Sunday, 12 February 2017

BOOK REVIEW | The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Series or Standalone: Companion novel to Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publication Date: 11/05/17
Format: e-ARC
Source: Publisher (Balzer & Bray)/NetGalley
Star Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis ->
Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back. 
There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. 

Becky Albertalli's first book, Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, was one of my favourite books of 2015. It was hilarious, adorable, gripping and filled with Harry Potter references. I mean, what more could you possibly want in a book? When I heard that she was coming out with a companion novel I may have peed my pants a little. Not only would we get another refreshing, authentic story, but we'd also (hopefully) get a glimpse of our precious Simon. AND WE DID. *SQUEALS* Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself so allow me to further discuss the brilliance of Becky Albertalli and her delightful upcoming book, The Upside of Unrequited.

The first thing to note is that Albertalli absolutely RULES at including diversity in her books effortlessly and without making a fuss. Our main character Molly is a fat, Jewish introvert with two mums and she just happens to take Zoloft for her anxiety. This was the main thing that I loved about this book as an anxiety sufferer myself. I loved how it wasn't focused on Molly struggling with her anxiety. She was already past that and was on meds for it and the story wasn't centred around it. She just happened to have anxiety and this gives a lot of hope to readers out there struggling with anxiety, that you can still live a totally normal life and there is hope! Molly also has a twin sister who is a lesbian, one of her mums is a person of colour and there's a pansexual character included in there too! 
Becky's writing is super authentic and genuine. You can always count on her to deliver an honest and positive story. There was no fat shaming from her family and friends (except for her grandma oMG don't get me started on how angry that made me) and I loved that Molly was comfortable in her own skin. She was happy, and I think she's an excellent fictional role model for young adults out there.
Now, you can't have a Becky Albertalli book without an adorable romance, and this one certainly delivers. It was so refreshing to have a chubby love interest because NEWSFLASH - MOST TEEN BOYS DON'T HAVE ABS. The friendship and eventual romance between Molly and her love interest was SO delightful. 10/10. 
Now, you may notice that I gave this 4 stars, which might seem odd after hearing me gush about it for the last 20 years, but to me, this just wasn't AS GOOD as Simon. There was something utterly special about that book that I can't quite put my finger on, and this one fell just slightly short. There was also a little bit of really annoying drama towards the end that angered me, but overall, this was a wonderful story and if you loved Simon, chances are you'll love Molly and her story as well. 

Thanks again to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy for review! :)

Saturday, 4 February 2017

BOOK REVIEW | Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Title: Noteworthy
Author: Riley Redgate
Series or Standalone: Standalone 
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publication Date: 02/05/17
Format: e-ARC
Source: Publisher (Amulet)/NetGalley
Star Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis ->
It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight. Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped ... revered ... all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

This book doesn't come out until May *cries*, so I'll just give you a list of reasons why you NEED to buy this book when it comes out. (But before I do, I would just like to mention that the cover seems a little juvenile for the content of this book, and I wish it had a better one, so keep that in mind. This book is a lot more mature than it seems!)
1. As my dear friend Kirsti (from melbourneonmymind) put it, this is pretty much the book baby of the movies She's the Man and Pitch Perfect. If that doesn't have you sold....... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
2. The diversity! Our MC is Asian American and coming to terms with the fact that she may be bisexual and what that means for her. Other diverse characters include A Sikh character, a gay character, characters with different body types, plus lots of discussion around transgender people, as our MC encounters a website specifically for trans people on tips and advice and there's a great, respectful discussion around it. There are also different characters living on different socio-economic levels and Jordan's father is also a paraplegic and is in a wheelchair and has chronic pain and one of the Sharpshooters has anxiety!
3. It's HILARIOUS. The banter is incredible and you'll be that person who giggles involuntarily in public.
4. THE BROMANCE. The 7 other guys that make up the Sharpshooters are such wonderfully developed, complex characters that I grew to love and adore. They are honestly friendship goals and I love them so much.
5. There's also a rivalry going on between two A Capella groups and I love that the main 'villain' has a lot of depth and complexity to his character.

6. It's an #ownvoices book. Enough said.
7. There were certain passages that sent chills down my spine for their relevance and honesty.

ARE YOU CONVINCED YET? I could literally go on forever, but alas, my obsession with this book is already at an all time high, so I'll stop for now. JUST GO AND PRE-ORDER THIS WONDERFUL BOOK.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017


Title: Our Own Private Universe
Author: Robin Talley
Series or Standalone: Standalone 
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publication Date: 31/01/17
Format: e-ARC
Source: Publisher (Harlequin Australia)/NetGalley

Star Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis ->
Fifteen-year-old Aki Hunter knows she’s bisexual, but up until now she's only dated guys—and her best friend, Lori, is the only person she’s out to. When she and Lori set off on a four-week youth-group mission trip in a small Mexican town, it never crosses Aki's mind that there might be anyone in the group she’d be interested in dating. But that all goes out the window when Aki meets Christa.

This books definitely has a lot of pros, but unfortunately there were an equal amount of cons for me. The diversity in Our Own Private Universe was ON POINT. The main character is a person of colour and is bisexual, there are other bisexuals in the book (and one that thinks she might be pansexual), an out-and-proud lesbian, and the book takes place in Mexico so there are minor latinx characters as well. I love the fact that it's not only diverse, but the characters in the book explore important topics that are relevant in the world today such as health care in developing countries and gun control. Safe sex is also explored and researched by the main character in this book, making this an excellent 'role model' book for teens exploring their sexuality. I also loved how the entire book took place during a religious mission trip, but religion was never shoved in your face. I LOVED that. 

Moving on to the cons. There was a TON of petty YA drama in this book that really annoyed me. I am honestly just over petty drama in YA in general and it sucked that a book with such promise stooped to that level. The three main characters just kept lying about everything and bitching and fighting and it was so frustrating and not at all what I wanted out of this reading experience. I mean, I get that that's what a lot of teenagers are like, but it seemed like such a downer on what I wanted to be an awesomely positive book.

So I'm kind of on the fence about this one. Loved the diversity and the fact that it was #ownvoices, but the petty YA drama let it down for me. 

Monday, 30 January 2017


Title: We Come Apart
Author: Sarah Crossan & Brian Conaghan
Series or Standalone: Standalone 
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publication Date: 09/02/17
Format: e-ARC
Source: Publisher (Bloomsbury)/NetGalley

Star Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis ->
Authors Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan have joined forces to tell the story of Nicu and Jess, two troubled teens whose paths cross in the unlikeliest of places.
Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess's home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship grows into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and hopeful futures. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?
For fans of Una LaMarche’s Like No Other, this illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they've turned the last page.

This book is definitely coming out at the right time (with what's happening around the world right now) and its message is immensely powerful. 
It follows two unlikely friends as they meet and get to know each other as a part of a juvenile reform course due to both Nicu and Jess being caught shoplifting. Nicu has recently emigrated to the UK from Romania and Jess lives in an unsafe and abusive home. 
As this book isn't officially released yet, I'll just list the things that really stuck out for me: 

- the look into Nicu's mind as he navigates his way in a new country and how hard it is to be in an unfamiliar environment and having to learn a new language, especially when no one gives you a chance (as is often the case in this book).
- It's also a glance behind those kids who act up in class. I often always thought as a kid, 'Why don't they just stop and do what they're told? Why are they so naughty?' etc., when there is ALWAYS a reason, even if it isn't always apparent to you. Having a look inside Jess's mind on why she did the things that she did was incredibly eye-opening. 
- the way that teachers treated Nicu was absolutely despicable. Not even giving him the time of day, not even a smile and always assuming the worst of him was absolutely heartbreaking to read. A teacher can literally make or break a student. 
- It's told in dual perspective and in verse, and to be honest it felt like the wrong format. I honestly don't understand why it was told in verse and it certainly didn't bring anything to the table for me.
- Another thing I was unsure about was the writing from Nicu's perspective. It felt almost wrong to be reading the disjointed English and the innermost thoughts of Nicu when he was written by a white man (I'm assuming Brian wrote Nicu). I'm still unsure how I feel about this because while the message of the book is super important, it just felt a little weird to me if that makes sense. 
- The ending was absolutely gut-wrenching. Prepare yourself. 

Friday, 6 January 2017

BOOK REVIEW | Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Title: Victoria
Author: Daisy Goodwin
Series or Standalone: Standalone at this point in time
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 20/10/16
Format: e-ARC
Source: Publisher (Headline Review)/NetGalley

Star Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis ->
In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria - sheltered, small in stature, and female - became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favour of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.
One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria's private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert . But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband?
Drawing on Victoria's diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin brings the inner life of the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.

Victoria is a novelisation of Queen Victoria's ascension to the British throne in 1837. However, what you may or may not know, is that the author of this book is also the writer and creator of the ITV series (also titled Victoria) that coincides with it. I actually watched season 1 of the show first before reading the novel, so it's extremely difficult for me not to compare the two and to be honest, I much prefer the show to the novel. That's not to say it's a bad book, because it's not. It just lacked a few of the things that I adored from the show and even if I never watched the show, I still feel as though I would have the same issues with the book. 
So here is what I will tell you (if you don't want to know anything about the show or the book's plot and don't already know the history of Queen Victoria, then perhaps don't read on) - The novel only reaches the point of Victoria's engagement, whereas the show continues farther than that until the birth of her first child. This, combined with the fact that Prince Albert only enters the novel 80% of the way through, was my main issue. If you're a massive romance fan like I am, then you'll probably be reading this wondering when the HECK Albert is finally going to show up and woo you and this is exactly what happened. I was waiting and waiting and waiting and then it only leads up until their engagement??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? THEIR RELATIONSHIP IS LITERALLY WHAT I'M HERE FOR!
Don't get me wrong, the first 80% of the novel is still important, as it follows Victoria's ascension and relationship with Lord Melbourne, but it dragged on for far too long and, in my opinion, should have only taken up 40-50% of the novel MAX, and the rest to be focussed on Victoria and Albert, their relationship, and how they rule together and start a family. 
I would be fine with the novel how it is if it were the first in a series, but Daisy Goodwin has stated that her next novel will follow an entirely different main character and it will take place after Prince Albert dies SO THE WHOLE REASON I WANTED TO READ THESE BOOKS IS COMPLETELY OUT OF THE PICTURE. WHAT THE HECK. 
I did love seeing Victoria ruling by herself, standing up to all of her enemies and coming into her own, but Albert was such a HUGE part of her life and I really, REALLY wanted to read about them together, so I was super disappointed. 
In terms of the content, it's pretty historically accurate for the amount of information available and Daisy Goodwin relied on a hefty biography of Victoria's life so she knew what she was talking about, even if some aspects were embellished for the sake of TV drama. 
So yes, I recommend this book if you want to know more about the Queen's early reigning years, but I don't recommend it if you're purely here for her and Prince Albert's relationship. I would definitely recommend the TV show over the novel in any case. The acting is superb, the costumes and settings were incredible and PRINCE ALBERT IS IN MORE THAN HALF OF IT, SO THERE'S THAT. He comes in at the end of episode 3 and there's 8 episodes in total in the first season, so get on that! 
Overall I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars! 

Here's a picture of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (from the ITV series) for your viewing pleasure ;)

Monday, 4 July 2016

BLOG TOUR | #Michael4Mina

I'm so happy to be a part of the blog tour for this amazing book! Check out my review below!

Book Review | Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Title: Underwater
Author: Marisa Reichardt
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: 7/4/2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Star Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis ->
Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then herself.
But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school. 
When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside. 
Underwater is a powerful, hopeful debut novel about redemption, recovery, and finding the strength it takes to face your past and move on.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a copy of this book!
I loved this book because I could relate so much to the main character, not the traumatic experience, but the anxiety and agoraphobia that she developed. So many things had me nodding my head in agreement. I loved the cute little romance that happened throughout and how supportive they both were and they were just so good for each other BUT he was only really supportive and good for her towards the end. It took him a while to actually understand what she was going through and how to react to certain things that she did. Sooooo I'm kind of 50/50 on the romance.

It doesn't explicitly say what Morgan went through in the synopsis, but you find out about a quarter of the way through and there was something about that day that Morgan hasn't told anybody.
There was one part of the novel that really resonated with me and it's when Morgan is with her psychologist (who is awesome, by the way) and they managed to leave the house which was a huge feat in itself and Morgan says, 'I can't do it', and Brenda says something like, 'You're already doing it'. Your brain tries to trick you, and I recently had an experience where mine tried to trick me while I was on my prac for uni, and I'd get to school and say to myself that I couldn't do it, but I just needed to remind myself that I was there. I was already doing it. I could do this. I don't know if the author has a background in psychology, but I loved how the psychologist in the book actually knew what she was talking about.
I definitely recommend this one!