Book Review: Lumberjanes, Vol 3, A Terrible Plan (Noelle Stevenson)

Publisher: Boom! Box

Pages: 112

Release Date: April 5th 2016

Summary:

IF YOU GOT IT, HAUNT IT!

Trying to take advantage of the first quiet day at camp in a while, Mal and Molly’s date takes a bizarre turn with the appearance of the Bear Woman! Back at camp, Jo, April, and Ripley must stay on their toes as they try and earn every badge possible, which ends up being a lot harder than any of them ever planned.

Review:

As usual, this is a mini review as it’s another volume in a series.

The Lumberjanes are back and they’re just as fun and weird as ever. I enjoyed the first story a lot: it’s a bit like a Halloween special, with the girls sat around the campfire telling ghost stories. This was a cool opportunity to tell some wacky stories and have some different art styles too.

The remaining stories returned to the main plot. The girls may have defeated a couple of deities but they’re still at camp and now they’re behind on getting their badges. Jo, April and Ripley try their hardest to earn badges in a range of fun activities, including cake decorating and extreme scrapbooking.

Meanwhile, Mal and Molly’s date takes a strange turn as they end up trying to best a bunch of dinosaurs alongside the Bear Woman. Those two are definitely the cutest couple and I hope they can get a peaceful, normal date at some point in the future!

If you’ve enjoyed the previous books then you’re sure to love this one. I’m interested in seeing where this new story arc goes and will be reading Volume 4 when I get my hands on it.

4

Book Review: Flight of a Starling (Lisa Heathfield)

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

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Pages: 320

Release Date: June 29th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Rita and Lo, sisters and best friends, have spent their lives on the wing – flying through the air in their trapeze act, never staying in one place for long. Behind the greasepaint and the glitter, they know that the true magic is the family they travel with.

Until Lo meets a boy. Suddenly, she wants nothing more than to stay still. And as secrets start to tear apart the close-knit circus community, how far will Lo go to keep her feet on the ground?

Review:

I’ve really enjoyed Lisa Heathfield’s last two books – Seed and Paper Butterflies – so I had some pretty high expectations going to this one (no pressure!) Thankfully I enjoyed this one as much as the others. Her lyrical prose is gorgeous and I could eat up her words for breakfast, lunch and dinner and still want more.

Rita and Lo are sisters who perform in a travelling circus. They’re a close-knit family, at home with each other as they travel from place to place. Until Lo learns a secret that shatters her world, and meets at boy who makes her want to stay put. As her life unravels Lo does everything she can to keep things together.

I wasn’t sure about the description at first, as a teen meeting a boy and wanting to change her whole life for him irked me a great deal. It happens a lot in YA and I know when you’re a teen a new romance can feel like everything but I don’t like that whole ‘I must die or be with the one I love’ type plotline.

I felt there was more to this than that though. I didn’t really feel the romance connection with Lo and Dean – he felt a bit muted to me – but I did feel everything that Lo associated with him that made her want to stay with him. After learning an awful secret that could break her whole family apart, Lo feels like Dean can keep things together for her, keep her grounded even if that means staying put with him.

I was a bit annoyed that the secret Lo discovers wasn’t resolved at the end. I wanted her to tell someone, I wanted some kind of explanation or revelation, but there was nothing. I guess that’s truer to how real life goes though: there’s not always an explanation and everything tied up neatly. You just have to get on with things.

As with Heathfield’s other books, the ending packs a real punch. It wasn’t what I was expecting so when things took a turn for the worse it was a real blow. Even though I knew things couldn’t work out happily, I kept wishing some kind of miracle would come along and change things. It was a devastating lesson in what an action at your lowest point can mean for the rest of your life. It hurt most to see Lo’s family dealing with the fallout of what she did and my heart broke for them.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance aspect of the book, I loved the sister relationship and Heathfield’s evocative prose keeps you reading late into the night. Don’t expect a happy ending, but do expect to enjoy the ride.

On a final note, and I said it at the end of my last review too, I really hope there’s a Seed sequel in the works somewhere! 🙂

4

Book Review: The Hundred Names of Darkness (Nilanjana Roy)

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

Publisher: Pushkin Children’s Books

Pages: 316

Release Date: July 7th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the sequel to her critically acclaimed, bestselling novel, The Wildings, Nilanjana Roy takes us back to the Delhi neighbourhood of Nizamuddin and its unforgettable cats – Mara, Southpaw, Katar, Hulo and Beraal. As they recover slowly from their terrible battle with the feral cats, they find their beloved locality changing around them. Winter brings an army of predators – humans, vicious dogs, snakes, bandicoots along with the cold and a scarcity of food Unless Mara can help them find a safe haven, their small band will be wiped out forever. With the assistance of a motley group of friends Doginder, a friendly stray Hatch, a cheel who is afraid of the sky; Thomas Mor, an affable peacock Jethro Tail, the mouse who roared and the legendary Senders of Delhi – Mara and her band set out on an epic journey to find a place where they can live free from danger.

Review:

This book picks up where The Wildings left off – after the battle with the ferals, the Bigfeet are making life hard for the wildings, and that coupled with a hot dry summer mean they’ll face starvation unless Mara can find somewhere else to live.

Again, this took me longer to read than a book of this length normally would. I think it’s because it does read more like a classic than the usual YA I read, and I always read classics slower/struggle with them a little. But I really enjoyed entering this world again, spending time with the familiar characters, meeting some new ones and seeing them all grow and change.

Mara meets some fellow Senders and learns what it means to be a Sender. When a chance accident forces her outside her home she has to learn to be brave in the outside world. It was great to see her facing her fears and stepping up to her role as Sender. We also get to learn a bit more about her history, with some surprising revelations.

While we do see a lot of the old characters we loved in the first book, I missed Ozzy and the zoo animals in this sequel – I really wanted to see more of them. Still, the new characters made up for the lack of tigers. Thomas, a peacock who lives on a golf course, was a great new addition and made me laugh a fair few times.

The villains of this story weren’t as scary as the ferals, but what they lacked in creepiness they made up for in volume. I loved the way the different plotlines of the book wove into each other and how everything was resolved in the end. It was a neatly tied-off ending but I’m still holding out hope that there’s more to come from Mara and her friends!

4

Book Review: If Birds Fly Back (Carlie Sarosiak)

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

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

Pages: 352

Release Date: June 29th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Linny has been living life in black and white since her sister Grace ran away, and she’s scared that Grace might never come back. When Linny witnesses the return to Miami of a cult movie star long presumed dead, she is certain it’s a sign. Surely Álvaro Herrera, of all people, can tell her why people come back – and how to bring her sister home?

Sebastian has come to Miami seeking his father, a man whose name he’s only just learned. An aspiring astrophysicist, he can tell Linny how many galaxies there are, how much plutonium weighs and how likely she is to be struck by a meteorite. But none of the theories he knows are enough to answer his own questions about why his father abandoned him, and why it left him in pieces.

As Sebastian and Linny converge around the mystery of Álvaro’s disappearance – and return – their planets start to collide. Linny’s life is about to become technicolor, but finding the answers to her questions might mean losing everything that matters.

Review:

This was a lovely coming of age romance story about Linny, a girl whose sister has disappeared and Sebastian, a boy whose father has just reappeared. They work together to resolve the mystery of celebrity Álvaro Herrera’s disappearance and help each other with their own issues.

The book is dual narrative and both voices were perfect. I never stopped half way through a chapter, came back to it and wondered whose story I was reading. They were both very distinctive voices and characters and I adored each of them.

As well as the main story, each of Linny’s chapters start with notes from her book of people who have disappeared, and Sebastian’s start with a quote from A Brief Compendium of Astrophysical Curiosities. There’s also excerpts from a screenplay Linny has written to cope with her sister’s disappearance and it’s really beautiful.

The pair work really well together, both a little nerdy in their own way, both a bit uncomfortable in their own skins and both trying to deal with huge issues. It’s one of those relationships that just makes me want to squeeze them together until they realise how perfect they are.

The emotions in this book are raw and intense and you’ll get swept away in the wonderful relationship. This isn’t just a love story though: it’s about friendship, fathers, sisters and coping with grief and the unthinkable. I just know this is going to be a big hit and I can’t wait to see people falling in love with Linny and Sebastian.

4

Book Review: Day 7 (Kerry Drewery)

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

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Pages: 448

Release Date: June 15th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Martha Honeydew has been released from the terrifying Cell 7. But despite her new freedom, the corrupt judicial system is still tracking Martha’s every move. And Isaac, her only trusted friend, is now imprisoned in the very same cells she was. Isaac saved Martha’s life, it is only right she now saves his.

But with Martha still a target, her chances of saving Isaac are remote. Martha begins to question whether it is ever possible to escape government scrutiny.

Will Martha and Isaac ever reunite?

Will they ever live in a better world?

Review:

I really enjoyed Cell 7 last year, so when I saw this on NetGalley I had to request it straight away. Even though Cell 7 ended on a big cliffhanger, I hadn’t really thought about it having a sequel, but I’m so glad it did.

Day 7 picks up where Cell 7 left off – Marth has been freed from death row after Isaac admitted to shooting his dad and revealed the corruption and blackmail in their justice session. But instead of a happy ending, Isaac is on death row and Martha is on the run while her friends face the consequences of helping her.

It was great to be back in the world Drewery has created. It seems exaggerated at first glance but the scary thing is how easy you could see us getting to that point. An X-Factor style voting justice system doesn’t seem that far away some days. In this book, we see the Buzz for Justice TV show where three members of the public can vote to send a petty criminal to prison (and pay for the privilege, of course). The bias is clear for the reader to see but I can imagine how the audience gets caught up in the drama of it all.

The book gets off to a bit of a slow start and I did struggle to get into it at first. Martha’s a bit lost on what to do and things felt a little aimless until she got a plan together.

In contrast, the ending is just insane. It’s so tense as day seven arrives for Isaac, Max tries to combat the public’s voting and Martha has to decide how far she’ll go to save Isaac. I didn’t know which way were things going to go and the climax surprised and frustrated me – frustrated because it looks like there’s going to be a third book and I’ll have to wait a year to read it!

This is a tense book about deception, manipulation and the power of the media and draws some scary parallels to our world today and where we could be heading. If you’ve read Cell 7 then this is a must read, if you’ve not then pick it up and hurry on to this one!

4

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi (Sandhya Menon)

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

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Pages: 384

Release Date: May 30th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

The arranged-marriage YA romcom you didn’t know you wanted or needed…

Meet Dimple.

Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.

Meet Rishi.

He’s rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she’s got other plans…

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jenny Han and Nicola Yoon, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI is a frothy, funny contemporary romance set at a coding convention in San Francisco over one exciting summer. Told from the dual perspectives of two Indian American protagonists, Dimple is fighting her family traditions while Rishi couldn’t be happier to follow in the footsteps of his parents. Could sparks fly between this odd couple, or is this matchmaking attempt doomed to fail?

Review:

This is one of the cutest romance books I’ve ever met. I just want to get Dimple and Rishi and smush their faces together. This book gave me so many gooey moments and genuine smiles and I fell in love with both characters.

Dimple feels she’s disappointing her parents by not wearing makeup and searching for a husband, but she has career aspirations that come first, and a summer coding camp might be the perfect way to kickstart her career. Rishi is an old head on young shoulders: he wants to marry, have children and please his parents. He’s happy to marry Dimple, the girl his parents have picked out for him, but she might have other ideas.

First off, it’s great to see diverse characters in YA, and these are now two of my favourites. I have a mega soft spot for Rishi: he made me laugh out loud a few times and I thought his gestures towards Dimple were so thoughtful and sweet. I loved the conflict Dimple had: would she be betraying herself if she fell for a boy, and one her parents hand picked no less? It was really thought provoking and the way it was resolved was perfect (I’ll say no more, no spoilers!)

This is the first Indian American romance I’ve read and I loved the way the culture was represented. Both characters had their religion and their origins but felt differently about it: Rishi loved talking to others about his culture while Dimple felt she didn’t really fit anywhere, in America or India. The mix of languages was cool to see too, and felt very natural: I grew up in a household that used a mix of English and Urdu and I saw similarities in some of the words used here, and learnt some new ones too!

To criticise, there were some pretty cheesy moments – mostly the way that Rishi talking about Dimple – and I felt the plot got a little predictable towards the end, though the ending was perfect. Still, who doesn’t like a huge dollop of cheese on their romance (that sounds gross now I’ve written it…) I thought the plot line with Celia was a little underdeveloped, but at the same time I wasn’t that bothered because I was too focussed on Dimple and Rishi.

People have been raving about this book for months so I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you it’s going to be the hit of the summer. It’s got the most adorable romance, and two strong, diverse and lovable characters that you won’t be able to help falling in love with. Do yourself a favour and buy this book.

Copy of an art exhibit

Book Review: A Song for Ella Grey (David Almond)

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books

Pages: 276

Release Date: October 2nd 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

“I’m the one who’s left behind. I’m the one to tell the tale. I knew them both…knew how they lived and how they died.”

Claire is Ella Grey’s best friend. She’s there when the whirlwind arrives on the scene: catapulted into a North East landscape of gutted shipyards; of high arched bridges and ancient collapsed mines. She witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if her best friend has been captured and taken from her. But the loss of her friend to the arms of Orpheus is nothing compared to the loss she feels when Ella is taken from the world. This is her story – as she bears witness to a love so complete; so sure, that not even death can prove final.

Review:

A Song for Ella Grey is a contemporary retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice, a myth I’m vaguely familiar with. When the mysterious Orpheus appears on the beach, everyone is enchanted by him but it’s Ella Grey he falls for, and their whirlwind romance sets off a chain of events that will end in tragedy.

I thought this sounded wonderful and the cover was simply gorgeous. I’ve not read very much by David Almond but he has an excellent reputation and I had high hopes. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t wowed by it.

The writing is very stylistic, almost poetic and while in some places it was beautiful, in others it just felt confusing. It didn’t flow well for me: sometimes I wasn’t sure what was going on, and the odd way everyone spoke just brought me out of the story. Everything felt disconnected and I didn’t really feel emotionally invested in any of the characters. While Claire and Ella’s friendship was strong and lovely, everything else felt a little underdeveloped.

The story itself was kind of odd. It’s only a short book but it didn’t feel like a lot really happened. It felt like there was a lot of ‘we went to school, we worked hard, time passed’ etc and it just didn’t really do anything for me.

My favourite bit was when Orpheus went into the underworld. The pages were black with white writing on, the prose was carefully places across the page and the poetic style really worked there. It was definitely the highlight of the book.

Overall I don’t think this one was for me. I didn’t get on well with the style and just felt at a disconnect with the whole book. The writing is beautiful though, and different from most of the YA I’ve read, so if you’re looking for something unusual then give it a try.

3

Book Review: The State of Grace (Rachael Lucas)

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

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

Pages: 224

Release Date: April 6th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost.

Grace has Asperger’s and her own way of looking at the world. She’s got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that’s pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn’t make much sense to her anymore.

Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it’s up to Grace to fix it on her own.

Review:

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately and struggled with reading this. It wasn’t bad but I just didn’t want to pick it up a lot of the time. That is, until the ending, when I couldn’t stop reading and had to find out what happened.

Grace is a girl dealing with all the usual teenage girl problems – family drama, bitchy girls at school, boys – while also feeling like she’s on the back foot as she has Asperger’s. I’m not autistic and don’t have anyone close to me who is so I’m no expert on the subject, but I thought Grace’s depiction was handled really well. She was a sympathetic character and showed the frustrations of trying to fit in when you feel you weren’t made to.

I struggled with the book at first because it just felt like nothing was happening. There was some general day to day stuff, some disruption as Grace’s mum’s old friend Eve appears and starts messing with their routines, but I felt like I was waiting for it to get going for a really long time.

The relationship with Gabe was sweet but he felt a bit nothingy to me – there wasn’t much personality there. It was a shame because Grace was such a well fleshed out character that a lot of others seemed to fall flat around her.

I was really conflicted with how I felt about Grace’s mum. On the one hand, I could see from Grace’s point of view that her mum wasn’t being there for her or understanding her as she usually did, but on the other, I understood her need to be something more than a stay at home mum looking after a couple of teenage girls. I really felt for her having to do everything while her husband worked away for so long as well.

The ending was where the book really wowed for me. Everything that was bubbling away throughout the book suddenly boiled over into a tense climax that kept me reading late into the night.

This is a short read and I felt that maybe too many things were covered in not enough detail. While I loved all of Grace’s bits and the romance was sweet, her sister Leah’s storyline seemed to erupt out of nowhere and the absent father bit was tied up quickly at the end. Still, Grace was a great character to read and I’d still recommend this book.

3

May Wrap Up

I’ve stuck to my word this month and been alternating between my books and review books. I like reading a mix of new and older books and it’s nice to see each pile finally going down!

What I Read

Like Other Girls by Claire Hennessy

The Sign of One by Eugene Lambert

This Careless Life by Rachel McIntyre

Release by Patrick Ness

The Fallen Children by David Owen

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy

The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond

Book Post

I’ve realised I’ve not been including my NetGalley books on this list so I’m adding all my NetGalley TBR onto this month’s new books.

Release by Patrick Ness

(Thanks Walker YA!)

This Careless Life by Rachel McIntyre

Monster by Michael Grant

Flight of a Starling by Lisa Heathfield

(Thanks Electric Monkey!)

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

(Thanks Rock the Boat!)

And on NetGalley…

STAGS by M. A Bennett

(Thanks Hot Key Books!)

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

(Thanks Hodder and Stoughton!)

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

(Thanks Penguin Random House!)

What I Wrote:

I’m still reading through my first draft and making scene notes. While the beginning was better than I remembered, the end is just as terrible as I thought and the amount of work needed there makes me dizzy! Slowly starting to chip through it though and I’m looking forward to making some big changes.

What I watched:

TV

Tragedy struck our Green Wing rewatch when I found one of the discs missing 😮 I was so gutted we stopped and went on to Kimmy Schmidt instead, in preparation for the new series (which is excellent). We’ve also started watching The Office (US) boxset, which I got for my birthday and is one of my favourite series. I’ve also finally started watching American Horror Story: Roanoke. It’s been on my to-watch pile for ages and it’s pretty creepy so far.

Films

I don’t think I watched a single film this month, which is not like me! Planning a horror film sleepover with my sisters for June though so should be watching some interesting things soon.

What I Did

This month I’ve finally plucked up the courage to start driving lessons again. It’s been a while and I’m pretty rusty, but it’s not as horrendous as I feared and I’m hoping to take my test this year. My little sister turned 17 this month and has also started lessons and I’m determined to pass before her!

What Little Moore Did

Little Moore now has six teeth and is still toddling around using his walker/various parts of the furniture. He’s not confident enough to walk on his own yet, and while I can’t wait to see him do it, I’m trying to enjoy the time we have left of him only being able to crawl! He also got his first bike this month and he loves going for a walk around the block before dinner in these warm summer evenings.

Book Review: One of Us is Lying (Karen M. McManus)

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

Publisher: Penguin

Pages: 300

Release Date: June 1st 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Review:

I loved the sound of this when I saw it on NetGalley. A dead classmate, fours suspects who were in the room when he died, each with their own secret to hide and own reason for maybe wanting him dead. What’s not to like?

I did really enjoy this one. The pace is a little slow: I was expecting fast paced revelations and action but instead, it was a bit more leisurely, with new secrets being leaked out bit by bit and lots of character and relationship developments.

Simon is a pretty unlikeable character right off the bat. He has an app which circulates gossip about fellow classmates. Sounds toxic enough, but he’s pretty much always right, so the school puts a lot of faith in his words. But he’s still not popular: people are just afraid of him. It means there’s a lot of people who could potentially wish him harm, aside from the four main suspects.

Of the four, Nate is the most suspect as he already has a criminal record. From just reading the summary I was expecting him to be the red herring and one of the girls to be the real culprit: the ‘brains’ or the ‘beauty’ as the least likely to first be suspected.

The books keeps you guessing a lot. As the police investigation unfolds, things surface from the past which makes you doubt each of the four in turn. There’s a pretty decent red herring in there who was my first suspect. When the first clue dropped about the real murderer I latched onto it and worked things out in my head, but that didn’t stop me enjoying the journey everyone else took to get there. It was a good twist and an original idea.

The characters in this book all develop and change as the situation takes it toll on them. I liked Addy’s transformation the best: she goes from probably the least likeable to one of the most and it was great to see her stand up for herself. The love story was quite sweet and I was rooting for them, even though that would probably be the last thing on my mind if I was being investigated for murder!

This was a really enjoyable book, a good slow burner with an interesting twist and great, believable characters. I’d recommend reading and seeing if you can guess the killer before the end!

4