JJ Reads

Mini Reviews: Contemporary Feels & a Scifi Sequel

This month has been such a good month for books. I haven’t read a book didn’t LOVE, although there were some mixed feelings in there (I’m looking at you Adam Silvera). I’ve also decided (at least temporarily – I’m terrible at sticking to things) that I’m going to start doing mini review posts instead of including the growing number of reviews in one very long Monthly Wrap up. Hopefully this way it will be easier to read!

I started doing mini reviews again recently because sometimes I love a book and really want to review them but just don’t have that much to say other than OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK. (Okay, i have a little more to say, I promise this post isn’t just that repeated 5 times!)

But enough rambling, I’m going to dive right into the mini reviews:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas *****

This has been on my TBR for ages but I finally got to it and it’s such a brilliant book about racism and police brutality. Starr is a girl caught between her posh white private school and her life at home. When her friend gets shot and killed by police she has to figure out who she is to make her voice heard. There are so many amazing characters, including everybody in Starr’s family and their complicated feelings about who they are and what they want. I loved watching how every single one of them grew and how they fitted together. And watching Starr struggle to fit the two parts of herself and her life together was emotional. It was so well done. This book covers such an important topic but at the same time it’s so character driven and it only makes it that much more powerful knowing people are going through this everyday. Obvious trigger warnings here for racism, police brutality, but also drug and physical abuse

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn *****

This is my absolute favourite kind of YA. Full of twisty, horrible secrets and mixed up timelines with slowly unfolding memories. Win fights with himself, his memories and reality as he tries to come to terms with what’s happened in his life. Now he’s let people in for the first time at his private school he has to finally confront it. This book is split over two time lines, the present as he deals with it and the past of how he got to be like he is. I loved the way we learnt more and more. Honestly as soon as I finished I wanted to go back and reread it to pick up on all the hints. It’s also got therapy positive themes which is so important. It reminded me in tone of We Were Liars which is another favourite of mine with an unreliable narrator. Trigger warnings for sexual abuse, suicide and eating disorders.

History is all you Left Me by Adam Silvera *****

This book is about two boys grieving the death of the same boy they loved and all the conflicting feelings of them trying to recover together. Right from the start you need to know this book is heartbreaking. I recommend you try to read this in one sitting if possible because if you have to put the book down in the the first half you will be too heartbroken to function. I say this from experience. It’s a book about grief and healing so the end is more positive and hopeful for everyone which was cathartic and beautiful to see but this book still hurt me enough that I have to be honest and say even though it’s a five star read I actually wish I hadn’t read it. My heart is not strong enough! But for those of you who like getting your heart broken into tiny pieces you’ll love this book. I loved the characters, their families and the fact the MC has OCD. It’s always great to see more mental health rep in books.

Avi Cantor has Six Months to Live by Sacha Lamb *****

This short story was SO good. I wish it was longer but only because I loved the characters so much that I wanted to spend time with them not because it wasn’t the right length/felt rushed like some short stories do. I could easily have enjoyed reading a full novel of these two characters but the brief writing style worked and I loved the slightly Supernatural tint to the story. The MC is a trans guy (written by an ownvoices author) who is being bullied at school when he finds a message with his name (the one he hasn’t told anyone yet) scrawled on the bathroom mirror. There are multiple trans characters (the boy he falls in love with is also trans) and just lots of diversity in general (poc characters, MC is Jewish and possible background autistic sister). I recommend it to anyone looking for a heartfelt short story but trigger warnings for suicidal thoughts.

Ashore (Staying Afloat #2) by Isabelle Adler***** (free review copy)

A super strong scifi adventure sequel to the Adrift novella. It stays with the single pov of the captain but I loved that we got more of the crew which is the only thing I felt was missing from the previous novella. One of the things I loved most about Adrift was even though it was a space adventure set around the crew of a spaceship it felt self contained and tense, this book continues that theme. The crew are stuck in a new, completely different place with a new and completely different challenge. Full of pod racing, space station crime bosses, plenty of fighting for their lives, but also plenty of intense character moments as Matt struggles to keep his crew safe and whole while not falling back into his alcohol addiction. It’s a short, easy to read adult scifi that keeps the vastness of space contained to a small but no less awesome story. Also it’s queer…

I can already tell trying to pick my favourite book of the month is going to be HARD!

I would love to know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought or if you are planning to read them! If you have any recs for Charm and Strange/We Were Liars type contemporary please comment and tell me!

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