Book Review: The Stolen Ones - Vanessa Curtis

Book Review: The Stolen Ones – Vanessa Curtis

My name is Inge. I am sixteen. I live in Munich. Food is rationed, though the war ended years ago. My boyfriend is Jewish. My parents would not approve, so I hide this from them. I think they are hiding something from me, too. Letters arrive on my birthday, but they are not addressed to me. They are for a girl named Kasia. This is her story.

After picking this up at YALC I thought I knew what this book would be about and I was pleasantly proved wrong while reading The Stolen One. This has a lot of twists and turns throughout which I didn’t expect – it’s kind of part historical fiction, part mystery. Different, but I like it.

What stood out for me about this book is that it focused on the wider Nazi horrors and what they did to a large number of communities as well as the Jewish population. A lot of WW2 and post war fiction focuses on the Holocaust – and rightfully so! But, it means that I haven’t read much about others who were impacted by the Nazi regime.

I really liked Inge, I found her to be intelligent and headstrong but also realistic for a 16 year old who’s surrounded by secrets. It shows both the good and bad in people and that just because a war ends, doesn’t mean that things go back to normal. There is a lot of confusion, hurt and pain after such an event.

The relationships Inge have are vital to the plot and it was clear there was both planning and care that went into writing them. At times I felt the her conflict and confusion. The novel did a great job of capturing that age where you realise the adults around you are humans with their own flaws, thoughts and feelings that might not match yours.

I do wish that the book had been longer, I felt that there could have been even more to the novel and get into some more depth – I can’t pinpoint where I would have liked it because it would be a massive spoiler!

Last but not least, I learned a great deal from this book about parts of the war I knew nothing about and after reading I definitely want to do some of my own research. This was so well told – I really want to have a read of other novels by Vanessa Curtis at some point.

I gave this 4 stars, I thought this book was interesting and there were quite a few twists that I didn’t see coming which was really appreciated. If you enjoy fiction about WW2 this will be a good read for you even though it is set after the end of the war. I’d really love to know more about what happens to the characters after the end of the novel as well which is a sign they were well written.

Book Review: American Royals – Katharine McGee

“HRH Princess Samantha has always been a royal rebel. She’s the spare not the heir, so no one minds too much who she dates or how hard she parties.

It helps that her sister, Princess Beatrice, is literally perfect. She’s demure, sweet and beautiful, and she knows that the crown always comes first – no matter what her heart might really want.

But they’re not the only ones with their eye on the throne. Daphne Deighton might be ‘newly noble’ but she won Prince Jefferson’s heart once, and she’ll do anything to get back into the court’s favour – and his bed.

If only she knew that her competition was a common nobody – plain little Nina Gonzalez, the daughter of the king’s secretary.

Together these four young women must navigate the drama, gossip, scheming and sizzling romance of the most glorious court in the world. There’s everything to play for – but there can only be one queen.”

Wow, welcome to your next fun royal read. This year I’ve really found myself loving books about fictional royalty and this has been a great addition. Set in an alternative United States, the Washington family have been ruling for generations Princess Beatrice is next in line with worries about heart vs head, Princess Samantha, on the other hand, can’t live up to her older sister and future Queen. Royal life is pretty complicated when you’re young.

Each of the women that narrated the novel has their own quirks and viewpoints. Personally, I loved Nina and Sam the most and found them the easiest to relate to. That said, I had a real soft spot for Beatrice because her life was set out for her – she reminded me a lot of depictions of a young Queen Elizabeth II and what it must have been like for her. The only character I could not stand (and I’m pretty sure that’s intentional) was Daphne but I kind of loved to hate her too.

There were points that I feel we’re very similar to The Crown and tales of the royalty we have here in the UK. While I can’t go into too much detail without getting into spoiler territory I could kind of work out bits and pieces of the novel ahead of time. While I completely get it – there isn’t a royal family in the US to base this on, it was a sticking point for me.

I would love for Jefferson’s point of view to be included in a later book – as the only male heir I wanted to know his thoughts, his motivations. We only see him through the eyes of his sisters, ex-girlfriend and love interest and I definitely think it would add to the narrative of the story.

I gave this 4 stars, for a while I was set on 3.5 for a while but the last few chapters cemented a higher rating for me and we end on a cliff-hanger and I need to know what happens next. Who will clean up the mess of the American royal family? Who will end up with who? I need to know and I will definitely be pre-ordering a copy of the second book in the series…even though the first hasn’t come out yet. Definitely a recommended read!

Book Review: Birthday – Meredith Russo

Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other. 

After reading Meredith Russo’s first novel and absolutely adoring it I knew I had to pick up this one as soon as I could get my hands on it. And, as I hoped, the book did not disappoint.

The fact this book is spread out across 5 years just adds to how impressed I was by it. It’s not easy to have characters show growth in such a short space of time and it was pulled off really well. Both Eric and Morgan evolve throughout the novel but also keep the essence of who they are when we meet them in the first chapter.

I think the book could have been double the length and I’d still have loved it. I can understand why it wasn’t but the issues within are so complex I wanted to know even more. In particular, I wanted to know more about the relationship between them both when they were small, more about Morgan’s mother and their relationship.

It’s undeniable that this is an incredibly tough read at times, I fought back tears while reading and wanted to reach through the book and hug both of the characters. That said, most of my love went to Morgan, I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a body that isn’t mine and have to pretend around the people you love. It also made me consider the fact that we really don’t know what’s going on in a someones head and the need to be kind to people.

Meredith Russo herself is a trans women and I think this only adds to what we can learn as a reader. Russo is writing Morgan’s struggle with her body through the lense of someone who has been through it. We definitely need more own voices novels and Russo is one to watch.

I don’t think it’s going to be any surprise that I gave this 5 stars. This was incredibly well written and I felt very emotional reading. While I am not trans, I can appreciate that as Russo writes, she is writing from the heart. I’ve recommended this to so many friends already as soon as I finished it.

My YALC 2019 Haul Part 2

My YALC 2019 Haul Part 2

Yesterday I shared with you the first part of my YALC Haul and some of the 25 (!!) books that came back home with me. Are you ready for part 2? I definitely am!

The blurb of All The Invisible Things says that this is great for ‘fans of Laura Steven and Holly Bourne’ with strong feminist feels. Yes please!

Towards the end of the day I also picked up an exclusive copy of This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura. I’ve heard a lot about this on Booktube from those across the pond – it focuses on family and finding something to fight for.

I also found a poetry book at YALC! I hope there will be more to come in the future. I picked up There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker which I’ve seen around for a while. I’m interested to see what it’s about.

Another popular Booktube novel I’ve seen constantly in the past few months is Frankly in Love by David Yoon, I picked this up free when I bought another book on the Penguin stand. My copy also has a YALC exclusive cover, yay! It’s all about love, family and tradition. I can’t wait to read this one.

Who else read Sarah Dessen as a teen? I certainly did. So I picked up her latest novel with her new publisher. The Rest Of The Story is about Emma connecting and learning about her mother’s family, who she hasn’t spent much time with since she died. This is going to hit me in the feels isn’t it?

I hadn’t heard of A Good Hiding before YALC it features a teenage pregnancy, a friendship and I *think* it has some LGBT rep too, I’ll keep you posted.

So, Olivia Twist, a gender swap Oliver Twist – do I need to say any more? GENDER SWAP OLIVER TWIST. I hope we get a male Nancy equivalent.

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan has been on my radar for a while. There’s feminism, friendship and teenage activism. That’s all I know but that is all I need to know.

I was a big fan of Meredith Russo’s first novel and she’s back with another one that looks to be incredible. This follows two friends throughout their lives and had LGBTQ rep! Yessss! I’m excited.

Lily’s Just Fine is another book that I didn’t know about but I found it on a stall for the steal price of £4 and got it signed by the author. This is a contemporary romance with ‘Scotland’s most determined teenager’. Sounded like a bit of light fun to read so of course I picked it up.

And again, I hadn’t heard of Battle Ground BUT it’s set in a post Brexit dystopian world and I got chatting to the author who also signed it for me. I’m curious to see what literature comes out of Brexit and this is the first YA book about it I’ve come across.

Romanov is a reimagining of Anastasia with magic, that’s all I know but I loved the film Anastasia as a kid so why not pick this one up?

And last but not least I picked up Misfit by Charli Howard, I picked this up so that I could get my free copy of Frankly in Love and it was the first YALC purchase I read! It was an ok read for me, it’s Charli’s memoir of her life as a model and dealing with eating disorders. It was a 3 star read for me.

Now, how about a BONUS! I know this was meant to be about the books but I did pick up these from Fable and Black and look how cute these are! Look!

Are you looking to pick up any of these books? Were you at YALC? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: That’s Not What Happened – Kody Keplinger

It’s been three years since the Virgil County High School shooting. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall. Everyone knows Sarah’s story. 

But it’s not true.”

Faced with the 3rd anniversary of the shooting, Lee is starting to feel suffocated by the pressure of truth. With the lies of the circumstances of Sarah’s death getting bigger and bigger Lee knows it’s time to tell the truth, even if it could ruin absolutely everything. As a way of dealing with the tragedy before leaving for college, Lee encourages all of the survivors to write their own letters and the consequences aren’t what she expects…

I’ve never read a novel by Kody Keplinger before but I was intrigued by this one. It has an interesting concept and I really enjoyed that it was a mix of traditional prose and letters. The fact that Kepplinger made each letter really fit with an individual character showed a real talent.

Of course, this isn’t an easy book to read. It does go into quite a lot of detail in regards to a school shooting, dealing with PTSD after the event and the effects that something like this would have on the entire town. I’d definitely keep that in mind before picking up the novel as it’s not going to be a cheerful one.

I was also surprised a few times within the book, while I thought I knew what was going to happen there were revelations. Each of the characters were fleshed out to have their own lives, their own hopes and fears and while we see these through Lee’s eyes it made the novel stand out to me.

There are parallels, I’ve been told, with the story of a young woman who was killed in the Columbine shooting in 1999. Some people have seen this as a reason to slate the novel, however, I don’t think that’s a terrible thing. She has simply taken a similar story and built her own around it. Bare in mind that this is targeted at young adults, I myself was 4 years old when Columbine happened – I knew nothing about it. So it may not be as obvious to younger readers.

I gave this novel 4.5 stars, I was really impressed by the amount of depth that each of the characters had and their own accounts of the story. I definitely want to read more of Keplinger’s books and would recommend this as a thoughtful read.

Book Review: Internment – Samira Ahmed

In a world reminiscent of Nazi Germany, families are rounded up in the night and put on trains with few belongings and no idea where they are going. This is a world 17 year old Layla finds herself in. Ending up in an Internment Camp for American Muslims, Layla isn’t willing to take this lying down.

With the help of a small group of friends, Layla begins to fight back in any way that she can. But how far can she push before the Director snaps and just how far will he go in his attempts to control the camp.

After reading Samira Ahmed’s first novel, Love Hate & Other Filters I knew I had to preorder her new book and it did not disappoint. This is a hard hitting novel. While the writing is superb it is the reflection of today’s society that really got me while reading this book.

Ahmed has tackled Islamophobia in her previous novel, but this takes it to another level. She has managed to make the possibility of these internment camps seem alarmingly real. What makes this possible is not just her talent, but also the parallels she has drawn from what we are seeing today in modern day America.

I also found the relationships that Layla had to be incredibly important to the novel and gave it a more realistic vibe. The fear of her parents, the hope of the young people and the disbelief they have all felt made the novel come alive. I was also pleased to see her own opinions change from the black and white views she holds at the beginning of the novel slowly evolve.

I would say that my only criticism would be that I felt the book could have been longer, things ended quite quickly and I, personally, would have liked more details. I can’t say what on as obviously that would be a spoiler and I really do recommend you read this for yourselves.

I gave this 4.5 stars, it was incredibly well written and , actually, came across as chilling but in a way that needed to be told. Ahmed has a real talent for looking in the face of things society would rather not talk about in regards to growing up as a Muslim in the modern world.

Book Review - Five Feet Apart

Book Review: Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis

Do you want to cry some big ugly tears and feel all the feels? Then this is the book for you. A novel following two Cystic Fibrosis patients, both with a very different view of life and their illness. While Stella likes to be in control, Will is fed up with regimens and trials. When the two meet the unthinkable happens – they begin to fall for each other but how can you fall in love when you have to be five feet apart at all times?

So, Five Feet Apart has been everywhere in the last few months because of the film that came out (as of writing this I still haven’t seen it) and I decided to read it because of the hype. To put it simply, I’m really glad I did.

I will admit that when I first started reading I did find it quite slow, I could put it down and walk away but something kept me coming back to it. I wouldn’t say it’s a book that you devour quickly, it’s more of a slow burn but once you’re in, you’re in. I fell in love with these characters and I was rooting so hard for them, as well as having a soft spot for side characters too.

Now, I can’t say how accurate it is from a CF perspective BUT I have watched a few YouTube videos to see what people who do have it think. They really thought it was a good representation, which gives me hope. Also, it’s worth mentioning the two co-authors on this book both have CF which I think is a bloody excellent idea and something we should see more of in books.

I gave this a 4.5 stars. A really emotional read and one I, personally, learnt a lot from. Have you read the book and seen the film? How do they compare? Let me know in the comments below!