Release

Release

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Chaos Walking Trilogy:

Standalone:

Synopsis:

Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It’s a big day. Things go wrong. It’s intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches…

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It’s a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won’t come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.

Thoughts:

As soon as I hear that Patrick Ness has a new book coming out, I pre-order it straight away. He’s one of my auto-buy authors. I don’t even read the synopsis of the book. It’s going to be mine, without fail. I always wonder if I hype him too much, I mean, I love The Ness, I’ve made no secret of that fact. I always think I’m going to be disappointed by my high expectations for his work. It hasn’t happened to me…until now. However, it’s only a slight disappointment and even though I have my reservations about Release, I have seen so many positive reviews, so if you’re a Patrick Ness fan, don’t despair. His writing is beautiful and story so unique.

Release is similar to The Rest Of Us Just Live Here in the fact that it has two parallel plots that don’t really hit each other. There’s the plot that follows Adam Thorn and his life and then there’s a magical realism type fairy tale. Something you’d think I’d love, given my adoration of fairy tales, right? It’s like reading two separate stories. It worked for me for The Rest Of Us Just Live Here but for some reason, it didn’t work for me with Release. The book covers a lot of issues in a short space of time. There’s teen angst, family issues, love and extremely likeable characters. It’s also got a touch of paranormal.

I absolutely cannot fault Patrick Ness. I am still a huge fan, despite not loving this book in particular. His writing is amazing and the characters he creates are in-depth and extremely well considered. Release’s two plot lines just did not work for me. I wanted more of Adam’s story. I found his story to be powerful and compelling whereas the other plot line just felt a little cold.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Whilst this wasn’t my favourite book by Mr Ness, it was still a good read and one which many’ll enjoy!

As I Descended

As I Descended

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Lies We Tell Ourselves
What We Left Behind

Synopsis:

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

Thoughts:

I absolutely loved Robin Talley’s debut novel, but was a little disappointed by her second release. However, the synopsis of this book had me easily gripped and I knew I had to read it. I also really enjoy retellings and I was intrigued by the modern take on Macbeth.

As I Descended takes place at a boarding school. Our main characters use a Ouija board and that is the catalyst to the madness…Although this story is told from multiple points of view, Maria is the main focus of this story. She is determined to take down Delilah, who is the front runner for the Kingsley Prize, a scholarship for college. It will give her more time with Lily, her girlfriend. Maria and Lily work hard to make sure Maria gets that prize, no matter what it takes. The story definitely takes a turn for the worse when creepy things begin to happen….

I really enjoy Robin Talley’s writing style, she created such a wonderfully chilling atmosphere, I just had to keep turning the pages. I absolutely loved the diversity in the characters. As a reader, you can find LGBT characters and also a character with a physical disability.

If you don’t know much about Macbeth then it really doesn’t matter. I know the plot of Macbeth, but I’ve never read it and it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

I was pleasantly surprised by this book! It’s not quite Lies We Tell Ourselves, but it’s a creepy, intriguing read!

Honor Girl

Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir

How did I get it?:
I received it from Walker Books, many thanks to them!

Synopsis:

Maggie Thrash has spent basically every summer of her fifteen-year-old life at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the heart of Appalachia. She’s from Atlanta, she’s never kissed a guy, she’s into Backstreet Boys in a really deep way, and her long summer days are full of a pleasant, peaceful nothing . . . until one confounding moment. A split-second of innocent physical contact pulls Maggie into a gut-twisting love for an older, wiser, and most surprising of all (at least to Maggie), female counselor named Erin. But Camp Bellflower is an impossible place for a girl to fall in love with another girl, and Maggie’s savant-like proficiency at the camp’s rifle range is the only thing keeping her heart from exploding. When it seems as if Erin maybe feels the same way about Maggie, it’s too much for both Maggie and Camp Bellflower to handle, let alone to understand.

Thoughts:

I have really got into graphic novels over the past year or so. When I had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy of this book from Walker Books, I jumped at the chance. I was especially intrigued because it was a memoir. That’s another one of my favourite things in a book. It didn’t take me long to read this book at all and I really appreciated that it wasn’t a happily ever after ending.

Honor Girl is all about summer camp and crushes. It’s totally adorable. I really enjoyed following Maggie’s story. It feels odd to say that when this is actually Maggie’s memoir. The graphic memoir pinpoints a moment at summer camp when Maggie had just realised she’s gay and she’s got a major crush on a camp counsellor called Erin. Maggie is trying to work through her feelings and spend some time with Erin at the same time. It’s ever so cute and a little frustrating at points. One of those moments when you just want to force two characters (people?) together. I liked that Maggie had a supportive friend that teased but supported her at the same time. The friendship was adorable and relatable.

Honor Girl is as funny as it is heart-warming. I finished it wondering what Maggie would get up to next!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Whilst this book didn’t blow me away, it didn’t take long to read and will really appeal to many readers!

If I Was Your Girl

If I Was Your Girl

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Amanda Hardy is the new girl at school.

Like everyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is holding back. Even from Grant, the guy she’s falling in love with.

Amanda has a secret.

At her old school, she used to be called Andrew. And secrets always have a way of getting out.

A book about loving yourself and being loved for who you really are.

Thoughts:

I’m a big fan of everything diverse and I knew If I Was Your Girl had a transgender character at the heart of the story. Whilst this isn’t my favourite book on the topic, it was a decent read that didn’t take me long to read at all. As you’re reading it, you want to learn more about the LGBTQIA community and it certainly made me feel empathetic towards them.

If I Was Your Girl centres around Amanda, who is a transgender girl. All she wants is to get through school without being picked on. She has recently moved to a new school to finish her senior year. At first, things go really well for Amanda. She’s totally accepted as a girl (they don’t know otherwise), she makes friends and also gets a boyfriend. Amanda is in a great place, but she’s always torn between keeping her happiness and telling the truth about her past to her boyfriend.

This book really didn’t have much action at all. It just plodded along. It was quick enough to read and I loved the main character. It just didn’t have as much oomph as I would like it to have. It’s not a book that necessarily stands out in the genre, however, it’s still a book that I believe many will enjoy. It’s got a sweet romance and a wonderful main character.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Not what I expected- but a sweet, important story nevertheless!

Banned Books #33- Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to March’s edition of Banned Books (a little late, sorry!) where Beth and I have read Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
First published: 2006
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2015 (source)
Reasons: violence and other (“graphic images”)

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

BETH:  This is one of those books where I don’t necessarily agree with the reason for challenging/banning it but I can understand why someone may have had problems. I don’t think a book should ever be banned outright and people should always have access to it but in some cases, it might not be suitable for younger readers. There is however one reason I’d like to point out as I’m confused about it – the violence part. Now I’ve just finished this graphic novel/memoir and I really am racking my brain to remember any specific incidence of violence. There is a couple of slight incidents at the beginning where Alison’s father hits her or her brothers but it isn’t portrayed terribly graphically which I was a little relieved about as that would hit a bit too close to the bone for me.

CHRISSI: I can somewhat understand why this book has had some issues. There’s some er… rather risque moments that I can imagine would be a bit difficult to handle in the classroom. That’s not to say that I don’t think it should be challenged and banned completely, but from a teaching perspective… I wouldn’t dream of having this in the library unlike some of the other books that we’ve read for this feature.

How about now?

BETH: This book is now over ten years old and still reads as very contemporary so I don’t think attitudes would have changed too much in that short period of time. I was surprised at the graphic sexual imagery that there is, I wasn’t really expecting that and although I wasn’t personally offended by it it might be a bit too much for very young readers. It shows a lesbian scene and I was quite pleased that this kind of thing is being included in graphic novels. The other graphic image is of a naked male corpse which again I wasn’t perturbed by but might frighten those of a more sensitive disposition. 

CHRISSI: I’d have to agree with Beth, there are some images that might be a bit too much for some. I’m happy that it’s an LGBT graphic novel/memoir, but the male corpse was a little bit too much for me!

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: Unfortunately I was really disappointed by this book. I thought Alison Bechdel certainly led an interesting life, being brought up in a funeral home with a gay father and coming out as homosexual herself later in life made for a fascinating read. However, I didn’t really get on with the story as a whole, the literary references to Proust and Fitzgerald seemed a bit over the top and unnecessary at times and I would have enjoyed it more if she had specifically focused on the relationship between herself and her late father.

CHRISSI: Beth asked me what I thought of it before she started it and I didn’t want to spoil her reading experience. However, I really didn’t like this book. I thought it was going to be really interesting, it certainly has potential to be a fantastic read but I felt the story as a whole didn’t gel well for me. I was bored at points which isn’t what you want from a book.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably not.
CHRISSI: It’s not for me!- This book didn’t capture my attention.

London Belongs To Us

London Belongs to Us

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Adorkable
It Felt Like A Kiss

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Sunny’s always been a little bit of a pushover. But when she’s sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she’s got to act. What follows is a mad, twelve-hour dash around London – starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can’t even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill . . . and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace.

Along the way Sunny meets a whole host of characters she never dreamed she’d have anything in common with – least of all the devilishly handsome (and somewhat vain) French ‘twins’ (they’re really cousins) Jean Luc and Vic. But as this love-letter to London shows, a city is only a sum of its parts, and really it’s the people living there who make up its life and soul. And, as Sunny discovers, everyone – from friends, apparent-enemies, famous bands and even rickshaw drivers – is willing to help a girl on a mission to get her romantic retribution.

Thoughts:

I have read two books from Sarra Manning before that I thoroughly enjoyed so I was excited to start London Belongs To Us, I thought it was going to be a cute contemporary YA but it’s more of a fun, fast-paced love letter to London. Don’t get me wrong, if you love contemporary YA then this book will certainly entertain you, but it’s not just about the romance, that’s for sure.

It centres around Sunny who goes on an all-night journey around London. When at a picnic with her friends, she is sent a photograph of her boyfriend with another girl. Sunny goes searching for the truth. She travels around London with two French cousins learning lots about herself along the way.

I think this book is a perfect read if you love London. Each chapter begins with some history of London which is a really interesting introduction to the places that Sunny visits. I am well aware with all of the places that Sunny visits and it’s lovely to read something so familiar.

Sarra Manning is fantastic at creating funny dialogue and I loved the conversations throughout the story. I also appreciated how much Sunny grew as a character. She was quite a pushover in the beginning and I like the way she grows and realises her self-worth. I loved her friendship with Emmeline.

Another plus point for this book is the fact that it has diverse characters. Sunny’s father is black and her mother is white and there’s a point in the book which discusses the differing messages that Sunny gets from her parents about the colour of her skin. Emmeline, Sunny’s friend is gay too but it’s never really shoved in our face. She just is and it’s not made a massive point of the story.

I enjoyed this book and whilst it’s not my favourite read in the genre, it was certainly enjoyable and it’s a decent read if you’re looking for something light, fun and adventurous.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A fun journey around London in one night! Some great moments within- definitely worth it if you’re a fan of London!

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously read by the same authors:

John Green:

David Levithan:

Synopsis:

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers cross paths. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, culminating in heroic turns-of-heart and the most epic musical ever to grace the high-school stage.

Thoughts:

I have had this book for the longest time, but if I’m honest, I was a little put off from reading it. This is mainly because I’ve had some problems with John Green books. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a decent enough writer. I just don’t get all of the hype surrounding his books. I’ve read a lot of them now and I think they’re okay- just not outstanding like many other readers seem to feel. It’s just personal preference I guess. Each to their own. David Levithan is what pulled me to this book. I absolutely adore David Levithan’s writing and I’m working my way through his books. There’s something about David’s writing that pulls me in.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is narrated by two different boys named Will Grayson. Our first Will Grayson (narrated by John Green) is best friends with a guy named Tiny Cooper. He may be called Tiny, but he’s anything but tiny. He’s a bigger guy and definitely has a larger than life personaility. John’s Will Grayson has all kinds of girl drama because he’s trying to avoid girl drama…consquently making quite the drama over drama. I could tell from the start that this Will Grayson was written by John Green as his writing style is incredibly identifiable. I have to admit, that I actually really enjoyed John Green’s Will Grayson!

Now for the other Will Grayson. Ahhh David Levithan!<3 I thought I was going to hate David’s Will Grayson because it was all written in lowercase. The teacher in me was screaming about using capital letters and capitalising ‘I’. I quickly got over it though… because you know… David Levithan’s writing is delicious. Can writing be delicious? Yes. Yes it can. After finishing the book, I read the interview that both authors gave and David explains that Will writes in lowercase because that’s how he sees himself. I totally got that. This Will Grayson is a darker character. He’s depressed. One day, Will Grayson comes across the other Will Grayson (*cough* in a porn shop *cough*) and this leads to him meeting Tiny Cooper. They later become a couple.

There is a great deal of romance throughout this book. It’s full of relationship drama which I’m not usually a fan of, but it works so well in this story. The relationships feel real with relatable struggles. I also really enjoyed how this book was about friendship as well. It’s a wonderfully witty story and I’m pleased I finally gave it a chance. This was certainly my favourite John Green book.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A witty, engrossing read! I loved this book!