Video Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue |A New Favorite

I thought I’d take a different approach to my reviews today. Usually I write out my thoughts on the books I read here. Today, I actually just wanted to talk. So I made a review video! I know it seems like a long video, and I’m sorry. I just got caught up talking about this incredible book! 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Genre: Historical Fiction (YA)
Rating: 5/5 stars – a new favorite

Review: Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb | No Spoilers

assassin's questAssassin’s Quest (Farseer #3) by Robin Hobb
Published: March 3rd 1997 by Spectra

Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars – Absolutely loved it
Goodreads

I won’t provide a synopsis as this is the third and final book in the trilogy. If you want to read my reviews on the first and second book, you can find them here:
(1) Assassin’s Apprentice

(2) Royal Assassin

This is a spoiler-free review, even if you haven’t read book 1 or 2! 

 

 

break

I should have written this review months ago… Oh well, I’m finally getting to it. This is the third and final book in the Farseer trilogy -which is the first trilogy in her overarching Realm of Elderlings series. 

It’s no secret that I have loved this series from the start. It’s definitely not one everyone will enjoy, mostly because a lot of people go into it with the wrong expectations. This trilogy is the story of FitzChivalry, a bastard to the King-in-Waiting. When they find out he has a bastard, he decides to step down (and dies -that’s not a spoiler by the way). Fitz is then brought up at the castle, and trained to be the assassin for the King of the Six Duchies. This is a slow-paced, character-driven story. Don’t go into this expecting one assassin scene after the other, because you’ll be sorely disappointed. Instead, you’ll get to know these characters like no other. They’ll become your family, your friends, and your enemies.

This book was definitely my favorite one of the series. I loved watching all the small plot lines develop and come together. There was so much going on in this one, and Fitz stumbled from one chaotic mess into the other. I felt for him, I truly did. During this entire book, I basically just wanted to hug him and not let go.

Obviously, there are many other characters I’ve come to love in this series. Nighteyes is probably one of my favorites. No one will ever trump the Fool though. Like I said, these characters will feel so familiar to you. Robin Hobb manages to make Fitz’s family feel like your family. Here’s one of my favorite moments of The Fool: 

“But for now, let me show you something else. No, step back, please, so you can see it all. Here it comes.” I heard the slam and the latch. “The outside of my door,” the Fool announced gladly. “I painted it myself. Do you like it?”

I almost cried when the book was over. I immediately wanted to continue with her Realm of Elderlings series, because Robin Hobb is an absolute genius. I need to read all of her works, and I need to read them now. I don’t really know what else I can say about this book without spoiling anything though. 

In conclusion, this book is my favorite of the three. I fell in love with so many of the characters -and wanted to viciously murder some of the others. I would highly recommend you read this series, if you haven’t done so already. I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Review: Am I Normal Yet?

am i normal yetAm I Normal Yet? (Spinster Club #1) by Holly Bourne
Published: August 1st 2015 by Usborne Publishing
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Rating: 5/5 stars – a new favorite
Goodreads

SynopsisAll Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love? 

break

It’s apparently been months since I’ve written and posted a review. I’m a bit rusty -and I can’t quite believe it’s been that long already. Today, I’m reviewing one of the books that will most likely end up on my favorite books of the year list in December.

I don’t know where to begin when talking about this book. Not only is it a delightful contemporary read, it also manages to tackle some serious issues and topics while being funny too.

This is the story of Evie, a girl who is just about to return to college after struggling with her mental health. This is set in the UK, by the way, so college = high school and Evie is 16. It’s about her wanting to be “normal”. She wants to have the same experiences her peers are having, like college, parties, best friends, boyfriend, etc. 

First of all,  I want to say that this book is really funny. Yes, it deals with some serious topics. But Evie’s voice is genuinely funny, and I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading. I’ve started color coding the books I read with tabs, and blue is for funny moments. I’ve tabbed quite a few ones!

Then, there are the amazing characters. As I mentioned, Evie is the main character. She’s kind, funny, smart and such a good friend. And she just wants to be loved and accepted, which is something most people can relate to. She also wants friends who won’t stop hanging out with her when they start a relationship. Evie was diagnosed with OCD and General Anxiety Disorder before the start of this book, and she is currently on medication and seeing a psychiatrist. 

But Evie is not the only incredible character. I not only got invested in her life, but in those of the side characters as well. Specifically Lottie and Amber! I’m so excited the next books will be centered around them, because I can’t wait. Not only are these girls beautiful and smart and kick-ass, they also start a Spinster Club together. They get together, choose a topic and discuss feminism. I can’t tell you how much I loved that. The way these characters delve into the topic of feminism and challenge each other to think differently is incredible. I want to be part of a Spinster Club too. 

If you weren’t convinced by the amazing friendships and feminism in this book, the mental health discussions will win you over. This is the first book I’ve read about a character with OCD that truly made me feel like I could understand. Obviously, I could never fully understand what OCD is like, because I don’t suffer from it. But Evie allowed me a glimpse into her life, and it broadened my understanding massively. The book includes updates on her medication and therapy sessions, as well as the bad thoughts she battles every day. I was so invested in Evie’s life that I felt every emotion she did. 

I was lucky enough to meet Holly Bourne at YALC in the last weekend of July. She signed my copy, and noticed the copious amounts of tabs I’d left in it. I told her I had a different color for everything, such as green for quotes, yellow for inspiring and important moments, blue for funny and pink for relationships. She was so delighted to hear it! She is honestly the kindest person, and I want to buy every single one of her books.

[talking about mental health awareness]
I can say, with some confidence, that it’s gone too far the other way. Because now mental health disorders have gone “mainstream”. And for all the good it’s brought people like me who have been given therapy and stuff, there’s a lot of bad it’s brought too.

Because now people use the phrase OCD to describe minor personality quirks. “Oooh, I like my pens in a line, I’m so OCD.” 
NO YOU’RE FUCKING NOT. 
“Oh my god, I was so nervous about that presentation, I literally had a panic attack.” 
NO YOU FUCKING DIDN’T. 
“I’m so hormonal today. I  just feel totally bipolar.”
SHUP UP, YOU IGNORANT BUMFACE. 

This is one of the best books I’ve read. It should be read in every school, by every teenager. Even if you don’t really read contemporary YA, please give this a go. It will challenge you the entire way through.

Review: The Dragons of Nova

dragons of nova
The Dragons of Nova (Loom Saga #2) by Elise Kova

Genre: Fantasy, (New) Adult

Release date: 11 July 2017 by Keymaster Press
Rating: ★★★★★ – I adored it.
Goodreads

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

I won’t provide a synopsis of The Dragons of Nova, as it is the second book in the series. If you want to see the synopsis and my thoughts on the first book, The Alchemists of Loom, you can find my review here.

 

break

It’s been months since I’ve written a review, and I feel like I’ve lost my touch. If I ramble in this one, I apologize. I’m pretty much always a rambling mess when talking about my favorite books though, so you might not notice a difference. As always, my reviews are spoiler free!

WORLD

If you haven’t read the first book yet and have no idea what this is about, let me catch you up. This story is about Loom and Nova. Loom is where the humans (and Chimeras) live, while Nova is the country/world of the dragons. Years ago, the dragons invaded Loom and conquered their world. Loom’s previous Guild system was adapted: instead of everyone studying at whichever Guild they were interested in, you now have to stay at the one you were born in. If you happen to be not-so-good at whatever that Guild does, you’re pretty much dead.

Dragons also possess magic, while humans do not. This is where the Chimeras come in. Chimeras are humans who have dragon organs implanted. This allows them to use a limited amount of magic. However, too many dragon organs will rot the human’s blood, and they will die too.

I really love this world. In the first book, we explored Loom and its different territories (each Guild has a territory). In this book we also get to see parts of Nova. As we explore more of the world, we also expand our knowledge of the world and different people’s opinions on it. For example, Arianna (one of the MC) hates the dragons for destroying her world. Yet there are other humans who argue that the dragons saved them. If not for them, humans would have used up every resource and died. I liked seeing the world through different people’s eyes!

PLOT

Obviously, I can’t say much here. However, I can say that this one did not suffer from second book syndrome. If you’ve seen one of my recent wrap ups, you’ll know I also read the second book in her Air Awakens series. That one felt mostly like a filler book to me, in which nothing really happened. That’s really not the case with this one! So much happened, and I was astonished by the time the ending came around. 

Honestly, there were so many surprises in the last half I spent most of my time thinking: “Wait. WHAT?” 

CHARACTERS

I’ll only talk about the main characters, so as not to spoil anything.

Arianna. I’m just in love with this woman. She is such a fierce badass, and I am in awe of her. But I wouldn’t want to come across her in a dark alley. I probably wouldn’t survive. 

Cvareh. I find Cvareh to be an interesting character! He’s a dragon from the Xin family, and in the second book we learn more about him and his family. The first book mainly focused on his character and who he really is. Now, family dynamics are thrown in. I am so fascinated by his family -and especially by Petra. There’s also more of a political aspect to this book, because the dragon society is very political and backstabby (I made that word up, I know).

Florence. I feel like Florence grew most of all throughout this book. I found her journey fascinating, especially when her views on the world were challenged. She’s a woman to look up to, that’s for sure. 

There are so many other fascinating (and utterly terrifying) characters, but I don’t want to spoil you on this story.

IN SHORT

I adore this new adult fantasy series. I really enjoyed the first book, The Alchemists of Loom, when I read it last year. I certainly wasn’t disappointed by the sequel. In fact, that ending left me wanting (and needing) more. I can’t wait for the third book because I need to know what happens next!

It was science, as Eva would say. And science existed beyond right, wrong, and fear.

Review: Etched in Bone | Spoiler Free

etched-in-bone
Etched in Bone (The Others #5) by Anne Bishop

Published: 07.03.2017 by Roc

Genre: Urban fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars – a new favorite
Goodreads

I won’t provide a synopsis for this book, as it’s the fifth book in the series.

My review is spoiler-free, even for those who haven’t read the previous books.

review

Etched in Bone was probably my most anticipated book of 2017. I have been a massive fan of this series for about 4 years now, and the fact that it was coming to an end was both exciting and terrifying. I mean, she is writing a spin)-off in the same world, but that will feature different characters. So this is the end of stories with Meg and Simon and Tess and Vlad as main characters.

I can’t believe it’s over. I honestly can’t believe it.

I don’t want to say anything about what actually happens in this book, because I don’t want to spoil anything for you all -even if you haven’t read the previous books. This book was not as action-packed as the previous ones were. It didn’t feature as much conflict. It was more the community at Lakeside Courtyard trying to adjust to life after the events in the previous book. At least, for the first while. To some, that may not sound interesting at all. But I’ve always wondered: what happens after the big battle? How does a community just rebuild and adapt after so much has happened? And I think this book gives a great look into that aspect of conflicts and war.

A “villain” does pop up in the story. And I think he was the most despicable person we’ve seen so far. I actually want to kill him myself. He’s the most disgusting villain because he’s so realistic. I know that people like this actually exist, and it makes me want to throw up.

I’m so glad I got to spend another book with all these characters. Although I do feel like I got less of Tess and Henry in this book? And maybe less of Vlad too? I don’t know. I loved seeing the human pack grow and adjust, seeing them integrated in the Courtyard.  By the fifth book, the human pack has grown so much, and I was afraid at first I wouldn’t be able to keep up with everyone. But each person was so distinctly realistic, with their own character traits and beliefs, that it was easy to tell them apart. I grew so attached to Twylla, because she’s the most bad-ass grandmother ever.

I can’t leave you all without talking about Meg and Simon. Every time they were on the page together, I wanted to squeal in delight. They are just so cute. I wanted a romance to truly happen, but I wanted the characters to stay true to themselves too. Meg is afraid of romance and sex, after everything that happened to her in the Compound. And Simon doesn’t know how to be with a human, much less a blood prophet, without losing too much Wolf. I feel like Anne Bishop never lost sight of who these people really are, and made their journey actually realistic.



I’m really happy with the way this series ended. I do not think this book let me down in any way, whatsoever. It was such a great conclusion. I’ll be recommending this series to people, forever. And now that this is done, I’ll be starting Anne Bishop’s backlist of books.
I want to experience more of her writing. Because I’m going to miss it so much.

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: A Conjuring of Light | Spoiler Free

a-conjuring-of-light

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab
Published: 21.02.2017 by Titan Books

Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars – ★★★★★
Goodreads

I won’t provide a synopsis, as this is the third book in the trilogy. 

My review is spoiler-free, even for those who haven’t read the first 2 books.

review

I mean, what can I say about this book without spoiling you all on any of the previous books? That’s the last thing I want to do! So I’ll just write a few lines on how I felt about this series ending.

I was scared to start this. The ending of a series is always a terrifying thing, especially one you love so much. I was scared that the book wouldn’t live up to my incredibly high expectations -seeing as those have been built up for the last two books. I shouldn’t have been. I should’ve put more faith in V.E. Schwab. Because she always manages to craft a masterpiece.

When I first opened the Kindle copy, it informed me that the book was about 666 pages long. Not only do I find that number hilarious, I also found it intimidating. It’s by far the largest book in the trilogy (I think), and that made me… well, it made me doubt the author. What if they just dragged out the story for far too long? What if it felt like nothing happened for pages and pages and pages?

Again, should have had more faith in V.E. Schwab.

Yes, this book is long. Yet it never felt dragged out to me. I didn’t feel like she was stretching the characters storylines for too long. Instead, I felt relieved she had written so many pages because it allowed for the story arc to be more realistic. With all that was happening in Kell’s world, it could’ve easily ended up feeling rushed: a race to the ending. Making the book this long allowed for things to unfold in a more natural way. As natural as it can get in a fantasy world, of course.

I have so much love for all of these characters. And I felt like Schwab did them all justice. They stayed true to their character until the very last page of the book. Of course, they had changed. Kell in book 3 is no longer the same as Kell in book 1. That would be impossible, after all he has been through. I think the character development in these books is really great. Some people learn to trust, or to love. Others learn to be less naïve.

Aside from the characters themselves, I also adore the relationships. Not just the romantic ones, but the friendships and familial bonds too. Or even if you can’t be friends with someone, after past events, you can still respect them.

I found this book to be fast-paced, interesting and surprising at every turn. Although there is one little story line left untold, and I feel like I will always be stuck with that question! Someone talk to me about that in a DM on Twitter -so we won’t spoil anyone, obviously.

All in all, I’m so glad I went on this journey with V.E. Schwab. I have come to love her characters almost as much as she loves them -as I don’t think there is anyone in the world who can love a character as much as their author does. Am I sad the journey is over? Of course. I could spend an eternity with these characters, and in this world. But ultimately? I am grateful for having read this wonderful trilogy.

If you haven’t read A Darker Shade of Magic or its sequels, I’d definitely encourage you to. You might find yourself on a wonderful journey.

 In the meantime, I can’t wait to read more of Schwab’s works.

 Anoshe.

 

Review: All the Rage

all-the-rageAll the Rage by Courtney Summers
Published: 28.01.2016 by MacMillan Children’s
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, YA
Rating: 5/5 stars – ★★★★★
Goodreads

Synopsis: Kellan Turner is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. But when she speaks up, she is branded a liar. Telling the truth has cost her everything, because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town.

But when news of Kellan assaulting another girl gets out, the cost of staying silent might be more than Romy can bear. All The Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.

review

Thanks to the #Bookentine readathon, I finally picked up this book. I’ve had this book on my shelf since the summer of 2015, when I got an ARC copy after working at Pan Macmillan as an intern for a while. I waited so long to read this! I do know why though. This book deals with such a heavy subject, it’s not a book I can just pick up on a whim. But I’m glad I finally read it. It was so worth it.

All the Rage centers around Romy Grey, a teenager in a small city in the U.S. She used to have a lot. She used to have a best friend she adored. That’s no longer the case now. Romy was raped. By the town’s golden boy. Why would anyone believe a girl who accused such a “nice kid”? They wouldn’t. And so Romy has been dealing with the vicious repercussions of saying she was raped.

This book made me want to set humanity on fire. I hate it. I mean, the book itself was incredible. But the fact that I could recognize so much of our society in it made me want to throw up. Courtney Summers does not pull any punches with this novel. She attacks rape culture, victim blaming, slut shaming and bullying in a confrontational manner -and it just made me want to give that woman a round of applause. We need books like this. We need authors brave enough to address these problems. Instead of all those classics, this should be required reading in high school.

I felt so much for Romy. I was angry, because of how she was being treated. I was furious, because everyone else was so weak. I was disgusted, because of the way she was treated. I felt sympathy for the girl who has been through too much. I was frustrated, because she couldn’t seem to tell anyone. I understood why she couldn’t seem to tell anyone. I was glad that she had a family that loved her so much.

I just… I can’t. I feel like I need to watch so many puppy videos after finishing this book. And I also want to set the patriarchy on fire. I will never in my life understand how an adult can treat a child like that. Can just decide what is the truth and what isn’t, based on your biased beliefs. I felt like throwing up every time the sheriff entered the story -and also felt like kicking him in the nuts.

This book was just so well written. The characters felt so utterly real, I felt like I know Romy so well. The narrative felt broken up at times which may sound like a bad thing but it actually fit with the story. Because the trauma fragments everything. It was raw, and honest. I think there were several reasons Romy’s story felt so real to me:

  • We start the story after she was raped, when everyone has already decided she is lying. But you know what happened to her because of the flashback. I don’t really know how to explain this, but it did feel like a girl’s account of rape happening. It didn’t feel like an author saying: this is what happened to her. It felt like Romy was telling me.
  • The littlest thing could induce a panic attack and/or flashback to her, which I believe would happen with trauma in real life too. A sentence that sounds too familiar. A smell or sound you heard while it was happening.
  • What struck me most were the tiny things Romy did to try and bring control back into her life. She painted her nails and lips red religiously. She panicked if she left the house without them made up. They were layers of protection, so people wouldn’t really see her. There was a process with several meticulous steps to the nailpolish and lipstick. It may seem silly, but to her it’s a way of regaining some control.

All those things made the trauma and story so vivid. I cry for every person who has been through this -or anything traumatic at all. I hope people believed you. I hope someone was there to help you. And if you’re looking for someone to listen to your story, know that I am always here. I may be a stranger to you, that’s true. But it’s sometimes easier to tell a stranger what you’ve been through, than it is to tell a loved one.

So be strong, my people. Fight. Don’t let the patriarchy crush you. Smash it. Set it on fire. Smack rape culture in the face. Help out a person in need. Stand up for those who are not believed, those who are overlooked. And make everyone you know read this book.

Review: Radio Silence | Wherein I am Frances?

radio-silenceRadio Silence by Alice Oseman
Published: 25.02.2016 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Genre: Contemporary, YA

Rating: 5/5 stars
Goodreads

Synopsis: What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself.

review

I originally bought this book because Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic absolutely loved it, and it did sound pretty interesting to me. I finally picked it up because I wanted to participate in the #Bookentine readathon by Michelle & Ely @ Tea & Titles. I’m so glad I got that little push to pick this one up, because it blew my mind. 

In all my time reading YA, and reading contemporary books, I have never come across a book I could relate to as much as this one. That made me sound really old, didn’t it? I hope you know what I mean. I actually felt like I knew Frances, that we were similar in so many ways, and that we would be great friends.

Here’s the thing: while I love stories filled with adventure or road trips and teenage (romantic) drama, that has never been my life. I’m very much an introvert. I don’t really like going to clubs or big friend groups. I do better with one-on-one conversations. There are many things I love fiercely, but don’t tell the people I know in real life about because I’m afraid they’d think I’m too weird. I was a good student. I didn’t really mind studying. Now that I am 22 years old, I love these aspects of my personality. I adore being an introvert. As a teenager, it made me feel like I was the lame or weird friend. I think reading a book like this, would have made me feel like I wasn’t alone, or weird. 

Frances has always been someone very into studying. She wanted to become head girl, so she could get into Cambridge. A good university means a good life, right? That’s always been her focus. There’s one other thing she loves even more though: a YouTube podcast called University City. It’s about a futuristic place where the world has gone to crap and someone is stuck all alone inside of a university (I think). The person sends out radio broadcasts, hoping to find someone who is listening. Frances makes fan art for the podcast, which she sometimes posts on Tumblr too. Anonymous, of course. Then she meets a guy called Aled, and finds herself with a true friend for the first time. 

I can’t tell you how much I adored this story, and these characters. Let me try though: 

  • This book is set in the UK. Somehow, I always feel closer to a teenager’s story when it’s set in the UK, rather than the US. I guess it’s a European Union thing -for now… 
  • This actually felt like a modern YA read. I know what you’re thinking: contemporaries are always modern, Jolien! Yes, I know. But I feel like the references made in this book were things I, as a young woman, understood. Instead of these weird 80s references that no teenager now actually makes. 
  • Frances is so relateable. Even though there are so many aspects of her I can’t relate to, I still feel like I am her
  • There is so much diversity in this book, without it feeling like it’s centered around it. Frances is British-Ethiopian. Daniel is Korean. She’s bisexual, something she has known for years (she’s 17 while this story takes place). This book also includes homosexuality and demisexuality -although I feel the latter could’ve been expanded on more.
  • Family is important as well. In one of the reviews I read on this book, it mentioned the bad parenting trope happening here too. I actually don’t think that’s the case. Yes, there is bad parenting in it. But there is great parenting too. Frances’ mom is honestly an incredible mother. She knows her daughter so well, and is so accepting, supporting and kind. I think she’s the kind of mother we should all aspire to be/support one day. 
  • Friendship is what this book is actually about. Is it weird that I find that so refreshing? This book isn’t about a grand romance which let’s be real, most of us don’t get at 17 years old. It’s about being a good friend, finding a friend who you can really be yourself with and how to help each other out. 
  • Education. I like that this book addresses the problems with our Western educational system. So many of us are led to believe that the only way we’ll have a good life is if we get a degree from the best school ever. And that’s just not true. Traditional education is not for everyone. It doesn’t suit everyone. There are people who thrive in real life situations, instead of in a school system. We need to be shown our other options too, which is something this book addresses. 

I could honestly go on for ages about this book. There are so many things I loved about it. I don’t think I have ever read a book like this. I felt like I was engulfed in a giant hug, while I was reading this. Saying: it’s okay. Not every teenager is all about partying. Not every teenager has a huge clique of friends. Not every teenager has this big romantic story, and/or finds the love of their life in high school. You’re great the way you are.


I would encourage everyone to read this. Even if you would normally not pick up a YA contemporary. I think this is the kind of book most people could find something to appreciate in. Thank you, Kyra and Michelle, for urging me to pick this up. I appreciate it.


As I’m writing this, I’m kind of hoping Alice Oseman will be at #YALC. I’m going this year, and I don’t think the authors have been announced yet. I would love to meet her.

Review: The Game of Love and Death

the game of love and deathThe Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
Published: 28.04.2015 by Arthur A. Levine Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

Rating: 5/5 stars – ★★★★★
Goodreads

Synopsis: Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now… Henry and Flora. 

For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.

Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured—a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

review

Where do I even start on this book? Honestly. This had been on my shelf for a few months. I bought it because I’d seen some great reviews on it -and because the cover is gorgeous. But I didn’t truly know what it was about. So in my attempt to get you to read this book, I’ll tell you all about it.

SETTING

Here’s what I didn’t know before I started. This is actually a historical fiction novel. The story starts in 1920, when Love and Death each choose a player. Every so often, Love and Death play the Game. Each chooses a player, without telling them about the game. At birth (in 1920 for our main characters) they mark them, and so the Game begins. Love chooses Henry to be his player, and Death then chooses Flora.

Most of the story takes place in 1937 however, when Henry and Flora are 17 years old. It plays out in Seattle. Here’s what’s so interesting about the setting. Henry is an orphan, and white. He was taken in by this rich family, who have a son of the same age. He goes to private school and helps out at the newspaper the Dad owns, even though all he really wants to do is play music and baseball. Flora is a mechanic, a pilot, a singer, and a girl of color. She’s African-American girl, in a time where there was even more racial tension/repression than now. All she has ever wanted is to be a pilot and have her own plane.

I loved that this book was not only beautiful, but included diverse aspects too. There is a lot of mention of discrimination, both explicit and implicit. The “racial lines” are clearly drawn in society, and it makes me so angry to read about. It makes me angry in real life too, by the way.

I think the setting of this story was incredible. Not only the time period, but the places too. I could imagine the airfield Flora worked at, the jazz bar she partly owned and worked at. I could imagine Henry playing music in his room, and watching Flora sing. It was beautifully written.

PLOT

As I said, Love and Death each choose a player. The game ends when either of them wins. When the players choose to be with each other regardless of the consequences, Love wins. When they don’t, Death wins and she takes them both. Neither of the players are aware of that, however.

I adored watching this story unfold. To watch Henry and Flora grow into themselves, and get to know each other. My heart ached at times, and at other times it was filled with hope. There is so much loss, grief, hope and courage in this story. I can’t even express to you how much I loved reading it.

CHARACTERS

Ah, the aspect in which this novel TRULY shines. The characters. I adored Henry. His optimism. His music. His hope and faith in others. His willingness to help. I adored Flora. Her strong will. Her beautiful voice. Her big dreams. Her hard work. Her love and devotion to her family.

This book is not only beautiful in its characters and story, but the writing is incredible too. At a certain point in time, Henry writes a song for Flora. When you’re reading the book, you really can only see it in poem-form though. I mean, kind of. They’re still lyrics, but it looks more like a poem because you have no clue what the music sounds like. And the song he wrote may seem cheesy, but I thought it was absolutely beautiful. There’s still something about two of the lines in it that sticks with me. I’ll put those lines in bold for you. 

You are the moon
And I am the sea
Wherever you are
You’ve got pull over me

The whole of the sky
Wants to keep us apart
The distance is wearing
A hole in my heart

Someday your moonlight
Will blanket my skin
Someday my waves
Will pull all of you in

Someday I promise
The moon and the sea
Will be together

Forever you and me

Both characters are truly incredible. But there are a lot of side characters that are worth a mention too. Like Ethan. Ethan is the son of the people who took in Henry. He’s dyslexic, something he has kept hidden his entire life, as he is supposed to take over his dad’s newspaper one day. He really cares for Henry. At times, it truly shows he was raised by rich, white people. He can be snobbish and racist at times. And it’s important to recognize that. But he also has his own struggles that are important.

I also had mixed feelings about Love and Death. At times, I admired Love. At other times, I hated how he used these mortal lives and manipulated them like it meant nothing. How he played with feelings like only Love can. I felt the same way about Death though.

There’s one other character I want to mention: Helen. I HATE what happened to her. If you’ve read this book, message me on Twitter so I can talk to you about it!

All in all, I would highly recommend this book. It was my first 5 star read of the year. Not only is the setting gorgeous, and are the characters incredible, the writing itself is beautiful too. Please, go read this book. I beg you.