Tag: young adult

YA Book Prize 2020 predictions

YA Book Prize 2020 predictions

My favourite day of the year is almost here, with the YA Book Prize shortlist being announced on March 11th! So, as always, it’s time for my YA Book Prize predictions post. If you’d like to see my previous predictions, you can check out who…

Review: Monsters by Sharon Dogar

Review: Monsters by Sharon Dogar

I was extremely excited to see Monsters by Sharon Dogar on NetGalley, because I’ve been obsessed with Mary Shelley’s life since studying Frankenstein at university in 2017. Expecting a novelisation of her earlier years to bring to life all of the people I’ve studied so…

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…

Review: This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

Review: This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

After Shane Ferrick dies in suspicious circumstances, rumours point the finger of blame in a few different directions. At the party where Shane was last seen alive, Juniper, Gavin and Brett all did terrible things to him, and everyone knows Parker hated Shane after he…

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: The Burning by Laura Bates

Review: The Burning by Laura Bates

New girl Anna Clark moved from Birmingham to Scotland to escape something terrible that happened in her past. But you can’t outrun your demons quite that easily, especially not when they’re plastered all over social media for the world to see. While the other students…

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…