Leah On The Offbeat (Creekwood #2)

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood, #2)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda
The Upside Of Unrequited

Synopsis:

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Thoughts:

I was so excited to read this book, especially after loving Simon so much. I did approach it with some trepidation though. As I often do when I hype books so much. Pffft, why do I do it? That said, this book was not a disappointment to me at all. I really enjoyed it and thought it was an awesome addition to Simon’s world. I had some moments when I actually laughed out loud. Although Simon features, this is definitely Leah’s story and I was totally okay with that.

Leah On The Offbeat explores Leah’s feelings towards one of her friends. Like Simon in the previous book, Leah hasn’t yet come out. She’s bisexual and doesn’t feel ready to tell this to the world. She’s not as brave as Simon was. The characters are now in their senior year of high school and thinking about moving on to college, making some important decisions for the future.

I loved Leah in her own story. I thought she was funny and completely true to herself. I loved her sarcasm and how she was quite moody. She was blunt about her own weight and discussed how many people equate skinny to pretty even if they don’t intend to.

Leah, Simon and their group of friends are so fun to follow. They are such an easy group of friends to root for. I love how Becky Albertalli’s books deal with real issues but essentially they are books that uplift you and give your some joy despite the doom and gloom that real life can bring sometimes.

You don’t need to have read Simon to read this book, but it’ll enhance your experience if you do!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Whereas it didn’t quite match my beloved Simon, it was still a decent read that I quickly devoured!

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My Husband’s Lies

My Husband’s Lies

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Avon Books

Synopsis:

Do you really know your friends?

On the afternoon of Nick and Lisa’s wedding, their close friend is found poised on a hotel window ledge, ready to jump.

As the shock hits their friendship group, they soon realise that none of them are being as honest with themselves – or with each other – as they think.

And there are secrets lurking that could destroy everything.

Thoughts:

Hmm… this is going to be an interesting book to review, because I found myself struggling with it a little bit. I was immediately intrigued by the title, thinking it was going to be a gripping, twisting thriller. Unfortunately, that’s not what I got. I think I would have appreciated if this book had focused on one relationship. I think it would have been good to read about a wife with a husband that is hiding some pretty awful things. That was definitely what I thought I was going into. Let me explain more…

My Husband’s Lies is about a group of childhood friends and their relationships into adulthood. There were so many characters which was hard to keep track of, especially in the beginning. I feel like if there weren’t so many characters, I could have really enjoyed this book. However, I felt like it was too much, meaning that I didn’t feel their characters were as developed as they could have been. It did keep me reading though. I wouldn’t say that the writing itself was bad, I personally just think it suffered from too much going on.

The characters in this book weren’t immediately likeable. It don’t think it bodes well that I can’t recall many of the characters, a couple of days after finishing the book. I found the characters to be very shallow and out for themselves. They didn’t seem to care about their partners at all and that’s incredibly frustrating.

Would I recommend it?:
It’s not for me!- Unfortunately I didn’t get on with this book. I was expecting it to absolutely grip me, but it didn’t and I found myself getting frustrated by the characters.

You may enjoy this book, but it didn’t work for me!

They Both Die At The End

They Both Die at the End

How did I get it?:
It was a present from my sister Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
More Happy Than Not
History Is All You Left Me

Synopsis:

When Mateo receives the dreaded call from Death-Cast, informing him that today will be his last, he doesn’t know where to begin. Quiet and shy, Mateo is devastated at the thought of leaving behind his hospitalised father, and his best friend and her baby girl. But he knows that he has to make the most of this day, it’s his last chance to get out there and make an impression. 

Rufus is busy beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend when he gets the call. Having lost his entire family, Rufus is no stranger to Death-Cast. Not that it makes it any easier. With bridges to mend, the police searching for him and the angry new boyfriend on his tail, it’s time to run. 

Isolated and scared, the boys reach out to each other, and what follows is a day of living life to the full. Though neither of them had expected that this would involve falling in love… 

Thoughts:

I have been slowly making my way through Adam Silvera’s books. I absolutely lapped up his second book History Is All You Left Me so I was super excited to get a copy of this book at Christmas time. I decided I needed to read it ASAP so it leapt its way over books on my TBR list. I’m glad I made time for this book because although it broke my heart, I thought it was a pretty incredible read.

They Both Die At The End is about two guys that receive a call telling them that they’re going to die that day. Can you even imagine that happening? The thought terrifies me. Mateo is a quiet boy who spends a lot of time inside. His father is currently in a coma. He doesn’t want to leave his father, his friend and his goddaughter.  Then there’s Rufus, who has lost his entire family and his girlfriend. As he was beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend he got the call… Mateo and Rufus end up finding each other through an app and start to live their last day to the full. They never expected to fall for each other though…

I can see that there are problematic things about this book, if you really stop to analyse it, but I absolutely was heartbroken and moved by this story which is why I still rated it 5 stars. One of the problems that I’m just thinking about now is why people got calls about their death. How did people know? It confuses me, but I’m letting that one go because the rest of the book is just awesome.

Although this is sad, moving read there’s definitely so much happiness within its pages which made me very happy. The love between Mateo and his best friend was heart warming. I also loved Rufus and his gang. Friendships are so important and this book had them in abundance. I knew there was going to be a sad ending, the title gives that away. When I got close to the ending, I really, really didn’t want to know what was going to happen to them both. In fact, I tweeted:

I think the characters are what made this book for me. They were so well crafted. Both Mateo and Rufus were incredibly moving characters. I loved them both for different reasons. I adored how Mateo was so cautious and I loved how Rufus could bring him out of his shell, but still let Mateo be Mateo. They’re definitely characters that I wanted to be together. ❤ They were just the sweetest. I loved how it didn’t feel like an instalove situation. I guess it is, if you take it in the scale of one day, but it wasn’t love at first sight. It developed over hours of getting to know each other. It was believable and oh so raw.

There’s something so special about Adam Silvera’s writing. His characters are complex and his story lines are completely captivating. I have to come expect a wonderful read when I pick up an Adam Silvera book and I’m yet to be proved wrong.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

I absolutely adored this diverse, heart breaking read. Be prepared to feel all of the emotions!

Flying Tips For Flightless Birds

Flying Tips for Flightless Birds

How did I get it?:
Received from Walker Books for review

Synopsis:

Twins Finch and Birdie Franconi are stars of the flying trapeze. But when Birdie suffers a terrifying accident, Finch must team up with the geeky new kid, Hector Hazzard, to form an all-boys double act and save the family circus school. Together they learn to walk the high-wire of teen life and juggle the demands of friends, family, first love and facing up to who they are – all served up with a dash of circus-showbiz magic.

Thoughts:

I was immediately intrigued by this book when I read about it in an email. The title interested me and I’m all for reading about circuses at the moment. A massive thank you to Walker for sending me a copy of this book. I’m always excited when I hear that a book is a debut. I’m always on the search for fabulous new writing talent. I am happy to say I’d easily read another book by Kelly McCaughrain, I was really impressed with her debut!

It centres around twins Finch and Birdie. They are the stars of the flying trapeze in their family circus. Finch and Birdie are treated horribly at school because they are outsiders, they dress outlandishly and express themselves through their outfits! Lots of people at school pick on them because they’re different. Birdie has a terrifying accident, leaving her out of action for the family circus school. Finch has to work with Hector, a new geeky kid at school. He’s a little bit hopeless at all things circus, but Finch perseveres with him. Finch and Hector grow closer as they learn to deal with friends, family and school pressures. They learn about who they really are.

I thought this was such a cute book! I have to admit that it took me a few chapters to get into it, but when I was, I was completely captivated. I found it incredibly easy to read. I loved how there were many positive messages that could be taken from the story. Finch, Birdie and Hector are such fantastic characters. I especially grew to love Finch and Hector. I loved how their friendship developed over the course of the story. I was championing Hector from the very beginning too. Such an adorable character.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. My heart grew to love these truly special characters.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic debut with some amazing characters that became very dear to me!

Banned Books #41- George

Welcome to this month’s Banned Books post! This month we read George by Alex Gino.

Note: This month’s book was supposed to be The Color Of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa but unfortunately we have not been able to get hold of a copy for a reasonable price so we’ve had to make a last minute switch!

George
First published: 2015
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2016 (source)
Reasons: challenged because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.”

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: I’m really looking forward to hearing Chrissi’s thoughts on George, she said to me she had “a lot to say,” and I’m very intrigued! I found out about this book a while ago through my sister who has already read and done a full length review of it on her blog. I could have already guessed why the book might be challenged but I was really hoping that it wouldn’t be for the reason stated. *Sigh* of course it is. I was really hoping that in 2016, when this book was originally challenged (published in 2015) we were much more enlightened as a species about transgender issues and a book aimed at children about this subject would not be a big deal. Sadly, I was wrong.

CHRISSI: It actually hurt my heart that this book was challenged. It’s aimed at elementary children and in my eyes isn’t inappropriate at all for that age group. It actually makes me mad that it is challenged. The reason why it’s challenged was because ‘the sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.’ I mean WHAT? Many children know from an early age if they feel like they’re in the wrong body that they were born into. It’s told with a child’s voice. How can it be challenged? I really, really don’t get it.

How about now?

BETH: As George is a very recent release, I’m sure attitudes have not changed very much in the year that it was first challenged. I’d be upset to see it appear again when the list for 2017 comes out but you’re always going to get those people that feel uncomfortable with children’s sexuality, particularly if it happens to be a child determined that they are the opposite sex from the body they have been born into. I think this book is entirely appropriate for the elementary level as it is handled in a very intelligent and sensitive way. In fact, I think children definitely shouldn’t be shielded from these things because in a way, isn’t that confirming to them that being transgender might be strange/wrong (when obviously it is not?!). Of course, if it can help a child that is struggling with their gender assignment and can see themselves in George then that can only be a good thing, I think.

CHRISSI: It definitely has a place for elementary aged readers and those beyond. I think it’s such an innocent read about a topic that isn’t talked about enough. I have experienced teaching a child who is absolutely determined that she’s a boy. It wouldn’t surprise me if she was transgender. I know a lot of people think it’s just a ‘stage’ and for some children it is, but we’re devaluing those for which it’s not by challenging a book like this. Argh, it makes me mad. Children should read books like this, so they know they’re not alone and that people are different. Such a valuable lesson.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a sweet, quick and easy to read novel. I loved the characters and the message it conveyed although I was quite cross for a little while with a couple of the characters which you might understand if you’ve read this book yourself!

CHRISSI: I think it’s an inspiring read. I’m really pleased I’ve read it and I’d certainly recommend it to elementary aged children!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Noah Can’t Even

Noah Can't Even

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Poor Noah Grimes! His father disappeared years ago, his mother’s Beyonce tribute act is an unacceptable embarrassment, and his beloved gran is no longer herself. He only has one friend, Harry, and school is…Well, it’s pure HELL. Why can’t Noah be normal, like everyone else at school? Maybe if he struck up a romantic relationship with someone – maybe Sophie, who is perfect and lovely – he’d be seen in a different light? But Noah’s plans are derailed when Harry kisses him at a party. That’s when things go from bad to utter chaos.

Thoughts:

I can totally see the appeal of this book. I can see that so many people would enjoy it. It’s light, it’s quite fun and it’s about identity/finding yourself. Yet, at some points I found myself rolling my eyes at this book. It felt a little ridiculous. Whilst this might work for some people, it didn’t really work for me, however, something about it kept me reading, so surely that says something?

Our main character, Noah, is having a pretty shocking time. His Dad has disappeared and his Mum constantly embarrasses him. Noah’s Gran has dementia which is getting progressively worse. Noah has Harry though, a wonderful friend who has always been there for him. Noah is desperate to be ‘normal’ like everyone else. He strikes a friendship up with Sophie who he wants more from. If they get together maybe he’d been seen differently by his peers. Noah’s situation gets even worse when Harry kisses him at a party. Noah’s life seems to be spiralling out of control!

This really was a quick read, that didn’t take me long to read. I can see why people have mixed feelings about it. Noah is quite an infuriating character. I found the way he dealt with situations incredibly frustrating. The humour is quite immature and can be a little crude in places. I know I’m not the target audience…maybe others wouldn’t find it as cringy as I did. I have to admit that some moments in this story did make me laugh out loud, so it’s not all negative.

If you’re into a dramatic contemporary read then I’d say to definitely try this book out. There’s so much teen drama to get stuck into (which’ll either suck you in or annoy you!) and a lot going on throughout the story.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!- This book is definitely not for everyone and whilst I found it easy enough to read, it wasn’t a memorable read for me.

I wasn’t the target audience for this book. It didn’t quite sit right with me, but I know others would enjoy it!

History Is All You Left Me

History Is All You Left Me

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
More Happy Than Not

Synopsis:

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course. 

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. 

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

Thoughts:

I enjoyed More Happy Than Not but this book completely surpassed it in my opinion. It was such a touching read. I knew it was going to be a heart-breaking one as I had heard as much, but I didn’t expect it to have such an impact on me. Adam Silvera is a truly beautifully writer.

History Is All You Left Me centres around Griff who has just lost his first love and ex-boyfriend in a tragic accident. Theo had moved to California for college and started a new relationship with a guy called Jackson. Griffin always thought that Theo would come back to him, but now the future has completely turned around for Griffin. The only person that understands his heartache is Jackson. Even though they begin to open up to one another, Griffin is spiralling out of control. His compulsions are getting worse and secrets are tearing him apart. To move on, Griffin is going to have to face up to his history.

I loved that this story flipped between past and present times. I’m always tentative when I know a book jumps about between time periods, but for this book it really did work. I loved reading about their history and how they were doing in present times. It really made me feel like I could get to know the characters. The characters are so well written. They are absolutely messed up which is understandable considering a very special guy to them has died. I could feel Griffin’s pain through the pages and although I don’t agree with everything he did, I could understand why he had acted in that way.

As for the representation of OCD? A round of applause to Adam Silvera. I don’t have OCD myself, but have several friends who do and the representation was so well done. I could really sympathise with Griffin.

There is romance in this book. A lot of romance. I have mixed feelings about it. I loved Griffin and Theo’s relationship and was rooting for them at the start. Then when he moved away to California everything started to get a little messy. Actually I lie, very, very messy! There was a lot of heartache between many characters and so much hurt. This certainly isn’t an ‘easy’ read.

This book is heartbreaking, but so very worth reading. It’s a beauty that’s for sure and I can’t wait to read Adam Silvera’s most recent book!

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A beautiful read. I didn’t expect to like this one as much!