It’s time for some Mini Reviews!
Which is what I say when (A) I have read too many books recently, and (B) have reviews coming out of my eyeballs, and (C) have somewhat smaller thoughts on these books so can squish them into one post. Also today’s conglomeration consists of YA books on the younger end of the scale. So Youngish Young Adult. (What a catchy phrase, probably.)
I confess that fluffy, quirky books don’t impress me as easily. (I need a bit of blood and stabbing, is all.) And I can occasionally feel too old as I read them. But then, even when I was actually 14, I wanted…blood and stabbing. SO THERE YOU GO. We’re all different. But remember = reviews are subjective fiends. If anything here piques your interest, I still say: GO FOR IT.
(Thank you to Walker Books, Hot Key Books, Scholastic and Allen & Unwin!)
A thoroughly British teen comedy starring a hilariously flawed heroine with a quip for every occasion perfect for fans of Holly Smale, Holly Bourne, Caitlin Moran and Sophie Kinsella. Lou Brown s life is going down the pan. Best friend Hannah sailed through the Olympic time trials and is off to her fancy-pants new swim training school, while Lou s own failure to qualify leaves her without a hobby or a friend. As Lou tries to navigate her post-swim world, a chance encounter with three boys with stars in their eyes takes her life in a surprising new direction. One that leads to a crazy world of underwater somersaults, talent show auditions, bitchy girls and one great big load of awkward boy chat.
This is a splashily adorable book. And I say “splashily” (which I’m not even sure is a real word, tbh) because IT’S ALL ABOUT SWIMMING. Which is great! And frightening! I only dog paddle, mate. But altogether it as fun and quirky and lighthearted, although ultimately to fluffy for me.
- It’s very very funny. There are plenty of sassy comebacks and hilarious circumstances. And Lou has a pretty wry sense of humour. I may have snortled, which is like snorting and chuckling and it’s very undignified. #thanksfornothingbook
- Lou ends up coaching 3 boys in underwater synchronised swimming. Exciting!
- There’s an epic family with GOOD PARENTS. Lou’s parents are actually involved in her life…woah. This is amazing.
- I enjoyed the book more as it went on. #huzzah
- It was fun! Which for someone (aka me) who reads books where everyone gets shot or stabbed or both…this was definitely refreshing.
- The first 100-pags of the book is basically Lou whining. Which got tedious fast. LIKE I KNOW SHE JUST FAILED HER DREAM. But it just went on and on and there was 0% of any other plot. I thought I might either (A) drown her, or (B) drown myself.
- The 3 boys Lou is coaching have about as much personality as three rubber ducks. Which is to say none.
- Because Lou’s older sister likes clothes/makeup, she’s portrayed as shallow. I protest.
- The romance just…didn’t need to be there. Lou has a crush on one of the boys, but it’s teeny tiny and she BARELY THINKS ABOUT IT. There’s basically NO romance until 5 pages before the end and then HERE QUICK, SOMEONE THROW IN A KISS. #unnecessary
★★✩✩✩ // THE BOOK OF PEARL BY TIMOTHEE DE FOMBELLE // published June, 2016
A compelling story of a first love that defines a lifetime; perfect for fans of David Levithan, told with the intricate and beautiful writing style of bestselling author Timoth e de Fombelle. Joshua Pearl is from a world that our own no longer believes in. He knows that his great love is waiting for him in that distant place, but he is trapped in our time. As his memories begin to fade, he discovers strange objects, tiny fragments of a story from a long time ago. Can Joshua remember the past and believe in his own story before his love is lost for ever.
Oh hum de haa…this was really not my style of book. It had this whole fairy-tale vibe going on (which I generally love) but it was so very detached and disjointed. And after the first 100-pages I deflated like a rapidly drowning limpet in a sea of lettuce sauce. (And if you think that statement makes no sense THEN I’VE ACCURATELY SUMMED UP HOW LOST I WAS.)
- It’s translated from French. Which is awesome. I barely ever read translated books.
- There is a gorgeously delicious marshmallow shop. Which I wanted to devour at dawn. I want one or thirty-two thankyou.
- The writing was quite beautiful. In that whole whimsical fairy-tale way that makes you feel like you just ate Hans Christian Anderson. (Which in retrospect is cannibalism and you should probably spit him out.) HERE
- I honestly can’t even tell you the plot right. I think it was a mixture of a French boy vs a fairy-tale-kingdom-prince. Alternate realities?? Switching worlds?? THERE WAS A FAIRY!! I have no idea if the boys were the same in alternate realities or brothers or two entirely different people. And it’d switch from 1st to 3rd and I DON’T KNOW. I’M SOBBING. I FEEL SO LOST. One minute it was like Narnia, the next it was a war story, the next it was this old man in the woods with a boy and a box of weird objects.
- So much TELLING. I felt like I was being told the story; instead of being inside it. Everything felt detached and vaguely befuddling.
- I couldn’t connect to the characters or the story. Ergo the reading wasn’t so much fun. This is not necessarily the book’s fault, since it’s just not my favourite style. I am the sad lettuce soup here.
★★✩✩✩ // THE MONSTROUS CHILD BY FRANCESCA SIMON // published June, 2016
A stunning, operatic, epic drama, like no other. Meet Hel, an ordinary teenager – and goddess of the Underworld. Why is life so unfair? Hel tries to make the best of it, creating gleaming halls in her dark kingdom and welcoming the dead who she is forced to host for eternity. Until eternity itself is threatened.
Francesca’s first and wonderful foray into teen.
I’ve made a grave mistake. This is the 3rd book in a series and I DID NOT read the first two. I received it for review and just dove right in like the incompetent fish I am, apparently. So I feel bad for disliking it since I perhaps missing crucial backstory. But also the style = not for me. (Also does it confuse anyone else that the blurb says it’s the author’s “first foray into teen”???? Did everyone not know there are two books before this one?
MOVING FORWARD. This book is a Norse mythology retelling. It’s narrated by a super sarcastic and incredibly whiny goddess named Hel. It is not, actually, my memoir despite the title being exactly what I’d name my memoir if I had one.
- Pretty cover is pretty! Which is always pleasing to the eyeballs.
- Norse mythology is pretty interesting! It makes no sense either. Who wrote Norse mythology? I think they were drunk.
- The beginning is pretty quirky. “You’d think after my brother the snake was born they’d have stopped at one. But no.” #parentingfail
- It felt like it was trying very very hard to be Percy Jackson. With the sarcastic monologues, breaking the 4th wall, quirky gods..etc etc. NO. Percy Jackson is the ONLY PERCY JACKSON. That is not to say other books can’t do mythology! Of course they can! But just…maybe…a different style?
- Hel was absolutely OVER THE TOP with the sarcasm. It got whiny and juvenile and irritating really fast.
- There is plenty of mythology. But I honestly felt like the book was just a textbook rewritten quirkily. There didn’t feel like an actual STORY in here.
- No time for character development apparently. We are on a schedule and it’s just to retell the myth.
- Hel refers to Medusa as a myth. Like…aren’t you all myths??? How can myths call each other myths?? THIS DOESN’T SEEM FAIR.
- I believe Hel was fourteen, but she was crushing on a married man. Which…isn’t that unusual, I suppose. (Just go scroll tumblr.) And it wasn’t the weirdest thing that happened in this book. (I mean, her brother was a snake. Her father gave birth to a horse….)
- I couldn’t relate to the story at all. I felt rather bombarded with Hel’s woe-is-me-attitude and whiny/sarcastic monologues. I need a nap.
- Also how do you even SAY “Gjoll“???? #helpme
★★✩✩✩ // published May, 2016
It really all started with The Pain. He officially came into my life exactly nine weeks and one day before our Year Ten Graduation Dance. And despite my very best efforts to wipe the day from my mind, I can still remember it clearly. It was a Friday. The thirteenth day of the month. Notice anything there?
Maggie Butt is facing not only a stranger taking over her mother’s life but her own as well, and she is not going to let that happen. But then there’s the one-eyed snaggle-toothed cat, senior subject choices, the dream date and Cyber Boy, the geek in the library to contend with as well.
It’s going to be an interesting year.
Well that was mildly amusing! And I’m also 98 years too old for this fluff, unfortunately. Basically the story is about 15-year-old melodramatic Maggie. Her goals in life are to get an A on her English paper and get a boy to go to the dance with. I’m so glad she aims high. Plus her life is complicated by her mother dating this guy that Maggie, maturely, refers to as The Pain.
- It’s lighthearted and funny. It reminded me a lot of the style/tone of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (title similarity coincidence?). Maggie is quite sarcastic and quirky and that’s fun.
- It was nice seeing Maggie develop friendships. Firstly with her mother’s new boyfriend, and also Maggie’s “romance” started off as a cute little friendship. All very nice and low-key and generally awkward.
- It’s all very immature. Which is FINE for younger YA…but it was tedious for me.
- Maggie’s personality was sometimes just TOO dramatic. Drama-llama. Plus the book had a habit of italicised everything of basically ever and after a while it was so very irritating, okay?! Example:
This was because I’d spent the entire afternoon at the hairdresser, were for an insane amount of money, Sharlette, manageress of Cut Above The Rest Salon, had convinced me to let Taarsheebah, the ‘freakin’ incredible’, ‘she’ll do awesome things with your hair’, ‘OMG she’s totes amazeballs” trainee new girl, transform me into the front runner for the title role in the remake of The Bride of Frankenstein.
- I’m too old for this nonsense. The tone of the book was loud and bright and I am just not that kind of bean. I need books with substance and this is a small teapot of fluff.
★✩✩✩✩ // SOPHIE SOMEONE BY HAYLEY LONG // published June, 2016
Sophie Nieuwenleven is sort of English and sort of Belgian. Sophie and her family came to live in Belgium when she was only four or five years old, but she’s fourteen now and has never been quite sure why they left England in the first place. Then, one day, Sophie makes a startling discovery. Finally Sophie can unlock the mystery of who she really is. This is a story about identity and confusion – and feeling so utterly freaked out that you just can’t put it into words. But it’s also about hope. And the belief that, somehow, everything will work out OK.
I DON’T GET IT. This is one of those odd books that not everyone is going to like…and, unfortunately I am in the “adamantly dislike” category. See the book likes to swap words around. It’s described as “it’s written in it’s own language”. You know what? It’s not written in any language. You can’t just SWAP. ENGLISH. WORDS. AROUND.
Unless your name is Roald Dahl and you wrote the BFG and you are a literary genius! But the difference with Roald Dahl is, you got introduced to the bizarre language of the BFG. The book is not narrated 100% by someone who doesn’t speak properly. This is why I believe Sophie Someone failed for me..
But let me give you some examples of how this book is written: I found it hopelessly confusing, pretentious, and disorientating.
I couldn’t be faffed to finish breakfast. Instead, I went into my beetroot, bundled my duvet off my beet and wrapped it around my shruggers.
Or how about this…
My mambo sunk her helix into her hashtags and sighed. “You’re the detective, Sophie. Do you think we’d have spent the last ten years living on the Rue Sans Souci if everything had gone tickety-boo?”
I swear there are no typos there. THAT is how the book is written. From the author’s note in the back, I gather she chose this method to illustrate how language doesn’t often encompass how difficult and painful life can be.
I think the purpose of literature is to find words the words that are too hard to say out loud. (Just my opinion, folks.) And plus this WASN’T EVEN A TRAUMATIC BOOK. Sophie (age 14) leads a confused life since she her parents skipped countries and she doesn’t know why. (Hello, criminals, probably definitely.) But she still had parents/a home/friends/school. She just didn’t know her backstory. I didn’t see why this was so traumatic.
Because it was SO CONFUSING to read, I really didn’t understand the story. I was just trying to figure out why she was calling herself a “pigeon”. I THOUGHT SHE WAS A PIGEON FOR A WHILE. I thought this was an elaborate sequel to Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and perhaps the book was truly about a pigeon with an identity crisis. I think this would’ve done much better as a nonsense Middle Grade book.
I just COULD NOT with the story because it made. no. sense.