So rather than write three separate reviews where I will probably blabber in great detail, I decided to start a little series where I write mini-reviews of some upcoming books that I gratefully accepted in proof copy form. As always, these views are all my own and below I’ve reviewed two contemporaries and a fantasy! They are all being released soon so make sure to add them to your TBRs if any take your fancy.
Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold
I was drawn to this book when I saw it marketed as a dark fairytale retelling because although I’m not the huge fan of fairytales, I love a dark twist. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book. The message in this book almost screams ‘THIS IS VERY FEMINIST HEAVY’ with the idea that the women in the book are strong because of their periods. As much as I am all for menstruating being a normalised thing in fiction books – this of course raises a lot of problematic aspects with the fact that not all women have vaginas or have periods – for a supposed feminist book, there is no mention of trans and non-binary people.
Although this book is marketed as YA, it has graphic depictions of sex and violence so I’d be aware of that going in. I do appreciate that sex is very normalised in this book, as well as what it’s like (in a lot of detail) to have a period but I also appreciate it may be too explicit for some younger readers. I also had a problem with the underlying message that men have no hope of redemption and the only way we can stop toxic masculinity is by killing them – with no repercussions.
The fantasy element of this novel is that men turn into wolves (to represent their ‘wild’ nature,) however we are given no explanation as to why this happens – to the point it almost felt like a contemporary novel with some occasional fantastical elements.
Overall, I think the author did not achieve the message they wanted to convey with this novel and unfortunately, we were presented with a view of feminism that is centred around straight, cis-gendered people.
Thank you to Harper360 for sending a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: February 25th
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
After starting my 2020 book releases with LGBTQ+ characters series, I soon realised that there were a lot of contemporaries I wanted to read this year – including this beauty. This is marketed as a queer retelling of Grease and it definitely delivered.
It took me a while to get into this book (I’m not sure why, maybe because I was in a fantasy phase) but once I got around 100 pages in, I was hooked. Some of the stand out parts of this novel for me was the humour, especially Ollie’s sarcastic inner thoughts. I think they are very realistic of teenagers – and not an author trying to write like a teen. I also loved the characters themselves – both Ollie and Will as well as Ollie’s friendship group of amazing women. I like that friendship was a good part of this novel – rather than just the romance. One of Ollie’s friend’s Niamh is an aspiring model and it’s revealed that she has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and seeing as this is something I live with too, I was delighted to see it discussed in a YA novel.
As for the romance, I do enjoy that it was a slow-burn as it made it all the more satisfying when it came to the climax. Although Ollie is openly gay, Will is not as he is a basketball player and is scared of the reaction. There are also important family values in this novel as Ollie’s aunt is battling cancer. Overall, I’m glad this novel tackled a lot of different issues and didn’t rely solely on the romance. Definitely a quick and cute contemporary – perfect for the summer months.
Thank you to Hachette for sending a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: March 3rd
Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon
I have to admit I was a bit hesitant going into this book as fairytales and in this case, fairytale retellings have never been my thing. However, because this book is a contemporary take on a fairytale, it worked out better for me and other than The Curse, I feel it was very loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast.
Before I begin, because of the reason stated above, I definitely feel like me not being a huge fan of it is a personal thing but if you love retellings, then I would recommend it. There wasn’t anything wrong with it – it just didn’t manage to capture my attention or leave an impression. For me, the book is carried a lot by the mystery surrounding Grey’s curse and is the main reason I kept reading. As for the two main characters who the book switches between, I feel like they didn’t bring a lot to the table. I liked Jaya more as she is strong-headed and very protective over her family, however I feel like Grey was just your typical YA brooding character.
Despite the fact the mystery aspect was the element that kept me reading, it did all end very quickly and easily but as this is a contemporary and a romance at that, I wasn’t expecting a huge plot twist moment.
This wasn’t for me on a personal level but I definitely don’t have a problem with it so if you like YA romances/contemporaries and retellings, then I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot.
Thank you to Hodder for sending a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: February 18th
Lots of Love,