Goodbye Days I Review #65

“Our memories of our loved ones are the pearl we form around the grain of grief that causes us pain.”

Image result for goodbye days uk

Goodbye Days

Title: Goodbye Days

Author: Jeff Zentner

Pages: 416

Publisher: Anderson Press

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS

Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

REVIEW

I think my rating for this is more of a 3.5.

Goodbye Days was a good book. There were loads of amazing aspects and parts of it: the supportive and emotional male friendships (which are a rarity in YA), the way that grief was explored and characterization was amazing.

It tells the story of a boy called Carver who (in a way) somewhat causes his friends death. This book is essentially Carver’s ‘journey’ through living with his grief, the impact it has on his mental health and how he has to learn to live in a world without his three best (and only) friends.

I think that the idea of a ‘Goodbye Day’ was what made this book. It could have fallen very flat, and although it did actually take a while to get to them when they did come, the Goodbye Days were intriguing if anything. They provided a way to both learn more about who had once been Carver’s best friends, while also seeing a wide spectrum of grief.

Carver as a character was slightly annoying if anything. I appreciated a lot of the things he said and did – and to me, he was a somewhat accurate representation of a teenager. However, at times, he did seem a bit pretentious and far fetched for me. I really liked his friendship with Jesmyn and what came later on – he really did grow as a character as the book went on.

I’d also just like to point out that I really don’t think there was any need for the extent that this book took suicide jokes. Of course, as a teenager myself, I know that loads of people do actually use them – it’s not uncommon. But there was literally no reason for them here to be completely honest.

Overall, I did quite enjoy this (it did make me tear up once or twice) but I think I just felt like there was something missing from the story. There could’ve been more but it just fell a little flat for me.

HOPE YOUR NEXT READ IS GREAT! 🌱

Strange The Dreamer I Review #64

“Like nightmares, dreams were insidious things, and didn’t like being locked away.”

Image result for strange the dreamer uk cover

Strange the Dreamer

Title: Strange the Dreamer

Author: Laini Taylor

Pages: 523

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

REVIEW

Strange the Dreamer – if anything – is a peculiar book. Not in the sense of unusual characterization, plot or world building. The way that Laini Taylor writes is just, uniquely entrancing. Laini Taylor certainly has a way with words which I found myself completely engrossed with.

Strange the Dreamer is told from two perspectives. Lazlo – the librarian who is completely and utterly infatuated with the Unseen City – Weep; and, Sarai, a girl from Weep who has a special affinity with dreams.

This novel is what I would call an ideal fantasy novel. A magical world filled with wonders and magic; characters who give so much life and excitement to the story and a well written, fast paced plot. All of this paired with Taylor’s mystical prose made for a magical read.

It was nice to see a male protagonist in a fantasy novel who wasn’t the insane alpha male that felt the need to solve everything with a sword fight. Lazlo’s personality allowed for a perspective of this story that was intellectual and altogether a lot more interesting.

Overall, I think that this book was a whimsical and fun read and honestly, a very very very good book. I can’t wait for the next book to come out!

HOPE YOUR NEXT READ IS GREAT! 🌱

Boys Don’t Cry I Review #63

“I have recently begun to become proud of it”

Image result for boys dont cry tim grayburn

Boys Don't Cry

Title: Boys Don’t Cry

Author: Tim Grayburn

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

 

 

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS

Meet Tim.

For nearly a decade he kept his depression secret, it made him feel so weak and shameful he thought it would destroy his whole life if anyone found out.

And Tim is not alone.

After finally opening up he realised that mental illness was affecting many men around the globe – and he knew that wasn’t ok.

A brutally honest, wickedly warming and heartbreaking tale about what it really takes to be a ‘real man’, written by one who decided that he wanted to change the world by no longer being silent.

This is Tim’s story, but it could be yours too.

REVIEW

Boys Don’t Cry is an important book. I’m really not usually one for non-fiction but reading this book was amazing. I am very passionate about mental health and the stigma around it, and as you may have been able to tell – this book mainly deals with mental health in men.

This is about a man called Tim Grayburn and how learns and lives with his diagnosis of chronic depression and anxiety. It’s completely told in the first person, from the perspective of the author of course. (Although, you do get a few lines from another person in his life). The fact that this is essentially a biography really gives you a different and much more personal insight to his life.

It was extremely insightful to see how Tim viewed his mental health, to begin with, and how that developed as he aged. You’re able to see how having a mental illness as a male affected him and all of the struggles that stemmed out from that.

As well as his mental health I really enjoyed seeing how his general life was affected as well. His relationships, his job, his personality – mental health is different for everyone.

I loved him and Bryony’s romance it was really cute and honestly pretty amazing. It was also very interesting to see how having a child affected his outlook on life and helped spur on his recovery.

This is a comedic, yet somewhat serious book telling the world how hard it can sometimes be to be male and have a mental illness. With all the pressure from society and the people around you to be on top of everything all the time – sometimes it gets a little too much and that was something that was tackled really well in this book. I really enjoyed reading this and think I’ll probably start delving into the world of non-fiction a little more now!

HOPE YOUR NEXT READ IS GREAT! 🌱

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Release I Review #62

“Death is not the end.”

Image result for release by patrick ness

More Happy Than Not

Title: Release

Author: Patrick Ness

Pages: 287

Publisher: Walker Books

 

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS

Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It’s a big day. Things go wrong. It’s intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches…

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It’s a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won’t come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.

REVIEW

 

TW: Sexual Assault at one point (not graphic)

Patrick Ness has once again left me speechless. Somehow with every new book he manages to write there’s a new aspect that makes it completely and utterly unique – yet still obvious that it’s written by him. Despite Ness’ natural affinity for intriguing and exciting writing; engaging plot lines and relatable characters, there’s always also that special something in his books that makes it so much more. In the case of Release, this was the fact that two stories were told at once; all in the space of one book.

The main plot line of Release is going through a day in the life of Adam where everything seems to be going wrong. You know how usually character arcs develop in books as the story progresses over a multitude of weeks if not months/years? Well, Ness has managed to achieve that all in the span of 24 hours. Adam goes through so many different things in this one day, that it should feel unnatural or forced, but it didn’t!

The (sort of) secondary plot line is told every few chapters with chapters of its own. It tells another story of a spirit and a powerful being who conjoin by accident at the spirit’s death and go throughout the book seeking revenge from someone. The writing for these chapters was really poetic and if anything ethereal? I love the way that magic and fantasy was incorporated into a book which would have otherwise been a contemporary (which isn’t a bad thing!)

It was really interesting to see how Adam handled (sort of) coming out to his very religious parents – it showed a side of coming out that isn’t usually portrayed in novels. His parents don’t want him to be gay but are still trying to ‘find’ a way to love him. The possibility of Adam reconciling with or hating his parents is never shown – there are a few things in this book which the reader is left thinking about. I really liked this for some reason despite the fact that I usually hate this.

Overall, this book is essentially about releasing (get it) and letting go and moving on. It shows just how much can happen in one day and is an emotional read which at multiple times nearly had me in tears despite it not actually being that sad. I completely devoured this in one read and had it completed in a few hours!

HOPE YOUR NEXT READ IS GREAT! 🌱

The Sky is Everywhere I Review #61

“The sky is everywhere, it begins at your feet.”

The Sky is Everywhere

The Sky is Everywhere

Title: The Sky is Everywhere

Author: Jandy Nelson

Pages: 320

Publisher: Walker Books

 

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey.

But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to centre stage of her own life – and suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two boys. One boy takes Lennie out of her sorrow; the other comforts her in it. But the two can’t collide without Lennie’s world exploding…

REVIEW

The Sky Is Everywhere is a novel about a girl whose sister passes away, who also happens to be obsessed with poetry; and the ‘new hot guy at school’. I initially went into this with probably average expectations. I was in a contemporary reading mood and had seen so many people read and love this story, but I also sat there praying and hoping it that it wasn’t another cliche story about some girl and how she gets with the new guy – because at this point I’ve read so many of those it gets tiring. Of course, that’s exactly what I found this book to be.

I will admit that despite the cliche and predictable romance – there was some good in the realism and grief you could feel through Lennie’s characters. But everything else, plot and character wise I found myself extremely disliking.

Lennie is the definition of a character trying too hard to be ‘different’; of course, people are different but she was way too much. I couldn’t stand her throwing poetry everywhere, her grandmother was really weird and as soon as she saw the ‘new guy at school’ fell in love with him. Of course, a few chapters later he was in love with her as well.

I also found myself really struggling with the lack of no plot. Some books can pull off not having a solid plot-line (one of my favourite books is one), but this book felt like it was going somewhere plot wise but in the end, there was nothing. The main ‘plot twist’ was predictable and annoying to me.

I did love the writing for the most part though. If anything Jandy Nelson is a phenomenal writer. I loved I’ll Give You the Sun and I’m so disappointed that I didn’t love this as well. But to each their own! I’m not saying this is a bad novel – I can see why so many people liked it, it just wasn’t for me.

HOPE YOUR NEXT READ IS GREAT! 🌱

Simon vs the Homo-Sapiens Agenda I Review #60

“People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”

Simon vs the Homo-Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs the Homo-Sapiens Agenda

Title: Simon vs the Homo-Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli

Pages: 303

Publisher: Penguin

 

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

REVIEW

I really am not the biggest reader of contemporary books. Usually reading about a lovesick teen in high school just reminds me of all the drama that currently goes on in my school and inevitably just frustrates me. But honestly, this book was the epitome of cute! (Someone please rec me a similar book with f/f romance!)

I read this book in the early hours of the morning at the beginning of my exam week. I started it at midnight and finished it at 3 am; let me tell you, I was still wide awake by the end of it. If this had been any other day I would’ve probably stayed up that early out of anxiety for the Latin test I was having in about 7 hours but this book just made me so happy!

Simon vs is a book about two boys who email each other anonymously. They both know they go to the same school, are in the same year and that they’re both gay -and that’s it. Nothing else. I really enjoyed the fact that there was no physical aspect to it? Whenever I am reading a romance novel there always seems to be so much time wasted on physical appearances and it was refreshing to see two people fall in love with each others’ personalities.

It was also nice to see two supportive families for their children coming out. Of course, that’s not always the case and I sure as hell know that. I know I’ll never be able to come out to my family – but it was nice to read a positive coming out experience.

The character arcs were something I also really enjoyed; Simon learned a lot about both himself and the people around him as the story progressed. I think the inclusion of the emails really gave a different insight into Simon as a character and is probably one of the reasons this book was so good. As a teen myself it’s so much easier to be me over social media, or in this case emails, so you got to see a more in-depth version of Simon.

I just really enjoyed this book honestly. We need more diverse cute contemporaries because (especially in LGBTQ+ YA) the sad stories can sometimes be all I can find to read and sometimes I just want to feel that inkling of hope. Just sometimes.

HOPE YOUR NEXT READ IS GREAT! 🌱

The Hate U Give I Review #59

Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give

Title: The Hate U Give

Author: Angie Thomas

Pages: 438

Publisher: Walker Books

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

REVIEW

Where to begin? If Goodreads were to allow to give ‘out of 10’ ratings this book still wouldn’t fit onto it. I have no idea how to explain this book in coherent English because honestly. I am astounded.

The Hate U Give is a book inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement – and it did not hold back. We go through all of the grief and pain that Starr and the people around her are suffering; we go through the complete trash that is the US law system; and we go through and see what too many black teens and families today have had to suffer through.

Starr is going to be a character I remember for a long time. I’ve read reviews that said she was ‘unrealistic’ but honestly, she was anythingbut that. Her reactions are perfectly normal for a teenager who has just witnessed her best friend’s murder. The time it takes for her to heal and grow was essential to the plot and it would’ve been completely unrealistic if that wasn’t in there.

The racism education that the reader gets through this book is really good as well. As well as police brutality against black people, fitting in when you’re the minority is also addressed. That was something I really enjoyed reading about because racism in high/secondary schools today is so overlooked.

On a lighter note you get to have such an amazing insight into Starr and black culture. There was such a beautiful sense of community around her throughout a majority of this book. The violence was still prevalent but that doesn’t mean that Starr wasn’t without support.

This is just an important read and I hope many many many more people come to read and love this book because honestly, it’s absolutely phenomenal.

HOPE YOUR NEXT READ IS GREAT! 🌱