ARC Review- The Upside of Unrequited

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Title: The Upside of Unrequited

Author: Becky Albertalli

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. 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. 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 a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

Rating: 4 and a half stars

Review:

First of all, thank you so much to Penguin Random House for supplying me with this review copy to read – when I read the email that said my review request had been accepted, I think part of me died and went to heaven, purely because this happens to be the book I’ve been most looking forward to reading.

Okay, for this review, I think I’ll do it a little differently – first I’ll quickly go through why I didn’t rate this a full five stars, and then I’ll list some of the reasons why you HAVE to read it. Sound good? Okay, lets get cracking.

 

I didn’t relate to Molly as much as I related to Simon in the first book – Simon’s the adorkable Harry-Potter-loving, secret romantic, and I get that so much, whereas with Molly, I didn’t connect with her in the same way. That’s nothing against the author – it’s a purely personal thing. I understood how Simon was feeling, because I’ve had to deal with similar stuff myself, but since I’ve never had to experience Molly’s issues, I didn’t fully connect. Hence, the four and a half stars.

Another little thing that I find issue with, is the use of the word ‘fat’ to describe Molly. Again, maybe this is just me, but I hate that word and the connotations behind it. I’d much rather have preferred to read other words like ‘big girl’  or ‘plus-size’ rather than ‘fat’ – that word gives me the squicks, and a horrible feeling inside.

Other than that, I adored this book, and these are just five of the many reasons you should read it when it’s released in April:

  1. SO MUCH DIVERSITY!! I love how much diversity is in thi
    s book – there’s Molly’s who’s a plus-sized Jewish girl; Cassie who’s gay; their interracial mums, one of whom happens to be bisexual (!); Mina who is pansexual….the list goes on and on, and it’s wonderful.

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  1. Reid Wertheim – just….Reid. He’s a Game of Thrones/Tolkien fan, and he’s just amazing. I want to marry him so freaking much, and just have lots of little nerd babies with him….and I’m getting carried away now. Moving on-
  2. Cameos from ‘Simon Vs’ characters – you better believe I was fangirling when Simon appeared suddenly. I was basically like this:

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  1. The mothers – Patty and Nadine are so cool, I almost want them to be my mums too! They’re so chill about basically everything, and they treat Cassie and Molly like adults, instead of little kids, which is very nice to read.
  2. The Supreme Court legalising same-sex marriage – part of the book happens at this time, and it actually talks about it, and I’m so happy that something as important as this ruling was given its own moment in the book. This alone should be reason for you to read ‘The Upside of Unrequited.’

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And now, let me tease you with some of my favourite quotes from the book:

Classic adult logic. Reid and I are vaguely the same age, so of course we’re basically soul mates.

That’s two legit new friends today, and it’s not even four thirty. Mina of the Labia and Middle Earth Reid.

I’ve had crushes on twenty-six people, twenty-five of whom are not Lin-Manuel Miranda.

It would be nice if I were the kind of person who didn’t require a battalion of wingwomen to make this happen.

I mean, how does a person explain YouTube to her seventy-year-old grandmother?

When Patty came out, the first thing Grandma did was try to set her up with the cantor’s daughter. Who is actually straight, but Grandma gets thrown off when women have short hair.

“Yeah, so this one and his boyfriend just spent two hours arguing about whether I’m a Gryffindor or a Hufflelump.”

Hufflelump?” Simon covers his face. “I can’t. Jesus Christ. Abby, you’re embarrassing yourself.”

 

The Upside of Unrequited is being released on April 11th 2017

Book Review – Matched

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Title: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Synopsis: In the Society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

Rating: 3 and a half stars

Review: I got this book from my local library, and honestly? I was expecting to enjoy it more than I did.

Set in a dystopian world where the goverment decides what your optimal age is for getting married, having kids, dying, and where they decide who you marry, everything seems ideal. Nothing is left to chance. Cassia’s Matching seems to go perfectly – she gets paired with her best friend, who’s pretty awesome in his own right – but then things start happening, and she isn’t sure what’s right.

Am I the only who thinks that Cassia’s a very unlikable character? I just found her to be so damn irritating in so many ways. I mean, all she had to do was be with Xander, and not poke her nose into anything else. Yet she couldn’t even do that. I just didn’t like her throughout the book.

I liked Ky Markham though – he was, in my opinion, one of the the few characters who didn’t have the personality of a robot. I really liked the writing scenes, because it showed Ky’s personality, not his social status, and that he really does have a heart.

I’m rating this book as a ‘three-and-a-half stars’ book, because even through the good parts of the book, I think it’s too similar to other dystopian books out there at the moment – a goverment who has changed a lot, but over the generations, it’s become normal even though it’s messed up.

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I probably won’t read the second one, but if you like dystopians, I recommend at least trying this one. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it more than I did.

Man Crush Monday #2 (16/01/17)

 

Man Crush Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Sheri, aka Read In A Flash.Read In A Flash. This is the place where I tell you every week about the bookish men I’m hopelessly devoted to. Trust me, it’s a long, and ever-growing list.

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This week’s Man Crush Monday is Jem Carstairs from the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare.

 

 

“Will has always been the brighter burning star, the one to catch attention — but Jem is a steady flame, unwavering and honest. He could make you happy.”

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“Will: “Nice place to live, isn’t it? Let’s hope they left something behind other than filth. Forwarding addresses, a few severed limbs, a prostitute or two …”

Jem: “Indeed. Perhaps, if we’re fortunate, we can still catch syphilis.”

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“I can offer you my life, but it is a short life; I can offer you my heart, though I have no idea how many more beats it shall sustain.”

 

Oh, will the list of handsome Shadowhunters never end? This particular Shadowhunter’s got me like:

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Book Review – Making Love

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Title: Making Love

Author: Aidan Wayne

Synopsis: Carla the cupid is an excellent shot, but her chemistry is so bad that most of her matches don’t last. Her dream is to shoot a True Love pair, but until her scores improve, she’s relegated to the Puppy Love division of Aphrodite Agency.

Leeta, a succubus, is looking for a True Love match. Which is highly unusual, as most succubi are aromantic. But Aphrodite Agency—her only hope—turns her away because the receptionist can’t believe she’s not just looking for an easy meal.

Carla agrees to take Leeta’s case on freelance. She figures it’s a win-win: Carla gets to put a succubus’s True Love match on her résumé, and Leeta gets to find her True Love! Except as Carla tries to find a match for Leeta, she finds herself maybe . . . relieved when the matches don’t end well. And Leeta seems to be getting pickier and pickier. Things will never work out until Carla learns enough about chemistry to figure out who’s truly best for Leeta, and until Leeta can admit what—or who—she truly wants.

Rating: 3 stars

Review: I received this title from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was an incredibly short read – only just under 100 pages long in total – but it was sweet. When I saw this on Netgalley, I was intrigued by the notion of a romance between a succubus and a cupid, so I gave it a go.

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Personally I found it to be overly brief, if that makes any sense? There wasn’t a lot of character building, and everything seemed to be over with very quickly. If it had been a full length novel, I would have gotten into it more, but this was very short and over too fast.

 

 

The concept is fantastic, I admit, and after finishing my last ARC (a serious romance novel), I was delighted to be able to indulge in a spot of super-cute fluffiness, because it really was very cute. I loved the upbeat nature of Carla, and her determination to find True Love for everyone, even for someone whom everyone says is incapable of True Love. I do wish we had more character building for Carla and Leeta though – they have the potential for so much development, but the novella was so short that their whole interaction seemed rushed.

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If you’re looking for a cute novella to read over your lunch break, with a demisexual Cupid and a succubus who just wants love, then this is something you’d enjoy.

 

Making Love is due to be published by Riptide Publishing on Jan 30th 2017.

Book Review – Symptoms of Being Human

Title: Symptoms of Being Human

Author: Jeff Garvin 22692740

Synopsis: The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Rating:  4 Stars

Review: This book has been on my TBR ever since it came out months ago, but I’ve only just been able to finally read it, and honestly, I wasn’t disappointed.

“The world isn’t binary. Everything isn’t black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it’s not a switch, it’s a dial. And it’s not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission or approval.”

 

Riley’s gender fluid – but also so far in the closet that he/she’s almost in Narnia. Riley also suffers from anxiety, which isn’t made any better by his/her dad running for re-election as a Congressman. Add onto that the normal stress of starting at a new school, and you’ve got a pretty messed up day to day life. Things start to seem a little better though, when Riley starts writing a blog under a pseudonym about being a gender fluid teenager, and he/she actually finds a cause to get behind.

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I absolutely loved this book from start to end – especially the character of Riley him/herself. One of my own original characters is a gender fluid character called Riley, so I found myself attached to this Riley from the start because of that, but as the book went on, I genuinely found myself empathising with this Riley and what they were going through.

 

I’m gender fluid. Not stupid.

 

I just loved Riley altogether – Riley’s snarky and sassy and will give as good as they get, but they’re also very emotional, and insightful. Some particular parts of the book just explain gender fluidity so well, even to someone who already understands it well enough.

 

It’s like I have a compass in my chest, but instead of north and south, the needle moves between masculine and feminine.

 

One of the things I really appreciate as well, is that despite the events that happen near the end of the book, we never find out what biological sex Riley is – because it doesn’t matter. Riley is both a boy and a girl and somewhere in the middle, and the point of this whole narrative is that it doesn’t matter what’s between Riley’s legs, or between anyone’s. It’s the person who matters, not their genitals. That’s just a lovely concept, isn’t it?

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As for the supporting characters, I found Riley’s friends Solo and Bec to be a little off at the start, but I warmed to them quickly. I ended up disliking both Riley’s parents through most of the book, just by how they were acting, but they redeemed themselves eventually.

 

Want to hear some of my favourite parts? Of course you do. Here you go:

 

“People do judge books by their covers; it’s human nature. They react to the way you look before they hear a single word that comes out of your mouth.”

 

“My mom says crying is just your body expelling all the bad stuff. Like a sneeze. Like your soul sneezing.”

 

“That’s none of your business,” I say. “And, while I’m flattered by your interest, you’re really not my type.”

 

I give this book a four star rating because despite loving it, and having absolutely devoured it within the course of one day, it doesn’t make me want to squeal with excitement and fangirl about like other books do. It’s great, but not fangirl-worthy for me at least.

Book Review – What Happened to Lani Garver

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Title: What Happened To Lani Garver

Author: Carol Plum-Ucci

Synopsis: The close-knit residents of Hackett Island have never seen anyone quite like Lani Garver. Everything about this new kid is a mystery: Where does Lani come from? How old is Lani? And most disturbing of all, is Lani a boy or a girl?

Claire McKenzie isn’t up to tormenting Lani with the rest of the high school elite. Instead, she befriends the intriguing outcast. But within days of Lani’s arrival, tragedy strikes and Claire must deal with shattered friendships and personal demons–and the possibility that angels may exist on earth.

Rating: 4 and a half stars

Review: Oh wow. By the end of this, I was bawling my eyes out – that’s just how powerful it was. Let me explain my feeling process through gifs:

Me before I started:

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Me halfway through:

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Me once I’d finished:

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In this tiny, judgemental town, Lani Garver is the new kid, and that means trouble. Claire however, goes against the crowd and befriends Lani who ends up helping her in so many ways.

First of all, Lani Garver? Actual bae. I mean, look at this:

“I don’t like being put in boxes. Boy, girl, dork, popular – those are boxes.”

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There was nothing I didn’t like about Lani in this book. Just wanted to get that out of the way before the actual review itself.

This book takes gender and sexuality and beautifully blends it with the idea of angels on Earth. I was astounded by the turn this book took around halfway through, but a good feeling.

The we got to the end of the book and I was quite literally bawling my eyes out over my Kindle. It was just so heartbreaking, and bittersweet…..just, you have to read it to understand my broken heart.

“You like boys?”

Lani’s face was all scrunched in Marcus’s hand, but he laughed. “Yes. I love boys.”

“Girls?”

“I love girls.”

“You bi?”

“Bisexual is a pretty sizable box.”

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One thing that I didn’t like about this is the main character, Claire. I just found her to be such a doormat, and such a weak character. When she gets any sort of emotion other than sadness, she turns all Hulk, but otherwise she puts herself down constantly all on her with things like this:

Of course, a dumb-stupid-Claire remark followed.

I mean, it was okay at the start – she’s got awful friends, a shitty home life, she’s bound to be a little insecure – but by the time it got to three-quarters of the way through the book, I wanted to slap her across her face and tell her to get a fucking grip.

Just overall though, this book is incredible. Carol Plum Ucci writes this amazing story, and creates this beautiful character who blurs all the lines that may or may not be an actual angel. If you’re looking for an amazing LGBTQ read, this is one you just have to pick up. You won’t regret it.

“You’re supposed to be kind to everyone, because you never know when you’re meeting an angel.”

 

Book Review – Queen of Shadows

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Title: Queen of Shadows (TOG #4)

Author: Sarah J Maas

Synopsis: The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

Rating: 5 stars
Review: This review is so, so late, but I did finish this before ‘Empire of Storms’ came out, don’t worry. I still have to even read ‘Empire of Storms’ but at least now I’m mostly caught up, so there’s no chance of spoilers yet. Yay.
I have so many feelings about this book, which I will express in gif form:
Me before reading:
1
Me during the book:
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Me after finishing:
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Now, where to start…..? Oh, I know!
I especially love the significance of names in this series – Celaena, Aelin, ‘queen’, ‘assassin.’ All these names are a part of her, yet each name on its own holds a different weight. As Celaena, she’s broken inside and defensive, even against herself. As Aelin, she owns who she is, and she wields her magic with ease. There’s so much of a difference between the Celaena who arrived at Mistward in ‘Heir of Fire’ and the Aelin in this book.
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Also, I enjoy how layered all the characters are – nobody is truly evil to the core. Lysandra comes across as this stuck-up snob, but in the end, she shows that she truly has a heart and that she is willing to do things for good. Even Kaltain redeems herself a little at the end.
Then we have the lusciousness that is Rowan “I’m-Too-Sexy” Whitethorn. This was basically my reaction when he appeared out of nowhere:
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On a whole other level though, Manon Blackbeak is now my fictional girlfriend. She is vicious, yet with a little heart underneath all that armour. I’m drawn to her, and if she were real, I would be terrified yet turned on. Sorry, TMI. Anyway, back to the review.
As always, Sarah J Maas has not disappointed – once again, I’m drawn further into this world, caught up with Aelin’s story, and invested in all these complicated, layered characters.
Here are some quotes that I especially liked in this particular book:
No flicker of amusement, no hint of fear. The woman could give Rowan a run for his money for sheer iciness.
One breath – another. She was the heir of fire. She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood.
Aedion ruffled her hair and stretched his long legs out before him. “Ten years, and that’s the treatment I get from my beloved cousin.” She elbowed him in the ribs.
 
“You’d think five centuries would give you enough time to come up with something more creative.”
 
“Come a little closer, and I’ll show you just what five centuries can do.”
Rowan shook his head. “I don’t know whether to throttle you or clap you on the back.”
 
“I think there’s a long line of people who feel the same way.”
“Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing you three gutted and hanging from the chandeliers by your insides, but I think it would ruin these very beautiful carpets that I’m now the owner of.”
If you enjoy high fantasy, with powerful female protagonists, or even if you’re just looking for the complete antithesis of Bella Swan, then this is a must-read. Read the other books first though – or you’ll be very confused, and also you’ll be spoiling yourself. Although, why would you be reading this review if you hadn’t read the previous three books first? Huh. I’m babbling, so lets just wrap this up before I devolve into a tangent on something very random and completely unconnected to this review.
If you have read this already, recommend this series to all your friends. Everyone will love this, and just think how good you’ll feel about getting your mates hooked on such an amazing and healthy (?) thing.
Happy reading!