Book Review: Final Draft

Book Review: Final Draft

Rating: ★★★★★

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

Laila Piedra lives for the stories she writes, and the only person who reads them is her creative writing teacher. Until he ends up in the hospital and he’s replaced by a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who is exceptionally critical and continuously unimpressed. Her strange assignment leads Laila on an obsessive journey to win her praise.

I have a soft spot for Riley Redgate. Seven Ways We Lie, her debut novel, was the reason I started giving contemporary novels another chance and I really, really enjoyed Final Draft. There was something personal yet universal about it.

Final Draft perfectly tackles the anxiety of writers. Laila has no idea what her future holds but what she is sure of is her stories even if she never lets anyone read them. I related so damn much with part of her. I couldn’t also allow anyone read any of the fanfiction I had written when I was younger, even hiding under a pseudonym so it couldn’t be traced to me. Laila yearns to make something that people will love, the same way she loves her favourite series. But she’s never satisfied, even when she’s told she is doing well. She’s literally her own worst critic. But the introduction of the new teacher means Laila must face a different approach and starts to experience more things in a real-life setting to improve her writing.

The only one real criticism I have, which is practically the same as Seven Ways We Lie, was the lack of responsibility the new teacher had. Though technically she can claim deniability since she never told the students explicitly to do the things they do but suggesting students do things that could potentially put them in danger and or upset someone was a bit irresponsible. But she’s a very ambiguous character, so you’ll understand what she’s trying to do while not fully appreciating the ways she does it.

Final Draft is a coming of age story about grief, first love and self-love as Laila learns to manage the fear that holds her back. It’s very relatable, straightforward and entertaining to read. Look out for this when it comes out.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

Advertisements

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

Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After

Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After

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

Leigh is only sixteen when her mother dies by suicide, leaving nothing but the words, “I want you to remember.” And this leads her on a journey to Taiwan in search of a bird, to meet the grandparents she never knew and hopefully learn about the life her mother never spoke about.

I can tell you it’s been a while since I finished a book and immediately started sobbing after completing it. The Astonishing Color of After was a wonderful, visually and writing-wise, novel about grief and family. There’s just so much to it. It’s a mystery with Leigh uncovering secrets her mother buried years ago through memories. But it’s also a love story as Leigh struggles with her relationship with her best friend, Axel. Her mother’s passing changes everything. And both sides of the story are equally beautiful and enthralling. But the family is the heart and strength of this story, and it indeed is so astonishing.

There’s also a magical element to this novel. Leigh experiences the past in the form of burning incense and items such as photographs, and she’s able to experience her family history from the perspectives of her family members. This allowed her to understand what she never could before and to accept the daunting choices that were made. This aspect of this was so, so gorgeous and Pan’s style made this so stunning to experience.

Overall, there are so many words to describe this novel: stunning, extraordinary, beautiful, gorgeous. The lyrical prose, Leigh’s strength and struggles as she tries to connect with a past she wishes she knew and while accepting a new future. She finds what she needed, and the ending was so satisfying. A beautifully-told story, and one that I’ll definitely remember.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

tw: suicide – mentions of it through the book and also the moments just after it. Depression.(if you’ve read the book and feel like I’ve missed something out, please tell me!)

Book Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Book Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

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

Set in the fictional world of Orléans, a small number of girls are born with the ability to use magic to create beautiful looks for a dull general population. Camellia and her sister, known as the Belles, have trained their entire lives to be chosen as the Queen’s favourite and responsible for keeping the royal family beautiful.

The world of Orléans is beautiful, a decadent society with a darker history. Everyone is born grey, and it’s the role of the Belles to bring beauty, but it comes with a price. This book is jam-packed with sweet descriptions of a seemly beautiful world until the ugliness leaks out as the story goes on. Clayton’s Orléans is unique and thrilling; while it took a while for it to grip me at first, the ending is where it gets horrific and exciting. A fantasy world means there’s a lot to set up, but once the significant event starts happening, the pace improved.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton”

Book Review: Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

Book Review: Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

my rating: ★★☆☆☆

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

Can I just say how I love that ‘fike’ was just completely removed from the novel entirely?

I am pretty sure that I said in my review of the first part that I wasn’t going to read this once the book came out. I didn’t request the full version so I could bash it, I wanted to go back into this with the belief it could be better. I felt low key guilty of how harsh I was on the snippet, and now that it’s the full story that has been edited so I thought, how bad can it be now? And it is bad. Which is so disappointing because it has a strong concept and inkling of a decent plot which flopped really severely.

Continue reading “Book Review: Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings”

Book Review: You’re Welcome, Universe

Book Review: You’re Welcome, Universe

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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

When her supposed best friend snitches on her, Julia finds herself expelled and stuck in a mainstream school who aren’t kind to the only Deaf girl there. The only thing she takes with her is her paints and Julia tags wherever she can. But someone is adding to them and a graffiti war is the last thing she thought she’d find herself in.

The last book I read with Deaf characters was Soundless by Richelle Mead and just comparing these two you tell the difference of research that went into the portrayal of Deaf characters. YWU depicts Deaf culture; the way she texts, how ASL is, in fact, a language not an extension of English, the typical experiences a deaf student faces when in a majority hearing school. We’re shown her lifestyle and it’s not just a case of simply replacing said/says with signed. (I did have a review from a Deaf reader to put in here but the links I had are no longer available – will update when I find new ones)

Continue reading “Book Review: You’re Welcome, Universe”