The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

What is there to say about this book that hasn’t been said already? Honestly it’s such an important book and I feel I shouldn’t really be reviewing it because it’s not my place as a white woman. However I want to write a review to try and put my feelings into words really.

I thought I understood Black Lives Matter pretty well prior to reading this but now I feel on a whole other level. I’m always going to be learning about the struggles black people, and black women more specifically face on a day to day basis and I could never truly understand it because i come from a place of privilege. 

What really struck me with this book was that it dealt with such horrible issues and would have a scene that would shock the daylights out of you or make you feel really affected then the next you would be laughing your heart out. Angie Thomas really has a knack for making you think whilst laughing at the same time. 

I honestly feel like this book should be required reading for every person especially kids in their formative years to really understand privilege and race issues. Like I just feel like my life has been changed by reading this book that’s how much of an affect is has had on me. 

I absolutely adored Starr, our MC, she’s feisty and smart but not scared to learn. She’s loyal and proud and I feel like a lot of young black girls will be able to see themselves in her. She doesn’t have the typical “sassy” personality that black women are always portrayed as having she feels real, which isn’t to say sassy black women don’t exist but they’re not as common as the media portrays.

I cannot wait to see what Angie Thomas writes next because I feel like whatever it is it’ll be magic. 

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Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Thank you to bookbridgr for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

In Harmless Like You we follow two stories, Jay in modern day who has just lost his dad who was the only parental figure he ever had, and his mum in the 60s as she tries to figure out what she really wants from life. 

I’m not really sure what to make of this book. I found the story really interesting and a take on displacement that I’d never read or thought of before but I found both Jay and his mum just not likeable, and whilst characters don’t have to be likeable I just found myself getting more annoyed the more I read. 

Yuki was in an abusive relationship for the majority of the book and it was good to see the victims point of view of a relationship like that to see how people can be manipulated and they can’t just get themselves out of it. But it really annoyed me how Yuki got into a relationship with this man despite seeing him be abusive with another woman, I just didn’t get it? 

I also just didn’t understand Jay, of course I get that people don’t always feel connected to their children and babies but he was just so unhelpful towards his wife. 

The writing was good though, I could feel distinct differences in the times of the characters. I felt like I was in the 70s when reading Yuki’s chapters, there was a good feel to them. And I think Buchanan will do well with further novels. 

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History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

I’ve had Adam Silvera on my TBR for a while now and just never got around to reading anything. But then I saw History in the airport on my way to Italy so I just though I would get it, especially since the only other physical book I took with me was SOC. Like all of my reviews, but specifically the ones which have sensitive topics, if I say something wrong or offensive let me know please.

Griffin’s first love has died in a tragic accident and Griffin has to navigate the world without Theo in it suddenly. On top of that Theo’s new boyfriend is constantly trying to make friends with Griffin when all he wants to do is hate him, since he was the new boyfriend.

I’ll be honest and say I haven’t read much books involving gay male teens written by gay male writers. For some reason all the kind of popular gay books are written by women, which is another discussion for another day about sexualisation of gay guys. It was refreshing to read something like this, where it was just about these kids trying to live their lives after such a bad experience.

Theo was honestly really annoying. He thought OCD was a “cute quirk” and he moved on immediately to some guy who looked exactly like his ex. And then jerked his new boyfriend about because he still liked said ex, which just made me very uncomfortable.

Something I really liked about this book, well not necessarily liked, was that it had a good representation of grief. How people do silly things when they’re grieving. It showed the different reactions people go through which I thought was done really well, a lot of books just show a person being sad and miss out on the whole slew of emotions that a person will go through. There was a couple of twists because of the grief all the characters go through that really had me quite shocked, and that takes a lot.

 

To add to that it also had good representation of OCD. I don’t know if Silvera has OCD, I don’t know how life, but if he didn’t it still felt real. There was some stereotypes and some lesser known OCD related habits. I could tell that he’d done his research into it.

At the moment I have this book as on my faves shelf on goodreads, but I’m not really sure about it. Like I really loved it but I feel like it wasn’t quite up there with other books I’ve read recently. I don’t know.

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

How do you write a review of a book which means so much to you?

This book is all based around a heist made by 6 teenagers in order to get a sum of money beyond their wildest dreams. The problem is, despite these kids being incredibly sneaky the place they need to break into is like Alcatraz and is apparently impossible to break into.

The characters in this book meant so much to me. You have Inej who is POC and believes in her religion without embarrassment. Kaz is like the biggest bad boy around but he has such a troubled past and he continues to be a kingpin of the underworld even though he has no family left and has a limp. Nina is also POC and she takes no shit and is such a boss character and I just felt such a connection to her. There also some same sex flirtation and a bi/pan character. They’re so diverse but I felt like I could connect to all of them even if they had a different background to me. Normally when you have a book with multiple points of view you can find yourself leaning more towards other certain characters chapters and feel like you skip some character’s chapters to get to other but I didn’t have that problem with this. I enjoyed every characters POVs, even the characters I wasn’t as fond of.

At times there was some really smart twists that Bardugo had obviously spent a lot of time planning this book. Though I have to say I felt like I guessed them before they happened but I think that was probably just me, or really good foreshadowing. I watch a lot of TV with plots and twists, and obviously you know if you’ve been following me a while that I like fantasy novels so I feel like I’m actually pretty good at guessing what’s going to happen next, more than the average reader anyway.

This book read like a teenagers Ocean’s Eleven. Everything was so planned, down to even minute details that Kaz felt like Danny Ocean. Confusing even the people who were on his side because he was just always 2 steps ahead of everything else. And because of this I really felt like the pacing was really good.

One random thing I noted to myself when readig was that I absolutely adored the descriptions of Ketterdam. I felt like I could so vividly imagine it, like the leaning buildings and the dirt filled streets. It was like a movie in my mind at times.

I don’t know if I can bring myself to read Crooked Kingdom because I don’t think I’m ready for it. But I’m also dying to read it.

I don’t need to tell you to read this book because I’m sure it’s already on every single one of your TBRs since it’s been one of the most hyped up books in YA in the past couple year’s. But it’s hyped for a reason and I hope if you were umming and ahhing about whether to buy it that my review has swung you.

 

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This was an incredibly interesting read. I’d seen a lot of people buzzing about it and I really wasn’t sure if I would get on with it. I have a lot of problems with formatting in books, and the smallest thing can put me off so the fact that this was all told in case files was quite daunting to me. I also wasn’t sure about it because I can be a bit iffy about sci-fi and sometimes I think I prefer sci-fi tv/movies to books. But man alive was it good.

As an aside right now I am not a fan of Jay Kristoff as he has repeatedly culturally appropriated for his books and has never apologised for it. Had this not been a joint written book I wouldn’t be nearly as in love with it.

So after breaking up Kady and Ezra are shot into space after their planet is attacked by the rival corporation to the one that owns the planet they’re on. They have to navigate their way through 2 ships with a crazed AI, being chased by the ship that killed their loved ones, and a disease that is causing the other survivors to turn into zombies. And it’s all told through case files.

I adored Ezra a lot, and whilst I wasn’t a fan of Kady to begin with she really grew on me. I really felt like I knew their characters even though I was only reading their chat logs and emails. I loved getting to know Aiden, the AI as a character, he was so self aware and seemed to have real emotions. It was just different for me to read from his perspective.

The one problem, and this is a very tiny problem, is that I found myself enjoying certain types of data files more than others, and I would skip ahead just to make sure certain things had happened and then go back and read properly.

I’ve heard from a lot of people that the audiobook for this was really good so I bought that and I’m excited to try it at some point. It apparently sounds like a space opera.

Whilst I was addicted to this book and read it really quickly, it was also really easy to dip in and out of because the data files were quite short so I wasn’t confused when I had to take a break.

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George by Alex Gino

I’m cis so I’m sorry if I say anything offensive in this review by mistake, as with all reviews please let me know.

When I become a teacher this is one of the books I’m going to recommend to all my children. I think it perfectly summed up what being trans is for a child’s mind. And it really came at gender from a point of view that so many children won’t be exposed to.

All George wants is to play Charlotte in their school’s production of Charlotte’s Web but her teacher tells her she can’t because she’s a boy and Charlotte’s a girl and that would be too confusing for he audience. Instead George’s best friend gets the role and George feels incredibly downhearted.

The thing that really stood out to me was from the beginning the author called George she, there was no transition moment where it went from male pronouns to female pronouns or anything like that and I imagine it’s because the book is own voices. I think that was really good at explaining what being trans or non binary is, you don’t suddenly wake up and feel different, that’s who you are. Which I know, and I’m sure you know, but this is a middle grade book and for kids who might have never heard of being trans before it would be a lot more understandable for them and could be a gateway into learning more.

It’s a short book and a quick read so if you’re looking for a positive Trans read then this will get you feeling emotions in a short space of time.

George was the sweetest character and he relationships with both her brother and her best friend made me so happy because they were so understanding. I was brought to tears by her interactions with these characters sometimes. But then I was also brought to tears at interactions with George’s mother, who wasn’t understanding. It was important to be shown both sides of the coin though because too often trans kids don’t have any support from anyone.

As I’m not trans I can’t speak for the representation in this book but I felt like it was pretty spot on and from the reviews I’ve seen people seem to be happy with it. I hope you all find time to read this book because I think it is incredibly important.

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Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephenie Perkins

Like a lot of people this was my favourite of the Anna and the French Kiss series. There wasn’t a weird cheating undertone, and it just felt nice and natural, with some conflict that didn’t seem to come out of nowhere.

Isla has had a crush on Josh for 3 years but life has never worked right for them but then they bump into each other before going back to Paris for school and everything falls into place.

Isla has a best friend who has autism and she’s so incredibly protective of him and does not take any shit from anyone. The portrayal felt really positive and I liked that it was part of the story. It’s not ownvoices I don’t think so I’m not sure how true to autism it was but when I was reading it it felt good. It didn’t feel ableist or ignorant but if I’m wrong feel free to correct me please. 

I felt like the contrast between their lives in New York and their lives in Paris worked really well. We get to see different sides to the characters and got to know their families. It felt like the coming together of Anna and Lola’s stories in a way because Anna’s was set in Paris with little familial interaction and Lola’s was all about family. 

Again like with Lola this could totally be read as a standalone, and even though there are cameos from other characters in the series you can totally enjoy the book regardless. I would actually say if you were going to read just one book from the series because you aren’t a huge contemporary lover and just wanted to try one or whatever reason then I would recommend Isla.

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