Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

23058402The Art Of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
Genre: Contemporary, Coming-of-Age
Published by: David Fickling Books
Pages: 353
Format: Hardback (library copy)
Rating: ★★★★

For one of my university creative writing portfolios I’m writing a play featuring a transgender protagonist, so I have been trying to read as many trans POVs as I can! I’ve already read If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo and George by Alex Gino, both of which I loved, and The Art of Being Normal has been on my TBR since Maddie read it over the summer and really enjoyed it, and then we found out there’s going to be a sequel! I’m so happy I picked this one up, because these kinds of books are really important. Although The Art of Being Normal isn’t an own voice story the same way the others I’ve mentioned have been, it was authentic and respectful of transgender teenagers.

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Review: Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

29341439Kids of Appetite by David Arnold
Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age
Published by: Headline
Pages: 352
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★★
More by this author: Mosquitoland
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I was so pumped when I saw David Arnold had a new book out this year! I read Mosquitoland around the same time I read Becky Albertali’s debut and Maddie read Jeff Zentner’s debut. So this time was pretty great for discovering new authors. I fell in love with David Arnold’s writing style IMMEDIATELY, even if I didn’t enjoy the story as much. Kids of Appetite had the perfect mix of witty narrative and FULL-ON plot. I was all about these kids from chapter one and am delighted to say that this author’s books are just getting better and better!

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Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

22752127The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Coming Of Age, Contemporary
Published by: Random House
Pages: 380
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★★★

I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

I had no idea what to expect from this book. The title was intriguing but gives nothing away. Mostly, I took the chance because it was blurbed by Stephanie Perkins, and after reading her beautiful books, I could trust her opinion. But, this book gave me more than I could ever have expected and totally blew me away by the end.  Continue reading “Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner”

Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Lettava-dellaira-love-letters-to-the-deaders to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Genre: Contemporary
Published By: Hot Key Books
Pages: 327
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★
Where to Find:
Goodreads | Amazon

Love Letters to the Dead was….definitely an interesting if not slightly unexpected read. I went into the book (obviously not literally) expecting it to be a more adult version of ‘Love, Aubrey’ by Suzanne LeFleur and came out the other side having read a parallel version of ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ where all the main characters are the opposite gender. Definitely not what I signed up for.

My lovely friend, Jasmine, recommended this book to me. Jasmine isn’t really an obsessive reader like I am, so for her to say it was ‘good’ was like me saying it was ‘the universe cannot exist without this book’ (as I did with the entire Percy Jackson franchise).I thought: “I love books about sisters.” ‘Fangirl’, ‘Sisters Red’, ‘…and unfortunately, I am used to one of the sisters dying…’The Lovely Bones’, ‘Love, Aubrey’. I thought: ‘definitely the book for me!’

Unfortunately not.

The book contained a lot of themes that I was uncomfortable with, for example, underage drinking and drug use. This meant that I felt quite isolated from the characters and didn’t feel like I could relate to them at all. Sad. I know that these themes can be a realistic portray of some teenagers’ lives, but to me, their actions were too toxic and led to bad decision that I couldn’t feel as much sympathy for.

However, this book also conquers a lot of themes that I feel need more exposure in young adult literature, for example, homosexuality and abusive relationships. (Can you see where I’m drawing the ‘Perks’ parallels?) These topics are always interesting to read because reading about something and getting these kind of subjects out there is fuelling social change. Although Hannah and Natalie’s relationship held the same troubles as Patrick and Brad’s, this didn’t take away from the struggles the girls faced, even if it wasn’t the most original relationship dynamic.

Some of my favourite parts of the book was when Laurel would write about May when she was alive and young. Their relationship was built around Laurel idolising May, and May having to keep up the facade of her perfection for Laurel’s sake. The way that May died, or the cause of her death, remains slightly ambiguous but I like to hope it was the wind that broke her wings. I was fully submersed in the world that May created, and wasn’t at all surprised about how Laurel reacted to her sister’s death because of their close bond. It must be difficult to be the younger sister. Thank goodness I’m a twin!

The reveal at the end of the book….disappointed me. As I’ve said, it dealt with an abusive relationship that was similar to what Charlie experienced in ‘Perks’. I wanted Laurel not to feel so broken, because she had the power to make herself whole and it wasn’t helping that she wouldn’t open up to the one person who truly cared about her, Sky, the love interest. Sky also knew May, so there was an intriguing question building between the couple of whether Sky liked Laurel for herself or simply because she resembled May (to be honest, Laurel was wearing May’s clothes.)

Overall, I give ‘Love Letters to the Dead’ 3 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed the letter writing format. There was nothing more rewarding than when I knew who she was writing to. Two poems were also used throughout the book “The Art of Losing” by Elizabeth Bishop and ‘I carry your heart’ by E.E.Cummings. (Did Dellaira just watch the movie ‘In Her Shoes’ while writing this?!) and a few of the poets I will be studying next year, which let me classifying reading ‘Love Letters’ as homework.

Generally, a nice debut. Don’t go into this thinking it’s going to be like ‘Love, Aubrey’ but if you’ve already read ‘Perks’ then maybe there’s no need to read this one…unless you prefer a female protagonist, in that case, this is the perfect book for you.