Review: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

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Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by: Alison Goodman

My Rating: 4 Stars

Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he’ll become apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragoneye, the human link to an energy dragon’s power. It is forbidden for females to practise the Dragon Magic and, if discovered, Eon faces a terrible death. But after a brilliant sword ceremony, Eon is catapulted into the treacherous world of the Imperial court, where his desperate lie comes to light …

Beware spoilers ahead!

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn was read during Tome Topple. And for The Dream Thieves December theme Missed TBR.

Trigger warning: Physical violence, bullying, harassment, drug addiction, mention of war, death, grief, misogynistic society, gory fights, critical injuries from battle, ableism, transphobia, disability cured via magic, mention of salt mines, mention of slavery, abuse of power via authority, taking control of one’s body, and rape.

Eon is a twelve year old boy with a lame leg. Eon is hoping to become a Dragoneye so his master can become rich again. There’s just one small problem. Eon is Eona a sixteen year old girl. And girl’s can’t be Dragoneye’s. It is punishable by death. If the council finds out Eona and her master will be punished. On top of all that there is a war brewing. How will Eona manage to balance her lies and survive the imperial court?

After reading The Dark Day’s Club by the same author I really wanted to read more off her works’. The Eon series has such rave reviews that I decided to give it a shot. I am really happy to say that I enjoyed it!

I am really happy that I read this! The book begins with a prologue was explains some of the world and magic system. There is a map of the palace, and dragon charts. Which lists each dragon and their dragoneye. The book is narrated in first person limited following Eona’s point of view.

I really enjoyed the world building and the magic system! It was very unique and interesting. Also the dragon aspect was so cool! Eona is still learning so not everything was explained. Particularly the bound with a dragon. The power that the Dragoneye’s have is explored but again to a degree.

The beginning was a bit dense as everything is being introduced to the reader. It did feel like an adult fantasy for that reason. Once I got into it, the book flew! This was so fast paced and I wasn’t expecting that.

I enjoyed the political intrigue! It’s very rare to find well done political intrigue. When Eona gets to the palace it’s a constant game of lies and a bit of cat and mouse with one of the Dragoneye’s. Whose name is Lord Ido. It’s get even messier when Eona make’s some friends and gets dragged into a battle of sorts. There is a bit of power imbalance which was is discussed multiple times throughout the book. 

I really liked Eona’s character! She’s very unique from some of the characters you read about now-a-days. She’s compassionate but ruthless as she’s backed into a corner most of the time. Eona was quite intelligent and very mature for her age. I think the author did a good job with Eona’s leg. I liked reading about her inner struggles. Particularly her fear off being herself and accepting her female side. With the help off her friends and her dragon Eona comes to accept herself. Her character development was truly excellent!

Eona is close to Chart and Rilla. Chart is disfigured and can’t speak. Due to this he is picked on quite a bit. Rilla is Chart’s mother. Barron is Eona’s master who she trained under. Barron bought Eona from a salt mine when he realized she could see all the dragons’ energies. She has a complicated relationship with him. Regardless they both still care for each other.

Eona becomes friends with Ryko, Lady Dela, and Prince Kygo. Also some of the dragoneye’s and their apprentices. Lady Dela spends her time navigating Eona through all the political intrigue and Ryko is tasked with guarding Lady Dela. Lady Dela is a transgender female. Prince Kygo and Eona become friends for mutual interests. There are hinting’s of a romance between the two. Nothing becomes of it in this installment.

All these characters shape Eona. And grow from one-another. I really liked the relationship’s she had with all of them! My favourite is Lady Dela. She was such a fun character but knowledgeable as well.

I also liked all the plot twist’s and foreshadowing you get throughout the book! Some of it was predictable. Though I still found it entertaining. Truly this book kept me on the edge of my seat. 

I did have some problems with this book. I felt that Lady Dela wasn’t done that well. There are several times when Eona will mention that Lady Dela would sometimes look like a male or have the strength of a male. Which didn’t feel that well done to me. Once Eona has truly bounded with her dragon her leg is ‘fixed’. Magically she’s cured. And it does send the wrong message.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I am looking forward to reading the sequel. I highly recommend this series!                

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Review: Moxie

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Moxie by: Jennifer Mathieu

My Rating: 4 Stars

Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Rape, blackmailing, harassment, bullying, slut shaming, mention of accident, sexism, misogyny, and mention of death.

Vivian is used to everything. She’s used to behaviour of the boys. Used to all the sexist jokes, and the boy being able to get away with everything. Until Lucy transfers. Lucy is the new girl and the latest victim of Mitchell’s harassment. Viv puts her foot down. Why should she and the rest of the girls have to deal with this?! Viv using inspiration from her mother’s Riot Grrl days creates Moxie. A zine for all the females. A revolution forms. But can they hold out against the school board and most of the male population?

I had seen Moxie on Goodreads and Twitter. I didn’t care much for the synopsis. I went to the bookstore and saw it on the shelves. Out of curiosity I picked it up. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

The book is written in first person limited following Vivian. There are chapter numbers. And pictures of the zines that she makes. Which could sometimes take about three pages.

I’m really surprised that I was able to enjoy it! The synopsis read like one of those feminist books, that don’t turn out that good. I can happily say that I was wrong! What I appreciated the most was the diversity! Some feminist books are actually white feminism in disguise. Which was not the case here. There were WOC and some LGBTQIA characters. And all were done so well!

I really liked Viv! Her journey through creating Moxie was incredible. I loved that she decided to take a stand for the sake off helping her fellow women. This really is an empowering book about fantastic female friendships!

Claudia is Viv’s best friend. The two have done everything together since they were children. Their friendship is tested once the Moxie zines start coming out. Claudia like Viv has gotten used to the system. She’s not quite a fan of it being questioned. Of course Claudia doesn’t like the system or the general treatment, but she’s used to it. This is partly why Claudia didn’t like Lucy in the beginning. Lucy questioned everything and where she came from things were better. She does warm up to Lucy. And makes up with Viv.

Lucy was such a fun character! It was nice to read about her observations on how odd the school was. She was alone in the beginning, but Moxie brought Viv and her together. Lucy and Claudia were on rocky terms in the beginning. The two do become good friends.

Even the typical blonde cheerleader played a huge role. Viv and every other female were under the impression that Emma had a lot to gain from the system. Partly because she was pretty and didn’t seem to mind the status quo. Emma turns out to be so much more! I really appreciated how the author handled women.  

I liked Viv’s relationship with her family! Her grandparents were very sweet. And her mother served for the inspiration of Moxie. Her mother’s past was so cool and interesting! I love that she fought for the things she loved.

Her and Viv do get into a bit of a rough spot. Her mother’s new boyfriend plays a huge role in this. As Viv felt that her mother was changing because of said boyfriend. The two make up when Viv starts seeking her mothers advice. Viv also felt that her family wouldn’t support her on Moxie. Much to her surprise they did and were proud of her.

Viv’s crush Seth also played a huge role, outside of the love interest. Seth actually caught Viv when she put out the first zine. He decided to keep it a secret. And found out cool. He became her go to person for occasional advice. There was a slow burn romance between the two which I liked!

If it wasn’t obvious with the trigger warnings this book was hard to read. There are a lot of hard subjects brought up. And while I think they were dealt with properly, it didn’t make it any easier.

It’s not just the male student body that sucked, it was even the female teachers. The school board and the mentality of the town. The behaviour of these characters truly disgusted me. I spent a lot of my time reading furious at all the things that happened. Which I’m assuming was the author’s intention. Kudos to the author.

I also want to point out that I never felt that Moxie drove away male allies. Towards the end of the book the girls team up for a Moxie walkout. Seth and some of his male friends join this walkout in solidarity of the girls’. I thought that this was really powerful! Don’t believe what Kirkus says.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this! I highly recommend.       

Review: Here Lies Daniel Tate

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Here Lies Daniel Tate by: Cristin Terrill

My Rating: 5 Stars

When ten-year-old Daniel Tate went missing from one of California’s most elite communities, he left no trace. He simply vanished.

Six years later, when he resurfaces on a snowy street in Vancouver, he’s no longer the same boy. His sandy hair is darker, the freckles are gone, and he’s initially too traumatized to speak, but he’s alive. His overjoyed family brings him home to a world of luxury and comfort he can barely remember. In time, they assure him, he’ll recover his memories; all that matters now is they’re together again.

It’s perfect. A miracle. Except for one thing.

He isn’t Daniel Tate.

He’s a petty con artist who accidentally stumbled into the scam of a lifetime, and he soon learns he’s not the only one in the Tate household with something to hide. The family has as many secrets as they have millions in the bank, and one of them might be ready to kill to keep the worst one buried.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Murder, mention of abusive parent, neglectant parent, self-harm to create a birth mark, drug addiction, overdose, mention of cheating, mention of divorce, incest, blackmailing, and physical violence.

This was not how it was supposed to go. It should’ve been so easy. Pretend to be some recently found rich kid and fit in. He didn’t expect all the problems that come with the Tate name. But hey it’s worth it. He has a family, access to school and other necessities. The cherry on top is that the Tate’s are rich. How long could he keep the act up? What if the killer came for him?

I have read the author’s debut All Our Yesterday’s and thoroughly enjoyed it! When I heard that she was writing a mystery I didn’t hesitate to add it. I am happy to say that I loved it!

Here Lies Daniel Tate is written in first person limited following our main character. There aren’t any chapters. It just starts and ends. You don’t know the name of the main character. He never mentions it. Which worked really well seeing as he is an unreliable narrator.

Our main character has been pulling cons for years. He gets into a foster care system temporarily and then leaves. It’s just a cycle. Of course he doesn’t want to be found, so he never reveals his name. Hence the running.

The book begins with him doing just that. Except it doesn’t quite work out. Whilst running away one of the other children notice him. And tell the people in charge. Out of desperation, he looks into a missing children database. On there Daniel Tate’s information is recorded. Thus he pretends to be Daniel. And then the whole mess begins.

I was really impressed by this book! I didn’t know that the author would be so good at writing mysteries. I truly hope she writes more. I saw nothing coming! And let me tell you there are a lot of reveals. In order to maintain the appearance of Daniel, our main character does some digging into the Tate’s secrets. And there were so many. I also really liked how there weren’t any chapters. It was a unique reading experience.

Once they hear that their brother is alive Lexi and Patrick (the eldest siblings) rush to pick him up. Nichalos is in shock that his brother was even found. And Mia is just happy to have another family member. She was a baby when Daniel disappeared. Their mother seems very cold. And Daniel’s father is in jail, so he can’t visit him. A childhood friend of Daniel’s does also email him.

The FBI get involved in hopes of finding Daniel’s kidnappers. The school board is also informed of Daniel’s mental state and keeps on eye on him. He is assigned a counselor, who he has to report to.

I actually liked our main character! While everything he does is questionable, all in all he just wanted to belong. And a place to call home. It was really something to read about his attempts to become Daniel. There are vague hints into his real life as a child. But nothing concrete. Just enough to keep you guessing. 

I loved the main character’s relationship with Mia! She was so sweet and pure. Like the only one in the family with good intentions. Mia couldn’t walk that much. She had some problem, that the Tate’s say she was born with. I don’t remember the name anymore. If anyone else does please mention in the comments! And I’ll mention you in the review.

Patrick wasn’t home that much. He actually lived on his own somewhere else. Though he was there when our main character had to meet with the FBI. Patrick was a lawyer. Lexi also has her own apartment, but upon the return of her brother she stays in her family home frequently. Lexi was also fantastic! Really great sister. Patrick was too, when he visited.

Our main characters relationship with the Tate’s mother was complicated. She left all the mothering to Lexi or the maid. Barely existed her room to even say hello. Our main character feels like she knows that he’s not actually Daniel. But for whatever reason does nothing about it. Unless you count avoiding him.

The relationship with Nicholas was also very rocky. See Nicholas and Daniel never got along. Of course our main character doesn’t know about this, and constantly screws up in conversations with Nicholas. Hence how Nicholas figures out that he isn’t Daniel. He does threaten to do something about it. But it would be pointless. At this point our main character wants to do some digging and uncover the whole mystery. Thus the two teamed up.

I also liked Nicholas! Especially his boyfriend. He had a no-nonsense attitude which I loved. Our main character also has a love interest. Whose name is Ren (correct me if I’m wrong). And I’m pretty sure she was Japanese. They were so cute together! I really liked the slow burn romance.

The reveals were something. If you think about it some of them were obvious. Most of them weren’t. Specifically what happened to Daniel. I didn’t consider it would be those characters. I didn’t think they had a motive. Turns out they did. It was a bitter sweet ending. And I can honestly say that this book will stay with me.

Overall I loved this! I highly recommend.                

Review: The Dark Days Pact

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The Dark Days Pact by: Alison Goodman

My Rating: 5 Stars

June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen and her maid, Darby, to spend the summer season in Bristol, where Helen can sharpen her Reclaimer powers. Then the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work take hold, and his sanity begins to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are ever higher for Helen, and her decision will truly change the world…

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Gun violence, physical violence, blackmailing using a character’s sexual orientation, blackmailing threatening treason, and a fair bit of gore.

It’s been a few weeks since Lady Helen has decided to work with The Dark Days Club. Lady Helen has been spending her with Lady Margaret and her brother Mr. Hammond. Thus far Lady Helen has been presumably ill to the rest of society. Under Lord Carlston’s orders Lady Helen has begun training. And will start attending parities and such as she needs to integrate herself into society. 

Much to everyone’s surprise Mr. Pike a figure in the government has requested a meeting with Lady Helen and Mr. Hammond. Whilst Carlston is away on another government meeting. Mr. Pike reveals that Mr. Benchley’s partner in crime is going to sell Mr. Benchley’s journal. The journal contains important information that Mr. Pike and such members don’t want to get it out.

Mr. Hammond argues that they can’t really give an answer as Lord Carlston isn’t present. Mr. Pike then uses the fact that Mr. Hammond is gay as blackmail. He also blackmails Lady Helen stating that her family will be once again framed for treason. Mr. Pike also instructs the two of them to spy on Lord Carlston. Most of the government officials still don’t trust him and want proof that Lord Carlston is on their side. Lady Helen and Mr. Hammond now have to lie and spy behind everyone’s back.

The story written in third person limited following Lady Helen. At beginning of every chapter there was a date, month, and year. It helps track how many days pass. There are chapter numbers as well. At the top of each page there is a lace like pattern printed. Which is so pretty!

The Dark Days Pact was an amazing sequel! It became more political and action packed. I really enjoyed all the heist and espionage elements. And was thoroughly happy that we were presented more information regarding The Dark Day’s Club. And wow those twists! Not at all what I was expecting. The romance was definitely better as well.

With every book in this series my love for Lady Helen grows. She is such a strong character. She participates in The Dark Days’ Club without giving up her girly behaviour. I truly wish there were more female characters like her. Her friendship with Darcy and Delia was so sweet!

Feeling bad for what has occurred with Delia, Lady Helen decides to tell her everything. Thus begins Delia’s involvement in The Dark Days Club. It also helps that her parents want nothing to do with her. The Duke of Selburn also makes an appearance. He spends the majority of the book trying to dissuade Lady Helen from Lord Carlston. He does get involved in The Dark Days Club but not in a way you would expect. It was really amusing how you got to that point!

I really enjoyed reading about Lady Helen and Mr. Hammond’s escapades! Their relationship even grew throughout it all. And they became really good friends! Some of the information they found out was shocking and very insightful. It really cleared up a lot of things. There are even some new characters introduced who play an important role in the plot.

Mr. Benchley’s journal provided much needed Intel. I still stand by my opinions of him, I have to admit he was very intelligent. While he was alive he had spies everywhere and had information on everybody. This really explained how he was able to get away with so much. 

Lord Carlston is starting to become uncontrollable and more rash. Mr. Quinn is having a hard time controlling him. Mr. Quinn enlists Lady Helen’s help several times. Lady Margaret has been fretting the most openly. Lady Helen and Mr. Hammond start to find it hard to keep this from Mr. Pike and his threats still looms over their heads.

Goodman’s character work really impressed me! In the first book I didn’t really like Lady Margaret or Lord Carlston that much. Whereas in this book I came to really like them! I finally started to understand their side and grew to respect them. 

The romances were so much better in this installment! Mr. Quinn and Darcy start a relationship. Which was so cute! The chemistry between Lady Helen and Lord Carlston grew and I actually liked them as a couple. Of course the love triangle has remained. The Duke of Selburn is still in love for Lady Helen. Lady Margaret and Mr. Hammond are in love with Lord Carlston. I do admit it’s a bit much, but the romance never takes away from the plot. And isn’t the center stage.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this installment! I can’t wait to read The Dark Days Deceit. I highly recommend this series!

Review: One of Us Is Lying

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One of Us Is Lying by: Karen M. Manus 

Audible Narrators: Kim Mai Guest , MacLeod Andrews, Shannon McManus, and Robbie Daymond 

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.
Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Suicide, mention of cheating, physical violence, blackmail using a character’s sexual orientation, homophobia, drug addiction, slut shaming, bullying, controlling relationship, and bad representation of mental illness. 

I read One of Us Is Lying a little over a year ago. In that time I’ve been thinking a lot about this book. I’ve come to realize that all those problems other people had with it, I did as well. I guess writing trigger warning’s in my reviews has been a part of it as well. Also I think some of the charm has worn off and I’ve managed to forget quite a bit. That’s not really helpful for mysteries let alone this review.

Anyways let’s get to it! This follows four first person point of views. There’s a full cast for the audiobook. There are tumblr and blog posts. During detention the main characters are with Simon, the school’s resident Gossip Girl. Simon has a severe peanut allergy. While their teacher is off to do something, Simon starts to have convulsions. Unable to find an epipen Simon is rushed to the hospital. It is revealed the next day that Simon died.

The four main characters are now suspects in the murder. On Simon’s blog there are posts outing each of the main character’s secrets come out to the whole school. The four face isolation and bullying once each of their secrets are out in the open. After all of this they all decide to team up. Thinking the real killer is still out there to get them.

The title is actually wrong as every character in this book are hiding something. I found most of the story to be enjoyable! I liked the character’s growth and relationships to one-another. My favourite was definitely Addy! Her character growth was amazing. Below I’ll detail each of the character’s secrets, family, and such.

Bronwyn: Half Mexican is the ‘Smart One’. She’s a hard worker. And does well in all her studies. Well except for the one time she cheated of course. Voila big secret! Due to stress, wanting to live up to her families expectations, and being half POC. She’s got a good relationship with her family. Romantic love interest is Nate. 

Nate: His mother abandoned him, his father is an alcoholic, and on the side he’s a drug dealer. Earning him his reputation at school. He’s the biggest suspect due to this. Of course his big secret is his family life and that he still deals. Romantic love interest is Bronwyn. They were surprisingly cute together!

Cooper: Extremely popular, good looking, and an athlete. Has a beautiful girlfriend. Best friend is Addy’s boyfriend Jake. Secretly he’s gay and doesn’t want people to know. The town is quite homophobic and so is his father. Unfortunately this is outed too. Note that he wasn’t out of the closet. He has a boyfriend whose a model.

Addy: Pretty, popular, and is Jake’s girlfriend. Although she hasn’t always been faithful. She cheated on Jake with Ty. Who she gets along with better. Her mother has made her believe that Addy needs a man in her life. Otherwise she’s useless. Her sister believes otherwise and is in the middle of a divorce. Once she gets outed she get’s bullied and slut shamed. Addy remains single in the end. And she and her sister move in together. Her character development was suburb!

The author really excels at contemporary! I really liked all the characters and their friendship. It takes a really long time for the mystery to come in. The characters kept me engaged! Good job on the author’s part.

The mystery part is a bit lacking. As it was Simon who had depression, and committed suicide. Simon had Jake and another girl (whose name I’ve forgotten) frame the four main characters for his death. Simon started to get badly influenced by forums that liked school shooters. He became obsessed and apparently thought it would a fantastic idea to frame some people for his ‘Murder’. Nate’s mother is also bipolar and comes back after taking medication that works for her.

I do feel that the author doesn’t handle mental illness well. At the time I felt Simon’s motivations made sense. It fit his character. He was really dramatic. And it is completely possible to get bad influences. But as I’ve found out this year this is a common trope in thrillers. And that’s just awful. If it weren’t for those things I probably would’ve rated it higher.

Overall I did still enjoyed a majority of this book! I would still recommend but please read trigger warning’s first.       

Review: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

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Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by: Julie Israel

My Rating: 4 Stars

Dear You,

Brevity is the only way to deliver a sting, so here goes—

I’ve been thinking about what you said and I’ve decided that you’re right: It would be better for both of us this way…

Sixty-five days after the death of her older sister, Juniper Lemon discovers the break-up letter addressed to “You” Camilla wrote the day she died. Juniper is shocked—she knew nothing of her sister’s relationship, and now the hole Camilla left in her life feels that much bigger. She’s determined to uncover You’s identity and deliver Camie’s letter. Maybe, just maybe, that would help fill the sister-shaped void Camilla left behind.

But what Juniper doesn’t expect is that the search for You will lead to learning other people’s secrets: private crushes, shames, fears—or that these secrets will connect her to classmates she never thought to reach out to before. Classmates like the destructive but strangely magnetic Brand Sayers.

The biggest surprise? Wading through everyone else’s problems may be just what Juni needs to make peace with her own.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger Warning: Abusive parent, drug addiction, mention of death, graphic mention of car accident, suicide attempt, physical violence, bullying, grief, mention of attempted rape, and neglectant parent (got better at the end).

 A few months prior to Juniper and her sister Camilla were in a car accident. Juniper survived with some injuries. Whereas Camilla died. Juniper is still recovering from the loss. Summer has passed and school is going to began soon. After losing Camilla, Juniper also lost her best friend. There’s been a rift between them since the accident. And now Juniper will be attending school without her sister and the support of her best friend Lauren. 

Upon arriving home after registration Juniper finds a mysterious letter. It’s written by her sister addressed to ‘You’. Juniper is shocked. Juniper told everything to Camilla. Here was proof that Camilla didn’t. Thus begins Juniper’s hunt for ‘You’. 

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index had been circling GR for a few weeks last year. I dismissed it at first, as the cover lead me to believe it was a memoir. After seeing it for so many days I read the synopsis. Was surprised to find out that it was a YA book. Out of sheer curiosity I read a sample. I was blown away! And didn’t hesitate to get myself a copy! I am happy to say that I really enjoyed it!

The story is written in first person following Juniper’s point of view. There are a table of contents titled ‘Days Without Her’. Juniper’s index card numbers served as the chapter numbers. There are text message’s, emails, essay papers, index cards, diary like entries, and flashbacks. 

What a refreshing read! I found this so different from you’re typical contemporaries. In regards to the plot, the characters, and the romance. It really becomes clear once you finish it.

I really liked Juniper’s character! Her grief regarding Camilla was so well written. It was easy follow her throughout the book. Israel really captured her emotions and thoughts from the very first page. I felt everything Juniper felt. That’s how good it was written.

As a request from her sister Juniper has index cards in which she records something she’s happy about each day. This becomes difficult after Camilla’s death. But Juniper still does so. Juniper miss places one of her index cards and begins to worry. She decides to check the garbage at her school for the next few days.

Aside from finding typical garbage, Juniper finds some of her classmates secrets. The first thing she find’s is a suicide note from Kody. After some thought Juniper decides to befriend Kody and stop her from committing suicide. She also befriend’s Nate the new kid, Sponge (real name Lawrence) who seems to know everything, Brand the delinquent who is seemingly helping her, and Angela an art nerd.

The friendships were done so well! I really liked all off these characters. And they actually all got along. I do think that Juniper’s friend making was questionable, but they were all good for each other. Kody and Juniper bonded over a book series. Angela and Nate were nice to everybody. Sponge was pretty good considering he didn’t say much. Brand was surprisingly insight for Juniper’s situation. They all supported each other and it was great. Now this is how you write good friendship’s.

Juniper’s relationship with her family was complicated. Her father was active in her life and supported her. On the other hand Juniper’s mother was never there. As she was grieving she remained in her room and barely participated in family functions. She did get better and actually became a part of Juniper’s life. But it was towards the end of the book.

Like most contemporaries there is a bully whose name is Morgan. Now Morgan takes a lot of joy off mentioning that Camilla is dead. The two didn’t get along while Camilla was alive. I do find it kind of unnecessary for the insert bully. But at the same time I didn’t care for Morgan’s backstory. Some people are just mean and don’t have a particular reason for it let alone a tragic backstory.

Please be aware that the two get into physical fights. With Morgan always provoking Juniper and Juniper in turn hitting her. I don’t agree with Juniper hitting Morgan, but she seriously should’ve learned the first time not to mention Camilla in such a rude manner.

I liked Brand and Juniper’s romance! They did start off as friends of sort. And he was really nice to her. The two made a good couple in the beginning. They also supported each other and called out one-another’s faults.

I thoroughly enjoyed Juniper’s character development! She start off annoyingly noisy. I really don’t approve off a lot of her methods. But they were coming from a good place. It is implied from the flashbacks that Juniper has always been like this. Her need to ‘fix’ people. Through her relationships she really begins to grow and let go off bad habits. She decides that Camilla will always be apart of her and stops using the index cards. So that she can actually live her life. 

I was also really happy about the end events! I liked that Juniper and Lauren were starting to make-up. That they still cared for each other. Lauren’s collage board was brilliant and touching! Even Juniper’s mom coming to her aid. It was sweet. 

My only problem was that Juniper never found out who ‘You’ was. It really took away so much from the story. As that was Juniper’s main goal and motivation. In a way it did make sense but I wanted a bit more closure.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I highly recommend it.      

Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea

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A Very Large Expanse of Sea by: Tahereh Mafi

My Rating: 4 Stars

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Violence, bullying, harassment, xenophobia, Islamophobia, discrimination, mention of divorce, mention of wars, mention of death and car accident, racism, blackmailing, and invasion of privacy via technology. 

A Very Large Expanse of Sea was read for The Dream Thieves: Badass Broads.

When I had first heard about this book I didn’t care. I’d tried reading some of the author’s previous works and they didn’t work for me. After reading all the rave reviews I caved in and gave it a shot. I am happy that I did so!

Shirin has spent most of her life moving from one school to another. She hasn’t stayed at one school long enough to make lasting friendship’s. With every move her parents try to put her in a better school, ideally make more money, and move into a better house. The latest move is no different. Another high school with mostly white people.

Shirin has been spending most of the schools’ she goes to putting up walls. She doesn’t talk to people and people don’t talk to her. Her hijab seems to be a large neon ‘Avoid this person’ sign. Much to Shirin’s surprise, her lab partner Ocean becomes her friend. And even more shocking they start to become more than that. Throughout the story Shirin starts to realize she may have been wrong about people.

Before starting A Very Large Expanse of Sea I didn’t read many reviews. I went into it with little to no knowledge but decently high expectations. It really surprised me! The book is written in first person following Shirin. It’s like Shirin is talking to you. Which I thought worked for the story. It’s really amazing how many times Mafi can change her writing style. There are some text messages, AIM messages, and chapter numbers. It takes place one year after the 9/11. The title of the book is also mentioned in the story.

Shirin was one of the best parts of this book! I found her so relatable, mature, and surprisingly funny. Seriously some of the things she says were on point and hilarious. Also completely vulnerable. Normally the character that puts up a lot of walls doesn’t admit they are vulnerable. Shirin on the other hand mentions so many times that she is vulnerable but wishes she wasn’t. Which I found to be rather refreshing.

Shirin and her brother Navid are born and breed American’s. Their parents are Iranian immigrants. There was quite a bit of mention about Persian culture. Such as the language and the food. Even some of the traditions. They are also Muslim’s. Islam play a large part in the story. As a Muslim I found the Islam rep to be amazing! Shirin also has a lot to say about wearing the hijab. Such as why she wear’s it and her views on the hijab. I also wear the hijab so I loved everything she had to say! Some of it brought tears to my eyes, and made me respect Shirin even more.

I really enjoyed reading about Shirin’s relationship with her family! Navid was such a sweetheart. And their parents were supportive in their own way. What really stood out to me was how much Shirin and her family love their religion and culture. Which is a rarity to read about.

Shirin has many interests. Breakdancing, fashion, books, tv, and music. These interests are always brought up throughout the book without being too in your face. Every tiny detail regarding Shirin as a person is weaved into the story effectively. 

I really liked all the diversity in this book! Navid has dyslexia. It’s treated like a part of him not something to ashamed off. Their breakdancing crew also has some diverse members. Bijan is gay and Middle Eastern. Not quite sure where exactly he’s from. Jacobi is black. Carlos I think is Hispanic. I’m not a 100 percent positive. It’s not really mentioned. But I have a feeling he’s not white either. 

I had so much fun reading about breakdancing! This is actually the first time I’ve read about the topic in a book. And I have to say that I did actually learn quite a bit. The competitions were the best to read about though. The relationship the crew had with one-another was also so cute!

Ocean really surprised me! I did not expect to like him as much as I did. He was really nice and of course due to his privilege a bit oblivious. I really liked that Shirin and Ocean were friends first then an actual romance formed. Rather than some insta-love. I loved their conversations! They were so cute together! 

Ocean as well as other characters allow Shirin to grow. And understand that Shirin was doing exactly what people did to her. Stereotyping everyone around her. Shirin herself allows Ocean to realize his privilege and allowed him to grow into himself more.

My favourite part about their relationship was that they were more than their relationship. Shirin still keeps up her breakdancing, and Ocean still stays within the status quo. Sometimes I find that when the romance takes a center stage the characters are just demoted to dating status. It was nice that it wasn’t the case here.   

Mafi did an excellent job with the ramifications off Shirin and Ocean’s relationship. There is a large focus on politic’s as well as the high school social dynamics. The school, neighbors, teachers, parents, and students all react to their relationship in different ways. Peer pressure is brought up, even feeling powerless to an adult. Each aspect was done wonderfully! And with great care.

I do have some issues. I wish that the Mr. Jordan situation was handled a bit better. And I do agree that some things were pushed off to the side when Ocean and Shirin started dating. Also the dating situation may make a few Muslims uncomfortable. I was perfectly okay with it. But I know others won’t be. I also wish that Amna would’ve been mentioned at the end. Ocean was as the two were spending a lot of time together at the end. But Amna isn’t. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed A Very Large Expanse of Sea! I highly recommend it!