Series Review: No Virgin and No Shame by Anne Cassidy

*Note: We received ‘No Shame’ from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

NO VIRGIN

Stacey Woods has been raped and this is her story. She lays out the circumstances that led to the horrific event and what happened immediately after. The story is unassuming at first, but tinged with something terrible that you can’t avoid thinking about on every page.

It’s powerful and important, with a positive message about seeking the support from friends, family and charities that specialise in helping rape victims. (The ending is particularly supportive, delivering the most hopeful speech when Stacey phones the Rape Crisis Centre.)

Obviously, every rape that you read about, fictional or real, is terrible, but ‘No Virgin’ certainly isn’t as harrowing and dark as the books of Louise O’Neill or ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. I’d really recommend picking up this series if you’re interested in exploring these themes and how they’re portrayed in YA, without being too heavy. ‘No Virgin’ is the perfect stepping stone for a dialogue about sexual assault and the effects it has on the victim.

NO SHAME

The companion is all about the court trial Stacey is convinced by in order to get justice. There’s further exploration into the way rape cases are perceived by the media/jury/eyes of the law. It’s actual terrible, and made my blood boil on so many occasions but it’s the sad reality for most cases. Reading ‘No Shame’ will hopefully open everyone’s eyes to the injustice of it all, and the wrongly placed blame and encourage people to get angry about the way court works.

If you enjoyed the third season of ‘Broadchurch’ or shows like ‘How To Get Away With Murder’, this is for you. The court room drama is real, but so are the effects on the defendants.

I really liked the discussion of ripple effects of rape cases and just how many individuals are harmed. As more and more women stepped forward, the more likely justice was to get served.

Again, by the conclusion, ‘No Shame’ is another powerful tale about speaking out against sexual violence and getting the support that one deserves. Both stories felt like two halves of the same whole, so while they can easily be read as two stand-alones, I’d really recommend both. (I mean, they’re under 200 pages each, so really, it’s one reasonably sized book put together!) Overall, it’s a hard-hitting, raw series perfect for lighting a fire in anyone who reads it to fight for justice.

Review: Lola Offline by Nicola Doherty

Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Let’s get this out of the way first: if you LOVED Anna and the French Kiss, particularly the international Parisian boarding school and Etienne as the irresistible, popular love interest, you’ll LOVE Lola Offline. It has both of these things, though Etienne comes in the form of Tariq. Same guy, without the whole cheating-on-his-girlfriend thing. So, in the end, a better and more racially diverse alternative. (Perfect!)

Lola Offline is about a girl that wants to escape her identity. Delilah moves to Paris and changes her name to run away from a social media scandal, where she posted something  completely inappropriate without stressing the fact she was being ironic. When the Internet gets mad, there’s no going back. Lola hopes that the boarding school and new group of friends will never find out what she did.

Like that was going to happen. Her Twitter footprint is online forever, whether or not see is and you get a scene very reminiscent of Janice and Kady’s in Mean Girls when Lola’s identity and globally recognised mistake is unearthed by Vee, the girl who’s extremely mad at the world.

My favourite character was, without a doubt, Fletcher. She so could have easily been the Regina George of the school: blonde, pretty, popular. But Vee seems to think that about her, getting very antsy when Lola suggests being her friend when Fletcher has done nothing wrong. She’s the sweetest girl ever, and I really appreciated that her character defied the stereotype that would have been dumped on her if this was, say, a teen movie.

Tariq and Lola’s relationship was a slow burn, but not because he had a girlfriend, but because for most of the second half, Lola thinks he’s gay. That would be fine, besides the fact that she bases this opinion on the fact that he got over his girlfriend quickly, has a good sense of style and ‘baked brownies’. Brownies?? Since when have delicious baked goods been a sexuality signifier? It was so ridiculous, I couldn’t help but laugh.

Another great thing, though, was how clued in the book was to social media and the consequences. Sometimes it could read a little like a high school assembly about the dangers of putting yourself online, but the comments it did make about permanence and how everything you say affects your future were poignant, nonetheless.

Overall, Lola Offline struggled for me to make it’s own splash, as I could constantly think of things that may have been inspirations, or where I’d seen similar plot threads before. BUT, the things it did mimic in some way are sure to appeal to fans of those things, and I’m sure someone that’s just looking for a cute, social-media orientated romance will really like this book.

Mini Review: 36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant

Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

’36 Questions…’ is the story of Hildy and Paul who decide to take part in a PhD student’s experiment about falling in love. They are to ask each other – you guessed it – 36 questions in order to get to know more about each other and potentially find that romantic spark. Whenever the pair are talking to one another, they don’t know the other’s full identity and it’s written in interrogation interview format. (If you’re curious to what the 36 questions are and what to know to see what the conversations might be like, here they are.)

I found the dialogue between Hildy and Paul to be extremely predictable. It was like blah, blah, joke, getting offended, blah, blah, presumption about personality/upbringing/past relationships. This happened 36 times as they cycled through all the questions, so it’s safe to assume I got bored.

There were important things going on in the background, like Paul’s trauma with his mother, but the only thing that was lingered on was the pair’s supposed banter with one another that was all very one note. I was trying to read between the lines of their conversation and see when exactly they ‘fell in love’ but couldn’t pinpoint what made the change and so I wasn’t at all invested in the couple when they inevitably got together.

I’ve also read a few books recently, like Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index and Letters to the Lost that deal with the good girl/bad guy trope so complexly, so to see the personality types pared down to their most basic rom/com form was disappointing.

Unfortunately, this book was not for me, and I probably should have stopped reading it sooner like a few other people on Goodreads. BUT, if you like fast reads with different formats, and silly rom/coms that cheer you up whilst you’re reading, then I’m sure you’ll find ’36 Questions…’ quirky and cute.

Review: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel

Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Juniper Lemon has been on everyone’s radars since it was chosen to The Book of the BookTubeathon 2017. We had planned to read along with everyone else, but with YALC getting in the way, it was hard to coordinate. Now that YALC’s truly been and gone *sob sob*, we picked up Juniper and read it practically in one sitting. It was a fantastic book that dealt with grief and permanence in a way that didn’t make you want to bawl your eyes out, with a very lovely emphasis on building relationships with people who need them.

So, if you don’t know about it, Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index is all about a girl called Juniper (yes, Lemon. No, it’s not a spin off from Big Hero 6.) Her sister, Camie, died six months ago and she finds a letter she wrote to a mysterious ‘You’. Juniper then takes it upon herself to discover You’s identity, making a new friend along the way, kind of like the first six episodes of any magical girl series. The Happiness Index is a bunch of notecards that Juniper makes listing all the happy and sad things that happen during the day. One of her cards goes missing (with a pretty big confession on it) that’s the catalyst for Juniper’s to find her new love interest/ friendship group/ artistic mission for closure.

The mystery of ‘You’ definitely distracted Juniper from the grief and unspoken things surrounding her sister’s death. It wasn’t all overly dramatic and teary, with her crying in the cemetery late at night in the rain. (Although, Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer does that perfectly.) There’s certainly emotional resonance to Camie and Juniper’s relationship as you learn about what the pair did when they were younger or during national holidays but to have new beginnings as such an integral theme was a smart move of Julie Israel’s part. It was the perfect balance of quirky and fun, deep and real.

Our favourite aspect of the story was when Juniper was being a friend to the misfits, the loners and the just-likes-to-sit-in-the-library types. Seeing her surround herself with a growing circle of friends, while also trying to repair broken bridges with her bestie before Camie’s death, Lauren, was just the kind of positivity you needed.

I really liked that there was always more going on under the surface with Juniper’s mother and her grief, and Brand, Juniper’s love interest, and his home life. Her name might be in the title but she’s not the sole focus of the story, and to have so many little subplots involving the people around her made this a really rewarding read when you got to the end and the classic ceremonial burning of shared possessions.

Overall, we’d give Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index 4 stars. The mystery kept the pacing fast and the gotta-catch-them-all friendship group had us glued to the page. This was such a great debut for Julie Israel, and we’ll definitely be looking out for her next release!

7 in 7 Readathon TBR!

7 in 7 is a readathon that’s taking place from the 14th-21st August! The aim is, of course, to read 7 books in 7 days – mostly to keep your Goodreads challenge afloat in the summer so you’re not a panicky mess in December.

Bee and I are currently staying at our university house, so have access to about 2% of our books, so the choice is limited to say the least…unless we pick up our Kindles and get on top of all that NetGalley reading >___< Instead, we’ll use this as an opportunity to tick off a lot of the books on our summer reading list for university.

So, here’s what we plan on reading:

P O E T R Y  C O L L E C T I O N S:
Measures of Expatriation by Vahni Capildeo
Sunshine by Melissa Lee-Houghton
Stranger, Baby by Emily Berry

C L A S S  R E A D I N G:
M: The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
B: The Association of Small Bombs by Kara Mahajan

Y O U N G  A D U L T
A Change is Gonna Come by BAME authors (short story collection)

All of that gives us the opportunity to pick up two random choice books that we might be feeling in the moment. So, although this is quite a boring TBR in terms of genuinely pleasurable reading, if we put it out on the Internet that we’re going to read this stuff for class, then we’re bound to do it! (Hopefully…)

There’s some cross over with this readathon and Tome Topple so I’ll be continuing to read Dragonfly in Amber and *fingers crossed* Voyager by Diana Gabaldon. I’m not enjoying the books all most at all because the relationship is so toxic but it’s for one of our university modules and is our lecturer’s obsession, so we can’t get away with not reading it!

We’ll probably still be reading Invictus by Ryan Graudin as well with our lovely BookTube20Somethings reading group: Carys, Kate and Lily.

Good luck to anyone else planning on participating, and we promise that we’ll try and keep a better schedule with blogging so that we don’t disappear for weeks on end! Happy reading!

Review: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Right, so I hated ‘The Infernal Devices’ series by Cassandra Clare, but I do tend to enjoy YA historical fiction, so I was torn between ‘eww not demons again’ and ‘yes please this sounds like 100% my thing.’ I found after reading, that I would recommend, nay, highly recommend, ‘The Dark Days Club’ both to those that hated TID and those who loved it. If you loved TID then you will fall in love with the characters exactly as you did in Clare’s work, and if you ate it, then you can better appreciate the historical accuracy and tone.

Continue reading “Review: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman”

Review: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Everyone has known that Stephanie Perkins was writing a slasher/horror for the last two years. Now I finally have my hands on it, and boy was it…different to what I was expecting. After being known for Anna and the French Kiss and other lovey-dovey titles, I thought Stephanie Perkins would be really stepping outside her comfort zone. Turns out There’s Someone Inside Your House managed to have about five deaths, but still be 98% romance. And when I say romance, I mean carnal teenage ‘relationship’ because there was no romance to be seen. So let’s talk about it… Continue reading “Review: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins”