The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited follows the story of seventeen-year-old, Molly Peskin-Suso who knows all about the world of unrequited love after having a string of crushes but nothing in return. Her twin, Cassie, is her complete opposite and everything changes, including their close relationship, when Cassie meets and falls in love with Mina, a girl Molly meets in a girl’s bathroom (yay for female friendships formed in the toilets!!) Faced with being alonie, Cassie tries setting her up with Mina’s best friend, Will and he’s everything Molly would usually go for. That is until she gets a new job and meets the Tolkien/Game of Thrones fan (who wears seriously white trainers,) Reid. What follows is a journey of self-acceptance, love in all its forms and a story full of diverse and fantastically written characters.

Angharad’s Thoughts:

 * My highlights *


MOLLY PESKIN-SUSO! Now on my list of my all-time favourite fictional characters. Molly is Jewish, fat and a surrogate child of her and Cassie’s parents, Nadine and Patty. In other words, we have nothing in common but she is just so relatable. She’s funny, has mental health issues (and medication is actually mentioned!!) and is the nicest person you’ll ever meet. You root for her from the very first page. She’s an avid fan of Pinterest and can make anything look good and she can bake the best cookie dough. I just want her to be my friend. Her weight is never an issue to her, she worries more that other people will judge her and that fat girls never seem to ‘get the guy’, or have sex or fall in love. I can’t wait for the world to meet her.
FEMALE CHARACTERS! Other than Reid, Will and baby Xavier, this book is packed full with amazing and diverse female characters. We have the main family consisting of Molly, Cassie, Nadine, and Patty (and little Xavier.) Cassie’s pansexual girlfriend, Mina. Olivia and Abby (close friends of the twins) and even their grandmother who makes a very controversial introduction but ultimately has good intentions despite saying hurtful things. They are all amazing, they all interact with each other, there is no rivalry (other than silly arguments), there’s trust and they all have their own voices.
NADINE & PATTY! Not only are they an interracial f/f couple (one being bisexual) whose cuteness destroyed me but they are parents that are PRESENT IN A YA NOVEL YES YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY! They are involved in Molly and Cassie’s lives without interfering, they have grown-up conversations with them   (safe sex!!) and they have their own lives outside our protagonist’s storyline to the point that we even learn about their pasts and how they met. I can’t even express how important this is in a YA novel so I am incredibly grateful to Becky Albertalli.


Overall, this book is just so positive. It deals with coming-of-age, body image and our insecurities. It is a book full of LGBTQIA characters, amazing representation and genuine conversations. There are mentions of medication, masturbation (I should have another ‘M’ here right?) and (safe) sex. It is a funny, upbeat and sweet novel. It is has something for everyone – friendships, family and relationships. Molly and her relationship with Reid is slow-burning but realistic and when they finally got together, they were just SO cute. I do believe there are little cameos from Becky’s previous book Simon vs but I haven’t read that book so I can’t confirm this. Definitely put this book on your TBRs for 2017, share it with your friends and show your support because this book is important.

Becky’s Thoughts:

I feel as though, if you read a basic plot synopsis for The Upside of Unrequited without any context or background information on the characters, it could seem like your typical girl-meets-boy YA contemporary. The thing is, it couldn’t be further from typical.

Our main character Molly is a fat, Jewish girl with mental health issues and a wonderfully quirky sense of humour; she’s a girl with an lgbt+ twin, two mums, and her and both of her siblings are surrogates. I didn’t realise how much I needed a book with Molly Peskin-Suso as the main character until I read this. I absolutely devoured the entire book within a couple of hours, it was that enthralling, funny, and at times painfully true to life. Molly is a character you will connect with straight away – she’s so likeable and easy to relate to, and I genuinely felt her anger on the rare occasions that she got mad.

As a girl who would be called overweight by a BMI calculator, Molly was a breath of fresh air for me. Finding a book with an overweight main character, especially a YA book, is such a rare occurrence – I actually can’t think of any others that have one. Although Molly’s life doesn’t revolve around her weight (which was such a positive thing to reinforce!!!) she mentions issues that all of us slightly larger girls deal with – the chub-rub, the “you’re pretty – for a fat girl” comments, the constant mental comparisons to skinnier girls – it’s all dealt with in this book. I was immediately hooked when I read this extract, literally on the first page:

‘I suck in my cheeks so it looks like I have cheekbones. And it’s quite a transformation. Sometimes I have the idea that I could maintain this. I could spend the rest of my life gently biting the inside of my cheeks. Except for the fact that it makes my lips look weird. Also, biting your cheeks definitely gets in the way of talking, and that’s a little hardcore, even for me. Even for cheekbones.’ 

Honestly, I cannot even count the amount of times I’ve stood in front of a mirror and done similar things. I knew as soon as I read this that I’d instantly connect with Molly, and my love grew for her throughout the entire book.

Anyway, although I really loved Molly (if you can’t tell that already from my insane amount of gushing) I did also love other things in this book! Cassie perhaps wasn’t the best sister at times, but I loved how she always called out things that were wrong, and she was always prepared to stand up for Molly, even to her Grandma. I loved her personality and I adored her and Mina. I wish we could have seen more of Mina though – I have to admit that I fell in love with her just a little bit. Nadine and Patty, Molly and Cassie’s parents, were absolutely perfect, and as Angharad said – it’s a YA novel and they were actually present in their kids lives! They were such a down to earth couple and definitely family goals. Reid and Molly were also so cute together, and again, it was a breath of fresh air to read a YA contemporary that didn’t resort to instalove. I loved watching their friendship grow and the way that they bonded over a love of mini eggs and cookie dough – food based friendships are the best kind, and everyone knows it.

One of my pet peeves with many YA contemporaries is the attempt to include social media without actually naming any modern day companies or websites. I find that often authors will say the main character “logged into a chatroom” etc, and you just feel instantly disconnected and transported back to the 90’s. I really appreciated that the characters in this used up to date websites and apps that we all actually use – they’re always checking Facebook and Instagram, and Molly is a complete Pinterest addict. Although this is just a small thing, I do really think it helps a modern day audience to connect to the characters (I mean, who even uses chatrooms anymore? Do they still even exist?!)

Overall, The Upside of Unrequited is such a diverse, modern, and generally relatable book. I love a good contemporary, but I am so tired of reading something that tries to portray the real world, but it couldn’t be further from it. Becky Albertalli’s world in Upside – with a range of diverse characters, strong but complicated family ties, different religions, and hey, characters who aren’t all a perfect size eight with a flat stomach – this is the real world, and it was absolutely perfect.


This book is released on April 11th, 2017.
Love from

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

(Huge thanks to Netgalley for sending me an eArc of this book.)

Jordan Sun is starting her junior year at performing arts school, but being an Alto 2, she’s always struggled to get a role in the school musical. When the school get a mass email informing them that the Sharpshooters, the school’s revered all-male a cappella group, Jordan is determined to make this year different. She cross-dresses as a guy, Julian, and discovers that, as a Tenor 1, she’s just what the Sharpshooters need.

+ Our main character represents a lot of things. Jordan is a bisexual (which she discovers throughout the course of the novel), Chinese-American girl coming from a poor family. She’s tall and has a low voice, making her easily pass as a guy. All of these things have stopped her from achieving her goals in Kensington, but as a guy, she finds her place. During the beginning of her transformation into Julian, she Googles ways to flatten her chest and comes across a website for trans people. What follows is an important narrative as Jordan compares her cross-dressing as a disguise and lie whereas for trans, it’s a very different and important matter. The book also touches upon sexuality and gender stereotypes as Jordan regularly calls out acts of sexism in her role as Julian.

+ Upon hearing that Jordan would be the only main female character in this book, amongst a group of all males, I was hesitant but this is a very interesting and diverse group of boys. Isaac who is Japanese, Trav who is black, Jon Cox who has a learning disability and Nihal, a Sikh guy who reveals that he is gay. Jordan develops a friendship with each of them and I especially loved her friendship with Nihal who becomes something of a confidante. I just loved the bond between them and their domesticity during rehearsal. I’m a sucker for domesticity!
+ The prose was beautiful, flowing like music itself and despite the book focusing on a subject I’m not clued up on (music, singing, a cappella), the author manages to let it flow naturally, never info-dumping any of the technical terms. The book is split into four parts but it is a novel you can definitely read in one sitting. It manages to touch upon important subjects and represent them without preaching or making the narrative too difficult. It is a style of contemporary that we need more of.

+ Overall, I liked being inside Jordan’s head. I liked her transformation into Julian and how it changed her and also the high expectations she puts on herself to please her parents. Jordan is also dealing with an emotional breakup throughout the course of the novel and it was so refreshing to see her journey through accepting its end. This book just manages to deal with so many topics and issues and yet never rushes over the main story. Riley Redgate just proves that you can still deal with important issues in a YA contemporary novel without it being the main focus. Jordan destroys gender norms one page at a time and it was truly an honour to have met her and the Sharpshooters.

Love from Angharad,

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

“Mental health is usually the last place people go when they think about someone being sick… I’ve heard you don’t look mentally ill at least a half a dozen times in the past four years, a couple of those times from my former friends. I blame the media, stereotyping ‘mentally ill’ and calling every murderer since Manson crazy. People always seem to be expecting wide eyes and a kitchen knife dripping with blood.”
Goodreads | Book Depository


(I, myself, am a recovering agoraphobiac living with severe anxiety and depression so I was very hesitant about going into this novel, purely because I didn’t want to get triggered. Luckily, despite connecting to Norah on a very deep level, I was able to deal with it. However, I would advise people like me to only read this book if you’re able. No book is worth risking your mental health.)

We follow the story of seventeen-year-old, Norah who lives with agoraphobia and because of this, the story mainly takes place within her home and safe place. She also battles with OCD and self-harming tendencies (this story also focuses on what it means to self-harm and the different categories it falls under.) If you’re looking for a plot-based book, you won’t find it here but if you’re looking for a book about mental-health and its effect on daily life, you’ll find it here. Louise Gornall, in my opinion, absolutely nailed living with these conditions and has done it justice. Yes, Norah meets a boy and she falls in love but her mental illness is never glossed over, not even at the end.
The relationship between Norah and Luke was lovely, healthy and realistic. I love how they chose to communicate sometimes by writing on windows or on their hands when Norah wasn’t feeling up to talking. I saw a review saying that it was unrealistic to find a boy who would accept your mental illness *insert eye roll* but they actually do exist, guys?? I am so done with people saying people who live with mental health issues cannot find happiness. Another highlight was definitely Norah’s relationship with her mum and her mum is the coolest (I mean, she wore her hair in space buns??) They have such a strong relationship that reminds me of my mother and I so I loved their moments together. They truly were heartwarming, you can see how much her mum supports her and yet never pushes her too much. Norah also has regular visits with her therapist, Dr. Reeves and I wish I had a therapist as lovely as her. A lot of advice that was given by her, I definitely took on board myself which is something I’m incredibly grateful to the author for.
Overall, this is a very quick read (if I didn’t have a migraine for three days) and if you’re searching for a book to either help you learn about mental illness or to see yourself in Norah, then I would definitely recommend this. It’s a hard story to read, especially when Norah relapses and the event that takes place near the end of the book made me anxious and uncomfortable but that was because of good writing and a relatable main character. We go deep into the inner mechanics of Norah’s mind, the questions she is constantly asking herself, her worries about germs and disasters but she also has the ability to laugh at herself, to have your typical teenage-girl issues and that is why she is a character you can immediately jump into your shoes of, even if you don’t particularly want to. This book shows the dark side to mental health that isn’t romanticised or at all stereotypical despite its MC falling in love. There isn’t a cure or a happy ever after, Norah is still ill and still recovering at the end of the story. Give this book a shot but look after yourselves.
Love from,

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Every now and then you come across a book that within mere chapters, makes you think this is so important. Those were my thoughts when reading If I Was Your Girl by the wonderful Meredith Russo. We follow the story of Amanda, a transgender girl who goes to live with her father. She falls in love, makes new friends and learns to love the body she should have been born with. The novel switches between present day and flashbacks all the way through Amanda’s childhood to her attempted suicide and finally, her transition. This is a YA contemporary with all our much-loved themes but having it told by a transgender woman makes the story so much more important.


+ Amanda. A transgender main character in a YA novel? Yep. Not only that, it’s also written by a transgender author. This is so important for young readers, regardless of the story itself. For Amanda to lead the life that many YA characters live – to fall in love, have family issues, meeting a new group of friends but also have such a traumatic past. She is brave character and incredibly strong. She tells us her story from present day but also switches between years and months ago, from a very young age when she knew that she should have been born a girl. There’s this amazing parallel scene in the book – in one chapter, Amanda tells us of the time she took pills and tried to end her life but then we also experience the moment she took pills that began her transition and the two scenes – one heartbreakingly sad and the other heartbreakingly joyous really stood out for me. Amanda is definitely one of my top favourite female characters after reading this book. 
+ Familial relationships! Amanda has a very strong bond with her mother, despite the fact that she is living with her father during the events of this novel. Her mother is the one who helped her after her suicide attempt and accepted that she is transgender. Her father, however, is less accepting at first and so the two go on a journey of acceptance. I like that there were strong family ties in this novel but still maintained complications. It’s realistic and it showed not only Amanda’s journey through transition, but also her parents. The two ultimately care deeply for their daughter. 
+ Female friendships!! I recently posted a blog post about my favourite fictional female friendships and I wish I had read this book before I compiled it because Amanda’s friendship with Chloe, Anna and Layla was really lovely. They accept her from the very beginning and they all maintained such a healthy relationship, especially Anna who is very religious and has a very religious family. I mean, Chloe pulled a loaded gun on Parker to save Amanda. Friendship goals.


+ The romance between Amanda and Grant. Okay, so I went from loving these two, loving their healthy relationship (he asked if he could kiss her rather than just kiss her without consent when she was babbling on and this is something that is important to me), he says that he would accept her no matter what and even refuses to read a letter she writes to him explaining everything etc etc butwhen he discovers Amanda was transgender, he wandered off and was nowhere to be seen until the end of the book even asking the question, ‘does that make me gay?’ However, he agrees to hear Amanda’s story from the beginning but this is how the book ends!! Does he accept her? Nobody knows. I’m all for books that don’t have everything tied up in a little bow at the end because that’s real life but this didn’t sit well with me. Their entire relationship would have changed in my eyes if he still didn’t end up accepting her, especially as he ‘loved her no matter what.’ 


+ Character treatment. So a character in this book, Bee, is bisexual, something she openly admits. She is also in a secret relationship with Chloe, another of Amanda’s friends. Bee is the first person Amanda trusts enough to tell her she is transgender as the two form a quick friendship and play a game in which they tell each other secrets about each other. What seems like a strong bond quickly turns sour when Bee attempts to kiss Amanda, gets kindly rejected and then proceeds to stand on stage and reveal secrets about pupils, including outing Amanda and Chloe. It was awful and I feel as though it came from nowhere? I feel like Bee’s character was ruined here and for no reason and also nothing comes of it after. She was such an interesting character, she was a good friend to Amanda, openly bisexual and also a rape victim and I feel like outing everybody was very OOC for her. 

+ Unnecessary attempted rape scene (trigger warning for this!) At the end of the novel, after the events of Homecoming, Amanda is apprehended by Parker, a friend of Grant who she turned down at the start of the novel. He offers her a ride home but when he is rejected, he goes on to verbally abuse her, punch her and attempt to rape her when only a few chapters ago, he was apologising for any hard feelings between them. Luckily Amanda is helped by her friends but once again like the Bee situation, nothing comes of it and Parker isn’t mentioned again despite this horrific crime. I felt like it was unnecessary and it made me extremely uncomfortable.


Overall, this book is important and no rating will change that. Having a YA contemporary novel that has a transgender main character is unfortunately very rare despite it being 2016 so every one we get is a must-read. Amanda was an amazing character, she was brave and strong but most of all, she was happy in her body and that was so beautiful to see considering she spent so long in the wrong one. This is another book that I would encourage to be compulsory reading in secondary schools, both for the cisgender and transgender communities.

…And a Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne

…And a Happy New Year? is a novella in the Spinster Club series, set around a year after What’s a Girl Gotta Do? It’s a short but sweet update on what the girls got up to since they left sixth form, set at what should be a New Year’s party to remember that Amber is hosting. However, each of the girls is keeping a secret from the other two, and as the Spinster Club slowly begins to fall apart, can the girls open up enough to save their friendship?

I was so excited for this book to be released; after the ending of What’s a Girl Gotta Do? I just had to know what Evie, Lottie and Amber were up to now. By the end of the previous book, the girls all seemed to have grown and adapted a lot more – Evie was beginning to be in control of her OCD and anxiety, Amber had gotten more self confident as well as started to fix her family relationships, and Lottie was standing up for what she believed in, and was about to have an interview at Cambridge University – not to mention the fact that all three girls seemingly had found the perfect boyfriends. A year or so later though, there are new problems arising – Evie is dealing with her boyfriend Oli relapsing with his anxiety, Amber is keeping a huge secret from her best friends related to her and her boyfriend Kyle, and Lottie is struggling at Uni (although, I won’t tell you which one she chose!). The girls’ problems come to a head at Amber’s New Years Eve party, where they must all reveal the secrets they’ve been keeping from each other. I was actually so glad that the girls’ lives didn’t just stay as perfect as they were at the end of book three – I met each of these girls at their lowest points and showing all of their flaws, and for them to now have perfect lives just wouldn’t have fit with the rest of the series.
Although I did enjoy this novella, and think it was great that I could see where the girls I’d fell so hard for were at now, I had just one problem with this book. Although I knew this was going to be a short book, I needed more than the 199 pages that the story covered. I needed a full, 350+ page novel updating me on the Spinster Club girls. Really, it all just felt a bit too rushed for me. I also just didn’t like Lottie as much as I did in the three novels of the series, for some reason. However, ignoring these slight problems, it really was great to have one last Spinster Club meeting, and I truly will miss this series and these girls! 
Have you read the final installment of The Spinster Club series?


The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

“But boys will be boys, our favourite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll.” 

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis is a young-adult contemporary bordering on the mystery/thriller genre. It is told in three perspectives – Alex Craft, a girl remembered solely for the murder of her sister, Jack Fisher, star athlete, valedictorian and the person every guy wants to be and every girls wants to be with and finally Peekay, nicknamed for being the Preacher’s Kid who is struggling to come to terms with heartbreak over her ex. Together, they tell the story of their senior year and how their lives come together and how it ultimately affects everyone.

I loved everything about this story. I read it in one day and I haven’t been hooked to a book that much in a long time. The plot, the writing, the characters – everything was just addictive. It does not fall into your typical YA coming-of-age story. Yes, it tells the story of three characters in their final year of high school and yes, there is drinking and sex and relationships and rivalry but the one thing Mindy McGinnis does is include horror. There are mentions of animal abuse, sexual assault and murder. It also deals with rape culture, slut-shaming and gender discrimination. Despite it being about teenagers, the author does not shy away from the violence and acts of justice humans are capable of.
Alex Craft is our morally grey character who isn’t afraid to punch somebody in the balls for touching her without permission, who attacks a man for drugging her friend and even kills her sister’s murderer. Since a child she has embraced her violent nature and yet she meets Peekay volunteering at an animal shelter and ultimately, is just a girl that cares too much. She can’t stand to live in a world where violent acts against women go unpunished. Jack is your typical valedictorian/star-athlete/popular guy who embodies boys will be boys and yet falls deeply and madly in love with Alex who will destroy anyone associated with that stereotype. This allows him to see typical male behaviour through new eyes. Peekay is the rebellious Preacher’s Kid who isn’t afraid to put the other girls down and feels like she needs to help people in the world. She misses her ex, has very supportive parents and is drawn to Alex and the way she sees the world. I love how complex she was and how much her character developed within the course of the story – she starts off hating Branley, the girl her ex left her for, even going as far as slut-shaming her and yet at the end, she is the one who helps and supports Branley when she needs support. Speaking of, Branley was such a refreshing character. She’s your typical Queen Bee, beautiful, heavily made-up popular girl who gets all the guys, including Jack but she is so multi-layered. She is just a young girl that wants to be loved and accepted, not just for how she looks. During as assembly about rape culture, some guys even shout that it is her who is most likely to be raped. There were times I wanted to scream at her for her actions but if anything, she’s the one character I was the most attached to emotionally.
Ultimately, this is a book about rape culture. When the justice system fails, can we step in? Can we take revenge into our own hands like Alex? One of the first conversations in this book explores the animal kingdom and how the female of the species are deadlier. Therefore, the story delves into animal vs human nature. How far can we go to protect those we love? Alex, who is capable of extreme violence in order to protect against Peekay who fantasises about violence and yet finds it doesn’t come naturally to her. The girls volunteer at an animal shelter and yet Jack works with his father in a slaughterhouse. This book is filled with parallels between the characters, acts of kindness vs acts of good.

The ending blew my bloody socks off and obviously I won’t go into details but let’s just say that I did not expect it. I started off really disliking and questioning what the author chose to do and if it had been any other book, it would have probably ruined it for me but for this book and the message it’s telling, it fits. Overall, I truly enjoyed this book and actually, I knew I would as soon as I read the synopsis. It is just my kind of story and it’s already much-loved in the Goodreads community. The author was very brave to write this novel and her hard work paid off. The writing flowed perfectly and although it was split between three perspectives, each character had their own unique voice. This was definitely one of my favourite reads in 2016 and I’m looking forward to see what else Mindy McGinnis releases in the future.


Asking For It by Louise O’ Neill Review

Thank you to Netgalley for providing us with a digital copy.

Taking place in Ireland, Asking For It tells the story of Emma O’Donovan, an eighteen year old girl full of confidence and life. She is popular, beautiful and happy – and she knows it. One night there is a party and everyone is there but the next thing Emma remembers is waking up on her front porch with no memory of the night’s events. What follows is a series of explicit photographs surfacing on social media of Emma and what happened to her. However, like many victims of sexual assault, Emma isn’t believed and her community take the side of her attackers.
(TW: Sexual Assault)

Angharad’s thoughts:
This book is important. This book is horrific. This book will make you angry. It deals with rape culture and the affects of social media. It shows us how much gets taken away from the victims and how half of the time, nobody believes them anyway. It makes you think of how many victims haven’t made their voices heard because they are afraid. Most importantly, it shows that no matter what sort of person you are, no matter what gender, no matter what situation you are in, rape is rape and it is never your fault.

‘I make my mind go blank. I am not that girl anymore. I am an It. I am a collection of doll parts, of pink flesh, of legs spread open for all to see.’

For obvious reasons I know that going into this book, I was going to spend majority of the time being angry. I wasn’t wrong. The story starts with Emma being a very confident young girl. She’s beautiful and she knows it. She has many friends, she’s popular and she’s sexually aware. I really love that Louise O’Neill wrote Emma like this. Yes, she was sexually active, confident and beautiful but does that mean she was asking to get raped? Absolutely not. The only complaint I have with the beginning of this book is that there are a lot of characters, who are all named. This made it difficult during the party scene because there were so many names floating about. I got quite confused but this was such a minor annoyance that I couldn’t mark the book down. 

The second half of this book was heartbreaking, especially when the story continues a year after the event. Emma is a completely different person – she has been ostracised by all her friends and the entire community, she has stopped going to school, her family is falling apart and Emma herself is just an empty shell. She keeps having invasive thoughts, she still blames herself. This is not an easy book, it hasn’t got a happy ending, it hasn’t even got a ‘satisfactory’ ending but it’s realistic. This is happening all over the world and whether it’s in the media or not, it is too common. It makes me angry to read these books but I feel a need to so I can spread the word. 

‘My body is not my own any more. They have stamped their names all over it.’

Becky’s thoughts:
Honestly, I really struggled with this book.

I’m not saying that because I disliked it (as you can probably tell from the five stars that I gave it) but because it was just so painfully true to life that I really felt for Emma, the main character, and it hit me hard how the plot of this book could easily be the reality of so many girls around the world right now. 

Asking For It tells the story of Emma, a young, confident Irish girl, and what happens to her one night when she goes to a party. When she wakes up the next day with no memory of what happened or how she got home, photos from the night before begin to circulate the internet and accusations and rumours start to spread. Emma is the victim of the situation, but in the eyes of her community, she becomes the perpetrator. 
(How many boys?)
(What were you wearing?)
(How much did you have to drink?)

Asking For It is a must read. It delves into rape culture, slut shaming, and the dangers of social media in a way that I’ve rarely seen done in a novel before. I cannot emphasise the importance of this book. 

I thought it was intriguing how the author almost tries to turn the reader against Emma in the beginning of the book, emphasising her self confidence and her need to be the most beautiful girl in town, as well as bringing up her sex life. It brings up the question of, despite the way Emma acted or dressed, was she still asking to be raped? Of course she wasn’t.
I had liked it before. I had encouraged them.
(Maybe I had been asking for it.)

I almost knocked a star off my rating for this book, purely because I was dissatisfied with the ending, but then I realised – that’s not what this book is about. Despite using a fictional situation with fictional characters, this book tells a true story of possibly millions of girls, so many of whom would have been dissatisfied with the ending to the story of their trauma. 

As Louise O’Neill states in the afterword:
We need to talk about rape. We need to talk about consent. We need to talk about victim-blaming and slut shaming and the double standards we place upon our young men and women. We need to talk and talk and talk until the Emmas of this world feel supported and understood. Until they feel like they are believed.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? 
Let us know in the comments below!

My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger

(I was kindly sent a digital copy by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

This book follows Anna, who after deciding she’s had enough of mundane life, steals a credit card and books herself a ticket to Los Angeles. During her summer in Hollywood, she moves in with her actress sister and soon gets offered the role of researching the Manson girls for money. 
I went into this book without high expectations, what drew me to it was the fact that we had a teenage protagonist researching the once teenage Manson girls. I must point out early on that this book doesn’t really have a plot, it is more the story of Anna’s summer in Hollywood and discovering that the city isn’t all that it seems. Whilst researching the infamous Manson girls, she begins to understand connections between them and herself as they were once her age. That’s the moral of this story, in my opinion, teenage girls and their complexity. 
There is a romance element but it isn’t the centre of the story, it flows along with it and even ends with an ambiguous ending. Jeremy was a nice character and I enjoyed his relationship with Anna, he represented the truth behind ‘child-stars’ and that there life isn’t all fame and glamour. I really enjoyed Anna as a character which I didn’t expect as she is only fifteen years old. Sometimes the author can depict them as being too immature and naive but Anna has the perfect balance, she is curious and skeptical. One of my favourite themes was Anna despising the fact that Charles Manson and his cult are the only ones whose names we remember. Other than the famous Sharon Tate, the victims names were lost to history. Why do the killers get fame when it is the victims that should be mourned and remembered? She also states that the only reason Sharon Tate is known is because she was a beautiful actress, only used for her looks. I think it is so refreshing that a young female character makes this connection.

‘Sharon Tate was just a name, or a beautiful blonde, or an actress, or the wife of a director, or another woman who really became famous only when her life was over. When she went from being a body on a screen to a body in a bag. I wanted the movie to bring her to life, but the camera seemed intent on making her nothing more than a beautiful face and a banging body. It didn’t seem fair, not to her, at any rate.’

I really enjoyed the secondary characters. Anna’s big sister Delia who is obsessed with her image and becoming a famous actress, their two mothers who handle everything wrong but in the end are just human, Dex who was just a decent guy and all the others. They all managed to have their own voice and their own story. Having it take place in L.A was an excellent choice because despite never visiting there myself, I refused to believe it was as perfect as everyone seems to think it is. Every town has its secrets and history. 

‘I thought about the Manson family, driving around with blood on their hands, and how in Hollywood, you couldn’t tell the killers from the actors. If there was a stranger place on earth, I didn’t know where.’

Overall, I loved this book. The only reason I didn’t give it the full five stars is because I wish it was longer and had a more detailed plot. However, the story carries itself without twists and turns. It is the story of Anna, of her growing up and the parallels between the Manson girls and modern teenagers. We all start somewhere. We find out about them before Charles Manson – the fact that they had their own identity before him. The ending was perfect to the story in my opinion. It ended openly and we can allow ourselves to image what Anna does next. I entered a different world whilst reading this book and I would definitely recommend it.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

“Wouldn’t we all look guilty, if someone searched hard enough?”

Dangerous Girls is a contemporary mystery thriller. It’s the story of Anna, a girl who is away in Aruba for Spring Break with a group of friends, when one morning they find her best friend Elise stabbed to death in her room. Anna is immediately labelled as the prime suspect. The book follows Anna’s desperate attempts to prove her innocence, and as the mystery is unravelled further, it grows clear that some members of the group are hiding things from the night of Elise’s murder… 


Okay, I just read this book in one sitting and now my eyeball hurts. I am in too much shock to form a coherent review so I’ll do some bullet points. Okay? Good.

THE COMPLEXITY OF TEENAGE GIRLS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS. Were Anna and Elise more than just friends? Probably. Does it matter? No. I think we will all have our opinions about the nature of their relationship but deep down, it is two girls with an obsession with each other. And obviously, if you’ve read the book, obsession isn’t always a good thing. 

The entire justice system. I wanted to scream because it couldn’t be real but at the same time, yes it is. We see this happen in real life, like Anna says, it is all like a well-constructed play and everybody has their parts. It doesn’t always matter whether a person is innocent or guilty. Also the whole media coverage?? It really makes you think how much is real.

Anna is such a complex character? I can’t get too much into my thoughts about her because she is just one big mystery but woah, her character was so amazing to read. She was so unpredictable and also relatable to me. 

– Overall, this is a book that you will start and within a few pages, will become hooked by. I just wanted to get to the end (in a good way) so I could find out what happened. The novel includes transcripts, phone logs and even a floor plan which makes you feel so much more immersed in the story and trial itself. I haven’t previously read any of Abigail Haas’ work before but I definitely will from now on. I’m so annoyed that this book has been on my shelf for so long. 

– Go and read it!

– But prepare to have your mind blown!


Dangerous Girls is such a compelling read. I loved this book so much that I finished it in just a few hours – it drags you in and keeps you captivated throughout its entirety. I couldn’t put it down as I had to know who had killed Elise – I really couldn’t concentrate on anything else until I’d found out! Then, when I did find out, I was so shocked but at the same time, so happy. This book had such a perfect ending. 

Everything about this book was so complex, from Anna and Elise’s relationship and what their possessiveness over each other entailed, to Anna’s character in itself. I loved the way that the story unfolded, starting with Elise’s death, and how the reader was allowed to see more and more of ‘behind the scenes’ and flashback moments as the book went on, as well as floor plans of the holiday home and other pieces of evidence used in the trial. It allowed you to form your opinion on each character and on who committed the murder, change those opinions constantly as the book went on, and then have your mind completely blown when you reach the end and find out that everything you thought you’d worked out in this book was a lie.

I can’t recommend Dangerous Girls enough – I’m not always a fan of contemporaries, but this beautiful little contemporary mystery-thriller just blew me away. I can’t wait to read Dangerous Boys!

Have you read Dangerous Girls? Let us know what you think of it in the comments! 

Girl in Pieces Review

We were kindly sent an ARC by Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review.

Girl in Pieces tells the story of seventeen-year-old Charlie, a girl who is no stranger to pain and loss. In order to cope, she self-harms to the point that we meet her at a rehabilitation centre where she is on her way to recovering. She shares her experience with a bunch of other, complex females and it all seems to be on the right track until Charlie is told that she is being released. Faced with the reality of living on the outside again, she must find her way alone but is she ready to let people back in?
The first thing that struck me about this book is its format. The author breaks the first few pages of the book into ‘pieces’ which I found genius. At the start of the novel, Charlie is metaphorically in pieces and the writing reminds us of this. As the story continues, the chapters get longer as Charlie has more to say. When she is in a bad way, the writing gets choppy again, it is quite literally linked to Charlie’s state of mind. As for the writing itself, it reads like a poem, it flows together. There are lines so heartbreakingly beautiful that they will take your breath away.
This isn’t just a story about self-harm – the author focuses on addiction, abuse, homelessness etc. Every character in her book has a story and none of them are ever made to feel unimportant, they all have a voice. Charlie comes into contact with many different people during this book – the girls at the hospital, her colleagues at work and even the people who live in her apartment block. This isn’t just a story about Charlie, it’s a story of all the people she meets and how they affect her.
My heart ached for Charlie. I haven’t felt that much sympathy for a character in a long time. Every time she found solace in her art, I wanted to cheer for her and I love that her art style changed as she healed. She is a survivor, she endures and sometimes she gets knocked down, but she gets straight back up. She starts off not talking and yet as she found her voice, she began to find herself. She starts the journey to loving herself and not being ashamed of her scars, she lets people in and she pulls herself away from rock bottom. I’m proud of Charlie, I’m proud that I could get to know her.
Kathleen Glasgow isn’t afraid of delving into the dark world of mental illness. She doesn’t skirt over Charlie’s self-harm, Riley’s addiction or Linus’ alcoholism. Although these aren’t light-hearted subjects in themselves, she still manages to maintain a layer of hope throughout the novel. She makes you root for Charlie and the other characters, hoping that they can heal and keep going. Nothing is romanticised in this novel and I am so grateful for that. It is evidently clear that Kathleen Glasgow put her heart and soul into this book. 
This novel reminds me that we need to extinguish the stigma that is attached to mental illness. It should not be a taboo subject and it’s heartbreaking that it is something that is so common and I include myself in that. Charlie is a young girl who lost her father and her best friend, has an abusive and distant mother, is almost the victim of sexual assault, experiences homelessness and hunger but keeps going. She survives it and although her journey to recovery is far from over, she shows that you can do it. You can pull yourself out of it and I think that is such an important message, especially to the younger generation. 

This book will be released on September 6th and keep tuned because we will be posting an interview with the author herself soon!