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: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares

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A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares 

By: Krystal Sutherland and Tara Sands (Narrator) 

My Rating: 4 Stars

Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.

The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.

Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.

Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Death, mention of murder’s, physical violence, mention of war, mention of kidnapping, suicide attempt, mention of critically injured animal, and abusive parent.

The Solar family has been cursed by death. During their grandfather’s war days, he met death. Not just once but many times. Death cursed the Solar family to die from a fear. Hence why Esther Solar made a list of fears. Then she meets Jonah, a childhood friend. Much to her surprise he robs her. The two meet again with Jonah promising to help Esther conquer her list.

In 2016 Sutherland released her debut. I didn’t much care for it. I decided to check out this book because the synopsis sounded good. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

The book is written in third person omniscient following Esther and flashbacks of her grandfather with death. There is one scene that is narrated from Death’s point of view. The chapters are titled based off a fear of Esther’s. Some chapters just have titles that don’t pertain to Esther’s list.

I’m really happy that I gave this book a shot! It was good and I enjoyed the magical realism aspect a lot. Even the family and friendship dynamics. I also felt that the author excelled at portraying mental health.

I liked Esther! She was a great character. I especially loved her growth and that she ended up loving herself. Esther’s list of fears is based on things she’s seen on tv and heard stories about. The list was quite interesting. And you can honestly fear most of it. By the end she did love and acknowledge every aspect of herself. 

I liked Eugene a lot. He is Esther’s twin. He spends a lot of his time trying to convince Esther that the curse isn’t real. That their family has mental illnesses. The two have a really close bond. And it was nice to read about.

Esther doesn’t have the best relationship with her parents. Her father never leaves their basement. There’s a bathroom and food gets brought down. Meanwhile their mother who used to be so strong isn’t anymore. Their mother spends her time gambling. Her top concern is their money. Esther is torn up over her parents and doesn’t know what to do.

Hephzibah is Esther’s best friend. The two of them used to be friends with Jonah and met each other in school. Esther has never heard Hephzibah speak. The two communicate in sign language and text messages. I enjoyed their friendship! 

Jonah and Esther of course didn’t have a good introduction. When Esther sees him again she punches him. Which was justified. Things happen and the two come to an agreement. Their relationship was so cute! I really enjoyed the two of them tackling the list. Jonah and Esther were rocks for each other. They really helped each other grow. And they were such a cute couple! 

Death was such a nice connection! I enjoyed reading the flashbacks with him and their grandfather. It was a nice touch of magical realism. And brought the grandfather as a character. In present day the grandfather is dying. There were a lot of good quotes with their conversations. And the topic of death was tackled in such an interesting manner.

I especially liked that at the end all the characters are still struggling with their mental health. Eugene and Esther decide to go get therapy. Yay for positive therapy rep! Their family is still struggling. The relationship to one-another makes them so strong. Jonah doesn’t just magically cure Esther. She is still working on it.

Overall I really enjoyed this book! I highly recommend.   

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: Fire and Heist

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Fire and Heist by: Sarah Beth Durst

My Rating: 4 Stars

In Sky Hawkins’s family, leading your first heist is a major milestone–even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It’s a chance to gain power and acceptance within your family, and within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated, especially when you’re a wyvern–a human capable of turning into a dragon.

Embarking on a life of crime is never easy, and Sky discovers secrets about her mother, who recently went missing, the real reason her boyfriend broke up with her, and a valuable jewel that could restore her family’s wealth and rank in their community.

With a handpicked crew by her side, Sky knows she has everything she needs to complete her first heist, and get her boyfriend and mother back in the process. But then she uncovers a dark truth about were-dragon society–a truth more valuable and dangerous than gold or jewels could ever be.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Trauma regarding absent parent, mention of murder, blackmailing, imprisonment, mention of blood, abusive parent, and physical violence.

Sky Hawkin’s used to have it all. The perfect family, friends, and boyfriend. Until her mother disappeared. Now shunned by the wyvern society, Sky’s family is dealing with the aftermath regarding her mother. Her father doesn’t smile anymore. Her brothers ignore her. And the Hawkin’s family refuses to speak about what happened.

Much to Sky’s surprise her ex-boyfriend Ryan gives her information regarding her mother. Sky decides to put her foot down and complete the mission her mother failed. With a rag-tag crew, Sky sets out for answers. 

After reading the author’s previous works’ I was highly anticipating this! I am happy to say that I enjoyed it! Fire and Heist is written in first person limited, following Sky. There are chapter numbers and one list.

I had such a blast reading! So much fun but also had it’s serious moments. I particularly enjoyed the play on history! The Hawkin’s are distantly related to King Atahualpa and other historical figures.

I absolutely loved the Hawkin’s! They had such a great relationship, despite all they’d been through. Charles is the oldest. He had this tough guy attitude. Tuck and Liam are fraternal twins. And like most twins had a close relationship. Sky’s the youngest and the baby of the family. Her father and brother’s do their best to keep Sky out of everything. Which just makes Sky even more inclined to look for answers.

There’s a large focus on ‘Before’. As in before the events of this book. When Sky and her family used to be happy, and when they actually had a place in society. After being shunned and dumped by her boyfriend, everyone else followed suit. Sky’s wyvern friend’s ditched her. No one wants to do business with the family. Naturally Sky is angry with all these people. Even when Ryan comes back in her life Sky still holds some resentment.

The world building was excellent! There are a lot of rules within the wyvern society. Even regarding a person’s first heist. Wyverns’ history plays a huge role in the story. Most of it is nothing new. Though I felt that Durst did a good job making it unique.

I really liked Sky! She was a great character. Realistic with her own insecurities. Also very mature which seems to be a thing with Durst’s heroine’s. I enjoyed reading about her character development and journey throughout the story.

Gabriela is Sky’s human friend. Now that Sky doesn’t have any wyvern friends. She is Spanish and loves to do research. Also very self-assured, whilst some insecurities. The friendship between Sky and Gabriela was sweet! They really grew from their relationship with one-another.

Maximus is a wyvern who can also use magic. His character was quite something. At first I didn’t know how to feel about him. As the story continued I grew to appreciate his character. He’s very dramatic which makes for a fun reading experience.

Ryan’s character surprised me. When I read the synopsis I figured the audience is supposed to like him. I did not except him to be helping Sky in her heist. Let alone encourage it. He was sweet and a total dork. I liked the romance between them. I thought they were cute together. It also didn’t take away from the plot.

The heist was so much fun! I really enjoyed reading about their practice. And the part each character had to play. Once all the twists came into play, there were a lot of genres explored. Such as some Sci-Fi elements. I didn’t see anything coming! And enjoyed all the tibits of the world building explored.

The main themes were forgiveness and power. I respected Sky when she said that she would forgive Ryan and the rest of her friends. It showed character growth. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions about power. It was very interesting and thought provoking.

Overall I really liked it! I highly recommend it.   

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!        

Review: Always Never Yours

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Always Never Yours by: Emily Wibberley and Austin-Siegemund-Broka

My Rating: 4 Stars

Megan Harper is the girl before. All her exes find their one true love right after dating her. It’s not a curse or anything, it’s just the way things are, and Megan refuses to waste time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theatre, and fulfilling her dream school’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible.

But her plans quickly crumble when she’s cast as none other than Juliet–yes, that Juliet–in her high school’s production. It’s a nightmare. No–a disaster. Megan’s not an actress and she’s certainly not a Juliet. Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright who agrees to help Megan catch the eye of a sexy stagehand in exchange for help writing his new script.

Between rehearsals and contending with her divided family, Megan begins to notice Owen–thoughtful, unconventional, and utterly unlike her exes, and wonders: shouldn’t a girl get to play the lead in her own love story?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Cheating, slut-shaming, mention of parental abandonment, mention of divorce, and aftereffects of divorce. 

Always Never Yours was really hard to miss. Back in December 2017 it was everywhere. I was pulled in because of the synopsis and cover. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

Megan is always the girl before. Over her high school years she’s come to terms with that. After all her best friend Madeleine is dating her ex-boyfriend of six months Tyler. Regardless of the situation the two best friends are as close as ever.

Megan’s dream is to go to SOTI her favourite university. Thus far Megan has met the directing requirements. The only thing she needs is an acting credit. Jody (the drama teacher) is holding auditions for Romeo and Juliet. Megan has never acted before therefore she safely assumes that she’ll have a small role. Much to Megan’s surprise she is going to be Juliet. 

I’m so happy that I liked this book! I was a bit hesitant at first but all in all it worked out. The book is written in first person following Megan’s point of view. There are chapter numbers, text messages, and at the beginning off every chapter there are quotes from Romeo and Juliet.

If I could describe this book in one word it would be ‘Natural’. Always Never Yours felt so real! Everything just made sense in the way the story progressed. All the conflicts felt realistic and also in the way said conflicts were handled. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the large emphasis on plays’! It wasn’t just Shakespeare, Megan and her drama friends mention various plays. It was fun to read about Megan’s directing experience and her skills.

I really liked Megan! She wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted. Even if it meant her love life. I was surprised and pleased by how mature Megan was! She thought through conflicts realistically and didn’t look to blame everyone but herself. Her friendship with Madeleine was amazing! They supported each other through and through. It was nice that Madeleine didn’t judge Megan for her relationships.

Owen was so sweet! His interactions with Megan were so good! They really saw through each other. The two start off as friends then gradually grow to be something more. It did take awhile and I enjoyed how slow-burn it was.

Megan and Owen agree to help each other. Megan will help Owen with his play, while he will help Megan to get the attention off his friend Will. They really did bring out the best in each other. Their growth due to their relationship was amazing! Most off their conversations were so funny too!

There was diversity! Owen was Japanese, Anthony black and gay, and Alyssa Spanish. Each of the characters identities were integrated so well into the story. You do have the chance to see Megan’s exes. And see kind of a pattern with her relationships. Even in her new crush Will. It was interesting to see the difference between Megan’s relationship with Tyler vs. Madeleine’s.

All the main characters’ had fantastic development! It was nice to read about Anthony’s relationship woes alongside Megan’s. I liked how conflict arouse with her friends in the beginning of the book. Usually it happens towards the end but not here. Their conflicts made all them stronger and their relationships with one-another improved. I felt for all of them. 

Family also played a huge role. Megan’s parents are divorced. With her father remarried and half-siblings. Her mother was in a relationship, but Megan assumed her mother hadn’t moved on from the divorce. She truly believed that she was replaceable. As Megan’s step-mother was pregnant. Megan struggles with this for a majority of the book. I was happy when Megan realized she was wrong. I enjoyed reading about her relationships with each member off her family. Especially her half sister Erin. 

I did have some problems with the book. I was pretty mad at Owen for cheating on his girlfriend. I can’t believe it was Megan who had to remind him off Cosima! There was so much cheating. I didn’t expect that at all. And despite Megan being comfortable with herself there were still people who slut-shamed her.

I don’t really know how to feel about the Alyssa situation. Part off it felt like a cop-out. Just an easy way for Megan to the opportunity to play Juliet. While I do understand that Alyssa cut it close to the checks, it just wasn’t portrayed that well. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I recommend it for contemporary fans.