Wow. This book was intense indeed. Right from the very start Phil Earle creates in Billy a character so full of depth and complexities and so perfectlWow. This book was intense indeed. Right from the very start Phil Earle creates in Billy a character so full of depth and complexities and so perfectly crafted it’s impossible to not think of him as a real person and become completely involved with his story.
Everything about this story rings true. Phil Earle worked in the care sector before he moved into book related jobs and this more than shows. He gets how a child in care really does feel; something I don’t believe just comes from the job itself but from a person who sees beyond it. Having experience of local authority care myself many years ago I recognised Billy: the anger, fear, distrust, vulnerability and feelings of hatred at others and himself.
What was especially fascinating with this book was seeing Billy’s relationships, which in turn allow the reader to see him from very different angles. With his mother he is resentful, distant and angry, with the twins he is caring, gentle and protective while the other kids at the home provoke a nasty and violent reaction. Then there’s the relationship with Daisy, new girl at school and fellow child of the care system. Here we see him unsure but hopeful and for the first time opening up to another person.
My favourite relationship however was with Ron, Billy’s long-term care worker at the home and pretty much the only consistent adult in his life. Seeing this relationship develop was just stunning. Billy detests Ron as he represents everything about the system he so hates being a part of. As we read from Billy’s perspective throughout the book I felt pretty much the same way about him to begin with, until little things are dropped in which slowly gives the reader a bigger picture and had me urging Billy to see what was right there in front of him. This relationship had me brimming with tears more than once.
Being Billy isn’t an easy read, far from it. However it is a book that should be read. This is an emotional book, one that will really make you stop and think and get right under your skin. It’s gripping from the first page and by the end you will be sure these characters actually do exist and care deeply for them. I felt every injustice Billy endures and was thinking about him long after the last page. Possibly one of the most realistic books I’ve read for a long time, I highly recommend it. ...more
I’d read a lot about The Iron King from fellow US bloggers last year, loved the sound of it and added it to my wishlist. Sadly though I never actuallyI’d read a lot about The Iron King from fellow US bloggers last year, loved the sound of it and added it to my wishlist. Sadly though I never actually got round to it then, a big mistake I now realise, having just finished in preparation for it’s UK release this February.
Sixteen-year-old Meghan is the outsider at school and her only friend is happy go lucky Robbie. But even he isn’t as he appears, as Meghan finds her beloved baby brother changed beyond recognition, he reveals himself as Puck, the mischievous elf of A Midsummer Night’s Dream fame. Leading her into the dark and dangerous world of the Fey to find her stolen brother and exchange him for the violent changeling left in his place, Meghan is to discover more shocking truths about herself and her heritage, a world she didn’t even know existed. But Megan finds herself caught up in a dangerous battle between the Seelie and Unseelie courts and soon comes to realise no-one in the Never Never can be trusted. Not only that but a new, stronger fey are threatening to wipe out Faeryland and are determined that Megan will help them.
Ok, so take every Fairytale you ever read or saw on TV, mash them all together and you have The Iron King. I absolutely loved this book, whose magic and mythology wrapped itself around me and held me captive throughout. While I’ve never actually read A Midsummer Night’s Dream (although I now absolutely want to now, and see the play) which the story centres around, I was reminded throughout of many others including Alice in Wonderland and \Peter Pan, while the imagery had me constantly thinking of the film Labyrinth.
I really, really liked Meghan. She’s very naïve to begin with, a loner who doesn’t fit in at school and nervous about pretty much everything. One of the main lessons she has to learn during her adventures with the fey is not to take individuals at face value and to never put herself in any of their debt. I loved how she developed throughout the book, growing stronger and surer of herself. Puck is a charming and fun character and provides lighter moments, and I adored Grimalkin, one seriously snarky and sly wise old cat (yet I still get the feeling he’s really a good guy) But oh Ash…dark, dangerous and devastatingly handsome, the Winter Prince had my heart racing. There’s a lot of romance in this book, without being the main focus and taking over the story…it’s like an undercurrent, an atmosphere and I loved it.
Aside from the magic, mythology, action and adventure, what I really loved was Julie Kagawa’s creativity with The Iron Fey. The idea is that Fey are born from our imaginations and dreams, and as that fades, so does Faeryland. But our obsession with industry and technology has created another breed of Fey, the Iron Fey, and their very existence threatens to wipe out Faeryland. I thought this was extremely clever, with characters such as Virus, Machina and armies of Gremlins and Bugs. It was also quite sad, as it drives home what our need for technology does to nature. It’s a very current issue told in a fascinating way and certainly had me thinking about what we really do stand to loose in the future.
The Iron King is a breathtaking journey from start to finish and I enjoyed every single page. It’s an action packed adventure with a racing pace, which will have you turning pages frantically. It’s packed with magic, myth and romance and is so captivatingly vivid, I was daydreaming about this book at work and desperate to get back to it. I laughed, cried and held my breath in awe while reading and was sad to reach the end and leave the story. The ending sets us up nicely for the second book in the series, The Iron Daughter, which I can’t wait to get my hands on. The Iron King is without doubt one of, if not the best book set amongst the fey I’ve read and I highly recommend it. ...more
The Long Weekend looks, and sounds, like a dark gripping thriller…and that is exactly what I got. Right from the start Savita Kalhan had me glued to tThe Long Weekend looks, and sounds, like a dark gripping thriller…and that is exactly what I got. Right from the start Savita Kalhan had me glued to the pages and didn’t let me go until I’d finished the last page.
Eleven-year-old Sam is the new boy at school. He’s been the new boy quite a few times before and finds it difficult to fit in with the cliques and gangs already formed. This time though he’s made friends with popular Lloyd through their joint love of football. Lloyd is very different to Sam, with his wealthy parents and apparent luxurious lifestyle. So when the pair make arrangements to get together after school, he’s not surprised when Lloyds Dad turns up to collect them in a flash car, kitted out with all the latest gadgets. However, Lloyd thinks its Sam’s parents’ picking them up, and in the excitement neither one thinks to check before jumping in the back. Things soon take a sinister turn however when they find themselves locked in an old mansion and realisation dawns. And so starts a long and very scary weekend, and someone is keen to make sure they never escape…
What was so absolutely perfect about this book was Sam and his voice through which the story is told. Although it’s in third person, it’s completely from Sam’s point of view and Savita Kalhan captures in him a voice so remarkably strong, unique and believable it blew me away. Using a lot of short sentences and jumpy thought processes, the tension throughout the book builds from Sam’s narration and is consistent from beginning to end, there’s not one dull passage in this book. I particularly liked how Sam grew throughout the book, changing into almost a different person by the end, which given his traumatic experiences, is an incredibly clever tact. To begin with he’s naïve, nervous, anxious, a little bitter and slightly envious of enigmatic Lloyd. By the end he’s a hero, Lloyds support system, a problem solver and the naivety has all gone.
The Long Weekend is incredibly creepy and tense, and being a short read I raced though in just one sitting. There was no chance I’d be able to put it down, the pacing and atmosphere made sure I had to know how it ended. I’m not easily scared, but was left with shivers down my spine at times in the book. Some disturbing and terrifying issues are brought up, but Kalhan never forgets her audience and doesn’t go in for graphic details. I actually think this would be a good book to either read with a class of pupils 11+ or parents to read alongside their kids as there are lots of important discussion points. If anything, this book will serve as a lesson never to go off with strangers and will surely hook even reluctant readers.
The Long Weekend is everything it appears to be, a dark, creepy story that is so gripping it’s impossible to put down. If you like being scared and enjoy sinister psychological thrillers then this is a book for you! Even if you’re not sure it’s your thing, I dare you to stop reading once you start. ...more
I love a psychological thriller. Last year I read and was thoroughly blown away by Rebecca James’ Beautiful Malice and the synopsis for Choker remindeI love a psychological thriller. Last year I read and was thoroughly blown away by Rebecca James’ Beautiful Malice and the synopsis for Choker reminded me of that a little. So with a creepy and intriguing synopsis and the prettiest cover, I couldn’t resist. Well one things for certain, that pretty cover is a complete contrast to what’s actually inside this book. I love that! Don’t be fooled, this isn’t a fluffy tale at all and at times was quite disturbing.
Choker follows Cara, a girl who isn’t just a loner at school but is pretty much abandoned by her workaholic parents too. It’s clear right away she’s not happy at all. Disliked by the popular girls at her new school, who are no doubt suspicious of her shy and nervous disposition and sense her vulnerability (making her an ideal target for their bullying) she does her best to go unnoticed. But when she chokes in the school canteen and is subsequently saved by school hottie and her secret crush, Ethan, she becomes centre of attention and earns the nickname Choker. Not only was it excruciatingly embarrassing though, but Ethan is the boyfriend of biggest bitch of all, ringleader Alexis, who makes it her mission to see Cara’s life is as miserable as possible. I really, really felt for Cara in this section, Woods recreated the pain and humiliation Cara feels perfectly. In her home the loneliness she felt as she wandered about on her own was palpable.
When Zoe turns up the book takes a decidedly sinister turn. I really don’t want to say too much about this, as it would completely spoil the book for those who hadn’t read it, but I definitely felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as she arrived and I looked forward to being completely freaked out. Sadly, I felt the book lost a little of it’s tension as I became increasingly annoyed with Cara, who appeared to be just plain stupid. I kind of lost my belief in it for a while, her situation at home didn’t ring true, the developing relationship with Ethan wasn’t genuine in my eyes and Zoe became a bit of a cliché. If I’m I honest, I wasn’t that enthralled and the middle of this short book dragged for me. At just over 200 pages I’d expected to rush through it but I kept loosing concentration and putting it down. However, the writing was beautiful and there remained enough mystery to keep me going.
So I was all ready for not liking this book at all and wham! Elizabeth Woods delivers one hell of an ending that completely took me by surprise. Suddenly all the faults I’d picked with it made sense, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it sooner. It was a real ‘OH MY GOD!’ moment and everything I’d wondered about suddenly made sense. I’m not sure if that means I’m not very good at spotting the clues or Woods was clever enough to completely disguise them, then slap me in the face with. Either way, I ended up finishing the book in shock and awe.
Choker is Elizabeth Woods debut novel, and despite the niggles I picked I would definitely read more from this author. I’d have liked a bit more to this book I think, a few more pages could have easily been afforded and used to build more atmosphere as well as create a more convincing relationship with Ethan. However I did very much like her writing style and ability to recreate feelings so vividly, at times I almost felt them myself. And that ending completely redeemed the book for me and left me speechless. I’d recommend Choker to anyone who likes a thriller and a possible quick read, although I will warn you that some scenes are disturbing at times (particularly if you really like animals) and wouldn’t advise this book for under 14’s. Overall a promising debut with a winning ending....more
This book was just so cute! It’s probably aimed at a market a little younger than I usually read, I’d buy this as a gift for girl aged 10-13 years andThis book was just so cute! It’s probably aimed at a market a little younger than I usually read, I’d buy this as a gift for girl aged 10-13 years and know they’d love it! However I still thoroughly enjoyed my journey back in time, which this book provided and the memories it evoked.
Told from the perspectives of three 13 year old friends, Olivia, Georgia and Kate, Lisa Greenwald captures perfectly the confusion and uncertainty of being on the cusp of Young adulthood, when your not quite there but no longer a child. The girls have grown up on the same floor of a Brooklyn apartment block and been best friends most of their life. However subtle changes are creeping into the dynamics of their relationship and in their own way, each of the girls are struggling to understand why. Kate seems keen on making new and exciting friends, Olivia is boring them all with her constant obsessing about a certain boy and Georgia is finding it increasingly difficult to confide in her friends, especially when the role of peacemaker most often falls on her. I really liked how in alternating chapters we heard from all three of the girls and I could remember vividly feeling a lot of the same feelings myself when my childhood gang started to drift apart. It’s a scary age when everything is changing at once and Greenwald completely pins that feeling down.
I also loved the underlying theme at the heart of this book. Through the day the girls meet many of the people who’ve lived alongside them in the building and yet until now never known. There are a lot of individual stories from their neighbours and it’s pretty sad but also very true how people live so close without knowing or looking out for each other. Giving out the cookies and seeing snapshots of their neighbours lives, not always pretty, shows the girls about listening and understanding others, and each other. The biggest lesson they learn though is about themselves, feeling confident as they grow individually and their friendship evolves.
Sweet Treats and Secret Crushes is a heart-warming tale that will leave you with a smile on your face. Switching narrative between the three girls keeps it fresh and interesting and made it a super quick read which I didn’t put down. It’s sweet and touching and just the right amount of romantic with it’s Valentine’s day setting for it’s age group. I’d thoroughly recommend it for young girls 10+ or anyone who fancies a nostalgic reminder of their own. ...more
Like twisty, turning plots that will keep you on your toes? Well then Someone Else’s Life is for you! I honestly can’t imagine what was going on in KaLike twisty, turning plots that will keep you on your toes? Well then Someone Else’s Life is for you! I honestly can’t imagine what was going on in Katie Dale’s head as she planned this story or how on earth she kept up with it all but it’s very, very clever. Every few chapters she hits you like a bolt out of the blue with another great twist, leaving me open mouthed.
Someone Else’s Life follows Rosie as she comes to term with the death of her mother from the hereditary condition Huntington’s disease and discovers that she isn’t actually her mum after all. Katie Dale doesn’t take a gently, gently approach. I was surprised at just how brutally honest Someone Else’s Life is from the very beginning. Her characters are complex and flawed, and react in human ways, which aren’t always pleasant but are believable. This kind of book could easily get wrapped up in over sentimentality but Dale doesn’t give into it.
I knew absolutely nothing about Huntington’s disease before reading this book. Without overwhelming the reader with medical jargon we get an insight into the terminal disease and genetics, which was very interesting. But this isn’t just a book about a family ripped apart by illness or a quest to find biological parents. It throws up many other questions along the way. Is knowing your fate being forewarned or is it better to enjoy your life while you can? How much does biology make a family or is is it down to more than DNA? Can changing the fate of others ever pay off even if you truly believe you are doing the right thing? as well as many others. Yet it manages to never be preachy and the questions are drawn from the readers themselves rather than thrust upon them from the author.
For such a complex book, Katie Dale manages to keep the story easy to follow and uncomplicated, even when the lives of the characters most definitely are. I’ve seen this book described as Picoult for a younger generation, and I’d agree it has some elements of Jodi Picoult’s novels. While I think it is more accessible though, Someone Else’s Life doesn’t simplify things and would appeal to both teens and adults alike. This is a gripping, emotional roller coaster with a very real and human cast. It does border on the over dramatic at times, and things fall into place a little too easily now and then, but over all I thought this was a very clever plot well done. I certainly couldn’t put it down and thought long and hard about some of the issues it raised, most particularly would I want to know if I was going to develop a horrendous illness sometime in my future? If you enjoy emotional, contemporary fiction, twists and turns and thought provoking subjects you’ll enjoy this book....more