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We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss

We’ll Fly Away by Bryan BlissWe'll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 8th May 2018
Publisher: Greenwillow
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Uniquely told through letters from death row and third-person narrative, Bryan Bliss’s hard-hitting third novel expertly unravels the string of events that landed a teenager in jail. Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses the situation at school when wise-cracking Toby inevitably gets into fights. Someday, Luke and Toby will leave this small town, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, and never look back.

But during their senior year, they begin to drift apart. Luke is dealing with his unreliable mother and her new boyfriend. And Toby unwittingly begins to get drawn into his father’s world, and falls for an older woman. All their long-held dreams seem to be unraveling. Tense and emotional, this heartbreaking novel explores family, abuse, sex, love, friendship, and the lengths a person will go to protect the people they love. For fans of NPR’s Serial podcast, Jason Reynolds, and Matt de la Peña.

We’ll Fly Away was absolutely devastating, but in the best way. I almost didn’t want to finish it because I knew from the beginning that the ending was going to be brutal, but at the same time I couldn’t put it down. It’s a wonderfully written book about friendship and family, and I would highly recommend it.

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Now You See Her by Lisa Leighton & Laura Stropki

Now You See Her by Lisa Leighton & Laura StropkiNow You See Her by Laura Stropki, Lisa Leighton
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 26th June 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-half-stars

AMELIA has always felt like a happy life is just out of reach. Having moved every few years with her mom and sister, she’s always had a hard time making and keeping friends; there’s never enough time, and never enough money to stay in one place. And now, in her senior year, right before tennis season, Mom wants to move again.

SOPHIE has a perfectly curated, Instagram-ready life, from her first singles wins to her cute, long-term boyfriend to the beautiful, landscaped home where she lives with her parents. Though they’re tennis teammates, the two girls almost never speak.

But then one night changes everything. When Amelia’s car breaks down on the side of the road in a rainstorm, a man she thinks is a Good Samaritan pulls over to help her. When he tries to abduct her instead, she escapes into oncoming traffic.

In one inexplicable moment, Amelia and Sophie switch bodies. Amelia wakes up in Sophie’s body. Amelia’s body is in a coma. Now Amelia needs to find a way to switch back into her own life—but before that, she must retrace her steps to unravel the mystery of the accident, her attempted abduction, and how it’s all tied to her mother’s secret past.

I always find it difficult to review books that I would class as “just… okay”. There is very little to say about them and I don’t feel as though I can give an in-depth review because I have nothing of substance to say. These are the kinds of books where the characters are alright, the plot is okay, and the writing is nothing standout. There’s nothing bad about them, but there’s nothing particularly good either.

Now You See Her is one of those books. I felt like I had read the entire thing before (many, many times) and it doesn’t bring anything new to the YA world. It felt more like an episode of a TV show than a book, and nothing about it was particularly captivating.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh MafiA Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 16th October 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

This. Book. Was. Incredible. I am super impressed by A Very Large Expanse of Sea. I was very hesitant to read it at first because I hated Shatter Me and Adam and Warner were both awful, but I thought I would give it a go to see if Mafi’s writing has improved. And it really has!

This story was absolutely wonderful. The book follows Shirin as she deals with life and arsehole classmates and neighbours. I did wonder if Shirin was a bit of a self insert by the author, but to be honest I don’t really care if she is. Shirin was a lovely character to read. She’s just so good, and I can’t even explain why. I just really enjoyed reading about her and her life and her struggles. I liked how fierce she is.

Also, I have to mention the romance. The romance! I loved it! I can’t remember the last time I said this about a book but OH MY GOD it was so great. I ship it. Ocean, the love interest, was lovely.

One thing that I was wondering was why it was set one year after 9/11. I’m not sure how much it really added to the plot, since I’m sure Muslim girls go through all of this stuff nowadays in 2018. If anyone is able to enlighten me, please do! This isn’t a complaint, I’m just really not sure what the point was.

Sana loved it as well, and I think we should all trust her opinion.

I really hope Mafi writes more contemporary because I loved this and I will definitely read more from her. Unless it’s YA paranormal/dystopia because I’m not sure I can trust that.

What It It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

What It It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam SilveraWhat If It's Us by Adam Silvera, Becky Albertalli
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 9th October 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What If It’s Us was my first read by both Albertalli and Silvera. I know, I know, I’m a disappointment of a book blogger. I just never thought to pick up their books before. I thought this would be a good introduction to their work, so I requested it when I saw it was up on Edelweiss. While I wasn’t disappointed by the book, I don’t think it lived up to the hype that I had built up in my head.

This book is a really cute contemporary. That’s the only way I can describe it. It’s fluffy, it’s super sweet, the main characters (one of them, anyway) was adorable, and it was all just really nice. I was expecting something a bit more mind-blowing, considering how much everyone seems to love these authors. I’d be interested to see what fans of the authors’ previous books think of this one and how What If It’s Us matches up.

I don’t know how the authors went about writing this book, but I liked Arthur a lot more than I liked Ben. Arthur isn’t even the type of character I would gravitate towards or connect with, but I thought he was just lovely. Ben, on the other hand, was irritating as hell and I couldn’t get over the stuff with his ex-boyfriend. Just. Nope.

I’ve read that some people didn’t like the ending of this one but I ended up really loving it. Without spoiling things, I loved the way that everything wrapped up, I loved the epilogue, and I just thought it was done really well. I’m not a massive fan of everything wrapping neatly with a cute little bow, so this ending sat incredibly well with me.

To be honest, I was expecting a lot more from both of these authors, but I will still be reading their other books because I really enjoyed this one.

All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor

All of This is True by Lygia Day PenaflorAll of This is True by Lydia Day Penflor
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 31st May 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .

Well, this was a massive letdown. Don’t you hate it when one of the most anticipated releases of the year turns out to be a poorly written snorefest? Especially when it’s marketed as a thrilling page-turner?

Firstly, I loved the idea of it being told in mixed media format. I think Illuminae kicked off an interesting trend here, and I always look forward to books that are told in a different format. That said, it really didn’t work with this story. I’m not really sure what the point was. It didn’t add to the story at all, and it feels like the author just wanted to try this format out, and perhaps it was easier to write than a normal novel.

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