Is There Too Much Romance in YA?

As much as I love books with adorable, swoon-worthy romances in them, I’ve really come to appreciate reading YA that has little or no love included in the narrative. I feel like during my teen years, I was told that my experiences weren’t as valid unless I had a significant other. Like I needed to be in a relationship to feel validated, or like I deserved to be loved. And that’s a really dangerous mindset. I’m only 19, but I feel as though my opinions about romance in YA has dramatically shifted over the past couple of years—so much so that I actively look for books without romance in them.

Some of the books that got me into YA included Hush, Hush, City of Bones, The Hunger Games, and Shatter Me. To say those relationships were a little unrealistic and even toxic at times would be an understatement. And then I became obsessed with The Fault in Our Stars, which I’m sure will live on to be the “sick-lit” book of our generation. That book 100% gave me false expectations about weekends in Amsterdam and confessions of love over risotto. And Ansel Elgort… someone hold me.

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Weddings in YA

Weddings are something we rarely see in YA fiction — probably because most of the protagonists are in high school and aren’t ready for that yet, or they’re too busy saving the world from imminent destruction. But that’s not to say we don’t see them at all. Whether they be cringe-worthy or cute, I’m here to talk all about weddings in YA.

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Probably the first YA novel I read that contained a wedding was the infamous marriage between Bella and Edward in Breaking Dawn. Yeah, that one was… weird. I mean, I always preferred Edward to Jacob, but I think what followed the wedding in the rest of the book kind of tainted my memory of it. I’m sure it was meant to be really sweet, but that whole book left a sour taste in my mouth. And besides, Bella was like 18 at the time? And Edward was something like 200 years old? Talk about an age gap.

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And then I moved onto my dystopian phase, and so I think you’ll know which book I’m talking about her. Matched by Ally Condie. Set in a dystopian future where society chooses who you are to be paired with, there wasn’t really any way of writing that book without it coming off as a little unnerving. I only actually read the first book of that series, but that whole concept is something that’s still stuck with me. And it creeps me out.Read More »

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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Bookish Subscription Boxes

Bookish subscription boxes are something I’m obsessed with. I love watching all the unboxing videos on YouTube, getting excited about the theme of the box for the month, and lament over the fact that I will never be able to choose with bookish subscription box I want to sell my soul to because there are just so many fantastic ones. But even though I think bookish subscription boxes are glorious and simply the best thing that’s happened to book nerds since Book Depository, it wasn’t until recently that I’d actually received a box.

I’m not kidding – it was the highlight of my week.

But there are a few reasons why I haven’t signed up for a regular bookish subscription box, and it sometimes makes it a little hard.

  1. Having subscription boxes shipped to Australia is EXPENSIVE. I absolutely adore OwlCrate and FairyLoot, but the shipping ends up being around the same cost as the box itself, which is heartbreaking.
  2. What if I get a book I already have? I receive a lot of books for reviewing, some of them before they’ve been released, so it’s hard to commit to a bookish subscription box when I’m not 100% what the Book of the Month will be.
  3. Things getting lost in the post. Australia’s postal service is notorious for being terrible and losing things, so it would be devastating to have such an important parcel go missing.

However, Be Bookish! was kind enough to send me one of their boxes to review! I’m super impressed by the gorgeous selection of goodies and the book was one that I’ve been eyeing for ages but hadn’t got around to purchasing!

So let’s unbox this thing together!

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When LOVE Cures Mental Illness

One of the things that endlessly frustrates me about some YA novels that revolve around themes of mental health is the idea that the love interest, or romance itself, can “cure” mental illness. Don’t get me wrong — I love reading books to do with mental illness because I think they’re so important and powerful. Not only can they help those battling to see that they’re not alone in feeling how they do and that there’s always hope and someone who loves you, but also to educate other readers about the reality of living with a mental illness. It’s not sunshines and rainbows, and it’s certainly not romantic. I wrote a post about how self-harm is often glamorised or romanticised in the media and our literature, but today I’m going to be discussing how harmful it is to portray mental illness as something that can be “cured” when you fall in love, or when the “right person” comes along and saves you.

A book I was reading recently called Optimists Die First really got me thinking about the place romance has in novels that are attempting to give an accurate and raw portrayal about what it’s like to live with a mental illness. I’m not saying that there should be a ban on love in these sorts of novels, or books with these themes, but I strongly believe that love should never be written as “the thing that saves you” from your mental illness. While we didn’t see our protagonist “cured” from her social anxiety and OCD (though the OCD isn’t given a label in the narrative), the love interest had some dubious motives for why he wanted to become close with her, and as their relationship grew, Petula’s symptoms were seen to recede. All because of “love”.

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All This Could End – book review

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What’s the craziest thing your mum has asked you to do? 

Nina doesn’t have a conventional family. Her family robs banks—even she and her twelve-year-old brother Tom are in on the act now. Sophia, Nina’s mother, keeps chasing the thrill: ‘Anyway, their money’s insured!’ she says. 

After yet another move and another new school, Nina is fed up and wants things to change. This time she’s made a friend she’s determined to keep: Spencer loves weird words and will talk to her about almost anything. His mother has just left home with a man who looks like a body-builder vampire, and his father and sister have stopped talking. 

Spencer and Nina both need each other as their families fall apart, but Nina is on the run and doesn’t know if she will ever see Spencer again. Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy, once again explores the hearts and minds of teenagers in a novel full of drama, laughter and characters with strange and wonderful ways.
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A Quiet Kind of Thunder – book review

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Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.Read More »

7 books with Too Much Hype

Are you ever afraid to pick up a book because of all the hype that surrounds it? Do you ever find yourself feeling let down because a book didn’t meet the high expectations you’d formed of it from all the hype it’s received? Have you ever thought some books aren’t worthy of the hype they have? Well join the club! Here are seven books I think have too much hype…

Caraval

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While I enjoyed Caraval and I thought it was a really beautifully-written and engaging novel, it’s impossible to deny that there’s a lot of hype surrounding its release. This was a book that I enjoyed, but it wasn’t one that absolutely blew me away. Sure, it was a fun read and I liked reading about the quest and the magical elements, but every other part was astoundingly average. I couldn’t really connect with the protagonist because I felt that there was so much emphasis placed on the quest and the fast-pacing of the novel made me feel as though I never got the time to just relax and get to know her. Perhaps if I had felt more empathetic towards her and her lost sister then I would have enjoyed this novel more.

But that’s not to say that I don’t think Caraval is worthy of any hype at all. It’s a great novel and it was quite enjoyable, but honestly, the amount of hype that’s surrounding this novel could easily be halved and given to some other diverse releases of 2017 that haven’t been constantly on everyone’s Instagram and Twitter feeds. Although I did like how I wasn’t sure who I could trust, or if I could even trust what I was reading, and I loved how mysterious the whole novel was. It really drew me in from the very beginning, but I just wish I could have felt more for the characters. The romance was particularly a let-down for me and while it wasn’t one of the main elements, it felt unnecessary when we could have invested more into the relationship between the two sisters. For me, Caraval was neither here nor there, but one thing’s for certain — it has a lot of hype.

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Simon Lewis: The Adorkable Munchkin

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Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it.

So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be.

But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.Read More »