The frustrating thing about YA from a book blogger’s perspective

The frustrating thing about YA from a book blogger’s perspective (i.e mine) is no one seems to know who YA is actually for anymore.

I came across a thread recently of several authors lamenting the fact that some reviewers were reading their books and then giving lower ratings because of several YA aspects in the story. For example the MC was too immature. Reviewers have actually have gone as far to state that they would have loved the book if they were a teenager.

So why does this happen? Why are adults apparently reading books they find too immature and slamming them for being something a 12 year old would want to read?

I think the answer is simple.

It’s because they aren’t being marketed as if they are for teenagers.

Let me be frank, YA is a hot mess of a genre. Even the name Young Adults implies the books aren’t for teenagers. But technically YA is meant to be for anyone between the ages of 12 – 18. However when you have books like ACOTAR and Six of Crows sitting in the YA section things get confusing. A lot of people wouldn’t read ACOTAR at 12 and Six of Crows deals with adult themes like sex slavery and addiction.

Now inclusion of sex doesn’t automatically make a book not YA but that’s not the point I’m making.

My issue is that YA books today are heavily marketed towards adults and you can tell this alone from the price tag.

What average 12 year old can afford special collectors editions that are about £20? Hell, you only have to turn up to YALC to see a serious lack of anyone under the age of 16 at a convention for YOUNG ADULT literature.

Clearly adults have more disposable income and while these books are written for teenagers they are sold to adults. I think it’s great that YA has great cross over appeal but the reason these debates start is people think adults are intruding on teenagers spaces despite the fact they were basically invited.

A perfect example of this is The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. Two book boxes are doing collectors editions of the entire series with new covers. One book box has always done a special edition. That’s three different sets of covers for books that is supposed to be for teenagers? I couldn’t afford to spend that kind of money on books until I had a full time job which only happened this year and I’m 26.

Also, young adults, like myself (I.e not a teen) see “young adult” as something they should enjoy. And I personally (without specific industry knowledge of the genre age range) spent a good year reading YA and wondering why it was too immature for me. I remember very clearly the only YA books I enjoyed immensely was ACOTAR and Nevernight. The two books that are commonly seen as YA that aren’t. Do you see the problem?

I would love for publishers to finally stop the YA marketing hype and make New Adult a thing. The introduction of New Adult would provide a space for older teens and actual young adults and stop books like Nevernight getting into the hands of an audience it was never meant for.

In the future I do think reviewers should consider the audience of the book when complaining about immaturity etc. But when said book has been put into the hands of adult readers, book bloggers and book tubers I can’t blame them for reading it thinking it was meant for a reader more their age.

That book series I recommend to everyone.

It is criminal some of the books that get completely ignored compared to some that make millions. I think everyone has that one book/book series that they absolutely adored but no one has ever heard of.

For me that book series is Amelia Peabody’s Murder Mysteries by Elizabeth Peters and I recommend it to pretty much everyone all the time.

This series spans an epic 19 books and roughly 30 years but I promise you, you will never get bored. If I had to describe this series I’d say it’s a bit like The Mummy meets Downton Abbey but any nice garden tea party is ruined by a murder.

The series starts in 1890s and is mainly set in Egypt and England. To describe the whole series is difficult without spoilers but there’s a lot of in-depth Egyptology, archaeology and a whole lot of crimes committed.

My reasons why you should read this series:

Egyptology/History

The author had a PHD in Egyptology guys. If you LOVE archaeology, ancient history or and Egyptology in general then picking up these books is definitely worth it. There’s a lot to be learnt even if the focus isn’t on modern day but how it was done at the turn of the century.

Romance

This series has hands down two of the best romances I’ve ever read. The kinda romances that are equal partnerships. If you love romance then you can definitely pick up this series.

The perfect book boyfriend

When you think ideal fictional man most people come up with Rhysand or Will Herondale etc etc. Everyone is wrong because the best example of the perfect book boyfriend is in these books.

Mystery

If you love guessing who dunnit? And why these books are perfect for you. There’s always some crime being committed by someone or other. Trying to guess who the murderer is, is one of the best parts about reading this series.

Let me know if you do decide to buy this series or your thoughts if you’ve read it already

Blog Tour Book Review: Skylarks by Karen Gregory

Today it’s my stop on the bookstagram tour for Skylarks. I recieved a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was so happy to be asked to take part in my first tour and I hope you pick up this book.

Synopsis

When she was little, Joni used to have dreams that she could fly. But these days her feet are firmly on the ground – they have to be when money’s tight and her dad can’t work and the whole family has to pull together to keep afloat.

Then she meets Annabel. Annabel is everything Joni isn’t, and yet there’s a spark between them. Though Joni barely believes it at first, she thinks they might be falling in love.

But when Annabel’s parents find out about the relationship, it’s clear they believe there are some differences that are impossible to overcome.

My thoughts..

Skylarks is a bitter sweet, coming of age, contemporary romance novel that tells the story of two girls from seemingly opposite worlds, learning they have a lot more in common than they would have thought. I don’t usually read contemporary fiction, but I’m glad I decided to step outside of my comfort zone for this book. I found Skylarks has a certain charm and I could not put it down, to the point I was literally reading it in the street walking home.

While I felt like this book was at times too black and white, there was a lot of uncomfortable truths in the portrayal of Joni and her life. I think Joni’s frustrations and feelings towards Annabel’s privileged life are relatable even for those not in Joni’s circumstances. On the other hand it is easy to assume that someone with lots of money must be happy, that they lead carefree lives without the burden of worrying about money. This book showed the prejudices that can exist on both sides.

Where this book dropped a few stars for me was in the cliched portrayal of the rich girl who can’t cook and loves to ride horses and the poor girl who doesn’t want charity and is not at all embarrassed about where she comes from. Often times Annabel and Joni felt like caricatures, as the story strayed into all too familiar and often stereotypical territory. Joni had siblings, Annabel was an only child. Joni’s house was filled with happy pictures of family times despite being poor, Annabel’s house only had super snazzy posed family photos. Annabel’s family was obsessed with grades and coming first, Joni’s parents just wanted her to do her best.

Despite this the portayal of Joni, her life and insecurities was in many aspects painfully real. This book was bitter sweet for me as even though it is in a way a light and flurry romance, it goes some way as serving as a reminder that their are real people, who are living Joni’s life and that their ending is not always so happy.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Book Review: The Goodnight Kiss by Jennifer L. Hart

Synopsis

A teenage serial killer with a mysterious past.
The deadly hunter sworn to protect her.
Secrets, lies and a shot at redemption.
It all begins with a kiss.

When 16-year-old Nic Rutherford heads out for a night on the town, she brings a full arsenal. Her best weapon? A deadly kiss that can take down the biggest game around—humans. Two-legged predators don’t stand a chance once she makes lip to skin contact. But her blessing is also a curse, one that Nic fears will inadvertently harm anyone who gets too close—her aunts, her best friend, or the mysterious new boy who possesses strange abilities of his own. 

Aiden Jager has the one thing Nic can’t resist—information. With his help Nic begins to unearth answers about her own murky past along with the key to a hidden world where magic thrives and the impossible becomes reality if one is willing to pay the ultimate price. Beware, for once the door is opened, there is no turning back.

My thoughts..

This story is a dark urban fantasy about a girl called Nic who can kill people by kissing them. Nic has appointed herself judge, jury and executioner over the local murderers, rapists etc for reasons unknown and with the help of her two aunts she kills them. Nic’s life is a mystery, she was adopted by two women who clearly aren’t what they pretend to be. There are a thousand different questions that this book raises and just when one question is answered you find you have more. I think that is what kept me reading until the end. I wanted to know who Nic was and what the hell was going on.

The main thing I struggled with in this book was the rather unusual blend of Norse and Greek Mythology mixed together with folktales and faeries. This is very confused by the fact the book is set in the real world, so you have an old Norse god running around after a teenage girl/faerie queen who kills people by kissing them. This teenage girl is looked after by her “Aunties” who are two of the three fates, but also vets in their spare time. All these aspects together just didn’t blend as seamlessly into one story as I would have liked.

Whilst this mix of Nordic mythology and folklore isn’t my cup of tea particularly, I think this book is perfect for people who loved the darker sides of those stories. This book has all the gritty realism of domestic violence and back-alley rapists but with a land of Giants and fae magic. What I loved most about this book was all the faerie aspects, The Seelie and UnSeelie Courts and The Wild Hunt.

This story is a strange and winding journey through familiar mythological and folklore territory that makes it unique. This book twists and turns a lot and while it is unfortunately mainly fuelled by every character being deliberately vague and unhelpful, is still is an entertaining and interesting read. I really liked the developing relationship between Aiden and Nic and the past histories that are being explored and explained between the characters. I’m looking forward to the next book and seeing more of the fae world that I love.

**I was given an eArc of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

Rating: 3/5 stars

 

 

Book Review: The Cruel Prince By Holly Black

Synopsis

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

My thoughts..

This book was so hyped that I ended up buying the hardback just to find out why. I never buy hardbacks ESPECIALLY for a series but I was so eager to read this book I didn’t care. The Cruel Prince promised an enchanting dark fantasy with faeries and magic providing the mystical backdrop for a violent struggle for power. I had never read Holly Black’s books before The Cruel Prince but I now understand the term “Queen of the Faeries”. The world that Holly Black has created is as beautiful as it is brutal. She has built a world that is complex and diverse and has the depth of any good high fantasy.  The lore and the different rules and the class system were so well thought out and the main reason I enjoyed the book as much as I did.

In terms of plot this book waxed and waned for me, it wasn’t that I was bored, it was just that the events that occurred became more and more absurd. My main issue with this book was Jude, or rather what Jude gets up to. Jude begins the story as a mortal girl in Faerieland, a girl who lives on the fringes of faerie society, never fitting in, never respected, never treated like an equal. How faeries view mortals in this book is one of the reasons Jude’s character arc is unbelievable, mortals are supposed to be lesser, only worthy as servants but that didn’t stop Jude even when it should.

This girl is 17 and it’s only by the protection of her parent’s murderer/father figure that she isn’t treated any worse than she already is (which is saying something when you read what Jude has to go through). Yet she manages to outsmart pretty much everyone through sheer luck, circumstance or their unbelievable stupidity. Jude is just not believable as a vicious and clever tactician capable of outsmarting people who are stupid enough to underestimate her. She gets away with things not because of her own talents but because the people around her let her. Cardan barely put up a fight and don’t even get me started on her managing to out-manoeuvre a General – who you know taught her everything she knows about strategy and killing.

I could have also bought Jude as a brutal killer who isn’t taking crap anymore if she wasn’t so prone to juvenile behaviour. For instance the fighting with her sister Taryn – first of all it was obvious a mile off who Taryn’s lover was but that whole situation was weird. Taryn just watching on as Jude is waltzing around with her secret lover didn’t make sense. It was ridiculous that this weird arrangement caused such a rift between the twin sisters. Taryn did a lot of bad stuff in the book but secretly hooking up with someone who is kissing her sister wasn’t one of them, it was just odd and kind of desperate.

Jude somehow gets involved in something that she has absolutely NO BUSINESS being a part of. She finds herself in the ridiculous situation of being a major player in a game that has nothing to do with her. I understand she has always envied the faerie and always wanted to be equal and part of their society. She has always felt powerless and craves the power over herself and her own life that she never had. I can just about understand her reasoning but what she manages to achieve still felt ludicrous and ultimately pointless. What does Jude get from staying in a place no one wants her?

Despite all this ranting I am struggling to rate this book because my feelings were so mixed. Just by my strong reaction to it I know it was a good book, a bland and boring story isn’t worth talking about this much. Jude is an interesting and sometimes relatable character, I loved that she started to fight back, stand her ground and let the faerie world know she wasn’t just a mere mortal. Cardan has that whole dark and damaged thing going on and The Bomb and Co are shaping up to be decent sidekicks. I think with the same world but a different plot and this book would have definitely been a five star read for me.

Ultimately I think that plot twist ending saved it for me. The ending offered me hope and this book definitely has enough potential for me to continue reading.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

 

 

Book Review: The Queen of the Night By Alexander Chee

Synopsis

From a writer praised by Junot Díaz as ‘the fire, in my opinion, and the light’, a mesmerizing novel that follows one woman’s rise from circus rider to courtesan to world-renowned star Paris, 1882. Lilliet Berne is a sensation, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her still, one wants only to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all. As Lilliet mines her memories for clues, she recalls her life as an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept up into the glitzy, gritty world of Second Empire Paris. In order to survive, she transformed herself from circus rider to courtesan, from empress’s maid to stage ingénue,all the while weaving a web of passion and intrigue. Will the truth secure Lillet’s fate – or destroy her with the secrets it reveals? Fifteen years in the writing, The Queen of the Night is a literary tour de force that is also ferociously readable. A blazing tale of lust, ambition, betrayal and revenge, it will captivate readers right up to its final electrifying denouement. 

Publication Date: 22nd February 2018

My thoughts..

The Queen of the Night is an epic tale of death, betrayal, fortune and lust that was as engrossing as it was overwhelming. The mysterious life and rise of Lilliet Berne is intriguing, dangerous and at times tragic but most of all fascinating.

Lilliet’s life is made up of a series of fortunate and unfortunate events that makes it seem like she is not in control of her own destiny. I found this approach not only refreshing but also realistic for the time period. She deals with what life throws her way the best she can and while she is often manipulated by more powerful individuals I don’t think it detracted from her character. Lilliet has a more quiet strength and resilience about her which I found made her very likeable.

The level of detail in this book meant that I was a given a thoroughly in-depth insight into a world I knew nothing about, but it also made this book a lot denser than I found strictly necessary. For example the page long list of furs the Empress owned I just skipped right over and I got lost in the sometimes too detailed explanations of opera performances. I can however appreciate what the author was trying to do and some of the aspects of the book I struggled with I know a classical music lover would love.

I did find that I was at all times reading with a kind of remote detachment. I think this is because partly Lilliet Berne as a narrator is seemingly fairly emotionally detached from events herself. I think this was partly in a way to protect herself from the tragic events from her past but as the story is told through her eyes I found myself adopting the same stance. This book had high drama and tragedy and intrigue and betrayal but it felt like someone had turned the volume down. The story felt muffled, it was as if I was wearing a blanket and didn’t know how cold it was outside.

*I received a digital review copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own*

4/5 stars

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic By V.E Schwab

Synopsis

Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There is Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There is Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London..

My thoughts..

I DNF this book at 50%

Normally I wouldn’t review a book I hadn’t finished but then normally I don’t abandon a book halfway through. This book had SO MUCH promise, there was magic and alternate universes with different Londons and a whole lot of mystery. I wanted to know what Kell was forced to forget, I wanted to know what became of Black London, I wanted to know where the hell this story was going.

So why then was I unable to finish this book? Honestly it LITERALLY bored me to sleep. I fell asleep reading this book about three times. That is not usual for me. Every book I have ever read I attempt to read in one sitting, I’ve finished books at 2am knowing I needed to get up at 7am, I’ve read books for ten hours straight and never been bored. I’ve never in my entire life been put to sleep by a book.

Somehow this book took all the elements of a great fantasy and made them duller and blander. The way the story was written for me wasn’t entertaining and riveting. I didn’t care about the main characters let alone the side pieces. It just fell flat, I was curious but not interested enough to find out more.

I know I am mostly alone in this opinion. This book seems to be very popular so you may well enjoy this book immensely. I felt like this book does not live up to the hype at all and my TBR is far too long to force myself into finish reading this book.

Rating: 2/5 stars