Category Archives: Books

All Rights Reserved – Gregory Scott Katsoulis

I picked this up at YALC because it looked so interesting. A world where every word is restricted, and you have to pay for any form of expression? Plus it talks about copyright? I am sold. I also wanted a dystopian standalone, which the staff at the Harper stand said it was. Actually, it does have a sequel, but it doesn’t read like it’s reliant on the sequel, so I’m still happy with what I got.

All Rights Reserved – Gregory Scott Katsoulis

33257478.jpgIn a world where every word and gesture is copyrighted, patented or trademarked, one girl elects to remain silent rather than pay to speak, and her defiant and unexpected silence threatens to unravel the very fabric of society.

Speth Jime is anxious to deliver her Last Day speech and celebrate her transition into adulthood. The moment she turns fifteen, Speth must pay for every word she speaks (“Sorry” is a flat ten dollars and a legal admission of guilt), for every nod ($0.99/sec), for every scream ($0.99/sec) and even every gesture of affection. She’s been raised to know the consequences of falling into debt, and can’t begin to imagine the pain of having her eyes shocked for speaking words that she’s unable to afford.

But when Speth’s friend Beecher commits suicide rather than work off his family’s crippling debt, she can’t express her shock and dismay without breaking her Last Day contract and sending her family into Collection. Backed into a corner, Speth finds a loophole: rather than read her speech–rather than say anything at all–she closes her mouth and vows never to speak again. Speth’s unexpected defiance of tradition sparks a media frenzy, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps, and threatens to destroy her, her family and the entire city around them.

I was probably expecting more from this than I should have. The premise is really interesting, but flimsily constructed. It felt a lot like Vox, with its emphasis on communication, but without the underlying gender-based discrimination. But it lacked the subtlety and understanding of Vox, instead going for a general ‘capitalism is terrible and has gotten out of control’ vibe.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy this. I definitely did. I think the original premise could have been much better explained or supported – but I suppose being an intellectual property nerd does mean that I was much more critical of this than most would be. But once you got past that, this was an interesting, and well-constructed story which followed a typical dystopia arc.

Young girl does something which unintentionally sparks a revolution, discovers the power within herself to break down the system, meets new people and learns new things along the way… It’s been done, but this was certainly an interesting way of doing it. The underlying musings on communication and the need to express oneself were also pretty well drawn, and kept me entertained.

Overall, I think this book didn’t work for me specifically because a) I’ve read so much dystopia I’m tired of it and b) I’m an intellectual property nerd already, but if you were lacking those two factors, this would be a great read. It’s certainly an interesting and entertaining entry into the dystopian genre, and I would definitely be interested in reading other works by this author.

Three Stars
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That’s Not What Happened – Kody Keplinger

BKMRK gives a different proof away every day of YALC. Friday, the first day, they gave away copies of That’s Not What Happened via raffle. I was actually not lucky enough to win one of them, but I saw it on NetGalley a few days later, and was approved for an eGalley, which I was delighted about.

It’s probably a little morbid to say that I like books about school shootings, but I do. This Is Where It Ends was one of my absolute favourite books the year I read it, and I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed Hate List, Nineteen Minutes, We Need to Talk About Kevin… do I sound enough like a psychopath yet? So That’s Not What Happened was always going to be a winner for me. Especially since it approached a school shooting from a very different perspective. Rather than being about the immediate aftermath, That’s Not What Happened meets the survivors several years after it happened, and explores the impact of that dreadful day on their lives in the years that followed.

That’s Not What Happened – Kody Keplinger

40186317.jpgSix survived to tell the story, but who knows the truth? The next hotly anticipated YA novel from bestselling US sensation Kody Keplinger, author of THE DUFF and RUN

It’s been three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall during the mass shooting. Everyone knows Sarah’s story – that she died proclaiming her faith.

But it’s not true.

I know because I was with her when she died. I didn’t say anything then, and people got hurt because of it. Now Sarah’s parents are publishing a book about her, so this might be my last chance to set the record straight . . . but I’m not the only survivor with a story to tell about what did – and didn’t – happen that day.

Except Sarah’s martyrdom is important to a lot of people, people who don’t take kindly to what I’m trying to do. And the more I learn, the less certain I am about what’s right. I don’t know what will be worse: the guilt of staying silent or the consequences of speaking up . . .

I massively enjoyed this look at a school shooting three years down the line. Lee, our main character, was only fourteen when a lone gunman razed her school, killing nine, including two teachers and her best friend, Sarah McHale, as they held hands and hid in a bathroom. I’ve read a lot of school shooting books, and this one took a really interesting approach. Not only did it have next to no details about the shooter (not even his name), the actual plot of the book is set three years after the shooting occurred.
Based somewhat on the story of Cassie Bernall, who was mistakenly identified as having declared her faith before her death in the Columbine massacre, this book focuses on Lee’s search for the truth, and for healing, three years on from the events that changed her life.
It’s told as a giant letter to an unnamed reader, incorporating stories of the other survivors, the victims, and their stories in the years after the shooting. It’s really delicately drawn, with each of the survivors changed in both huge and tiny ways, and strong bonds forged between many of them who went through this thing together.
The focus of the book is on Lee’s attempts to set the record straight about what actually happened, and who the Cross Necklace belonged to. Commonly attributed to Sarah, who was then killed, Lee knows that’s not how it happened, but hasn’t told anyone. When Sarah’s parents plan to publish a book, Lee feels compelled to get the truth out there. This book then looks at what the truth is, the impact of telling the truth, whether truths can be individual, and lots of other really interesting stuff around that.
I also loved that this book had plenty of representation. Lee, the main character, is ace, and several of the other victims are repping in their own ways. Denny is blind and Black, Ashley is a wheelchair user, Eden is a latina lesbian (shades of This is Where it Ends there), and Miles is in a non-traditional family setup. What’s really lovely is that none of these things are the defining parts of these characters’ stories. Not even the shooting is. They’re all more than the sum of their parts.
There was probably space to investigate more how Kellie was affected, and I would have loved more from Denny. Overall, this book was compelling, touching, and really sensitively written. I stayed up late to finish it, and don’t regret it at all!

Four Stars

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Quick Classics Reviews

As I mentioned at the start of the year, I’m still working my way through a list of classics (mostly on audiobook) and slowly ticking them off my list.

I don’t feel like I have a huge amount to say about most of them, which is why they aren’t getting their own reviews, but I may as well collect a few of them here:

Around the World in Eighty Days:

This was the first time I’ve ever given up on an audiobook. I actually went back to Librivox and downloaded an alternate edition because the narrator was so horrendously irritating. Once I got past that issue, the book itself was quite enjoyable, with an interesting circumnavigation story, and high-stakes racing through the last few days. I was really surprised, however, that none of the journey was done by hot air balloon. Isn’t that the image which has permeated the collective consciousness? Phileas Fogg in a hot air balloon? Somewhat disappointing that it never actually happened!
Four Stars

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde:

I feel like the impact of this story was somewhat lost on me, since I already knew that they were the same person, but at the time this story of the horror of human nature must have been quite something. It didn’t hold up massively well because of how often it’s been reworked. Much like I found with Dracula, because there have been so many reimaginings of it, the original lacks something.
Three Stars

Robinson Crusoe:

Crusoe is incredibly unlucky, and should have stopped getting on ships. I quite enjoyed this story of human survival in the most desolate of conditions, but the racism throughout is hard to stomach at times.
Three Stars

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea:

I was hoping to enjoy this as much as I had enjoyed Around the World in 80 days, but was disappointed. Large chunks of this book were just lists of fish. Who wants to read lists of fish? If I wanted to do that, I could just pick up a book about fish. When not reeling off lists of classifications of fish, there was some great story in here, and a real adventure to it, but it was really bogged down in pointless detail.
Two Stars

The Call of the Wild:

Not for me, this book. I think I might have loved it when I was a child, but reading it as an adult it lacked anything to actually draw me in. Disappointing.
Three Stars

The Secret Garden:

I read this so many times as a child, and loved it. Now, as an adult, I still love it. This story of sour, lonely little Mary growing up and becoming a friendly, loving child, finding her place in the world, and reviving her cousin and uncle is really timeless, and hugely enjoyable.
Five Stars

Wuthering Heights:

Everyone in this book was a terrible person. All of them. Not a single exception. As well as that, the framing device was strangely interwoven into the story, so that we read a story within a story within a story. I can’t see how or why Catherine and Heathcliff loved each other, and see nothing admirable in their horrendous treatment of each other and everyone around them. Cathy, too, is despicable. They’re all horrible, and I’m glad they all died.
Three Stars

A Tale of Two Cities:

Man, you can tell that Dickens was paid by the word. This book meanders. But, strangely, despite its overlong form, I really did enjoy this one. I was eager to sit into the car and hear where things were going next for the imprisoned Frenchman, the dour lawyer, and the beautiful young woman and her child. I have three other Dickens books on my list, and I’m not dreading them the way I’m kind of dreading the other Jules Verne.
Four Stars

Next up on my list are Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist, then I’m going to have to download some more audiobooks. But we’ll see how I get on with those first!

What classics do you want to read, or which do you wish you never had? Maybe I should just buy the book Abridged Classics, and save myself the time!

https://wronghands1.com/2016/01/08/abridged-classics/

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Reviewing the Unreviewed – March&April 2018

Hey, I’m back, with more books I didn’t have time to review on their own!

  • King Lear – William Shakespeare
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Fantastic Beasts #1) – JK Rowling
  • Beside Myself – Anne Morgan
  • Wonder – RJ Palacio
  • Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1) – Philip Pullman*
  • What Fresh Hell – Lucy Vine
  • Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed
  • Stardust: Radio 4 Dramatisation – Neil Gaiman
  • Forever in Love (Montana Brides #2) – Leeanna Morgan
  • They Both Die At The End – Adam Silvera
  • Forever After (Montana Brides #3) – Leeanna Morgan
  • Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl #1) – Eoin Colfer*
  • Safe Haven (The Protectors #1) – Leeanna Morgan
  • After Alice – Gregory Maguire
  • Moonrise – Sarah Crossan
  • Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  • Small Steps (Holes #2) – Louis Sachar
  • Lola’s Secret (The Alphabet Sisters #2) – Monica McInerney
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) – Leigh Bardugo
  • Sightwitch (The Witchlands #0.5) – Susan Dennard
  • Marrying his Best Friend (The McKinnon Brothers #3) – Jennifer Gracen
  • Thief’s Magic (Millenium’s Rule #1) – Trudi Canavan
  • The Extinction Trials (The Extinction Trials #1) – SM Wilson
  • The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2) – Philip Pullman*
  • To Kill A Mockingbird (To Kill A Mockingbird #1) – Harper Lee*
  • The Nowhere Girls – Amy Reed
  • Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Much Ado About Nothing – William Shakespeare
  • All of Me (The Bridesmaids Club #1) – Leeanna Morgan

1200x630bbMuch Ado About Nothing and King Lear – William Shakespeare

Working my way through the Shakespeare catalogue, I decided it was probably time I read the play that inspired my blog name. Again, it’s clear why the Bard is the king. However, neither was as enjoyable as Macbeth.

King Lear – Three Stars
Much Ado About Nothing – Three Stars

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Fantastic Beasts #1) – JK Rowling

The screenplay of the first film with Eddie Redmayne, it lacks the visual oomph of the film, and loses out on Rowling’s general warmth of her actual books. Plus, is the stuff in here canon? Surely that’s not how legilimens work? Still though, massively entertaining. How did they do that?
Four Stars

Beside Myself – Anne Morgan29507207

A really interesting musing on the nature vs nurture aspects of twins, and what one can achieve when others place constraints or assumptions on you. Plenty of space to expand on the more interesting aspects of this, but they were lost under the thriller aspects, which fell kind of flat.
Three Stars

Wonder – RJ Palacio

Just lovely, a story about finding yourself, finding friends, and some good disability rep for MG readers.
Four Stars

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1) & The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2) – Philip Pullman*

Rereading these so that the story is fresh in my mind when I begin The Book of Dust. The Amber Spyglass followed shortly after. I LOVED these as a child, and love them still. Lyra and Will are my ultimate starcrossed lovers, and I wish I knew what my daemon was.
Five Stars for both

What Fresh Hell – Lucy Vine

A comedy about bridezillas, it wasn’t as sharp, as witty, or as entertaining as I thought it would be, and the main character was a total pushover. Would be willing to pick up another by this author, but wouldn’t be wildly excited about it.
Three Stars

Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed36329508

Relatively short, but very enjoyable story of finding yourself when your identity is more than one thing.
Four Stars

Stardust: Radio 4 Dramatisation – Neil Gaiman

I assumed this was a straight audiobook, but it was actually an adapted radio play. This is clear from what I’ve called it here, but I made a mistake when getting it from the library, so this wasn’t what I expected. I don’t see what the adaptation did for it that improved it from an audiobook, but I don’t love Stardust anyways. The film is better.
Three Stars

Forever in Love (Montana Brides #2) Forever After (Montana Brides #3) Safe Haven (The Protectors #1) – Leeanna Morgan

These all just kind of blend together for me. Generic romances with an unavailable main man who is brought around by the gorgeous girl he let get away before. And they’re all set in Montana. What is the deal with Montana, is it just the romance capital of the world? I can no longer separate the happenings of each of these books from each other, they’re just an unrealistic mush. Which is fine, if that’s the kind of mindless escapism you’re looking for. And sometimes it is, in fairness!

Two Stars for each

34522656They Both Die At The End – Adam Silvera

Um, spoilers? Very enjoyable for the most part, the death of both main characters left the narrative feeling a little…. unfinished.
Three Stars

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl #1) – Eoin Colfer*

I love this. So snarky. So witty. Such subversions of fairy tropes. A classic of Irish children’s lit.
Five Stars

After Alice – Gregory Maguire26245183

What the hell was going on in this book? I understand the principle of writing around an established classic, but this ticked no boxes for me. Pity, as Wicked is compelling.
Two Stars

Moonrise – Sarah Crossan

Lyrical, beautifully written free verse. Interesting choice of topic, very US-centred, which is notable for an Irish writer living in the UK. Didn’t quite hit the mark for me, but I think that’s very much my issue, as it’s a beautifully written, thoughtful book.
Three Stars

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Everyone in this book is a terrible person, and I dislike them all greatly.
But I do like the word Wuthering. So it gets bonus points for that.
Three Stars

Small Steps (Holes #2) – Louis Sachar

I had forgotten everything that happened in Holes, but enjoyed this return to the lives of two of the characters from it. Not quite a sequel, it was an interesting diversion, but didn’t really work for me. Again, probably me, not the book.
Three Stars

12690454Lola’s Secret (The Alphabet Sisters #2) – Monica McInerney

Not a worthy sequel to the glory that was The Alphabet Sisters, this was lacking much of the warmth, the joy, and the depth of the first. I probably would’ve enjoyed it more if I wasn’t comparing it to its predecessor.
Three Stars

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) – Leigh Bardugo

I love the way Bardugo writes, and this story of Diana, Princess of Themiscyra, rescuing a stranded sailor and the trouble that follows was great. I also loved the way it focused on female friendship.
Four Stars

Sightwitch (The Witchlands #0.5) – Susan Dennard

35481848This companion book to The Witchlands is a big departure from the style of the previous two, as a notebook belonging to a Sightwitch. It didn’t work for me as well as the Witchlands novels did, but it was certainly enough to bridge the gap before the publication of Bloodwitch next year!
Three Stars

Marrying his Best Friend (The McKinnon Brothers #3) – Jennifer Gracen

I particularly dislike silly romance books set in Ireland, because I’m familiar enough with it to recognise the daftness of it. This one specifically – where the hot McKinnon guy suggests marrying his best friend to avoid her child’s abusive ex gaining custody – was particularly egregious. Also the wilful obliviousness of two characters who are so clearly in love with each other. The FRUSTRATION of reading this book!
Two Stars

Thief’s Magic (Millenium’s Rule #1) – Trudi Canavan17302559

Two parallel narratives in this book follow two characters in two different worlds who NEVER. MEET. Why? Why not just write two books? Maybe they’ll meet in later books in the series. I don’t care. I’m not going to buy them to find out.
Three Stars

The Extinction Trials (The Extinction Trials #1) – SM Wilson

Dinosaurs! An island! Training! This was fun, but lacked the depth of some other dystopias I’ve read. The sequel, Exile, is available now, and I’ll probably pick it up eventually.
Four Stars

To Kill A Mockingbird (To Kill A Mockingbird #1) – Harper Lee*

A classic for a reason!
Five Stars

28096541The Nowhere Girls – Amy Reed

Yessss, brilliant, read it immediately. Great story, great writing, I don’t know why I didn’t review this in full!
Five Stars

Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

No muppets. Disappointing.
Three Stars

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All of Me (The Bridesmaids Club #1) – Leeanna Morgan

Although the other three Leeanna Morgan books in this post blend together for me, this one stands out because it’s not about a couple falling in love. Or so I thought. Turns out I had this mixed up with another book, so it is just another ‘unavailable couple overcomes their issues’. Not memorable. Great cover art though!
Three Stars

 

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July Roundup

It’s August already! Summer is on the way out, Autumn is on the way in, and hopefully this heatwave will calm down a little, so that I can breathe again. My highlight of July is always YALC, and this year was no different. I had a wonderful three days in the Olympia, although they were extremely sweaty at times, and now I’m getting down to the serious business of getting some real writing done for work. Reading is going to have to take a back seat this month, because I have SO MUCH work to do. But I can do it! I’ve got the plans in place, and I am ready for anything.

Books

  1. Am I Normal Yet? (The Spinster Club #1) – Holly Bourne
  2. Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
  3. Thirteen (Eddie Flynn #4) – Steve Cavanagh
  4. The Next Together (The Next Together #1) – Lauren James
  5. Still Me (Me Before You #3) – Jojo Moyes
  6. Floored – Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson, Eleanor Wood
  7. About Last Night… – Catherine Alliott
  8. Undercover Princess – Lenora Worth
  9. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett*
  10. The Trip of a Lifetime (The Alphabet Sisters #3) – Monica McInerney
  11. The Last Beginning (The Next Together #2) – Lauren James
  12. Geek Girl (Geek Girl #1) – Holly Smale
  13. The Godfather – Mario Puzo
  14. Alex, Approximately – Jenn Bennett
  15. The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen #1) – Emily R King
  16. The Novice (Summoner #1) – Taran Matharu
  17. Cuckoo Song – Frances Hardinge
  18. Second Best Friend – Non Pratt
  19. A Midsummer Night #nofilter (OMG Shakespeare #4) – Brett Wright, William Shakespeare

 Short Stories

  1. His Blushing Bride (Montana Born Brides #3) – Dani Collins
  2. Another Beginning (The Next Together #2.5) – Lauren James
  3. Another Together (The Next Together #1.5) – Lauren James

Cover Art

 

Favourite Book This Month

This one was fairly easy. It wins not only because I read it and really enjoyed it, but also because both my sisters and my dad also read and enjoyed it, which means basically that it’s got loads going for it (and it’s led to lots of conversations between us). My favourite book of July was Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh.

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Least Favourite Book This Month

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Marietta, the fictional, wedding-obsessed town in Montana, is a place that I have revisited multiple times, through many different authors. I don’t know what it is about this place that I keep wanting to revisit. Perhaps the books are just so easy to read? And they keep being free on iBooks. Generally, I like books set in Marietta, but His Blushing Bride didn’t do it for me this time. Not enough romance, too much jumping into marriage. Why are they so obsessed with getting married so quickly??

 

 

Favourite cover art

I bought this book largely based on the cover art, so it was always going to be a winner for me the month I eventually read it. The Hundredth Queen was fun and interesting, albeit a little predictable, and I have two of the three sequels lined up to read, but coverwise, the designer is on fire *snort*.

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Other…

I have yet to actually sort out what to do with the books in my new flat. I had almost all of them shelved, but then I went to YALC, and now I have 40 new books to cope with. I may need another bookcase.

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YALC 2018

The last weekend in July is probably one of my favourites of the year, because it’s a weekend of insane bookish goodness.

I spent all three days in the Olympia, chatting about books, reading, competing, fangirling, and massively enjoying myself.

Every year when I walk away from YALC it’s with heavy bags, exhausted feet, normally a banging headache, and a full and happy heart. I don’t know if there’s any other weekend where people from so many disparate walks of life come together fuelled by their love of books, of YA, of authors, and have such a great time.

I find it difficult (always) to put into words just what’s so great about YALC. Maybe it’s the books. Maybe it’s the ARCs. Maybe it’s the flashmobs!

After last year, there were some complaints that ARCs were being given mostly to people who were agile, phone-addicted, and ready to run to a stand at a moment’s notice, so most publishers instituted raffle systems, which meant that ARCs were more fairly distributed, especially to those who can’t stand in line. Of course, even raffle systems aren’t foolproof, and there were many instances of queueing to participate in a raffle, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

I was delighted with all of the ARCs that I got, and the books that I bought, and my weekend was topped off by a twitter notification that I actually won the YA Book Prize shortlist, of ten brilliant books, and they should arrive soon.

My highlights of the books I heard and read about at YALC are as follows:

  • Queen of Air and Darkness: Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices trilogy ends this year, and the samplers given out by Hashtag Reads just reminded me that I have totally forgotten what happened in the end of Lord of Shadows, and definitely need to refresh my memory soon.
  • The Wicked King: I LOVED The Cruel Prince (which was actually a YALC 2017 ARC) and can’t wait for the sequel to come out. The sampler that Hot Key Books gave out of the first few chapters only whetted my appetite
  • Dear Evan Hansen: The Next Big Thing on Broadway, this novelisation of the musical was hot property. Penguin ran a raffle for copies of this ARC, and flashmobs throughout the second day of YALC. I wasn’t lucky enough to nab a copy, but I’ll certainly be looking out for it nearer publication day.
  • A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder: Electric Monkey’s stand focused on this debut crime by new writer Holly Jackson (who was so, so lovely on the stand), with samplers available, and a raffle for ARCs… with a twist! Again, I wasn’t lucky enough to nab one, but I’m looking forward to it already. Pretty Little Liars crossed with Serial? I’m sold!
  • King of Scars: BKMRK had samplers of Leigh Bardugo’s return to the Grishaverse, with the story of King Nikolai of Ravka. I can’t WAIT for this to publish. I adored the Six of Crows duology, and hope this is just as good.
  • Sadie: I was lucky enough to pick up an ARC of Courtney Summers’ forthcoming novel, which also has echoes of Serial, so I’m very much looking forward to reading this.

My full list of books obtained at YALC is on my Goodreads, and I’ll be working my way through them (slowly) as the year goes on. There are lots of authors on there that I’m excited to read, including new directions from Jess Vallance and Jennifer Mathieu. SO much to look forward to.

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Pictures can’t do justice to the amazingness that is YALC, but this might do a little to show something of it. Floored was cowritten by seven super authors, and over the course of the weekend I met and chatted to all seven of them, and they were all super happy to sign my copy of Floored. That kind of friendliness and chattiness is part of what makes YALC so special, and a highlight of my year. I’m already looking forward to YALC 2019.

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YALC 2018

Hey everyone, I’ve been working with Lizzie and Lydia to compile this list of what proofs, samplers, early copies and other goodies can be expected to be found at YALC. They’ve each also shared the list on their blogs too! Gotta say Lizzie did the brunt of the work on this, amazing! Last yeah Jim…

via YALC 2018 Master list of Proofs, ARCS, Samplers and Goodies! — Jenniely

 

YALC 2018 is just around the corner (it starts Tomorrow!) and honestly, it’s snuck up on me this year. I really had no idea what to pack or who to look out for, or what workshops I’m going to do (except the YA Identities build a character one, that’s obviously going to be great).

So thankfully, some really dedicated and organised bloggers have created this AMAZING master list of Proofs, ARCs, Samplers and Goodies. If you’re going to YALC, this is the post you need to see.

I love that the UKYA blogging community is so helpful and dedicated to each other, and YALC is a good example of that. I’m really looking forward to it, and meeting publishers, authors, and bloggers who are normally only a picture on a screen.

But… I actually haven’t sorted out what I’m bringing to YALC yet, so I need to cut this post off and get packing!

Happy YALC-ing!

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July 26, 2018 · 7:49 pm

The Godfather – Mario Puzo

A few years ago I read my mum’s favourite book, getting the inspiration from the Popsugar 2015 challenge. But when I was packing up my bedroom to move into my own flat, and I came across my printouts of some book challenges, I realised I had never read my dad’s favourite book. Or perhaps I had. I didn’t actually know what his favourite book was!

So I asked him, that night, what his favourite book was, and decided I was going to read it. He said The Godfather, and I looked up how long it was. Seeing the length of it, and since I had a spare Audible credit, I decided this one was gonna be an audiobook experience. If you ask my dad, he’ll probably say I haven’t read it, but I’m not buying that. I’ve read it! Audiobooks are reading.

The Godfather – Mario Puzo

25780857.jpgThe Godfather—the epic tale of crime and betrayal that became a global phenomenon.

Almost fifty years ago, a classic was born. A searing portrayal of the Mafia underworld, The Godfather introduced readers to the first family of American crime fiction, the Corleones, and their powerful legacy of tradition, blood, and honor. The seduction of power, the pitfalls of greed, and the allegiance to family—these are the themes that have resonated with millions of readers around the world and made The Godfather the definitive novel of the violent subculture that, steeped in intrigue and controversy, remains indelibly etched in our collective consciousness.

I think the most interesting thing about this book was the final line of the blurb that I’ve taken from Goodreads there. That it’s indelibly etched in the collective consciousness, because that is undoubtedly true. I’ve never actually seen any of the Godfather films, but some parts just seep into your brain. Horses heads in beds, shadowy offices on your daughter’s wedding day, the pervasiveness of the Italian accent with mobsters… You can’t help but know it on a subconscious level.

So for parts of this book, it was like I knew what was going on. There was a scene near the end, with Michael and a car, and I had this bone-deep sense of what was going to happen. And I think that was because I saw it happen on tv once, not because I’m good at predicting twists in books. I must’ve wandered into the room when my dad was watching the film.

This is a sprawling novel. Many minor characters are given entire chapters of backstory, only to be killed off mere pages later. The narrative is a lot of back and forth – sometimes back years, to give a character’s history, and sometimes only hours, from an end-of-chapter stunner to the events which led up to that plot twist. It took a little while to get used to it, but it did add a certain amount of framing to the novel, which was interesting.

I listened to the Audible version, which was narrated by Joe Mantegna. You may know his voice, as he’s the voice actor for Fat Tony, the Italian mobster on The Simpsons. This fact was occasionally hilarious, but mostly irrelevant. Mantegna did a great job, with easily distinguished voices and accents, and a smooth, easy to listen narrative voice which made the 18 hours of audiobook go by like a dream.

After having read the book, and quite enjoyed it, I now need to watch the films. I had a discussion with Ronan, my boyfriend, the other day, about possible plot differences. Apparently, the subplot about Lucy Mancini having a giant vagina doesn’t make it into the film. What a tragic loss.

There’s a lot of violence and pornography in this book, but that’s fine – it’s to be expected in this genre really, and it doesn’t detract from the story. In places, in fact, it probably adds to it.

The meandering plot gets a little frustrating at times, as the excess of backstory, flashbacks, and tangents means that the actual real-time action of the book is somewhat disjointed, but not enough to detract from my thorough enjoyment of this sprawling family narrative.

Four Stars
****

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Finding the Time

I’ve been struggling the last month, or probably six weeks, with finding the time in my life to do the things I want to do. Mostly that is reading and blogging, but also seeing my boyfriend and family.

 

It seems like over over the last few weeks I spend all my time sweating and showering, and feeling sorry for myself about that, then aimlessly browsing the Internet, and I don’t get anything real or productive done.

 

I’m also finding it hard to concentrate in work. There’s lots to be done, and not a whole lot of time to do it in, but there are so many things I need to prioritise that I seem to end up panicking and not doing any of them.

So the combination of the heat, the busyness, how much work I have to do (and don’t get me wrong, I love it, and I’m privileged to have the job I do), and how little motivation or time I seem to have lately is having an impact on my blogging. Partially this is because I’m not actually reading that much, but also because I don’t have the time to write blogposts.

And, honestly, I can’t really see that changing in the immediate future. So this post is me giving myself a bit of breathing space, admitting I am busy, and advising that posting frequency is probably going to go down in the immediate future. I have enough guilt weighing me down about the things I’m not getting done, I don’t need guilt from the blog (which is supposedly to be fun!) on top of that.

 

I don’t know how to get out of this life slump, and I’m hoping it will pass soon, but if anyone has any tips, I’d be very glad to hear them!

Equally, if you have any really gripping books that you’d recommend, hit me with them too. Hopefully YALC next week will get me hyped for books again!

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Still Me – Jojo Moyes

I was at home in Ireland last week, and one of my sisters had this book sitting on her bedroom floor. So naturally I stole it, brought it back to England, and read it before she could. That’s how our relationship works, you know.
Third in the Me Before You series, this finally finishes the story of Lou Clark, which began in Me Before You, all those years ago (like… three years ago. Maybe)

Still Me (Me Before You #3) – Jojo Moyes

36598421Coming soon – the third Lou Clark novel by Jojo Moyes, following the Number One international bestsellers Me Before You and After You

Lou Clark knows too many things . . .

She knows how many miles lie between her new home in New York and her new boyfriend Sam in London.

She knows her employer is a good man and she knows his wife is keeping a secret from him.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to meet someone who’s going to turn her whole life upside down.

Because Josh will remind her so much of a man she used to know that it’ll hurt.

Lou won’t know what to do next, but she knows that whatever she chooses is going to change everything.

I read Me Before You in 2015, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I watched the film adaptation, with Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke, and thought it was fine, although it lost a lot of the nuance of the book. I read the sequel, After You, in 2016, and thought it was alright, although not as good as the first book, and dragged things out a bit. This third book? Was it really necessary?

Jojo Moyes is a great writer, don’t get me wrong. An alumna of Royal Holloway, my current employer, I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed many of her books, including The Horse Dancer, The One Plus One, and Silver Bay, and I have many more queued up on my Kindle and Audible accounts, waiting for me to get around to them.

But this, third instalment in the life of Lou Clark, well, it fell a bit flat. I felt like I was sick of her, and her boring life, and really wished she’d just move on.

The idea of a story which looks at how you move on in your life from a great love which ended too soon was really lovely, and I was pretty excited for how After You would deal with Lou and this new chapter in her story. But I really feel like the most interesting part of Lou was meeting Will and how that changed her. The ramifications of his life on hers and the longer-lasting effects of that were definitely something that I find interesting, but not interesting enough to justify two six-hundred page books. S

So while I was reading Still Me, I was getting a bit fed up. Sure, I like Lou as a character, and I enjoyed her tale of finding herself in New York. But did this have to be a book on its own? Would it not have been snappier and more interesting if After You and Still Me had been edited down to be one, really impactful book, rather than the second half of a story split into two more parts? Really, with the best bits of Lou in Me Before You, Still Me and After You are only a quarter of the tale each, but taking up a third of the story.

Still Me was missing all the lovely things that I really enjoyed in the first two books. Lou’s relationship with her family, her sister, her nephew, Ambulance Sam, with Lily, with her home town and the notion of spreading her wings and being free of it… everything was just too sparse. There wasn’t enough content going on to keep me interested.

Too much time was spent on new characters who I just didn’t care about. I already had to deal with a total shift from Me Before You to After You. Why do I then have to deal with a third cast in the third book? I hate change! Major developments for characters that I actually cared about were minor background elements of the plot, with large swatches dedicated to people I fundamentally disliked and wished only bad things for.

Poor pacing, poor choice of character focus, and just too much guff draws away from the really interesting story of Lou finding who she is and what she wants, and detracts from the really enjoyable elements of this story. I’m not sorry to be leaving Lou behind, because at this stage, I’ve really had enough of her.

The story written here was good, it was interesting, it was emotive, but it wasn’t a story I wanted to be centred around Lou Clark. Separate her story from all the characters in New York, and I would have two stories I really loved, but for me this was a mediocre ending to a trilogy which had a really lovely start.

Three Stars
***

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