YA Review: Shatter Me Novellas

Title: Unite Me / Find Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 3/5 / 4/5

Unite Me (3/5)
This is an tiny, expensive paperback featuring two short stories that link to the first three books of the Shatter Me series, along with the contents of Juliette’s journal. While it was interesting to read sections of the story with Warner and Adam as narrators, I didn’t think the book contributed much to the series. Juliette’s journal was interesting, but we’ve read some of it before, and most (if not all) of it features in the fourth novel in the series.

I’m glad I read the short stories (Destroy Me and Fracture Me), but I was disappointed that there were no dramatic revelations from these two important characters. Juliette’s journal provided a deeper insight into her state of mind at the start of the series, but again there were no new elements for the reader. An expensive book for collectors looking to line their bookshelves with the complete series.

Find Me (4/5)
Another tiny, expensive paperback with two short stories linked to the Shatter Me series – this time from Kenji’s point of view. Shadow Me gives Kenji’s view of the lead-up to the dramatic events at the end of Restore Me, and unlike the previous tie-in stories, it adds depth to the series. There is character development for the narrator, and an exploration of his relationships with other characters – Castle and Warner in particular. Reveal Me is an exciting, fast-paced piece that picks up from the final scene of Defy Me, leading into the events of the final book in the series and adding another viewpoint to the main narrative.

Kenji is an important character in the Shatter Me series, but he isn’t given a narrative voice until Defy Me. These stories provide an insight into his thoughts and feelings, and provide an external view of Juliette, Warner, and their relationship. This is a much better tie-in than Unite Me, and I enjoyed learning about the setting and the events of the series through Kenji’s eyes.

Have you read the Shatter Me Series novellas? What did you think of the stories? What do you think of Kenji as a narrator? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


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YA Review: Imagine Me

Title: Imagine Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 3/5

Cover of Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi

The final book in the Shatter Me series is fast paced and action packed, as expected. The narration is split between Juliette and Kenji, which allows different characters to follow different paths through the story, and again gives the reader an outsider’s view of Juliette and Warner.

It’s a longer book, and an exciting story. Things do not go well for the central characters as they fight against the Supreme Commanders and their weapons. There are defeats and losses, bargains with the enemy, and plans that fall apart with disastrous consequences. Juliette and Warner face a serious challenge to their relationship, and Juliette’s first-person narration makes the events even more heartbreaking for the reader.

In spite of its length, there are sections of the story that move too fast, and important events that feel glossed over. I would have liked to see more detail in the plot – possibly split into two books – and more narrative viewpoints to highlight the effects of the difficult events on all the characters involved.

I really enjoyed the chapters narrated by Kenji. It was interesting to see Juliette, Warner, and Castle through the eyes of their friend, and experiencing Kenji’s thoughts and feelings first hand gave a much deeper insight into an important and likeable character. His impressions of Warner provided a powerful insight into Warner’s state of mind without needing to see inside his head.

I did have issues with the climax of the plot. There was some highly dubious consent at a critical moment, explained by the plot but uncomfortable to read. The denouement relied too heavily on physical connection instead of emotion, and I felt that a central character was stripped of agency and the ability to make their own decisions too many times in the story. The epilogue opened up as many questions as it answered, and I’m hoping we’ll see another novella filling in Kenji’s side of the final scenes.

I’m uncomfortable with giving this book four stars. It should have been two books, with more detail and more emotion for the central characters, and the resolution of the story needed more heart. I didn’t hate it, but I wanted more, especially from Juliette and Warner. I’ll give it a good three stars instead, and think about how much I like Kenji as a narrator.

Have you read Imagine Me? What did you think of the story? What did you think of the ending? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


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YA Review: Defy Me

Title: Defy Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 4/5

I was pleased to discover that the sequel to ‘Restore Me’ picks up the story from the final scene of the previous book, and introduces Juliette’s best friend Kenji as a third narrator. The three viewpoints allow the complexities of the plot to be explored while the characters are in different locations, piecing together different parts of a conspiracy that threatens to tear Juliette and Warner apart.

There are revelations and discoveries about the Reesablishment, about the other Supreme Commanders, and about Juliette and her family. Both Juliette and Warner must face the truth about themselves, and about the events of the past, while fighting against the manipulations of the Reestablishment that could destroy them in the present.

The author uses her contrasting narrators to continue her story of endurance, friendship, and bravery, while constantly challenging them to trust each other, even when their allegiances are not clear. No character has an easy ride in this book – they experience torture, betrayal, and cruelty at the hands of people who should be their allies – and each narrator must make their own decisions about who to work with, and who to fight.

I’m still addicted, and I can’t wait to start the final book in the series!

Have you read Defy Me? What did you think of the story? What do you think about Kenji as a narrator? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


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#AtHomeYALC Giveaway – winner!

Congratulations to Katy, winner of the #AtHomeYALC Taller Books giveaway! Your signed copy of Battle Ground and the Battle Ground Series tote bag are on their way …

Thank you to everyone who entered! If you didn’t win this time, don’t forget that you can still download your FREE Battle Ground Series novella. Head to freebook.tallerbooks.com to check out the first five chapters of Making Trouble, and grab your copy from BookFunnel.

If you missed Rachel’s broadcast at Saturday’s #AtHomeYALC Virtual Book Fair, you can catch it again on her Twitter feed or on Periscope. Find the full line-up at yalc.tallerbooks.com.

Giveaway run by Rachel Churcher, and not affiliated with YALC, #AtHomeYALC, Twitter, Instagram, or Taller Books.

#AtHomeYALC Giveaway!

We’re running a giveaway to celebrate Battle Ground‘s book birthday!

For your chance to win a signed copy of Battle Ground and an awesome Battle Ground Series tote bag, simply sign up to our mailing list. We’ll send you a bonus FREE novella when you sign up, and we’ll enter you into the random draw.

The giveaway is open worldwide, and runs until 11pm BST this evening. We’ll draw a winner at random tomorrow.

If you missed Rachel’s broadcast at yesterday’s #AtHomeYALC Virtual Book Fair, you can catch it again on her Twitter feed. All the details of the giveaway are in the broadcast.

Good luck!

This giveaway is run by Rachel Churcher, and is not affiliated with YALC, #AtHomeYALC, Twitter, Instagram, or Taller Books.

Happy Book Birthday!

It seems impossible that Battle Ground was launched an entire year ago, but it’s true! To celebrate, we’re giving the Kindle edition away FREE today.

We’ve had an eventful year! We’ve published the rest of the Battle Ground Series, we’ve won an award for Battle Ground, and we’ve enjoyed meeting readers at YALC, Literature Festivals, Christmas Markets, and Library talks. We’ve been in the news, we’ve sent all five books on amazing blog tours, and we’ve shared guest blogs and author spotlights with some wonderful bloggers.

A massive THANK YOU to everyone who has downloaded, read, reviewed, and supported the Battle Ground Series over the past year – this would have been impossible without you.

We’re very sad that we can’t be at YALC in person this weekend to celebrate, but we will be taking part in #AtHomeYALC tomorrow instead.

So join our party! Head to Amazon and grab your free book, then check out the schedule for tomorrow’s event!

Happy book birthday, Battle Ground!

YA Review: Restore Me

Title: Restore Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 4/5

The first book of the second trilogy in the Shatter Me Series only covers a few days of action, but – wow – it’s an intense few days! Juliette is the new ruler of The Reestablishment, and she’s learning how hard it is to be a leader. Her friends have overestimated her ability to carry out diplomatic meetings with the leaders of other sectors and regions, and they are running out of time to prepare. They’ve called an international conference for all the Supreme Commanders, and the Commanders have responded by sending their children to meet Juliette before the conference begins. When secrets about Juliette, Warner, and her supporters are revealed, she finds herself fighting for her identity, her history, and her freedom – and risks losing everything she’s worked for.

This is another gripping instalment in the addictive Shatter Me Series. After following Juliette’s hard-fought battles in the first three books, it is harrowing to see her progress undermined by the people around her. The other commanders and their children bring secrets and revelations that threaten to destroy everything she has achieved, and the people around her fail to give her the support she needs. The cliffhanger ending is extreme, and I’m glad I have the next book waiting on the shelf!

Juliette continues to be a fascinating protagonist, but the first-person narration is now split between Juliette and Warner. Warner’s chapters provide an interesting glimpse inside the head of another major character, but they also allow the story to divide. Juliette and Warner do not have the same information, knowledge, and experience of the other commanders, and Warner’s point of view allows the reader to understand the complex relationships that Juliette is attempting to navigate.

The Shatter Me Series is an addictive literary drug, and this book doesn’t disappoint.

Have you read Restore Me? What did you think of the story? What do you think about Warner, now that we have sections of the story from his point of view? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


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YA Review: We Are Not Yet Equal

Title: We Are Not Yet Equal
Author: Carol Anderson and Tonya Bolden
Edition: Kindle
Rating: 5/5

For our first non-fiction book-club read, we chose the YA adaptation of White Rage by Carol Anderson. We Are Not Yet Equal takes Anderson’s interpretation of the causes of systemic racism in the USA and makes it accessible to a teenage audience – and to anyone who has not taken an American high-school history class. Historical events are described in the context of racial inequalities, illuminating her theory that racism is the result of white rage at black progress in the US.

It’s a heartbreaking book. Resistance to the end of slavery in 1865, particularly in the southern states, led to a backlash against black communities that continues in various forms today. Some of the examples of systemic racism are focused on the former confederate states, but many take place at a national level. The authors describe an embarrassing number of opportunitites for equality that were wasted by the federal government as it tried to rebuild the union after the civil war. Throughout the twentieth century opportunities to counteract the legacy of slavery were missed, and Anderson and Bolden share a shocking number of examples of the rolling back of hard-won rights and support.

When a population is used to privilege, equality will feel like oppression. Any move towards equality will feel like an attack to the privileged class. With wealth, power, and opportunity staked in favour of white americans, moves towards equality have been successfully blocked for more than 150 years. The resulting anger and unrest in black communities has been framed as ‘black rage’, but this book demonstrates that the problem of racism is perpetuated by ‘white rage’ – anger at any progress towards equality.

It’s a difficult subject to write about, but in We Are Not Yet Equal the authors have created a clear, age-appropriate record of the fight for equality, and the complex history of racism in the USA. They don’t shy away from documenting horrific events, but everything is explained in the context of privilege, white rage, and the effects on American society of a deep resistance to change. If you’re looking for a primer on the background to Black Lives Matter movement, this is a good place to start.

Have you read We Are Not Yet Equal? What did you think of the idea of white rage? Did anything in the book surprise you? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


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