Tag Archives: contemporary

Book Review: Wonderboy by Nicole Burstein

Published August 2016 by Andersen Press.

27430362Goodreads Synopsis: A funny and frank superhero story set in the world of Othergirl.
Joseph ‘Wilco’ Wilkes is one of life’s loser’s – he’s picked on, pushed around, and bullied by the rugby boys at the posh private school he attends on a scholarship. But his life is about to change: Wilco learns he can move things with his mind. Will this be his chance to play the hero, get the girl and finally stand up for himself? Or are things just going to come crashing down around his head? Becoming a proper hero will be quite the leap of faith…

My Review: I absolutely adored Othergirl, Nicole Burstein’s debut novel – so when I discovered her second book was coming out, I was eager to give it a go!

I dove into this thinking it was a sequel to Burstein’s debut – but it’s in fact simply set in the same world as Othergirl – a world much like ours, but with global network of superheroes called the Vigils. Wonderboy can be read as a standalone novel – though, to appreciate a couple of scenes even more, it’s definitely worth reading Burstein’s first book too!

I really loved reading about the alternate world this is set in. Burstein visibly draws on her love of X-Men, but her universe is hardly a knock-off of the franchise; it’s really enjoyable and brilliant fun – from each of the Vigils, to their secret operations and offices. I love how the classic elements of a superhero story have been taken straight from all my favourite comics, and reworked to create a fantastic novel: it’s not cliche, it feels like a fresh new perspective on classic superheroes. A homage to comics. 🙂

I love that, despite Wonderboy being a brilliantly adventurous story, it’s still down to earth in the sense that it addresses some serious topics as well. Quite cleverly, when Joseph reveals his identity, it mirrors coming out in a couple of scenes, which I thought was actually a very cool and important thing to do, especially for an audience of young readers. Joseph’s life also really well explored, and we learn lots of things about his life that are the reason why he is bullied; for instance, how his mum doesn’t have very much money, so he’s in a private school on a scholarship that is looked down upon.I really liked how Burstein wrote about this so realistically.

It is so hard to not love the characters. Of both books Burstein has written, I have adored all of the protagonists. They’re just fantastic!  Joseph was really relatable, I think, and such a well fleshed-out character. Although we didn’t see very much of him ‘in action,’ (this is more of a story about him discovering his powers) I grew to love reading about him.

Overall, Wonderboy was a really brilliant read, from an author I know will be only be gaining more and more attention in the world of fiction. Nicole is a fantastic writer, and has crafted yet another enjoyable story in her instant-classic superhero world. Fingers crossed there’ll be another title soon!

My Rating:

four

I received a copy of Wonderboy from the publisher, via Lovereading4kids, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review and Film Discussion: The Drowning of Arthur Braxton

Today’s post isn’t a conventional review! I was kindly sent a copy of Arthur Braxton, a book I have wanted to read for months, and given that the movie adaptation is out soon (and that this new edition of the book has just published), I thought I would make this review a part-discussion, too!

I’ve been a fan of Luke Cutforth on YouTube for a long time, so when I discovered he was making his first feature film, I was jumping around in excitement. I can’t wait to see it.

Review and Discussion:

Written by Caroline Smailes, published by 4th Estate; adapted into film by Luke Cutforth.

Goodreads Synopsis: Arthur Braxton runs away from school.

He hides out in an abandoned building, an old Edwardian bathhouse.

He discovers a naked woman swimming in the pool.

From this point on, nothing will ever be the same.

My Review: It’s hard to put how I felt about this book into words. It is equal parts strange and wonderful and messed up, but that’s why I liked it.

Reading this book was an incredibly weird experience. Although I enjoyed it, it didn’t instantly blow me away, but it properly hit me after I’d put the book down and began mulling it over. The story, to anyone going in unknowing of the plot, is bizarre, but captivating; teenage Arthur Braxton finds his way into an abandoned bathhouse on a desperate night, and what he finds in there changes his life forever.

I couldn’t like Arthur very much at all, which was sad – but the characters I did adore were the ones that he finds in the swimming pool. Without giving away anything, I’ll say that their stories brought me to tears, and were told in such memorable ways. Lots of people adore Arthur’s character for how brutally honest the representation of his character is, but for me I couldn’t enjoy it too much. I’ll admit that I found it a bit crude in places (even though that is how it’s supposed to be!). Despite being an accurate depiction of a teenager, I just wished he had some qualities I could’ve liked.

I can’t wait to see how the film adaptation presents all of the characters on screen. I’m not sure how accurate they can be (given that there’s a lot of nudity and swearing, and I’m assuming the producers will be aiming for a 12/15 rating) but it’ll be really exciting to see how they appear. The casting looks fantastic so far, and features lots of upcoming talents, so I’m really excited!

The format of the book was really interesting, and not what I had expected! Different characters told their stories in varying styles – parts were in script, parts were conventional storytelling, and a couple of chapters were simply just dialogue. I adored the way in which the plot was told and presented – it felt very refreshing and kept me engaged. I’d love to read more books told in quirky ways like this.

What I also enjoyed about the book was the setting, and how there’s a lot between the lines to read into. Most of the book is set within the Oracle, an abandoned bath house set to be demolished and rebuilt. I envisioned it as a really haunting looking place, but the BTS photos of the set so far are very different – though it looks awesome!

If I am completely honest, I was not blown away by this book whilst reading it – not every aspect appealed to me, and parts were very unsettling. However, I think part of the reason I didn’t fall in love with it was because I wasn’t taking in the mythological aspects of the book – it flew right over my head! I read up on it after reading, and began to appreciate the story much more. There are many layers to this unique story, and it’ll be really interesting to see how Luke, director, translates these from page to screen.

Overall, The Drowning of Arthur Braxton left me in a very weird state after reading. It’s unlike anything I have ever read before; strange, haunting and weirdly wonderful. I’d recommend it to anyone who is looking for a very unconventional story; one that will make you laugh and cry.

I think Luke is the perfect director for this film. By looking at his YouTube channel, anyone might think he’s a strange choice – most of his videos are on the bizarre, funny side – not serious. But I think he’ll bring the brilliant crudeness to the film that the book has; and also, from his directing of various music videos on YouTube in the past, I can tell he’s definitely made for this sort of thing. It will be awesome to see his skills adapting to a much bigger project.

The new edition of this book (cover pictured at the top of this post!) also contains a new introduction written by him – so it’s definitely worth checking that out!

My Rating:

three and a half

I received a copy of The Drowning of Arthur Braxton from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

STORIES FROM THE EDGE Blog Tour: Guest Post from Keren David

I am sosososo ridiculously excited to be welcoming Keren David to The Bibliomaniac today, author of one of my favourite reads of last year.

David is one of the eight Edge Authors on the blog of the same name. These fantastic writing talents have just released an anthology of short stories – STORIES FROM THE EDGE. It looks amazing, and I can’t wait to read it!

Without further ado, here’s Keren David discussing her short story, which is linked in with her previous novel, This is Not a Love Story:


Book Review: London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning

Published 1st June 2016 by Hot Key Books.

26177619

Goodreads Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Sunny’s always been a little bit of a pushover. But when she’s sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she’s got to act. What follows is a mad, twelve-hour dash around London – starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can’t even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill . . . and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace.

Along the way Sunny meets a whole host of characters she never dreamed she’d have anything in common with – least of all the devilishly handsome (and somewhat vain) French ‘twins’ (they’re really cousins) Jean Luc and Vic. But as this love-letter to London shows, a city is only a sum of its parts, and really it’s the people living there who make up its life and soul. And, as Sunny discovers, everyone – from friends, apparent-enemies, famous bands and even rickshaw drivers – is willing to help a girl on a mission to get her romantic retribution.

My Review: I was sent this book by surprise, and although I wasn’t entirely sure if it would be something I’d enjoy, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Sarra Manning’s other books, so I was eager to give it a go!

London Belongs to Us is a brilliant tribute to London. It’s set over one crazy, eventful night, and roughly each chapter is set within a different iconic place – from Crystal Palace to Chelsea – and with each new change in scenery brings a little chapter introduction with facts about the place. It’s written almost like a love letter to London; all of the research, and attention to detail that’s gone into describing the locations. I really enjoyed reading it, as there is so much emphasis on the setting, and being a Londoner (or near enough) I adored the familiarity and how easily I could envision so much of the book.

The story is hectic, as it starts in Crystal Palace Park on a late evening, and finishes the next morning – with so much happening in between. Sunny unexpectedly receives a photo of her boyfriend with another girl, and a wild chase across London ensues to solve the story – along the way, there’s all sorts of craziness, from mopeds to nightclubs and concerts to The Ritz. It was fast paced and adventurous; so much fun to read, and it’s short enough to enjoy in a day. It’s a silly thing to pick up on, but I did question the plausibility of some of the wild things that happened… To think that some people roughly my age did some of those things, and all in one night, is crazy 😀

One thing I noticed about the story, and really appreciated, was that the topic of racism was brought up. Sunny, the main character, is mixed race, and over the course of the book multiple comments are made by other characters about her colour of her skin, making snap judgements and rude stereotypical statements. I think the way the author wrote about these was incredibly realistic and I like the way the topic was treated; it’s something I’d love to see a lot more in books.

Overall, London Belongs to Us was a fun book, and one that’s perfect for you if you’re looking for a short but enjoyable summer story… Or an ideal London train read! I really enjoyed reading about Sunny and Emmeline, and the ridiculous things they did all in one night. It’s very quirky and very random – a great tribute to an equally quirky and random city.

My Rating:

three and a half

I received a copy of London Belongs To Us from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

Published February 2016 by Macmillan.

25437747Goodreads Synopsis: I was brave. She was reckless. We were trouble.
Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting.

Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be.

But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

My Review: Beautiful Broken Things had been on my to-read list ever since I saw its beautiful cover in late 2015! I’m very much a ‘judge a book by its cover’ type. I actually went into the book knowing very little about it, other than that it was about friendship, and by my guessing, would be quite a sad read.

It took me a while to read this because it was the first book I read after exams; the last two months have been a massive reading slump and I’ve been so out of the loop, and out of the reading mindset. However, on a long bus journey the other day, I devoured over half of the book. Sara Barnard really draws the reader in, and gets them totally engrossed in the story.

Beautiful Broken Things follows the story of Caddy, who is living what she feels is a boring, average life. When her best friend Rosie introduces her to Suzanne, a new girl to Brighton, everything begins to change. Suzanne went through some horrible things before moving to Brighton with her aunt, and Caddy finds herself drawn to her, wanting to be there for her. Events begin to spiral out of control – and nothing’s the same.

The premise of the story was brilliant. Even though I did think the story was a little predictable, I still found myself feeling for the characters are the story played out. I loved the setting; it feels like Barnard’s debut is like a love letter to Brighton, highlighting its beautiful places in the pivotal scenes of the story.

The characters are all really well developed and felt very real to me, but for some reason I just didn’t connected with them like I’d expected to. Especially Suzanne. It’s not that I explicitly didn’t like the protagonists, but some of the decisions they made just didn’t add up for me and I felt a bit detached from them. I feel like if I’d grown to love them more, this book would have deeply impacted me much more.

Overall, Beautiful Broken Things is a really great debut novel, and one I’d certainly recommend. It’s a riveting contemporary story, with some characters that I’m sure most will find very memorable. Sadly, something just didn’t click for me, whilst I was reading – however, it was still a brilliant read 🙂

My Rating:

three

I purchased a copy of Beautiful Broken Things.

Book Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

Related Posts: 2016 Releases: Books on my To-Read List!

Published April 2016 by Bloomsbury Books.
27235365Goodreads Synopsis: 
Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.
Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.

My Review: I’ll admit, this was a book I judged quite largely on the cover – it was so beautiful, I just had to see what it was about. And I’m so glad I was pulled into it. When We Collided was everything I expected and so much more; a truly unforgettable story that I want to recommend to everyone.

It’s hard not to fall in love with the characters from the opening pages; instantly, I was swept up within the separate lives of Vivi and Jonah – her bustling, art filled life, and his busy and mourning family – and didn’t want to stop reading as they, well, “collided.” Both Vivi and Jonah have awful hardships in their life, but after finding each other, it’s like they both have a new lease of life. I’ve never read anything by Emery Lord before, but I really want to now; her ability to craft realistic, memorable characters is second to none.

Mental health is a topic discussed often in YA fiction – and When We Collided is an incredible depiction of bipolar disorder. The author writes about it honestly and openly, and in a very realistic way. I think it was discussed really well in the book – Emery Lord’s writing is authentic and raw, her characters voices genuine.

I could tell from about a third of the way in that this book was bound to get quite sad at some point – it does, inevitably, but I was so wrapped up in Vivi and Jonah’s lives that I hardly saw it coming. The plot is so heartbreaking, but there are plenty of points that made me smile – Vivi’s happy moods are infectious. The whole book is a roller-coaster of emotion, and I definitely wasn’t expecting such a powerful story.

Overall, I’m incredibly glad I got the chance to read When We Collided – it was a moving, wonderful book and I can’t wait to read more from Lord in the future. I’ve never fallen for characters or gotten so engrossed in a love story so quickly. When We Collided is the perfect book if you want to read about some amazing characters, with a heartbreaking but also at points uplifting story. And the setting is gorgeous. I really can’t do this book justice – just go have a read for yourself 🙂

My Rating:

five

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

Book Review: Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell

Published 21st April 2016 by Orion.

28016325Goodreads Synopsis: Everyone thought we were dead. What else could they think?

One summer, nearly twenty years ago, two twelve year olds
were abducted and kept captive in the forest.

There they formed a bond that could never be broken.

What really happened in the woods that summer?

My Review: When this book came in the post, it looked like a really good read, and the ARC cover was fantastic. I picked it up on a whim, as just something to read between work. The premise sounded quite similar to lots of books I’ve seen before – I didn’t expect to be as blown away as I was! Pretty Is is a stunning, inventive novel, and I’m certain it’s going to be the big début of the year.

The plot is intricate and very well written. I became completely absorbed in the events of the book – it was so haunting and engaging. So many events spiral from the mysterious summer Carly May and Lois are kept in the woods – and all of these different stories come together two decades later incredibly cleverly. I had no idea where the plot could possibly be going from the opening pages right to the ending!

I adored how much time the story takes to delve into the lives of the main characters, and the psychological imprints their abduction left on them. It was incredibly chilling to read about, but also morbidly fascinating.  The book is split into two narratives, Carly May’s and Lois’s. They both had incredibly strong and engaging voices, and seeing how differently they develop was really interesting.

Maggie Mitchell weaves mystery into her novel expertly. Pretty Is is so haunting and unpredictable. I loved how intricate the plot was – it’s such a classic-feeling crime story yet it’s written in such a complex, outstanding way. I finished it feeling like I still wanted to know a bit more about some aspects of the story, but overall, I was truly mesmerised by how powerful of a début Pretty Is was.

Overall, I really highly recommend Pretty Is to those who love chilling and psychological stories. Compelling, dark and addictive, it’s an incredible début novel from a very talented writer. I’m really looking forward to reading more by Mitchell in the future!

My Rating:

four and a half

I received a copy of Pretty Is from the publisher. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: Crush by Eve Ainsworth

Related posts: 140 Character Reviews [contemporary fiction]

Published March 3rd 2016 by Scholastic Books.

26099256Goodreads Synopsis: Love hurts… but should it hurt this much? Reeling from her mum’s sudden departure, Anna finds the comfort she needs in her blossoming relationship with Will. He’s handsome and loving, everything Anna has always dreamt of. He’s also moody and unpredictable, pushing her away from her friends, her music. He wants her to be his and his alone. He wants her to be perfect. Anna’s world is closing in. But threatening everything is a dark secret that not even Will can control…

My Review: I was so excited when Eve Ainsworth’s second book was announced, because Seven Days, her début novel, was absolutely stunning. Upon learning more about it, I was even more eager to read it; I don’t think abusive relationships (that aren’t parental) are talked about enough in YA.

Crush is quite a short read, at under 300 pages, but I do almost wish it was longer! I was really engrossed in the story.

Anna meets Will and falls for him quickly – soon, they’re in an all-encompassing relationship; but Will isn’t really who Anna has thought she’s fallen for. He begins to take over aspects of her life, and Anna realises after everyone else that this isn’t what a relationship should be.

I really liked how Ainsworth takes the time to delve into both main characters’ backstories, in different ways. Each chapter is told from Anna’s perspective, and it’s visible how her life becomes divided between her life with Will and the struggle she has at home, where her family is recovering from her mother’s leaving. Will’s perspective, however, is only seen through the letters he writes, which appear after every chapter or so, and are really haunting. The letters provide a really interesting outlook on Will, and why he acts the way he does.

I really felt for Anna, and the things she goes through are pretty scary – especially because she doesn’t initially realise the emotional manipulation that’s occurring. The story is an incredibly important one to be told, but also very chilling. It’s a very grim reminder of how hard it can be to recognise abuse that isn’t always physical.

Overall, Crush is most definitely worth reading – I feel like it’s going to start a really thought-provoking conversation in the YA community. I’m really glad this book is out there, and I’m sure it chas the potential to really help people in asimilar situations. As before, Eve Ainsworth’s writing is fantastic – I can’t wait to see more from her in the future, as the contemporary fiction she writes is realistic, raw and memorable.

My Rating:

four

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

Cinnamon Girl Blog Tour: Review Graphic

Today I’m sharing the first graphic I’ve made completely on Photoshop – which was a fun experience. Cinnamon Girl is such a brilliant book, and I hope you enjoy this post and that it makes you a little curious about it!

cinnamon girl infographic

I received a copy of The incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

Published March 22nd 2016 by Greenwillow Books (US)

24039424Proof Synopsis: Janie and Micah, Micah and Janie.

That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivian moved next door.

It’s the perfect friendship – as long as no one finds out about it.

It’s the perfect friendship, until Janie Vivian disappears and Micah can’t remember when or how or why.

My Review: I started This is Where the World Ends not hugely knowing what it was about – and I raced through it, I couldn’t put it down. I loved living in the world of Janie and Micah, and unravelling the story of what happened to cause everything in their lives to change.

I wasn’t too sure of the book at first, as from the first pages, it had a very Paper Towns-y vibe to it – Janie is very much like Margo, although that was also a reason I was so fascinated by Janie – I love complex characters like that. However, the story is individual – it seems like it’s taken elements of some of the best contemporary books I’ve read, and combined them to make one fantastically feels-y book.

I think the best thing about This is Where the World Ends are its characters – their voices are incredibly strong and memorable, especially Janie’s. The story is written in three different ways – chapters are either ‘before’ in Janie’s narrative, ‘after’ in Micah’s narrative, or pages from Janie’s journals. The journals were perhaps the hardest-hitting parts of this book, which took a turn for the emotional.

I didn’t expect this book to be as emotionally-charged and poignant as it was. There are, especially towards the end, plenty of moments you’ll need tissues for. Just a heads up. The ending was not what I’d expected at all and left me wondering about the protagonists, especially Micah, for a long time afterwards.

Overall, I think This is Where the World Ends is a perfect read if you’re a fan of John Green or E Lockhart. It’s a powerful and moving novel about a close friendship, and how things can change so quickly and unexpectedly. There’s also quite a tragic mystery in its core, too, as you slowly piece together the night Micah lost his memory throughout the split narratives and diary entries. Definitely recommended!

My Rating: 

four

I received a copy of This is Where the World Ends from the publisher, via Harper360, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.