book recommendations · book review · books · fiction · ya · young adult

The Hate U Give

Warnings: gang activity, character death, swearing, racial slurs.
Author: Angie Thomas

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds; the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.’

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!

First of all, thank you to abookandbeyond for giving me a copy of this book, I’m now indebted to you for eternity. But this book. Omg.

THE CHARACTERSSSS! Starr is so nice and good and I feel sorry for her because of everything she has to go through. The whole way through the book I felt connected to her but also helpless because I couldn’t do anything. Also her family was so pure? She literally calls her parents her OTP and that’s goals right there. Her brothers were great and now I wish my brother wasn’t so gross.
The secondary characters (Chris, her boyfriend, and Maya, her friend) kind of faded into the background until later in the book, but when they turned up I enjoyed them. Don’t even get me started on Hailey though (ugh). I wanted to cry every time she started talking.

The plotline was overall, great. There weren’t any moments where I got bored with reading, I was just constantly stuck in. (I finished it in 2 days. What is revision? Can I read instead of doing GCSEs? All important questions.) And the message it imparts is so important too, I love hearing other people’s opinions on matters like this.

Everything about this made me so emotional though. When Khalil came up, I got so angry about the assumptions made about him and his life that I had to stop reading and take a breather (I’m dramatic, I know). I teared up a few times, I’m not afraid to admit it.

I also feel like I got Starr’s struggle with the home life vs school life thing, too. I’m starting school at a private school next year, and I’m almost ashamed to say it because I’m afraid people with judge me for it??? I don’t know. But that gave me another layer of connection to Starr and made me really just want to be friends with her.

I can’t think of anything bad to say about this book, honestly. I just thought it was amazing, and bringing awareness to an issue that my brother doesn’t even take seriously.

10/10
-ABG

book recommendations · book review · books · children's fiction · fiction · ya · young adult

Furthermore

Warnings: None.
Author: Tahereh Mafi

Once upon a time, a girl was forgot…
In a world brimming with colour and magic, Alice’s pale white skin and milk-white hair mark her as an outcast. For the people of Ferenwood, colour and magic are one and the same. Alice is determined to prove her magical abilities and solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance.
To do so, she’ll have to travel into the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore. But nothing there is as it seems, and Alice may never find her way home…’

I’m a bit late to the Bookstagram Furthermore bandwagon. It’s easy to tell why it was such a hit on Instagram though because LOOK AT THAT COVER OMG.

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First of all – the worldbuilding. I’m writing my novel(la) for CampNaNoWriMo this month, and I WISH I could get this good at subtly incorporating worldbuilding. I just want to go and live in Ferenwood and be colourful and eat flowers (I want to know what they taste like). But there’s worldbuilding for Ferenwood and Furthermore, and because Alice hasn’t been to Furthermore before the events of the book, I felt like I was learning with her. And seeing all the magic of the people in Ferenwood was cool too – it just made me jealous that I don’t have a magical power that can make people leave me alone while I’m reading or something.

Also Alice was so great??? There were so many instances where I was like OH NO and then Alice just swept in with her smart brain and saved everything. That’s what I aspire to be. Oliver was okay – but the friendship between Oliver and Alice was really cute, I loved it. Oliver seemed a little snobby at parts, but I can forgive that.

Other than Alice and Oliver, there aren’t really any characters that are developed especially. They’re the main focus for all of the book, and the other characters are only around for a short time so there isn’t really enough space to develop them. My favourite secondary character was definitely the paper fox (he’s on the cover if you want to see him) because animals are great. Especially talking animals.

There weren’t many parts where I felt like I was walking through molasses trying to finish the chapter. Everything came right after each other so there was no real stopping during reading, which I enjoyed (I have quite a short attention span). But I did find that the ending was a little quick. It was just like “BAM, home, cool, End.” There were no intense standoffs, there was just the end. It was quite anticlimactic to be honest.

I JUST MUST TALK ABOUT THE IMAGERY FOR A QUICK SECOND. I want to do all of the art for this book and illustrate my little life away but exams are in a month and I don’t have the time and I am in pain. Everything in this book is so beautifully described, so if you like drawing and you read this book, please post it on Instagram and tag me or just send it to my email because I’d love to see other people’s interpretations of the characters.

8.5/10
-ABG

My Instagram is here.

book review · books · bookshelf · fiction · nonfiction · ya · young adult

Top Ten Authors I’ve Met/Want to Meet

My first go at Top Ten Tuesday! How exciting.
So this is both the Top Ten authors that I have met, and those that I want to meet in the future (because I am a fangirl and I want to meet the people that I want to obsess over okay thanks).

Authors I’ve Met

Cathy Cassidy
I’ve seen her talk twice now I think, and I got her book Fortune Cookie the second time I saw her. I had a nice chat with her and another book blogger (abookandbeyond, go check out her blog, she’s great) and she was really lovely. Her agent even let me have the book for £2 cheaper because I didn’t bring enough money for it.

Lucy Saxon
I saw her speak at the Hay Festival in the UK, and oml. She was so cool in the talk that she was doing with two other young authors. I got her books and UGHHHHHH. They’re perfect and I love them and the third one is out now so I have to buy it. She’s also got really cool hair, so when I got my books signed I told her that and then ran away.
It makes me very angry because practically no one else on the blogosphere knows about her and she’s SO GOOD. Read her books please and thanks.

Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book was one of my all time faves as a kid. I met him and completely geeked, so didn’t say anything at all and I’ve regretted it ever since. Neil, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I’m a nerd.

Alan Gibbons
He came to my school when I was in year 8. He was very interesting and I got his book inspired by the Minotaur (I can’t remember the name sORRY), which is a lot more my style than his books inspired by combat and war. He was very nice, and I also didn’t talk to him. Even though I have a very confident and opinionated online voice, I am a very meek little mole in real life.

Authors I Want to Meet

Maggie Steifvater
I would like to have a very LONG AND DETAILED CONVERSATION about the Raven Cycle. Preferably with Maggie. I just have so many questions. Why is there no sequel to The Scorpio Races? Why isn’t Gansey real? Why do I want to be part of Blue’s family? I need answers. I just want everything to be okay again in my little head.
Anyone who hasn’t read any of her books, do it right now. PLeaseeeeeee. So I can have long internet conversations with you about how perfect they are.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda is one of my icons. She gives a different perspective on feminism and helps me to understand things better through her books, which are also so entertaining. UNF. I just want to meet her and see her talk and love her. I’m doing my graphics project at the moment at underrepresented feminists, and Chimamanda is one of them. She’s so much fun to draw.

Leigh Bardugo
Again. So many questions. CROOKED KINGDOM? SIX OF CROWS? WHY CAN’T I FIND THE GRISHA BOOKS IN ANY SHOPS NEAR ME? I also want to ask where she gets all of her ideas because they are PERFECT. Theives and knives and boys that I want to squish and girls that I want to squish.

Jennifer Niven
Her books make me cry. I want to see if meeting her will make me cry too. That is all.

J K Rowling
Must I even explain? The Harry Potter universe is one of my favourite long series (I get bored very easily) and also my favourite films. Her life story is so inspiring and everything she makes makes me want to cry a little bit (aka NEWT PERFECT MAN SCAMANDER. WHERE CAN I FIND ONE? AND I’M OLD ENOUGH TO MARRY NOW SO PREPARE YOURSELF REDMAYNE) I just want to give her a hug and thank her for putting me in Slytherin.

Please comment and tell me if you’ve met any of my bucket list authors. Were they perfect humans or were they slightly disappointing?

-abnormalbookgeek

book review · books · fiction

The Idea Of You

Warnings: miscarriage, swearing, teen pregnancy.
Author: Amanda Prowse
Release Date: March 21st, 2017

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‘With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter dares to hope that she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.
But the reality of becoming parents proves much harder than Lucy and Jonah imagined. Jonah’s own love and support is unquestioning, but as Lucy struggles with work and her own failing dreams, the strain on their marriage increases. Suddenly it feels like Lucy is close to losing everything.’

I got pre-approved for this book on NetGalley (I was the most surprised of everyone). When I first started reading, I was a bit skeptical. I felt like a book about a forty year old woman wasn’t really being aimed at teen girls, and I don’t usually go for the slice-of-life format, unless it’s in gooey contemporaries. But through my doubts, I ended up liking this book.

I did feel like I just coasted through this book, I was reading and enjoying it but didn’t feel particularly immersed. HOWEVER! There’s a twist near the end of the book that I saw coming, but it still made me a lot more interested in the last chapters in the book. I didn’t really connect fully with the characters through most of the book, but the end did make me tear up a little bit. I thought the idea was really sweet, and it made the whole book have a kind of angsty, bittersweet feel. Because I was reading on my Kindle I couldn’t really judge how long the book was, but I managed to speed-read this in a day so it can’t be that long.

I found that apart from the major characters (Lucy, Jonah and Camille), you don’t really get to know the rest of the characters and it just focuses on their family dynamic. This might be the reason that I found this book a bit hard to get into – Lucy had no life outside of her marriage, so I didn’t connect with her very easily. The ways I connect with her were through her hobbies, kind of like Camille (a teen like me) formed a relationship with her. But even though I wanted to feel a Teen camaraderie with Camille, I found her a bit bleh. She was a stereotypical moody teenage character that writers who aren’t teens like to portray. I did like Lucy’s family though – they were in a few scenes so didn’t get a load of development, but they seemed nice.

All in all, this seems like a book to read on a rainy afternoon when you’re feeling a bit sorry for yourself and want a good cry. I think my disconnect from it was simply because I don’t think I’m the target demographic, so if you’re a 30-40 year old woman who’s read this, please tell me what you thought.

6/10
-ABG

book review · books · bookshelf · fiction · ya · young adult

Americanah

Warnings: Swearing,vague sexual references, mild racism, mild abortion references.
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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‘As teenagers, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love in a Nigeria under military dictatorship. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America, where Obinze hopes to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?’

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of my IDOLS. I’m drawing her for my GCSE Graphics project and I’ve pre-ordered a bunch of her books to binge from the library. I loved Purple Hibiscus so I was super excited to read this (even though the only copy I could find was in LARGE PRINT).

I really enjoyed Ifemelu as a character – she seemed real and genuine, not manufactured like some book characters. Her journey from Nigeria to the US wasn’t the typical ‘I moved here and now I have a nice house and I’m making money and I love everything!!!’ It showed the struggle that she went to both in understanding the culture and finding a job. I felt like most of the story focused on her, detailing her life, relationships and blog posts. This incredible depth into her life made the sections on Obinze and his life in London seem a bit more fuzzy. But, it also made him seem more interesting as the story only focused on him for the most interesting parts of his life – both the highs and lows. The other characters were less central but also had lots of depth and emotion.

I liked the way that the story would flip both between the two characters and through time frames – sometimes it was modern, sometimes it was in their teens as they first met. I enjoyed seeing the development of their relationship in different aspects and I want someone like that lmao please love me. I don’t know if it was the large text of the book (it made it 730 pages long compared to 477 pages in the normal copy) but this book seemed very long. That’s not to say that I was bored, although some sections were a bit slow, but the way Adichie writes made it seem like someone’s life, not a whistle-stop tour of only the extremely dramatic parts.

There are undertones of racism and sexism all through the book – both in the US with Ifemelu, UK with Obinze and Nigeria with both of them. This made a theme that interlocked everything in the book, and showed the reader that although the countries are very different in terms of development, they have a lot of the same problems. There’s also discussion of mental illness and how it affects black communities – Ifemelu is firm in the fact that she isn’t depressed because that just happens to Americans and white people. This made for the book being generally very heavy reading that didn’t particularly seem heavy as the nuances to the issues are so subtle.

To be honest, I liked Purple Hibiscus more as I related to the characters and the story, but I still really liked the writing of Americanah and the way that people leave and reenter Nigeria, along with how that affects people in Nigeria.

7/10
-abnormalbookgeek

 

book review · books · nonfiction · poetry · ya · young adult

Milk and Honey

Warnings: sex, rape, molestation, abuse.
Author: Rapi Kaur

23513349milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.’

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH!
As a feminist, I saw poetry from this on all of my favourite blogs and knew I had to read it. This is absolutely gorgeous and I encourage everyone to read it. (This may also not be a very long review as this wasn’t a very long book).

Kaur’s poetry not only highlights the pain of women and girls worldwide, but also what WOC have to go through when pressured to Eurocentric beauty standards. If you are a feminist, or trying to understand feminists, please read this. I read this in the afternoon that I got it, simply because of the short nature of the poetry and how much I was enjoying it.

The illustrations are also beautiful. I enjoy drawing and art, so these especially added to the overall experience of the book and helped me to fill in the blanks around the poem and the situation in which they were set. If you read and liked One (if you haven’t read it, find my review here) the format here is very similar, with the same unhidden emotion. I’m one of the people who tends to feel emotion more through poetry than in narrative storylines – I’m not quite sure why. This resulted in me becoming very invested, very quickly.

rupi
In this time, with a rape-y sweet potato as leader of the Free World, we need to band together – not just as women, but as people – to protect our rights, and the rights of those coming after us. Resist and revolt.

10/10
-abnormalbookgeek

book review · books · fiction · ya · young adult

I Was Here

Warnings: suicide, swearing, suicidal thoughts, encouraging suicide.
Author: Gayle Forman

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I regret to inform you that I have had to take my own life. This decision has been a long time coming, and was mine alone to make. I know it will cause you pain, and for that I am sorry, but please know that I needed to end my own pain. This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with me. It’s not your fault. Meg
Cody and Meg were inseparable – best friends for life. They knew everything about each other. Or Cody thought they did. But how well do you ever really know your best friend? And what do you do when they choose to leave you behind?’

The cover of this book led me to believe that this would be a cute little contemporary that would be a girl led to knowing that her best friend’s suicide wasn’t her fault. This doesn’t even begin to describe this book – it’s SO INCREDIBLY DARK!

I found that the start of the book was quite slow starting – you get descriptions of the memorial services and Meg’s old roommates, but the story doesn’t really get anywhere for a while, so someone who wasn’t really invested in finding out about why Meg killed herself might have a hard time getting through the first few chapters.

I also didn’t really make a connection with Cody, the main character. Even though she seemed affected by Meg’s suicide, her reactions to other characters seemed very emotionless. She also didn’t have the openness that really relate you to a character, so I didn’t care about her as much as I could’ve done if she had been written differently.

On the other hand, the romance in this book was really well written. It didn’t feel forced, it seemed genuine. And although there were slow moments, the intrigue created throughout make me read on to the more interesting sections.

7/10
-abnormalbookgeek

book review · books

The Couple Next Door

Warnings: swearing, sexual references
Author: Shari Lapena

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‘How well do you know the couple next door? Or your husband? Or even – yourself? People are capable of almost anything…
Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all – a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one hot summer night they are invited to a dinner party next door, and a  terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.
Inside the Conti’s curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.’

This is one of the books that I read in an evening (much to my mum’s dismay).

I didn’t like any of the characters (I don’t think you’re supposed to) but that just added to the story in my eyes. The only character I really liked was Cora, the baby. Uncovering all of the twists in the story connected to the characters was really interesting, and I got the sense that things were only revealed when Lapena wanted them to be, you couldn’t guess what was going to happen.

The different theories that arose from the crime were really fascinating and I felt compelled to read the conclusions of the detective for each of the speculations and the rise and fall in suspicion for each of the characters, along with their dark backstories and motives that could have led them to commit the crime.

The only downside to this novel was that I didn’t think that the ending fit with the rest of the book, which was disappointing, and the resolution of Anne and Marco’s relationship wasn’t as explosive as I thought it was going to be.

9/10
-abnormalbookgeek

book review · books · fiction · ya · young adult

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Warnings: none.
Author: Ransom Riggs

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‘A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its decaying bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine’s children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow – impossible though it seems – they may still be alive.’

I was so excited to read this after good reviews I’ve seen and the trailers for the new movie. I think my excitement was why I was so disappointed in actually reading it – it’s not fast paced at all, which I normally go for in books because I hate it when things move really slowly. If you like going straight into the action… Try reading quickly, I guess.

Unfortunately, I thought this was just a book used to set up the rest of the series. You just get introduced to the characters, most of whom I liked, and the dynamics of the ‘peculiar’ world. I loved the different abilities that all of the characters had and the incorporation of vintage photographs into the story – it made it much more visual and I was excited to see what strange character would be the focus of the next picture.

I didn’t like the main character, Jacob. He just didn’t seem genuine to me, and anyone who abandons their family (who are perfectly fine and not abusive) for romance and adventure is not someone I want to read about. I’m not really sure why. To me, he seemed very self-absorbed and cared about his own feelings above those of his family.

The fact that this whole book was just a lead up to The Hollow City was just a big let-down for me. I thought there would be a lot more happening in this installment in the series, but all of the action is down to Jacob sneaking out to go meet Emma, one of the ‘peculiars’. In my opinion, that seemed like more of a contemporary than an action-thriller.

4/10
-abnormalbookgeek

 

 

book review · books · bookshelf · fiction · literacy · tag · ya · young adult

These Shallow Graves

Warnings: descriptions of dead bodies, death, mild swearing.
Author: Jennifer Donnelly

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A wealthy family. A deadly secret. A girl with more to lose than she knows.

NEW YORK, 1890
Josephine Montfort is from one of New York’s most respected and wealthiest families. Like most affluent girls, Jo’s future is set: a comfortable life in a suitable marriage – but her heart can’t help yearning for more.
And then her father is found dead. It was supposedly a tragic accident, although some details don’t seem to quite add up. Was it really an accident… or worse, murder?
With the help of a young reporter, Eddie Gallagher, Jo is in a race against time to find the culprit. Escaping her gilded cage could be dangerous and Jo will have to face some dark characters on the gritty streets of New York. But some secrets can’t stay hidden forever, no matter how deep you bury them.’

YAY VICTORIAN NOVELS NOT SET IN LONDON!!!!!!

This was an impulse buy after reading Paper Fury’s review, but I’ve only just got to it now because of the pile of books that is my TBR.  Honestly, I loved this book. Especially the characters. Jo is a sassy, new-world feminist and don’t even get me STARTED on Fay. I adore her so much and I want to steal her and protect her from the world.

I have been known to be partial to a murder mystery, but I find it quite difficult to get into them sometimes if they’re not well written or don’t have a good premise. But this book interested me from the start (I also love crime shows, so anything like Criminal Minds is a yes from me). The involvement of early forensics was also really cool, and gave reasons for their conclusions, instead of just guesswork.

The characters were so diverse, I think just because of the class difference between a lot of the major characters. Especially the younger children living on the streets, because of their individuals stories you feel connected to them even through they have no dialogue. I felt like a lot of the upper-class characters like Bram and Jo’s mother felt quite bland because of their sheltered lifestyle, which made me connect with Jo more as I wanted to get out to the more interesting people.

10/10
-abnormalbookgeek