Book Review: Chasing the Stars (Malorie Blackman)

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Pages: 496

Release Date: April 21st 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Olivia and her twin brother Aidan are heading alone back to Earth following the virus that wiped out the rest of their crew, and their family, in its entirety.

Nathan is part of a community heading in the opposite direction. But on their journey, Nathan’s ship is attacked and most of the community killed. Only a few survive.

Their lives unexpectedly collided, Nathan and Olivia are instantly attracted to each other, deeply, head-over-heels – like nothing they have ever experienced. But not everyone is pleased.

Surrounded by rumours, deception, even murder, is it possible to live out a happy ever after . . . ?

 

Review:

I was so excited when I heard about this and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read it. I read an amazing space YA in The Loneliest Girl in the Universe and had high expectations for this.

Unfortunately, I found this a bit of a letdown.

The characters felt rather one dimensional and it committed one of my biggest book faux-pas:  insta-love. Pretty much as soon as Vee and Nathan saw each other they were in love and their relationship went hurtling at light speed. And I just couldn’t buy it. No matter how many moments or nice conversations they had, no matter how lonely Vee had been before, I couldn’t see their relationship as real.

I called the big twist pretty early on too, and although I felt it was obvious, it was quite a cool idea. I liked the world building and was intrigued by the Mazons and the Authority and wished I could have a story about them rather than a space romance.

Then came the inevitable relationship breakdown as Vee succumbs to suggestions that Nathan is unfaithful and grows paranoid about his actions. I just couldn’t bring myself to care at this point. None of it was subtle and I lost respect for Vee for falling for it all so easily.

I understand this is a retelling of Othello so that’s where the basis of the plot came from but I don’t think the romance was strong enough to hang it all on. It’s hard to say I’m disappointed by a Malorie Blackman book but it just didn’t live up to expectations. I still enjoyed some aspects of it but I don’t think it’s one I’ll be re-visiting.

I’m off to re-read Noughts and Crosses to remind myself how wonderful Malorie Blackman is.

 

October Wrap Up

I feel like I’ve managed to read a lot more this month, and I think that’s because I’m blogging less. I’m not worried about writing reviews for books, just trying to enjoy them. I’m trying to get through all the books I got last Christmas which are shamefully still sitting on my TBR (ready for a new bunch in a couple of months!)

What I Read

Another Beginning by Lauren James

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire (Audio Books) by Suzanne Collins

Monster by Michael Grant

The Creeper Man by Dawn Kurtagich

Electric Dreams by Philip K Dick

Book Post

After being really good last month and not requesting any books, I went on a little spree this month. I just couldn’t resist!

Purple Hearts by Michael Grant

(Thanks Electric Monkey)

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

I Am Thunder by Muhammas Khan

Renegades by Merissa Meyer

(Thanks Macmillan Children’s Books!)

Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

(Thanks Puffin!)

Minority Report by Philip K. Dick

(Thanks Gollancz!)

A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Luedecke

(Competition win – thanks Lisa Luedecke!)

A Great Big Cuddle by Michael Rosen

(Comeptition win – thanks Walker Books!)

I also had my beautiful, limited edition of The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage arrive. I can’t bring myself to start it yet, it feels it needs a special occasion/hours to sit down and binge read!

What I Wrote:

I slacked off a bit on the writing front at the beginning of the month and slowly brought myself back into it by deciding to do NaNoWriMo again this year. So I’ve planned in detail and am hoping to get the bulk of the novel written in November (fingers crossed) So if it’s a bit quiet on here in November then that’s why!

What I watched:

TV

This month has been all about Louis Theroux. We started off watching his new series on the BBC, and then binged some of his older ones on Netflix and Prime. I could watch him go just about anywhere, I love all his shows.

Films/What I Did

This month we watched The Autopsy of Jane Doe which was super creepy and fun – I’d definitely recommend it. We also got my sister to babysit and had our first date night in months. We went to see It and loved it – that perfect mix of creepiness and gore and laughs. I need to rewatch the original now, as I only have vague memories of being terrified of that when I was a tween!

What Little Moore Did

Little Moore is growing far too fast! He’s really into speaking at the moment and his vocabulary is growing by the day. He loves to say ‘car’ still, and now has a wide range of animal noises he can do, from camel to elephant to giraffe! He’s teething at the moment, which seems to be a never-ending trauma – I can’t wait for him to finally have his full set of teeth!

Book Review: Electric Dreams (Philip K. Dick)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Gollancz

Pages: 224

Release Date: September 14th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Based on the stories contained in this volume, the ten-part anthology series, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams is written and executive produced by Emmy-nominated Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Outlander) and Michael Dinner (Justified, Masters of Sex), with Oscar nominated Bryan Cranston (Trumbo, Breaking Bad) both executive producing and appearing in the series.

Each episode will be a sharp, thrilling standalone drama adapted and contemporised for global audiences by a creative team of British and American writers. The series will both illustrate Philip K. Dick’s prophetic vision and celebrate the enduring appeal of the prized Sci-Fi novelist’s work. Other guest stars include Janelle Morae, Anna Paquin, Timothy Spall and Benedict Wong.

The ten stories included are:

THE HANGING STANGER, THE COMMUTER, THE FATHER-THING, EXHIBIT PIECE, IMPOSSIBLE PLANET, SALES PITCH, FOSTER YOU’RE DEAD, THE HOOD MAKER, HOLY QUARREL, IF THERE WERE NO BENNY CEMOLI, AUTOFAC and HUMAN IS

Review:

I’ve not read any Philip K Dick before, but I have seen a lot of films inspired by his books and figured it’d be my kind of thing. I already had the Electric Dreams TV show set to record when Gollancz offered it for review – and we all know it’s better to read the book first, right?

This has all the stories that inspired the episodes, with an introduction to each one buy the people who adapted them.

I really enjoyed all of the stories, though some more than others, of course. It was a refreshing read as it’s not my usual kind of book and I was worried I wouldn’t get on with it, but I raced through each story.

PKD plunges straight into each story with no explanation, just immersing you straight into his new world and adding enough detail to make sure you catch up.

My favourites were The Father-Thing – there was something very creepy about seeing all of it through a child’s eyes – and The Hanging Stranger – the end of that, when everything falls into place, packs a real punch. I’d say my least favourite was Autofac – it was interesting enough but just didn’t capture me the way the others did.

If you’ve watched or are planning on watching the TV show then I’d definitely recommend getting this. Whether you’re a newbie to PKD like me, or a veteran fan, there’s guaranteed to be a story in there you’ll enjoy.

Book Review: Monster (Michael Grant)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Egmont

Pages: 464

Release Date: October 19th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

When the dome came down, they thought it was the end of the troubles. Truth is, it was just the beginning.

Shade Darby witnessed events that day, with devastating consequences, and vowed never to feel that powerless again. Now, four years later, she gets her hands on a part of the meteor that began it all – and that’s when she changes.

Trouble is, Shade’s not the only one mutating, and the authorities cannot allow these superpowers to go unchecked . . .

Review:

Confession time: I’ve not read the Gone series by Michael Grant. I’ve seen the name around a few times as I’ve read some of his other books, but when this one dropped through my mailbox I didn’t realise it was the continuation of another series.

After reading this, I really need to read the Gone series. There’s something quite cool about reading something and finding out there are more books to read before this story takes place. I was really into this story and able to understand what was going on, but it’s nice to know that I can read in full all the previous events that were alluded to.

Shade Darby was there when the dome came up, a helpless child who saw her mother die in the chaos that followed. Now older and determined never to be helpless again, Shade has tracked down part of the meteor that began everything and is going to take matters and power into her own hands. But other people have come across parts too, and their intentions might not be as good as Shade’s.

This book does have some old characters from the previous series in it, and lots of references to what happened in those books, so I guess I was starting on the back foot a little with it, but I still really enjoyed it. It has a similar format to Grant’s Soldier Girl series, in that lots of different viewpoints and stories are covered, rather than seeing things from one protagonist’s point of view, and that helped show the scale of the problem as bits of the meteor landed and were discovered across the world (my particular favourite was the baby who used part of it as a teether in Scotland).

There’s a lot of graphic and gross descriptions in the book that made it feel very gritty and real. While there are lots of references to comic book superheroes, our characters are very different from the usual spandex-clad heroes. Their powers come with grim transformations: no one sounds graceful or beautiful, they’re all monsters in their own way.

The book deals with questions of power and responsibility, and what happens when great power like this gets into anyone’s hands: wrong or right, there’s always going to be consequences. Even with someone like Shade, who means well, good intentions often aren’t enough to stop you from making terrible decisions and hurting the ones you love.

This is an exciting, action-packed story that grips you from beginning to end. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next to these characters and the changing world they’re in, as well as reading the Gone series to see how it all started.

Book Review: No Shame (Anne Cassidy)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Pages: 192

Release Date: September 21st 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Stacey Woods has been raped and now she has to go through a different ordeal – the court trial. But nothing in life it seems is black and white and life is not always fair or just. Suddenly it seems that she may not be believed and that the man who attacked her may be found not guilty . . . if so Stacey will need to find a way to rebuild her life again . . .

Continue reading “Book Review: No Shame (Anne Cassidy)”

Book Review: We See Everything (William Sutcliffe)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Pages: 304

Release Date: September 21st 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lex lives on The Strip – the overcrowded, closed-off, bombed-out shell of London. He’s used to the watchful enemy drones that buzz in the air above him.

Alan’s talent as a gamer has landed him the job of his dreams. At a military base in a secret location, he is about to start work as a drone pilot.

These two young men will never meet, but their lives are destined to collide. Because Alan has just been assigned a high-profile target. Alan knows him only as #K622. But Lex calls him Dad.

Review:

This is a short novel that packs a big punch and expertly shows two different sides to the same story.

Lex lives on The Strip, what remains of London after bombs have ruined it. His dad works for a group that rebels against the oppressors who watch over them through drones in the sky. This makes him and his family well respected in The Strip. It also makes him a target.

Alan has just landed a dream job as a drone pilot. He watches over his target day in day out, waiting for the day the order will be given to assassinate #K622 – Lex’s dad.

Lex and Alan are complete opposites in character: Lex is a nice guy who cares for his family, treats the girl he falls for well and wants to do what he can to help his dad and the rebellion. Alan is rude to his mother and treats his job the same as he does a computer game: the targets to him aren’t living breathing people, just something on a screen to be destroyed at the touch of a button.

I didn’t dislike Alan as much as everyone else seems to. I understand that he thinks he’s doing a good job and protecting the world from terrorists. He does behave badly towards a girl but at least shows some remorse for it. And when it comes to crunch time, he falters.

Lex was a little bland for me and I was so annoyed how he disobeyed his Dad’s orders, which were so obviously meant to keep him safe. I know that’s what kids do but it’s annoying when they put themselves in danger just to get laid!

I loved the 1984 feel to the story, with drones watching everything that people do from the sky, the feeling of never being safe, of nothing being private. The picture of this hollow shell of London was beautifully painted, with the references to real places making it easy to picture. I did want to know more about what happened and how they got to that stage as the background is a little lacking.

The ending felt a bit odd to me: it all felt very rushed, then suddenly very slow as it covered a long period of time after the main events of the book. On the one hand, it was kind of cool to see how the characters lives went on afterward, but it just felt a strange way to end things.

This is a quick read, a kind of cautionary tale for where we could be headed and will be sure to delight any fans of 1984, or Malorie Blackman.

4

Book Review: Hortense and the Shadow (Natalia O’Hara, Lauren O’Hara)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Puffin

Pages: 32

Release Date: October 5th 2017

Summary:

Hortense is a kind and brave girl, but she is sad–even angry–that her shadow follows her everywhere she goes. She hates her shadow, and thinks her shadow must hate her too. But one cold, dark night, when bandits surprise her in the woods, Hortense discovers that her shadow is the very thing she needs most.

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Book Review: There’s Someone Inside Your House (Stephanie Perkins)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Pages: 320

Release Date: October 5th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

Continue reading “Book Review: There’s Someone Inside Your House (Stephanie Perkins)”

September Wrap Up

This has been a bit of an odd month. Once again, the amount I’ve read has really dropped off, though the books have been brilliant, and I’ve barely been blogging. I think I’m getting out of this funk now so we’ll see what October brings!

What I Read

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

The Huntress: Sky by Sarah Driver

We See Everything by William Sutcliffe

No Shame by Anne Cassidy

Book Post

Because I’ve been so behind on reading and blogging I’ve not requested any Netgalley books this month – very restrained for me! I did have 3 gorgeous pieces of book post though:

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

(Thanks Walker Books!)

Monster by Michael Grant

(Thanks Electric Monkey)

Electric Dreams by Philip K. Dick

(Thanks Gollancz!)

What I Wrote:

I’ve written about a chapter and a half of the latest pass at my novel, which is basically a complete rewrite. I’m really into it but progress has been slow due to busyness/stress/illness. I’m making myself commit to just 10 minutes of writing a night – and then any more is an added bonus for now!

What I watched:

TV

The Defenders was as amazing as I imagined. I’m so in love with Luke Cage and Daredevil – such amazing characters and actors! We also watched A Series of Unfortunate Events which I had mixed feelings about. The style and actors were all amazing but I found it a bit repetitive, like the books really.

Films/What I Did

We didn’t watch any films at home this month, but I did take a trip to London to see The Room – if you don’t know it, it’s widely known as the best bad film ever and is absolutely hilarious. I took my best friend as a birthday present and we met Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero too, which was awesome.

 

What Little Moore Did

Little Moore is about to change rooms at nursery now and loved his settling in session – apparently he cried when he had to go back to his old room! He also had an allergic reaction this month and looks like he won’t be able to eat lentils for the foreseeable future – very sad for us as lentils are a staple in this house!

My Dream Reading Space

As an avid reader, I read anywhere and everywhere I can – curled up on the sofa, on my lunch break at work, while cleaning my teeth – anywhere I can squeeze some reading time in! It’s not always ideal, but when you gotta read, you gotta read…

I can’t pretend I don’t wish I had my own special space, just for reading. It’s something I daydream about, and when someone from Arhaus got in touch about a post inspired by their website the cogs started whirring in my mind immediately! I had great fun browsing their site for the perfect pieces for my dream reading space (if only I had somewhere to put it all!)

Continue reading “My Dream Reading Space”