Book Review: The Deathless Girls

This hardcover is one of the most beautiful books on my shelf. It has a beautiful dust jacket, gorgeous endpapers – the way it’s presented just makes it that much better to read. My copy also has sprayed edges which are gorgeous. The hardcover is out of stock but you can get the Waterstones exclusive paperback online.

The Deathless Girls is an origin story for Draculas wives. It’s a book with the complexities of sisterhood at the forefront, has a f/f romance and all the vampire spookiness – perfect for the upcoming spooky season. I really love the fairy-tale like prose – this is a delightful read that packs a lot into it’s 300 pages.

Star rating: 5 stars

Lil is nothing like her beautiful twin sister Kizzy, but these two girls do everything together. When their group of travellers are murdered, including their mother, Lil and Kizzy are captured to be sold as slaves. Both are forced to work in the kitchens until Kizzy’s burned hands heal, where Lil meets Mira, a former serving girl who is learning to talk again after having her wind-pipe crushed.

The book is very dark – lots of horrible stuff happens to poor Lil and Kizzy. They both handle their new situation in different ways which leads to friction in their relationship. I really liked the contrast in their characters – Kizzy is much more feisty and disobedient where as Lil just wants to survive.

There are elements of fantasy within the book – from dancing with bears to mushrooms that give you visions, there is a lot more than just vampires. I really enjoyed the creepy atmosphere in the latter half of the book – and the ending is bold and unexpected.

Overall, I love Kiran’s beautiful, poetic writing, and the themes presented in the book. The romance could have been given more time, but that’s my only criticism.

Have you read any books by Kiran Millwood Hargrave? I encourage you to pick up The Deathless Girls – or The Mercies if you’re more into adult fiction! Let me know in the comments.

Book Review: The Court of Miracles

I had the pleasure of reading an eARC of this book back in the summer, and I just finished it for the second time (couldn’t resist re-reading when I had the beautiful Waterstones special edition). Overall, I really enjoyed this book! The series has lots of potential. The world-building is creative, the hints of fantasy are clever, I loved the twist on history. The main character Nina is wonderfully morally grey, and there are a whole bunch of love interests that she is not even entertaining. Got to love it.

Star rating: 4 stars

The book is set in France over the course of a number of years. In fact, the only reason this isn’t a 5 star read for me is that the passage of time is difficult to follow in places. Nina, as a child, joins the Guild of Thieves after her sister saves her from enduring the same fate as herself. Azelma is sold by their father to the Tiger, Lord of the Guild of Flesh (basically a vile character who turns the Guild of Sisters into a guild of human trafficking, drugging all of the women so they don’t remember their lives and can’t escape – it’s a really dark book).

Nina will do anything to get her sister back – but history starts to repeat itself with her father’s ward Ettie, putting Nina and Ettie on to a new adventure, with a whole host of interesting characters. There is Montparnasse of the Guild of Assassins, St Juste of the revolutionaries, and none other than the Dauphin of France. Nina has caught the eye of all three, and the romance could go any way up to yet (but I do have a favourite!)

From the dynamic of the Court, to the plot full of twists (this book is packed with action), this is not a book to miss. I feel like people who haven’t seen Les Mis enjoy it more (it’s supposed to be a retelling I think, but I have no idea how it does in that sense!). The last fifty pages or so are absolutely wild – I think it was so wild that I blanked it out after my first read so this second read was like reading the end for the first time!

Overall this is an excellent debut – the series has a lot of potential to get even better. I honestly hope Kester Grant writes an adult novel at some point so she doesn’t have to hold back at all. This is very dark and graphic for YA.

Have you read The Court of Miracles? What are your favourite books set in France? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

I’m not one for a thriller normally but this was a fantastic book. It has a really amazing nerd-hero protagonist, a mystery that has so many layers, a cast of interesting and suspicious characters and a cute friendship. It does include a variety of triggers, some of which are spoilers so I’d definitely look at some reviews. I’m going to avoid spoilers in this review because it’s a really great mystery!

Star rating: 5 stars

My favourite thing in this book has to be Pip. She is the biggest nerd – always studying, already has a plan for a future (wow this 17 year old has her life sorted more than I do, love that). I imagine her to be the kind of girl that frowns upon studyblrs as a waste of time. For her EPQ Pip is investigating the murder of Andie Bell, a girl who went missing 5 years ago. She was allegedly murdered by Sal Singh, who then commited suicide. But Pip isn’t convinced at all. (EPQ is a weird project thing that A-level students do in the UK to make university applications stronger – I quit mine after about a month, but then proving an alleged murderer innocent is much more interesting than mathematics in sport).

Even though Pip is this giant nerd who makes awkward puns, she also stands up for people – including Sal’s younger brother Ravi. I really liked their growing friendship as they start putting the pieces of Sal’s and Andie’s lives together. I also liked that Pip had such a good friend in Cara.

The book is told in a variety of ways – normal prose, transcripts from interviews and Pip’s project log that reads like a journal. The format really makes it a fast read, keeping it interesting the whole way through. The actual ending manages to be plausible and wild at the same time.

Overall, this is a great book and I’ll definitely be reading Holly Jackson’s Good Girl, Bad Blood soon!

Top Ten Tuesday (Books for My Younger Self)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This is my first Top 10 Tuesday post, and this week the theme is Book for My Younger Self  (These could be books you wish you had read as a child, books younger you could have really learned something from, books that meshed with your hobbies/interests, books that could have helped you go through events/changes in your life, etc.)

1) Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu. This is such a great, feminist book for teens that I wish I had when I was growing up. It’s about a girl called Vivian who is sick of her sexist football loving school who tries to change things. Give this book to angry girls and women. It’s wonderful and profound.

2) Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen. There definitely weren’t many YA books with a comfortable gay protagonist when I was growing up. This one felt particularly real to me with it’s exploration of growing pains and working out who you are and who you want to be, outgrowing people you’ve known your whole lives etc.

3) You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson. Another f/f romance about two girls competing for the same scholarship – I wish this one had been around when I was in high school. Liz Lighty is such a great role model for girls who have big dreams doing everything they can to achieve them. I love it a lot!

4) Loveless by Alice Oseman. This one would have been great to have whilst I was at university. There is such a market gap for books set at British universities and it would have been great to read about someone who struggled with the transition too. Georgia is also asexual which is also great rep that didn’t exist when I was in my teens.

5) Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. Alice making this list again because she really does understand being a teenager. This one came out in 2016 when I was in my final year of university – but I wish it had been out 4 years earlier when I was doing my A-levels and making decisions that would affect the rest of my life. It is a very real portrayal of academic pressure, and I think it would have done me good to have it on my shelves back then.

6) Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez. This is the YA book about girls playing football that I never knew I wanted! It gave me so much nostalgia for when I was really into the sport, watching the Champions League with my Grandad before it moved off regular TV. The main character Camila is an excellent role model, particularly when it came to handling her romance with childhood best friend Diego. You can read my review here.

7) Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. I finished this one recently and it absolutely makes this list. It contains all the YA fantasy tropes that I love but is elevated by the way it handles Black history in America. It slaps in the best of ways and I highly recommend it. You can read my review right here.

8) Kicking Off by Eve Ainsworth. Another relatively recent read, this is a great book for younger audiences – again, about football. I would have a loved a story like this when I was pre-teen, especially because it has great female role models for the main character. Hettie.

9) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This would have been an education for clueless teenage me. When Starr’s friend is shot by a police officer right in front of her after doing nothing wrong, all her worst nightmares happen right before her eyes. This book should be taught in schools to educate on the pain that Black people experience every day. One of the best books of all time, no doubt.

10). I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest. I’ve always been fascinated by dance and this one would have really appealed to me as a teen, as it does now. Chloe’s Mum forbids her to apply to a dance conservatory but she does so anyway. It has some really important lessons about going after your dreams and failure and I highly recommend it.

This was a really interesting Top Ten Tuesday to think about. Have you read any of the books above? Link me your Top Ten post in the comments!

ARC Review: Furia

I absolutely LOVED Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez . It’s emotional, feminist and a YA set in Argentina which I have never come across before. It is also about football, which appealed to my inner child who watched the sport with her Grandad in the evenings. Set in Rosario, it has such powerful descriptions of the setting and the food. I was totally blown away by how good this is. Here is why! (Also, I LOVE this cover)

Star rating: 5 stars

A standout for me is that Camila Hassan is such a likeable character. She is so determined, strong, but also kind, and is always fighting for what she wants. She plays football for a girls team, but always seem to be in the shadow of her brother who plays for the local men’s team, and her childhood love Diego who has made it big and plays for Juventus in Italy – he is tipped to be the next star of the national team like Messi. Camila’s father is also abusive towards his family, which broke my heart. We hate men who are jerks over here.

Camila is mature beyond her years, particularly when it comes to Diego, who she had a crush on in the past. She makes such good decisions when it comes to her future, putting herself before boys and I love how powerful that makes her. Even though she is bold, her compassionate side definitely shines through whilst she’s teaching kids English, including a bright girl called Karen.

Overall I loved this book. It gave me such a roller coaster ride of emotions and I am so glad I got to read it early. The romance is good, but the feminism is the real deal. Definitely picking this one up when it comes out!

Do you think you’ll read Furia when it releases? I hope you do because it’s a wonderful, heartwarming story.

Book Review: Meat Market

It’s time to review my favourite contemporary YA novel of all time for this blog. Meat Market by Juno Dawson is a stunning story with a protagonist that as an adult I wanted to protect with everything I have. I don’t think I’ve ever cared about a character in this way before, it honestly hurt so much to read her story because it felt so real. It is brutal, emotive and honest, feels so faithful to London, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Jana Novak is the child of immigrants from war in the Balkans (Serbia to be exact). They’re not devastatingly poor but they do struggle for money on occasion. Jana is tall and androgynous looking, which has resulted in frequent bullying from the other kids at school. But one day, on a trip to a theme park, she is scouted by a modelling agency which changes her life forever.

Entering the world of modelling is a shock to the system for Jana. She has to learn to walk in heels, work the catwalk and figure out what the hell she’s supposed to do at photo-shoots, all whilst taking a full load of A-levels as she begins Sixth Form. It’s not all glamour – Jana never had to worry about what she chooses to eat before, but now she’s always being watched. Not to mention the petty drama from her classmates.

As Jana becomes a worldwide star, her life is anything but glamorous. She is put up in dodgy modelling apartments across the world that are barely fit to live in, sharing with other girls who are all exhausted from demanding schedules. Castings are uncomfortable, sometimes including hours of waiting with nowhere to sit. Jana’s life is a merry-go-round of flights, shoots, catwalks, and the odd stop at home to catch up with her boyfriend Ferdy. But the money is great, and every time she feels like she wants to quit she thinks of her family, and decides to keep going.

Naturally, her mental health deteriorates, particularly after a harrowing event in which she is sexually harassed by a famous photographer. Her modelling agency is full of irresponsible adults who do nothing for the protection well-being of the models, and even send them unaccompanied to known sex offenders. Xanax helps but turns the world to a foggy, repetitive mess.

Despite the darkness, there are moments of light. There is so much empowerment of women and girls, Ferdy is an incredible boyfriend, and Jana’s friend Sabah is so supportive.

Never have I felt so protective of a character before. Jana is so innocent and caring, and it hurt so much to see her go from dealing with petty stuff from people at school to every nasty thing the modelling world threw at her.

Anyway, I can’t give this book enough praise. It’s conversational style makes it so easy to fly through which is great given how addictive the plot is. The ending is powerful and fitting. Every chapter has a purpose. Juno Dawson has created a masterpiece, and I will always recommend it. Do look out for the trigger warnings: eating disorders, sexual assault, drug use, body shaming.

I don’t know anyone else who has read this book so please comment if you have. Did you like it? Have you read any other books by Juno Dawson? Let me know!