All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor // Review


Hello, beautiful people!

A few months ago, Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books contacted me and other French bloggers to know if we would be interested in doing a blog tour for All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor, where we would send each other the ARC week after week, until it got back to Marie, and of course, as I’m typing this today, I said yes. It’s been a wonderful experience and I can’t thank you enough for this, Marie. Anyway, today is my turn to share my review on this book and let me tell you: I adored it. There are so many exciting reviews coming up in the next few days, so go and check out all of these lovely ladies’ reviews while you’re at it!


All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

Published: May 15th 2018 by HarperTeen
Genres: young adult, contemporary
Number of pages: 432

Goodreads summary: Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.


Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .

MY THOUGHTS 

That’s what Fatima said about her novel: you hope that you can reach a few readers here and there, that your message will speak personally to somebody. But you can never know the true impact. 

I received an Advance Reader Copy as part of a French ARC Tour of All Of This Is True organised by Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books in exchange for an honest review. 

I hadn’t heard about All Of This Is True until Marie started to organise this ARC tour, but when I saw a glowing review by Adam Silvera and that it was about “Four YA-obsessed teens befriend their favourite novelist. What happens next will shock you.”, I knew I needed to add this book to my TBR, because it seemed like quite a different contemporary novel and it intrigued me. 

All of This Is True is told through different formats, such as interviews, novel excerpts or diary entries, Lygia Day Peñaflor did a fantastic job at switching between thoseWhen I read novels that use this type of narrative, it often takes me some time to get used to it and that was the case once again, but once I got passed through, I couldn’t stop reading this novel, I was completely engrossed and had to know what would happen next. Writing in different formats doesn’t always work, but in this case, everything flowed together so nicely, it made the book even more addictive and I was so impressed, because it must be quite complicated to write all those layers. 

I can’t say much about the plot, considering it has this huge mystery aspect to it and you won’t have all the pieces of the puzzle until the very end, but it was so gripping and thrilling. This novel relied a lot on psychology, even talking about scientific papers on the subject at some point, and it was utterly fascinating to me, as I think figuring out the psychology of a character is quite complicated, but the author did it in such a clever way. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I read it in under 24 hours, because I needed to know the truth. I had guessed some of it, but when I realised everything, I was a bit shocked considering I had
no idea, at first, that the author would go this way.
 

As the book is told in different formats, we get the points of view of several characters. At first, it was a bit hard for me to distinguish them all, but once I did, it was very interesting because I didn’t know which one I could “trust”. There are different sides to a story and All Of This Is True showed that: it was up to the reader’s interpretation to figure out what he thought of the characters. I really understood all their points of view and related to all of them at different levels. They were all way more than met the eye at first, complex and so flawed. Some things they did were very disturbing at times, but it made sense considering their different situations, so that was realistic. 

Moreover, this novel had a big focus on toxic relationships. For a few months now, I’ve been thinking about the messages I wanted to be passed through YA literature and talking about toxic relationships was something I really wanted to read about. In All Of This Is True, you find such dynamics, considering it’s about teenagers who befriend their favourite author, who is six years older than them. Before I talk about their relationship with this author, I have to say that even them didn’t have great relationships with each other, their friendship felt a bit shallow and they were ready to give up on each other so easily, but what happened also brought some of them a bit closer, in the end. It really showed that friendship isn’t easy, neither is finding people who will understand you. 

Because the characters admire Fatima and she’s older than them, they would do anything to please her and they believe she is superior to them. It was a very interesting aspect of “stan-culture*” and how you could be ready to do anything to please one of the persons you admire the most and that had always seemed unreachable. You don’t know this person, you could totally be wrong about them, and yet.. When you get the chance to be close to someone who means a lot to you, who somehow changed your life without you knowing their true selves, you can behave differently than with someone you would mean in class, or in a café, or something. 

Throughout the whole book, Fatima becomes more and more important into the lives of those teenagers, without them realising how toxic she is for them. I don’t want to reveal too much, but Lygia Day Peñaflor used a phrase that resonated with me to explain those types of relationships, for I’ve had such a relationship in the past and I would have wanted to realise sooner what it really was. Because of that, I think that All Of This Is True depicts toxic relationships in a realistic way and shows the reader all the negative aspects of that, because while you get the points of view of the teenagers, you see them realising the flaws of this relationships and I hope it could help some people recognize the signs of such relationships in the future. 
*According to the top definition in the Urban Dictionary, the word “stan is Based on the central character in the Eminem song of the same name, it is an overzealous maniacal fan for any celebrity or athlete. 

I also made an aesthetic for this novel, as I’ve been doing for all the books I read this year, so I thought it would be the best time to share it!
Overall, I adored All Of This Is True: it is told in interesting formats, has fleshed-out characters and is trying to get through such important messages. I really want to read more contemporary novels that talk about such things and I will be sure to keep an eye on what Lygia Day Peñaflor will write next. I tried not to say too much about the plot, but there were some aspects I really wanted to talk about it and I’m glad I got to do so.

Are you planning on reading this one? 
What was the last contemporary novel that really impressed you?


Lots of love,
Lucie

The Radical Element, an anthology edited by Jessica Spotswood // Book review

Hello, beautiful people!

In 2016, I discovered my favourite YA anthology, A Tyranny of Petticoats, a historical fiction and fantasy anthology, which focused on telling the stories of a diverse array of heroines. When I heard that a follow-up project was in the works, I couldn’t be more excited about that and had to get my hands on it as soon as possible. Lucky for all of you, The Radical Element is coming out today, and I’m sharing my review with you all to (maybe) convince you to read it. While I’m at it, I have to say that you do not need to read A Tyranny of Petticoats first, it’s an amazing anthology, but the two of them are independent (and complementary) and different authors contributed to them.

The Radical Element, an anthology edited by Jessica Spotswood

Authors included: Dahlia Adler, Erin Bowman, Dhonielle Clayton, Sarah Farizan, Mackenzi Lee, Stacey Lee, Anna-Marie McLemore, Meg Medina, Marieke Nijkamp, Megan Sheperd, Jessica Spotswood, Sarvena Tash
Published: March 13th 2018 by Candlewick Press
Genres: short stories, young adult, historical fiction
Number of pages: 320

Goodreads summary: In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections.


To respect yourself, to love yourself—should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It’s a decision that must be faced whether you’re balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it’s the only decision when you’ve weighed society’s expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of the girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs—whether that means secretly learning Hebrew in early Savannah, using the family magic to pass as white in 1920s Hollywood, or singing in a feminist punk band in 1980s Boston. And they’re asking you to join them.


MY THOUGHTS

Disclaimer: I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Reviewing and rating anthologies is usually tricky, because you can’t always love all of the short stories they are made of; yet, for The Radical Element, I can say that I enjoyed all of them and that the messages the anthology was trying to get through were executed well.The Radical Element is an empowering read that focuses on young women who didn’t fit within the norms of society, who were marginalized and learnt to respect and step up for themselves. 


The short stories manage to make you learn historical details you might not have suspected, especially since the stories of those young women would be stories erased from the records of history. In a way, it puts the stress that history was made as much by women than by men, even though so many of them had to work in the shadows (for that, I’m considering Lady Firebrand, which was one of my favourite stories) and thanks to some of the authors’ notes, you might even get recommendations for non-fiction history books on women. 


As I’m more interested in the 19th century than in the 20th century, I have to confess that I loved the short stories set from 1838 to 1927 more, because those are set in time periods that compel me, but that’s personal preference and they all were pretty good. My personal favourites were Lady Firebrand by Megan Sheperd, Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore and Better for all the world by Marieke Nijkamp. Some of them include fantasy elements, which I really loved, considering mixing history and fantasy is one of my favourite things. I discovered several new authors through this anthology and will make sure to check some of their novels out. 


Another thing I loved was that it didn’t have a lot of romance, it was sometimes hinted, it was sometimes shown, but it wasn’t the focus of the story, it was more about growing on your own. I would have liked to see more f/f romances though, it was hinted once in Step Right Upand there was a f/f romance between secondary characters in Take Me With U, but I wanted a bit more. 


Now, I have to say that if you read the stories one after the other without reading anything else on the side, the endings of most of them must feel a bit repetitive, but it goes alon
g with the main message of this anthology: it’s about getting through obstacles that prevent you to be who you are and embracing your difference and that’s such an important idea. I believe that this anthology should be read by as many young women as possible, to show them that they got this and that they can dare dreaming and fighting for what they want. 


The representation in this book is fantastic – or that’s what I felt, but for that, it’s important to check out what #ownvoices reviewers have to say – and quite a few of those short stories were #ownvoices. This anthology is an accurate representation of what it is to be American when you feel like you’re not wanted, when you’re different from what the norm wants you to be: it tells the stories of women of colour, disabled women, women from different religions. It is an amazing example of the diversity young adult literature has been getting and what it deserves. 


OverallThe Radical Element is one of the best YA anthologies I got to read, alongside A Tyranny of Petticoats which is its close second (it makes sense, considering A Tyranny of Petticoats was edited by Jessica Spotswood and focused on similar themes). It delivers such important messages and might have a lasting impact on young adults who will read it, as its heroines were relatable and might make you want to fight harder to defend what you believe in. 


Individual ratings of the stories: 

  • 1838, Savannah, Georgia – Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler 4/5 stars 
  • 1844, Nauvoo, Illinois – You’re a Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee 3/5 stars 
  • 1858, Colorado River, New Mexico Territory – The Magician by Erin Bowman 3.5/5 stars 
  • 1863, Charleston, South Caroline – Lady Firebrand by Megan Sheperd5/5 stars 
  • 1905, Tulsa, Indian Territory – Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood 4/5 stars 
  • 1923, Los Angeles and the Central Valley, California – Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore 5/5 stars 
  • 1927, Washington, D.C. – Better for all the world by Marieke Nijkamp5/5 stars 
  • 1943, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts – When the moonlight isn’t enough by Dhonielle Clayton 3/5 stars 
  • 1952, Brooklyn, New York – The Belle of the Ball by Sarvena Tash3.5/5 stars 
  • 1955, Oakland, California – Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee 3/5 stars 
  • 1972, Queens, New York – The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina3.5/5 stars 
  • 1984, Boston, Massachusetts – Take Me With U by Sarah Farizan 3.5/5 stars

Are you planning on picking up The Radical Element
Which anthologies are your favourites?

Thank you for reading,
Lots of love,
Lucie

Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings // Book review

Hello, beautiful people!

It’s been quite a while since I last posted a review on this blog (*cough* November *cough*), but as I received an e-ARC of Zenith two months ago, I thought it would be the perfect time to share more reviews here. Now, I’ll tell you right away: Zenith wasn’t the book for me, but I have a feeling I wasn’t exactly the audience targeted. I’m going to be quite negative in this review, so be prepared.


Zenith (The Androma Saga #1) by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

Publication date: January 16th 2018 by Harlequin Teen (US) // January 11th 2018 by HQ (UK)
Genres: young adult, science-fiction
Number of pages: 512

Goodreads summary: Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.
But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder‘s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.


Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their shipor just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

MY THOUGHTS

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Quotes used in this review might have changed in the final copy.

I requested Zenith through Netgalley out of curiosity. Like many people, I followed Sasha Alsberg’s BookTube channel for years and I was curious about her writing, but it didn’t influence me in any way. The truth is, I might have loved Zenith, had it come out four or five years ago. I just feel like it wasn’t for me, that I read so many YA fantasy and sci-fi novels and it was a little too similar to so many of them. Because of that, this review will be quite negative, unfortunately, for I couldn’t help myself, but the thing is : it isn’t a bad book. It’s just a book I’ve read a hundred times before and I’m quite over it.

The plot of this novel was very slow to start and for a long time, I was wondering where the authors were going with this. The pacing was a bit off, as the main plot was resolved halfway through the book, so I didn’t really understand the point of the rest of the book. It was quite predictable and similar to popular fantasy novels (I mean, retrieving someone who’s been kidnapped in a high security prison which wasn’t high security AT ALL?Doesn’t ring a bell), except that it was set in space. It had some clichés scenes just like… A ball. Wow we’ve never seen it before, I totally didn’t see coming that you were going to make the protagonists dance together. *sigh*


(I have no choice but to only use gifs from Guardians of the Galaxy for this post)


However, towards the end, the plot became a bit exciting and the action picked up, but alas, it abruptly ended, which made me a bit sad, because I would have wanted Zenith to be like that for 500 pages. Besides, the novel often lost itself in subplots that didn’t seem necessary, maybe they were there to set the next instalment in the duology up, but it was quite clumsy. Some of the violence also felt like it was there without any purpose and it was forced:

“When we bring the galaxy to its knees,” Nor said, a smile slowly appearing on her rouged lips, “I’d like to repaint this room. With the blood of every man, woman and child who has ever lifted a finger against my planet.” Darai swept across the tiled floor to stand at her side. “My dear.” His voice was slippery, as if drenche
d in oil. “When we bring the galaxy to its knees, you can paint the entire palace in blood, if you wish it.” Nor closed her eyes and smiles.
She could see it, taste it.
And it pleased her.”


Yes, okay, but WHY ? They wanted us to see her as a psychopath, 
but I wanted it to be shown to me by her actions, not told.


I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about the characters either, because they were either unmemorable or were pissing me off. The main character, Andi, was a rip-off of Celaena Sardothien and Kaz Brekker. She was supposed to have PTSD, but many reviewers pointed out that this attempt at representation wasn’t accurate at all and PTSD was only present when it suited the book better. I don’t know much about that, but as I’ve seen this in reviews, I felt like I needed to point it out. 


*Taylor Swift’s voice* You were all I wanted, but not like this.


I was very excited because I felt like the book would have a Guardians of the Galaxy vibe to it, as it had a crew and I live for these dynamics. It was good in that sense at first, but Zenith had too many points of view and it was very confusing. I couldn’t get a sense of who was who as the characters’ voices weren’t very distinctive, it was even worse because the book was made of very short chapters (there are 98 chapters when the book counts 512 pages); I was often lost and it prevented me to care about any of the characters. Now, for Dex, Andi’s ‘love interest’, I disliked him so much. I love antiheroes and villains, but I couldn’t with him. His story didn’t add up, his lines made me roll my eyes because they sometimes were cheesy or forced and didn’t make sense with how he was portrayed. I would have loved for the secondary characters to be more fleshed out, but as there were too many of them, it wasn’t possible.


Last but not least, I didn’t really like the writing style. Zenith was first released as a sixty page novella and you can tell, as there were so many changes towards that point, starting with the writing style. In the beginning, it was quite metaphoric, which didn’t work very well because it made the book even more complicated to understand. Afterwards, I’m not sure the writing styles of the two authors mixed very well together and it felt repetitive. Besides, the authors often told us things, instead of showing them to us. I was intrigued by the world it was set in though, and I would have loved to learn more about it.


Overall, I really didn’t like Zenith and I know I am very negative in this review, but it just wasn’t the book for me (which is why I’m not even harsher in my rating). Had I read it in 2013, I probably would have loved it, but it felt so repetitive as I have read many YA novels. I still think people might love it and it will have success and I do wish for it to work out, but it really wasn’t for me.


Thank you for reading,
Lots of love,
Lucie