Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda


Simon has always had an inkling that he was gay. His sexual awakening to Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter should have been proof enough and his disinterest in two girlfriends might also have been a clue. But it isn’t until Simon starts anonymously emailing another guy in the school that he really comes to the realisation that he likes other boys *cue rainbow show and a massive pulsating pink heart*. When someone accidentally comes upon Simon’s emails his private life and sexual identity is at a risk of being exposed.  Even worse, Simon doesn’t want to out his secret admirer.

The author is a cis het white female so I was very sceptical going into this book… I was ready for misrepresentation, a lot of clichés and stereotyping. But overall it was cute and surprisingly unproblematic! The representation of different ethnicities and topics were handled so well without creating an overly idyllic utopia. Albertalli has beautifully mastered the art of writing stories that won’t offend as well as analyse problematic aspects of our community. For example, whilst maintaining an lgbtqai+-positive homophobia was still introduced as an existing concept.

So, you guys know I fucking abhor books in first person but this was so well done!! And I think it was important to write this book in first person because it put everyone’s opinion of Simon as a side note. We are reading a story from a gay person’s pov and although he does feel the pressure of homophobia the story was more focused on Simon’s internet relationship. The characters were all very well developed and I love them all very dearly. I’m just gonna shout out loud now because I want to discuss them all with you but THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A NON SPOILER REVIEW!! (But gaaaah I loved Leah so much and her personal character development was so heart warming. I was totally Leah when I was in school, high school, college, and now in Uni…)

I finished the book in one sitting in the matter of a few hours! It was incredibly easy to read and kept you on the edge of your seat despite being contemporary fiction with minimal action. Some of the dialogues will stay with me forever because of how iconic they were… My mind kept screaming “Becky with the good hair coming thru” because everything from homophobia, finding your identity, and just plain old high school existential crisis were handled with such care and realness. Very tangible story that will warm the heart of the meanest demon.



GRISHA Trilogy: A Complete Review


The GRISHA trilogy is set in a poor country by the name of Ravka, a land geographically divided by a mystic land called the Shadow Fold inhabited by Shadow-creatures and plagued with darkness. The Ravkan kingdom is protected against its northern Fjerdan enemies and southern Shu Han enemies by two different armies that fight side by side. One army is under the protection of the king, whilst the other is lead by The Darkling. The Second Army is comprised of Grisha, which are people with special powers. Our story begins in the first army, where the orphans Alina and Mal end up as they grow up. When they are forced to cross the Shadow Fold and the Shadow-creatures close in on them, Alina’s Grisha-abilities flare up to save them. Her abilities turn out to be different than anyone else’s making her alike only one other person, The Darkling. This friendship introduces her to many new people and drives other old friends away but Alina is put at odds on more than one point.

One of the best aspects of the story are the characters, a writing trait that carries into Bardugo’s Six of Crows. Alina and Mal are a protagonist duo I won’t forget for a long time. I love how Bardugo de-dramatises love and relationship in the face of the end of the fucking world! It’s quite rare to find a book where female characters are written with a bit of sense and I know it’s appreciated by a lot of fellow readers. Although love is made to be all-powerful it’s not messy or sloppy or problematic. An amazing realisation Alina makes is when a male character she is infatuated with kisses another girl and she gets upset with the girl. Instead of having a grudge and following in the footsteps of other books it surprised me by explaining how dumb women hating women is. ALINA, YOU’RE DOING AMAZING SWEETIE!

Siege and Storm, the second book in the Grisha trilogy, was probably my favourite out of the three especially because of Sturmhond, one of the best characters in the series. The story started out in Novyi Zem that I have been looking forward to read more about ever since I was introduced to Jasper in Six of Crows! What made the book such a solid 5/5 read for me was the dynamic between Alina and the male characters surrounding her. It was heavily reminiscent of that scene in The Crown where Prince Charles refuses to Queen Elizabeth by asking “Are you my wife or my queen?” and her reply being “I am both, and a strong man would be able to kneel to both.” FUCK IT UP, QUEEN! Despite teh fact that everyone acknowledges Alina’s power and progress by the second book, there is still some patriarchal confusion which she crushes easily. The second installation is a strong as fuck book as well as the most feminist and anti-patriarchal part of the trilogy and I loved it.

The third book was where it started going so and so for me… The plot twists and turns were great, amazing, unmistakable perfect, but the rest and the in between kind of dragged. Some of the things I thought should have been resolved in the first book, there were too many things kind of crammed into the book that didn’t belong to the story. It felt a bit forced, especially when it was placed in the middle of the book, almost as if to fill out the pages. But it did leave the last third of the book for other issues to be resolved that were many… The wrap up was well done, many things fell into the right places but, I still feel like the end was too simple. I wanted way more and way more deaths but I bet other readers were satisfied with the end that was happy and positive. Well, I’m just a pessimistic mess and only death can cure my soul…

It is hard not to compare it to Six of Crows especially since it’s within the same universe. My mistake was to read SoC before this Grisha-trilogy which kind of made the series… underwhelming. Six of Crows is my favourite YA fantasy of all time, OF ALL TIME! Therefore, I found myself feeling that the trilogy kind of dragged and that the language was dull. The ending did nothing for me and if it weren’t for characters like Alina, Mal and my favourite protagonist Sturmhond then I probably wouldn’t even have bothered to finish the series. The book was heavily plot- and character-driven, the plot was okay and easily to predict. The plot made it feel more middlegrade than YA and as much as I love middlegrade I was in the mood for something more… adult.

Ultimately, I think the series was really good. Probably a 5/5, but due to expectations from previous reading and lack of current interest in genre it demoted it to a 4/5.

Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy, Publication date: June 5th 2012, Rating: starstarstarstar/5

shadow-and-bone_hi-res-677x1024.jpgShadow and Bone, written by the immensely talented Leigh Bardugo, is the first installation in the Grisha trilogy. It introduces us to orphan girl Alina and her childhood friend Mal in a made up country heavily influenced by Russia, Ravka. In the middle ofthe country there is a dark rip where creatures live. When Alina and Mal make the dangerous trip, Alina discovers a power she never knew she had. Along with her discovery of Grisha-power, a group of people with different abilities called the Small Science. She is quickly rushed to the castle to be introduced to the king of Ravka and to hone her skills. But leaving Mal behind begins to tear her apart, will the mysterious Darkling be able to fix her wound? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out!

Leigh Bardugo is without doubt currently my favourite YA Fantasy writer. Her language is simple yet she manages to toy with your emotions and change your perspective numerous times within a sentence. I don’t know how to explain it but her writing completely strips the reader of their reins and she forces us into her narrative. It’s kind of freeing not having to make up your own mind about different plot twists and characters. Having just finished A Game of Thrones where the entire series is dependent on how you choose to read into it, this was a refreshing relaxing book to delve into.

The plot was solid and followed a simple and straight red thread. Leigh Bardugo is an amazing FANTASY writer but not an equally amazing ROMANCE writer. The “relationship” scenes felt forced and were wholly unexpected. There was no natural flow between what was going on, what the main character was seeing, and what suddenly was sprung on the reader.

Having read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom first, easily her best writing, easily THE best piece of YA Fantasy out there, the characters fell kind of flat in comparison. I really do sympathise with the main characters and their friends but I was more drawn to the plot rather than the characters. The characters weren’t boring or uninteresting, I actually really like Alina and Mal and the Darkling and everyone everyone everyone! The plot was more interesting and engaging than the characters. For example, in The Raven Cycle it’s the complete opposite, where the characters are the driving force of the book whilst the plot is mildly interesting.

However, this was an amazing start to the trilogy and I have already picked up the second installation in the series, Siege and Storm!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Title: Tiger Lily, Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson, Genre: Fantasy, Trigger warning: rape, abuse, suicide, Publication date: July 3rd 2012, Rating: starstarstarstar/5

7514925.jpgDark and twisted, this Peter Pan retelling is an absolutely pleasant read – for the first 200 pages or so. Tiger Lily lives with the Sky Eaters, one of the many tribes on the island of Neverland. In the wide forest, between different villages, live the dreaded Lost Boys lead by Peter Pan and his posse.

Tiger Lily, an outcast in her own village, finds refuge in Peter Pan’s burrow. She slowly falls in love with Peter Pan and is swept in the wilderness and adventurous life he leads. Told from the faerie Tinker Bell’s perspective, we see how love and friendship slowly turns sour, and how loss and grief can churn out venom out of the friendliest of souls. In a similar fashion we are exposed to how destructive colonialism and religious righteousness can be.

This book is not one I would recommend to anyone under the mental age of old. Heavy subjects are woven delicately between stories of Tiger Lily and Peter Pan’s love. The first sentences of the first chapter warn you appropriately:

This is a love story, but not like any you’ve heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win.

Tinker Bell is a mute faerie, like all faerie’s are. It was very interesting and also stressful to read from her point of view. No matter how much she tried to intervene, her inability to speak to the characters, left her to be more of a bystander. It was a perfect representation of how reader’s feel and as she was unnoticeably nudging and stinging Tiger Lily and Peter Pan to warn them of danger I felt my own chest rise in agitation and trying to warn them! I was turning into my dad yelling at football players on TV…

I won’t even attempt to dedicate a paragraph to how perfect the writing was, because I think this book is known for it’s writing style if nothing else. Anderson has a talent in deceiving you with her words into willingly break yourself open and allow her to rip your heart out. For almost the entirety of the book I thought that people had overhyped how sad the book was, because until page 200 it was quite upbeat. Even up until 270 it wasn’t that heartbreaking. But the last 30 pages were a real punch to the gut.

The plot was engaging, although lacking until the very end. Not much happened, I didn’t feel like there were any plot twists or that I had been taken through a journey. The book was more like a wave sweeping over you in slow motion until you’re under water and that’s when it speeds up. And I would have preferred if the characters introduced in the last 50 pages would have been present earlier. Basically, I felt the book was too short for me to get a full impression of the characters but appropriate for the plot that was introduced. It’s like being really thirsty and only having half a glass of water nearby.

I’ve been trying to decide between a 3-star and 4-star rating for this book. It is a very solid 3-star worthy book. But it ultimately gets a 4-star rating because of the beautiful quotes I will carry with me forever.

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber


Caraval follows two sisters, Scarlet and Donatella, invited as special guests to a historic and mythical magic show called Caraval. In a turn of events they find themselves to be pawns rather than players and the audience they’re among are not always who they say they are.

Stephanie Garber’s debut is a fast-paced 400+ page novel that you will easily fly through in one or two sittings. It took me two days to finish and absolutely fall in love with! Every chapter leaves you wanting more and the book does nothing short of deliver.

This book might have my favourite world-building of all time. Albeit, the world in Caraval is not very different from our own, there are some distinct differences. The introduction of different aspects of the world were so seamlessly done it almost felt natural. The subtlety in her detailed retelling of her vision of this magical place, Caraval, is what makes the world so perfect to me. Garber’s writing makes for a great YA novel that readers both young and old can appreciate.

Caraval, the actual show, is performed on a very peculiar island almost reminiscent of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. There are clocks that work different and the contestants are only allowed to compete from sundown to sunup. One thing that confused me a lot was the time-management. It is quite clever that they are only allowed to be out during the dark because that’s how secrets to most magic tricks are hidden. But the execution could have been a bit more fine-tuned. The characters seemed to get very little or no sleep at all and breakfasts and lunches and dinners overlapped each other. Some other inconsistency that bothered me was the sudden obsession with buttons that was not introduced to the reader earlier. Or, if it was, not enough for me to pick up on their importance.

The characters were complex and mysterious, they make you physically curve into the book because of how tangible they are. Scarlett and Donatella make for a great sibling dynamic; they love each other very much and have gone through a lot but they are very different. Their relationship is, I think, very easy to identify with if you have a sibling or a very close friend. It’s very interesting to see how they grew up in the exact same harsh environment and came out as polar opposites, I believe it sparks a very important discussion on how environment is not the only thing that shapes a human. Maybe, I’m just reading into things but I thought that was fascinating to focus more on.

Another great character I haven’t mentioned but is the key-protagonist in the story is Legend, the magician and direction or Caraval. He is almost never seen and there are no chapters that revolve around his current state, we learn a bit about his past but find out little else. The mystery and intrigue built around him is phenomenal and the lack of reveal in the first book is what will make readers pick up the second installation.

What truly solidified my love for Caraval, the book, the show, the world, was how realistic Garber wrote the relationship between Julian and Scarlett. Julian is the one that takes Scarlett and Donatella to the island on which Caravl is set. Without spoiling anything, Julian is my baby cinnamon roll that I will die for and haunt. He is also the one that remains with Scarlett as she looks for her kidnapped sister. If you haven’t guessed by the beginning of this paragraph, I ship them as fuck!

Scarlett’s quest to find her sister is never put on the back-burner for a stupid and unrealistic love story to unfold. The book is about sisterly love and one girl’s desperate attempt to get her sister and best-friend back. Garber writes her characters sensibly with just a dash of crazy, like we were all made. Falling in love, having feelings, never depreciates or incapacitates the women in the story. That is something rarely seen in the YA Fantasy world, unfortunately. When will the “girl falls in love, girls becomes incapable of continuing her quest” trope fucking die!

I’m looking forward to the continuation of this series and I am so happy to have broken my first new years resolution of not starting unfinished book series! For the next book I hope we see more of Julian and Scarlett’s relationship but also more of Legend, the mystic magician behind the show!

Title: Caraval, Author: Stephanie Garber, Genre: YA Fantasy, Trigger warning: Abuse and manipulation, Publication date: 31 Jan 2017, Rating: starstarstarstar/5

For more of what I’ve read this year you can follow me on Twitter, Goodreads, and Tumblr. Make sure to check out this twitter thread of books I have read in 2016 as gifs.

Book Review: How to Mend a Broken Heart


Title: How to Mend a Broken Heart

Author: Anna Mansell

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction

Diversity: Mental health /

Format: eARC

Publication date: 01 Mar 2017

Goodreads blurb:

Life is good for nurse Kat. That is until the man she intended to marry legs it, she’s unexpectedly promoted to a position with too much responsibility, and a patient arrives on her ward under strange circumstances.

Susan is a mystery. She refuses to speak or interact with anyone, she’s obsessed with a book of fairy tales, and the only name in her diary is that of Rhys – a plumber she barely knows.

Down-to-earth Rhys is trying to get his life back on track after the death of his beloved brother. His mum is his priority, and she needs him as much as he needs her. Or at least she did, until she starts disappearing, leaving him to find comfort in the form of his brother’s girlfriend.

Complicated is an understatement.

As the lives of these three lost strangers intertwine, will they find a way to lay ghosts past, present and future to rest? And when the chance comes to mend their broken hearts, will they be brave enough to take it?

Disclaimer: ARC Copy provided by NetGalley for an unbiased review

Review: (without spoilers)

The best thing about this book is the lack of bullshit (read: page fillers) before the story really starts. That’s the first thing I liked about this book; the prologue and first chapter started out incredibly strong and set the tone for the rest of the book and the author did not disappoint. There was rarely a chapter that wasn’t integral for our understanding of the story that was unfolding before us. The author really stuck to the most important rule to write a successful book: kill you darlings.

Although the book does branch out a bit to introduce us to side-characters that have nothing to do with the core story(Michelle, Lou, and James will always hold a dear place in my heart), it still feels important. Like, getting to know more about the people in their lives will make us understand why they behave the way they do. I felt like this was incredibly important because otherwise I would be incredibly bitter over Kat and Rhys’ behaviour.

The book is written from the points of view of the three main characters; Susan, Kat, and Rhys. Despite first person being my absolutely least favourite writing style, this book didn’t seem to annoy me. I attribute this largely to the author’s flair for bending the English language to her will; write a non-bullshit story in a non-bullshit sort of way. The writing was simple and appropriate for the heavy themes that transpire within the tales of these three lives.

Within a few pages we find out about Rhys’ brother David that has committed suicide not long ago. Rhys also has a mother that has started vanishing without a trace, and now he’s been tangled into the life of Susan. Despite all this doom that looms over Rhys he manages to be an incredibly enigmatic character that seems to put his foot in his mouth every time he speaks. I found him incredibly funny, although a bit too growly (mate stop growling at nothing all the time).

Kat is a hot mess. She’s the one of the youngest acting ward sister at Sheffield Hospital where Susan is admitted and takes her job very seriously that is completely torpedoed by the shenanigans that Rhys and Susan rope her into. Her professionalism is further deteriorated by the flirty consultant Mark, her best friend and bride-to-be Lou, and the slithering snake Daniel that is also the ex-boyfriend that broke her heart.

Susan is one of many patients in the ward where Kat works, but she is very significant in the way that she refuses to speak. Although there are no medical indications for her lack of speech she seems unwilling to communicate with anyone. Except to Rhys by writing him a note to collect a fairy tale book for her that sets off an incredibly complicated and cathartic journey for all the characters involved. In a beautiful turn of events(or shit storm if Kat were to write this review) Rhys, Kat, and Susan’s lives become intertwined in an unforgettable tale of loss, love, and forgiveness.

Some issues I did have with the book was how some themes were presented; mainly adoption and depression. Somehow I felt like giving a child up for adoption was demonised, especially by Rhys. Although, I understand why he has the right to feel like that, the notion was never challenged. Adoption is a very tough and brave thing to go through; it is very sad but there are so many different underlying reasons for adoption and THAT should be demonised instead. Yes, yes, the book kind of tried to put the blame on something else but I still felt like it would be a bit insensitive if an adopted person read it.

Up until the end I felt like the author showed perfect respect for the topic of depression and her indirect way of addressing it. I don’t know if it was just easier to round up the story, but it felt like depression was made so simple and given such an abrupt end. “Something that was missing has been found, now everyone is happy, see!” No, depression and committing suicide is not that simple. This is coming from my work at the psychiatric ward, my medical education, and my psychiatry rotation. I just wish the author would have included a bit more in the end towards the importance of rehabilitation and medication. They are widely stigmatised in society and therefore many patients choose to leave both their rehabilitation and go off their medications. We need to normalise these things in our society and the best way is through our literature. That’s why I do expect author’s to be mindful of this and include it in their works.

The Amazing Spider-Man Reboot

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Do you also want to start reading this amazing new reboot of Spider-Man? *spoiler spoiler* After realising how painfully white and het the Marvel Universe is, Peter Parker is killed off and the responsibility of keeping NYC safe in a spidey-suite is passed to Miles Morales.

  1. You should start by reading the Dying Wish. [SFBok] [Amazon] [Book Depository]
  2. Then go on to Ultimate Comics: Fallout #4 [Amazon] [
  3. If you don’t start there you can read Ultimate Comics: New Spider-Man Vol 1: Who is Miles Morales? that includes the prequel of what happened to Peter Parker and how Miles Morales came to be the new Spider-Man. [SFBok] [Amazon] [Book Depository]
  4. Then you continue on with Vol 2, 3, 4, and 5 which collects issues #1-28
  5. After that you can read Spider-Men which is a 5 issue miniseries with both Peter Parker and Miles morales! [SFBok] [Amazon] [Book Depository]
  6. People say you should read Spider-Man 200 but I have not found a printed copy of this nor anything online…
  7. After that it continues with Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man that currently has 12 volumes out [SFBok] [Amazon] [Book Depository]

I have been obsessed with Miles Morales and his adorable sidekick Ganke! You know… diversity is so important and especially in America where young black men are constantly being criminalised. This is so important for our society, and for the victims that have lost their lives due to race and gender. This is not just a black Spider-Man, this is normalising non-white people in our narrative. This is normalising PoC to enter roles that are usually reserved for white people.

This deserves a million stars but I’m waiting with 5 stars until I get to the end of Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man. I started with the aforementioned and read 2 Volume. Then I realised I wanted to go back to his origin story and work my way forward. So I’m two issues away from finishing the Ultimate Comics!