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.

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Youtube
Goodreads
Instagram

Advertisements

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.

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Youtube
Goodreads
Instagram

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.

 

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Youtube
Goodreads
Instagram

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.

 

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Youtube
Goodreads
Instagram

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Thank you to Amulet books and netgalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! I was so glad I was approved for this because it was definitely one of my most hyped books.

Laila is a teen writer and her English teacher is her biggest fan. She is forever giving him her new stories and he tells her how much he adores them. Until her teacher gets in a big car accident and she gets a substitute. To start Laila is excited as the new teacher is also an award winning writer, but she is very hard on Laila and this causes her to struggle with not only her writing but her identity.

The main character of this story is pansexual. Do you know how much that means to me? Laila really struggles with this part of herself as she has been raised to believe that girls should be ashamed of their sexuality. This is said on page. And this is the first time I’ve actually been able to comment on sexuality representation from an experienced perspective and I’m so happy about this. I absolutely adored the representation. I wish this book had been around when I was younger because I think I may have realised I was pan much sooner than I did. She also is plus size and has anxiety, so I related to Laila so much to be honest. And if you consider yourself to be any of these things I would thoroughly recommend reading it. Laila is also half Ecuadorian, but obviously I can’t speak on this representation. However it was plainly obvious that the author wanted to make this an important part of the novel. All throughout there is discussions over being mixed race and being Ecuadorian, and not knowing where she fit in. I’ve never read an Ecuadorian MC and I found that so refreshing. I did try to find a review from an Ecuadorian person but I could not, if you know of any let me know!

This book is sapphic, but I don’t want to spoil that for you. However the one thing for me that let this book down for me and meant it wasn’t a favourite was that the romance was just a little too subtle for me. I kind of didn’t recognise it happening at all until about 70% of the way in. And that might be great for you! That might be the type of romance you like. I’m more of a heavy hitting romance type.

The narrative of this novel is very much internalised, there is a lot of Laila’s struggles with her writing, her friendships and her anxiety. Sometimes I struggled with reading the book because of this, not in a bad way but it could get heavy occasionally and I wasn’t quite in the mood for that.

As this was my first Riley Redgate novel I wasn’t sure what to expect, and whilst people were hyping it up, I was pleasantly surprised (I have trust issues with hyped books). Now I need to catch up on all Redgate’s books!

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Youtube
Goodreads
Instagram

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 :).

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

I Believe In a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo

Since reading this book I’ve started watching K-Dramas so I kind of wish I’d read it now because I think I would’ve liked it even more.

Desi is the kind of person who always has a plan. But she doesn’t have a plan in romance and she wants to be with a boy. Then she starts to watch K-drama and develops a game plan to follow the steps of a k-drama to get the boy.

One of the biggest things I saw people complaining about in reviews prior to reading this was that the whole premise was silly and irrational and blah blah blah. But I think these people have forgotten what it’s like to be a teen to be honest. When I was a teen I had a crush on a different boy every week. This was before I realised I was a flaming queer. I wouldn’t have put it past myself to do something similar to be honest.

I really enjoyed this book, like it was super cute and perfect for the mood I was in (doom and gloom after quitting my future). I gave it 4 stars on goodreads, and I think the one thing that stopped me from giving it a 5 star rating and becoming one of my faves was the ending, like I felt like the resolution was a bit lacklustre, and I wanted just a little bit more from it.

What I really loved about this book was Desi’s relationship with her dad. I love both my parents equally but there’s definitely times that I’m more of a daddy’s girl, especially during my teen years, and it was so nice to see that kind of relationship in a book. I loved that their relationship really grew when Desi started watching dramas, like they really bonded and it just made me happy. It made me happy that this was shown in the novel, not just the relationship aspect. I also loved her relationship with her best friend who tries to tell her it’s all a bad idea but is still there for her when things start to go south.

Desi was a really interesting girl to read as well. She’s so goal driven so is adamant to follow her list even though she sometimes she knows what she’s doing is wrong. It was really interesting to read a character like that because I could see parts of my young self in her. I’m very stubborn and I’m not that kind of person now, but when I was a teenager I definitely did things I knew were wrong because I’d made the decision I was doing it.

I hope that I can read Maurene’s new book The Way You Make Me Feel sometimes soon because I really enjoyed her writing and think she can only get better.

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Youtube
Goodreads
Instagram

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.

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

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.

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Content warnings: abuse, parental abuse, runaways, homophobia, eating disorders, depression

Frances is obsessed with a podcast of outer space adventures, and she is known for doing incredible fan art, in her spare time between studying for her exams to get into Cambridge.Then she meets Aled, who is the writer and voice behind her podcast and they realise who each other are and begin to collaborate. But then life takes a bit of an unexpected turn.

Radio Silence wasn’t what I expected. I saw a lot of people I follow on twitter talking about it throughout my time in the book community and I thought it would be some sort of thriller contemporary but it was not. And whilst I was a bit confused for a lot of this book, like a thriller would be, but it was more just figuring out what’s going on with characters and why they choose to act the way they do.

There were some super strong friendships between people of the same gender and of different genders and I loved that about this book. As well as a diverse range of sexualities, including our MC being bisexual and Aled being either ace or demi. And there is lots of on page discussion of sexualities and feelings and what not and it was good to read.

I wasn’t really sure what to make of the writing style. It didn’t grab me as much as I would’ve liked. It took me a while to finish this book. And I would say it started off really slow and whilst it eventually got going about the midway point it didn’t have the pace I normally like from novels.

I liked that there was discussion of fandoms as well as podcasts. As someone who is an avid listener of My Favourite Murder, occasionally Lore and Serial and some others it was cool to read about a viral podcast.

There is also a lot of discussion of abusive behaviour from behaviour that is not physical and is about forcing your children to do things through manipulation. Whilst this could be triggering for some folk I feel like it could also be helpful depending on where your mind is at.

All in all I would recommend Radio Silence if you’re into more character driven stories, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Alice Oseman’s work.

Amazon | Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram