Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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

I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in a book. If it’s shocking to you, it’s shocking to me too because I thought I was going to love this. It was one of my most anticipated releases and I was so excited to read an #OwnVoices story about teenagers of Indian descent. And for the most part, the elements of Indian culture and passion for your own heritage was my favourite part of the book. It delivered that, but that was the ONLY thing it delivered for me.

So, let’s just pros and cons everything about this book, from character to plot to actual writing: Continue reading “Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon”

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Review: None Of The Above by I. W. Gregorio

This is undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve read this year. Although ‘None of the Above’ isn’t an own voices intersex story, Gregorio is a medical professional who has dealt with intersex patients and the amount of research and sensitivity reading that has gone into this book shows in the way it’s informative, sensitive and, most importantly, a delight to read.

Continue reading “Review: None Of The Above by I. W. Gregorio”

Summer Reading Recommendations!

Today’s Top Five Wednesday is all about your favourite books to read over the summer. So, basically, your favourite contemporary books. If you don’t pick up at least one YA romance in the next four months, you’re a monster (I’m sorry, fantasy loving friends!)

The Names They Gave Us by Emory Lord – In a summery read, you’re looking for a sweet, flawed main character, diversity (of course, that’s criteria for all books!), a slow-burning romance, a conflict that strikes just the right level of melancholy without ruining the cute vibe and preferably adorable kids. The Names They Gave Us gives you all of this and more. I haven’t read a better contemporary since my last Morgan Matson read, so this comes this more than a glowing recommendation. It’s a glowing command to read it (please?)

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer – Following the summer camp theme, this tells the story of four friends reuniting after a long time apart and sharing a time-travelling adventure to when they first got to know each other. Missing pieces of that summer together fall into place and it’s an absolutely heart-warming and heart-wrenching story of friendship and being there for each other no matter what. Definitely pick this one up if you want to feel glittery, for lack of a better word!

Continue reading “Summer Reading Recommendations!”

Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

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

This book completely took my by surprise, and it is easily one of the best contemporaries I’ve read all year. Actually, let’s be honest: one of the best contemporaries I’ve read ever. I haven’t been touched this much by friendship, family and faith since the Clearwater Crossing series, which is an old one from the 90s but one of my all time favourites due to it’s absolutely beautiful complex characters and range of emotion. Emery Lord managed to pack the punch of a 20 book series into 380 glorious pages. The Names They Gave Us has a beating heart at its core and I was fully blown away.

Continue reading “Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord”

Review: Girlhood by Cat Clarke

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

Within the last six months, I’ve read two Cat Clarke books. Entangled and A Kiss in the Dark. Both were chilling in some way, with plot twists that had me throwing the book to the other side of the room and hugging a pillow to my chest. She knows how to write a thriller, and with a tagline like ‘Sugar and spice and scars for life’, you know when you’re getting in, you’re getting in deep. Unfortunately, Cat’s reputation for writing YA thrillers ultimately led to both of us being like ‘Wait….was that it?’ With that said, Girlhood is my favourite of her books so far because of the different, less mysterious tone. And it takes place in a boarding school, so that’s a guaranteed win.

Continue reading “Review: Girlhood by Cat Clarke”

Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

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

After really enjoying Seven Ways We Lie, we were excited to see what the super talented Riley Redgate had up her sleeve next! Noteworthy is the perfect mix of fun and series and it should 110% be on your radar.

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Jordan Sun is trying to get parts in her school’s musical theatre productions, but her range isn’t what anyone is looking for. Then Jordan sees an ‘member’s needed’ sign for The Sharpshooters, an all-male a cappella band, and knows that this is her change. So, she cuts her hair, adjusts her regular speaking voice and slips into the audition with no one suspecting a thing!

Continue reading “Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate”

Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Queens of Geek is the story of three Australian teens: Charlie, Taylor and Jamie, who travel across the world to attend SupaCon. Charlie is a Youtuber with 3 million subscribers, and she’s recently starred in a movie that everyone is obsessed with even though it’s only recently been released (so I’m a little confused by the timeline of this). Taylor has Aspergers but is conquering her anxiety so she can meet the author of her favourite book series. And Jamie’s basically just along for the ride so that Taylor can have some sort of love story.

I don’t want to say I have a problem with YA contempora

ries because that’s a sweeping statement and certainly not true, but quite a few ‘hyped’ books have severely disappointed me recently. And you know what aspect of the stories is letting me down? THE WRITING.

I honestly don’t want to get super negative, because it’s clear that Queens of Geek was Jen Wilde’s passion project but for me, the diversity was heavy-handed, the pacing was off, and the dialogue was really cringey and unrealistic. It felt like this book was trying to do too much.

The characters would lecture each other about intersectional feminism, handling anxiety, consensual sex, autism, leaving home, whether or not to go to university, being bisexual, slut shaming and body shaming (yep, all of these issues were talked about) even though everyone was on the same page with it anyway? They didn’t feel like real conversations the characters would be having, but rather conversations the author wanted the reader to contemplate. But the actually effect was that because it was trying to do ALL of them, none of them were done well. It was a classic case of spreading out too thin, resulting in everything being bad. If just two or three of these things had been the main focus then that would’ve been plenty, especially for a book under 300 pages.

But my main issue was suspension of disbelief:
1. I was ejected from the story the minute Charlie, who has 3 millionsubs, was acting as if no one knew her name. I’m sorry, but this is the kind of number where you’d be pulled over on the street to take pictures with your subscribers.

2. One part of the plot relies on Charlie not uploading a video, and instead asking her manager to upload it for her. The manager then uploads a different video which has some…consequences. HOW CAN YOU ULPOAD THE WRONG VIDEO? Charlie would have had to export only one video, turning it into a file that would probably save on her desktop?? But instead the manager goes into her editing software, exports clearly unedited footage (which would probably be like 40 minutes long and would take a long time on hotel wifi anyway so the consequences wouldn’t be as immediate as they are in the book), and then upload it to Youtube. She’d be waiting half a day if she had to export, upload and process herself! NO. The logical thing would’ve been for Charlie to upload and use the scheduling option for her own video. Does Charlie know how to Youtube???

I know, this is really nit-picking, but you can’t just jump hoops to make your logic work. This was stupid and contrived. I really dislike when things this are skipped over, because it just wouldn’t happen.

3. Taylor’s tumblr posts were never tagged with #personal, which is just completely unrealistic. Again, it’s a small thing, but show a lack of research. I’ve never seen someone use tumblr as an actual blog before all ‘Hi guys, so this is what I’m currently doing…’ Wouldn’t twitter have worked better for this kind of update?

So, that was a sort of rant, I guess. The only thing I’d ever heard anyone say about this was how ‘cute’ it was and that’s totally fine. But I’m not the kind of reader that just reads ‘for fun.’ Studying creative writing at uni and reading a ton of YA has resulted in my being highly critical (and probably a bit salty). We all get something different out of reading, and this book might have helped you with your own identity, but for me, it was very laboured and tried too hard to tick all the boxes, which didn’t make a successful story.

If you’re looking for a glowing review, I’d recommend Natalie’s. She goes into more detail about what good rep this book has, and picks up some issues it talks about that I didn’t mention. (Even though, do we really need more??)
And if you want to see a more balanced review, then check out Cait’sbecause she makes some really good points about how unnatural the speech is, but again comments on how good the diversity is.

Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

34373364Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published: Macmillan
Pages: 320
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★.5

When you write about someone winning the lottery, there are certain places that your mind goes. The winner spends frivolously on a yacht and a robot butler, runs into trouble with credit card companies, and after losing a significant chunk of cash, realises that they should channel their inner Ellen and pay it forward to the deserving public.

That’s pretty much what happens to Teddy. ‘Windfall’ does nothing new with the plot of rags to riches. More dramatic things could have happened in regards to his big spends, but in the end, it works out fine for him. He’s got tons of cash. The end.

Continue reading “Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith”

Review: One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton

31322309One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton
Genre: 
Contemporary
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 288
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★

As the last weekend in the UK was obscenely hot by normal standards, my mind instantly gravitates towards ice-cream, sunglasses and contemporary romances. One Italian Summer gave me that the exam-free vibe (that’s still out of reach for another month, *crycry*) and made me crave a European holiday. (Soon, soon!)

Keris Stainton’s last YA release, Counting Stars really impressed me for it’s representation of teenage life, and I felt One Italian Summer had the same strengths, which was a really good sign. Continue reading “Review: One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton”

Review: And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon

33985636And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon
Genre: 
Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Stripes Books
Pages: 352
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★★

Maddie really loved Katy Cannon’s previous two books (Love, Lies, and Lemon Pies and Secrets, Schemes, and Sewing Machines) so obviously we were ecstatic to get our hands on her most recently release. We were also lucky enough to get to attend Stipes’ ‘Show YA Stipes’ showcase, and Katy was there talking about And Then We Ran, making it sound so exciting and different. It’s also not often that you read a British road-trip novel, and while it wasn’t from one coast to another, it was full of fun characters and crazy adventures.

Continue reading “Review: And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon”