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Currently reading: Simon VS the Homo-Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi [Review]

Written by: Tomi Adeyemi.
Published by: Macmillan.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 6th March 2018.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.  But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy."

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Sometimes, a book comes along that is so rare and special, so unique and timely and just so freaking good that you can hardly believe you have it in your hands, reading page after page of wonder. Surely it cannot be real. It cannot be happening. Children of Blood and Bone is one of those books, and boy oh boy, it's real! Right from the first page we are thrown into a world of oppression, murder, epos journeys and lions big enough that people ride them, much like we do horses. I mean, this alone had me SCREAMING and totally in love with it, let alone the excitement of the book around it. Nailah the lionaire was a massive favourite for me. My dog (a golden lab) is called Nala and the name kept making me think of her and had me imagining what it would be like if she were the size of a lionaire, but given how naughty she is I know she'd be a terrible rider. Ha!

Zélie does not do well with instruction. She is impulsive, acts before she thinks and often gets herself into a whole world of trouble that could be avoided if she just sat back for a second and assessed the situation. I adored her. Her voice. Her thought process, or lack thereof. Her determination and drive to continue to fight even when the odds are unfairly stacked against her. She is a fantastically real and well rounded character that I found myself rooting for, right from the get go. And with a strong cast also narrating the book, from Amari, the crown princess who is rebelling against her fathers regime, and Inan, the crown prince on a mission to return a magical artefact and leave both Zélie and his own sister dead, the stakes are high.

The book clocks in at just under 600 pages, and you'd think there'd be a dip in the excientment somewhere, but no. Every single page served its purpose and drew you closer and closer to a climax that I for one didn't see coming, and when I turned the last page, expecting there to be another chapter, a paragraph, something, ANYTHING, and found only Tomi's acknowledgements, it had me HOWLING for book 2. Howling, I tell you. Howling. Because this book is so magical I could read it again, and again and again and I doubt I would ever get bored of it. You can tell it has been so intricately planned.

Inspired by West African mythology, with a hint of Avatar: The Last Airbender thrown in for good measure, the world that Tomi has created is massive in scope, is so imaginative, and vivid and real. You could almost feel the jungle around you, and the stifling heat of the desert. I was transfixed and I would go as far to say that Children of Blood and Bone is my favourite book since I read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli in 2015. It has that magical quality to it that makes it both timely, and timeless all at the same time. Beautifully written. Captivating and lush. You'll be clambering for the sequel. I pray the next year flies by because after that cliff hanger ending I need to know what happens next!! Read it, read it, read it!

And the rights have already been optioned for a movie, with work already under way. You just know this is going to be massive. It's been at number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list since its release and with the hype and excitement surrounding the book, I cannot wait to see how it translates onto the big screen.



Friday, 6 April 2018

Clean by Juno Dawson [Review]

Written by: Juno Dawson.
Published by: Quercus.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 5th April 2018.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she's hit rock bottom. She's wrong. Rock bottom is when she's forced into an exclusive rehab facility. From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady. As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all... It's a dirty business getting clean. Addiction and redemption, love and despair. Clean will have you hooked from the first page."

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I've been a long term Juno fan now, since the days Hollow Pike was released, way back in 2012 (has it really been 6 years? YIKES! Time flies!) and haven't been able to get enough since. From witches, to hauntings, from murders by the poolside, to tattoos that take over the mind, Juno is in a league of her own and in Clean she really shines. In what is, in my humble opinion, her best book yet, Juno tackles the tricky world of addiction and recovery. 

Featuring a cast of the rich and privileged. A sharp protagonist in the form of Lexi who is used to having everything handed to her, so when we meet her, waking up in the back of her brothers car with no idea where she is going we know that things are about to kick off. Forced into a rehabilitation facility against her will, Lexi is furious and the language and thoughts of someone being forced into something they really do not want to do were perfectly captured and Juno did an excellent job of showing Lexi's anger without it going o.t.t, but still being a explosion of feelings. Whilst she may seem, on the surface as the stereotypical spoilt child of a multi-millionaire (think Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton...) as the book progresses we see that Lexi is actually an incredibly three-dimensional character and I loved her back story. By the end of the book I actually found myself really rooting for her, despite hating her in the first few chapters of the book. 

The book itself deals with many different forms of addiction. Drugs. Food. Sex. All have addictive qualities and all are explored in the book with varying scenarios and outcomes. It was fascinating to see inside the mind of someone who is addicted to something and then to see them work through their recovery. The book is split into ten sections, steps, each one dedicated to a step in a recovery programme and this really added to the feel of the book and I looked forward to the next one popping up to see what the next step was.

The exploration of mental health was also expertly done. So often, mental health is swept under the carpet and ignored, but here it is front and centre and dealt with so well that many teens, and indeed adults, who will read Clean will find themselves a place  of understanding in this book that made me, for one, feel as though I'm not alone.

Something this book also does incredibly well is trans reputation! And it is about damn time! Kendall is trans but it's all so natural. It's just a fact. It isn't something that is questioned, the interactions between Kendall and the other characters are so fluid and natural and real, just the way it should be in real life with any human being. Hopefully trans readers who have never seen themselves represented in any way shape or form before may come to Clean and see that, yes, while Kendall has her problems, she's real and human and has just as much right to live her life as anyone else. Bravo, Juno!

AND THAT COVER!!!! LORD THE COVER!!!! Rose gold! I have the proof (with a finished copy on pre-order, obvs...) which is a little different with a white cover, rose gold text and words written in this glossy effect that you can only see in certain light, but the cover for the finished book is rose gold foil and I can't wait to see it for myself, because you know it's going to be STUNNING!

As ever with Juno, her writing is witty, sharp and encapsulating. I found myself unable to put the book down. Pardon the pun, but it's an incredibly addictive read that will have you glued to the page. Thank you so much for sharing another awesome book with us. Here's to many, many more!