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

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book review · books · fiction · ya · young adult

I Was Here

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

9781471124396
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

book review · books · fiction · ya · young adult

The Sky Is Everywhere

Warnings: very mild mentions of sex, death, mild swearing.
Author: Jandy Nelson

9781406354386

‘Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to centre stage of her own life – and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two.
Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.’

Someone needs to stop me from reading Jandy Nelson books because I end up a crying blob on the floor by the end of them.

This book was PERFECTION. I’m not a fan of romance generally, but when she does it, I’m so ready. I adored the characters – Lennie was a character I thought I would be friends with (obsessed with books, bank geek) and I want to steal all of Joe’s family because they sound gorgeous. Family members are sometimes skipped over in YA books, but you really connect with Uncle Big and Gram. You even get to know Bailey really well, even though she’s dead throughout the whole book. I did think Toby was skipped over a bit for him to be mentioned in the blurb. You don’t see much of his character but the person he’s become, devastated by Bailey’s death.

The general storyline was enthralling the whole way through. I never felt bored or disengaged with Lennie – any empty space was broken by her grief, which I thought was extremely well written. It didn’t seem like the ‘oh, woe is me’, feeling sorry for yourself kind of sadness. It was primal and raw , causing you to feel her sadness with her instead of watching it from the outside.

Like I said, I’m not a fan of romance that’s the generic cheesy, cringey, forced kind. Lennie and Joe actually seemed like they had chemistry and there wasn’t the all-encapsulating love at first sight moment that magically pulled her out of her sadness. It felt like a real-life relationship. (I cried for the last few chapters because of all my feels about them)

The poems scattered through the book were really beautiful and allowed you to get a closer look into Lennie and Bailey’s relationship, as well as Lennie’s thoughts in general.

Alternately, one of my good bookish friends, abookandbeyond, didn’t adore this book as much as I did. You can find her review here.

9/10
-abnormalbookgeek

 

book review · books · children's fiction · fiction · nonfiction

The Thing About Jellyfish

Warnings: none.
Author: Ali Benjamin

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Suzy doesn’t speak anymore. Not since her best friend, Franny, drowned. Suzy couldn’t believe it – Franny was an excellent swimmer. She must have been stung by a deadly jellyfish. It’s the only explanation. And Suzy is going to prove it.
So she retreats into silence, researching the jellyfish and formulating a plan that will take her across the world to discover the truth about the creature that she’s certain took her best friend away from her.’

I picked this up during a particularly empty shift at the library. It was in the children’s section, so I wasn’t expecting too much. It has a lot of 5 star reviews on Goodreads, but I agree more with the people who gave it lower reviews.

In the author’s note at the end of the book, they state that this book started as a nonfiction essay about jellyfish which cleared a lot up for me. There are a lot of jellyfish facts in this book. As someone who enjoys documentaries and information, I found this quite interesting, but someone who came for the story may have found it less absorbing.

The original nonfiction nature of the book meant that the chapters showing the friendship between Suzy and Franny felt a bit lacking in emotion to me. Sure, I empathised with Suzy for losing her friend, but the slightly detached way these chapters were written made me put more blame on Suzy than I wanted to. As the book went on, however, I became more interested in this sub-plot, so I ended up enjoying it more than I did at the start.

As a lover of a variety of characters, I was excited when Suzy’s brother and his boyfriend came in – but then there was no development. In fact, the only character really focussed on was Suzy, with a few mentions of Franny in between. This worked well for the solitary nature that I think Suzy was giving off, but I still felt that more could’ve been put into the other characters.

The grief represented in the book seemed very real to me – the confusion and loss that Suzy was feeling fuelled her to draw hasty conclusions, and I thought that would be how a young person would deal with a sudden, unexplained loss, especially if she hadn’t had anyone close to her die before (this wasn’t specified in the book, but I felt that it was hinted at).

5/10
-abnormalbookgeek

book review · books · ya · young adult

Wolf by Wolf

Warnings: violence, death, mild swearing
Author: Ryan Graudin
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Once upon a different time, there was a girl who lived in a kingdom of death. Wolves howled up her arm. A whole pack of them – made of tattoo and pain, memory and loss. It was the only thing about her that ever stayed the same.

Germany, 1956. Over ten years since the Nazis won the war.
Seventeen year old Yael is part of the resistance, and she has just one mission: to kill Hitler.
But first, she’s got to get close enough to do it.’

I need the rest of this series in my hands right now.

I loved Yael as a character, not only was she confident, capable and everything I wish I could be, she wasn’t whiny like she had the potential to be. You also get to know the characters that Yael’s wolves represent, even though they aren’t in the story in the present. Luka, one of the opponents you get to know the most, was very attractive a very interesting character with lots of different layers to him, and I’m looking forward to seeing him the most in the next book.

Speaking of the wolves, you get to know the stories of Yael’s past through semi-flashbacks, instead of the cold main character spilling her guts and then inevitably having that information used against her later in the book, leading to the collapse of her carefully constructed plan and destroying her emotionally.

The storyline was unlike anything I’d read before and kept me captivated throughout the whole book because of the constant threat of Yael being discovered or falling victim to one of the many threats of the race described in the book. The main idea (Germany winning World War 2) was something that I now I’ve wondered about, and my mum has brought up many times in the past.

The use of a race to move the story along was something I thought was very creative and exciting – there was so much danger involved that I had no time to calm down, it was just constantly tense and perfect.

Unfortunately, I found that as the main setting of the book is during a motorcycle race, there was a lot of description of driving motorcycles that dragged a bit too long in some sections. Most of the time, however, the amazing writing made up for this.

I also thought that Yael seemed a bit too emotionless at some points. She seemed to be too capable of hurting the people she had become close to, using the same ‘hit-on-the-head-and-run’ technique quite a few times.

8.5/10
-abnormalbookgeek

 

 

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

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Warnings: none
Author: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

harry_potter_and_the_cursed_child_special_rehearsal_edition_book_cover

The eighth story. Nineteen years later…

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.’

I have one question after reading the Cursed Child: WHERE IS GEORGE?!

I never expected to have any more Harry Potter on my book shelf, so after the initial rush I went and bought myself a copy. I don’t want to give away too much and ruin the story for anyone else, so this may be quite a brief review.

First of all, I liked the story. Nothing was given away easily, and the notes for the actors were extremely detailed and allowed the reader to see how the play would work onstage. I liked that it took into account the other characters and showed how the  events in the play would affect the whole wizarding world.

I thought Albus was a bit too teenager-y, but because his reasons were explained I overlooked that a bit. He was definitely a Potter – oblivious, jumps into things without thinking, needs quite a bit of help from his friends. That underlying Potter-ness is probably what endeared him to me. I was a bit put off by the lack of stage-time for his siblings though – I would’ve liked to see more of James and Lily than just in the first scene.

The only major criticism I have is the lack of characters. I was excited to see how all the (living) characters from the original books were getting on. I assume there’s not enough room for as many characters than in the films/books, but I wanted to check in with the Weasleys, see how George is coping, see Teddy (who’s Harry’s godson! Why isn’t he mentioned at all?) but the majority of onstage original characters are Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, Draco and Professor McGonagall. Most of the story was centred around Albus, but it would still be nice to get some time with other characters.

7/10 for nostalgia
9/10 for story
-abnormalbookgeek

 

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

The Dreamer

Warnings: swearing, mild sexual scenes.
Author: E. J. Mellow
Series: Dreamland

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It’s night. Always night. Dreams guard against the evil forged by nightmares. Infinite shooting stars illuminate a moonless sky. A city stands alone, surrounded by a darkened field. On its fringes, a man watches one star separate from the masses and fall. What survives the crash will unveil a secret centuries long hidden.
Molly hasn’t slept well since the night of her twenty-fourth birthday. Being struck by lightning might have something to do with it, but then again, her chicken did look a little undercooked at dinner. Whatever the culprit, her life suddenly catapults from the mundane to insane as, night after night, Molly is transported through her once dreamless sleep to a mysterious land illuminated by shooting stars.
But Molly must ask herself – does something truly exist if you only see it when you close your eyes?
Faced with the threat of losing everything – her job, her best friend, boyfriend, and most importantly, that little thing called her sanity – Molly will learn just how far she’ll go to uncover what is real and what is merely a figment of her imagination.’

I’ve taken out a bit of the blurb because I thought it spoiled what I found one of the most exciting points of the book. If you want to read the whole blurb, go to the Goodreads page.

I only got this book because it was free on Amazon, so I didn’t read anything about it or know what I was getting into. I thought that made my enjoyment of the book heightened, because I knew as much as Molly, but I understand that people might have to read blurbs if they’re spending actual money on books.

This was a really interesting plotline and set-up for the rest of the series. It was a good story in itself and wasn’t completely devoted to preparing for the rest of the series, as some books do, but did set the stage nicely for the next book.

I liked Molly as a character, which was nice because some female leads are whiney and irritating. She was quirky, brave, but relatively normal, making me relate to her more. I also was in love with found Dev a really interesting, multi-layered character. Because of the questions Molly asks Dev about whats going on (and his lack of answers), those same questions are raised in the reader’s head as well.

The Dreamland is described in detail, allowing the reader to understand what Molly is seeing and how the people there may live.

9/10