Underdog Edited by Tobias Madden | Spoiler-Free Book Review

Heyo Bookaholics!

Absolutely Stunning!

Hands down the best anthology I have had the pleasure of reading. I wanted so badly to read a continuation of all of these stories, and I hope so so much, to hear more from these twelve wonderful authors.

Blurb:

Short tales from the Australian writers of tomorrow.

#LoveOzYA celebrates the best of new Australian writing for teenage readers. It has grown from a humble hashtag into a movement, reflecting the important role young-adult fiction plays in shaping our current generation of readers. This anthology collects, for the first time, some of the tremendous work from the #LoveOzYA community.

Featuring a foreword by award-winning Australian novelist Fleur Ferris (Risk, Wreck, Black and Found), Underdog celebrates the diverse, dynamic and ever-changing nature of our nation's culture. From queer teen romance to dystopian comedy, from hard-hitting realism to gritty allegory, this brilliant, engrossing and inspiring collection of short stories will resonate with any teen reader, proving, yet again, why there is just so much to love about #LoveOzYA.

Stories are written by 12 unpublished authors from all over our wonderful country of Australia. You can find my post on the Underdog Book Launch in the link or by searching it on my blog.

REVIEW!

Since this anthology wasn’t centred around a specific theme other than the prompt “your Australia,” which is really really vague, I will briefly review a few stories and talk about the feel of the novel overall. I also want to point out that I will be choosing stories that hit me hard and that I felt the deep urge to read more from. I loved every story I read in this anthology and cherished those few pages I got to spend with each character, knowing it’s probably the last.

Meet and Greet by Michael Earp – This is the cutest meet-cute story that I have ever had the pleasure of reading! It is every book lover’s dream to have a situation where they find love or at least a cute human at a book event. Finding someone who cherishes the same passion that you do is a beautiful passionate connection that ignites something in the heart.

Chemical Expression by Jes Layton – I find it hard to believe that in this day and age of new and wonderful contemporary fiction in the 21st century, that I have yet to read a story with a gender queer main character. To be honest, maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong location but I am so so glad that Jes has been given the chance to shine and put her wonderful human beans out there in the world! You can read my interview with Jes Layton on my blog by clicking this link.

The Bees by Stacey Malacari – These haunting few pages tells us the story of what would happen if we keep ignoring global warming, denying its existence and leading to an earth-shattering event. The results would be catastrophic.

Living Rose by Kaneana May – The last story, and the one I most connected with. I saw so many aspects of myself in the character of Rose. I try to be a carefree woman in a busy world full of expectations. Where there are so many things going on – uni, work, assignments, etc – but people rarely take time to live!

I want to read more of these stories, and if I cannot, then I want more from all of these authors!! So I hope that in the future I see their names on novels displayed on the shelves of book stores like Dymocks, and I get the opportunity to attend their launches and celebrate with them.

Imma go now and fangirl over Lucifer and Chloe as I re-watch the series in time for season four to be on out on Netflix in May!

★ Rating ★

I rated this book a ★★★★★ (5/5 stars) for obvious reasons. It’s beautifully written; it’s Australian; it’s modern; and best of all, it has given new and upcoming writers their chance to shine. This book allowed people to be able to put the label published author on their resume, and opened doors for all 12 of these wonderful people to continue gifting their talent to the world!

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What’s your favourite Underdog story? xx

Leave your opinions in the comments or alternatively on my social media channels!
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With Love Bree xx

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© Jasper+Spice 2018. All Rights Reserved. Please do not use without my permission. This post was not sponsored, all photos and graphics are of my own creation.
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Otherworld by Jason Segal and Kirsten Miller | Spoiler Free Book Review

Heyo Bookaholics!

The Game But Not As You Know It!

Disclaimer: A big thank you to Bloomsbury publishing who sent me the ARC, and the finished copy upon release.

 

Otherworld has sat on my shelf for two years; it’s about time it was read and reviewed! Despite it being a middle-grade novel, I really enjoyed the story. It was a different concept to others that I’ve read, despite my constant comparison of it to the Mortality Doctrine Series and Warcross.


Blurb: 

The company says Otherworld is amazing — like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive — that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true.

Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted.

And it’s about to change humanity forever.

Welcome to the Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming.

You all know I won’t get through this review without mentioning the parallels between Harry Potter. It’s a new middle-grade novel. Many clichés were included, but also many twists on the clichés. So I won’t directly reference Harry Potter, but y’all know that when I discuss the clichés and tropes I’m thinking of the famous series.

REVIEW!

I thought this book was average. So in my opinion, to best review it, I will be ‘comparing’ it against a book of similar genre and content as I cannot compare it against the likes of Warcross (not middle-grade) or Harry Potter (too highly rated). The only book/ series that I can think of that is the most similar to this novel is The Mortality Doctrine Series by James Dashner. I loved those books, finding the concept original and compelling. That series is the only middle-grade gamer novel I have read before and therefore sets the standards in my rating of this one.

Overall:

Right off the bat, we start off with a rich kid whose parents are lawyers and he thinks he can get away with anything because of it. He acts up and thinks it’s okay because his family is protected by whatever life his Grandfather’s had to lead. He has a love interest who is a smart girl – smarter than himself, though not in portrayed in a way that makes him look stupid – and a hacker ‘friend’ who owes him a few favours.

As much as I’ve been giving the “golden trio” trope a bit of a hammering, none of the aforementioned characters is in the “golden trio”, they’re totally different people. Totally irrelevant as per the actual story and their adventure took up the majority of the novel.

In my opinion, this book is really a set up for the next one but creates no anticipation or interest to read the next one, aside from actually wanting to know about the other characters, of whom are integral, though shared little page-time in the novel.

The Main Adventure (which could’ve been told in fewer pages):

Despite all of my complaining above, this section of the novel was enjoyable. I really enjoyed how the characters actively make allegations of the Chosen One trope and denyed it in the same sentence. My first thought was that this was probably done in an attempt to not have the trope in the novel. I’m glad it was funny and that the trope was most certainly avoided aside from the mentions.

There were also some positives, like the fact that the entire ‘Main Adventure’ had two settings – one in Otherworld and the other in the real world – and that one of the most over-powered characters, in terms of knowledge (because that’s the only power that matters in these situations) is a girl with a disability! Honestly, Simon would be dead without her.

Themes such as abusive parents and fatal accidents were prevalent but not expanded on, especially not in a way that teaches a middle-grade audience about anything beneficial. I feel that where themes such as obvious domestic abuse are present, the writer should be teaching the reader something in regards to this situation and showing the impact the situation has on a character, not just having it there for a plot twist!

I don’t have much else to say about this novel. It was a quick, fun read but I wouldn’t be recommending it to the next person I see but I enjoyed it, and I will be picking up the sequel out of curiosity.

★ Rating ★

I rated this book a ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars) because it had elements of generic middle-grade fiction – i.e. this is not a unique book – but has an interesting storyline that differs from the usual magic and fantasy elements of a middle-grade novel. It made the three-star category as there was a lot of poking fun at the ‘Chosen One’ trope, which was heavily shunned upon, with supporting evidence.

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What were your thoughts on the conclusion of this series? xxx

Leave your opinions in the comments or alternatively on my social media channels!
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With Love Bree xx

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© Jasper+Spice 2018. All Rights Reserved. Please do not use without my permission. This post was not sponsored, all photos and graphics are of my own creation.

Percy Jackson and The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan | Spoilery Book Review

Heyo Bookaholics!

The Last One!

Everything comes to an end. Some endings are far more realistic than others.


Blurb: 

All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of victory are grim. Kronos's army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan's power only grows. While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it's up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.

In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy's sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

Let’s see if I can get through this review without mentioning the very obvious parallels between Harry Potter. Like the end scene and all the realistic casualties… On with the review!

REVIEW!

I actually enjoyed this book. From start to end I really thought it had depth and even though it was the children that were destined to save the day while the Olympians were distracted and away, Riordan didn’t dismiss them.

I cannot hate this series and I’m really not sure anyone can. Along with Harry Potter, it has set the precedent for Middle-Grade novels universally.

It is very family orientated in a sense that the parents although absent and albeit sometimes not Percy’s own, are always always included in the storyline and, even if not a part of the plot or in a committed relationship, they play a crucial part in their child’s lives. It is obvious that it is the parents that shape the person that the demigod has become.

The best example of this is when Percy and Nico try to understand why Luke is the way he is and what lead him to allow Kronos to inhabit his body. They immediately make their way to Luke’s mother’s house without a second thought, showing an obvious connection between Luke’s behaviour, the state of his mother and the absence of his father.

I really liked how the characters didn’t like or agree with each other. This caused conflict which kept me on the damn edge of my seat. Of course, I’m talking about Nico here! My sweet little dark muffin. I think I’ve fallen into his dark trap of being all protective over him. How can you not?!

Somehow Riordan created so much mystery around Nico, yet so much intrigue and interest in his character; making him young yet powerful but also weak yet cunning. It shows from all of the flashes Percy receives into Nico’s actions, but also in the way Percy underestimates Nico’s well-thought-out plan that may have had some ulterior motives, but in all was cunning and worked perfectly.

The best part about the fight was the attention paid to who was present. If a character was mentioned, they were significant and came back into the picture, and Riordan didn’t dismiss any of the campers either. I find books that include a whole school/ community of people to paint the picture yet only focus on the main trio that saves the day. This book was unlike that, where countless times Percy checked on the location of each of his campmates, asking about them and actively going to protect them. This just highlighted his growth and leadership skills. Even at the end, everyone was given a mention. Tributes were paid to every camper who fought, and those who died, even those of whom were never claimed by their God parent (not to be confused with Godparent) were given the recognition they deserved.

Every element from the previous four books; and every learning that was given to the demigods, was brought back in this final book. For Annabeth used her computer gift from Daedalus and was able to make a monumental (see what I did there) contribution to the future of the Gods, and also the camp.

Once again, the incorporation of the myths was perfect and not at all like a re-telling, but very obvious easter-eggs you had to find in a book about Percy Jackson and his quests. I enjoyed the story from start to end, and I wasn’t mad about the character redemption at the end. Yes, I am very salty that Snape got a redemption arc in canon but not Draco.

I made it this far without a Harry Potter comparison, so be proud! There will be no middle-grade novel with a trio, that is safe from the Harry Potter comparison.

★ Rating ★

I rated this book a ★★★★★ (5/5 stars) because, well not only is it an epic finale, but it shows the importance of making decisions in life and the character development of Percy into a teenager!

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What were your thoughts on the conclusion of this series? xxx

Leave your opinions in the comments or alternatively on my social media channels!
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With Love Bree xx

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© Jasper+Spice 2018. All Rights Reserved. Please do not use without my permission. This post was not sponsored, all photos and graphics are of my own creation.

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan | Spoiler Free Book Review

Heyo Bookaholics!

Keep on Empowering Women in Literature!

Disclaimer: This book was kindly sent to me from Bloomsbury Publishing and was released on the 12th of February 2019.

For the people who want to read about women empowering women in a story where the women not only talk about their experiences but do something to change the fate the world has dealt them.



Blurb: 

Jasmine and Chelsea are sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women's Rights Club. They post everything online—poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine's response to the racial macroaggressions she experiences—and soon they go viral. But with such positive support, the club is also targeted by online trolls. When things escalate, the principal shuts the club down. Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices—and those of other young women—to be heard.

I usually chat some more here but no more comments! I loved this book and I want to get to reviewing this wonderful novel, with thanks to Bloomsbury.

REVIEW!

The book starts off with the biggest bombshell ever! Jasmine’s main source of love and motivation in her world is dying but she must keep on living. When Jasmine is bullied by both students and teachers, at a school that is supposed to put their utmost care and attention into the art of social justice, she realises that there may be some flaws in the system. Along with her best friend and partner in crime, Chelsea, who has also faced prejudice for being a woman and wanting her voice heard; the two of them make it their mission to not stop until their voices are heard. Until something is done about the way women are treated in their society, starting with the school.

The message that this book is sending to young teens is amazing. Awareness is placed of the impact people of colour are having/ have had in the world and the teens are encouraged to use their passions to stand up for what they believe in! This is what the Summer challenge was all about. Jasmine’s group of friends combine each of their own unique talents to create the perfect campaign for women’s rights.

The Cast: Jasmine the writer and actress; Chelsea the Poet; Nadine the stylist and part-time D.J.; and Isaac the artist.

There were things mentioned in this novel, everyday influences on women pointed out and dissected of things that even I remained blissfully unaware of. I had become so used to seeing these things in magazines, advertisements, television shows, on the side of buildings, trains and trams; I was blinded. Not even realising that these messages are there, but still taking them in makes me almost think of degrading mass media advertisements as subliminal messages to suppress us women; weaken us to something lesser. Keep us compliant and in our place. Watson and Hagan opened my eyes to these messages.

The only thing that I found off about the novel was the school that the girls attended and how it almost felt too fake like it was a school exaggerated to love social justice more than life for the sake of the story. I say this because my high school is very into social justice and helping out the community, but they don’t force it upon students (except for one day of every year). I personally couldn’t imagine a school where after school activities are mandatory when they will obviously impede on homework time. Which, let’s face it, is the main focus of many schools.

The hardest thing about this review is doing it spoiler free. There are so many things that I learnt from this book, but it spoils half the story and I can’t have that happen! Although on the other hand, doing this review spoiler free leaves the review shorter and more appealing to read.

The best thing I learnt about racism from this book is the various stereotypes that are placed on black women in movie roles. These are all defined in the book, but as I was reading through the list, I now look a little differently on the women of colour in the book, ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ by Sue Monk Kid. I think a little more on how much of their characters were shaped by society’s view of women back when the novel was written, and if they would be any different now?

“I resolve!”

The “I resolve” statements had to have been my favourite take away from the novel. It is a method of reflecting and goal setting, that I can realistically use to better myself in my daily life. For instance, instead of saying “my new year’s resolution is…” you say “I resolve to…” It’s more personal and is almost like a promise to yourself.

An example of my own would be; “I RESOLVE TO LOVE MYSELF.”

From the poems in this book, I have been inspired to revisit my old poems and start writing more of them. They all stem from my heart. A pained one works well, but a heart that is experiencing an abundance of strong emotions produces the best poems. That’s where Jasmine and Chelsea’s writings came from.

Women banding together, standing up for each other and guiding the next generation of activists to do what they wish they could. Even the ones that seemed too cool for school took part, knowing that this is their fight too.

We have made it to the most bittersweet of endings. But it never really ends, does it? Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan started off a wonderful discussion in hopes that their story is shared, and inspire actions to be taken to end the story they started telling. I hope one day Jasmine and Chelsea can be written into a world where they are not judged for their body size, type or gender. Where their opinions will be heard, and they can speak up, stand up and rise up!

This story will continue until we let it. Until we create equality for women; and until young boys are taught how to treat their female counterparts with respect. Until the older men of society learn that there is more than one gender on this planet. Watch Us Rise will be a story that never ends! Girls will continue to stage rallies and walk-outs. We will continue to share our stories and speak up, speak out, make our voices heard. Until our bodies stop being a selling point for products and companies cease to put us down to bring them up, we will rally and we will continue to rise!

★ Rating ★

I rated this book a ★★★★★ (5/5 stars) because it dealt with real-world issues and showed their impact on children as young as fourteen, and how these high schoolers can take some real-world action, instead of just creating a discussion. If these girls can do it, then so can us adults.

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xxx

Leave your opinions in the comments or alternatively on my social media channels!
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With Love Bree xx

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© Jasper+Spice 2018. All Rights Reserved. Please do not use without my permission. This post was not sponsored, all photos and graphics are of my own creation.