OK, Goodreads was being a twonk and ruined my life by making all of the lovely pictures that I wanted to post look dodgy and skew-whiff. So, everyoneOK, Goodreads was being a twonk and ruined my life by making all of the lovely pictures that I wanted to post look dodgy and skew-whiff. So, everyone close your eyes and pretend there are pictures here.
Lots of lovely pictures.
More lovely pictures.
Even more lovely pictures.
Imagination is fun.
You may wonder why I am posting so many pictures of this book for my review. “Jo!” I hear you cry. “Where are the words?” And I will reply: “Exactly. Where are the words?”
I’m being clever and smart and illustrating my only problem I had with this book in my review.
Does that make sense? No? Want me to use some more italics? Alright, fine. I’ll keep my italics to myself, shall I?
I loved the illustrations in this book. I could quite happily get lost within them and look at them all day. In fact, I’m going to recruit Mr Selznick to join Jim Kay, Kei Acedera, Craig Thompson and Quentin Blake to paint every wall in my house. They were absolutely stunning and fit perfectly with the book’s setting and the whimsical feeling of the story.
But, well, there wasn’t much of a story and I couldn’t help being a little bit disappointed because I thought I was going to have my socks blown off. However, what story there was was absolutely spectacular. While I was at uni, I studied both English Lit and Film studies, so film will always have a special place in my heart… especially the earlier ones. Looking at the pictures of the films from the dawn of cinema brought back some really great memories of studying them. It felt like I was back in my university’s library, watching French black and white films on the video players, wearing a pair of rather fetching headphones that took about six minutes to detangle from my hair. Actually, the main reason why I picked this book up at all was because I saw the trailer for the film (directed by Martin Scorsese) and I was completely enchanted. And, if that wasn’t all, I did my dissertation on Scorsese. Coincidence? Probably. I think not. So that was lovely. And so was this book, please don’t get me wrong. I think I had just set my expectations a little too high. The best way I can describe it is a love letter to art, film and magic. I just wish that ‘story’ had received just a bit more than a ps at the end.
Jo’s Official Rating. If the first half of this bookI ramble more about this book and Feeling Sorry for Celiahere but this is the basic gist of it...
Jo’s Official Rating. If the first half of this book was a person, I would send them a letter with (um.. this analogy isn’t going to work but I’ve already committed) an orange matchmaker taped to the bottom of it. Because they are my favourite. If the last few chapters of this book were a person, I would send them a letter with a lime Wine Gum taped to it. Because I’m not that fussed about them....more
I’ve been sitting on this review for a while now and it’s because I’ve not really been able to sort my thoughts out. What is it with these British autI’ve been sitting on this review for a while now and it’s because I’ve not really been able to sort my thoughts out. What is it with these British authors who make me think about their books? Gawwwd.
I’ve had trouble with paranormal books before and I often avoid them like I would avoid a zombie. Or you know, minus the hysterical screaming and basically causing a nuisance to everyone who is involved. They’re just not my thing. But something about this book really interested me. Witches, in London? IN GANGS? Seriously, doesn’t that sound brilliant? I always like to get the negative stuff out of the way when I review books, so I’m going to try and sort out how I felt about this one. I have to warn you though, it’s going to be a bit difficult because the main problem I had with this book is actually my favourite thing about. I understand that makes no sense.
OK the thing that I simultaneously loved and disliked about this book: the world building.
Let me attempt to explain. This book is Shameless with witches…. Well, except it’s set in London. One of my main issues with paranormal books or, actually, any books where odd things happen, is how authors tend to insist that these paranormal beings are secret and no one knows about them. Chances are this would never happen. I know we mere mortals are a bit oblivious but come on… I mean, if there were werewolves running around Manchester, I’d like to think I was on the ball enough to notice, right? In this book, however, witches exist and everyone knows about them and their existence is woven into daily life. For better or worse.
Obviously, selling the idea that witches exist in London where they have public burnings in Trafalgar Square and witches are employed by the NHS (I know, brilliant, right?) is difficult. I couldn’t do it but Ms Powell really can. I know it sounds weird but I honestly think if there were witches in London, it would be exactly like this. Unfortunately, and this is probably just me, I sometimes found that this book kind of got a bit bogged down with nitty-gritty details of things. The story is fast-paced, there are a lot of characters (maybe a little too many) and there are a lot of little side-stories which is fine, but when you add in all the details of witch politics, the intricate details of the spells, the entire character’s family tree… whoosh. It was an incredibly dense book and no stone was left unturned.
I know a lot of people will love and appreciate this, but for me it kind of slowed it down and I found some bits really difficult to get through.
And this is where I’m struggling because if Ms Powell hadn’t included and thought about all of these details, then I would have hated it and chalked it up as yet another paranormal book where plot doesn’t matter because there’s kissing and angst. I really appreciated how much thought Ms Powell put into the world building because, seriously, not a detail was spared. I just wondered whether some details could and should have been spared.
I know, it makes no sense. Poor Ms Powell really is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t and I know I’m being unfair.
But what I’m thinking is that now all that pesky world building is out of the way and the stage has well and truly been set, Ms Powell is going to be able to focus on her brilliant story and her fantastic characters and really get into her stride for the next book. And I for one, can’t wait!
So, now all that’s out of the way and you’re just as confused as I am… let’s talk about the things I did love. As I mentioned, this world was fantastic. It was different and it was so fresh. We’ve all read books and seen films where the heroine is a witch and she’s in a flouncy nightie and she’s doing dainty spells to get a boy to love her or to protect her house from a boy who she’s inexplicably attracted to, haven’t we? In this book, the witch is a chav. She is next in line to run a coven (which, in this world, is more like a gang… with magic) and she could probably bottle you if she fancied it. She’s the kind of girl who would carry her PE kit in a Jane Norman bag and she wears big hoops and way too much make-up. She probably even has a Hooch coat lurking in the back of her wardrobe. She doesn’t cast spells to get herself a boyfriend; she casts them so she can take part in a heist. That’s right, A HEIST TO STEAL JEWELS
I loved both Glory and Lucas (the Witchfinder General’s son, by the way, who is just as brilliant in his own way) genuinely hated each other and not in that ‘Oh I hate you but my body is drawn to you’ kind of way. But in a ‘You’re a vile chavvy-hag’ and a ‘You’re a rich, poshboy twat’ kind of way. So, you know… the best kind of way. But what I really enjoyed was how there wasn’t even a hint that the two of them were going to start kissing all over the shop. They both have their issues, they both have their secrets and they both have their flaws. But they still respect each other and each other’s individual talents and it was great to see this progress at a normal and natural pace.
Whether they’ll get together and start respecting each other’s talents… I guess I’ll have to wait and see for the next book. I always have this thing when authors write a series and the lovers get together in the first book and then everything sparky and exciting is just forgotten in the subsequent books and is replaced by googly eyes and sharing ice-cream sundaes and life-altering destinies. Yawwwwn. What’s the rush authors?
But I think that Ms Powell has something up her sleeve with these two and she’s taking her time. No rush for the second book or anything, Laura Powell. *taps foot*
What? Oh don’t look at me like that. Of course I know that just because a book contains a boy and a girl who don’t like each other but have to work together and SPARKS and SARCASTIC COMMENTS fly doesn’t mean they have to become an item. But it will be a cold day in hell when I don’t root for the boy and the girl from different backgrounds to share a bag of crisps and a cheeky snog at a bus stop. I know that’s not as romantic as kissing in a dreamy and lovely and sweet way after they’ve just saved the world. But this book isn’t dreamy and lovely and sweet.
Fine, OK, seeing as it’s a YA book we’re talking about here, it can be raining or something and the boy can give the girl his posh boy blazer and a cagoule. Better?
I have absolutely no idea what I was talking about.
OH YES. These characters. Yeah, I really liked them.
And I did really like this book, the world building is rich (although too much richness sometimes, um… too much) and the plot is really clever and, most importantly considering the genre, it’s different. And if you are a fan of paranormal/urban fantasy books (and don’t mind a lot of world building), I wholly recommend that you keep your eye out for this one.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Bloomsbury.
I have wanted to get my mitts on a good natural disaster book since I finished Mr Mullins’ Ashfall so when I saw Monument 14 on Netgalley I practicallI have wanted to get my mitts on a good natural disaster book since I finished Mr Mullins’ Ashfall so when I saw Monument 14 on Netgalley I practically fell over myself to request it. Kids? Living in Walmart? Bad things happening to them? MEGATSUNAMIS?! Yes. Yes. Yes. And oh my goodness, YES. But, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially disappointed and sad.
I thought this book was going to be how I imagine what would happen if The Breakfast Club found that they had survived an apocalypse [something I imagine more than I am willing to admit. Fan fiction is in right now, yes?] and I was so excited. Because, come on, how awesome would Molly Ringwald be in a disaster situation? Let’s just think about that for a moment.
But no. There was no Molly Ringwald. There was no peril. There were no megastunamis. There was no crazy old man who had been predicting that all of this was going to happen but who everyone ignored because he’s crazy. There was no president who was deciding who should go into the underground bunkers. There wasn’t even a Jake Gyllenhaal cameo, for goodness’ sake!
There was mention of all this scary and brilliant stuff happening in the outside world like some kind of mean “Look what you could have been reading” kind of thing… but… no. We got some kids running around doing not much and moaning about it. And then an ending where everything in the entire world happens in the space of about three pages. But I don’t want to talk about the ending because I have so many “Whaaaat? Whyyyy?! What is your reasoning for doing that apart from the fact there is going to be a sequel?!” thoughts, it’s making me sad. Also, there were still no megatsunamis. WHYYYY?
I guess this book wasn’t a complete bust, which is why I’m probably so disappointed. Because if it had been all completely awful I would have just gotten over it and struck Ms Laybourne off my list of writers that I like to read but there were great moments in this that if they had just been expanded this book would have been excellent. I probably won’t continue with this series but I’ll still be keeping an eye on what else she writes. Also, those little kids are the cutest kids in the entire world. So sweet.
I can’t help but wish I had stuck with Mrs Woolly. I bet she had adventures…and megatsunamis.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley.
I was a bit wary of reading Erebos at first because I thought it sounded a lot like Ready Player One and while I really enjoyed that book, t3.5 stars.
I was a bit wary of reading Erebos at first because I thought it sounded a lot like Ready Player One and while I really enjoyed that book, there’s only so many things you can do with a book about video games, right? Woah, did you hear that? It was the sound of a million video game players hissing at me all across the globe.
I’m not even going to pretend that I know the gamer gabble (yeah, that’s not a real thing… I made that up) because I really don’t. I like watching when people play them but I think that is because I love film (I have been known to exclaim “WOW, that film looks really good! Can we go and see it?” And I get a stony glare in reply followed by: “That’s the new Call of Duty, Jo”), puzzles and watching people get so stressed over things on a television screen. But yeah, I can’t play games for toffee so I’m not going to go on about the gaming aspects of things because I think if I did I’d end up sounding like when my grandparents try to understand the internet.
I decided pretty early on that Erebos and Ready Player One have two things in common. 1) They feature a game. 2) I really enjoyed them both.
But the similarities end there. I thought the story and the world that Ms Poznanski created both within the game and out of the game was absolutely fascinating. When Nick, our pony-tailed hero, was playing Erebos it was like you were actually sat behind him looking over his shoulder and experiencing the world as he was. You could almost hear the gravel crunching under his character’s feet, the rustle of the trees and the scrit-scrat as poisonous scorpions came scuttling towards you. Yes. THAT HAPPENS. And you actually felt that there was peril involved. OK… maybe that was just me, but when Sarius’ life bar was dwindling…peril. Setting some of the story in the world of Erebos really added a whole new aspect to the book, something completely different to anything I’d read before. It felt like I was reading a fantasy novel, one of those proper ones with quests and swords and elves.
And the scenes in the real world were just as exciting. While at first I did have my “Um, would that really happen?” and my “Err, why is there only one adult who is mildly concerned?” moments, I soon ignored them and just threw myself into the story.
And then when the two parts merged? *shudders* Tense.
I liked Nick, he was a good guy. He didn’t blow me away with his personality, however, but that really didn’t matter to me. This book wasn’t about individual characters and personalities (although I did adore Jamie) but more about how they all fit together for the whole picture. All together these characters made a great cast. I loved how they interacted together with little hints as to what was coming next, both in the real world and in Erebos.
I do have a few minor quibbles with Erebos, however. You know when someone is like “Oh god, don’t look over there. No… just don’t it’s absolutely horrible.” And then of course the first thing you do is turn around and look? That’s kind of what happened in this book because I had been forewarned that the translation was a bit off. Now, I’m not blaming anyone because I’d probably have noticed it any way but I was definitely on the look-out for it. The translation was pretty dicey. This book was set in London and, without ruining everything, that’s an important aspect of this story. So when everyone was running around texting on their cells and having dramatic exchanges during their recesses and getting yelled at by their moms, it was incredibly jarring. Also, the ending was a bit… unbelievable, which is rich of me to say as I have just said how much I enjoyed a book about an omnipresent computer game that controls people. It wasn’t disappointing as such but it was definitely a bit convenient and there was definitely a sense, at some point in the near future, the characters were going to be like: “Oh my god, you guys remember when that computer game completely changed our lives?! Wasn’t that awesome?! Hahaha, didn't one of us nearly die?! LOLOL." I guess I just needed more repercussions.
But enough of my whinging about little things, because I really, really enjoyed this book and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what else Ms Poznanski will come up with next.
Unnerving, exciting, mysterious and unique. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy; I wholly recommend trying to get your mitts on one of those blank disks that are circulating and being swapped in darkened alleys.
Or… um, this book. It’s less perilous and people-getting-hurt-y.
OR IS IT?!
Just watch out for the messenger with the yellow eyes. He’s definitely up to no good.
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley.
Ever wondered what it would be like if Wes Anderson got drunk on vodka and watched the entire box set of The Inbetweeners in one night?
Reader meet SubEver wondered what it would be like if Wes Anderson got drunk on vodka and watched the entire box set of The Inbetweeners in one night?
Reader meet Submarine. Submarine meet reader.
Aah, and herein lies the conundrum. For I really dislike The Inbetweeners (I know, I know… I have received many a horrified glare when I have divulged this information. I just don’t find it funny because I’m a horrible, stuffy prude) but I adore Wes Anderson. This could have gone either way and I think I knew this risk before I started this book. I am nothing if not a risk taker.
So, let’s see shall we? Did I enjoy this book? Very much so. Did I laugh at this book? I barked like a seal a few times, so yes, again… very much so. Is it a bit vile and vulgar and is there lots of graphic sex and fumblings? Ho yes.
Considering I only read this book so I had something to talk to Richard Ayoade about (I’m kidding. Our imaginary conversations would be about lots of excellent things from films to music, to whether it would make him uncomfortable if I touched his hair), I really, really enjoyed it. I like to call books like these “It got dark” books; meaning you pick it up in the afternoon and you read…and read….and read and then the next time you look up well, um, it got dark. This is exactly what happened with Submarine. My inhaling reading of Mr Dunthorne’s debut was only hindered occasionally by me stopping to jot down some of my favourite quotes and then pick up my phone so I could text them to my sister.
I battled (well ok, maybe battled is getting a bit giddy) with the decision to whether I should class this as young adult. I know that just because a book has a fifteen year old protagonist doesn’t automatically make it a young adult book. Like I said before, this book has lots and lots of awkward sexual shenanigans in and frank discussions about things that might not be to everyone’s liking. So if you’re put off by that, maybe give this book a miss or at least approach with caution. But, even though people might argue with me saying it’s not a young adult book, I believe if an author writes a book where there is a fifteen year old narrator and it’s a realistic portrayal (which I personally feel Mr Dunthorne managed brilliantly), then why shouldn’t a fifteen year old pick the book up?
Plus, classing this book as YA would make it infinitely cooler because YA fiction is all the rage right now and all the indie kids read it and pretend they liked it before it got famous. (FYI, we hard core YAddicts read Hunger Games before it was cool) It’s kind of like I’m doing Mr D a favour reviewing this on a YA blog. I’m sure he appreciates it.
Anyway, I loved Oliver. I’d probably hate him if I met him in real life, though. If we had gone to high school with each other I would have watched him cautiously from behind my ill-advised fringe and think that he was odd and trouble. He’d be the kind of guy I’d cross the road to avoid passing… but I’d be intrigued by him. I understand that that probably says more about me than Oliver, but that’s kind of how I felt about him in this book. I wouldn’t say I necessarily liked him as a character, but he was a brilliant narrator. I loved seeing the world through his warped-tinted spectacles.
Some of my favourite Oliver quotes, which I have realised won’t be funny out of context:
[On pocket-sized Encyclopaedias] “It would only fit in a pocket that was specially designed.”
“I slam my fist on to the table to no effect. It’s made of stone.”
“I would never say snog. I would say osculate.”
[On condoms] “The smell nothing like a positive first sexual experience.”
I find that a book like this is incredibly difficult to describe why it’s funny to people because if you don’t find it funny, then no matter how many times I say “specially designed pockets” and cackle, you will still look at me blankly and wonder why we are friends. But I laughed.
I don’t really want to go into the story because, if I’m honest, there’s not that much of a story. It’s about a boy growing up in South Wales where things aren’t always peachy and the boy observes them with dry humour.
The only gripe I had with this book is that I wish certain parts had been explored more in depth. There were some things that seemed to either get overwhelmed by Oliver’s personality/narration, mentioned a few times and then forgotten about or, at the end, solved and wrapped up in a neat bow.
Heh… heh…. Actually, that um… joke would have been funnier if this song had been written for this story. But, it’s not true because I think Mr Turner wrote these songs before the film soundtrack, so I’m not just unfunny; I’m also a liar. I couldn’t find the perfect song for this book but I love this song and… wait, why am I even justifying myself? It’s Alex Bloody Turner.
Also um… with regards to Welsh Week. I’m… um, sure that the Arctic Monkeys are from Sheffield which is in England which is part of the UK along wiiiiiiiith….. Wales! Also, I’m sure they played in Wales at some point and really enjoyed it.
I really enjoyed this book but I know that it won’t be for everyone. It’s clever, it’s witty, it’s occasionally vulgar and it’s definitely a hipster’s paradise (which is nothing like a gangsta’s paradise… something I found out recently. But that’s another story for another time.)
I’ll let you make up your own mind whether that’s a good thing or not.
“There is no end of treasure hidden in the mountains of Wales, but if you are not the person for whom it is intended, you will probably n3.5 stars.
“There is no end of treasure hidden in the mountains of Wales, but if you are not the person for whom it is intended, you will probably not find it. Even if you do find it, you will probably not be able to secure it, unless it is destined for you.”
There are eighty-three stories in this collection. I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of short stories (but that may be because I’ve not read a lot) so I’m not really an expert on how many stories should be in a collection. But that’s a lot of folklore. I was on a bit of a strict deadline with my reading so, even though I didn’t rush through this book, I wonder if I would have enjoyed this book more if I had taken my time and dipped into it leisurely instead of sprinting and cannonballing right, slapbang into the middle.
Um… that metaphor worked better in my head.
Anyway, please don’t get too daunted by the vast amount of stories, because the majority of them are only a page long.
I loved how Mr Jenkyn Thomas told these stories. I could just imagine sitting in a warm country pub deep in the Welsh valleys listening to him tell these stories. As with all good myths and legends, these stories are meant to be read out loud. From poor Grassi, the forgetful dame is left the lid of the well open and caused the lake of Glasfryn to form (you may recognise her as the weeping ghost “dressed in white silk and a white velvet bonnet”), to the well that sprung in the place where St Winnifred’s decapitated head landed before she was restored to her life by her uncle, St Beuno; these stories were so fascinating and intriguing.
Is there really a lake (again made by someone leaving their lake uncovered. I have to wonder whether the British Isles would have any llyns, lakes or lochs if we weren’t all so forgetful? ) on Mynydd Mawr that kills sheep?! And how about the sighting of so-called Corpse Candles (will-o’-the-wisps)…would they really predict a funeral in the area? And is there a well in Llanbedrog that can tell you who has wronged you with the aid of just a list of names and a loaf of bread? And is that really the reason why a red dragon is the emblem of Wales and inspiration behind many a stuffed toy (I may or may not own a few of them… *cough*)?
This is what I want to know.
However, my favourite favourite story is the tale of poor Gelert. I won’t go into the particulars, though I’m sure you a few of you might know the unfortunate story. I like to think that somewhere out there him and a little Scottish dog named Bobby are sucking up to the Lord of the Dogs to battle for the title of “The UK’s Most Beloved Dog”.
All in all, I really enjoyed this collection. There were a few that I wasn’t entirely sure of and a few that were incredibly similar; but if you enjoy fairy tales or are interested in finding Arthur’s treasure Celtic mythology I would really recommend this book. Most of these stories don’t have a moral or a definite point so I thought I’d think of one myself. If you ever find yourself walking through the mountains of Wales and you see fairies dancing to music played on a harp: leg it.
[This review is part of Wythnos Cymraeg || Welsh Week on my blog. Find out more here.]...more
4.5 stars. But so close to 5 you could almost taste it. :-D
The number of British YA books I read last year was shocking and this made me sad because w4.5 stars. But so close to 5 you could almost taste it. :-D
The number of British YA books I read last year was shocking and this made me sad because when I grow up [I’ll get there…eventually] I want to be an author. And I’m, well, I’m British. So why wasn’t I making more of an effort to read and review books by British authors? I should be proudly waving the Union Jack and thrusting British books at unsuspecting people while I making them cups of tea and whinging about the weather. While in a queue… in a Kate mask… munching on Yorkshire Pudding. ….
So I made it one of my New YA Resolutions. Sometime last year there was a sale on e-books on Amazon and my favourite thing about their sales are that the majority of the books that feature are British authors and I find so many books that I would never even think about reading! Like Sita Brahmachari’s Artichoke Hearts. I read the synopsis and thought “Aw, that really sounds cute. A bit different and HEY Ms Brahmachari is British. Hurrah! Hurrah!” So I bought it. I don’t mind admitting that I didn’t really expect much from it. It wasn’t that it looked bad but it just didn’t look like the kind of book that would grip me. Ha ha haaa. Oh how wrong I was because I looooooved it so much. Mira, our twelve year old narrator, had such a fresh and realistic outlook on life and I couldn’t help but fall in love with her. Add in a handful of fantastic characters and a wonderfully British setting, Artichoke Hearts was one of my favourite reads of 2011.
Jasmine Skies was even better. The story picks up two years after the events of Artichoke Hearts and sees Mira travelling to Kolkata to visit her cousin Priya after the death of her Grandad Bimal. I’m going to try and stay away from talking about the plot of this story because I don’t want to spoil either of these books and it would be impossible to talk go into it without doing so. Apologies if this reviews ends up being a bit vague as I know you're used to the most in-depth and intellectual reviews on my bit of t'internet.
I just love how Ms Brahmachari writes. I’m trying to think of a way to articulate the way I feel about it but I’m failing miserably. If I could describe it using only one word, I would use ‘vibrant’. Seriously, I underlined so many passages on my Kindle it became silly. The setting of this book is immaculately imagined. I’ve never been to India but I could really relate to the experience of being overwhelmed that Mira feels when she first steps off the plane. The descriptions of the market places are absolutely magnificent. You’ve got the colours of the materials, the feel of the sweltering heat and… yes, fine, you can almost smell the… *scowls*…jasmine. It’s obvious that Ms B has a story to tell and a message to convey but it never felt clunky or heavy-handed. Mira’s journey, both physical and emotional, is told with brilliant subtlety and restraint and it was so glorious to read. Anyone who says that YA books can’t be deep are going to get a hardcover of this book slammed across the back of their head by moi.
Luckily, Mira hasn’t changed one jot since Artichoke Hearts. She’s still compassionate, funny and as inquisitive as ever. One of my favourite things about AH was how Mira struggled with her identity as a mixed-race girl growing up in Britain, so I was ecstatic when I got about two chapters into Jasmine Skies and realised that there was going to be more of that.
“Not being able to speak Bengali makes me feel like I’m trying to cross a bridge but can only get so far, because to reach the other side it’s not just the words you need to understand, but also the tones and colours; the way of thinking and seeing the world that are all locked inside the languages.”
This is why contemporary is my favourite genre and why I get so giddy when I discover one that I haven’t read yet. I’m not a mixed race girl living in Britain but I found Mira so easy to relate to because her problems were real. There wasn’t a werewolf trying to get into her pants or anything, but Ms B’s writing shows that if you can work your way around a teenage girl’s emotions and thoughts then you don’t need all that stuff to write a compelling and beautiful book.
I just adore Mira; she’s such a fantastic character with such a pure heart. I just want to be her best friend or, like, her cool* older sister or something. I’d probably even let her personalise all of my shoes. Possibly, I'm not entirely sure I'm convinced by bedazzled footwear.
Mira's search for her identity and where she fit in actually really reminded me of Josie from Looking for Alibrandi. I know, I know. I just invoked the power of Double M, but I’m sticking with it. There is just something so wonderful to me about books where characters delve into their heritage and their culture, asking questions and digging up secrets that people thought were buried for good. Maybe it’s because I love sitting with my grandparents and listening to their stories… I don’t know why, but I just love it.
“I think these stories about where you come from and the history of your own family help you to see where you stand in the world.”
“I nod at him and look down, down, down to the crater below, swirling with dust. ‘What is that?’ I ask him. ‘History…takes time to settle.”
Right. OK. I have to get something off my chest. OK. Now then. *sigh* Now I don’t want to go into it too much into this next bit because of spoilery badtimes but, gosh, way to throw a spanner into the works, Ms B! That bit… with the jasmine… and homespun …and the pony tail. Yeah, you know which bit I mean. My poor, poor heart. I understand but it doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. *scowls*
WHYYYY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!?!? I know where my loyalty lies, Mira. That's all I'm saying. Guh. This will make no sense to anyone who hasn’t read this book and even less sense to people who haven’t read Artichoke Hearts, but some things just need to be said. I have a lot of emotions regarding that bit that I will keep bottled up until you’ve all read both of these books (which you will be doing, right?!) and then I will unleash the feelings.
And that ending?!?! Are you kidding me? Looking at the glorious cover and reading the wonderful synopsis you wouldn’t expect it to have a cliff-hanger, would you? Well you would be wrong. WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK OUT?! I am emotionally invested in these characters now and I will fight tooth and nail to get the next book. Tooth and nail, guys, TOOTH AND NAIL.
I know in our YA circles, it’s pretty much a given that the Aussies are at the forefront of the contemporary race, but I believe that with both Artichoke Hearts and now Jasmine Skies, Ms Brahmachari has shown that us Brits shouldn’t be disregarded just yet.
Additional Fun Things. So in Jasmine Skies, Mira’s cousin Priya is the coolest kid in Kolkata and she’s an underground DJ who wears skinny jeans and is the best dancer in the whole of India. Cool, yes? Anyway, in this interview Sita Brahmachari talks to Nihal Arthanayake [Listeners of Radio 1 or BBC Asian Network may know who he is!] as part of her research into what kind of music Priya would be listening to. It’s really fascinating.
“I think I’m gonna go and read my book.” “Oh? Which book is it?” “Just this hilarious book about cancer.”
And you should’ve seen the glareAn exchange.
“I think I’m gonna go and read my book.” “Oh? Which book is it?” “Just this hilarious book about cancer.”
And you should’ve seen the glare I received. Icyyyy.
You see that is the problem I fear I’m going to have with this book. I want to run around wildly and throw this book at people and yell “READ IT!” and they’ll be like “Woah, Jo, what’s it about?! Tell me everything!” “IT’S AMAZING!!!!” “Is it, is it really?” “YES YES! WHY AREN’T YOU READING IT NOW?!” “WHY ARE WE TALKING IN CAPITAL LETTERS AND EXCESSIVE PUNCTUATION!?!??!!?!?” “BECAUSE IT’S BRILLIANT.” “But what’s it actually about?” “Um… well, there’s this guy and he’s friends with this girl and… um, well… she kind of has cancer. Well, no, I guess there’s no kinda about it, she does have cancer.” “Oh god, it’s one of those books, isn’t it?”
NO! It is not one of those books. Yes it’s about someone who has cancer but it’s not a cancer book. Are you still with me? I’ll take that as a yes. I often think that some writers think that if a book is about (or, in this case, features) a difficult subject then their readers must be crying all the way through the book to show that they have succeeded in handling it in an honest and realistic way. Thankfully, Mr Andrews shows that this is not the case.
Although, while I’ve been writing this I’ve realised that, in my trying to convince you this that this book isn’t about cancer, all I’ve done is talk about cancer. So, one last time with feeling or… um...y’know… bold writing.
THIS BOOK ISN’T ABOUT CANCER.
So seeing as I’ve just been chatting on about this book is not about, I should probably talk about what it actually is about, shouldn’t I? This book, in a nutshell, is about a boy stumbling wildly through adolescence with the help of a brilliant and hilarious friend named Earl. Except I don’t really mean help… because Earl doesn’t really help him as such. He just swears a lot and is gross and crude and is just generally brilliant at random intervals throughout this book. Throw in some fantastic Son of Rambow-eqsque scenes and you have one of the funniest and memorable double acts in young adult literature.
I really loved Greg, both as a character and a narrator. He was fresh, original and definitely the kind of person I would want to punch in the arm on numerous occasions. Yeah, he wasn’t always likeable but what seventeen year old boy is? I could chat on for a bit about all my favourite Greg moments but when I went back and looked at my notes I realised I’d pretty much highlighted everything for the first few chapters and then I gave up and just vowed to re-read it again. This book had pretty much everything: lists, scripts, film reviews. I loved these different styles because they were hilarious, original and really added a lot to the book.
The only quibble I had was that some jokes went on for a smidgeon too long and I realised I had no idea how we’d got to that bit and I was probably just laughing because I thought I should be. Oh, except that I also wish there was more Earl. He should get his own book… and television series. I would watch that religiously and probably buy the box set.
I loved how this book never set out to trick you and lull you into a false sense of security of laughter only to bombard you with sadness and a message at the end. It stated from the get go that this was a hilarious and ridiculous book and if you were looking for a message and/or meaning, it’s your own fault if you’re left disappointed.
“If this were a touching romantic story, in this moment some STRANGE NEW FEELING would wash over Greg, a sense of being understood, in a basic way that he almost never understood. Then, Greg and Rachel would make-out like lovesick badgers. However, this is not a touching romantic story. There is no NEW FEELING that washes over Greg. There is no BADGER MAKE-OUT SESSION.”
“I can’t believe you’re still reading this. You should smack yourself in the face a couple of times right now, just to complete the outstandingly stupid experience that is this book.”
“You can take pretty much any sentence in this book and if you read it enough times, you will probably end up committing homicide.”
See?! No message. Nada. This book doesn’t want you to learn anything! Hurrah.
I think the only similarity this book has with a "cancer book" is that you shouldn’t read it in public because seriously, the amount of bellowing laughter this book caused was ridiculous. And kind of embarrassing. My normal, everyday laugh resembles the bark of a dying seal with a cold and this book took that to a whole new level. I’ll let your imagination deal with that one.
OK, I’m reading through my review and I’ve realised I’ve not really said anything about this book to convince you whether it’s right for you so I’m just going to stop.
This book made me: Laugh. Snort. Snort-laugh. Really look forward to see what Mr Andrews writes next.
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley.
On the back of this book a lovely reviewer from The Times has stated that this book is a “Beautifully written gothic metafiction.” I, silly little rSo…
On the back of this book a lovely reviewer from The Times has stated that this book is a “Beautifully written gothic metafiction.” I, silly little reader, didn’t realise actually how meta this book would be. But I’m getting too far ahead of myself, I’ll talk about the end later. Let’s start at the beginning seeing as I’ve heard it’s a very good place to start. The beginning of this book was ok. Mr Priestley did a great job of setting the scene; murky, VictorianRegency London (Mr Priestley kindly got in touch about this error, thank you! Apologies for my horrible history skillz!). I, for one, don’t think there is a better setting in any book. I just love it. The writing was a little grating, however. The weather was “as cold as a hangman’s heart”. The frost formed “like a white mould”. Billy, the main character, felt like “One big scar”. Nefarious men slinked into the shadows “like lizards into a crack in a wall.”
But once I got into the story, I was able to ignore those little niggles. It’s obvious that Mr Priestley knows what he’s doing with a horror story. The setting was grim, the characters were dastardly and the baddies were truly baddies. Also, Mr Priestley isn’t afraid of writing the bloody and gutty bits of the story. Which I loved. If you’re going to write a horror story, you can’t be squeamish.
I really enjoyed the middle part of the story too. It seemed that Priestley really got into his stride at this point. The interactions between the characters, particularly between Billy and Mister Creecher, were incredibly well-thought out and the conversations seemed realistic. Or, at least, they seemed like the kind of things of 8ft monster and a weedy London scally-wag would talk about. I’ll admit I’ve not really thought about it that much.
And the ending. *sigh* Wow. It was... um. Wow. And this is where I go back to my metafiction comment. My first reaction was: Whaaaaaaaat? Followed quickly by laughter. I’m all for twists, in fact, I love twists. I love when everything you think is right turns out to be wrong and you can imagine the author sat on a red velvet chair in a dusty castle turret, laughing like a pantomime villain* at all the silly readers who thought they were so clever. Within reason. I would happily eat my reviewer’s bonnet if anyone who read this book can honestly say they guessed that ending. But I’m not saying anything else because, if you ever read this book (you should- you might like it more than I did!), I would love to see your reaction at it. Maybe it’s just me being incredibly dense and not seeing the signs and clues, but I was a flabbergasted. Kudos to Mr Priestley for having the guts to write it but I’m just not sure.
Also, while I’m grumbling, I feel a bit let down by the ending. No questions were really answered and there were so many things, important things, that I wanted to be resolved. I’m not saying that everything in a book should be resolved but…. At least a few things should be. I honestly thought there was going to be more chapters but when I turned the page it was full of author’s notes (which are actually really interesting, by the by.) I wonder if there will be a sequel? Um… oh wait, there is a sequel. And you may have heard of it.
All in all, this book wasn't for me. But, seeing as it’s obvious from this book alone that Mr Priestley can definitely write his way out of a horror paper bag (and, probably one of those Bag for Life bags), I will definitely be reading more of his books. I’ve had The Dead Of Winter lurking on my Kindle for a while now and I can’t wait to read it.
*This may or may not be how Mr Priestley writes his books. I kind of hope so, though.
I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury. Thank you! ...more
“I see it in your face, Gwenhwyfar. And believe me, I’m sorely tempted to let you, but by God, we are not animals, no matter how many times they say“I see it in your face, Gwenhwyfar. And believe me, I’m sorely tempted to let you, but by God, we are not animals, no matter how many times they say as much.”
Wow, this book was not what I expecting. For a start, I seemed to have got it into my head that this was set in the Victorian times (don’t ask why, I have no idea!) and secondly, I thought it was a murder mystery (again, I have no idea). I’ve told you before that I have a strange habit of reading synopses for books, ignoring them and just completely making up a new one, and then I’m surprised when the book isn’t what I was expecting. But if I had known that this book was set in the Middle Ages and was about burgesses, markets, servants, the difficult relations between the Welsh and the English, I would have left it where it was and never looked back, because it would not be my thing at all. But I read it and I’m so glad. If you’ve ever read any of my reviews or know anything about me, you may be aware that I have a few connections in North Wales. I spent three years at Bangor University, about 50% of my friends are from Gwynedd and a great chunk of my family are from t'area too. So when I saw that this book was set in Caernarfon, wait… Caernarvon, I was so excited. This book is told via dual narratives. Cecily is the daughter of a Lord who decides to uproot them to Wales to “live among savages”. Needless to say, Cecily is not best pleased. She’s dramatic, she’s impossible, she’s entitled and she’s, well, spirited to say the least. Gwenhwyfar (pronounced Gwen-who-euw-var… ish. My Welsh friend tried to text it to me phonetically and that’s the best I can do) , or Gwinny, works as a maid in Cecily’s house but she lives outside the city walls with her sick mother and her brother, Gruffydd (This one I could handle on my own: Griffith). And, as you’ve probably guessed, they don’t get on. Cecily resents Gwinny for daring to meet Cecily’s eyes and Gwinny hates Cecily for being entitled, a “brat” and another reason, but… spoilery. I loved these two narrators and the girl’s characters, feelings and actions complimented each other perfectly. Both Cecily and Gwinny had such fiery, distinct personalities that it was difficult not to love them, even if they did things that I didn’t always agree with. These girls were wicked and they were….wait for it...wait for it... just. It’s a really apt title. I liked how Ms Coats didn’t make one girl be the “bad one” and the other the “good one”. She didn’t manipulate the reader into taking sides and I think that’s incredibly important in a book like this. Both sides were given a voice and it was left up to the reader to make the decision. As much as it was a historical novel, I feel that this book was also an exploration of the relationship between two people living on different sides of conflict. What happens with the delicate power balance is shifted and the tables are turned? Are wicked deeds justified if they’ve been done to you first?
It was also fantastic to read a book about an era which I knew nothing about. It’s relatable to people who, like me, may not be familiar with the era but I felt that it wouldn’t be dumbed down for people who are. It is obvious that Ms Coats knows the Middle Ages inside and out and absolutely no detail was spared. Which wasn’t always a good thing when it came to the descriptions of the stench hovering around the market crowds as the sweat and grime of the English and Welsh mingleD together... Yum.
This book was filled with excellent characters, tons of actions, heaps of emotion and kept me up until way past my bed time.
I’m really looking forward to see what Ms Coats writes next.
Exciting Extras. Seeing as I love any excuse to attach pictures of Welsh castles to my reviews, here is a picture of Caernarfon Castle on bizarrely warm day a few summers ago. I assure you, the sky in Wales looks like that approximately one day.... a decade.
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley.
You can read this review and lots of other exciting things on my blog here....more
So I have this tendency to make up a phrase or a word and use it so often and determinedly that I actually forget that it’s not a real thing. I am oftSo I have this tendency to make up a phrase or a word and use it so often and determinedly that I actually forget that it’s not a real thing. I am often reminded that I am a ridiculous human being have this tendency when I mention said phrase/word to other people and they look at me for a moment before backing away slowly. Today, ladies and gentlemen, you are about to witness the creation of one of these phrases. Bonnet Eaters. OK, I should probably explain this one. I stay way clear of certain books. The ones with girls in flouncy dresses on the cover. The ones with more than one love interest. The ones with the phrase “inexplicably drawn to each other” in the synopsis. The ones where the heroines discover they are special and they are the only ones who can save the world. I’ve had bad experiences with those books. They make me cranky. But there are a few authors who have written books that have fallen into those above characters, ticked all of those evil, evil boxes and I have completely and thoroughly enjoyed them. “I will eat my reviewing bonnet if I end up liking this one because it’s probably going to be diiiiire.” And they’re not… not at all. Geddit? Bonnet Eaters? Never mind… it’ll catch on, you’ll see. I’ll make sure of it. Laini Taylor did it with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Cynthia Hand kind of did it with Unearthly and Ms Bardugo has done it with Shadow and Bone. I love it when authors make me look stupid. It gives me faith that YA authors are just as bored with the stale clichés as we readers are.
Anyway, let’s talk about the book. I’ve not really been doing a lot of reading recently so I read this one over about four days which is almost double the time it takes me to read a book. Normally that would be a sign that I hated it, but I really wasn’t. I kept finding myself wondering what the characters were getting up to, wondering whether I could just sneak away and read a few chapters. This book is incredibly addictive and I would like the next one please. When? About a week ago. THANKS.
Anyway, let’s talk about the setting. I have to admit I did get a little confused while I read this. I got all these names and places thrown at me and I couldn’t fit them together or make sense of them. This is probably just me because I get confused easily but I did get there eventually. Even though I got a bit lost, you could tell that Ms Bardugo always knew what was going on. She had thought of everything about the world she created but she never hammered you over the head with it. Maybe when I read fantasy/paranormal/books that aren’t set in the street I live on, I need to be hammered.
Over the head with detail… not like drunk, I can’t imagine that would help very much at all. But yeah, I really loved the setting. It was different and unique without being smug and too clever. I’m really excited to see where else Ms B takes us within this series and exploring what lies within the shadows.
Anyway, let’s talk about Alina. Yes. Alina was a great narrator and a wonderful character. Just the right mixture of strength and determination and “Oh my god, what the eff am I supposed to do now?!” I always wonder why heroines who have been told that they are the only chance to save the world just take it in their stride as if it’s the most regular thing in the entire world. How? Talk about pressure. But Alina had the right amount of moments where she just wants to crawl under some furs and wait until it all blows over [which is what most of us do, admit it….] but when she wants to fight and be generally brilliant she does and it’s awesome. I loved her and I want to have a sleepover with her and Genya. Fantastic.
Anyway, let’s talk about Mal. Oh yes, Mal. I think I love you. I love that you’re a bit of a lad. You’re a bit of a one who tumbles with girls and drinks and is cheeky and is flirty but is also a rugged mountain man and is protective without being a douche. I know this book is not exactly the most realistic book in the world (unfortunately) but the characters felt real. The characters talked, bantered and acted like teenagers. Or well, you know… teenagers who live in a horrifying world with magic and evil people who could kill you with the wave of their hand. Literally.
Anyway, let’s talk about me and Mal. One of my greatest fears in life is that one day I will discover I have magical powers and I’ll be expected to save the world and no one will love me. This is why Mal is the perfect boy for me. Then again, I also hate clowns and boats when they’re out of the water but I bet Mal could deal with them too. He’d definitely get my last Rolo.
And finally, let’s talk about those clothes. YES. I would like a kefta [and yes I did keep thinking about Moroccan food throughout this whole book, but that’s not really a new thing.] in any colour….. except black.
I’m guessing this story is going to be a trilogy and I have to admit I do have some concerns [looking at you man with the storm coloured eyes and your inexplicable-ness and you Miss Alina with your betraying heart] but I have two more bonnets lined up and I can’t wait to be proven wrong and look even more foolish than I already do.
Also, kind of randomly, this book is going to be called The Gathering Dark in the UK and I think I love that more than Shadow and Bone. It makes more sense to the story… but I prefer the cover of S&B. DILEMMA.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley.
I wish I had some kind of superpower that allowed me to touch a book and get a feel of how much it was going to destroy me. [Also, wouldn’t that makeI wish I had some kind of superpower that allowed me to touch a book and get a feel of how much it was going to destroy me. [Also, wouldn’t that make an incredibly geeky fantastic TV programme that only I would watch?] Because I thought that this book was going to be a sweet book about first kisses and sisters and lovely things. And it was. But it was also the kind of book that punches you in the gut. Multiple times. And then just as you’ve got your breath back? BOOM. That’s it slapping you in the face.
I’m kind of tempted to leave this review there because that’s basically how I’m still feeling about this book and I finished it a good few days ago. But I like the sound of my fingers tippy-tapping against my keyboard.
This book is so clever. I didn’t really understand the connection between the two alternating chapters (one is written in prose and the next is a graphic novel) , and I can understand why people wouldn’t really like the style, but it didn’t bother me at all especially when the pictures looked like this.
And the thing about this book is that I can’t even say that there was a huge twist. Because it was right there in front of me from the beginning. But that’s all I’m saying. This book was genius and I’m still feeling a little wobbly with surprise at the turn of events.
I picked up this book because I was feeling sorry for myself and wanted a gentle book that was the equivalent of a literary cuddle. Instead I got a punch in the face and a broken heart and it was excellent.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley.
This book is going to be difficult to review because I am in two minds. On one hand, I like that it wasn’t POW POW POW SO EXCITING OMG OMG LOOKING EVERThis book is going to be difficult to review because I am in two minds. On one hand, I like that it wasn’t POW POW POW SO EXCITING OMG OMG LOOKING EVERYTHING THAT IS HAPPENING AND OH MY GOD IS THAT A POLAR BEAR?!
Ms Bodeen showed the monotony of being stranded on a raft. Thankfully, I have never been in a plane crash and the closest I’ve ever been to being stranded on a raft is when my brother once stole the paddles of the dinghy and pushed me into the middle of a swimming pool. But I imagine that it is incredibly repetitive and boring. So, yes, this book was realistic.
But then on the other hand: This book was repetitive and boring. I know it’s a Catch 22 because if it had been POW POW POW etc etc, I would have probably moaned that it was unrealistic.
Hey, I never said I was being fair.
The writing seemed almost clinical and removed but I wanted more panic and peril. Robie described the plane crashing in the same tone as she did when she described watching a Battlestar Galactica marathon on TV. I mean, I’ve never seen Battlestar Galactica and I know a lot of people love it and it’s exciting, but surely a plane crash would get your blood pumping just a little bit more?
I didn’t like Robie. She was so frustrating. And I’m not saying I’d be the best person in a situation like that because I wouldn’t be. I’d be awful company, but I would like to think I wouldn’t be so stupid. You’re in the middle of an ocean and there is a chance you might never be rescued and there are sharks circling and you’re whinging because your nose ring is hurting? Um…
All she seemed to do was moan, eat Skittles and then have a nap. Seriously. If you exchanged Skittles for Minstrels, that’s a day in the life for me and there is a reason why no one has written a book about my life.
Also, about 15% through I made a little note on a passage that said “HA…oh god, I bet [blank] LOLOLOL” (my review notes are most scientific), thinking that there was no way that was going to happen. Heh heh… guess what happened?
Oyy. I thought I was going to adore this book, it sounded so different but unfortunately, for me anyway, it fell short.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley....more
I can't help but feel that something incredibly intelligent and profound has just gone soaring way, way over my head.
I have absolutely no clue as to wI can't help but feel that something incredibly intelligent and profound has just gone soaring way, way over my head.
I have absolutely no clue as to what happened in those last two chapters. The writing was beautiful, though, and the idea was brilliant and I'm sure other people would appreciate it more. I think I completely missed the point.
THE MONTH: AUGUST, 490 BC. TEMPERATURE: 108 DEGREES, FAHRENHEIT DISTANCE FROM ATHENS TO SPARTA: 153 MILES.
When I was younger, there would co3.5 stars.
THE MONTH: AUGUST, 490 BC. TEMPERATURE: 108 DEGREES, FAHRENHEIT DISTANCE FROM ATHENS TO SPARTA: 153 MILES.
When I was younger, there would come a point, every summer, where I wouldn’t see my dad for about 21 days. Jo- “Dad, can we go out to the park? It’s actually sunny today!” Papa W- “Open a window or something then.” Jo- “Dad, I just got my shoelaces caught in my bike and I just fell over my handlebars and landed in a patch of nettles and I’M BLEEDING TO DEATH.”* Papa W- “Go and ask your mum for a plaster.” And the reason? The reason for my childhood neglect?! ** The Tour de France.
You may be wondering why, in a book review about the origins of the Marathon, why I am telling you about a traumatic childhood memory. Two reasons, really: 1) This is the reason why I’m not a rabid sports fan. 2) The siblings and me used to visit my grandparent’s for a few weeks every summer. This was mostly because we absolutely loved going to visit them and they loved having us, but … sometimes I wonder whether it was just a coincidence that it happened to fall on the weeks when the men are scaling the Pyrenees.
Now, I’m getting to the point. I’ve come to love the cycling and I’m currently glued to watching the lad’s bid for this year’s Grand Slam but my true love will always be the athletics. And this is because of my grandma. Every year, the two of us would sit in her living room and drink tea while we watched the Olympics and the championships and we would discuss the chances of GB bringing home gold and how fit Philips Idowu looks this year. Well, that could have just been me because my grandma will always be a fan of the running events (and *cough* the lycra-clad runners. It seems my grandma would rather have a runner as a grandson-in-law than a triple jumper with “silly coloured hair and facial piercings” *sigh* grandmas, eh?) and, here is where this story becomes relevant, we’d always get up early to defy time zones and watch the marathon. (Got there in the end, didn’t I?) So when I found out that there was a graphic novel about the origins of the race on Netgalley, I had to request it.
One of my resolutions this year was to read more historical fiction and, well, I don’t think I could get much more historical than a book set in 490 BC. My knowledge of Ancient Greek history begins and ends with the one time when one of my friends made me watch 300 and I fell asleep. So, as you can imagine, there were times when I got incredibly confused as to what was happening. But, even though there were a few parts that tripped me up, I appreciate that Yakin didn’t feel like he needed to regurgitate a history book. I sometimes feel that authors are so determined to let the reader know just how much research they have done that the story gets lost, but it really wasn’t the case here. The dialogue wasn’t crammed with historical detail and it always felt natural. Yakin’s words perfectly portrayed the strength, the drama and the tension of the original story of a man who is willing to do the impossible to protect his city. For the majority of this book, my heart was pounding and there was an uncomfortable lump in my throat! And Infurnari’s illustrations… wow. The details in the battle scenes are nothing short of spectacular. I spent about ten minutes just staring at one particular page trying to take in every single section. I have to admit, there were a few characters that looked really similar and I found it a bit difficult to tell who was who and why the baddie has suddenly become a goodie and the goodie has become a baddie. There were far too many angry men with beards in this book. But, on the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s something completely different to anything I’ve ever read and I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this to anyone who is a fan of graphic novels, historical fiction and sports.
*This actually happened. Well, not the whole “bleeding to death” incident but I did fall into some nettles and I scraped the skin off my nose. School pictures were, of course, the following week because my life, ladies and gentlemen, is ridiculous.
** This may have been slightly exaggerated for comedic value.
I received this book from the publishers via Netgalley.
You can read this review and lots of other exciting things on my blog here....more
High Points. Adam. Rock stars. Guitars. Song lyrics. Bowling. Camping. Groupies.[ “I’ve come all the way from England to f-...” You took the words right out of my mouth, nameless hussy!]. Brooklyn Bridge. Lady Liberty. Dinosaur eggs. Awkward conversations. Voids. Photographs. Borrowed iPods.
Low Points. This is going to be a massive spoiler so if you haven’t read the book: I hated the ending. (view spoiler)[ Why oh why did this book have to have a happy ending? I love a happy ending as much as the next person but Adam and Mia didn’t need to have one at all. These two characters have been dragged through the ringer, both as individuals and as a couple, and they’ve been drenched in all these intense, realistic, not-always pretty emotions only to just go back to being together as the perfect couple? As if those whole three years, all the pain and the guilt and the anger, had never happened? I loved Mia’s reasons for leaving. It was heart wrenching and there are no easy answers. She would hate Adam for asking her to stay and she would hate that he made her stay and wake up every day to a world where her family didn't exist. It was so realistic. But with that ending her reasons and both of their struggles just felt cheapened and pointless. This was Adam’s story and he should’ve got his ending: an explanation from Mia, a chance to move on, to find his way, to sort out his problems even if it takes a while and, most importantly, find out who he was without Mia. I just feel that Ms Forman felt like she couldn’t have Mia walk away for good on the bridge because that would make her out to be the bad guy. But I think, if anything, that would have made me love her even more than I did. Sure, it would have been a bit callous but it would have made sense. She cares for Adam and she’d want the best for him and, in the long run, I don’t think she was. To have Adam finally reach a point where he was happy in himself without her, one with his music and ready to start making some choices solely about him and then just to have her be like “JUST JOSHING WITH YOU. I’m back! Let’s go and have sexy musical sex.” I just…. No, I’m sorry. It’s all just too easy. This book was a book that needed to have a bittersweet ending. People who wanted to see Adam and Mia together again could have filled in that blank but I wanted Adam to be at peace with himself and his music. (hide spoiler)]
Hero. Oh Adam. Adam, Adam, Adam. Tortured and twisty and extremely effed up and completely Mackee-avellian, and I think I love you. What can I say? Maybe I have a soft spot for musicians. I just wished you’d got your ending because you really, truly deserved it.
Love Interest. I’m skipping this part because I’ve said it all above. I still love Mia but I think her character was cheated in this book.
Theme Tune. This book seems to have brought all the music fans out of the woodwork with anonymous e-mails and messages in my inbox about potential theme tunes for Adam’s story. Well, ok, they weren’t really anonymous because their names were on the top of the e-mail/messages. They were Catie and Noelle (with special guest Maggie) but I would like to get music recommendations anonymously so I…. um… Anyway. I was moaning a few months back that I was looking for a book that I could use Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs as the theme tune and Catie suggested this one. And, even though I wanted to read them anyway, I’ll admit that it got me interested. And I agree, but I’m making this an unofficial choice because I’m still looking for the Ultimate Maps song. It’s out there, I know it.
And then the glorious Noelle sent me an e-mail telling me that her and the equally lovely Maggie listened to Kill by Jimmy Eat World “fifty bajillion times” while reading this book. And again, I agree. ‘Tis perfect.
But don’t worry, I’ve come up with my own song so you don’t think I’m losing my touch.
Yes, partly because of the scene in Before Sunset (“Baby, you are going to miss that plane”) but the lyrics are incredibly apt too. Just in time Before you came my time was running low, oh baby I was the lost the losing dice were tossed My bridges all crossed nowhere to go Now you hear now, I know just where I’m going.
So now you have three songs for the actual book, but here is the song that I chosen for the book I wish this book had ended up being.
Sadness Scale. I’m struggling with this one because this one could have been completely off the chart in sadness and it would have been the good kind of sadness. The kind that grabs you by the heartstrings and makes it difficult to breathe because it’s so intense but so, so honest in its brutality. But, like I said in the spoilery section above, I feel I was robbed. I wanted to find it difficult to breathe and I wanted it to be realistic, where things are left wide open so when I finally stopped crying at that epic scene (and it really was epic), I could see the wonderful hope and the closure that Adam was going to have. The ending was cute and it was sweet but, for me anyway, it lacked the emotional impact I was expecting. So, I’m passing and having a:
ADAM IS A PUNK ROCKER FITTIE SCALE. 10/10.
Recommended For. People who like happy endings. People who like the messed-up boys. People who would have voted for the “werewolf-vampire” kiss at the MTV Movie Awards. People who look good in bowling shoes. People who would only go camping if they got to share a sleeping bag with a fittie rock star. People who would quite happily miss the plane.
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“The cello didn’t sound half bad with all those guitars.”
Initial Final Page Thoughts. Gosh.
High Points. Mia. The family. Groovy and the Geek. Music.“The cello didn’t sound half bad with all those guitars.”
Initial Final Page Thoughts. Gosh.
High Points. Mia. The family. Groovy and the Geek. Music. Kim. Chocolate chip pancakes. Fancy dress parties. Brilliant characters. Two weeks of pizza-delivery tips. Feisty nurses. Making collages. Magic kisses. Musical sexy times. Dusty collections of punk-rock albums. Yo Mama. “I’ll let you go. If you stay.”
Low Points. Even though I love Mia’s family and I liked that they were different without being cringey, no family is that perfect, right? Also, I don’t think I could take a boy seriously if he was in a band called Shooting Star. I mean, doesn’t Adam know that you can only be cool nowadays if your band name includes the phrase “and the”? Liz and the Shooting Star. There you go. Much better.
Heroine. Oh Mia, what a narrator! I like to think we’d be friends but I think I’d be completely intimidated by you if we went to the same school. I don’t even know who Yo-Yo Ma is. I wouldn’t even know what to do with a cello if I were presented with one. I’d want to schneck your boyfriend. I’d be around at your house every day asking for chocolate chip pancakes. I can’t even comprehend what it would like to be in Mia’s situation and I don’t want to, but Ms Forman really made me relate to her. I felt her desperation, her frustration, her love and her loss. If I can speak honestly, I don’t think that this book would have worked half as well if it wasn’t for the characters. The plot has “emotional manipulation” stamped all over it. This plot in the hands of a whiny, insipid heroine? It sounds like my worst nightmare. But with Mia, Ms Forman completely took hold of the plot and harnessed it. Sure there were some parts that I was a bit unsure of and I wasn’t a huge fan of (The Grand Gesture bit, would that actually happen?!) but I could quite easily ignore those parts. I’m much more forgiving of a few bumps in the plot when the main character is good. And Mia was simply stellar. Also, I’ve just been ogling at her hair on my copy of Where She Went and I have some serious hair envy right now. So if we were to be friends, she’d have to get it lopped off.
“I thought that getting to this part was the challenge. In books and movies, the stories always end when the two people finally have their romantic kiss. The happily-ever-after part is just assumed.”
Yes. So true. I’ve recently been looking for young adult books that feature the main character in a relationship. And when I say “in a relationship”, I don’t mean they’re in a relationship but the boyfriend is a douche/the girl is a bitch and wait, what’s that? A best friend who has loved them for all their life and they’re finally stepping up?! I mean a true relationship. I loved Adam. I loved that he wasn’t centre stage and he didn’t save Mia, well not completely anyway. I loved that they were different and they had their problems and their insecurities as a couple. Obviously, I read this book knowing about the sequel so I’m not sure whether, if I’d read this book when it first came out, I would feel different. But I liked that this story wasn’t a love story, it was more about Mia and her decision and her thoughts as opposed to their thoughts. Saying that, I’m really looking forward to Where She Wentand getting to know Adam a bit better, even if he does have a lopsided grin. Also, he cries at Jimmy Stewart films which means there’s a 100% chance he’s my soulmate. Sorry, Mia.
Sadness Scale. 9/10. I was a bit nervous to read this book because I had heard how people had spent hours sobbing into their pillows because of it and alarm bells sounded. It’s a very quiet book, low on the drama and the angst, and I loved that. Ms Forman could have so easily gone down the road where everything is amplified and shoved down your throat which always seems to happen when love and death get involved in a YA novel. But the emotions and the issues were subtle and they were interspersed with beautiful, bittersweet memories that often had me laughing out loud. (“Fuck Enya!” :D) I didn’t cry or even get choked up, but this book definitely made me think.
Recommended For. People who are looking for a book about life, death and love with brilliant characters, beautiful sentiments and not a single eye-roll in sight. Um… ok, maybe one eye roll . People who often wonder where all the great YA families are. People who would rather go and see a band named Adam and the Shooting Star than Shooting Star. People who get a bit panicky when a boy picks up a guitar near them just in case he feels the need to serenade you. People who want to go to a fancy dress party dressed as Blondie. People who think every day should start the day with chocolate chips pancakes. People who think that sobbing into your pillow for hours is character building.
You can read this review and lots of other exciting things on my blog here....more