Book Review: The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

Book Review: The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

BOOK REVIEW (37)Release Date: 8th March 2018
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received an ARC copy of this at YALC

Synopsis

Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…

Review

Contemporary YA can be a bit of a hit or miss for me but I thought The Exact Opposite of Okay had a really intriguing premise. After just a few chapters I was completely hooked on this funny and fascinating book. It is without a doubt my most favourite contemporary read ever.

book cover (12)This book is fun, clever and deals with a lot of important issues. (I mean what more could you really ask for?) Izzy is a teenager who is hoping to be a script writer when she’s older. She’s a comic and she’s hilariously funny. When a website surfaces claiming she is a ‘world class whore’ and highlights all the details of her sex life, Izzy is made to feel ashamed of her sex life and struggles to deal with the hateful comments. The book really delves into issues around slut shaming and the differing ways that men and women are treated regarding sex.

I loved everything about this book. I know a lot of the time people will say ‘oh this book is so funny’ but honestly I was laughing so hard at some moments that my boyfriend had to come and check that I was okay. The book is written as if Izzy is writing entries in her blog and I really liked this style. It’s also peppered with references to music and pop culture and they made me love this book even more (especially Dumbledore the dog).

This book is fresh and original and features such a fascinating protagonist. Izzy is sarcastic, brave, stubborn and brilliant and she’s definitely one of my new favourite characters. I loved that the book explored her relationships with her grandmother as well as her relationships with her two best friends, Ajita and Danny. I absolutely flew through this book because I just couldn’t put it down. It deals with important issues in such an interesting way and I am definitely looking forward to seeing what Laura Steven writes next.
5 stars

Blog Tour: The Girl In the Broken Mirror – Savita Khalan

Blog Tour: The Girl In the Broken Mirror – Savita Khalan

BOOK REVIEW (29)
Release Date:
29th March 2018
Publisher: Trokia Books
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The author kindly contacted me to participate in the blog tour and sent me a copy to review.

Synopsis

Jay’s creative writing exercise is to write a fairy tale, to end with ‘they lived happily ever after’. But the way her life is panning out she’s not sure it will ever reach that stage. A powerful moving gripping story which explores themes of family, loyalty and culture clash but is ultimately about hope and understanding.

Review

This is an incredibly moving story that I found difficult to put down. I picked it up early in preparation for the blog tour and found myself still sitting in the same spot a few hours later, absolutely gripped by this emotional tale.

Untitled design (95)This book covers a lot of difficult topics such as suicide and rape, so this is by no means a light read, but it is a beautifully written tale that stays with you long after you’re finished reading. The book follows Jaya – starting with the morning after she is raped and then jumping back to the events leading up to that night. The story really hones in on different cultures and Jaya’s attempts to be both English and Indian and in particular keep to the traditional Indian beliefs.

This is a gripping story that really looks in depths at relationships, between friends as well as between mother and daughter and I found it such a fascinating insight. The characters were wonderfully written and I definitely became attached to Jaya. On more than once occasion this book brought me close to tears and I think that’s a mark of a very powerful story.

Previous to 2018 contemporary YA was not something that I read all that often but recently I’ve found myself picking up books in that genre more often. This is a really excellent piece of contemporary YA that I would definitely recommend. It might be a hard hitting read, but it is most definitely worth it.
4 stars
Girl in the Broken Mirror blog tour

Book Review: A Sky Painted Gold – Laura Wood

Book Review: A Sky Painted Gold – Laura Wood

BOOK REVIEW (23)
Published: July 5th 2018
Publisher: Scholastic Books
Pages: 356
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Growing up in her sleepy Cornish village dreaming of being a writer, sixteen-year-old Lou has always wondered about the grand Cardew house which has stood empty for years. And when the owners arrive for the summer – a handsome, dashing brother and sister – Lou is quite swept off her feet and into a world of moonlit cocktail parties and glamour beyond her wildest dreams.

But, as she grows closer to the Cardews, is she abandoning her own ambitions… And is there something darker lurking at the heart of the Cardew family?

Review

A Sky Painted Gold is a YA reminiscent of The Great Gatsby with the glitz and glamour of the 1920s. The story follows Lou, a young girl living in a small village in Cornwall. She has always dreamed of who might own the secluded mansion house in her village. When the owners arrive Lou is swept into a world of parties, glamour and romance.

Untitled design (75)This is definitely not the kind of book that I would typically read. I do love historical fiction but I tend not to pick up romance heavy books. This however really caught my eye and I’m so glad I picked it up because honestly I absolutely adored this book.

This book is gorgeously written and really envelopes you in the sights and sounds of the era and that gorgeous mansion by the water. I loved sinking into the story and it is definitely the perfect read for a beautiful summer’s day. The plot was well paced and it felt very character driven, giving us the time to get to know the wonderful characters in this story.

Our protagonist Lou is definitely one my new favourite characters. She’s smart, quick and just a brilliant character to follow. Although the story does follow a romance, there is so much more going on and there were so many other characters that I adored in this story. The book touches on such a wide variety of themes – family, class, relationships and so much more. Something I found really fascinating about this book is the way that Wood portrays Lou’s family. She has a big loving family and she’s incredibly close with her sister who has recently been married. It’s fascinating to see the dynamics change and the relationships evolve as Lou spends more and more time at ‘the big house.’

A Sky Painted Gold is a beautiful engaging novel. It has a gorgeous setting and exquisite writing. A Sky Painted Gold was easily a five star read and I’m so excited to read more from Laura Wood in the future.
5 stars

Book Review: What If It’s Us – Becky Albertalli and Adam Silveria

Book Review: What If It’s Us – Becky Albertalli and Adam Silveria

BOOK REVIEW (40)
Release Date:
18th October 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Pages: 433
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

Review

Arthur and Ben are officially my new favourite couple. This is my first time reading a book by either of these YA superstars but honestly I was so engrossed in this adorable story. I’m now dying to pick up more from these authors because I honestly can’t get enough.

book cover (15)The story is told in alternating POVs by Arthur, who is interning at a New York law firm over the summer and Ben a New York native. The boys have an adorable meet cute in a post office but don’t exchange numbers. After getting reunited they go on a few dates but things don’t really go to plan and they begin to wonder “what if it’s us” that’s causing the problem.

This story is such a fun and enjoyable read. I raced through it because I found these characters so sweet and complex. Both authors have done a terrific job bringing the characters to life, I imagine if you know both authors well you can tell who has written which POV but for me the transition between the two felt pretty seamless.

What If It’s Us is set in the heart of New York City and I think this book does a really terrific job of bringing the city to life. Chalk full of pop culture references and all those key New York landmarks. This book definitely had me laughing and grinning and there were plenty of heart warming and emotional moments too.

The story focuses not only on the relationship between Ben and Arthur but also their relationships between the characters and their families and friends. Ben is dealing with losing part of his friendship group after a bad breakup and Arthur finds his friends being distant with him. I really liked seeing how the friendships changed and grew as the story went on.

I also thought the ending for this book was pretty perfect. It totally wasn’t what I expected and I appreciated it all the more for that. It felt realistic and really added another layer to this well crafted story. What If It’s Us is the perfect contemporary romance and if you’re a fan of Adam and Becky you will not be disappointed.
Untitled design (6)

Book Review: Jinxed – Amy McCulloch

Book Review: Jinxed – Amy McCulloch

BOOK REVIEW (48)
Series:
Jinxed #1
Release Date: 9th August 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 323
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Lacey Chu has big dreams of becoming a companioneer for MONCHA, the largest tech firm in North America and the company behind the  “baku” – a customisable smart pet that functions as a phone but makes the perfect companion too. When Lacey finds out she hasn’t been accepted into Profectus – the elite academy for cutting edge tech – it seems her dreams are over. Worst of all, rather than getting to choose one of the advanced bakus, she’s stuck with a rubbish insect one.

Then, one night, Lacey comes across the remains of an advanced baku. Once it might’ve been in the shape of a cat but it’s now mangled and broken, no sign of electronic life behind its eyes. Days of work later and the baku opens its eyes. Lacey calls him Jinx – and Jinx opens up a world for her that she never even knew existed, including entry to the hallowed halls of Profecus. Slowly but surely, Jinx becomes more than just a baku to Lacey – he becomes her perfect companion. But what is Jinx, really? His abilities far surpass anything written into his code or built into his motherboard. He seems to be more than just a robotic pet. He seems … real.

Review

When I picked up Jinxed I had expected to really enjoy this book. What I didn’t expect was for this book to completely blow me away, and be one of my favourites of 2018. Amy McCulloch has written a wonderful gripping story, and I absolutely could not put it down.

book cover (23)There were so many things I loved about this book. Lacey Chu is a fantastic protagonist. She’s strong, determined, she works hard and all she wants is to succeed in reaching her dream job at Moncha. I really loved her character, seeing her develop as she ends up at Profectus, bonds with Jinx and meets new people at this prestigious school. There’s an intense amount of character development, and it really made me fall in love with Lacey.

The story is fast-paced and gripping and has definitely left me wanting more. I thought the concept was so fascinating – curing the world’s addiction to smartphones by having a companion with all your smartphone needs built right in. But as always there’s that question – how far is to far? What happens when the robotic pet starts to seem real?

It was such an addictive read and I loved so many things about it, the science and technology, the romance that was a slow burn and didn’t take over from the main story as well as the buzz of the school and its secret goings-on. This book is entertaining and fun and I guarantee you will love it. This has been my first time reading a book by Amy McCulloch (Amy Alward) and it definitely won’t be my last.
5 stars

Contemporary-AThon Wrap Up!

Contemporary-AThon Wrap Up!

Book Review (17)

So last week I joined in with the Contemporary-AThon readathon. The goal was to read seven books in the seven days. I pretty much knew I wouldn’t manage all seven but I figured it would be fun to pick a TBR and give it a shot. I managed five and a bit books which I’m really pleased about, so here’s my readthon wrap up!

34220480 (2)Challenge 1: Read a book with orange on the cover
For this challenge I read Another Place by Matthew Crow. This book was a really interesting blend of mystery and exploration of mental health. The story follows Claudette, a young teenager dealing with depression. On her release from a mental health facility she learns that her friend Sarah has disappeared. Desperate to know what happened to her Claudette delves into the seedier parts of town to discover the truth behind Sarah’s disappearance. This book was fast paced and intense and I really really enjoyed it. I ended up rating it 3.75 out of 5.
Total Pages: 288

Challenge 2: Read a book by a new to you author36389267 (1)
For this I read A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews. This is definitely an emotional and hard hitting book. The story follows Beck, a young boy forced to play piano by his physically and emotionally abusive mother. He is incredibly unhappy, but when he’s paired with August to work on a school project, he glimpses the chance of something better. This book will definitely stay with me for a while and I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars.
Total Pages: 570

Challenge 3: Read a book that is dark/spooky/taboo39018329 (1)
For this I read Easy Prey by Catherine Lo which I absolutely loved. After a teachers nude pictures are leaked online, three students are deemed responsible. But each student swears they are not responsible, so who did it? I honestly couldn’t put this one down. It was such a twisty, turny read – jumping time and perspective. I gave this one 5 out of 5 stars and it was definitely my favourite read of the readathon.
Total Pages: 970

Challenge 4: Read a diverse book
35247769 (1)I decided I would for once in my life complete a series and read the last book in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series. I really enjoyed Always and Forever Lara Jean, it was just as sweet and lovely as the other books and it really was a great end to the series. I’m definitely going to try and pick up more books from Jenny Han in the future. This one got a 4 out of 5 stars.
Total Pages: 1247

Challenge 5: Read a book in a non-traditional format21412023
Now I had originally planned to read Valley Girls by Sarah Nicole Lemon on my Kindle but I didn’t get the chance to read it. Instead I decided to pick up a mystery graphic novel instead. The Woods Vol 1: The Arrow is a dark mystery story in which 437 students, 52 teachers and 24 additional staff all disappear without a trace. What happened to them and where are they now? This was dark and creepy and I loved it! It turned out to be less of a contemporary and more of a horror/science fiction but I’m still counting it because I read it for the readathon. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Total Pages: 1375

Challenge 6: Read a book with your initials on the cover38185855 (2)
This is the challenge that I haven’t finished yet which is why I only completed five and a half challenges. For this challenge I picked The Con Artist by Fred Van Lente. The story follows a comic book artist who is framed for a murder at comic con. I found the story a little difficult to get into and I’m just over 100 pages in, so I’m hoping the rest of the book picks up.
Total Pages: 1475

Overall I’m pretty pleased with my ContemporaryAThon reading. If I hadn’t been at Bloody Scotland and doing some other bits and pieces I might have completed all the challenges but it was still really fun! Did you participate in the readathon? What books did you read? And if you’ve read any of these let me know what you thought!

Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han

Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han

BOOK REVIEW (51)
Series:
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1
Release Date: 15th April 2014
Pages: 355
Publisher: Scholastic Books
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this from my local Waterstones.

Synopsis

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Review

So I’m going to be honest and say that I picked this up after all the buzz around the Netflix movie. I hadn’t seen the film and this book sounded as far out of my comfort zone as it was possible to get, so it was a pleasant surprise when I loved the book and the movie as well.

book cover (26)To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has really touched my heart – it’s such a sweet and cute story and I think it’s wonderful that it’s getting so much recognition at the moment – recognition it really deserves. Lara Jean is a really fantastic character, she’s so adorable, she lives in her head spending more time imagining things than living them. She’s relatable and shows an immense amount of character depth in this book.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book is the family dynamic. Lara Jean and her sisters have lost their mother at young age, and so are incredibly close. It was really fascinating to watch their relationship change and grow, especially as Lara Jean has to deal with her sister moving to the other side of the world. Kitty is my far my favourite character, she’s hilarious, wild and the best kind of character.

The book is obviously cheesy and a little over the top but it will honestly give you all kinds of warm feelings. Whilst I normally prefer much darker and more action packed books, it was really nice to read something fluffy and light. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the perfect summer read, and I’m so looking forward to reading the rest of the series to see what happens next to Lara Jean and Peter.
4 stars