Review: We See Everything by William Sutcliffe

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own!

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The main premise for We See Everything is a dystopian and war-stricken London, in which we follow two different boys who play significantly different roles in this new world. We have Lex who lives on “The Strip” with his Dad, Mum and younger twin sisters. His family are just managing to make ends meet, until his Dad begins to take on a high level role in The Corps which is a rebel group working against the current government. Our other main character is Alan who works for the military, flying the ever watching drones that monitor those living in The Strip. He is assigned a specific target to watch and report on, known as #K622. Alan only knows him as a target, someone who’s a threat. But he is also Lex’s dad.

Summary of my thoughts

This book was a really interesting read that gave me Dark Angel meets 1984 vibes. Dystopian isn’t my usual thing, but I did like this a lot more than I thought I would. Reading about a bombed-out and war torn London really made me think about where our world is going and how long it will be until books like this are reality. We are never told how or why London came to be this way, which left me a little disappointed because I think it would have added to the story and made me feel more emotionally connected. For me, I need to understand WHY thinks are happening or I start to get bored.

I think William Sutcliffe did a fantastic job of writing Lex, who is multi-faceted and really what you’d expect from a young man in this kind of situation. We are shown how he’s torn between family, first love, what’s right and what’s easy. I liked the character of Lex a lot. As for Alan, well… I hated him. I had an urge to skip his chapters to be frank. He comes across as a psychopath! He also sexually assaults a woman so please be warned about that. I wish Alan was a more likeable character, because then it would have really torn me as a reader. I really like it in war books when it shows the futility of war through its characters. As it stood, Alan was extremely patriotic to the point he seemed brainwashed, so of course he’s a boring and irredeemable character in my eyes.

I ended up giving this book a 3.5/5.

A x

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Review: Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Thank you to Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book is due for publication on the 15th of May, 2018.

Trigger warnings for this book include rape, molestation, PTSD and biphobia.

girl made of starsGirl Made of Stars is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. Mara and Owen are twins, Owen is the older twin by 3 minutes, although Mara believes a mistake was made at the hospital because she’s clearly the older twin. Mara and Owen are also extremely close. They’re twins who know everything about each other, they’re twins who look in the sky every night for Gemini. But then, Hannah (one of Mara’s close friends and Owen’s girlfriend) accuses Owen of raping her. How can it be true? Owen wouldn’t rape someone… but Hannah wouldn’t lie either.

From that breakdown, I think it’s obvious to see why it’s so important. We need more YA novels that deal with rape realistically. Because rape is not always a random stranger… rape can be someone you love and trust. You can have had consensual sex with them before and be raped by them.

Characters
The characters in this book were wholesome and beautiful and so, so wonderful. First, we have Mara. Mara is bisexual, which is a main focus for this story. Mara’s best friend is Charlie, or as Mara calls her, her “best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-ex-girlfriend”. They were together and in love but it wasn’t quite working. Charlie and Mara are now navigating what it is to be best friends after they’ve been more and still clearly have strong feelings for each other. Charlie likes girls and is also genderqueer (I will be using she/her pronouns for Charlie because in the book she states she’s okay with these pronouns). Both these characters are super duper amazing and I loved their relationship!
Then we have Owen. Owen is a popular guy at school, but he’s also academic and loving. He’s also a rapist as we come to find out within about 20 pages of this book. Owen vehemently denies raping Hannah, he says he gained consent and the fact there was an injury to her wrist was just due to awkward teenage sex. But Mara is his twin, and she can tell he’s lying. I found this so heartbreaking to read, how do you even fathom someone you love being a rapist? And because Owen is popular, (and women are often not believed in these circumstances) basically the whole school turns against Hannah. It was fucking awful to read, it made me sick. But, it was real and raw.

Summary of my thoughts
Thank you to Ashley Herring Blake for writing such a powerful and important book. Rape is not easy to read about (and it shouldn’t be), but somehow the writing of this book made it somewhat manageable. The friendship between Mara, Charlie and Hannah is pure and the kind of friendship I love to see in books. I was so glad to see Hannah supported through what she went through. I love the way sexuality and gender were discussed in this book, I feel like it was really well done and made the book super accessible and diverse even though the main plot isn’t necessarily about sexual orientation and gender. The book also has a really fantastic portrayal of the need for consent. It needs to be known that consent can be withdrawn at anytime. Consent is also not the presence of a no but the absence of a yes. I really hope everyone reads this book, especially teens who are beginning to explore feminism, sexuality, gender identity and sex.

I give this book a 4.5/5.

A x

Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

The year is 1999 and Earth is in the grip of the Y2K frenzy (I actually remember this time so well… I had a Y2K Beanie Baby). Lincoln is employed at a newspaper as internal security – monitoring the employees emails. Words such a porn, sex and fuck are flagged for Lincoln to read and reprimand the people doing the wrong thing. Beth and Jennifer’s conversations are constantly flagged but Lincoln can’t bring himself to notify them they are breaking company rules. Their conversations are too entrancing, and there’s something about Beth that he can’t seem to let go of.

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Attachments was such a fun and cute book. I love Rainbow Rowell’s writing and I loved the concept. Firstly, this books characters were in their late 20’s which was such a nice change. I found their conversations and lives relatable to my life (even though I’m only 24 but I’m also basically a grandma). Also the fact it was set in the 90’s was a breath of fresh air because it brought me back to my childhood and made me feel so reminiscent.

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Lincoln’s character is so adorable, if not a LIIIITTLE morally grey. He’s so awkward but sweet, and handsome without realising it! I also loved the friendship between Beth and Jennifer because I found them really supportive of one another and realistic! Some downsides of this book were mostly the pacing as the whole storyline was slow and steady (in a good way) and then the end was really rushed which disappointed me! Also, there’s one part where Beth and Jennifer are having a conversation about a woman in their office who’s dressed “provocatively” and they’re being SUPER slut-shaming and basically say she’s dressed like that to make up for the fact her storylines are rubbish. Hmmm. It pissed me off to be frank. It makes me wonder if Rainbow has some internalised misogyny going on. The conversation added nothing to the storyline. It just made me side-eye Beth and Jennifer who I honestly thought were progressive and cool.

This book is the perfect read for around Christmas/New Years. It’s also cute and fun and just really enjoyable if not for one very odd moment of slut shaming in an otherwise pretty wonderful book. I give it 4/5.

A x

Goodbye 2017

I can’t believe another year is done. 2017 has been a year that has tested me hugely regarding trust, expectation and my anxiety, but I survived! I hope 2018 will be greatly better than 2017 was.

Reading-wise, I started off the year strong and maintained that until about September when my personal life really effected my ability to read for pleasure. My goal was to read 75 books but I only read 66. I’m still proud of how many books I read, but it’s hard not to be disappointed. I feel like sometimes the book community puts a lot of emphasis on quantity and not quality of the books you read. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone. Personally, I think you rock whether you read 0 books or 500! In 2018, I want to put more of a focus on reading books I enjoy and not just reading books because all my friends are reading them. I also want to continue reading diversely and critically.

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Above are some of my favourite reads of 2017! They were all 5/5 star reads for me and all hold a special place in my heart now.

Goodbye 2017, you won’t be missed!

A x

Review: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

What do you get when you combine the amazing nostalgia of the 80’s (I wasn’t alive then but let’s pretend) and the pure horror of seeing Regan’s head do a 360 for the first time when you were 10? My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix!

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My Best Friend’s Exorcism is about Abby and her best friend Gretchen who somehow gets possessed by a demon after a night of taking shrooms gone wrong. Abby desperately wants to help Gretchen but how can she when she’s got all the problems of being a normal 16 year old, plus is literally having to fight the devil.

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I don’t know how to explain this book, I think you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. I honestly loved it. I’m a really big fan of Hendrix’s other book Horrorstör (you can read my review for it here) and I found MBFE to have the same creepy and funny vibes while also being a unique story. Somehow this book is also a little bit heart-wrenching which I didn’t expect! I give it 4/5 stars.

A x

Review: Yellow by Megan Jacobson

 

yellowcoverI was desperate to read Yellow after hearing Taneika from Flipping Through Pages praise it so highly! I listened to this one as an audiobook through Audible (not spon but Audible feel free to sponsor me) and must say I really loved the audiobook style. I usually hate Australian audiobooks because I find our accents GRATING AS HECK but the narrator (Marny Kennedy) was just the right amount of Aussie!

This book is about Kirra. Kirra is your average run-of-the-mill 14 year old girl, except for the fact that her whole friend group bullies her, her mum is a raging alcoholic, her father has left them for a woman who lives two streets away and now a ghost has started talking to her via an abandoned Telstra phone box. So, the usual stuff. The ghost who goes by the name of Boogie  wants justice brought to the person who murdered him many years ago, and believes Kirra is the one to do it. Kirra agrees to this as long as Boogie will help get her parents back together and make her popular. I know this all seems a bit ridiculous but the way the book is written just makes it work! The book deals with some pretty heavy topics and there are trigger warnings for the following: bullying, suicide, murder and alcoholism.

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Kirra is a really interesting character. She’s ridiculously smart but also grows up in a small town with Tall Poppy Syndrome. She tries to suppress the fact she’s smart and hangs out with a bunch of girls who are completely horrible. They are the epitome of bitchy high school girls. The book opens with them berating Kirra for the way she walks and basically saying they won’t be her friends if she doesn’t learn to walk better. Kirra is so shy and self-conscious in part due to her friend group and suppresses everything that makes her, her. On top of this Kirra’s mum is an alcoholic and verbally abusive to Kirra, and her dad, Lark, is pretty much out of the picture after moving in with a new woman. I really felt for Kirra throughout the book because her life is terrible. However, throughout the book Kirra says some really shamey and weird comments about girls who wear “too much” makeup and also about sex workers. Is there’s one thing that annoys me in a book it’s the shaming of sex workers but that’s a whole other topic for another day.

There’s also another character in the book who stood out to me, which is Willow. She’s pretty badass, has great feminist ideals and speaks her mind. She’s also a fantastic friend to Kirra which I loved. My favourite quote from her is “do not define me by my gender or socioeconomic status” which was an amazing moment! There’s also a love interest in the book but they are the most boring character in the world and I literally can’t remember a single thing about them except they might have freckles?

The book as a whole is interesting and good, but at the same time it just didn’t grab me like I thought it would. Maybe my hopes were to high? I just didn’t connect with the story fully which was a bit of a bummer. So I give this #LoveOzYA book a 3/5 stars.

A x

 

Rupi Kaur

Dear Rupi Kaur,

I am writing this post because I want to publicly thank you for sharing your poetry with the world. Often, I read words that provoke my thoughts, make me feel things or stay with me forever. But there are only two times where a book has reached into my mind and heart and took the words right out of me. Those two times were reading milk and honey and the sun and her flowers. There is an astounding sense of comfort in knowing you’re not alone in your thoughts and feelings and I am honestly grateful for your work. In conclusion, if you haven’t read Rupi’s poetry, I highly recommend it. It deals with feminism, mental health, loneliness, heartbreak, self-love and SO MUCH MORE.

 

A x