Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! I hope that you have had a lovely start to the New Year. Whatever resolutions you have set, I hope that you achieve them this year, and if you haven’t already, then don’t worry. 2018 is about achieving your dreams and goals. Put yourself first, especially if you are struggling with your health. Take that time to focus on you.
As it’s the end of the month, I’m returning with my January wrap up! So without further ado, let’s begin and fair warning, there may be spoilers.
The first book I read this month was an eBook – The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. This is the first book in The Wrath and the Dawn duology. The novel follows Sharhrzad, who volunteers to be the newest bride for Khalid, the King of Kings, the Caliph of Khorasan, much to the shock of her family and friends. Khalid has had a great many wives, each dying with the dawn. Sharhzad is determined to bring this horrifying reign to an end, and also get revenge for the death of her best friend… The series is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, a collection of multicultural folk tales, so that already sparked my interest. At first, I found it quite difficult to get into, and so I had to put it aside for a day or so. When I picked it back up, I found it much easier and the story just flowed. The writing style was whimsical, but also straightforward for the YA audience. I liked the use of cultural terms, which rooted the reader in the world. I was drawn in by the mystery surrounding Khalid, and how one woman is able to start tearing down his walls. Sharhzad is a driven young woman, and the supporting characters were very engaging. The cast go through so many different emotions, its hard to keep up. I enjoyed the novel, and I’m curious to see what happens next. I rated this 4 stars.
The next book I read was a contemporary YA eBook – Entangled by Cat Clarke. The novel follows Grace, who wakes in a white room. Her only entertainment is paper and pens. Grace has no idea how or why she’s there. Who is the strange boy is who brings her meals and clean clothes? Grace starts to write, and so her life begins to return to her – the friendship she has with best friend Sal, the struggles with her mother, the loss of her father, and the love she felt for boyfriend, Nat. This is a novel that touches the soul – it deals with mental health well, although some may see it as glamourising. This was something that the TV show Skins was able to do well too! Grace drinks a lot, is alone with her thoughts, has sex with different boys, and struggles to understand her depression, and so turns to self-harm. It is not cheerful – it is harrowing, but truthful. I cannot thank Cat Clarke enough for writing this – this is something that should be spoken about more, and I found a character outside of fantasy novels that I could connect with on a deep emotional level. I read this not long after its publication, and I had forgotten the plot, so it was refreshing to come back to it with new eyes and thoughts surrounding my own mental health journey. At the back of the novel, there is a list of help and organisations, should others need this. I rated this 5 stars.
I then read Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, another contemporary YA eBook. The novel follows Vivian, a teenager growing up in small town Texas. Seen as a dutiful girl, Vivian is angered by the attitudes of the boys and men at her school. Boys would sooner tell girls to make them sandwiches than be supportive. Vivian takes a stand and creates zines and campaigns, taking inspiration from her mother. Soon it isn’t long before the female half of the student body are standing up and taking notice of the daily sexist struggles! I loved this book from start to finish. Vivian was an engaging character, and doesn’t come across as preachy. She comes across as someone who is tired and wants things to change. The language used is easy for the YA market, but I think the plot would appeal to older readers. There are some fantastic use of Vivian’s zines, which add to the overall feel. There were moments when I thought I could guess what was going to happen, and I was wrong. The love interest doesn’t pull too much away from the plot either! My only problem is that the novel does sometimes feel like a 90’s/early 00’s chick flick, but I suppose that isn’t a bad thing. It leaves you feeling supported by other women, and also empowered, which I think was the overall goal. I rated this 5 stars!
As I was on a contemporary YA kick, I then read the eBook Torn by Cat Clarke. Torn follows sixteen year old Alice King, who goes on a Scottish camping trip with her school. Paired with her best friend, a moody emo, a social outcast and the meanest girl, Alice never expected the trip to end in disaster. This was a gripping tale, with horror/fantastical elements. Alice was an interesting main character, because of how torn she becomes with very important life decisions – to tell the truth, or just to let them pass her by. The novel also deals with how friendships/relationships are formed and lost, something that should resonate with the audience. It also has a focus on how people change, and that you never know who someone really is, or can grow to be. I really enjoyed reading this, and I had forgotten the twists – I hadn’t read this since it’s publication! Alice’s adventures are definitely not in Wonderland… I rated this 5 stars.
I followed this up with The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This is an incredibly popular YA contemporary book and there’s even going to be a film adaptation soon! I read this on Kindle and I just don’t know why it took me so long to pick it up. The novel follows Starr Carter, a sixteen year old black girl, who is torn between her neighbourhood and the privileged school she attends. And then the unthinkable happens. Her childhood best friend is shot in front of her. Starr is the only person who knows what really happened that night. She can make a difference – but will she? This was without a doubt a 5 star read! Starr was a lovable character, and I enjoyed seeing her interact with her family – it was obvious that they all cared for each other, and can still have fun too. Starr started to become more and more proud of her background. She is a strong character at the start and also develops over the course of the story, which makes her well rounded. Danger is always lurking though, and by the ending, my heart was in my mouth. This covers the topic of race well, and the story-line is reminiscent of news headlines worldwide. Although I am not of an ethnic minority, I honestly feel more educated. I think when the film comes out it will certainly be interesting!
Carrying on the YA contemporary theme, the next eBook I read was Undone by Cat Clarke. This novel follows Jem and her quest for revenge against the people who outed her best friend, and the love of her life, Kai. Kai was not ready to come out as gay yet, but the online video drives him to commit suicide. Kai leaves behind monthly notes to keep Jem going in an effort to stop her from being morbid, but Jem has plans of her own! I loved this novel – it was a revenge fantasy that I did not know I wanted. I identified with Jem as a character. She was in love with someone she cannot be with, and she begins to change to fit in with those more popular. The group she joins are more human than she originally thought, and slowly, Jem starts to grow as a person. She starts to forget her revenge mission and finds that she can be happy as a new person. Although, things don’t stay that way… The climax is powerful with unexpected results, especially when the big reveal happens. I hadn’t read this since it’s publication, so coming back to it was really good. The ending was bittersweet, and for that reason, I rated it 5 stars.
Another YA contemporary eBook for you now – and yes, it’s another Cat Clarke novel! I read A Kiss in the Dark, which follows the budding relationship between teenagers Alex and Kate, and the secret that threatens to tear them apart. The writing style confused me at first, until I realised who the voice belonged to and what the secret actually is – it lays it out in the beginning chapters but took a little getting used to, as I thought it was something entirely different. I was expecting a male voice, and then I thought the plot would have a transgender focus, but I was wrong. I rooted for and loved Alex as a character. The narration occurs before the reveal and through the build up of romance. I just wished the book continued with Alex’s narrative. Instead, it changes to Kate, and the after effects. I plain didn’t like Kate as a character – I found her naïve, perhaps too coddled by her mother. I didn’t feel like she was developed well – she was childish and I suppose that was the point. I didn’t warm to her. It didn’t feel right and the plot seems to build to nothingness and it slid to a grinding halt, where the ending is left ambiguous. In the end, taking these points into consideration, I rated this 3 stars.
The next book I read was Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison. This is the first four books collected into a hardback omnibus – Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging (1), It’s OK, I’m Wearing Really Big Knickers (2), Knocked Out by my Nunga Nungas (3) and Dancing in my Nuddy Pants (4). The series follows the life and times of teenager Georgia, as she goes to a horrid school, has fun with her Ace Gang, puts up with her annoying family Mutti, Vati and little sister Libby, is attacked by her half Scottish wildcat, and falls in love with a musician/Sex God. I absolutely love the series – it’s one of my favourites of all time. It’s a contemporary comedy YA, very reminiscent of the Adrian Mole series. The writing style is friendly, conversational and Georgia feels like someone you’ve known for years. Yes, sometimes the jokes about poo are immature, but you end up laughing anyway! I feel like after the heaviness of some of the contemporary novels I’ve been reading, I needed a light break. This was the perfect choice. I felt much more relaxed, and I know I can go into the next month of reading much happier.
I followed this up with the fifth book in the Georgia Nicolson series – And That’s When it Fell Off in my Hand by Louise Rennison. Following on from the previous book, Georgia is pining for her Sex God, who has gone off to New Zealand, leaving her behind. Everyone seems to be pairing up, and her family is just getting more embarrassing – her dad has bought a clown car! Poor Georgia feels like she’s going to be alone forever, but it isn’t long before she sets her eyes on the new singer of The Stiff Dylans – Masimo! And Wet Lindsay is after him too! The novel takes a trip through Georgia’s mind as she learns what its like to miss someone you love, and the lengths you probably shouldn’t go to to catch a boy! The jokes are getting stranger and there’s a great introduction of a dictionary at the back so you can learn to speak Georgia’s language. I really enjoyed this and rated it 5 stars!
And the final book I read was Then He Ate my Boy Entrancers by Louise Rennison, which is the sixth book in the Georgia Nicolson series. Georgia gets global in this book, as she and best friend Jas, and of course her mad family, go on holiday to Memphis, in America! Of course Masimo isn’t far from her mind, even on holiday, but America is not what she’s used to. Everyone is friendly, and when she returns to the UK its a cold change! And then it happens – the Italian Stallion, Masimo, invites her out to dinner! Of course though, there is heartache and Georgia needs to say want she really wants. Georgia is growing up in this, so it’s a nice change of pace as she begins to mature. There is chaos as soon as the school invites the Foxwood School boys come to help with the play. Naturally, nothing goes right! My stomach ached from laughing, and for that reason, I gave it 5 stars!
So that completes my eighth wrap up for this blog! Let me know what book/books you have read in the month of January – whether it’s paper/hardback, audio, eBook, graphic novels or manga. They all count! If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know!