The Paper & Hearts Society is an easy to read, addictive YA contemporary debut. It has everything a true bookworm could ask for; realism, great chThe Paper & Hearts Society is an easy to read, addictive YA contemporary debut. It has everything a true bookworm could ask for; realism, great characters, a bookish adventure and even some recommendations for your TBR! The book is true to its intended audience with a young and fresh narrative voice, which adds a refreshing authenticity to the story. I was immediately absorbed into the world of the protagonist, Tabby, who has just moved to a new town and is struggling with low self-esteem and anxiety issues. With some persuasion from her gran she attends a book club meeting in the hope that she may find somewhere she feels like she belongs.
I love how true Lucy is to her teenage characters. Being a teenager is hard and each of her characters has very genuine struggles ranging from identity issues and anxiety to problems at home. It is extremely easy to identify with Tabby. Having to make new friends is scary for people of any age but when you are a teenager, still trying to discover who you are, what your peers think about you can mean everything. So when Tammy goes to meet a new group of people, all of whom are already friends, it is easy to understand how she is feeling. Tabby is a down to earth, likeable character who experiences a lot of ups and downs throughout the novel.
There is a wonderful dynamic between all of the characters in the Paper & Hearts Society and they all have very different personalities. There was a real danger for the novel to be about stereotypes, however, Lucy has created characters with real depth and thought behind them. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Olivia’s bubbliness and enthusiasm; she is the best friend I would love to have. Cassie can be hard work but you know that when you have her loyalty, you will have a fierce friend who will always have your back. I instantly warmed to Henry, who is kind and has a quiet confidence about him. Ed is hilarious and definitely kept me smiling.
There is romance in the novel and, although some is rather predictable, it makes for enjoyable reading as it feels very natural. I love that Lucy has very normalised LGBTQIAP+ representation in the novel, including having a demi-sexual character. It is easy to see that the sexual identity is simply part of the character rather than added as an afterthought.
Throughout The Paper & Hearts Society there are a number of issues raised including mental health, anxiety and bullying. Lucy clearly embraces the challenge of writing about difficult topics, demonstrating a deep understanding of the issues involved. There are moments which are really heart-breaking. It was particularly poignant to me as I have recently watched a family member compete with some of these issues whilst trying to complete their GCSEs. I reiterate, being a teenager is hard. Books can be a safe space and I am sure that The Paper & Hearts Society will be that for the young bookworms who pick it up.
My favourite part of the book is the literary road trip, having been to some of the places mentioned myself. Lucy does an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the places she describes. The real essence of a road trip though is not just about the places but the people you are with. Above all else The Paper & Hearts Society is about true friendship, where you can be who you really are. To be your best bookish self.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Paper & Hearts Society, being hooked from the first page right through until the end. It is a feel-good, well-written story with excellent characters and I cannot wait for their adventures in book two....more
Natalie Paige is a plus size blogger, with passions for both palaeontology and fashion. I absolutely adore Natalie’s character. SThis book is AWESOME.
Natalie Paige is a plus size blogger, with passions for both palaeontology and fashion. I absolutely adore Natalie’s character. She is ambitious, smart, funny and a science geek. It is fantastic to see a young, intelligent female protagonist with an interest in STEM! Natalie’s character is fantastically well-written and I think that a lot of readers like myself, will be able to identify with her and the very real and relevant issues that she faces throughout the novel.
All the characters in Mammoth are wonderfully nuanced and realistic. From Dr. Carver, Natalie’s Indiana Jones-esque palaeontology hero, through to her peers, each character has a very strong sense of identity. Jill Baguchinsky is very good at capturing the essence of a character and even with plot twists and through character development, she keeps it intact allowing for a realism that I was not expecting.
Mammoth’s plot is carefully constructed and I really enjoyed all the different elements. There is a hint of mystery, a sprinkle of romance, exciting action and an overarching coming of age story. The pace is great throughout the novel.
This book completely surpassed my expectations. I did not expect it to be so well written. Plenty of books promise characters that break the mould but Mammoth is one of the few that truly live up to it. I love this Mammoth. It is in fact my favourite book so far this year. If you are a YA Contemporary fan or have a secret love for Jurassic Park then you need to pick up this book!
The Other Side of Lost focuses on the life of Mari, a social media celebrity, who has never really dealt with the death of her cousin and as their mutThe Other Side of Lost focuses on the life of Mari, a social media celebrity, who has never really dealt with the death of her cousin and as their mutual 18th birthday arrives her glass bubble starts to shatter. In a moment of realisation, or perhaps grief, Mari posts a farewell video to her followers explaining how her social media persona is fake, that she is actually very unhappy and how her current existence feels meaningless.
Mari’s character is well written and I like the way that she is portrayed as more of an ‘average’ girl who has worked very hard on a persona rather than her being a naturally drop-dead gorgeous girl who never really had to try. It makes her much easier to identify with on multiple levels. Firstly, it is hard work to maintain a social media presence, with or without creating an alternate persona, so it is easy to understand how Mari’s hyper-focus on her number of followers has led her to shut away other parts of her life. When her birthday present arrives I’m sure most readers will be able to identify with being put in a situation where it is easy to fall back on what you know rather than break down your barriers and take a big risk with only hope of something better on the other side. What feels very authentic is Mari’s grief. I love the way that Jessi Kirby talks about Bri and her relationship with Mari. Bri is an awesome character and her parts in the book are hear-breaking as well as uplifting in equal measure.
The are a few secondary characters in the book such as Vanessa and Josh, who are very likeable. It is interesting how little we learn about some of the secondary characters. In most books I would consider the characters underdeveloped but that is not true in this case. We are given just the right amount of insight into the more important secondary characters and their group dynamics to make it feel authentic.
There are multiple themes in The Other Side of Lost but the strongest one is faith. Not just in a religious sense, although Bri certainly has an almost angelic presence in the story with Mari believing that she is watching over her. Mari has to have a lot of faith. Faith that she is doing things for the right reasons, that her cousin would want her to complete the adventure she will now never do and mostly importantly faith in herself. Her faith that she can keep going and that she can change her life is very inspirational. The novel is accurately described as an emotionally charged story and I found that it acted as a mental reset for me. I experienced so many different emotions through Mari’s character. There was laughter and quite a few tears shed. By the end of the book I honestly started to feel like I was capable of making changes too.
The Other Side of Lost is an easy read, which is paced very well. It is not an action filled book but rather the experience of a personal journey, with all of its ups and downs. If like me you have wondered what it would be like to break free and escape everyday life for something better then this is a very good book for you to pick up. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy YA Contemporary novels with a heavy character focus.
As a final point I would like to say that I really appreciate how Jessi Kirby finishes the novel. It takes a talented author to know where to leave a book. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but it ends at the right time and in the perfect place....more
Shadow and Bone is a YA fantasy novel mainly written from the perspective of the protagonist female Alina Starkov, who is taken away from her3.5 Stars
Shadow and Bone is a YA fantasy novel mainly written from the perspective of the protagonist female Alina Starkov, who is taken away from her normal life and best friend Mal to become part of the Grisha, a group of powerful beings with magical abilities.
Alina is a fairly typical YA protagonist with a plain appearance and a lot of self doubt! She is a likable character and I am definitely intrigued as to how her character will develop with the series, although I felt drawn to some of the other characters more. Genya for example, a beautiful Grisha, is a fantastic character and probably my favourite. She is witty, affable and it is easy to understand her perspective on the world. The Darkling, the tall, dark, mysterious leader of the Grisha, is a very interesting character who, for most of the book, walks the line on whether you should love him or hate him. Knowing whether you can trust the Darkling is a key part of the story in book one and it certainly kept me guessing!
The Darkling is also heavily involved in some of the book's main themes: Identity, trust, power, control and shadow vs light. The power and control elements of the book were fantastic, particularly in relation to the Darkling but also within the palace; Genya's story is especially poignant. Bardugo creates a world where many of the characters are like puppets on a string but who is pulling which strings and to what end is not always immediately known.
Shadow vs light not only features in the characters, their powers and morals, but also is fundamental in the world that Bardugo has built. The Shadow Fold, also known as the Unsea, is an impenetrable dark power that changes the lives of the people on the continent. Shadow and light then become a matter of perspective as beautiful places are tainted with dark undertones as well as places you would consider to have a darker, negative energy actually being shining a beacon of light and hope when times get hard. The book is very atmospheric, especially where the Grisha's world is concerned. I can easily imagine walking in to one of their opulent tents or around the grounds of the Little Palace. When the pace drops off, which I felt it did at times, it is the well-written moments where the atmosphere is potent that drew me back in to the story.
Shadow and Bone definitely has Russian influences as is clear by names used in the book. It is nice that the book contains original names but I did, particularly at the beginning of the book, find them slightly off-putting. Perhaps I get too distracted by how words should be pronounced but some of them are certainly a mouthful!
Overall I enjoyed Shadow and Bone. I wasn't gripped as much as I would have hoped to be but I definitely want to continue to read the series and see how the story-line and characters progress. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys series such as ACOTAR and Divergent....more
A Flicker in the Clarity was not the story of friendship that I expected or have found to be typical of the YA Contemporary genre. Fr*Minor spoilers*
A Flicker in the Clarity was not the story of friendship that I expected or have found to be typical of the YA Contemporary genre. From being young, impressionable children through to adulthood we are told how important it is to be a good friend but at what point does the cost to ourselves become too great? In her second novel, Amy McNamara shines a light on the dangers of toxic relationships and provides her readers with moral dilemmas that will stay with them long after they put the book down.
All of the characters in A Flicker in the Clarity are flawed, from the protagonist Evie to her best friend Emma, through to their parents and even the wider supporting characters. The flaws certainly add to each characters realism but, more than that, they play an integral part in the novel’s exploration of relationships. Evie is an interesting character because she feels very neutral; a seemingly decent person but not strongly likeable nor dislikeable yet I still find her easy to identify with. I believe that Evie had to be written in this manner because as a reader we are meant judge her and the decisions she makes throughout the novel more so than the average protagonist. Emma on the other hand I have very little tolerance for and couldn’t help but judge her very early on in the story. Perhaps she reminds me far too strongly of girls I met growing up. Emma is the sort of character that you can love to hate. She isn’t evil or necessarily even a bad person with ill-intentions but she is definitely not a good friend.
Evie and Emma’s relationship is at the heart of the novel and is the main plot focus. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of their relationship with Evie’s other relationships, especially her new love interest Theo and her long-time friend Jack. There is a lot of tension and emotion in all of the relationships, which are often entwined.
I have seen some readers suggest that A Flicker in the Clarity is mainly focused on ‘teen angst’, which I disagree with. For me, the issues raised in this novel go way beyond ‘teen angst’. I see the themes leaning far more heavily into mental health issues and the severe pressures that toxic relationships can have on the lives of young adults. Emma clearly has a lot of big issues to deal with but instead of the adults around her identifying how severe these issues are and trying to find her the right help, everything is dumped on to the shoulders of her best friend. Evie has her own life struggles and is constantly stuck with the moral dilemma of having to do the right thing by her friend or attending to her own needs. I think that this is a struggle that we all face at times. We feel selfish for taking care of ourselves and that is not right nor fair. The question that I asked myself over and over again whilst reading was when is saying no the right thing? Where are the lines of friendship drawn? When is enough, enough? I didn’t expect to become as emotional involved with the issues raised in this book as I did but I am still thinking about them.
A Flicker in the Clarity is a little longer than the average YA Contemporary Fiction novel at 423 pages. It was an extremely easy read and I have to commend Amy McNamara on her structure and pacing. I love how the chapter names contain small snippets of text from each chapter. They are like little clues where you can sometimes guess their meaning and other times you enjoy finding out the context as you read. The chapter lengths worked really well, giving the reader a lot of variety and perfectly containing individual moments.
I don’t think A Flicker in the Clarity is a book where you will fall in love with the characters despite the novel being very character focused. The plot has twists but it is not action filled. What this book does is make you question your own actions, which I find powerful. It is unexpectedly thoughtful and sensitive as a novel. I really enjoyed reading this book and I would definitely recommend it to readers who like to get into the head of characters.
I absolutely loved this book! Red Rising is a YA dystopian novel, which was recommended to me and described as 'The Hunger Games in space' - I was obvI absolutely loved this book! Red Rising is a YA dystopian novel, which was recommended to me and described as 'The Hunger Games in space' - I was obviously completely sold! Set in the future, society is separated into a colour-caste hierarchical system that dictates your whole life from how you live to how you die.
“My people sing, we dance, we love. That is our strength. But we also dig. And then we die. Seldom do we get to choose why.”
The protagonist male, Darrow, is a lowly Red, which means that he works as a Helldiver on Mars to ensure that it will be a livable planet for future generations. He is playing a huge part in changing the future of humanity... or so he believes.
Red Rising has a whole host of fantastic, complex and vivid characters. There are few series that I can think of where I have enjoyed SO many different characters as I have in this book and trilogy. Darrow is a great protagonist. Even when things are at their worst, he does not wallow in self-pity (a character trait I cannot abide in a protagonist), he is intelligent, very human and bloodydamn well written!
The plot of Red Rising is more complex than a lot of other YA dystopia. The opening is enjoyable and has a good pace despite it introducing you to so many different ideas at once. It lets you get to grips with the world, how things work and then throws you straight into the main story line. There is friendship, death, love, anger, betrayal... and most importantly, surprises! It certainly has a lot of familiar elements but the world is so much richer, the plot thicker and I personally found it to be less predictable than books in the same genre. The tone and pace of the book are also spot on!
Red Rising is a great book, which I constantly recommend to people! It is frequently mentioned alongside The Hunger Games, although it is different and has the strength to stand alone but you have to forgive the comparison because if you like The Hunger Games, Divergent or are just a YA/dystopia fan you will love this. ...more