“The Upside Of Unrequited” By Becky Albertalli

Following Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and a recommendation from a friend, I decided to give this one a go as well.

PLOT

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because 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. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And 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 an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

WE HAVE ALL FELT LIKE MOLLY

Bilderesultat for the upside of unrequited fanartThe relatability level of this story baffles me. Albertalli has captured what it feels like when people around you are moving on and changing while you are not, which I’m sure many can relate to. The main character’s journey and her thoughts on relationships, friendships and other people in general were straight-up a relief to read. I loved it. It was so relatable. The characters were all well developed with their own strong personalities and stories. Specifically, the grandmother with all her bluntness and untimely homophobic, racist comments just added to the realistic feel of the book (and please do not let that discourage you, the old woman tries very hard).

In this day and age, I am always seeking diversity in the books I read, and Albertalli does not disappoint. She covers different sexualities, has multiple POC’s and deals with body image issues wonderfully. Also, the twin girls and their little brother were all conceived using a sperm donor, which is something I’ve never read about and it was fascinating to get a feel for the dynamic of the family.

Again, similarly to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, this book is great. It’s classic YA, full of well-written characters, it’s hard to put down and the diversity of the book makes it all the more enjoyable. I recommend!

“I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.” – Molly

“Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” By Becky Albertalli

Hi all!

It’s been a while, I’ve been busy with exams and then a big move, followed by the start of a new job. Now that I’m a bit more settled in, with more time to read, I will also be posting more. Hopefully. Because June was Pride Month, I have been looking for an LGBT+ friendly book with gay main characters and I landed on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. It had quite a few good reviews on Goodreads and everyone seems to be reading Albertalli’s other book, The Upside of Unrequited these days(which I have now also started). There is a possibility this will just turn into a rant about the difficulty I have in finding good, well-written and relevant LGBT fiction, but I will try to keep this post about the book itself (I might go off a tangent in a separate post at a later point though).

PLOT

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Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

‘CLASS’ YA

This book is good. I really liked it.

First of all, the Simon character is a good guy. Fundamentally, he is likable, he has good friends and he’s coming to grips with his sexual identity without losing himself in the process. His friendships with Abby, Leah, and Nick were immensely fascinating to read. I sympathised with Leah as she was sort of pushed aside, and at the same time completely understood that Simon simply found another person he could connect with, which there’s nothing wrong with. (I’m happy to say that Leah will be the main character of Albertalli’s next book. Whoop whoop! Can’t wait to read more about her. You’ll feel the same way once you’ve read this one I promise.)

tumblr_nxfg1sijc21u8fbs9o1_500The primary love interest is Blue and his identity remains a mystery until the end. The buildup to his reveal had me on the edge of my seat and I struggled to put the book down. I simply had to get to the end! And it was worth it. YA books are great because they are easy to read and they hold an emotional significance and relatability that is easily felt. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of those books and will be left standing as one of my favourite YA books. Simon and Blue’s relationship is built gradually, intently and anonymously. The purity of their relationship and depths of their conversations were aspects I greatly enjoyed. I also recognised myself in Simon in that manner as I have built trust in the same way in the past.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of the better LGBT+ books I have read, it’s realistic, relatable and well-written. Overall, it’s extremely enjoyable, it is YA-y, fluffy, diverse and full of friendship. If you like books like I’ll Give you the Sun and Lola and the Boy Next Door, this is the book for you! 

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“The Engelsfors Series” By Strandberg and Elfgren

The Engelsfors series has captivated me in a way no fantasy book has done in a long time. Every once in a while I read a book that is so vivid it feels as though I am not reading, but experiencing it myself. Strandberg and Elfgren have brilliantly constructed this universe and I am so thrilled to have had the pleasure of reading this series.

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PLOT

One night, when a strange red moon fills the sky, six school girls find themselves in an abandoned theme park, drawn there by a mysterious force. A student has just been found dead. Everyone suspects suicide. Everyone – except them.

In that derelict fairground an ancient prophecy is revealed. They are The Chosen Ones, a group of witches, bound together by a power, one which could destroy them all. But they soon learn that despite their differences they need each other in order to master the forces that have been awakened within them.

High school is now a matter of life and death. Because the killing has only just begun.

 

CHARACTERS 
noje_27-01-15_haxorna-i-engelsforsThe main reason you should read this series is the characters. Each character is different and has their own well-crafted storylines that make them come to life in the most realistic fashion. The mundane issues they have as teenagers contrast their heavy world-threatening supernatural struggles. Anyone will be able to relate to someone in some way, which makes it feel as though the reader could be the one with the magical powers, and I absolutely love that.

LGBT STORYLINE
The depiction of Vanessa and Linnea’s relationship is one of my favourite plot points. The way they progressed and gradually became more and more infatuated with each other is realistically written and plays a central role in the development of both characters. I find that LGBT+ storylines in books and TV-shows normally revolve around one person’s coming-out process, usually filled with a lot of angst and sadness. This storyline focused almost exclusively on their relationship and their feelings for each other, the way heterosexual couples normally are depicted.

YA?
What I enjoyed about this book (or maybe I shouldn’t have enjoyed it) were the graphic descriptions. Descriptions of sex, drug use, and violence are part of what makes the book feel more appropriate for older age groups. Sometimes I don’t enjoy reading books about people younger than me. If I’m feeling nostalgic it can be pretty pretty great, but most ofmap_engelsfors__c_karl_johnsson the time it makes me feel slightly sad that something extraordinary never happened to me. It’s kind of like the feeling you get when you find out a popular actress or footballer is actually younger than you and they are having all this success while you’re sat eating Doritos in bed. Anyway, the sex, drugs and violence descriptions make it feel like the series is for a more mature audience as well, which I quite enjoyed.

The book is fantastically written and a delightful page-turner. If you like fantasy then this book is definitely for you. 

HAVE YOU  READ THIS BOOK SERIES?
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“The Ugly Teapot” By Fred Holmes

Author: Fred Holmes

Published: 30th of March 2016.

Pages: 205

Goodreads rating: 4.33

WHY DID I WANT TO READ THIS BOOK?

For a while now I have been wanting to read some light, easy-read fantasy. I was asked to review this book and it turned out to be exactly what I needed. Fantasy books are thrilling because they take you out of this world and into a new one. I was looking for an escape and I found it in this book.

PLOT(from Goodreads)aaeaaqaaaaaaaaj6aaaajdvinwflnmfhltg4ogitngi3yi04odc1ltq3zgy2ytblytqyyg

Fourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about him constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world.

To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Aladdin’s Lamp. It was that lamp Hannah found the most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something very special.

Then . . . six months later . . . the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so on the day of his funeral Hannah did something she never thought she would ever do.

She took out that teapot and gave it a rub . . .

THE POWER OF IMAGINATION

This book is proof that your imagination can create wonderful things. Holmes has created a fantasy world that it was easy to get into and hard to escape. I was sat reading this book in my flat mate’s room and I kept giving him recaps because it was too intense to keep to myself. Nearly every chapter ends on a cliffhanger and I was unable to stop reading.

aladdindisneyWhat I thoroughly enjoyed was the presence of allusions. The author referred to Aladdin and Tarzan which made the whole story more elaborate and relatable, but I wish the Aladdin plot line could have been developed further. I am always happy when fantasy novels refer to legends and stories we as readers know, because it makes me feel more attached to the story and the characters.

There is a parallel storyline following Hannah’s mother as she struggles with some more adult themes. Where Hannah’s storyline deals with more child-related themes, having a more adult storyline is a good break. Especially as an older reader it was refreshing and served as a nice contrast.

The style in which this book is written makes it clear it is meant for children. I would say 10-12 year olds, but some of the descriptions I felt were too explicit for such a young reader. As in “slitting her throat” and “blood gushing” are quite harsh terms. The themes handled in this book are also quite adult centred, but are explained in a juvenile way which I believe will suit a young child well.

I like being surprised. This book definitely took me by surprise. It was a rollercoaster of emotions; sadness, happiness, elation, shock and relief were all feelings I experienced. Of course the book ended on a massive cliff hanger and I can’t wait to read next one!

 

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK?