Book Review | The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

36628816Rumour has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumours start to spiral out of control. But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself. – edited from Goodreads

I was super excited to read this book, as although it’s Jennifer Mathieu’s debut novel, it has been reprinted following the success of Moxie (which I absolutely loved, although for some reason didn’t review – that will be coming soon!). However, The Truth About Alice, for me, fell flat.

I enjoyed reading only some of the POVs from which this story was told, and there were about 4 or 5 of them. Some were engaging, like Josh, and some just weren’t really that interesting at all. I also thought the differing POVs may not have lent themselves brilliantly to this novel – I would have preferred maybe only 2 or 3 if there were differing POVs at all.

The idea of course interested me because it’s about feminism and it’s also YA. I think it’s a novel about looking beyond what you believe a person to be to what they actually are, and for that reason I think it’s really important.

Alice was an interesting, complex character to whom terrible things happened, and I think it really shows how society today turns against someone if they make just one mistake. Alice was shunned because of a rumour, not even truth in the matter, and it was heartbreaking to watch all of her friends turn against her.

Mathieu writes about feminism in a way that no one else does – raw, and from a teenage perspective. Moxie was just incredible, and I will definitely be reading anything else she brings out. So overall, this book fell flatly compared to her most recent novel, but for a debut, it really explores new territory (it was published in 2014) and although the way it was told didn’t meld well with me, the ideas behind it, and of course Mathieu’s writing, were really brilliant to read.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads
Source: eARC from NetGalley


~*NEW SECTION*~

I’ve decided to add a “if you liked this…” section to each of my reviews, so if you enjoyed the book I reviewed, another one by a different author is listed below (and along with my review, if I’ve written one!).

If you liked this, you might also enjoy… The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed [review]

Image result for the nowhere girls

Advertisements

Book Review | The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

36039165Lucy Moynihan was run out of town because she accused the popular guys at school of gang rape. Everyone knows that. And no one ever speaks of it. 

The Nowhere Girls are every girl. But they start with just three: Grace, Rosina, and Erin. Together, they form the Nowhere Girls, and decide to avenge the rape of a girl silenced because she spoke the truth. 

I have wanted to read this book for so long and when it was £2 (!) on Amazon, I bought it straight away and devoured it as soon as it arrived.

The topic of this book is something that drew me straight away. I love stories about girls who band together to speak up for injustice (like Moxie by Jennifer Matheiu) and it’s happening more and more in everyday life too (eg #MeToo). I really value authors writing about feminism and standing up for justice, and this was such a brilliant book about it!

The characters are interesting and diverse, of different races and sexuality, and I especially loved how we got to look at all of them. Reed writes in four different points of view – Grace, Rosina, Erin, and Us. “Us” was probably my favourite, and I wish Reed had written more from this because it was just such a stunning portrayal of people. It seemed to jump in and out of different girls’ heads, telling us things that the narrator knows but no one else does, sometimes not even the characters themselves.

The present tense, omnipotent narrator was an interesting choice, but I’m glad that Reed branched out and made it. It was fascinating to read, not least because I’ve rarely read from a perspective like this, but because it allowed us to jump around without it feeling jarring. There were of course certain POVs I liked more than others, but I think that that really shows the scope of a great writer.

Overall, I was completely gripped and I adored this book. It’s one of those books that gave me tingles down my arms when I thought of the characters and the injustices in this world faced by women all over the place. It’s one that I really think doesn’t get talked about enough in the bookosphere, and I would really like it to be far, far more!

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads
Source: bought from Amazon

Book Review | A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens

34609221Hazel and Daisy have left England and set out to Hong Kong for the mourning period of Hazel’s grandfather who passed away. When they arrive, Hazel just looks forward to spending time with her family and her father in particular. But when they reach her home, she has a very nasty surprise. Before she can even get over this, tragedy strikes, not once, but twice. With criminal gangs, new maids they’re not sure they can trust, and a wholly different culture to what the Honourable Daisy Wells is used to, this might be the Detective Society’s most challenging case yet. 

I absolutely LOVE the Wells and Wong series. It’s such a brilliant series, and in all honesty, it just keeps on getting better.

This one takes place in Hong Kong, which is a place I’ve never been to myself, and I loved learning about the different culture. Stevens has researched very thoroughly, and she took a research trip there herself, so I feel like what she says can be trusted. It felt like I could see and hear Hong Kong, and the descriptions were so rich, as per!

I don’t want to say too much about the case itself, (spoilers!) but I thoroughly enjoyed the entire thing. The stakes in this one seemed to be very much higher than what they used to be, and how Stevens will top this I do not know! (She will find a way.) I didn’t work it out long before Hazel and Daisy themselves, so it was a case that had me guessing all the way through as well.

Basically, I just loved this book. Hazel and Daisy are two of my favourite literary heroines, and Robin Stevens honestly just keeps on getting better. I thought that the ending might have been a bit of a cop-out, but to be honest, it’s the best ending that there could be in order to finish the book appropriately. Overall? It was brilliant, and I would highly recommend this book and all of the others in the series.

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads
Source: bought from Amazon

Book Review | Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

36275385Maya Aziz dreams about kissing boys and going to film school in New York, but miles away, an unknown danger looms. A terrorist attack in another city unleashes fear and hate in Maya’s small town, changing her life and disrupting her future. – blurb from back of book

Okay, so let’s just start out by saying that I really enjoyed this book.

Maya is, firstly, such a loveable protagonist. I admit that there were some things that she did that I didn’t agree with: such as *spoiler* running away for 36 hours *end spoiler* and some of the things she said to her parents she never apologised for, which I found hard to comprehend, especially as her parents also seemed like lovely people. However, Maya is also a realistic teenage girl: she has her crushes, the people she doesn’t like, sadly she has the bullying at high school and her hobbies and passions in the form of cinematography. I was definitely rooting for her the whole way to go to film school, and I loved how she kept up her passion of filming throughout the entire thing.

I thought that the plot was less about what the blurb says (isn’t that always the way) and more about Maya’s love life. She moons over a boy the entire way through (who I didn’t actually like at all initially) which would have been fine if this book had been primarily marketed as romance rather than a kind of commentary on society and Islamophobia. Which I would like to move swiftly onto.

I myself am not Indian, Muslim, or American, so whilst I do know that this is an #OwnVoices novel, I cannot speak of the rep. From reading reviews of people who are American-Indian Muslim, some were frustrated by the rep (see here and here) whereas others felt like the book did a good job in rep (see here and here). I cannot speak of the rep, as I’ve said, although I did just want to mention that I don’t remember Maya really mentioning her religion in relation to herself. She talks about her parents going to mosque, she listens to others talk about religion, but never about herself, which is something I had been really looking forward to seeing and was a little disappointed that this was seemingly passed in the narrative. (I did, however, thoroughly enjoy the Indian wedding scene. The descriptions were so vivid!) If you have any personal experience and would like to share, please feel free to in the comments.

Whilst I wish we had actually seen more of Maya’s best friend Violet, I enjoyed the supporting characters. Everyone felt like they had a role (apart from Lisa’s friends, who were just the cliche mean girls), and omg Hina was WONDERFUL! She was such a great aunt AND friend to Maya, and really supported her, plus she was markedly different in the sense that she really broke out of the box in terms of what was expected of her, and it was really interesting to read.

Overall, I gave this book 4/5 stars, as I did really enjoy the romance and I just enjoyed the book as a whole. I can’t wholly comment on the rep, although as I said, I did wish there had been more of Maya talking about her own religion. This was quite a short read too, although I felt like it could have been longer. And I definitely enjoyed the epilogue (not all of it, but those are spoilers for another day).

Rating: 4/5

Source: Bought from Waterstones
Goodreads

Book Review | The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

34045334Ami lives with her mother on Culion Island, and whilst no one ever wants to come there, she is happy. That is, until Mr Zamora arrives from the mainland and throws the island into chaos. Being ‘Untouched’, Ami is forced to leave the island. It’s not long before she meets a honey-eyed girl named for butterflies who wants to help her get home before it’s all too late. 

I absolutely adored Millwood Hargrave’s The Girl of Ink and Stars and I loved this book as well! Kiran writes young voices incredibly well – sometimes I feel like “oh, this is a bit young,” but then I remember that the narrator is actually a twelve year old girl and it’s suddenly so realistic!

The topics of the books – from leprosy to butterflies to friendship to family – were really interesting, and whilst I didn’t learn much I also learnt a lot at the same time, considering I knew barely anything about leprosy, for example, before reading this book.

The writing style is beautifully poetic, as was Millwood Hargrave’s debut novel. The descriptions of the islands she writes about are so vivid that sometimes I feel like I am actually there. Amihan was a brilliant narrator and a really feisty girl, and I adored her and Mari!

The reason why I didn’t mark this as 5/5 is down to a couple of reasons. The first is the homosexual undertones – I have felt this in both of Millwood Hargrave’s novels, both of which are narrated by girls who make very close friendships with other girls. I feel like these could both turn into homosexual relationships, and Millwood Hargrave’s writing is so frickin’ beautiful that it could really be turned into a stunning piece of romance. Whilst I completely understand why it’s not a romance, considering how young the protagonists are, some of the language used to describe the relationships and the friend of the narrator could be considered romantic!

The second is my reaction after reading (which actually has no bearing, I guess, on the book itself?? but I wanted to write about it). Whilst The Girl of Ink and Stars left me reeling and wanting to shove this book into everyone’s hands, The Island at the End of Everything left me slightly in love with Amihan, but with nothing else, really.

Having said all that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book when I was entranced in the world, and I’m sure it’s one I will re-read in the future to just be back on the island. Millwood Hargrave has some really great diversity in her books too which is a great boost especially considering the target audience (MG) and I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads
Source: Bought from Waterstone’s

Book Review | Women & Power by Mary Beard

36313514“You can’t easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure.”

Mary Beard analyses women and the power of our world, and how we have been accosted from power for centuries. With her dry wit and her vast knowledge, this really was an enjoyable read.

This tiny book – a “manifesto” [although I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a manifesto – more on that later] – is based from two lectures Beard gave. One is from 2014, and is entitled The Public Voice of Women, and the second is from 2017, entitled Women in Power; this obviously came just after the US 2016 presidential election. Beard brings her personal experiences from Twitter trolls and her life as a historian to her essays too.

I thought that the analyses that Beard gave were really interesting, but if I had to criticise this book, I would say that it was far too short. Whilst I understand that Beard has taken her chapters from previous lectures, I feel like there is enough material for a book the size of SPQR, one of her previous novels which is 400-500 pages long. At 97 pages long, this just seemed far too short; I hope that a further book will be made out of this, although I understand why Mary Beard and the publishers (I think this is in some sort of lecture series??) wanted this book out now in this current time.

I also feel like this isn’t a manifesto. This isn’t a call to arms – these are informative, exploratory lectures, whereas a manifesto is a public declaration of a policy and a person’s aims. The information included in Women & Power may become a manifesto, but currently, as it stands, it isn’t quite there yet.

Overall, despite what I’ve said, I thoroughly enjoyed Women & Power. It’s given me a lot to think about and I think it’s something that will become the focus of essays that I might write in the future. I understand why it’s short, and I think it does pack a lot into a little, but I do think that Mary Beard could really enrich the material and turn this into a really lovely piece.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads
Source: Bought from Waterstone’s

Book Review | Cream Buns and Crime by Robin Stevens

31850657In this book of short stories, recipes, and handy facts and tips, Hazel, Daisy, Alexander, and even Beanie take us through more detectiveness in this collection.

Cream Buns and Crime isn’t my usual kind of book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! It’s a collection of all sorts, and I had a really good time reading it.

Whilst the stories aren’t necessarily as high stake as in the novels, but they’re just as interesting! We have Hazel and Daisy’s first mystery; the story of the Deepdean Vampire (which since I first heard the title of this story I wanted to read); Alexander and George’s first story; and a story written from Beanie’s viewpoint as well!

The stories were just as enticing. I actually dropped this a star because I think it could have just been a book of short stories – I wish that there had been more of them.

I really liked all of the extra info in this. I found it really interesting to see some of the things behind Robin Stevens’ thoughts on how she wrote the books, and the literature that went into the novels. I definitely have some new mystery novels put onto my list!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I think it’s a fun companion to the novels, although I don’t really have a lot to say about this considering I don’t usually review books like this! I can say that it has NO SPOILERS for the series, so you’re free to read this (apart from the quiz at the end!) at any point when you’re reading the books. However, I’d definitely recommend reading it later on in the series; it’s “set” in 1936 (some of the stories are different years, hence I say “set”), or about then, so Hazel and Daisy are for the most part already established detectives.

If you pick this up, I would recommend reading it after all of the books; or at least after books 1-4! And of course, I always recommend the Wells & Wong books.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads
Source: Amazon

Book Review | Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

33784373After the tragic events that occurred in London, Audrey Rose and Thomas have travelled to Romania to attend a prestigious medical school. Love is brewing, Audrey Rose and Thomas are finally able to learn together; but death has followed them everywhere. With bodies turning up drained of blood, Audrey Rose is wondering if the rumours are true: that Dracula has arisen from the dead… 

I. loved. this. book.

After ripping (heh) through Maniscalco’s first book, Stalking Jack the Ripper, I knew that I was going to love this one. I wouldn’t say that it is better than Jack, and although I think that I actually preferred that one, this certainly does not suffer from second book syndrome.

Why did I enjoy book 1 more? Well, I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I think it’s the excitement. Audrey Rose was suffering a great deal throughout this book, battling depression and grief, and I feel like she didn’t have this weight in book 1. This is no criticism to the author, because it gave a different feel to the book and gave scope for so much character development. It just gave a very different tone to the book, but I liked this far darker version. I think I would like to reread both back to back and come back to this part of my review in the future!

So let’s start with the plot. Whilst I guessed the murderer right at the beginning, I was actually left questioning my decision the entire way through, and that’s what you need in a murder mystery novel. Maniscalco throws in so many red herrings and new ideas that you really are left guessing. She dug up an old myth, and I felt like it was really fascinating how she interweaves history and turns it into this incredible book.

The characters are, of course, brilliant. Audrey Rose and Thomas – ugh, can they just get married and have cute babies already?! I loved the diversity that Maniscalco managed to incorporate despite the time period it is in. I thought that Audrey Rose’s reaction was quite appropriate too – I thought she might have been more shocked, considering lesbianism in the 1800s wasn’t exactly able to be as open as it is nowadays, but she stayed completely true to her character in her response to it.

I think that’s something I really like about Kerri Maniscalco’s writing – her consistently. I find that some writers really exemplify their characters after they find what streaks readers enjoy, but she has managed to mingle character development and consistency throughout both of the novels.

I also liked how there wasn’t a huge jump between books #1 and #2. I feel like, again, this can be a huge mistake some writers make, especially when it’s a book following a debut, and also when lots of readers have had a lot of time between two books. I took a while to find my feet again in Hunting Prince Dracula, but I think that that’s partly because it’s been a year (??) since I read book 1.

Maniscalco set us up brilliantly for book 2, though. The setting was so delicious! I cannot explain how much I loved the setting for this book. It was chosen so well, and I feel like it really helped the book along and to be far more creepy than it could have been!

Overall, these are incredible books and I highly, highly recommend them. I zipped through both of them, and I cannot wait for book 3! I’m excited to see what mystery Maniscalco aims to write about next. I think that it’s a really great concept for a book series – unsolved mysteries that are explored by a really plucky, strong female character.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads
Source: bought from Wordery

Book Review | The Tinderbox by Hans Christian Anderson

Image result for the tinderbox lbcAnderson’s bittersweet fairy tales propelled their troubled author to international fame and revolutionised children’s writing. – blurb.

Certainly, this book was unexpected. One thing that completely stuck out to me about The Tinderbox and all of the other stories were how personal they are. I felt as I was reading them that I was actually just a little kid in bed being told a story by my dad.

I have actually read retellings of three of the stories in this collection without ever knowing they were by Hans Christian Anderson, and I feel like reading the originals was like finding another little present under the tree the day after Christmas and discovering that it’s for you.

Anderson was a brilliant storyteller, and I feel like this collection really shows off his repertoire. I would dearly love to read more of his stories. They really speak to me, and I feel like I am really drawn into the world, even when the stories are only, say, a couple of hundred words long.

My favourite story in this collection was definitely The Nightingale, the fifth story. It was a story I had never heard before, and yet it was the one that I loved the most! It was a really beautiful story. I think something that differs Anderson from the Grimm brothers was that there are some actual happy endings in Anderson’s stories. In The Nightingale, the ‘bad guy’ doesn’t get their comeuppance, but rather is treated with kindness and respect by the otherwise disregarded nightingale, and I think that this says so much about Anderson as a person. There is so much social commentary just in these little stories, and they really affect you as a reader in just a handful of words.

“Now you see, that was a real story!” – The Princess on the Pea, Hans Christan Anderson

The stories in this collection are: The Tinderbox, Little Claus and Big Claus, The Princess on the Pea, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Nightingale, and The Red Shoes.

The Tinderbox is #23 in the Little Black Classic collection.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads 
Source: bought on Amazon

Review | The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Image result for the one memory of flora banks review

img: goodreads

Be brave.

With only those two words inked on her hand, Flora loses her short term memory each day. The removal of a tumour took some of her memory with it. Until the day she kisses Drake; the first memory to remain in her mind since she lost it. 

Determined to try and regain her memory, and convinced that Drake is the key, Flora travels across the globe to follow him – and her memories. 

So, Flora forgets everything that she is told. It kind of reminds me of the Silence from Doctor Who; she writes things on her hands, has a journal that she reads when she forgets, and yet. And yet. She goes on a trip across the world because of a BOY. *sigh* Continue reading