Like Water by Rebecca Podos

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

Vanni had always planned to leave her small home town that everyone else gets stuck in, but then her dad get’s diagnosed with Huntington’s, which can be passed to the next generation. So her fear of also being diagnosed stalls her in her plans so she spends her summer working at a water park and flirting around with different people.

So I really liked the exploration of being bisexual in teenagers and whilst the MC does eventually identify as being bi, I really liked that for a while there is a lot of talk of fluidity and a lot of it just kind of happens. Which felt really realistic to me, because it is such a complicated thing to go through. And I liked that it was in a majorly hispanic community as I feel like the majority of novels I’ve read with a bi MC have been very white and it was refreshing to read from another point of view.

As well as there being bisexual representation there is also a character who struggles with their gender identity, and as I am cis myself I didn’t really pick up on it properly until the end, but I think people who themselves have struggled with it would pick up on it much earlier. When I realised it was very much like “oh yeah of course”. I tried to hunt to see if any genderqueer people had reviewed it on goodreads but came up blank, and obviously I’m not going to ask people what they identify as for sake of a review. But yeah I’m cis so I can’t say if the rep is good but it felt good.

As with the genderqueer rep, I don’t have Huntington’s so I couldn’t tell you if it deals with that well but I really appreciated that it was part of the novel. It’s not a well talked about disease and it’s not as famous as things like MS.

I think the one thing that made this read not a favourite was just that I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable. And when I say that I don’t mean like they were all awful people and I hated reading them. They’re well developed characters and have their own driving forces. I just got annoyed with them a lot, but hey teenagers can be pretty annoying so they definitely felt realistic.

I think if you’re looking for a diverse summer contemporary with a wide range of issues this is the book for you.

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The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Thank you to netgalley and Penguin Random House Children’s for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Flora Banks has no short term memory and her parents have had to leave the country to look after Flora’s dying brother. However Flora has one recent memory, and that’s of kissing Drake. So she leaves England and goes to Norway to find Drake at his uni on a tiny island in hopes that it will help return her memory.

Ugh this book. Every problematic trope you can think of to do with mental health is in it. And most trigger warnings to do with mental health you can think of are also needed. This was one of those books I somehow ended up hate reading about halfway through and I had to know the ending so kept reading it despite not liking it.

Most of the characters were just terrible people. The main love interest refused to own up to the mess he made. The best friend got so mad that she just left her best friend to fend for herself even though said best friend had a literal memory problem. And do not get me started on her parents. Her parents literally left her alone when they left the country to care for their other child, despite the fact Flora has short term memory loss and mental health problems. Which in my mind is just terrible behaviour from parents.

Even the end was such a disappointment that I wish I hadn’t read that far. Yes the writing definitely hooked me in but in the bad way. I knew what was going to happen but I just wanted to keep reading in hopes that I was wrong, but I wasn’t. The writing style is really different, it’s really repetitive but that’s because it’s told from Flora’s POV so whenever her memory reset itself she had to read notes to herself to remind her of what she was doing. I wouldn’t have had an issue with this because I understand it’s plot purpose but it was so focussed on Drake that I just rolled my eyes every time.

Another thing I really didn’t like was that this book kind of gave off the idea that pills are bad. That they turn you into a different person if you take pills for mental health reasons. I’m not sure if that’s what Barr intended but that’s what it read like to me. And I’m on anti depressants so I really hate reading that kind of thing.

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The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Kasie West and was really excited to read a book by her.

Caymen works in her mothers doll shop and they are struggling pretty hard with money. In walks Xander who Caymen instantly knows is rich and she wants nothing to do with him. But Xander just wants to get to know Caymen.

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t hugely into this book. It felt very white. Like the characters had such white troubles. Which sounds like a weird complaint but all the problems just felt so over complicated and pointless. It was pretty predictable as well.

I did however like Xander, the love interest. He was a sweetie and it often felt like Caymen was being horrible to him just because he’s rich and like he can’t help that. I also enjoyed that a lot of the novel was set in the doll shop that Caymen’s mum owned. Though it did make the book slightly creepier than it needed to be.

The pacing was really good, I sped through the book. Apart from the problems I had with it I did enjoy reading it. I just wanted more from it.

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Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

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

Somehow when scheduling my posts I missed this one so I’m sorry if my review isn’t great because when I read this it was still May and now it’s September.

Alice buys her best friend, and crush, a lottery ticket for his 18th birthday and somehow it’s the winning ticket and Teddy comes into more money than you could even imagine. Then they have to navigate the new rich world they live in.

This kind of read just like any tv program where a young person comes into a lot of money. They go silly spending a lot of money, their friendship suffers, then they realise what they’ve done. And I’m sorry if you thank that’s a spoiler but I mean it’s the same story every time. The writing was good though, so I’d definitely be open to reading more stuff from Smith as I think she would be good with a less cliche story line.

There were 2 love interests in this book, though it wasn’t a love triangle it was just the main character trying to explore new people. Honest to god though Teddy was the worst guy ever, like honestly. He was just such a dick for the majority of the novel and I really struggled to feel sympathetic to Alice when her best friend was an arse and she knew it but continued to be upset by it. I get that they had a long history but my god I just wanted to slap that boy.

However I did feel like I read the book pretty quickly, so if you’re wanting a light read this might be the one for you. If you haven’t seen to many shows/films with a kid coming into a lot of money give it a shot because it was ok, but I’ve just seen it too many times.

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They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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

After reading History is All You Left Me this was one of my most anticipated reads. Knowing that Adam had been working on this for such a long time as well had me super hyped up.

Obviously the title itself is a huge spoiler so you can’t hate me for talking about the characters dying, and if you have triggers to do with death, violence and suicide do not read this. Now I’m one of those heathens who sometimes reads the final page of a book so this didn’t really bother me, though I felt like I actually read a bit too fast at times because I was so desperate to know how they died. So I might reread this book soon and change my feelings about it because I was definitely aware of reading things a bit faster than I normally would out of sheer impatience.

I actually feel like my enjoyment of this book was a little bit diminished because it was just so unfair that the characters had to die because you got to learn about their lives and how bad a hand they’d been dealt and knowing they were going to die just left me feeling kind of hollow because of how unfair it was. As someone who has grown up dealing with the loss of young relations things like this really effect me.

I don’t know the technical term for it, but Mateo has anxiety that manifests itself in a kind of agoraphobia and Adam wrote it so well, even though I don’t experience these feelings, sometimes I do have times where I feel close to it and I related to it a lot.

Like in The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon you get snippets of other people’s lives  as they are involved in the lives of Mateo and Rufus and I loved getting to see that and see how the Death Cast would effect people and how they tried to set the world to rights.

The idea of the book and living in a world where you get phoned the day of our death is really interesting to me and I think is actually a really good discussion piece for teenagers and adults alike. Would you want to know if you were going to die that day? Would you rather just live your life without the presence of that knowledge in the back of your head?

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Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

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

Juliet writes letters to her mother and leaves them on her grave. One day someone writes back.

Honestly this just felt like your classic YA novel about grief. I didn’t make any notes to myself when reading it so clearly I didn’t feel like there was anything of note. It was fine. I didn’t love it didn’t hate it. I will have to say though that even though it’s not exactly anything new the writing style really pulls you in and you can’t put it down. I think part of what drew me in was that the were writing letters to each other and didn’t know who they were writing to and it reminded me of You’ve Got Mail which is one of my favourite romance films.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Juliet as the main character. Her voice kind of annoyed me and at times she was super self indulgent and had really bad reactions to things, but I had to remind myself that she’s a teenager and teenagers are dramatic. I kind of had a soft spot for Declan though he wasn’t the greatest guy ever. They were both pretty flawed characters, which of course makes it good writing because they’re human.

I think mostly what annoyed me most, and this is a bit spoilery, was that a character finds out who the other is way earlier than the other and then didn’t communicate with that person and let them know. So half the novel is just a lack of communication, which is ok if it’s only a small part of it but I got pretty frustrated.

The book was well written and I liked reading it but it didn’t feel like anything new, it was like I’d read it before. Which is fine for someone who doesn’t read a lot of contemporary novels, but I do and it just didn’t bring anything memorable to the table. But if you’re a fan of You’ve Got Mail definitely give this one a shot.

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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.

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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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