All Of The Above

All of the Above

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Hot Key Books/Bonnier Publishing

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Hollow Pike
Cruel Summer
Say Her Name
This Book Is Gay
Under My Skin

Synopsis:

When sixteen-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school she needs to work out who her friends are in a crazy whirl of worry, exam pressure and anxiety over fitting in. Things start looking up when Toria meets the funny and foul-mouthed Polly, who’s the coolest girl that Toria has ever seen. Polly and the rest of the ‘alternative’ kids take Toria under their wing. And that’s when she meets the irresistible Nico Mancini, lead singer of a local band – and it’s instalove at first sight! Toria likes Nico, Nico likes Toria, but then there’s Polly…love and friendship have a funny way of going round in circles.

Thoughts:

I’m not going to lie, I’m a MASSIVE fan of James Dawson’s writing. He is one of my auto buy authors, so when I was able to read a copy of All Of The Above early I quickly made time for it. I feel like this book is a different book for James Dawson, but different in a good way. There’s certainly more of an emotional element to it. It feels a lot deeper than his other books. There are some wonderfully funny, laugh out loud moments in All Of The Above. It didn’t take me long to read at all. I’m really intrigued to see what James writes next as he surprises me with every book release!

All Of The Above centres around Toria, who has to move to a new school after her father changes his job. Toria has to find new friends. Toria finds herself drawn to Polly and her ‘alternative’ friends. She soon fits in with the group. Toria is attracted to Nico who is in a local band. There is insta-love… not one of my favourite things, but in this book it actually made me laugh, especially when the author addresses book bloggers hate of insta-love! James has been paying attention! ;) Toria finds her friendship with Polly confusing, All of The Above explores friendship, love, mistakes and finding out who you are.

One of the strongest elements of Jame Dawson’s writing for me is his characterisation. He writes incredibly realistic characters who are easy to relate to or at least identify with in some way. I really appreciated how All Of The Above expresses that it’s okay to not label yourself and not be totally sure of who you are. It’s certainly something that isn’t always clear to many people and I liked that this book addressed that.

It’s not a really cheesy story. It’s real. It’s about issues that many of us experience as we grow up. It covers such a wide range of subjects like friendships, first love, self-harm, sexuality… there’s so many sensitive subjects that are covered throughout which is why I think anyone, young adult or adult, can take something away from this book.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course! 4.5 stars

Another brilliant, but different book from James Dawson! I highly recommend you reading this author if you haven’t yet!

The Ones That Got Away #6

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This feature is going to showcase some recent reads that I haven’t fully reviewed. This may be because I didn’t finish the book or that I didn’t have enough to say to warrant a full and fair review of a book that I’m sure others will absolutely adore. I figure this way the books will be highlighted and someone somewhere might find the right book for them!

(BOOK IMAGES GO TO GOODREADS)

Numbers- Rachel Ward

Numbers (Numbers, #1)

 

Since her mother’s death, 15-year-old Jem has kept a secret. When her eyes meet someone else’s, a number pops into her head – the date on which they will die. Knowing that nothing lasts forever, Jem avoids relationships, but when she meets a boy called Spider, and they plan a day out together, her life takes a new twist and turn.

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Because You’ll Never Meet Me- Leah Thomas

Because You'll Never Meet Me

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

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The Stuff of Nightmares- Malorie Blackman

The Stuff of NightmaresSynopsis:

Kyle has always been afraid of things, especially dying. Whilst on a train on a school trip, Kyle realises that he isn’t the only one who has buried fears and, more importantly, he now burns with the desire to live, and to live without fear. But will Death release him?

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Rock War- Robert Muchamore

Rock War (Rock War #1)

Synopsis:

Meet Jay. Summer. And Dylan.

Jay plays guitar, writes songs and dreams of being a rock star. But his ambitions are stifled by seven siblings and a terrible drummer.

Summer works hard at school, looks after her nan and has a one-in-a-million singing voice. But can her talent triumph over her nerves?

Dylan is happiest lying on his bunk smoking, but his school rugby coach has other ideas, and Dylan reluctantly joins a band to avoid crunching tackles and icy mud.

They’re about to enter the biggest battle of their lives. And there’s everything to play for.

imageMonsters- Emerald Fennell

Monsters

Synopsis:

Set in the Cornish town of Fowey, all is not as idyllic as the beautiful seaside town might seem. The body of a young woman is discovered in the nets of a fishing boat. It is established that the woman was murdered. Most are shocked and horrified. But there is somebody who is not – a twelve-year-old girl. She is delighted; she loves murders. Soon she is questioning the inhabitants of the town in her own personal investigation. But it is a bit boring on her own. Then Miles Giffard, a similarly odd twelve-year-old boy, arrives in Fowey with his mother, and they start investigating together. Oh, and also playing games that re-enact the murders. Just for fun, you understand…

A book about two twelve-year-olds that is definitely not for kids.

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Ten Characters I Didn’t Click With

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s list are the Ten Characters I Didn’t Click With. The characters I have mentioned have been in books I’ve enjoyed, I’ve just not clicked with the characters as much as I wanted to!

Click on the book image to get to Goodreads!

Bella Swan- Twilight

Twilight (Twilight, #1)

I feel like this is going to be a popular choice this week. It may be a predictable choice, but I just can’t help it. Bella Swan is just such an annoying character!

Holden Caulfield- The Catcher In The Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

I do love The Catcher In The Rye but I think Holden Caulfield is a character you either like or dislike and for me… it’s definitely on the dislike side! I found the insights interesting, but he just wound me up!

Alex, Mollie, Veronica- Those Girls

Those Girls

This book is an exception to the whole liking the book but not the characters statement I made earlier. I thought the writing was engaging in this book, but I just could NOT connect with the characters. I disliked them so much and wished they would have had some character development.

Bev- The Disenchantments

The Disenchantments

I liked The Disenchantments but I could not connect with Colby’s love interest Bev. I really didn’t see what he saw in her. She had no redeeming qualities in my eyes!

Ashleigh- Thousand Words

Thousand Words

I adore Jennifer Brown’s writing. I enjoyed this book and although I liked the main character, Ashleigh, I didn’t click with her as much as I wanted to!

Gigi- Smart Girls Get What They Want

Smart Girls Get What They Want

This book was a good light read but I found Gigi, the main character to be totally unlikeable!

Bishop- Hexed

Hexed (The Witch Hunter, #1)

Bishop, the love interest in this book, completely annoyed me. I think I was supposed to find him sexy and mysterious but he just made me cringe!

Sam- Flesh and Blood

Flesh and Blood (Red Eye)

Flesh and Blood was a decent read, but I thought Sam, the main character, came across as a little immature!

Ryan- Tape

Tape

Tape was an interesting book. It was quite slow paced and I felt like I didn’t gel with the main character, Ryan.

Alice- Side Effects May Vary

Side Effects May VaryThis book really divided me. I thought it was good, but at the same time I really didn’t like the main character, Alice. She has so much going on and it’s terrible that she’s suffering with cancer, but unfortunately because of her behaviour I found myself disconnecting with her and disliking her!

What characters have you not clicked with? Feel free to leave a link to your Top Ten post and I’ll stop by!

Banned Books #14 Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D.Taylor

banned booksWelcome to this month’s Banned Books feature where we discuss a book that has been challenged!

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Logans, #4)

Synopsis:

Why is the land so important to Cassie’s family? It takes the events of one turbulent year—the year of the night riders and the burnings, the year a white girl humiliates Cassie in public simply because she’s black—to show Cassie that having a place of their own is the Logan family’s lifeblood. It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride—no matter how others may degrade them, the Logans possess something no one can take away.

First published: 1976

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2002 (source)

Chosen by: Beth

Reasons: offensive language

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: Not at all. I think the offensive language they are referring to is the horrible “n” word, the derogatory term for black people which is used quite a few times in the novel. But perhaps back in the seventies, people would be more offended by it, I can’t really say. Saying that, I don’t think it should be a reason to ban/challenge this book as I think it’s a crucial book for looking at racism with children.

CHRISSI: Not really. I remember reading this book at school and I thought it was a challenging subject to talk about, but I certainly think that it’s a topic that needs to be discussed. I have to say, I think I got more from this book reading it much later on as an adult. It struck more of a chord with me, but I still think it’s a thoroughly important book to read with teenagers/young adults. It addresses so many important issues.

How about now?

BETH: As Chrissi mentions below, I believe that there is much more offensive language now then when the book was first published. I don’t know if I can say too much about how offensive it is, not being black myself – I’d love to hear some opinions from people who are and have read it. Were you offended? This book really affected me and broke my heart in some places and I can completely visualise it being taught in schools where it has the power to even curb some pre-racism behaviours? I know both my sister and brother, sister in law and boyfriend studied this book in school so perhaps times are changing? Saying that, as we mentioned above, it was still on the banned/challenged list as recently as 2002!

CHRISSI: I don’t think it is a highly banned as it used to be. Forgive/correct me if I’m wrong! The reasons for banning it were offensive language and I think there is much more bad/offensive language than there used to be! I think that this book shows racism so plain and simply that its incredibly educative and shouldn’t be kept away, just because it’s uncomfortable.

What did you think of this book?

BETH:  Loved it, loved it, loved it! I had never read this book before, unlike Chrissi and as I mentioned in the previous question it did break my heart a little bit. I still can’t believe that the events of the past happened and that racism is still rife today. It makes me really sad to think about it. The ending of the book was particularly poignant as it left the reader almost on a cliffhanger – until I realised this book is part of a series. I’m definitely buying the next one! I loved the characters (especially Cassie), loved the setting… did I mention I loved it?

CHRISSI: I enjoyed revisiting it and as I said, I think I took more away from it reading it away from the classroom. I think it’s uncomfortable to read in parts, but I still think it’s an important read and would encourage deep conversations and stimulate important discussions!

Would you recommend it?

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family . . .

Thoughts:

This is my first experience reading a book by Neil Gaiman. I know, I know it’s so bad!!! However, I was really excited to finally get around to reading a book by an author who I know a lot of people adore. The Graveyard Book is a unique, atmospheric read. I absolutely adored the illustrations!

The Graveyard Book centres around a young boy whose family is murdered by a man all dressed in black. For some reason, the toddler is able to escape and finds his way into a graveyard. The ghosts in the graveyard take in the boy, and raise him as their own. They call him Nobody, affectionately known as ‘Bod.’ The Owens couple are his main carers, but they are not allowed to leave the graveyard, so he is under the guardianship of Silas who is not dead or alive. He is able to leave the graveyard to get food for Bod. Bod learns things through the graveyard, but as he grows up, he realises that there is danger lurking outside the graveyard and he needs to face up to his past in order to move forward.

As I mentioned, The Graveyard Book is such a unique read. There are such wonderful characters throughout who are easy to love (or hate- Neil Gaiman can write wonderful villains!)

Whilst I was reading this book, I was wondering what age I would pitch this book at, if I had to, some say YA, some say children, some say middle grade! I’m really not sure. It’s a book that I think would terrify some children. Some of the writing is quite creepy and sinister, but at the same time a lot of children like to be scared! I really think this book is a book that adults would enjoy as well. It’s very clever.

For Beth’s review please check out her wonderful post HERE

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Reading next in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (September):
Watership Down- Richard Adams

The Mistake I Made

The Mistake I Made

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Random House/Transworld

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Just What Kind Of Mother Are You?
Keep Your Friends Close

Synopsis:

Single mother Roz has reached breaking-point. After the dissolution of her marriage, Roz’s business has gone under, debts are racking up, the rent is late (again), and she’s struggling to provide for her nine-year-old son, who is starting to misbehave in school. Roz is in trouble. Real trouble.

When Roz returns home from work one day and finds an eviction notice, she knows that it’s time for action—she has two weeks to find a solution otherwise they will be kicked out of their home. Increasingly desperate, Roz doesn’t know where to turn. Then the perfect opportunity presents itself. At her sister’s fortieth birthday party, Roz meets Scott Elias—wealthy, powerful, and very married. But the impression Roz leaves on him is indelible. He tracks her down and makes Roz an offer to spend the night with him—for money. He wants no-strings-attached intimacy and can guarantee total discretion. Could it be as simple as it sounds? With that kind of cash, Roz could clear her debts and get her life back on track. But as the situation spirals out of her control, Roz is forced to do things she never thought herself capable of. Can she ever set things right again?

Thoughts:

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love Paula Daly’s writing. I absolutely devour her books and The Mistake I Made was no exception. The only thing that prevented me from giving this book the four or five star treatment was that I was a little let down by the ending. It wasn’t as powerful as I had anticipated. That said, The Mistake I Made was still an engaging, although bleak read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and found it hard to put down!

The Mistake I Made centres around Roz, who is a single parent living with her son. Roz’s waste of space husband has left her in a lot of debt and Roz’s life is spiralling out of control. Her son is getting into trrouble at school when he’s trying to help his mum out. Roz is offered an opportunity to get money which she can’t refuse, but knows is not ‘right’. Poor Roz has situation after situation go wrong. It’s like she can’t catch a break!

I’m sure a lot of readers are going to be able to relate to Roz’s situation, even if they don’t quite take the steps that she decides to take to help her out. I think a lot of readers will understand Roz’s dilemma. I think, like many Paula Daly books, this book offers great discussions to have with other readers. It would be a perfect book club choice because it brings up moral dilemmas, and we all know people love to discuss moral dilemmas!

Paula Daly’s writing is so easy to read. She sure puts her characters in tricky situations and it’s exciting to read. I love how her characters are always flawed. She never writes a ‘perfect’ character and I respect that. Who’s perfect anyway?! There were so many times that I wanted to get into the story and tell Roz to stop making such awful decisions, but at the same time, I could totally understand her desperation. I wasn’t sure where the story was going to go, so I kept turning the pages to find out more.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Another good thriller from Paula Daly! A page turner!

Fairy Tale Friday- The Elves

Thanks to Luna for Fairy Chrissi

This week’s fairy tale contained three tales within the tale involving elves!

The first tale is more commonly known as The Elves and The Shoemaker. There was a poor shoemaker who left material out and each night shoes appeared that were perfectly made. The man became rich thanks to elves who were making shoes for him overnight. The shoemaker and his wife left clothes out for the little elves to thank them for helping them. The elves never returned but the shoemaker and his wife were rich!

The second tale also involves a poor person. This time it’s a poor servant girl who is very hard-working and neat. She sweeps the house every day and empties the rubbish outside. One morning she finds a letter in the sweepings. She takes it to her employers and she can’t read. The letter is from some elves asking her to be the Godmother at the baptism of one of their children. The girl is told to accept the invitation as it’s not right to decline an invitation from elves. The elves care for the girl and provide for her as a reward for helping them. They convince her to stay for a few days and continue to make her happy. When she finally returns home, they fill her pockets with gold. The girl continues her work at home, but she is approached by strangers asking who she is. It turns out that she has been gone from home for longer than she thought and her employers have died!

The third tale involves elves that aren’t so nice. A mother has her child taken from its cradle by elves who left a changeling in its place. The mother asks for some advice and she is told to carry the changeling into the kitchen and to set it on the hearth. She is told to make a fire and boil water in two eggshells. This would make the changeling laugh, and if it laughs then it should be the end of him! The woman does exactly as she is told and finds the changeling is soon swapped for the rightful child.

I really enjoyed these three tales within The Elves. I thought they were incredibly interesting, easy to read and unique!

Next Fairy Tale- The Robber Bridegroom