ukya

Review: I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan


Again, it’s been a while since I actually read this book as I’ve been a bit rubbish at reviewing recently… but I loved this book so much I had to review it. I may have been raving about it on Twitter a little too much already.

I don’t want to say too much except – just read it. You know when you read a book that is timely and political, touches a tough subject matter, and is just so fresh and unique, you devour it and want to thrust a copy upon everyone you meet? This is that book. It’s so exciting to see a PoC author writing UKYA, especially about such a controversial subject – islamic radicalisation. Muzna is an endearing main character, and her story is understandable and realistic.

This book reminded me of The Hate U Give – it’s timely, it’s important, it deals with radicalisation head-on. I hope it gets the kind of buzz THUG received last year – and maybe even makes it way across the pond. I loved the UK elements in this book – I think it makes the book even more relatable.

Verdict: read it. Now. (and not just for the gorgeous cover!)

annalsie

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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 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: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

A Quiet Kind of Thunder
A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a proof of this book from My Kinda Book in exchange for an honest review.

Last year, I read a great debut novel that became the biggest selling debut YA novel of 2016. That book didn’t have a romance in it, which was (and still is) unusual for YA. Beautiful Broken Things focused on the friendship between two best friends and how that changed when a new friend entered the mix.

Sara Barnard is back in 2017 with a brand new novel, but this one *is* a romance. A Quiet Kind of Thunder is the story of Steffi, a teenage girl with selective mutism embarking on sixth form, and Rhys, a deaf boy who transfers to Steffi’s sixth form.

I’m always wary with books that tackle disability about how realistic and lifelike they are – there’s a really tendency for characters with a disability to be miraculously cured, but AQKOT feels like it has been well-researched and is sensitive. I learnt a lot about mutism and British Sign Language in this book, and it made me more aware and conscious about interacting with deaf people (for example, making sure they can read your lips if they are lip-reading).

This is a really special romance because Barnard gets awkward teenage flirting. The texts between Steffi and Rhys feel so real, and I fell in love with this book so quickly. I can’t really explain how much I loved the romance between these two, but it was cute and adorable and perfect.

I also really enjoyed how this book doesn’t shy away from sex. The sex in this book was realistic and well-done, and felt age-appropriate.

I can’t believe we’re only at the beginning of 2017 and this is already a very strong contender for my favourite book of 2017. An absolute must-read – and the cover is so shiny and beautiful and I think I need it on my shelf (I only have the proof!). Go and buy it now!

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Annalise x

Review: The Deviants by C.J. Skuse

The Deviants
The Deviants by C.J. Skuse

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A huge thank you to Cara at MIRA INK for the advance copy of this book – this is a review copy received in exchange for an honest review.

Set in a sleepy English Seaside town, Ella is one of five friends who were inseparable when they were younger. Something happened though, and now Ella is only in touch with Max, her boyfriend since she was thirteen years old. Five years later, the friends end up reconnecting – but they all have secrets and lies of their own, some dating from their friendship, and some a little newer.

This book has so many layers – the format is quite interesting, with a question being asked of the main protagonist, Ella, at the end of each chapter. I really liked this as it made me read on, and, without giving too much away, I will say this: this book is shocking and intriguing at every twist and turn.

C.J. is a master of suspense, and I loved how issues within the book were dealt with – I wasn’t prepared for many of the themes of the book which may be a little troubling for those with triggers as the book touches on some quite serious issues (I don’t want to spoil the book without revealing what they are, but I’d be happy to divulge via private message).

If you’re looking for a great suspenseful novel full of secrets and lies, this is a fantastic choice and a great autumn YA read to boot.

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annalsie