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.

 

A Christmas Book Haul

I don’t often to book hauls, mostly because I don’t really get a lot of books in one go, but I was lucky enough to get so many wonderful books for/around Christmas that I just wanted to share them.

From Publishers

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Before Christmas I got a few exciting booking parcels in the post. One was this lovely set of It Girl books by Katy Birchall from Egmont. I loved the first two books and am excited to see what happens to Anna next. The new covers are gorgeous and I love this new design.

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I also received a copy of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber, from Walker books, which I’m reading at the moment. So many people have been tweeting amazing things about this book and I feel really lucky to have a copy.

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And finally, I have The Fireman by Joe Hill, from Gollancz. When I was emailed about this I’d just finished reading Horns and the offer of another book by Joe Hill was just too tempting.

From Nathan

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The majority of my presents from Nathan were books, which is alright by me! They were a good mix of things he knew I wanted – Noughts & Crosses which I used to borrow off my sister so never had my own copy, Goldenhand because I love The Old Kingdom series, a beautiful illustrated copy of The Lie Tree – and some new things to try as well. I’ve already read Scarlet Witch and can’t wait to get stuck into the rest of them.

From the In-Laws

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Nathan’s parents really know how to do Christmas well, and I was lucky to get a lot of books from them. The one I’m most excited about is The Call by Peadar O’Guilin, which I’ve heard great things about, and The Creeper Man by Dawn Kurtagich, as I loved The Dead House by her.

From my Mom

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And lastly, from my dear old Mom, I got The Muse by Jessie Burton. I read The Miniaturist last year and quite enjoyed it, though I’ll admit I struggled a bit as adult books aren’t really my thing. but it was still an interesting story and I’m looking forward to picking this one up.

This year I’ve decided to prioritise the books I got for Christmas, as last year some of them got lost in all the review books and new books I got throughout the year (I still haven’t read some of them…) So I have my new books in a separate pile and am going to work my way through them, alternating with review books when I have them.

I hope you all had a very bookish Christmas and that the new year holds lots of exciting things for you to read.

Top 10 UKYA Life Affirming Reads – #UKYADAY

Today, April 12th, has been coined UKYA Day by Lucy at Queen of Contemporary. There’s a ton of web-based events happening which anyone can join in with (schedule here) so there’s plenty for everyone to get involved with.
Us bloggers have been asked to do our own posts on UKYA and, after much debate (and a failed acrostic poem – too many As and Ys!) I have decided to do my Top 10 UKYA Life Affirming Reads.
Life Affirming Reads to me, are ones that change you, books that, once you’ve read, you can’t imagine never having read them. Some of mine are recent reads that I think everyone should have a go at, others are old favourites of mine that I don’t want to be forgotten (and would also like to talk to about with people, so if you’ve read them then please chat with me!)
These are numbered 1-10 but they’re not in a particular order. I can’t do that with favourite books, it changes on an almost daily basis!
1
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Patrick Ness

I could have chosen any number of Ness’ books: he really is one of my favourite authors, but I settled on this one. Partly because it’s really two authors: Ness who wrote it, and Siobhan Dowd, whose idea it was and who sadly died before she could write it. It also has a number of beautiful quotes about stories which I find inspiring.
Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?” 
2
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Louise O’Neill

Not only was this book the winner of the first ever YA book prize, it was completely unputdownable (yes, that is a word – now at least) and unlike anything I’d ever read. I really think it’s one of those books that everyone needs to read – but especially young girls. The world O’Neill has created may be a more exaggerated version of our future, but it really highlights the way women and girls are treated and mistreated in our society.
3

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Song Quest
Katherine Roberts


I loved the whole Echorium Sequence but the first was easily my favourite. I think if this was released today it would do so well: it’s such a rich, well developed fantasy world with really strong female characters. I’d love to see people reading it again, because I really think it’s one that stands the test of time (it’s not really old, just published in 1999). I loved that I read this when I was around 10, and when my sister got to that age (9 years later) she read it and loved it too.

4

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Seed
Lisa Heathfield


I loved the story of Seed and am so excited for it to come out and everyone to read it. But what I loved most about it was the language: it’s just really beautiful. The way Pearl, the narrator, sees and describes the world around her is so evocative and fresh, just thinking about it makes me want to read it all over again.

5

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The Art of Being Normal
Lisa Williamson


This is the first book I’ve read where the two P.O.V characters are transgender, and I hope it’s the first of many. The need for diverse books is higher than ever right now, and it’s so important that this happens in our YA: young people need to see all sides of society, not just the ones they grow up in, and where better to do this in a book?

6

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Noughts and Crosses
Malorie Blackman


Malorie Blackman is just the Queen of YA to me. I saw her talk at the Birmingham Literature Festival last year and she was an absolute inspiration. Listening to her talk was just like a dream. She’s so open and honest and talked a lot about racism which she faced when she was younger, which I found really shocking. Her Noughts and Crosses book was an obsession of mine when I was younger, and another book I just think everyone needs to read. 

7

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A Hat Full of Sky
Terry Pratchett


Terry Pratchett is another where I could choose any number of his books. I’ve chosen this one because it was the first I read, and the one that introduced me to his writing and to Discworld. I aim to read a lot more of his work this year and know that, even though he’s not with us any more his work will live on for much longer.

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Frozen Charlotte
Alex Bell

This book was the first I read in the Red Eye and it opened my eyes to a whole new world: that of YA horror. I’d read the usual Goosebumps and Point Horror when I was younger, but hadn’t found anything I could enjoy as an older reader. The series has been of a high quality so far, but this was by far the best for me, and it started a new hunger in me for YA horror.

9

His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman.
His Dark Materials
Philip Pullman


I don’t think you can talk about UKYA without mentioning Philip Pullman and this incredible trilogy. It celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, with some beautiful new editions released and some great readalongs and giveaways in the blogging world. Lyra was such an inspiration to me growing up, I think she’s a character everyone needs to experience.

10

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The Borrible Trilogy
Michael de Larrabeiti


This is one of those books that no one I know has read, and it’s one of my all time favourites (if you’ve read it please tell me!) The second book in this trilogy was removed from my auntie’s school’s library for being ‘inappropriate’ (minor swearing) and she passed it on to me. I fell in love with it instantly, but I think the life changing moment for me was when I found out now only was there a book before it, but a sequel too. It’s an oldish book but one I think anyone could still enjoy today, and I’d love to see people reading it.

Wishing everyone a very happy UKYA DAY!

Top Five… Dystopian YA


Who doesn’t love disappearing into a dystopian world? I sure do, so this week’s Top Five is my favourite YA dystopian novels

5.


The Hunger Games series
Suzanne Collins
I always think of this as a bit of a guilty pleasure, though I’m not sure why. I read them during uni and completed neglected my work to finish them. I remember the second one being glued to my hand as I tried to get ready in the morning (the third one didn’t quite do it for me but as a series I still think it’s ace).
4.

Never Let Me Go
Kazuo Ishiguro

Probably stretching the YA theme a bit here but I couldn’t not include this. I read it for a uni module – normally reading for work puts me off a book but I loved this. I found the pace quite gentle and the theme dark and disturbing. It’s a great read for someone venturing into more adult books.
3.

Chaos Walking trilogy
Patrick Ness
This is a series that keeps cropping up in my Top Fives, so I guess that’s testament to its brilliance. I found the whole thing one massive, speeding roller-coaster of action and emotions and I completely fell in love with the world and its characters.
2.

Louise O’Neill
I had to resist making this my number one. Right now I think it’s more than worthy, but I have just read it and am still buzzing off it and should probably give myself some time to calm down. So number two it is. Read it, is all I can say. I practically swallowed it whole it was so good.
And the winner is…
1.

Noughts and Crosses
Malorie Blackman
I adored this book when it came out, and it was probably one of my first steps away from MG and into YA. Although the series kind of lost its way a bit for me, I fell in love with Callum and Sephy and was heartbroken by what their world did to them.

I’d love some recommendations for more dystopian YA!


Book Review: Love Hurts (Malorie Blackman and more)

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

Publisher: Corgi Childrens

Pages: 576

Release Date: 29th January 2015

Description:

Malorie Blackman brings together the best teen writers of today in a stunningly romantic collection about love against the odds. Featuring short stories and extracts about modern star-crossed lovers from stars such as Gayle Forman, Markus Zusak and Patrick Ness, and with a brand-new story from Malorie Blackman herself, Love Hurts looks at every kind of relationship, from first kiss to final heartbreak.

Review:

Before I start gushing, I must say this book is probably not for everyone. I’m a fan of short stories, so I enjoyed that aspect, but if you don’t then I’d steer clear. The rest of the book is excerpts from previous works. As I’ve spent the last few years basically reading the same old books over and over, almost all of these were new to me (except for Naughts and Crosses and Northern Lights of course). But, if you’ve read the books before then this may feel like a redundant collection.

On to the gushing.

My gosh I loved this book. The depictions of love are really varied (including several LGBT characters, which was refreshing) and range from exciting, to sexy to heartbreaking. I raced through them. It was so easy to absorb myself into one story after another. It was occasionally irritating to have gotten so involved in a story and then have the extract finish too soon, but I’m looking at it as a positive thing: now I have so many more books that I want to read.

In a collection with so many stories I knew I would never get on with all of them, but even the ones I didn’t like so much were good stories, just not my cup of tea. There are so many stories I don’t think I’ll comment on them all, but just mention a few that stood out to me, for better or for worse.

I loved reading the two stories I already knew: the extracts from Naughts and Crosses and Northern Lights. These were easily two of my favourite books when I was a teen and reading these little snippets of them has reminded me why and made me want to read them all over again.

Of the short stories, I loved Gentlewoman by Laura Dockrill. I felt anguish with the main character, Danni (previously Dan) who fretted about going to school now dressed as a girl. I felt uncomfortable reading it as I really didn’t want anything bad to happen to her, but the ending was so uplifting it actually bought a little tear to my eye.

I also really enjoyed Endless Love: The Valentine of Daniel and Lucinda by Lauren Kate, but I wanted so much for it to be part of a longer story. I loved the idea of Lucinda travelling across time to find Daniel but I wanted to find out more about why and what had happened.

One that I didn’t really get into was Tumbling by Susie Day. I put this down to the fact that I’m not a Tumblr user and not quite down with the lingo and all that (god I sound old now!) and I also just don’t have the fan girl mentality that the main character has, so struggling to connect with her. But the story did have one of my favourite lines, describing a girl as Taylor Swift Malfoy (I won’t spoil the line, it’s genius and you have to read it).

For the extracts, I especially enjoyed Echo Boy by Matt Haig. I’ve not read anything by him yet (though I did by The Humans for my boyfriend at Christmas, so I’ll get to read that eventually) but this really made me want to read on. I can’t claim to know exactly what was going on but I was definitely intrigued by the plot. I also really want to read Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. The love in that story was more forbidden than in anything I’ve read before, but even from that short extract I couldn’t completely condemn it. Even when it’s wrong, love is love and circumstances can be cruel.

I love that this book has given me so many new books to look into. If you’ve read them before then it might not be such a big deal, but if you haven’t then I urge you to do so. It’s an easy book to dip into and read a quick story or extract and there really is something for everyone in there, whether you love boys, girls or don’t want to be forced into a couple at all.

My Verdict:

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