Rapid Fire Reviews

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had much time to write. That really bothers me, so I’m trying to spend this weekend catching up on a few posts. Rather than writing separate reviews for the books I’ve been reading recently, I’m going to do a quick rundown of each of them. I’m calling it a rapid fire review post. Considering how behind I tend to get on my book reviews, this might become a regular feature. I think it’s a good way of going with my gut instincts rather than being too analytical.

All the Bright Places Cover All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

“The story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die.” That line is on the cover and it drew me to the book right away. Violet is dealing with the grief of losing her sister, while Finch is trying to find reasons not to kill himself. When they meet on the ledge of their school’s bell tower, they strike up a friendship that has a profound impact on both of them. I enjoyed the parallel journeys of the two characters. While Violet was rebuilding her life, Finch was rapidly losing control of his. I really liked them both and their struggles felt real and relatable. This isn’t a feel good YA, but it’s definitely worth a read.


Our Endless Numbered Days CoverOur Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Peggy is only eight when her father takes her to live in an isolated cabin in the wilderness, after telling her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. What follows is a fascinating exploration of the father/daughter dynamic and the effects of extreme isolation and deprivation. I did see the twist coming, although I was hoping I was wrong. While I would recommend this book, it was quite disturbing at times, so it’s definitely not for everyone. I really enjoyed it though, and I think Fuller did a great job of dealing with the psychological effects on a young girl who matures into a woman with only a mentally disturbed father for guidance.


The Serpent King CoverThe Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

This one came highly recommended from Stefani over at Caught Read Handed. It’s centred around the lives of Dill, who is struggling to escape the prison of his family’s past; Lydia, who has aspirations far beyond the boundaries of her hometown; and Travis, who escapes his violent home life by taking refuge in his love of a Game of Thrones style fantasy series. Up until the twist in the middle of the novel, I was enjoying it well enough but it wasn’t really affecting me emotionally, but the second half had me rooting for the characters and hoping to see them happy. It was a good read overall.


The Water-Babies Cover The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley

A fairy tale about a boy who runs away from his cruel employer, gets turned into a water-baby, and has lots of strange adventures in the underwater world. I really didn’t like this book. It was written in 1863, so the style of language was quite different. I studied literature for years at university, so that’s not something that would usually bother me, but in this case I found the style of writing jarring and annoying. My main thought as I was reading it was, “this book is just weird for the sake of it”, and that really didn’t work for me. The talking turnips whose sole purpose was to learn lessons and be examined (or die), were the last straw!


Book Review – Ink and Bone

Cover ImageTitle: Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1)

Author: Rachel Caine

Publisher: Allison & Busby Limited

Date: July 2015

Format: Paperback (410 pages)

Synopsis: Knowledge is power. Power corrupts.

In a world where the ancient Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, knowledge now rules the world: freely available, but strictly controlled. Owning private books is a crime.

Jess Brightwell is the son of a black market book smuggler, sent to the Library to compete for a position as a scholar . . . but even as he forms friendships and finds his true gifts, he begins to unearth the dark secrets of the greatest, most revered institution in the world.

Those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…

I don’t usually start reading a series until all the books have been published, but I decided to make an exception for Ink and Bone because it sounded SO GOOD. Thankfully, I was definitely not disappointed.

The world building was great and I really enjoyed learning about all the different elements. In this world, Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press was never allowed to come to light and the Great Library of Alexandria and its daughter libraries (the Serapeums) control all knowledge via the Codex. Citizens are permitted to own blanks (like eBook readers), that enable them to view copies of books held in the Codex, but will be arrested if they’re caught with an original.

Jess, the central character, is a runner for his father who traffics in illegal original books. He earns a place as a student (Postulant) at the Great Library to compete to become a Scholar. While there, he becomes embroiled in the dangerous secret world behind the public face of the Library which threatens everything, and everyone, he cares about.

He encounters Burners who use Greek Fire to burn books in protest against the Great Library; Obscurists who use alchemy to control the Codex and other elements of society; Garda Soldiers and machines called automatons that defend the library with deadly force; ink-lickers who eat books as the ultimate way to possess them; and many other characters and concepts that work together to create an interesting and complex world for readers to explore.

The conflict between original books and blanks felt like a commentary on physical books vs. eBooks, which was interesting, although certainly not overbearing or obvious if you weren’t looking for it (I do like a good bit of literary analysis!).

In between chapters there were short sections called ‘Ephemera’ which provided extracts of private correspondence taken from the Codex and the Black Archive (where the library stores restricted knowledge). There were quite a few hidden details and surprises in those that helped to make the story even more compelling.

I really liked Jess and many of the other supporting characters (especially General Santi and Postulant Morgan), but my favourite character was definitely Scholar Christopher Wolfe. I hated him at first for the way he treated Jess and the other Postulants, but as more and more of his personal life and history were revealed I ended up really caring about him and sympathising with his struggles. He’s one of those characters who has a lot more depth than is initially apparent and I find I’m emotionally invested in what happens to him in the next book.

One other cool thing I wanted to mention is that the author included a ‘Soundtrack’ section at the back of the book with a list of the songs she listened to while she wrote it. I love this idea as it’s an insight into the author’s creative process and the kind of emotions she was working with. I was especially happy to see Hozier’s Take Me to Church on the list!

I’ll admit that I thought the first couple of chapters were a bit slow and I didn’t become fully immersed in the story until Jess became a Postulant, but once he did the plot really took off and I didn’t want to put the book down. I would definitely recommend it.

The sequel, Paper and Fire, is due out in July this year and I can’t wait to read it!

Overall Rating: Book Rating Picture  Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture My bookworm rating system is explained here.

Other Works by this Author: Rachel Caine (who also writes under several other names) is the author of over 40 novels. You can find out more here.


Book Review – Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Cover Image Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Date: April 2015

Format: Paperback (303 pages)

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

One of my best friends and fellow book lover Stefani (Caught Read Handed) did everything but cross the Atlantic and hit me over the head with this book to get me to read it, and I’m really glad she did! When I reached the end of the last page I was left with a really warm, happy, fuzzy feeling that lasted for hours afterwards. It was a really satisfying read.

I was rooting for Simon from the beginning and loved how earnest and genuine he was, particularly in his emails with Blue. I really felt for him and just wanted to hug him and be his friend (it’s a mark of a good writer when you start having these feelings for fictional characters).

His life becomes very stressful and chaotic later in the novel and I think that many teenagers would have given up if faced with the difficulties Simon has to deal with, but one of my favourite things about him was that, despite all this, all he wants is to meet Blue and be with him. His integrity and strength of character really shines through.

His sense of humour is great too, which is something I always look for in any book that I read. No matter what circumstances characters find themselves in, I really enjoy humour in the face of adversity.

I have to admit, given that there wasn’t a huge number of characters, I assumed that it would be relatively easy to guess Blue’s identity, however I’m happy to say that all my guesses were completely wrong and it was a pleasant (and adorable) surprise when they finally met.

YA books can be a lifeline for teenagers struggling with very difficult issues, in this case sexuality, and I think Becky Albertalli has done them a great service by writing this book. They have to grow up in a world where they’re bombarded with images and ideas of who they “should” be, and feeling like they have to live up to these unrealistic goals means that they don’t get to just enjoy being themselves, which is something everyone should be able to do.

This quote in particular really stood out to me. I wish the world thought like Simon does:

“White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.”

Damn straight, Simon. Damn straight.

Overall Rating: Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture My bookworm rating system is explained here.

Other Works by this Author: This is Albertalli’s first novel.


Book Review – The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4

Cover ImageTitle: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 and 3/4

Author: Sue Townsend

Publisher: Penguin

Date: 1982 (originally published), 2012 (30th anniversary edition)

Format: Paperback (259 pages)

Synopsis: “Friday January 2nd: I felt rotten today. It’s my mother’s fault for singing ‘My Way’ at two o’clock in the morning at the top of the stairs. Just my luck to have a mother like her. There is a chance my parents could be alcoholics. Next year I could be in a children’s home.”

Meet Adrian Mole, a hapless teenager providing an unabashed, pimples-and-all glimpse into adolescent life. Telling us candidly about his parents’ marital troubles, The Dog, and his life as a tortured poet and ‘misunderstood intellectual’, Adrian’s painfully honest diary is still hilarious and compelling reading thirty years after it first appeared.

Apparently, having been born and raised in Britain, I must have been living under a rock not to have read any of the Adrian Mole books before. He was the Harry Potter of the 1980s and Sue Townsend was the equivalent of J.K. Rowling. The books were read by children, teenagers and adults alike – and they still are. Since it was set in the late 1980s when Margaret Thatcher was our Prime Minister and I was just a toddler, there were a few cultural references which went over my head, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel.

This was, hands down, one of the funniest books I have ever read. It takes a lot for a book to make me have a visible reaction since I usually keep my thoughts to myself while I’m reading, but this one had me full on laughing out loud to the point of tears. The whole novel is told through a series of Adrian’s diary entries, written over the course of a year, during which time he has to deal with hopeless and selfish parents, a grumpy elderly man he befriends, and the demands of Pandora, the love of his life.

I love Adrian’s way of looking at things. Life constantly lets him down and yet he takes it all in his stride with a deadpan wit that I really enjoyed. For example, when he tries to explain his troubled home life to his teacher, the response is less than satisfactory (and provides an insight into the politically incorrect days of the 1980s!):

Friday September 11th: Had a long talk with Mr Dock. I explained that I was a one-parent family child with an unemployed, bad-tempered father. Mr Dock said he wouldn’t care if I was the offspring of a black, lesbian, one-legged mother and an Arab, leprous, hump-backed-dwarf father as long as my essays were lucid, intelligent and unpretentious. So much for pastoral care! (p.159)

I think my favourite entry was from Saturday September 19th when Adrian gives a blow-by-blow account of a class trip to London with a drunken coach driver. Here’s an extract:

9.40 – Barry Kent sick in coach.

9.50 – Two girls sitting near Barry Kent are sick.

9.51 – Coach driver refuses to stop on motorway.

9.55 – Ms Fossington-Gore covers sick in sand.

9.56 – Ms Fossington-Gore sick as a dog.


4pm – Barry Kent jumps in fountain at Trafalgar Square, as predicted by Adrian Mole.

4.30 – Barry Kent disappears, last seen heading towards Soho.


6pm – Barry Kent found in sex shop. Charged with theft of ‘grow-it-big’ cream and two ‘ticklers’.

7pm – Coach leaves police station with police escort. (pp.163-165)

This book doesn’t have a compelling plot or well developed characters, but it doesn’t need to. It’s hilarious. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a light read and a good laugh.

Overall Rating: Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture My bookworm rating system is explained here.

Other Works by this Author: Sue Townsend wrote seven additional Adrian Mole books and seven other novels before she passed away in 2014. You can find out more about them by visiting her website here.


Book Review – When She Woke

Cover ImageTitle: When She Woke

Author: Hillary Jordan

Publisher: HarperCollins

Date: 2011

Format: Paperback (341 pages)

Synopsis: Hannah Payne is a Red. Her crime: murder. And her victim, says the state of Texas, was her unborn child.

Lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, Hannah awakens into a nightmare. Cameras broadcast her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes – criminals whose skin has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime – is a sinister form of entertainment.

Hannah refuses to reveal the identity of the father. But cast back into to the world that has marked her for life, how far will she go to protect the man she loves?

A powerful reimagining of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, When She Woke is a timely fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of the not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith and love.

This book was fantastic, wonderful, beautiful … you get the idea.

I read The Scarlet Letter a few years back and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, so when I came across this contemporary version set in a dystopian world I really wanted to read it. It’s actually been one of my most anticipated reads of the past year and it exceeded my expectations. You don’t have to have read The Scarlet Letter to enjoy this story, but for me being able to compare the two was an added bonus.

Hannah lives in a world suffering from the aftermath of a pandemic which left many women across the world infertile. In response America has outlawed abortions and devout Christianity has become the de facto law of the land. Revealing the father of her child, a highly respected religious leader, would destroy the faith of millions, including her own family, so Hannah undergoes an illegal abortion. When she is caught her punishment is to be “chromed” by a genetic virus which turns her skin red and will kill her if she does not submit to further injections for the rest of her life.

Unable to return to her family or survive for long in a world where Chromes are targets for violence and hatred, Hannah’s journey leads her to the doorsteps of a variety of individuals and organisations, only some of whom she can trust and all of whom have their own agenda. There was a thriller element to the plot as Hannah is often in danger and I didn’t want to put it down. I actually found myself thinking about it on the drive home from work and getting excited about getting back to it. That’s definitely the mark of a great book! It was the characters that really made the story meaningful for me though, and the two who struck me the most were Kayla and Simone.

Kayla is a fellow Red who Hannah meets shortly after being released from the Chrome Ward. Unlike Hannah, Kayla did not have a religious upbringing, and her cynical yet hilarious attitude to life and all the hell it throws at her was really refreshing and a great counterpoint to Hannah’s more serious nature. I’ve always loved characters who laugh in the face of danger or death, and Kayla was a perfect example of that.

Simone was a different kind of person entirely, and at first, like Hannah, I was very wary of her. Simone is involved in one of the secret organisations who operate under the radar in this society and at first her motivations are unclear and suspect. I didn’t expect the depth and layers of personality which unfolded as I got to know her, and she became a character I came to really care about and admire.

As for Hannah herself, I can honestly say that I haven’t felt this connected to a fictional character in a long time. It was so enjoyable and liberating to watch her free herself from the chains of her upbringing and discover for the first time who she really was without shame or fear. She cannot go back to her old life and must leave everything – and everyone – behind. This, of course, is sad and frightening, but it also gives her the courage to remake herself and discover what is truly valuable in life. For me, the conclusion to this journey was perfect. Everything from the setting to the dialogue to the descriptions just felt right. I loved it. It felt … fresh, somehow. Like Hannah was being reborn, which in a sense, she was.

I’m currently a bit obsessed with Hozier’s Take Me To Church and the soul and lyrics of the song really connect with this novel in a lot of ways. It’s made me love the song even more and it’s rare that I’ve ever found a connection like this between a book and a song, so that’s really awesome.

I can’t really say any more about how this book made me feel because I’m not sure how to articulate it. It just really meant a lot to me. To borrow a meaningful phrase from the book – “It’s personal.”

You can check out Take Me To Church below:

Overall Rating: Book Rating PictureBook Rating PictureBook Rating PictureBook Rating PictureBook Rating Picture  My bookworm rating system is explained here.

Other Works by this Author: Hillary Jordan has also written another novel called Mudbound and a novella called Aftermirth. I’ve put them both on my TBR list.

Friday Finds (12) – 19 December 2014

Image1Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading which encourages you to share the books you have discovered over the past 7 days with your fellow bloggers. Whether you found them in a bookshop, online, in the library or just heard about them from a friend, Friday Finds is a great way to spread the love with other readers. All books are linked to their Goodreads pages so you can discover them too.

Sooooooo, I suck at getting my posts done on time, especially when I have a list of them that I’m excited about (4 at the moment) so once again I’ll just be posting each book’s synopsis as it’s written on Goodreads, rather than putting it into my own words like usual. Hopefully I’ll be more productive and organised in the New Year!

Here are my finds for this week:

1) The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne: Josh Hanagarne couldn’t be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old and onstage in a school Thanksgiving play when he first began exhibiting symptoms. By the time he was twenty, the young Mormon had reached his towering adult height of 6’7″ when — while serving on a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints — his Tourette’s tics escalated to nightmarish levels.

Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh underwent everything from quack remedies to lethargy-inducing drug regimes to Botox injections that paralyzed his vocal cords and left him voiceless for three years. Undeterred, Josh persevered to marry and earn a degree in Library Science. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman — and former Air Force Tech Sergeant and guard at an Iraqi prison — taught Josh how to “throttle” his tics into submission through strength-training.

Today, Josh is a librarian in the main branch of Salt Lake City’s public library and founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting—and the proud father of four-year-old Max, who has already started to show his own symptoms of Tourette’s.

2) Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley: Lucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist. Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose. Dylan loves Daisy, but throwing eggs at her probably wasn’t the best way to show it. Jazz and Leo are slowly encircling each other. An intense and exhilarating 24 hours in the lives of four teenagers on the verge: of adulthood, of HSC, of finding out just who they are, and who they want to be.

3) Dreamwalkers (Dreamwalkers #1) by Corinne Davis: Emma Owens is a seemingly ordinary seventeen-year-old girl who covertly possesses the power to do anything she desires, without limitation, in a world filled with both infinite beauty and interminable danger, that exists only while she sleeps. Emma is a dreamwalker.

She inherited the dreamwalking trait from her father and inexplicably shares it with her best friend, Zoë. There are rules to dreamwalking that Emma and Zoë live their lives by. The most important of which is not to interact with unknown people who can see them while they dreamwalk, or risk becoming lost in a world of unrelenting darkness. Emma and Zoë have always followed the rules without question, but their conformity is tested when Emma learns that she is the only one capable of rescuing a young girl who has become profoundly lost on a dreamwalk.

When Emma launches a crusade to travel deep into the world of dreamwalking, gambling her own life to save the girl, Zoë agrees to stand by her side, unknowingly opening the door to her own astounding hidden faculties and uncovering a three hundred year old family secret in the process. Emma’s world is turned even further upside down when Charlie, the boy who shattered her heart into a thousand pieces, mysteriously returns with information that sends her head… and heart, spinning.

4) The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp: Sutter Keely. He’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

5) The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern: Lucy Silchester has an appointment with her life – and she’s going to have to keep it.

Lying on Lucy Silchester’s carpet one day when she returns from work is a gold envelope. Inside is an invitation – to a meeting with Life. Her life. It turns out she’s been ignoring itand it needs to meet with her face to face. It sounds peculiar, but Lucy’s read about this in a magazine. Anyway, she can’t make the date: she’s much too busy despising her job, skipping out on her friends and avoiding her family.

But Lucy’s life isn’t what it seems. Some of the choices she’s made – and stories she’s told – aren’t what they seem either. From the moment she meets the man who introduces himself as her life, her stubborn half-truths are going to be revealed in all their glory – unless Lucy learns to tell the truth about what really matters to her.

I also came across this great list of upcoming YA novels due to be published in early 2015 which is worth checking out.

So what books have you discovered this week? Have you read any of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review – Falling into Place

Cover ImageTitle: Falling into Place

Author: Amy Zhang

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Date: September 2014

Format: Paperback (296 pages)

Synopsis: On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl.

I really, really wanted to love this book and I’ve been looking forward to reading it for a while, but unfortunately I was pretty disappointed. I certainly didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for.

Firstly, the non-linear narrative (which is something I usually enjoy) just didn’t work for me. There are regular chapters set in the present; chapters set a certain amount of time before Liz crashes her car; and small sections called “Snapshots” which are written in the first person voice of the narrator rather than the third person like the rest of the book. While I admire the author’s ability to keep track of all the different timelines and sequences, I found myself getting irritated with all the jumping around.

I think the main problem I had with this book was the characters themselves. I get that Liz is meant to be this tortured soul underneath her popular girl façade, but that just didn’t ring true for me. Even when she acknowledges that she has treated people badly and appears to feel remorse, she still continues to do so and is involved in some seriously nasty bullying. Even when she realises she has the ability to undo some of the damage she’s done, she seems to believe that admitting her mistakes to herself is enough. I just felt like reaching into the pages and shaking her. She left a trail of broken lives behind her but barely lifted a finger to help them. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about her.

I was quite indifferent to Liz’s friend Julia, but her other friend Kennie really bugged me. She just came across as a weak, superficial, annoying character with no real sense of self except what she draws from the opinions of others. I know that we’re supposed to empathise with Julia and Kennie because they’re seriously messed up (thanks in large part to Liz herself) but I felt very little for them. I normally feel very deeply for fictional characters so it was disappointing to feel so disconnected from the ones in this book.

One of the things that kept me reading was curiosity about the identity of the narrator. I was sure I had figured it out near the beginning but I was actually surprised when it was revealed at the end. I haven’t come across that kind of narrator before and I did really like the idea. I also developed a soft spot for Liam, one of Liz’s classmates who is in love with her, as I felt like he was a genuine character and had more depth than the others. He’s the only character I really cared about throughout the novel. The writing itself wasn’t bad and there were a few expressions I actually liked, like this one about Liz: “She will not let her father teach her about constellations because she will not trap the stars. She lives in a world made entirely of sky.” I also liked the concept of weaving the laws of physics into the story, but I felt this could have been developed more strongly.

I’ve read quite a few YA novels which deal with death and suicide, most notably The Fault in Our Stars and Love Letters to the Dead, but this one just wasn’t on par with them. It’s a lazy-Sunday-afternoon-easy-read and certainly wasn’t terrible, but I’m not shouting from the rooftops about it like I had hoped to be.

Overall Rating: Between Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture and  Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture Book Rating Picture My bookworm rating system is explained here.

Other Works by this Author: This is Amy Zhang’s first novel. You can find out more about her by visiting her website (which has a really cool design!)

Friday Finds – 11 December 2014 (11)

Image1Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading which encourages you to share the books you have discovered over the past 7 days with your fellow bloggers. Whether you found them in a bookshop, online, in the library or just heard about them from a friend, Friday Finds is a great way to spread the love with other readers. All books are linked to their Goodreads pages so you can discover them too.

I’m having another one of those weeks where time seems to evaporate like rain drops on lava, so this post will be shorter than normal. I haven’t made as many finds this week as I’ve been too busy with my head stuck in the ones I already found (my review for Falling into Place will be up asap and I already posted the one for Things Grak Hates) but I really like the sound of the ones I did find. I usually try and put my own spin on the synopsis for each one and tell you why I want to read it, but unfortunately I don’t have time tonight, so I’ll just share the ones from Goodreads, which sound pretty awesome anyway.

* I just realised that I posted this yesterday because I actually thought it was Friday not Thursday. I really am having a crazy week! Oh well, you got my finds a day early! 🙂

1) Brown Skin Blue by Belinda Jeffrey:

My mum’s skin is white, my skin is brown and I have a blue birthmark.

Two secrets rule my life. One is something I need to know and the other is something I need to forget. They won’t let me go.

Some people say you can’t death roll with a beast that has already survived a million years and live to tell the story.

Or can you?

2) The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan:

Every night, 12-year-old Gwenni Morgan flies in her sleep. She leaves the bed she shares with her sister and soars into the night sky, listening to the nighttime sounds of her small Welsh village below. Irrepressible Gwenni — a dreamer full of unanswerable questions and unbounded curiosity — is childlike yet touchingly adult. Reluctantly facing a modern world, she prefers her nightly flights to school and her chores. Blessed with the uncommon insight of a young girl, Gwenni’s view of the world is unparalleled.

Quaint, odd, touched, funny in the head: Gwenni is all too familiar with the taunts of her peers and fields them with equanimity beyond her years. She knows she can no more change her nature than stop the sun from rising. And when a neighbour goes missing, Gwenni turns amateur sleuth, determined to solve the mystery of his disappearance. Little does she realize that the trail she’s pursuing will bring her uncomfortably close to home, and a dark secret.

3) Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan:

First there is a Before, and then there is an After. . . .

The lives of three teens—Claire, Jasper, and Peter—are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore from Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him.

Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event. As each gets to know the other, their moments become wound around each other’s in a way that leads to new understandings, new friendships, and new levels of awareness for the world around them and the people close by.

So what books have you discovered this week? Have you read any of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments!

Friday Finds (10) – 5 December 2014


Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading which encourages you to share the books you have discovered over the past 7 days with your fellow bloggers. Whether you found them in a bookshop, online, in the library or just heard about them from a friend, Friday Finds is a great way to spread the love with other readers. All books are linked to their Goodreads pages so you can discover them too.

I missed Friday Finds last week as I was ill, so I’m going to share those finds this week. I love participating in this meme and it’s helped me find some great books and interesting blogs to follow. I was able to buy a couple of my previous finds in my pre-Christmas book haul earlier this week and I can’t wait to get stuck into them.

1) The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan: I’m aware that David Levithan is very popular in the YA world but I haven’t read much of him before except for Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares which he co-wrote with Rachel Cohn. That book was pretty good, but this one sounds even better. The synopsis starts with six words that really drew me in: One school. Twenty voices. Endless possibilities. It sounds like a really interesting exploration of the issues facing teenagers in the 21st century through the lives of twenty dynamic and compelling characters. My only concern is that twenty narrators are a lot for one novel, so I’m not sure how well that will work out. I guess I’ll have to read it to find out!

2) The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin: George Orr has the power to conjure things into reality through his dreams, which isn’t always a good thing. Desperately seeking help he turns to a psychotherapist who he hopes can assist him in controlling this ability. Unfortunately, this man has only dark intentions and may lead George into his biggest nightmare. As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m always interested to read stories centred around dreams because ever since I was a child I have always been able to remember my own in vivid detail. I don’t think I’d want many of them to become reality though!

3) Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin: After falling and hitting her head, Naomi wakes up with amnesia. Unable to remember anything about her former life she has to re-discover everything she used to know, and in the process comes to realise that some things are better the second time around – especially when you make different choices. I really like the concept for this one. What would you do if the slate was wiped clean and you had to start your life over again? If who we are is the sum of our experiences, then who do we become when those experiences are forgotten? I’m really interested to see how Naomi deals with these questions.

4) Deadline by Chris Crutcher: Ben Wolf is a 17-year-old high school student stuck living in the “nowheresville” town of Trout in Idaho. He wants to make his mark on the world, but there’s a problem – he only has one year to live. Deciding to keep this news to himself, Ben sets out to become the best football player in Trout high school’s history; annoy his ignorant civics teacher every day; and try to help the town drunk get sober. A secret like Ben’s can be a burden, though, especially when he realises he’s not the only one in Trout with secrets. I’m looking forward to finding out what Ben manages to achieve with the time he has left and what other secrets are lurking in Trout!

So what books have you discovered this week? Have you read any of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments!

Pre-Christmas Book Haul

So I went Christmas shopping today (for other people, mind you) and then this happened …

Book Stack 2

I knew it was dangerous to walk into a bookshop when I really only have enough money at the moment to buy gifts for others, but is it my fault that some of those gifts can only be found in a bookshop? I admit it’s suspiciously convenient, but it wasn’t a deliberate excuse to wander around one of my favourite bookshops. Honest. Anyway, after picking up the presents I was looking for, I decided to treat myself to a book … and then another, and another, then I put one back (Eleanor & Park, I regret that now), then, oops, two more jumped into my hand! Others were calling to me with their bookish siren song, but I somehow managed to tear myself away and avoid being wrecked on the financial shoals. For now!

Here’s what I bought:

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang: I had almost made it to the counter to pay when I spotted this one on the corner of a table (like it was waiting for me). It was featured in my second Friday Finds post so I already knew I wanted to read it without having to check out the synopsis, hence the snap decision to buy it. Yay!

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman: Many of you will have heard of the hugely popular and successful Netflix show which is based on Kerman’s account of the 15 months she served in prison. I absolutely LOVE the show and I’ve wanted to read the book for ages, so I’m really excited to have it. I had planned to wait until I could get the original cover rather than the Netflix one, but it was sitting right there on a shelf and I couldn’t help myself. Plus, my favourite actress ever is on the cover as she plays Galina “Red” Reznikov on the show (Kate Mulgrew, who I have raved about before on this blog), so I’m okay with this version. I can’t wait to read about the real story behind this awesome show.

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan: This one was featured in my third Friday Finds post and has been near the top of my TBR list since then. It was the book I picked up first and was supposed to be the only one I bought for myself today. Oh well! I’m super excited to finally have this one in my collection and it will probably be the one I read next after I finish the two I’m reading now (The Book Thief and my ARC copy of Things Grak Hates).

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen: I’ve seen this on Goodreads several times over the past few months but I only recently added it to my TBR list. The synopsis sounds very odd, but in an interesting way, so I definitely want to read it. The cover is beautiful and the UK version has snow on it, so it’s perfect for this time of year. It makes me want to grab a hot chocolate and curl up with it on the couch. Ahh, bliss!

I’ll be reviewing all these once I read them, so stay tuned!