideration, I’m giving Make More Noise! a rating of 3.3/5 stars, which rounds down to 3 stars. It’s certainly a fun collection and some of the stories do a great job of informing younger readers of events that occurred during the suffrage movement and how girls felt when women were still unable to vote. Sadly some of the inclusions just don’t feel necessary, no matter how popular the author is in their field.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Make More Noise!, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Alyce

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Review: Nowhere Else But Here by Rachel Cotton

Review: Nowhere Else But Here by Rachel Cotton

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Nowhere Else But Here blog tour! First things first, I’d like to say a huge thanks to Ink Road for allowing me to get involved in the tour for this exciting contemporary debut from a very promising young author. […]

Review: True Storm by L.E. Sterling

Review: True Storm by L.E. Sterling

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the True Storm blog tour. First of all, I’d like to say a huge thanks to Entangled Teen, for allowing me to participate in this blog tour, and to L.E. Sterling for writing such an enjoyable trilogy. Before I share […]

Review: All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Review: All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

‘We don’t quite understand miracles. This is the way of most divine things; saints and miracles belong to a different world and use a different set of rules.’ 

All The Crooked Saints doesn’t make a lick of sense.

The Soria family cause miracles. These miracles involve the darkness inside a person leaving their body and physically manifesting, so that the sufferer can figure out how to deal with it and dispel the darkness by themselves.

It takes a bloody long time to get your head around that, though, as Maggie Stiefvater employs so many convoluted metaphors on every dang page. Some people might interpret that as whimsical and inspiring, but in my opinion it was downright aggravating.

I’m not automatically opposed to magical realism, but I do think that there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it. Sadly, All The Crooked Saints falls into the latter camp. It’s difficult to find the words to describe how I felt about this book. I flew through it which is normally a sign that I’m really enjoying the writing/plot/characters, but just a couple of days after finishing it I’ve already forgotten basically everything that happened. It’s not a memorable book, and it’s hard to take anything in because it’s so hard to get your head around what’s happening.

Maggie Stiefvater has a dedicated fanbase who I’m sure adored this standalone release, but it wasn’t for me. If you’re not a fan of magical realism, avoid this book. If you enjoy fantasy and being mildly-to-extremely befuddled, give it a go.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about All The Crooked Saints, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Alyce

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Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

I’ve read a few of Sarah Crossan’s novels now, and I’ve had the same problem with a couple of them. There’s no reason for this story to be told in verse. It made sense to have One told in verse – the subject lends itself to the style, […]