Category Archives: Literature

Review All Quiet On The Western Front, Enrich Maria Remarque by Sian Thomas

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A friend recently told me to read one of their favourite books. I was looking for a new read and decided that I, even though I am not much of a fan of war stories, I would finally let myself be swayed and give the book and the topic a chance from their recommendation.
I read All Quiet On The Western Front by Enrich Maria Remarque recently. It was rather renovating and is the beginning of a change in my perspective I am glad to note.
I loved the writing  it was  vague and descriptive yet soft but heart wrenching. The kind, I think, that could probably only be found in a war story. I’ve always loved finding writing that is somewhat poetic, and sounds like someone stitched all the letters and words together carefully, with an unwavering hand – I really love finding that, among the world of literature – and that I found. The kind of writing that makes you double back and think, the kind that really makes you realise how deep things are.
The characters are a breath of fresh air, and they’re all so human in situation where you are glad to find it so. They all still joke and laugh against all of the odds. They were all friends in the most unfortunate of situations, and could smile after being dragged through the worst anyone could imagine. And you even see the other side of the coin – the gut wrenching fear, the depression, the melancholy. You worry for them, you hope someone survives.
The whole story is written in the perspective from one German soldier, Paul Bäumer, and his story stirs around with his classmates that were forced to enlist with him because of a pushy teacher. The lot of them go through Hell on Earth, but still manage to have, somehow, good things happen to them. There are six characters we focus on mainly, Kemmerich (we don’t focus on him for very long as he died early on), Haie, Albert, Müller, Kat, Paul Bäumer, and Tjaden. They all have their own tragic fates, just as you were beginning to believe that they would make it and we would hear of their lives afterwards. Each death or goodbye is heartbreaking and alarmingly real, and comes as an abrupt shock, though it really shouldn’t when you really think about it. They are all they’re own people, and the change from someone in school to fighting for Germany is astonishing, since you can see how they change, how they become more hardened and more serious, and more sad, more gloomy. You go through all their trials and tribulations with them, feeling the fear and the happiness and the sorrow.
While this was not my first war story experience, this is the one I enjoyed the most. Even while it was melancholic and nerve wracking, it was a story I’m glad to have experienced, and will heartily thank my friend for telling me about it. It really was a wonderful read.

 

Review Unspeakable, Abbie Rushton by Sian Thomas

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I recently read a book called Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton. The book was wonderful and compelling, and quickly entrances the reader in its words.

The biggest thing I noted about the book was the fact that it involved LGBT(+) characters, and LGBT(+) struggles. Living in an age where more and more people are becoming more and more tired of the basic “boy meets girl, girl meets boy, they fall in love,” kind of plot, it is always refreshing to find an author who writes LGBT(+) characters, as they do need a lot more representation in anything, really. Media, books, movies, TV shows, and so on. Seeing the LGBT(+) struggles in the book would be wonderfully relatable for LGBT(+) people, who would be thankful to see that they aren’t alone, even if they need to connect with book characters to see so, but that’s fine, too. It’s probably harder to find LGBT(+) books than a , heteronormative one, so I am very glad that this book was written. The two LGBT(+) characters are the main character/s Megan and Jasmine.

The writing is exquisite, and flows very well sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, and chapter to chapter. Since the book is in the point of view of a sixteen year old girl, the writing really shows the character through it, which made it much easier to conform with, in my opinion, since I am also a sixteen year old girl, but I think many other teenagers (or even young adults) would agree. The writing is simple, and good. Relatable, and beautiful.
Throughout the book, there is usually lines of bold text, which is in a different font, and serves the purpose of our main character’s (Megan) darker thoughts. However, I saw the “darker thoughts” a bit deeper. I thought, that perhaps, the resembled something akin to anxiety or depression. People with anxiety or depression usually have thoughts like those I have seen sprinkled throughout the story. So to top it off, not only was there LGBT(+) representation, but also representation for those who may suffer from mentally illness, too. It does not end sourly, Megan gets her happy ending, so I believe this could show the simple message of: Everything gets better. Because it does. It does get better.

The characters are varied, and complex, and mysterious. Our main character, Megan, can’t speak. She is mute. After an incident us readers know very little about as it is hinted at more and more as the story progresses, we start to understand with every passing page why Megan is the way she is. I, especially, became particularly attached to Megan. She is a very lovable character with a past that you wish you could fix for her. You hope that her problems get resolved, and that she is okay. Her life seems to be filled with more downs than ups, and you see how those events take their toll on her and her well-being. She has a secret involving the “incident”, not the best of family situations, and not the greatest school situations, either. You hope beyond hope that she is okay.
Another character, Jasmine, is a mysterious girl who moved to Megan’s small town, and once again, us readers are left in the dark as to why, only being able to latch on to the hints given and speculate beyond what we really see. She is very bubbly and talkative, and easily befriends Megan, who is very much the opposite of her, but they get along very well. Her and Megan’s dynamic is lovely, and surprising. She moved from Cyprus, and loves to tell wonderful stories about the place, and loves to tell Megan just how beautiful it is there.
Another character I really liked was a character named Luke. Luke knows Megan’s secret involving the “incident”, but they are still friends against the rest of the world. He has a dreary family situation, but is still able to smile. However, he is complicated, with emotions that the readers can’t really, well, read. He seems to change suddenly, laugh it off and apologise, and go back to how he was. He has a big secret of his own, and his entire character is wonderfully mystifying, crucial, and massively remarkable.
Another character I really like was a minor character called Callum who we only ever saw as our main characters were waiting for the school bus. We only ever saw him getting bullied for his sexuality, that as far as I have seen was not confirmed. We see Megan (who also got bullied a few times in the story) sometimes giving him small bouts of reassurance, which I really took a shine to. I, while feeling bad for him because he was bullied, really enjoyed the mutual reassurance from both Megan and himself as a dynamic.

Megan’s home life was also an interesting one. Her mother had her when she was about sixteen, and there is little to no mention of the father. However, grandparents were around, which made things all the better, until they passed away. As a new mother, Megan’s mum often got things wrong. She would say the wrong things at the wrong time, or do something wrong at the wrong place, or just generally mess things up. It was difficult to see the relationship be strained by easy mistakes, and I’m sure it was something both parents and teenagers could understand.As a mother with a mute daughter, obviously life is stressful. It shows how stressful communication between a mother and a daughter is, and whether one is mute or not, it envisions the struggle as very real, and very true. Many readers like myself would understand the struggle very personally.

The plot execution was grand. With suspense to match the scene in such a perfect way, as if they were holding hands. The characters thought process is perfect to your own, leading you down the perfect path of the plot.
The plot twist is otherworldly. I was shocked, and couldn’t stop reading until I had finished the book. (At 1am, no less!) It was beautifully executed in a way that turned all the facts I was sure I had known completely on their heads, leaving me to read, and read, and read, until I was sure again. It was wonderfully suspenseful, brilliantly climatic, and amazingly addicting.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is into romance, and mystery, and suspense. I believe it would be a wonderful read to many teenagers and young adults, too. It’s a brilliant book with a brilliant story, fantastic characters and lovely writing.

Unspeakable has been nominated in the Edinburgh International Book Festival, First Book Award, which  celebrates the wealth of new writing included in the Edinburgh Book Festival programme. You can vote for your favourite at the link below

https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/first-book-award

 

Review The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell by Sian Thomas

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The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell left me in love with the present and terrified of the dystopian.

It was a long, long journey of a woman’s life, where every chapter is around ten years. There are six chapters. It starts when she’s 15, sometime around the early 1980s, and ends around 2040. You see, clear as day, as the book goes from the past that does not feel too far away to some of us, to the comfort of the present, to what the future could turn out to be. It was somewhat scary, to me, at least, and left me wondering if the world could turn out as it was described in the text.
Her life is hard. Her life is hard, and taxing and trying and very, very long. It gets worse as time goes by, and you end up just hoping for it to get better. The situations dwindle into the frightening, you just want her safe. Her name is Holly Sykes.

It’s a hard book to talk about. It’s very changing. Every new chapter, aside from the first and last, which are in Holly Sykes’ perspective, is in a different point of view every other time, and it is not declared whose point of view you are reading from. You have to work it out when you see what characters are interacting, and when the character reacts in first person to a name. It is easy enough to do once you have the swing of things, but at first, it is rather unsettling. Holly Sykes is in every chapter, even if not immediately.
Other characters come to love her very dearly, and you do, too. She is loving, and loved, and lovable, while also being strong, and fearless, and caring, and every other positive adjective under the sun. During the worst of times she is realistic, and rightfully afraid, but also very, very capable of doing the right thing. She helps a lot of people as a reaction to the cards that life had dealt her. She sees herself in others and has to help. And she does.

It is a long book. It may have been a little longer than I myself had bargained for. (It’s 613 pages. I’m used to smaller books in series or stand-alone-s, so this was a piece of work to finish.) It would be wonderful for those who enjoy the dramatic plot, and also the aftermath, for those who enjoy long, long chapters, beautiful writing, complex characters, and excellent settings.

The book could be labelled spiritual, I believe. There is a lot of talk of “psychic moments” and “voices” and immortality, but this still intertwines perfectly with the rest of the story. Mysteries, love, family issues, health issues, and the somewhat realness that fits perfectly with the wildness.

It was thrilling. I enjoyed it heartily.

Review Alice in Zombieland, Gena Showalter by Bethan Hooton

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Ok I admit it, I’ve never read a Zombie book, and haven’t watched any shows about them either, except the first 4 episodes of The Walking Dead. I’ve decided that I want to make this review slightly different, so instead of reviewing it once I’ve finished the book; I’m going to review it as I read it. This way I won’t forget anything that I wish to comment on, and it’s a bit different, so here goes!

Chapters 1-5, pages 9-105.

The start of this book, hits the ground running, it sets the tone of the book and gives you an idea of what this book is going to be about – given you probably will find out about this in the description of the book, however, I went into this book blind. You get a really good feel for the characters in the first 100 pages; you get to know them and their personalities. It also makes you wonder about certain characters and whether they are who they seem. I already have some assumptions about some characters and what they’re really like. There’s not much action so far with Zombies which I’m a bit gutted about, but I’m hoping that soon there will be more action. I love the style of the book so far. I love the main character Ali, and I really enjoy her humour. I’m looking forward to the possible romance and the friendships that still have yet to be created.

Chapters 6-10, pages 106-206.

I absolutely love the characters! The main character Ali, has such an energetic personality, but still holds some sadness to it. She is witty, and more often than not will speak her mind. Her friendship with Kat is one that I envy. I also really like the ‘love interest’ shall we say, Cole. He has a shielded personality, and is very secretive about himself. The relationship between Ali and Cole is perfect, and they balance each other out. My assumptions have been verified, and the story has seriously picked up. There’s a lot of action, and background telling – admittedly it’s a lot to take in, so hopefully it’ll be explained more. The writer is telling the story really well, and the action scenes have gotten my heart to beat faster than normal. For my first zombie book, I am very impressed. I love the ‘rules’ let’s say, that explain why certain things happen or cannot happen. I’m really enjoying the plot and cannot wait to see where it goes in the coming chapters.

Chapters 11-13, pages 207-294

The one thing I noticed is that there aren’t many Alice in Wonderland references, considering this is supposed to be a re-telling of that story. The chapter titles are similar, and a white rabbit is mentioned often but there isn’t anything other than that, so far. I’m questioning whether it can be classed as a re-telling. That said, I’m still enjoying the story. I really love Ali as the main character, her personality is great! The story of the Zombies and certain characters background has been explained a lot more, and it was done excellently. There is a lot of information to take in, but it is re-enforced as the story carries on. The character relationships that have been formed has been written brilliantly, especially the rivalry between Cole and Justin. The differences between each of the characters are really intriguing and they all balance each other out. The character development for Ali has to be my favourite part in the last 100 pages that I’ve read and I can’t wait to see where her character goes.

The last 100 or so pages.

It really picked up during these last one hundred pages. A lot of secrets were revealed, and you learnt even more about the characters. Ali’s character really develops, and she comes to terms with a lot of things she beforehand had struggled with. There are some major twists and turns of events, which made it very action packed! Again, I loved Ali’s and Kats friendship, it’s just so natural and fun. They both have a wicked sense of humour and I can’t wait to see what happens to their friendship in the coming books. To be honest, I thought the major action scene, that set up the plot-line for the sequel, was very short lived, and kind of anti-climatic. Yes, it was out of the blue and surprised you, but it seemed to just breeze past. I did enjoy it though. The ending is a great set up for the sequel (which I may or may not be buying tomorrow to read ASAP). The romance was perfectly written, it wasn’t the main focus but it still had you interested in Ali’s and Cole’s relationship or lack thereof.

My overall thoughts.

Great, well developed and well thought about characters, with great character arcs and development throughout the book. Amazingly written character relationships, and rivalries. The humour was perfect and quite a few times I found myself laughing out loud. The plot arc was brilliant, and very well executed. I definitely recommend this book if you’re into Zombies, want to get into Zombies or are just looking for a new book.

Review Poison, Bridget Zinn by Sian Thomas

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Poison by Bridget Zinn a very intense book with a gripping plot.

The book is about a girl, Kyra, (Or Kitty, which is her nickname that was commonly used throughout the story) who is a very skilled potioner, with a very serious job to do.

At this point I should warn for spoilers, since there may be a few.

Kyra, in the midst of this medieval, princes-and-princesses, kingdoms-and-knights and witchcraft and wizardry, is the only one who is aware that her kingdom is going to fall into ruin, so she is the one who must be the one to stop it. The only way to do that is to kill the princess of the kingdom, who was her former best friend. When she first tries to assassinate the princess, her poison dart misses, and now as a fugitive, she’s on the run from the authorities, and still pushing forward with her job to do.

The book has a  very beautiful setting, the kind of setting that’s all wilderness. Woods and forests and rivers are  described wonderfully. Even food, since the main character is entranced by cooking, is described in the way that makes you want to buy every cooking book and become a chef yourself. It even describes the kind of mythical creatures involved spectacularly. The writing is lovely you can imagine the clink-clink-clink of the potion vials when they are used. You can clearly imagine how the colours will glow inside the vials, and how the pouch that holds the vials would move when they’re spilled out or tied back up when they’re packed away.

The plot is wonderfully executed, with plot twists to make you bite your thumbnail in anticipation, and make you unable to stop turning the pages. It has scenes which make you fear for the character as if you know them personally.

The magic throughout the story makes you want to read more into it, learn more of the magic of that world. The potions are intriguing, the creatures are curious, the plot is enthralling, and the characters are fascinating.

There are a number of captivating characters who are easy to get attached to. There are even the character’s pets that you get attached to. The main character, Kyra, ends up getting a piglet called Rosie, and it is easy to see how she develops from seeing the piglet as a “worker pig” to a loving pet, who she cares for very much, despite the things said against it. My favourite character would have to be the main character, Kyra. She’s smart and witty and fiery. To me, she’s easily lovable, with a complex life that ends well, as she deserves.

The book is  beautifully written with an intricate plot and riveting characters. It’s a very good book for people who were intrigued with the world of Harry Potter, and for those interested in wonderful magic, intense scenes and adoring love.

Review Talon, Julie Kagawa by Bethan Hooton

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“Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing in their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Solider Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Embers bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons” – Talon, Julie Kagawa 

I read the first 75 pages of this book in about 3 weeks, and then the other 370 pages in 3 days. This was purely because of exams, and in a way I wish I had held off reading the book until my exams were over so I could devour the whole book as one. I loved it! The characters, plot and the setting. The story was told amazingly, which I’m not surprised at since it is a Julie Kagawa book! I love dragons, and this book was the best I’ve read yet! Honestly, it was slow-paced during the first half of the book, but in the second half it really picked up especially in the last 100 pages. In this book there was a lot of world building and story setting ready for the sequel. It was a great setup for the coming books. The dragon world ‘Talon’ was explained excellently, even if there are some twists and turns about it later on in the book. Whilst reading I was fully enthralled in the world, I was so intrigued and wanted to find out more and more.

The characters in this book were amazing! There wasn’t a flat character throughout the whole book. Each character was important and helped push the plot along. You could tell that each character had been well thought-out and they were all very complex. There wasn’t a single character that I didn’t like, besides possible one called Colin (no spoilers!) I loved all the different character relationships. I loved the sibling bond between Ember and Dante, and I loved seeing how that progressed and changed during the book. The friendships were really well constructed, and made me want to be a part of the world just to be involved with those friendships. I loved the banter between all the characters too, the way they all bounced off of each other. The jokes they made about and with each other. I also really like seeing the differences between Ember and Dante, and how that difference became increasingly bigger towards the end of the book. The character development in this book has to be my favourite, especially for Ember and Garret! They learnt that not everything was as it seems, and the way Julie Kagawa had their characters progress was just great. I can usually pick out a favourite character, but this time I can’t, I honestly love them all too much.

This is definitely a series that I’m going to keep up with. I’m going to get my hand on a copy of Rogue as soon as possible! I cannot wait to see how Ember and Garrets story progresses. I want to see how Dante is coping with the task his was given in the epilogue. There are just so many characters that I need to know about (Riley and Wes for example) I’ve read 9 Julie Kagawa books, and all novella’s she has written for her Iron Fey series, and this is by far my favourite book. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

I seriously recommend Talon, if you’re into Dragons, and Fantasy. It keeps you wondering, and the characters are remarkable!

Review Trouble, Non Pratt by Amina Elmi

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Trouble was completely different from the books I normally read. I had gotten tired of books about dystopian worlds and dramatic love stories so I decided I needed a change.

Trouble is written with a witty sense of humour that doesn’t fail to entertain. Despite it being about teenage pregnancy which is usually talked about with seriousness, you can’t help but giggle at how certain characters are portrayed.

The characters are in this book are quite something. Tyrone and Fletch are two who are especially vulgar, but they represent what a teenage boy’s hormones are sometimes like. The way they both refer to sex and girls made me question their sanity at times. I couldn’t help laughing at times

The character Aaron was the main reason I chose to read Trouble. After reading the blurb I just wanted to know what on earth would possess you to claim to be the father of someone’s baby you barely know. Aaron was a bit of mystery. He had a shady past that he didn’t talk about, which made me all the more curious. I do have to admit, I did fall in love with this character. I loved how he stood up for Hannah and her unborn child. I loved that he had this bond with an elderly man he visited. I think everyone needs an Aaron in their lives.

Then there was mini mystery. Who is the father? I needed to know. I didn’t dare put the book down. I had an idea of who I thought it was and I felt like Sherlock Holmes when I had it right.

I loved this book and I can’t wait to discover more books by Non Pratt.

Review My Heart and Other Black Holes Jasmine Warga by Sian Thomas

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I recently finished a book called My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. It is the story of a girl and a boy who meet on a website and agree to a ‘Suicide Pact’. They both have reasons as to why they want to die, and both hope the other won’t back out, but eventually, things (aka feelings) get in the way and things start to turn a little upside down.

The storyline is enticing as any other. Two people meet and agree to die, and I just found it fascinating. The plot intertwines smoothly and never misses a beat. The characters are everything you expect them not to be. They are funny and loveable and quirky and have their hobbies and love things, and yet they are sad. They are so very sad. He is sad, and she is sad, and they find happiness in each other.

Your love for the characters grows immaculately as their love for each other grows. And who doesn’t love a book where you see that the characters are running out of time since an important date is looming above them and there are only so many book pages left? Every second you read the novel, every word, phrase, line, sentence, however you may wish to put it, is thrilling and precious and anything but boring. The characters have a way of pulling you in, and making you care for them and their outcome. Everything about the novel is amazing.

Even in the back of the book, hidden just after the author’s notes, there are a list of numbers and websites to visit if you find yourself ever in the need of help. I, personally, absolutely adore books like these. They really help set the world on a kinder path. You are not alone, and there is someone out there who can help you.

This is the kind of book that makes you cry, and also feel warm and see the world in a different way. This is a story that makes you want to go out, and find an old park you used to play in and sit in there and revel in the nostalgia. It is the kind of story that makes you want to love your loved ones more than you already do. It is the kind of book that makes you say “The best one.” when someone asks what book you are reading.

My favourite character in this novel would have to be a tie between a few. Our two main characters, Aysel and Roman, Aysel’s half-sister, Georgia, and Roman’s mother, Mrs. Franklin. Aysel (pronounced Uh-zell, which, I admit, I had some trouble remembering.) is one of my favourites because she is very witty for someone who wants to be gone. Her words are sharp with a favoured sweetness, and she has her very-book-character hobbies. She hums classical music whenever she feels uncomfortable, or, whenever she feels like this.

Roman is another favourite because I am biased. I have a character in my own story (which has a very big “Work in Progress” sign written on it.) called Roman, so I was sure, no matter what this character would be like, that I would enjoy his appearance. He grew on me in a way I didn’t expect him to, though, too. He is nice. Actually nice. Not a lot of people are nice in the same way as he is, so it was lovely to read and experience. He is very focused on his goal, death, in a way that doesn’t allow any nonsense to be in play. He is a lover of basketball and sea life. Aysel’s half-sister, Georgia, is another favourite because she tries. She tries very hard. Aysel is older than her by a few years, and acts terribly guarded and snappy towards Georgia, who just wants to connect with her half-sister. It’s kind of sad to witness, but I see it as something that can many may relate to.
Roman’s mother, Mrs. Franklin is the epitome of a gigantic sweetheart. She’s very loving, thoughtful and caring towards both Roman and Aysel, and is a very supportive mother. She’s almost a predictable mother, who gardens and tries her best to cook certain foods for Aysel, (because Aysel is Turkish, she makes traditional Turkish dishes for her, only a little while after they met.) and does all the everyday things, but she is lovely. She is the definition of lovely.

I really enjoyed the book. I laughed and cried and searched for some new music while I read it. (With Aysel’s classical music love, it was hard to resist searching some of them up.) It was beautifully tragic and achingly bittersweet. I love every word of it.

Review All the Bright Places by Sian Thomas

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I recently read a book called All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It is the story of a girl who learns to live her days instead of counting them down from a boy who wants to die.

The story is nice. The kind of nice you feel when you look around a coffee shop and see the inspiration for why a writer may have chosen to write about that coffee shop looking just like this or sounding just like that. The kind of nice you feel when you see you are working towards something you aspire to be. Especially the kind of nice you feel when you read a book that makes you feel fuzzy and philosophical and generally in love with the scenery and the people and the atmosphere surrounding you – you feel as if this writing has helped you see what the writer may have. The grass looks greener, to put it simply. And you love it. Or, maybe, rather, the wording is nice. But with every book that the wording makes you feel lovely and warm and content, there is a twist, and a sad ending.

The plot sounds relatively simple. “A girl who learns to live from a boy who yearns to die.” Oh, you think, they’ll probably fall in love, too. They do. And it’s very bittersweet. The two of them are assigned a project, it sounds cliché, and it absolutely is, but it becomes a very lovable scenario. Our two main characters, Violet and Finch, are both huge lovers of words, stories, books, writing, brainstorming and general writing and words. The chapter titles are something I penned down as creative. They aren’t called actual chapter names, which is fine, but what I liked about it was it’s simplicity. Each chapter was either labelled “Violet” or “Finch” with a short sentence underneath it, such as: “135 days until graduation.” or “Day 6.” or “How to survive quicksand.”

The book itself is immaculately representative,which is fantastic. We find out Finch could potentially be – watch out, spoilers – bipolar. I’ve yet to read another book where one main character has bipolar disorder. Things like mental illnesses aren’t exactly mentioned in many books, or at least not that I’ve read. And quite frankly, that sucks. I believe representation, of many things, is important. Gay characters, bisexual characters, pansexual, asexual, transgender, transsexual, those with mental illnesses, those with disabilities, genderqueer people, nonbinary people, intersex people, aromantic people, and demisexual people should all be represented in as many ways as they can. Books, movies, TV shows, comics, anything – anything. I like to think that with every book that has representation is a step closer to something bigger, and this being the first book I’ve read with a character with a mental illness, I think that is one huge step.

Even in the back of the book, where the author’s notes sit, there are a list of numbers and helplines for places all over the world so the author really gets the point across. You are not alone. (I have read one other book with something like this similar in the author’s notes. A book called Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, where the main character is trans – female to male – and in the author’s notes there is a section on what the author calls the “transgender umbrella”. She talks of all different types of gender identities, and with every book like these I read, I realise we are a little more away from blue and pink, and a little closer to a full colour spectrum.)

The book itself, while yes, it was sad, and yes it was bittersweet and heartbreaking and emotional, it was also light and humourous. Our main character, Finch, is what most people on sight would label a ‘weirdo’, and since this particular novel happens to be set in a high school, well, you can see why it feels a lot harsher. However, Finch is comedic and light hearted and sarcastic. It seems to lift the novel’s atmosphere up as you read. The plot is full of exploration of sites in Violet and Finch’s state. The way the author describes the scenery and the way Violet and Finch interpret them makes you want to slap on your shoes at 3am and go for a walk so you can see the world the way these two might have, even if it’s only a sliver of their world you glimpse. It makes you want to sit up on your windowsill with your feet dangling over the edge so you can see the view from a fresh perspective which is a lot higher up than your usual one.

My favourite character would have to be Finch. He is witty and sarcastic yet sad and questioning and insightful. He is a bundle of adjectives that I took a shine to, and he is a bundle of adjectives that I relate to.

For notes here, I wrote: “Recommend it – why would you?” and honestly, why wouldn’t I? The book is sad and funny, bittersweet and heartwarming, and definitely one to make you cry. The characters are well-rounded and lovable, complicated and realistic, and possibly the best ones I have ever read about. If you, like me, are one for tears and laughter and that comfortable philosophical feeling tingling from your toes all the way up, I absolutely recommend this book to you.

Review Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Sian Thomas

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I have just finished a book called Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. It’s written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. It’s just one single book instead of a series, this time.

It’s about two teenagers who live in New York and it’s set during Christmas time. One of them, Lily, usually has a very family filled Christmas, however, this Christmas, her parents left for Fiji for their 25th Anniversary, so her brother suggests a project for Lily. He gets a red moleskin notebook and writes instructions for any passer-by who may want to take on a few dares. Dash picks up this notebook and follows along, eventually creating a back-and-fore conversation between himself and Lily by using the notebook, while he throws in other suggestions, instructions and dares just as Lily does, too.

As this continues, we see them both start to idealise the other in an almost fairytale way. While neither of them knows what the other looks like or acts like or is like, it’s a pretty predictable thing to see. It wasn’t bad, if anything I expected it. Countless reading of clichés get you like that, I have found out. I don’t particularly believe it to be a bad factor, if you enjoy clichés.

The book was written in a funny and sarcastic way, as if the two teenagers, Dash and Lily, were there in front of you, taking turns telling their story. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it was definitely mine. The witty way it was written was most likely designed for teenagers and young adults, and definitely works for getting them to have a giggle at the book, story and characters.

One character that stood out to me was Lily’s older brother, Langston. While most of Lily’s immediate family was away, Langston was not, and he invited his boyfriend, Benny, over to stay a few nights before both of them accidentally became ill and stayed at separate houses. The way that Langston talks is very older-brotherly yet sarcastic, which added a few extra laughs into the book – even though the way the book was written was already done hilariously. I personally believe that the factor that Langston is openly gay is a great thing. I do believe we need more representation of gay people ( to go further, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, transgender or transsexual people, also) in, well, anything, really. Novels, tv shows, movies, anything. I feel the creation of Langston was a step closer to something greater writers and readers alike will hope to see more of.

The book was highly enjoyable. Funny, loveable and enticing as any other. If anything, I’d recommend it to anyone with a sense of humour similar to that of a teenager like myself or young adult who can have a laugh, or someone who needed a bit of a giggle as they curled up to read with a cup of tea.