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Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom - Review

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Where did I get it? I requested it on NetGalley so thank you very much Harper Collins!
What's it about? Parker Grant went blind when she was 8, when her mum drank a bottle of wine and drove the two of them into a bridge, killing herself and severing Parker's optic nerve. Parker and her dad have clearly done lots of things to make Parker's life easier, and she's now sixteen. Her dad dies before the beginning of the book, and her aunt, uncle and cousins have to move in with her. They don't really understand her, and her cousin Sheila is resentful that she's had to move in the middle of high school. Parker's new school year starts and due to two high schools merging, her old friend Scott is back in her school. The two of them went out but he broke one of her Rules and they haven't spoken since.
Meanwhile, Parker and her friend Sarah help people with their personal problems every morning before school, and Parker also runs each morning too, leading to a coach at her school wanting her to try out for the track team. Parker meets a guy called Jason and goes on her first date with him. There's tons going on in this novel and it's fantastic. As someone who isn't blind I really liked reading about how Parker dealt with things, down to the tags she puts in the scarves that she wears over her eyes. 
What age range is it for? 13+, there's very little of anything taboo in it. 
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No, and I would have liked to see it, but that's my only criticism.
Are any main characters non-white? Yes, but obviously, since Parker can't see that, she only knows if she's told. There's a really nice bit with her new friend Molly regarding Molly's not being white. 
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Yes
Is there any sex stuff? Very little, it's just making out, there's no sex. 
Are drugs mentioned or used? No
Is there any talk of death? Yes, it's very sensitively done. I actually would have liked to hear more about the accident that took Parker's sight, but I can understand that as it's from her POV it may have been too difficult for her to tell the reader about. That's fine, I was just interested!
Are there swear words? A few
Would I recommend the book? Yes, absolutely. It's a shining example of what contemporary YA should be; it's got a diverse voice, an interesting hook, and a great way of relating it to today's teens without being patronising. Everyone needs to read this. 
How many stars? Ten, it's not perfect (because no book is) but it's the closest I've read in a while 
Where is the book going now? It will stay on my Kindle, I may well read it again. I read it in two days because it really sucked me in! I predict they'll make a film of it for sure. 

Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson - Review

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Where did I get it? I picked it up in a charity shop a few years ago and rediscovered it in the big book clear out. 
What's it about? Ruby and Garnet are identical twins. They live with their dad and grandma after the death of their mum. They're ten. Dad starts to see a woman called Rose and he and the twins move with her to a small village where Dad opens a bookshop.
The twins write everything down in their book of accounts, taking it in turns to do so. Ruby is more outgoing and outspoken, Garnet is quieter and goes along with what Ruby wants. 
I have to confess that I never read much Jacqueline Wilson when I was younger. I'm not sure why, because you'd think it would have been my kind of thing, but she bypassed me. I read Tracy Beaker and Dustbin Baby a few years ago, and I'm reading her stuff when I can. 
What age range is it for? 9+, it's middle grade.
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No 

Are any main characters non-white? If they are it's not mentioned.  
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No
Is there any sex stuff? No
Are drugs mentioned or used? No
Is there any talk of death? Some about the twins' mum but it's very age appropriate
Are there swear words? No
Would I recommend the book? Yes, very much so.
How many stars? Six out of ten. It's not the most exciting, but it's a cute enough book. 
Where is the book going now? The charity shop, probably!

Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler - Review

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Where did I get it? It was another of the books that Lucinda lent me; she knew I wanted to read it. I saw Liz talk on the LGBT panel at YALC last year, so the book was on my radar. 
What's it about? Ashleigh is in her final year at college, about to do her A levels. She meets Dylan at a party and starts going out with him. She falls out with her best friend Cat. She has a new English teacher, Miss Murray, and begins to feel strange things about her. She sleeps with Dylan, but it doesn't work out between them. She joins the debating society because Miss Murray runs it, and makes frriends with Robyn. Little by little, she realises she's gay. Her parents have split up and both her parents are seeing other people, which is complicated too.
Basically there's just so much in this novel, this isn't even half of the twists, I swear. And yet nothing is explored in a very believable way. Ash seems to almost float above everything; the only times her feelings seem genuine are when she meets Taylor (who she ends up going out with). It's really clunky and oddly done.
I also found it quite offensive that whenever Ash told someone that she was gay, their response was that they already knew. It happens quite a few times - with her mum, with Cat, with her dad's girlfriend's son. It's a really offensive thing to say to a queer person - you cannot know their sexual identity before they do, and even if you suspected (by using probably horrendously outdated and possibly offensive stereotypes) you can just shut up and support them instead. 
What age range is it for? 13+, it's very tame.

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Obviously.

Are any main characters non-white? If they are it's not mentioned.  
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No
Is there any sex stuff? Some kissing
Are drugs mentioned or used? No

Is there any talk of death? No

Are there swear words? Only mild ones
Would I recommend the book? Not really, no. 

How many stars? 3 out of 10. It was lauded as something groundbreaking in LGBT YA literature, and it really, really isn't. 

Where is the book going now?
 Back to Lucinda

Books books books!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I have a lot of books. I love books! I read a lot! I have a tablet that I use the Kindle app on, but I still like paper books, and I've been collecting them for like fifteen years so, you know, there's lots. Our house is pretty small. We have a large attic room on the 2nd floor, but the first floor is made up of our bedroom (which is pretty big, but full of clothes/furniture), the bathroom, and the very tiny spare bedroom. It's around 4 foot by 8 foot, at the most. We have a 2'6" bed in there, which has storage underneath for jigsaws and board games and stuff, but the rest of the room was taken up by books.

When we bought the house this room had two Ikea shelves on the wall, so we just left them there. A few years ago we bought a big bookshelf from the British Heart Foundation shop in Barnsley town centre, and also a stereo cabinet. These were both full, and books had started to pile up on the floor. It was pretty bad.

So for Christmas my mum and stepdad bought us one of those square bookshelves from Ikea. We have something similar, although bigger, in the attic, so I knew how much you can fit on those shelves. A couple of weeks ago Lee and I started to go through my books. I got rid of LOTS that I've read and won't read again; they've gone to friends or the charity shop. I've split the books into those I've read and those I haven't. I rarely re-read, so the ones I've read went to the bottom or the back of the shelves. There isn't much space between the bed and the new bookshelf, but I've slept in there and it's quite cosy!

Here's some pictures.

The empty bookshelf. My mum told me we could have whatever colour we wanted, but this turned out to be the cheapest one. I like the bright whiteness of it!

These are all our books about music. Lee owns very few books but most of these are his. This is one of the wall shelves; I painted them white years ago. The shelf above is full of Lee's magazines and stuff.

These are all unread and are mostly Young Adult ones that I've acquired over the past two or three years! Books are tripled layered here - yep there's loads!

These are mostly read books. You can see the, what, eight inches between the bed and bookshelf.

This is the bookshelf from the British Heart Foundation. Books are double layered here.

What do you think?

Famous In Love by Rebecca Serle - Review

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Where did I get it? It was recommended to me because my own MA novel is about the entertainment industry and so is this, although it's about the movie industry and not music. I bought it myself, although I don't actually remember where from! I discovered it when Lee and I sorted out my books recently and decided to read it. 
What's it about? Paige Townsen is in her final year of high school but harbours desires to be an actress, so she auditions for the part of August in Locked, which is the latest YA hit to be made into a film. She goes to Hawaii to film, opposite the handsome Rainer Devon who's playing Noah. In the film, August has to choose between Noah and Ed, who is going to be played by Jordan Wilder. Jordan and Rainer are arch enemies, but Paige begins to fall for Rainer and also for Jordan. Meanwhile, her friends back in Portland feel a very long way away, and she's growing out apart from them. Her family doesn't really understand her, either.
It took me an absolute age to read this because I just found it so dull. Nothing really happens in the entire novel. It isn't badly written, but I wanted so much more to happen - I wanted to see more of Paige's family life and more of each boy actually doing things. I felt like the ending was really rushed. I know there's more in the series but I probably won't bother with them. 
What age range is it for? 13+, it's very tame. I would have liked Paige to do more than just kiss each boy. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Nope. 

Are any main characters non-white? No, which when you're filming on Hawaii is stupid - a couple of native Hawaiians could have been minor characters. 
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No
Is there any sex stuff? Very little - I wanted more!
Are drugs mentioned or used? No

Is there any talk of death? Yes, Paige nearly drowns at one point. 

Are there swear words? No
Would I recommend the book? Not really, no. 

How many stars? 2 out of 10. 

Where is the book going now?
 Charity shop!

The Seriously Extra Ordinary Diary of Pig (Pig Diary #3) by Emer Stamp - Book Tour

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Recently I got the opportunity to take part in the Book Tour for the third in the Diary of Pig series. I'd seen this books but hadn't read any, but was kindly sent all three to review. Now I have to confess that I have only read the first one, due to time constraints at the moment, but I found it hilarious and I'm looking forward to reading the others.

The books are middle grade, but that's very much a loose definition I think, because a parent could read them to a child aged from around five and they would both enjoy it. In the first book, Pig lives on a farm and loves Farmer, because Farmer gives him lots of yummy slops, and is very happy when Pig gets fatter. Pig is friends with Duck, who is very clever, and who tells him of Farmer's evil plan to make him into Roast Pig! The Chickens, who are evil, are making a spaceship and offer Pig the chance to go to Pluto! The book has some illustrations and is generally delightful.

I will of course review all the books as I read them in my usual format, but if the second two match up to the first one, it'll be 10 out of 10 all round for me! Thank you Faye Rogers for sending these to me.

The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig (Pig Diary #1) by Emer Stamp

We love Pig , but Pig loves Farmer. After all, Farmer gives Pig yummy slops and special back scratches, and calls him Sausage and seems to love him more, the fatter he gets. Just as well Pig doesn't speak any Farmer. But Duck does (Duck's clever like that), and he's determined his best friend should know the truth.

Information about the Book
Title: The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig (Pig Diary #1)
Author: Emer Stamp
Release Date: 30th Ocotber 2015
Genre: MG Comedy
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Hardback & Paperback

The Super Amazing Adventures of Me, Pig (Pig Diary #2) by Emer Stamp
The hilarious sequel to THE UNBELIEVABLE TOP SECRET DIARY OF PIG. Pig couldn't be happier. Life with the vegetarian farmers is perfect, and he has a new friend, Kitty. Of course, Pig won't believe she's up to something until he's eaten the entirety of the farmers' prize crop and is half way to the pie factory.

Information about the Book
Title: The Super Amazing Adventures of Me, Pig (Pig Diary #2)
Author: Emer Stamp
Release Date: 30th October 2015
Genre: MG Comedy
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Hardback

The Seriously Extra Ordinary Diary of Pig (Pig Diary #3) by Emer Stamp

Pig 3: Pig, Duck, Cow and all the Sheeps are far away from their Farm and beloved Vegetarian Farmers. More fun, parps, slops and unbelievable adventure from this much-loved set of characters. Complete with illustrations throughout and printed in a unique diary format.

Information about the Book
Title: The Seriously Extra Ordinary Diary of Pig (Pig Diary #3)
Author: Emer Stamp
Release Date: 4th February 2016
Genre: MG Comedy
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Hardback

Author Information

Emer Stamp is the author and illustrator of The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig. Emer grew up on a farm in Devon before training in graphic design and working for some of London's top advertising agencies. She was the Creative Director for the Adam and Eve DDB communications agency, which creates advertisements for clients including John Lewis, Halifax, Cadbury's and Save the Children. She lives in London.

Tour Schedule

Monday 1st February

Tuesday 2nd February

Wednesday 3rd February

Thursday 4th February

Friday 5th February

Saturday 6th February

Sunday 7th February

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell - Review

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Where did I get it? Along with the challenge I'm doing with my friend Lucinda, my friend Laura and I have also decided to swap books once a month that we love, that the other hasn't read. We have some tastes in common but also differ wildly, so I'm really excited about getting to know some of her favourite novels. This was the first one she sent me. 
What's it about? Well I absolutely loved Fangirl when I read it in 2014. I know that it originally had Harry Potter fanfic in it, but of course Rowell wasn't allowed to put that in, so she created Simon Snow, a magician at Watford School of Magick, and his roommate Baz, who's a vampire. In Fangirl, the fanfic parts just weren't my kind of thing at all. I loved the rest of the novel, because it was so much about being a fan and I've lived that in several fandoms in my time. So when Carry On came out I wasn't much interested, but Laura persuaded me to give it a go. It's a brick of a book and it took me forever to read, but I didn't hate it.
Simon is in his last year at school and the Humdrum is trying to kill him. Simon can't control his magic but "goes off" every now and then. He hates his roommate, Baz, who's a vampire from one of the elder families and whose mother was headmistress of the school but killed when vampires attacked (and Turned Baz). Baz doesn't return at the beginning of term and it turns out he's been kidnapped by numpties. Baz's mother comes for a Visiting and tells Simon who killed her. When Baz comes back, he and Simon decide to work together to find her killer. 
Baz is in love with Simon so, like a twelve year old, spends all his time winding Simon up. They call a truce anyway, and eventually get together, while fighting the Humdrum and all the rest of it. It's really long and it's full of fanfic tropes, which I understand is the point, but it sort of frustrated me. It also felt like there was too much shoehorned in - it was like giving someone a copy of HP & the Deathly Hallows that also had a round up of the previous six novels in it. It could've been much simpler, I think.
That said, I liked the queer stuff, I liked Baz, I liked Penelope (Simon's BFF), and I liked Simon. I liked that there was modern stuff mixed in with all the ancient magical stuff. I would have liked it to end differently, and I wish Simon had been allowed to know the truth about his parents. 
What age range is it for? 14+.

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, and it's mentioned really positively. I also think there's a metaphor to be seen between Baz-as-vampire and Baz-as-queer-teenager; he's an outsider and very much feels it. 

Are any main characters non-white? Yes, and again it's done in a very positive way
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Not really

Is there any sex stuff? Very little - I wanted more!

Are drugs mentioned or used? No

Is there any talk of death? Yes, there's a few gory parts.

Are there swear words? Yes, which for me is one of the most believable parts of the book 

Would I recommend the book? Yep, especially if you liked Fangirl. 

How many stars? 8 out of 10, it's good fun 

Where is the book going now? Back to Laura!



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