Tag: book review

BOOK REVIEW: Heaven Has No Regrets by Tessa Shaffer

BOOK REVIEW: Heaven Has No Regrets by Tessa Shaffer

First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Smith Publicity for accepting my request to read and review this book via NetGalley. Heaven Has No Regrets tells the story of cousins – and best friends – Makenzie and Faith. Jumping between 

BOOK REVIEW: The Ruby Locket by Melissa Wray

BOOK REVIEW: The Ruby Locket by Melissa Wray

To start this review, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Henry at Odyssey Books for reaching out and contacting me about reviewing this title. This has had no impact on my review, which remains fair and unbiased. The Ruby Locket is an 

BLOG TOUR: Kate In Waiting by Becky Albertalli

BLOG TOUR: Kate In Waiting by Becky Albertalli

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Kate in Waiting blog tour! I honestly can’t tell you how excited I am to be taking part in a blog tour for a Becky Albertalli novel, and I’d like to say a huge thanks to The Write Reads for organising this tour and allowing me to get involved.

From bestselling YA rom-com queen Becky Albertalli (author of Love, Simon) comes a new novel about daring to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight in love, life and theatre.

[PRINCIPAL CAST LIST]
Kate Garfield
Anderson Walker

Best friends, and contrary to popular belief, not co-dependent. Examples:

Carpooling to and from theatre rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient.
Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment.
Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.

But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script.

Enter Stage Left: Matt Olsson

He is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.

Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship…



I featured Kate in Waiting on my most anticipated January to June releases list right at the start of the year. The synopsis for this book is so intriguing – two best friends who fall in love with the same guy – and Kate and Anderson’s story definitely lived up to my expectations.

Kate and Anderson both meet Matt at a theatre camp over the summer, and neither of them can believe their eyes when he walks out of their high school drama classroom a couple of weeks later. They promise that they won’t let their growing feelings for him get in the way of their friendship, but when he’s cast as Kate’s love interest in the school musical – and starts texting Anderson to organise private rehearsals – jealousy quickly rears its ugly head.

I’m a huge fan of YA books which spotlight the importance of friendships (Loveless, First Day of My Life) and Kate in Waiting is another stellar example.

‘People are always saying that if they didn’t know Andy was gay, they’d never believe we were just friends.

It’s such bullshit. First of all, we’re best friends.

Second of all, there’s no just. Friendship isn’t a just. Yes, Andy’s gay. No, we’re not a couple. But Anderson Walker is the most important person in my life, hands down.’

The focus of the story is very much on Kate and Anderson’s friendship, and it’s a brilliant one. They’ve been there for each other through everything – through Kate being bullied for her performing, through Anderson coming out – and they are both determined to protect their friendship, even though they both feel as though they’re falling in love.

I thought the slow burn feelings that Kate developed for Matt were very realistic. There’s no insta-love here. She thinks that he’s kind and sweet so her crush develops quite quickly, but as they’re working as co-stars in the intimate setting of the musical it makes a lot of sense.

There’s also no sense of a love triangle. Although Anderson and Kate both have feelings for Matt, he doesn’t develop romantic feelings for both of them. There is no battling for attention or affection (although it would have been interesting if Becky Albertalli had considered exploring a polyamorous relationship with these three, because they all care for each other so intensely!).

I was a bit apprehensive about reading this book because I thought that there were so many ways that it could have gone wrong, but it actually blew me away. I did find it a little bit predictable at points, but I was happy with the way that Becky Albertalli directed the story. It’s definitely a feel good, autumnal romance! I’ll be rereading this one if I feel the need for a comfort read, because not only was it a very quick read but there are also some hilarious moments. Albertalli’s dialogue in particular is a shining aspect of the story: it reads as though it’s been taken straight from a rom-com script, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this book ended up getting adapted to the screen and becoming a runaway success to rival Love, Simon.

Another thing I’d like to quickly mention is the diversity in this story. Raina, one of Kate and Anderson’s best friends, is trans, while Brandie is Latina and Anderson is Black. Kate herself is Jewish, and there are quite a lot of references to different aspects of Jewish culture (such as synagogue and bat mitzvahs). These inclusions make the cast of characters far more memorable, and I would happily read a companion novel. I’d love it if Albertalli decided to follow Kate’s brother Ryan as he decides where he’s going to go to college, or follow Raina and her boyfriend Harold (he is one of the sweetest characters and I just wanted to see more of him!).

Kate in Waiting gets four stars from me!



About the author:




Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her website, find her on Twitter or check out her Instagram.










Once again, I’d like to thank The Write Reads for allowing me to get involved in this blog tour, and I’d also like to thank you for checking out my review. If you’ve read any of Becky Albertalli’s other novels, let me know which is your favourite down in the comments!

See you next time,

Alyce

X

REVIEW: Scent by Isabel Costello

REVIEW: Scent by Isabel Costello

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Muswell Press for accepting my request to review this title via NetGalley. Scent tells the story of Clémentine, a perfumer trapped in a failing marriage. Tensions between Clémentine’s son Bastien and his father Édouard have been 

REVIEW: The List by Patricia Forde

REVIEW: The List by Patricia Forde

To begin, I’d like to thank SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky, for accepting my request to read and review this title via NetGalley. The List introduces a dystopian world where vocabulary is being restricted and words are being systematically destroyed. The story follows Letta, the Wordsmith’s apprentice, as 

REVIEW: Rules For Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno

REVIEW: Rules For Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno

First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Macmillan Children’s Books for accepting my request to read and review Rules For Being a Girl via NetGalley.

Rules For Being a Girl is a book I wish I could give to my teenage self.

Marin adores her English teacher, Mr Beckett. He’s just awesome. Down to earth, relatable, more of a friend than a teacher. Until he gives her a lift home late one night. On the way to her house, Bex swings by his apartment to pick up a book he keeps forgetting to lend to Marin. While they’re in his home, he kisses her.

She doesn’t know what to do. Marin’s certain that it was a simple misunderstanding. She must have been giving Bex the wrong impression, sending signals that she hadn’t been intending to send. She resolves to put it behind her and not allow it to taint their relationship.

However, Bex does the exact opposite. Suddenly he’s treating Marin harshly, grading her unfairly, and even interfering with her future. Marin has always followed the unspoken rules for being a girl: she’s been a model student, a good girl, and would never dream of causing a scene. But she’s starting to learn that some rules are meant to be broken…

Marin makes the best of a terrible situation, deciding to focus on educating herself on issues surrounding women’s equality and the difference in societal expectations between men and women. Straightforward and unafraid, Marin calls it how she sees it. This makes her seem like a much older character – it’s the kind of confidence which comes with growing up, and I didn’t know anyone who could call out sexist jokes or stereotypically macho behaviour in their teens – but it also makes her the kind of inspirational character that teenage girls need as a role model.

I didn’t understand feminism until I was in my very late teens, but if Rules For Being a Girl had been out when I was younger I would have been calling myself a feminist much earlier in my life. It was brilliant to see Marin start a feminist book club, and recommending titles by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Roxane Gay lays the groundwork for readers to explore feminist non-fiction written by women of colour. It allows interested readers to learn about intersectional feminism, and the way that feminist issues impact upon people from different backgrounds, from outspoken authors sharing their lived experiences.

I also really enjoyed the relationship between Marin and Gray, and I found myself rooting for them more than I have for a YA couple in quite a while. I’m hoping that Bushnell and Cotugno consider writing a sequel to this story, because Marin and Gray’s relationship has a lot of potential for development in the future. I felt sad at the end of the book because I was attached to both of the characters and I wanted to see more of them, and that’s not something which happens to me very often.

The only reason I didn’t give Rules For Being a Girl five stars is because I wasn’t a fan of the ending. It’s rushed. Compared to the rest of the novel – which builds up tension slowly, making you wonder what Marin will do next and whether Bex will get his comeuppance – the end of the story falls flat.

It’s hard to talk about my main issue with the ending without giving spoilers, but let’s say that it is highly unrealistic (which is a shame, because the rest of the novel is written so believably). If it had played out a bit more slowly, Bushnell and Cotugno might have been able to address exactly how the events are supposed to play out… But instead the main characters plot off the page, intending to give the reader a satisfying reveal when we discover what they’ve done, but it didn’t seem possible that they would have been able to get away with it.

However, if it wasn’t for the ending this book would have been a five star novel. The topics explored are relevant (even if some of the pop culture references already feel painfully dated for a book which was only released last summer!) and are important for young people to be able to discuss. I’ve seen this novel favourably compared to Moxie and The Nowhere Girls, so I’ll be checking both out as soon as I can.

I already knew I enjoyed Katie Cotugno’s writing, but this collaboration seems to have elevated her to the next level. If these authors decide to work together again in the future, it’ll be an autobuy for me.

I hope you enjoyed this review. See you again soon!

Alyce

X

REVIEW: How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

REVIEW: How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Michael Joseph for accepting my request to read and review this title via NetGalley. How To Disappear tells the story of a girl called Zara, who has to enter witness protection after lying 

REVIEW: All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

REVIEW: All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Walker Books for accepting my request to read and review this title via NetGalley. All Our Hidden Gifts is a book which tries to do too much, but is still very enjoyable. Following 

REVIEW: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

REVIEW: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Stepsister is a brilliant fairytale continuation with a lackluster ending (and far too many chapters!).

I wrongly assumed that Stepsister was going to be a fairytale retelling of Cinderella from the point of view of one of the ugly stepsisters. Instead it’s a continuation of the fairytale, beginning with the grotesque events of Isabelle and her sister Tavia chopping off pieces of their feet in the futile attempt to convince the prince that the glass slipper belongs to one of them (rather than their beautiful, mistreated stepsister, Ella).

Of course, we all know how that part of the story goes…

After Ella is revealed to be the prince’s love and is swept off to become a member of the royal family, Isabelle and Tavia become the most hated inhabitants of their French village. What kind of monsters sit back and let their loving, caring stepsister be maltreated, then twist the knife even further by trying to steal her chance at true love? Unfortunately it wasn’t down to Isabelle or Octavia, who were both just doing their best to fulfill their mother’s wishes.

Meanwhile, there’s a subplot following the personifications of Fate and Chance. Fate is an old crone who draws out maps of people’s lives, determining the twists and turns that their story will take. Chance, however, has decided that Isabelle deserves a second chance. He steals her map, fighting Fate on Isabelle’s behalf, desperate to prove that she can change her attitude – and therefore change her Fate – for the better, before it’s too late.

Although I found the subplot very interesting, at times I struggled to follow what was going on. That might have been because of the fact that I ended up listening to Stepsister on audiobook (my first full audiobook, ever!).

However, I think it’s more down to the fact that there is a large cast of characters, and a lot of the background characters feel unnecessary. Chance has a lot of allies, while Fate is introduced as an old crone with two sisters (and I’m still not quite sure what happened to the sisters, because I don’t remember them ever being mentioned again). This is a book I would be interested in rereading in the future, to see whether I find it easier to follow when reading it physically.

It also didn’t help that this book had so many chapters. By the end of the story we’re nearly on chapter 140, and for a book which is only 350 pages long, that’s too many. Some of the chapters were over before they’d really begun, and it made the storytelling disjointed and kept throwing me off. I found it hard to concentrate, and even harder to connect with the characters.

That being said, I did enjoy what Jennifer Donnelly did throughout Stepsister. There was a huge focus on the way that society views women and girls, and the roles that they are expected to fill. With Tavia having an intense interest in science and Isabelle being interested in war and military strategy, these girls don’t fit the typical mold a woman was expected to fill in France in this time period!

I particularly enjoyed the personification of Chance and Fate, and would happily read more books featuring these two in the future. It makes this fairytale stand out from the YA crowd by giving it such a great USP, and that’s not something I often find myself thinking about YA fairytale retellings (or continuations!).

All in all, this one didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It would have been better if the chapters had been structured better, and I also would have liked the ending to have played out a little more slowly. The story unravels painfully slowly, then the ending occurs at such a breakneck speed that I found myself wondering if I’d accidentally skipped some chapters.

Although I didn’t love Stepsister I’m still looking forward to reading Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly, and I’m glad I’ve finally picked up one of her novels as I’ve been hearing great things about her writing for years.

Thank you for reading this review,

Alyce

X

REVIEW: Breathless by Jennifer Niven

REVIEW: Breathless by Jennifer Niven

First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Penguin for accepting my request to read Breathless via NetGalley. Breathless was my first Jennifer Niven read, and it didn’t live up to the hype. Following a girl called Claude as her parents