REVIEW: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

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DSC_0516There have only been a handful of times that I’ve wanted to be friends with the author of a book I’ve read, but Jenny Lawson is one of them. So is Jane Austen, so she’s in good company. Strong, witty women will always find their way into my heart and Lawson has done just that with Furiously Happy.

May was Mental Health Awareness month, so I challenged myself to pick up a book that would put me in the shoes of someone who experiences the world differently to me. Challenge is probably the wrong word because it wasn’t a struggle to read Furiously Happy, it was more difficult pulling myself away. Continue reading “REVIEW: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson”

REVIEW: Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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DSC_0512Being sixteen is hard, being sixteen with a secret is harder. Simon Spier knows what it’s like to keep a part of himself hidden. He’s gay but the only person who knows is his mystery pen-pal Blue. But when Martin the school joker finds Simon’s e-mails to Blue it looks like the truth might come out, whether Simon wants it to or not. The only way to stop Martin from spilling is to help him get closer to Abby, Simon’s friend. Continue reading “REVIEW: Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli”

REVIEW: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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I don’t think I can really call this a review because all I have is outright praise for The Hate U Give. This is exactly why we need diverse books that show us the world that exists outside our own experiences, because in 2017 we haven’t come as far as we should have, and we need to be reminded of that.

Sixteen year old Starr is driving home from a party with her best friend Khalil when they are stopped by the police. She’s scared, but at twelve years old her parents gave her the talk about what to do when an officer approaches you. She knows to keep her hands visible, not to make sudden movements. But Khalil is asked to step out of the car and is searched. When he turns to ask Starr is she’s okay the officer shoots him, three times. Instead of focusing on Khalil’s senseless death, the media and the police department attempt to justify his death by alluding to his potential links with gangs and drugs, instead of the real facts- that an unarmed black teenager was shot dead.

But Starr knows what really happened, and she knew the real Khalil. Over the course of the book she discovers the power her voice has to defend her friend’s memory and her community, even when the truth might put her in danger. She doesn’t realise how brave she is. Having to be questioned by the colleagues of Officer One-Fifteen, the man who killed her friend, testifying in front of a Grand Jury, trying to maintain normality when her would has been upended twice- all at sixteen years old. Of course she’s scared. It’s not something she should have to deal with at her age, but she stands up despite that fear.

Starr’s family were a shining light. They were real. They brought humour and love in the darker moments of Starr’s life. All the undercurrents that exists in most families were there, but they were endlessly supportive of each other. Especially their parents, who were willing to adapt for their kids. The tense situation they were in might break some families, but not theirs. The level of community support and spirit that her neighbourhood had was heartwarming. They help each other without thinking about it and that’s something the media neglects to show.

I felt exhausted for her having to constantly hide facets of her self at her predominantly white school for fear of being stereotyped. She has to keep a tight reign over her emotions and when they do understandably bubble over she’s dismissed for being over-sensitive. Jokes give her friends and other students a free pass to be as insensitive and racist as they want, by disguising their comments as humour and Starr has to laugh along or be ostracised.

It’s the sense of entitlement  from being born a certain skin colour and the ignorance that comes with it that are dangerous, because those flippant comments breed attitudes that divide us. In speaking out, Starr fights against those attitudes.

Sometimes you don’t realise you’re eyes are half-closed, but Starr’s story opened mine. Everyone should read this book.

Rating: 5/5

 

REVIEW: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

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roanokeThey say don’t judge a book by its cover, but don’t let the genre put you off either. Every reader has one that they avoid, the dark corner of the fiction section they never venture into. Some readers have more than one. For me, it’s Crime/Thrillers. Why I’m not entirely sure, but when it comes to reading novels in this genre, I always have a hard time letting the story take me. But genres aren’t always so clear cut, and you never know when a book will surprise you. Sometimes you have to venture outside your comfort zone or you won’t experience anything new. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel”

REVIEW: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Caraval had tough shoes to fill. A fantastical game set in a vaudeville style arena, where magic conceals a more sinister reality; it immediately reminded me of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. But The Night Circus is a battle between two talented magicians, set against each other by their guardians. In order to win the competition they must outdo each other by creating attractions for an enchanted circus. In Caraval, its ordinary people who are let loose in a world of mystery that brings out their darker sides. Despite the similarities between the two, Garber has created an original story that seemed surprisingly more insidious. Continue reading “REVIEW: Caraval by Stephanie Garber”

REVEIW: The Wrath & The Dawn (The Problem With Characters)

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DSC_0450Writing a review of a book that disappointed you can be hard, especially when that book has a lot of love behind it. There are a lot of positive reviews out there for Renee Andeih’s The Wrath & The Dawn but I’m afraid this isn’t one of them. But that’s okay. We don’t all share the same experiences, life wouldn’t be life if we did, and the same goes for books, because we take a part of ourselves into the stories we read.

For me, characterisation is the most important part of a novel, and it’s what I focus on most in my reviews. Continue reading “REVEIW: The Wrath & The Dawn (The Problem With Characters)”

REVIEW: The Girls by Emma Cline

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These long-haired girls seemed to glide above all that was happening around the, tragic and separate. Like royalty in exile.

The Girls, Emma Cline (2016)

The Girls is Emma Cline’s debut novel about Evie, a young girl drawn into the dark world of a commune that preaches love and understanding, but hides something much more sinister. Its charismatic leader, Russell Hadrick is loosely based on Charles Manson. It’s not Russell who attracts Evie to the commune though, but the girls he holds in his sway. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Girls by Emma Cline”