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.

Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

I’ll be honest: in writing this post I can’t really remember what I thought of this book so I’ve had to look up other reviews to remind myself as I didn’t even take any notes.

So after what happened in the previous books all the Moroi are on edge as the Strigoi seem to ramping up their efforts to kill them. What else should they do but send all their heirs to a ski trip together, because that makes sense?

Rose and Dmitri’s tension only furthers in this novel as Rose tries to put her attention into another boy and Dmitri, of course, is conflicted about the whole situation. What I have to say is I’m just glad Dmitri was still trying to keep his distance, it shows that he’s aware that he has power over her due to their age gap. Rose generally annoyed me in this context as she really couldn’t wrap her head around Dmitri telling her he’s not comfortable with the age gap.

The ending was super rushed, there was so much waffle of them in the ski resort and then the ending was so sudden and it very much felt like “wait, what? Is that it?”

Lissa was also just super annoying in this book, but when is she not? She seems to only ever have eyes for her boyfriend and fails to notice that some really bad things are happening to Rose. And all the rest of the characters were quite irritating, but not inhuman. They definitely read like the teenagers they were.

All in all I’d say the character development was pretty good in this, and it felt nice to read something from this series that was new to me as the film whilst bad followed the plot pretty well of the first book so it did feel like I’d already read it. I’m actually quite intrigued to see what happens now as I feel like things are going to actually get interesting.

Book Depository

Follow Me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

 

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.

Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

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.

Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

When this book was announced I really wasn’t sure what I felt about it. I loved To All the Boys I Loved Before, then Ps I Still Love You wasn’t as good but I also thought it rounded the series out quite well and suddenly a third book gets announced and I was very conflicted. I really enjoy the characters that Jenny created with this series but I was worried what she was going to do with the third book. I was also terrified she was going to split up Lara Jean and Peter K.

Lara Jean is in her senior year of high school and her and Peter K. are solid but then applications for college start to happen and the anxiety of whether Lara Jean will get in to where she wants to go causes a lot of unwanted stress.

I liked this book more than the second book but it still wasn’t as good as the first. What I did like though was seeing characters I knew go through the stress of college applications because often in books you’re introduced to the characters as they’re going through it. I also liked that there was the possibility of Lara Jean and Peter not having that happily ever after at the same college. And I really liked how anxiety was portrayed differently with each character, some were obvious and some were more subtle but it was there and good to read.

Lara Jean was acting really weird with Kitty at times in the book, she was really quite sexist which I found quite out of character. She was trying to force Kitty into wearing a dress even though Kitty didn’t want to wear one and it made me uncomfortable to read.

There was a lot of Hamilton references which I absolutely adored but like I’ve said in a lot of reviews references can really date books.

Overall I would say this was a good addition to the series. As much as I enjoyed the series as a duology I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to dive back into the lives of the Song sisters.

Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

 

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

This is a retelling of Snow White where the huntsman is a dragon and Snow White is an enchantress. 

There was so much potential with this book but I just spent the majority of it bored. I normally write my reviews like a month or 2 after I finish reading because I have such a build up but also it’s good because it lets me stew things over but I genuinely can’t remember some of what happened in this book. I just feel like I was on autopilot reading it. 

The MC was just so up herself, like think Celaena Sardothien except can’t actually do any fighting but acts like she’s the best ever. 

I felt like the main villain wasn’t scary in terms of she didn’t truly feel like it she fought the MC she wouldn’t really be hard to beat. Her actual villain qualities were how evil she was and manipulative she was. 
One thing that I just felt really agitated about was that all the names for magic and places were just unnecessarily confusing and long. When you have a super long glossary you know you need to chill out with it. It’s one thing to have some weird names but ones that are literally unpronounceable is just trying too hard. 

Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

I cannot wait to see what Angie Thomas writes next because I feel like whatever it is it’ll be magic. This book is going to sit with me and resonate for a long time, and when I’m a teacher I’m going to recommend it to all my students.

Book Depository

Follow me:

Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram