OzYAY Reviews: Valentine & Trouble Tomorrow

March 8, 2017 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, DNF, Reviews

OzYAY Reviews: Valentine & Trouble TomorrowValentine by Jodi McAlister
Published by Penguin Teen Australia on January 30th 2017
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance
Book Depository | Publisher
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Valentine is the first in a smart, witty and page-turning YA series with a paranormal twist for fans of Holly Black and Sarah J. Maas.
Four teenagers – all born on the same Valentine’s Day – begin to disappear. As the bodies mount up, Pearl Linford has to work out what in the supernatural hell is going on, before it happens to her.
Finn Blacklin is the boy with whom Pearl shares a birthday, the boy she has known all her life and disliked every second of it, the boy her subconscious has a totally annoying crush on. Finn is also the Valentine: a Seelie fairy changeling swapped for a human boy at birth. The Unseelie have come to kill the Valentine – except they don’t know who it is. And now both the Seelie and the Unseelie think Pearl is the Valentine, and if they find out she isn’t, she’ll disappear too.
Pearl must use all her wits to protect herself. Finn must come to terms with his newfound heritage. And then there’s the explosive chemistry between them that neither of them know quite what to do about . . .

There are two types of people who will react differently to Valentine: those who find Pearl Linford hilariously endearing, and those who will find her to be stupidly annoying. Sadly, I was firmly in the second camp which lead me to DNF the book.

I was first attracted to the concept of Valentine, with four teenagers who are born on the same day slowly disappearing over the course of the book. There’s talk of fae courts and Seelie/Unseelie faeries, but even after reaching the halfway mark, there was no mention of this whatsoever. Looking at the blurb now, it also gives away a massive spoiler which takes away the mystery the book seems to be building up – the identity of one of the fae.

The mystery wasn’t enough to keep me guessing throughout the book, especially when it was overshadowed by Pearl’s annoying character voice. She talks and even thinks in text speak, frequently using internet speak like OMG and WTF in the sentences. There’s also the use of caps throughout and this would all be okay, if the actual text speak wasn’t used when talking to her friends on Facebook “like dys OMG did u c what I meant?” With the invention of autocorrect, I’m pretty sure most of us don’t speak like this anymore and it’s something that I found annoyingly grating.

Pearl herself doesn’t seem like the smartest pea in the pod, who is incredibly boy crazy with an obsession on two of the boys in her class. I don’t know how someone so insipid could make the role of school captain, especially since school work or her responsibilities are rarely explored. Most of the book is focused on her Facebook stalking antics and gossiping with her bunch of friends, who don’t really stand out.

I hate him I hate him I hate him he must think I’m such an idiot I hate myself I hate everything I hate the world I hate this place oh God oh God.

The only thing it had going for it was the mystery behind the teenage disappearances and the strange, darker occurrences that would happen. There’s a lot of disappearing people, mysterious injuries and black cats and other bad omens which seem to follow Pearl and her friends around. At one point, even Pearl blacks out and wakes up with head injuries and a rock embedded in her head (which is totally brushed over as she starts obsessing about her school mates and male crushes again). Sadly, even the mystery wasn’t enough to keep my interest, particularly narrated by Pearl’s grating voice in my head.

Perhaps I’m just not in the demographic for Valentine, which seems like it might appeal to a younger YA audience. With Pearl’s annoying character, the juvenile dialogue and a focus on teenage drama and social cliques, I just didn’t enjoy the book to keep going.

Rating: DNF 

Thanks Penguin Random House for sending me a review copy! 

Listen to the OZYAY Extra Interview with Jodi McAllister!

OzYAY Reviews: Valentine & Trouble TomorrowTrouble Tomorrow by Terry Whitebeach, Sarafino Enadio
Published by Allen & Unwin on February 1, 2017
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Own Voices, War & Military
Book Depository | Publisher | Booktopia
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Based on a true story, this compelling novel tells an incredible tale of courage, resilience and hope, about a Sudanese boy who survives civil war, a treacherous journey and many years in a refugee camp before finding peace.

Obulejo dreams he is standing by the stream with his friend Riti, hauling in spangled tilapia fish, one after the other ... Tat-tat-tat-tat! Brrrmm! Rrrrr! Ul-lu-lu-lu-lah! Obulejo slams awake, heart racing, and scrambles up off his mat. Gunshots and screams jab the air. Flashes of light pierce the darkness. The Rebels! Run!

Obulejo's name means 'trouble tomorrow' in the Ma'di language, and there is plenty of trouble for sixteen-year-old Obulejo when his town is attacked by Rebel troops. Separated from family and close friends, Obulejo flees into the hills and then makes a terrifying journey, full of danger from wild animals and pursuing soldiers. Once across the border in a refugee camp, he is safer but has no future - until he joins a pioneering peace education program and begins to find ways to create a more hopeful life for himself and others.

Does war cause violence, or does violence cause war? This is one of the central themes running through Trouble Tomorrow, about a Sudanese boy called Obulejo, who escapes from his wartorn country and becomes a refugee in Kenya.

Based on a true story, there couldn’t be a more topical book at the moment to further our understanding of the refugee crisis. Obulejo is displaced from his home, driven by the will to survive. He’s a teenage boy who doesn’t know whether he’ll ever see his family again, and quickly learns that stealing and bullying people into submission will earn him the food and resources he needs to survive.

Although Obulejo was from a respectable family of scholars at home, his internal struggles with the boy he used to be, to the street rat he has become is a central theme of the book. While it’s easy to criticise his actions from afar, we understand that his starvation, circumstances and distress has lead to the easy way out. What I found admirable about Obulejo, is no matter what hardship he faces in the book, and the danger that he faces, his passion and his will to succeed gets him out of every situation.

Obulejo doesn’t experience his journey alone, he meets many friends and like-minded people along the way who become his family. His own family is lost to him, so he easily connects with others and starts treating them as part of his own. Most of the book is set in Kenya, at a refugee camp in Kakuma and Dadaab near Somalia as he learns to survive. His journey was incredibly inspirational, as he traverses through a dark jungle wrought with danger, to the refugee camps where he is one of many, to becoming a teacher and a mentor to others.

Trouble Tomorrow is an eye-opening book about a Sudanese refugee who defeats all odds and becomes an inspirational leader. It’s an important, topical read, especially reflecting Australia’s refugee crisis and how they are often misunderstood. While Obulejo’s journey was an inspirational one, it really brought to light the danger and the distress that refugees experience and the hope and freedom of a new country.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for sending me a review copy!

Trouble Tomorrow is out now at Australian book retailers for AU$16.99.

Listen to the OZYAY Author interviews with Terry Whitebeach and Sarafino Enadio!

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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10 responses to “OzYAY Reviews: Valentine & Trouble Tomorrow

  1. Wow, Trouble Tomorrow sounds very compelling indeed! And definitely timely! I am so glad you enjoyed it! Valentine definitely does NOT sound like it would be up my alley. I agree, no one speaks like that. I knew very few people who spoke like that when it WAS a "thing", so yeah, that would have gotten old very fast hahha. Glad that at least one of these was good! Great reviews!

    • It was definitely a fascinating book and one I got a lot out of! Yeah, whenever I encounter a character voice like Pearl's, I just can't stand them. Thank you Shannon!

  2. Kelly

    Ohhh Valentine sounds like it's probably not my cup of tea either Jeann. Probably one of those reads only suitable for the target early teen audience, I had the same issue with Frogkisser that I had just tried to read. It was well written but just too young for me personally. Really interested in Trouble Morrow though. We have a large community of Sudanese refugees within the shire where I live and it would be fascinating to have that insight into their journey's. Thanks so much for sharing Jeann <3 Wonderful reviews.

    • Yeah, I completely agree. Man what a shame about Frogkisser, I was looking forward to reading that one! Trouble Tomorrow was such a great book.

  3. Anisha

    Aha sorry to hear you didn't enjoy Valentine! I have not yet had a chance to pick it up but I am pretty excited to after hearing such positive things about it from other bloggers. And I respect you for DNFing the book if you didn't enjoy it because it's so much better than dragging yourself through something you aren't enjoying!

    • Yeah, I think trying to pressure myself to read a book that i'm not enjoying will just make the reading slump worse! Thanks lovely!

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