Rating: 4 STARS
How I got this book: Library eBook
It's 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging.
And it's Sarah's first day of school, as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High.
No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist.
Sarah and Linda have every reason to despise each other. But as a school project forces them to spend time together, the less their differences seem to matter. And Sarah and Linda start to feel something they've never felt before. Something they're both determined ignore.
Because it's one thing to be frightened by the world around you - and another thing altogether when you're terrified of what you feel inside.
TW: extreme racism, hate, violence, domestic abuse, sexism and homophobia.
I don't typically lean towards historical fiction, so this book isn't one that I'd normally choose. However, the synopsis grabbed me, and I really wanted to discover how the love story played out.
At first, reading this book felt similar to how I feel when reading a classic, something that should be on the education syllabus for schools. In terms of educating yourself about racism and hate, I think it does a great job, showing clearly the damage that can be caused by words.
"It doesn't show much in the way of brains to decide you don't like people you don't even know. All because of their color."
I also felt that the depiction of life from the perspectives of both a black girl and a white girl in southern America during this time were painfully realistic and eye-opening.
I do feel that this book would make a fantastic educational tool as it illuminates perfectly the hate and prejudice of the time. It also begins to show how someone who is ignorant and who has been influenced by others can become educated and grow as a person.
"If something like this happened to me, I'd be shouting by now."
It was very difficult to put down and it's certainly Sarah's plight and pain, and my desire for her to succeed, that made it so compelling. The writing is fantastic, with each voice distinct and unique but I think, for me at least, it was my utter hatred of the white people and my continuous rooting for something good to happen for Sarah that gripped me and pushed me to keep reading.
"This should be the easiest, most natural thing in the world. Going on a date with a boy. Maybe if I try hard enough it will be."
For much of the book, I didn't feel that Linda was at all redeemable or worthy of Sarah, but the more I read, the more I understood that this book is about self-growth and how, by educating yourself and standing up for what is right, you can become a better person. That being said, I don't feel that she ever did stop being racist and bearing in mind the things that she said and did, knowing full well the consequences of what she was doing, the ending seemed more than a little unrealistic.
I did feel for both characters as they struggled in different ways with their sexuality and with their parents. Again, both very different situations but also similar in how the girls felt that they were unable to be themselves or that they would never be good enough for the people who'd raised them.
"The grown-ups always act like they're the ones who have it hard. None of them knows the first thing about what this is like for us."
This book did fuel my hatred towards people. My anger roiled as I furiously turned page after page, hoping naively for a happier turn of events. But, if nothing else, this book stays true to the period in which it's set and very clearly reflects the issues at the time.
Having said all of that, this is my review as a white person and so, what I'd like to see is a review from a POC to see how this book really stacks up.
Overall, I do feel that this book would make a fantastic educational tool for young people. But I am cautious that I can't be certain how well this book represents a person of colour and the struggles that were faced during this time, and those still being faced today.
Rating: 4 STARS
How I got this book: Bought
On the eve of her divining, the day she'll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.
Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn't understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.
They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate...
Review by Sophie
TW: Slavery, discrimination, attempted rape, animal abuse.
They say the thirst of blood is like a madness - they must sate it. Even with their own kin.
Okay, so first things first, I TOTALLY chose this book purely on the look of the front cover. I loved the whole slightly Gothic and dark feel the design gave off, and so I jumped straight in.
Before starting, I had no idea that it was kind of a retelling of Dracula, but from his brides’ point of view. This is a story of sisterhood, female love and relationships, and the utter brutality that is life. It's about bravery and heartfelt sorrow. I love the idea, and its an intriguing back story, although I just wish this book was a little longer with a few more chapters to give it that depth that I feel it's ever so slightly missing.
First, we meet Lil, I love how she’s so harmless and sweet, living in the shadow of her twin and more than happy to let her fiery and passionate sister Kizzy make the decisions and run towards danger.
On the day that they are captured into slavery, Lillai is anticipating the outcome of her diving day to see what future awaits her and Kizzy. The girls are part of a small group of travellers who keep to themselves and appreciate what nature provides for them. I like how the writer describes and really shows the hate and discrimination towards travellers, how others perceive them as being lesser, not deserving common decency, and sadly this rings true as an issue not just in fiction.
I absolutely love the character personalities in this book. You have Kizzy and Lil who appear to be like yin and yang, the strong and fearless mixed with the shy, quiet and easy-going. Then we meet Mira, a slave who’s truly been brutalised and tortured, yet still manages to find kindness in her heart, especially towards Lil. Their relationship is cute and heartwarming, and honestly just makes you melt.
Soon we meet the cruel and heartless Boyar Valcar and hear whispers of the Dragon, known to be myth and legend. I was a bit annoyed that there wasn’t more detail surrounding these characters. I know the story is intended to focus on the girls, but I would have really liked more detail surrounding the Dragon, just to give a better idea of him and his personality.
Now, if you’re lucky enough to have a sister or best friend, you can appreciate and completely relate to the bond and relationship that Kizzy and Lil have. How they endlessly defend each other and have a mutual understanding of how the other feels.
I really liked reading The Deathless Girls, it was easy going in terms of pace, perhaps a little too easy-going maybe? I think it only took me a day to finish. It has a good flow and pace, and the ending really just leaves you wanting more.
I'll be completely honest and say that I did expect and want more than this book delivered. I felt that there was some detail missing and it wasn’t quite as dark as I had anticipated. However, the ending was brilliant, and somehow still caught me off guard.
I really hope that there’s more to come from The Deathless Girls.
Welcome to my stop on the All Boy blog tour.
Since reading The Princess of Baker Street by Mia Kerick last year, I've been looking forward to reading her next release and I'm so excited to be sharing this review with you!
A very big thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me to review the book and participate in the tour.
Keep reading to check out the synopsis, my review and for your chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card (open internationally!)
Rating: 4 STARS
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
Seventeen-year-old Callie Canter knows all about screwing up—and being screwed over. After her so-called boyfriend publicly humiliated her senior year, taking a fifth year of high school at Beaufort Hills Academy is her second chance to leave behind a painful past. But her need for social acceptance follows, and going along with the in-crowd is the difference between survival and becoming a target. Staying off the radar is top priority. So, falling for an outsider is the last thing on Callie’s “to-do” list. Too bad her heart didn’t get the memo.
With his strict, religious upbringing and former identity far away in Florida, Jayden Morrissey can finally be true to himself at Beaufort Hills Academy. But life as a trans man means keeping secrets, and keeping secrets means not getting too close to anyone. If he can just get through his fifth year unnoticed, maybe a future living as the person he was born to be is possible. Yet love is love, and when you fall hard enough, intentions crumble, plans detour, and secrets are revealed.
From multi-award-winning author Mia Kerick, comes a powerful, timely, and life-changing novel, which follows two teenagers nursing broken hearts and seeking acceptance, and who together realize running away isn’t always the answer.
TW: Transphobia, sexual abuse, humiliation, mental health, bullying
I have to start by saying that (as you can see from the trigger warnings above) Mia Kerick has written a book that is full of pain and that was very difficult to read - but that's by no means a bad thing. Now, I'm not the best person to say whether this book dealt with the subject matter in the ‘right’ way necessarily but it was a powerful and enlightening read.
One of the reasons I read so many different genres is to find as many different stories and voices as possible and All Boy does not disappoint.
I'd braced myself somewhat for this book after reading The Princess of Baker Street earlier this year but it's still not easy to digest what the characters have to face and overcome.
For the most part, I found Callie’s character really difficult to bear, I almost hated her at times and some of that was due to seeing parts of myself reflected in her (self-hatred is anything but a breeze) but also at her ignorance and self-destructive nature but (without giving too much away) her development arc is something to be admired.
Jayden is a stunning character with so much strength and heart and I would have preferred to read more chapters from his POV. It's Jayden who broke my heart in this book, the truth and reality of his story and his pain bleeding from the pages was almost unbearable at times and my heart ached for him.
Callie and Jayden’s stories, both together and as individuals, are very compelling to read, everything they have to face and overcome and the story as a whole gives a very powerful insight into life as a trans man.
At times I felt that some of the dialogue was a bit too scripted, too formal and not realistic for the age group but the pacing of the story was good and the themes tackled well, at least in my opinion.
One of the shining characters for me in this book was Lauren who's almost the personification of acceptance. She delivers some beautiful truths to Callie and is a great friend and ally.
Overall, this was a really powerful and painful read that deals with sensitive topics and delivers important messages of self-acceptance, doing what's right and above all, that love is love.
Click the cover photo above to add the book to your Goodreads TBR and enter below for your chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card! The giveaway is open internationally so everyone can enter and it's hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.
Don't forget to click the banner at the top to follow the rest of the tour and feel free to leave your comments below :)
And finally, for something a little different, why not check out the book trailer below:
Welcome to my stop on the Within Ash and Stardust book tour. This is the third book in the Xenith Trilogy by Chani Lynn Feener.
Huge thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for the review copy and for including My Endless Shelf in the blog tour!
Before I get into the full review, if you want to avoid spoilers and haven't read the first two books in the series, feel free to check those out at the following links - Book 1: Amid Stars and Darkness and Book 2: Between Frost and Fury.
Rating: 4 STARS
Series/Standalone: The Xenith Trilogy #3
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
Having gone from kidnapped faux princess to the legitimate heir to an intergalactic throne, an impulsive, sarcastic teen must take charge of her own destiny in this epic YA novel.
On Earth, Delaney is a normal teenager who recently graduated high school with a fantastic best friend and a loving boyfriend.
But Delaney isn’t on Earth. She’s on Xenith, a war-torn planet half a galaxy away. Originally mistaken for an alien princess, Delaney has gone from kidnapped imposter to the recognized heir to an alien throne. Oh, and she’s engaged to the prince of an enemy nation whose ruthless father is on the warpath.
Torn between two planets, two fates, and two loves, Delaney is finally ready to choose her own destiny in Within Ash and Stardust, the stunning conclusion to Chani Lynn Feener’s Xenith Trilogy.
I can't believe it's finally here! The last instalment of a series that I fell in love with back in 2017 and have been desperately waiting for since the cliffhanger that left me absolutely reeling at the end of book two - honestly it was one of the most heart-wrenching cliffhangers ever and gave me ALL THE FEELS!!
I love this author's writing style, I've read a lot of her other books and her writing style is so easy to fall into, her characters are relatable and likeable and her world building is fantastic. She does seem to enjoy writing love triangles and for the most part, I do enjoy the complicated relationships.
I've been following the journey of Delaney from out-of-place Earth girl to the heir of an alien planet with rapture. Delaney is completely relatable, in book one she was frightened, in book two she was angry and in book three she's determined to make her own choices and forge her own path.
Some parts of the plot in this book did give me moments of deja-vu, especially in terms of Delaney being put into corners she can't get out of but there were plenty of new elements too with new character revelations, plot twists and more alien culture.
I did have a pretty big problem with Ruckus in this book. If you've read my other reviews, you'll know that I've been Team Trystan from book 1, so it's no shock that Ruckus isn't my favourite character. Trystan is a big, sullen sweetheart with a cheeky side that's just irresistible. Ruckus was a solid character for me in book 1, who I did like, but who, in book 2, was so clearly not the one for Delaney. Whilst reading Within Ash and Stardust I felt as though Ruckus's character just disappeared in terms of depth, he was pretty pathetic, trailing after Delaney like a puppy dog and with seemingly no personality at all. I mean, at one point the book reads:
"He didn't want to be an Ander anymore, he realised with a start. He just wanted to be Ruckus Wux. Boyfriend of Delaney Grace."
Which is pretty pathetic really, especially for someone who in the first book was portrayed as a tough-as-nails soldier.
The romance in this book is also a little off compared to the last book, where things between Trystan and Delaney had started to heat up despite the frigid ending. In this book, Delaney is all over the place trying to choose between Ruckus and Trystan (when the choice was clear from the start!) and it felt a little awkward, with the ending seeming a little too clean-cut. It had lost some of the sizzle that I'd enjoyed in Between Frost and Fury.
However, there is plenty of action in this book and the pace is great, I didn't want to put the book down at all. There's also more culture and world-building, especially in terms of the Dust Market which is both strange and wonderful.
I like that Delaney finally manages to break free of her chains in this book, to some extent, and can make her own choices and do what she believes is right instead of what's already been decided for her.
Overall, this was a nice end to what I feel is a very underrated YA series and one that opened the gates to sci-fi for me, but with the romance toned down, it felt as though it was suddenly aimed at a slightly younger audience.
My favourite book of the series has to be Between Frost and Fury, with Amid Stars and Darkness coming in at a close second.
I've truly enjoyed following Delaney's journey, exploring these new worlds, meeting interesting new characters and falling in love with Trystan's sweet, cinnamon centre along the way.
I can't wait to see what this author does next!
As always, you can add the book to your Goodreads TBR by clicking on the book cover above and feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below!
To win a print copy of Within Ash and Stardust enter the giveaway below (US/CAN only).
Rating: 5 STARS!!
Genre: LGBT/YA/Graphic Novel
Series/Standalone: Heartstopper #2
How I got this book: Bought
Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the second volume of HEARTSTOPPER, for fans of The Art of Being Normal, Holly Bourne and Love, Simon.
Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie's gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn't.
But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family ... and himself.
Heartstopper is about friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie's lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.
This is the second volume of Heartstopper, with more to come.
If you haven't read Heartstopper Volume One yet, you can catch my review here.
This is going to be one of those short and sweet reviews because, besides saying how much I truly love this graphic novel, I'm not sure how else to convince you all to read it!
I thought that Heartstopper Volume One was good, but this is even better. So many more cute, mushy feelings. As always Alice Oseman's illustrations are beautiful, the story is so sweet and Charlie and Nick are both likeable and compelling.
Alice also does a fantastic job of making you care about the supporting characters and their stories and we're treated to a fantastic snippet from another story at the end of this book.
The storytelling and voices are relatable and current, making the whole thing speed by far too quickly! I can't wait until I have every volume and can read through from start to finish!
If you're looking for queer, YA romance with tons of inclusivity and rep that'll make you feel warm and gooey on the inside, you need Heartstopper in your life.
Rating: 5 STARS!!
How I got this book: Bought
In the town of Newsands, painfully shy Alex is abandoned by his two best friends for the summer. But he unexpectedly lands a part-time job at Wonderland, a run-down amusement arcade on the seafront, where he gets to know the other teen misfits who work there. Alex starts to come out of his shell, and even starts to develop feelings for co-worker Ben... who, as Alex's bad luck would have it, has a girlfriend.
Then as debtors close in on Wonderland and mysterious, threatening notes start to appear, Alex and his new friends take it on themselves to save their declining employer. But, like everything in Wonderland, nothing is quite what it seems...
This might be my absolute favourite book of the year so far and it's easily my top Pride Month read!
I was in a bit of a funk when I picked up this book, but Simon James Green (and Alex) managed to flip my bad mood on its head.
This book is a riot, I started laughing on the very first page and I don't think I stopped until long after I closed the book.
Alex, like Noah before him (if you haven't read Simon's debut novel Noah Can't Even, you can find it on Goodreads here!) I adored Noah, but I LOVED Alex in Wonderland!
Alex is so instantly relatable with his shy awkwardness and his extremely bad luck that was so familiar it was unsettling.
I love the English seaside setting, reading about the pier, the mini doughnuts and, of course, Wonderland itself made me crave the seaside so much (I haven't been for years) that it inspired me to take my family to New Brighton Beach last weekend so that my four-year-old could experience the joys of playing in the ocean, sand between your toes and the intoxicating thrill of the 2p machines!
Alex in Wonderland is so many things; a coming of age story, a first-love story, a friendship story and a mystery. It also tackles sexual identity and diverse representation through Alex, Efia and Ben and divorce through Alex's family in a way that keeps the pace moving and the story so much fun to read.
Simon James Green writes with a fantastically comedic, authentic voice and brings Alex's character tripping off the pages. I also really enjoyed the other characters in this book; Alex's step-mum (who I loved to hate), Lemon Boy (the second pizza restaurant scene had me shaking with laughter), Ben (and his dimples), Efia (and her meddling) and Maggie (who's sarcastic and crazy but caring at heart).
Without giving too much away, the only part of this book that I didn't like too much was the ending, Alex deserved to be treated better, much better!
Overall though, this was the perfect summer read. It's light, incredibly funny, relatable and so awkwardly-romantic you'll be biting back a grin the entire way through!
Now, I'll just be sitting her not-so-patiently waiting to see what awkward, adorable muppet of a character Simon James Green blesses us with next.
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
How I got this book: ARC via NetGalley
All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.
As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.
I love it when you read a book that isn't tagged as LGBTQ+ but it turns out that it is! (Especially when it's representing your own identity!)
It wasn't much, just a fleeting mention, but it sort of changes the way you connect with a book and it's characters when you see part of yourself reflected back at you.
I was completely intrigued by the bio of this book (and the cover because let's be honest, it's gorgeous and looks a lot like an A Court of Thorns and Roses novel) and when I started reading I instantly fell under its spell.
The main draw for me at first was the books, which are fantastic and such a great concept - it reminded me so much of The Pagemaster (if you haven't seen this gem, just go and watch it, you won't be disappointed!) and I felt so nostalgic! I love how the books are such an integral part of this story from start to finish, how they change and the secrets they hold, it's all fantastic!
What's also amazing (and unusual) about this book is that I loved each and every one of the characters. Elisabeth is so relatable and if you love books, you're going to love her and see a lot of yourself in her. She's fierce, courageous, loyal and true. Her bravery in the face of insurmountable odds is stunning and she makes a fantastic heroine.
Nathaniel's expression grew odd. "You like this place?"
"Of course I do. It has books in it."
Then we have Nathaniel, who is just delightful and now one of my favourite male characters. He's a tortured soul (because this is a YA and he has to be dammit!) with a dark secret (see last bracketed note), but he's so sweet and just adorable. I love how his and Elisabeth's relationship grows, their chemistry is so sweet. The fact that he continually calls her 'menace' and 'terror' is too adorable and their story has a real Pride and Prejudice vibe to it (but with magic and swords!)
"Of course you can stay, you menace. It isn't as though I could stop you even if I wanted to."
Then we come to my absolute favourite character in this whole book - SILAS!
Silas is amazing, he starts the book as such a sinister, menacing character and by the end, you just want to put him in your pocket and protect him from the world. He's such an incredible character with a level of sass that's off the charts. At one point he basically bitch slaps another character and it's glorious!
He looked aggrieved. "I have hardly been absent for twenty-four hours, and already the world has descended into ruin."
Through Elisabeth, the author weaves a fantastic feminist tale, putting into sharp focus the hardships faced by women at the hands of men, and the struggles women have to stand up and be heard when opposing a man. I particularly love the juxtapositions between certain real-life events.
To think that the world could fall to ruin due to the decisions of a single small-minded man in charge - that was all it took to doom everyone-
The ending of this book almost had me in tears, and truly, I'm so glad that this book is a standalone because, whilst I would love to revisit these characters, this book is fantastic as it is because of that stunning ending.
So, if you're looking for a feminist fantasy with a Pride and Prejudice style romance, magic, demons, swords and more books than you could hope for, go read Sorcery of Thorns.
Have you already read it? Come chat to me because I have so much to rave about with this book!
Rating: 2.5 STARS
Genre: YA/LGBT/Graphic Novel
How I got this book: Bought
Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Cox is an outsider to the competitive fencing world. Filled with raw talent but lacking proper training, he signs up for a competition that puts him head-to-head with fencing prodigy Seiji Katayama...and on the road to the elite all-boys school Kings Row. A chance at a real team and a place to belong awaits him—if he can make the cut
I wasn't sure what to expect from this, but after loving Heartstopper by Alice Oseman so damn much I just wanted to sink my teeth into another LGBT comic and considering this series has amazing reviews and the synopsis sounded great, I decided to buy all three volumes and dig in.
Before I start, I should say that the only other book I've read by this author I did not like at all. I tried to read The Captive Prince but truthfully, and I don't say this a lot, I couldn't stand it. However, I did try my best to approach this with fresh eyes and an open mind, which I think I did, helped along by the fact that Fence is a graphic novel and so completely different than The Captive Prince.
To begin with, I love the graphics. The illustrator (Johanna the Mad) did a truly fantastic job and honestly, the stars I've given above aren't a reflection on the visuals but on the story itself.
The thing is, I started by buying issue one and read it in around 15 minutes. I was intrigued, I wanted more. So, I bought the next issue. Again, I read it in around 15 minutes and not a lot happened but I wanted more, I wanted more from the characters, more relationships, more dialogue, more interaction.
This went on for 12 issues until I reached the end and sighed in frustration as I realised that I'd bought 12 issues of a story that I personally felt went absolutely nowhere.
The thing is, all the ingredients are there - interesting characters, conflict, fantastic visuals and the desire to keep reading. The huge problem for me was that the plot was solely focused on the fencing competition, to the detriment of everything else. There was no relationship exploration, no further character development, a couple of very, very minimal subplots that had the potential to go much further and that was it.
I honestly got to the end and asked myself, "Where's the rest? What have I missed?" because I just felt that there should have been more.
The potential was there, I just couldn't connect with the minimal material.
But hey, I'm in the minority here, the reviews for all 12 issues of Fence are 4+ stars across the board on Goodreads and, as I mentioned in my last post, I'm new to graphic novels, they aren't something I've really explored before, so maybe this is just something that I don't get.
All I can say is that, for me, and I can't help comparing this to Heartstopper which I loved so much, it just didn't float my boat.
What about you? Have you read Fence?
If you have recommendations for other graphic novels you think I might like, please do let me know in the comments!
Rating: 5 STARS!
Genre: LGBT/YA/Graphic Novel
Series/Standalone: Heartstopper #1
How I got this book: Bought
Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn't been too great, but at least he's not being bullied anymore, and he's sort of got a boyfriend, even if he's kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.
Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He's heard a little about Charlie - the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months - but he's never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.
They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn't think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner...
TW: Homophobia, mental health and manipulation.
1. I honestly thought I'd already written the review for this but I guess not because I can't find it anywhere. Not that I'm complaining too hard as it gave me the perfect excuse to re-read this again for pride month.
2. This is the only graphic novel I've read that I actually loved and couldn't put down. I read this in around an hour.
So, onto the review.
Heartstopper started life as a web comic and I did attempt to read it on the website but I found the format a little too distracting so, when I found out that a book was coming I couldn't get hold of it fast enough.
Nick and Charlie attend an all-boys British Grammar School which sort of reminds me of my own high-school except that mine was co-ed and nowhere near as posh!
Charlie is 14 and Nick is 16 and their story is most definitely a super-cute YA.
What's amazing about this graphic novel, aside from the gorgeous art and realistic British dialogue is that it's so inclusive. It has gay, lesbian and bisexual (whoop whoop!) rep. It's racially diverse and has mental health rep.
I'm not sure that I've ever read anything quite so instantly adorable as the story of Charlie and Nick and in volume one it's lovely to see their friendship begin blossom and effect how they each deal with their own demons.
Pictures really are worth a thousand words, and Alice's are worth even more. After just a few scenes, I wanted to wrap Charlie and Nick in a giant hug, punch Ben in his stupid face and be best friends with Tori and Tara.
I've pre-ordered Volume Two which comes out next month and I can't wait to get it because the ending of Volume One is too sad and I need the infectious happiness that bursts from the earlier pages.
Charlie and Nick are precious and if you want a reason to smile today, go grab this book and fall in love.
What about you? Have you read Heartstopper by Alice Oseman?
Rating: 5 STARS!
How I got this book: Bought
Tessa has major attitude and an impossible dream—not a greatcombination for success. But she believes that fate has delivered the ungainly horse Buffoon to her, and Tessa is determined never to be separated from him. What's more, she intends to one day become a jockey and ride Buffoon in the Grand National. But how can a girl with a violent temper and a “can't do” philosophy gain the physical strength, courage, and money needed to become a jockey—especially when her stepfather would like nothing better than to see her fail? Determination and grit may not be enough—but Tessa's not going to let go without giving it her all.
TW: Alcoholism, abandonment, domestic abuse, violence, attempted murder, mental illness, depression, grief, loss and neglect.
You guys, I have so many emotions about this book but no words to express them. End of review.
Just kidding, there are lots of words, it's just getting them into coherent sentences that's presenting a challenge. Truthfully, I've even considered just filling the page with crying and heart emoji's and the occasional knife for good measure (you'll get it if/when you choose to read it!)
I should probably start by saying that this is a re-read but that I haven't read this book since I was a young teen (so around 12-16 years ago) and when I did I loved it SO MUCH because:
1. I love horses.
2. It's set in England/Ireland with authentic characters.
3. It's a gritty YA that deals with some really challenging themes.
4. Did I mention the horses??
Honestly, I was terrified of reading it again, afraid that it just wouldn't be the same because of how much I've changed since reading it the first time and I've put it off for quite a long time just in case, but it finally felt like the right time and I'm so overjoyed to report that it was, and somehow, it was so much more!
It felt as though I was reading it for the first time all over again. The emotions, like the characters, are wild and unruly in this book. They're so strong, compelling, addictive and the ride is thrilling despite being so painful.
'Tessa stood and stared, shaking. She was numb, seeing it, never having known death before. Not like that, in the middle of brilliance, the light going out like the sun falling from the sky without warning. So fast the passage from life to death, she could not cope with it.'
I devoured the book from start to finish, revelling in the story, it's dark twists and turns and the characters. At the end I was an emotional wreck, having suffered through pain and grief, with the characters but holding out that uncrushable hope throughout that everything will work out and that despite all the bad, things will come good in the end.
Despite the incredible number of trigger warnings at the top of this review, this is a book of hope, of the power of love and how sheer, unwavering determination and handwork can overcome surmountable odds.
The main character Tessa is such a strong and compelling character. Because of her past, she's dealing with loss, grief, parental abandonment and a tempestuous home life that's shaped her into a girl with a violent, turbulent nature, a hate-the-world attitude and a bone-deep refusal to do see the good in anything. That is until a horse comes along who might just change everything for better and for worse.
Blind Beauty follows Tessa's journey from a young child to a young woman and it's a moving journey.
Tessa goes through so many challenges and we see a really harsh side of her, something that's been forged at the hands of others through their abuse and neglect but despite her nature, I couldn't help but feel drawn to her character, to root for her, to desperately wish for her happy ending, even if she doesn't believe in it herself.
The characters in this book are colourful and unique with clashing personalities asunder. The writing is unusual, a bit jarring almost as the author gives a glimpse into the mind of almost every character, even those that aren't human, but it's so gripping and I couldn't put the book down, lost in this horse-crazed world.
Side note: If you love horses, you'll either love or hate this book as the horses suffer just as much as the humans in various ways.
This book is easily one of the most touching and painful books I've ever read. It has feminist undertones, which shine through at key moments, something I love to see in YA fiction.
"...And fourteen-year-old Buffoon! And a girl - a girl-"
As if the rider were an ostrich, or a monkey. A girl!
It's such a heartbreaking, powerful story about how loving someone (in this case a wonderful horse) with your entire being can either make you or destroy you entirely.
At the end of this book, I was a bit of an emotional wreck but I almost instantly wanted to re-read it, which, is the mark of a truly good book, if nothing else.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
THIS BLOG IS SPOILER FREE!
5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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