A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – A Review

Hi! Let’s skip the introduction. I’ve a review for you for the second book in the Wayfarers series today!

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
  • Publication date: 2016
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
  • Genre: Sci-fi

Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in a new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

I didn’t realise this book wasn’t following the exact same characters as book one and I must admit, at the start I was bummed out. Just when I really fell in love with the crew of the Wayfarer, I had to leave them? Ahhh… My disappointment didn’t last for long, though.

I think I still love the first book a tad bit more, but this one is so close behind it’s incredible. Once again, even though it’s not necessarily a happy story, it’s one that is cosy and inviting. Chambers really lets us get to know Lovelace and Pepper and shows us what it is that make them tick, while still building onto the already rich world set up in the first book. We learn so much so effortlessly. And yes, there is a plot to it, but it takes the back burner while we really delve deep into the characters and their lives.

Lovey is a character I found incredibly fascinating in the first book, as she’s a sentient AI, with a personality and feelings, and I appreciated the way Chambers approached the subject. Lovey/Sidra really grows into herself throughout the book, and I was very invested in her journey.

Similarly, Pepper’s story is also really well done, and follows the character from childhood to when we know her, which inadvertently shows off more of the galaxy, laws, customs and all the good world building stuff that’s super intriguing.

Overall, A Closed and Common Orbit is a fantastic, engaging and warm story that I’m sure non sci-fi fans would also enjoy!

Thank you so much for reading! I’ll be back with a review for the 3rd and 4th book soon!

Take care!

Game Changer by Neal Schusterman – A Review

Hi! Happy Tuesday. It’s review time!

I usually post reviews ARC reviews on the publication date but it does make a bit more sense to post them before, to give people time to decide whether the book is for them or not, right? From now on I might try to aim to post a week in advance. So, here we are.

Game Changer by Neal Schusterman
  • Publication date: February 9th 2021
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Genre: Sci-fi

All it takes is one hit on the football field, and suddenly Ash’s life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it.

Impossible though it seems, he’s been hit into another dimension—and keeps on bouncing through worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own.

The changes start small, but they quickly spiral out of control as Ash slides into universes where he has everything he’s ever wanted, universes where society is stuck in the past…universes where he finds himself looking at life through entirely different eyes.

And if he isn’t careful, the world he’s learning to see more clearly could blink out of existence…

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

After reading and loving Schusterman’s Scythe trilogy, I was very excited to pick up this new release by him. Sci-fi is my jam and alternate realities a buzzword that alone makes me want to read a book, and with the pleasant previous experience with the author – I thought it was a recipe for a success.

I did like the general idea and premise for the book. Although I know nothing about football, nor do I have a clue how the game works, other than people slamming into each other, the sport part of the story didn’t put me off. I understood as much as I needed – Ash, the main character, gets slammed into an alternate reality during a game and things become quite messed up very fast. Sounds good.

The book was a breeze to get through. I liked the writing, the tone and the humour. Ashley was a fine protagonist, someone who’s point of view I enjoyed for most of the book. He wasn’t my favourite – that spot is dedicated to the Edwards, but I didn’t dislike him by any means. So why is the book a 3 star?

Now, I’m going to start by saying I think what Schusterman tried to do was valid and it’s needed in YA, but the way it was done just didn’t bring anything new to the table or have any particular merit in my eyes. The alternate realities bring up discussions about racism, sexism and homophobia, to describe it broadly. Yes, those issues are valid ones to talk about in YA literature and by all means should be discussed more and more, but maybe in a way that sounds less rehearsed and preachy. After all, Ash is a white, straight male in the first reality. His school is diverse racially and so is his friend circle, but he admits on many occasions how ignorant he’s been in the past and how his Black best friend called him out in those times. Ash admits that he has a lot to learn, yet we don’t see him learning much. I think the book misses the point completely and brings up issues and discussions without being willing to delve into all of them with the depth they deserve.

That being said, I didn’t dislike the book. I just think that it could’ve done more and done it better.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Have you read this one yet? Or is it on your radar?

Thank you for reading! Talk to you soon.

Wench by Maxine Kaplan – A Review

Hello, my dears! I hope you’re doing well. I’m here to talk about a book that came out today – Wench by Maxine Kaplan. Happy book birthday, Wench.

Wench by Maxine Kaplan
  • Publication date: January 19th 2020
  • Publisher: Abrams
  • Genre: Fantasy

A funny, fiercely feminist YA epic fantasy—following the adventures of a tavern wench

 

Tanya has worked at her tavern since she was able to see over the bar. She broke up her first fight at 11. By the time she was a teenager she knew everything about the place, and she could run it with her eyes closed. She’d never let anyone—whether it be a drunkard or a captain of the queen’s guard—take advantage of her. But when her guardian dies, she might lose it all: the bar, her home, her purpose in life. So she heads out on a quest to petition the queen to keep the tavern in her name—dodging unscrupulous guards, a band of thieves, and a powerful, enchanted feather that seems drawn to her. Fast-paced, magical, and unapologetically feminist, Wench is epic fantasy like you’ve never seen it before.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I got approved for this one a few months ago and was very excited to pick it up. A funny epic fantasy about a tavern wench that was, I quote, “unapologetically feminist”? Sign me up! What happened, you ask? The blurb lied…

There are many things I didn’t like about Wench. While the blurb promised so much, I didn’t find the book funny, nor particularly feminist. It was a fantasy, sure, but I wouldn’t call it epic… in any meaning of the word.

The biggest issue I had was the world building and magic system – two key elements that really shape any fantasy story. While the author clearly knew what her world was like, she didn’t educate the reader at all. There is no explanation of the world, kingdom name, basic geography, or politics. Things get mentioned every now and then in an offhand way, as if the reader should already know it all. I’m not sure if the author chose this method not to fall into the trap of “telling instead of showing”, but honestly I’d rather be told. I would appreciate a full scope of the world instead of having to guess things and piece them together.

I had the same issue with the magic system. Only the very basic info was given to us – nothing beyond the fact that magic is possible but creates “junkoff”. Can everyone do magic? Is it learned? Are you born with it? What can it actually do? No clue. It’s a fantasy novel – explain the main elements, please.

If those two were done better (I’m not even saying done right), it could’ve been a 3 star. But on top of all of this the cast of characters was just too big and hence they weren’t really developed at all. The relationships felt forced, I kept forgetting who was meant to be who because their personalities bled into one… I have nothing good to say about Tanya, or any other characters whose names I already forgot.

I think the efforts were definitely there, and people who care more about the plot in a vaguely fantastical setting would enjoy it a lot more than me. Ultimately Wench didn’t work for me, sadly, as I looked forward to what seemed like a new and fresh fantasy.

⭐⭐

Can anyone explain star rating is not a thing on the WordPress app while it is in the browser?

Anyway… thank you for reading. Don’t let my bad review stop you from reading the book if it sounds interesting to you.

Talk soon!

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig – A Review

Hi! It’s time for the first review of 2021.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the lovely briefcase I got right before Christmas in a charity shop for… 5.50! It’s probably the best deal and purchase I made in all my nearly 28 years on this Earth. Also, before I move onto the review, let’s do a little self promo – if you like this photo, I have an instagram account full of them! I would be over the moon if you considered following me there. My handle is the same – imfullybooked!

Okay, now it’s review time!

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
  • Publication date: August 6th 2019
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling/Horror

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

Oh boy, did this book take me on a rollercoaster!

I’m not sure how to articulate my feelings towards House of Salt and Sorrows. On one hand, I was sure it would be a 5 star read until about 35% in, and then after partial redemption about 65% in. And on the other hand… everything that happened in between those times was just so disjointed from the rest of the story and hence jarring, and I can’t with good conscience give it anything more than 3 stars.

The story grabbed me from the start. I didn’t know what to expect, I had no clue what it was really about, other than 12 sisters who kept dying one by one, and I genuinely didn’t know it was a retelling (nor do I know the original story). It would probably be wiser for me to read the blurb beyond the first 2 sentences, but I like going into things blindly. The book opens with a funeral, which really set up the atmosphere, and the elements of mystery and possible supernatural elements had me super intriguing. It really seemed like my cup of tea. Until…

I am not sure what happened around 35% in. The atmosphere and pacing changed. The overall mood of the story changed. What started out dark and moody, turned into fluffy adventure and love story. Spooky supernatural elements disappeared. It really had me confused – I wasn’t sure what I was reading anymore. The feel I got from it at the start of atmospheric, ghosty mystery changed. And then when I was losing hope, it changed again! And again.

I would definitely enjoy it a lot more has it stayed with one mood, and didn’t jump around so much, undecided what it actually was. I think some of the ideas were fantastic. As was a lot of the execution. I loved all of the Thaumas sisters and I really cared about them all. But what grabbed me at the start just didn’t carry through the book. Twists and turns are great, but when they keep the same tone. The book is marketed as a YA horror, but a lot of it doesn’t read like horror at all. It made the ending feel super disjointed. I feel like the author tried to do too much in 400 pages. It’s a shame.

I’ll be picking the authors other book once it comes out, as I think she’s a skilled writer. Hopefully that one will work for me more.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Have you read this one? What did you think? Do you agree with me, or did you love it? Let me know down below.

Thank you so much for reading, and apologies for the shameless promo at the start.

Until the next one!

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow – A Review

Hi! How are you? I thought after a downer of the last review (which was for Addie LaRue), I’ll post one I absolutely loved – just to balance it out. So here it is – The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow – a book that has been out for nearly a month and is not getting the praise it deserves!

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
  • Publication date: October 13th 2020
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group Limited
  • Genre: Historical fantasy

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box. But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive. There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

Alix E. Harrow did it again! And now I’m forever convinced I will read everything she ever writes, although I was quite sure of that after reading her debut novel.

The Once and Future Witches had me enchanted from the first page. Set in the late 1800s at the brink of the suffragette movement, it’s a story of three estranged sisters, Agnes, Bella and Juniper, who are brought back together in strange circumstances. It’s a beautiful, atmospheric and feminist tale of sisterly bonds, witchery and women’s rights.

Harrow’s writing is impeccable. It’s just the right amount of flowery, without being lofty and overdone. Considering it’s only her second book, it’s very impressive as she seems to have found her style and voice already.

I love all three sisters equally. It’s not often I get attached to every character in the story, I usually have my favourites, but it’s really hard to pick a favourite out of Agnes, Bella and Juniper. All three sisters are vastly different and fascinating in their own way. Most of the secondary characters are female, too, and together they make for a greatly diverse and strong ensemble.

Give me anything witchy and I’ll read it. I have a soft spot for magic of any kind and witchy stories. The Once and Future Witches is so much more, though. It’s about women who are fed up of being silenced, objectified, judged, harassed… you name it. It’s feminist in the best way – inclusive of ALL, no matter their race, sexuality or biological sex (although Harrow acknowledges how it was perceived in the past, and for some until this day). The family dynamics and sisterly bond between the three protagonists was just the cherry on top.

I don’t understand why so many people are sleeping on this book. I deserves more hype – it’s absolutely fantastic. All the stars for The Once and Future Witches!!!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Have you read The Once and Future Witches yet? Is it on your radar? If not, you definitely should pick it up – trust me!

As always, thank you for reading!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – A Review

Hi! I almost forgot I said I’ll post the review for Addie LaRue today! As I said in my wrap up, it’s probably the most disappointing book I’ve ever read, considering how much I hyped it up for myself so let’s just get into the review, shall we?

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  • Publication date: October 2020
  • Publisher: Tor Books
  • Genre: Historical Fantasy

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever—and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world. But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

This is somewhat controversial and comes as a surprise not only to me, but I think to everyone who knows a bit about me. I love Schwab, I consider her one of my favourite authors and I’ve been lookong forward to reading this for a really long time. I’ve seen a bunch of great reviews and I had very high expectations for it.

I’ll be completely honest and say I don’t know exactly what didn’t work for me. Addie wasn’t a bad protagonist, the writing was very Schwabesque and I was sold on the premise. But… although in theory this was a perfect book for me, in practice it REALLY didn’t mesh me with. I think has it been written by anyone else, I would’ve DNFed it.

Like I said… Addie was a fine protagonist. I didn’t love her, but I didn’t hate her. As far as heroines go, she was very middle of the road. Same goes for Henry. We don’t much know any other people aside from Luc, whom I wanted more of, and so for over 600 pages that’s a very slim and average cast of characters and if they’re not in any way interesting, it makes it for a dull read.

It could’ve been saved by a plot of some sort, but alas… it lacked that, too. I’m not saying the book is plotless. I just think there isn’t enough plot in it that warrants over 600 pages, and all could’ve been condensed into a much shorter book. I think it would’ve made it more enjoyable (for me; it looks like many found the book enjoyable as it is). The pacing was incredibly slow and the book meandered for so long without anything happening, it actually put me in the biggest reading slump ever.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue wasn’t a book for me and it’s surprising as on paper it ticked all the boxes. I kept wanting and trying to enjoy it, because it’s V.E. Schwab, but I found myself bored and frustrated with it. Unfortunately I can’t say any more about it other than the fact that I’m really disappointed.

🌟🌟

I know I’m definitely in the minority here. Did you enjoy this book? What was your favourite thing about it?

Thanks for reading!

The Beast And The Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips – A Review #TheWriteReads

Hi!

Today is the last stop on this huge The Write Reads tour for The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips, and it’s also my stop. Thank you, as always, to Dave for organising the tour and to the publisher for providing me with an e-copy.

The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips
  • Publication date: October 1st 2020
  • Publisher: Egmont
  • Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy

Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful. But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do. So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan . . .

Oh boy, this was FUN! I love middle grade books, it’s no surprise to anyone, and The Beast and the Bethany is everything I love in those stories. It’s a super fast read, immensely entertaining, laugh out loud funny and overall a great time.

The Beast and the Bethany follows Ebenezer Tweezer, a 511 year old man, who lives a lavish life in a big mansion with… the Beast. Said Beast has a big appetite and requests the most unusual meals and in return supplies Mr. Tweezer with a potion which makes him young and healthy. Throughout the years the Beast has made some difficult requests, yet each and every single time Ebenezer delivered. After yet another outlandish request, Ebenezer sets out to fulfill it and comes across Bethany – a not so well behaved orphan, and the two become most unlikely friends.

I loved both Bethany and Ebenezer and the relationship the two develop throughout the story. They are quite similar in character at the start of the book, both quite selfish and horrible, but instead of causing havoc together (though that they do, too, I suppose), they help each other grow and change. The Beast was probably my favourite character, though. There was just something unsettling and yet hilarious about it, the way it spoke, behaved and treated everyone.

If not the slump in which I still very much am and other obligations, I’m sure I could’ve read it in one sitting. It’s short but it’s also an absolute page turner. I think the writing is great and witty and it appealed to me as a 27 year old, but I’m positive it would also appeal to a young audience. I got big Lemony Snickett vibes off it. I definitely think it has a potential to be a series many young readers grow up with and have a special attachment to.

I’m excited to continue with the series and see what Bethany and Ebenezer get to in the second book. If it’s anything like the first one, I know it’s going to be fantastic and heaps of fun.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thank you for reading! Keep an eye out for this one once it releases, it’s really worth a read.

I’ll talk to you soon!

Fable by Adrienne Young – A Review

Hi there! I am so behind on reviews, you wouldn’t believe! But hopefully that means more content. Today I have a review for Fable by Adrienne Young, as you can guess from the title. Let’s get into it.

Fable by Adrienne Young
  • Publication date: September 1st 2020
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books
  • Genre: Fantasy

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free eArc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have read from Adrienne Young before. I really loved Sky in the Deep, when I read it back in 2018. So, obviously, when I got my hands on an early copy of Fable I was delighted. I’m not sure what I expected from it, but whatever I got was not it.

The premise of Fable had me hooked. It’s pitched as a pirate story about a girl who needs to get off an island full of thieves and criminals, on which she was left by her father. All checks out. Except it’s not much of a pirate story. It’s set on a ship, yes, but it’s not your conventional pirate story.

I liked Fable as a main character at the start. That’s usually a good sign, if I like a character at the start, I usually end up loving them by the end of the book. Or at least still liking them. Fable became very bland very fast. Literally everyone else had more personality than her and I definitely cared about the side characters more than her. I didn’t dislike her by the end of the book by any means, I just didn’t think she was particularly interesting. The side characters were great, though, and I do have a bit of a soft spot for West, I’m not going to lie.

Adrienne Young’s writing is beautiful. I had no qualms with the language or narration style. I think she writes beautifully and it was one of the reasons why I continued reading the book even though I could not get into it at all at the beginning.

Which brings me to the biggest downfall of this book, in my opinion. The pacing. The book didn’t get interesting to me until the 50% mark. If not the fact I’ve gotten an arc of this book and it was on my list of most anticipated releases of 2020, I might’ve DNFed it. The first half dragged. Not much happened, or at least I felt like nothing was happening… and then BAM. Everything started happening all at once. I enjoyed the second half of the book much MUCH more, but considering how slow the first half was, it didn’t blow me away. I wish the pacing was a little bit more even.

Overall, while I quite enjoyed the book come the last page, I am on the fence on how I actually feel about it. It lands somewhere around 3.5 stars for me and I might be picking up the sequel once it’s out early next year.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Like I said – I’m behind on reviews so you can already purchase a copy of Fable if the book sounds interesting to you. Thank you for reading and as always I will talk to you soon!

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar – A Review

Hi! I’m back with yet another exciting review – you KNOW how much I love The Write Reads tours and the whole gang. This week we’re gushing over The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar, and today is my stop. Can you tell I really loved this book?

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar
  • Publication date: June 16th 2020
  • Published: Puffin
  • Genre: Fantasy

Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always being told that girls can’t be explorers.

But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.

Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates – and discover what they are risking everything to find.

First of all – thank you to Dave for organising this tour and Puffin for providing me with a physical copy!

I don’t know where to begin gushing about this book, so I think I’ll start with the cover, because oh my goodness, she’s STUNNING. The little window on the paperback? chef’s kiss I know that is absolutely not up to the author, but whoever did design the book deserves a raise.

I was hooked on this book before I’ve seen the cover, though. A middle grade story full of magic, a literal Ship of Shadows and an all female pirate crew? What could possibly sound more amazing? My expectations were very high and… all of them were met.

Aleja, the protagonist, always wanted to travel the world but she was told girls couldn’t be explorers, so she lived out her dreams through reading. Born and raised in Spain, she taught herself how to read and speak English, as well as French and Arabic. And when she got tangled up in a bad business and accused of stealing, she found her refuge on… a pirate ship.
I loved Aleja as a main character. She was smart, bold and adventurous, a perfect protagonist to follow. But what stole my heart was the crew of the ship. Every single one of those ladies were badass, talented and amazing in their own way. I loved that they were unapologetically themselves and challenged all of the gender stereotypes – it’s nice seeing that in MG books, as I think it’s the influence kids need now more so than ever. If I had to pick a favourite character it would definitely be Frances. We could bond over cake.

The book was so incredibly addictive! I read most of it in one sitting. I’m a sucker for adventure stories that involve quests, especially MG ones as they’re usually the most magical. Reading The Ship of Shadows gave me a feeling of nostalgia and I wish it was a book I read as a kid, because I think it’s one of those books (like The Storm Keeper’s Island) it would be great growing up with. The writing was fantastic, the right amount of descriptive without slowing down the plot. I think the indication of great writing is the fact that I can clearly see what happened in the book as if I watched it as a movie, when I think back on it.

Goodreads does not indicate whether this will be a series although the way the story ended leaves lots of room for expanding. I do hope it becomes a series as I’d love to follow Aleja and the crew on more adventures, visit more places, fight more monsters and learn more about the shadows (which are THE COOLEST and so intriguing).

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thank you so much for reading! As always, follow the hashtags to read more reviews from so many awesome bloggers taking part in this tour.

I’ll speak to you soon!

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper – A Review

Hi! I’m back with a review today, and as I suck at introductions – let’s get straight into it. No need to faff around.

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
  • Publication date: February 4th 2020
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
  • Genre: Contemporary

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

Thank you to the publisher and Pride Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Is anyone at all surprised that I GRAVITATED (hahaha …I’m sorry?) towards this LGBTQA+ debut?! I have a very specific taste when it comes to contemporaries, and the queerer – the better. Plus, as a bonus, it’s ownvoices and has sciency elements, which I also love. So overall, it seemed like a book right up my alley.

The main character, Cal(vin), is an Internet famous teen reporter. He rose to fame covering an election story on an app called FlashFame and has plans to become a journalist in the future. With a Buzzfeed internship planned for the summer, everything seems like it’s going his way, until his dad is offered a spot on NASA’s mission to Mars, and Calvin needs to move from New York to Texas.

The story is told from Calvin’s point of view as well as some transcribed episodes of a reality show covering the Mars mission. The episodes definitely added to the narrative, as they provided “the other side of the story” and something to build the drama on. Speaking of drama, there is quite a lot of it in the book and it’s mostly what propels the plot, making it an exciting and quick read.

I don’t need to like the main character to enjoy the book, and I think The Gravity of Us is the perfect example of it. I found Cal selfish and insufferable at times. He wasn’t a good friend, nor did he consider others at all while making decisions that could affect them. He’s definitely developed throughout the story and redeemed himself a bit, but I would kind of like to see a bit more of a change in him. As for the other characters, they were definitely better. I really liked Kat and Deb, thought they’re not as prevalent in the story. Leon, the love interest, was such an opposite to Cal, I think they really worked as a couple. I didn’t even mind the instalove.

I enjoyed the plot immensely. It was fun and quite suspenseful for a contemporary book. Honestly, from roughly a third in I could not put it down. I really liked the social media aspect, but I do think the numbers (followers, views etc.) seemed VERY exaggerated, though it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the book.

I appreciated the discussion on mental health that this book touched on and as I said before, the ownvoices queer representation. YA always needs more of these kind of stories.
Overall, I enjoyed, though did not love this book, but I’m definitely looking forward to picking up more from Phil Stamper in the future.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Thank you for reading, as always. I’ll chat to you soon!