Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Paperweight by Mag Haston

*Trigger warning with this book for eating disorders and self harm*

Publication:July 7th 2015 by HarperTeen

Goodreads Description:
Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert.

Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid.

Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn't plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.

My thoughts:
Paperweight is a raw emotional story of what it's like to live with an eating disorder. I want to place a huge trigger warning that this book has some very graphic content in regards to EDs and self harm and that readers should be aware of this before picking it up.

This book had some great representation for eating disorders. It was clearly well researched and portrayed in a realistic manner. There are some very raw and graphic scenes of what it is like to suffer from an ED and the thoughts people have when suffering from an ED. While I don't have an ED I do have a difficult relationship with food and could relate to a lot of Stevie's thought process. I really related to her at parts and it did make it difficult to keep reading at times but I am so glad I did. I really appreciated how the author talked about labels and control.

I also loved how the story brought the issue of toxic friendships to light. I read so many great friendships in books which I love but it nice to have something different this time. Toxic friendships do happen in real life and are hardly talked about in media and need to be discussed. I loved how Stevie came to realise one of her so called friends wasn't good for her.

I also loved there was a big emphasis on Stevie's relationships with others in the treatment centre. I loved the gradual friendship she builds with her roommate Ashley who she is determined to ignore in the beginning. I also really enjoyed reading her relationship develop with Anna her therapist. Anna is developed as a professional but also as a person who has emotions which I liked.

Paperweight is a very emotional read and I won't lie, it is hard to read some part. I found some parts of the story very hard to get through because of the nature of the content. I never cry reading but this one got me bad.

I would recommend Paperweight to those trying to educate themselves on eating disorders and the reality of them. The story has lots of lessons for those who know little about these mental illnesses such as how eating disorders are not just about food.

Thanks for reading,
A :)

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Series Review of The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Series: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Book 1: The Orphan Queen
Book 2: The Mirror King

Goodreads Description of book 1, The Orphan Queen:
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

My thoughts: (spoiler free for both books!)
The Orphan Queen 
The Orphan Queen is a very easy YA fantasy. To me it was not anything special or amazing.

The start was pretty meh and I was constantly thinking I've read this before. It was very reminiscent of a lot of other YA fantasy books that were out a few years ago but I do think if you are new to YA fantasy and haven't read much in the genre you won't notice these similarities so you might enjoy The Orphan Queen more than I did.

I also felt it was very info dumpy which made it hard to get through, I was put off with it being similar to other stories and then it was very slow to get going because there would be big chunks of world building and history and such which stopped the plot moving.

The Orphan Queen is very predictable. While reading I was making predictions and I was a bit disappointed that my predictions were correct because I thought there was going to be a big twist and I'd be wrong but nope that didn't happen.

The main character was also a bit bland. I felt like she was very generic and her personality was a bit boring to me.

It was a fine book there was nothing bad about it, it was an easy fantasy read and it did get quite good towards the end; enough for me to want to continue with the series.

The Mirror King 
I enjoyed The Mirror King a lot more than I did book 1; the plot took a much more interesting direction and there was a lot more happening that was original, I will say that it is still a very predictable book like book 1 but that didn't hinder my enjoyment this time around.

I do think the book suffered from being first person POV. The point of view limited the scope of the story and I think it missed a lot of opportunities for some really good action/battle scenes as well as things on the political side.

I didn't care enough to ship the main character and the love interest in the first book but there was a few moments in The Mirror King that their chemistry came through and I enjoyed reading their scenes together. 

Overall I think I didn't enjoy this series as much as I would have had I not read as much YA fantasy as I have the last few years. 

My rating: 3.5

Thanks for reading,
A :)

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

*Trigger warning in this book for anxiety and suicide*

Publication: May 30th 2017 by Greenwillow Books

Goodreads Description:
Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. 

My thoughts:
Eliza and her Monsters is absolutely fantastic. It is A new favourite book of all time for me for sure! I was only a few chapters in and I was in love with it. It is a super quick emotional read that I really identified with.

I related to Eliza straight away- I was so happy to be reading about a character who is just like me. I was constantly saying "yes!!! She gets it!!" Her thought process is exactly like mine. I haven't found a character I related to as much as I had with Eliza since I read Fangirl in 2014. It's so wonderful to find a book with a character that 'gets' you. Francesca Zappia took every single anxious feeling I've ever had and somehow took it from my brain and put it in paper. 

I loved how online friendships played a big role in the story as this is not something we see often in books but  is very prevalent in today's world. I loved hoe supportive and helpful Max and Emmy to Eliza and how it showed even though they had never met in real life it didn't mean their friendship wasn't real.

Family is another big theme I loved in the story. Eliza's family are by no means perfect, her parents don't understand her and her two brothers annoy the hell out of her but I loved reading about their relationships. I loved how Church and Scully interacted with Eliza and showed how siblings usually understand each other better than parents do. I loved how Eliza and her parents work through their issues and their relationships are developed at such a nice pace.

Eliza and her Monsters is a super emotional read, especially towards the end. I am not a big crier in general and hardly ever cry at books but this one got me. The story is much darker than you might think it is before reading and deals with some very heavy topics, especially towards the end. 

I loved the illustrations scattered throughout the novel! It was fun seeing Monstrous Sea. I loved the character designs. The illustrations didn't add much to the story but as someone who loves art i really appreciated them. 

I also loved how the story portrayed what it's like to be a creator and how it feels to work on something you love and what it's like when you get stuck and feel like you can't create anymore. 

Overall, I think Eliza and her Monsters is absolutely fantastic and I would highly recommend it! It even made my list of favourite reads of 2017. It definitely lives up to the hype it got last summer.

My rating: 5 stars

Thanks for reading,
A :)

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The School For Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Series: The School for Good and Evil, #1

Publication: May 14th 2013 by HarperCollins

Goodreads Description:
The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one. 

My thoughts:
I found it hard to get into The School for Good and Evil as the plot is very slow. I can see it being a Disney movie or tv series but the novel format was way too long and I found I had to push myself to keep reading. 

Firstly I wasn't a fan of Sophie, I found her super annoying. She was so immature and over the top about everything. It also made me so mad how she was using Agatha who was supposedly her 'friend'. She's so vain and I couldn't stand her for most of the novel.

On the other than I liked Agatha. She had some great one liners and I liked how she isn't like the typical cookie cutter characters we usually get in books. I love how she pokes fun at princesses and fairytales and such.

The plot was all over the place. In the beginning I felt like the author knew what they were doing, it was slow but clear but then it went off and I felt like there was no point we were aiming towards. The story would get fast paced for a few pages and then get so slow; I would read 20 pages and feel like I had read 100. The last 20% was what saved it for me. The ending was really good and I was hooked and couldn't stop reading. 

The setting was very fun. I loved how the 2 schools were complete opposites and how we got the typical fairy tale setting of a big castle with pretty bedrooms and pink and sparkles but then on the flip side we got dungeons and dark forests and monsters. The settings were used very well.

One of the main problems I had with The School For Good and Evil is that there was lots of gender stereotypes going on- I get that it's a play on fairytales and princes and princesses but in 2017 I'd have liked to see those stereotypes being challenged and this book was published in 2013 so it's not that old. 

I also wasn't a huge fan of some of its messages. Judging people based on looks, drawing very clear line that there is evil and good and nothing in between etc. I hated how the objective for the girls was to find a prince and get them to ask them o the ball and kiss them. It's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. That message of all you need is a guy is awful to include in a middle grade book where young girls are reading looking towards these characters as role models. I also had a problem with the premise of how evil is ugly and good is pretty- it's a bad message to be sending that appearance equates to morality. 

I like it but it's way too long especially for a children's book, the books is 500 pages and with its pacing being all over the place it felt like even more. I'd say it's more for younger YA readers than those who are used to reading middle grade.

My rating: 3 stars
Thanks for reading,

A :)

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

Publication: May 2nd 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Description:
All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn't have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace's mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on. 

My thoughts:
How to Make a Wish is a great summery read that is super easy to fall into. I found myself hooked very early on and connected emotionally invested in the characters stories almost instantly.

The main character, Grace, was my favourite character. I found myself emotionally invested in her story quickly and felt bad for her and happy for her when things went wrong or right for her. The author did an excellent job on her character development, Grace has a lovely arc of going on a journey of self discovery and self care. 

I loved reading about Grace and her best friend Luca. They had such a playful relationship for the most part it was really enjoyable to read. It was also fun seeing a boy and girl being best friends and having it not turning romantic. I loved how supportive they were of each other.

I liked Eva but didn't love her. I found it hard to identify with her and wasn't super invested in her relationship with Grace. I did love how she was into colouring in adult colouring books because I love colouring too and Im always looking for characters with hobbies other than reading. I also appreciated how diverse her character was; Eva is biracial and lesbian. I personally can't speak for the representation but I think it was done quite well.

Family is a big theme in the story. There is a big emphasis on Grace and her mother Maggie's relationship and how unhealthy it is. But it's not just blood family relationships that are explored but also the families we choose and people we consider family. I loved Grace's relationship with Luca's Mam Emmy (she is such a Molly Weasley).

Other themes readers should be aware of before picking up this book are parental neglect and verbal abuse. These issues are a major part of the story and could be triggering to sensitive readers so just keep that in mind if you're thinking of picking How to Make A Wish up.

I liked the ending but wasn't blown away. It wasn't wrapped up nicely with a bow but ended in a good place. I like my endings with everything tied off which rarely happens in contemporary.

I had fun reading How to Make a Wish, it was a quick contemporary read but touched on some very important topics that are not usually seen in YA.

My rating: 4 stars

Thanks for reading,

A :)