Ray and Sasha share three half siblings but aren’t related themselves. The Whole Thing Together takes place over the summer as Ray and Sasha occupy the same room alternative weeks due to his mum and her dad splitting the time at the house they both own. This summer is about to change lives for the whole family.

The Whole Thing Together

Although Ray and Sasha are our main characters, we also follow their half-siblings, Emma, Quinn and Mattie. This was probably too many people to focus on. There was a noted family tree at the start but as I was on a Kindle it was harder to flick between my page and the notes. As I continued reading I could differentiate a bit but the character’s didn’t have a lot of depth.

Ray and Sasha are basically the same person. The way they are written is so focused on one another and their siblings, you could interchange their names and it would probably still make sense. Actually, Brashare’s did interchange their names within the book. Which made it even more confusing.

Each of the half-sisters had their own storyline. But the only one I enjoyed was Mattie’s. The premise of her plot isn’t a unique or original story, but I would have preferred just focusing on hers rather than all five of them. It would have made Mattie and her parents more three dimensional, and would’ve made her reaction to the whole thing a bit easier to understand. I felt she was a bit upset and then got over it pretty quickly because there wasn’t enough time to spend with her and also have time focusing on everyone else.

The Ray and Sasha being two sides of the same coin being brought together felt boring. I didn’t care if they were going to meet or not. They ‘shared’ a room which fair enough there weren’t enough rooms within the house. But I found it really strange how they wouldn’t tidy before they left. I really questioned whether they were changing the bed sheets because Ray spent so much time saying the bed smelt like Sasha. I found it really awkward and weird the way it was set up for them to be two sides but the same.

The romance aspect was set up from the beginning but I hoped I was reading too much into it and it wouldn’t happen. Unfortunately for me, it did happen. I didn’t really like it for a couple of reasons. One reason is a spoiler so I wont say it. The other was that I felt they didn’t know each other enough for there to be a romance.

I disliked the ending. It felt very much that Brashares had rushed it. Basically a big life-changing event needed to happen and so there was an incident. After this incident, it was very ‘so this happened, and then this happened, and this happened, done’. It was a complete abrupt and hurried.

Overall, The Whole Thing Together wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read. But I didn’t really enjoy multiple aspects of the book. The plot wasn’t for me, it was predictable in places. There was one shock, but that was it. I didn’t really feel for the characters either, which would have helped to make the ending more likable.

I received The Whole Thing Together* by Ann Brashares as an e-book from the publisher via Netgalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.

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Molly has had 26 crushes. 26 Crushes but no boyfriends. When twin sister, Cassie, gets a girlfriend with a new set of friends, Molly meets Will. At the same time, Molly also meets co-worker Reid. The Upside of Unrequited follows Molly as she decides to be less careful around boys and we see her develop a brand new crush.

The Upside of Unrequited

One of the big points is that the characters are so diverse. Molly and her family are Jewish. She has two Moms. Her twin sister, Cassie, is dating a pan-sexual, Korean-American. Molly and siblings are sperm donor babies. Molly is fat, but this book doesn’t make her change that or make her ill. There’s probably a couple of other diverse factors as well.

I wanted to read The Upside of Unrequited because it was being hyped up by a lot of people. I hadn’t fully looked into when I requested but I soon realised it was a YA Romance book. As the romance was the main plot point throughout the book, this didn’t annoy me as romance as a subplot does. The romance was also written slowly and realistically. It was quite sweet and didn’t have any annoying tropes that some writers use.

I personally didn’t think it lived up to the hype. I enjoyed it, it was a decent book. The diversity was definitely a selling point. But the actually story and premise wasn’t life-changingly fantastic. Some of the ‘Crushes’ that Molly previously had seemed strange. It was more of a ‘Molly found a guy attractive and Cassie wont let her forget it’ kind of thing for a couple of them.

It did have a lot of good points within though. There were discussions about sex between characters where really good points were made. The grandmother is shown to be stereotypically less understanding, but does learn throughout the book that some of the things she says aren’t politically correct or are hurtful.

The Upside of Unrequited is a very quick book to read. I read it over two sittings and it’s a very enjoyable book. I did find that I wasn’t particularly routing for certain things to happen. I just wasn’t emotionally invested in the characters. I also felt like there wasn’t a big ‘thing’ that happened within the book. The book led to a big event but it wasn’t very climactic in how it was set out. This kind of made the book less exciting.

A problem I had was with the texts within the book. It could just be my copy – but it wasn’t clear who was sending the text and sometimes I had to reread because I didn’t even realise it was a text. Can someone let me know if the paperback/hardback makes it clearer when and who is texting?

I received The Upside of Unrequited* by Becky Albertalli as an e-book from the publisher via Netgalley. This is an unbiased and honest review

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Celestine North wants to clear her name from being flawed. On the run with Carrick, the only one she can trust with a dark secret which could tear down the guild. Therefore, Celestine must make a decision. Save herself, or save everyone from being flawed.

Perfect (Flawed, #2)

Perfect started by recapping the first book, Perfect. As I read them back to back this was slightly annoying. It wasn’t just a little bit of recap either, a lot was detailed. It’s probable that someone could pick up this book and read it as a standalone because of this.

As I mentioned about the previous book, the premise is interesting. It’s a book that can be discussed heavily due to concise problems that arise. A lot of issues can be mirrored in real life. The armbands and branding were very reminiscent of Jews in Nazi Germany. Additionally, the ideals of being perfect are big pressures within society now.

The romance subplot was centre stage at some points. Before, I mentioned I liked the  romance in Flawed. I disliked it in Perfect because it went into a more detail. I felt there were a couple of unnecessary tropes. It didn’t ruin the experience. But I didn’t enjoy it. I think I write this on most reviews and I want to apologise. I just don’t like large romantic subplots.

Because Celestine is on the run, Perfect is much more action focused. I thought Flawed was a lot slower, and drew out the horror of the systems in place. Perfect had these scenes of horror too, but it packed in escaping and running and some riots too. I read it much faster than expected, which most likely is because of the faster, intense chapters. Although I did really enjoy the slow burn of the first book.

Strangely, I preferred the slower first book. The points raised and how they were shown to us as readers was my favourite area of Ahern’s writing. The second book seemed a lot less like morality tale and more like a YA dystopian action. Not to say that Perfect was a bad book. But it wasn’t what I fully expected.

I received Perfect* by Cecelia Ahern as an e-book from the publisher via Netgalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.

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In a world where making a poor decision is a punishable offence, Celestine North has been living her life perfectly. But one wrong decision means Celestine is branded flawed. Celestine’s perfect life is going to be completely different to how she had planned.

Flawed (Flawed, #1)

I loved the premise of the book. Society is removing poor decisions in the government by branding people who have made bad decisions previously. It seems like one of those topics you would discuss with your friends. It really makes you think about whether the system could ever work. Although Flawed is about when the system fails.

Error’s in judgment make you flawed. This is a really good point for discussion. So many people accidentally make error’s in judgement. It made me think about how sometimes people don’t consciously do things. Also, is it not an error in judgement to ‘judge’ someone to be flawed? The morality of the punishment come’s into question.

I liked the main character, Celestine. When perfect, Celestine wasn’t overdone or annoying. Often when bad things happen, people lash out, or they feel too sorry about themselves. I felt Celestine did a little of both when branded, but she acted very adult-like in how she acted with those around her.

The other characters were also well written. A lot seemed to be ambiguous and, like Celestine, you weren’t sure who to trust. The side characters were written as individuals, and I wanted to know more about some of them. A favourite point, all characters have their own motivations. Celestine knew they had reasons for supporting her, and ‘used’ them right back for her motivations. I’m happy Celestine was written smart enough to know, and to act and trust accordingly.

Let me note. There is a romantic subplot which leads us into book two. As you will know, I dislike romantic subplots in YA books. But… this one wasn’t that bad. There is a ‘insta-connection’ but it’s not a focus of the overall plot. Plus the character is useful to the storyline, and like I said previously, every character has their own motivations.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was a fairly quick read, and I’ve also nearly finished reading the second book now. The ending just made me want to read the second book straight away, which is what I did.

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If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you probably know I’ve recently acquired a Kindle. I got the Kindle Paperwhite* from my parents as a gift since I couldn’t move all my books to Guildford. I wanted a Kindle because of the moving issue, and the space issue as my flat is small. Also, I use Netgalley and reading on my phone isn’t great. The screen was too small and I would get distracted by notifications.

Recently in particular, I’ve seen a lot of people state they hate eBooks. They refuse to buy them. ‘They’re not real books’ etc. Now this is a very narrow-minded way of thinking. Most physical books will also be in an eBook format. The author will have put in all the same work to write an eBook as they would have for a physical book. Just because it’s a different format doesn’t mean they’re less than physical books. So I thought I would write a post about the positives of both formats.

E-Readers

  • Books are often cheaper to purchase as an eBook, if not completely free. I regularly check free books on Amazon for my Kindle, even when I was using the app on my phone. I’ve seen some eBooks that are free or £1 and the paperback version is £10+ so if you want to read more for less money it’s a great option.
  • It’s easy to carry. My Kindle is smaller in height, width, depth and weight. Carrying a hardback around can be one thing too many in my overly cluttered handbag. My Kindle on the other hand is a lot more portable and fits nicely into my bag.
  • With my Kindle, I can read lying down. Have you ever had that struggle with a book where you want to lie on your side, but you can’t read one side of the book because it’s too difficult to manoeuvre? Well with a Kindle, the flat screen is perfect for when you’re lying down.
  • Not all e-readers have a backlight, but mine does. So if you get one with a backlight you can read in the dark. In my new place I don’t have a bedside table so if I read a paperback in bed, I have to get out of bed to turn off my light before I go to sleep. With my kindle I just press the button, close the cover and fall asleep.
  • It’s so convenient. I already have 100+ books on my Kindle. I could not have moved 100+ books to my new flat. The car was already full of all my other things that I cant strip down and digitalise.
  •  You don’t lose your place. My Kindle automatically bookmarks my place for me. No more scrambling for that scrap piece of paper. No more waking up and realising you’ve dropped the book off the side of the bed. This is even better for me as I never seem to have a bookmark but I want to read like 5 books at a time. My Kindle has my back at keeping me in the right place.

Physical Books

  • Personal preference is a clear option here. Loads of people I’ve seen on my Facebook book group dislike eBooks. I don’t get the full on ‘hate’ for eBooks, but I do understand the love for actual physical books.
  • E-readers do not have that new book smell. I love the smell of books. I also love the feel of a book. My leather kindle case doesn’t have anything over the feel of a well bound book. The turning of pages are almost meditative at times. I just love holding a real, physical book.
  • Getting away from technology is important to do. Sometimes you’ve got to stay away from screens for a while. If you’re working on a computer all day, you probably want to give your eyes a break from the light.
  • The price isn’t always cheaper for eBooks. A lot of the time it is, but if like me you get second hand books it might be cheaper to get a physical book. I’m always on the look out for the penny deals on Amazon. 1p plus £2.80 for shipping has been my lifeline since I started buying books. Charity shops are also a godsend for cheap physical books.
  • Having physical books on a shelf for you to read makes it a lot easier to pick what to read next. On my Kindle I have to flick through different pages on my home screen, whereas on my bookshelf I can browse quickly through the whole collection. I feel like I’m also going to forget which books I have on my Kindle more easily than physical books.
  • I feel like this point may be more personal to me. For digital copies of books, films, music etc. I feel like I don’t ‘own’ them. When I have a physical copy of a book, I own the book. I’ve spent my hard earned money on the book. I’m quite materialistic in this sense. If I was to count up all the books I own, I probably wouldn’t include my eBooks. Therefore if I read an eBook and loved it, I would go and buy a physical copy as well.

Are there any points that you agree with? Any that you don’t? Also, which format do you prefer to read your books on?

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