Mini Reviews // Contemporary Edition

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So it’s time for another set of mini reviews! This time we are focusing on contemporary because for some reason my last three reads have been in this genre despite me not normally visiting it a lot. These are all recent releases (bar one which isn’t released yet) so I’m sure everybody is talking about them but here are my thoughts anyway!


Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

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When I was accepted for this on Netgalley, I must admit I shrieked before quickly downloading it and reading it in one sitting (until 2am!) It has all the features of a typical coming-of-age contemporary novel – our protagonist is wondering where to go in life and is also getting closer to her long-term crush. However, Maya Aziz is an Indian-American Muslim and this #ownvoices novel explores the horrific world of Islamophobia and the effect terrorists have on their community. After a local terrorist attack, it is revealed that the supposed bomber was a fellow Muslim with the same surname as Maya and her family – therefore, they are subjected to racism, abuse and violence despite not having any connections. It was shocking and uncomfortable but in all the right ways. It explored the act of terror attacks through the eyes of a teenage Muslim girl which is something I haven’t read before. Maya’s resilience really shone through in this novel, not just through the hate that she endures but also standing up against her parents to pursue her love of filmmaking. This book isn’t released until January 16th, 2018 but I’d definitely recommend picking it up as soon as you’re able to.


It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

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It is no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Holly Bourne so as soon as I saw this book, I dived on it. Quite literally. Bourne’s previous series (The Spinster Club) remains in my all time top favourites and the one thing I concluded after reading them is that her books should be required reading in secondary schools and after reading her newest release, I stand by that statement even more. Holly takes the idea of a cliche, romance, contemporary novel and turns it on its head by being a brave author! She writes girls who talk about periods, she writes girls who are feminists and proud, she writes girls who don’t compete against each other. In this book, our main character, Audrey and her friend, Alice even have a discussion about losing your virginity and how it isn’t supposed to hurt (which it isn’t!) and how there shouldn’t be a lot of blood (there shouldn’t) and it should be pleasurable for the girl just as much as the guy! I will even admit now that I had no sex-ed classes in school (we had ten minutes of dildo throwing and that was it) so if I had come across this book when I was a young teen, it would have blown my mind because I didn’t know this stuff!! Adding to all this, the story was amazing, the humour was bang on as normal and I just think this is super important for younger teens!


Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

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I must admit that I wasn’t going to pick this book up but after seeing it getting a few high reviews (and it being half price in my local bookshop) I thought I’d give John Green another chance. I didn’t know anything about this book and I just hoped it wasn’t all about turtles (but of course the title is another ‘metaphor.’) Despite everything, this book for me was pretty run of the mill and as ever, John Green’s teenagers continue to have very unrealistic conversations. I’m not saying teenagers can’t have deep and meaningful conversations, but all of his characters speak the same and therefore, merge into one. Another disappointment was the ‘plot.’ It is pretty much a mystery/missing person case that gets forgotten about for most of the novel. Maybe it’s because I’m a huge fan of crime cases, both real and fictional, but it just all seemed unnecessary to me. However, the one thing that stood out to me was the mental illness rep. Our main character, Aza (yes there’s a meaning behind her name), has an OCD and anxiety disorder and also displays self-harm tendencies so beware of trigger warnings. Aza experiences a lot of invasive thoughts that I found to be very realistic as I live with mental illness myself. Overall, I have a lot more thoughts about this book but I’ll keep this to the mini review it is supposed to be.


Have you read any of these? If so, what were your thoughts?
Let us know in the comments!
Lots of Love,
Angharad @
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Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR SUICIDE MENTIONS & MENTAL ILLNESS

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Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.
But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.


Do you know that feeling when you finish a book and all you want to do is track down the author and give them a huge hug? That’s what I felt upon finishing Eliza and Her Monsters.
I’m not going to sit here and say that it’s diverse because it isn’t. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s something I’ve never read before because certain aspects reminded me of Radio Silence which is another book I loved but both of those things didn’t stop me from enjoying it and feeling a deep connection with the main character, Eliza. Eliza is the anonymous creator of an online webcomic called Monstrous Sea and the comic and its fandom are huge. However, Eliza is just a teenage girl struggling through high school and dealing with home life. It isn’t stated until later on in the book but it is clear from the beginning that she suffers with an anxiety disorder. I know this purely because I do too and I noticed the symptoms. Between that and the fact thats she only feels at home when she’s online, talking to her online friends and being a part of forums, I saw a lot of myself in her. Her parents struggle to understand her ‘obsession’ with her phone and computer, Eliza feels that her two younger brothers are like strangers to her and her only friends are Emmy and Max, two Monstrous Sea fans she met online.
Essentially, this is a contemporary with romance added in. Yes, we have the trope of her falling in love with the new guy at school but it is so much more. Wallace, despite being built like a football player, is extremely shy and struggles with talking aloud so many of their first meetings take place purely with them talking via notes. He is a huge fan of Monstrous Sea and writes fan fiction – more specifically, he’s in the process of typing a transcript for it. Despite falling in love with him over time (and yes, it’s a slow burn), Eliza feels that she can’t tell him that she created his beloved series.
For reasons that I won’t spoil, Eliza goes through a spell of deep depression, resulting in contemplating suicide so TW for that. I think this was written very realistically and as a person who suffers with both anxiety and depression, seeing the two come together for Eliza was very real. Her and Wallace don’t magically cure each other – they both end up seeing therapists and working through their problems. Eliza grows a lot as a person throughout this novel, making it seem a lot longer than it was.
The book also includes Eliza’s artwork from her comic and what I assume is Wallace’s transcript so we can delve into the world of Monstrous Sea. Now I’m hoping it is actually released as a graphic novel (hint hint nudge nudge.) Overall, I would 100% recommend this book. Despite feeling like a light-hearted read, it deals with serious topics such as mental health, loss and the struggles teenagers can face daily. It deals with fandom life, the world of the internet and the age old argument of what defines ‘real’ friends.

 

Have you read this book?
Lots of love from Angharad @

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