Review: The Upside of Unrequited | One of My All-Time Favorite Contemporaries

the-upside-of-unrequitedThe Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Release date: April 11th, 2017 by Balzer + Bray
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Rating: 5/5 stars – a new favorite
Goodreads

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

review

When I saw this book on Netgalley, I knew I had to request it. I absolutely adored Becky Albertalli’s first book: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I was delighted when I was approved. After I finished Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop, I knew I wanted something cute to read. So I thought it was the perfect time to pick this up. I was not ready for the emotions this book would stir up in me, though.

This is the story of Molly and her family. Molly has a twin sister, Cassie, two moms, Nadine & Patty, and a little brother called Xavier. She also has a grandma called Betty -and I can’t decide whether I like her or not. They are Jewish, although not orthodox I believe because they do eat bacon. Cassie and Molly were conceived through the use of a sperm donor, so Patty could get pregnant. And their little brother Xavier was conceived with the same sperm donor and Nadine.

I think this family is wonderful for several reasons. First of all, they are so wonderfully diverse. Patty is bisexual. I’m not sure whether Nadine is too, or whether she identifies more as lesbian. Cassie, Molly’s twin, is gay. Patty and Nadine are an interracial couple, which is why Xavier also has a different skin color than Cassie and Molly do. There was this one part where Nadine said that everyone always assumed she was the nanny when she went out with Cassie and Molly when they were children. Because they don’t share the same skin color. I can’t imagine how much that would hurt. That everyone assumes your children are not yours. Second, I love the portrayal of a good family life. This is truly a wonderful family. They are supportive, kind and honest. They are the kind of parents people look up to. And it’s also mentioned that Molly has anxiety, and that she’s been taking medication for a year now.

This family takes shit from no one. And they are hilarious. A quote, to prove it:

She’s never liked him, ever since he asked if Cassie was actually queer, or if she was trying to emulate our moms. He actually used the word emulate. I don’t even want to remember that particular stretch of awkward silence. Actually, I do. It was kind of amazing.

Aside from all that wonderfulness, the reason I adored this book so much was Molly. Recently, I read and reviewed Radio Silence. And I mentioned it was the only contemporary I’d read so far to which I could actually really relate. It’s not the only one anymore. I think if you combine Molly and Frances (from Radio Silence), you’ll have created me. I could have cried for this girl, because I recognized so much of myself in her.

Molly is a plus-size girl. She frequently has crushes on people, but has never had the courage to say anything. While I can’t entirely relate to her journey, I can relate to her feelings and emotions so well. How she is too afraid to say something ridiculous to a crush, so she just says nothing. How she’s afraid they won’t like her, because she’s not a skinny girl. How scared she is of rejection. Her struggle with self-love and body positivity. How you over-analyze other people’s gestures and looks. Girl, I understand you. My heart actually hurt for this girl, because I know who she is. I know what it’s like. I was so invested in her story. So proud of her by the end of it. Molly is a wonderful person, and I want her to be my friend.

Here’s a quote to illustrate Molly being plus-size, and not taking shit

“Okay, I just gotta say it.” The guy touches my arm. “You are fucking gorgeous for a big girl.” I stop short. “It’s a compliment!” I look at him. “Fuck you.”

I also loved the sister dynamic in this story. Cassie meets a girl in the beginning of the book, and quickly falls in love with her. She’s spending so much time with Mina, that Molly feels left behind. I haven’t experienced this with a sister, but I have with friends. On the one hand, you want them to be as happy as possible, and to spend time with the person they love. But you also miss them so much. And I love to see that side explored more. Because Molly does like Mina. And she also says that she is happy for Cassie. But it’s a double feeling, because you’re also sad?

Obviously,  I can’t end this review without talking about Reid. I am in love with Reid. He honestly sounds like the most perfect person to ever live. He wears Middle Earth shirts. He loves Cadbury Mini Eggs. He’s a bit shy, but the kindest person ever. He has cute brown hair and hazel eyes. He loves edible cookie dough with vanilla ice cream. Sign me the hell up, because he sounds amazing. He’s also so kind to Molly. I like that she actually felt comfortable around him, and that he made her feel beautiful. I know, I know, we shouldn’t need a guy to know we are beautiful. But let’s not lie: it’s nice. I also liked that at the end, they discussed how normal it actually is to not have a partner in high school. That there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.



I can gush endlessly about this book
, because there are so many aspects of it I absolutely adore. I love the family dynamics. I love the friendships. I love the fact that there is a little drama but it’s not endlessly drawn out -because high school did have drama, just not as exaggerated as it usually is in books. I love Molly, because I truly understand her. I love Cassie and Mina’s relationship. I love Nadine and Patty’s relationship. I love Reid. I love how the whole thing with Will was resolved. I loved the mini Simon cameo. I love how artistic Molly is, and that her whole focus isn’t on college. I love the many aspects and facets of diversity in this book.  

I just, love it. I will definitely buy a copy of this for my shelf because I have a feeling I will want to re-read it one day.

Review: One of Us Is Lying

one-of-us-is-lyingOne of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Release date: June 1st, 2017 by Penguin Random House UK
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Rating: 4/5 stars – truly enjoyed it
Goodreads

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

Synopsis: Pay close attention and you might solve this.On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?  

review

Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I have also done a video review on this book, which you can find on my YouTube channel! Another thing I never thought I’d say: I actually agree with the way a book was pitched for once. The pitch for this book was ‘Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars’. And I think that’s a pretty good way of describing it!

So, what’s the story about? It’s about 5 teenagers who get detention. Bronwyn, the nerd. Nate, the criminal. Addy, the pretty and good girl. Cooper, the jock. And Simon, the gossip. Simon has an app called About That, to which he posts rumors about his fellow students. They are never wrong. During detention, Simon gets killed and obviously the focus of the investigation is the 4 students who were with him at the time. Yet they all insist that they didn’t murder him. So who’s lying?

If you don’t think this premise sounds great, then what is up with you? It sound epic. And I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. But I ended up really enjoying it!

THE CHARACTERS

At first, I read some reviews saying the characters were too stereotypical. And yes, for the first part of the novel they are pretty much a stereotype. But isn’t that the whole point of The Breakfast Club? These teenagers all get put together. They are stereotypes too: the popular girl, the criminal, the nerd, etc. But as they get to know each other, and you get to know them, you find out that there’s much more to these people than just who they appear to be. And I think Karen McManus did exactly the same thing in One of Us Is Lying. At first, they seem pretty stereotypical. But as you get to know them, you learn that there’s so much more to them than this label they’ve gotten.

Bronwyn, the brain. Bronwyn Rojas is on a path leading directly to Yale. She has the best grades, and school and studying is what is most important to her. Aside from her family, of course.

Nate, the criminal. Nate is on probation, because he was caught dealing drugs. He still does, now they just can’t catch him anymore.

Addy, the popular and good girl. She’s the sweet girl who is beautiful but not model-gorgeous, with the jock boyfriend.

Cooper, the athlete. Although not the aforementioned jock boyfriend. Baseball is Cooper’s entire life.

Simon, the outcast. Who is the guy behind the app that has ruined so many teenagers’ lives?

I think these characters were all pretty interesting. At first, I really didn’t like Addy. I thought she was such a doormat when she was with her boyfriend and it annoyed me to no end. Which you can see in my Goodreads updates. There’s one moment when they are going to a beach party in the evening. And she’s wearing a shirt and sneakers because it’ll be cold. Her boyfriend takes a look at her, and tells her that she should maybe change into something more form-fitting, because after all, isn’t he there to keep her warm? And SHE DOES. SHE CHANGES. GIRL. LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING. YOU SET THAT IDIOT ON FIRE TO KEEP YOURSELF WARM. So yeah, I was not a fan. But by the middle to end of the story, I was basically Addy’s biggest cheerleader. Doesn’t that tell you something about the stereotypes being erased?

I really enjoyed Bronwyn and Nate’s stories too. At first, I have to admit, I thought: is this going to lead to a romance? Because I think these people have some other shit to deal with. But I ended up really enjoying the way Karen McManus dealt with it.

I ended up really attached to all of the main characters, something I certainly couldn’t envision when I started it.

THE MURDER

I had a blast trying to figure out who was lying. Well, lying about the murder. They are all lying about something. But then again, who isn’t? We all have those aspects of our lives we don’t necessarily want to share with others.

When I was about 60-70% in, I had this crazy theory. And I ended up being partially right!! I was kind of proud of myself. Usually, I don’t like it when I can guess (part) of the big reveal in a murder mystery. But in this case, I wasn’t bothered by it at all. I actually found it even more fun, to see it unravel. I caught myself reading faster, thinking: “am I going to be right??”

FINAL THOUGHTS

I think this was quite an impressive read. I had a lot of fun reading it, both with regards to the mystery and to the characters. I found it quite interesting that she stuck to the theme of the Breakfast Club: are these people really just a stereotype or label? Or is there more to them? I’d highly recommend it, if you’re interested in the premise. I might just buy myself a copy for my shelves too.

DIVERSITY?

There are some aspects of diversity in these books. Bronwyn’s dad is Colombian, and he moved to the US later in his life. I’m not entirely sure whether that was before or after he had kids. So the Rojas family is Latinx. There is also an LGBTQIA+ main character.

Sexism is alive and well in true-crime coverage, because Bronwyn and I aren’t nearly as popular with the general public as Cooper and Nate.

“It concerns me you’re avoiding a promise not to murder me.”

Nonny lets out a theatrical sigh. “Well, goddamn. You boys are pretty, but not helpful from a practical standpoint.”

Top Ten Tuesday: A Spring TBR

op Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week I will make a list of 10 books, authors or other bookish things surrounding a certain topic. This week, it’s all about that spring TBR. So here are some books I hope to read this coming season.

The Desert Spear (Demon Cycle #2) by Peter V. Brett // I’ve been meaning to continue the series for a while now. I just found out that the library in the city I work in has the books in English! I have The Desert Spear now, so I’m hoping to read it soon. 

Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown // Another one I’ve been meaning to read for ages. YA science fiction? Sounds like something I need to try. 

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater // I absolutely adore Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle, so I want to read more of her backlist. I’ve heard incredible things about this one! 

Assassin’s Quest (Farseer #3) by Robin Hobb // I need to finish this trilogy. I need to know what happens to Fitz next. I also want to finish it so I can start with the Liveship Traders one. 

The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms #3) by Cinda Williams Chima // Reading in translation: De Troon van de Grijze Wolf // I read the first book (in English) at the start of 2017. I really wanted to continue the series, but didn’t want to buy more books to add to my TBR. So I discovered that my library has copies of the book, translated into Dutch. I figured I’d give it a go. I read the second book in Dutch last week, and actually genuinely enjoyed it. So I’ll be continuing the series in translation. I do want to own my own copies one day, and I’ll probably buy them in English so I can re-read them in English one day.

The Circle by Dave Eggers // I have this book on my shelf, and I want to read it before I see the movie!

Insurrection (Insurrection #1) by Robyn Young // I’ve had this book on my shelf for quite a while. Somehow, I always overlook my historical fiction books. No more! I want to read more of my historical fiction ones. This is set in 1286 in Scotland, when the King of Scotland is murdered. Civil war threatens as everyone wants to be the new king. But so does King Edward I of England.

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil #1) by Soman Chainani // Another one I have on my shelf! It just sounds like a wonderful MG (or is it YA?) fantasy book.

Daughter of the Blood (Black Jewels #1) by Anne Bishop // I’ve just finished Anne Bishop’s The Others series -or at least the ones about Meg- and I can’t wait to read more of her works. I have this one on my shelf, so I’m hoping to get to it soon.

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’Engle // I have never read this. I know, scandalous! But a movie is being made, and the cast looks absolutely epic. So I want to read it, before ever seeing it. It’s pretty short, so I’m hoping to read this soon. 


So those are the 10 books I’m hoping to read in the coming season! Have you read any of these? Which one should I prioritize? Which books are on your Spring TBR?

DNF Review: I’ll Give You the Sun

ill-give-you-the-sun

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Published: 16.09.2014 by Dial Books (my edition: Walker Books)

Genre: Contemporary, YA
Rating: DNF
Goodreads

Synopsis: From the author of The Sky Is Every­where, a radiant novel that will leave you laughing and crying – all at once. For fans of John Green, Gayle Forman and Lauren Oliver. Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

review

I feel like such an outcast now. I DNFed this extremely popular book. I’m sorry if I let you down. Let’s talk about why I didn’t make it past page 133, shall we?

I have seen this book on so many blogs, and in so many YouTube videos! Everyone seemed to love and praise it, saying it was one of the best contemporaries they’ve ever read. So when the #Bookentine readathon came around, I thought it was finally time to give this a go.

This is the story of a twin brother and sister, Noah and Jude. It’s told through two timelines: when you read from Noah’s perspective, the twins are 13 years old, while if you read from Jude’s, they are 16. In Noah’s timeline, they are incredibly close. In Jude’s, they no longer speak to each other. You’re basically trying to find out what happened, what drove them apart.

I just wasn’t invested in this story. While I was reading, I was absolutely fine with the story. I didn’t mind reading it, but I didn’t love it either. Once I put it down, I just didn’t feel like picking it back up. I didn’t have the urge to read more of their story. To find out what happened. To be quite honest, I couldn’t care less.

If I had to choose one twin whose perspective I preferred, it’s Noah’s. He was the most interesting to me. Noah is an artist, who has always dreamed of going to art school. He’s also gay, something he knows at 13 but doesn’t really want to tell. He was kind, awkward and sweet.

I wasn’t attached to Jude at all. I didn’t really care for her perspective, as it was mostly her feeling bad for something that happened, and her talking to her dead grandmother.

Not only was I not invested in the characters or story, I also think Jandy Nelson’s writing just may not be for me. I liked that it was quite different, yes. For example, when Noah thinks of something to draw in relation to something that just happened, Nelson put the title of his drawing in brackets between the lines. That’s quite interesting! But to me, I think her writing just felt disjointed, and choppy. And I think that’s why I couldn’t connect to the characters.

All in all, this book just wasn’t for me. It’s not bad! That’s not what I’m saying at all. It just didn’t intrigue me. And I don’t want to read a book I’m not invested in.

Weekly Wrap Up | March n° 2

what i read 80c8b0

The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms #2) by Cinda Williams Chima // Read in translation: Koningin in Ballingschap // ★★★★★ // I really wanted to continue this series, but I only had a copy of the first book. I’m trying not to buy so much, so instead I took a look in my local library. Turns out they have the series, translated in to Dutch. I was curious whether I’d still enjoy them, and I really did. I loved it! I’ll definitely be getting the next books from the library too. Maybe one day I’ll buy English copies to match the first one I have, but for now I’m quite happy reading the translations.

Etched in Bone (The Others #5) by Anne Bishop // ★★★★★ // My most anticipated book of the year. I read it in one day because I just couldn’t stop reading. I barely did anything else that day (outside of my work day obviously). I adored it. I can’t believe Meg’s story is finished now…

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli // ★★★★★ // Another one of my most anticipated books of the year! And another one that didn’t disappoint. Another one I read in one day. I nearly cried because of how much I loved Molly. 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows by Ava Lavender // ★★★★ // I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages. I did enjoy it, but man, it’s so SAD!

The Girls by Emma Cline // ★★.5 // What a disappointment. I’m glad I got this from the library instead of buying it. It’s a story about a 14-year-old girl who gets involved with The Girls, and a cult. It’s boring. It’s so weirdly focused on sex that it made me uncomfortable. It’s literally on almost every page, and this girl is barely 14?

in real life 80c8b0

I bought myself a new monitor, big enough to make blogging very easy -and to watch movies on.

I’m full of hope. I saw a beautiful apartment, and I’m hoping to be able to rent it. Fingers crossed, I guess we’ll find out this week.

The weather this week has been kind of beautiful? Especially this weekend. It’s sunny, but still chilly. The perfect first days of spring.


That was my week! I didn’t talk about watching anything, because I didn’t. I was too busy reading. How was your week?

Library Haul | March 2017

One of my goals for this year was to use the library more. I now have two library cards (one in the town I live, one in the city I work) so I think a monthly library haul is going to be a thing this year. Here’s what I currently have out from the library! I did film this last week, so I’ve read some of the books since then.