Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A Wrap Up: May 2018 Part One

Hi, and thanks for stopping by.

This month, I'm trying out a new way of telling you all about what I've read; I've done fully-fledged wrap-ups, and more recently monthly favourites posts, but for May I'm going to try a wrap up of the first half of the month now and then the second half at the start of June. I'm hoping these will be more accessible chunks of writing//reading, and a great way of spreading things out a little more. Let me know what you think of this new format!! If you ever want to hear what I think in more detail, please feel free to add me as a friend/follow my reviews on goodreads here.

Becky albertalli’s leah on the offbeat
 3-3.5 stars

This book really took a while for me to get my head around, rating-wise. To begin with, I marked it on goodreads as a 4-star read, but as time progressed, I realised more and more that that wasn't really how I'd felt about it. Since then, I've read a lot of reviews that have highlighted problems with this book I didn't even spot myself, and as a consequence of these two things combined, I've shaved off half a star. Over time, I wouldn't be surprised if it felt more like a 3. I love Becky's writing; it's hilarious, accessible and fun to read, but Leah was unfortunately problematic in a lot of different ways.

Elizabeth Acevedo’s the poet x
4 stars

This book was really engaging and interesting to me - the focus on slam poetry as a creative and emotional outlet, as well as the use of poetry in the actual structure of the novel, was really cool; I wish writing featured more prominently in YA as a hobby of the characters we read about. Xiomara herself was just SO brave and bold and I loved her attitude. There was some really interesting stuff in here about female sexuality, religion and family dynamics, too.

Jeff zentner’s goodbye days
3.5-4 stars

This book focused really heavily on grief, as you might imagine. I thought that was done really well, as were the panic attacks described within. I also thought it was quite exceptional that I enjoyed reading a male perspective so much, particularly one that often focused on a group of all-male friends, also. These guys just came across as so funny, loveable and unique. 

Jennifer brown’s hate list
4 stars

I really enjoyed the structure of this novel; the use of present-day sections in contrast with flashbacks was really well done and effective. The unravelling of the events that led up to the school shooting detailed quite explicitly in this novel were really well written, hints dropped constantly and subtly - it was quite awful, actually, to watch how carefully these things come together, and how one person's horrific actions ripple through an entire community.

samira ahmed's love, hate & other filters
4 stars

I absolutely loved reading Maya's story - she was one of my favourite protagonists of the year so far. She just felt so down to earth and realistic, like a friend. I think this was the first book I've ever read that really went into detail about how terrorism effects the Muslim population in particular, and it was really interesting and sad to read. I also think the romance elements were written super well, narrowly avoiding the love triangle trope and instead turning it into something more unique and engaging. I really hope Samira Ahmed continues to write YA, because I would love to read more from her.

paula garner's phantom limbs
2 stars

Now this was a big disappointment. It started off pretty well, with a nice style and some really interesting characters (Dara, disabled, angry and struggling with her sexuality, was most intriguing to me - I wish I could've read her story instead of Otis's) but it just went downhill from there. Otis honestly described girls like they were purely existing for his sexual gratification. He must have described Meg's boobs at least twenty times within 300 odd pages and his depiction of Meg made her seem so "damsel in distress" - seriously, Otis, you're boring us.

Leila sales’s this song will save your life
3.5 stars

Clubbing and DJ-ing are not interests or hobbies of mine (shock, I know) so I was kind of surprised by how much I did enjoy this story. I really liked the concept of a hobby granting someone, particularly a teen, escapism and passion and normality in a world where they were struggling to be accepted and to accept themselves. I really kind of loved the romance, although Char had some serious issues - there was great chemistry. There were some cool parent-child relationships hinted at here, but I wish more would've been done with them.

Lisa Heathfield's Paper Butterflies
3.5 stars

This book was incredibly troubling and emotional to read - it details some horrendous child abuse quite explicitly, so please, please be warned and, as always, read with caution or not at all. I definitely had to put this book down a few times and pick it up again hours or even days later. I think it had the power and potential to rank much higher than this, but unfortunately I felt the conclusion to June's traumatic story quite underwhelming and unsatisfying.

Lauren James's The Loneliest Girl in the Universe
4 stars

Space and sci-fi are really not my strong-suits, but this book was so well-written that I was absolutely captivated from start to finish. The atmosphere of claustrophobia, isolation and paranoia created by Lauren James is absolutely brilliant, and at times I felt uncomfortable just reading Romy's experiences, never mind imagining being in her position myself! This book absolutely had 5-star potential but, whilst I didn't predict it, the twist didn't quite have the 10/10 wow factor I wanted - the initial shock was so great, but the further execution lacked a little in comparison. I can't wait to read more from Lauren James.

Lexa Hillyer's Proof of Forever
3-3.5 stars

This book had a great atmosphere of nostalgia, friendship and summer. I absolutely loved Lexa Hillyer's writing style, it felt so vibrant and descriptive - I could really imagine the things she was writing about. Unforutnaetly, though, for me the characters were much less colourful than the prose; considering we had four separate, female perspectives, I really expected to love at least one of them, and I really just didn't.

Dawn Klehr's The Cutting Room Floor
2 stars
This book had the potential to do something interesting; Riley's curiosity over her sexuality, having her heart broken for the first time and potentially falling for someone new, were all engaging plot devices. However, what we got instead, was like 20% Riley--self-discovery-time and 80% of Dez being a homophobia, arrogant creep. I know he was supposed to be those things, but it still wasn't effective! 

Maxine Kaplan's The Accidental Bad Girl
3.5-4 stars

I liked this way more than I expected to, considering it centred mainly around drugs, which is not a topic I have literally any interest in reading about. I just ended up really sympathising with Kendall's character and wanting her to make better decisions and be kinder to herself. I also loved her blossoming friendship with Simone. This book also had some hidden depths; it tackled rape, rape culture, date-rape drugs, female sexuality and what it means to be a teenage girl. 

Riley Redgate's Seven Ways We Lie
5 stars

Certainly my favourite book of May so far. Riley Redgate somehow manages to expertly navigate SEVEN different narrative perspectives in this book - and each one is as nuanced and individual as the last. Clare's was my least favourite, but I think that's probably the exact intention. I literally immediately put Riley Redgate's other books on my Amazon wishlist, only having briefly glanced at the blurbs, within like 20 minutes of finishing this novel - that's how much I loved reading her writing.

Sarah Crossan's Moonrise
4-4.5 stars

This book left me in an absolute emotional mess. I was sobbing by the end, proper ugly tears with actual snot and everything. It's a pretty political read, but very subtly done, which I absolutely adored. I honestly haven't had this kind of emotional reaction since reading The Fault in our Stars for the very first time, so that's really saying something. The first half of the book is a little slow (hence the slightly lower rating than 5-stars) but the second half is immense, so keep reading!!

Elizabeth LeBan's The Tragedy Paper
3.5 stars

This book was interesting and intriguing for a lot of reasons, one being that one of its two main characters is albino - a condition I know little about and had certainly never read about in fiction, so that was really cool to learn a little more about. I also really liked the CD-confession structure of this (not dissimilar to 13 Reasons Why, but less dark) because it built up tension perfectly.

Robin wasserman’s girls on fire
3.5 stars
This was a pretty dark, disturbing read, reminiscent of books such as The Girls and The Roanoke Girls (perhaps not in literal plot/content, but in atmosphere, themes and style, certainly). Definitely not one for the faint-hearted, but an interesting, captivating read nonetheless - I read it in one sitting, which isn't something I do too often. If you like something about damaged characters, particularly about toxic female friendships/relationships, you'll definitely like this. It's a book I'm glad I read, but also glad it was just a library copy and I didn't spend £7.99 on because it gave me the creeps...yknow?!

Keep your eye out for part two, coming very soon!

Till next time


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