Book Review: The Gravity Of Us - Phil Stamper

Book Review: The Gravity Of Us – Phil Stamper

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

I requested this on NetGalley because I was SO excited about it. I’m lucky enough to have met Phil when we were both studying at Kingston University and we’ve stayed in touch a little. To see this all over the internet (mostly in the USA at this point) is amazing and there’s a reason there is such a buzz behind it.

Combining the idea of a new space project, young love and family tensions The Gravity of Us was an interesting concept. I’ll admit that I’ve never had that fascination with space like a lot of kids did. I think it’s cool and I’m down to read Sci-Fi and have a Star Wars marathon but it’s never been a big thing for me. The good thing is any worries I didn’t need to be!

This book is about astronauts and space missions but not in such a way that I felt like I was dumb or didn’t understand. In fact, after reading I really wanted to find out more about NASA and the work that they do.

I was really impressed by how social media is used within the book too, it’s really central to the plot and Cal as a person. While Cal is a kind of YouTuber type personality it was really refreshing to see this as a step to reach a bigger goal of being a journalist.

Also can we talk about the crushing and the romance? GUYS it put me in such a good mood and I loved the fact that the fact there were gay characters wasn’t used as a plot point at all. There was no shocking revelation that they were gay or big coming out moment. We need more of this in books.

I gave this book 4.5 stars, I really enjoyed the plot, the romance and Cal himself. This is clearly a book that has had a lot of heart put into it but also a great deal of research to back up the space element. This book deserves all of the hype it gets and of course I recommend it.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and Phil for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Diary Of A Confused Feminist - Kate Weston

Book Review: Diary Of A Confused Feminist – Kate Weston

Kat wants to do GOOD FEMINISM, although she’s not always sure what that means. She also wants to be a writer, get together with Hot Josh (is this a feminist ambition?), win at her coursework and not make a TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT of herself at all times.

Join Kat AKA the Confused Feminist as she navigates EVERYTHING from menstrual cups and mental health to Instagram likes and #TimesUp in her HILARIOUS, OUTRAGEOUS and VERY EMBARRASSING diary.

While I was working in a book shop over the Christmas period this was left in a pile of ARCS that we could take home and I was instantly drawn to it. A teenage feminist trying to navigate her life and feelings? Hell to the yes please, and I wasn’t disappointed.

There were times while reading where I wondered if I was too old for the book. Did I speak like this as a teenager? Were teenagers this petty over things? The answer is yes, I remember arguing with one of my friends over something ridiculous and then refusing to sit next to each other in our art class. In fact Weston has completely got the characters right.

While reading I felt like this had Caitlin Moran vibes to it (whos book How To Be A Woman changed my whole perception on feminism) there were important points but at the same time it was incredibly funny. It also took me back to when I was the same age trying to work out my on again off again relationship with feminism, because it is bloody confusing!

What skyrocketed my rating for this was the mental health element. There are some hints early on that Kat was struggling but seeing these explored was really excellent and I feel that it could help young people reading. As well as the anxiety that Kat struggles with the pressure to keep up and be interesting on social media.

This was a 4.5 star read for me. I think Kate Weston is definitely one to watch. When I got to the end I KNEW I needed a sequel which will hopefully happen.

Book Tour: Always Here For You – Miriam Halahmy

14-year-old Holly is lonely. Her parents are never around after Gran’s Crisis and best friend Amy to Canada, loved-up with her new boyfriend, Gabe. Holly has no-one to hang out with at school apart from moody Ellen and misfit Tim.

Home alone in Brighton with no-one to talk to, Holly is at rock bottom. That is, until she finds Jay. Caring, funny and with so much in common, Jay is the perfect guy. They chat online, but Holly knows to be careful, she’s heard the horror stories. As they grow closer and closer, chatting with Jay is all that makes Holly happy. Mum and Dad’s rows get more intense and Amy’s radio silence continues; the only one who understands is Jay. As Holly lets her guard down, is Jay all he seems? Is Holly in too deep? And is it too late?

Today I’m taking part in a book tour for Miriam Halahmy’s latest young adult novel tackling the online world and how people may not be all they seem.

This novel reminded me of the kind I read growing up, one of my childhood heroes was Jacqueline Wilson who also took on tough topics and broke them down for younger audiences. I can see this being a great read for younger teens and can be a good opener to talking about who is really behind the screen.

I was one of the internet babies and by the time I started my first year of school we already had a computer in the classroom. As I got older and spent hours on MSN Messenger (rest in peace old friend) these kinds of issues were more prevalent. I will say that I was terrified of strangers on the internet and my Mum was pretty hot on checking what I was doing online but, that said, it was a lot easier then when the only computer was in the living room… wow I sound old! Anyway I digress…

This is a great read to get the conversation going but also, I think, for parents giving them insight into how a young person may fall victim to this kind of situation.

I really enjoyed seeing the other characters grow and develop through the story as well as Holly, I think it would be really interesting to learn more about each of their lives (personally, I think it would be a great series!). They all seemed very real and it helped that the descriptions of Brighton were very easy to visualise.

The only thing I would mention is that some of the language seemed a little outdated at times. There were a few occasions where I stopped and thought I don’t think that a teenager today would say this! Also the word hussy is mentioned – I’m not sure that the young teens I know would know what that meant! These didn’t take away from the book for the most part, just something I noticed while reading.

I gave this book 4 stars. A solid read and one I think young people should be encouraged to read. Thank you to Miriam and ZunTold for sending me a copy in exchange for this review and for inviting me to be a part of this book tour.

Book Review: Her Royal Highness – Rachel Hawkins

Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. And because Millie cannot stand the thought of confronting her ex every day, she decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.

The only problem: Mille’s roommate Flora is a total princess.

She’s also an actual princess. Of Scotland.

I’ve been on a bit of a royalty kick this year with my reads starting with Rachel Hawkins first novel in this series Royals (now known as Prince Charming) and one of my favourites of the year Red White and Royal Blue. So I pre-ordered this as soon as I heard it was coming out and get ready to fall in love with this royal family all over again.

A female female hate to love romance about a princess and a boarding school, umm where have you been! I was just a little bit hyped up about reading this one and it definitely lived up to it.

While we first met Flora in Prince Charming as the spoilt sister of the future King of Scotland this is where we really get to know her but she’s not our main girl. Millie is an american in Scotland learning the ropes and trying to deal with the Princess, who does not want to be there.

This is absolutely adorable and it was good to see more depth to characters from the previous book, although you will understand this novel if you haven’t read Prince Charming. Hawkins has a talent for making her characters very real and complex.

Also it’s great to see some more bisexuality rep where the plot is not coming out as bisexual – more of this please! I’m hoping this is something we start seeing more in all fiction, not just YA.

Also, no spoilers but the ending – THE ENDING. My heart couldn’t cope.

I adored this book and gave it 5 stars – this is a binge read and I cannot recommend it enough. I will definitely be keeping an eye on Rachel Hawkins and checking out some of her other books.

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.