Before I start talking about this book, I want to just mention how great it is to get a review request from someone who has actually read my blog. AndBefore I start talking about this book, I want to just mention how great it is to get a review request from someone who has actually read my blog. And not just my how I review section but actually read my reviews, know my style and my voice and still want a review.
Like a lot of people I know, self-published books are always going to bring their own stigma and clichés. I guess they’re just like other genres in that sense (OK, maybe ‘genre’ is the wrong word…). With paranormal romance the heroines going to be wimpy and suddenly discover she’s magical when she turns 16, comedy are books are only going to be funny to people who think boobs are hilarious and fantasy books are just the author’s way of showing that they can fit 6 consonants after each other in a single word.
Self-published books? Well, they’re just from desperate authors that agents have turned down over and over again, they’ll be riddled with spelling mistakes and the story itself will be so full of plot holes it’ll be like driving on pretty much any road in Manchester.
First things first, this book is not the cliché self-published book. And also, not every self-published author is a desperate author who has been turned down by agents. The writing is smooth and fluid. I don’t know whether Mr Kerry is just naturally great at writing stories that flow or he’s had some brilliant help or, I guess, a bit of both. Either way, this book read exactly like the books I read published by the hot shot authors.
I ummed and aahhed for a while to work that above paragraph without coming off as a patronising tit, thing is, there’s no way of writing that a book is well-written without sounding like a patronising tit. But I don’t mind admitting that when I agreed to read this book I was a bit nervous. I was expecting the wrong ‘there/their/they’re’ to be used (something I do in my writing), inconsistencies in characters (yep, I do that too), overly long (Um…) and sentences that just stop for no apparent reason (something I never do).
But, as I said, I was nervous and because I was nervous I was hyper aware of everything. Let me tell you, dear reader, about fifteen pages in I forgot I was supposed to be looking out for spelling and grammatical mistakes. I forgot I was even reading a self-published book!
OK, let’s get to the nitty gritty shall we?
This story itself was OK. And I don’t mean “OK” in the way that some people mean it when they just want to fob someone off and not give a proper opinion. There were things I loved about it and things I wished had been a bit different.
It was a really interesting story and completely different to anything that I’ve read before. I’m not the biggest fantasy girl in the world but I like to be step out of my comfort zone every now and again and this book definitely made me do that.
Mr Kerry came up with a fantastic set of characters, especially Sammy, the heroine. She was a bit of a geek but not one of those geeks that will make you roll your eyes. It was wonderful to see Kerry’s world from her eyes because she acted like I imagine I would act if I was ever transported to a different world. You know, lots of bemused looks and “what the hell is happening right now?”. I always get very suspicious when heroines/heroes just deal with it when the find themselves in a completely new realm because… well, I don’t think I could be your friend if you were able to act as if NOTHING had happened in that scenario.
But yes, Sammy was great. Just personal preference, but I would have liked to see her character be developed a bit more before she went on her adventure. This is just because there were some issues regarding Sammy’s home life that I would like to have explored a bit more to flesh out her personality a little bit more. And I loved that she was from Sheffield.. maybe that’s why I liked Sammy so much, because she’s a Northern bird… like moi. And we’re awesome.
Sticking with characters for a bit, I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about, and I’m trying to be careful about spoilers here, some of the relationships between the characters. I’m often quite vocal about this kind of thing when it crops up in books and it’s probably just me but I found myself narrowing my eyes when these characters were interacting together. But, that being said, thankfully it didn’t seem to become a major issue so it wasn’t too bad.
Like I said and have always said, fantasy isn’t my poison. I get confused easily and my head gets muddled. The story and the ideas behind this book were great and well thought out. However, the pacing was a little inconsistent. One minute there wasn’t much going on, lots of dialogue and descriptions, and the story would slow waaaay down and just as I was feeling a bit sleepy with it…. bam everything in the world happened and I had to quickly shove on my thinking cap to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I feel it would’ve been a bit more coherent if the action/dialogue was dispersed a bit more fairly… it could’ve spiced up the slow bits and watered down the ‘raaaaar’ bits.
However, even though I had my issues with the story, the world and the setting Mr Kerry created were absolutely fantastic. I never doubted the world that he built, which has to be a good thing. I think in fantasy stories, the world/setting is pretty much a character in itself and, the more I think about it, it was my favourite character in this book. The setting was so vibrant and extremely memorable and, honestly, I have no complaints.
Considering how reluctant I am about reading self-published books, I’m pleasantly surprised this book. I’m probably not the best person to review this book seeing as my knowledge and expertise on fantasy is next to nothing but I did enjoy it and it was a nice change from the stuff that I normally read.
So, if you’re looking for a well-written fantasy with a great setting, you should read this one.
First up, I’ve got to say a huge thank you to the brilliant Mandee at Vegan YA Nerds for letting me be a part of her blog tour of this book. SeriouslyFirst up, I’ve got to say a huge thank you to the brilliant Mandee at Vegan YA Nerds for letting me be a part of her blog tour of this book. Seriously, if it wasn’t for wonderful Aussies like her, there’s no way I’d be able to get my grubby mitts on a lot of great books. So yeah, cheers love!
OK, I have to admit, I kind of have mixed feelings about this book. Don’t worry, most of the feelings are good but there was still something that made me feel a bit… I don’t know.
Let’s talk about the good things.
I really liked Sam, both as a character and his voice. Sometimes narrators can get a bit gender-neutrally but Ms Keil managed to make Sam genuinely sound like a boy with minimal mentions of boobs and testicles.
And, actually, as much as I wanted to hate Camilla, I couldn't . I feel like I should because she’s kind of everything I avoid in a YA heroine. She’s quirky, she’s cool, she’s the new girl, she’s got a rockstar boyfriend, her dad’s a music journalist, she’s popular but she’s also a geek and can vomit up film references on demand. She also wears yellow dresses and headbands and also she has tattoos which is weird because surely she’s only about seventeen. How old do you have to be to get tattooed in Australia?
Anyway, that’s beside the point.
I actually didn’t mind Camilla because she fitted into the slightly-kooky-and-just-on-the-right-side-of-annoying world that Ms Keil created. Now I’m not saying that she’s the kind of girl I’m going to sit with in the cafeteria but I’d probably nod at her in the corridor and maybe lend her my pen if she needed it.
My favourite part of this book was the friendship between Sam and the rest of his rag-tag comrades. I’m a sucker for friendships in book, especially when they’re done well and not used as a plot device for the heroine/hero to get the later bus because they’re so mad at their bff and they find a gorgeous, mysterious heroine/hero to watch for a bit then snog while the earth shifts.
I actually loved all the characters in this book, especially Mike and Adrian because they were little cuties. I kind of wished we got more of an insight on Allison but you know, you can’t have everything, can you?
But yeah, it’s obvious that Ms Keil really worked on the connections between her characters and it really came across in the book. And it was a pleasure to read.
OK, the things that didn’t work for me.
Holy Film References in Italics, Batman!
This book kind of reminded me of being sat with someone at a party and they're dropping in all these cultural references to make you think that they're cool and awesome and with it. And I.. urgh, do you know what I mean?
Now I’m a film fan. A huge fan. I like to slip random film quotes into my speech just to see if anyone gets them… and/or listening to me. (“Clever girl” is my favourite and, weirdly, one that no one ever picks up on. This upsets me.) But even I got lost on some of these ones. And whereas it did kind of work in the whole context of Sam being a film fan, it just got too much and often felt unnecessary. I feel all the references will make the book feel really dated in a couple of years, which is a shame.
Also, I’ve never seen Stars Wars so when the whole lovely ending/private jokes between the lovers are based on a Star Wars reference, you’ve completely lost me.
Also, and this is a pet peeve… speeches? Do people actually make speeches like that? The only speech I’ve ever made was in front of two lecturers and no I was not declaring my undying love for them while standing in the middle of the cafeteria with my skirt tucked in my knickers or whatever’s supposed to happen… I was standing in front of two of my lecturers explaining my rationale for my dissertation.
I got a 2:1 for my efforts but somehow I don’t think that will be transferable if I ever have to tell a guy I’m in love with him and have been since the first time I spilled coffee down his new shirt.
Mate, I don’t even like coffee.
What was I even talking about?
Oh that’s right: speeches. I have to admit I skimmed them to gather the gist of it and, unfortunately, that was the whole ending.They were long winded and, for Sam especially, seemed really out of character. It just seemed quite an easy way to end the book without much faff but sometimes faff is good. Sometimes we readers want more than just easy. And I definitely did with this one.
So yeah… this book was kind of a mixed bag, actually. It wasn’t bad at all and I know a lot of people will love it. It’s contemporary and it’s funny and it’s cool; three things which are very ‘in’ at the moment.
But it just really didn’t work for me, I’m afraid.
I feel it would take quite a bit to make me want to scramble around on Parisian rooftops. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not scared of heights in any way, anI feel it would take quite a bit to make me want to scramble around on Parisian rooftops. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not scared of heights in any way, and the views… well, they’d be pretty incredible, wouldn’t they?
But the more you think about, the less romantic it is. I mean, they’re probably really dirty and well, if you fell you’d pretty much be smushed and don’t even get me started on the pigeons. I can only just deal with the pigeons when I’m walking on solid ground but if I’m balancing on a weathervane and a pigeon flies at me?
I will freak the feck out.
I said it would take quite a bit to make me want to scramble around on Parisian rooftops, but actually, all it’s taken is reading Rooftoppers.
I don’t really have that much to say about this book because I just really enjoyed it and it’s pretty much as simple as that. From the first line [ “On the morning of its first birthday, a baby was found floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel” ] I was tangled up in this gorgeous, unique and extremely heart-warming story about a girl with hair the colour of lightning who is searching for her mum after being rescued from a sinking ship by an eccentric man named Charles*.
I have to talk about the writing first because it was, without a doubt, my favourite part of the book. It was so delightfully odd without being weird for the sake of being weird. I could go on for a bit and tell you, using fancy words and gushing praise, how much I loved the writing but I’m pretty knackered and my tea’s gone cold so I’m just going to give you examples.
“Think of night-time with a speaking voice. Or think how moonlight might talk, or think of ink, if ink had vocal chords.”
“It was the green that emeralds and dragons usually come in; which felt to Sophie like a good omen.”
“They did not taste remotely like strawberries, but they did taste like adventure.”
I think it takes a certain kind of writer who can make the ordinary seem extraordinary with a few sentences and capture your imagination and encourage you, if only for a little while, to see the world in a slightly different way than you’d normally do. And Ms Rundell’s definitely that kind of writer.
I think the language and the style of the book perfectly complimented Sophie’s rather strange upbringing and the fantastic and slightly naïve way she interprets what’s happening around her. She was a gorgeous narrator and definitely one of my favourite middle grade heroines. Fearless, inquisitive and completely adorable; she truly was brilliant.
And the setting? Let’s just say I want to go to Paris again…. now please. I adore Paris and it will always have a special place in my heart so it was so refreshing to read a story set there that wasn’t immediately bogged down by all the clichés that seem to latch themselves onto it. It was lovely to read about the city from a different perspective… one slightly higher than the others, shall we say?
When I was reading it and I was whisked away to Ms Rundell’s dreamlike Paris where the streets are still cobbled and the streetlights are being lit by hand, I couldn’t help but think of the film The Illusionist. Except Rooftoppers had a much happier and incredibly delightful ending.
So yeah, OK, I actually did have a lot to say about this book. But I really, really loved it and I really hope other people join Sophie for her adventure because it’s truly magical. I absolutely can’t wait to see where else Ms Rundell’s stories takes me.
When I’m feeling pretty shoddy I have this thing I do where, basically, I get in bed and watch comedy panel shows. Sometimes it’s QI (XL if I’m feelinWhen I’m feeling pretty shoddy I have this thing I do where, basically, I get in bed and watch comedy panel shows. Sometimes it’s QI (XL if I’m feeling proper sad) , sometimes it’s Have I Got News For You…. Occasionally Mock the Week, depending on who’s on it.
A few weeks ago I was watching 8 Out of 10 Cats. I’m not sure which episode it was because I think it’s one of the older ones but, long story short, one of the questions was something along the lines of “73% of women would rather go out with a bad guy than a good one- True or false?”
Jon Richardson said that the reason why women love bad guys so much, apart from the whole “Oh, I can change him” thing, is because they can get away with a lot. They can be twats for days on end and all they have to do is buy flowers or chocolates or YA books one day and you’ll say “Oh, isn’t he wonderful?”
But if a nice guy, bearing in mind he’s nice all the time, is a bit cranky one day or forgets to bring you flowers or chocolates or YA books then you’ll be like “I cannot believe he did this!” as you fashion some garters made from his guts. Now, of course, I know that Real Life women aren’t that ridiculous and, of course, the fact turned out to be false. Women in Britain would rather date a good guy who brings her YA books.
Or… um… something like that.
But, and this might just be me, this doesn’t seem to apply to YA paranormal heroines and their bad boys. Because they certainly love them, don’t they?
One of the things that makes me angry about YA books (sorry, I promise I will talk about The Raven Boys some point soon) is that the bad guy seems to always win. And this is because the “nice” guy has, for some reason, become synonymous with boring. Why is that? Why?! Why does “not a twat” have to mean he’s dull as dishwater? Why are they mutually exclusive?
Enter Maggie S.
Oh how I could kiss your mind.
Finally, finally, finally… a book where the love interest (you have no idea how tempted I was to put ‘s’ on the end of that then… but shhh) is a decent guy who isn’t boring. They’ve got their issues, they’ve got their flaws but what I loved the most was that this was never used an excuse for him to be a horrible guy to the heroine.
Because, guess what? He wasn’t a horrible guy! Bliss.
Anyway, I just wanted to get that off my chest. You have no idea how much I’ve been wanting to read a book where I actually get why the two characters like each other and don’t fall in love inexplicably with zinging things flying between them every time they look at each other. Needless to say, I adored this book. I was a bit nervous when I read the synopsis because… “if you kiss your true love, he will die”… ehhh.
Then I remembered that Practical Magic (Midnight Margaritas!) is my go to film and I was fine. And when I actually got into the story, my doubts were obliterated.
I wasn’t really prepared for how much I was caught up with these boys and how invested I became in their thoughts, feelings and fear. I know this book alludes to them, but I wasn’t expecting the raven boys to really be the main part of this story. I thought it was going to be Blue and her reaction to them that was going to be the driving force of the novel but I have to admit, when Gansey, Ronan, Noah and Adam were on the page I completely forgot she even existed. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t like her or that she was badly written, quite the opposite actually, but the connection and the relationships between these four boys was perfectly executed that Blue existed in my periphery (I’m hoping the second book will delve a bit more into Blue’s family life). I loved how Maggie S really dug her nails into the boys’ bond, prying them apart so nothing was hidden. And I liked how they didn’t fit into the clichés. Sure Gansey was the hero but he’s not always heroic and he certainly isn’t perfect. And yep, I guess you could say that Ronan was the “bad boy” but you’ll probably be waiting for a long time if you think you could change him. And Adam is probably the sensitive one but… you get the gist.
I have absolutely no idea how Maggie S managed to write them in such a vibrant way, a way that was so realistic that I wouldn’t be surprised if I got on the train tomorrow morning and a group of boys, one with his mobile in his hand with high-tops on (I don’t even know what they are, I had to Google them), I wouldn’t be surprised. I think I’ve got a lot to learn from her when it comes to writing not only boys but friendships.
Also, I loved the actual story. I think psychics are my favourite of the paranormal genre… sure, I didn’t know this before I picked up this book, but Maggie S has definitely convinced me. I’m a possibly-not-so secret fan of ghosts and to read all about scrying and candles and energy and ley lines and all that sort of thing was absolutely fantastic and such a change from what I’d normally read.
There’s questions unanswered and secrets still shimmering under the surface but I absolutely cannot wait to find out what happens next. I have a feeling this is a series I will be following like a ley line… or a boy with a faded Coca-Cola t-shirt.
I wonder if Gansey and the Gang know that King Arthur and his knights supposedly sleep under Alderley Edge? I think I could forget about my slight fear of flying to navigate a helicopter around the skies above Cheshire... well, as long as Adam’s there to hold my hand.
Oh this book was wonderful. I’d never actually heard of this book before I read Rey’s gorgeous review of it. I’ve always been curious about YA books frOh this book was wonderful. I’d never actually heard of this book before I read Rey’s gorgeous review of it. I’ve always been curious about YA books from other countries (meaning not The Big Three: USA, Australia and the UK) because they must be out there. I know they’re out there but it’s difficult to find out about them because they never get the time of day which is such a shame because I know we’re missing out on all these beautiful YA books that are being lost in translation.
I’m thinking The Readventurer ladies need to do all the hard work do a Wall of Books of YA from Other Countries so we can all gorge ourselves on them. I wonder if they do requests? Ha..
Anyway… this book.
Lou is such a wonderful narrator and has a fantastic way of seeing the world for a girl so young. There was a lovely naiveté about Lou and how she saw both the world in which she was growing up and No’s situation. Normally in books, I get frustrated with narrators when they’re naïve because I just want to get them to open their eyes. But with Lou it provided the perfect vessel to allow Ms de Vigan to explore what it’s like to balance on that cusp of “young adulthood” in this modern world. I think thirteen is such an interesting age in your life because you’re not really anything.
There’s no way you’re a child anymore but you’re only just a teenager, and everything is changing. This is the time where your expectations and reality don’t always match up and it’s strange and it’s upsetting, but there’s nothing you can do about it.
And Ms de Vigan perfectly portrays this disillusionment that you get when you’re stumbling through this age. When you’re expected to go to parties at the weekend instead of timing how long it takes for wet footprints to disappear of the kitchen floor. When you realise it’s not “cool” to do well at school. When you realise that not everyone in the world has a roof over their head and a warm meal every day like you do. I really enjoyed watching the world change through Lou’s eyes. It was subtle, stripped back and often incredibly moving.
I’ve always said that, on the whole, YA books aimed at a younger audience are the ones that deal with darker subjects so much better than some aimed at older readers. (The 10pm Question and A Monster Calls come immediately to mind). I don’t know what it is, but I love it so much which is why I will never not read a book just because it’s on the younger side of the YA spectrum.
Not only does Ms de Vigan portray homelessness in a way that’s heart breaking but realistic, but also the subject of loss and family problems. I don’t really want to go too much into this aspect because I think it would be better to experience it first hand from reading it, but the passages describing Lou’s mother, father and their past combined with No’s history were so well-written. Even poor Lucas’ situation made me sad.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it was so different to anything I’ve read this year. It’s powerful in its subtlety and shows that you don’t need to clobber your readers over the head with emotion and angst to create a thought-provoking and moving book. The characters are fantastic (I had a little soft spot for Lucas. I can’t help but think a lot of authors need to take note of him because that’s how you write a lovely “bad” boy) and the tumultuous friendship between No and Lou was perfectly crafted.
Also? The ending was perfect for this story. I actually finished this book on Sunday morning and I mean morning. I woke up at half five and there was no way I was going back to sleep so I finished it and those last couple of chapters made my heart ache so much that even in my absolute knackerdness (Yes, I know that's not a word), sleep was the last thing on my mind.
Sometimes I wish for happy endings, even though I know that I would be annoyed if I got it. I think this is one of those books. I’m glad, so glad that Ms de Vigan didn’t grant me that wish with No and Me.
Some books need to be read while you’re eating pickled onion Monster Munch and I think this is just one of those books.
Let me explain.
I find pickled oSome books need to be read while you’re eating pickled onion Monster Munch and I think this is just one of those books.
Let me explain.
I find pickled onion Monster Munch e a very underrated crisp. They aren’t the coolest crisps on the shelf. Not everyone thinks of them instantly when they think of a delicious savoury snack. I mean, they don’t have Gary Lineker and Lionel Richie advertising them. They can’t be dipped in…um…dip. Or at least easily. I guess you would really have to want some dip to dip Monster Munch in dip.*
But they are the kind of crisp that you would buy because you’d not had a packet in yonks and then two seconds later, you’ve eaten the entire bag (well probably half, because the other half would be all down your jumper and in your hair. Is that just me and my ability to eat Monster Munch?).
They’re underrated in the savoury snacks stakes but they’re there if you look for them.
If you squint dead carefully at the above paragraph, you will see an eversoslightly passive aggressive commentary of the YA publishing industry.
I’m going to stop talking about crisps now just in case you get confused thinking you’ve stumbled onto my secret spin-off blog called ‘Eat the Delicious Crisp” where I eat crisps and blog.
However, I have to say quickly- that there is mention of Monster Munch in this book. I’m not just hungry, I swear. This book was brilliant. I actually had never heard about it until Keren David recommended it to me in her interview. As you know, I’m a huge Keren David fan and I know her style of writing so I’m pretty confident if she said a book is good.
I didn’t actually realise how good though.
First up, I get a bit nervous when I find out a book (especially by an author I’ve never read) is about mental illness. I’m very critical about it and I’ve given up on books that have dealt with it in a pithy, flippant or sometimes downright offensive way.
This was good though, great actually. It was the perfect mix of sadness and humour without belittling the seriousness of the illness but also, just as importantly, not making it gratuitous. I know gratuitous is my favourite word for serious books but I really dislike it when an author writes a subject in a certain way because they want you to feel a certain way. Gah.
It’s not always an easy book to read because when I was laughing (and I laughed a lot) there was always a sad under tone niggling in the back of my mind. Like if you were drawing a picture and did a bit wrong but thought “Ahh, I’ll just colour over it in bright colours and no one will know” but you can still see the mistake under your colouring in. I really loved how the issues were always present, even when they didn’t seem like they were because the story was going through a more light-hearted patch, and weren’t conveniently forgotten about when the story moved on.
There are some bits that were extremely infuriating but not because of Mr Cousins’ writing ability, but because of his great ability to write teenagers. When Laurence is wearing a wig and pretending to be his mum so he and his brother Jay don’t get separated by the social services, I admit I did roll my eyes a little bit. Because, let’s face it, it sounds stupid, right?
But let’s remember that I’m an adult…. ish.
And as an adult, I’m screaming at him to go and get help, to stop hiding the fact that they’re living with cockroaches and living off Mars Bars. But that’s when I forgot he was fifteen, he was scared, he was alone and he had to look after his brother. Of course he’s going to make silly mistakes, he’s fifteen! What do you expect?
I liked how Mr Cousins seemed to find the balance between the silly and the sad. I think that’s important in books like this not because we need to water down the silly with sad or vice versa, but because it’s real. That’s what life’s like, it’s not all doom and gloom, but then again it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
Before I go, I should probably mention Mina because she was brilliant. What? What? No I am not biased because she’s Northern and has a funny accent. I mean, Northern accents are definitely the worst… yes?
But she was great and had the right amount of love for our hero and “What on earth are you doing?” And yes, she was a sassy Northerner. I probably am a little biased.
Anyway…. this is a remarkable book and Mr Cousins is definitely an author you should be reading.
I love this series so much but I have a sad feeling that it isn’t going to be as well-loved as it deserves to be. I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s probaI love this series so much but I have a sad feeling that it isn’t going to be as well-loved as it deserves to be. I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s probably because it’s more for younger young adults or because there’s no love story (unless you count Freddie, which you should. You should always count Freddie) and there’s no angst and the world isn’t complicated and edgy and it’s a magical-historical romp through Britain.
But… um… well, those are all the reasons why I adore Ms Burgis’ series. They’re so much fun. This might sound like a negative point to a few of you but when I pick up one of the Kat Stephenson’s books, I know exactly what I’m getting. I know I’m not going to be left glaring at the author photo in anger that the ending left me in tatters and I know that I’m not going to be rolling my eyes at the simpering heroine. It’s safe… but it’s the good safe. I like reading books knowing that I’ll enjoy them. And I very much enjoyed this book.
I have to admit, I didn’t get as carried away with this second book as much as I did with the first one and I think I know exactly why this is. In my review of An Improper Magick, I discussed how much I loved the relationship between the sisters (I invoked the Power of the March sisters. Which is always a good thing) and, unfortunately, this story kind of skimped on that.
Slight spoilers for the first book. I’ll tell you when you can come back.
(view spoiler)[Elissa is in marital bliss with the jittery Mr Collingwood and is only in the first few chapters of this book before she disappears on her honeymoon. And Angeline… well… well. I’ll let you find about that when you read this book. But it involves Freddie (*girly sigh*) and she’s hardly in it either. (hide spoiler)]
OK, come back now.
As much as I love Kat, I think her sisters bring the best out in her. They kind of amplify everything that I adored about her and their interactions were wonderful. I also think that this would have been a great opportunity to get to know Charles and Kat’s dad a bit more. We got brief glimpses of Daddy Stephenson but not nearly enough. I think they’re really different and unique characters and Charles always makes me laugh and, trying not to spoil it here, he had a really important part in this story… I just think it was a bit of a waste. This book got a lot better towards the end where the story seem to find its feet a bit more. I’m not sure what it was, possibly that it took me a while to find the time to read it, but it definitely lost some momentum in the middle.
But apart from that, it’s a great story and Kat’s still brilliant and the world that Ms Burgis has created is still fantastic. I can’t wait to read the next one (last one? Possibly?) and see what other mischief Kat gets up to, hopefully with more family members in tow.
And Freddie, of course. Always Freddie.
You can find this review and lots of other exciting things on my blog, Wear the Old Coat.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
So, I have to admit, I’m extremely underwhelmed by this book. I’ve never read My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece but I’ve heard it’s great. It never rSo, I have to admit, I’m extremely underwhelmed by this book. I’ve never read My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece but I’ve heard it’s great. It never really appealed to me though, I’m not sure why.
But Ketchup Clouds appealed to me, really it did. I was captivated by the gorgeous cover, the wonderful title and the intriguing synopsis.
I guess you know what they say: you shouldn’t judge a book by a gorgeous cover, a wonderful title and… well, you get the gist.
This was such a disappointment. There was far too much going on, so many issues and drama smushed into a story that everything seemed to be watered down. When I’m reading a book, I’d much rather a few issues were dealt with thoroughly and completely so I can be completely invested in them as opposed to thousands, cluttering up my brain. To me anyway, it often felt that just as I was feeling one storyline, I was whipped away to try and deal with another thing.
I also had a bit of a problem with the whole letter writing to death row. In theory, excellent. In practice…. Not so much. It just didn’t seem to fit at all with the style of writing or the subjects that the story was covering. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it could’ve been a sixteen year old girl’s diary, full of angst and drama about boys and kissing. If you had taken out the references to death row and Stuart’s crime, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.
And speaking of angst and drama about boys and kissing. Urgh…this next bit is going to be a spoiler so… just watch out.
(view spoiler)[ SPOILERS FOR THIS BOOK AND, RATHER BIZARELY, MOCKINGJAY BY SUZANNE COLLINS. I’m reluctant to call the relationships in Ketchup Clouds a love triangle, because they're not. Not really anyway. Not in the sense of usual love triangles. But it was just as frustrating. As above with not really staying long enough on one issue to really get a feel for it, it was the same with the relationships between Zoe and The Brothers (capital letters, I feel, are necessary). It felt like we didn’t get a glimpse into either relationship for me to really root for either of them.
That being said, my favourite character in this whole book was Max. And that will probably mean a lot more to people who have read this book and will, hopefully, understand why I was so disappointed at the end. I really disliked how Ms Pitcher built him up as something (crisps on his chin *sigh*) for the majority of the book just to completely tear that apart and assassinate his character. It really reminded me of Gale in Mockingjay and you know how I feel about Mockingjay. And this is my problem when it comes to having more than one love interest in a book, only one of them is going to win. And the easiest way of doing that is throwing in some flimsy (and in my opinion, unnecessary) drama that makes it impossible not to hate one of them, so you have to be on the side of the boy that the author wanted you to side with from the start.
But maybe I just have a soft spot for boys who do jigsaw puzzles.
The best love triangles, and I say this with a scowl on my face because no love should be triangular, are when you have no idea who will ‘win’.
However, I absolutely adored Zoe’s family. It’s obvious that Ms Pitcher has an eye for family dynamics and depicts them wonderfully, flaws and all. I was so fascinated by their interactions and I just wanted to get back to them when we were elsewhere in the story. It frustrated me that we only got brief glimpses of them, like you’re watching TV and the signal keeps going, coming back on when the episode has gone on a few scenes and you can’t help but think that you’ve missed something important.
I really apologise for being so grouchy in this review but I’m just so disappointed. And I’ll be the first to admit that I can be pretty brutal when it comes to books that disappoint me.
But… even though this book was not for me, I have a feeling it will be for about 97% of you.
Because that is the exact* percentage of people I know who adored The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. These two books, to me, are very similar. Both in writing style and subject matter. So if you are one of the 97% who loved Ms Nelson’s writing, then I urge you to pick this one up because I think you’ll like it.
You can find this review and lots of other exciting things on my blog, Wear the Old Coat.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more