Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy | Julie Murphy Hits Me in the Feelings Again

content warnings: biphobia/homophobia (challenged on page), poverty, hurricanes, emotional abuse

Ramona is just trying to keep her head above water. Her family lives in a trailer (caravan) after hurricane Katrina ruined their lives. Ramona works crazy jobs for terrible pay just so she can afford to live and and maybe save a little. But then her childhood friend Freddie returns, and her sister gets pregnant and suddenly everything is up in the air and Ramona doesn’t know what’s going on. She thought she was a lesbian but she can feel romantic feelings growing for Freddie, and she feels like she isn’t as sure of herself as she once was.

What a fantastic portrayal of poverty. I feel like that’s one thing that’s missed out on in YA. But this did not beat around the bush. Ramona lives in a trailer in Louisiana and has done since Hurricane Katrina with her dad and her older sister. And as someone that has affected so many people in America I’m actually so surprised I haven’t read something from this perspective before. And to be honest I’m surprised I’ve never read a book from a teen in poverty like this. It was no holds barred and so harsh but that’s what poverty is.

There was also some discussion about racism in the book, as Freddie is black and Ramona is white and she isn’t as aware of the racial problems in America and they have fights and discussions about that and I thought that was important and you could see Ramona learning from it.

Ramona was a very interesting character. She’s very real, in that I went through stages of really liking her and then not really caring for her. And I loved that. It didn’t feel like Murphy was pandering by making her overly likeable in such a terrible situation.

The characters around Ramona were a mess. Her mother was just ugh, her dad tried really hard, her sister was supportive of Ramona but easily walked over, her friends were at time super supportive and others not the best, and Freddie was definitely an idiot a lot of the time. But the person I loved the most was Freddie’s grandma. She was an absolute sweetheart and I wish I knew someone like her.

I grew up really loving swimming and still love it so that element of this was so nice. Like he scenes where Ramona was in the pool and getting back into the swing of the strokes was so relatable and lovely.

I’ve read all but one of Murphy’s books that are out so far and at this point she is 100% an autobuy author. Everything I have read has been so good. She has this wonderful way of making some heavy topics light hearted but not in an offensive way, and hitting you in the feelings when you least expect it, whilst also being so easy to read.

This book was hit with negative press before it was released because people read the blurb in an entirely wrong context and thought it was about a lesbian being turned. Which is just a mess, and more than a bit biphobic to be honest. Don’t let the negative press sway you. This book is GOOD.

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Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson – More About Grief Than I Expected

content warnings: off the page death,

Amy’s mother has decided they’re going to move across the country, and this means Amy has to move her car across the country. But she can’t do that because she’s terrified to drive ever since her dad died in a car accident. So she ropes in an old friend, Roger, to drive the pair of them as he also has to go to the East coast.

Look I don’t really know what I expected going into this book but it wasn’t what I got. Some things I liked, some things I didn’t. I got the book out from the library because I really wanted to read some cute contemporaries, so Morgan Matson was one of the first authors I thought of. I think I war really wanting something similar to The Unexpected Everything and this was just not that. There was a lot of talk of loss and post trauma anxiety and the romance kind of took a back foot to this. Which I liked but also I just wanted something cute.

I think one of the biggest things I really appreciated was that Amy and Roger’s friendship developed before any romance. They spent all the time together and you could tell that they just really liked each other’s company and whilst there was gradual romantic feelings bit by bit which you could tell as a reader and it was nice for them to get that base before jus stumbling into hardcore feelings.

I actually wasn’t a huge fan of Amy to be honest, but that’s more a personal thing than her being a bad person or anything. I found her kind of whiney at times and a bit entitled. And yes I’m well aware that she’s been through a lot but she seemed to forget at times that yeah she lost her dad but her mum lost him too, and she wasn’t really fair on her mum at times. I liked Roger but I wish we got more from him.

I really loved the road trip parts of it. As someone who loves to travel I often find road trip books cringey because they can be so badly researched and you can just tell when someone hasn’t done their research. But this was definitely researched well, I think Matson did the trip herself. I loved that they went to the small towns along the way they didn’t expect to because that’s what happens on trips often. When I did my trip of Asia the actual cities weren’t really negotiable because we booked our flights prior, but the places we went to when there often turned out to be things we hadn’t planned on, or only went after hearing about it when there. That’s one of the best parts of travelling. This book puts that across. I think the thing as well is that it made me want to visit Utah of all places in the States. I’ve never wanted to go there before, but god from the way this book is described I want to go there and see the scenery so bad.

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Geekerella by Ashley Poston – Good But Not As Good as the Hype

content warnings: verbal abuse, off the page death, horrible step family

Elle lives with her step family after her dad died and they definitely do not treat her well. Elle’s only relief comes from her favourite show, Starfield. But then a movie reboot is announced, with teen heartthrob, Darien Freeman set to play the main character, which Elle is so violently against. She writes a blog, which goes viral, and Darien sees. Meanwhile Elle is preparing to go to the convention her dad created for the show in hopes of winning the Cosplay competition and go to the Cosplay Ball. But her step family are trying very hard to put a spanner in the works.

I have seen so much hype about this book on both Goodreads and Youtube so of course when I saw my library had it I immediately took it out. And I’ll be honest, I did really enjoy it, but I was expecting to adore it, so whilst it was a good book, it fell a little short of my expectations. I saw so many 5 star, rave reviews and I just felt like something was missing for me. Maybe because I’ve been reading so many great romance novels, both YA and adult, lately, this wasn’t anything mind blowing.

The characters were interesting that’s for sure. I think the most complex and well developed characters were Darien and Sage. For one I thought it was super cool that Darien was an Asian boy, who was a famous teen heart throb, considering they’re more often than not white. And I loved reading his POV because I really felt like he as struggling and I cared about him. And Sage was just the badass friend we all want who will break you out of any bad situation you’re in, but also won’t just roll over and take someone being terrible to her just because she’s her friend. This is how you do positive friendships in books. Elle, our MC, just wasn’t as enjoyable as Darien. Like I know she is Cinderella and her dad created the convention and she’s abused by her step family but at times she did feel a bit self-entitled. She felt like her fandom belonged to her at time because of who her father was. Now obviously I know what it’s like to love something so dearly you feel like its yours and you don’t want anyone to ruin it, and it didn’t make her unlikeable, but it did annoy me.

I think the step mother was a really convincing villain. It’s hard to make someone like that in a contemporary hat isn’t a crime or a thriller but Poston did a good job of that, I really hated her and felt a huge amount of contempt towards her. And Elle’s sisters as well, one in particular, were so like their mother in that regard and had no regard for Elle.

It definitely felt like Cinderella when I was reading it and there were little references and changes I loved. The biggest one being that the pumpkin was a Vegan foodtruck called The Magic Pumpkin. That was hilarious. At times it felt more like a retelling of A Cinderella Story as opposed to actual Cinderella, which sounds like a weird thing to say but there were definitely elements that weren’t in the original story but were in both remakes.

This was a very cute story and I’m glad I did read it, but I definitely think the hype was just a little bit too much.

 

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P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

content warning: girl on girl hate.

When Lily gets bored in Chemistry class she starts scribbling the lyrics to her favourite song on her desk. The next day she’s found that someone has answered back. Suddenly they’re swapping notes and Lily lives for every chemistry lesson to find the next note. But whilst she is falling for the note writer she’s also reconnecting with her childhood friend who she has not been getting on with at all lately.

This honestly felt so cliche at times, like the exchanged love notes through lyrics etc. which just felt like something 14 year old emo me dreamed of. And look, I do not remember this book. This review is going to be solely based on my very few notes and trying to remind myself of goodreads reviews. And yes I read this book in March but I can remember books I read 2 years ago so I think you can tell how forgettable this book was for me.

If you like books where there’s no girl on girl hate this is not for you. I got very angry reading it because it was so flipping old school like early 2000s teen movies where all the girls were battling each other for a boy and it just left a bad taste in my mouth. This book came out in 2016 you’re better than this Kasie! I also felt uncomfortable that it was immediately assumed by Lily that she was talking to a guy. I found this really weird because it could literally be anyone, and how could she tell from the way the person writes?

Hate to love is one of my favourite tropes so read it for that was nice like for that aspect it was a nice story. I could tell who Lily would end up with from a mile away and it was nice reading the relationship progress. This was also a super quick read for me, as I’ve found all Kasie West books are because they’re pretty light and fun and have a good flow.

But hey, this book really isn’t that bad, it just wasn’t great and was a bit of a dud for me. I reached the end and didn’t hate it which is always good I guess? And it has not put me off Kasie West, I think she can definitely write some good romcom YA, this just wasn’t it.

 

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Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Content warning: anxiety, a situation that is reminiscent of outing that could make you uncomfortable

Eliza creates a very popular webcomic, no one knows who she is though. Everyone just thinks she’s a loner, and her parents don’t understand how big her comic is. Then the biggest fanfic writer for the comic transfers to her school and they get on so well, but even he doesn’t know who she truly is.

I’d heard a lot of hype about this book prior to reading it and honestly it did not let me down in the slightest.

This story was in a similar vein to stuff like You’ve Got Mail, which is one of my fave rom coms ever on the planet so I was so happy reading this. Not only was there a really sweet romance but there was a lot of representation of anxiety and as someone who struggles with¬† anxiety the representation felt so spot on for me. I was reading it, just feeling so represented and I started crying a few times just because it was so spot on.

Ok, so of all the characters I think my favourite(s) were Eliza’s brothers. They were messy like little brothers can be but they also really understood her. And when everything goes awry they’re the ones to explain to Eliza’s parents how out of it they are. I also just really loved Eliza and Wallace. Together and apart they’re just such wonderful characters. They’re so passionate and awkward and it balances out so well.

This is one of those books that I just loved so much that I don’t know what to say? I just want everyone to read this. And I want to buy this book when I have the money to as I read this from the library. If you have the opportunity to read this you should, unless you’re worried that the content may hurt you, in which case ask me about the content :).

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The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Sorry for the lack of post on Monday but my laptop was getting repaired and I hate oing posts on mobile.

Ok so basically fake dating is one of my absolute favourite tropes so this was a very fun read for me.

I’m really sorry I can’t remember if there are any content warnings, but if there’s anything you’re worried about let me know and I’ll find out for you!

So Gia’s boyfriend breaks up with her on the night of her prom (what a douche) and she panics because none of her friends believe she had a boyfriend in the first place so she sees a guy in the car park and asks him to be her date for the night. And by some weird bit of luck he says yes. Soon they develop a mutual agreement of being each other’s dates for events that they need to pretend to have someone for.

To start with this book is very much a white rich people problems book. Honestly I found myself rolling my eyes a lot for the situations involved because they were so trivial. However that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading it.¬† Whilst I thought the situations an decisions were a bit ridiculous it was so easy to read and entertaining.

In terms of our main characters, Gia really annoyed me. I can’t remember why but I remember her attitude at the beginning really bothering me. But her character development was really good. There were some really bizarre female friendships on Gia’s side of things. She fell out with a bunch of her friends and they didn’t act great towards each other, however she also found a new friend who really helped bring out the good in her. On the other hand we have Hayden who was my absolute favourite boy and I would die for him.

This book is kind of your classic contemporary teen romance. Some kids acting silly and getting into ridiculous problems, but it’s important to remember that it is teens and teens are unpredictable and unreliable and I feel like books like this are often more connected to teens than ones that are more deep. But that’s just me.

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Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski – Could’ve been cute but was let down with poor language and characterisation

Content warning: Ableism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia

Meg and Linus are queer best friends, who love Star Trek and each other. As they start their senior year things start to change in their lies, some for the good and some not so good. This is your classic coming of age story but from 2 queer kids.

So basically I just did not give a flying toss about Meg. The book is all about her and Linus’ friendship but I just wish it had been only from Linus’ POV. Yeah it’s great to have a half sapphic half m/m novel, but she was just infuriating. Whereas Linus is a small bean who just needs to be protected. Now I’m a fan of anti-heroes and unlikeable characters as it brings something different to the table but this was more a case of she was just an annoying character that you could tell the writer wanted to be likeable but did not come off that way.

The language use in this book is not great, there’s a lot of casual ableism, and some transphobic language too. Linus is fat, and whilst it’s not shown necessarily as a bad thing it’s also got a couple of moments where the way he’s regarded by the author is less than positive. Like it was nice to read a contemporary with a fat boy but it felt a bit rocky.

Despite this, as my only trigger is death, it was an easy read for me. And it was nice to read a contemporary of this type. But I just expected more really.

In terms of the plot, I felt like at times it dragged a bit, the book is short but with Meg’s story line it kind of felt like pulling teeth. Linus’ story move a much steadier pace but I would’ve liked to have it continued and have some more about his life.

I was glad this was a library book rather than a book I purchased because I think I would’ve been annoyed I paid for it, but it was an ok light read and was good for the reading mood I was in at the time.

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Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Oh my god where do I start on this book.

cw: closeting, mormons, homophobia

Autoboyography is about Tanner, a boy who had to move to Utah and go back in the closet after being out as bi in California. In his final year of high school he takes a class where he has to write a book in a semester. And he begins to fall for the mentor of this course, who is a mormon boy.

I absolutely adored this book. I read it just after I dropped out of my uni course and had tons of time on my hands and just sped through it in one night. I think it tackled the issues involved beautifully. I just felt so heartbroken and so full at the same time when I finished it. I had to hold myself back from buying a copy in Waterstones the other week, but I really want to buy it and read it again to be honest.

I absolutely adored Sebastian and Tanner, and their relationship. They both make some dodgy choices and mess up, but it just reads so well because you know they are just trying to find their place in their world.

It was interesting to read about their relationship as someone who doesn’t know too much about Mormons I felt like I learnt about them with Tanner. It felt well researched.

Making Tanner a bi character was a really good choice from the author, they could’ve made him gay, but they chose to have him represent a sexuality that can often get left behind and it’s so important to have more representation for bisexual people. I think it also brought some more interesting situations that wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t bi. And whilst I’m not bi, I am pan and those sexualities are pretty similar and some of Tanner’s emotions were so relatable to me. Ugh I just loved him.

I honestly don’t really know what else to say bar loving this book and wanting everyone to read it.

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Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Collins for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Going into this I thought it was an f/f romance contemporary. Which it is not. And whilst I was disappointed it wasn’t what it actually is was a book I adored.

Millie has gone to fat camp every summer and is struggling to get the courage to tell her parents she’s not going this year. Callie is the popular skinny dancer who after and incident she ends up kicked off her team and suspended. Their worlds collide and make for some interesting results.

I think the thing that was so good about this book is there are so many positive female friendships. Some of the girls do some really rubish things and act poorly towards each other but they care so much about each other that they don’t want it to continue to be bad between them. And Millie just cares so much about everyone what a sweet bean.

We get to see all of the faves from Dumplin’ again, including my ship (who I won’t name cos spoilers). It was so nice to get to spend time with Millie as she was a side character in Dumplin’ and get to see the group dynamic through her eyes. I loved seeing her absolute respect and passion for her friends.

I don’t think this is really on the same level as Dumplin’ for me, but that’s because they’re completely different stories to tell. Dumplin’ means a bit more to me because it’s one of the first YAs that I saw a fat girl like me, with a bit of cute romance, but this is about such positive friendships between girls of varying sizes, sexualities and backgrounds and I just loved it.

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Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame | Addictive but Not Good

Where to start with this book?

Content warnings: slight incest, cheating

So I got this out of the library because I wanted to read something “trashy” and Joanne has read it and said it was ok and she knows someone who knows the author because hey she’s from Scotland, and everyone in Scotland knows each other.

And yeah this book is pretty trashy. But it keeps you reading it. Like I couldn’t stop reading it even though I was rolling my eyes constantly.

Basically, our MC goes to LA for the summer to spend time with her estranged father and his new family. There she meets her step brother Tyler who she immediately does not get along with. But then she finds out things more about him and begins to understand.

Now I didn’t make any notes for this because I’m an idiot and read it so quickly. I think had I not been so addicted to this I would’ve put it down and not picked it up again, which is what happened with Book 2. However, I did read this in the space of a day.

The characters are so draining. Eden is your typical “I’m not like other girls” who looks down on others and whilst there’s some positive female friendships there’s also some really catty parts. And don’t get me started on Tyler, that boy is such a prat. And like yeah he has past trauma and he’s like actually a multifaceted character but I’m supposed to like him when his development is like a snail pace. He made me so angry.

Also like this book is almost incest. If you watch porn you’ve probably seen the influx of “doing my step sister” videos. If you like those this is for you. And like, ok they’re step siblings but it was still weird.

All in all, if you want to read something that’s not deep just for a bit of a breather then read this but then maybe look up the blurbs of the sequels because I couldn’t make it past 2 chapters of the second book. I was so bored.

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