Girlhood

Girlhood

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Hatchette/Quercus

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can’t escape the guilt of her twin sister’s Jenna’s death, and her own part in it – and she knows noone else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels…loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died.

Then Kirsty’s behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper’s? And why is she so obsessed with Harper’s lost sister? Soon, Harper’s closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?

A darkly compulsive story about love, death, and growing up under the shadow of grief.

Thoughts:

I really enjoy Cat Clarke’s books, so I always try to read one as soon as I can. I enjoy books that are set in boarding schools, so this was another thing that pulled me towards it. Whislt Girlhood isn’t my favourite book from Cat Clarke, it was still a decent read that didn’t take me long to read at all.

It centres around Harper, who has moved to an expensive boarding school, Duncraggan Academy. Harper is running away from her twin sister’s death and her own part that she feels she has in the death. Harper will never escape the guilt and she doesn’t feel anyone understands. Harper has a solid group of friends, but when new girl Kirsty starts the school, she gets Harper, more than anyone else. Kirsty has lost a sister as well. However, Kirsty turns out to be a little odd. Her life seems to be echoing Harper’s. She’s obsessed with Harper’s sister which is strange. Harper’s friendships begin to suffer due to her closeness with Kirsty.

There are some fantastic strong female leads in this book. I particularly liked Rowan, Harper’s roommate. I liked how she wouldn’t take any of Harper’s rubbish and would call her out when she did something wrong. There is quite a bit of girl drama in this book, as you might guess from the title, so if you’re not into that sort of read, then I’d be wary going into this book. That said, I think the friendships are so well written and developed. They are incredibly believable.

I think the story is incredibly easy to read. I was attempting to guess what might happen during the story, but I never quite got there. I had high hopes for this book at the beginning as it was so intriguing. However, I felt a little bit let down by the ending. I wanted it to be something more, something darker. Maybe that’s a little disturbing!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

This wasn’t my favourite Cat Clarke book, but it was still a fabulous, quick read!

Advertisements

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

How did I get it?:
It was a gift!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Knife Of Never Letting Go
The Ask and The Answer
Monsters Of Men
A Monster Calls
More Than This

Synopsis:

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Thoughts:

I’m not going to beat about the bush here. Patrick Ness is one of my favourite writers. EVER. Which makes it incredibly hard when he comes out with a new book, because my expectations for his books are exceptionally high. I needn’t have been worried about The Rest Of Us Just Live Here as it was exceptional. I was pulled into the story right from the get go. There were moments that I was a little confused…I have to admit. However, I’ve come to expect a little bit of confusion in Patrick’s stories.

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here is a pretty hard book to try and describe. The reader starts off the chapter with a summary of what would have happened if it was told from the point of view of the chosen one. That was a little odd, but promise me, go with it! The main story follows a boy and his friends who are experiencing some incredibly weird events. It really focuses on the weird paranormal activities that keep following everyone around and Indie kids that keep dying. It’s all VERY odd but utterly readable at the same time. Patrick Ness is an incredible writer, so just stick with the weirdness, embrace it and let that beautiful writing sink in…

Another aspect of this book that I adored was the focus on mental illnesses. Patrick Ness created characters that were suffering with their mental health. As someone who struggles with anxiety on a day to day basis, I really appreciated his representation and to be honest, it’s not often that I can say that. I’m incredibly picky with how anxiety is portrayed in literature. There is a scene where Mikey speaks to his therapist that really, really resonated with me. *sigh*

The family (aside the parents) are wonderful. They care about each other so much that it makes me all warm and fuzzy. I love a family that get on, even if they have crappy parents. I ADORE the characters that Patrick Ness creates. I love how they’re often searching for their place in the world. It’s so relatable to many readers. I also love it when he slips in a LGBTQ character, because why shouldn’t they have a lot of representation?

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

If you haven’t read Patrick Ness then you’re missing out! The Rest Of Us Just Live Here is incredible!

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Silver Linings Playbook

Synopsis:

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate, Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In this riveting look at a day in the life of a disturbed teenage boy, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.

Thoughts:

I feel like I’m in the minority with this book compared to the rest of my book loving friends. I was so excited to read it, because I had heard such amazing things, but unfortunately I really didn’t get on with this book. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments of brilliance within the book, but for me I found the writing style incredibly jarring and I couldn’t get past that. The style includes looking at footnotes, and whilst this works for me with some books, with Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock I just got frustrated!

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is an intense read. It follows Leonard, who is suffering from mental illness. Leonard has decided on his 18th birthday that he is going to kill himself. He also wants to kill his former best friend. Before he kills himself he wants to say goodbye to those that mean a lot to him, including one of his teachers. The story follows Leonard as he speaks to each person he wants to say goodbye to.

I find it hard to review this book, because as I said, it didn’t quite resonate with me, and despite the moments of brilliance I wasn’t sure what this book was trying to achieve. I wasn’t sure whether I should be sympathising with Leonard, he does have a crappy deal with his family life and other horrible things that happen to him. I did sympathise. However, Leonard is a hard character to connect with. Or was this book trying to show the reader how much a person can take before they lose control?

Leonard is such a complex character. As I mentioned, I did somewhat feel sorry for what had happened to him in the past, but I found him hard to like. I did like him more than his mother, who was just neglectful and a complete waste of space. Leonard did have an amazing teacher who went above and beyond to attempt to help him and save his life. I wish Leonard had come across as more grateful and less obnoxious. It certainly felt like Leonard expected the world to owe him something. I know the world had been tough to Leonard, but I wish he hadn’t come across as so self entitled.

The reason why I have given this book three stars is because a lot of people have enjoyed it, and it certainly struck strong emotions with me- but they weren’t the feelings that I had been anticipating, that’s for sure!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

This book completely surprised me, I was expecting to connect with it much more. It is still an intriguing look at mental illness, which I’m sure many people will enjoy!

Every Day (Every Day #1)

Every Day (Every Day, #1)

How did I get it?:
It was a present!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares
Two Boys Kissing
Marly’s Ghost

Synopsis:

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

Thoughts:

I had heard so much about Every Day but for some reason had not got around to reading it. I’m so glad that I have read it now because I thought it was a beautiful book that’s so well written. It does have its faults though. I definitely think David Levithan is an author you really like, or an author you don’t really connect with. His writing style is so unique. His books always seem quite philosophical and deep, questioning things that don’t usually get questioned.

Every Day centres around A, we never find out if A is female or male. A has no gender, no body and we also never find out A’s sexuality. A just wakes up in a different body every morning and has to live their life for that day. At midnight, A is whisked away into another body to repeat the process again. Although A has no specified gender, as you continue to read, you assume that A is male. A tries not to interfere with other’s lives, until he is in the body of Rhiannon’s boyfriend, Justin. He falls in love with Rhiannon and begins to find ways to be with her every day even though he is in other people’s bodies.

This isn’t a case of insta love though, well not on Rhiannon’s part. Rhiannon takes a while to come around to the idea of A. Deep down she knows a relationship can’t work if the person isn’t in the same body every day. This book really is a different romance, a very fantastical romance.

This book is clever though and poses so many questions about what it is to be human. It never really gives answers to the questions, because we don’t know the answers. It’s fun to explore. The reason why I didn’t rate this book five stars, was because I felt it was trying to push a lot of the unique types of people into one book. We read about lesbians, transgender, drug abusers and a suicidal teenager to name a few. It’s interesting to see this represented, but I have to admit, it felt a little forced. It didn’t need to do this to be a stunning book.

I can imagine that my sister, as a scientist, will really ponder the questions about human nature that this book throws into question. It’s certainly intriguing to me with an interest in philosophy. Thoughts about human nature aside, this book is well worth reading. It’s an interesting concept which I think has been executed very well!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A beautifully written book with a very intriguing concept!

Hate

Hate

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Eve’s older sister, Rosie, was bright and alive and always loved being the centre of attention. Then one day, she is brutally murdered. Six months later, Eve meets Antony and discovers that he was there the night Rosie died and did nothing to help. Is there any way she can ever get past that? Inspired by the Sophie Lancaster murder in 2007, which saw Sophie and her partner Rob viciously attacked in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, Lancashire because of the way they dressed. This is a hard-hitting real-life thriller about friendship, courage, loss, forgiveness and about our society and communities.

Thoughts:

This book by Alan Gibbons is a work of fiction, but it was inspired by Sophie Lancaster’s murder in 2007. Sophie and her boyfriend were attacked by strangers because of the way they dressed. Alan’s story, Hate, explores a similar situation and focuses on the lives of those left behind and how acts of hate can affect so many people.

Hate focuses on Eve, the sister of Rosie, the girl that was murdered; Anthony, who is a witness to the attack and Oli who is Eve’s best friend’s brother. Oli is gay and begins to experience some hate towards hom as he comes out. Hate follows the characters trying to get their lives back on track. Eve’s life has changed quite drastically. Her parents have separated, her mum is still fighting for justice for her daughter and Anthony has started to attend Eve’s school. Eve is devastated as she believes Anthony was cowardly and should have supported Rosie when she was being attacked. Anthony is also struggling since the attack. He is feeling guilty for not doing anything to help, but he was paralysed by fear due to issues in the past. Oli faces prejudice after coming out to this parents and the rest of his school. All of the points of view come together and the characters all link together in a way that I won’t spoil.

What I think is so important about this book is that it gives a really important message about hate crime. You would hope that we are getting better in society, but unfortunately hate crimes and not accepting others for their differences is still not as unheard of as we’d hope. This book really does explore some gritty and hard hitting issues, but it deals with them in such a readable and thought provoking way. The chapters are short and snappy. It certainly made me think about it, days after I had read it.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A powerful, important book about hate crime.

I’ll Give You The Sun

I'll Give You the Sun

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

Thoughts:

This is going to be a tough book to review. I had such high expectations for it, having loved The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. I have to admit that I went into it perhaps too high expectations, so I was left feeling a little let down. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book. I did. It just wasn’t the 4-5 star read that I thought it was going to be. There’s no denying that Jandy’s writing is fantastic.

I’ll Give You The Sun follows Jude and Noah, twins that used to be incredibly close. We follow them at different times in their lives. Noah is coming to terms with his sexuality. He feels the relationship with his sister Jude is changing. She’s changed and Noah is finding that hard to deal with. The change in their relationship comes after a tragic family event, which the twins are finding very hard to deal with. The story switches to follow Jude three years later when her relationship with Noah is strained. They’re both different people now. Jude tends to shut herself off frrom everyone else and has some very strange rituals that Noah just can’t understand.

The narration does jump from Jude and Noah but I felt like it was seamless. It made sense.

Jude and Noah are not easy to understand and connect with straight away. Jude really stands out to me as one of the most unique characters that I’ve read. I don’t know whether that’s unique in a good way or not, but she’s certainly unlike any character that I’ve ever read about.

This book does include a lot of art, whilst I don’t really have a personal connection with art, it really didn’t matter. Jandy’s writing makes you want to learn more about art. She makes you enthusiastic about it. The theme runs through the book, as both characters have an interest in art. I have to say in this book it works! Jandy’s writing in itself is incredibly artistic, so it’s a good fit.

I’ll Give You The Sun may have taken me a while to get into and adapt to the writing style, but I do think it’s worth a read.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Jandy Nelson’s writing is beautiful, but takes some time to get used to. This book is worth checking out!

The Art of Being Normal

The Art of Being Normal

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan.

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

Thoughts:

I picked up The Art of Being Normal because of recommendations from bookish friends and also because the synopsis immediately intrigued me! I knew I was going to enjoy this book because it comes so highly recommended by people who I really trust when it comes to my reading tastes! I thought The Art of Being Normal was an amazing read which I know I will be recommending to many bookish friends!

The Art of Being Normal centres around two characters David and Leo. David and his two best friends are the only people to know his secret. David has wanted to be a girl since he was younger. David is having trouble telling his family how he feels. He’s not ready to tell them and the rest of the school who already know that he’s different to the rest of them. David meets Leo on Leo’s first day at Eden Park School. Leo has had to leave his old school and no one knows the full story. They think it’s because he’s been violent. Leo certainly has an air of mystery around him. When Leo stands up for David, David becomes very intrigued about Leo’s story and wants to get to know him better. They grow closer as they learn each other’s secrets.

This book addresses some really important issues. The title in itself makes you wonder what normal really is. I know I certainly don’t know, but yet in society we try and put a label on what is normal. I have really enjoyed reading books about exploring transgender and this book just adds to my collection of books that handle diverse issues sensitively. Lisa Williamson powerfully writes about the struggles that come with trying to find your identity, especially when it deviates from the ‘norm’.

One of the reasons why I loved this book so much was because it was a very British voice. I think this is an incredibly powerful piece of UKYA and is an incredibly accomplished debut novel.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A powerful debut about transgender!