Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Illusionists Cover Reveal!

Hello, dear readers! A very exciting post today, as I have the great pleasure of helping with the cover reveal of The Illusionists, the sequel to the wonderful Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve. And if you haven't read Fearsome Dreamer already, then you'd better get on it (here are some links to places you can buy it: Waterstones, Amazon, Book Depo or your local bookshop or wherever!. I'm not saying you should buy it right now but that's exactly what I'm saying. Seriously, it's realllly good).

Anyway, yes, book cover for The Illusionists!



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ISN'T IT PRETTY?!



A shocking new world. A dangerous choice. Two futures preparing to collide...

Having left her soulmate White behind her in Angle Tar, Rue is trying to make sense of her new and unfamiliar life in World. Its technologically advanced culture is as baffling as is it thrilling to her, and Rue quickly realises World's fascination with technology can have intoxicating and deadly consequences. 

She is also desperately lonely. And so is White. Somehow, their longing for each other is crossing into their dreams, dreams that begin to take increasingly strange turns as they appear to give Rue echoes of the future. Then the dreams reveal the advent of something truly monstrous, and with it the realisation that Rue and White will be instrumental in bringing about the most incredible and devastating change in both World and Angle Tar. 

But in a world where Life is a virtual reality, where friends can become enemies overnight and where dreams, the future, and the past are somehow merging together, their greatest challenge of all may be to survive. (from Goodreads)

Yeah, I'm a little bit in love with it, not going to lie. I love the artwork on these covers (Kali Ciesmier is the artist, if you are interested). Like, I know that some people aren't too keen on illustrated covers, but I adore them and I think that the covers for these books are especially wonderful. Also, I am just really excited about The Illusionists. I love the title. I love the blurb. I love the cover. I do not love the fact that I have to wait until July (JULY!) to read it, but I'm just going to have to deal with that.

What do you think? Do you love it? You love it, don't you. Good.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Trouble review

Trouble
Non Pratt
March 6th 2014
Walker Books

A boy. A girl. A bump. Trouble.

Hannah’s smart and funny ... she’s also fifteen and pregnant. Aaron is new at school and doesn’t want to attract attention. So why does he offer to be the pretend dad to Hannah’s unborn baby? 

Growing up can be trouble but that’s how you find out what really matters.


Okay, first things first, is that or is that the best cover you've ever seen for a book about teen pregnancy. I know I keep going on about it, but seriously, I love it. It's the only cover for a book about teen pregnancy that has ever made me want to actually read the book because it is (usually) the one thing that comes up in contemp/realistic YA that I pretty much refuse to read about. A little bit because Personal Reasons and a little bit because I always just assume that they're either going to be all smooshy and romantic and blah (I can handle smooshy romance on its own, but smooshy romance + babies?! Nope) or that they're going to be super preachy and annoying. I always think that the whole point is going to be about teen pregnancy rather than about the people actually involved. Also, pregnancy and babies are just not what I am about. At all.

But I felt like Trouble would not be those things. And I think if you're like me, and you're not at all into books about teen pregnancy, you shouldn't let that put you off reading this book at all. Yes, it's about a fifteen year old girl who gets pregnant and a boy who agrees to pretend to be the dad. But it's also about friendship and family and loss and healing and it's just really, really good. Like it says on the cover, it is funny and smart and touching and I loved it.

The book is told from alternating perspectives which I almost always enjoy, and I think it was probably the best way for Hannah and Aaron's story to be told. Also, it wasn't like they had a chapter each or anything. It would alternate between them within the chapters, which I liked, and also a lot of the passages were quite short so it felt quite fast-paced, I guess? Also I didn't have any trouble telling them apart and they both had their own distinct voices, which was good because sometimes dual perspective books can get really confusing.

I also thought that Hannah and Aaron were really great characters, and I loved their relationship. To be honest, when I read the blurb and heard about this book I just kind of assumed that it would be a romance, but it isn't. Well, there might be the potential for that in the future, but it's not what this book is about. Aaron and Hannah end up being best friends, and it's much more about how they sort of end up keeping each other going and supporting each other and I was pleasantly surprised by this development. I've read so many books about wonderful friendships already this year I'm so happy. And I really liked getting to find out about Aaron's backstory and his guilt and to see how he worked through that alongside Hannah being pregnant and trying to figure that all out.

I will say that I think that the ending maybe felt a bit rushed, but the rest of the book was really well paced and it's the sort of book that you don't want to put down. And it was really nice reading a British book again. It's kind of irrelevant, I know, but I haven't read one for a while and it was nice getting to read a book set in the UK again. It always feels a lot more realistic than reading US contemporary stuff, but that's probably just because I am British and as such can see myself/my friends/family/school etc in British stuff much more. I wonder what books like this and TV shows like My Mad Fat Diary seem like to Americans... Sorry, that's just incredibly irrelevant now.

Anyway, Trouble was not trouble at all to read (yeah, yeah, that was terrible I know) and is a really great, funny, touching book about friendship and family and growing up and those sorts of things. You should read it, is the point. 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea review

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
April Genevieve Tucholke
April 3rd 2014 (UK)
Faber and Faber (UK) 

Faded Gatsby glamour and thrilling gothic horror meet in this gorgeously told, terrifying and dreamy YA romance.
You stop fearing the devil when you're holding his hand...
Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White's sleepy, seaside town...until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet's crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Violet's grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who likes coffee and who kisses you in a cemetery... Violet's already so knee-deep in love, she can't see straight. And that's just how River likes it.


Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was kind of a weird book for me. I'm still not really sure how I feel about it. It wasn't what I wanted it to be, but I feel it's not fair to criticize a book for not being the exact book I thought it would be when I started reading it, even though I would've liked the book I wanted it to be more. I did really love the atmosphere of this book, though, and it was super gripping.

I really liked the first half of the book. I wasn't really sure what was happening, but it was creepy and gothic and weird and I was loving it. The atmosphere of the book (I will henceforth be referring to it as 'the book' for this whole review because that title is hella long) was so perfect. Just sort of creepy and hazy and just the sort of book you want to be reading in the midst of all the terrible weather in the UK at the minute. I was fully swept up in it and I found it difficult to put the book down because I wanted to know what was happening and what River was, and because I was waiting for it to get creepier and creepier because I love creepy books and I need more of them in my life.

But. And yes, there is a but. From the second half onwards, I guess after the whole 'reveal' of the truth about River, I didn't enjoy it as much. I still found it gripping to read, but it stopped seeming as interesting or new and fresh to me. I mean, it's basically a paranormal romance, which is fine in itself, but I had built it up in my expectations to be some awesome creepy devil book and it wasn't (but if anyone reading this has read any awesome creepy books - devil or otherwise - please give some recs I do not read enough horror and I need more of it in my life). I don't know, it was still good for what it was, and there were a lot of individual elements to the book that I enjoyed, but I wasn't all that comfortable with how everything worked out. And I think(?) there's going to be a sequel, so maybe it's meant to be that way, but I don't know.

I think a lot of my problems came from the fact that I didn't really like any of the characters. And I'm not the kind of reader that things that characters need to be likeable in order to be good or interesting characters. I like all different kinds of characters. But I couldn't find anyone to root for in this book. And again, I'm not sure if this was on purpose or not, but regardless it meant that I, personally, wasn't emotionally connected to the book at all. I didn't care about any of them, I think is more accurate. Violet and her twin Luke were both snobby and Luke especially was just kind of a dick. River was creepy and manipulative and not a nice or good guy at all - which is not necessarily a bad thing for a character, but I feel like there should be some redeeming features to a love interest, do you not? I don't know. Again, this could just be me because I really like to have someone or something to root for in a book, but there was just no connection there. They were all interesting, though, and if a second book were to come out I would still read it to see how this whole thing worked out.

This review sounds really negative, but Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea wasn't a bad book or anything. My opinion of it has just been heavily distorted by my expectations, so don't let my negativity put you off if it's the sort of book you think you would like. It is creepy in parts and very atmospheric and the setting is lush and I did find it hard to put down regardless of its flaws.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Attachments review

Attachments
Rainbow Rowell
April 14th 2011
Dutton Adult

"Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . "

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?


I've had a copy of Attachments lying around for a while now, and because I'd already read and loved Rainbow's other books, I thought that I should finally give this one a go even though it's not YA. Also I asked Twitter what I should read next and Twitter said this, and who am I to defy Twitter? I enjoyed Attachments a lot, but it didn't resonate for me in the same way that her YA books do. I am still really looking forward to her next Adult book, Landline, though, which comes out later this year.

Attachments is all about this guy called Lincoln who gets a new job which basically entails reading other people's emails. He starts reading the exchanges between these two women, Beth and Jennifer, and he ends up falling in love with one of them. For me, this premise falls a little bit between the range of sweet and really creepy, but I went with it, and I was glad that the invasive nature of what he was doing wasn't ignored and that when he did tell people about it, they told him to stop because it's creepy. But at the same time, the emails were probably my favourite part of the book. Because we don't really get to meet Beth or Jennifer properly until really late into the book, all we have to go on as to what they're like is their emails, and their emails were so much fun. Or at least, they started out being fun and then they got more serious as more serious things happened to them, but by that point I was really invested in their friendship anyway, and besides their conversations were still really fun.

I wasn't too sure about Lincoln at the start. I'm not sure why, but he did grow on me a lot. Probably because he's kind of an awkward nerd who isn't a complete arse, so, yeah. And as sort of creepy as the premise is, it was still a really sweet book and I was happy with how it all turned out and everything though. I also really liked the fact that a lot of the book wasn't about Lincoln being in love with Beth, but about Lincoln sort of growing up more as a person and sorting out his life and what have you. I also really liked Doris, the old woman who restocks the vending machines at the place he works at. There's not really a point to that, I just wanted to mention Doris.

One thing that I think Rainbow Rowell does really well is writing books set in different times, but that aren't historical or anything. Attachments is set in 1999/2000 so it's not like there was a massive amount of difference, but it has a really great feel to it and it just works. I loved all the concern about Y2K and the staffs worries about email and introducing the internet int the workplace and all that. It just had a really great atmosphere to it, and it was a really enjoyable book.

I would have more to say if I had written this around the time I actually finished it, but I've been kind of busy this last week and I didn't have time to, but anyway. Attachments was just really good, although for me it wasn't up there with E&P and Fangirl. I'm glad I read it though and if you're looking for just a light, fun read, then this is perfect.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Flora & Ulysses: The Illumined Adventures review

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
Kate DiCamillo (illustrated by K G Campbell)
September 24th 2013
Candlewick

Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo. It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format—a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K.G. Campbell.

These past few books I've read have all books friendships. The friendship between two boys as they find look for a lost father, two girls in World War Two, and, that most famous and profound friendship of all, the friendship between a girl and a superpowered squirrel. Yep. I feel like I could just leave it there because I already know that you want to read this book after that sentence. But just in case you don't, I'll go on a bit more.

I think that Flora & Ulysses is the cutest book I have ever read. You might think that I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. It is just the sweetest, loveliest book that I've ever read. It's all about family and friendship, and acceptance, too, in a way. And it unexpectedly tugged at my heartstrings a tiny bit, which doesn't happen to me too often with books anymore. I think that it had to do with the fact that it was literally just so adorable that it made my heart go all squishy like it does when I go and see kids films. And this is probably why I try and avoid reading most MG fiction that isn't about talking magical skeletons. Sorry, going a bit off track there. But yeah, it was just so sweet to see the friendship between Flora and Ulysses grow, and also Flora and William Spiver, and both of her parents. I was really glad that it went in the direction that it went in. I don't know. I know that I'm just repeating it but this is just such a lovely book and if I'd had it when I was 10-12ish I would have completely adored it (not that I don't now, of course!).

I also really liked the fact that it had a lot of comic influences, and I loved seeing some of it being told in a graphic-novel format. And there were a lot of pictures in it too that were really cute. Plus I liked the art style a lot. It suited the story. Plus I loved that Flora was so into comics, and how this was like a cornerstone to her and her father, and her and Ulysses's relationships. See, comics ARE worthwhile and important! Plus it was actually funny as well as sweet, and it was exactly what I was in the mood for after the absolute heartbreaking-ness of Code Name Verity (yes, this is meant to be about Flora and Ulysses, but I will probably be randomly bringing up that book a lot). Flora & Ulysses is the sort of book that makes me think that maybe I should read a little more MG sometimes, especially if they're anything like this. But really, I think this was one MG book that seemed like it was really suited to me. Did I mention that it's about the friendship between a girl and a squirrel whose life she saves and then develops superpowers? Like flying and superstrength and understanding and writing poetry? I'm not a huge poetry fan, but squirrel poetry is adorable.

This is only a short review because I basically just keep on saying the same things, but seriously it is just so cute. If you feel like you are even mildly interested in this book, then just read it because it is so very lovely. And I know I keep on just repeating myself, but I can't think of any other adjectives more apt to describing Flora & Ulysses then sweet, adorable, lovely etc. Ugh, just read it and you'll understand.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Code Name Verity review

Code Name Verity
Elizabeth Wein
February 6th 2012
Egmont UK

I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.


I'm not usually a huge fan of books set in World War 2 . Nothing against them, I just feel like they can sometimes be a bit samey and are all just trying to emotionally manipulate you and tell you that the war was bad, which doesn't really need to be said because we all know that. From a historical perspective, I think that WW2 is really interesting, but after a childhood of pretty much just reading books about evacuees (though this may just be because when we do the war in primary school all we ever do is stuff about evacuees. And also I'm not trying to demean the value of these kinds of books in any way. I knew that they're important but most of the time I don't like those sorts of books is all.), books set in WW2 never really held that much appeal for me. But I am interested in books from less conventional perspectives. Code Name Verity always appealed to me because it didn't sound like just another WW2 book. And it really isn't.

Code Name Verity is the story of two pretty incredible women, I think it's fair to say, and their more than incredible friendship. As it says in the blurb, they make a sensational team. The story of how they became friends is told to us by Verity as she writes it in her report of sorts for her Nazi captors. She's meant to be giving up any knowledge of the Allied war effort that she has, but along the way she tells up about Maddie. And I loved them both so much. I loved getting to see how their friendship came about and how it grew, and even though the narrative style is such that you feel like you should be cautious about believing what Verity tells us, reading about, you don't feel like it could possibly be a lie.

Really, though, that goes for a lot of Verity's narrative. It's an epistolary novel, so it makes a really good use of the first person POV (not that other books in first person don't, but I don't read that many books it which it has a purpose). And I just so completely believed everything that she told us. You get this real sense of who she is as a person right from the get go, and your assumptions of her are always changing. As well as this, when she's writing about Maddie and not about herself  in her present situation, she writes about her in third person from Maddie's point of view. I was expecting this to feel kind of jarring, and honestly I thought it would put me off or make it a bit inaccessible, but I actually kind of liked it, and I didn't feel like it took me as long as I expected it would take me to get into it. Though I can understand why it would put some people off.

I want to talk about this book forever and ever, I really do, but if I do that then I will definitely spoil it and even though it's been out for a couple of years, I still don't want to do that because for anyone who might be reading this that hasn't read the book, you really do not want it to be spoiled for you. And even though I was kind of expecting That Thing That Happens at some point, I wasn't expecting it to be in that way, and my heart broke a tiny bit when I read that, I think. Not to be melodramatic or schmultzy or anything, but it is just kind of a heart breaking thing. I cried a lot. I haven't cried at a book in a while, but I cried a lot.

But it isn't just a sad book. It's a funny book in places and it's harrowing in others and it's lively and the characters mattered to me so much by the end. I don't know, I feel like a lot of the reason why I loved this book so much was because I waited so long to read it that I wasn't affected by the hype for it. I'm a mood reader and if I'm not in the mood for a book than I probably won't enjoy it half as much as I will when I read it and I am in just the right mood for it. Which I was with Code Name Verity. Though I feel like I am definitely going to have to wait a while for this to settle before picking up Rose Under Fire, which I have no doubt is pretty stunning, too.

The other thing I loved about this book was that it focused on some of the roles that women played in the war. I mentioned this earlier, but I'm only really interested in books that are about popular periods of history if they're from a less common perspective, like, in this instance, a female ATA pilot. It wasn't really until I read Captain Marvel that I was at all bothered about reading things about female pilots, but now, especially after this, more books about ladies who fly planes please (I am eagerly waiting for someone to write about about/from the POV of a female Russian WW2 combat pilot please that would be amazing). A part of me felt like I would be a bit bored with the whole pilot thing because I'm not really into planes or cars or engineering or the like, but it's weird how reading about someone who's passionate about something makes me feel at the very least mildly interested in that something. And besides, we can always do with more stories about girls who are into planes and engineering.

I feel like even though I've gone on for ages, that I haven't really touched the surface of what I wanted to say about this book and what it means to me, and I can't believe how little I've gone into talking about Maddie or Verity or their friendship (it is quite hard to talk about without spoiling things), but it is absolutely the core and heart of this book and it is so incredible and it is just such a magnificent book, and I just loved it.  In the words of Verity, 'I have told the truth' (about this book and how much I loved it).
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