i made a thing
Author: Sara Barnard
I’m not generally a fan of contemporary YA novels as series. I think stand-alone’s are far more satisfying, and far less drawn out. So you can see why I was reluctant to pick up a sequel to a book I loved (Beautiful Broken Things review here) which I thought would be unnecessary at best, a waste of time at worst.
I was so wrong. This book was beautiful. It focusses in a girl named Suzanne, who was a victim of child abuse and, at the beginning of the novel, is in the foster care system. We follow Suzanne as she gains her independence in a very big and very complex world which is moving on faster than her. Whilst I’m not an abuse survivor, I find Barnard’s narration endlessly relatable; the way Suzanne reflects on the concept of death, her description of feeling you’re on the edge and being too tired to do anything about it, and so many other moments.
The relationships between Suzanne and her friends are so raw and real. Caddy and Rosie are far more developed than in the first instalment, and I love the different directions that Barnard took these three in. That said, my favourite relationship is between Suzanne and her retired musician neighbour, Dilys. Dilys is the perfect example of the good in this world that Suzanne had been so deprived of, and their friendship was pure and benevolent.
Finally, I want to talk about Suzanne’s family. Her brother plays a complicated role in her life, having never been a victim of their father’s wrath. It’s both heart-wrenching and disgusting how his childhood was so opposite to Suzanne’s, and how that affects their sibling relationship. Her mother is also beyond complicated, and this book gave me an insight into why child abuse is so rarely reported by family members. It’s so much more difficult than I could ever imagine, having such a loving and supportive family myself.
So, as if you couldn’t tell, I loved this book. I loved it more than Beautiful Broken Things. One of my new favourites for sure.
LGBTQ+ Book Recs
In honour of Pride Month, here’s all my fav LGBTQ+ books:
LGBTQ+ Central, books which are focussed on LGBTQ+ themes:
- More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera – A boy considers his sexuality as a new kid moves in, and what does this have to do with the plot holes he keeps finding in his life? Shocking and heartbreaking, and takes place in a world where a medical procedure can remove memories.
- If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo – Amanda moves to a new school using her new name and pronouns. Nobody knows she’s trans and nobody will, not after her Dad’s reaction. I loved the focus on post-transition life, and the PoV of Amanda’s parents is… controversial.
- Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman – A coming-of-age romance set it Northern Italy. WAY better than the film. André Aciman has a beautiful tone to his writing which feels like sun rays on my skin.
- PROUD (anthology) – A collection of short stories and artwork around LGBTQ+ themes and characters. You’ll be laughing, then crying, then feeling all warm and cosy with happiness.
Non-LGBTQ+ central, books that feature LGBTQ+ characters without their gender/sexuality being the main plot:
- Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate – Features pansexual and asexual main characters. Each of the 7 main characters is based on a deadly sin, and a mystery is surrounding their school.
- I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson – Twins, one of whom is coming out, slowly drift away after their family starts breaking down. Their joint love of art and the world is holding them together.
- The Magnus Chase Series by Rick Riordan – Magnus, a kid who’s ended up living on the streets, is caught in a mythological mess between Norse Gods. Features a genderfluid main character and another non-labelled queer character, and whilst their sexualities/genders are talked about and explored, they’re not the focal points of the books.
- The Darkest Part Of The Forest by Holly Black – Takes place in the modern world, but one in which faeries lurk in shadowy corners. A brother and sister are both longing for the mysterious fae boy asleep in the glass coffin in the woods, hoping for a excitement whilst avoiding certain death.
Hope you all enjoy!
Some recs from my main account x
Author: Sara Barnard
Until the ending, this book was very so-so. Developed enough characters, advancing plot, very readable writing style. I solid 3-4 star read.
BUT WAIT. I cannot tell you how perfect the ending was. I was crying in my library! That lifted it to 4.5 for me.
Overall, I had problems with ALL of the characters, but that doesn’t mean thy were badly written. Caddy (the narrator) was ungrateful and spoilt – and pitied herself for it. And whilst this was annoying, I think it was meant to be. I see Caddy in so many people I know – people who are jealous of others’ trauma because it’s more exciting than their boring life. And, if you are inexperienced in how ruining and scarring trauma can be, you might see where she’s coming from. Rosie was more difficult to dissect; she doesn’t take anyone’s bull, but she’s also judgmental and controlling. Finally, Suzanne. I think she could represent how some people deal with their abusive past, but I don’t think in the slightest that she represents the majority – and that’s why her characterisation could be considered “damaging” to some reviewers.
I think you were meant to have your own opinion on the character’s actions, and that’s why they were so frustrating. Bernard creates a chasmic ironic gap in which the reader can fully understand situations the narrator can’t, which is difficult to do well.
As I’ve said, the ending truly made this book for me. For that alone, I would recommend Beautiful Broken Things.
Author: Adam Kay
I’VE NEVER LAUGHED SO HARD WHILST READING. This book was frickin hilarious. I love when an author can blend their story with their personality, unafraid to make their writing colloquial.
*FOR MY NON-UK FOLLOWERS* This book is a junior doctor’s diary of his life, troubles and triumphs working for the NHS. Whilst the NHS and the free healthcare it provides us is an absolute blessing, it’s not without its many issues. The reason this book become such a hit is because it shines a light on the stress and exhaustion that doctor’s are put under.
Adam is a fantastic narrator; his voice is unpolished and genuine, yet he still succeeds at having readers hang off his every word. He doesn’t sugar-coat anything, which can be hilarious and/or very uncomfortable. His narration feels like you’re talking to a friend, it’s intimate and compassionate (perfect for such a heart-warming and heart-breaking story).
Some of the anecdotes are utterly unforgettable. I will never not laugh at the thought of “Prince Albert’s Revenge”, or not cry at the thought of his friendship with Simon. This Is Going To Hurt has a clever way of sticking to your thoughts.
Overall, a must-read! Especially for wanna-be doctors.
Author: Sara Raasch
For someone who isn’t big on high fantasy, I really enjoyed Snow Like Ashes! Fabulous main character, interesting world and brilliant development.
I knew absolutely nothing about this series going into this, and I’m kinda glad I didn’t. It made this read so much more surprising! The world centres around 4 Rhythm kingdoms and 4 Season kingdoms. It gave me a lot of ACOTAR vibes (or vice versa since this was actually published first), which is a good thing. Now, what I’m not good at when it comes to high fantasy is the array of magical creatures and their homelands which I have to keep up with. What I LOVED about this universe is everyone is utterly human. Yes, there is magic (with a fascinating magic system), but the magic is held by these humans who are, without magic, utterly powerless. It gives the story a power complex which is reminiscent of one in our world – some people crave power and others think it’s poison.
The characters were fabulous. For me, characters are the pinacol of a YA novel and when they aren’t engaging, neither is the book. But I adored Meira and her narration, as well as the main side characters with many diverse personalities. But what I loved most about Meira was her history. Generically, you get a random girl in her place, but Meira’s past links her into the story quietly throughout the book – and then hits you like a wrecking ball.
Feminism is a prominent theme is Snow Like Ashes. Meira is constantly trying to prove herself as a soldier but she is frequently told to get off the battlefield and into the cleaning tents. The equality theme links with fate and destiny too, and whether Meira’s life is really hers if she is devoted to make a difference to her kingdom.
A surprisingly good read, definitely one to check out even if you aren’t into high fantasy. Can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy!
Author: Stephen King
Stephen King is like the Smashing Pumpkins of story-telling: he isn’t afraid to sit back and explore his ideas, grow them and develop them, before he has to move on. He draws on other perspectives, tells the same moment from multiple characters, twists the timeline and takes the time to express a scenario completely. Yet, he does it effortlessly, without chunks of exposition or idle rambling (which isn’t uncommon for high fantasies).
This book came and went so so fast – and nothing except for everything has changed. It’s gonna be spoilers from here onwards, so for non-spoilery thoughts check out my review of The Gunslinger.
*SPOILERS FROM HERE ONWARDS*
Eddie Dean – what an unlikely hero. He came from misfortune and his brother cultivated until it was all he knew. Enter Roland, and he gets an odd redemption. One thing I loved was his brilliant reaction to this quest. His denial and despair was understandable and heart-breaking, until he reaches acceptance. I loved his relationship with Roland, and I’m hoping Roland becomes the older brother Eddie never had, someone to guide and nurture him.
Odetta was a curious case, and definitely someone I’m excited to see develop in this moved on world. Her becoming was… confusing for me – but I’m accepting it. Her story comes full circle, even if some parts of the circle were completed before others!
I hope we get to hear more of Jake in future instalments. Roland’s attachment to him is too precious of a character arc to drop!
This is the biggest surprise of my reading year so far! All I knew about Something’s Not Right was that it’s a collection of magical realism/speculative fiction short stories. What amazed me the most is actually how short these short stories were! Some were less than 3 pages but still packed such emotional and narrative substance. The first story had me utterly hooked into this writer’s imagination – I wish I could take a journey inside their mind just to be able to see the world how they do.
I cannot commend this author enough. Even though we only witness snapshots into these characters, I became so quickly attached to them! They were expertly and genuinely crafted. The voices and grammatical persons were suited to each story, with a mix of 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons as well as just colloquial dialogue. Some authors struggle to write in one voice, let alone dozens! Finally, the world-building for each story was so smooth and natural that I hadn’t noticed how much information I’d swallowed since it was so seamlessly embedded.
Of course, I had some favourites. don’t feel guilty was so deliciously obscure and ominous; I loved the narrators voice here especially since it was so natural and real, yet still decorative. theoretical robots and the dynamic of love also sticks out in my mind for its exploration of emotion. It had a nostalgic and bitter-sweet ending, which I loved. Another gem was gold-based offerings; I loved the narrator and the cunning cheek of the love interest. My ultimate favourite had to be the butcher, but I can’t explain why! Maybe it was the combination of beauty and darkness.
So if you couldn’t tell already, I loved this book.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Mini review of Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson.
Synopsis: Grace Williams was sent to a mental institution when she was 11. Through the pain, abuse and torment, she meets debonair Daniel – and together they find little ways of not only surviving in this life, but truly living.
Author: Sarah J. Maas
So don’t kill me. This is the lowest official rating I’ve ever given an SJM book, but if I had my blog when I read Crown Of Midnight that may have been lower. To give you some context, I LOVED Throne Of Glass, HATED Crown Of Midnight, and gradually came to love the series again as it continued. But KoA, whilst being an epic end to this ambitious saga, was just too much. Where did the brave and snarky prisoner and her contest to be the king’s assassin go?? As much as I admire SJM’s world building and her ambition, I can’t deal with high fantasy novels with this much stuff. That is just a personal preference, and I can see why some people would die for this series – but for me, it’s become too Game Of Thrones.
*SPOILERS FROM HERE ONWARDS*
Props to SJM for the emotional rollercoaster! My eyes were watering the whole time, but there were two moments which made me bawl: Dorian reuniting with Chaol and Aelin, and ofc the Thirteen all Yielding to save Manon and the rest of the court. This series feeds off tragedy and sacrifice experienced by its characters, but it used to keep hope at the forefront too. I think this is what separates Kingdom Of Ash from the other instalments – the characters have lost hope completely and still keep fighting.
Unfortunately for me, the war and politics kind of fell flat. I don’t care for the battle strategy and endless fighting, and I know this is personal taste but I prefer books which focus on a smaller group of characters rather than multiple continents worth. I kept getting confused and I’d completely forgotten characters like Borte, Fenrys, Gavriel, Falkan, Nox Owen, Darrow, Rhiannon Crochan and quite a few more.
However, there were multiple moments that had me in awe of the beauty that SJM has produced from this novel:
There are more, but these are definitely my top three.
Overall, very mixed feelings about this novel. I think it was too long, too dense, and too ambitious, but it was also full of beautiful, heart-warming and heart-breaking moments. It might just be down to whether or not you enjoy high fantasy, politics-and-war-centric series or smaller, more character-driven stories.