Saturday, 24 July 2021

Review on Stella



 
Stella Callahan has always been fascinated with astronomy. Growing up in the small town of Torrance, she has always been able to gaze at the stars. However, on the night a comet flew over her town, Stella’s mother mysteriously goes missing. Years later, the same thing happens to Stella’s dad during a meteor shower, where she witnesses him being engulfed in light before disappearing. Stella’s love for astronomy soon turns into a fear of even being out at night, but after moving away for college, Stella is drawn back to her home town where she discovers the terrifying truth.

I’ll admit I’ve been ignoring quite a few review requests lately, but when I read Josh’s request his book immediately piqued my interest! I’ve loved astronomy since I was young, so I always love anything to do with stars and planets. Stella is a novella set in a small town in Indiana, where Stella lives in a farmhouse with her dad and her dog. However, Stella’s life is drastically changed when she witnesses her dad disappear in a ball of light during a meteor shower.

 I will admit the book wasn’t what I was expecting, as I thought it would involve aliens, different planets, and Stella discovering her parents had been teleported somewhere by an alien lifeform. I was pretty disappointed that this wasn’t the case, and Stella stayed in her hometown for the majority of the book, with a chapter set in a city where she attended college. Honestly, it’s my fault for going in with certain expectations, but I couldn’t help be disappointed it wasn’t the great Sci-Fi adventure I’d been expecting.

 After overcoming the initial disappointment that this book wasn’t going where I had expected it to go, I did start to enjoy it for what it was, and it made me wonder if not aliens, then what had taken Stella’s father? The big reveal only comes in the final few pages of the book, and despite there being foreshadowing near the start of the book, it managed to slip past me completely as I wasn’t expecting it at all! I loved the plot twist and even though it wasn’t aliens, I loved that it was still something out of the ordinary. However I felt as if I ended up with more questions than answers, and I really wanted to know more about Stella’s neighbors, and what Stella decided to do with her life. 

 The characters felt a little two-dimensional, but at less than 100 pages, it’s understandable that the characters were never fully developed. I didn’t care for the characters or find them interesting, but the story was mostly plot-driven, and was interesting enough for me to not mind too much. I loved seeing how Stella coped with the loss of her father and the interesting side effects of her becoming terrified of the stars and being outside at night. It was interesting to find out that Astrophobia is actually a real thing that people can suffer from, usually as a response to watching too many Sci-Fi movies. As a meteor could potentially wipe out all life it’s actually not that strange of a fear! 

 Even though the book wasn’t what I was expecting, I did enjoy it, and only wish it had been a little longer! I'm a little torn on how to rate this one as it wasn't quite 4 stars, so I'd probably actually give it a 3.5. I felt it had the potential to delve a little deeper and even be made into a full-length novel, as a few things seemed a little too rushed. I loved Josh’s writing style and brilliant plot twists, and I would love to read more from him in the future!




Saturday, 10 July 2021

Review on Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating

 



 
Hani Khan is one of the most popular girls in school. She’s friendly to everyone and has two best friends she’s known since she was an infant. However, when Hani comes out as bisexual, her friends don’t believe her. To try to prove herself, she pretends she is dating Ishu, a girl who seems to have time for nothing but studying. Ishu’s main goal is to become head girl, but without Hani’s popularity, that will be impossible. Hani and Ishu decide to pretend to be dating each other until they both achieve their goals, but as they become closer and start to understand each other, the fake dating starts to feel a little too real.


I absolutely adored the idea behind this book! Fake dating is one of my favourite tropes, and the fact this book is sapphic made me even more excited to read it! I will admit this is a trope I’ve seen countless times, but most of the time it’s between a straight couple so I loved how having two girls fake dating gave this overused trope a new lease of life. I thought this part of the book was adorable, and I loved seeing how the two girls navigated their feelings for each other and went through all the ups and downs of their first relationship. 

 I loved the soft cute parts of this book, but along with that, the girls faced some real issues such as homophobia, Islamophobia, and racism. The majority of this came from Hani’s best friends, Aisling and Dee. Rather than full-on attacks, the girls were constantly throwing microaggressions at Hani while gaslighting her into thinking she should just accept it. Even though I was rooting for Hani to drop her horrible friends, I also found myself relating to her. When I was around Hani’s age I had friends similar to this who would throw homophobic and racist remarks around, but as I’d been friends with them for so long and had no other friends, I would usually not speak up. It’s often difficult to speak up when you’re young, and no one wants to believe that the friends they grew up with are actually horrible people, so although I was frustrated that Hani dealt with them and changed things about herself to please them, I also saw how difficult it was for her to stand up for herself. I loved that she was eventually able to find the confidence to stand up for herself and Ishu, as standing up to toxic friends can take even more courage than standing up to bullies. 

 Hani and Ishu’s relationship with each other was the complete opposite of this. Although both girls are Bengali, that’s where their similarities stopped. The girls had vastly different personalities, with Hani being popular but quiet and docile, and Ishu being studious, unpopular, and unafraid to speak her mind. Hani is also Muslim while Ishu isn’t. I loved how accepting the girls were of each other, and how Ishu knew her boundaries when it came to Hani’s faith and didn’t try to force her way into Muslim spaces the way Hani’s friends forced themselves into Bengali spaces. I think it’s important to know the boundaries of your friends who may have a different culture, religion or sexuality to you, and only enter these spaces if they invite you. Whereas Hani’s friends made her feel like she had to change who she was to fit in with them, Ishu allowed her to express who she really was.

 I loved how Ishu taught Hani what it was really like to have a friend who cared for her. For most of her life, Hani didn’t realise how horribly her friends were treating her, which often happens when you’ve never known any different. I think we’ve all dealt with toxic friends at some point, and it’s not until you meet a friend who actually cares about you that you’re able to see this toxic behaviour. It’s a process to be able to drop friends who are treating you badly and takes a lot of courage, but in the end, you have to do what’s best for you and get rid of the people in your life who are making you feel bad, or who won’t accept you for who you are.

 There was a good mixture of important topics and cute romance, and I think the romance helped to break it up a little. This book was literally full of my favourite tropes, from fake dating, friends to lovers, slow burn romance, and even the one bed trope! Honestly I can never hate a book that includes the one bed trope. The relationship between the girls progressed naturally, and I loved how it took time for them to warm up to each other. Any kind of relationship takes time to form, which is honestly why I hate instalove so much, so I loved how although it wasn’t quite my favourite trope of enemies to lovers, there was still a lot of development. I loved that the girls having clashing personalities ended up being beneficial to them both, as Ishu’s no-nonsense attitude eventually helped Hani to stand up to her friends, while Hani’s caring personality helped Ishu to see things from her sisters point of view, and realise she was in fact not trying to sabotage her. I loved how they were able to help each other with their problems and accept their differences. 

 I just want to quickly talk about a subplot I loved, which was Ishu’s relationship with Nik, her older sister. Ishu goes through some family drama when Nik disappoints their parents by announcing she is dropping out of med school to get married. Ishu’s parents are strict and want Ishu to follow in her sisters footsteps, which ends up being the whole cause for Ishu wanting to be head girl. Although Ishu initially agrees with her parents, she comes to see that Nik is unhappy and only went to med school because it was what their parents wanted. It’s only natural to want to please your parents, but at the end of the day it’s your life not theirs, and the most important thing to do is what makes you happy. I loved that with the help of Nik, Ishu realised this and set herself on her own path rather than the one her parents had laid out for her. I was a little disappointed that Nik wasn’t able to solve things with her parents, but at the same time, it showed us that life doesn’t always go to plan, and it’s pretty unlikely that we’ll always be able to fix every problem in our lives. Not everyone is going to accept your life choices, and if what you decide is what makes you happy, then that’s what should be focused on rather than people’s opinions. Nik’s parents really didn’t seem like bad people and seemed to be on the fence about Nik’s decisions, so it would be nice if they eventually did come around, but even if they never did, Nik still has her sister on her side.

 This book wasn’t exactly the cute feel-good story I was expecting it to be, but I did enjoy it and felt it dealt with all the themes it covered well. I wouldn’t recommend it if all you’re looking for is a sweet sapphic romance, as there are some pretty important themes that could potentially be upsetting. Something I absolutely loved was that it gave content warnings on the front page, so you knew what you were getting into. I know content warnings seem to be a bit of a divided topic in the book community, but I personally feel like people not getting triggered is far more important than these warnings being potential “spoilers”. As long as you feel like you can handle the topics I’ve mentioned then I definitely recommend this book!








Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Pride Month TBR

 



 
 
HAPPY PRIDE MONTH EVERYONE!! For this month, I have decided to only read and blog about LGBTQ+ books. Even though I love reading LGBTQ+ books, I tend to not read as many as I would like to, so this month I’m going to try to get through as many as possible! I’m probably going to add to my TBR if I can read quickly enough, but for now, I thought I’d share four books that I’m definitely planning on reading and reviewing this month.

Heartstopper 


So I keep collecting these graphic novels but am yet to start them! I think everyone already knows about these books as they’re pretty popular and are soon to be turned into a series, but in case you don’t, they follow Nick and Charlie, two boys who we first meet in Alice’s novel Solitaire. Although they weren’t main characters in Solitaire, I still loved reading about them so I’m looking forward to finding out more about them, and seeing what happened to them before Solitaire. These graphic novels seem so sweet and I actually haven’t read a graphic novel in a while, so I’m looking forward to finally getting round to reading it! I do own up to volume 3 of these books, so I might possibly read more than just the first volume this month.

 Loveless


I did want to read books from a variety of authors, but honestly, I’m just going to have to read Loveless. As I’m asexual myself, I was so excited when I found out about this book! There really isn’t enough ace representation in YA, so I’m looking forward to reading about a character who is like me. I feel as if I’ll really relate to Georgia, as like her, I love reading romance fanfics, but don’t really want a relationship of my own. I’m honestly still questioning if I’m aroace, as I’ve had crushes on people of all genders but feel awkward in an actual romantic relationship. As I’ve only ever read a couple of books with ace rep, I’m looking forward to reading this one!

 You’re the One That I Want


 I’m so excited to read this one! Simon is one of my favourite authors and his books never fail to make me laugh, and this one sounds amazing. It follows Freddie, a boy who has a reputation of being the “nice guy”. Freddie is tired of being constantly left out. He wants to attend all the parties his peers go to and find a boyfriend. Freddie decides to turn his social life around by joining in with his school production of Grease. Freddie finally has the attention he was craving, but is changing your whole personality really the best thing to do? As this book isn’t being published for a couple more days I’ll probably choose this as my second read so I have time to go buy it. Thanks past me for not spending the whole of your Waterstones gift card! 

 Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating



Fake dating is an overdone trope, but it’s a trope that I always love. I loved To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and Hani and Ishu is giving me similar vibes! This one follows Hani, a girl who is popular, but who is invalidated by her friends who don’t believe her when she comes out as bisexual. To try to prove her sexuality, she pretends she is dating Ishu, a smart unpopular girl who is hoping to become head girl. The problem is the head girl must be elected, and Ishu’s lack of popularity means she won’t have a chance without Hani’s help. Despite doing this for their own personal gains, the two girls end up developing feelings for each other. This books honestly sounds adorable, and I love that it has both Asian and bi girl rep! I’m looking forward to diving into this one. 



 
As I’m quite a slow reader, these are all the books I’m putting on my “definitely will read this month” list, but there are so many more I want to read! I’d love to find the time to read a book focusing on a transgender character too, as I realise my current TBR doesn’t cover a trans story, so if you have any recommendations I would love to hear them! I’d love to know what LGBTQ+ you’re planning on reading this month. Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me with any recommendations you have. 

 I hope you all have a wonderful pride month! 

Monday, 31 May 2021

Review on Boy in a White Room

 

 
 
When fifteen year old Manuel wakes up in an empty white room, he has no idea where he is, who he is, or how he got there. He remembers nothing about his past life and has no idea how to escape. Manuel soon discovers he has internet access, and it doesn’t take him long to figure out the truth, or at least what the people who put him here want him to believe is the truth. After being told one lie after another, Manuel eventually comes close to learning who he really is, and what he must do to escape both the white room and those trying to use him.

I got sent this book from Chicken House a little while ago, and as I was looking for an interesting and quick read I thought I’d pick it up! The book follows Manuel, a boy who wakes up in a white room with his memories wiped. Manuel soon discovers that he is actually trapped in a simulation, as his body had been severely damaged after an attempted murder which resulted in the death of his mother. A man who claims to be Manuel’s father informs him that his body will never recover, and he has built a simulation of Middle Earth for Manuel to live in, but Manuel is determined to stay in reality. 

I thought the Middle Earth simulation was interesting and although I realise copyright issues probably meant only a tiny portion of the book was able to be set there, I was interested in how vast it was, as we end up seeing only The Shire and Rivendell. As a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, I would actually love to escape reality and live in this world, so I honestly don’t think I’d have the willpower to remain in the real world like Manuel did! This part of the book reminded me of Sword Art Online, as Manuel being trapped inside a simulated world reminded me of the SAO kids being trapped inside a video game with no way to escape. I loved all the different locations inside the simulation and how they were so advanced that Manuel had no way to tell if it was a simulation or the real world.

 Manuel discovers eyestream, a social media platform where users stream their daily lives. While browsing Manuel notices a girl who he thinks he recognises, which sends him on a whole journey of finding out the truth. I actually loved eyestream, as although it’s meant to come across as futuristic, it’s actually quite similar to TikTok streamers. It’s pretty easy to come across these types of streams on TikTok, as I’ve come across all sorts of things from truck drivers driving through the night to people filming as they walk around Disneyworld. As the book was first published in 2017 before TikTok existed, I found it interesting that this kind of thing had become normal just a few years later.

 I loved how we were kept guessing about what was real and what was a lie. The truth starts to slowly unravel when Manuel gets the opportunity to talk to Julia, the girl who he recognised from eyestream. I love that we slowly start to see that something isn’t right, and that Manuel’s “dad” is actually lying to him. We learn everything as Manuel learns it, and are kept guessing as to what the truth actually is. I really wasn’t expecting the plot twist at the end of the book at all, and was taken completely by surprise! It also made me wonder if this was the real truth, as there were so many layers of deception it was impossible to trust anything by the end!

 This was an exciting and action-packed book that had me guessing until the very end! I’ve been taking quite a long time to get through books lately, but I flew through this one in just two days. I’m hoping the sequel will eventually be translated and published in English, as I would love to know what happens to Manuel next. I recommend this book to all lovers of Sci-Fi and thrillers!







Monday, 24 May 2021

Review on The Nightsilver Promise

 


 
Everyone is given a track they must follow shortly after being born. However, thirteen year old Paisley is still trackless and has no idea what she is meant to be doing with her life. On the day Paisley finally gets her track, she discovers the horrible truth. She is destined to die before she reaches her fourteenth birthday. Paisley is desperate to find a way to change her track, and a machine created by her mother may be the answer to her problems. Then everything changes when Paisley’s mother goes missing, with everyone presuming she is dead. With the help of her younger brother Dax, Paisley must find a way to get her mother back and avoid the clutches of the Dark Dragon.

When I saw that this book involved dragons I knew I just had to read it! Dragons are honestly one of my favourite things to read about, and this book had an interesting take on them. But before I start ranting about dragons I should probably talk about everything else first!

 The book follows Paisley, a young girl who has recently learned her track is leading her towards death. I loved how Paisley was immediately thrown into a difficult situation, as it made me become invested in the story right away. I feel like a lot of books tend to drag at the start, but The Nightsilver Promise has an immediate problem that needs to be solved. Even though Paisley has been told her whole life she must follow her track, she refuses to just accept her fate. I loved the message that we can decide our own future and nothing is ever set in stone. It’s easy to feel trapped in what you’re doing and like there’s no escape. I thought this was the perfect message for a middle-grade book to give, as it lets kids know they can be like Paisley and decide their own track

. I loved the characters in this book, especially Dax, Paisley’s younger brother. Dax is dragon touched, which means he has a body part of a dragon and the power to go with it. In Dax’s case, he has a dragon leg, but others who are dragon touched range from having dragon wings, claws, and even the power to breath fire. It wasn’t clearly explained how people came to be dragon touched as it didn’t seem to be in their track, but as dragons are seen as evil creatures in the south, those who are dragon touched are treated horribly. As there is a prophecy about a dragon touched boy, Dax has no choice but to conceal his leg by wearing a brace that causes him pain. I felt sorry for Dax as he just seemed like a normal kid but he was expected to do so much.

 The Dark Dragon was an interesting character, a seemingly young girl who is actually ancient and part of four sisters who were each meant to protect a piece of dragon soul. The Dark Dragon has one goal, to open the veil between the worlds and bring back the Great Dragons, who before they were killed were the most powerful dragons on earth. I loved how despite seeming small and innocent, the Dark Dragon was pretty terrifying! I also found Roach interesting, a boy around Paisley’s age who works for the Dark Dragon. Although he was one of the villains of the story, we learn that he had a sister who got taken away, not unlike Paisley’s mum. I loved how Roach slowly started to see that what he was doing was wrong, and came to resent the Dark Dragon. I feel like Roach will get a proper redemption arc in future books, and I would love to eventually see him team up with Paisley.

 Okay so I’m going to talk about the dragons! I loved how the dragons came in all shapes and sizes, from the huge Great Dragons to the tiny papillon dragons. We learn that Londoners are afraid of dragons and keep them away, while in the North, they are used by people for various tasks. It made me want to learn more about how things worked in the North, and I’m hoping that Paisley’s journey will take her further North in future books! We did also learn briefly about dragon riders. As dragons only trust children to ride them, the dragon riders seem to be rare and are spoken about almost as if they are a myth. I do feel as if Dax will become a dragon rider in the future, as he encountered them briefly towards the end of the book and explained it was something he wanted to do. As the dragons didn’t show up too frequently in this book I’m hoping they will have a bigger part to play in the next one! 

 The nightsilver was super interesting and I loved finding out how it worked! Unlike regular metal, nightsilver is a special type of metal that can be bonded to it’s owner. Whereas nightsilver bonded to someone who has died is brittle and cold, it is strong and warm when bonded to someone still living. I loved how this was how Paisley was able to realise her mum was still alive. I also loved seeing all the things nightsilver could be used to make, and how it reacted in unique ways.

 I adored this book and could honestly keep talking about it for hours! There’s so much that happened that I just haven’t been able to cover in this review, so I definitely recommend reading it for yourselves. There are a few things that I remained confused about, but I'm hoping these things will be covered in the sequel. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with Dax, as his story was left on a huge cliffhanger. I'd also love to learn more about Odelia, a girl who, like Dax is dragon touched. I found her to be an interesting character throughout the book, but I felt like I knew barely anything about her. I recommend this book to all lovers of fantasy, and I'm looking forward to finding out where Paisley and Dax's journey will lead them next!







Friday, 2 April 2021

What I Miss About Libraries

 

As the UK has been in lockdown for a while I’m sure we all can agree we’re missing certain things we used to take for granted. I’m personally missing visiting my best friend, going to concerts, going round museums and of course, the library. My library will soon be opening its click and collect service again, but it’s just not the same as being able to go in, so I thought I’d go on a rant about what I miss about libraries!


 Browsing the shelves

As much as I appreciate click and collect, it just isn’t the same as going inside to browse. Sometimes I have no idea what book I want until I see it on the shelf, so the click and collect service doesn’t really work for me unless I already know what I want to read. Nothing really beats picking up a book you’ve never heard of before and taking it home to read! My library hasn’t been open to do this since the first lockdown over a year ago, so I’m really missing this.


 Writing in the library


One of the reasons I decided not to participate in nanowrimo last year was not being able to write in the library. I often get too distracted writing at home, and the library was a brilliant environment for sitting down to write with few distractions. Every time I’ve participated in nano I’ve written at least half of it in the library, and I just felt like I wouldn’t have the motivation to write a whole novel in my house. As much as I love staying at home, I tend to focus better in a less distracting environment. My local library is great for this, as it’s usually quiet and has tables set up for people to work at. It even has little rooms you can use away from others!


New books!

For some reason my library has stopped ordering in new books. It used to be pretty good with this, and you could even request books for free if the library didn’t have it. Now new books are never added and there doesn’t seem to be a way to request books. This is pretty disappointing as it’ll mean less people use the library. The library was how I used to read new releases, but as they’re not available now and I can’t afford to buy every book I want to read, I’m missing out on a lot of new releases. I’m trying not to let this bother me and just focus on reading books on my shelves, but I do feel like I’m missing out when I can’t afford the latest book everyone is talking about. I really want to read more diverse books, but unfortunately that isn’t possible when they just aren’t available at the library.


 Due dates 

 Okay this seems a little weird but hear me out. Since the first lockdown, my library has stopped having due dates, which makes sense as many people are shielding, but it has made me lose motivation to actually read the books I check out. Usually, I’ll make sure to read the books before returning them, but not having a date to return them by has meant I’ve kept books for months just because I could. As everyone seems to be doing the same thing, most books I want to read aren’t available as people aren’t returning them. I also just miss the process of handing over my library card and having the librarian stamp the book with the due date. It was nice to have a goal to finish the books I’d checked out before they had to go back!


 I think once everything gets back to normal I’m going to start using and appreciating the library more. I really miss being able to read books for free, and I hope that the library will once again start to stock new books so I can catch up with all the amazing new releases I can’t afford to buy. I’d love to know what things you took for granted before the pandemic that you miss now! Feel free to let me know in the comments or tweet me so we can think wistfully of times gone by.