Book Reviews, YA Contemporary, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Young Adult

Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy – Ameriie Review

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Taken from: @inkdropsbooks

Rating: ★★★★★

I didn’t know a lot about this book before it was released because of a relatively low social media presence at the time, but I’m sure there was a big fuss about it. After all, included in the list of contributors to this anthology of ’13 Tales of Villainy’ are none other but Renee Ahdieh, Susan Dennard, Marissa Meyer, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, and BookTubers like Sasha Alsberg and Christine Riccio. Either way, I didn’t need to know all of this for the book to catch me eye – all I needed to convince me to read this was the excellent cover art, the authors mentioned on the cover, and promise of 13 stories about villains. Who doesn’t love a good villain?

I’ve never actually read a short story anthology – short stories are typically not my thing. I prefer to delve into a novel, or even better, a series. I like the scope and span of them. Nevertheless, these 13 authors show that sacrificing length doesn’t mean sacrificing depth. The stories had everything that I seek in novels – complex characters, captivating setting and world-building, interesting plot. Among my favourites were Susan Dennard’s Moriarty, Marissa Meyer’s version of The Little Mermaid’s Ursula, and Cindy Pon’s Medusa. Particularly, I loved the creative liberties that the authors took with the prompts that they were given. There was everything from gender bending of well-known characters, to transporting them to different cultures and historical eras, and using different story-telling formats like Instant Messaging or narrative forms like Adam Silvera’s use of the second person. Every story felt completely distinct to the previous one and brought something new to the table.

Each of the 13 stories is inspired by a prompt given to the author by a BookTuber, and is then followed by a shorter commentary-style piece by the BookTuber. Some of these I enjoyed more than others, although there were a few times that this shorter piece felt a little random, and on one occasion, I didn’t quite understand how the prompt – which mentioned a Futuristic Setting – had been met in the short story. Nevertheless, generally the prompts were either humorous or made you think about a message in the story, which sometimes I hadn’t fully picked up on myself, and as they were usually less than 5 pages, you could quickly delve right back into the next story.

Because You Love To Hate Me was different to anything I’ve read recently, and it had so much diversity within its pages that it was like a rollercoaster ride. Ameriie has done an excellent job at gathering such a vast array of imaginative stories from some of the most successful YA authors around today. The Tales of Villainy are more than just entertaining, they make you think about the nature of good and evil, of choices, humanity, and society.

Bookish Tags, Other

T5W: Favourite Angsty Romances

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme that was created by Lainey of gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam of ThoughtsOnTomes. Every week, I will post my top 5 of that week’s theme. If you’d like to learn more about it or join in the fun, head over to the Goodreads group where all the discussions take place here.

This week’s theme is Favourite Angsty Romances, so without further ado, let’s jump right in!

1. Gus and Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

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I don’t think you can get much more angsty than John Green generally, and especially not this novel. While I think Looking For Alaska is definitely much more angsty, the romance in this novel captured my heart from the start. Gus and Hazel are so cute, and I’m sure you don’t need telling where the angst in this comes from. I’ll just end by saying that this was one of my first experiences at truly heartbreaking YA.

2. Jude and Oscar from I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson 

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This book is my favourite. Everything about this novel is angst, from beginning to end, but not in an annoying, eye-roll kind of way, but in a gushing, make you want to cry and laugh and scream and punch something all at once. Jude and Oscar are so angsty that it made my heart feel like it was being squeezed at times. I mean, you can’t get much more angsty than: “I gave up practically the whole word for you…The sun, stars, ocean, trees, everything, I gave it all up for you.”

3. Twylla and Lief from The Sin Eater’s Daughter – Melinda Salisbury

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Twylla is the human embodiment of the goddess Daunen, the Queen’s executioner, and her touch is fatal. As if that isn’t enough to make her relationship to her new guard Lief risky to say the least, she is also engaged to the Prince. There is so much standing between Twylla and Lief that their romance is already angsty enough, and that’s before the main story of The Sin Eater’s Daughter even begins. Once the trilogy gets going, this relationship only gets more and more angsty.

4. Maddy and Olly from Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon 

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Another great romance story that makes you not only squeal with excitement and butterflies but also squirm in apprehension at what might go off. Not only is the romance in this novel heightened by the fact that Maddy could literally die from an allergic reaction to anything and everything, but she can’t even be safe with Olly himself.

5. Celaena and Sam Throne of Glass series – Sarah J. Maas

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At first I chose Chaol and Celaena, then I chose Aelin and Rowan, then I decided to not choose any in particular, then I remembered that there are also all the other relationships, from Dorian and Sorscha to Elide and Lorcan. This series is so filled to the brim with angsty, steamy romances that I couldn’t choose for ages, but in the end I chose Celaena and Sam because they are the sweetest of the lot in my opinion and have the most dramatic end. I don’t think anyone can quite fit angsty romance into epic fantasy like Sarah J Maas can, and even though sometimes I am a bit fed up with the prevalence of romantic pairings in the series, I still get obsessed with them.

 

Book Reviews, YA Contemporary, Young Adult

Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon Review

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Taken from: @inkdropsbooks (Instagram)

Rating: ★★★★

This book caught my eye because, well, because I’m pretty sure you can’t be into YA at the moment without having caught wind of Nicola Yoon’s novels. Both of them have been huge hits, and this novel Everything, Everything has even been made into a movie starring Amandla Sandberg. I just had to read this book and see what the fuss was about, and I get it. I really do. I read this book in less than a day, and if I hadn’t had things to do, I would have read it in one sitting. Madeline is captivating, and the story, and Nicola Yoon’s writing, swallowed me whole.

Madeline is 18 years old, but she spends every day cooped up in her completely clean, safe, cocoon of a house. Why? She has a condition called SCID, which means that she is effectively allergic to the world. One step outside, and something could trigger all sorts of horrible reactions. The world is literally out to kill her. Madeline is content with her life, which consists solely of her mother, her nurse Carla, her Skype tutors, and her books – that is, until a family move in next door. Olly is energetic, running up walls and jumping onto the roof; he is kind, protecting his mother from his abusive father; he is funny, communicating with Madeline by mimed conversations through the window and then through online messages. However, the more Madeline gets to interact with the outside world, the more she wants to be in it, and she has to decide whether life is better lived safely, or fully.

Madeline is such a wonderful main character and her voice is so strong that you feel like you know her. I love the way that Nicola Yoon has various different types of chapter in the book, so that you get a sense for different sides of Madeline. Some of the chapters were simple retellings of what is happening, while others were computer screenshots, or  diagrams, maps or IM conversations. These broke up the structure of the novel in a really fun way, because events that were perhaps more ordinary, like Madeline buying an entirely new wardrobe, could be put across to the reader quickly with a drawing. Others really got across the emotion that Madeline is feeling, whether it is the dream that is described in writing in the form of a spiral, or a map of her broken heart. They also bring you closer to Madeline in that you feel like you are reading her personal journal, seeing the doodles that she makes for her eyes only.

I also really enjoyed the relationship between Madeline and Olly. I loved the contrast between Olly and Madeline, and the fact that he in a way, symbolises everything that Madeline is missing outside. He wears all black to her all white, and while she is trapped inside her house, he is running around and practicing parkour. At the same time, he didn’t feel like a YA love interest cliche. He wasn’t a bad boy, he wasn’t cruel, he wasn’t a John Green quirky nerd. He felt as real as she did, and I never found myself wondering what was so special about Olly. He was genuinely nice. I also liked that although both of the characters come from very different family backgrounds, they both have to face the same challenge of finding a way to be free of their family’s control, and the idea that love can trap you as well as free you. This might seem a little vague, but I promise you, if you read this book you will see what I mean. This novel doesn’t portray love as being simple, and for such a short book, I think Nicola Yoon really explores the nature of love in all its forms really well, from Madeline’s controlling mother, acting out of love and trying to protect her daughter, to Olly’s mother who can’t find it in her to take herself out of a dangerous situation.

My only issue with this book was that I felt like the plot twist – without revealing anything spoiler-y – was a cop-out. All of the problems facing Madeline were solved with a flick of Yoon’s wrist, and the consequences of this plot twist didn’t felt properly dealt with enough. To be honest though, this was annoying, but it didn’t ruin the book for me. My favourite parts of the novel were the characters and their relationship, and this wasn’t really dampened by the weak plot. If Nicola Yoon had explored the various revelations made in a more nuanced way, this book would have been a 5-star read.

Overall, this book had so many wonderful aspects. I really recommend this if you are looking for a short and sweet read, whether you typically read YA or not, this is a brilliant and entertaining novel, and I can’t wait to read more of Nicola Yoon’s work.