Monday, 8 May 2017

Review: Lois Lane - Double Down

Having absolutely loved the first book, I was absolutely ecstatic when it came to reading the second. Big thanks to Curious Fox Books for the review copy!

Lois Lane has settled in to her new school. She has friends, for maybe the first time in her life. She has a job that challenges her. And her friendship is growing with SmallvilleGuy, her online maybe-more-than-a-friend. But when her friend Maddy’s twin collapses in a part of town she never should’ve been in, Lois finds herself embroiled in a dangerous mystery that brings her closer to the dirty underbelly of Metropolis.

When the story begins Lois has found her flow in her new life in Metropolis. Fresh off her win and major article in book one, she's even more determined to make it as a reporter and to uncover the truth surrounding her own strange past. With help from her friends and online 'not-boyfriend' SmallvilleGuy, she moves even further in her journey to do so.

Once again I loved Lois and SmallvilleGuy's relationship. Bond expands on everything we saw in book one, pushing them that bit closer together. But this time there's danger looming when the site they hold so dear - the paranormal site that brought them together - becomes under threat. Together they must work together to save it, and to possibly uncover more about Lois' own experience, and I absolutely adored their scenes together.

In this book we learn a bit more about Maddy as Bond introduces her twin sister Melody, who has a problem only Lois and co can solve. Despite being twins they have nothing in common and argue more than they agree. But it's through the case, through trying to save Melody from the mess she's gotten involved in, that the two sisters bond. It was a wonderful storyline that I thoroughly enjoyed, especially as it pulled James into it also. This dual storyline expands more on James and his family life, which I was very happy about as it softens a lot of his sharp edges and gives us a way to understand and sympathise with him and his personality a lot more. The storyline was - as with the first case - highly intriguing and full of a lot of twists and turns that constantly pull the reader one way and then the other. It honestly kept me glued to the page.

I am a huge fan of DC Comics and specifically of Lois so I am ecstatic with Bond's series so far and cannot wait to read the third book in the series, out this month! I do highly recommend it to any fan of comics or mystery, or anyone who simply wants an enjoyable read. This series is not to be missed!

As always thanks for reading, and do feel free to leave me a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Review: Fix You by Carrie Elks

This is another 2016 review title that I failed to get to last year, and I do apologise for that. It's not my typical read - being an adult romance - but it's one I nonetheless enjoyed. Thanks to Corvus for my copy of the book. I do hope you all enjoy my review.

You've found the one, but what if life has other plans?
London, 31st December 1999
At a party to toast the new millennium, Hanna meets Richard. He is a gorgeous, wealthy New Yorker. She is a self-assured, beautiful Londoner with no interest in clean-cut American men. They are from different worlds and have nothing in common... except for their instant - and mutual - attraction to one another.
As the clocks chime midnight it is a new year and the beginning of a wonderful romance.
New York, 12th May 2012
Hanna, the girl who broke Richard's heart, walks into his Wall Street office - and back into his life - to reveal an explosive secret.
He was sure they were meant to be together forever, but she broke his heart so completely the last time, can he find a way to let her mend the pieces?

Fix You is a story of broken hearts and the journey to healing. It's a tale of love, loss and lies, and one of hidden truths. It's a romance, yes, but it's also a drama that unfolds over many years.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the non-linear narrative, by which I mean a lot of it is told in flashbacks and not always in chronological order. This technique not only played out the drama well but also created a lot of mystery and intrigue as to how the story would progress and its possible outcomes. It was highly enjoyable.

The story itself was packed full of tension and drama, and I'd certainly read Hanna and Richard's tale again. Their chemistry was wonderful and I was certainly rooting for them with every turn of the page. The ending was wholly satisfying and left me with a warm flutter in my stomach, whilst being glad the 'villain' got their comeuppance.

Hanna was a wonderful main character who, despite her faults, faced her misgivings and came out on top. I understood her, and her motivation, despite not always agreeing with her, which with the non-linear narrative really kept me hooked to every page. It was wonderful to follow through her story to the end.

Carrie Elks is clearly and author who knows romance, and has a great deal of talent for writing it. I'll certainly be checking out the rest of her work.

As always thanks for reading, and do feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

If you know me, you know how much I love Becky Albertalli's work, therefore I couldn't wait to pick up and read her latest as soon as it was released.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back. 
There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. 

Upside tells the story of Molly (The cousin of Abby from Simon Vs The Homosapiens Agenda) who overthinks and overanalyses to the point where she has a long list of crushes, but a non-existent one in terms of boyfriends. It's only when her twin sister, Cassie, gets a new girlfriend and - by extension - introduces Molly to Will that things start to get interesting. I'll be honest that I saw a lot of myself in Molly and that's one of the reasons I loved her so much. I too way overthink everything so it was nice to feel not so alone. I also loved her strength and tenacity, her determination to reach her goal. I also loved her body positivity. She may have felt shy or socially anxious but she never once used her weight as a reason to change. As Becky herself has pointed out, she doesn't lose anything. She is totally positive, true to herself, and I think that's a wonderful thing. As someone who could be deemed 'overweight', the body positivity reinforced in the story is just wonderful.

Cassie was a wonderful character also. I loved her relationship with Molly as well as her interactions with the other characters. She's strong and knows what she wants in life, but I also loved that she had her own moments of weakness which only built her character and strength further.

Will was a lovely character to play against Molly, a cheeky guy who knows how to have a good time. My favourite character however was Reid who was so adorably geeky and shy that I actually saw most of myself in him. Reid is quite easily me in another universe, and I just loved how his character played out and his own chemistry with Molly.

As always though one of the things I love most about Becky's books is her commitment to diversity and representation. Like Simon, Upside features a wonderfully diverse cast, and personally I loved the LGBT elements of the books. Cassie herself is a lesbian, while her and Molly's mothers are Lesbian and Bisexual themselves. Cassie's girlfriend is also pansexual. It's wonderfully refreshing to see accurate representation in YA which can sometimes be hard to find.

Overall The Upside of Unrequited was a story I absolutely enjoyed, loved and admired. I almost sobbed when I finished it, it was that good. I absolutely urge everyone to read it, award it a more than well deserved 5 stars, and cannot wait for the next instalment.

Have you read Upside? What did you think?

As always thanks for reading and do feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Monday, 1 May 2017

ARC Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

I absolutely adored this book. 100% truly adored it. Thoughtful representation of LGBT+ sexualities wrapped up in a thought provoking yet entertaining story that also tackles issues of feminism and gender equality. Big thanks to ACBYA for the ARC.

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped ... revered ... all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Jordan/Julian was a wonderful main character for so many reasons. Within the first few chapters she's presented with a seemingly impossible challenge and yet she comes up with an ingenious solution. Her last chance to chase what she wants. To chase her dreams. But it's not at all an easy road. In disguising herself as a boy, Jordan discovers things about the world she'd seemingly before never given a lot of thought to. I'll speak more about representation below, but I loved how the author was very sensitive of the character's situation, in respect of the LGBT community. The character notes how uncomfortable the situation is, even if it's her last hope, and how she feels she may be 'stepping on the toes of' transgender people and their identity. I can't speak from personal experience in this matter, but I did feel as if the author had researched and used sensitivity readers, and was aware to not offend/hurt (or at least try to) any of her readers. So far, I've seen no reviews or comments to the contrary.

Isaac was an adorable, if not a little cocky, character, who was sensitive and understanding where needed. His own past and trauma shaped his character in a way where he could be understood by and in turn understand Jordan. I would have liked a little more in the way of their interactions about their family lives, but I loved the chemistry none the less.

Trav too was a wonderful character, and quite possibly my favourite. I saw a lot of myself in Trav - his anxiety and perfectionism, and sometimes brash attitude. He has a lot on his plate but he deals with it so maturely. His story didn't seem to get a final resolution, though I was still happy enough with the end, but I would have liked to see him achieve the personal recognition he deserved.

The other characters were also well thought out, though again the ending seemed a little rushed in terms of resolution. Some of the relationships were hinted at but never resolved, which I would have liked to see.

The story was magnificent. Hooking me to the very first page with Jordan's situation, yet then keeping me hooked with so many twists and turns and the wonderful cast of characters, it truly was a joy to read, especially for a musical theatre fan such as myself.

I want to give special mention to the representation, sensitivity and other aspects of the book that I thought were well executed. As mentioned above there is a fair amount of indirect transexual representation, which 'impersonally' seemed to be sensitive and thought provoking, though I do think it would have been good for the author to have actually included a few trans characters. There's also Bi representation, which personally was wonderful to see. Some of the character's comments did seem a little off hand at first but it quickly becomes apparent that she is discovering her own sexuality and is unsure how she feels or how she is meant to feel. Finally I loved the section of the book where Jordan is unfortunately surprised by her period and has to struggle through it disguised as a boy. Not the easiest thing to deal with!

Overall this was a wonderful, entertaining book with a lot of thought provoking aspects and positive LGBT and female representation. I would urge everyone to read it and award it four stars.

As always, thanks for reading and do feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf