Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Aw this book is honestly so sweet. It was one of the books I was super excited for this year and it did not let me down.

It surrounds a convention for all the youtubers and geeky types like us lot where a group of friends travel from Australia to LA for the weekend of their dreams.

The book is pretty short and whilst I really liked my time with the book I felt like there isn't much for me to say.

This could've easily been a 5 star read for me as the style was so easy to read and the representation was on point. There was Asian Rep, aspie rep, anxiety Rep, chubby Rep, bisexual Rep, lesbian Rep. However I felt like there was just something a little lacking and it's not something I could ever pin point but it just wasn't quite in the favourites position for me

The book follows 2 blossoming relationships and it was honestly just really sweet to read. There was little miscommunications and classic tropes from YA romance that just makes you squeal with delight.

Even though my review is a bit thin on the ground I do hope you read this book because it just made me really happy when I read it and I can't wait to read the next Jen Wilde book because I feel like it's going to be a 5 star.

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Thank you to netgalley and Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. TW in this book for mentions of abuse, transphobia, homophobia, death and suicide.

I wasn’t sure about this book after reading the blurb as it centres around a girl from a very typical white church background, but I thought hey it’s Emery Lord it can’t be that bad. And it wasn’t the description is so deceptive. This book is about a kid meeting new people and cultures which she has never really been exposed to before which isn’t exactly a novel idea but I feel like Lord’s take on it was a good read.

Lucy’s mum has been in remission but her cancer has reappeared and her wish is for Lucy to go to the camp across the lake from the camp she normally goes to. Lucy isn’t exactly keen on the idea but wants to do it for the sake of her mum. She starts off with some prejudicial thoughts but gradually begins to get to know her fellow counsellors and makes friends with them all and learns that just because they’re different to her doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with her.

If there is one thing to say about this book it’s CHARACTER PROGRESSION ON POINT. Like I didn’t like Lucy to begin with and I felt uncomfortable with her character, I was expecting her to be a typical white, but she learned so quickly and adapted so quickly. If you want to do a book about something growing up in a privileged background and learning to see the world different this is how you do it not like how The Black Witch did it. Which I’m not going to go into but if you haven’t seen the deal with that book where have you been?

This book really struck a chord with me because I grew up in a very white place, obviously I knew people with different skin colours existed because of TV but in my school there was 2 kids of colour and they were from the same family so when I moved to Glasgow for uni it was a huge change not just because I was moving out from home on my own but because there was so many cultures living around me that I’d not really experienced before. I am completely aware of my privilege now but when I was 17 I had a lot of learning to do and it was interesting to read that in this book.

The side characters are what made this book, they were all so wonderful and diverse and I fell in love with each of them. And honestly even if this is a daunting book for you because you’re worried it’s either going to annoy you or upset you it’s worth it for the side characters.

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Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

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

If this book isn’t on your TBR now add it because it’s so adorable and funny.

Tash (pronounced Tosh) is in love with Leo Tolstoy, the dead author. She makes a web series based on Anna Karenina with her friends playing the roles and sees little buzz until one day a big youtuber posts about the series and they receive instant online fame.

So Tosh comes to the realisation throughout the book that she is asexual, now I’m not ace so I can’t tell you if the representation is good and not problematic but it felt like it was. It felt accurate to what I know about asexuality from my friends and the experiences they’ve had. If you are ace and have read this book and think it isn’t accurate please let me know.  I would also say that there is a warning for aphobia from other characters.

I really loved the parts of this book which focussed on the web series. It reminded me of the time when I binge watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and how much I loved them. It made me want to read Anna Karenina so I bought a copy, I probably won’t read it for a long time but I own it now.

I loved Tosh I found her so relateable, her anxieties read so well and were completely accessible to me despite having different anxieties. I loved that she was vegetarian, I never read books with veggie MCs, and so many people these days are veggie or vegan that it was just really nice to read. She was also Buddhist which is another thing that doesn’t feature in books much.

Something I really loved was that you get to read about youtube creators in a way that felt real, a lot of the time you read a book with youtubers in it and there is no mention of the amount of work that does into it but this book spoke about that a lot. It spoke about the stress of constant creation and relying on people to be there when you need them to be and also how hard it is to be in the limelight.

I loved that the MC ended up in a relationship with someone who was happy to be with her, there wasn’t any weird feelings from his side about her being ace, he didn’t try to pressure her. He liked her for her.

There was some really good side character representation as well which I absolutely adored.

I hope more people read this book because I haven’t seen much hype about it but it’s so worth the read.

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Winger by Andrew Smith

I really don’t know how I feel about this book still and it’s been 2 months since I read it. There was some really interesting commentary on teenage boys, a hilarious main character who was also subtly homophobic and I was never sure how I felt about him, and some odd representation. I originally picked this up because its about private school kids playing rugby and I thought hey that’s something I haven’t seen in YA and I love rugby so let’s give it a go. What this book turned out to be was something I didn’t really expect.There are a couple of triggers I should warn you about, casual homophobia, violence, casual sexism, anything you can think of a teenage boy being gross about, and a gay character dying, which some would consider a spoiler but I feel like you should be warned because it could be upsetting.

Ryan Dean West is stuck in the dorms where the troublemakers go after messing around the previous year and his roommate is somewhat of a bully. He has to get through the school year despite being so much younger than his classmates and stuck without his friends in his new dorm.

Ryan Dean is your classic teenage boy. He thought sexist and homophobic stuff and at times was really unlikeable but he was also absolutely hilarious and I was so unsure reading his POV how I felt about him.

There were some illustrations throughout the book which I found quite funny and a good break from the writing at times.

What I would say is that I found the rugby parts quite accurate but I found the Americanisms surrounding it jarring. But maybe that’s just me because I’m so used to European rugby but at times it felt like they were playing a mixture of Union and League which are completely different games and it sometimes felt off. I also just can’t imagine private school kids in America playing rugby.

I’m going to talk about the ending here so if you don’t want spoilers stop reading and go to the part which says end spoilers.

The ending really threw me off. I’m still not sure how I feel about it now. It brings an interesting discussion about people’s attitudes to gay people and it shows that as much as someone can be loved in a group of friends there’s always going to be someone who isn’t happy with them as a person, but I also feel like did Joey really have to die. Was that necessary? Could Smith not have just left him really badly hurt? Why did he have to die? In media right now there’s a big furore over writers killing off gay characters for the sake of furthering the plot, and whilst this novel was written a few years ago, Bury Your Gays has been a thing for a very long time. I also think it was very sad that a guy who was closeted was the one that did it, it shows a lot about the world we live in and how progressive we think we are when stuff like this still happens in the real world.

End Spoilers

I think I wan to read the sequel but I’m really not sure. I plowed through this one and it was a fun read like 80% of the time but I don’t know I’ve got so many books to read. But I also want to know what happens.

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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 his 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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The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

Thank you to netgalley and Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is about someone with mental diversity so if I have made a mistake with wording please let me know, like I ask for all my reviews!

The State of Grace follows Grace, a teen with Asperger’s whose dad is a wildlife photographer as a boy takes a romantic interest in her for the first time ever. But then things start to change at home and her whole world seems to go skewiff.

I haven’t heard much about this book online really which I think is a shame because it’s a nice read. It’s an own voices book so I’m sure it’ll ring true with a lot of people.

This book was a really good read. I would say it was a joy but it wasn’t because I got so annoyed all the time by the mother’s terrible parenting. Grace’s mum was having a midlife crisis of some sorts, and wanted to be a teen again, which is how it read to me and so she took it out on Grace. She should’ve known that her actions would’ve impacted Grace negatively and caused her to have a lot of anxiety. She’s her daughter and has lived with her 15 years after all. But this random woman who knows nothing about her current life appears and she drops everything for her. I just got so angry, but that shows that it was written well and realistically, it caused me to have a strong emotion. But before any of that even happened, Grace’s mum was so casually ableist all the time and I just sat there getting so agitated reading it. She was just such a jerk, but she thought she was so well meaning and Grace just accepted it often.

The pacing of this book was really good, I was addicted to reading it and it went really quickly. I started reading it on my flight to Italy and was reading it constantly in the car to the resort.

My one thing that I wasn’t such a fan of was at times the writing felt a little childish. Obviously this is a young adult book but it did feel like the reader was being spoken down to at times. It wasn’t a big concern and it is a debut novel so it’s not a major issue for me.

If you want a sweet contemporary with some autism rep then I recommend this. I don’t have autism so I can’t speak for how good the rep is of course but I enjoyed the book and I felt like it read well.

 

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The Romantics by Leah Konen

Thank you to netgalley and Amulet Books for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

In The Romantics we follow Love who has messed up by letting a marriage end in divorce because he thought they would be fine and wouldn’t drift apart. So to try and make things right she wants to help the couple’s son fall in love with the right person.

This book is told from the perspective of Love which I found to be a really interesting premise. Her voice was quite funny and she was her own character that I got to know and love. I liked that even though she is a godly/spiritual entity she had her own wants, wishes and regrets.

All the characters were pretty likeable; Gael was an absolute sweetheart and my heart went out to him so much through all the mess his parents had left. And his parents just didn’t really seem to care about how upset their divorce had left him. His little sister was adorable. The only person I wasn’t a huge fan of was Cara, Gael’s love interest for a lot of the novel, something about her was just off to me, she felt a bit fickle.

This was a really easy book for me to read, the pacing was just right and it read really easily. So if you want a funny YA romance novel that you can read in a short space of time and get quite wrapped up in then I would say that this one is right up your street.

One thing that I have to point out is that there were a lot of current references, which I enjoyed whilst reading as I love stuff like that because it feels more lifelike because I relate in a way, but this could date the book quite a lot. Like whilst I wouldn’t say it’s going to be a YA classic just because it’s not got the hype, but that could hold it back from being read a few years from now because people don’t understand the references, especially teens who constantly have new fads and language.

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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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We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

Thank you to netgalley and Bloomsbury Childrens for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book features a lot of racism towards Romani people, and a lot of parental abuse so if you don’t think you can read that, don’t. As well as that, I’m not Romani and neither are the authors so I’m sorry if I missed something problematic in the book or if I say something wrong in this review, please let me know.

After reading One by Sarah I thought I would read this, as Brian recently won some awards for his book The Bombs We Brought Together I was interested to try a joint foray by the pair. And I was impressed.

We Come Apart is about Nicu, who is a Romani Romanian who has immigrated to the UK so that his parents can earn money for his arranged marriage, and Jess who is struggling a lot at home as her mum’s boyfriend is abusive. Nicu starts at Jess’ school and Jess finds herself defending Nicu against her racist friends who she begins to realise are horrible people.

One thing I really loved about this book was that it was about a Romani boy, I’ve never read about someone who is Romani and I’ve never even heard of one. Romani people are basically the UK’s punching bag, I couldn’t even explain to you the disgusting tv shows I’ve see about them or the characters they are made out to be in dramas, it’s gross. So because of this I thought it was really good to read from the point of view of someone who is Romani, again I will say though that neither of the writers are Romani and I don’t know how much research they did so it might not be accurate. But based on my knowledge of the UK and the people who live here and how cruel British school kids are I would say that the the bulling the Nicu experiences is pretty accurate, in fact I felt like it was pulled back a bit.

What I would have to say about the Nicu story is that I felt like the whole “parents forcing him to get married” thing was quite a harmful stereotype. Of course with stereotypes there will be some people who are true to that stereotype but there’s so many that aren’t and I wish this book had given him a different storyline because I’m 100% sure there is more to Romani people than what we see in the media.

I’m still not really sure how I feel about books written in verse. They’re great for a quick read and the often pack a real punch but I don’t think I get the effect of them that other people get.

At times this book was super hard to read but it felt honest. Jess’ home life was horrible but it wasn’t glossed over. Neither was the life of teens living in an area which is considered to be impoverished. A lot of adults writing YA books seem to be under the impression that kids don’t get violently drunk or have meaningless sex or get involved in drugs, but this book showed these things in a brutal light. I’ve lived in Glasgow I’ve seen the ways some people live when they don’t have much money coming in, I’ve seen how their children grow up and this book felt very true to that.

I found this review on goodreads from a Romanian immigrant, I don’t know if they’re Romani or not but I wanted to include it to give you an idea of what someone who has been through similar experiences felt.

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Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola is very happily in a relationship with her older rocker boyfriend, even though her parents hate him. Then her least favourite pair of twins move back in next door and she feels like the happy life she has set up for herself is going on a steady downward spiral.

I liked that whilst this was part of the series it also could be completely read as a stand alone. Anna and Etienne from the previous novel are in it but there’s nothing about them being there that would make you confused and wish you had read Anna and the French Kiss. That being said, I don’t think I know anyone who read this before Anna.

I really was not a fan of Lola, she felt like one of those hipsters who tried too hard to be “quirky” and I just wasn’t about it. She was a bit selfish sometimes too and for someone who thought she was so mature she just wasn’t. I think a huge part of why I didn’t like Lola was that she continued to stay with her boyfriend despite her parents and best friend not liking him. Personally if my friends tell me they don’t like someone I’m romantically interested in I will listen to what they’re saying because there will definitely be a reason that I’m not seeing. Max was also just a bit of a jerk, never mind the fact that he was in his early 20s dating a 17 year old, does he not have girl’s to date his own age?

Lola had the same problem that Etienne had in the previous novel in that she just couldn’t seem to break it off with her boyfriend even though she was basically emotionally cheating on him. That being said though, Cricket was miles better than Max (still shouldn’t cheat though), he was sweet, loyal and didn’t make me want to kick his head in.

There was some ok diverse representation in this, including gay dads, where you got to meet Lola’s birth mum and saw how much of a riot she was and how her dads were much better for her (something I easily understand but is good to see in young adult books which could possibly make kids see things differently) and a Korean best friend.

I have already read Isla and the Happily ever After and it’s safe to say that Lola was my least favourite book in the series, it didn’t have the charms that Anna and Isla had and something just felt off to me.

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