The Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith-Barton

⇒Featuring love, family and anxiety

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The Million Pieces of Neena Gill is a heart wrenching and poignant story that brings together anxiety, romance, cultural struggles and loss in the modern day.

I’ve never read a book with a main character that struggles with psychosis, and so this book is a much-needed addition to mental health YA, but it’s so much more than that. What can I say, Emma Smith Barton’s debut novel absolutely blew me away. I read the whole thing in two days, and my brain was wracked full of concern, confusion and love for this stunningly painful book.

The book is told in first person from Neena’s point of view, and so we are inside her head as she has a psychotic episode. This is an absolutely harrowing experience that is impossible to explain. We quickly release that Neena is an unreliable narrator – forgetting things and making up new memories in their place, hallucinating and believing the world is out to get her – but there is nothing we can do. The writer does this perfectly, portraying confusion and surety in the same sentence. The writing style was breathtaking and beautiful.

How can I hold myself together, when everything around me is falling apart?

Neena is an engaging and relatable protagonist who I rooted for throughout all her struggles.

The Million Pieces of Neena Gill addresses many important issues, one being the way cultural pressure can impact mental health. Neena is British-Pakistani and lives in a modern Western society with her traditional and strict parents. These issues are all depicted in a sensitive and yet eye-opening way.

The plot was well paced and perfectly structured. The storyline had me gasping and crying, and I could barely put the book down. This story was raw and real and I am so happy I read it.

This book was a roller coaster of emotions that I really would recommend to all lovers of deeper contemporary YA. It’s beautiful, poignant and important, and I really hope that Neena’s is a voice that is heard.

You can check out the book on Goodreads or go ahead and buy it on Amazon! I really hope you guys will pick this one up.

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The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

⇒Featuring princesses, diverse rep and magic crows

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I had high hopes going into The Storm Crow, and I wasn’t disappointed! Not only do we have magical crows (what an original idea!!), this book features #ownvoices depression rep and a diverse cast featuring prominent LGBTQ+ and of colour characters! Kalyn Josephson’s debut is well written and takes place in an immersive fantasy world!

The idea of this book was one of my favourite aspects! The elemental crows are such an original, unique idea! In Young Adult, magic systems can get repetitive, and this one was utterly new and beautiful!

In The Storm Crow, we see a diverse cast of wonderful characters! Each was unique, with their own awesome personalities and (almost) all were easy loveable and complex.

Our main character, Thia, suffers from depression, and this representation was incredibly well done. I’ve never suffered from depression myself but I have several close family members and friends who have, so I could really see the truth in Thia’s story and her fight with depression.

“It’s difficult to walk against the wind. It takes strength.”

I also adored Thia’s friendship with Kiva! It was so genuine, and the banter was on point. I’m not going to lie, Kiva was my favourite character! She’s the overprotective, stubborn, queer mom friend, and if that isn’t me, what even is? She’s badass as well, and I stan her!

The world was quite the average fantasy setting, but it was well developed with the relationship between the countries.

One thing I really liked about this world was that there was no sexist prejudice, which is so refreshing for the fantasy genre!

The storyline was easy to follow and enticing! We are given a quick start that draws us in no time, which was so enjoyable! I was immediately curious about what would follow the harrowing prologue! After the first few chapters, the plot does get a little slow, but it was still very intriguing! I never got bored whilst reading.

Quite a few popular tropes were used, such as the clash of kingdoms and the brave princess, but they were well incorporated and didn’t come off too cliché.

I would definitely recommend The Storm Crow to lovers of YA fantasy far and wide! If you’ve been looking for a novel with unique magic and mental health rep, that’s still enticing and badass, this is the book for you!

You can check out The Storm Crow on Goodreads or go ahead and buy it from Amazon! Hurry, because the first print run has an awesome embossing on the cover!

Gumiho – Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

⇒Featuring myths, romance and drama

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I don’t know where to start with this enchanting, beautiful book. Gumiho, Wicked Fox completely swept me off my feet.

Gumiho is a YA urban fantasy that takes place in Seoul, South Korea! Korea is a background we see in so few YA books, and it gave a unique aspect to this book. The Korea of Gumiho was realistic and crackling with energy; it didn’t take me long to find myself utterly lost in the streets of Seoul with Jihoon and Miyoung.

As the title suggests, this book explores the myth of the Gumiho: The Nine-Tailed Fox. I always adore it when myths and legends are incorporated into books, and this one was no exception! As well as our Gumiho, we see Shamans, Goblins (both good and bad) and all sorts of magic from Korean mythology. On top of this, Gumiho brings in aspects and tropes of Koreas much loved K-Dramas, to create a thrilling and mystical experience of a book!

The characters in this book were absolutely awesome. Not only were Jihoon and Miyoung amazing, I adored all the secondary characters, especially Somin and Jihoon’s Halmeoni. Their vibrant personalities and realistic relationships really lit this story up. The dialogue between all the characters was witty and genuine, something I enjoyed greatly.

Jihoon and Miyoung were the perfect balance for each other. Jihoon was friendly and loyal, Miyoung was fierce and withdrawn. But they both grew throughout the course of the book in amazing character arcs. They both work past their past traumas and harsh backgrounds and find the light amid the chaos of their lives.

The plot was well paced and enticing. The first third of the book introduced the characters perfectly and the rest of the book went on to be full of action, adventure and dramatics. Gumiho was an absolute page-turner. I could barely put it down.

Kat Cho’s writing was lyrical and cutesy, and it’s remarkable that it’s her debut book! Gumiho drew me in and kept me hooked. It was classy and stunning and never got boring.

Kat Cho’s debut was an absolute revelation that I’m so happy to have had the pleasure of reading. If you love immersive fantasies, beautiful romances and ancient legends, this is the book for you. I really can’t recommend it enough.

This stunning book is out from G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR on 2nd July 2019! This is the International edition (ISBN 9781984814715) and you can check it out on Goodreads or go ahead and buy it from Amazon!

Call it What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

⇒Featuring loveable characters, morals and romance

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Call it What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer was a heart wrenching and beautiful contemporary that I absolutely adored.
Both Rob and Maegan were loveable, relatable characters whose stories I loved following. Brigid Kemmerer built beautiful arcs for both of their personalities that had me worrying and hoping for them.
Maegan and Rob both question themselves and others in typical teenage fashion, but not to the point that I came near disliking them. Their voices were raw and honest; Brigid really is a master of teenage angst. But they also had real problems that made the story more tense and the stakes higher.
The romance between these two was perfectly developed. Despite it being clear they would end up together, their story was slow burn: enemies to friends to dating. They had so many cute moments as well as the intense, emotional ones.
I love Brigid’s ability to create morally gray yet loveable characters who face moral choices that help that become better people.

The story was realistic yet dramatic and overall captivating. I loved the interaction and character progression with Maegan and Rob but I also found myself really caught up in the troubles and storyline of the secondary characters, especially Samantha and Owen, who felt just as real as the main characters. The pacing of the story was perfectly done: I was constantly kept on edge by what all the characters would do next, and how they would deal with the difficult situations presented to them.
Brigid’s writing is amazing. She writes elegantly and profoundly, perfectly portraying her beautiful characters.
Call it What You Want is a heart wrenching, romantic story about morality and what it means to judge people that I would recommend to anyone who likes contemporary novels, romance or YA in general. This book will warm your heart and break it all at once.

Call It What You Want comes out TODAY from Bloomsbury! Go check it out on Goodreads or go ahead and buy it from Amazon!

Mid Year Freak Out Book Tag

I found this tag over at Paper Fury, but I believe it was originally created by Ely.

Anyways, I thought this tag looked really fun, so here goes!

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⇒BEST SEQUEL OF THE YEAR SO FAR

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This is SO HARD because I’ve read a lot of superbly awesome sequels this year. But some of my favourites have been:

 

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO

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Like, all of them? Ooops… I have a lot of new releases on my TBR but I am very much broke so… Here are the main ones I really wanna read:

 

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR AUTUMN / WINTER

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There’s A LOT! New releases are fun, except the ones you’ve been waiting over a year for and know will destroy your soul. I’m looking at you, Children of Virtue and Vengeance.

 

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR SO FAR

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I don’t like being negative about books and I don’t think I’ve read any books below a 3 star yet this year, but I was really disappointed by Unravel Me. I have heard AMAZING things about this book and I just didn’t particularly enjoy it. I was hoping it would make me like Shatter Me more but it didn’t.

BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE YEAR SO FAR

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Most of the books I read I went into with pretty high expectations, so this is hard. I’m going to go with Meat Market by Juno Dawson. I’d heard that Juno Dawson was an amazing writer so I was expecting it to be well written, but I didn’t realise just how much it would impact me and how much I would ADORE it. I was expecting a four-star read and I got a solid infinity.

NEW FAVOURITE AUTHOR

 

I have discovered WAY too many new favourite authors this year to list them all. My reading year has been freaking amazing and some of the authors I’m now utterly obsessed with are:

Natasha Ngan (Girls of Paper and Fire)

Susan Dennard (Truthwitch)

Roshani Chokshi (The Gilded Wolves)

Renée Adhieh (The Wrath and The Dawn

Go read them. Now.

YOUR NEWEST FAVOURITE CHARACTER

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This one is a little easier because emphasis on newEST as in most recent, not my baby Enriqué from back in January. So I recently read the beautiful magic that is Sorcery of Thorns my Margaret Rogerson and did you hear that Nathaniel Thorn is my new book bae? well, he is. My heart is full of a sarcastic queer sorcerer and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

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ONE book? As in a SINGULAR book that made me cry?! They all did, no lie. Let’s do a quick round-up of the ones that had me SOBBING:

Disclaimer: Red Scrolls was happy tears because MALEC

A BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

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We have a problem here, because the main books that made me cry also made me extremely happy. I’ll try to pick out some others, though.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean– What a beautiful conclusion to the trilogy! Heart is full.

The Raven Boys + The Dream Thieves – My lil’ dysfunctional squad/family makes me sooo happy. laughs and smiles accompany longing to punch them in the face. (not noah, i shall never hurt him, but if you try to, i will hurt you)

We Hunt the Flame – What can i say? Squads make me happy, and this zumra certainly made my heart soar. That ending though. Hafsah is a MONSTER.

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK SO FAR

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NO REPEATS? POOP TO THAT. Muse of Nightmares is the most beautiful book in the history of this universe and Laini Taylor is a master of words. Find me a more lyrical, whimsical book. Go on, try! (but seriously I’m still suffering from a hangover from this one)

What about you guys? What books have you loved? Which have turned your heart into a tiny piece of ripped up pillow? How many books have you read so far this year? And what are your most anticipated? Thanks for reading, Midnightlings!

 

 

 

 

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

⇒Featuring murder, robot princesses and evil Disney

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Book: The Kingdom

Author: Jess Rothenberg

Genre: YA Dystopian Crime Thriller

Rating: 5 Stars

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg is a revelation. It’s uniqueness and ingenuity absolutely blew me away. I cannot recommend this clever, chilling and stunning novel enough.

The Kingdom is part a YA feminist romance, part a dazzling dystopian and part an electrifying crime thriller. I don’t know where to start with praising this book. Not only is it 100% originality, it’s well-written, incredibly plotted and riveting.

Our setting is The Kingdom, a futuristic fantasy theme park that can only be described as Dark Disneyworld. The Kingdom is “ruled” by seven fantasists, beautiful android princesses who entertain and please guests. The mystique and beauty of The Kingdom was glimmering with a hidden darker side that the book explores, and I loved it.

I really liked the characters depicted in this novel. Ana was curious and caring, logical and loving. There was a stark contrast between the Ana we see at the beginning of her story and the Ana we see at the court trial and in interrogation. I liked that we got to follow her story and see how her own and others’ actions affected her and her exploration of her own humanity. We only got to meet a couple of Ana’s fantasist sisters in detail; Nia and Eve. I really liked how different in personality these three were despite having the same programming.

The Kingdom explored a lot of important topics; perhaps most significantly that of objectification and consent. Ana and her sister’s are very beautiful and taught to always say yes and never no, which workers and Investors at the park seek to take advantage of, as does the man who runs The Kingdom, who uses the fantasists as a kind of bribe to get Investors to support the theme park, a disgusting concept. There isn’t any scenes with direct sexual assault but it is deeply implied. I thought the way the author used this setting to raise such important topics was powerful and necessary.

“In the end, it does not matter what a story is about. It only matters who gets to tell it.”

This story was told through flashbacks, court testimonies, emails, interrogation records and more which intricately wove together the plot. We see Ana’s perspective of the past at the same time as we see her and others interviewed at court about what seems to be a twisted version of events. This narrative thrilled and excited me, and made The Kingdom impossible to put down. This book was full of suspense and mystery as well as romance and the exploration of important topics such as consent.

As I read, I thought I knew where the story was going, but I was wrong. Jess Rothenberg surprised me at every turn with the development of characters, plot and the revealing of the dark mysteries hiding between the seemingly perfect facade of The Kingdom.

The Kingdom was a powerful and poignant story that I urge you to read. It is unique and beautiful, witty and surprising. Whether you’re a fan of crime, YA, dystopian or even fantasy novels, this book will perfectly satisfy your craving for a new kind of story and a fresh exploration of what it is to be human. Go read it, y’all.

The Kingdom is out from Pan Macmillan on the 11th of July! You can see the synopsis on Goodreads or go ahead and buy it from Amazon!

Tulip Taylor by Anna Mainwaring

⇒Featuring beauty, feminism and romance

Book: Tulip Taylor

Author: Anna Mainwaring

Publisher: Firefly Press

Genre: YA contemporary

Release Date: 20th June 2019

Feminist and fun, Anna Mainwaring’s Tulip Taylor surprised me pleasantly with how much I enjoyed it! It was humorously written, easy to read and featuring an awesome cast of characters.
Tulip Taylor loves three things above all others; Her family, makeup and the internet. And now she’s leaving all three behind as she embarks on the adventure of her lifetime- a week in the wilds of Scotland – on a reality TV show. Will this be Tulip’s downfall or could it just be the thing she needs to break out of her shell and show the world who she really is?

I loved Tulip and her fierce, honest personality. While she did annoy me a little at times, I loved how realistic and relatable she was. To me she felt very human; she was flawed, but that’s what made her seem so real. The other characters were priceless of course, Harvey and Tulip’s siblings especially. I really liked how quirky Tulip’s family was and the relationship she had with her younger brother and sister was so cute! As for Harvey and Tulip, well I won’t give spoilers but they’re pretty darn cute.

The writing was quirky and easy to read. I sped through the book easily and Tulip’s vibrant personality combined with her unconventional views on the world made for an amusing and witty narration.

I found the plot interesting and fun and enjoyed following Tulip from her teddy filled bedroom to the rainy wilds of Scotland. The idea of a book about a reality TV show really interested me, and it was cool to see almost a “behind the scenes” from Tulip’s point of view as she braved the challenged the TV show presented.

One downside of this book for me was that I’m not a big wearer of makeup, so I couldn’t relate to that part of Tulip at all, but that didn’t stop me from relating to her love of the internet and her fiery uniqueness.

I’d definitely recommend this book to lovers of contemporary who are looking for a heartwarming, witty read! Tulip Taylor was delightfully fierce and fun, and I’m so glad I read it.

You can check out Tulip Taylor on Goodreads or go ahead and buy it on Amazon! It’s out in a mere two days from Firefly Press, so grab it today to get it on release day!

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young Review

⇒Featuring Vikings, warrior heroines and epic battles

 

Book: Sky in the Deep

Author: Adrienne Young

Publisher: Titan Books

Genre: YA epic fantasy

Rating:    

This Viking-inspired fantasy blew me off my feet! Our heroine, Eelyn, is a warrior of the Aska clan and has spent the last five years mourning her brother’s death. The Aska clan have a blood feud with the Riki Clan, and every five years they fight a battle that kills hundreds for no reason other than blind hatred, and Eelyn’s brother was one of the casualties of the last one. But now, the battle season has come again and Eelyn is determined to avenge him – until she sees him face to face on the battlefield, alive and breathing.

I immediately loved Eelyn. She’s fiercely caring and pretty kickass. She was very well developed and I loved seeing her character arc as she released that perhaps honour is not more important than love.

I really liked the relationships between the characters. Eelyn and Myra’s friendship was so heartwarming, and the tense relationship between Eelyn and her brother Iri was very genuine and I loved seeing it evolve. As for Eelyn and Fiske, if you love the enemies-to-lovers trope you’ll love these two. It’s clear from an early point that they’re going to get together but I still shipped them. I liked that their romance didn’t take away from the main story but perfectly fits into it.

“We find things, just as we lose things. If you’ve lost your honor, you’ll find it again.”

Adrienne Young is a master at world-building. The Viking world of Sky in The Deep was so vivid to me I could see it in my head as I read. The world was very Nordic and I loved it all -from the camp settlements to the forests, it was a perfect backdrop for the book.

The plot was well paced, although there was a moment or two where I got a bit confused as to what was going on. The storyline was full of epic battles which were narrated really well, and there were just enough twists to keep me in my feet. I really liked the story arc of the book and was satisfied with how it played out. Adrienne’s writing was well done and easy to follow. I did get a bit bored in the middle of the book, but I liked it all the same.

The main downside of this book for me was that I couldn’t quite connect to the characters. I liked them but I felt there was quite a lot of action and not enough scenes in which I could really fall in love with Eelyn and crew. I also felt like the plot was a bit predictable at times.

Overall, this was a well-told Viking fantasy with an awesome backdrop that I would recommend to fans of classic YA fantasy and kickass heroines. I can’t wait to meet Adrienne Young at YALC 2019!

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson Review

⇒Featuring sword-wielding librarians, dark magic and books that will bite off your fingers

 

Book: Sorcery of Thorns

Author: Margaret Rogerson

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Release Date: June 13th 2019

Genre: YA epic fantasy

Rating:     

There are no words to describe the love (and obsession) I feel towards this awesome book. Sorcery of Thorns is a beautifully woven, bewitching masterpiece. It’s classic fantasy at it’s best, a whimsical, witty and wonderful book.

I loved the idea of books that bite, speak and think. This aspect of the story was always fun and entertaining as the books were like characters themselves! It really added something special to the book. Our heroine, Elisabeth, grew up as an orphan in one of the Great Libraries, and books are like friends to her.

For me, Elisabeth was the perfect person to lead this adventure. She’s fierce and kind, bookish and brave. She’s so relatable and awesome. She charges right into adventure and drags us with her. I loved reading her story and would love to befriend her in real life, though I’d always be worrying about her safety, just like I was as I read.

As for the other characters, they were awesome. Nathaniel was swoon-worthy and compassionate, charming and casually queer, always rolling his eyes at Elisabeth’s escapades, labelling her an “absolute menace. I agree. Silas was sarcastic and maybe a little evil, and yet he was always the one keeping Elisabeth and Nathaniel in check (and making sure they were dressed right). I would protect these two with my life.

She wasn’t a wielder of chains; she was a breaker of them. She was the library’s will made flesh.”

The romance between Nathaniel and Elisabeth was a very slow burn but absolutely beautiful. The attraction felt so genuine and I loved seeing them become friends and start to trust each other as they battled evil. My heart is so full with these two.

The plot was full of twists and turns, all in the right places. It was perfectly paced and full of surprises and suspense but still left time for character development and some top-notch banter, which made a perfect balance to the sword fights and battles of sorcery.

I really loved the magic of Sorcery of Thorns. Instead of being born with it like in many Young Adult books, anyone can have it, they only need to bind a demon to them and use it to access magic. But to bind a demon, there is a price, and the more powerful the demon the more it will cost the sorcerer. I loved this unique approach to magic! It was the change I needed and anticipated in YA.

Margaret Rogerson’s writing is lyrical and fantastic, flirtatious and beautiful. I was swept right off my feet and found myself quickly and totally engrossed in Sorcery of Thorns, unable to snatch my eyes from the page.

Also, If you haven’t seen the cover, it is absolutely an important stunning addition to your shelf, designed by Charlie Bowater!

I can guarantee you that if you pick up this enchanting, whimsical gem, it’s originality and uniqueness will sweep you away and Sorcery of Thorns will quickly become one of your favourite books. Any bibliophile will find a little sliver of themselves inside this and book and lovers of epic fantasy will adore the vivid world and dark magic. I really can’t recommend it enough.

Sorcery of Thorns is out TODAY! Go check it out on Amazon (tip: the hardback is currently on sale!) or see the full synopsis on Goodreads!

 

Young Power By Andrea Blythe Liebman

Featuring romance, gods and magic

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Twilight meets Percy Jackon in Andrea Blythe Liebman’s debut YA novel, Young Power. This paranormal romance was witty and well written and I really enjoyed it as a light read. In this book, we see a remaining of Greek mythology done really well, with a school for gods and a feud between Pure Gods and Dark Gods at its centre.

Our main character, Liv, is very new to this world and seeing it through her eyes we feel the same confusion she does, but also the same awe. I think Liv was a really good main character. She was very selfless and brave if a little predictable.

I really liked the secondary characters, especially Peyton and Piper. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a big fan of Hayden. Please don’t murder me, Hayden stans! He just wasn’t my type. He’s certainly cute with Liv but I felt like he was a slightly clichéd love interest.

I really loved the Greek mythology in this book. It made the world really interesting and unique. The idea of Young Power was really great, but because it really centred around romance, I didn’t it enjoy it as much as I wanted to. If you like romance, I’m sure you’ll love it, but I’m not a big fan of the genre so that took a bit away from the book for me.

“It was a silly notion now. But a part of her remained to believe that she could find her way through the darkness as long as she took the time to observe the stars.”

There was some really good description in the book, I really got a sense of the world and characters this way, especially their outfits, which were always described in detail.

Andrea did pretty well with dropping little hints earlier in the book that linked back later, which I really liked. The dialogue felt very natural and I liked the friendships between Liv and the other characters.

One downside of this book for me is that it felt a little cliché. Clichés can be hard to steer clear of and Young Power didn’t. It was still enjoyable, but for me, that and the romance made it not quite extraordinary.

Still, I would recommend this book to lovers of fantasy romance and mythology! It was a fun read that I enjoyed and I’ll definitely read the sequel, Elemental Power. You can find Young Power on Amazon here.