Short Reviews from a (Somewhat) Fast Reader

I don’t know about you, but my reading progress has been pretty good this month so far. Whether or not that’s because I’m always more motivated in the beginning of the year, because the bookshop has been fairly quiet and I’ve been able to read on shift, or maybe a combination of the two. But I’M PROUD OF ME NEVERTHELESS. I mean, if I keep reading at this pace, I could crack 200 by the end of the year. Just sayin’. JK IT’S NOT A COMPETITION AND WHETHER YOU READ ONE BOOK OR ONE THOUSAND IS GREAT AND I’M PROUD OF YOU. You’re doing amazing, sweetie.

So today I’m going to share some mini reviews of the books I’ve read so far this month in the hopes that I’ll continue to read as much as I have in the past two weeks or so. FINGERS CROSSED. I might need to increase my reading speed to enable me to read eight books a day for thirteen years in order to get through my TBR, but I’LL GET THERE ONE DAY!

… Okay fine, you’re right. I’m never getting through all the unread books on my shelves. YOU CAUGHT ME OUT. I’M A FRAUD.


At the Edge of the Universe

WOW. This book was absolutely phenomenal. I read We Are the Ants last year, which was one of my favourite reads of 2017, and so I couldn’t wait to pick up Shaun David Hutchinson’s latest book. But there was also that part of me that was scared it wouldn’t replicate the same love and heartbreak I experienced when reading We Are the Ants — WHY AM I LIKE THIS. So yeah… it took me about ten months to finally work up the courage to read this book. AND IT WAS PHENOMENAL.

One of the things I loved most about We Are the Ants was the slight sci-fi twist, and I was pleased to find that At the Edge of the Universe included the same sort of elements. At the Edge of the Universe is about a boy who’s boyfriend is forgotten by everyone except him, and he’s the only one who notices that the universe is shrinking. While it might sound strange at first, you can read into that however you like. But to me, this was a story about loss, love, and learning how to move on with your life when it feels like the one thing that was your life is taken away from you. At the edge of the Universe was just such a bittersweet, poignant novel, and I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.

There’s also such an amazing cast of diverse characters — the protagonist is gay, his love interest is bi, and he has an asexual friend and a genderqueer friend as well. There’s also talk of mental illness, abuse, and self-harm — this book just has it all. It was such a powerful read and definitely one I’ll be recommending for for a long time to come. For a book about forgetting, this is one unforgettable narrative. JUST READ IT.




The Dangerous Art of Blending In

I really expected this book to be amazing. I mean, how gorgeous is that cover? VERY GORGEOUS, is the correct answer. I didn’t know much about this book before launching into it, which is how I like to go into the books I read. All I knew was that it contained a gay protagonist, which was enough to make it onto my TBR pile. But one of my main issues with this book was just how difficult it was to read. I know that not everyone will have this issue, but I just couldn’t read about this poor gay boy being abused by him parents and being told he has a demon inside him because his family is religious and he’s queer. I just… couldn’t. Sorry. It was just too painful to read, particularly because all I really want in my life are happy queer stories. We already have too much homophobia in this world — I don’t want to read about it too.

Maybe I’ll come back to this book in a few years, when the Australian marriage equality survey is just a distant memory. When I forget that 4 in 10 people don’t think I deserve the same basic right as my straight friends to get married. But that’s another issue in itself. I think it just wasn’t the right time to read this book. Maybe I would have loved this book if I read it another time. And maybe it’s because I already felt uncomfortable reading this one that I struggled to connect with the protagonist, but I just couldn’t really connect to the writing style. There was a lot of backstory and him reminiscing, and I felt that some of this was written in a way that wasn’t as captivating as the narratives I’m used to. Ultimately, I don’t really think this book was for me. I’m a sad queer now.


1 Star

Thanks to Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


Far From the Tree

THIS IS ALREADY ONE OF MY FAVOURITE READS OF 2018. I can’t believe I’m thinking about what 18 books will make it onto my favourites list of this year, but here I am knowing that it would be hard pressed to find a book I love more than Far from the Tree. It was just phenomenal. I enjoyed reading Emmy & Oliver, the author’s previous book, but this one just blew me away. It was about adoption, family, and love, and IT WAS JUST SUCH A PERFECT BOOK. Gah, so many emotions. I struggled to see the pages towards the end because my eyes just WOULD NOT stop watering. It was so, so beautiful.

One of my favourite things about this book was how positively it portrayed adoption and pregnancy and different families. On the first page, it’s revealed that one of the protagonists, who’s in high school, gets pregnant and chooses to give her baby to another family. I think the only other book I’ve read that includes teen pregnancy is How to Make a Wish (which was also a gorgeous read), but I loved how Far From the Tree spoke so honestly about what it would be like in that situation, and Grace’s grief for the baby she gave to another family comes across so beautifully and poignantly. And then that also connects to the way she views her own biological mother (as she’s adopted). I was pleased to find that she recognised that her bio mum probably loved her incredibly much and had to give her up for adoption because of her circumstances, and she wasn’t bitter about that. YAY FOR ALL THAT POSITIVITY ABOUT ADOPTION.

The sibling dynamics were also amazing to read about. Because I’m an only child and I’ve never experienced having brothers or sisters, it was so fun to see how these three teens connected with each other and swore to protect one another, no matter what. SO MUCH LOVE FOR THOSE THREE. They all had difficulties in their lives, but it was just so heartwarming to see the way they stuck up for one another and were there to listen to their siblings when they were hurting. AND THERE WAS AN ADORABLE F/F COUPLE IN THIS BOOK. I’m just here on the sidelines, waving pompoms at everyone who’s queer. I’m like the ultimate queer mascot, kitted out in my rainbow cape and glitter. BUT YES, PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. It’s just phenomenal.




Before I Let Go

This was definitely one of my most anticipated releases of 2018, mainly because it ALSO features queer characters. But I will admit, I did have slight reservations about this one because it sounded a bit like a murder mystery, with the protagonist trying to figure out how her best friend died. I mean, this book was GRIPPING — there’s no doubt about it. I read it in one sitting, just desperate to know how it was going to end. But the further I got into it, my initial amazement with how sensational this novel was slowly decreased. I was just… not very impressed by some things, mainly how the town treated the deceased girl and her mental illness. I understand that recognising how messed up this town is was one of the main aspects of this book, but it was VERY NOT GOOD. They were basically saying that her death was inevitable and that her mental illness was a blessing… and it was just very wrong.

But I respected how the protagonist recognised how toxic the mindset of the community was and how damaging it was for her best friend. Mental illnesses don’t make a person more creative, or allow them to see the future, or are there for the benefit of others. They’re an illness, like a broken arm. The initial expectation that this girl could ‘cure’ her bipolar disorder through art and the thought that the town could leach off her and her art was quite disgusting. There are definitely aspects of this book that some people might find triggering, so I’d be careful when picking up this novel.

However, my favourite thing about this book was definitely the pansexual and asexual representation. The protagonist is ace, which was SO GOOD TO SEE. 2018 is going to be the year of more asexual protagonists in books, and I’m SO HERE FOR THAT. I honestly can’t wait to read more queer stories this year. So while that aspect wasn’t enough to fully redeem the story for me, it was still really great to read about. So I don’t in any way think this book is inherently problematic, but it was just quite difficult to read at times, and that’s why I didn’t love it as much as I had anticipated. Nevertheless, it was still a good read and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for something a bit darker.



Thanks to NewSouth Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


The Truth and Lies of Ella Black

This book has SO MUCH POTENTIAL, and for the most part, I really enjoyed it. I definitely think I liked it more than Emily’s previous novel, and while I was slightly letdown by the ending, it was still a really captivating read. I was hooked the entire time with wanting to know why the protagonist’s family was being so sketchy and why she was dragged away overseas with the drop of a hat. I also found her ‘second personality’ an intriguing addition, and I was interested to see where that aspect would be taken in the novel. I did have some issues with this book, but it was pretty entertaining and kept me wanting to know what was going to happen.

One of the main issues I had with this book was the slight negative connotations it suggested towards people who suffer from multiple personality disorder, and while it wasn’t explicitly stated that this is what the protagonist had, I felt that the way it came off sometimes could be interpreted as problematic for some living with this particular mental illness. This ‘second personality’ that Ella had was destructive and dangerous, and it could be interpreted by some that that was a negative representation of mental illness and perpetrated the stereotypes that people with mental illnesses are unstable and dangerous. So that was kind of a bummer.

I also felt that once the reason behind her emergency trip overseas was discovered, some of the momentum behind the story was lost. I didn’t really feel that the stakes were high enough, and I was constantly yelling at the protagonist to act rationally and just use her brain. I was totally unimpressed by some of the decisions she made, and I felt a little letdown by how the story seemed to trail off and end with little more than a whimper. I just wasn’t a fan of how it ended and I was expecting something completely different. But The Truth and Lies of Ella Black is an entertaining novel and if you’re into mystery / thrillers and are willing to overlook those questionable aspects, you should pick this one up!



Thanks to Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


Brooding YA Hero

THIS WAS SUCH A FUN BOOK. It’s honestly what I needed to read between those other emotionally-draining books I’ve read in the last two weeks. I’ve been following the Brooding YA Hero on Twitter for ages and I love his account and content, and I thought his book was just hilarious. Yes, I’m referring to it as HIS book because Broody is definitely a real person in my mind. Just go with it. He spoke about how he gets employed by different writers to portray a certain character type and he mentions his evil ex-girlfriend, Blondie DeMeani, and it’s just amazing. I couldn’t have hoped for anything better with this book. I also loved the dragging of particular YA authors and the witty but necessary discussions about problematic representations of characters and overused tropes, and that was brilliant. I’d recommend reading this book piece by piece instead of binging it though, because sometimes some of the writing feels a little repetitive. STILL BRILLIANT THOUGH.


4 Stars

Thanks to NewSouth Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


Meet Cute

THIS BOOK WAS JUST WHAT THE TITLE SAYS: CUTE. Gah, it was just adorable. While I preferred some stories over others, they were all so gorgeous and swoon-worthy, and I was so pleased to find a diverse range of characters and love interests, and not just your typical allocishet pairings. Some of my favourites stories were the ones by Nina LaCour, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Katherine McGee and Emery Lord. This book is perfect to either be read in short bursts, one story a day, or you could binge it like I did. Because the stories feel so short, this book just seems to fly past. I adore a good meet cute, so this book definitely lived up to my expectations. I’d recommend going into this book knowing you’re not going to love some stories as much as others, but it’s still such a gorgeous read. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.


4 Stars


We Are Okay

WOW. This is actually the first book I’ve read by Nina LaCour, besides You Know Me Well, which was co-written with David Levithan, and I absolutely adored it. This book was so short, but it was absolutely glorious and broke my heart into a million pieces. The writing was spectacular, and I completely fell in love with the characters. This book is about grief, loneliness, friendship, and love, and I was transported to the cold winter and felt as though I was experiencing everything alongside Marin. My heart just broke for her. SO MANY FEELINGS AND NOT ENOUGH WORDS TO EXPLAIN THEM AHH.



Let's Talk

Have you read any of these ones? Did you feel the same way as I did? How’s your reading going this month? What’s been your favourite read of 2018 so far? Which ones are you excited to read in the next month? I’d love to know!


12 thoughts on “Short Reviews from a (Somewhat) Fast Reader

  1. NOOO. I’m curled up in a ball crying into a pillow. I really wanted to hear some good stuff about The Art of Blending In. Gah. Anyway, great idea! I’ve been toying with the possibility of putting a bunch of reviews into just one post and it seems like it worked positively for you. Great job on the post!

  2. These are all really well written reviews. I really want to read Brooding YA Hero and Meet Cute, so I’m glad to see that you’ve given them both positive reviews.

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