Book Review

Three Things I Know Are True by Betty Culley

Three Things I Know Are True by Betty CulleyThree Things I Know Are True by Betty Culley
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 7th January 2020
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

This moving debut novel in verse about a teenage girl dealing with the aftermath of an accident that nearly takes her brother’s life is a stunning exploration of grief and the power of forgiveness.

The reminder is always there—a dent on the right side of Jonah’s forehead. The spot you’d press when you felt a headache coming on. The bullet tore away bone, the way dynamite blasts rock—leaving a soft crater.

Life changes forever for Liv when her older brother, Jonah, accidentally shoots himself with his best friend Clay’s father’s gun. Now Jonah needs round-the-clock care just to stay alive, and Liv seems to be the only person who can see that her brother is still there inside his broken body.

With Liv’s mom suing Clay’s family, there are divisions in the community that Liv knows she’s not supposed to cross. But Clay is her friend, too, and she refuses to turn away from him—just like she refuses to give up on Jonah.

In 2020 I’m going to be bringing back my Debut Showcase feature in which I showcase debut books and authors. Throughout the year there will be interviews, giveaways, reviews, and other fun things for you to take part in. Check out previous posts in this feature here, and take a look at my introduction post and my list for January’s debut books!

Three Things I Know Are True has the honour of being my first review of 2020, and my first featured debut book! I have to admit that I don’t usually care for novels that are written in verse. Something about it just stops me from connecting to the book like I would with normal prose.

This was still the case for Three Things I Know Are True. I really, really enjoyed it, but because I struggled with the format in which it is written, I couldn’t truly connect with it. That said, the book gave me a lot to think about and it has stuck with me for over a month after finishing it.

Three Things I Know Are True is a truly emotional story about a girl whose brother has been paralysed after playing around with a gum. It gave me so much to think about in terms of the topic at hand – gum control in the US. I don’t think the author advocated for either side of the debate overly strongly, but she did lay out the situation and the reasoning behind people’s opinions.

I really, really enjoyed this book, and I think if it had been written in normal prose, it would have hit me a lot harder. As it stands, I was still hit quite hard by the situation that the characters were in, but there was definitely some disconnect there.

I would highly, highly recommend reading Three Things I Know Are True, so please don’t be put off by my star rating. If you enjoy novels told in verse then this is a book that you should definitely read. The characters manage to draw so much emotion and the relationships between the characters was a joy to read about.

Review: What She Found in the Woods by Josephine Angelini

Review: What She Found in the Woods by Josephine AngeliniWhat She Found in the Woods by Josephine Angelini
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 25th July 2019
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Running from a scandal at her New York private school, Magdalena heads to her family home to recover under the radar.

Over-medicated and under-confident, she's fearful she'll never escape her past.

Until she meets Bo out hiking. Wild, gorgeous and free, he makes her believe she might finally be able to move on.

But when a mutilated body is discovered in the woods, Magdalena realises she can't trust anyone.

Not even herself.

I mean, What She Found in the Woods was a good book. It was decent. I enjoyed it a lot, and it kept me engaged. But I don’t think this is going to be an all time favourite, and to be honest the most memorable parts weren’t the thriller aspects at all.

I really enjoyed what Josephine Angelini did with this book. The main character, Lena, was enjoyable to read about because there were so many sides to her personality. She has a mysterious past, and she has apparently done something really wrong, and it’s a slow journey to learn what that is. I really liked the slow burn and revelations about her past experiences.

The love interest, Bo, is so sweet and cute, and while I didn’t SHIP ship it (I almost never do any more), I thought his relationship with Lena was adorable… for the most part. I had a few issues with it, that I won’t go into because of spoilers, but I will say there was so much insta-love. So much.

I’m also questioning the fact that Bo’s family were basically less aggressive anti-vaxxers but hey, let’s not be a downer.

Overall, this was a decent book, but it’s not one I’ll immediately go to to recommend to thriller readers.

Review: Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins! The tour is hosted by the lovely ladies over at The Fantastic Flying Book Club, and a lot of other bloggers are taking part so you should check out the tour schedule and read their posts!

I received a copy of Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline FirkinsHearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 17th December 2019
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.

But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First there's Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love. He’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there's Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player. He’s totally off limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone's heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn't hers.

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things is a retelling of Mansfield Park, but if you haven’t read the original novel, don’t let that put you off. I haven’t read it either! I still understood a lot of the references, and I don’t think that missing out on the original novel impacted my feelings towards this book at all.

I knew that Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things was going to be a light and fluffy read as soon as I heard about it. It’s a YA contemporary about a girl who’s in a somewhat complicated love triangle, and who is struggling to fit in with her posh family and in her posh school. I love me some rich people drama, so I signed right up for this.

I have to admit that the main character, Edie, got on my nerves a lot. She’s what stopped me from truly loving this book, with her superior attitude and constant classic book quotes. I really couldn’t connect with her at all, and it was such a shame.

Edie spends a lot of time looking down on her cousins and their friends for wanting to go to parties and dress nice, which gave off SO MANY “Better Than Other Girls” vibes. In addition to that, she was always coming out with random quotes from classic novels, which seemed to me as though she was showing off her superior intellect and looking down on people who don’t read. This really got to me, and I was not here for that.

I did, however, get really invested in the love triangle. I’m going to have to be vague here, because my ship didn’t end up together, but in my opinion Edie chose the wrong guy. A guy who she barely knew or spoke to. Instead of the guy who was quickly becoming her best friend. That was about as vague as I could be, so I’ll leave it at that. I WAS DISAPPOINTED.

Aside from all of that, I loved the Rich People Drama and the parties and all of the normal drama that was happening. This was a fun and fluffy book that I think contemporary readers will really enjoy.

Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé

Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda BérubéHere There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé
Genre: Magical Realism
Release Date: 6th August 2019
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: one-star

The Blair Witch Project meets Imaginary Girls in this story of codependent sisterhood, the struggle to claim one’s own space, and the power of secrets

Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. Moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over.

In their isolated new neighborhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.

Then Deirdre disappears.

And when something awful comes scratching at Skye's window in the middle of the night, claiming she's the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.

I am so incredibly disappointed by Here There Are Monsters. I was expecting an atmospheric, creepy story about sisterhood, but the book fell short.

I think my main issue was the inability to connect to the writing style. It just wasn’t for me. I’m not sure what exactly it was that didn’t click with me, but I think that perhaps the writing was too basic. It was very much “This character did this and then they did this, and then they yelled this at another character”. There wasn’t much to connect me with the characters because there was little emotion.

Additionally, the characters were freakin’ annoying. I wanted a nice story about two sisters, one trying to find the other, but really Skye was just complaining about not wanting to watch Dierdre all the time, and Dierdre was complaining about Skye no longer being interested in her fantasy world. It was dull, annoying, and there was no sisterly love there, which is something that I desperately wanted by the end.

I don’t have much more to say about Here There Are Monsters. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you want to be bored to tears from watching people bicker for 300 pages.

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London ShahThe Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah
Series:
Genre: Post Apocalyptic
Release Date: 29th October 2019
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean's surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father's been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he's innocent, and all she's interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she's picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she'll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–and her father might be lost forever.

I am soooo disappointed with The Light at the Bottom of the World! I adore apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic fiction, and with the current Climate Crisis, this book should have been exciting and topical and basically just something I would love. Unfortunately, my only take away from this book is that it is SUCH a boring book.

The setting of underwater London had so much potential, and I was very excited to dive in (lol) to this world and see how the country had changed. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough description, and the characters just flitted from one place to another without really talking about it. I didn’t get a feel for the setting at all, and to be honest I got a bit confused about exactly where everyone was.

The characters also had ideas that came out of nowhere, with no build up or suspense, and it was as though I, as the reader, was supposed to be following along the whole time. Except I was unable to follow along because the writing was so chaotic and disjointed.

In addition to all of that, nothing really happened, and for some reason the story has been dragged into a duology. I feel like this could have been a strong standalone if the writing had been tightened up, but The Light at the Bottom of the World ended up being a whole lot of missed potential.