Booktube: 2020 Releases I Have on Preorder

Hi everyone! Today I filmed a video about the 2020 Releases I have on preorder! I have some absolute gems for the rest of the year and I’m so excited about them.

What are you excited for in the rest of 2020?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Checkmate (#3) by Malorie Blackman

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Can the future ever erase the past? Rose has a Cross mother and a nought father in a society where the pale-skinned noughts are treated as inferiors and those with dual heritage face a life-long battle against deep-rooted prejudices. Sephy, her mother, has told Rose virtually nothing about her father, but as Rose grows into a young adult, she unexpectedly discovers the truth about her parentage and becomes determined to find out more. But her father’s family has a complicated history – one tied up with the fight for equality for the nought population. And as Rose takes her first steps away from Sephy and into this world, she finds herself drawn inexorably into more and more danger. Suddenly it’s a game of very high stakes that can only have one winner . . .

If Knife Edge left me wanting more, Checkmate gave it to me. I was blown away by this book, and I can’t believe how different I found it from the second. The second really felt like a lull for me, suffering from the classic ‘filler’ feeling second books in series sometimes have. But in Checkmate, the action ramps up, emotions run high, I loved it.

I cannot congratulate Blackman enough for writing an absolute roller coaster of a series. The way Checkmate was structured, non-linear and flitting between Callie as she grows up and Sephy, Callie and family in recent years, is astounding. I wanted to rush through the pages in order to find out what happens, and of course, Blackman leaves you on the edge of your seat until the very final pages.

But remember this if nothing else: I love you more than there are words or stars. I love you more than there are thoughts and feelings.

As well as the plot being amazing, the characters were very well structured, too. In Knife Edge, I struggled with how Jude acted, and I felt Sephy’s feelings and more specifically, depression, were not dealt with very well. All of that goes out of the window in Checkmate, for a more developed and well rounded cast. I finally felt like I was there with them for every step, feeling everything they did. It was everything I wanted from this series, finally in my hands.

The repetitiveness in the writing has also vanished. Instead of feeling like Blackman was struggling to fill a page, I finally felt like every word meant something, every word needed to be there for the story. The only slight downside was the amount of POV’s could be confusing at times and felt like they were flitting around a lot. Despite this, I still really enjoyed it and found it digestible enough to read.

I love you more than there are seconds or moments gone or to come. I love you.

This is a story about race. A story about divide. A story about women, family and friendship and love. I cannot wait to see where the next book takes me, and I only hope it lives up to this one.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Knife Edge (#2) by Malorie Blackman

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Where there has been love, now there is hate.
Two families have been shattered by the divided and violent society they live in.
Sephy Hadley – a Cross, supposedly powerful and privileged – has bound herself forever to her nought lover Callum McGregor’s family.
But Jude McGregor blames Sephy for all the tragedies his family has suffered. And he is determined to force her to take sides, and destroy her life . . . just like she destroyed his. . .

There is absolutely no doubt that these books shake you to the core. They are so powerful, shocking and hard hitting. Some of the scenes left me reeling.

But, and it is a big but. I was bored. It is so hard to balance a book which is important as this series is, with a concept behind it that is so needed and prominent and children’s literature, with the fact that I found the writing…not that great.

The media called us ruthless terrorists. We’re not. We’re just fighting for what’s right.

I remember being gripped by the first book, not wanting to put it down. I remember reading most of it in one sitting. But with this one, the only saving grace was Jude’s storyline. His heartbreaking sections were interesting and thought provoking. I still believe his thoughts and feelings could have been portrayed in a way that made him a little more three-dimensional, but for the most part his storyline was really enjoyable.

But unfortunately, it ended there. I found Sephy difficult to read about. She is obviously struggling, but it is not explained in detail why, with her instead pushing everything and everybody away and acting like a brat. I found the first half of this book much better than the second, which is rare for me. She just seemed much more rounded and well developed, then shutting herself off to the world in the second part, making her very two-dimensional. I understand that this may be the point with her depression, but it fell flat in the writing for me.

I also found a lot of the chapters very repetitive, especially those from the point of view of the mothers or other secondary characters. Meggie would often repeat herself for a whole page and fixate on one small issue, which I found frustrating to read about.

Being born a nought shouldn’t automatically slam shut myriad doors before you’ve even drawn your first breath.

Overall, I am very torn about this book. Blackman is incredibly talented, and it shines through in very small scenes, which show anger, passion and frustration for an oppressed community. I just found it to be in much smaller doses than I expected, which was an incredible disappointment.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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August Wrap Up + September TBR

Hello all! I’m back with my August Wrap Up and September TBR. I actually managed to read 10 books in August, which was weirdly my best month so far this year! I’m pretty proud of that. I also managed to read all of the books on my August TBR!

Books I Read in August

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

In an apartment block, the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He’s working at his family’s restaurant, trying to dodge his brother’s fists and resenting his older sister’s absence. He’s also discovering he likes boys…
All around him his friends and neighbours experience the tumult of living in the margins. Their stories – of living, thriving and dying across the city’s myriad neighbourhoods – are stitched throughout the boy’s life to reveal a young woman caught out in an affair, the fortunes of a rag-tag baseball team and a group of young hustlers, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, and the fate of a camera-shy mythical beast. With brilliant and soulful insight into what makes a community, a family and a life, Lot is about love in all its unsparing and unsteady forms.

I read this as part of a blog tour and it was really interesting.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.
As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.
But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.
Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?

I was so excited to finally read Loveless and it was so good!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Enthusiastic but not desperate; calm but not dull; funny but not try-hard; sparky but not crazy; feisty but not aggressive; beautiful but relatable; elegant but not icy; confident but not arrogant; feminine but not girly; nice but not boring.
Faith Valentine has it all – fame, money and extraordinary beauty. But what she wants more than anything is a quiet life away from the cameras. Except nobody ever asks Faith what she wants, and her family’s expectations are crushing her.The world thinks she’s perfect, but is there is more to perfection than meets the eye?

I picked this up as part of a blog tour and I read it within a day!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Los Angeles, 1992
Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of high school and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.
But everything changes one afternoon in April, when four police officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.
As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family facade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

I received a copy of this on Netgalley and it was so good, I’ve since bought myself a paperback copy!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Orphaned and expendable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first trek across the Shadow Fold – a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed.
Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha, her country’s magical military elite – and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war-ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift.
As the threat to the kingdom mounts and Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of a nation.
Welcome to Ravka . . . a world of science and superstition where nothing is what it seems.

I loved this series and I read the first one in a day!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner – hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long.
The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army.
But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice – and only she can face the oncoming storm.

I liked the second book just as much and read it quickly too!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

It took me a little longer to read the third book but I still enjoyed it!

Nick and Charlie - A Solitaire novella (Paperback)

Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

CHARLIE: “I have been going out with Nick Nelson for two years. He likes rugby, Formula 1, dogs, the Marvel universe, the sound felt-tips make on paper, rain and drawing on shoes. He also likes me.”
NICK: “Things me and Charlie Spring do together include: Watch films. Sit in the same room on different laptops. Text each other from different rooms. Make out. Make food. Make drinks. Get drunk. Talk. Argue. Laugh. Maybe we’re kind of boring. But that’s fine with us.”
Everyone knows that Nick and Charlie are the perfect couple – that they’re inseparable. But now Nick is leaving for university, and Charlie will be left behind at Sixth Form. Everyone’s asking if they’re staying together, which is a stupid question – they’re ‘Nick and Charlie’ for God’s sake!
But as the time to say goodbye gets inevitably closer, both Nick and Charlie question whether their love is strong enough to survive being apart. Or are they delaying the inevitable? Because everyone knows that first loves rarely last forever …

I adored Nick and Charlie so much, it was so beautiful.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

When Amber runs, it’s the only time she feels completely free – far away from her claustrophobic home life. Her father wants her to be a dutiful daughter, waiting for an arranged marriage like her sister Ruby.
Running is a quiet rebellion. But Amber wants so much more – and she’s ready to fight for it.
It’s time for a revolution.

This book was so amazing, I passed it over to my mum and she loved it too!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
Papi’s death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

I then read another verse novel and loved this one too!

Overall, I had a really good month! My favourite was Loveless and my least favourite was Lot.

Books I Want to Read in September

Knife Edge (#2) – Malorie Blackman
Checkmate (#3) – Malorie Blackman
Double Cross (#4) – Malorie Blackman

I only want to read the rest of the Noughts and Crosses series (that I own) this month, and I might even do a random pick of some others to read!

What did you read in August and what do you want to read in September?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann

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Goodreads | Waterstones

When Amber runs, it’s the only time she feels completely free – far away from her claustrophobic home life. Her father wants her to be a dutiful daughter, waiting for an arranged marriage like her sister Ruby.
Running is a quiet rebellion. But Amber wants so much more – and she’s ready to fight for it.
It’s time for a revolution.

It’s been a long time (I mean years) since I’ve read a book written in verse, and I don’t remember ever finding one that I really clicked with. But this one was so, so different. It was bold and hard hitting and full of hope. I loved it.

This feels like a strange thing to say, but I thought I would really feel as though I was reading verse. In a way that would drag me out of the story if I was always aware of it, but I found it so much more hard hitting and engaging than expected!

This book follows the story of Amber Rai, the daughter to two illiterate immigrant parents. Her father is abusive towards her mother, her sister Ruby has left home for an arranged marriage, and Amber is controlled by her family’s expectations for her. This means she is not allowed to do anything outside of school, including running track, and is expected to follow Ruby’s footsteps and have an arranged marriage herself.

Run, Rebel is the story of Amber’s relationship with her mother, slowly realising they can rebel. It’s the story of her friends, who Amber is jealous of because they are free to do whatever they please. It’s the story of her sister, Ruby, who is finding out who she is with a young daughter and in an arranged marriage. It is heart breaking, anger-inducing, but so full of hope. I adored it.

This was so tough to read, but I really appreciated the difficult conversations. I felt like I was learning, truly, how hard things were for Amber and her mother. Her heartache was so raw, open and honest. I couldn’t help but feel like I was right there with Amber and her suffering. I just wanted to root for her and her mother and see them rebel from such a broken home.

I also really appreciated some of the side-characters, especially the men. I found myself very grateful to have other men in relationships that offset the actions of Amber’s father. Especially Ruby’s husband and Amber’s friend David, who were both so supportive and lovely in their relationships.

I also love how this book centered around running. I’ve been running for around 6 months now and I could really relate to how Amber felt with how free running made her feel. The only small niggle I had was sometimes how Amber treated those around her – although I feel like it made her a very real and well-rounded character.

Overall, this was certainly a page-turner, and I read it in 2 sittings. It was so compelling and I couldn’t put it down. It broke my heart but left me feeling hopeful. I loved it, and I can’t wait to read more by this author!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Ruin and Rising (#3) by Leigh Bardugo

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

I really enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t the epic conclusion to the series I’d hoped for. Instead, I actually found the most problems with this one than probably any in the series. For such an epic build up, I just found it fell a little flat.

I think a lot of this was due to the fact I missed having a new character. We were obviously introduced to everybody in Shadow and Bone, and then had the introduction of Nikolai in Siege and Storm, who I loved as a character. Not having somebody new to explore made me slightly….bored? I also missed having Nikolai around for most of the story, which I won’t say any more about as I don’t want to spoil anything.

Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. 

I also found myself not being quite so compelled by the story until the last 100 pages or so, although I still finished it in just a couple of days! I really enjoyed the characters, including the ‘found family’ element which reminded me of the court in Throne of Glass. Some of the scenes of the group travelling really reminded me of the scenes and conversations in the later Throne of Glass books, and I loved it. We also had a chance to find out more of the backstory of some of the main characters, especially the Darkling himself.

I’ve heard a lot of people express disappointment about the ending of this book, but I actually really enjoyed it and felt satisfied by the end. Bardugo broke my heart into a million pieces and pieced it back together. I loved it, it made me so emotional and left me with tears in my eyes in places.

E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.

It’s mainly due to the ending of this book that I couldn’t bring myself to decrease my rating from 4 stars to lower. I did have a lot of problems and disappointments, but I still really enjoyed it and there is no question that Bardugo’s writing really develops throughout this series and this book in particular.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Nick and Charlie (#1.5) by Alice Oseman

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Goodreads | Waterstones

CHARLIE: “I have been going out with Nick Nelson for two years. He likes rugby, Formula 1, dogs, the Marvel universe, the sound felt-tips make on paper, rain and drawing on shoes. He also likes me.”
NICK: “Things me and Charlie Spring do together include: Watch films. Sit in the same room on different laptops. Text each other from different rooms. Make out. Make food. Make drinks. Get drunk. Talk. Argue. Laugh. Maybe we’re kind of boring. But that’s fine with us.”
Everyone knows that Nick and Charlie are the perfect couple – that they’re inseparable. But now Nick is leaving for university, and Charlie will be left behind at Sixth Form. Everyone’s asking if they’re staying together, which is a stupid question – they’re ‘Nick and Charlie’ for God’s sake!
But as the time to say goodbye gets inevitably closer, both Nick and Charlie question whether their love is strong enough to survive being apart. Or are they delaying the inevitable? Because everyone knows that first loves rarely last forever … 

I wasn’t sure whether to do a review for this book or not seeing as it is a short novella I flew threw in an hour or so. But I found myself finishing it with so many thoughts I just wanted to write them all down!

Firstly, you’ve got to have some talent to make me laugh, cry and break my heart all in 158 pages. But Alice Oseman can do that. I know we’re not necessarily introduced to the characters in this novella, as I have been reading about them in my much loved Heartstopper for a year and a half, but it still shocked me how quickly I built up an emotional connection with these boys.

Charlie curled up so beautifully in my bed, the orange street-lamp light shining on his skin,

This novella hit me so hard because it’s something so real and raw that so many teenagers go through – I certainly did as a young adult – and I related to it so much. Although I am much more secure and confident in myself now, I could still see myself reflected in Nick and Charlie’s insecurities and it made me so emotional.

I can’t write this review without mentioning the physical book itself. I have the Waterstones limited signed edition and it is beautiful. I loved the chapter pages, I loved the illustrations. It was all just downright adorable. I have read other reviews expressing concern for the publishers money-grabbing by this being a thing, but although I agree, I can’t be mad. Because I want this on my shelf so badly. It is utterly gorgeous, and looks amazing with her other books. It made me so happy.

and I felt like if I was going to die, this would be what I wanted to see last.

Overall, this was the sweetest and softest novella about Nick and Charlie from Heartstopper. I would definitely recommend it for all Heartstopper fans, it is just so adorable and you won’t be able to put it down! It was much more hard-hitting and raw than the graphic novels, showing a tougher side to teenage relationships, which I loved. I don’t think I can rate this anything less than 5 stars!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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BookTube: Beth Finally Reads the Grisha Trilogy: A Summary

Hi loves! Today I thought I’d do a bit of a different video and film a little discussion. I’ve been finding my reaction to the Grisha trilogy interesting, having read all of Leigh’s other books first, so thought I’d have a bit of a chat about how I found the series!

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Los Angeles, 1992
Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.
Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.
As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.
With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book would have been brilliant and hard hitting at any time. But reading it now, so soon after George Floyd’s death and with Black Lives Matter being so prominent in the media, I really felt this book. It bought to the forefront of my mind the struggles that Black people have faced and still face. This book is set in 1992, but it didn’t feel very far from home at all. Aside from a few pop culture references (which I loved!), the experiences Ashley faces feel like they could happen, and are still happening today, almost 30 years on.

Ashley lives a charmed life, attending a private school and being somewhat sheltered and surrounded by white friends, openly not interacting much with her fellow Black classmates. Her sister, Jo, who has married and moved out, is far from this. When the Rodney King riots occur, Ashley is forced to open her eyes to what is going on around her, especially when her sister starts getting involved.

This book is shocking, giving a first hand of experience of a wealthy family who are still deeply shook by the riots. Their stories shook me to the core. The discussions of race and class were superb and brilliantly written, as it feels like Ashley is only just realising herself what is truly happening around her. The starkness of this book is impressive, comparing an early event of Ashley and her white friends being stopped for breaking and entering, to a later event of Ashley and her Black friend being held at gunpoint because they are believed to be breaking and entering their own house. The Black Kids has grown on reflection to be even more hard hitting than you initially realise, as you are seeing it through the eyes of a teenager learning and growing.

The relationships were beautiful and important. I loved reading about the difficult relationships between Ashley, her family and her sister, Jo. The different characters all added layers to the story themselves, especially Ashley’s friendship group and the people she finds throughout the story, including the other Black kids at her school.

The only part of this book that really disappointed me was that it just didn’t grab me enough at the start. I spent the first 50 percent of the book feeling like I was wading through water, slow and muggy. On reflection, I realise this is due to the fact Ashley herself felt like she was perhaps disentangled from what was going on around her, and is a stark contrast to the second half of the book, when everything is almost turned up in sharpness. It took me 3 days to read the first 50 percent, and only one to read the rest. I just wish it had grabbed me more from the start!

This intense and hard hitting read feels relevant even today, discussing themes such as police brutality and race and class divide through the eyes of a young, coming-of-age teen. It is a stark, raw and beautiful story of growth and change, a change I can only hope continues as we look forward to a brighter future.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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