Tuesday 30 June 2020

Review on Date Me, Bryson Keller

Bryson Keller thinks that dating in high school is pointless, so when he is dared to date anyone who asks him he accepts. The rules are simple, he must date the first person who asks him out on Monday morning and date them until Friday afternoon, then it all starts again the next week. What Bryson isn’t expecting is for Kai Sheridan to ask him out. Kai is still in the closet and has his heart set on another boy in his class, but when Bryson’s antics cause him to be late for class, he decides to get his revenge by making Bryson date him for a week. However, as the week progresses, Kai soon learns there’s more to Bryson than being the popular jock. Kai’s feelings for Bryson soon change, but falling for the captain of the soccer team will only end in disaster right?

I was pre-approved for this book on Netgalley, and as it sounded super adorable I just had to read it! I was a little skeptical when I found out it was based on a yaoi manga, as yaoi is written for teen girls who fetishize gay men and is usually super problematic. I read some yaoi and watched the anime adaptations when I was around 14, and looking back on it now it was pretty problematic, and I pretty much avoid yaoi like the plague now (if you want manga or anime with good gay rep I recommend Given and Yuri on Ice). However, as the book is own voices I thought I’d try to put my thoughts on the book's roots aside and give it a chance!

The book follows Kai, a boy in his senior year of high school who is still in the closet. Kai is witness to a dare given to his classmate Bryson, who has agreed to date someone new for a week for the rest of his senior year. If at any point he breaks up with someone early or no one asks him out, the dare is over and he must ride the school bus for the rest of the year instead of driving his snazzy white jeep. The plot is somewhat silly but I found it completely adorable. A lot of this book is just straight up fluff and I loved it!

The relationship between Kai and Bryson developed naturally, and although the whole book happens over the course of two weeks, nothing felt rushed. The boys feelings for each other grow over the course of the book, but there are no proclamations of love, which I adored as I hate instalove. I feel like you need to get to know a person for an extended period of time before you can truly be in love with them, so I loved that there were no ‘I love yous’ and both boys wanted to take the relationship slowly.

Something I loved was that Bryson never labeled himself. He has feelings for Kai, but he is still figuring things out and isn’t sure which label fits him. I feel like we put too much pressure on young people to label themselves when they’re still figuring everything out. I actually went through a few labels before finding one that felt right, and honestly, I wish I hadn’t felt so pressured to choose one as a teen. I feel like we need more characters like Bryson so teens know it’s ok to not have everything figured out yet. Teens should be free to come to terms with their sexuality on their own rather than feeling pressured to accept a label that doesn’t feel right.

Even though I knew it was a coming out story, I was disappointed with how it was executed. As the romance was adorable fluff I was hoping the rest of the book would go the same way, and Kai would have a positive coming out experience. I was disappointed when Kai’s religious mum reacted negatively and made Kai feel horrible. So many YA coming out stories have the characters go through a bad experience, and I feel like this could put LGBT+ teens in a negative mindset. Having to read about a character who is like you have a bad coming out experience over and over again can easily make you believe the same thing will happen to you. The sad thing is that these negative experiences happen, but if that’s all they ever see in books and the media, they will assume the same thing will happen to them and be reluctant to come out.

Another thing I didn’t like was that Kai was outed against his will, and was forced to come out first to his family and then to his whole school. It felt like this was added just to create some drama, and I honestly hated it. Kai was bullied both verbally and physically, and I felt like it just wasn’t needed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing a cute fluff romance just because, and sometimes that’s exactly what LGBT+ teens need rather than the constant reminder that some people hate them for something they can’t control. The outing and bullying is the one thing that stopped me giving the book a 5 star review as I was hoping to get away from this negativity for a while!

Even though I had issues with the book and it didn’t turn out to be the escapism I was looking for, it did give an overall good message about the importance of accepting those who are different from you, and I loved the first 75% of the book. It was just a shame that the adorable romance I thought I was reading had to take a dark turn. I would definitely recommend this book, but it’s probably best to avoid it if you’re not in the right headspace for darker subjects like homophobia and bullying.

Date Me, Bryson Keller is now available to purchase!

Thursday 25 June 2020

Review on Lumberjanes #2 The Moon Is Up

After discovering some very smelly unicorns and people who live in the clouds, the Lumberjanes are ready for their next adventure! The scouts of Roanoke cabin are ready to compete in Galaxy Wars, a space-themed competition where they will be competing against the other cabins. However, Jo has even bigger things on her mind than space. When a letter arrives inviting her to a summer camp for aspiring scientists, she is torn. Jo must decide if she is going to accept the invitation or spend the rest of her summer with her fellow Lumberjanes. However she must decide quickly, and with mysteriously disappearing cheese and moon moles to contend with, time is running out.

I adored the first Lumberjanes book so I was looking forward to reading this one! The book starts a few days after the first one left off, with Jo debating if she really had seen a moon like spaceship. I loved how the book got right back into the action, with the girls planning for Galaxy Wars, a space-theme  competition filled with arts, crafts, planets, and giant hamster balls. The Lumberjanes always make me wish I had gone to a summer camp when I was younger!

Along with the same fun silliness of the first book, this one also had a more serious subplot, which was Jo trying to decide what to do about her future. From a young age, children are told that they must decide on a career, and are often put under pressure. This was evident with Jo, who felt as if she had to accept the place onto the summer science program even though she really wanted to spend the summer at camp with her friends. I loved how Jo was free to make this decision for herself, as parents can often be pushy and try to influence their children. It's important to let children be children, as all too soon they will be burdened with adult responsibilities and miss out on having a childhood. I was glad that Jo ended up deciding to stay at the camp, and realized there would still be career opportunities for her in the future.

I loved that the book started to give us hints that some of the girls were LGBT, which is something that seems to be plainly stated in the comics, but not in the books. I loved how it was made clearer that Mal and Molly were in a romantic relationship, and there were some sweet moments between them. I loved how healthy their relationship was, and how they were constantly supporting each other. Although it was hinted that Jo is transgender, I was disappointed that it was never said outright. As these books are aimed at preteens, I felt as if this wouldn't have been picked up on by most children, and although it was a good thing that Jo's story didn't revolve around her being trans, it is important for that representation to be visible and not just hinted at.

This book didn't seem as magical as the first one, but I still loved the storyline with Castor, a mouse from the moon. Although Jo's parents allowed her to make her own decisions, Castor wasn't so lucky, and was made to follow her mothers orders. I loved how although a moon mouse was a silly and fun addition, there was also an important message that sometimes parents should just allow their children to play and have fun rather than being constantly strict. It is important for children to play with others in order to develop their social skills, and it's equally important to let them have fun. I loved how the girls taught Castor what fun meant, and that sometimes it is okay to do something just because it is fun.

Although I enjoyed the first book more, this one was still a fun read that brought up some important messages. Something that I love about these books is how they show that girls can do anything that they put their mind to and that there is nothing that a boy can do that a girl can't. The end of the book hinted that the next one would be about dinosaurs, and as a huge lover of all things dinosaur, I am looking forward to reading about the Lumberjanes next adventure! 


Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up is now available to purchase!

Amazon Book Depository 

Monday 15 June 2020

Blog Tour- Midnight's Twins

When Fern King starts being saved from her nightmares by a mysterious woman, the last thing she expects is for her to be real. Fern soon finds herself in Annwn, a dream world parallel to our own, where dreamers create both beautiful and terrifying things. However, Fern soon discovers her hated twin brother Ollie has also been recruited, and after they are both made knights, they have no choice but to work together. However, things are about to get much worse, as the twins discover that something much more terrifying than any nightmare may be responsible for their mother's death, and the twins are next on its list. Fern and Ollie must set aside their differences and work as once if they are to ever get out of Annwn alive!

Today is my stop on the Midnight’s Twins blog tour! I thought I would share my thoughts on the book, and I have a lot to say so portal on over to a squishy chair and grab a snack!

The book follows Fern King, a 15 year old girl who is a bit of a loner. As Fern got bullied in her previous school, she is reluctant to let people into her life as she assumes the worst. I actually related to Fern, as when I was her age boys would dare each other to ask me out so they could laugh at me, or someone would talk to me while their friends mocked me from a distance. Like Fern, I came to believe people were only being kind to mock me or because they felt sorry for me, and even now I question why people are talking to me. I was definitely able to empathise with Fern, as I’ve always been made to feel like I’m the odd one out. I loved how even though Fern’s school life didn’t change, she eventually came to trust her new acquaintances in Annwn and allowed them to befriend her. It was heartwarming to see such a shy girl who had been through trauma open up to people, and see that not everyone was bad.

Fern initially despises her twin brother Ollie, who is everything she’s not. Charismatic, good looking and popular, Ollie shares non of her struggles, or so she thinks. As the book is told from Fern’s point of view, we don’t really know Ollie’s side of the story until much later in the book, so we are initially led to believe that Ollie helped Fern’s bully to tie her to a tree and light a fire, leaving Fern with a disfiguring burn scar on her face. I loved how although we initially believe Fern’s story and hate Ollie, we start to see the truth unravel as the twins are forced to spend time together in Annwn, and work together to discover the cause of their mums death.

I can’t talk about everything just because so much was happening in this book, but I do of course have to talk about Annwn, the dream world. I loved the idea of there being a parallel world where we go when we’re asleep, and I adored that it was based off Welsh folklore. As a Welsh person I love finding anything like this in books! As Fern lives in London, that is where she is based in Annwn, and I loved seeing it from the dreamers imaginations! There
was so much going on and it made me want to be a thane so I could experience it all. However along with the good dreams come the bad, and Fern soon discovers that the lore she is put in have the job of protecting dreamers from their nightmares, which if extreme enough are able to kill them both in Annwn and the real world. It was a little bit like a cross between Sword Art Online and Nightmare on Elm Street so I of course loved this idea!

The one negative thing I have to say about the dream world is that I just didn’t understand some of the lores well enough. I was especially confused about the Harkers, who’s main job seems to be talking to knights who are on mission and guiding them. It wasn’t made clear just how the Harkers were able to see everything that was happening, and my mind jumped from security cameras everywhere to something similar to the marauders map. If there was an explanation I completely missed it, as it irked me to the point I went back in the book to see if I could find an explanation but found non. I felt as if the other lores would have been clearer if Fern had actually made friends with anyone outside of the knights, as I felt like I was lacking knowledge on practically all the lores except the knights.

Something I wasn’t expecting was the murder mystery part! Fern and Ollie have always believed their mum died in her sleep, but they soon find out she was actually murdered in Annwn by a treitre, a terrifying creature with metal skin. I loved how Una’s murder was slowly unravelled, and even though more clues were revealed, it still took me by surprise when it was finally revealed who was behind everything! I always love a good plot twist, especially when they manage to take me by surprise.

I thought the main villain of the book was brilliant and well thought out. In our world, Sebastian Medraut is an up and coming politician who is gaining followers for his party, One Voice. I thought his party name was really clever, as although it initially gives an idea of unity and togetherness, the real reason behind the party name is much more sinister. Sebastian’s real goal is to remove free will and take away the voices of the people so they will follow him without question. As a side effect, Annwn will fall into chaos as dreamers lose their imaginations. As we have seen for ourselves, politicians often get away with doing terrible things, and Sebastian is no exception. I won’t spoil what he does, but there is no denying he must be stopped. I loved how Fern was constantly comparing her morals to Sebastian’s and finding similarities. The twins are far from perfect, and can even be labelled as anti-heros, as although they are trying to save the world, their way of doing things is not always 100% ethical. For me this made the twins more interesting and made me wonder how far they would go to win.

There’s still so much more I could talk about, but this review is already getting too long so I’m going to end it here. Although it was a little confusing at times, I really enjoyed this book, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the rest of the series! 

Midnight's Twins is now available to purchase!