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
Genre: Contemporary MM Romance
Standalone/Series: Signs of Love #1
How I got this book: Bought
A new person will enter your life in the early year, Leo. Look past any moments of frustration they might bring and laugh—this could be the start of a thriving friendship.
Theo Wallace usually laughs at the horoscopes his mom sends. Still hung up on his ex-girlfriend and practically friendless, this one begs him to reconsider. Because a friendship that stuck, that thrived…
Well, that would be a reason to leave past pains behind and look to the Bright Future.
When his sister Leone challenges him to find her the perfect date for a spring wedding, Theo uses it as a chance to make new friends. Theo’s ex economics tutor and newest roommate Mr Jamie Cooper seems to be a possible and convenient match. Real convenient. Like written in the stars, convenient.
All he has to do is make sure this Jamie is good enough. Could really be the one for her, and the friend for him.
But watch out, Leo, the stars have a surprise in store…
Oops - I wrote this review back in October after a re-read of this story but apparently, I completely forgot to post it.
I love this entire series, but since Leo Loves Aries is the first book in the series it holds a serious soft spot in my heart.
Theo is cute, confident, charming and completely clueless...
Mr. Jamie Cooper is suave, sophisticated and sexy...
I absolutely adore this story. It's so refreshing to read a romance that stems from friendship, with no immediate sex being involved and it's nice to see the relationship develop naturally instead of instant lust - something that Anyta Sunday writes extremely well.
Theo and Jamie are the perfect witty pair, I love their banter, their friendship, their misunderstandings and their compassion for each other.
Theo felt his dimples deepen. “You’re so organized. No wonder I drove you up the wall.”
A few seconds passed before Jamie responded. “That’s cute.”
“Your use of past tense.”
The love scenes build on the underlying romance and connection between the two, making it a perfect combination of sweet and steamy.
“And if I can’t swim?”
“I swim for both of us.”
I swim for both of us. Theo’s breath caught.
This is definitely one of my favourite romance series and I love these innocent, clueless characters.
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
Series/Standalone: Light Years #1
How I got this book: Received in May 2018 'Hidden Talents' Illumicrate Box
Reeling from the latest attack by a mysterious enemy, the Quatra Fleet Academy is finally admitting students from every planet in the solar system after centuries of exclusivity.
Hotshot pilot Vesper, an ambitious Tridian citizen, dreams of becoming a captain - but when she loses her spot to a brilliant, wisecracking boy from the wrong side of the asteroid belt, it makes her question everything she thought she knew. Growing up on the toxic planet Deva, Cormak will take any chance he can get to escape his dead-end life and join the Academy - even if he has to steal someone's identity to do it. Arran was always considered an outsider on icy Chetire, always dreaming of something more than a life working in the mines. Now an incoming cadet, Arran is looking for a place to belong - he just never thought that place would be in the arms of a Tridian boy. And Orelia is hiding a dark secret - she's infiltrated the Academy to complete a mission, one that threatens the security of everyone there. But if anyone finds out who she really is, it'll be her life on the line.
These cadets will have to put their differences aside and become a team to defend their world from a cunning enemy - but the danger might be lurking closer to home than they think...
This book took me entirely by surprise - I just did not expect to love it as much as I did!
I received an ARC copy of Light Years as part of the Illumicrate May 2018 'Hidden Talents' book box subscription - gosh I miss book boxes so much (damn you financial responsibilities!!) - and had intended to read it immediately, but I'm sort of glad that I left it for over a year because now I don't have to wait as long for book two (out October 2019) which is already too long because this book has a really, really good cliffhanger that I both did and didn't see coming and I need to find out what happens next.
As is the never-ending circle of pain you get when starting a new series! You'd think I'd be used to it by now...
Anyway, back to the book. It features a 4-way split narrative which at first, I couldn't get enough of because the pace was fantastic, very quick (I finished the book in under two days) and the characters were great. They were each distinct enough that I knew who's chapter it was without looking at the name.
However, as the story became a little more complex, the split narrative and fast pace did grate a little as some things that I felt deserved more time just flew past and also, some of the relationships and character developments seem to happen really quickly because the book would go three chapters between each character's viewpoint, but overall, it was a very immersive read and I still enjoyed the narrative style.
Light Years gave me massive Divergent/Hunger Games/Illuminae vibes the whole way through, which was great. It also has LGBT representation (PRIDE MONTH Y'ALL) and whilst I would have preferred a little more build-up, what I love in particular about the LGBT rep is that it's not a 'big issue', there's no drama because the two characters in question are queer, it's just accepted. #loveislove
This book also contains a racially diverse set of characters, although, without the cover, you wouldn't really know it, as the author sort of leaves the visualising of the characters to the reader. The book does tackle racism, but it's more specifically targeted to where a person is from (i.e. their home planet) than their appearance.
I loved the main plot and the intertwining sub-plots in this book. The whole journey from the character's various planets and through their journey was very vivid and detailed without being overbearingly so.
The characters were all unique with their own backgrounds, challenges, inner demons and abilities. They clash and they gel at different times which made for really interesting relationships both platonic and romantic.
The writing was addictive, it's one of those glorious books that I just couldn't tear myself away from and as I've mentioned twice already, the cliffhanger was great, it was both predictable and unpredictable simply because of the timing. Just when you think everything's going to work out(ish), bam! Everything changes and now I have no idea what to expect, so I'll just be anxiously counting down until book two is released later this year!
Have you read Light Years? Let me know what you thought in the comments!
Rating: 3.5 STARS!
Genre: Contemporary YA
Standalone/Series: Creekwood #2
How I got this book: Bought
Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
I was so ready for this book! Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda was amazing. I loved The Upside of Unrequited and I was ready to love Leah on the Offbeat, even if I had some trouble with her character whilst reading Simon...I mean, she's fat, and bi, and I was all ready for that!
I should mention that this is the first audiobook I've ever reviewed on my blog. I've never really 'gotten into' audio books before but after listening to The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue almost on repeat this year, I decided to try another.
The book was narrated by Shannon Purser and I think she did a fantastic job of capturing Leah's essence and portraying her character.
I was immediately captured by her voice and by Leah's sarcastic wit. I also really, really liked that there was an f/f romantic interest, even if the character did throw me somewhat.
Sadly, my biggest problem, was Leah herself. Like I said at the beginning, I should have really, really loved this book, but I just could not get over how horrible Leah's character was. She's a complete bit** to her mum, her mum's boyfriend, and to all of her friends. She was judgemental and patronising and manipulating and it really threw me off.
Don't get me wrong, there were sweet moments, tender moments and moments where I felt sorry for Leah but a lot of the time I just couldn't get over how much I didn't like her personality, and that sucks because I wanted to love her.
However, it wasn't all bad. I loved that I got to see more of Simon and Bram. I love this pair and they are seriously cute in this book! Prepare yourselves to gush!
I liked Garrett. I can't actually remember if he was in Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda but I did find him funny and sweet, yet I didn't like that he was basically strung along the whole time.
I also liked that Leah was quite body positive. For the most part she doesn't go on and on about her body size and how bad her life is because of it. I love that she dresses how she wants to, how she falls in love with a prom dress and doesn't obsess over looking 'bigger' than everyone else. It's nice to have a little more positive body size representation in books, especially in YA where it can make all the difference.
Overall, I did enjoy the story. I enjoyed getting back with the gang. I enjoyed the romance and I liked Leah's sarcasm, I just didn't love her the way I wish I had.
What do you think? Have you read this book? I'd love to know your thoughts!
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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.
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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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