This review was originally posted at link: ChooseYA
The Look is one of those books that will either work well, or not work at all. Combining somethingThis review was originally posted at link: ChooseYA
The Look is one of those books that will either work well, or not work at all. Combining something many teenage girls dream about like modelling with a nightmare of cancer is a risk. So full credit to Sophia Bennett for pulling it off.
When Ted (Edwina) Trout is spotted by a modelling agency, she is certain it is a joke. Her sister, Ava, is the beautiful one after all. However, after her sister's shock diagnosis of cancer and with Ava's encouragement (and at time's orders) she decides to try modelling to bring in a little extra money and also relate more to her sister, who has always been the fashion aficionado of the two. When,
This book was not what I expected at all. I loved the relationship between Ava and Ted the most; they really had this wonderful closeness and rivalry and felt like real siblings. Both of them are created so naturally and well-written that the scenario of becoming a model felt more grounded than mere wish-fulfilment. In both instances, Bennett steers her novel clear of saccharine and unrealistic feelings, but doesn't avoid the more unsettling aspects either. It is not an 'edgy' or 'gritty' read though, but neither it is 100% froth.
The Look, for me, was not so much about dealing with a sibling's cancer, or becoming a model, but about sisters and their unconditional love for one another. That said, obviously both of the above are significant themes and focuses of the novel.
The modelling world was well-written and really interested me- both in terms of its extravagant aspects and the the pressure and problems Ted was presented with. I adored that even with these difficulties, Ted was able to assert herself as a character and became more and more confident throughout the novel.
I loved the subtle romances in the Look too; they never took away from the main focus of the book and they also felt very real and teenage. Ava's boyfriend in particular was a character I really warmed to, as was Ted's quasi-romantic interest.
Overall, I would recommend this book to fans of British YA, contemporary YA and novels about sisterly bonds, as well as those interested in modelling. Also although you should never judge a book by it's cover, I have to mention how lovely the cover is. The edges of the pages are pink and it's just a really cute looking novel.
I received this book for free from Chicken House UK and am very grateful for the opportunity to read and review it. As always my review has not been affected by how I received the book!...more
Torn tells the story of the fallout during and after a school trip to Scotland where the narrator Alice, her best friend Cass, outsider Rae, Polly the try-hard-wannabe-but-failing and Tara, the mean girl, are all in true fashion lumped together with one another in a cabin. While this is a bit of a cliche, it is kind of true, I certainly remember at school trips being put in rooms with people I didn’t like, but like Alice, I always had a good friend in my dorm as we could ‘choose’ one of our roommates beforehand. By the end of the trip, Tara is dead and the novel opens with her memorial service as the book intertwines the history and the aftermath seamlessly together through Alice.
Alice was a strong narrator. She wasn’t always likeable and at times I really wanted to yell at her, but I liked that as it made her human and I would rather have a character I don’t love all the time than a perfect Mary-Sue. She was a human in a very bad situation and battling with what to do. Without wanting to spoil the novel I found this particularly interesting as the whole challenge between action and passivity is at the heart of the novel.
I loved Clarke’s character development, particularly with Polly, Tara and Alice. Without spoiling the entire novel, the change between preconceptions and someone’s actual self are so well exemplified within these characters in particular.
I loved the romantic aspect to the novel and Jack was simply adorable. I loved his inability to make it clear when it was a date, while I agreed with Alice that a museum doesn’t scream romance, I thought it was so cute.
As with Entangled, Torn ends with room for the reader to decide what happens next. It is interesting that both novels end with a choice after beginning with coping with a situation they have been coerced or forced into. While in some books I find this incredibly frustrating, I think it was the right call for Clarke to make and the perfect ending. The final chapters of the novel were heartbreaking, refreshingly realistic and incredibly well written....more
The Book of Blood and Shadow already has a place as one of my favourite bookThis review was originally published January 16th 2011 at www.chooseya.com
The Book of Blood and Shadow already has a place as one of my favourite books of the year so far, and yes it is only January. From its opening sentence "I should probably start with the blood." to its final words I was fully immersed into the world Wasserman created. Part mystery, part thriller, part crime, a tiny bit romance and wonderfully written as well. This is a novel I believe audiences regardless of age and has a wonderfully timeless, exciting quality to it.
Seventeen year old Nora Kane takes part in a research project with her best friend Chris and his roommate, Max, for a college professor, The Hoff, partly as a way to spend more time with Chris and as she has been promised it's an easy senior prokect. Nora is trapped in an almost Cyrano de Bergerac like love triangle where Chris is dating Adriane, Nora's other best friend despite Nora's feelings. While love triangles can be very badly done in YA, this love triangle was secondary enough and well written enough that it felt realistic and not melodramatic.
The group are researching The Book, a mysterious alchemical, philosophical text encoded for hundreds of years and the Hoff's lifelong passion. The Hoff suspects only a man named Edward Kelley came close to solving the mystery. In the course of translating letters by Kelley's daughter Elizabeth Weston, a low-responsibility task she suspects, Nora begins to find clues that will crack the mystery as well as finding herself feeling more and more of a bond to Elizabeth.
As the novel begins with the brutal murder of one central character in the first page, this novel is also about dealing with a crime and solving the murder.
There's an international novel as well; while several parts of the novel take part in America, we also are taken to France and Prague. Prague in particular came alive for me in this novel as much as any character and now I really want to visit there (thanks Robin Wasserman!) and was simply magical. In many ways with thriller like theme and cosmopolitan setting, it almost felt like the Bourne Identity or another movie like that.
Wasserman's prose is literary in quality yet not alienating. Nora's voice is really engaging and I also loved the use of short "chapters" or segments within the novel which varied in length from lines to pages and really helped empathise with the emotions Wasserman wanted to convey to the reader.
I recommend this novel to everyone, adults and teenagers alike, who wants to be taken on a thrilling adventure with their reading. It is a truly fantastic, gripping novel.
I received this book for free from Random House Children's Books via NetGalley. The Book of Blood and Shadow is published on January 19th in the UK and April 12th in the US....more
Katie Dale's debut novel, Someone Else's Life, is an absolute roller-coaster of a read, filled with more twists and drama than I ever expected. KatieKatie Dale's debut novel, Someone Else's Life, is an absolute roller-coaster of a read, filled with more twists and drama than I ever expected. Katie Dale is a 'winner' of the 2008 Undiscovered Voices Anthology which publishes some of the best un-agented/published work by authors of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (British Isles).
When Rosie's mum, Trudie, was diagnosed with Huntington's disease, Rosie's entire life changed. She took care of her mum to her death and even worse than this, spent the entire time knowing she could have inherited this same disease.
After her mother's death she learns an even more shocking truth: she is not Trudie's biological daughter. Trudi's 'real' daughter was incredibly ill at birth and going to die so a family friend, Sarah, swapped the baby for Rosie, who had been abandoned by a teenage mother.
Devastated and curious about her 'real' parents, she joins her boyfriend Andy on a gap year to America to find them. Obviously, Rosie is dealing with the grief of Trudie, but I felt like she wanted to find her 'real' parents so quickly after finding out. That said, if I was the same position I am pretty sure that would be one of my instant reactions.
The relationship between Rosie and Andy was great. When the novel opens, we are introduced to them as estranged after Rosie distances herself following Trudi's illness and as the novel progresses their spark well and truly rekindles. I just loved the two of them together as they felt so natural together and you really end up rooting for them.
Without wanting to spoil the many unexpected twists I encountered in Someone Else's Life, I will say this: it's a book where you are just swept along on an incredibly powerful and emotional journey where what you expect to happen often doesn't.
When a novel deals with a plot like this, it can be really easy for it descend into a soap opera with flat 2-dimensional characters, but Someone Else's Life doesn't fall into this trap at all. The characters are complicated, relatable and well fleshed out. The fact that in a debut novel, this topic has been so well-handled makes me exceptionally excited to see Katie Dale's future work.
Most importantly this is a novel about family. What I loved was that Dale made the excellent point in the book that family is about more than blood, it's about who raises you - this is something I personally feel very strongly about, so I loved seeing this in a book.
I was able to read this novel through NetGalley as an e-galley ARC and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity Random House Children's Books presented me with. This was truly an excellent and highly recommended read.
Someone Else's Life is released February 2nd in the UK and on the 14th in the US....more
Full review to come closer to book's publication date, but a brilliant debut and one I am still agonising whether to give a 4 or 5 rating so the ratinFull review to come closer to book's publication date, but a brilliant debut and one I am still agonising whether to give a 4 or 5 rating so the rating may change. Fun, enjoyable and an overall great read. I highly recommend this! ...more
This review was first published at www.chooseya.com 15/2/2012 Slide is the debut novel of Jill Hathaway and a book I was eager to read it from the momeThis review was first published at www.chooseya.com 15/2/2012 Slide is the debut novel of Jill Hathaway and a book I was eager to read it from the moment I read the summary. It combines two of my favourite types of writing: crime and young adult, plus it adds a really compelling paranormal twist to this.
Vee is narcoleptic, but while she has these episodes she 'slides' into someone else's mind unintentionally. This has been a blight on her life since it started as she hates touching or keeping things people may have imprinted on or touched, particularly those she loves, in case she slides into them.
When she slides one night however she witnesses the aftermath of the murder of a classmate that is later written off as suicide. With a killer around who may know about her sliding ability as they left a note on the night of the murder with the date that enabled her to slide into the murderer, Vee is on a dangerous mission to find the murderer and use what she otherwise counts as a hindrance for good all while everyone else tries to move on from a 'suicide.' I adored Vee, she's a really fun protagonist and has a very easy to read, vibrant and realistic voice despite being in a situation that is out of the ordinary. I think the simplicity of sliding as well makes the ability feel more natural and very easy to imagine. Her friendship with Archie and the complications that ensue are sympathetically and beautifully written, how do you feel when you begin to suspect your friend may have something to do with a murder? How is a friendship anyway when you cannot tell them a deep secret out of fear? Her ability as well terrified me, I cannot imagine how it would feel to that unwelcome power and the danger she is placed in. Narcolepsy is such a dangerous and scary illness to me as I hate to be out of control of my body and the situations Vee finds herself in really evoked this and impressed Vee's strength on me even more. This is not just a mystery novel, or a paranormal novel, it is also a novel about first love, about friendship, betrayal, family and letting yourself go. As a character, Vee goes through so much change and you are with her every step of the way as she opens up more about her sliding and tries to solve the crime. My only criticism is that I guessed the murderer, and who was with them from early on, however this was slightly turned on it's head a little by the end and I don't want to spoil it for the reader so won't go too much into it - this is also maybe just because I read a lot of crime and mystery novels and am used to guessing plot lines! There is a huge twist within the book that took me by surprise towards the end as well and I definitely had not guessed but made complete sense. This is a remarkable debut I loved and have no hesitation recommending. The concept is individual, exciting and compelling as is it's execution. I received an advanced copy of Slide for free from HarperCollins Children's Books and am very thankful for the chance to read this book. Slide is released on March 1st in the UK and March 27th in the US....more
Why We Broke Up is Daniel Handler's YA novel with Maira Kalman and documents the break-up of Min and Ed. Min is on her way to Ed's with the box that cWhy We Broke Up is Daniel Handler's YA novel with Maira Kalman and documents the break-up of Min and Ed. Min is on her way to Ed's with the box that contains every reason they are breaking up, she's writing a letter to explain each item too.
Why We Broke Up is reminiscent of John Green novels to me; the intelligent characters and Min's interest in old films for example just reminded me of that type of contemporary. At times, I have to admit this made it feel a bit like Handler was trying a bit too hard to make Min cool and edgy, but he juxtaposed this really well with Ed, a more 'stereotypical' popular teen. I really enjoyed the dimension their differences added to Ed and Min's relationship. When you're a teenager, who you're friends with can feel like everything so for two people from different 'cliques' to come together in a book honestly, there had to be references to those differences. The expectations of dating a popular guy, of falling in love for the first time often don't match up to the reality and I feel that this really showed it well.
Beautifully written and accompanied with stunning illustrations that really make this novel stand out, this book documents the rise and fall of a relationship perfectly. Every item and it's emotional significance and story worked well for me and I thought that the anecdotes flowed well from one to the other. I also loved how they were linked a lot of the time, like the actress Min admired and thought she saw and her overall significance not only to the plot, but to their entire relationship. Some of my favourite moments in the book were the final confrontation scenes between Ed and Min, and one of the fundamental reasons they broke up, along with Ed and Min's first date.
Overall this book depicted the highs and lows of that 'high school' love very well, with developed characters and a compelling relationship. From what started as a seemingly great relationship, Handler shows the reader how easily that first serious relationship can be derailed. It is not a hopeless book though and Min's best friend Al seems a perfect match for her and I am sure I am not the only reader left wondering what the future will hold for them. The strain on her friendship with him and pull between her friends and Ed's friends was really well written and honest to life. I also loved that it was the summation of all of the little things, and a few big things, that ultimately led to the break-up.
Why We Broke Up is available to buy now and comes highly recommended from me! If you are a fan of contemporary YA, this is a book not to miss and the art within it really makes it something special. I received a free proof of this book from Electric Monkey for reviewing purposes.