Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern Review

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Summary

Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can’t walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realised.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other’s lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.

Review

I fell in love with this book after reading just the first chapter. It is so rare to find a book with, not one, but two lead characters who are not your typical YA characters. Amy and Matthew both have their own issues that are very real but are not explored much in YA literature. I loved the development of these characters and seeing them overcome their problems. This was such a beautiful book and I finished it in a day.

I do not know what it is like to live with cerebral palsy so I can’t begin to imagine what Amy has to go through on a daily basis. I feel like if I were in her position where I couldn’t speak without the help of a computer or I couldn’t walk without having something there to help me, I would completely give up and not bother with anything. But Amy doesn’t do this. She doesn’t let her disability define her and, to be honest, I forgot about the fact that she had a disability. Amy is just a normal teenage girl who wants to have friends and experience life regardless of her disability. It was refreshing to read her blunt honesty and I loved her relationship with Matthew. She didn’t sugarcoat anything or let him take the easy way out. She pushed him as much as she could because she believed in him and in his ability to overcome his own problems. I felt that the way Amy handed certain situations was great as, although she may not have made the best decisions at times, you could see her reasoning behind it and the logic made sense to her. Amy was a very real character and I loved how she developed as a person throughout this book.

Matthew has a different problem to Amy in that his is a mental illness rather than a physical one. At first Matthew lets his OCD overtake his life and stop him from doing things that everyone else does. It also isolates him from people as he feels that if he doesn’t do certain things, he will end up hurting people and so he finds it easier to separate himself from everyone. I loved how Matthew developed as a character. He didn’t start off as being someone who was completely okay with the idea of being friends with Amy and he had his reservations about it as any teenage boy would. But we can see him change and mature and do little things for Amy that others wouldn’t. The intimacy between them in simple actions such as just touching each other made their relationship so real and wonderful to read about.

The way that Cammie McGovern dealt with real issues such as physical and mental illnesses in a way that didn’t romanticise them but instead showed the harsh realities of them was great to read. She didn’t gloss over things or play down the seriousness of them. I felt like she was showing people who have similar problems that, slowly but surely, they can be overcome as long as you are willing to help yourself.

Overall I give this book 5 out of 5 stars because I have never read anything like it before and I immediately fell in love with the story and characters.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor Review

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It’s been so long since I have read a fantasy book and Daughter of Smoke and Bone has definitely got me back into reading fantasy books like this. It took me a while to get into the actual story but after a few chapters I was hooked. 

The story is mainly set in Prague and we first meet our protagonist, Karou, when she is on her way to the art school that she attends. From the start it was obvious that Karou was not someone who would just sit by and not do anything. Her encounter with Kaz, her ex-boyfriend, shows that she isn’t afraid of fighting and defending herself. Although it seems that Karou leads a normal life, she secretly works for a Wishmonger called Brimstone and enters his world through portals described as ordinary doors. The world that Laini Taylor created was so interesting and I loved finding out more information about the chimaera world. Black handprints begin to appear on doorways around the world, left by mysterious winged strangers who are gone in an instant. On one instance, Karou sees the black handprint and thinks nothing of it but when she is confronted by and angel in Marrakesh, her whole life changes. I have never read a book like this before and Laini Taylor’s writing perfectly brings the characters and setting to life. 

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars because I absolutely loved the plot, characters and her writing style and it has made me want to start reading more fantasy books which I am usually quite apprehensive about. I am meeting Laini Taylor in May and I am so excited to talk to her and get my books signed. I can’t say much about this book without giving away some of the main plot points so if you haven’t read this book then don’t read any further. 

After reading this book, Karou has definitely become one of my favourite protagonists. She was not afraid to get her hands dirty and I loved that she knew how to fight and defend herself. When Karou was cut off from Brimstone and Elsewhere, she took charge and tried to find her own way back rather than wait for someone to come and save her which, unfortunately, seems to be a running theme in some YA books nowadays. I suppose it is impossible to talk about Karou without talking about Madrigal. When the similarities between Karou and Madrigal were first shown, I knew that there was some kind of link between them. I thought that Karou had been a descendant of Madrigal and perhaps that Madrigal had been her mother, due to Karou not having parents. Finding out that Karou and Madrigal are the same person slightly annoyed me as it seemed that all the character development that we had seen of Karou was gone as soon as Madrigal’s past was revealed. This is probably the only criticism I have of this book and while I don’t think it is a bad plot point, I just personally didn’t like it. 

I loved Akiva’s character and the fact that he didn’t kill Karou when he had the chance made me like him as it showed that he had a bit of humanity and wasn’t just an angel who wanted revenge. Although he did play a part in burning down the portals, I never thought of Akiva as the ‘villain’ of the story. It seemed that he was just following orders and doing what he had been raised to do. I loved reading the parts about Akiva and Madrigal as it made him seem more human and showed that he was more than just a soldier. I have seen reviews of this book where people have given it a low rating because of the fact that Akiva’s physical appearance is mentioned a lot. This frustrates me as angels have always been seen as beautiful and it would have been strange for Akiva to not be seen as beautiful by everyone. 

The star-crossed love of Karou and Akiva tugged at my heartstrings as I spent half the book wanting them to give in and be with each other. I loved the way Laini Taylor portrayed their relationship and showed the gradual development of feelings rather than them instantly falling in love with each other. Their physical attractiveness to each other was shown quite a lot but this was to be expected because Akiva is an angel. Thinking back on certain points of the book, it was quite obvious that Karou and Madrigal were the same person as they had similar mannerisms and this can’t have just been a coincidence. I loved the forbidden love aspect of the book and although some people see it as cliche I feel like it was done by Laini Taylor in a way that was completely different to how I’ve seen it before.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and have already started the sequel in preparation for the release of the final instalment in April. I’m so excited to find out more about Karou and Akiva and also more about Elsewhere and the battle between the angels and demons. 

Panic by Lauren Oliver Review

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When I first read about this book I assumed, like many others, that it would be a cross between The Hunger Games and Divergent but it was completely different to them. 

Panic is a game that takes place in the small town of Carp (which I kept reading as crap) during summer. This is the seventh year of the game and only seniors are allowed to participate. Every day of the school year, everybody has to pay a dollar and at the end of the year all that money is collected and usually amounts to around $50,000. This year however the grand total is $67,000. Panic starts at the beginning of summer with the first task – The Jump. Seniors who have just graduated have to jump off a cliff to show that they want to participate in Panic. I have a fear of heights so at this point I would already be out because there is no way I could jump off a cliff. As the game goes on the challenges get more intense and I had to put the book down at certain points because of the anxiety it made me feel. 

Heather and Dodge are the two main characters in this book and it is told from both of their perspectives. I really liked Heather and Dodge’s character development and I think that is one of Lauren Oliver’s strong points. I can’t say much about the characters without giving the plot away but I did like them. 

The rest of this review will have spoilers as I am going to talk about the characters in detail and certain parts that I enjoyed so if you have not read Panic yet then don’t read any further. 

Heather was a likeable character like I could empathise with her and she is the kind of person that I would like to be friends with. I liked how she worked up the courage to stand up to her mother and take her and her sister out of the house. Through Heather, we meet Anne who was so nice and I loved their relationship. 

Nat and Heather’s friendship seemed very cute at first but as the story went on I found myself starting to dislike Nat. I thought she was a very passive character and she didn’t really do many of the challenges in Panic which annoyed me because Dodge and Heather actually worked to get to the later stages in the competition whereas she just managed to cruise along. I thought it was really nice of her to make a deal with Heather about them splitting the money if either of them won. But, when she said the same thing to Dodge, I realised that she didn’t really care about them and was just after the money. She took advantage of Dodge’s feelings for her and that really annoyed me. 

Bishop was a really likeable character and I think we all want a friend like him. I had a hunch that Bishop was a judge because of how secretive he was and when he kept saying to Heather that he had something to tell her, it pretty much confirmed it for me. I really wanted Bishop and Heather to get together and I thought it was so cute that he became a judge because he wanted to give the money to Heather. I feel like their friendship was stronger than Heather and Nat’s and I preferred the scenes with Bishop. 

Dodge seemed like a very confused kid and I think he went into Panic without really thinking about it and just saw it as a way for him to get revenge for what happened to his sister. He let his feelings for Nat cloud his vision at times and I think he just wanted her to accept him so he went along with whatever she said. For most of the book I just wanted to give Dodge a hug and tell him everything was going to be fine because I think that’s what he needed and he sought that from Nat. Dodge had good intentions but he didn’t really think things through and when he made the bomb it just showed that he had a violent side to him. 

I’m never satisfied with the way Lauren Oliver ends her books and I felt like this ending was quite rushed. There was such a big build up to The Joust and I was expecting a long drawn out scene but it was over in about two pages. We got it from Heather’s perspective and so it was disjointed and blurry and I would have preferred it from Dodge’s point of view as if he was watching it from the sidelines. It made me happy that Bishop and Heather were together but I didn’t like that Dodge and Nat ended up together because I felt like he deserved better. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I love Lauren Oliver’s writing so I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. 

The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight

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Synopsis

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.
A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Review

I received this book as an ARC on NetGalley and I have to admit at first I thought it would be your typical boy-meets-girl YA novel, but I was wrong as it turned out to be much more than that.

Hadley’s relationship with her parents was very interesting and as I got further in to the book I enjoyed reading about her interactions with them. Hadley’s relationship with her father had suffered due to him leaving her mother and moving to London, and she disliked him for a while. As the book progresses we see Hadley’s feelings for him change as she realises that her father is very happy and that he never had any intention to cut Hadley out of his life. With regards to her mother, Hadley almost blamed her for what had happened but, again, as the story goes on, she realises that it wasn’t her fault and nothing could have been done to stop her father from leaving.

Oliver is a key character in this book and I thought that he and Hadley were very cute together. Over the 24 hour period that this book is set in, their lives intersect in intriguing ways and it was very fun to read. I will try to avoid spoilers here but when I find out why Oliver was travelling to London, it changed my whole perspective of him.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and although I would have loved to read more about Hadley and Oliver, the book ended in the best possible way it could have. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it was a wonderful quick and easy read and I look forward to reading more books by Jennifer E. Smith.