Mini-Reviews: Anna and the French Kiss, Forbidden and The Last Beginning

Hey everyone! How the hell are you?

Everything is kind of hectic at the moment (wow, wedding planning is all-consuming, right?) but in the midst of trying on big, white dresses and visiting venues I thought I’d try my best to shoot out a little post. I’m not sure when I’ll be 100% back in business, but I’ll be slowly easing myself back into the habit of blogging over the next couple of weeks at the very least.

Now, what have I missed?

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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I read a sample, decided I kinda liked it and then downloaded it to my Kindle one Saturday night (wild, I know). Fast forward about three and a half hours and I emerged from my reading coma, blinking and realising that the boyfriend  fiancé had abandoned me for sleep a good while before. Basically, that’s just a really long-winded way of saying that I absolutely loved this book.

Although this book is absolutely cute, heart-wrenching and sparkly as and where you’d expect a YA romance to be, I also thought it was deceptively comforting and poignant in some places. These kinds of books always have the potential to feel super one-dimensional, but I generally felt like Stephanie Perkins avoided this pitfall by making her characters and their relationships interesting, flawed and multi-layered.

There were some aspects of it that I didn’t like so much (*cue rant about girl hate and glamorising cheating*) but on the whole, it was a sweet, fun read – perfect for a lazy Saturday night or a sunny day at the beach.

In Summary…

  • Rating: 4/5 stars.
  • Publisher: Usborne
  • Pages: 372

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

From cute French boys to falling in love with your brother. I like to keep things interesting on

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my bookshelves, y’know? As far as romance goes, this book is about as far away from Anna and the French Kiss as you could possibly get.

The story focuses on a sixteen year old girl and a seventeen year old boy who fall in love. Unfortunately for them, they’re not friends or acquaintances and they haven’t met each other by chance: they’re brother and sister and their relationship is forbidden.

Forbidden is undoubtedly one of those books that will rub people up the wrong way. Naturally, people will discard it on principle and that’s fine, but it doesn’t take away from how beautifully drawn the characters and relationships are and how poignantly it is written. Tabitha Suzuma has a wonderful touch, and although dealing with a taboo subject matter, there isn’t any sense of sensationalism or moral policing. The book asks tough questions, but at the same time it never tries to convince you of where you should and shouldn’t stand.

It’s emotionally draining, for sure, but I doubt those who are brave enough to pick it up will be left disappointed with this heartbreaking portrait of a family in disarray.

]In Summary…

  • Rating: 4/5 stars.
  • Publisher: Definitions
  • Pages: 432

The Last Beginning (The Next Together #2) by Lauren James 

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The second (and final…I think?) book in the The Next Together duology by Lauren James is time-travelling, futuristic, mind-bendingly good fun.

Sixteen years ago, notorious young scientists Matthew and Katherine disappeared without a trace, leaving their baby daughter Clove Sutcliffe to be raised by her uncle. Now old enough to know the truth, computer genius Clove is determined to find out what happened to her birth parents.

I fell in love with The Next Together when I read it last year. It’s definitely one of the books that I credit with my burgeoning interest in the sci-fi genre, so when I heard that Lauren James would be writing a sequel I was pretty stoked, especially because the first book finished on a massive cliffhanger!.

Although I have to say I enjoyed the first book in the series more, there are lots of things to like about The Last Beginning. From a smart, funny, clever female heroine who is a whizz with computers and code to a great examination of mother/daughter relationships, to time travel and LGBT+ romance, this is snappy little novel that pretty much has something for everyone.

If you’re looking for a book which will ease you gently and lovingly into the sci-fi ocean, then look no further than this super fun, utterly fresh take on the genre.

In Summary…

  • Rating: 4/5 stars.
  • Publisher: Walker Books
  • Pages: 352

What have you guys been reading whilst I’ve been gone? Tell me all! ❤


Mini-hiatus & some news!

Hey lovely people!

I have been so rubbish. After writing a whole post about blogging consistency, goals and setting aside time to post I have (somewhat unsurprisingly…) not taken my own advice and gotten mega waylaid.

Life has been really busy recently, but as well as that, it’s gotten a whole lot more exciting. I’m going on a teeny weeny hiatus (I’ll be back, I promise) because, well…

*cue cliche photo*

I got engaged!

I’ll be taking a little bit of time off over the next month to enjoy being a fiancé (wow, that sounds WEIRD) and the excitement of all things wedding-related with the only man who will ever put up with me filling our house full of books and Harry Potter paraphernalia.

Please feel free to leave me some links to all of your amazing content in the comments or via Twitter (@booksandbiros), I’ll definitely be checking in from time to time and I’d hate to miss anything snazzy! 💛

All of the bookish love,

Sammie x

ARC Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Goodreads Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.




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Set against the backdrop of the legalisation of gay marriage in the US, seventeen year old serial-crusher Molly has never dated, kissed or fallen for anyone. She’s the polar opposite of her twin sister, Cassie, who laughs easily and falls quickly. When new relationships blossom and old relationships change, will Molly get left behind?

I seem to be the only YA fan left standing who hasn’t read Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda (yo, anyone else out there want to join my lonely party of one?), so when Upside popped up on NetGalley I was keen to see if the Becky Albertalli hype was justified. My verdict? Yes, it’s totally justified, for the most part.

Becky Albertalli did a really great job of illustrating and dissecting some important themes like sexuality, sibling relationships, body image and coming of age. There are lots of mini-plots which run alongside Molly’s story, which I thought added a lot of depth and a real sense of time and place to the book. Even though Molly is a straight character, the supporting cast of characters really reflects the diversity of modern society. From Molly and Cassie’s two Mums to Cassie’s pansexual girlfriend, Mina, this book includes the kind of young adult characters that today’s teenagers deserve to encounter in their reading, especially in the current political and societal climate.

It’s also important to mention the focus on body image and weight, which doesn’t take centre stage but does have an enormous impact on Molly’s character throughout the book. I really liked the fact that instead of trying to change her weight to please other people, Molly stuck to her guns and remained the way that she wanted to be – the way that she was happy being. There’s been a real push in YA recently to not only present strong, independent female role models, but also to ensure that those role models are realistic and varied. Molly fits the bill perfectly, so huge props to Albertalli for this.

This isn’t an action-packed book, but what it lacks in pacing it makes up for in writing. Although I don’t think of the writing in this book as particularly profound or sparkly, it is hilariously true to life and very witty. I think a lot of people will find themselves relating to Molly’s character in different ways, and that’s where the real brilliance of the authors writing lies: in her characterisation. The characters all have their own bold personalities and quirks, and I really appreciated the level of development afforded to secondary characters like Molly and Cassie’s friends, Olivia and Abby, as well as one of Molly’s love interests, Reid. I know I’m banging on like a stuck record at the moment about realistic parental representation in YA and its importance, but I really do want to take a sec to praise that aspect of this book. The way Nadine and Patty (Molly and Cassie’s Mums) are portrayed in Upside is awesome. Rather than just being there to provide structure, they actually interact with the plot and the other characters. They’re written in a way that I can only describe as lovely, and I adored getting to know them and falling in love with both of them and their relationship with each other.

My main criticisms are two-fold. Firstly, it was always pretty obvious which of the love interests (Hipster Will or Lord of the Rings Reid) Molly was going to fall for. Although I was totally on board when that ship sailed, I would have preferred just a touch more ambiguity in order to really get me to root for one or the other of the pairings. Whilst I loved reading from Molly’s perspective, I felt quite disconnected from Cassie throughout the story, who’s on-off behaviour left me feeling pretty cold towards her. I think had this book have been told using a dual perspective approach with the odd chapter being told from Cassie’s point of view, I might have been able to empathise with her a lot more than I did.

The Upside of Unrequited doesn’t dazzle with pretty writing or whimsical imagery, but what it does provide is a straight-talking, funny look at what it’s like to grow up, grow apart and take risks, even when they scare you. Written with honesty, realism, and diversity in mind; this is the kind of contemporary YA that should be stocked in every school library and every bookshop’s teen shelf across the globe.


Stars out of five:


  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Pages: 300
  • Publication Date: 11th April 2017
  • For fans of: Juno Dawson, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, diverse reads, Holly Bourne.