Category Archives: Review by Georgia

A Boy Called Hope

By Lara Williamson, published by Usborne.

A Boy Called HopeGoodreads Synopsis: I’m Dan Hope and deep inside my head I keep a list of things I want to come true.
For example, I want my sister, Ninja Grace, to go to university at the North Pole and only come back once a year.
I want to help Sherlock Holmes solve his most daring mystery yet. And if it could be a zombie mystery, all the more exciting.
I want to be the first eleven-year-old to land on the moon.
I want my dog to stop eating the planets and throwing them up on the carpet.
And finally, the biggest dream of all, I want my dad to love me.
A Boy Called Hope is a brave, bold and funny debut about family in all its shapes and sizes.

My Review: Upon finishing this, I literally had no words. I was actually speechless: I wasn’t expecting such a poignant, beautifully written, heart-breaking-and-heart-warming story- from a debut novel! As soon as I’d finished the last chapter (for the fourth time) I knew this had to be my new favourite title of the year. A Boy Called Hope is set to become an outstanding, award winning novel, I’m sure, thanks to the unforgettable plot and the beautiful writing style.

A Boy Called Hope is about Dan, an eleven year old whose dad left his family years ago. His father is now famous, his dog keeps eating everything, his sister is a Word Ninja, and his friend is obsessed with religious artifacts. Dan’s story is about his search to see if his dad, who never kept contact, still loves him. Along the way there he has to face so many other difficulties: family-wise and friendship-wise. Lara Williamson has captured an eleven year old’s voice perfectly! The story was so believable. I didn’t want to let go of the characters, and the story, when I was nearing the end. It was reminiscent of John Green’s and Annabel Pitcher’s writing, as it was brutally honest and emotional.

Dan is really three-dimensional character. He’s funny at points, clever at others, and always carries this inspiring amount of hope with him wherever he goes. Dan put a smile on my face with every page and I’m sure every reader will fall in love with his personality. His story is so heartwarming. At the same time, it’s also heartbreaking. A Boy Called Hope covers a lot of issues, though mainly it’s about a father-son relationship. I think Lara captured that bond, and the effects of it breaking, so effectively. It brought tears to my eyes- happy ones as well as sad ones! His family life is complicated, but I could connect to all of the characters in his life in one way or another. The ending for Dan’s family was sad in one aspect, though brilliant and uplifting in another!

Overall, A Boy Called Hope is a 2014 debut that you do not want to miss, whatever age you are. The writing is beautiful, honest, and enjoyable: Lara Williamson made me feel like I was really reading a diary from an eleven year old boy. Her writing is honest, heart-wrenchingly sad and powerful… but it’s uplifting and fun too. The plot is so unpredictable- a real roller-coaster, and the ending was definitely not what I expected! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love with the characters and the ending will make you itch for more about Dan and his unforgettable life. A Boy Called Hope isn’t to be missed- it’s essential for Middle-Graders and up… make sure to look out for it in March!

My Rating:

ratingsystem1ratingsystem1ratingsystem1ratingsystem1ratingsystem1

GFFOmantelpiece

I received a copy of A Boy Called Hope from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Because It Is My Blood

By Gabrielle Zevin, published by Macmillan.

Because It Is My Blood (Birthright, #2)Goodreads Synopsis: 

“Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in.”- Michael Corleone, The Godfather.

Since her release from Liberty Children’s Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship.But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve–and her heart–will be tested as never before.

My Review: *I may accidentally drop spoilers about book one in this series here! You have been warned!* 

What an awesome sequel! I was really worried that this wouldn’t live up to the sheer perfection of the first book, All These Things I’ve Done, but it really did! Because It Is My Blood is a book I’ve been so excited for, all of this year, since I read the first one back in January, and have been impatiently tapping my foot, waiting to read about what Anya Does Next. This book has definitely disproved that statement about Sequels of books not living up to their predecessors. Because It Is My Blood was just as brilliant; a real roller-coaster-ride of a book. It was a perfect blend of thriller, dystopia, and family drama!

Anya was, and still is, one of my favourite female dystopia protagonists. She’s so three-dimensional, and despite living so far off in the future, very relatable. It was very interesting to see what she’d do after the ending of All These Things I’ve Done- as, boy, that was an evil cliffhanger! I loved her just as much in this installment: She’s a very down-to-earth character. I enjoyed following her as she was thrown back in Liberty- a rehabilitation facility for children; then as she escaped, assisted by awesome supporting characters, to Mexico to lie low for a while.

Gabrielle Zevin really played with my emotions in this book! Firstly, Anya’s brother. He was a loveable character in book one, who was then taken away for safety. Oh, was I upset at that- I thought I wouldn’t hear of him in this book! Fortunately, I did, but, I can’t say what happens to him in this book. All I can say is: Gabrielle! That plot twist made me cry and want to throw the book across the room, then made me laugh and do a little happy dance at the end. The author’s also made me learn not to trust any minor character in this book. I’m really scared as to what may happen in book three, now.

The plot was very different, to All These Things I’ve Done! I was ever so slightly annoyed at the fact that another love interest made his way into Anya’s life. I was pretty terrified that that might take over the rest of the book- but, luckily, it didn’t, so yay! The new love interest (Well, I guess he is. It seems that Anya sees him as a friend, but he’s competing with Will a bit, to me) was a very likeable character, though, and he and his family, who run the plantation Anya hides in, opened the gateway to yet more conspiracy theories and drama. I loved that! This sequel was pretty much unpredictable.

Overall, Because It Is My Blood was a really strong sequel to an amazing book. I don’t think I could pick out any major flaws! This series is an amazing thrill ride, and any crime/drama/romance/dystopia loving teen will also love it, I’m very sure. I loved reading more about Anya, and I think the book was great, but too short for me (maybe that’s just because I was so immersed in it, and wanted more!). With some new characters I’ve grown to love, and some old characters I’ve grown to hate (thanks to some double-crossing and plot twists!), I really can’t wait for the next book, which is called In The Age of Love and Chocolate. 

You can check out my review of ALL THESE THINGS I’VE DONE, HERE!

My Rating:

ratingsystem1ratingsystem1ratingsystem1ratingsystem1

I received a copy of Because It Is My Blood from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

New Books! #25

NewBooksMemeBanner

I’m really excited about these books this week, though it’s not the biggest book haul! Thanks to Curious Fox Books especially, for the book that arrived through the door this morning!

Received in post:

Amber

 

Amber by Julie Sykes: Amber looks like a brilliant book! I’ve had my eye on it for a while. I’ve never blogged for Curious Fox before, but this sounds like a great starting title! I also love the cover. Isn’t it pretty?

Bought/Borrowed:

Execution (Escape From Furnace, #5)

Furnace: Execution by Alexander Gordon Smith: My dad spotted this in a sale section of a library, which is awesome! I’m going to an event at the Bat Kids Lit Fest with Alexander: a horror writing workshop, tomorrow 😀 Though this isn’t the first book in the series… So I’ll be hunting down the rest!

What books did you buy or receive this week? Have you read either of these books? Leave a comment and let me know! 🙂 

More Than This

By Patrick Ness, published by Walker Books.

Apologies to Walker Books UK for such a late review! This was due to school and also the fact that it took me a few days to actually form coherent sentences about this book.

More Than ThisGoodreads Synopsis: A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . . .

My Review: more Than This, quite simply, just blew me away. It’s taken me a while to get round to writing a review, mostly because I really don’t know how to review such an amazing book! Firstly, can I just say: this book is the best book I’ve read this year. No doubt. It’s quite hard to review this not just because of its amazingness. How do I write a review without spoiling this?! More Than This is the kind of book where, if one thing is spoiled, the whole thing is! I’m going to try anyway…

Firstly, Seth. I read the first chapter, then put the book down, and stared at it for a while. The main character dies in the first chapter? What? How does the book go on? Then, in chapter two, Seth’s woken up in a place that looks freakily similar to his childhood home in England. How is he here? Why’s everyone upped and left? The book follows Seth as he tries to figure out how he got to this place. I loved Seth for a lot of reasons. Firstly, I connected with him not entirely because of his personality, but mainly because he’d appeared, lost and confused, in this unexplained world. It was exactly what the author had done to me, really!

As the book progresses, (and I don’t think I can really say how it progresses) I got to know Seth from his ‘original life’ much better, as when he goes to sleep in this empty world, painful memories for him surface. This book is very emotional, mostly at these points. Argh! I’ll spoil it if I say much more. But his early childhood, involving a kidnapping, was terrifying, and I felt like hugging him when his love life was ruined after a friend betrayed him, and his parents discovered he was gay and disapproved. The love life aspect leads to Seth’s death, and Patrick Ness can really play with the reader’s emotions, I can say that. Bring Kleenex.

The plot was just immaculate. I originally guessed that the whole book was Seth, figuring out how he got here and possibly unlocking the reason he came here. While that technically does happen, it most certainly didn’t happen it the way I had guessed! Patrick Ness split this book into three roughly equal parts, and I think I loved the first one the most because it was mainly getting to know Seth’s background, and was very raw and brutally honest. Not that the other parts weren’t. The rest was just as emotional, really, but the first part focuses on Seth more than the others (as some new THINGS- not saying what exactly- enter the story). Each plot twist made me gasp, or put a blank expression on my face and made me go “Whoa, what?!”. More Than This was entirely unpredictable!

The idea behind this book is just genius. It’s original, thought-provoking, questions reality, and I’ve never read anything like it before. Patrick Ness, why?! I really can’t go into this for fear of ruining things. But, the idea is centrally themed around the question, What’s Real and What’s Not? This book made me wonder if what had happened to Seth could possibly happen to me; that I could wake up in a barren landscape due to a mystery behind reality. As much as I thought about things whilst reading the book, after I’d put it down (at stared at a wall for a while wondering what else to do with my life after that ending) I found myself picking it up, hours; days later, just to read parts again because I’d loved this so much!

Overall, More Than This was a really unique book that is absolutely nothing like anything on the YA market at the moment. It stands out from the current dystopia craze at the moment- while, I guess, it is a bit dystopian, it’s nothing like any other in the genre. It’s probably the most original- and my favourite- book that I’ve read this year! More Than This is packed with shocks, emotion, a couple of laughs, thrills, horror, mystery… the lot. It ticked all of the boxes and more, for me. I honestly can’t recommend it enough! I was tempted to make a six hearts on my rating system, reserved for this book. Simply amazing!

My Rating:

ratingsystem1ratingsystem1ratingsystem1ratingsystem1ratingsystem1

I received a copy of More Than This from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

All these things I’ve done

By Gabrielle Zevin, published by Macmillan.

For Anya, love will become a life-or-death choice…

It’s New York in the year 2082, and Anya has, as believed by the police, attempted to murder her ex-boyfriend. Even though she was not the criminal against the poison laced in the chocolate she gave her ex, she is considered dangerous (She is one of New York’s most notorious criminals daughter) and sent to Liberty Island where criminals are now kept.

Upon coming out with criminal status, she falls in love with the District Attorneys son: Win. But she cannot love him. It could cost her a lot; including her loved ones lives. What will she decide; to stay with Win and risk lives, or leave him to save her siblings?

This book is the first in the BIRTHRIGHT Trilogy, and now I can’t wait for the second instalment!

It’s a heart-breaking and sad story: The protagonists older brother is unable to help run the house, her grandmother is bed-ridden and her parents were both murdered in an unsolved conspiracy. As you’re introduced to this Anya’s ex-boyfriend is poisoned! Suddenly the book turns into a fast-paced thriller complete with gangster-family members with grudges on each other, and a fight for survival as well. It’s a brilliant story, with a strong main character who I loved reading about, and the book ticked all of the boxes for me. I would really recommend it to all YA’s looking for an exciting, crime based read!

The Peculiar

By Stefan Bachmann, published by Harper Collins Children’s Books

Child number eleven is everything. Everything we hoped…”

Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie are Peculiar. Their mother is a human and their father a faery, and they are hated by both faeries and humans alike. They reside with their mother in a faery slum in New Bath, England, live by the motto ‘Don’t get yourself noticed and you won’t get yourself hanged’. But one day Bartholomew sees a mysterious lady in Plum on his street take a small peculiar like him, and his world is turned upside down. Little does he know it, he has landed himself in the middle of a conspiracy. When Hettie is endangered, can a certain Mr Jelliby help Bartholomew save her and stop an evil mind which is plotting something terrible?

 

This book was amazing! It is steampunk, murder mystery, folklore and fairy tale all rolled into one. It’s by far one of the most imaginative novels I have read in a while! The protagonists were easy to love and made great leading characters. The settings I loved; I like how Mr Bachmann has turned places in England to believable faery-infested places. I still find it pretty hard to believe it is the debut novel of an eighteen year old writer though!

I can’t wait to read more from this talented new voice in children’s books; Keep writing Stefan!

The Snow Merchant

By Sam Gayton, published by Andersen Press.

The Snow Merchant

Lettie Peppercorn is the twelve year old landlady of a house-turned-hotel on stilts, and ever since she can remember she’s been making tea and soup for the guests and tidying up after them. Her best friends are the wind and a pigeon, and life is no fun at all, but she’s used to it. But one day her life changes forever! A mysterious man who calls himself Blϋstav the Snow Merchant turns up at lettie’s door with a suitcase full of the most wonderful invention ever- snow. After Lettie is introduced to it an adventure begins. She embarks on a mission at sea to find her lost mother, who Blϋstav once knew, with her new best friend Noah: A boy with a branch growing from his shoulder. Their adventure will contain magic, alchemy, and some evil guests… will they be able to claim snow as their own, find Lettie’s mother and get her family back to normal?

 

This book was awesome! Right from the very first page it hooks you in, and the story is just so unbelievably imaginative. There are all sorts of things packed in, from alchemy and a family mystery to giant whales and great antagonists (Two of which are old ladies who were guests at Letties house!). It’s a great adventurous storyline with lots of unexpected twists and I couldn’t stop reading it. All in all I think it’s a great wintery read that’s perfect to curl up with this holiday.

 I can’t wait to read more from Sam Gayton, his writing is great!