Brief blogs for busy bees

Tag: young adult

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. […]

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: Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas by Andrea Pyros

Review: Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas by Andrea Pyros

When Josephine’s mum announces that she has breast cancer, it turns Josephine’s life upside down. Instead of worrying about getting invited to the hottest party in school, she’s now counting down the days until her mum has to have life-saving surgery.

Josephine doesn’t want anyone to know, but her twin brother, Chance, has other ideas. He gets his hair dyed pink to raise awareness of breast cancer, and soon enough the entire school are planning to get their hair dyed in solidarity.

Well, the entire school except Josephine, who would never want to be the centre of attention.

My main issue with Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas is that the ages of the characters don’t ring true. Josephine reads as though she’s either seven or eight, while Chance seems more like an older brother than a twin. It feels as though they were aged up to allow for the hair dying aspect of the plot (although most hair dyes don’t recommend use on under 16s, so take precautions if you’re inspired by the characters in this novel!).

The other issue I had was that Josephine’s mum’s breast cancer was treated as a subplot. I think Andrea Pyros was intending to show that teenagers have lots of different things going on in their lives, so if a family member gets cancer it’s just one of many difficulties for them to face, but Josephine came across as shallow. She’s more interested in Autumn’s party and maintaining her social status than her mum – she even admits to herself that she completely forgets about her mum at times!

As someone who lost a close family member to cancer at the same age as Josephine, I was expecting to be heartbroken yet inspired by Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas. Instead, I was rather infuriated: Josephine is self-entitled – outraged when her best friend is upset that she didn’t share her mum’s diagnosis – and self-obsessed, genuinely believing that Chance getting his hair dyed will put her at the centre of attention. In reality, Chance gets applauded and people forget Josephine’s even his sister, and she’s not happy with that either! It’s so contradictory and hypocritical, and if I’d rolled my eyes any harder I think they would have stayed in my skull.

This book wasn’t a terrible idea, but I wouldn’t recommend it to any teenagers who find themselves in Josephine’s position, because I don’t think it’ll come across as comforting or anything that they can relate to.

Alyce

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Review: Scared To Death by Anthony Horowitz

Review: Scared To Death by Anthony Horowitz

“Why go digging up the past when all it will give you is dust in the eye?” Scared To Death is the first Anthony Horowitz book I’ve ever read, which should be impossible because he’s published so many. I’ve been recommended both the Alex Rider series and […]

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, […]

Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

‘You can plot a course that will get you to your destination, but you can’t predict what you’ll find along the way.’ 

Zorie has a plan for the summer, and it involves staying as far away from the Mackenzie family as physically possible. But when some of her mum’s mail is incorrectly delivered to their address, she’s the one that has to go and pick it up. In the process she finds herself face-to-face with her ex-best friend Lennon – the boy who broke her heart last year by ditching her at homecoming with no explanation – and discovers that her dad is having an affair. Awkward…

With no idea what to do with this information, Zorie accepts an invitation to go on a glamping trip. Little does she know that Lennon is also invited – double awkward!

After an explosive argument breaks out amongst the campers, the two of them are abandoned in the middle of nowhere. They find themselves with no choice but to hike back to civilisation, and on the way they begin to fix their fractured friendship, but what will happen when they get back to reality?

It was impossible to choose a word other than ‘perfect’ to describe Starry Eyes, as this is one of the best contemporaries I’ve ever read. Not only was the romance between Zorie and Lennon a slow burn, enemies to lovers situation (one of my favourite YA tropes), the entire cast of characters was very well crafted. Both Zorie and  Lennon’s parents were realistic, bringing their own personalities and issues to the story, and it made things far more interesting.

The setting was gorgeous, the hiking was described well and it was both entertaining and educational: I never knew that you needed to store food in a special container to stop bears from being attracted to it!

I don’t have the words to say how much I loved Starry Eyes. I laughed, I cried, and I cheered Zorie and Lennon on more and more with every page: it’s impossible not to ship them by the end of the story. I’ve seen a lot of rave reviews for Jenn Bennett’s other novels, and I won’t be surprised if I enjoy them as much as I did Starry Eyes. She has a brilliant writing style and a skill for crafting lifelike characters who really step off of the page, feeling remarkably real.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Starry Eyes, 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!

 

Have you read any of Jenn Bennett’s novels? I’m looking forward to reading Alex, Approximately – I’ve heard so many good things about it.

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 5: Review: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say by Leila Sales

Blogtober Day 5: Review: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say by Leila Sales

When Spelling Bee champion Winter Halperin tweets an ill-advised joke about the skin colour of the latest winner, she finds herself the most hated person on the Internet… For a little while. But while the rest of the world are infuriated for a couple of […]

Review: SLAY by Kim Curran

Review: SLAY by Kim Curran

‘Slay did two things, and they did them well. Play killer music and kick demon butt. Music done. It was butt-kicking time.’  If you love One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer and McFly, you’ll love Slay. JD, Tom, Connor, Niv and Zek are the next […]

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: 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. […]