book review

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: Copy received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

Whew, where do I start with this one? I loved it.

When Dimple Met Rishi has been on my must-have releases of 2017 since I first heard of this book. This is the story of Dimple, an aspiring coder, who finally convinces her parents to let her go to Insomnia Con, a 6 week programme for coders, before she heads off to Stanford in the autumn. What Dimple doesn’t know is that her parents have only let her go so she can meet Rishi, a boy they approve of and wish for her to marry.

First things first, I loved the Indian references in this book – Dimple and Rishi are both Indian-American and I feel like I learned a lot about their culture just reading this book, from Bollywood references to the expectations placed on Dimple and Rishi by their respective families. And talking of their families, this is one YA book with realistic and present families throughout.

Dimple is a great character – she doesn’t conform with society’s expectations of her, shunning makeup and even traditional Indian clothes, and she is confident that she doesn’t want a boyfriend and wants to focus on her career. Rishi is also fully fleshed-out – he’s a hopeless romantic and traditionalist who has his heart set on marrying Dimple before he’s even met her. He’s also destined to study computer science, despite his love for comic artistry.

I loved the fact that this book is the older end of YA – Dimple and Rishi are both spending their summer before college/university at Insomnia Con. I loved the feel and tone of the book; it’s really something special, and it has that summery first-taste-of-freedom element to it.

If you like YA contemporary, this is a gorgeous summer romance that brings something new and refreshing to the YA table, and it has to be one of my favourite releases of the year so far.

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annalsie

Review: Countless by Karen Gregory

Countless
Countless by Karen Gregory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

I’ve been excited for this book for a while, and thank you goes to the publisher, Bloomsbury (Hooked on Books) for sending me a proof copy!

Hedda is struggling with anorexia, and then she discovers she is pregnant. She’s scared and in the grips of an eating disorder, who she calls Nia. Hedda suddenly has some difficult decisions to make.

This isn’t an easy read, and might be triggering for some readers. This is an account of an eating disorder from inside the mind of Hedda, and I believe this is an OwnVoices novel in regards to anorexia. We see flashbacks to when Hedda was in hospital with her eating disorder, and Hedda talks to her friends who are still in the grips of eating disorders themselves.

I liked how this book was raw and didn’t have any easy, fairytale solutions. This was a really unique book, with an interesting living situation and backstory, and I liked the structure of the story. We see grotty flats and dysfunctional families, a love interest who isn’t some fairytale prince come to sweep Hedda off her feet. Hedda has to face her problems head on throughout the book, which I really liked.

This book took me two days to read – it was complelling as it was a welcome addition to the UK YA landscape.
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annalsie

Review: The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

The Princess Saves Herself in this One
The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve had my eye on this book for a while, and I finally got to read it, and it is seriously beautiful.

Amanda Lovelace crafts some beautiful, relatable poetry from her own experiences. I’m always amazed at how poetry can make you feel *something* in such a short space of time.

My only hesitation with this book is that I read it so quickly. Lightning fast. The art of Amanda’s poetry means that there are actually very few words, and so this book is a very fast experience. It was also fairly expensive (£10 in the UK).

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annalsie

Review: The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

The State of Grace
The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: advanced reader copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

The State of Grace is the YA debut of Rachael Lucas, and it’s an OwnVoices novel about a teenage girl, the aforementioned Grace, who has Asperger’s. It’s been a long time coming for actual autistic representation in fiction, and especially in YA, which is known for tackling different subjects especially around mental health (and disability, to an extent).

As someone with family experience of autism, there were touches here and there which really make this book special, little insights into the life of an autistic person and how autistic people are treated as people. This is what really elevated this book for me – this is a book crafted with care from personal experience and it’s relatable and understandable.

Grace is a realistic character and feels more ‘teenage’ than some YA heroines as she gets to grip with teenage love and deals with school bullies and teachers and being a teenage girl. The romance in this book is sweet and, although I’m tired of every YA heroine needing a swoony love interest, we also need to be aware of the desexualisation of disabled people and that relationships with and between disabled people can, and do, exist and flourish.

I also loved that this book was set in North West England and I’m pretty sure I spotted some of the places from my childhood in this book so it gets a big thumps up from me for that!

The State of Grace is a quick, sweet and funny read that fills a much needed gap in UK YA. A must-read!

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annalsie

Review: If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

If Birds Fly Back
If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: advanced reader copy received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

If Birds Fly Back is the story of Linny and Sebastian, set in a Miami summer at an old folks home called Silver Springs. Linny is still coming to terms with her older sister Grace’s disappearance and dealing with the pressure her parents are putting on her to become a doctor, and Sebastian has just found out who his father is, and has trekked from California to Miami to finally meet him. And then, Linny and Sebastian’s paths cross.

This book is written in dual perspective between Linny and Sebastian, which I really liked, and it’s sweet and adorable and nerdy – Sebastian dreams of being an astrophysicist and Linny wants to be a filmmaker, and we see physics quotes and film scripts throughout which up the cute factor.

Other reviewers have written about reading this book super quickly – I didn’t, I read this on the tube on my phone in the few moments I could get to a book and found the chapters the perfect length to dip in and out of. I will however say that this book is compelling, and the mystery element works really well here. Both Sebastian and Linny have really interesting premises, and I can definitely understand the addictive quality of this book.

This book also had a good dose of parents and complicated parental relationships, which is something I haven’t seen too much of in YA, and I loved the focus on where the characters will go after school, which is something so important and life-changing for many teens that we don’t always see in YA. I really liked Linny’s flawed friendship with Cass – I’m a big fan of friendships which aren’t perfect and unrealistic and Cass was a really interesting character in her own right. Sebastian also had a great (and realistic) friendship with his best friend back in California.

What I did notice throughout this book were the numerous bird references which were a really nice touch and not overdone.

If you loved Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s The Square Root of Summer, you’ll love this. The perfect summer read and a sure-fire summer hit.

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annalsie

Review: How Not To Disappear by Clare Furniss

How Not To Disappear
How Not To Disappear by Clare Furniss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ah, this book. I loved it.

Hattie is a teenager, who has just found out she’s pregnant with her best friend’s baby. And she’s not sure how to feel about that. A distraction comes in the form of her long lost aunt Gloria, who’s losing her memories, and so Hattie takes her on a road trip of places that mean a lot to her so she can remember them one last time.

I really love books about teen pregnancy and the issues faced by pregnant teens, and this was such a heartwarming coming-of-age story that read like an adult novel, with complex and diverse characters who almost jumped off the page. At times, this book has dual narrative, which I loved, and the author doesn’t shy away from difficult and complex relationships and conundrums where there is no ‘right’ answer. This is a heartbreaking and heartfelt novel that I couldn’t put down.

If you’re looking for an emotional rollercoaster with a strong focus on family, HOW NOT TO DISAPPEAR is a top choice.

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annalsie

Review: Forever Geek (Geek Girl 6) by Holly Smale

Forever Geek
Forever Geek by Holly Smale

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**This book was sent to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

I don’t think I’ve really reviewed the Geek Girl books before and we’re now at the sixth book, but this has something to do with the fact that I marathoned the last three books in one week and I haven’t got round to reviewing them!

If you’re not acquainted with the Geek Girl series, they’re super fun books following Harriet Manners, Geek turned Model, and her friends including her stalker Toby and her best friend and fashion designer, Nat. There’s also the sultry Nick, Harriet’s fairy godmother Wilbur and the formidable designer Yuka Ito.

One of the highlights of the series (and this book) is Harriet’s family – they’re all great well-rounded characters and they’re so fun! It’s great to see them all return for the final book and Harriet gets some more time with Bunty, her step-grandmother, which is much appreciated.

This really was the perfect wrap-up to the series, with all the best characters returning for a really fitting end to Harriet’s story. If you’re looking for a satisying finale, there’s one here!

Although you might want to pack tissues, because I cried. I also apparently read this in one day, which should give you an impression of how addictive this series is.

I’ve loved reading this series and I can’t wait for more Holly Smale!

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annalsie

Review: Doing It!: Let’s Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton

Doing It!: Let's Talk About Sex
Doing It!: Let’s Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As ever, I’m super behind on reviews so let’s review Doing It! by Hannah Witton…

**This book was sent to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

Doing It: Let’s Talk About Sex is Hannah’s first book and it’s a non-fiction discussion about loads of different topics, most of which are around sex and relationships. There’s talk about toxic relationships, masturbation, slut shaming and puberty in here, and it is so so welcome. Sex and relationship education is so lacking in so many countries (although today it’s been announced that there will be an overhaul in the UK – yay!) and these books are so important in the education of young people.

Hannah talks frankly and openly on so many ‘taboo’ topics like how she lost her virginity, her periods, masturbation, etc. and this is what makes the book so great – this isn’t a textbook, it’s a informative discussion with personal experiences from the author who is still a young woman and is so relatable.

I’m a little older than the target demographic here and I still learned things – I can’t help but recommend this book to teenagers (I knew very little of all this when I was a teenager).

If you liked this book, you’ll also love Girl Up by Laura Bates, This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson and Animal by Sara Pascoe.

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annalsie

Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

We Come Apart
We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: eARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

First off, One was one of my favourite books of last year and so when a new Sarah Crossan book came across the horizon, I pounced on it. If you haven’t read One yet, just know that it’s a beautiful and quick read, and well worth the hype.

We Come Apart is a new book from Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan, told from dual perspectives. Nicu is a Romanian immigrant, who has come to the UK with his mum and dad to earn some extra cash for his upcoming arranged marriage. Jess is a British girl who has fallen in with the wrong crowd, and who is experiencing domestic violence at home. They meet at a youth reparation scheme, picking up litter, and become friends.

I love reading novels in verse since I picked up One – it’s a really powerful medium, but also really quick and accessible to read. The writing here is also really clever – Nicu’s broken English was difficult to get used to at first but really brought life to a character struggling with his English language skills.

This book was especially poignant regarding racism in the wake of Brexit, and the bullying Nicu faces is worsened by taunts of ‘I though we’d voted you out of this country’.

Due to the topics discussed in this book, I imagine some readers might find it difficult to read and please do keep that in mind before picking this one up.

I only had two issues with the book – one is that I wanted more from the conclusion, and the other that I felt Jess’s storyline coming from a working class household blighted with domestic violence was a little cliché and perhaps dangerous (but this is a symptom of fiction in general I think).

If you enjoyed One, We Come Apart is another great novel from Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan and well worth the read. I’m looking forward to more books from these two authors!

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annalsie

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Dislcaimer: Copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

Last January, Truthwitch was a book with a beautiful cover that was getting A LOT of hype around it. Written by the infallible Sarah J. Maas’ best friend, Susan Dennard, any fan of YA fantasy was desperate to get their hands on this brand new fantasy series about witches, friendship and elemental control.

Fast forward to January 2017, and I’ve *finally* read Truthwitch in anticipation for Windwitch, and I’ve come to the conclusion that all the hype was justified.
Truthwitch is the story of four main characters – Safiya, the truthwitch, Iseult, the threadwitch, Aedeon, the bloodwitch, and Merik, the windwitch. Truthwitch is Safi’s story, but the book focuses on all four main characters pretty equally throughout the book. I won’t go into the plot too much, but essentially Aedeon is in pursuit of Safiya and Iseult for Safiya’s truthwitch abilities, and Safi and Iseult escape the city on Merik’s ship. Each character is fleshed out with interesting and mysterious back story, and some of my favourite scenes were when we learnt a little more about each character’s background.

I also loved how the characters in this book have motives and no character is 100% good or evil.

As well as some pretty kick ass characters, the world building is extensive and original – I loved the different types of witches, some of which are completely new to me (threadwitches, for example). The world is so rich that some scenes almost come flying off the page as if they were on screen (especially some of the scenes with Safi and Iseult).

The friendship between Safi and Iseult was refreshing and a feature which I loved – rarely does a friendship in a novel eclipse any romances. Their friendship was well done and powerful.

The only reason this is a 4 star read rather than 5 stars for me was pacing – I felt this book was a little slow at times, or perhaps a little long at 400 pages.

Personally, I can’t wait to delve into Windwitch which I have heard is even better, and I look forward to returning to this beautiful world and its characters.
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annalsie