The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Published: 31st October 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Random House Children’s Publishers UK
Pages: 348
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

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?

I can’t believe I waited so long to read this book. I loved it. I loved the unique characters, the different experiences they’d had and the different lives they both lived, and I loved how Yoon makes an entire day feel so long and life changing. I simply adore books that take part in one day but feel like many more. This a full day of so many experiences that make you realise all the possibilities that can happen in one day. It also helps being in New York City because there’s heaps more things to do and transport between places is infinitely simpler.

Both Daniel and Natasha felt like real people. They had experiences behind them, complications in their present lives, and hopes and dreams that are so different from one another but stem from the same desire to live their lives how they want. There is instalove but the way Yoon portrays it is with a feeling, or instinct; there is a connection felt between them which neither can truly ignore. It isn’t just they love each other after a day, there is actual effort in trying to understand one another and an ease when the two interact.

There are a few moments where both of them can be insufferable. But I think it’s important to remember that at 17 these kids are in their own worlds. Natasha has a crisis in her life which brings out her selfishness and her pessimism, while as a poet Daniel is always going to be a cringy teen romantic. I think enough credit isn’t given to Natasha that while Daniel can be weird, Natasha doesn’t have to keep engaging him. Her own curiosities and self-proclaimed connection intrigues her and yes Daniel can come across as pushy and stalkery but if we keep pointing this out it takes away some magic, which is what these stories are all about.

The story is filled with moments that show the flow on effect on people’s actions. How one simple act creates a butterfly effect and small moments can result in bigger things that impact on more than just the lives involved. The writing is incredible, it’s profound without being over the top, there are some beautiful sentences and thoughts expressed that show the issues everyday people face and how deep the everyday can be.

It is a wonderful story about how passion can be a gift or a downfall, dreamers and realists coming together and having an effect on each other’s lives. Yoon explores the fascinating debate about love, fate, and destiny through the story and with three narrators – Natasha, Daniel, and The Universe – you see the different perspectives and learn about secondary characters in quite a poetic way. The structure is perfect and Yoon has stitched together these moments into the main story so it still flows seamlessly and each added bit of info adds a lot of context and explanation in a fantastic tone.

Secondary characters, while only being brief a lot of the time, felt full and complete. With different narrators you see different sides of the characters so you understand them quite well even when they are only present for a brief while. The ending is curious because you get answers and you don’t. And for all the coincidences throughout there are still lives at stake that can be impacted on by the decisions and whims of other people which may change paths completely. I can understand how people can see this as fanciful and unrealistic, but from the very beginning I was invested in this story. I loved how the story didn’t go where I thought it would and I loved the narrative dynamics.

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New Moon (#2) by Stephanie Meyer

Published: 6th September 2006 (print)/1st June 2010 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company/Random House
Pages: 563/14 hrs and 51 mins
Narrator: Ilyana Kadushin
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal
★   ★  – 2 Stars

I knew we were both in mortal danger. Still, in that instant, I felt well. Whole. I could feel my heart racing in my chest, the blood pulsing hot and fast through my veins again. My lungs filled deep with the sweet scent that came off his skin. It was like there had never been any hole in my chest. I was perfect – not healed, but as if there had never been a wound in the first place.

For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is even more dangerous than Bella could ever have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of one evil vampire, but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realize their troubles may be just beginning… 

First things first, this book could have told the exact same story in 1/3 of the time. Second of all, nothing happens in this book. 14 hours of my life! 563 pages of book for barely no plot whatsoever. The only good parts were when Bella was with Jacob. For the entirety of this novel I was Team Jacob because he was the only normal, sensible person and it is the only normal part of the book that didn’t feel like it was going to implode because of all the angst and self-pity. Honesty I wanted to shake Bella/Meyer to gain some reason why Bella was so ready to jump into being an immortal. This is her first love and OF COURSE she wants to die for him and be with him forever. At least, and I can’t believe I am writing this, but Edward had some sense in this in his refusal and attempt to give Bella a normal life because she jumped right in and even for a guy as old as Edward that would have scared anybody off.

Bella moping around like a sad puppy was infuriating only for the length. I would have welcomed it because it made sense if she was going to fall hard she was going to be heartbroken, but it did not need to take up the first 9 hours of my listening experience on this alone, especially when a lot of it was repeating the same thing over and over again.

In other news, the Cullens in this book felt a bit more eternal than they had previously when they were trying to be the normal family. They behaved a bit more like the ancient eternal beings with the distant care and preoccupation with the human matters. I felt in a few conversations that petty human issues were of no concern to them which was good, it took away their phony pretense of being normal. I know they have adopted Bella as one of the family in their weird way but it felt like a tolerance. She pushed a lot of boundaries and I’m surprised they didn’t seem to mind how pushy and demanding she was.

Again, not a great narrator helping Meyer’s case. Kadushin’s approach this time was to take a pause after she spoke. After. Every. Single. Sentence. A full on pause whether it was the end of a paragraph or not. Every line. It did not matter if I had it running at 1.5x speed. I felt those pauses in my soul and wanted to scream.

Overall I felt nothing happened in this book. It was a few small issues dragged out way longer than it needed to be. I liked we got more of Jacob’s story and his relationship with Bella. I never knew he was meant to only be sixteen but I liked his side of the story and what happens between him and Bella. Meyer misses a few key point in regards to his own story that I had questions about but I was in a forgiving mood because after all the drama and emotion I was happy the story was feeling normal once again, at least for a while.

You can purchase New Moon via the following

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This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

Published: 14th January 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Orchard Books
Pages: 312
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

How is it that one day Digby was my best friend’s cute twin brother, and then the next he stole air, gave jitters, twisted my insides up?

And with Mom gone, bills to pay and Wren to look after… Why does the best thing happen at the worst time?

This book was such an emotional roller coaster for me. I made so many different noises reading this story. I could barely contain myself as I read. I had to put it down to gather myself but then I immediately had to pick it back up again because I Had To Know. Looking at the notes I took when I read it there is one that is simply “This book. Oh gosh this book is incredible!!!” which is a great endorsement based on emotional response alone.

There are so many brilliant characters in this, so many to admire and have emotional moments about. Laure has done a brilliant job making the reader become invested in these girls and their lives and obviously there are so many heart wrenching and suspenseful moments as they try and cope on their own.

There is uncertainty and fear and all kinds of worries we’re made too experience alongside Lucille. You see her fears of being separated and her worry how to cope, not to mention the mystery of where her mother is and when she’s coming back. We feel her anger and her desperation and determination is compelling.

Wren is character you can’t help but adore and seeing her and Lucille together is magical; the sisterly bond the two girls have is amazing. Wren’s journey and her thoughts alone will break your heart, not to mention that her own fears and her worries WILL CRUSH YOUR SOUL. It really reminds you that she is only a kid and that she is as scared and as worried as Lucille is. As a reader you get to hate a few people in this – the mum, the dad, but for a lot of the time as well you get to be proud of the girls for surviving.

It isn’t just the big things, there’s a lot of little things that will break your heart and make you swell with pride. It’s an incredible story and one that leaves you with so much more than when you started. I basically shoved this book into the hands of anyone nearby and it was wonderful to watch them have the same emotional reactions as I did.

Before I claim this as completely perfect, there were a few things that didn’t sit right with me but I think it adds to the story in a way – a lot can be excused regarding young love and new feelings. Some parts I will also admit made me angry, like proper frustrated because it was so stupid and wrong, but this is what I mean when I say Laure makes you feel a range of emotions with this story. Anger, fear, pain, love. It’s all in there and you will feel all of it.

The additional dramas around their missing mother is also nail biting and filled with tension. It never feels like two separate stories, they blend together brilliantly and they link together seamlessly. A great example of capturing life: everything happens at once and things are not easy, perfect or solved by the end of the book.

There is a sense of hope that shines through though, that even in the toughest moments when there are bills to pay and food to buy you have faith that Lucille and Wren will be ok. Lucille is someone you know will make it all ok, even when she can’t they will get through it, she will always be there for Wren, no matter what happens.

Honestly I don’t know how many more ways I can say that I adored this story. It has so much in it and so many complexities that Laure has blended brilliantly. It’s a love story, a family story, a story of pain and hope and survival, and one that will make you feel everything.

You can purchase This Raging Light via the following

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Faking It (#2) by Gabrielle Tozer

Published: 23rd January 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
HarperCollins
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★  – 2 Stars

Things are looking up for Josie Browning. Her boyfriend, James, is crazy about her, and she’s scored a writing job at indi. Now the pressure is on for Josie to prove she’s got what it takes to help plan indi’s launch. Plus, she’s battling with flatmates, frenemies and confusing feelings for travel writer Alex.

High on the perks at indi, Josie’s doing a pretty good job of faking her way in the industry – even though she still hasn’t mastered her hair straightener. But when Josie is invited to a media junket, she accidentally sets off a string of lies that threaten to ruin her reputation, love life and career forever.

Second book, second chance to warm up to main character Josie but once again it did not happen. I liked her even less this time around. I didn’t like her character and I can’t understand how she changed from one book to the other. There doesn’t seem to be a huge shift but the small moments of poor behaviour in the first book seem to be her dominate trait this time around. After fighting for James her eyes start to wander, after landing her dream job she sabotages her chances, what annoyed me most is she becomes the kind of person who would out a piece of clothing just because some guy made a joke about them.

I understand that she is thrust into a new role and she tries to be something and someone she isn’t, which is an uncomfortable experience but she is meant to be smarter and have more common sense than this, it’s built up in her backstory and by her previous experiences unless she has learnt nothing from the events before. Like last time I had to remind myself of her age constantly, she is only 18, but the drama and troubles around her were so petty telling myself it was a flights and fancy of a naïve, immature 18 year old was a stretch given everything she has experienced.

I tried so hard to love this book. I connected more with the first book than I did this and the fact I can’t even bring myself to give it three stars says a lot. I wanted to put this down so many times and I did but I always picked it up again. I couldn’t take Josie and everything in this book and so I’d take a break and try and come back but another paragraph and I’d have to stop. I was frustrated and annoyed and I wasn’t invested enough to care about anything happening. The fact I finished it even with the strong desire to quit at every turn was only to see the story through despite having no real interest in the outcome.

You can purchase Faking It via the following

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The Intern (#1) by Gabrielle Tozer

Published: 1st February 2014Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harper Collins AU
Pages: 327
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Josie Browning dreams of having it all.

A stellar academic record, an amazing career in journalism – and for her current crush to realise she actually exists. The only problem? Josie can’t get through twenty-four hours without embarrassing her sister Kat or her best friend Angel, let alone herself.

Josie’s luck changes though when she lands an internship at the glossy fashion magazine Sash. A coveted columnist job is up for grabs, but Josie’s got some tough competition in the form of two other interns. Battle lines are drawn and Josie quickly learns that the magazine industry is far from easy, especially under the reign of powerful editor, Rae Swanson.

From the lows of coffee-fetching and working 10-hour days, to the highs of mingling with celebrities, scoring endless free beauty products (plus falling for her cousin’s seriously gorgeous flatmate James) this is one year Josie will never forget.

Totally fresh and funny, this debut novel from industry insider Gabrielle Tozer reveals just what is behind the seeming glamour and sparkle of the magazine industry.

This is a light, fun story that is good but doesn’t really have a lot of substance. It was new for me to have a YA where the character was solely at a job and not in high school, Josie is at university for some parts but even that is something different.

I have mixed feelings about this story, I enjoyed it but things were annoying as well. Perfect coincidences, unrealistic situations, and I couldn’t connect with the main character. I never felt that fond of Josie, she was nice, but I never clicked with her. I really had to remind myself that she was only 17 because it made me not excuse, but understand her behaviour a little better. Her impulsiveness, her complaints, even her behaviour didn’t fit in with the good student she was meant to be and it was jarring to see contrasts in her portrayal.

I can see how Josie is meant to be a reflection on real life; good grades, great opportunity but the strange and daft moments of being human and human behaviour can still get in the way. Josie’s flaws are there to have her be flawed but they were annoying after a while.

All the characters have stories and complexities, whether they all get explored in detail is another thing. There were stereotypical characters and different personality types but even if there was a reason for their actions the characters weren’t given enough depth for me to understand who these people were and why they do what they do.

Tozer captures the chaos of working for a magazine and the behind the scenes of what goes on for photoshoots and getting articles out. Josie is thrown into this world with her internship and after a rocky start starts having opportunities conveniently thrown at her which is a win for her but is slightly unbelievable for the reader.

I wanted to enjoy this more, and I think I did reading it, but reviewing it has made me think more about the problems I saw. While there are entertaining moments and funny parts, you have to suspend some parts of believability to really enjoy the story. Overall it was a nice story that has a bit of drama, romance, and humour but nothing too serious either.

You can purchase The Intern via the following

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