Review: A Place for Wolves

Review: A Place for Wolves

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

James has begrudgingly followed his parents country to country all his life. And suddenly, he’s separated from sister and has never felt so alone. Then comes, Tomas. And then comes the war. A historical fiction set during the Kosovo War, James and Tomas must survive life on the run and face unspeakable choices to return to their family.

This book took a while to hook me in. I didn’t exactly understand what was happening in the first chapter. But once I understood, the story began to unravel in a good way. A tale of survival for these two boys who were willing to do anything to survive the war and return to safety. Together, they escape the cruel world until they’re both unwillingly yanked back into danger.

It’s actually a shorter read than I expected but a strong one that carried itself all the way through. James and Tomas are both on the run after James’s parents disappear, and are forced to make their way to safety before they’re captured too.

There’s letter addressed to James’s sister at the beginning of each chapter, dated long before the war breaks out and shows a closer look into the relationships James had with his parents, sister, friends and how he meets Tomas. It was a good way of introducing their relationship and how they met and fell in love without taking away from the journey they’re on in the main story.

Overall, Kosoko Jackson has delivered brilliantly on his debut. A Place for Wolves has found its own place in my heart.


Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Author

Content warnings: TBA

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Book Review: What If It’s Us

Book Review: What If It’s Us

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

A chance meeting has Arthur and Ben cross paths at a New York post office. When they fail to exchange details, both boys go in search of each other. Ben is suffering from a break up which causes him to lose his main friendship group. Arthur is an intern on a limited time frame. Once reunited, they face a ton of near misses and second third fourth chances. But the universe isn’t exactly always in their favour.

I feel I am yet to find a favourite within both Becky and Adam’s books so far. Both of them have a way of writing that doesn’t always work for me. I was hoping with What If It’s Us, it would be a significant mash-up of everything I liked from both authors.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I liked What If It’s Us, I enjoyed reading it, but in the end, it just wasn’t for me. This book didn’t show the qualities that I had appreciated from previous novels.

I  feel a bit guilty for speaking so negatively later on in the review, but there’s still a lot to love in this book. The side character, including Ben’s best friend, really bought the book together and made it little funnier to read. The diverse cast of characters Arthur is gay and Jewish with ADHD while Ben is gay and Puerto Rican. I enjoy the little conversations about Ben and how painful it is for him and to have his culture erased because he’s white passing. There’s an intense moment where Arthur says something that crossed a line and Ben rightfully calls him out on it. It’s a bit strange and confusing to describe, but I loved many aspects of this book, the concept, the story, I just wasn’t a huge fan of how it was all executed.

I really did not like Arthur or Ben. In my opinion, Ben was more likeable than Arthur. But I really could not click with either of these two. The biggest critique I have to give is predictability. Knowing what’s going to happen can go, either way, you either anticipate the ending you’ve guessed or found yourself reading at a sluggish pace. While Ben and Arthur have charming moments which I loved, there was no real plot. A couple of things happen, but the rest of it just falls really flat. The initial meeting was sweet and fun, and you expect more to come off from it, but it immediately goes downhill as the authors kind of force the relationship to happen. Given the timeframe the book is set in, Arthur is due to return home at the end of the summer, little really happens, and I was left a little disappointed. Once they’ve met, it mostly constant pining from them, Arthur over Ben and Ben over his breakup.

They do eventually come together and actually reach the point where they’re actually enjoyable to read as a couple. I was disappointed that it doesn’t last as long as you’d think. I get everyone hates the ending, but it was the saving point for me. It was quite open, and I understand why everyone would feel frustrated, but it’s a better ending. 

I usually have no issues with current day pop references in novels, no matter how outdated it’ll read in the future. But what on earth was happening? I stopped reading for a bit because every sentence was Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton. Another popular musical. And then another reference. This does not include a very adorable scene where Arthur and Ben sing along to musicals. My stone cold heartfelt warmth for a moment. But I did feel like the references were simply over saturated.

Overall, What If It’s Us is not exactly a disaster read — and I think despite with my low rating, it has its shining moments. Too slow, and not enough was happening. The in-jokes and references became too much. It just didn’t work for me. I won’t cross off both authors from TBR because of it, I appreciate the stories they write, but this book wasn’t the one for me.


Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Content warning: homophobia, mentions of a panic attack, racist comments. (more to be added)

Mini-review: Soft on Soft and Women of Resistance

Mini-review: Soft on Soft and Women of Resistance

41212987Soft on Soft by Em Ali

Rating: ★★★☆☆(3/5)

June Bana is a growing make up artist whose looks are gaining traction by the day on social media. But to June, the real her is a quiet homebody and lives a life less eventful than the pictures on her feed. Then she meets Selena Clarke, drop dead gorgeous model, who loves June for who she is.

A soft sweet tale of two women learning each other and falling in love. A rapid contemporary read with little to none conflict. This title is very fitting. Soft on Soft is precisely what you get. This story centres two women of colour falling in love. The writing is simple and easy to follow. Pop culture references abound!

Its uneventful plot makes a bit tricky to read since you can hardly tell what is going on at the moment. I don’t expect something tragic to happen to make it interesting, but something a little more eventful would’ve improved the pacing a lot.

Overall, there’s something to love in this. Em Ali has a bright future in of them. I know I’ll read more.

UPDATE: Purchase links for Soft on Soft are not currently available as the author has taken them offline for further edits. I will upload a longer review once it’s available. 

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Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism – Edited by Danielle Barnhart and Iris Mahan

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
when a girl pronounces her own name
there is glorywhen a woman tells her own life story
she lives forever

A feminist poetry collection that discusses race, gender identity and sexuality. I really enjoyed the variety of poetry styles that each contributor used. There’s a variety in content and form. I am not sure each piece is beautiful and exciting. The collection encompasses the works of a diverse range of poets who I’ll definitely want to check out. I don’t read that much poetry, but this collection of works from such inspiring people was indeed a hidden gem. 

I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected by opinions of the book.


Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post begins at the end of her parent’s life. Cameron is relieved because now they’ll never know she had a kissed a girl. But the struggle doesn’t end there, we follow Cameron from the ages of 12 and as she grows to 16. Life is different, but Cameron is an expert at blending in. Until she meets Coley Taylor. And then one thing leads to another, and Cameron’s forced to join a conversion camp by her ultrareligious Aunt to “fix” herself.

This was a very detailed and passionate read. The story shifts with its array of characters, each vibrant and different from one another. The story starts off with a summer fling, a more happier vibe, where everything seems to be going well. Until it takes a dark turn and punches you straight in the stomach. While I didn’t find it emotional, but nonetheless, it was difficult.

For me, there are two parts to this story. The first is Cameron coming to terms with her sexuality and learning who she is. The second is where its all ripped away from her, and she’s forced to join a conversion camp. There’s a middle lull in this book where nothing really seems to happen. And this is where, from other reviews, everyone seems to drop off from the book. I’m not going to lie, even my interest started to falter after a few chapters but I held on and I’m glad I did, but I don’t expect anyone to force themselves through a book they find slow.

I can’t speak for certain rep in the book, like the Native American rep. I’ll link to this post that speaks on it much better. There’s a lot of language that’s quite negative towards Native Americans and very ableist so watch out for that.

Overall, Cameron Post was an intriguing read, while I didn’t love it, the story is important.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR 

Content warning: ableism, anti-Indigenous language, use of multiple slurs (f*g, d*ke etc.), lesbophobia, sex scenes, a lesbian character being outed, underage drinking, conversion therapy, self-harm with a suicide attempt that is graphically described. (TO BE ADDED)

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Years after making herself a household name, Evelyn Hugo is ready, to tell the truth about her rise to fame and what she’s done, and lost, to get there. But she’s shaking the journalism community by plucking unknown Monique Grant to write her story. But Monique is listening as Evelyn begins her tale in the cutthroat world that was Old Hollywood and the stories of her seven husbands along the way.

I am starstruck, honestly. This book isn’t my usual go-to read, but after hearing everyone talking about this, I knew I couldn’t miss this out. And I’m glad I didn’t. Seven Husbands indeed one of the best books I’ve read this year. I wasn’t expecting much because I hadn’t heard much about this book apart from “read it now”. It was a compelling read about race, sexuality, misogyny and how you shouldn’t use your short time on earth being someone you’re not.

Evelyn recalls her life to unknown journalist Monique Grant, starting from her roots: losing her mother and marrying a man (husband number one) to leave her the dead end city and into Hollywood to make her name with the stars. Evelyn is unapologetic and cunning. She learns to play the game and uses everything she can to prove herself. She’s her own saviour in a world that wants nothing more to do with her. I was so in love with her story. The story explores her Cuban heritage and bisexuality. And it is phenomenal. The writing and pacing are impeccable and had my heart racing with every page. This book really surprised me. Rarely do books steal my heart so quickly and within the first chapter.

Monique, in my opinion, was sorely underutilised. It’s not her fault that Evelyn’s story was so overpowering that it literally takes all your attention but a second read through is needed to appreciate her again. She’s an unknown journalist requested to write the biography of Hollywood’s greatest star. And she has no clue as to why she’s chosen. There are breaks between Evelyn’s chapters where we follow Monique as she processes what she learns from Evelyn and later we learn the bombshell in how she connects to the story.

Overall, this was an incredibly well-written story and an utterly brilliant novel. Honestly, if you’re in need of a new read, make sure to pick this one up.


GOODREADS| AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY | AUTHOR

Content warning: the death of a loved one, mentions of suicide and miscarriage, unhealthy eating, abortion, domestic abuse, cheating, homophobia, biphobia, alcoholism. (If you’ve read this book and felt like I’ve missed something out, please, inform me.)

 

Book Review: Skylarks

* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Skylarks is about the life of Joni after a wealthy company buys out her family estate, slowly forcing its working-class tenants to leave so that they can make more money. Joni slowly joins the grassroots campaign to reclaim their home. While working at her part-time job at the library, she meets Annabel, a girl who comes from an upper-class conservative background. They clash a lot in the beginning until they slowly find a middle ground with each other, while Joni struggles to keep her family together. It is quite a heartwarming story that touches on poverty, class divide, grassroots projects and inequality.

However, I didn’t really enjoy this as much as I thought I would. It was quite irritating to read, there were odd moments that felt jumpy, with moments that dragged onto long, and I just felt impatient reading this. The plot’s good, just not engaging enough. Joni and Annabel were cute though, I like that they bounced off each other and learnt a lot from each other.

There is also a scene were Joni is very ableist. She’s rightly upset that her father is not receiving the benefits he needs, but she points the finger to her next door neighbour and says that they get more even though she looked well. This was quite horrible to read and it isn’t challenged in the novel. Joni also accidentally outs Annabel to her father due to a misunderstanding and while Joni acknowledges her mistake, it’s quickly brushed off because her father is already aware and then, again, quickly forgotten about.

Overall, a novel about the conflict of wealth and social class while two girls fall in love. It was quite pleasing to read, but I did find it dull in some moments.


GOODREADS | WATERSTONES | AUTHOR

Trigger/Content Warnings: Classism, ableism. If you’ve read this and feel like I missed something out, tell me!