Book Review: “My Whole Truth” by Mischa Thrace

Title: My Whole Truth
Author: Mischa Thrace
Genre: Contemporary
Target age group:
YA
Dates read: 24/09/18 – 25/09/18
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This was a fairly good story let down by some rather repetitious storytelling and fairly flat character development.

When Seelie kills a man after he attacks her, she is forced into a trial by media (as well as school population), as well as coming up against the powoerful family of the man she killed. On top of that, her friendship group is changing and she is not sure how she will make it through.

And I’m going to say this, even though some might consider it a spoiler. Others may appreciate the warning. The attack on Seelie does involve her being raped. While this isn’t spoken about for quite a while in the book and I think it is sort of supposed to be a reveal, there are those who might find it triggering to suddenly get to that part of the book.

The thing that  bothered me the most in this book is that when it came to the characters and their relationships,  nothing ever changed. I know that is true to life, sometimes you just don’t get on with someone and that’s that. But in a book, I expect some kind of arc. This bothered me particularly when it came to the relationship between Seelie and her mother. I wouldn’t have minded whether they reconciled their differences a bit, or if Seelie had moved out in a huff, but it was just the same the whole book. There was also something that was revealed about one of her friends, and it never really came to much. I thought he was lucky that the rest of their group still considered him a friend at all, but instead, he kept expecting things of them.

I did really enjoy the relationship between Seelie and her best friend, Lyssa. Seelie’s crush on Lyssa wasn’t over-dramatic, but her fears about making a move and ruining the dynamic of their group rang true. I  also liked the relationship that burgeoned between Seelie and her lawyer, Cara. At first, Seelie isn’t sure what to expect of a lawyer in her 20s who has a matching pair of heels for every outfit, but they develop a bond which turns into friendship after the trial.

Plot-wise, I thought this was a realistic depiction of the aftermath of such an assault. Things like a condition of bail being that Seelie return to school once her injuries have healed, even though everyone at school calls her a murderer, seemed especially likely.  I did feel like there was some filler in there that could have been left out. The narration inside Seelie’s head often felt quite repetitive. Again, I’ve no doubt someone in Seelie’s situation would honestly have thoughts going around and around in circles, but it is not engaging for the reader.

Still, I think its valuable that these types of stories are beginning to be told more often, and I am grateful to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with a copy of this one.


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#LoveOzYA #AWW2018 “So in this situation, am I the right hand or the left hand?” “My dear, you are the ball.” // Review of “All the Little Bones” by Ellie Marney

Title: All the Little Bones (Circus Hearts #1)
Author:
Ellie Marney
Genre: Contemporary/romance/crime
Target audience: YA
Date Read: 28/08/18 – 29/08/18
Rating:
★★★★

Review:

I’ve stopped opening reviews with “I don’t read a lot of YA contemporary but…” because I realised that’s not true anymore. What is still true is that I probably lean away from YA contemporaries that are as heavy on the romance as this one, but as you can see from my rating, it didn’t bother me in this case.

Trapeze artist Sorsha and apprentice strongman Colm are on the run from their family-run circus up north after an act of self defence results in a man’s death. Uneasily, they join another circus troupe, where they must navigate the social structures already in place and their growing feelings for each other, all while trying to keep their heads down so the police don’t come knocking.

I loved the performance atmosphere of Klatch’s Karnival, where Sorsha and Colm end up. For a start, the descriptions of the various routines and the costumes, and the set-up were all wonderful. I’m no full-time circus performer but I do perform in amateur musical theatre in my spare time, and there was so much that rang completely true to me. One of my favourite parts was a scene where Sorsha and her roommate Ren have a very philosophical, metaphorical conversation about envelopes, which then turns into a run of bad jokes about envelopes, which then results in laughing fits, and then a second wind of laughing fits over how you’re laughing at such bad jokes. This is me and my theatre friends after a week of dress rehearsals and three opening performances in 36 hours.

Speaking of Ren, I really enjoyed the diverse cast of circus cast and crew, though Ren was a particular favourite. She is Indonesian and there is lots of Indonesian language in the text. I also really liked the way she and Sorsha became fast friends. I was a bit worried because one of the first characters Sorsha meets is Fleur, the daughter of the circus proprietor, and I was getting a Mean Girls vibe from her, which made me a bit wary. Fortunately, though, Fleur is also fleshed out and has her reasons for being the way she is, and we’re getting a whole second book in the series focused on her, which I’m excited for!

Plot-wise, the romance probably happened a bit faster than I would generally like (I am a big fan of the old slow-burn, and when I say slow-burn, I mean, like, five books of will-they-won’t-they :P) but this is not insta-love either because the characters have actually known each other quite some time, and this is where they acknowledge the attraction that has been building. Also, I get super awkward when reading anything romantic that goes beyond a bit of kissing (probably the reason I don’t read a whole lot of romance) but this was just the right amount of sexy and I enjoyed it a lot.

When it comes to the non-romantic aspects, just know that there were certain moments when I was muttering “oh no, oh no!” under my breath on the bus on the way to work. The pace is fast and I was always eager to see what happened next. I can’t wait to see what happens in Book 2!


(I am immensely grateful to Ellie Marney for providing me with a free, early copy of this book via a giveaway. This book releases September 1, 2018.)

This review is part of my 2018 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

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“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.” // Review of “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Genre:
YA Contemporary
Date Read: 10/02/2018 – 14/02/2018
Rating:
 ★★★★

Review:

This book had been sitting on my Kindle for months, and while I kept i ntending to read it, I kept putting it off because I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be an easy read. There were definitely times when I got angry or frustrated, but for the most part, this was a really accessible account of what it can be like being black in America today.

This book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and I don’t think I have ever read a book that felt quite so contemporary. Not just the issues presented, but in other ways. This one refers to things like Tumblr and how Black Twitter mobilises in the face of another shooting; this actually made me realise how little social media is utilised in so-called contemporary books (or at least the ones that I’ve read, which admittedly, isn’t a huge number).

The book is written in first person, so the narration, as well as the dialogue, is written in a style appropriate to that of a black American teenage girl. I’ve seen some reviews say the writing is terrible, but I think there’s a difference between “this is terrible writing” and “the author’s deliberate stylistic choice did not work for me”.  I appreciated hearing a different voice in the narration; one YA contemporary does sound very much like another lately, especially those written in first person.

I did like the way the black community was depicted; it was a warts ‘n’ all representation, though to be honest, I did sometimes lose track of who was related to whom and how, and who was working for whom. I also thought the way Starr’s conflict between the different selves she created for herself, depending on whether she was with her black family and friends or her white friends at school was well-depicted. After reading the author’s notes, I realise there is a lot of Angie Thomas in there. The attitudes of the white people around Starr at her school were well-done without being heavy-handed. I expect some white readers may get defensive over the portrayal, but honestly, it was quite realistic.

I did sometimes feel that the pacing was a bit off. Sometimes, something would feel repetitive or like it was being padded out, but then we got barely a glimpse of Starr’s testimony at the Grand Jury later on in the book. This was really the only thing that knocked a star off my rating.

I’ve seen some people say “Should I read this book or Dear Martin?” (another book about contemporary black teens) and even without having read the latter is, “Read both.” This is an important book, but it is only one author’s experience. I hope that the popularity of this particular story will mean that we get to hear of more black authors’ experiences in the near future.


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