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!

 

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Book Review: Song of Blood and Stone

Book Review: Song of Blood and Stone

 Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

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

Song of Blood & Stone is a historical fantasy that follows Jasminda, a mixed-race girl, who finds herself in the middle of a war after saving a stranger with her magic, known as Earthsong. The land it’s set in is separated into two areas: one belonging to the Lagamiri (those with magic) and Elsira (those without). Jasminda is an outcast, despite belonging to both worlds, but her dark skin in Elsira leaves her to lead a life in isolation. 

This was a fascinating read I have to say. I wasn’t expecting much, but I left more satisfied than I had expected. The story parallels to many moments in history, but more closely to our times today, and how refugees are treated and negative media bias. We see how Jasminda is affected and how Jack, the white male lead, learns to use his privilege to do better than his peers and ancestors. It also discusses abuse, erasure and systematic oppression.  

I have to say it did take some time getting into the story and understanding the general plot. The romance was overwhelming and felt a bit forced, more like we were told to like them as a couple rather than growing to love them together, which may be because of the rushed ending. There wasn’t as much world building incorporated as you would expect from a fantasy book, I hope this to be built upon in the next books since I felt a bit puzzled in the first half of the book. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this. I’ve been in search of a new fantasy series, and I think maybe what I’m looking for. 

 

Trigger/Content Warnings: attempted rape, violence, death, sexual content and war themes. If you’ve read this and feel like I missed something out, tell me!

 

 

Mini-review: The Unit & One of Us is Lying

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

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

Set in future where the elderly become dispensable (women at 50, men at 60) and are placed into the Reserve Bank Unit where they’re expected to live the rest of their lives. They’re fed well, clothed and have access to many social activities. In return for the comfortable lifestyle, they must partake in medical trials and donate their organs when needed until the final one. The longer you contribute, the longer you live.

The Unit is quite sad since it asks the question of what makes a person indispensable? Why does someone’s life mean less because it doesn’t conform to what’s required? And the government in this book tries to cover it up by treating the people who enter the Unit well. There are a few sweet moments as Dorrit makes new friends and finds a love she never had outside and despite the circumstances, they have a place where they finally fit.

The Unit is an interesting idea but there were so many plot holes and moments of ambiguity that brought down the story a lot.


Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

If One of Us is Lying was a tv show, everyone would’ve finished the entire series in a day. (Most likely would receive similar hype as Riverdale and 13RW) Five students enter detentions, but only four come out alive and become prime suspects for the death of the fifth person. Simon, the one who died, ran a blog that exposed everyone’s dirty secrets and had a secret for each suspect. McManus did a damn good job in this. Using very stereotypical aspects of a high school, she gave the characters more depth and substance than I had expected. McManus is very good at writing suspense and making the reader question everything. It’s sort of a mash up between The Breakfast Club, Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars.

But that’s all the good things I have to say about the series. The first half was thrilling and fun but towards the end it became so disappointing. Using someone’s sexuality and having them be outed against their will shouldn’t have been treated as a plot twist. Their sexuality shouldn’t be something shocking. Also, villainising mental illness was an instant no-no for me. (Trina @ Between Chapters has a more thorough review. There was another I had read but I’ll link once I find it again)

Content warning: a character being outed against their will, harmful rep of mental illness.

Book Review: Starfish

Book Review: Starfish

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

I received a copy of this via Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review!

Starfish follows Kiko, a growing artist, who dreams being accepted into her dream art school and finally be free of her abusive mother.

Starfish was brutal and brilliant, all in one go. Kiko’s story was tough to read but so authentic to experience. I truly loved the sections where it shows what Kiko wanted to say versus what she actually says. It was a great way of showing Kiko’s struggle and the art description at the end of each chapter were beautiful. I loved the writing and the way Akemi wrote this story, as we read about Kiko’s journey accept herself. I found myself connecting with Kiko on so many levels, Starfish was indeed an experience to read.

I will warn you, Bowman did say she wrote this for people who need to see their experiences brought to life, and, boy, she did do exactly that. It was a struggle to read this. Her mother’s behaviour is nauseating to read but felt so real.

Although the romance isn’t a massive subplot in this book, it wasn’t the most enjoyable part of it, partly because of Jamie’s ignorance. I get that he doesn’t understand (spoiler-ish, we learn from one of the reveals, that he sort of does) but there were too many moments where Kiko’s anxiety was being framed as absurd and not usual from his lines. And him submitting Kiko’s art and showing her images to others without her knowledge and permission was teeth-grindingly annoying. We get it, he loves her, but forcing her into certain things wasn’t okay for me.

Overall, Akemi has created a beautiful and emotional story about learning to love yourself when others told you it’s impossible. Read it if you can, it’s not one to be missed.

TW: sexual abuse, racism, emotional abuse, parental abuse/neglect, suicide attempt. (If you’ve read the book and feel like I’ve missed something else, please tell me!)


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

Backlog reviews #1

These are all reviews of books I had received during my semi-hiatus but I found it too late or not enough time to post a full review of them. (excluding WITCH because I’m not good at reviewing poetry so I kept it short and placed it in here)

I received an ARC of each book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The witch doesn’t burn in this one, Amanda Lovelace | a witchy poetry sequel – ★ ★ ★ – WITCH is the sequel to PRINCESS. It’s short, a little repetitive in my opinion, but very good. Although I’m no longer a fan of this poetry style and though I enjoyed the first collection more, WITCH is a decent second instalment with a newer empowering selection of poetry.

27 hours, Tristina Wright | distant sci-fi adventure where a group of teens have only hours to save their home – ★ ★ ★ – I’m quite in the middle with this book. There were select moments which were quite thrilling but then I found myself quite bored a lot of the time, especially with its world-building. Aimal says it much better than I could ever about its colonialism issue. (Also, I suggest you follow her – her blog is great) I don’t intend to read its sequel but its cliff-hanger ending that peaked my interest – will depend on future reviews of the sequel.

Love, hate and other filters, Samira Ahmed | an aspiring filmmaker faces conflicting choices in the face of a terror attack – ★ ★ ★ – An interesting read, I enjoyed the focus on her conflicting identity as Maya deals with family, education and her future. There’s important dialogue within the story, the romance is really cute but the plot didn’t grip me as much as I thought it would.

I Am Thunder, Mohammad Khan | A story of a young teen being pulled into extremism. – ★ ★ – The overall plot and concept were great. You witness how Muzna is swept along unknowingly into a dangerous lifestyle through manipulation and grooming. I just didn’t enjoy the character voice and the pacing was a bit off.

God, Reza Aslan | a human look of the account of God – ★ ★ ★ – Aslan studies the human development between of the relationship between God and man and it’s very fascinating. A non-scientific approach with an interesting analysis that actually made me want to learn more. I hope I find the chance to read on this later.

Book Review: The Upside of Unrequited

Book Review: The Upside of Unrequited

Rating: ★★★★☆

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

Set in Washington, D.C., THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED follows the summer story of 17-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso, who has had 26 unrequited crushes (and counting!). Molly considers herself the opposite of her fraternal twin sister, Cassie. But things begin to change when Cassie gets a new girlfriend who comes with a new possible boyfriend for Molly. But Molly might have co-worker, Reid, in her mind instead.

I think if I had to sum up this one book in one word it would be cute. The Upside is the second book from Simon vs. author Becky Albertalli and it’s just as fun and adorable as its predecessor. If you loved the humor and pace of Simon vs., you’ll definitely get the same feeling from The Upside. Similar to Simon Vs., Becky’s writing is simple and easy, everything is kept light and hilarious.

Unrequited is about different relationships, while focused on romance, it also includes familial ones and Molly is, easily, a relatable lead. She’s super cute and witty, I found myself rooting her from the very beginning. Becky Albertalli knows how to write awkward moments and happy scenes that create true-to-life scenarios that make this cast of characters feel so real.

Speaking of the cast of characters, rarely do I read a book where I would happily read a novel of each separate characters. From Molly’s mothers, who are strict and loving while they might not get it all the time, they’re clearly caring parents who will do anything for their children to dorky Reid, short stories of just him working in his parents’ store would make me happy. Looking back at the story now, I’ve realised how much Becky has packed into this novel but it never once felt overwhelming. It all felt natural following Molly’s story, but also her sister’s and her friends and family.

I think what got me the most was the fat representation in this book. I loved it and I saw myself in it. While I didn’t personally relate 100% when Molly spoke about her crushes but when it came to her body image, I could relate so much.

Overall, The Upside of Unrequited is a fun and enjoyable read, dealing with multiple issues faced by teenagers and portrays them in such a positive way.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY |