The Upside of Unrequited – book review

The Upside of UnrequitedSeventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

The Upside of Unrequited was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017, which means that I had very high expectations of it. Would it be as amazing as Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda? Would Becky Albertalli be able to pull of another sensational YA novel? All those questions were soon answered. I fell right into the story, falling harder for the characters and the adorable romance and the important, powerful messages. I didn’t think Becky would be able to write something that could compete for my love of Simon vs, but I was wrong. I absolutely loved this book.Read More »

#LoveOzYA Anthology

Recently, ten spectacular Aussie YA authors teamed up to create the first anthology of its kind – the #LoveOzYA Anthology. As a massive supporter of Aussie authors, I presumed this anthology would be something I would adore. And I did, but… I kind of hated it too? So here are my top five reasons why I hated this anthology.

1. I hate how short the stories are.

How could I forgive this anthology for making me fall in love with the characters in each story and then ripping them away just as I felt like I knew them? From the moment I started reading the first story of this anthology, I knew that having to say goodbye to each person after such a short time with them was going to be devastating, but it was even harder than I first thought. Not only was it difficult because I adored the characters from each story and I wanted to spend more time with them, but the ephemeral nature of short stories meant that often there wasn’t a definite conclusion. Things ended in a way that left me mostly satisfied, but I wanted to know more. What was going to happen to these characters now? This anthology broke my heart by snatching away the characters from me too soon, and I hate it for that.Read More »

I Don’t Read Blurbs (#oops)

For a long while, the only books I wanted to read were the ones I knew I would love. I’d inspect the summaries on Goodreads with a close eye, taking the rating and the top review into account, and only when I was sure that I’d like the book, would I go out and grab a copy. That meant that I was reading a lot of the same kinds of books. That was okay, I guess, because I loved contemporaries and I loved dystopians. But it was only when I stopped being so certain of what books I would pick up did I discover that I loved reading so many other genres. Fantasy. Magical realism. And recently, I’ve discovered a new favourite genre of mine. I call it existential contemporary, which can also expand to slight variances in genre. A long name to describe the books that I’m loving reading at the moment.

Now, the way I choose which books I decide to read it vastly different from when I started blogging a few years ago. Most of the books I read are ones that I’ve seen on Twitter, mostly from people recommending it. Sometimes I get recommendations straight from my friends. But instead of meticulously combing through reviews to try and work out whether it would be worth my time, I ask for opinions. I ask people if they liked it, and if so, nine times out of ten I’ll add it to my basket without any thought. It’s rare that I know what a book is going to be about before I start reading it now, and I love that. I love going into a book completely blind because it allows me to be thrust straight into the world without forming any prior thoughts about what to expect. I love the surprise, and everything that comes with it.

And now that I’ve discovered a new favourite genre of mine, the existential contemporary, I’ve been asking people what books I could read that would fit into that category. To give you an idea of what other books I consider to slot into it, and that I’ve loved, here are a few: We Are The Ants, More Happy Than Not, and most recently, Still Life with Tornado. Each of these books share the same element — they all question the meaning of life and our purpose on Earth. They all have that existential element that makes you think about your life and what society has become. As I love learning about the philosophy behind the existential and nihilistic movements, I find books such as these fascinating. But I never would have found them without learning to not be so picky with what I read and trusting recommendations.

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Biographies are Boring?

I never thought I’d be someone who adored biographies and autobiographies. I mean, who would want to read about someone real when they could be reading about wizards or faeries or aliens? Who would want to read about someone talking about their own boring life like it was different to the rest of ours? Who’d be interested in writing about how they grew up, got a job, and did all the other mundane things which life entails? Certainly not me.

But then I read an autobiography. By read, I mean forced to by my literature teacher in 11th Grade as a part of an assignment. It was Bill Bryson’s memoir entitled The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid and I couldn’t have been more annoyed at having to waste my time reading that nonsense when I could have been rereading The Fault in Our Stars or delving deep into Wattpad to read more Drarry fanfic.

It wasn’t until I reluctantly opened up the autobiography (after trying to find a reasonable summary on Sparknotes. Believe me, I tried), did I realise that I might actually enjoy it. If my laughs at the strange and funny situations Bill found himself in as a kid where anything to go by, I actually really loved it. And that was the beginning of a whole new adventure for me.

I realised that reading biographies and autobiographies were not nearly as boring as the name suggested. I thought that reading about someone I didn’t know, and quite frankly, didn’t care to learn about, would be the most boring experience of my life. In fact, it was the opposite. I found that there wasn’t all that much difference between reading about a person in the real world as compared to reading about a fictional character. They both came with backstories and vibrant lives and things that made me connect with them or even be able to relate to them.

After I realised that I liked reading about so-called real people, I investigated some other biographies and autobiographies to pick up. While YA fiction remains my one true love, this whole new genre I found, thanks to my pushy literature teacher, has provided both some really fascinating and empowering reads. I couldn’t have been more thankful for not just opting to read the Wikipedia page on that book I was made to study.

I’ve now read a number of biographies and autobiographies, but I want to discuss who I picked up recently in depth. Those ones are Note to Self by Connor Franta and Finding Nevo by Nevo Zisin. While they’re both vastly different in the topics they discuss and how well they’re both known in general media, I loved reading both of them because they allowed me to do the one thing all great autobiographies and biographies should be able to do — they made me feel as though I knew the author in a more personal way, and it allowed me to not only learn from the experiences they recounted, but think about how I would be left a little different than when I turned the first page.Read More »

Queens of Geek – book review

Queens of GeekWhen BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

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Poorly Written Mental Health Books

Four Weeks Five PeopleThey’re more than their problems.

Obsessive-compulsive teen Clarissa wants to get better, if only so her mother will stop asking her if she’s okay.

Andrew wants to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band and their dreams of becoming famous.

Film aficionado Ben would rather live in the movies than in reality.

Gorgeous and overly confident Mason thinks everyone is an idiot.

And Stella just doesn’t want to be back for her second summer of wilderness therapy.

As the five teens get to know one another and work to overcome the various disorders that have affected their lives, they find themselves forming bonds they never thought they would, discovering new truths about themselves and actually looking forward to the future.

The amount of books I’ve read where teenagers living with mental illnesses go on “recovery camps” is ridiculous. Maybe it’s because I’ve never encountered anything like this in Australia (not to say they don’t exist; I just haven’t heard of them here), or maybe it’s because the idea of going on a camp that is portrayed to “cure” teenagers by the end of a few weeks is problematic, but these books generally don’t sit well with me. However, I was excited to give this one a go because I hoped that it would be different. Spoiler alert: It didn’t. I felt like this book took on more than it could chew, writing from the points of view of five teenagers all dealing with different mental illnesses, and perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if there was more of a plot. To me, this book felt like one that simply showed the lives of these teenagers throughout four weeks, and even that wasn’t done well as it felt like it didn’t have any real direction. There was just a lot wrong with this book.Read More »

The Dangers of Hype

To me, there’s three kinds of people who dislike hyped, so-called popular YA novels. The first of these is the reader that feels overwhelmed by the hype and has built up unrealistic expectations for how spectacular the novel is going to be. I’m sure you’ve been this person a few times, and haven’t enjoyed a novel purely because it wasn’t how you expected it to be and you were disappointed that it didn’t live up to the hype. Been there, done that. The second is the person that just genuinely doesn’t like the “popular” book. They read it, maybe even DNF it, purely because it wasn’t for them. They weren’t influenced in any way and they weren’t trying to make a statement. That’s when the third kind of reader comes in. The reader that dislikes the hyped book to make a statement. To be the only one-star review on Goodreads, who will write an absolutely scathing review of the novel to be “different”, even if it isn’t their entire honest opinion.

Am I one of those people? Have I become that person?

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Remind Me Why I Love Aussie YA

Maybe I’m biased, but I think that Aussie writers are some of the most talented, lovely people in the bookish community. We’re so lucky to have an abundance of wonderful, captivating stories being published in our country that are even going on to conquer the world. Just in the last year or so, we’ve seen so many Aussie authors having their books published in the U.S. for the first time, which is absolutely phenomenal, and it makes me so excited to know that so many other people are going to get to read the books that got me passionate about Aussie literature. Not only are Aussie novels unique in that they are often set in small Australian towns or Aussie cities, which always makes me feel at home, but they capture the way of life and the diversity of Australia in a way that no one else ever could. Every time I pick up an Aussie novels, it’s like coming home again after being overseas for a month. It’s comforting. I know the slang and the culture, and I’m ready to fall into this story. And let me tell you, there’s no other books I’d rather fall into.

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Why I Love Reading About Grandmas

There’s something so sweet about YA novels with a grandma that plays a major role in the narrative. Maybe it’s because it reminds me so much of my childhood — of warm hugs and scones fresh from the oven. Maybe it’s because I know that even though there might be tension between the characters or the grandma might not be the most likeable person at times, I know that there will always be a resolution of the conflict and I will always love the grandma in the end.

Aren’t grandmas just the cutest people in the whole world? While old people can be frustrating at times and we’ve all experienced moments when they hate us in retail or wherever we may be serving them, as soon as they start talking about their knitting or what they’re buying their grandson for their birthday, I’m wanting to be in their good books. Also, I love cookies. You know, just in case you might feel like baking me some one day.

But even though we all love reading about families and grandparents in books, even funny bickering grandparents, it’s rare that we get the opportunity to see them in YA fiction. If you think there’s a phenomenon of the missing parents, think about the grandparents. While I know that these relatives might not play a role as important to a mum or a dad, but I’d still love to see more of them in YA.

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That Time I Fell in Love with a Clock

Timekeeper bookIn an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

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