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When Everything Feels Like The Movies by Raziel Reid - Review

Friday, September 30, 2016

Where did I get it? I got it on NetGalley so thank you to Little. Brown Book Group. 

What's it about? I'm going to write this review with spoilers, because I didn't know anything about the story before I read the book, and I wish I had. So look away now if you don't want spoilers, because I think understanding the back story is an important way to read the novel. 

The book is based on a true story, that of Larry Fobes King, who invited the boy he had a crush on to be his Valentine. The next day that boy came to school with a gun and shot Larry to death. They were 15 and 14 at the time, and his killer is still serving time for the killing. 

So in this novel, Jude is gay, and wears make up and high heels to school, and has a best friend, Angela, with whom he bunks off and gets high with. The boy he has a crush on is Luke. Jude has an unhappy home life with his mother and stepdad, and is planning to buy a bus ticket so that he can run away to Hollywood. He asks Luke to be his Valentine just the day before he is leaving and later, at the Valentine dance, Luke shoots him to death. Given that the novel is in first person, this makes for a really interesting ending.

The novel as a whole is hard to read, and I completely thought Jude was a senior in high school (so 18ish) and read it that way, rather than the 15 or so that he is. There's a lot of violence and graphic sexual scenes, so be careful. 

What age range is it for? 15+, there's some gory and graphic stuff. 
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, very much the point. 
Are any main characters people of colour? I think so? Maybe I'm wrong
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No
Is there any sex stuff? A little. Jude has a thing going with Angela's brother Abel, and he also sees Luke have sex with his girlfriend Madison. Be careful, again
Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, both illegal and legal kinds. Jude and Angela have a trip on some acid at some point, so be gentle with yourself if that would trigger you. 
Is there any talk of death? Yes, trigger warnings here too. 
Are there swear words? Yes, lots.
Would I recommend the book? Yes, now that I know it's based on a true story. Before that, I had struggled to understand it really. It isn't a bad book by any means. Jude is, while not a totally sympathetic character, very likeable. 
How many stars? Six out of ten.  

Andy McNab Giveaway

Monday, September 26, 2016

I promised you a giveaway of this, and the publishers were really quick to send me my copy. (I got it because I left a review on Amazon). I'm unlikely to read the book again so what better way than to let one of you lovely lot win it instead! This is a lovely, unread hardback copy

When We Collided by Emery Lord - Review

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Where did I get it? I bought it on Kindle for 99p a couple of weeks back, and I've seen such buzz around it that I thought I'd read it now. 

What's it about? Vivi has moved to Verona Cove for the summer as her painter mother is drawing inspiration from the area. Vivi is determined to embrace all of life, to have plenty of new experiences and to forget what went wrong in Seattle. She gets a job at a pottery painting shop and there she meets Jonah. 

Jonah is the 3rd eldest of six siblings. Their dad has recently died and Jonah and his elder siblings have been keeping the family together while their mum hides away in her bedroom, griefstricken. Vivi integrates herself in Jonah's life and those of his family. 

But cracks start to appear as it becomes clearer what's going on in Vivi's mind. I won't say more because I don't want to spoil it. 

What age range is it for? 15+, there's some gory and graphic stuff. 
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No
Are any main characters people of colour? No 
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Yes, it's a big part of the story. 
Is there any sex stuff? Yes, but it's very fade to black, and there's mentions of safe sex. 
Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, not illegal drugs but prescription ones. 
Is there any talk of death? Yes, and there's some other gory stuff too.
Are there swear words? Very infrequently. 
Would I recommend the book? Yes, absolutely. The book has a really summery feel to it, and the setting is well-described and feels part of the novel. Vivi and Jonah are both extremely likeable characters, although I felt like Jonah was a bit too "good" for most of the book. His siblings are all well drawn, and the people at Jonah's dad's restaurant, and Vivi's mum. 
How many stars? Nine out of ten. 

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Monday, September 19, 2016

I recently read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and liked it, but I didn't feel it fitted my usual format so I thought I'd just write about it. I feel like I'm the last person on earth to read it anyway!

I've heard of the book, of course, and the subsequent film, but I'd never picked it up. A friend of mine teaches it to teenagers and really recommends it, so when I came across it in the teen section of my local library last week, I picked it up.

The story centres on Bruno, a 9 year old boy living in Berlin in the early 1940s. His dad is high up in the SS and the family gets moved to what we as older readers recogise as a concentration camp (probably Auschwitz) in Poland. Bruno doesn't want to move and is very unhappy as he has no friends at the new house, and his older sister is a Hopeless Case. Out of his bedroom window, Bruno can see a lot of men in striped pyjamas who live in huts, but he doesn't know who they are. His father tells him that they're not people like Bruno and his family are.

The family has one of the prisoners, Pavel, helping out in the house, who tells Bruno that he isn't really a waiter, but a doctor. When Bruno hurts himself, Pavel cleans and dresses the wound, but later Bruno's mother tells him that they mustn't tell his dad that Pavel helped him.

One day, Bruno goes on an Exploration around the edge of the camp and comes across a boy wearing striped pyjamas, sitting cross legged facing the fence. Shmuel is much smaller than Bruno but the two share the same birthday.

Bruno and Shmuel meet every day for months, becoming friends even though neither of them really understand why things are as they are. The end of the book is horrifying - but totally right for the novel, and I don't honestly know how I'd have otherwise written it. I liked this quick read and think it's a great book for a young teenager's introduction into the horrors of the Second World War and the death camps.

Street Soldier by Andy McNab - Review

Thursday, September 15, 2016

I'll preface this by saying that I've never read any Andy McNab even though I would probably like his stuff as I do like that kind of thriller. I know the story behind the name but have never even so much as picked up any of his books. However, on my trawl round NetGalley I was intrigued by the premise...

Where did I get it? NetGalley, thank you to Penguin Random House Children's books.

What's it about? Sean is sixteen when he gets nicked for stealing a motorbike while escaping from a bigger crime, and gets sent to a Young Offenders Institute where he meets up with two members of his gang, Gaz and Copper. While there, he gets offered the chance to join the army and get away from the gang and life of petty crime. 

There's lots of twists and turns in the novel, and lots of supporting characters who are all well drawn. Sean is a really likeable character with a lot about him. I liked the setting and a lot of the army language used. At the end of the novel Sean turns eighteen. 

I felt the first half was slow and was struggling a bit, but the second half really picked up and I ended up really liking the book as a whole. I'm betting there'll be more books in the series if this one does well. 

What age range is it for? 16+, although your mileage may vary. I'm very much of the opinion that the age of the main character is the age for a reader too, so although I've read a few pearl-clutching reviews saying this is too violent, I believe that it depends on the sixteen year old. Some are streetwise, some are more sheltered. I honestly think this book could really reach out for kids like Sean who have lost their way a bit and even those who think gangs are their families. There's quite a lot about that. 
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Not that it's mentioned.
Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, it's a minor plot point and very well done 
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No
Is there any sex stuff? A tiny bit, but it's not graphic.
Are drugs mentioned or used? No
Is there any talk of death? Yes, it's quite graphic in parts and I'll trigger warn for suicide. 
Are there swear words? Yes, lots. It's set in the army for crying out loud!
Would I recommend the book? Yes, especially to any reluctant readers. 
How many stars? A good seven and a half out of ten. 
Look out for hopefully a giveaway of this book!

The Graces by Laure Eve - Review

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Where did I get it? I bought it from and it arrived before release date which was exciting. I picked it up straight away.

What's it about? Everyone in their small seaside town knows the Graces. Beautiful, charismatic siblings - twins Thalia and Fenrin, and younger sister Summer. The rumours are that the Graces, who live in a big house with their parents Esther and Gwydion, are witches. The rumours also say that there's a curse upon the Graces - that if one of them falls in love with a non-witch, one of them will either die or go mad.

Into this comes our heroine, who is unnamed but who chooses the name River for herself. She's new to town and looking for a fresh start after the disappearance of her dad. She desperately wants to get into the Graces' inner circle, and desperately wants to know if the rumours are true.

I'd heard so much hype about this novel and well, it didn't totally deliver for me. I felt like the first third was really slow with not much happening, and I wished there'd been more action even though I liked the setting up of the atmosphere. I wish that the author had identified "the town" and the nearby "city" - I imagined that they were in Cornwall/the South West, simply because I read that the author lives there - but I'd have liked confirmation. I think that too many YA books, especially those set in the UK, don't give away their settings and I wish it wasn't this way - I like to know settings! 

Summer, Thalia, and Fenrin are pretty much portrayed as perfect people, but when the facade slips I liked them a lot more. I liked the setting of the house and the descriptions of all the beautiful things that the Graces owned. The heroine is quite an unreliable narrator, but I liked her and was rooting for her the whole time. I guessed the twist, but thought it was nicely done throughout the novel.

I read that the author was inspired to write this after watching The Craft, which was one of my favourite films as a teenager. I definitely see the inspiration in the novel and recommend that if you liked this book, watch that film! 

I didn't hate it, but I thought it was really slow going in parts. There's going to be a sequel this time next year, which I would be interested in reading

What age range is it for? 15+
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Kind of
Are any main characters people of colour? No
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Kind of
Is there any sex stuff? No, but trigger warning for description of sexual assault.
Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes
Is there any talk of death? Yes and I'll warn that some of it is graphic. 
Are there swear words? Not many
Would I recommend the book? Yes, if this is your kind of thing. 
How many stars? Six out of ten. 

The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke - Review

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Where did I get it? I bought it at YA Shot last year and got it signed by Cat Clarke. I was looking for a book on my shelves and came across this and thought I'd add it to August's reading pile. 

What's it about? Faith was four years old when her six year old sister Laurel was kidnapped and never returned. In the thirteen years since, Faith's parents have split up and her dad is living with a man, Michel. Faith is seventeen and has just had sex for the first time with her boyfriend Thomas, when Laurel turns up. She says she was kidnapped by a man named Smith and kept in a basement. She has with her her teddy, Barnaby. She says that Smith dropped her off at her old house but got away. 

Faith meets her sister and the two get close, although there are problems along the way. Faith never seems to be the right kind of daughter that her Mum wants, she isn't sure about her relationship with Thomas, and she feels that Michel is being pushed out of the family because Mum wants everything to be exactly as it was when Laurel went missing. 
This is a quick read and a real page turner. I was dying to know what was going to happen. 
What age range is it for? 14+, it isn't too horrifying
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, Faith's dad and Michel. Dad is definitely bisexual (yay!) and Faith has always known that. I'm not sure Michel's sexuality is actually stated. 
Are any main characters people of colour? It's not mentioned. 
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No although clearly Laurel has post-traumatic stress things going on 
Is there any sex stuff? Not really, it isn't at all explicit. There is one sex scene though. 
Are drugs mentioned or used? No
Is there any talk of death? Yes, and it is quite graphic. 
Are there swear words? A few 
Would I recommend the book? Yes, Faith is an excellent central character and I liked her and her family set up a lot. 
How many stars? Eight out of ten.
Where is the book going now? I'll keep it because it's signed to me! 

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