Heartstopper Volume 1-4 by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper Volume 1-4 by Alice Oseman

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Graphic Novel
  • Young Adult
  • LGBTQ+ Romance
  • Ebook
  • Goodreads ratings: #1 – 4.51, #2 – 4.59, #3 – 4.61, #4 – 4.67,

The Heartstopper series is a LGBTQ+ Romance delivered in a graphic novel. The novels follow Charlie, a teenage boy who was accidentally outed last year, as he is falling in love with Nick, a boy he thinks is straight. Charlie and Nick become good friends and start hanging out together more and more, until Charlie kisses Nick at a party and Nick has to figure out how he feels about that.

I bought the first two volumes in digital edition for 0.99 cents each because I had been seeing them all over Instagram. I bought a bunch of other ebooks as well, but I figured that I’d go through Heartstopper pretty quickly, since it’s a graphic novel, so I decided to read that first. It was indeed a quick read and I went through the first one in about an hour or an hour and a half. The second one took me about the same amount of time. I waited a bit to buy volume three and four, since they were 4 or 5 euros per book and I was hoping for them to go on sale, since 5 euros for a book that I would finish within an hour seemed like a bit much. I ended up buying them for that price after all, since I loved the first two so much and I wanted to read the next two as well. I don’t regret paying the full price, since I loved both of them and Oseman obviously put a lot of work in them. So even though all four volumes can easily be read in one day, they’re definitely worth the price.

This entire series is so incredibly cute. The drawings are cute, the story is cute, the characters are super cute. It’s just so much fun to read. Oseman did a really good job with the drawings and the story is pretty well balanced. Even though it is meant for a younger crowd, it is still very enjoyable as a twenty-something-year old or an adult (I’m still in denial about adulthood).

I loved how Oseman inserts the importance of Mental Health and especially the existence of Anorexia (among boys) into her novels. Considering that her target audience is still pretty young, I think it’s important to address mental health issues in this way. No judgement whatsoever, just an explanation as to what anorexia is and how it feels. I’m not an expert on anorexia since I’ve luckily never had anorexia, but I’m no stranger to other mental health issues and I can tell you from experience that they are so much easier to deal with when the people around you have a certain understanding of what you’re going through. So yay to Oseman for addressing mental health in an accessible way.

The only thing that started to bother me after a few books, is that there is not a single straight couple in any of the graphic novels. The only people who are straight are the bullies and the parents, everyone other character in all four of the books is either gay, bi or trans. I get that we don’t need more straight propaganda, but I’m guessing that the goal of these novels is to show young adults that being gay or bi or trans is perfectly normal and the best way to do that is probably to make the characters relatable. If not a single one of these characters is straight, then straight kids will have nobody to relate to and I think you might not reach as many kids. Of course I’m no expert on psychology and it’s the artists choice in the end, so please don’t take this the wrong way. Plus telling an artist to put more straight people in their LGBTQ+ romance novel is probably kind of missing the point. It’s mostly my personal opinion that I didn’t have a character that I related to.

I gave the Heartstopper series an overall score of 4 stars. I also gave all of the individual novels 4 stars. It is pretty consistent in quality and enjoyableness (if that’s even a word), which I always appreciate a lot. I hate it when the quality of a series is not consistent. “The second book is not that good, but the third one gets way way better!” just doesn’t do it for me, so luckily the Heartstopper series was pretty consistent. If you have not read this series yet, I would definitely recommend it. It’s a series you can easily read on your Ipad or Kindle or something and it’s light and fun in between other reads. Don’t expect hours and hours of entertainment, because it’s a pretty quick read, but definitely worth your money!

Heartstopper Volume 5 comes out somewhere in 2022, so we’ll have to wait a bit for the story to continue. There’s a Netflix series based on the graphic novels coming out soon, though!

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The Midnight Library Book Review

The Midnight Library Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Fiction / contemporary / magical realism
  • Paperback
  • 288 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.07
  • TW: depression, suicide, anxiety

Nora Seed has decided that she has absolutely no reason left to live. She has nothing but regrets for all of the choices she has made. She has nothing and nobody will miss her. She ends her life at the stroke of midnight. When she wakes up, she sees a library. This is not the afterlife, but a Midnight Library, where every book is a life she could have led if she had made different choices. She gets to live those lives to see what could have been. If she can find a life that leaves her with no regrets, she gets to stay there.

“A person was like a city. You couldn’t let a few less desirable parts put you off the whole. There may be bits you don’t like, a few dodgy side streets and suburbs, but the good stuff makes it worthwhile.”

Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

Matt Haig has a way with words, that’s for sure. His writing is soft and gentle, but still gets its point across. I didn’t know that Haig had struggled with his own mental health when I read the book, but I had a hunch. He describes depression and anxiety from the main character’s point of view in a way that I’ve never seen any writer describe it before, which made me wonder about his own experiences with mental illness. Turns out I was right (though for his sake, I would rather have been wrong). Haig approaches such delicate subjects with so much care, but he also makes it clear that it is okay to talk about mental health. There is no taboo around mental illness in this book. Though the book is a work of fiction, there are plenty of ideas on regrets and mental health to take away from it.

“Sometimes just to say your own truth out loud is enough to find others like you.”

Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

I read this book as a part of a buddy read back in December, which had its pros and cons. Pro: the book was a little slow, especially around the 50% mark. Spreading the book out over multiple days definitely helped keeping me interested (I loved the book, but I have a hard time getting through slow-paced books). Con: If someone who hasn’t read the book is in charge of dividing the pages, you end up with pauses in places where it was just getting interesting.

“You’re overthinking it.’ ‘I have anxiety. I have no other type of thinking available.”

Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

It was the concept of the book that really made me want to read it. I didn’t really know Matt Haig or anything he has written, but the summary really spoke to me. It wasn’t at all what I had expected the book would be about and I was intrigued. It is wonderfully executed as well, I was definitely not disappointed. At no point was I bored with the story or did I find it predictable. Haig kept surprising me with turns on events and was always one step ahead. Every time I thought I knew what was happening, it turned out.. I didn’t.

I would definitely recommend this book to any- and everyone. If depression, suicide or anxiety are a trigger for you, don’t do it, though. These are not just a scene or two, they’re a main theme throughout the book. Everyone else: if you haven’t read this yet, I urge you to pick it up. You’ll read a wonderful work of fiction that might actually teach you a thing or two. This will definitely not be the last Matt Haig book I read. Feel free to send me recommendations for my next one.

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Red, White and Royal Blue – Book Review

Red, White and Royal Blue – Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Fiction
  • Romance, LGBTQ, Young Adult
  • Paperback
  • 421 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.21

Alex is the son of the first female president of the United States. HRH Prince Henry has been his nemesis ever since he was rude to him at an event and dismissed him. When Alex gets drunk at a royal wedding and accidentally pushes Henry into the wedding cake, they are forced to spend time together and convince the press that it was all one big misunderstanding. After Alex has spent some time together, he discovers that Henry isn’t as shallow and boring as he thought he was and he certainly isn’t a prick. When Henry gets a little drunk at Alex’s NYE party, he kisses him out of the blue. It was a first time for Alex, but the question is: why did he like it so much?

“The next slide is titled: ‘Exploring your sexuality: Healthy, but does it have to be with the Prince of England?’ She apologizes for not having time to come up with better titles. Alex actively wishes for the sweet release of death.”

Casey McQuiston, Red, White and Royal Blue

This is probably one of the easiest reviews I’ve written so far. I absolutely LOVED reading this book. I loved everything about it; the characters, the plot, the feminist and LGBT touch, the writing, the romance, everything!

First of all, McQuiston’s writing is amazing. The dialogue is so incredibly smooth and funny and she kept the lightheartedness all throughout the book. The chapters were quite long, but McQuiston alternated between dialogue, e-mails and texts, which kept the pace of the story rather high. The inside jokes between Henry and Alex were hilarious and the writing just felt rather effortless, which made it very pleasant to read.

Red, White and Royal Blue is probably one of the most romantic books I have ever read. Now I’ve only recently been getting into romance novels, but still. It’s a little spicy at times, but in a very romantic way. I thought maybe the sex scenes would make me a little uncomfortable, but they really didn’t. Henry’s and Alex’s relationship was absolutely perfect. They are so gentle with each other and give each other space, even though they miss each other like crazy. The e-mails and texts back and forth made my heart melt. Their relationship is definitely swoon-worthy.

“Thinking about history makes me wonder how I’ll fit into it one day, I guess. And you too. I kinda wish people still wrote like that. History, huh? Bet we could make some.”

Casey McQuiston, Red, White and Royal Blue

McQuiston painted a wonderful picture in this book of a world where the most powerful country on earth is ruled by a woman and princes can be gay and have a gay marriage and still be respected and even adored. It is the perfect feminist and LGBTQ propaganda. Well done, McQuiston. Keep on writing that gay romance with a feminist touch to make the world a better place! We should all take a page out of your book (pun intended).

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The Wrath and the Dawn – Book Review

The Wrath and the Dawn – Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Adhieh
  • Fiction
  • Fantasy/Young Adult/Romance/Fairytale retelling
  • Ebook
  • 418 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.08

The Kingdom of Khorasan is ruled by a murderer. Every night Khalid, the caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride and every morning, he kills her. Until a 16-year-old girl named Shahrzad volunteers to be his next wife. She has a plan to avenge the death of her best friend and put an end to the needless suffering of families who have their daughters taken from them. Except her new husband, the boy-king, is not what she had expected. He is kind and compassionate and seems to have a soft spot for her. She is his first bride who has lived past the morning.

This was an absolutely gorgeous retelling of the A Thousand and One Nights fairytale. It is only loosely based on the story, which gave it the intrigue of the Arabian story while still remaining original and surprising in all aspects.Though I’m only just getting into fairytale retellings (Cinderella is Dead was my first one), this one was definitely nothing like anything I’ve ever read before. It definitely got me into the warm Arabian/Persian aesthetic with all its silk and sand and jewels. The names are very difficult to remember and differentiate, though. There’s Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran, Tariq Imran al-Ziyad and Rahim al-Dir Walad. You get used to it, but it takes a little while. Though the names are beautiful, they’re rather difficult to remember at times.

“So you would have me throw Shazi to the wolves?”

“Shazi?” Jalal’s grin widened. “Honestly, I pity the wolves.”

Renee Adhieh, The Wrath and the Dawn

The characters in The Wrath and the Dawn are wonderful and colourful. Though most of the side characters are still a little flat in the first book, the main characters are vibrant and have amazing character development. The book is written from the perspective of multiple characters, so that gives you some insight into information that some of the other characters do not have. It keeps the tension high and the story interesting. It is also a great way to show character development.

Adhieh has incorporated the enemies to lovers trope wonderfully and in a highly original way. Shahrzad’s new husband has killed her best friend and many other girls. She believes him to be a monster. No matter how much she tries to hate him, though, she feels there is much more to the story and to Khalid than meets the eye. The internal struggle to keep regarding Khalid as her enemy and plotting to kill him, while falling in love with him against her better judgement, is described beautifully and progresses naturally. Often the enemies to lovers trope can feel a little forced and considering what I knew about the story, I was afraid it would in this book too, but it didn’t.

“You are not weak. You are not indecisive. You are strong. Fierce. Capable beyond measure.”

Renee Adhieh, The Wrath and the Dawn

Khalid eventually reveals to Shazi the story behind all of the wives he has murdered. He tells her about his first wive, Ava. I obviously don’t want to spoil anything, so I can’t say any more about the story. I can tell you, though that it is a heartbreaking story. I had mixed feelings about Khalid throughout the book, until he told Shazi the story of Ava.

Definitely read this book if you like a fairytale retelling, if you like the Arabian/Persian aesthetic and/or if you like a good enemies to lovers trope.

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Elevation by Stephen King – Book Review

Elevation by Stephen King – Book Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.
  • Fiction
  • “Horror”
  • Fantasy
  • Paperback
  • 192 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 3.67

Oh boy, did I have high expectations for this one. My very first Stephen King novel! I picked Elevation because I came across it at a bookstore once and it looked interesting. Also it was the shortest Stephen King novel I had come across so far. I have wanted to read Stephen King for ever, but the books are so ridiculously big (IT by Stephen King is 1116 pages, just to name one) that I was just kind of scared to. So when I came across this one, I figured: it couldn’t hurt to start with this one, right? Before I share my thoughts on this book, I’ll give you a short summary of the plot.

Scott Carey has been losing weight steadily for the past few weeks. He was delighted at first, only he doesn’t look any different than he did 30 pounds ago. And then there’s something else. When he steps onto the scale while holding all sorts of heavy things, he weighs exactly the same as he does naked. Scott consults with his best friend Bob Ellis, who is a retired doctor. As Scott keeps losing weight, he wonders what will happen when he reaches zero pounds..

So let’s begin by discussing the fact that this book won the 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards for the category horror. I’m sorry, but this is not a horror story. Mystery, okay. Sci-fi, sure, a little. Even fantasy is more believable, but please. Calling this a horror story, is an insult to actual horror stories.

Elevation only has a few characters that are introduced throughout the book, which makes sense since there aren’t enough pages to introduce any more. If you ask me, the story could’ve been a little longer. The story wasn’t at all bad, but the characters were extremely flat. There’s a lesbian couple who owns a restaurant that is going bankrupt because the whole town consists of Trumpies, so nobody wants to eat there. The couple’s dogs shit on Scott’s lawn and every time he tries to confront them about it, they tell him he just hates them, because they’re a same-sex couple. Extremely flat and uninspired. I’m not denying there are still (sadly) plenty of people who think like that, but this is just a very bad stereotype. Of course all the other characters are rich, middle-aged white guys and white church-going housewives.

The part that bothered me most, though, was the fact that you don’t get any explanation as to what caused Scott’s condition. If something weird is happening to your body, you want to know why, right? I would! But Scott just accepts that he is probably going to float away when he reaches zero and that’s that. The ending was probably the most disappointing part of the whole book to me.

The keyword in this review is obviously “disappointed”. This story could’ve been epic, if King had put in a little effort. Honestly, it feels like he had a deadline to make and he had something laying on a shelf somewhere and decided to just hand that to his publisher without even looking at it. There’s Stephen King on the front cover, so people will read it anyway, right? I could see that his writing is amazing, or at least could be amazing. I’m still planning on reading more Stephen King novels (I’ve got Misery and 11.22.63 waiting on my bookshelf), but I might wait a little bit.

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