A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

 

The final instalment in the Shades of Magic series follows our favourite Antari, Kell who is a magician with the ability to travel between alternate Londons. Teaming up with fellow magician, Delilah Bard – cutthroat pirate and thief and his brother, Rhy, heir to the throne, they must put a stop to a murderous force that threatens to take over everything and put everyone under their spell.
(Trigger Warning – The Magicians in this series use blood magic so there are some detailed descriptions of cutting in this series.)

 

 

* Angharad’s Thoughts *

If I could just insert an audio clip of me screaming for my review, then that will probably sum up my experience with this trilogy. Usually with trilogies, the first book is amazing and then the second book is okay and then the third is either a hit or miss but this entire trilogy managed to be A+++ all the way through and nobody could have done it quite like Victoria Schwab. Just a quick summary because if you’re reading this review, then you’ve probably read the previous books. The Shades of Magic trilogy follows Kell who is an Antari, a magician able to travel between worlds, or in this particular case, various Londons.
This series introduced me to one of my all time favourite characters – Delilah Bard. Thief/pickpocket and wannabe pirate, whose goal in life is to just live it. She is gender-fluid, has a disability, carries a load of knives around with her and is confident and sassy without being cocky. She starts off as something of a side character when she teams up with Kell but by the end of the series, she is the shining star. She goes through so much character development in just three books and grows so much as a person. She was a girl used to running, used to having nothing, used to sleeping with her back against the wall but now she is pure magic (literally and figuratively.)
Another character with huge development is Rhy, heir to the Arnesian throne and Kell’s brother (also a queer PoC.) He has no magic and always felt as though he was less because of it but he proves that you don’t need magic in order to be a true and just king. I was so so proud of him after reading this book, he’s just my royal son. His relationship with Alucard progressed more and we hear more about their backstory – they are just the cutest. Speaking of Alucard, he continued to be a badass in this book, whilst also breaking my heart into a thousand pieces and constantly bickering with Kell.
Want to know what broke my heart the most? Other than pretty much everything. The award goes to Holland. We get chapters from his POV as he also tells us about his past, from the beginning. Without excusing some of his actions, he has been through so so much, his life has literally been hell on earth and we hear more about his life and the people who have been in it. Holland, Kell, Lila and Alucard even team up in the second half of the book and I enjoyed every second of these people working together. Teamwork (especially between former enemies) is my soft spot in fiction. Also, without giving away spoilers, Kell and Holland go through quite a bit in this conclusion.
Overall, this book was huge (the paperback being 666 pages, har har, Victoria) but every second was packed with action, emotion and excitement. I read this book in a day and every time I had to put it down, I felt as though I had been pulled from the world. We get POVs from Kell, Lila, Holland – even characters such as Queen Emira & King Maxim which was really interesting. I usually hate secondary characters suddenly having a voice in the final book but this is Victoria Schwab we’re talking about so she nailed it. The beginning, middle and end captured my attention and I’ll miss this world more than you can imagine. It is rich, diverse and just magical and it will forever be a series I recommend.
* Becky’s Thoughts *

It’s been a few days since I finished this book and I still can’t put my feelings into words. The one thing I can confidently say right now, to sum everything up, is this – although I’ve loved this series from the start, it was A Conjuring of Light that truly made it one of my favourite series’s of all time.

We are thrown straight into the action with this book kicking off exactly where A Gathering of Shadows left off, and this fast-pacing carries on throughout, because for Kell, Lila, Alucard, Rhy and Holland, it’s no longer just a magical power play – it’s about saving their world(s). I’m not always a fan of books that are full of action all the way through, but ACOL did this perfectly – yes, the action, tension and plotting never stopped, but it wasn’t all action and nothing else. Each of the characters grow and develop more in this book than in either of the previous books, and we get more of a look into their pasts as well – Holland’s back story, most of all, destroyed me. I’ve always loved him (sorry, I just have a thing for antiheroes/villains) and his story arc in this book couldn’t have been more perfect. Lila was, as always, amazing, and she definitely grew and matured in this book in my opinion.

I feel like there isn’t much that I can say that Angharad hasn’t already said or that wouldn’t absolutely spoil this book for anyone else, so I’ll just say this – go and read it. If you’ve already read the first two books in the series, I don’t think you need me to convince you to pick this up, and if you haven’t started this series yet, take our gushing as encouragement to go and do so. If you want a fantasy series full of complex, well developed and diverse characters, three different worlds with the most perfect atmospheric world building, a fast-paced, emotional plot, and enough twists and cliffhangers to make you dizzy, this is the series for you.

+

love,

 

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza


“Was there really so much hatred in the universe, so much prejudice, even among people who claimed to be unbiased? Had this always been true?”


Honestly, Sci-Fi isn’t always my go-to genre; I have always been an avid Star Wars fan, but I tend to be quite wary of sci-fi novels as I really struggle to find ones that I can connect with, or that don’t info dump too much (in my opinion). However, when Empress of a Thousand Skies was announced, I jumped straight on the hype train along with everyone else. All I knew about this book was that it was a YA sci-fi, centered around a Princess set on vengeance, full of diverse characters, and I had high hopes for it. I’m happy to say that this book didn’t disappoint. 
Empress of a Thousand Skies switches between two POV’s – Princess Rhiannon Ta’an (Rhee), the last survivor of the Kalusian dynasty. Rhee is approaching her sixteenth birthday and coronation, but is determined to out her family’s murderer before she is crowned. The second POV character is Alyosha, a Wraetan refugee who has found fame in a DroneVision show, The Revolutionary Boys. When Rhee is attacked during her journey to her home planet a few days before her coronation is planned, the galaxy assumes her dead, and Alyosha is blamed – a scapegoat in a universe still full of prejudices against Wraetans. 

For me, what really made this book was the incredibly relevant social commentary. Alyosha struggles daily with being Wraetan and being famous – he feels as though his actions will reflect the actions of everyone from Wraeta, his home planet which was destroyed in the last war with Kalu. Despite the treaty between the Kalusians and the Wraetans following the war, tensions are still high between them both, and Alyosha is determined to prove the often racist and stereotypical opinions that the Kalusians have of the Wraetans wrong. However, when he is framed for Rhee’s murder, all of his carefully done hard work goes awry, and war flares back up across the galaxy. Alyosha also has an incredibly emotional backstory, focusing on his journey away from Wraeta before it’s destruction, and his feelings of displacement ever since. I felt as though Alyosha’s story particularly is so relevant to the world we’re currently living in, and it was easy to see the parallels despite him being from a completely fictional planet. 
Rhee’s side of the story is far more fast paced, and is much more of a coming of age story as she delves into the secrets surrounding the murder of her parents and sister, as well as coming to terms with the differing opinions of her being on the brink of taking the crown at such a young age. Both Rhee and Aly’s stories circle each other and join together in such a perfect way, making the overall plot of this book full of cliffhangers, surprise twists and heartbreaking scenes. 

I often struggle with world building in sci-fi novels, however the world building in Empress was both easy to follow and complex enough to flesh out the galaxy at the same time. Each of the characters visited multiple planets, moons etc throughout, which I thought really added to the overall plot – why stick to one planet when you have a whole galaxy in your reach? There was also a map and a little glossary at the front – two things which are bound to start a book off on the right foot!
If I were to have one criticism, it’d be that I would have liked more character development. I felt as though I could have connected to Rhee more than I did, and hopefully I’ll be more emotionally invested in her story in the second book. 
Overall, Empress is truly unlike any other sci-fi book I’ve ever read – it’s culturally relevant to our time, whilst remaining fast-paced enough to keep you interested, and is set across a whole galaxy that I can’t wait to see more of in the sequel. I’d definitely recommend this book! 
+
love Becky @

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli


The Upside of Unrequited follows the story of seventeen-year-old, Molly Peskin-Suso who knows all about the world of unrequited love after having a string of crushes but nothing in return. Her twin, Cassie, is her complete opposite and everything changes, including their close relationship, when Cassie meets and falls in love with Mina, a girl Molly meets in a girl’s bathroom (yay for female friendships formed in the toilets!!) Faced with being alonie, Cassie tries setting her up with Mina’s best friend, Will and he’s everything Molly would usually go for. That is until she gets a new job and meets the Tolkien/Game of Thrones fan (who wears seriously white trainers,) Reid. What follows is a journey of self-acceptance, love in all its forms and a story full of diverse and fantastically written characters.

Angharad’s Thoughts:

 * My highlights *

 

MOLLY PESKIN-SUSO! Now on my list of my all-time favourite fictional characters. Molly is Jewish, fat and a surrogate child of her and Cassie’s parents, Nadine and Patty. In other words, we have nothing in common but she is just so relatable. She’s funny, has mental health issues (and medication is actually mentioned!!) and is the nicest person you’ll ever meet. You root for her from the very first page. She’s an avid fan of Pinterest and can make anything look good and she can bake the best cookie dough. I just want her to be my friend. Her weight is never an issue to her, she worries more that other people will judge her and that fat girls never seem to ‘get the guy’, or have sex or fall in love. I can’t wait for the world to meet her.
FEMALE CHARACTERS! Other than Reid, Will and baby Xavier, this book is packed full with amazing and diverse female characters. We have the main family consisting of Molly, Cassie, Nadine, and Patty (and little Xavier.) Cassie’s pansexual girlfriend, Mina. Olivia and Abby (close friends of the twins) and even their grandmother who makes a very controversial introduction but ultimately has good intentions despite saying hurtful things. They are all amazing, they all interact with each other, there is no rivalry (other than silly arguments), there’s trust and they all have their own voices.
NADINE & PATTY! Not only are they an interracial f/f couple (one being bisexual) whose cuteness destroyed me but they are parents that are PRESENT IN A YA NOVEL YES YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY! They are involved in Molly and Cassie’s lives without interfering, they have grown-up conversations with them   (safe sex!!) and they have their own lives outside our protagonist’s storyline to the point that we even learn about their pasts and how they met. I can’t even express how important this is in a YA novel so I am incredibly grateful to Becky Albertalli.
**

 

Overall, this book is just so positive. It deals with coming-of-age, body image and our insecurities. It is a book full of LGBTQIA characters, amazing representation and genuine conversations. There are mentions of medication, masturbation (I should have another ‘M’ here right?) and (safe) sex. It is a funny, upbeat and sweet novel. It is has something for everyone – friendships, family and relationships. Molly and her relationship with Reid is slow-burning but realistic and when they finally got together, they were just SO cute. I do believe there are little cameos from Becky’s previous book Simon vs but I haven’t read that book so I can’t confirm this. Definitely put this book on your TBRs for 2017, share it with your friends and show your support because this book is important.

Becky’s Thoughts:

I feel as though, if you read a basic plot synopsis for The Upside of Unrequited without any context or background information on the characters, it could seem like your typical girl-meets-boy YA contemporary. The thing is, it couldn’t be further from typical.

Our main character Molly is a fat, Jewish girl with mental health issues and a wonderfully quirky sense of humour; she’s a girl with an lgbt+ twin, two mums, and her and both of her siblings are surrogates. I didn’t realise how much I needed a book with Molly Peskin-Suso as the main character until I read this. I absolutely devoured the entire book within a couple of hours, it was that enthralling, funny, and at times painfully true to life. Molly is a character you will connect with straight away – she’s so likeable and easy to relate to, and I genuinely felt her anger on the rare occasions that she got mad.

As a girl who would be called overweight by a BMI calculator, Molly was a breath of fresh air for me. Finding a book with an overweight main character, especially a YA book, is such a rare occurrence – I actually can’t think of any others that have one. Although Molly’s life doesn’t revolve around her weight (which was such a positive thing to reinforce!!!) she mentions issues that all of us slightly larger girls deal with – the chub-rub, the “you’re pretty – for a fat girl” comments, the constant mental comparisons to skinnier girls – it’s all dealt with in this book. I was immediately hooked when I read this extract, literally on the first page:

‘I suck in my cheeks so it looks like I have cheekbones. And it’s quite a transformation. Sometimes I have the idea that I could maintain this. I could spend the rest of my life gently biting the inside of my cheeks. Except for the fact that it makes my lips look weird. Also, biting your cheeks definitely gets in the way of talking, and that’s a little hardcore, even for me. Even for cheekbones.’ 

Honestly, I cannot even count the amount of times I’ve stood in front of a mirror and done similar things. I knew as soon as I read this that I’d instantly connect with Molly, and my love grew for her throughout the entire book.

Anyway, although I really loved Molly (if you can’t tell that already from my insane amount of gushing) I did also love other things in this book! Cassie perhaps wasn’t the best sister at times, but I loved how she always called out things that were wrong, and she was always prepared to stand up for Molly, even to her Grandma. I loved her personality and I adored her and Mina. I wish we could have seen more of Mina though – I have to admit that I fell in love with her just a little bit. Nadine and Patty, Molly and Cassie’s parents, were absolutely perfect, and as Angharad said – it’s a YA novel and they were actually present in their kids lives! They were such a down to earth couple and definitely family goals. Reid and Molly were also so cute together, and again, it was a breath of fresh air to read a YA contemporary that didn’t resort to instalove. I loved watching their friendship grow and the way that they bonded over a love of mini eggs and cookie dough – food based friendships are the best kind, and everyone knows it.

One of my pet peeves with many YA contemporaries is the attempt to include social media without actually naming any modern day companies or websites. I find that often authors will say the main character “logged into a chatroom” etc, and you just feel instantly disconnected and transported back to the 90’s. I really appreciated that the characters in this used up to date websites and apps that we all actually use – they’re always checking Facebook and Instagram, and Molly is a complete Pinterest addict. Although this is just a small thing, I do really think it helps a modern day audience to connect to the characters (I mean, who even uses chatrooms anymore? Do they still even exist?!)

Overall, The Upside of Unrequited is such a diverse, modern, and generally relatable book. I love a good contemporary, but I am so tired of reading something that tries to portray the real world, but it couldn’t be further from it. Becky Albertalli’s world in Upside – with a range of diverse characters, strong but complicated family ties, different religions, and hey, characters who aren’t all a perfect size eight with a flat stomach – this is the real world, and it was absolutely perfect.

+

This book is released on April 11th, 2017.
Love from

Kingdom of Sleep by E.K. Johnston

I don’t think I quite enjoyed this book as much as its prequel, A Thousand Nights, but it was still an intriguing, beautiful story!

Kingdom of Sleep, or Spindle, depending on where you live, follows Yashaa, Arwa, Tariq and Saoud, on a quest to return to their crumbling home of Karuf and save the Princess, Zahrah. At her fifth birthday party, she was cursed by a demon who intended to possess her once she had learned everything she needed to be a ruler, forcing her kingdom into ruin and resulting in the banning of spindles (this is where the Sleeping Beauty references come in), as the demon pronounced that once Zahrah learned to spin, she would be ready for inhabitation. Yashaa, Arwa and Tariq’s families, who were spinners, were forced to leave their home at this point, but now the three of them along with Saoud are determined to break Zahrah’s curse. 



A Thousand Nights was very much a slow building story, and whereas Kingdom of Sleep was also slow, there was still a lot more action in it. It was definitely more of a “journey story”, focusing on the development of the characters and their relationships with each other rather than on the plot. I did struggle to get into this book at first, mostly because I wasn’t expecting some of the differences between it and A Thousand Nights (for example, I assumed that the characters would all remain unnamed as they did in the previous book) but once I got into the book I really enjoyed it and began to connect with the characters a lot more. 

Although I thought the ending was a bit too rushed, the very last chapter really made the book for me. With A Thousand Nights, the thing that really stuck with me was how beautiful and poetic the writing was, and I’m so glad that Kingdom of Sleep still had such beautiful writing, even though it was written in quite a different style and voice. 


This definitely isn’t a sequel to A Thousand Nights, but a companion novel – it’s set in the same land, but quite a long time afterwards (hundreds of years, as far as I’m aware) and although key events are mentioned from the previous book, you could definitely read this as a standalone and have no trouble at all understanding what’s happening. I’d also just like to mention something about the Sleeping Beauty comparisons – Kingdom of Sleep is marketed as being inspired by/a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and I think this may have put some people off, but in my opinion, the two stories couldn’t be more different – literally the main similarity is that in both stories, spindles are the triggers in the Princesses curses. Because of this, I would definitely not let the Sleeping Beauty inspirations embedded in this book put you off reading it, as like I say, they’re barely there! 



Have you read A Thousand Nights or Kingdom of Sleep/Spindle? What did you think?

love Becky @ 


Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

(Huge thanks to Netgalley for sending me an eArc of this book.)

Jordan Sun is starting her junior year at performing arts school, but being an Alto 2, she’s always struggled to get a role in the school musical. When the school get a mass email informing them that the Sharpshooters, the school’s revered all-male a cappella group, Jordan is determined to make this year different. She cross-dresses as a guy, Julian, and discovers that, as a Tenor 1, she’s just what the Sharpshooters need.
**

+ Our main character represents a lot of things. Jordan is a bisexual (which she discovers throughout the course of the novel), Chinese-American girl coming from a poor family. She’s tall and has a low voice, making her easily pass as a guy. All of these things have stopped her from achieving her goals in Kensington, but as a guy, she finds her place. During the beginning of her transformation into Julian, she Googles ways to flatten her chest and comes across a website for trans people. What follows is an important narrative as Jordan compares her cross-dressing as a disguise and lie whereas for trans, it’s a very different and important matter. The book also touches upon sexuality and gender stereotypes as Jordan regularly calls out acts of sexism in her role as Julian.

+ Upon hearing that Jordan would be the only main female character in this book, amongst a group of all males, I was hesitant but this is a very interesting and diverse group of boys. Isaac who is Japanese, Trav who is black, Jon Cox who has a learning disability and Nihal, a Sikh guy who reveals that he is gay. Jordan develops a friendship with each of them and I especially loved her friendship with Nihal who becomes something of a confidante. I just loved the bond between them and their domesticity during rehearsal. I’m a sucker for domesticity!
+ The prose was beautiful, flowing like music itself and despite the book focusing on a subject I’m not clued up on (music, singing, a cappella), the author manages to let it flow naturally, never info-dumping any of the technical terms. The book is split into four parts but it is a novel you can definitely read in one sitting. It manages to touch upon important subjects and represent them without preaching or making the narrative too difficult. It is a style of contemporary that we need more of.

+ Overall, I liked being inside Jordan’s head. I liked her transformation into Julian and how it changed her and also the high expectations she puts on herself to please her parents. Jordan is also dealing with an emotional breakup throughout the course of the novel and it was so refreshing to see her journey through accepting its end. This book just manages to deal with so many topics and issues and yet never rushes over the main story. Riley Redgate just proves that you can still deal with important issues in a YA contemporary novel without it being the main focus. Jordan destroys gender norms one page at a time and it was truly an honour to have met her and the Sharpshooters.



Love from Angharad,

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

“Mental health is usually the last place people go when they think about someone being sick… I’ve heard you don’t look mentally ill at least a half a dozen times in the past four years, a couple of those times from my former friends. I blame the media, stereotyping ‘mentally ill’ and calling every murderer since Manson crazy. People always seem to be expecting wide eyes and a kitchen knife dripping with blood.”
**
Goodreads | Book Depository

/TRIGGER WARNING FOR SELF-HARM/

(I, myself, am a recovering agoraphobiac living with severe anxiety and depression so I was very hesitant about going into this novel, purely because I didn’t want to get triggered. Luckily, despite connecting to Norah on a very deep level, I was able to deal with it. However, I would advise people like me to only read this book if you’re able. No book is worth risking your mental health.)

We follow the story of seventeen-year-old, Norah who lives with agoraphobia and because of this, the story mainly takes place within her home and safe place. She also battles with OCD and self-harming tendencies (this story also focuses on what it means to self-harm and the different categories it falls under.) If you’re looking for a plot-based book, you won’t find it here but if you’re looking for a book about mental-health and its effect on daily life, you’ll find it here. Louise Gornall, in my opinion, absolutely nailed living with these conditions and has done it justice. Yes, Norah meets a boy and she falls in love but her mental illness is never glossed over, not even at the end.
The relationship between Norah and Luke was lovely, healthy and realistic. I love how they chose to communicate sometimes by writing on windows or on their hands when Norah wasn’t feeling up to talking. I saw a review saying that it was unrealistic to find a boy who would accept your mental illness *insert eye roll* but they actually do exist, guys?? I am so done with people saying people who live with mental health issues cannot find happiness. Another highlight was definitely Norah’s relationship with her mum and her mum is the coolest (I mean, she wore her hair in space buns??) They have such a strong relationship that reminds me of my mother and I so I loved their moments together. They truly were heartwarming, you can see how much her mum supports her and yet never pushes her too much. Norah also has regular visits with her therapist, Dr. Reeves and I wish I had a therapist as lovely as her. A lot of advice that was given by her, I definitely took on board myself which is something I’m incredibly grateful to the author for.
Overall, this is a very quick read (if I didn’t have a migraine for three days) and if you’re searching for a book to either help you learn about mental illness or to see yourself in Norah, then I would definitely recommend this. It’s a hard story to read, especially when Norah relapses and the event that takes place near the end of the book made me anxious and uncomfortable but that was because of good writing and a relatable main character. We go deep into the inner mechanics of Norah’s mind, the questions she is constantly asking herself, her worries about germs and disasters but she also has the ability to laugh at herself, to have your typical teenage-girl issues and that is why she is a character you can immediately jump into your shoes of, even if you don’t particularly want to. This book shows the dark side to mental health that isn’t romanticised or at all stereotypical despite its MC falling in love. There isn’t a cure or a happy ever after, Norah is still ill and still recovering at the end of the story. Give this book a shot but look after yourselves.
Love from,
Angharad

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo


Every now and then you come across a book that within mere chapters, makes you think this is so important. Those were my thoughts when reading If I Was Your Girl by the wonderful Meredith Russo. We follow the story of Amanda, a transgender girl who goes to live with her father. She falls in love, makes new friends and learns to love the body she should have been born with. The novel switches between present day and flashbacks all the way through Amanda’s childhood to her attempted suicide and finally, her transition. This is a YA contemporary with all our much-loved themes but having it told by a transgender woman makes the story so much more important.


Likes

+ Amanda. A transgender main character in a YA novel? Yep. Not only that, it’s also written by a transgender author. This is so important for young readers, regardless of the story itself. For Amanda to lead the life that many YA characters live – to fall in love, have family issues, meeting a new group of friends but also have such a traumatic past. She is brave character and incredibly strong. She tells us her story from present day but also switches between years and months ago, from a very young age when she knew that she should have been born a girl. There’s this amazing parallel scene in the book – in one chapter, Amanda tells us of the time she took pills and tried to end her life but then we also experience the moment she took pills that began her transition and the two scenes – one heartbreakingly sad and the other heartbreakingly joyous really stood out for me. Amanda is definitely one of my top favourite female characters after reading this book. 
+ Familial relationships! Amanda has a very strong bond with her mother, despite the fact that she is living with her father during the events of this novel. Her mother is the one who helped her after her suicide attempt and accepted that she is transgender. Her father, however, is less accepting at first and so the two go on a journey of acceptance. I like that there were strong family ties in this novel but still maintained complications. It’s realistic and it showed not only Amanda’s journey through transition, but also her parents. The two ultimately care deeply for their daughter. 
+ Female friendships!! I recently posted a blog post about my favourite fictional female friendships and I wish I had read this book before I compiled it because Amanda’s friendship with Chloe, Anna and Layla was really lovely. They accept her from the very beginning and they all maintained such a healthy relationship, especially Anna who is very religious and has a very religious family. I mean, Chloe pulled a loaded gun on Parker to save Amanda. Friendship goals.

50/50

+ The romance between Amanda and Grant. Okay, so I went from loving these two, loving their healthy relationship (he asked if he could kiss her rather than just kiss her without consent when she was babbling on and this is something that is important to me), he says that he would accept her no matter what and even refuses to read a letter she writes to him explaining everything etc etc butwhen he discovers Amanda was transgender, he wandered off and was nowhere to be seen until the end of the book even asking the question, ‘does that make me gay?’ However, he agrees to hear Amanda’s story from the beginning but this is how the book ends!! Does he accept her? Nobody knows. I’m all for books that don’t have everything tied up in a little bow at the end because that’s real life but this didn’t sit well with me. Their entire relationship would have changed in my eyes if he still didn’t end up accepting her, especially as he ‘loved her no matter what.’ 


Dislikes

+ Character treatment. So a character in this book, Bee, is bisexual, something she openly admits. She is also in a secret relationship with Chloe, another of Amanda’s friends. Bee is the first person Amanda trusts enough to tell her she is transgender as the two form a quick friendship and play a game in which they tell each other secrets about each other. What seems like a strong bond quickly turns sour when Bee attempts to kiss Amanda, gets kindly rejected and then proceeds to stand on stage and reveal secrets about pupils, including outing Amanda and Chloe. It was awful and I feel as though it came from nowhere? I feel like Bee’s character was ruined here and for no reason and also nothing comes of it after. She was such an interesting character, she was a good friend to Amanda, openly bisexual and also a rape victim and I feel like outing everybody was very OOC for her. 

+ Unnecessary attempted rape scene (trigger warning for this!) At the end of the novel, after the events of Homecoming, Amanda is apprehended by Parker, a friend of Grant who she turned down at the start of the novel. He offers her a ride home but when he is rejected, he goes on to verbally abuse her, punch her and attempt to rape her when only a few chapters ago, he was apologising for any hard feelings between them. Luckily Amanda is helped by her friends but once again like the Bee situation, nothing comes of it and Parker isn’t mentioned again despite this horrific crime. I felt like it was unnecessary and it made me extremely uncomfortable.


**

Overall, this book is important and no rating will change that. Having a YA contemporary novel that has a transgender main character is unfortunately very rare despite it being 2016 so every one we get is a must-read. Amanda was an amazing character, she was brave and strong but most of all, she was happy in her body and that was so beautiful to see considering she spent so long in the wrong one. This is another book that I would encourage to be compulsory reading in secondary schools, both for the cisgender and transgender communities.
Love,