The Sky is Everywhere – Book Review

20160403_185629Title: The Sky is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Paperback: 320 pages
Published: March 9th 2010 by Penguin Group
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Summary (Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to centre stage of her own life – and suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two boys. One boy takes Lennie out of her sorrow; the other comforts her in it. But the two can’t collide without Lennie’s world exploding…

Eh.

Honestly, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this was exactly it. The book was predictable and it took me about 6 months to complete due to lack of interest. The thing is, the book isn’t bad. Far from it – it’s sweet, romantic and poetic. But it lacks humour and humour is what makes a book fun to read.

The characters:
Lennie – She grows as a character throughout the book, coming to terms with the death of her older sister, Bailey. Lennie is quiet and insecure at the beginning of the book and she blossoms over time, becoming more confident in her own skin. She’s actually realistic, so a thumbs up for that.
Toby – For the majority of the book, he isn’t really a character. He’s a distraction for Lennie and it’s annoying for the most part. At the end, he develops into a brother to Lennie and their relationship shifts to a much healthier one.
Joe – A bucket of sunshine in, what is admittedly, a pretty depressing story. I feel like the romance between him and Lennie moved way to fast – but then again, some people are just like that, which made it more realistic, I guess.
Sarah – I love this girl. She’s honest and funky and really doesn’t give a flying monkey about what people think of her, but it feels a little bit like she exists only to talk about boys with Lennie.
Rachel – She’s an under-developed mean girl type character. Enough said.
As for Big and Gram, I do like them and they do have an impact on Lennie but I don’t really have much to say about them.

Out of all the characters, I’ve got to say, Sarah was probably my favourite. It’s a shame that she’s absent for most of the book though.

So firstly: the love triangle. Oh, dear God. What on earth was that? I have no words for how awkward the whole affair was. Nope. There was never a chance of the whole Toby thing actually working out and it was painful to read. I feel like Joe’s backstory could have been explored a bit more too, because Lennie barely knows the guy before he begins showing up at her house every morning.

One of the better story lines is that Lennie is getting over her sister Bailey’s death and this is handled with care. The book bursts with feeling and raw pain which makes it that much better to read. It also handles people making mistakes and learning from them to become a better person.

Throughout, I found myself comparing the book to I’ll Give You the Sun also by Jandy Nelson, which has long been a favourite of mine. The same poetic language is used, however it just doesn’t have the same effect.

Overall, I think that this book is good for a quick, light read, but if you’re looking for something with a bit more substance then this isn’t for you.

Tell me your thoughts!

Holly xx

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Rebel of the Sands – Book Review

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Title: Rebel of the Sands
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Paperback: 358 pages
Published: February 4th 2016 by Faber & Faber
My Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary (Goodreads): She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumour has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

What can I say? I loved it. For me to ever give 5 stars to a book is rare, but guys, this one deserves it.

Let’s start with the cover: it’s amazing. It’s the reason I even picked the thing up. All of the elements of the story – mystery, magic, adventure – are pulled together into the design. I know the saying ‘Never judge a book by it’s cover’, but this one? This one is truly incredible to look at.

Anyway, enough gushing over that. Back to what actually matters. Rebel of the Sands is beautifully written with characters that leap off the page. There are so many scenes that drag you right in, especially the opening. We begin the story with Amani, our protagonist, in the middle of Deadshot, dressed as a boy and in the middle of a shooting competition. If that’s not enough to get you interested, then I’m not sure what will.

One thing that I will say, is that after the first few scenes, the book begins to drag a little. Don’t give up! The second half is much better than the first, especially when new characters are introduced. For me, the best scenes were definitely the opening, and the fight at the end. Obviously I can’t tell what happens (spoilers. duh.) but it is a fast-paced and thrilling conclusion.

Now for my favourite part – the characters. Let’s start with Amani, aka the Blue-Eyed Bandit. She is fierce, she is wild and she is possibly the best shot in the country. Amani wants to be free of Dustwalk and she fights for it.
Jin is the handsome stranger who whisks her away from Dustwalk on the back of a magical horse (I know, I know). For the most part, he is the dashing hero and has just enough wit to prevent him from becoming bland. Both of them are put through trial after trial and they meet every single one head-on.

These are the main two characters, however a lot more are introduced near the end of the book. I’m assuming that they will have bigger roles in the following books, but they all play their parts. (My particular favourites out of these are Izz and Maz – gotta love a pair of twins. Especially shape-shifting ones.)

The book combines Arabian Mythology with cowboys, which does seem weird at first, but slots together nicely. When the fantasy finally does show up (which is near the end, I’ll grant you that) it is mind-blowing. The book is a set up for a series, so I’m expecting big things from the following books.

I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a relatively short book to read, who enjoys fantasy and a bit of mythology.

Let me know what you thought about this book in the comments below!

Holly xx