The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 by Emily May

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola YoonThe Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Random House on November 3rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
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Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

The universe stops and waits for us.
She opens her palm and she’s going to take my hand. She’s supposed to take my hand. We’re meant to walk through this world together. I see it in her eyes. We are meant to be.

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One StarOne StarHalf a Star

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Posted on Friday, October 28th, 2016 by Emily May

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnisThe Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Published by HarperCollins on September 20th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 352
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Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it.
Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence. While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone.
As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

This is how I kill someone.
And I don’t feel bad about it.

BRUTAL. That’s how I would describe this book. It sits there all unassuming with its cute yellow cover and pictures of animals, but underneath it has some serious fangs. Rather like the female of the species, I suppose. Read more… »

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Posted on Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 by Emily May

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn GreenwoodAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Published by Macmillan on August 9th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 352
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A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives.
As the daughter of a drug dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. It's safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with the constellations, she finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual friendship with one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold.
By the time Wavy is a teenager, her relationship with Kellen is the only tender thing in a brutal world of addicts and debauchery. When tragedy rips Wavy's family apart, a well-meaning aunt steps in, and what is beautiful to Wavy looks ugly under the scrutiny of the outside world. A powerful novel you won’t soon forget, Bryn Greenwood's All the Ugly and Wonderful Things challenges all we know and believe about love.

Right up until that moment it was sweet and funny. Odd couple that they were, they had a real connection. Then he tugged her boot off and kissed the bottom of her bare foot. I could see him doing that kind of thing to his own kid, but she wasn’t. She was somebody else’s little girl.

This book destroyed me. I have never read anything like it. If you know the basic premise – that this is a so-called “love story” between an adult man and a female child – you might be thinking Lolita! But nah, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is a completely different beast.

Ugly and wonderful really are great descriptors for this story. The best thing about it is the completely unsentimental storytelling that, with its constant switching between perspectives, as well as alternating first and third person, beautifully presents a dark tale of childhood, family and abuse.

It’s so… not manipulative. The author narrates a series of events, using gorgeous writing, but it’s a fantastic example of how showing works so much better than telling. We are never told how to feel. We are allowed to be disgusted, sad and angry on our own terms, and we are allowed to draw our own conclusions about the relationship this book portrays.

I came to the end of the novel with my mind reeling, my emotions scattered, and completely unsure exactly what I did feel about it… but one thing is certain: I felt. Oh hell, I felt.

She nodded against my arm and after that, we were quiet. We didn’t need to talk. We just laid there watching falling stars go streaking white through all that darkness.

The story is about a girl called Wavy and it is a tale that spans around fifteen years. Through the perspectives of Wavy’s cousin, brother, teachers and friends, as well as Wavy herself, the story of her childhood emerges as one filled with physical and emotional abuse. Her mother is a drug addict, her father is violent, and her mother’s issues with eating and germs manifest in Wavy’s behaviour, which, in turn, earns frustration from her teachers and fellow pupils.

Then a motorcycle accident brings Kellen into her life. Kellen is a big guy with his own history of abuse at the hands of his father. Called a “fat slob” and generally thought of as a waste of space his whole life, there is an instant connection between these two outsiders.

While uncomfortable, disgusting and often graphic, it is so emotionally confusing because Kellen is not another Humbert. His motivations in his relationship with Wavy are loneliness and compassion, and he is not driven by sexual agenda. In fact, Wavy seems somehow removed from the regular notion of sexuality, existing on a plane where she is not an adult or child, male or female, but simply Wavy. Just herself.

I’m sure it will provoke many conflicting reactions, but there remains one overwhelming certainty: it’s hard to not react passionately to it. Whether you view Wavy and Kellen as two unfortunate victims of their personal circumstances, or as a child being abused by an adult who should know better, their story is a compelling one.

Sad and disturbing. I don’t think I’ll ever get these characters off my mind.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
Posted on Thursday, July 7th, 2016 by Emily May

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love StoriesSummer Days and Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins
Published by Pan Macmillan on June 2nd 2016
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Short Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 301
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Summer Days and Summer Nights is a beautiful collection of twelve gorgeously romantic short stories, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. Collected together by Stephanie Perkins, the editor behind My True Love Gave to Me, this wonderful collection of summer romances will delight all fans of YA.
Summer Days and Summer Nights includes stories by: Leigh Bardugo, Nina LaCour, Libba Bray, Francesca Lia Block, Stephanie Perkins, Tim Federle, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovran, Brandy Colbert, Cassandra Clare, Jennifer E Smith, and Lev Grossman.

This was a great collection. It’s so many things: diverse, creative, funny and sad. That’s actually what surprised me most of all: overall, this was a very melancholy, bittersweet collection, especially when compared to the mostly fun and feel-good My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. The cover makes it look very cutesy, but it tackles a lot of important issues.
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Draw the Line by Laurent Linn
Posted on Monday, May 23rd, 2016 by Emily May

Draw the Line by Laurent LinnDraw the Line by Laurent Linn
Published by Simon and Schuster on May 17th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, LGBT
Pages: 528
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After a hate crime occurs in his small Texas town, Adrian Piper must discover his own power, decide how to use it, and know where to draw the line in this stunning debut novel exquisitely illustrated by the author.
Adrian Piper is used to blending into the background. He may be a talented artist, a sci-fi geek, and gay, but at his Texas high school those traits would only bring him the worst kind of attention.
In fact, the only place he feels free to express himself is at his drawing table, crafting a secret world through his own Renaissance-art-inspired superhero, Graphite.
But in real life, when a shocking hate crime flips his world upside down, Adrian must decide what kind of person he wants to be. Maybe it’s time to not be so invisible after all—no matter how dangerous the risk.

Unlike Michelangelo, I may not have church ceilings and museum walls to hang art on, to show what I need the world to see. But I do have lockers.
And I have the Internet.

Draw the Line is my definition of great Contemporary YA: a serious look at hard-hitting social issues, with a warm fuzzy tingle of hope to wrap it up.
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Posted on Monday, April 18th, 2016 by Emily May

Me Before You by Jojo MoyesMe Before You by Jojo Moyes
Published by Penguin on December 31st 2012
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 400
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They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

As much as I like a good love story, I wouldn’t call myself a romantic. Not by a long shot. In fact, I can be pretty cold-hearted when it comes to romance books, remaining emotionless in the face of tragic heartbreak and loss. The Fault in Our Stars didn’t move me. Eleanor & Park was cute, but still an average read for me.

There’s just certain things that I don’t like. Emotionally manipulative books that feel as if the author set out with an agenda to tug at my heart strings – that would be up there with the worst. I guess I subconsciously rebel when I can see what the author’s trying to do to my feelings. I avoid a lot of adult chick lit for this reason – because experience has shown that most of these books are like Lifetime movies: melodramatic and cheesily message-driven.

But somehow – despite my reluctance to try this book because it seemed it would fall into all the aforementioned boxes – I ended up caving under the pressure and grabbing this book from my local library. I didn’t expect much. I was just going to try a little bit and see how it went, feeling confident that it would be crappy and I would be right. But hell, I got schooled.

I just… I can’t even pretend anymore, screw the book snobbery, I thought Me Before You was wonderful.

I laughed.
I cried.
I shipped like crazy.
I stayed up most of the night.

Being proven wrong may never have felt so good.

I got the giggles about halfway through chapter one and struggled to get rid of them. Humour books are always a difficult sell because I guess it always depends on what you find funny… but I found Lou Clark to be an hilarious heroine. She’s one of those charming but unfortunate individuals that finds herself in numerous awkward situations but somehow gets through them and just warms your heart with her delightful lack of propriety.

I don’t know if there is really such a thing as a “British sense of humour” but I’ve enjoyed a bunch of British chick lit/humour with similar MCs – Bridget Jones, Confessions of Georgia Nicholson – so maybe there’s a pattern here with my tastes.

If you’re considering this book but think you’re a shameless unromantic like me, DO NOT read any quotes from it. People keep pulling up these quotes about the meaning of life and carpe diem and it makes the whole thing seem much cheesier than it is. I thought there was a pleasant lack of cheese, hehe. It’s also nowhere near as romantic as everything tries to make you think: the cover (the UK one is even worse), the blurb, the title… when actually there’s very little romance. There is a touch of finding love in unexpected places and against the odds, but the main focus of this book is about life and the importance of choices.

If you haven’t already been told, the story is about Lou who needs a job and Will who needs a carer after an accident left him paralysed. Completely unable to move anything below his mid torso, Will longs for death and wants to go to Switzerland to put an end to his misery. Horrified by this discovery, Lou sets out to improve his life and give him a reason to live and look forward to each day. The relationship between them is told in such a wonderful way and develops through several stages, each filled with hilarity.

I think people’s reactions, emotions and decisions felt completely realistic in Me Before You, even if I didn’t always like them. The whole book was filled with the funny, ridiculous situations that we expect to find in comic fiction, but balanced out with a hard dose of reality. It makes you think about things you didn’t think about before without seeming like the author wanted to make you think about them. Things like just how depressing the lack of wheelchair access is in most venues. But there’s a great balance between the funny and the serious, so the latter never becomes too much.

This book made me feel all the emotions without seeming to try too hard. Love was found in a very unexpected place and I definitely want to check out the author’s other work.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham
Posted on Friday, April 1st, 2016 by Emily May

Unbecoming by Jenny DownhamUnbecoming by Jenny Downham
Published by Scholastic Inc. on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 384
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Three women. Three generations. Three secrets. Katie's life is falling apart: her best friend thinks she's a freak, her mother, Caroline, controls every aspect of her life, and her estranged grandmother, Mary, appears as if out of nowhere. Mary has dementia and needs lots of care, and when Katie starts putting together Mary's life story, secrets and lies are uncovered: Mary's illegitimate baby, her zest for life and freedom and men; the way she lived her life to the full yet suffered huge sacrifices along the way. As the relationship between Mary and Caroline is explored, Katie begins to understand her own mother's behavior, and from that insight, the terrors about her sexuality, her future, and her younger brother are all put into perspective. Funny, sad, honest, and wise, this powerful multigenerational novel from international bestseller Jenny Downham celebrates life like no book before.

“She watches the tears drip onto her skirt and spread like flowers and she knows this is the end of every future she’s ever imagined for herself.”
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Posted on Thursday, March 24th, 2016 by Emily May

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. JohnstonExit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Published by Penguin on March 15th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 256
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Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don't cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team's summer training camp is Hermione's last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.
In every class, there's a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They're never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she's always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn't the beginning of Hermione Winter's story and she's not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

“I’m not going to quit, Florry.” I look up and see that Polly has turned around again, and that Caledon is looking at me in the mirror. “I am not going to quit.”


TRIGGER WARNING – RAPE.

I think some people will have issues with this book. I get that. I really do. But I also think the ultimate strength of Exit, Pursued by a Bear is that it is not a typical story about a girl who gets raped and is consumed by it. Those stories absolutely matter and they are oh so very important, but there are many different experiences out there and I’m glad this one is being told.

In my experience, stories about rape survivors fall into one of two categories: 1) a girl (occasionally, a boy) falling apart in the aftermath of rape, or 2) a mystery about the rapist’s identity. This is neither. Hermione is sad, confused and angry, but this is predominantly a book about strength.

Rape is a crime often about power and weakness – the rapist makes the victim powerless by taking away their choice – but here Hermione does something unusual. She reclaims the power stolen from her. She has a strong support system. She doesn’t become defined by what happened.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
Posted on Monday, March 14th, 2016 by Emily May

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy MoldavskyKill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
Published by Pan Macmillan on May 19th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Humor, Young Adult
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Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn't mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it's Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn't be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn't mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn't. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that's what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.

Boy band fangirls are a species that are more focused, determined, and powerful in large numbers than just about any other group of people I can think of.


I thought this was awesome. It’s the kind of book you have to be in the right mood for – a dark, sadistic sense of humour kind of mood – but it’s a diverse, murderous and hilarious comedy about fangirls in the age of social media.

Kill the Boy Band has many laugh-out-loud moments that come with a side order of guilt because you know you really shouldn’t be laughing. But, despite it’s implausible plot and ludicrous characters, there are many underlying truths laid bare in this book. And the funniest things of all are the sad truths you have to begrudgingly admit to.

I must confess: I related to parts of this book, which may have affected my experience. I’m in my early twenties now, but I grew up when the digital age was just finding its feet. At age thirteen, most people I knew had some form of social media – usually myspace or bebo – and I witnessed the emerging culture of celeb stalking that redefined what it meant to be a fan.

My personal obsession (well, the main one) was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and James Marsters (Spike) in particular. I would watch his interviews on Youtube, read every post on his website and, later, follow his movements on Twitter. In other circumstances, this level of stalkery would be illegal. In my early to mid teens, I felt attached to him on a weird level. I’d followed his life so closely that I felt like I knew him, something those of my parents generation simply couldn’t understand. Being his fan made me happy. Loving him made me feel good about myself. It sounds so silly now, but I think I truly believed that a) we were meant to be together, and b) this could eventually happen if I just attended enough signings and concerts.

Thankfully, I was too shy to do anything. I couldn’t tackle him because I melted into a puddle of emotions every time he was in the same room. But I can understand how crazy it could get if someone with my mindset *did* have the will and ability to take it to the next level.

That’s what this book is about. It’s about four teenage girls who are devoted to a boy band called “The Ruperts” – hilariously based on One Direction – and how their devotion escalates into something more sinister. The book makes fun of teen girl crushes on celebrities (lots of great parodies of real life, pop culture references, and some surprisingly graphic sex jokes), but it also has an anti-slut-shaming, feminist spin and, in a way, defends the girls’ right to their crushes and silly desires.
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2016 by Emily May

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. StorkThe Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
Published by Scholastic Inc. on January 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 336
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When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn't be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she's never had. But Vicky's newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vick back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage and strength. She may not have them. She doesn't know. Inspired in part by the author's own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one -- about living when life doesn't seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.

Somewhere in me I probably had the strength to not kill myself. But I was tired of looking for strength. Tired of being strong. That’s what I did to make it through… each day, go through the motions of being strong. I put on strong every morning. I’m sick of faking strong.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

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Hi! I'm Emily May but feel free to call me Emily. I'm a nerdy, book-loving Politics graduate from the North of England.

Hey there! I'm Brandi; I'm a Navy veteran, Army wife, mother, feminist and book lover! My go-to genre would have to be Urban Fantasy, but any fiction is game really.

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