Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston | Book Review

It’s the cutest enemies to lovers story ever!! With royals! Or gay royal and bisexual son of president! American & british culture intertwined at its very best.

Genre: contemporary, lgbt: m/m romance

Pages: 420 pages

Synopsis

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with an actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex/Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of the family and state and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: Stage a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the presidential campaign and upend two nations. It raises the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to ben? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? , how will history remember you?

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five stars!

I’m just going to gush about how much I liked this book, tbh. I read it so fast and felt like I overdosed on cuteness.

The characters really bring this story, with its political intrigue, making out in the white house and private security trying to catch up with these stupid college-age and not very discreet adults. The sneaking around, the enemies to lovers trope forced on by pretending to be friends after making quite the scandal by their feud, it’s just all great. There’s romantic correspondence in the form of emails, talking about everything from popculture (so well-done as well) to the prince talking about his probably gay princes and king relatives of the past and how they didn’t have cameras following them around.

I didn’t think the main character being bisexual instead of gay would mean this much to me, but it really showed me how it isn’t a thing in most queer books I read, or at least not done in such a good way. There is something different to the questioning of someone who is bisexual, and how Alex briefly has to consider whether he could fall in love with a girl and not have this thing hanging over his very promising political career that he’s worked so hard for. It showcases how his and Henry’s experiences is similar, but also so very different. And then we also get such good and too relatable quotes like (I’ve definitely come to this conclusion more than once myself): “Straight people, he thinks, probably don’t spend this much time convincing themselves that they’re straight”.

My only problem with this book was how I really wanted them to go deeper on the politics game, but I realize that’s not what this book was and would’ve made it less mainstream. So *shrug*.

Feelings while reading this book: i might’ve cried a bit, but i felt all the feelings, and love it so so much. the writing was so satisfying. such a feel-good queer novel while also having so much conflict.

I need more cute enemies to lovers books right now, with all the political intrigue I can get, preferably queer ones. Please send all your recommendations.

I found the worst book as I tried to purge my TBR

Back in June I took a look at my too long list of books I wanted to read, with 432 books, and then I took a look at the single last postponed exam I had that held me back from doing anything other productive – and I decided that time was short and I would pick up books I wasn’t sure about and quickly stop reading them with no guilt if they weren’t working. As to make it both unfair and fair way – my goal was to read one to three chapters of a book and make a decision if it’s worth investing the time in it for me. It went better than expected, as I found the worst and best book of this year. Probably.

And the worst book is Sweet Evil. Just – christian paranormal with extremely bad writing and damaging viewpoints and morals. Why – how – why does this have to be a thing I now have to worry about is infecting my TBR now? Any YA demon-angel book I’m giving suspicious glares, like a bloodhound trying to sniff out hidden unfeministic christian propaganda.

Books I DNF’ed

Defiance by C. J. Redwine

Remove. Been on my TBR for four years. Part of trilogy. YA dystopia.

Why: I’m not often in the mood for dystopias anymore, the writing was just ok and all reviews by people I follow says it’s more YA romance than action, despite its dark cover. The main turn-off was the protagonist starts off in the book being handed over to another guardian, obviously with little rights and not allowed to say much on her own. With the context it all didn’t seem like it would be for me.

Fighting for Flight by J.B. Salsbury

Remove. NA romance. Part of a seven book series. Been on my TBR for four years.

Why: I was 48% in before I gave up, it just didn’t get better at all. Why was this even on my TBR? Probably because I read a similar fighter tense romance that I liked around that time. I can’t bring myself to care for these characters & when *slight spoiler* the mechanic girl protagonist is again taken interest in by her famous pimp dad the story became annoyingly surreal. Also there’s A TON of putting other girls down for being “too slutty” and I want to write a whole post on this because that’s something that just makes me go “ohh fuck you” and that I’ve seen too much of.

He motions to the dark- haired girl with gigantic breasts shoved into a tiny top. Won’t have to worry about her sinking in the pool. 

Fighting for Flight by J. B. Salsbury
*facepalm*

Outrun the wind by Elizabeth Tammi

Remove. YA standalone. Been on my TBR for a year.

Why: Chapter three and I’m not feeling it. We started out the book with a fight scene no one was invested in, then switched pov for a scene to create some mystery with a cousin/kidnapper. The writing isn’t for me.

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Remove. Stopped reading after I felt my eyes burning at the virgin talk. Been on my TBR for four years. I got to chapter eight.

Why: HOW does this get so good reviews? This book is SO VERY christian paranormal where the virgin «not-like-other-girls» girl finds out she’s nephilim, meets a demon and SO MUCH cringy dialogue. Her own thoughts are so weird to follow. It’s so much worse than Twilight and the parts I’ve read of Fifty Shades of Gray. THE PROTAGONIST IS KILLED IF SHE CONTINUES TO BE A VIRGIN? WHAT KIND OF AWFUL DAMAGING SHIT IS THIS? Find your propaganda to not stray from the lord’s path and not do drugs or hook up with handsome biker-demon/nephilim-boys elsewhere.

A sixteen-year-old Neph virgin! How do you expect to be a bad influence to humans if you aren’t behaving badly yourself? I assume you at least partake in substances with your peers?

The Demon Dad of Handsome-Nephilim-Crush to the Protagonist

The Summoning by Kelly Armstrong

Remove. YA Paranormal. Been on my TBR for four years. Got to chapter five.

Why: I’m just not interested in this one, not that it necessarily seem like a bad book. Maybe I’ve read enough books with girls who can see ghosts and are claimed to be insane? The writing isn’t luring me in and also books or anything set in a psychiatric ward isn’t usually for me.

Wicked lovely by Melissa Marr

Remove. Been on my TBR half a year. I got 20% into the book.

Why: Nothing is happening. Nothing. How slow can a book be, especially at the beginning? That’s all I have to say, really, which makes it better than some of the others here, haha.

Books I Continued

(Don’t You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

KEEP! This is what I’m talking about! Standalone YA fantasy. Been on my TBR for four years.

Why I’m continuing reading it: the moment I read a couple pages I was so drawn in and intrigued by where the story was going. Halfway the mystery is still kept up, the writing allows for just the right amount of confusion, secrets and tension. I’ve never seen amnesia, self-made through drugs or not, written in a better way! So excited for this!

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Continue reading. YA paranormal. Part of trilogy. Been on my TBR for four years.

Why: a mysterious professor that needs help, the protagonist a misfit among her witch family as she has no powers and they keep reminding her. I was sold after the 2nd chapter, ending with the protagonist hitting a child with a teddybear as he used his powers to keep it from a toddler, which seemed like a regular occurence in this strange family. The writing is good with a lot of feeling shown in between the lines.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Continue reading. YA Fantasy. Been on my TBR for maybe a couple months (I don’t really know how long). Currently eight chapters into it.

Why: It started out a bit original and hopeful, but then again nothing happened as we fell down the hole of human and elf is travelling to a elven court and just talking with each other. Aside from that, the author definitely got talent and while the book feels very unfinished, it also have a few interesting parts so far.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this, besides the really bad books I ran into. I think (Don’t you) Forget About Me is going to be a favourite read this year! In general the concept just felt so effective and brought less guilt than usual of DNF’ing books or saying they’re just not for me anymore. Hopefully I’ll do this again, even though it required more than the usual review. It felt good to be more ruthless about my “maybe” reads if it also meant giving them a chance I wouldn’t otherwise have.

Never Let Me Go | Audiobook Review

I really had hope of liking this book, but it just did not work out at all.

Pages: 288

Genre: Contemporary, (a bit of sci-fi dystopia so small it shouldn’t be mentioned in fear of getting your hopes up)

Synopsis

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

The audiobook

Made by Faber & Faber Audio. The narrator was great, slipping you right into that british boarding school with lots of descriptive language. Hearing it out loud does make my annoyances with the writing more prominent as the book progressed. The voice given to the boy Tommy was so annoying and douchey as well, and made it subconsciously hard to like him. Took me a while to figure that one out. It’s a good audiobook, if you would prefer that.

My thoughts

three out of five stars

This was promoted to me as with an dystopian vibe, or at least set in an alternate reality where things are pretty similar to ours, but not quite. At the very least – that there would be mystery! WRONG. It’s as british boarding school children without parents and a few questions that I’ve ever gotten, but without the curiousity to figure out the answers because they all have a great time generally. And then it moves over to other settings as they grow up, but mostly it’s not that different from like a very good orphanage program. I feel tricked, and almost gave it two stars just out of that.

My thoughts about one hour into this book:

I often think that books should come with a “how it will make you feel”, as it’s just as or more important than the synopsis. The beginning of this book was pure mimring about the past, someone telling a story of how things once was with a mystery of why attached to it. And that was perfect for my mood. It was spring break, which for Norway means everyone that is able to is at cabins at the mountain and I was sitting outside just beneath them, the first week of real sun and warmth allowing it. I had time, even for a slow-paced book.

Me halfway into the book:

I’m desperate for this pace to get quicker, someone tell me if any mystery or society-critical questions is coming up at all. I’m so bored.

Me after finishing the book:

It just never delivered.

There’s lots of reviews I saw that was like “oh no, don’t read reviews it might spoil the mystery!” WHAT MYSTERY? This is not the book for anyone who have read fantasy or sci-fi.

*SPOILERS BELOW*

Or even watched Orphan Black. That is one tv series that takes the concept this plot completely misses to act out. This is one of the books that thinks it’s smart, without really coming up with any critical questions or message about society. The writing of the plot had one goal – to leave out as much as possible – so that it would have enough secrets to be interpreted as a mystery. And the “kids” get to ask all their questions at the end to their former teachers, about everything that’s kept from the characters and more so the reader, and it just isn’t satisfying or revealing at all. Overall, I liked the actual writing, although I don’t think it’s everyone’s taste as the main character is really observant and telling the story like a fake memoir.

The beginning is lovely, but then the plot never unfolds with the message it claims to have and the “mystery” doesn’t hold up.

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

Pages: 370

Genre: contemporary mystery, set in a college

Synopsis

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent. 

Audiobook review

The narrator is good, except for how he’s trying to do the female voices. Every heard one narrator dub tv series? It’s hilariously bad. Also there’s a lot of characters in the friend-group to meet all at once at the beginning, so I actually picked up the text version the second chapter and went back to really understand who each of them is, because there’s no good separator in the audiobook (except for bad female voices). I would recommend physically reading this one, I was packing for a trip and wanted to get throught it.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: three

I picked this book up because of its college/university setting and saw it recommended for those who liked “The secret history” by Donna Tartt. That book is much better than this one, in a lot of ways. They both do have a “dark academia” vibe – which I recently learned was a thing and I love it. I wanted to give it an extra star for that alone, but then I saw that ending and thought hell no, I was bored through too many parts of this book.

I’m happy I read the book, because it had its entertaining points as the characters uncover dark things about the others and themselves. It’s very centered on the characters and who’s friends and enemies as they all attend the same class. So it’s dark and dramatic, which also comes through in the greek plays they perform. The theater parts were very nice details, going through the whole book and giving it more texture and depth. You can see how the characters are pushed to excell and that they know that themselves, before they start to unravel from guilt. Still, I didn’t feel the characters was given enough space to show how supposedly three-dimensional they was. Instead the author seemed to make them do things out of character, playing on “well, you don’t know when they’re acting or not” which sure is an explanation, but doesn’t help on feeling that connection for the reader.

I both loved and hated the writing at points. On one hand it has some really pretty lines, like “Dense forest surrounded it on all sides except one, the north shore, where the trees were thinner and a strip of sandy white beach shimmered like diamond dust in the moonlight.” On the other hand, so much annoyed me. Mostly the author’s choices, like the ending or having Richard be described as a person everyone hated, which then made us miss out on later feeling sorry for him. The characters in this book doesn’t feel like villains because there were no sense of feeling sorry for Richard, because his character was so violent. The bolder choice would’ve been to make him sympathic. I just felt like a lot of depth was missing, there were hilariously little moral dilemmas for the reader watching this play out. I get that it’s part thriller and part mystery, but as I didn’t think who killed him was such a big mystery, a more cohesive and focused history or plot would’ve been better.

What I felt reading this book: mostly entertained and intrigued, annoyed at writing choices. And I was laughing at myself for chosing to read this hours before a weekend of partying with classmates. It was a nice weeked, but I did think of this book as we were driving into the snow-filled forest.

SPOILERY Review: An Absolutely Remakable Thing by Hank Green

So I wrote another spoiler-free review here, where I gave the book five out of five stars. I’ve never made two parts reviews, but I really want to geek out over this book honestly.

So I just listened to an interview by Hank where he said the book was born out around a lot of individual scenes and trying to write a story around them, especially the grape jelly scene. Did he mean Carl making a person turn into grape jelly? Jeez. That’s a great way to start writing a book, and makes my ideas feel a bit more valid.

Anyway, here’s a lot of moments I liked:

  • “You’re a digital girl, April, in a digital world. We all know how to perform.” Already on page 10 I realized that Hank Green’s real life thoughts and concerns would slip through into the book in form of Andy’s bluntness.
  • Maya. All of Maya’s parts. That girl is awesome.
  • When “Don’t Stop Me Now” was first mentioned was when I realized I would have a lot of songs stuck in my brain reading this book. The wikipedia puzzle was creative.
  •  “So here’s a really stupid thing about the world: The trick to looking cool is not caring whether you look cool. So the moment you achieve perfect coolness is simultaneously the moment that you actually, completely don’t care.” I need more time to consider the degree of truth to that. I have a few friends that have become models, they’re also the people that look cool in everyday normal and weird circumstances. They do also seem to care very much. But I get what April’s thinking.
  • April ruining every relationship and “isolating yourself from the love of other humans because of deep, subconscious fears that you are unable to recognize even exist.” and still realizing it. I’ve seen a lot of readers say that they didn’t like her as a person, while many also saying she’s a great character, but I have to disagree. A girl that can fuck up this much and still be aware of it. I had to consider it, but I definitely like her. The internal monologue lists are great and fit with the direct writing style really well, btw.
  • Here’s the first moment I adored: Maya’s no-bullshit reaction when April is purposely distancing herself from her. That “oh, fuck you, April” moment. Wouldn’t have thought of it so highly if I realized we wouldn’t see much of Maya for a while thought. Just wanted her to stick up for herself.
  • The mom’s point of how the dreams could’ve changed people more than they think. That would’ve been a different book if it went down that path, but it really stuck with me and my suspicion for the rest of the book.
  • April feeling burned out and going on “temporary fuel” with cool things happening until the growing hate for Peter became that long-burning fuel and motivation. It’s so dangerous, but I understand too well what she’s doing.
  • Second moment I adored: Miranda taking on the role as CEO of a tech start-up. The idea of the start-up was amazing, with everyone collaborating online on this dream and puzzle they all was given and had equal access to and could prove themselves against. But reading about Miranda, who April had described as pretty shy and smart until then, taking on such a leader role made me appreciate them both. And realize how unreliable April’s narrative is.
  • “One plus of the Dream was that if I stayed in it all night and didn’t wake up, I’d stay out of my nightmares.” OOoff, that hit me.
  • Was concerned for a bit there if Hank Green was going to write a lesbian sex scene and how much I would laugh out loud and cringe at it. The solution seemed like the most Hank thing to do and I laughed anyway.
  • All the pages with messages of what people in power can do faced with uncertainty and ignorance. Of groups moving towards the poles and becoming more radical, and how that happens.
  • When Carl was revealed to be sentient and understand April I was excited. When he didn’t want to be taken pictures of I died laughing for some reason. I just like the surrealness of things like robot hands running around, saving people like superheroes.
  • April’s description – without emotions at the most intense moments. Like she can show frustration talking about “minor” daily life issues, but when she was stabbed she’s describing her scream as awful enough that they had to cut it out of the tape and goes on to describe the mic. The switch happened regularly, really brought out different sides in her.
  • April’s perspective is really interesting because I didn’t realize just how big of a star she’d become before the president told her how it would be a joy to watch her big future.
  • Seeing your own faults and behaviour through other’s eyes suck and it’s part of why April is running from Maya I guess. Relatable.
  • “Call Me Maybe” started playing, I squealed with glee and horror. I love the pop teen songs in this. My heart. They sound so omnious too.
  • I was aware she would die, she says so early on in the book. p.16’s “That night was probably the best night’s sleep I had until after I died.” Which hints that there was a thing after she died as well, so I kept my hopes up
  • Ok, my love for Maya was strengthened by the fact that she had to go on a pilgrimage after April’s accident. And even more Andy staying. Aahh, I really liked these characters.

There’s a sequel coming being currently written, which I didn’t know going into it. The ending was very open, but I had no problem with it. If there was no sequel, I would’ve taken my immediate theory of  April being uploaded to a computer-mind of sorts. That she still lives, but outside of a body. I don’t know if there’s evidence of that yet as I haven’t read theories. Also I’m not sure that she’s completely herself towards the end. I feel there might’ve been a shift, of Carl taking more control or sharing more with her or maybe just more a natural “losing herself”, but haven’t looked too much into it yet.

I loved it: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green | Review

Pages: 350

Genre: contemporary, sci-fi

Synopsis

The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five

fem

SPOILER-FREE, i’ve written an entire post filled with spoilers *here*.

I managed to have no expectations going into this book even though I’ve watched vlogbrothers for years. I really really liked this book. Whatever concerns I had of it being a bad choice to have the main characters be a young adult, was completely erased without a couple ten pages. I was drawn into this book extremely quickly and it has become one of this year’s favourites.

It’s a great mix of sci-fi elements put into our real world, with massive robots showing up all over. This book is also about the story of fame told through the eyes of one building her career on a viral hit of “discovering” these robots, which she calls Carl, and putting it on youtube. There’s also critical thoughts around society and community as everyone tries to figure out the mystery behind these robots and cooperate with varying degrees of success to unlock their riddles. It mirrors my concerns about what fame might do, how it changes one’s values and interactions when millions of people are interested in following a person. There’s a unique realness Hank brings into it, being in that world himself and surely having seen friends struggle with these questions.

The writing is very-straight forward and clear, it’s the storytelling that’s mostly the focus. April’s voice seems very true to me, a nineteen year old girl. I liked that she was bisexual in the way that it was one of many traits she had. I’ve watched a lot of youtube. But I’ve always had this line where I realize that everyone’s real people, with insecurities and talents. The internet makes so many forget that, somehow. This book still made me question the cycle of internet celebrities (fuck the name influencers, honestly) posting instagrams to gain attentions and followers and it so easily turning into a vicious cycle of preying on people’s insecurities or paying attention to destructive behavior. On social media, every crisis can gain you a bigger following, and this book has plenty of commentary on that.

I do like all the characters, Maya above everyone else because she’s badass and also sees April as a real person. Miranda the scientist was really fantastic as well. Andy, April’s partner (in crime fame) was the voice of reason sometimes, with a much needed caution. I liked April, which I wouldn’t had if I knew her in real life. She’s a great character, because she’s dimentional and you get to see her thought process changing. Like how can you not like a girl that can fuck up this much and still be self-aware about it. The internal monologue lists are great and fit with the direct writing style really well.

I just loved a lot of parts, but it’s so easy to spoil this book, which is why I for the first time split the spoilers up into a seperate post. It’s absolutely worth a read (or three honestly), I don’t think you will regret it!

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman | Review

Pages: 400

Genre: young adult contemporary, lgbt

The norwegian cover.

Synopsis

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…

She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.

It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five

fem

I loved this book, it’s going to be one of this year favourites and be reread many times. It made a bold choice, like Oseman seem to do, in placing the book in this decade and referencing movies and popculture. It also brings out very time-defining characteristics like questioning sexuality through research, celebrities, rise of podcasts, internet and fandoms. Most of all this book is about wanting to be heard, to be seen for who you are. Which is easier with the help and support of friends.

the characters & writing

None of the characters are always in the right, which is always interesting. The main character Frances tries her best, I would say, but at one point she realizes she hasn’t been paying enough attention to the people around her and their struggles. The writing seems very honest, it’s very straight forward as well. Carys, the bestfriend, is going through shit and Frances tells that story in between the right-now action of Frances and Carys’ brother Aled starting to get along and find shared interests (like the podcast). Frances believes that she made a mistake, which partly led to Carys disapperance, and trying to not make a smiliar mistake again  colors the rest of the book. The friendship between Frances and Cary is strange and reletable, Frances admits that she hated Cary for having it all figured out, but loved her for being so perfect.

the podcast universe city

I wasn’t so sure about the podcast part of this book before reading it. I love podcasts, but in general at some point writers could’ve just made the podcast in real life and not have us read it every awkward break or info dump. This book is centered around the podcast in that Frances and Aled finds each other through the making and fandom of it, both things done really well. There’s a chapter where they are having fun outside camping and makes what Aled considers the worst episode ever, but it was all so visually told and really brought out a certain feeling in the book.

 

Feelings reading this book: interest in where the podcast was going, glee over Frances becoming more comfortable, relatable af moments and strong hate for Aled and Cary’s mother.

 

SPOILERS BELOW

my fav moments

  • Frances discussing being bi and relationships of the Universe City podcast and Aled saying the world might be a bit tired of boy-girl relationships anyway. Them geeking out in general and allowing themselves to be “weird” aka being very passionate about things and fandom.
  • Going to save Aled from university. Also his mom was truly awful in one of the probably worst ways physiologically, because so many outside the house thought she was great. Reading Aled scream after going over to his mother to figure things out made my skin crawl.

Finally, I hated Cary when they all met her. I was certain she didn’t want to be found, but the way she reacted … She had worked out a pretty okay life for herself considering she escaped to the city with barely anything, though. She’d tried to leave her past behind, which I can understand. My immediate hate came from having a little brother though, but she didn’t have a perspective to mind to predict how her brother would be treated when she left. There’s a lot taken up in this book and I appreciated it.

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | Review

Genre: contemporary young adult, lgbt

Pages: 325

 

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

My thoughts

Rating out of five:

fem

“So here’s the thing: Simon means “the one who hears” and Spier means “the one who watches.” Which means I was basically destined to be nosy.”

It’s the best coming out story I’ve read, I think, and this is from a person who tries to avoid them. And it’s a book with so much more than that as well, with a main character with questions that everyone can see themselves in. It’s a young adult book that’s actually relatable to teenagers, not just filled with abbreviations like lmfao and things that seem like a parody of youth culture (on that thought – will tide pods every make it into a ya book?).

 

“But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.”

Parts made me feel lonely along with the main character. Overall it has incredibly clever and witty writing. I loved the themes that comes up, especially Simon feeling like he was “not allowed to change”, as a person it’s easy to label your identity or have others do so to a fault, where you think you are the same as your interest or your habits, which you now can’t change. Identity is a weird concept in general, and this book put just how weird it is into words.

 

“He talked about the ocean between people. And how the whole point of everything is to find a shore worth swimming to. I mean, I just had to know him.”

The romance was pretty lovely as well, though the friendships takes more place in this book, along with the mystery of finding out who Blue is. I just love that there’s published more gay books all the time, especially cute ones along with all the angst. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie adaption soon.

 

more favourite quotes

But Creekwood’s zero tolerance bullying policy is enforced about as strictly as the freaking dress code.

In this moment, all I want is for things to feel like Christmas again. I want it to feel how it used to feel.

“I didn’t know you drink coffee.” Okay, this. She does this every freaking time. Both of them. They put me in a box, and every time I try to nudge the lid open, they slam it back down. It’s like nothing about me is allowed to change. “Well, I do.”

Nothing is worse than the secret humiliation of being insulted by proxy.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green | Review

Pages: 290

Genre: young adult, contemporary, mental health

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

My thoughts

Rating out of five:

fem

“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.”

Ahh I loved this book, I read it in a day about a week after the release. And I haven’t been able to write a review since because of the feelings (and physics).*

I cried so much for the first time in a while because this story is so moving and the characters felt so real, and they all had their problems. Of course, I want to side with Aza, because that’s the perspective you follow through the book. But the book doesn’t let me, it points out the people who feel hurt by Aza. It was good to represent how people doesn’t automatically understand each other, it demands a lot of willingness, effort and communications from all parts. Especially when it comes to anything like illness. I don’t know much about OCD, but from all I’ve heard this book is a good representation of it. Obviously, OCD doesn’t manifest in only one form, but I still felt like I learned a lot about thought spirals and how obsessiveness can manifest itself.

If I would give any negative criticism of this book, it would be that it’s difficult at the beginning to distinguish John Green’s voice as the author and Aza’s narrative. The problem vanished for me after a while, which I can’t really explain, might be getting used to it, might be getting to know her better. I do not agree with the characters being too mature, we need that as well in young adult novels. I feel like it’s needed to say this is not a mystery novel, a disappearance is a element of the plot, but it doesn’t drive it. If you want that I would recommend “Truly Devious” by Maureen Johnson.

It’s one thing to know of how serious mental illness can be, it’s something completely different to get it (literally) spelled out and in your face. I especially liked the part at the end, in the darkness, where Aza tries to explain her thoughts and fears. I’ve followed vlogbrothers for years, and you can kind-of notice when John is worse than normal, but not to what degree. It was a really positive surprise to realize how open, informing and serious he was about displaying OCD after not having gone into depth about it for so long.

“Turtles all the way down” also has humour and a good balance between darker and lighter aspects, but from the beginning it shows how it’s all intertwined. It’s simply a brilliant book, the writing, characters, mystery and depth is all there. Would completely recommend, it’s worth all the hype it’s getting.

*this was originally written some time ago, a few weeks after the release

SPOILERS: have you checked the inside of the book jacket?

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Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami | Review

Pages: 300

Genre: contemporary, romance, japan

Synopsis

Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.

My thoughts

Rating out of five:

fire

A fabulous bestselling book, which somehow reminded me of “The secret history” by Donna Tartt, but set in Japan, with less murder and just as much insanity. 

“I have a million things to talk to you about. All I want in this world is you. I want to see you and talk. I want the two of us to begin everything from the beginning.”

All the characters are wrong and troubled, although the main character Toru seems to be the most normal at first. It’s something they’re mostly aware of and Toru even ponders why he chooses to get close to a certain type of person. Is it because they don’t claim or pretend to be normal?

“Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Only assholes do that.”

The characters are what drives this story as you want to know how they end up. It’s obvious they all are in either dangerous sitations or can’t follow the same path for long without it becoming critical. My favourite and the likely the worst of the bunch is Nagasawa who is a womanizer, clever and rich dirtbag. He doesn’t think any good of anyone, but chooses Toru as his friend, and the contrasts and similarities between them is very interesting.

It is a love story. Kind of. As much as it’s about mental health or college/uni. At times all the different aspects of the story didn’t match up for me, but in the end it made sense. It’s all about Toru’s life and development. I can’t claim to completely understand this book yet, and it was slow at times, but I quite liked it. Murakami’s writing is as wonderful as always.