Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Young Adult

Mini Book Reviews: April 2020 – Part 2


*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, A Blade So Black (The Nightmare-Verse #1) by L.L. McKinney, The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, and What If It’s Us? by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera


» On the Come Up by Angie Thomas



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» While this wasn’t necessarily as impactful as The Hate U Give, this book was amazing in its own right.  I think Angie Thomas has a brilliant way of writing YA contemporary that is not only relevant & important, but also entertaining at the same time.

» Bre was a very authentic character.  She was driven, talented, and passionate, but also impulsive, hard-headed, and narrow-minded.  While I wanted to shake her over a few of her decisions, her actions were very indicative of a teenager & thus could see her motivations.

» On the Come Up features some hard hitting topics like racism, poverty, drug addition, gang violence, etc, but also features wonderful themes like family, friendship, forgiveness, and identity.  At its core, On the Come Up is about staying true to yourself and never others dictate how you should be/act to be successful.

» Much like The Hate U Give, I loved Thomas’ focus on family dynamics & relationships.

» I’d highly recommend the audiobook!  Bahni Turpin nailed the narration.  She even did an amazing job with the rapping.
OverallThis is a must read for The Hate U Give fans!  Angie Thomas has solidified her spot on the top of the YA contemporary game.

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ racism; poverty; drug addiction; gang violence

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


WhatILiked» I LOVED the concept for this story.  An Alice in Wonderland retelling with a black female badass monster slayer?  Yes, please!  As far as the retelling aspect goes, I really enjoyed this dark re-imagining.

» I think fans of vampire slayer books/movies/TV shows would probably enjoy this story.

» I loved that McKinney included parental dynamics in this book.  Many times while reading YA, I’ll often ask “where are the parents? and do they not care what their teenagers are doing?!” Maybe this is just a pet peeve of mine, but positive parental involvement is really lacking in YA books in my opinion.

WhatIDidntLike» I think my biggest issue was that I wanted more of the story to take place in Wonderland, but most of the story takes place in the real world.  Also in regards to Wonderland, I felt that the world building was lacking.  Wonderland was the weakest part of this book, which was frustrating since this was what I wanted most when I picked it up.

»  The writing was too much telling & not enough showing.  I had a hard time visualizing the story.

» There was a very odd time leap at the beginning of the book.  After Alices’ father dies, she meets Hatta and the story jumps ahead a year. We miss out on Alices’ training & introduction to Wonderland, which I feel would have made the story progressively better.

› Recommended to ⇒ Fans of vampire slayer types of books/movies/TV shows

» The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» The Language of Thorns is a collection of deliciously dark short stories are inspired by classic fairytales & folklore.  Short story collections are pretty hit or miss for me, but I LOVED all of these stories!

» Leigh Bardugo’s writing is simply exquisite here.  While I’ve read some of her other books, I think her writing in this one is her best.

» These stories gave me Neil Gaiman vibes, so if you are a NG fan, I’d recommend these stories to you.

» I adored the illustrations throughout this collection of short stories.  I think that they really enhanced the story.  The format of the illustrations – the building up of the illustrations as the story progressed – was very unique.

» Since the tone of this book is on the darker side, this would be perfect to pick up during the colder months.

› Recommended to ⇒ dark fairytale fans; Neil Gaiman fans

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ sexual abuse; violence

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman


» What If It’s Us? by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» This was a sugar-sweet YA m/m romance.  My favorite part of this book was the whole meet-cute post office scene & the subsequent search for “post office boy.”

» From the awkward first dates, to the intense feelings, to the jealousy over exes, the entire relationship throughout this book felt very realistic & believable.  I also really enjoyed how things panned out in the end.

» The characters were very endearing.  I adored Arthur in particular.  While he was definitely a spaz, he is a hopelessly romantic spaz.

» If you enjoyed Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, you’ll also enjoy this one too.

» I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually we see this adapted to film.  I think it would translate well.

WhatIDidntLike» The length of this book was a tad too long, which made the story feel drawn out.

› Recommended to ⇒ YA m/m romance

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becki Albertalli




Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think?

Comment below & let me know 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Mini Book Reviews: April 2020 – Part 2”

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