Saturday, 25 April 2015

REVIEW || Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Book Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Publisher: Allen & Unwin UK, 18th June, 2015
Source
Format: Paperback, 259 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel. Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives. And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

Me and Earl is a fiendishly clever book, though you might not see it like that. It has taken the YA cancer trope and made it into something completely desensitized when compared to the likes of The Fault in Our Stars, but in reality it’s a completely stark and pretty entertaining look at the topic of cancer in YA and most importantly the characters themselves. In Me and Earl the most striking thing is the characters and their ‘larger-than-life’ personalities, they are a completely real and true to the “occasional” [sarcastic quotation marks there] stupidity of a teenager – and this definitely comes across in the narration, all of which is done by the main character Greg Gaines. Who by all rights should be the most annoying narrator ever, but for some reason how he spoke and how the novel was written didn't irritate me like it normally would.

This book is very much like one of the Gaines/Jackson films; Rachel the Film – it’s a mishmash of nearly everything and when you think about it, it’s kind of terrible, but when you’re actually reading the book it works quite well and to great effect. Basically you’ll end up thinking three quarters of the book is a bunch of (brilliant) pretext with almost zero plot development and then the last quarter is a bit of a punch in the gut. It’s not your run of the mill contemporary novel, you could say. 

Andrews' book echoed the likes of Andrew Smith, and had brilliant chapter headings that I loved chuckling at. I don't think I can really reiterate how incredibly true I found Me and Earl to be, it has a sense of humor of its own that probably won't appeal to everyone, but me, being the bad-pun loving gal that I am, adored the humor. Whilst I never emotionally connected with this book until near the end (and it was a tenuous connection at that point) I don't think its the point of the story, to be some massive emotional spiral and therefore that fact doesn't bother me at all. The only downside I can think of is that whilst most of these aspects contributed to me really liking the book, they also won't appeal to some readers.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book; it was funny, honest, contained ridiculous teenage profanity, and I ended up loving the characters too. Andrews' has brought new life to a trope in YA that I've stayed away from for a long while and for that, I thank him. In the end Me and Earl was geniunely very touching, not in a crying way, but in the way where you ultimately do feel bittersweet about leaving the book and its characters behind. If you're a fan of honest contemporaries, and have enjoyed the works of a one Mr. Andrew Smith then do definitely pick up Me and Earl!

Rating = 3.5 Bookish Birds

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has also been made into a movie, due to be released in the UK on the 11th of September this year and Jesse Andrews also wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation! Its already had some really great praise, and I can see why; from the trailer it looks so fantastic. I'm really excited to see what happens with the film and how it differs from the book - you can see the trailer of the movie below!



Friday, 24 April 2015

BLOG TOUR || LIES LIKE LOVE by Louisa Reid // Guest Post!



Today I have Louisa Reid, author of the fabulous Lies Like Love, on my blog today (as part of the blog tour for her book!) and she is telling us about some mothers in fiction who really need to clean up their act in regards to their children!

The conflict between a mother and her teenage daughters is always going to be a fruitful area for writers to explore. Obviously, the majority of mothers have the best interests of their children at heart, but the baddies are not only fascinating to write, but also horrifying to read. There are plenty of wicked step-mothers in fairy-tales, so this is a trope we are introduced to as very young consumers of stories, but it’s developed in some of these brilliant books.

Worst Mothers in Fiction

Corrine Dollanganger from Flowers in the Attic: Virginia Andrews
What can you say about a mother who locks her children in an attic so she can cavort around with her younger man and inherit all her father’s wealth? Nothing good, that’s for sure.


Mrs Bennet from Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen
Mrs Bennet is an embarrassment and a disgrace. She nearly completely scuppers Jane’s marriage to Bingley as well as turning Darcy off Lizzy. She should be ashamed of herself. But she isn’t.


Maria Kinsman: The Mother from Black Heart Blue (written by me) 
This woman is a piece of work. More witch than human, she has a black heart indeed. 

Mrs Finch from All The Truth That’s In Me:  Julie Berry 
I wanted to scream at the mother in this fabulous novel to just take her poor wounded daughter, Judith, in her arms and love her. It takes the entire story for an ounce of kindness to be wrung out of this cruel old bag.

Eva from We Need To Talk About Kevin: Lionel Shriver
What a conundrum. The narrator of this brilliant book is so unreliable we never know if it’s her mothering or her son’s awfulness which is to blame for the horrific events that transpire. Brilliantly complex.

Best Mothers in Fiction – included just for balance! Because there are lots of lovely people in real life and in books too!

I never ever want to be Hazel’s Mum in The Fault in our Stars . But what she does, she does so damn well. She’s as every mother should be: warm, loving and good.


Mrs Molly Weasley in all the Harry Potters: J K Rowling
A fantastically talented witch and a kind, generous Mum rolled into one. Plus she makes the best jumpers.

Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables:  Louisa May Alcott
I love love love Marilla. She has such a tough exterior, but underneath it is such a warm and decent woman and she loves Anne SO MUCH.

Ma in Room by Emma Donoghue
How do you keep your son free from the fear and horror of the Room? Ma bravely and boldly tries to maintain her dignity and that of her son under the most hideous of circumstances.

Many of the mothers mentioned are one's I loved to hate, and one's I just all round loved (ehem, Molly Weasley!) There is also a giveaway where you can win One Signed Lies Like Love, One Signed Black Heart Blue, and One Bundle of Swag - you can enter via the rafflecopter below!


Author Information
Louisa Reid is a writer and teacher living on the Fen Edge. Her debut novel, BLACK HEART BLUE was published in 2012 by Penguin and was shortlisted for the North East Teen Book Award and longlisted for the Carnegie and Branford Boase awards. Her second novel, LIES LIKE LOVE was published in July 2014 by Penguin.


Book Information
Lies Like Love by Louisa Reid


Summary:

LIES

'There were a few problems . . . bullying . . . a fire . . .'

LIKE

I think she's verging on psychosis . . . now she's lashing out.

LOVE

She's got no one else to fight for her.'

Sixteen year-old Audrey just wants to be normal. She's trying to fit in. But what happens when the person closest to you suffocates you with their love? What happens then?

About the Book
Title: Lies Like Love
Author: Louisa Reid
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback
Published: July 3rd 2014


Author Links

Tour Schedule ---


Thursday, 23 April 2015

REVIEW || The Memory Keepers by Natasha Ngan

Book Title: The Memory Keepers
Author: Natasha Ngan
Publisher: Hot Key Books, September 4th, 2014
SourcePublisher 
Format: Paperback, 410 pages
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Seven is a thief with a difference - he steals downloadable memories from banks and memoriums to sell onto London's black market, trading secrets and hidden pasts for a chance at a future of his own. He makes sure he keeps some special stuff back to 'surf' himself though - it's the only real form of entertainment he can afford. But one night, as Seven is breaking into a private memorium in a wealthy part of London, he is caught in the act by one of its residents; Alba, the teenage daughter of London's most famous criminal prosecutor. Instead of giving him away, Alba promises to keep Seven's secret - as long as he allows her to go memory-surfing herself. In doing so, they discover a hidden memory about Seven's past, revealing a shocking secret about Seven's childhood, the government and a mysterious experiment known as The Memory Keepers... Now Seven and Alba will have to race against time to unlock the maze of The Memory Keepers - but can they keep themselves out of harm's way before the London Guard - and Alba's father - catches up with them?
The Memory Keepers is a fun, edgy, thriller-type book set in future London surrounding two characters, Alba and Seven. Seven is a skid-thief, someone who steals memories from the North, the elite, where they eventually get sold on the black market. Alba is the daughter of Alastair White.

I had my doubts about the two points of view because very rarely in my experience does it ever really work successfully, but despite both perspectives being similar due to the linking writing style I still could tell when the book alternated between the two characters, and they held their own during that; both having distinctive voices. I also enjoyed the moments when it wasn’t told in completely chronological order; it was a nice change but didn’t interrupt the telling of the story itself. And one thing I was personally very grateful for was the lack of info-dumping!

Ngan created a world where the divide was clear, and brought it out really well in her descriptions – you got a real gritty feel when plunged into South and it was very vividly done too. I enjoyed seeing how the two characters were at odd ends of each other at times; it definitely wasn’t insta-love! There are a lot of interesting aspects to The Memory Keepers, it isn’t just one thing alone, its quite a few things all intertwined to create one plot and I think that, despite the being the potential for at least a duology, it was great that the author kept it altogether in one book – the ending itself was so bittersweet it did claw at my heart a little bit.

I would have liked a little more development on the skids themselves and memory surfing as it was something that I really enjoyed reading about, but what we did get to experience was quite realistic. I liked the fact that both the main characters weren’t perfect, as Alba recounts Seven is “funny looking” and vice versa Seven headily pointed out that Alba was “chubby” – its this diversity and difference of character and personality that made me fall in love with them both on separate levels. They’re both relatable in different ways, some more subtle than others.

Overall, The Memory Keepers gave me more than I bargained for with conspiracy, a little bit of swashbuckling action towards the end and a whole lot of great writing. 


Rating = 4 Bookish Birds

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Naming and Shaming...! Part 2

Time for my second naming and shaming post. I told you I could do more. I have a list of books that people are going to be really shocked to hear that I haven't read.

The Throne Of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas

I know, I know. Please don't yell. I just, I had never heard the buzz until last year, and then I took like three or four months to buy the full series. I promise by the end of this year I will have read the series! I just, I'm sorry! *hangs head in shame*



Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll



I know this may shock a lot of people but I haven't. I do however own this exact edition in the picture, which is everything that Lewis Carroll, real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, wrote. It's like 1100 pages long and weighs a LOT. I am going to read the Alice novels, but I think I might have to build up my muscles first because it is very heavy. Like seriously, not a book you take to school or anything. I will be reading it this year because in October Alice's Adventures In Wonderland turns 150 so I want to have read it by then!




Days of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor





This one I think is the most embarrassing. I read the first book in this trilogy at the end of 2013 / start of 2014. I then started reading the second book, got 300 or so pages in but by this point I had been reading it for six months and I had to give up and say I would start again some time. I did however have a craving to read the series so it could be quite soon.



 So that's three more series / books I haven't yet read. Different this time but similarly all well loved books and are books I really need to read! I'll see you next Wednesday with another post.




Wednesday, 15 April 2015

UKYA STARTER KIT!

It was UKYA day on Sunday 12th April. A day completely devoted to UKYA reads, created by Lucy from Queen of Contemporary. As a big reader of UKYA reads, I had the problem of wanting to blog about UKYA but having no idea what to write. But I got inspired. Today I'm going to share with you the books I think would make a good UKYA starter kit for someone who has either no experience of UKYA books or who wants to branch out through UKYA but has no idea where to start.

Trouble by Non Pratt is an amazing UKYA contemporary about teen pregnancy. It's gritty and real, it's not too hard to get into and is told from dual points of view.


Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt is such a beautiful contemporary. Also told from two points of view, it has a good message, darker undertones, and one of my favourite moments form a book ever. Plus Ryan!

Adorkable by Sarra Manning is such a good book. Easy to get into, a strong, independent female, a male who I need. Dual point of view. One of my                                                                                                                                  favourite UKYA reads.

Undone by Cat Clarke is a LGBT book that will break you into many pieces. It will give you all the feels. It's incredible and emotional and I can't say anything else except that you must read this!

Geek Girl by Holly Smale is the first in an ongoing series. Funny, sweet. Harriet, the main character, is so real and relatable. Toby is amazing. I need a Lion Boy. And Wilbur-not-iam is bonkers in a good way. So quick and easy and fun. The perfect series!

Soulmates by Holly Bourne is another book that will rip you heart out and break it. It is sad but awesome and everyone should read this because tears!

Dead Jealous by Sharon Jones is the first book in the Poppy Sinclair Thrillers. Fast paced murder mystery for YA. Twists and turns, a good main character and great writing. A great read for everyone.

Say Her Name by James Dawson is one of the creepiest books. A YA horror, perfect for beginners or people looking for a good scare. Mary is scary!

Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne is an incredibly creepy crime novel. Filled with twists, got a great main character. I really enjoyed this and would say it is a great read for someone trying this sort of fiction. Also has one of my favourite covers.

Cruel Summer by James Dawson is one of my favourite mysteries. It's good great characters, AMAZING plot twists and that ending! Plus it's set in a different country! Bonus points!! Such a great mystery thriller.

Banished by Liz de Jager is an amazing fantasy novel. It has an kick-ass female main character, great male characters and is just such a fast paced read. The first book in a trilogy and the second is already out, so all the more reason to read it.

The Elites by Natasha Ngan is a fast paced dystopian thriller type book. Great world and characters, awesome pace and an amazing story.


Slated by Teri Terry is a very fast paced dystopian book set in London. The first book in a trilogy, creepy and amazing at the same time. One of my favourite UKYA books of all time. I love everything about it.

Mind Games by Teri Terry is a fast paced dystopian standalone. It takes a couple of pages to get into but once you're hooked, you are hooked until the end. Luna is a great character, everyone is so real. Recently published, I still think about this book most days, it's that good!

So there is fourteen amazing UKYA reads that would make the perfect starter kit. As I write this, I've realised that I've missed out loads, like Solitaire by Alice Oseman, Split Second and Every Second Counts by Sophie McKenzie and the Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman. Oops! But I feel like there is already plenty books mentioned here.

Comment if you read UKYA, if you have read any of these before, if you have what your favourite was and recommend me some UKYA books to read. I'll see you next week with another post.



Thursday, 9 April 2015

Bookish Turn-Ons

Ignore that title, this post is not like that. You know when you start reading the synopsis of a book, and certain things about it just jump out at you and make you need to read it. Well I was thinking about what mine would be and I came up with a list, so here goes.

1. SIBLINGS

I like books that involve a close, protective relationship between older and a younger sibling. One example I can clearly recall is the relationship between Penny and her older brother in Girl Online. Penny's brother looks out for and looks after his little sister. Another example of this is in Apple and Rain, by Sarah Crossan, especially towards the end of the book. I don't mind fighting and stuff, but those relationships just make me happy and make me more likely to read a book.

2. HEALTH ISSUES, BOTH CENTRAL AND NON-CENTRAL TO PLOT

For a long time, authors avoided writing about health issues, both physical health issues and mental health issues. But we have now reached a point where many novels are been published that feature health issues. This makes me happy. If I see that a book deals with mental or physical health issues, I become desperate to read it. It doesn't matter if the plot focuses mainly around these health issues, or if they are in the background to the plot. The fact they are there at all makes me happier.

3. MULTI-POV BOOKS

If I see a book has got more than one point of view, my interest perks. I enjoy books in which I can learn about more than just the one character. Books like Trouble by Non Pratt, which has two main points of view and Days Of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor which has many points of view. I don't mind is the different people are named at the start of their POV or not, but multiple points of view just make me happy.

4. PICTURES / LISTS / MEMENTOS WITHIN THE BOOK

When you pick up a book in a shop, or from a shelf, I always give it a quick flick through to see what the print is like, if the pages are thin or not, if the chapters are long or not.I don't look at the actual words on the page, instead the page in a general reader sense. If during this, I happen to see pictures, or lists or things that wouldn't necessarily normally be included in a novel, I will generally want it more. For example, I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson has paint lines and splatters in it because one of the main characters is an artist. When I saw that in the shop, I went from 110% buying this to 120%.

So there are just a few of my bookish likes. Comment what you bookish turn-ons are and recommend me some books with my turn-ons. Sorry about this post going up a day late. I've been having some problems getting access to my computer and managing my time. I'll see you next Wednesday with a new post!


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Pick It For Me: April 2015

It's time for the second Pick It For Me. So I have two weeks holiday but I have to study through them because I have exams in just about two weeks after I go back to school. I should already have been studying a lot. Anyway let's get on with the post.

This month I would like to read a Historical Fiction novel. I'm saying historical, I mean anything in the last century. Here are the books I have for you to pick from.

 Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
 
Add the book on Goodreads here


It's 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging. And it's Sarah Dunbar's first day of school, as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda Hairston, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Sarah and Linda have every reason to despise each other. But as a school project forces them to spend time together, the less their differences seem to matter. And Sarah and Linda start to feel something they've never felt before. Something they're both determined ignore. Because it's one thing to be frightened by the world around you - and another thing altogether when you're terrified of what you feel inside.

Add the book on Goodreads here

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. 

She devises a plan to get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.


Add the book on Goodreads here

So those are the three books for you to pick between. Comment to vote for a book and I will wait until next Wednesday to see what book I am reading. I'll see you again next Wednesday!