Monday, 19 September 2016

Cuckoo by Keren David

He's a household name . . . without a home

Jake is an actor, a household name thanks to his role on the UK's most popular soap. But his character went upstairs to his bedroom six months ago and never came down again, and now Jake is facing an uncertain future. Add to that his dad's anger issues, the family's precarious finances and the demands of a severely autistic brother; Jake's home feels like a powder keg waiting to explode. It's easier to spend nights on friends' sofas and futons, but what happens when you feel like a cuckoo in every nest?

Cuckoo is a novel about the roles we play when we don't fit in anywhere, and finding unlikely solace when home is the least welcoming place of all

My Thoughts
I think the way this is told is either going to be something you love or hate. Unfortunately it didn't work for me. 

The story itself is an interesting one and I was interested in Jake's story seeing how he went from a household name in one of the biggest soaps to being homeless and unemployed and in a sorry state.

Much of the story is told via video diary which is filmed after the events with characters played by other characters. I found it really hard to get my head around who was who. It also meant the retelling was incredibly unreliable which again I couldn't get my head around what was actually happening.

Friday, 16 September 2016

The Graces by Laure Eve

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

This beautifully-written thriller will grip you from its very first page.

My Thoughts
I enjoyed this book. If you loved The Craft as a teen you'll enjoy this a lot. The story revolves around a family who may or may not be witches. What I enjoyed about this book was that it kept you guessing throughout. It was really interesting seeing The Graces through the eyes of River and seeing her obsession develop as she gets drawn into the world of this unusual family and their world.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women who Changed the World by Ann Shen

Aphra Behn, first female professional writer. Sojourner Truth, activist and abolitionist. Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer. Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize. Joan Jett, godmother of punk. The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed. From pirates to artists, warriors, daredevils, scientists, activists, and spies, the accomplishments of these incredible women vary as much as the eras and places in which they effected change. Featuring bold watercolor portraits and illuminating essays by Ann Shen, Bad Girls Throughout History is a distinctive, gift-worthy tribute

My Thoughts
This is a fabulous book. It is a series of short pieces of writing with an accompanying picture featuring inspiring women from history. It features a huge range of women from different fields throughout a wide spectrum of history from Elizabeth Blackwell to Malala Yousafzai

It is very American focused and I do think leaving out Emmeline Pankhurst is a crying shame. Also a little bit irked by the section on Margaret Thatcher with the wording "first in her family to go to college" when it should read "to go to university".  

A perfect coffee table book to flick through and inspire. These are the sort of people we should all know about

Monday, 12 September 2016

Born Scared by Kevin Brooks

The much anticipated follow-up title from the multi-award winning author of The Bunker Diary, recipient of the 2014 Carnegie Medal.

Elliot is terrified of almost everything.

From the moment he was born, his life has been governed by acute fear. The only thing that keeps his terrors in check are the pills that he takes every day.

It's Christmas Eve, there's a snowstorm and Elliot's medication is almost gone. His mum nips out to collect his prescription. She'll only be 10 minutes - but shen she doesn't come back, Elliot must face his fears and try to find her. She should only be 400 metres away. It might as well be 400 miles...

My thoughts
Born Scared is a really interesting read. It's dark and intense and compulsive reading. I found myself needing to read it without stopping as I wanted to know what was going to happen. 

Elliot is a really interesting and unusual character. He is terrified of everything. Just thinking about leaving the house scares him witless and doing things that everyone else takes for granted are impossible for him. Following his story you really feel for him as you see the challenges his faces on a daily basis and especially as things go from bad to worse as the day unfolds.

A real intense and dark read, much as you'd expect from Kevin Brooks

Friday, 9 September 2016

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers and fine artist Sam Winston deliver a lyrical picture book inspiring readers of all ages to create, to question, to explore, and to imagine.

A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next?

Combining elegant images by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics and lullabies, A Child of Books is a stunning prose poem on the rewards of reading and sharing stories—an immersive and unforgettable reading experience that readers will want to pass on to others.

My thoughts
This book is beautiful. If like me you've been a bookworm since you were tiny the story will be all too familiar as it discusses that special world bookworms inhabit and how stories shape the world we live in giving us infinite worlds to explore and escape to.

I particularly love the art work which combines illustrations, images of books and passages of texts all integrated to make clever pictures (eg text used to make up the sea or clouds or a monster).

A really beautiful book for bookworms young and old

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Super Awkward by Beth Garrod

I, Bella Fisher, am absolutely WINNING at FAILING at life.
1. I once got my tongue stuck to a box of Calippos in a supermarket.
2. I accidentally called my geography teacher Mum. Twice. He wasn't impressed.
3. I'm a geek. And not in a geek-chic kind of way, but in a secretly-caring-about-failing-maths-and-science way.
4. I always fail maths and science.

So it figures that when I meet the FITTEST BOY IN THE WORLD, Zac, I'm doing solo star jumps. While dressed as a cereal box.
(NOTE TO SELF, fancy dress = HE-WILL-NEVER-EVER-FANCY-ME dress.)

Now I've got to somehow persuade Zac to come to prom with me while avoiding my evil ex and dealing with a secret so mega-awks I want to Ctrl-Z my brain... What could go wrong?
Oh yeah, that's right. Absolutely everything.

My thoughts
Super Awkward is one of those books that perfectly captures those teenage years and all the horrendous awkwardness almost everyone has to deal with during those teen years. It's funny and sweet. The story itself made me laugh and cringe along with Bella. My inner teen would have adored this completely. A brilliant example of UKYA done really well.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Super Awkward Blog Tour: Author Beth Garrod Bookcase Showcase

Talking about my favourite books I always find quite tricky. Mainly because I have loads of favourite books, but also because I have a terrible memory. This isn’t helped by living in a tiny flat, full of really good intentions to unpack all my moving in boxes (we moved in two years ago).

So, here are some pics of the shelves in our living room. The bottom one is the only one I can really reach, so everything I’ve read most recently goes on there. Which is why it’s full of amazing current YA writers (Non Pratt, Holly Bourne, Nat Luurtsema, Alice Oseman, Tom Ellen, Lucy Ivison, Erin Lange to name a few) and general books that I love from any genre (looking at you Ruth Fitzgerald,
Robin Stevens, Caitlin Moran)(I would also be looking at Bridget Christie, who I think is a goddess, but along with all of my Caitlin Moran paperbacks, they’re out on loan to my friends)(in fact that reminds me, it’s been ages, and I should check they haven’t lost them).

I love a book that makes me laugh, or ties into really strong relationships. And I love YA. Always have, always will. I don’t feel I need to justify this, as books are so personal, and there’s no right or wrong. It’s up to every reader which world they want to throw themselves into. Mine just happen to be mainly comingofage stories, and ones where the central characters feel as inept at life as I do.

I’m going through a phase of rereading some of my old faves, so there’s also lots of Judy Blume and Paula Danziger nestled in there the originals full of sanitary towels belts, and all that stuff that really stuck with me when I was younger. Disclaimer: Judy Blume. I love you and all that you write. I would probably read your tax returns and shopping lists, and give them 5 star reviews (as long as they
contained at least one new word for penis, which I feel guaranteed that they would). I reread Are You T here God It’s Me Margaret recently, and on the back cover it just says ‘PLEASE GOD, MAKE ME GROW. YOU KNOW WHERE’ which I didn’t realise and wondered why I was getting funny looks on the tube.

I’m also rereading a lot of Diana Wynne Jones, as I couldn’t read her books quick enough when I was younger. They absolutely stand the test of time.

 You might also spot the present I got from my husband on our wedding night,Tina Fey Bossypants.
It totally confirmed I’d married the right man. Although, he’s also the one who owns the books about growing vegetables. If I had book on vegetables it would be entitled, ‘How to not kill me you idiot. I mean, we can even grow on our own, so why do you manage to be less capable than that?’. I also love a good autobiography, especially when they’re about 90s indie bands, and books on how to make stuff (even though I have zero skill). There are also lots of Blue Peter annuals from when I used to work there (job with a dog in the office, and where you’re encouraged to eat cake = dream).

As I’ve got older, I’ve become really emotional and cry at anything (I can’t even THINK about the Donkey Sanctuary advert, or that Comic Relief VT about the man called Bob). However, a stranger came over and checked I was ok when I was reading The Fault In Our Stars. I got to the cryread
point where you start going dizzy from lack of oxygen. Another author who I’ve fallen in love with is
Jandy Nelson. I’ll Give You The Sun made my head spin with how beautifully written it was. I immediately bought it for three of my favourite people. And then found out two of them already had it, and felt the same way.

We’ve got more shelves in the little hall, and stacks on the floor by my bed. The ones in the hall are full of travel books of places I’ve been, and places I’d love to go (I’ve just noticed that next to them is Where’s Wally, which sort of sums that up). We had to put a whole shelf up in the kitchen to try and handle my cookbook obsession (just looking at them makes me happy). As with everything I own, I love things that have significance (I think the technical term is ‘hoarder), so our shelves are also full of photos, collections of Polaroids I’ve bundled together in brown paper books (hello world’s most uninteresting picture!), and letters kept between the pages. My husband has also made a photobook very year since we met so we remember all the adventures we’ve had (it’s my best Christmas present every year told you I was emosh). Our shelves are also a bit more full of dust than they should be, but I tried to be inventive with photos so you can’t quite see.

I know I reeeeeally love a book when I read it when I’m walking home – as I’m clumsy enough anyway, and adding ‘not looking to where you are going’ really does increase the chance of a runin
with a tree. This has recently happened to me (reading when walking, not treebumping) with Radio Silence, Butter and Lying About Last Summer.

Like my life, I have no system for my bookshelves. They are what they are/It is what it is. But they are stacked with things that have made me laugh (or walk into inanimate objects) which is the best way for it to be.

Super Awkward is out now