I think the synopsis above gives a pretty accurate description of the book, and there's not much I could add, so I won't write my own. Dylan has Tourette's Syndrome and seems to have learning difficulties/has special needs too. From my research, I can't find anything that means Tourette's sufferers have learning difficulties as well, but Conaghan did work as a teacher at a special needs school, and that was partly where he was inspired to write When Mr Dog Bites, as well as his own experience with Tourette's.
I don't want to talk much about the story itself, because it's a beautiful one of friendship and family, and just being yourself, and I feel it's one readers should discover themselves - but it is amazing! Instead I'm going to talk about the how the novel presented Tourette's. I learned a huge amount about Tourette's from this novel, despite it not being so focused on the syndrome itself. Dylan would talk about it every now and again, but mostly it was a case of being shown rather than told, which was awesome. Before reading the book, I thought having Tourette's simply meant you shouted out swear words a lot, uncontrollably. But it's more than that, it's involuntary tics and noises too. As said in the synopsis, Dylan growls and howls as well, and that's why he calls his Tourette's Mr Dog. It was eye-opening to see how hard it is to control, and that even trying to force yourself not to tic or swear or growl, the worse it gets when you lose control. I found it very poignant when Dylan is trying to talk to a girl and ask her out, but because he's nervous, his Tourette's kicks in, and he ends up insulting her. It's heart breaking to see him try so hard, yet unable to control what comes out of his mouth.
Saying that, it's not as sweary as the article above makes out. Dylan's Mr Dog only really bites in a major way when he's really stressed or nervous. There will be other things, but it doesn't get as bad. So althoughth, yes, there's swearing, and even words I really don't like, there's no eff-ing and blinding on every single page. You're not overwhelmed by the language. Yes, sure, some of the other characters in the book swear, but most of the swearing in this book comes from Dylan, and I simply cannot see how you can talk negatively about a book for this when real people suffer with this condition. It's realistic, and to say it shouldn't be that "a YA book has to be full of obscenities in order to be bold and challenging" in regards to a book about a boy with Tourette's... well, isn't that like saying we shouldn't have YA books with characters who have Tourette's? I find that really shocking. Everyone should be represented.
As I said, Dylan also has special needs. It's not gone into what special needs he has, but you can tell from his voice and his interests and the way he doesn't completely grasp or understand certain things that he has some learnin difficulties. This makes him endearing - not in the sense that I pity him or anything like that, but in the sense that he has an innocence about him, and so he sees things differently. His view of the world is though-provoking, and real sweet. He goes to a special school, and although there are other students there for their own reasons - like Amir, Dylan's best mate, who has Autism, and Michelle Malloy, the girl Dylan fancies, who has Oppositional Defiant Disorder - the story never really goes into them in much detail. It's not a story about conditions, it's a story about people.
When Mr Dog Bites is truly a fantastic story, and such a beautiful one! I really would recommend this to everyone, I loved it!(less)
Being such a huge fan of Tammara Webber's Easy, as well as her other novels, I was thrilled to hear she had...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
Being such a huge fan of Tammara Webber's Easy, as well as her other novels, I was thrilled to hear she had requested Penguin send me a review copy of Breakable. I'm thrilled to say that Breakable is just as beautiful as it's companion, Easy.
I wasn't sure what I to expect from Breakable, really. Nor whether I would enjoy it as much as Easy. Being from Lucas' point of view, would that be odd? But I was forgetting that Webber is an expert at the male point of view as she proved with her Between the Lines series. It's so very easy to love Lucas seeing through his eyes as it is seeing through Jacqueline's eyes - maybe easier, as you can see his motivation behind everything.
Breakable is almost a cross between YA and NA, as each chapter jumps back and forth between Lucas being at high school, where he was known by his first name, Landon, and the year he meets Jacqueline at college. It was awesome to see who Landon was, see how his experience with his mother's death affected him, and what lead him to become the man he is as Lucas - along with seeing his point of view of the events of Easy. It was so incredibly sad seeing the breakdown of pretty much everything - his relationships, his desire to do anything - due to that terrible event, and seeing him cope with it in all the wrong ways. Landon is a very different person to Lucas (though Lucas still has his demons), and I just wanted to give him the biggest hug. That poor boy is carrying so much, and it hurts to watch him go through it. Thank god for the Hellers! But by learning about his past, we come to understand more the actions he takes when it he's Lucas at college.
It's also completely wonderful to see his relationship with Jacqueline from his side. His turmoil and fight with his conscience over doing the right thing as her tutor, yet wanting to be with her so much. It's so beautiful to see his love for her grow, and seeing him struggle with such difficult circumstances. There is less dialogue between Lucas and Jacqueline in Breakable than in Easy. It doesn't repeat much of what's said, just summarises it. I would have preferred to have more of their dialogue, see his reactions to things she said, or see how she reacts through his eyes. But it was still awesome to see certain moments from Lucas' point of view.
Breakable is a bit more graphic when it comes to sexual content than Easy, but not gratuitously. I don't know why it's more graphic, maybe because it's from a guy's point of view? I don't know. But it's still nothing like it is in other New Adult novels, where it just seems to be there to be hot. There is emotion behind everything Lucas does, and that comes through during the more intimate scenes, too. It's passion and it's love, and it's beautiful.
I don't want to say much more, as I don't want to spoil either story too much, but Breakable is the sweetest, most moving story. It is now official, Tammara Webber is my favourite NA author. No other NA author comes close to being as incredible as she is. I will absolutely read whatever Webber writes in the future, no question. An incredible author!
Thank you to Tammara Webber and Penguin for the review copy.(less)
A cute story two mothers separately taking their children on a trip to the beach, when they bump into each o...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
A cute story two mothers separately taking their children on a trip to the beach, when they bump into each other. It sweetly shows the fun had between mother and child, and the love mothers have for their children.
The illustrations are simple, yet beautiful, and just perfect for a picture board book. Delightful to both children and adults, Angie Stevens' illustrations are works of art that would look great on your wall. The slow rhythm and rhyme of the short, sharp sentences of the story will keep very young children attentive, as they listen to their Mummy or Daddy's voice reading them the story.
A really sweet story that would be great for young toddlers!(less)
I bought this book to read as part of the LGBT+ April Read-Along. I had seen it mentioned in a few places as a good LGBTQ YA novel previously, but I didn't know too much about it before people started reviewing it for the month. What I discovered was a seriously beautiful novel.
Ari has his problems. He's a loner and he's depressed, but he doesn't quite know why. He's very introverted and keeps to himself. But then he meets Dante at the swimming pool, who is his complete opposite; open and honest generally quite happy and cheery, and quite the intellectual. Where Ari would rather be alone, Dante will speak to anyone. Where Ari has quite a gloomy outlook on life, Dante is light and hopeful, and sees what others often miss. Both have their own problems, but in each other they find the friend they have always needed, and discover just exactly who they are.
My review is a little late, but I did have this book finished within the limits of the read-along, on 24th April. What I loved most about this book was the unexpected strength of the friendship between these two boys. They really couldn't be any more different, yet they see something in each other, and they just work. I spent most of the book feeling sorry for Ari, because that boy is so troubled. He is so depressed, and has so much darkness in him that partly seems to come from nowhere, yet also feels like it's due to his rather quiet father, and how the whole family refuses to talk about his older brother who is in prison. Ari really struggles with Dante at some point, wishing he would just leave him alone, but not really wanting him to go anywhere. Ari rarely talks out loud about what he's thinking and feeling, so Dante never really knows what's going on in his head, yet is steadfast and true in his loyalty throughout. There's is a friendship that has some serious obstacles, but one that survives them all.
This is an LGBTQ YA novel - which is obvious from all the awards this book has won - but in a way, it's not really the focus. Dante is gay, but we don't discover this until about half way through the book. We only discover it when he announces to Ari that he is in love with him. This puts some strain on their friendship when Ari tells him he doesn't feel the same way, but not as much as you think. It's like an awkward subject, but when they don't talk about it, when Dante doesn't bring it up, all's good and fine. The whole novel is told from Ari's perspective, and aside from the slight awkwardness, the fact that his best friend is in love with him doesn't really faze him - even less does the fact that it's a guy that's attracted to him. Dante is his friend, and despite the wobbles they sometimes have, nothing is going to change that - not Dante's sexuality, not the fact that he is in love with him. And that's the point, the real focus of this story throughout is their beautiful friendship. A friendship that is beautiful because of it's hardships and the ugly moments, and Ari's melancholic view of life that causes him to sometimes shut out Dante and push him away. The friendship is real and raw, and it's strong and it survives. It survives the fights, it survives the awkwardness, it survives Ari's harsh behaviour, it survives Dante's feelings, it even survives distance. And it's all these things together that make their friendship a thing of beauty.
Another major theme of the story is family. Each boy has a family that really cares, but there are such problems there even. Ari's father fought in the Vietnam war, and was affected so badly, he's not much of a talker. He doesn't talk much about what he thinks, and even less about how he feels. Ari was born after the war, and so he has never really had the chance to get to know who his father is. There is this great gulf between them, and he just doesn't understand the man at all, because he simply won't open up. And then there's the refusal to talk about Ari's older brother who's in prison. Ari has very few, vague memories of his brother, as he was quite young when he went to prison, but he doesn't really know anything about him either, nor why he's in prison. The family refuse to speak about it. To Ari, it feels like there's something majorly missing from his life without this knowledge of his brother, and it badly affects him. Despite this, the love his mother and father have for him is deep, and they show it in their own ways, even if it isn't in the way Ari wants. With Dante, his parents are young and cool, open and friendly, and they are all so close. Yet he's so worried about coming out to them, that his sexuality will hurt them and disappoint them. It terrifies him. It's really heartbreaking. And yet the love from both families, this strong portrayal of them is just completely wonderful.
I had a little trouble with the ending, though. Although it didn't come completely from left field, it was pretty close. The hints about what was to come were very, very subtle, to the point where, although I thought about the possible endings, this is one I discarded as not going to happen. I wasn't expecting it at all. For those who have read the book, you should hopefully understand what I mean when I say I didn't feel it. It seemed rushed and revealed to everyone in the blink of an eye. And not really right. To me at least. I'm sure that's the direction the story was always going to head in, but it didn't feel right to the characters I had come to know. At least not like that. Perhaps several more chapters would have made that ending work for me. I don't know.
But still, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is such a beautiful, incredible story. I absolutely loved it , and loved how heartwarming it was. Seriously, their friendship is just gorgeous! Quite possibly one of the best LGBTQ YA novels I've ever read. So, so glad I took part in the Read-Along.(less)
People have raved about Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher throughout the whole time I've been blogging, but...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
People have raved about Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher throughout the whole time I've been blogging, but I had never read it. I always thought it sounded awesome, but for one reason or another, I didn't buy it until recently. And now I so wish I had read it sooner.
Clay comes home from school to find a package for him on his doorstep. It's full of casette tapes, but no message. When he starts listening to them, he discovers they're from Hannah Baker - who committed suicide two weeks ago. The tapes chronicle the thirteen reasons - the thirteen people - that caused her to take her own life. Clay is one of them. And now Hannah is going to tell him exactly how he affected her life.
This book is extremely powerful, and incredibly moving. It's told in a dual narrative, what Hannah has recorded interspersed with Clay's thoughts and actions as he listens. It's not alternate chapters, it's all together, Hannah in italics, Clay not. We listen along with him, we get some further context of what Hannah is saying from Clay's own memories. It's really hard to listen, because you know it's already happened, and yet as you read, you hope someone will help her. If Clay knew, he would have - this you know for certain because of the person he is, despite the mistakes he's made. It's just so incredibly sad that Hannah wasn't as honest until she had decided to end it.
This story revolves around bullying, but not as you expect. It's not in your face bullying. Some people may not even consider it bullying, because if you do... then perhaps you've been a bully yourself at some point, and who wants to be confronted with that? It's the small comments, the small actions, due to things you've heard or seen. You might make one comment. But if everyone is making a comment, and it's been happening for years? It can affect you. Rumours are a terrible, terrible thing. Especially when people act on those rumours. This whole story is a snowball affect of small actions leading on to much bigger things. Things that get worse. Things that become difficult to deal with, to live with. Things that you just don't want to have to think about anymore, causing feelings you don't want to feel. It was terrible reading this book, because at times, I knew exactly how Hannah felt. Small comments, small actions might not seem like much, but when it feels like everyone has turned against you... it's hard to deal with. It can feel like too much. And Hannah felt there was only one way to escape it.
As I said, it snowballs, and things get worse, much worse. The things she unwittingly involves herself in, the things she sees, the consequences of things she knows... there are some terrible, terrible occurrences in this book, and with everything else Hannah has going on in her life, I can understand how it all got on top of her, how it all felt like too much, and that she just couldn't deal any more. And Clay! Sweet Clay, having to listen to it all, finally understanding, but being unable to do anything, having no way to help, because it's happened already. There is nothing he can do but listen.
This book will change you, even if it's just a little. You will look at yourself and the way you treat others. You will question your behaviour. Because who is a saint, right? Who has never repeated what they heard? Who has never thought of - treated - someone differently because of what they heard? Who's life have you made that much harder by doing what, at the time, seemed like nothing? It's scary. Incredibly powerful, extremely thought-provoking, beautifully moving. I am in so much awe.(less)
When I first heard of Otherbound, I thought it sounded awesome. A guy who see's through another girl's eyes,...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
When I first heard of Otherbound, I thought it sounded awesome. A guy who see's through another girl's eyes, a girl from another world, every time he closes his eyes? How can that not be an incredible book?! Sadly, I was really disappointed by Otherbound.
At first, I was really excited by Otherbound, really intrigued by the plot. How was it that Nolan would be transported to Amara's body whenever he closed his eyes? Originally, I misunderstood and thought it was just when he slept, but it's whenever he closes his eyes - a single blink, and he's there, until his eyes are open again. What was happening? Why? And why was there this curse on Princess Cilla that meant she could die if she shed a single drop of blood? And how was it that Amara was able to save her, take the curse onto herself by covering herself in Cilla's blood, and healing from the fatal injuries the curse damaged her body with? So original, so fascinating! At first, I couldn't put the book down.
But once we have these questions... that's all we have for a good long while. The story stagnates; very little highs or lows, the plot seeming an almost steady line until about a quarter of the way from the end, when things finally get interesting. Things do happen, it isn't that the story doesn't change and everything stays the same - risks are taken, decisions are made, things, in their way, move forward - but for me, the mood stayed at the same level. I think part of the problem was that I really didn't care one way or the other for most of the characters. Nolan, Amara, Cilla... I just couldn't get emotionally attached to them or the story. It was a good hard slog to get through the book, taking me a week to read, because after the initial intrigue, I lost all interest. Until that last quarter.
And that last quarter really was awesome! But so many good things happen in such a short space of time - answers, action, danger, awesomeness - and then it's over. Done. Finished. And it looks like this is just a stand alone. I thought it must have been the beginning of a series, and most of it was just developing the story, in which case I could understand it being slow, but to finish and that be the end? Though, if there was a sequel on it's way, I'm not sure if the last quarter would have been enough to make it pick it up. I was left feeling really let down.
I picked Otherbound up this month for LGBT+ April, but the LGBTQ element wasn't what I thought. I though there might be some trans themes going on, because of Nolan, a guy, being in Amara's female body half the time. Unless I'm misremembering, I don't think there is a single instance where it's discussed, even when Nolan learns to control Amara's body, rather than just being an observer. The LGBTQ element takes the form of Amara's sexuality; she's bisexual, and she's into Cilla. Despite the role of servant and protector of Cilla she has, she has had relationships with both genders before her attraction to Cilla becomes anything remotely serious, but sexuality isn't really a major theme in this book. She just happens to be attracted to both genders. There's too much going on in her head, what with Nolan, and Cilla and her curse, to really think much about sexuality, so I have no idea whether this is a world where you're accepted whatever your sexuality or not. The only real way it comes up is that her feelings for Cilla complicate things. With regards to Nolan, it's unclear whether he too is bisexual or not. He cares about the people Amara cares about, because he feels what she feels, yet he is always aware that they are her feelings. But in his own way, he cares himself, especially when terrible things happen. So whether this is because they are people he has known for so many years due to the situation he finds himself in, or because he can feel Amara's feelings, I'm not sure. It's not really made very clear. And it's only now, as I write this, that I realise there are certain questions regarding such things that aren't answered - or at least not clearly enough for me to understand, if they are. Again, I think I'm only realising this now because I simply didn't care one way or the other while reading, sadly.
I do think there are a lot of people who will really enjoy Otherbound. There is enough going on to keep you intrigued and turning the pages, and I'm sure people will get attached the characters like I couldn't. It's not an awful story, it's just not one that worked for me, sadly. Do check out some other reviews before deciding whether or not to read Otherbound, don't base your decision on my review alone.
I have been so eagerly awaiting the final book in the series, and now it's here! I absolutely couldn't wait...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I have been so eagerly awaiting the final book in the series, and now it's here! I absolutely couldn't wait to read it, but I was so sad that the trilogy would be ending! But I'm so pleased to say it's the most perfect ending to the most perfect trilogy!
Jael has gone through the portal with his horde of Dominion, and with the assistance of Razgut, has the people of Earth believing their angels sent by God to prepare them for and help them with the apocalypse. To help them, Earth needs to have over it's weapons. There is no way Jael can get ahold of guns, he will wipe out Misbegotten and chimaera to extinction. Despite the lack of trust, Akiva and Karou have joined seraphim and chimaera in a tentative, unlikely alliance now they have a common enemy - Jael and his seraphim army. But is the peace they so desperately want possible when each side wants the other's blood? Will Karou and Akiva find their way back to each other? Who will survive when the very sky is attacked?
Oh my god, so much happens in this book! Yet I should have been expecting it, considering the previous two books. But it's SO, so good! Such an incredible novel that I don't even know where to begin!
Seeing the chimaera and seraphim together was just amazing, despite the issues they have. It's the only way there's any possible chance Jael can be defeated, and necessary, but you can't read the beginning of their alliance without being so full of hope that Akiva and Karou's dream - that was born in the Requiem grove back when Karou was Madrigal - of peace between the two species can be found. You're so desperately hoping as you read, despite the terrible things that occur, not just for chimaera and seraphim, not just for Akiva and Karou, but for Ziri. The amazing, self-sacrificing beautiful soul that is Ziri, who has given up his life and his body to inhabit the body of Thiago. A body, a person he cannot stand. A person he has to constantly pretend to be, to act like. Create change, bring about the starting of what could be real peace between the two species, but without giving the game away that Thiago is not himself. The power and viciousness, the actions and words he has to do and say... he hates absolutely every second of it. The only thing that keeps him going is Karou, knowing who he is, knowing what he's going through. I felt so desperately sad for Ziri and the position he's found himself in. He did it for Karou, to save her life, and now to save the people of Eretz, but his selflessness doesn't come without such a dreadful price.
Akiva and Karou... quite possibly the most romantic couple I have read in YA fiction, ever. There's is such an epic love story, not just in their struggle and the obstacles in their path, but because of Taylor's incredible writing. Taylor easily captures the passion and longing, the heartache and despair that the two characters can communicate with just one look. With just a look, you're brimming over awe at their love and desperation that they find a way. Just a look - and so much more goes on between those two! Taylor can take emotion and describe it in a way that is so beautiful, but so real! There were certain passages I would read over because of the beauty of the language, the beauty of the moment, and something inside me declaring, "Yes! This is love! This. Is. Love!" It seems too small a word to consider Akiva and Karou's personal aspect of the story "romance". It's not romance. It's the whole world, the whole point; the power that fuels the hope, the dream. It's epic. It's perfect.
I have to mention Zuzanna and Mik. I love them. I think everyone probably loves them. They bring such light to what is mostly a dark series. Humour, but also such loyalty and faith and willingness to do whatever they can. These two play a bit more of a role in this book, and they really shine. They have got to be my favourite secondary characters of any book. Such courage, such love. They're just wonderful.
And then we have the things I can't talk about in any great deal without spoiling the story. The incredible Eliza. The hugely powerful Stellians. The bruised sky. This book will have you guessing at every turn, and you will never get it right. Such an original, unique, unpredictable story. My heart was in my mouth more times than I can count, and it broke several times over. High stakes, so much danger, more emotion than you can shake a stick at, and the most incredible ending I've ever read.
The story that started in Daughter of Smoke and Bone comes to a complete conclusion in Dreams of Gods and Monsters. But Taylor has laid down the possibility of a further trilogy/series. There is so much scope for these worlds, so much yet to do and discover. It would disappoint me no end if the trilogy ends like it did, and we don't see any more of these characters. There's more story, a new story, to tell. And I sincerely hope Taylor shares it with us.
Quite possibly the best trilogy I've ever read. If you're waiting on Dreams of Gods and Monsters, you have such a thrilling ride ahead!
Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for the review copy.(less)
WARNING! I cannot review this book in the way I want to for Mental Health Awareness Month...more**spoiler alert** Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
WARNING! I cannot review this book in the way I want to for Mental Health Awareness Month without spoiling it. Read no further if you don't want it spoilt for you.
Reading the above synopsis, who could fail to be intrigued by this book? Two teens drawn together, one of whom can't feel! Surely the makings of an amazing and really interesting story, right? Sadly, I'm afraid not - at least not for me.
When they were seven years old, Sphinx and Cadence's mothers made a plan; they would each have one child, one a boy and one a girl, and they would grow up and get married. The plan is something that Sphinx has held on to, the way her life was supposed to go. But when Cadence falls ill, the plan is broken. Cadence needs Sphinx more than ever, and she's determined to do what she can for him, whatever it takes, even if it hurts her. With Cadence's volatile behaviour, that's more than likely.
This is going to be a really difficult book to review, because I didn't enjoy it. At all. I can't work out if the plot was good and just didn't work because of the author's writing ability, or if the story itself was also not very great. If it wasn't for the fact that I want to read books covering a variety of mental health issues for MHAM, I would have put this book down a fifth of the way in.
Let me talk about the writing before I go into the story in too much detail. I'm no editor, so I could be wrong, but this felt really badly written to me. The style felt amateurish to me; the fact that Sphinx thought Cadence shone brightly was constantly repeated; his light, the fire in his eyes, etc, etc. If there was any point she could talk about his light, Anjelais would have her do so. I got tired of hearing about it. When reading about authors editing on their websites or Twitter, they mention cutting out scenes that don't add to the story, that don't need to be there. There were so many! Like the one with the kid who's mum is helping him wash his hands in the toilet? There was no reason for them! And ideas that were repeated over and over, like Sphinx was only just thinking of it for the first time. And Sphinx's inability to explain things to her mother. Trying to explain why she wanted to extend her trip in England visiting Cadence made her sound like a child rather than a 16-year-old, pretty much simply, "Please, mum, I have to!" But why? As the reader, we know, but if she's trying to convince her mother to let her with no why, no mother is going to let her. Except for hers. And there was far too much emphasis on this childhood plan of their mothers', as if it was actually something important. It was just such a hard, hard slog to get through, and it's only 257 pages long.
I do think it's because of this that I didn't like the plot. I couldn't warm to Sphinx; she was unbearably annoying and immature, and simply not believable for me. She made ridiculous decisions, and her reasons for them were just so wrong, I was thinking, "Can you hear yourself?! Are you serious?!" I didn't like her, I didn't care about her, and I wasn't too bothered about what happened to her. Which isn't great, considering we're supposed to be horrified by Cadence's behaviour.
So, Candence. He has been diagnosed as a sociopath, and his actions are unbelievable. They're shocking and atrocious, but I don't think his story was written well enough. Although Sphinx sympathised with him, I found him really unsympathetic, which I don't think is great when presented with a character who has mental health issues. I don't know enough about sociopaths (or Anti-Social Personality Disorders, which a sociopath has, if my research is correct) to know if Cadence is a fair representation. I'd like to think not, because he's written as a monster.
Dictionary.com defines a sociopath as "a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience." Where that is mostly true for Cadence, that's not what's focused on in regards to his mental illness, what's focused on is his inability to feel; pleasure, sadness, any strong, passionate emotion that isn't anger. This side of sociopathy is discussed further on HealthGuidance.org. He gauges how he's supposed to react by watching Sphinx, because he doesn't feel these emotions himself. He's constantly trying to feel something, and can't. So he hurts, bullies, threatens people. Reading what's said on HealthGuidance.org, I feel it's possible for me to be more sympathetic to me as a reader Cadence if the story was written differently. Perhaps I'm wrong, but considering Cadence has a mental illness, the way he is portrayed in this story made me feel really uncomfortable, because I hated him. That doesn't sit right with me. Perhaps it's Sphinx as a flawed narrator, perhaps it's how Anjelais wrote the story, I didn't understand Cadence enough to feel anything other than complete abhorrence for him. And that really isn't right. I suppose it didn't help that there was an attitude of, "Oh, he has a mental illness and he's ill, so we'll tiptoe around him and let him get away with whatever he wants." I disagreed with that completely.
I really want to read more books with sociopaths in them, simply because I think this book may have done them a disservice. I need to read a sympathetic book on sociopaths. I need to fix this reaction. I very much doubt I'll be reading anything by Anjelais again.
But maybe you will have a different reaction to Breaking Butterflies; do read some other reviews before deciding not to read it. Don't base your decision on my review alone.
Thank you to Chicken House for the review copy.(less)
I am such a huge fan of this series, I was so excited to read Daylighters, but I really wasn't looking forwa...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I am such a huge fan of this series, I was so excited to read Daylighters, but I really wasn't looking forward to the end of the series. The Morganville Vampires series is one of my favourite series, and so reading Daylighters was pretty bittersweet. And sadly, it wasn't my favourite story.
Morganville has been taken over by the Daylight Foundation, an organisation set of bring peace to those who have been terrorised by vampires. The vampires have been forced into an enclave, and the residents are feeling safe. The houses have had a make-over, people are no longer rushing home when they're out, and everyone is happy to have the vampires off the streets. This is the Morganville Claire comes home to, and she and her friends are split up humans and vampires - Claire, Shane and Eve, and Oliver, Myrnin, Jesse, and Michael. The Daylighters seem to think they can help the vampires as well as the humans, but there's something not quite right about head Daylighter, Fallon. Now Claire must do all she can to free her friends - but is that the right thing to do, when the humans are finally no longer scared?
As I said, I was so looking forward to this story, and the idea behind it was just awesome! Fallon was incredibly creepy with his normal, nice manner, having such bad ideas - for the good of the people! - and seeming to make sense. I loved Claire's moral dilemma with trying to work out what she should do. These are her friends and they are locked up. But these friends are vampires, and have caused so many problems for years. If she helps them to get out, she'll be condemning the humans back to a life of fear. Yet her friends have no freedom. What's the right thing to do?
There was a lot of potential for this story to get crazy dangerous, like other books in the series. I was waiting for it, eager for it... but it never really happened. There was tension all the way through, but things never seemed to get too bad. They headed in that direction, but then things seemed to conveniently work out. That really bugged me, so much. The way the story was going, you knew beforehand just how conveniently things were going to go before they happened. One of the things I loved most about this series was how unpredictable it was, but not so much with Daylighters. And there were several characters who just seemed to be left in the middle of things. Shane, Amelie, Myrnin - things happened with them, but we didn't find out until much later what the outcome of those things were.
Claire was on her own for most of this book, or skipping from being with one character to the next, and mostly everything that went right was her own doing (hurrah for character development and Claire finally being able to save others on her own, when she could barely save herself against Monica in Glass Houses - is that the point? She does it all in the final book?), and I really missed the other characters so much. It's the last book, and they weren't in it all that much. Monica got what I can only call a brief cameo. Monica. Michael was locked up, and Shane and Eve had their own things happening away from Claire. It was just weird. I really wanted to see my favourite four together kicking butt, and it never really happened.
All my issues are with this particular story though, not with the end of the series. Despite some rather awesome things that happened at the very end (which I would like to have seen in more detail!), it doesn't really feel like the end of the series. It didn't feel like a definitive ending, that there could never be another Morganville Vampires story. It's just the end of this story, and it felt very much like there could be more to come. Like it was decided there wouldn't be any more after this one, rather than making this specifically the very last book. But Caine says at the end of the book this is the very last one, so I find that kind of frustrating. I knew Daylighters would be the last book, but it doesn't feel like much of an end to me. There's no real closure for the series as a whole, I feel. Especially as I'm not going to see Claire, Shane, Eve and Michael again. I would have preferred a more closed door if there's no chance of there being more Morganville Vampires stories.
Overall, I'm kind of disappointed in this book. But there are all the others in the series that are awesome, and make up for this one. Just wish the series ended on a high rather than a low. Still worth a read if you like the series, despite the negatives - it still has all those awesome characters, after all.
Thank you to Allison and Busby for the review copy.(less)
I was so intrigued by The Summer I Wasn't Me when I first heard about it, the second book I'd heard of about...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I was so intrigued by The Summer I Wasn't Me when I first heard about it, the second book I'd heard of about a place that "turns" you straight. As gripped as I was, I liked it, but I didn't love it.
After the death of her father, Lexi's mother fell apart, and is struggling to get past her grief. When she discovers that Lexi is a lesbian, she can't handle it. With her mum being all she has left, she agrees to go to the New Horizons "degayifying" summer camp, full of hope that the camp will make her straight, make her someone her mum will love and be proud of. But at New Horizons, Lexi meets Carolyn, and is immediately attracted to her. Lexi tries so hard to believe what New Horizons teaches and make it work for her, but her feelings for Carolyn steadily grow. Should she go after what she wants, or try to save her relationship with her mum?
The story itself would be pretty awesome, if it wasn't for Lexi seeming much younger than 17. The way she acts and thinks seem more like a 13/14-year-old, in my opinion, and it just didn't feel true to her, with other aspects of who she was. Her relationship with Carolyn wasn't very believable to me, either. I just didn't feel it. "Love" is a really big word to use, and it just wasn't there for me. I don't mean there needs to be an epic love story, but it felt like a crush. More infatuation than love. There was a lot of eye-rolling on my part. This aside, The Summer I Wasn't Me was a really great story!
Lexi really doesn't want to lose her mother. She desperately wants to make it work at New Horizons, because her mother is all she has left. She wants, needs her mother to go back to who she used to be before her father died, and believes if she doesn't really give this a good shot, there's no way her mum will be able to handle it. Despite initial disagreements and doubts with some of the things she's told and sees at New Horizons, she decides to give everything a go. It worked for Mr Martin, and some of those counselors right? Kaylee, the young, cool counselor who was "cured" of her SSA isn't a stepford-wife, is she? She's straight, and normal, and still perfectly herself. That's what Lexi wants, and what she strives so hard for, for her mother. But her feelings for Carolyn complicate it all.
New Horizons is so screwed up. It's a highly religious camp that believes that people choose to be gay, that homosexuality is a symptom of having been corrupted by someone or something, a "Father Wound", and that teaching the campers what their appropriate gender roles should be, along with various other activities, will give them the tools to fight their SSA - Same Sex Attraction - every day. And it works. Because Mr Martin, the founder, was cured himself. As are some of the counselors. Oh my god, this place! I was prepared to be angry, but not to the level in which I was. Appropriate gender roles, my backside! The idea that being stereotypically male or female has any impact on sexuality is absolutely ridiculous! Making the boys play sports, and not allowing the girls to do anything but watch. Teaching the girls how to do laundry and knit, and how to raise children! Made me so, so angry! And the fact that people fully believe this is right, this is going to "fix" these teens, that the counselors genuinely feel they are actually helping dumbfounds me. And things only get worse. Much, much worse. It's so highly disturbing and twisted. Absolutely disgusting!
The Summer I Wasn't Me, despite my issues with Lexi, is a gripping read. I had to know what vile methods of "degayifying", as Lexi calls it, would be dished out next, what ridiculous brainwashing crap was going to be fed to the campers. It's such a great novel at showing just how wrong and ridiculous this kind of thing is, especially as a fair number of the main characters actually want this to work for them. Thank god for Matthew, a friend Lexi makes, who is absolutely comfortable with his sexuality and thinks the whole thing is as twisted and wrong as I do.
It's a seriously important novel, and one I would recommend reading for having your eyes opened to this kind of thing. It's much more brutal than anything that happens in The Miseducation of Cameron Post by E. M. Danforth. A really good story!
Thank you to Soucebooks Fire via NetGalley for the eProof.(less)
I was really intrigued by the pain of this book when I first read about it. What had happened to these two p...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I was really intrigued by the pain of this book when I first read about it. What had happened to these two people? Why were they hurting so much? How were they going to help each other? It sounded so good! And I'm pleased to say it's awesome!
The pain and sadness in Boys Like You is palpable. It's thick in the air, and the grief of both Monroe and Nathan weighs them down. Boys Like You is a story that will tug hard on your heartstrings, and had me so close to tears a number of times. What happened with Monroe isn't something we find out about until maybe half way through, but there are little clues throughout the first half, and most of the time my theories were wrong. You can guess from the description above what happened with Nathan, however, and what happened with him is pretty much shared from the get-go. It's a heartbreaking story, but an uplifting one, as together the two find a away through the sorrow and back to life. It's beautiful and hopeful, and completely wonderful!
Boys Like You felt like a very quick read. I read the whole things in about three or four short bursts of an hour or so, and I'm a slow reader. Although there was obvious chemistry between Monroe and Nathan,, kind of felt like we missed a fair amount of development between the two as time skipped forward in time, a week would go by with only the barest of mentions of what happened to them. Although their connection was based on their understanding and shared pain, it felt much too soon for them to believe themselves in love; for what I saw of them together, those gaps made it seem like the time they spent together was about six or seven days - the days we actually witness - rather than a whole summer. The intensity for love was right, and there was some serious sexual tension, but it felt like too much too soon as I didn't get to see enough of the romantic development. But that's probably because the focus was more on how they helped each other through their pain with understanding and love, rather than strictly on the romance itself.
Boys Like You is such a sweet and moving story of hope, self-forgiveness, and stepping out of the dark. A fantastic YA debut!
Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley for the eProof.(less)
The Lover's Dictionary is a story of a couple's relationship, from beginning to end. The story isn't told in...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
The Lover's Dictionary is a story of a couple's relationship, from beginning to end. The story isn't told in chronological order of the events, but in alphabetical order of the words. With each word, there will be a memory or a feeling or an idea about their relationship sparked by the word, with each entry being from either one line to a page and a half. We know the nameless narrator is male, but we don't know the gender of the also nameless "you." The story works for "you" being of any gender.
I misunderstood the book, first of all. Half the time, it felt like the Dictionary was written after the break up. It felt like the narrator decided to flick through a dictionary, and write a memory/feeling/idea for each word that spoke to him. And with the memory/feeling/idea comes an emotion. The story isn't told chronologically, as I said, but each entry is written one after the other by the narrator - and the emotions jump depending on the word and what it sparks. So one moment is a happy remembrance, in another, there is such hurt and anger. This is how it feels. It's not so much a story, but as someone writing it all down, maybe as a way to deal with the break-up. At least that's how it felt.
Until the tense would break up, and became present. And for a moment, I get stuck. At first, I would think "Oooh, recent break up. Sometimes it's difficult to go to the past tense." But then you would get an entry written in present tense that is quite obviously in the middle of the relationship, and it would throw this whole idea out the water. The narrator isn't writing this after a break up. He is living his romance, it is a story, and each entry is a certain time within the relationship. It took a little getting used to, once I figured out there was no actual logical to the back and forth accept for the alphabetical dictionary entries. It made it easier to follow to think it was, as I said, written after the break up. But in the end, you have to just let it go, and accept it's not going to make any logical sense when it comes to time. It is all over the place, but once I accepted that, I really enjoyed it!
I have to admit that I had to read the book with a dictionary. I didn't know maybe half of the words, and without knowing the definition made the entry seem a little random. You need to understand the word to understand the relevance of the entry. But it's such a great book! Full of Levithan's usual style, with beautiful language and awesome insights! Loved it. One of my favourite entries:
These words will ultimately end up being the barest of reflections, devoid of the sensations words cannot convey. Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.' (p120)
I can relate to this one so much, and not just about love, about any emotion! Oh my god, sometimes, words just don't work.
The Lover's Dictionary is a great book! A fantastic idea, a quick read, and quite a touching story. I loved it!(less)
As soon as I saw this book on the shelf, I knew I had to have it. Without knowing what it was about. Had to...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
As soon as I saw this book on the shelf, I knew I had to have it. Without knowing what it was about. Had to have it. Last year at work, we had a beautiful window display for Rob Ryan's picture book, The Invisible Kingdom. It was so, so beautiful! And I knew, when I saw This Is For You, I had to have this book for my own, knowing it will be just as beautiful. What I didn't expect was for This Is For You to be so deeply moving!
Everything in this book is papercut - words and pictures cut from paper. Every single page, and there are 64 pages of these intricate, detailed, stunning images. The time and effort that had to have gone into this book is astounding. This Is For You isn't just a book with a cool story/message, it's a complete work of art. Although each image links to the one after for the story, each image is a completely singular thing of beauty. You're reading the story, but you're also amazed by the art!
And then there's the story. It's pretty much a love letter from the narrator - and considering it mentions papercutting, I would assume perhaps, actually, the author - to some unknown person, the person they will end up being with. Think Michael Bublé's "I Just Haven't Met You Yet", in some ways, it's along similar lines. It's a love letter of hope and joy, of yearning and looking forward to no longer feeling "empty" once they're big heart finally holds someone else's too, and of the complete joy that, despite still feeling empty, knowing that emptiness will be filled. With love. It's an absolutely exquisite story; uplifting, full of hope, and profoundly moving.
This book is too beautiful for words, and I absolutely must get my hands on every other book Rob Ryan has written and collaborated on. I am completely awe-inspired.(less)
When I first heard about Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian - an eBook only novel here in the UK - I was r...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
When I first heard about Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian - an eBook only novel here in the UK - I was really intrigued, but a little worried it would be quite heavy. And although a serious book, it's nothing like I thought it would be. Sex and Violence is awesome!
Evan Carter is good with the girls. He knows who to go after, and who will give it up, and gets into a lot of girls' underwear. But when he goes after Colette, everything goes wrong. He gets beaten to within an inch of his life by Colette's ex-boyfriend, and the ex of a girl who's interested in him. Mental scars as well as physical ones are left behind, and Evan is a changed boy. His views on girls and sex goes from one extreme to the other - something to be avoided at all costs. When his father moves him to the family cabin in Pearl Lake, the close knit group of seniors who holiday at the lake take him in. As the summer goes by, he has to deal with his now changed ideas towards sex, and his fear.
Despite it's rather unfortunate title, Sex and Violence isn't about sex and violence, but Evan, his mental state and his view on the two. Nor is Sex and Violence graphic, in either area. What happened to him and Colette is absolutely disgusting, and Evan has a lot of demons to battle, but it's a lot more of an internal story. Mesrobian does it really well; Through Evan's narration, you know that what took place is was horrific, too horrific to spend too much time thinking about, without making it seem like she's not writing about it because it's too much. It's Evan that doesn't want to go there in reliving and describing. You get the jist and the after-affects, but he's not in any place to really talk about it.
Because of how badly he is affected, Evan really struggles for a good while to form real relationships with his new "friends" at Pearl Lake. There are a whole group of people who've known each other their whole life, and they welcome Evan into their fold with open arms. They're such a great group of people, some making only brief appearances, yet each character is so well developed, they all make a big impression. It's a great cast of characters, and it's great to watch Evan's relationship of each, and see his changing opinion as time goes by. He's the new guy, and sometimes keeps to himself, and despite not knowing what his issues were, everyone was generally really nice to him in their own way. It's great to see a huge group of just normal teenagers just being nice.
Sex and Violence is a really moving, and I think, powerful novel. I'm sure Colette would have her own story to tell, but to have Evan's story is really different, but important, as he's not just dealing with what has happened to him, but with what happened to Colette too, and his guilt over it. Such a great story, a brilliant debut, and a read I highly recommend! Definitely look forward to what Mesrobian writes next!
Thank you to Michael O'Mara Books for the eProof.(less)
This review needs very little introduction. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick is one of the most...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
This review needs very little introduction. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick is one of the most incredible books I have ever read, and became an instant favourite from about a quarter of the way in.
It's Leonard's 18th birthday, and he's decided to end his life. Ignored and invisible, but also caring around so much pain, he decides it's time to go. But before he does, he wants to say goodbye and thank you to the four people who have made a difference to his life. Then he will take his own, after killing his former best friend. Will anyone pick up on what he's planning?
This is such an unbelievably wonderful novel. Although you know from the very beginning that Leonard is going to kill himself and Asher Beal, Leonard has this almost comic voice that, although you know he means it, it doesn't seem quite serious. His attitude is almost blasé when it comes to what he's going to do, but there is more feeling to him when it comes to the various people who he needs to thank, and to how other people react - or don't - to him as the day goes on. So for the first quarter of the book, I'm smiling at the quips Leonard makes, completely engrossed in what Leonard has to say, but not really affected by the fact that he's going to do something so awful by the time the day is out.
Then we meet Herr Silverman, Leonard's Holocaust teacher. Herr Silverman has got to be one of the most amazing secondary characters I have ever read. I even wan him as a teacher, his class sounds so fascinating, as it sounds more like it uses the topic of the Holocaust to discuss human humanity, and it's all just so interesting! And he's a man who cares. He is the one who really made me stop and think. Who made what Leonard will be doing at some point later in the book really hit home. Leonard is going to kill himself.
From that point on, the story changes for me. Leonard continues to go about his day, he's still making his funny quips, but now it seems more like a mask, hiding what's really underneath. From this point on, I could not put the book down. As the book goes on, more cracks start to show. Although he's still funny, I'm really, really worried about Leonard now, because oh my god, someone has to help him! Someone has to see, surely! But the day, the story, marches on, leading up to that pivotal moment, and I was sitting on the edge of my seat, wanting to dive into the book and just hug Leonard and tell him I see him. We come to discover the reason for his pain. He's been through so much. And oh my god, I'm crying as I write this review. I can't articulate just what this book made me feel, how it's affected me. I ended up hurting right along with Leonard. It's so terribly sad.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is unbelievable. One of those books that will stick with me for a long time afterwards. I implore you to read this novel, let Leonard tell you his story. It's one you need to hear.
Thank you to Headline and Bookbridgr for the review copy.(less)
As they knew about my interest in LGBTQ YA/gender in YA, my colleagues in the Children's Dept at work brough...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
As they knew about my interest in LGBTQ YA/gender in YA, my colleagues in the Children's Dept at work brought Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman to my attention. So eager was I to read it, I couldn't wait until closer to the release date to read it, and picked it up a week after receiving it. So glad I did, such an awesome story!
Alex has spent his whole life feeling that he should be a girl. After an incident at his old school, she stops taking the pills she's taken as long as she can remember, and enrolls at a new school as the girl she was always meant to be. What Alex doesn't know is that she was born intersex, and her parents react badly to her declaration and new identity. Alex's mother has firm ideas on who Alex should be, and Alex is most definitely a boy. The doctors said so. Why is he ruining things? Why won't he just see sense? She's his mother after all, she knows what's best for him. And that's to take his medication, be a boy, and stop pushing against the boundaries.
Alex As Well is a very quick read, at only 216 pages, and you find yourself flying through it as you become engrossed in Alex's story. Alex has never been told that she's intersex. She knows she has a penis that isn't quite right and no testicles, but her mother always told her everyone's different. Because of this, she sees herself as transgender. When she decides to be female and enrol at a new school, she asks solicitor Crockett to get a new birth certificate for her that says she's female. As Alex chooses to identify as female, other things change too, like she becomes the person, as well as the gender, she was supposed to be. New image, she becomes a vegetarian, and she becomes bold and daring. It's great watching her transformation and seeing her be herself finally, and really enjoying it. Alex has her fears about being found out, but she enjoys the opportunities and fun that come with being this new "me". Because of her enjoyment of her new self and her fun with friends, Alex As Well is in some ways lighter than other intersex novels I've read. When we're not hearing about her mother, it can be quite an amusing and funny story, especially some of the conversations Alex has with her male side in her head.
However, Alex does have Heather for a mother, and so life isn't just confusing, it's also hard. Throughout the book, the odd chapters are from Heather's point of view, as she blogs on a website - motherhoodshared.com - about where things are with her relationship with Alex. What's so frustrating is you can kind of understand the source of her actions and reactions, but you simply cannot stand the way she goes about things. As the book goes on, you learn to understand that there is a reason for all of this, but in my opinion, it doesn't make the way Heather treats Alex ok. It's just awful, and so terribly sad. She sees Alex as rebelling and being a teenager, and it's something they could discuss if he would just behave, but she simply won't listen or look at things from Alex's point of view. It's heartbreaking, and you can understand the decisions Alex makes because of it. You can't help feeling so sorry for her!
Alex As Well also looks at sexuality. When she was going along with being male, Alex was into girls. So "he" was straight". Now she is a girl, this hasn't changed. So this means... she's a lesbian, right? It's not something she really thought of when deciding on her gender identity, but now she's a girl and is thinking about it, there's some confusion. She now has guys fancying her, but she's still looking at girls. It's awesome to see Alex figure things out and be honest with herself and others. Alex is strong, bold and brave, and considering all she goes through, she is so inspiring! I really loved her!
Alex As Well is an awesome - and welcome - addition to LGBTQ YA featuring intersex characters. Considering its light side along with the harsher elements, I'd say this is the perfect book for teens to start with when learning about or trying to understand intersex people. It's a great introduction to the topic, without shoving too much doom and gloom in your face. An amazing story, and I'd really recommend it!
Thank you to The Curious Fox for the review copy!(less)
As I'm interested in LGBTQ YA, I was recently asked by Charlie of Charlie In a Book if I would be reading Far From You by Tess Sharpe. I looked it up to remind myself, and said no. From the description (above), it didn't sound like my cup of tea at all; not a fan of crime, not into reading anything to do with drugs as I am so against them. However, both Charlotte and Jim of YA Yeah Yeah involved me in their Twitter conversation about just how awesome it was, with Jim saying it's probably the best LGBTQ YA novel he's ever read, and I knew I just had to give it a go, despite massive misgivings. And, oh my god, it's amazing!
After being admitted to rehab despite being clean when her best friend Mina is murdered, Sophie has just been released after three months. Her only focus now is to find out who killed Mina and why. All Sophie has to go on is that the person Mina was meeting that night wasn't a drug dealer for her, but a source for a story Mina was working on for her internship at the newspaper. What was she investigating? Why would someone murder her for it? And how on earth will Sophie cope without her? The search for justice spurs her on.
Far From You is so, so good! Told in alternating chapters of present day and various points in Sophie's life, it's like two stories running concurrently; the story of Sophie and Mina's relationship and Sophie's battle with her addiction, and the story of finding out who murdered Mina and why. Because of this, it doesn't feel so overly heavy crime-wise, and it's more mystery thriller than crime anyway; no running against time to get yourself out of danger with lots of talking to cops, like I expected, but more trying to piece a puzzle together with the help of friends - though it's not Scooby-Doo either. The mystery was intriguing, and absolutely had me sitting on the edge of my seat as he story moved on and things were becoming more clear, but Mina and Sophie's lives before the murder were equally captivating.
I loved the way Sharpe wrote Mina and Sophie's relationship. Despite the fact they had their issues regarding sexuality, it didn't "feel" like an LGBTQ novel, by which I mean it just felt like two people who were into each other, rather than two girls who were into each other. Although I love most of the sexuality based LGBTQ YA novels I've read, there were some that felt like the relationships were different from any realtionship I could have as a straight woman. I don't feel that with Far From You. They're just two people. Sure, there are problems and fear, but when it was just the two of them, the romance felt like any other romance, which is exactly how it should be. Just wonderful. And the way they felt about each other... well, it's just inspiring.
As I said earlier in my review, I am really anti drugs. So this part of the story really put me off, even though Sophie was clean. I am so against drugs and the problems they cause, I do not want to know. But with Sophie, it wasn't a case of her trying something, and getting hooked, but a result of becoming addicted to the pain killers she was prescribed after being in an accident, which I found easier to swallow. It was so heartbreaking, seeing the decline Sophie goes into, and her reliance on the pills as a way to cope with how things are between her and Mina. It's such a difficult situation to be in, when everything hurts, physically and emotionally, and there's these pills a doctor gave you to make you better, that make everything go away. It's hard to fight an addiction when it's already there, but the hurt and the lies that come along with it... I find it so difficult to deal with - though when I was thinking, "What on earth are you doing?!" at Sophie, it was with sympathy rather than anger.
Back to the mystery! Oh my word! Just incredible! Especially towards the end. Sixty pages from the end, I had had my suspicions for the suspect for quite a while now, and none of the characters suspect this person at all. I was getting all antsy like you do when watching a movie and you want to shout, "Look out!", but for Far From You, it was "It's so-and-so, it's so-and-so! You're looking in the wrong direction!" I was so desperate for them to work it out before it was too late, before the pages kept going and danger would be on their door step. I was half right in my suspicions, but that's not to say that Far From You is predictable or obvious. There are a number of people it could have been, as discussed in the book, and as I discovered when talking to Charlie about her suspicions. And the part I was wrong about, woah! I did not see that coming whatsoever, until it was happening! I don't think I've ever been sat at the edge of my seat for a book more than I was for Far From You during those pages. My heart was in my mouth for Sophie as I had no clue what would happen next, while everything was slowly being revealed. Mouth open, heart racing, desperately thinking comeoncomeoncomeon! Just brilliant!
Such a fantastic debut! I loved the contemporary/romance entwined with the mystery thriller, it worked so well! I will definitely be reading whatever Sharpe writes next, no matter what the description say! So, so good!
This picture book is brilliant! It's a great reminder for children just how great their parents ac...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
This picture book is brilliant! It's a great reminder for children just how great their parents actually are, when they're feeling like they just tell them what to do all the time.
The rhythm of this rhyming story is wonderful, and that alone, read aloud to children, would be enough to make them laugh, but the story of Meet the Parents is bound to make children really giggle. With some of the cheeky-naughty things that children do to their parents, as well as sharing all the fun they can have together, it's really amusing. I'm sure it will give children ideas too; who wouldn't want their Dad to help them make a den?
Most of the illustrations in this book are awesome, but there are some that look really scribbled, especially when it comes to the toning of the illustrations, and the characters' hair. I understand that's Ogilvie's style, but it just seemed a little messy to me. I'm sure others will like it, but I just think it's such a great story and some of the illustrations let it down a little. It's not a big thing though, just personal preference, and children are sure to love it!
I will be looking out for more of Peter Bently's stories in future, he's got just the right sense of humour. I love it!
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Children's Books for the review copy. (less)
I Love Mum is a cute story that celebrates the special bond between mother and child. It gets right into how...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I Love Mum is a cute story that celebrates the special bond between mother and child. It gets right into how special children think their mothers are, and how they put them up on a pedestal.
It highlights just what multitasking mothers have to do, with entertaining the children, cooking, and doing everything else too, but also how mothers can simply make everything better, with a soothing hug or kiss.
There was no mention or illustration of a father at all in this book. I hope there will be a second book about how great dads are too, because without one, it almost makes it seem like fathers are unnecessary, which I don't think is fair. I do hope there is a second book coming. Dads are awesome too.
Really cute book. Definitely a book for mothers with young children on Mother's Day
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Children's Books for the review copy.(less)
Just One Day by Gayle Forman is a book I have wanted to read for quite a while, but only recently discovered...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
Just One Day by Gayle Forman is a book I have wanted to read for quite a while, but only recently discovered was published in the UK. I believe I must have forgotten just how awesome a writer Forman is, because although I was excited to read it, I didn't expect it to be just so beautiful!
When good girl Allyson decides to ditch watching the RSC's production of Hamlet for an underground theatre group's cool interpretation of Twelfth Night after being given a flyer while in the queue, that's accident number one, and a decision that changes everything. It's after the production she meets Willem, Dutch traveler who goes wherever the wind takes him, letting accidents rule his decisions. When he offers to take Allyson - who he decides to call Lulu - to Paris for the day, she decides to be bold and say yes. What follows is an incredible day of discovering how freeing it is to just go with the flow and do things simply because you want to, and the wonders of love.
I cannot tell you how amazing this book is! I was expecting the whole book to be the one single day spent in Paris, but it's much more than that, and so much better for it. It's almost like three separate parts (though the book is told in two parts); the first being the day in Paris, and the other two being after. I won't go into detail because I don't want to spoil it, but it's just so good! It tells two stories, the story of the romance between Allyson and Willem, but also Allyson's self-discovery.
The romance is so, so sweet. In a way, it feels like a fairy-tale; real life is suspended, and an adventure with a beautiful guy takes place instead. There is no real plan, whatever happens, happens, but their time takes them to various parts of Paris, Willem showing Allyson what living really is, all the while the initial spark between them grows. Willem has a unique way of looking at life, with his ideas on accidents and fate, and falling in love versus being in love. He shows Allyson a different way to be, to think.
It's so refreshing for Allyson, because her whole life has been regimented. Every aspect of her day planned and regimented, in the hands of her mother. As the book goes on, it feels very much like who Allyson is isn't actually her. Rather who she feels others want/need/expect her to be, who she must be if she's not to let anyone down.
'What if Shakespeare had it wrong? To be, or not to be: that is the question. That's from Hamlet's--maybe Shakespeare's--most famous soliloquy... But what if Shakespeare--and Hamlet--were asking the wrong question? What if the real question is not whether to be, but how to be?' (p3)
That's how the Just One Day starts, and that's what Allyson discovers throughout this book. How to be. Who exactly she is, and then how to be that person, when not only is fear getting in the way, as it means stepping out into the unknown and being bold, but also because no-one who loves you knows this person, and expects you to be - stay - completely the same. The person they want. Discovering she's a girl who likes adventure and taking chances, and then watching Allyson take control of her life and become that person... it's just so beautiful. The awakening to who she is, and the daring to live the life she wants, it's inspiring, empowering.
Both aspects come together to create such a beautiful and unbelievably moving story. The whole section towards the end felt so romantic and brave, so exciting because of how scary it was. The uncertainty that runs throughout, of not knowing where Allyson will be taken next, either by Willem or by life, is just so awesome, and left me feeling like that's the way to live. No plans, just following the hints given to you by fate and going with what feels right.
I feel so inspired to go out and try to live this book. Go see some Shakespeare! Go travel and allow myself to just get lost! Be bold and daring! To meet new people and experience new things! Have one single incredible, life-changing day I will always remember! To simply do stuff!
Just One Day is so, so gorgeous! A book I will always treasure. I absolutely cannot wait to read Just One Year, the companion story told from Willem's point of view. I have no doubt it's going to be just as incredible!
Thank you to Random House Children's Books for the review copy.(less)
When I first heard what Deeper was about, I knew I just had to read it. A book about "revenge porn"/"non-con...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
When I first heard what Deeper was about, I knew I just had to read it. A book about "revenge porn"/"non-consensual pornography"? Something you don't read about often, but such an important subject. But Deeper is about so much more than that. It's an absolutely beautiful love story.
Caroline's life is turned upside down when her ex-boyfriend posts photos of her having sex with him online. The whole college has seen those photos, and she can help but imagine what these people think of her whenever she leaves her room. But when resident bad boy, West, defends her when her ex is mouthing off about her, everything changes. Through their non-friendship, West shows her that she doesn't have to hide, that she should stand up and fight, and go for the life she wants. West's own life isn't a breeze, and knows what it's like to fight for to make life better. As their feelings for each other grow, and their non-friendship heads towards something more, they show each other there is a possibility of a life they would never have imagined.
Deeper is a beautiful and powerful story narrated by both Caroline and West in alternating chapters, generally each person narrating a month within the story. At first, I thought it was going to be a similar, more grown up version of Good Girls by Laura Ruby. But Deeper isn't about non-consensual pornography. What Nate, Caroline's ex, does is absolutely disgusting, and is a huge part of the story, of Caroline's story, but Deeper is about Caroline's life. And West's. So the fact that those photos have been seen by hundreds of people, although a huge deal, it doesn't overshadow the whole story. It's not the soul focus of every single page. I was expecting it to take up a hell of a lot more page time than it did, but I'm glad it didn't. It's not about how awful it is, it's about beating it and moving forward. It's done in such a fantastic way, with West showing Caroline there's so much more that should be taking up her head space, that she could be spending her time on.
West is trying so hard to be someone he's not. He's flirty, he's sexy, and he does some things a lot of people wouldn't agree with, but he's not your typical bad boy. He's a great, great guy. West's family is dirt poor, and he's doing all he can to get them a better life. His mother is hopeless and keeps going back to his abusive dad, who only sticks around long enough to get what he wants until he's bored. West's younger sister is only nine, and he has to take care of her, because their mother is just so flighty and irresponsible. He has had to work his backside off and do terrible (for himself) things to earn money, to keep them all afloat. He's only at Putman because of a generous, rich donor is paying for his tuition, and he works three jobs and sells drugs to send money back home, and does all he can to keep his grades up. He will graduate and get a better life for his younger sister. He will get her out of that crappy trailer park and make damn sure she doesn't end up like their mum. He has a plan, he has people depending on him, he can't afford a distraction in the form of Caroline. So those two being not-friends is the only way to go - even if she does spend most nights hanging out with him as he works over night at the bakery.
If I was to talk about anything negative about the story, it would be the language. There is so much of it. Words are used to shock, words I don't want to hear, but in the right way, as these are words that aimed at Caroline because of her photos. She is treated so disgustingly by these anonymous commenters. But West is a swearer. A big swearer, he has a mouth like a sewer. And a word I find highly offensive is used several times throughout the book. Normally, this would stop me reading a book altogether, but I was so gripped by the story, in the end, my need to read this book won over my disgust at the language coming out West's mouth.
What blew me away about Deeper is how honest it is. Being NA, the characters are more honest about what they think than in other novels - even other NA novels. Like when small, completely normal things the other does turns them on, for example. It's less hot for the sake of it, but more honest, real. This is what people actually think. Not just sex related, but other things too. Things people don't say out loud, but things they think.
What I loved most is that the sex in Deeper didn't overshadow the characters. It was hot, but not as important as the two people having sex. Some of the hotter NA I've read just has sex for sex's sake. It gets a bit boring and, well, annoying. Deeper is just honest. People have sex, but there's more to people than sex. They have stories too. Sex is just a part of their lives. And Deeper really shows those stories are important, more important. Sex doesn't have to be the be-all and end-all of NA.
Saying that, there is a lot of sexual activity going on in Deeper. It's quite graphic, and I could say it's "dirtier" than other books I've read, but not in the sense that York was thinking, "I'll write this, and it will turn the readers on." More like, "This is what people do when they have sex." Again, honest. Real. Not hiding anything. And I think that links back to the photos. Caroline feels ashamed about the photos, and a lot of comments people leave on them are insults to her. But she didn't do anything wrong. She had sex with her boyfriend - normal - and some photos were taken - it happens. Nothing wrong. Nothing dirty. Nothing to be ashamed of. People have sex, it's one of the most natural things in the world, and what people do in private is no-one's business but their own. That's what comes across through the story regarding the photos, and through the extent to which sex is described.
Deeper is such a beautiful, beautiful story! The end is absolutely heartbreaking, and I've no idea what I'm going to do until Harder, the second book in the series, comes out. I didn't want the story to end, I love these two together! If there's one NA novel you read this year, it absolutely has to be Deeper.