Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Review: Echo Boy by Matt Haig

Audrey's father taught her that to stay human in the modern world, she had to build a moat around herself; a moat of books and music, philosophy and dreams. A moat that makes Audrey different from the echoes: sophisticated, emotionless machines, built to resemble humans and to work for human masters. Daniel is an echo - but he's not like the others. He feels a connection with Audrey; a feeling Daniel knows he was never designed to have, and cannot explain. And when Audrey is placed in terrible danger, he's determined to save her. The Echo Boy is a powerful story about love, loss and what makes us truly human

My Thoughts
While I'm not certain this book was entirely for me I can certainly think of several people I'd happily recommend it to.

Echo boy is set in the future in a works where echos are used as robotic human like servants and starts dramatically with the death of the main character's parents at the hands of one of the echos. The story then follows her as she goes to stay with her uncle, the man who owns the company who produces echos and gets to the bottom of the murder.

The world presented in echo boy is a scary one especially do as it feels so real. The action is fast paced and the mystery side keeps you guessing.

That said, probably because it was scifi it didn't grip me as much as I would have liked. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Review: Goose by Dawn O'Porter

It's a year and a half on from Paper Aeroplanes, and Renée is now living with her Aunty Jo. They even have geese, and Renée likes to sit and watch them, wondering if she'll ever find 'the One' - someone who will love her no matter what, and be there for her no matter how bad things get. She and Flo are in their final year at school, and they've got some tough choices to make - like will they go to university? And if so where - and will they go together? Renée's usual ambivalence on the matter shocks Flo, who had assumed they'd continue as they were, the best and closest of friends, forever. She feels as though she needs Renée's support more than ever, so when a handsome young boy enters Flo's life, she finds herself powerfully drawn to his kindness, and his faith. Renée and Flo's friendship will soon be tested in a way neither of them could have expected - and if Paper Aeroplanes was a book about finding friendship, Goose is the novel that explores whether it's possible to keep hold of it

My Thoughts
I'm deliberately going to write a short review for this book today mostly because I don't want to spoil it for others.

Put simply I loved Goose. For me this book (and indeed its predecessor) perfectly encapsulate what it meant to be a teenager in the late 90s before mobile phones and the Internet became a normal part of our daily existence. I loved this book because you get a real feel for the time and for me it meant it was so realistic. I relate to the main characters so well because I can remember throwing in that spice girls tape and dressing up in the fashions mentioned whilst spending the weekend out and about socialising rather than spending it behind a screen. If for no other reason this is why I loved it.

I also loved that this book stood alone as a story. I struggle with series and it has been a while since I read book one and it was nice to be able to pick up where book one left off with reasonable ease.

All in all a book. I thoroughly enjoyed mostly because it made me feel like a teenager again.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Review: Don't look back by Jennifer Armentrout

What if you had the chance to start again...but only if you promised never to look back? Samantha is popular, rich, and seemed to have it all...until the night she and her best 'frenemy' Cassie disappeared and only Sammy resurfaced, with no recollection of who she is or what happened. Sammy's a stranger in her own life - a life she no longer wants any part of. Losing her memory is a chance to start again. Then Sammy begins receiving mysterious notes warning her about that night, urging her to not look back. But she can't let it go. As she starts poking around in her past she begins to remember...and something sinister begins to surface.

My thoughts
I literally had no idea what to expect from this author not having read any of her previous books but I was keen to read this book as lots of my blogger friends went nuts when it dropped through their letter boxes.

I don't want to say too much about this book for fear of spoiling it but I will say that it was an awesome read which kept me guessing right through until the very last pages. It's nice to have a thriller mystery where you don't guess the outcome from the very start. I loved finding out more about what happened and who was involved.

A special mention has to go to the adorable Carson whom I loved entirely from the very first moment he stepped onto the page. I also loved what this book had to say about popularity and why you pick to be friends with the people you do.

All in all a really enjoyable read.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Review: A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke

When Alex meets Kate the attraction is instant.

Alex is funny, good-looking, and a little shy – everything that Kate wants in a boyfriend.

Alex can’t help falling for Kate, who is pretty, charming and maybe just a little naive…

But one of them is hiding a secret, and as their love blossoms, it threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their lives.

My thoughts
This review is deliberately short because of two reasons. Firstly I'm not certain I have the words to do it justice and secondly I don't want to spoil it for others.

You can always rely on a Cat Clarke novel to rip you to shreds emotionally. This was no exception. It's gritty and hard hitting throughout. The story itself is one of those where you just know from the outset that it isn't going to end well for the characters involved. The situations they find themselves in are impossible and you just know that whatever happens their lives are going to be changed forever.

The thing I loved about this book more than anything else is the way it explored teenage sexuality without labels. All too often people want to put a label on a person to define the person they love and I think this book showed so brilliantly well that often sexuality has as much to do with making a connection with an individual be they male or female rather than a conscious choice to be attracted to someone of the same sex. YA needs more of this please.

I adore the characters in this book and I loved the relationship that developed and desperately wanted to root for it whilst knowing all along that speeding towards an impossible place. I also loved that it was A UKYA novel not set in England. I loved the setting of Edinburgh and it has left me wanting to go back to visit again.

All in all a perfect YA novel which blew me away from the start, had me gripped until the end and left me in emotional tatters.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E Smith

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

My thoughts
A super sweet offering from an author who I have come to expect great things from. The Geography of You and Me was a quick and lovely little read which I enjoyed thoroughly.

The Geography of You and Me is the story of Owen and Lucy. They are very different and meet during a blackout when they both end up stuck in an elevator. I liked the contrast between the two and their backgrounds but also being the common ground they have in their stories. Both are quite lonely and being moved from place to place by dictated by their parents work.

The vast amount of the book the pair are separated whilst on their travels and their only communication being a series of postcards and email replies sent between the two. It was a really sweet idea and I liked seeing how their relationship developed in this unusual way.

For me the book was very much about seeing all the places the characters visited. I personally got very excited about seeing Edinburgh and London through Lucy's eyes and I loved the American Roadtrip feel of Owen's story.

All in all a book I very much enjoyed and an author I continue to follow with interest.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Bookcase Showcase: Author Tanya Landman

How do I organise my bookshelves?  I don’t.  How can I find anything?  I can’t.  Books are stacked all over the place, piled two or three deep on sagging shelves. Sometimes I worry that the sheer weight of them might bring the house down.

The bookshelf in this photo, however, is different. These are the sacred shelves to the right of my desk where I keep my hallowed collection of reference books (in fact there are another three shelves below these but they wouldn’t fit into the picture).  I like to have these volumes close to hand so I can keep checking things as I’m writing.

 It’s a wide-ranging mix of subject matter.  On the top shelf Special Effects rubs shoulders with The Treasures of the British Museum and the Concise Encyclopedia of the American Indian.   Ancient Egyptian Jewellery snuggles up to the Top 10 of Everything and The American Civil War.  What’s interesting is how they all feed into each other.

The Native American books date from the time I was researching for Apache.  Some are more useful than others, of course.  Frankly one or two ought to go into the bin, but I’ve never been good at getting rid of books.  Others, though  – like Eve Ball’s Indeh and In the Days of Victorio down there on the bottom shelf – are pure gold.

After finishing Apache I got interested in those very first moments of contact between Europeans and people from the ‘New World.’ Hence the many books on the Aztecs and the Spanish conquest of Mexico.  The Broken Spears – which gives the detailed accounts of Aztecs who saw the invasion and the destruction of their empire at first hand – gave me crucial insights into their society.  From these volumes grew The Goldsmith’s Daughter.

Some of the books that fed into Buffalo Soldier are there on the middle two shelves. While researching for Apache I came across references to ‘Negro soldiers’ in the US army. Wanting to know more about them I started reading books like Cox’s The Forgotten Heroes and Schubert’s Voices of the Buffalo Soldier along with Blassingame’s Slave Testimonials, Sojourner Truth’s Aint I a Woman?  Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Washington’s Up from Slavery and many, many others.

Gone With the Wind is there too.  I was taken to see the film when I was eleven and fell in love with Rhett Butler and the ball gowns!  After that, I read and re-read it, torturing myself over the agonies of doomed love (as you do) but skipping all the history bits and the political bits and the other bits that made me suspect that this wasn’t really how things had been. My original copy fell apart after being wept over once too often.  Reading it as an adult was a completely different experience and this edition is scribbled all over, the margin littered with exclamation marks, question marks and my outraged comments about the jaw dropping racism. In some ways Buffalo Soldier is my response to Gone With the Wind.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Book Break Episode 3 featuring Liz De Jager

Today at 12:30pm former Book Blogger Liz De Jager will be talking books on the third Book Break Episode Check it out below as it promises to be awesome.