Tag: young adult

#stayhomereadingrush wrap-up

#stayhomereadingrush wrap-up

As if we weren’t already reading enough books in April, we decided to take part in the Stay Home edition of The Reading Rush from the 16th to the 19th. Adding three more books to an already bursting TBR might not have been the best…

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 closely, I thought this was bound to be one of my top reads of 2019.

Unfortunately, Monsters was an absolute struggle. I knew as soon as I read the first chapter that it was going to be hard – it’s written in the present tense, which is an unusual choice and doesn’t lend itself well to storytelling – but it was like pulling teeth. I’m a fast reader, and it took me almost three weeks of constant reading to get through this story.

Yes, it’s important to focus on the fact that Mary Shelley’s father, William Godwin, completely disowned her when she decided to run away with Percy Bysshe Shelley. It’s also important that they were riddled with debt and had to flee locations across the continent when they couldn’t afford to pay the landlords. But the majority of the book is wholly centred on their monetary struggles, leaving the suicides of both Fanny and Harriet to happen in the last five percent (and for the deaths of two of Mary and Percy’s children, and the death of Percy himself, to happen in the afterword).

However, I do applaud Sharon Dogar for choosing the version of events she feels most likely to have happened and committing to it. A lot of authors would have written the romance between Bysshe and Claire far more subtly, as evidence of their suspected passion has been almost completely destroyed due to the removal of pages from Mary’s journal. It’s a brave move to make the events seem far more clear-cut, although it’s important to take it with a pinch of salt because there is no proof that Dogar’s version of their story is true.

If you’re interested in Mary Shelley but are planning on learning about her by reading Monsters because it isn’t non-fiction, I would highly recommend Charlotte Gordon’s Romantic Outlaws. Yes, it’s a non-fiction book, but it’s told in a narrative style that makes it more gripping than most stories (and 100% more engaging than Monsters). It also tells the story of Mary’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, by running their lives parallel to each other, comparing and contrasting the events that they get up to.

Alyce

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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…

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 stole his girlfriend, Ruby.

When the five involved in his death are invited to a murder mystery dinner to compete for a scholarship, darker forces are at play. Trapped in a house with Doll Face, knowing one of them is the mysterious Ringmaster behind it all, only one thing is certain: they aren’t all going to survive this night. Revenge is deadly.

I’m going to come straight out and say it: This Lie Will Kill You is one of the worst books I’ve ever read.

I’m not kidding.

Marketed as a cross between Pretty Little Liars and Riverdale, this story has a lot more in common with Cluedo (except it’s nowhere near as fun).

The reasons I disliked this book are endless.

The creepy house stuffed with secrets is reminiscent of the more melodramatic moments of Pretty Little Liars, but at least the people in that show feel like realistic teenagers. Every single character in This Lie Will Kill You is an over-dramatised and completely inauthentic portrayal, and I hated all of them equally.

There’s the instalove between Ruby and Shane, who meet in the corridor at school on his first day, slow dance to some kid’s ringtone and have a deep and meaningful chat in the middle of the night a couple of days later when Ruby sneaks in through his window.

Shane himself is the most pretentious character I’ve ever had the displeasure to read on the page, going on about sand and pyramids and gods and blegh. The way he talks to Ruby is so cringey – honestly, if anyone tried to give me the nickname ‘strawberry’ I’d probably punch them in the face – and if anyone genuinely believes that their relationship is #goals then I’m seriously concerned. I wouldn’t have been sad if all of the characters died and joined him, because none of them have any redeeming features.

There are unnecessary almost-romances sprinkled all over the place, too. Gavin and Juniper are obviously both attracted to each other, but instead of talking about it they wait until the least appropriate moment to make their move. It’s also hinted that Juniper is in love with Ruby – because, come on, who in this novel isn’t in love with Ruby – but it feels more like queerbaiting than any legitimate exploration of bisexuality. Then there’s Brett, who treats Parker like a brother for the majority of the novel… And then is suddenly revealed to be in love with him? Sure, sure.

If you’ve read any of Chelsea Pitcher’s other novels and would recommend them, please let me know. I can see that her writing has potential – it’s lyrical at the start of the book, with the first 100 pages being tightly woven and gripping, and I genuinely thought this was going to be a huge success – but it becomes far too over the top very fast.

Alyce

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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…

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. He won’t let her forget the fact that she didn’t trust his advice earlier in the summer and it blew up in her face.

Oh, and then she misses her flight to Italy because Ian decides he’s going across Ireland on a road trip with Rowan (an internet friend he’s literally never mentioned before who he met through his secret indie music blog) to Electric Picnic to see his favourite band, Titletrack, perform their last ever show. Totally not part of their travel itinerary, particularly not in Clover, Rowan’s beaten up car which is barely roadworthy before they even start their journey.

But luckily she has Ireland for the Heartbroken, a travel guide to Ireland with challenges to complete in each location which promise to help the reader recover from their heartbreak. If Addie can’t have Italy, hopefully guidebook lady’s advice can save the day.

Love & Luck is the contemporary novel I never knew I needed. Every single part of this book appealed to me, and I don’t think I’ve ever fallen in love with a book so fast.

I think part of the charm is that I relate deeply to both of the main characters.

Addie’s heartbreak is the violent, messy kind. She doesn’t sit around weeping and moaning; she gets in a fistfight with her brother and shouts so much that she can’t help but cry.

Meanwhile, Ian’s addiction to Titletrack reminds me of how palpable my excitement used to be every time I saw a new band live for the first time. His sadness at Titletrack’s impending split is something that every music fan will feel deeply, and I found myself wistfully wishing that I’d been able to travel across country to see some of my favourite bands’ final shows.

Each chapter of Addie’s story is followed by an excerpt from the guidebook, introducing a new location in Ireland for the group to travel towards. This structure pushes the story on incredibly quickly, because you learn about the place – in a fun, conversational way, completely at odds to what I’d expect from the narrator of a travel guide – and then barrel full steam ahead towards it, overcoming the many obstacles that crop up.

Jenna Evans Welch cleverly relates the stories of the locations and then links them to an aspect of the history of Titletrack, explaining the reason both Addie and Ian would be interested in each landmark they visit. I found myself getting overly invested in a fictional band, and my heart was racing when they finally took to the stage at the end of the novel!

This is a story that’s focused on getting past heartbreak with the help of your friends, not rushing headfirst straight into a new relationship. There’s obviously chemistry between Addie and Rowan but nothing happens between them and I appreciated that. When you’ve just been burnt by someone you thought you were in love with, it’s inadvisable to throw yourself at the next person you meet. It’s a shame that so many YA contemporary novels about heartbreak still fixate on this way of dealing with it.

I wasn’t aware that Love & Luck was a companion novel to Love & Gelato until I was already a fair way through the book, but having fallen in love with Welch’s writing style I’ve already bought the first book on my Kindle. I’ll hopefully get around to reading it sooner rather than later, because I know I’m going to fly through it just as quickly as I devoured this.

Alyce

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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…