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Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell - Review

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Where did I get it? I bought it
What's it about? This is a novella about a girl called Elena who starts camping out to be in line for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. She's 17, and she imagines that the line will be a crowd of people and that she'll make forever friends and that it'll all be amazing and fun. Instead she's third in line after Troy, who's been in line for all the prequels and is a veteran, and Gabe, who doesn't want to talk to her. Her mum thinks queueing is the most stupid thing Elena could do, and keeps coming to make sure she's okay. Elena won't give in, not even when she's freezing cold or when she has to pee behind a dumpster into a Star Wars cup. 
What age range is it for? 13+, there's very little of anything taboo in it. 
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No
Are any main characters non-white? Yes, Elena is Vietnamese
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? No not at all
Are there swear words? A few
Would I recommend the book? Yes, it's a very sweet novella if you like Rainbow Rowell already. It is in the vein of Fangirl as it focuses on nerd culture and as a huge Star Wars nerd myself I liked it. 
How many stars? Eight out of ten
Where is the book going now? I'll keep it because I like Rowell's stuff and I have quite the collection. 

Celebrating my MA with a mini book haul

Saturday, March 12, 2016

I've written before that I was studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, I think. I did modules on "the novel", the contemporary book market, and writing for children. I had to submit a full length novel. Mine was a Young Adult novel set in Yorkshire and came in at just under 70,000 words. I was very proud of it; it was a completed manuscript that I only need to do a little more work on before I feel it's ready to be submitted to agents and publishers.

Well, this week I got my result and I'm really happy to say I got a First! I've never got a First EVER, so I'm thrilled to have that as my result.

I treated myself to a few books to celebrate. I enjoyed Trouble by Non Pratt so I thought I'd give this book about a music festival a go. I love Rainbow Rowell so this novella was a no-brainer. Lastly, the Eve Ainsworth book was recommended when I bought the others, so I thought I'd add it!

Have you read any of these? Which should I pick up first?


Trouble by Non Pratt - Review

Monday, March 7, 2016

Where did I get it? I bought it 
What's it about?  Hannah is fifteen and about to start her GCSE year. She and her friend Katie go to the park on Fridays to get drunk and hook up with lads. Hannah's been seeing Tyrone in secret, and his girlfriend Marcy hates her. She's also been hooking up with a guy called Fletch, who I actually felt we needed to see more of. There's a new boy at school, Aaron, who's moved in the middle of his GCSEs and who is hiding a deep secret. The POV switches between Hannah and Aaron which was confusing in parts, but it did work for the novel. 
Hannah discovers she's pregnant and tells her Grandma. She won't say who the dad is, and Aaron volunteers to pretend to be the baby's dad. Everyone at school finds out because Katie betrays Hannah and lets it slip. Hannah gets closer to Aaron, and to Anj and Gideon. Aaron eventually tells her his deep secret, which explained a lot about him,
What age range is it for? 14+
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, Gideon is, it's only mentioned a couple of times though. I actually really liked both Anj and Gideon and would like a whole novel about them!
Are any main characters non-white? He's not a main character, but yes, and it's pertinent to the storyline and very well done. 
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Not officially, although I'd say that Aaron is suffering from some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder. 
Is there any sex stuff? Yes, it's quite explicit.
Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, somewhat. There's talk of alcohol too
Is there any talk of death? Yes, it's quite brief and sensitively done
Are there swear words? Yes, quite a few 
Would I recommend the book? Kind of, it isn't a perfect novel but the premise is quite interesting Hannah and Aaron are both immensely likeable characters. I felt like they both made bad decisions, but I'm an adult and can see that. I think that as teenagers they're both doing the best they can. 
How many stars? Seven out of ten. 

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern - Review

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Where did I get it? I requested it on NetGalley so thank you very much Harper Collins!
What's it about? Celestine is the perfect middle daughter in an unidentified country which seemed a lot like America in its societal values, but Celestine called her mother Mum, so I'm not sure where it was supposed to be set. She's a model student and her boyfriend is the son of one of the highest judges in the country. 
Judge Crevan is one of the Guild, who judge people on whether or not they're Flawed. A Flawed act isn't necessarily a criminal act - and in fact in this society criminals serve their punishments and are then let free to live amongst society. A Flawed person is found guilty of an immoral or unethical act and is then branded for life with an F in a circle. Where they get branded depends on their act, but they must also wear a red armband and they aren't allowed into positions of power. 
Celestine is on a bus when she witnesses two unflawed women sit in the Flawed seats. An old man, a Flawed, gets on and begins having a coughing fit. Celestine steps in, asking the women to move, even though aiding a Flawed is a criminal act. She's arrested and taken to the castle, where she's accused of being Flawed herself. I won't say anymore as it'll be spoilery. 
To start with, I was enjoying this book. I felt like it was an interesting premise and I haven't read any dystopia in ages. At the very beginning there's a bit of an info dump about the society and how it works, but it didn't drag too much. But after Celestine's arrest I felt like the action slowed too much and after about halfway through, very little actually happened. This is the first book, so while it does sort of stand alone, there's obviously more to come and I felt that was to the detriment of this novel, which is a shame. It's a quick read, though, so if it is your type of thing the whole series might be. I might not bother with the next one, though.
The characters were slightly one dimensional, and I felt like there were too many of them to fully care about. While the descriptions of the Castle were great, there wasn't too much other description of the world, which didn't help with setting the novel. 
I suppose I didn't really understand why the Flawed were so badly treated. There's quite a bit in the novel as to how it started (which seems to have been with the recent global economic crash) and how that meant that unethical decisions were terrible, but the fact is that (as is shown at least twice) people can make what appear to be unethical decisions in order to do the right thing for themselves or someone they care about. I suppose this novel would be a good way to get a reader to think about that kind of thing. 
There's echoes within the novel of the black Civil Rights Movement (for example the designated spaces on the bus) and of the rise of anti-semitism in Europe (the red arm bands). This would be a good way of getting readers to think about that, too. 
I read PS I Love You by Ahern about ten years ago, not long after it came out and before the film was made. I liked it, but I've never sought out anything else by her. This is her first foray into YA and I think she's done quite well, but may need to refine the art a little bit before the next one. This is a fairly standard YA dystopian novel and doesn't really stand above the rest. 
What age range is it for? 14+, there's quite a lot of torture in it which is quite explicit and gory. 
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, it's quite well done - very understated. 
Are any main characters non-white? Yes, Celestine is mixed race. I'm glad to see a mixed race model on the front cover. 
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Not really
Is there any sex stuff? No.
Are drugs mentioned or used? No
Is there any talk of death? Yes, briefly
Are there swear words? No
Would I recommend the book? Kind of. If it's your preferred genre, yes. If it isn't, then find a better one. 
How many stars? Six out of ten. 
 

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