Book Review: It Only Happens in the Movies

Every once in a while, you read a book which really resonates with you. This happened with me when I finally got around to reading It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne. It’s been on my TBR for a while now and after reading a lot of fantasy lately which was just a bit too dark and filled with death for my current frame of mind, I decided it was time to seek out some contemporary romance. What I was looking for was something light and fluffy to make me feel better. What I found was something much more meaningful than I expected.

Holly Bourne is, of course, a huge presence in contemporary YA. Her Spinster Club series is hailed as essential reading for today’s young women for it’s strong themes of female-empowerment and friendship. I don’t know why, then, I expected It Only Happens in the Movies, to be cute and fluffy. Maybe it was the bright cover or the blurb on the back which referenced romance films and falling in love. Maybe that is intentional. Maybe the marketing team wanted to mirror the false image of love given off by romance movies by making people think this was going to be a cutesy love story.

It Only Happens in the Movies IS a love story, but this is no rose-tinted-glasses, Hollywood take on love. Oh no. This book is so grounded in reality and that is what I found so refreshing. Bourne doesn’t shy away from talking about the important topics – dysfunctional families, body image and insecurity, sex. Many books reference these topics but they tend to gloss over them or make them melodramatic. Bourne doesn’t do that. She paints a stark and real picture of what these issues are like and how they can affect people. Continue reading “Book Review: It Only Happens in the Movies”

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Book Review: Hero At The Fall

Certain writers have the ability to captivated you within the first few minutes of picking up their book. Alwyn Hamilton is one such author. I massively enjoyed the first two books in her Rebel series, Rebel of the Sands and Traitor to the Throne, and I was super excited for the third and final installment to be released at the beginning of February.

Hero at the Fall sees Amani and what’s left of the Rebellion trying desperately to recover their friends and finally win the fight to oust the corrupt Sultan and get Ahmed on the throne. When we rejoin Amani she has been forced to step into the role of temporary leader of the Rebellion. It is a position she doesn’t feel she deserves, but with Ahmed and Shazad both captured by the Sultan, she has no choice but to try to regroup and come up with a new plan for victory.

There are over 500 pages to this book and each one is packed with action. My heart was literally in my mouth at some points. Over the course of the previous two books, the reader has grown to love certain characters and it’s safe to say that hearts will be broken reading Hero at the Fall. Put it this way: your emotions will be put through the wringer with this book. Continue reading “Book Review: Hero At The Fall”

2017: A Year in Books

It’s that time of the year again when it’s traditional to look back and summarise the past 12 months. 2017 has been a strange year. There have been some truly low points and a couple of milestones, but mostly it has been a bit meh. One thing that has been good about 2017, however, is the wealth of great books I have read.

After a bit of a reading slump in 2016, I am happy to report that this year I read a lot more and, for the most part, I have enjoyed almost every single book I picked up. Reading has gotten me through the past 12 months, so below I have listed my favourite reads of the past 12 months.

Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon

2017 has been a brilliant year for contemporary YA and I have certainly read a lot within this genre this year. One of the first books I read this year was Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and I simply fell in love with it. The characters are extremely likeable and the love story between Olly and Maddy is both cute and touching. A must-read for anyone looking for a sweet romance to devour.

Caraval – Stephanie Garber

Another read from early in the year which has stayed in my imagination is Caraval. With an air of The Night Circus about it, this book is mysterious and enchanting. Nothing is quite as it seems in this book and you find yourself questioning everything and everyone. Scarlett is a very likeable and strong heroine who manages to blend vulnerability and courage. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a bit of suspense along with their romance.

Strange The Dreamer – Laini Taylor

I love Laini’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, but Strange The Dreamer just elevates her writing to a whole other level. The words on the page are so prosaic and they weave a simply beautiful story filled with magic, love, tragedy and hope. You cannot help but fall in love with Lazlo, a hero who represents all the dreamers of the world. If you only read one book next year, make it this one. I guarantee you will fall under its spell.

Lord of Shadows – Cassandra Clare

When it comes to YA fantasy masterpieces, Cassandra Clare is on point. Lord of Shadows is the follow-up to Lady Midnight and it is every bit as thrilling as I hoped it would be. Emma and Julian continue to wrestle with their feelings for one another while their world slowly unravels around them. The majority of this book is set in London which just made it all the more delightful to me because I knew the places mentioned. Lord of Shadows is a highly political book, mirroring the turbulent times we currently live in. There is also plenty of magic, adventure and romance to keep you hooked right up to the heart-wrenching ending.

When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon

I loved this book. Cute, romantic and funny, it was the perfect summer read. As a fan of Indian culture, I loved all the Hindi and cultural references scattered throughout this book. Dimple and Rishi are adorable and their love story made my heart melt. The supporting characters are also great, especially Dimple’s mom who is a typical Indian mother wanting to get her daughter married to a respectable boy from a good family. Dimple’s interactions with her were some of the funniest parts of the book.

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index – Julie Israel

In the past I wouldn’t have bothered with a book like Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index. The main themes are loss and grief, but having experienced these things myself this year I found this book a big comfort. Juniper is struggling to come to terms with losing her sister in a car accident. When she finds a letter from her sister addressed to YOU, she sets out on a mission to discover who this person is. Along the way she makes mistakes, finds new friends and falls in love. This book really helped me think about the way I’ve been processing my grief and I could quite often relate to how Juniper was feeling. I really loved the idea of the happiness index cards. The best thing about this novel, however, is the friendship group that Juniper builds up around her. I really loved seeing these teenage girls bonding and standing up for one another; it was so refreshing and it’s true that friends are so important when going through a tough time in your life. No matter whether you have gone through something similar to Juniper or not, I am sure everyone will enjoy this book.

Seven Days of You – Cecilia Vinesse

Another great summer read, I literally could not put this book down. It is so cute and romantic and made me want to go to Tokyo. Vinesse paints such a vivid picture of the city that I felt like I was there with the characters. Sophia is a very likeable heroine and I adored her romance with Jamie. It really is proper cheesy cuteness but it was so much fun and just what you need for a bit of escapism.

Language of Thorns – Leigh Bardugo

This compilation of fairy-tales set within the Grishaverse is just beautiful. From the gorgeous illustrations to the new take on some classic fairy-tales, this was the perfect Halloween read. I loved how each tale was full of grey shades, and it wasn’t always clear at first who the real villain of the story was.

Night of Cake and Puppets – Laini Taylor

Laini makes the list twice, but she is seriously just an amazing writer. Night of Cake and Puppets is a novella about Zuzana and Mik from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Anyone who has read that series will remember how adorable they are, and this novella is just so romantic and beautiful and made we want to go to Prague when it’s snowing. Zuzana’s plan to romance Mik was pure genius and I loved how he turned the tables on her. There is also a cameo from Karou. A must-read for fans of the trilogy.

Those are my favourite books read in 2017, but what are yours? Do you have any recommendations (because I really need to add to my TBR pile…)? What books are you most looking forward to in 2018?

Book Review: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Over the summer I have read a fair bit of contemporary YA. One that has particularly resonated with me is Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel.

To be honest, I don’t normally read books which deal with grief. It has been a subject that I have shied away from in the past, always thinking it was too depressing to read about. Having experienced the loss of my mum in January, I now know first-hand what it is like to grieve and so I decided it was high time I started reading books that deal with this theme. Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index follows Juniper in the months after her sister’s death and what really drew me to it was the idea of the happiness index cards.

The Christmas before she died, Juniper’s sister, Camilla, gave her a set of index cards and told her to keep a happiness index. Each day Juniper writes down her happiness score out of 10 and lists what happened to her that day followed by a + or – sign. Since Camilla was killed in a tragic car accident, Juniper has been using the cards to help her get through her grief. Then one day she forgets to fill one out and then it goes missing. Can Juniper find the card before someone else does and discovers a secret she carries about her sister. Continue reading “Book Review: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index”

Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe

One of the books I purchased at YALC was an advanced copy of Lauren James’s new book, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. It isn’t officially published until September but already there is a lot of hype surrounding it and there was a lot of buzz at YALC for it too. The cover is simply gorgeous – black with purple, green and silver shiny light strobes which catch your eye instantly. One look at it and I was in love, so it was inevitable that I would end up getting it.

I must confess here that until YALC I wasn’t aware of Lauren James. Turns out I must have been living under a rock as she’s pretty big on the YALC scene. She led the Unconventional Romance panel at YALC and she was so funny, confident and seemed really down to earth, so I definitely want to read her earlier books, The Next Together and The Last Beginning.

Reading the blurb of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe it promised romance, space travel and some sort of mystery. Intrigued, I couldn’t wait to get started on it. The book is only 290 pages long, so you can easily fly through it. I’m sure most people will probably read it in a day.

Centered around sixteen-year-old Romy Silvers, commander of the spaceship, The Infinity, the story unfolds as Romy eagerly awaits the arrival of a second spaceship, The Eternity, commanded by the charming J. Romy has been alone since her parents died five years ago and when she loses connection with Earth, her loneliness only intensifies. As she counts down the days until The Eternity arrives, we see her struggle with nightmares from her past and share her growing panic as she learns about a war on Earth which results in a new government called the UPR. Romy is distrustful of the UPR and their cold, impersonal emails. As each day passes by their demands become more and more prohibitive and Romy starts to suffer as a result. The only thing that keeps her going is day-dreaming about the day The Eternity arrives and she can finally meet J.

Sci-fi isn’t my usual genre, but I really enjoyed the setting of this book. James describes the ship in such detail that I felt like I was there with Romy. There are several twists and turns as the story unfolds and it definitely kept me guessing. Towards the latter half of the book there were parts that had me biting my nails in trepidation. James did a brilliant job of creating suspense and keeping you on the edge of your seat.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe covers many genres – as well as sci-fi there are elements of romance, thriller and the book also touches on mental health. Romy makes for a great heroine – she is brave, clever and self-sufficient but she is also vulnerable and is often plagued by self-doubt. It is impossible not to care about her and hope that she finds her happily ever after.

I really enjoyed The Loneliest Girl in the Universe as something different to read. If you enjoy sci-fi and/or thrillers then this book should be on your to-be-read list. James is a good storyteller and I look forward to reading her other books now. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is published on 7 September by Walker Books.

YALC

Last Saturday I ticked something off my bucket list – I finally went to YALC. For those of you not in the know, YALC is the Young Adult Literature Convention, which takes place within London Film and Comic Con. A weekend dedicated to all things YA, it is basically a YA lover’s dream.

I have wanted to go to YALC since I discovered it existed and this year I decided to go for it and buy a ticket. Having ever only read about it through blogs and tweets, I didn’t know what exactly to expect, but it turned out to be the best day of the year so far, without question.

When I first arrived I was slightly overwhelmed. There were just so many books! Yes, it is a book convention, but I never imagined there would be so many. All the big publishing names had a stand and they all had offers. And did I mention the freebies? Bookmarks, badges, posters, flyers…there was so much amazing bookish swag that I felt like I was in heaven. Continue reading “YALC”

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

Ever since I was seventeen I have been interested in Indian culture. In my uni days I started watching Hindi movies and TV serials and tried to learn how to cook Indian food from scratch. While my Hindi might be patchy at best, I still enjoy anything related to Indian culture, so when I heard about When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, I knew I had to read it.

When Dimple Met Rishi is contemporary YA, set in America. Our protagonist is seventeen-year-old Dimple Shah, born in America to Indian parents and struggling to juggle their expectations with her own aspirations for her future. Dimple dreams of going to Insomnia Con, an annual summer programme run by SFSU where participants have the chance to build and pitch their own app. This year’s prize is the opportunity to share their idea with Jenny Lindt, who just happens to be Dimple’s idol.

Dimple doesn’t think her parents will allow her to go, however she is willing to try to convince them. Imagine her surprise when they not only agree but seem totally unfazed by the six week programme. Have they finally come round to Dimple’s way of thinking?

Meanwhile, Rishi Patel is a traditional son hoping to make his parents proud. Like Dimple, he was born in America, however he feels a strong connection to his Indian heritage. Rishi secretly enjoys drawing and creating his own comic book characters. Knowing his parents want him to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a computer engineer, he is trying to suppress his love of art and focus on fulfilling his parents wishes. He has asked them to find him a potential bride, and as luck would have it they are old friends of the Shahs. Rishi is happy to go to Insomnia Con to meet Dimple, thinking she has agreed to the match… Continue reading “Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi”