Book Review: Another Beginning (Lauren James)

Publisher: Walker Books

Pages: 55

Release Date: July 29th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

A short story set in the world of Lauren James’ Next Together series.

Featuring the much-loved protagonists Clove and Ella, Another Beginning is a companion story to The Last Beginning, set during the siege of Carlisle in 1745.

“Elenore Walker, ancient literature thief. It makes an odd sort of sense, actually,” Clove said.

Clove is working as a maid in the Finchley household while she spies on Katherine Finchley and Matthew Galloway. But her mission is briefly interrupted when fellow maid Ella persuades her to help steal a valuable historical document from the main defence in the city – the castle. The two girls embark on a risky adventure involving scaling castle walls and hiding in the most unlikely of places!

Review:

I do love Clove and Ella, so it was great to have a short story for the two of them. It just made me want to read The Last Beginning all over again!

The two are adorable together, as ever, and also up to mischief again. They’re definitely my favourite time-travelling queer couple and I think everyone should read The Last Beginning if you haven’t already.

This is a very quick read, just a short story that gives you another snippet of the two together, this time stealing a valuable historical document in 1745. I found I wasn’t overly bothered by what they were doing, especially as I couldn’t quite place it in the timeline of the series (my fault as I haven’t read The Last Beginning for a while) but I just enjoyed seeing the two of them play off each other.

If you’ve enjoyed the series then do give this a read – if not then catch up on the series and get on this one!

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Best Books of 2017

January

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The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

I started off reading a lot this year and January was an incredible month for books. The Call stood out above the others though as a book I couldn’t put down. It creeped me out but had me hungry for more and I’ve been recommending it all year.

Honourable Mentions: Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff and The Yellow Room by Jess Valance

February

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Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy

This was a really raw and powerful book which I, appropriately, read during Eating Disorder Awareness Week. It was difficult to read at times, but in a good way, and the writing and characters were excellent.

Honourable Mentions: Silver Stars by Michael Grant

March

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Naondel by Maria Turtschaninoff

This prequel just blew me away. While I loved Maresi, this one sucked me completely into the world and characters and they felt so real to me: their pain was my pain. It’s not the nicest of stories but it’s powerful and there’s hope there too.

Honourable Mentions: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

April 

Waiting for Callback by Perdita and Honor Cargill

This was a fun read and I think I really connected with it from my drama days. I can’t wait to read both the sequels next year.

Honouable Mentions: Girlhood by Cat Clarke

May

The Fallen Children by David Owen

I loved this take on The Cuckoos of Midwich -this is one of those books I wish I’d written and I’ve been recommending it to everyone.

Honourable Mentions: Release by Patrick Ness

June

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

This was one of the most hyped books of this year, and with good reason. It was the cutest little romance and I couldn’t help but love Dimple and Rishi.

liHonourable Mentions: Flight of a Starling by Lisa Heathfiled

July

 

And I Darken by Kiersten White

I completely fell in love with this retelling of Vlad the Impaler as a woman. Lada is now one of my favourite anti-heroes and I can’t wait to see how her story ends.

Honourable Mentions: Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame by Mara Wilson

August

Charlotte Says by Alex Bell

Frozen Charlotte is one of my favourite horrors and I was super excited to read this prequel. It was creepy and atmospheric and didn’t disappoint at all.

Honourable Mentions: The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

September

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

I raced through this book and loved every second of it. Space, loneliest, distant love – what’s not to like? It’s made me crave more sci-fi YA, especially ones set in space.

Honourable Mentions: No Shame by Anne Cassidy

October 

Monster by Michael Grant

Despite hacing not read the Gone series, I really loved this continuation of that world. Grnat’s writing can be brutal and I love that – will be checking out the Gone series next year for sure!

Honourable Mentions: Electric Dreams by Philip K. Dick

November

Wild Fire  by Anna McKerrow

This was the thrilling end to an amazingly different series. I love the world that it’s set in and loved learning about the different goddesses – and seeing Melz get a happy ending!

Honourable Mentions: Ottoline and the Purple Fox by Chris Riddell

December

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Frances Hardinge’s writing makes me marvel and despair: I love reading her books but it makes me feel useless in comparison. She’s just magical with words and I loved this book

Honourable Mentions:  Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

I’ve read some amazing things this year, and am looking forward to doing the same in 2018. I feel like blogging has taken a backseat towards the end of this year as I’ve been focussing on family and writing. While this will probably carry on into next year, I will be making an effort to have at least one post per week.

Happy New Year everyone, I hope 2018 is wonderful for you all!

Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (Lauren James)

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

Publisher: Walker Books

Pages: 290

Release Date: September 7th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

Continue reading “Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (Lauren James)”

Book Review: The Last Beginning (Lauren James)

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

Publisher: Walker Books

Pages: 352

Release Date: October 6th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove’s investigation?

For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future.

Review:

I was super excited to receive a review copy of this book, and then with everything going on the last month or so it got a bit forgotten. So sorry to the lovely people at Walker books for that! I’m glad I’ve got round to reading it though because it was really fab.

I really enjoyed The Next Together but somehow this book just did it more for me. While I sometimes found Kate irritating as a protagonist, I really loved Clove. She had some of Kate’s impulsiveness and some of Matthew’s thoughtfulness and a whole load more personality of her own. I loved that she knitted to relax/let off some steam, although it used to have the opposite effect on me!

It was great to read about a gay character in a time travel book, where the focus isn’t on being gay/coming out. Clove and Ella’s relationship was sweet: confusing and frustrating at times maybe, but what relationship isn’t?! It took a while to get my head round some bits of it but that’s time travel for you. Special shout out again to James’ version of the future and the little ways she drops things in about it: it’s all subtle and works perfectly to build a picture of the world you’re in.

It was great to have some of the mysteries of the first book resolved and finally learn why Kate and Matt keep coming together at different points in history. It wasn’t the answer I was expecting either. Some bits of the plot had a ring of familiarity to them – changing things in the past and then actions making you start to disappear in the future, etc – but it was all well written and enjoyable so I’m not complaining. There were also parts that made me want to read The Next Together again, real ‘OMG that’s clever’ moments. You can tell the books were really well planned out.

This was a fab ending to the duology, although if she wanted to add another book in with more of Clove’s adventures, I wouldn’t be complaining. It’s probably not going to happen so I’ll just have to wait for her next book, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, which sounds awesome just from the title alone!

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Book Review: Another Together (Lauren James)

Publisher: Walker Books

Pages: 50

Release Date: June 2nd 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Winter, 1940: there is a murderer on the loose at Bletchley Park, the headquarters of Britain’s most daring codebreaking operation against the Nazis. Can two young codebreakers Kitty and Matthew catch the killer?

Review:

I’ve been struggling to find time to read lately, and after finishing The Next Together I wasn’t sure if I had time to go straight on to The Last Beginning. Then I remembered I downloaded this short story ages ago. It was the perfect little story to dip into and great to be able to carry on with Kate and Matt’s story without having to commit to a full book while I was busy last month.

It was nice to be able to read a full one of the pairs adventures without jumping between stories: while I did like this in The Next Together, it was great to read one of their stories uninterrupted, as it were. I think this period of their lives was mentioned in the first book and I’m glad James picked this one for her short story. I love this period of history and it was great to see these familiar characters in it.

As always, I loved the pair, but found Kitty slightly annoying. She’s a bit too brash and in your face for me, but you gotta love a character with flaws. I’m still a bit in love with Matthew: I love his nerves around Kitty, the way she pushes him to do things outside his comfort zone and the way he grounds her. They’re such a lovely couple and I love seeing them in different time periods.

The plot to this was fairly simple (yes, I guessed the murderer easily) but it’s only a short book and the writing was great, bar a few too many exclamation points. It was the perfect story to tide me over in a busy month and to whet my appetite for the next book.

4

Book Review: The Next Together (Lauren James)

Publisher: Walker

Pages: 356

Release Date: September 3rd 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

How many times can you lose the person you love?

Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?

Maybe the next together will be different…

Review:

This is a book that I have been meaning to get on for ages and I’m a bit embarrassed that it’s taken me this long. But, hey ho, I’ve read it now, and just in time as I have a beautiful copy of The Last Beginning sat on my shelf too.

The Next Together follows the story of Katherine and Matthew across four different timelines. They meet, they fall in lover, they’re torn apart, and then they come back to do it all over again. Why do they keep coming back, and is there a way to stop the cycle?

The book flits between the characters in their different eras with ease: I never felt confused as to where we were, and I didn’t really dislike one either. I often find with multiple view points/stories you end up groaning when you realise the one you don’t like is up next, but I enjoyed all of these. I liked 2039 the best, and felt it really showed the way the future had changed well in little subtle ways.

Katherine and Matthew were great characters across all their incarnations. I think I liked all the different Matthews but Katherine did occasionally get on my nerves: I didn’t think she was as funny as she thought she was and I’m not sure we’d get on in real life!

The great mystery of the book was why they kept coming back together, and when I was none the wiser near the end I realised I might have to wait until book 2 for a full explanation. There’s enough to keep me satisfied for now though. The bits I found most interesting were the comments in between sections, where notes were made on whether the relationship was on track or if the ‘objective’ would be achieved. I found this really intriguing, and the repeatedly denied request for interference was really frustrating and I was really happy when it finally happened.

This book was a fun mix of genres and I felt it had a bit for everyone: romance, historical, sci-fi and contemporary. Each era was well researched and felt natural, and after the action packed ending I’m really excited to read the sequel.

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