Tag Archives: debut novel

Book Review: The Next Together by Lauren James

Published 3rd September 2015 by Walker books.

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Sidenote: HOW PRETTY IS THIS COVER OH MY GOODNESS

Goodreads Synopsis: How many times can you lose the person you love?
A powerful and epic début novel for teenagers about reincarnation and the timelessness of first love from a talented young writer.
Teenagers Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.
But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?
Maybe the next together will be different…

My Review: When I first heard about this book I wasn’t too sure I’d read it – the idea of two lovers being reborn over & over throughout history reminded me a lot of an old favourite, Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. But then I read into it more, and saw that beautiful cover, and was offered the chance to review it for LoveReading4Kids – I jumped at the opportunity to.

I was hooked from the opening pages. The story is split between multiple time periods and the reincarnations of Katherine and Matthew in each one; from 2039 to 1745. With each life, they fall in love, affect historical events – and are separated again, to be born again. The stories are all told, uniquely, through not just usual writing but notes between the characters, maps, articles and letters. I loved the format. It made for such a unique reading experience. I thought I’d struggle to keep up with the multiple plots, but it was quite easy to read and Lauren James’s writing is so engrossing.

Technically, we see four reincarnations of the same characters in the same book! James has written them fantastically; no matter what time period, their personalities shine through (Katherine being pretty funny in many places. I had to suppress laughing out loud on a packed train) – though they’re also quite different in each year. I’m always pretty cynical when it comes to romance books but Lauren James has written these characters and their chemistry so so well.

As I did mention, I’ve seen a story done like this before, but this book still felt highly original and compelling – from the perfectly crafted, pulse-raising plot to the instantly loveable and beautifully written characters. There’s an almost sinister, underlying feeling to the plot, as there are mysterious computer-input-type messages throughout such as “objective achieved” / “intervention recommended.” It had me thinking all the way through as to what they could mean! It made quite an intriguing mystery on the side of the main events – it’s linked, but I’ll stop talking about it now…

Overall, I have to say this is the most stunning début of 2015 so far… Or maybe even a while longer. Lauren James is definitely an author to watch out for; her writing is astounding and the plot she has crafted is a rich blend of Sci-Fi, history and romance that is an absolute joy to read. It’s a gripping, emotional roller-coaster that I highly recommend looking out for.

My Rating:

four and a half

I received a copy of The Next Together from the publisher, via LoveReading4Kids, for review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

 

Book Review: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Published 2nd July 2015 by Bloomsbury.

20649195Goodreads Synopsis: 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 début 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.

My Review: This book came just as I had started exam revision – so after reading the blurb that had me really tempted to dive straight in, I had to wait a while to get around to it! It was the first book I picked back up after exams and the wait was definitely worth it. Because You’ll Never Meet Me was an extraordinary début.

The concept of the story is very individual and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It centres around one boy who cannot go near electricity – and another who depends on it for his heart to beat. The two can never meet, because one of them would die, so from opposite sides of the globe they exchange letters which will eventually lead to a shared discovery. It’s simultaneously a heart-warming-and-heart-breaking contemporary, though with an almost sci-fi-feeling to it.

I guessed the ‘reveal’ quite a short way in so it didn’t come as a surprise to me, but it was interesting to read how both boys discovered the truths and developed over time.

The two characters, Ollie and Moritz, are very contrasting; from their health conditions to their distinctive writing styles and voices. Ollie has epilepsy and lives in a cabin far away from the dangers of the city – whilst Moritz depends on his pacemaker for his life and lives in Germany.

I warmed to Ollie first and foremost because of his narrative – though by the end I was really invested in both their stories. I loved reading their sometimes witty, sometimes tear-jerking responses to one another. Both sides to the whole story were brilliantly crafted and flowed well alongside each other. Parts were a bit predictable – but there were a lot of points I couldn’t have guessed!

Overall, I really enjoyed Because You’ll Never Meet Me – it was a really awe-inspiring, unputdownable début novel. I’m excited to see what Leah Thomas will write in the future! The characters were truly unforgettable; their unique bond even more so. Definitely recommended to those who like contemporary books with a twist.

My Rating:

four

I received a copy of Because You’ll Never Meet Me from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: OTHERGIRL by Nicole Burstein

Published 2nd April 2015 by Andersen Press.

22854303Goodreads Synopsis: Louise and Erica have been best friends since forever. They’re closer than sisters and depend on each other for almost everything. Just one problem: Erica has superpowers.
When Erica isn’t doing loop-the-loops in the sky or burning things with her heat pulse powers, she needs Louise to hold her non-super life together. After all, the girls still have homework, parents and boys to figure out. But being a superhero’s BFF is not easy, especially as trouble has a way of seeking them out. Soon Louise discovers that Erica might be able to survive explosions and fly faster than a speeding bullet, but she can’t win every fight by herself.
Life isn’t a comic book – it’s even crazier than that.

My Review: I’ve been following the author of Othergirl, Nicole, on Twitter for a while and she often tweets about geeky awesomeness, mainly comics – so I was really eager to read her début novel as soon as I heard of the book deal. After what seemed like a long time, I wandered into Waterstones a while ago and didn’t realise it was out. I’ve never purchased a book quicker!

A main reason I was excited about this was that it tells the story of the one stock comic book character who’s always left behind; the superhero’s best friend. Louise has known Erica for years, and helped her through her discovery of superpowers – even making a costume for her.When Erica’s secret powers suddenly mean she’s part of a very big event, Louise is pretty much left behind, as Erica quite literally flies off without her.

The plot was so brilliantly written and paced. I intended to only read a few chapters, but ended up reading the entire book in one go. I loved the idea behind the story and it was told brilliantly, with some humour and a little romance too that I wasn’t expecting. The world in Othergirl is identical to our own… but there’s a world famous, world wide network of Superheroes called the Vigils, sponsored by large companies and immortalised on kids’ walls as posters. I really enjoyed reading about the superhero organisation, and kinda wish there was one like it IRL… 😀

The characters are so brilliantly crafted and understandable. Louise is a caring friend who always goes the extra mile, while Erica is more self-absorbed and tends to be more reckless and angry. Their chemistry is really interesting. I never fully liked Erica as she was often pretty dismissive of Louise – and I resonated with Louise more, being the typical quiet nerd. The ending made me tear up a little, actually!

Overall, Othergirl was definitely worth the wait. It was exactly as great as I wished it would be, and more. I’m so happy there’s a book like this in the YA market.  The characters were so fun to read about, as was the inventive world of superheroes Nicole Burstein has created. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an author’s personality reflected so much in their work as in Othergirl. (Also, bonus! Little comic book tributes hidden in the novel…) Highly recommended – this has fast become a favourite of the year.

My Rating:

five

I purchased a copy of OTHERGIRL from a local bookstore.

Book Review: One Of Us by Jeannie Waudby

Published 5th February 2015 by Chicken House books.

24777962Goodreads Synopsis: When K narrowly survives a bomb attack, she agrees to go undercover to spy on the Brotherhood, the radical young group held responsible, and whom she’s determined to bring to justice. But whilst living among them, soon even enemies become real people. And when she falls in love, K discovers that some things are not black and white …
What’s right – and who’s wrong? Someone’s always to blame.
From debut author, Jeannie Waudby, comes a nail-biting contemporary drama set in a modern society divided by violence, prejudice and distrust. One of Us is a topical YA thriller about young love and religious intolerance – can one isolated girl learn to understand who she is and where she stands in such a world.

My Review: I was eagerly anticipating reading One Of Us, and I really enjoyed it, despite taking so long to finish it due to exam revision!

One Of Us is a gripping début. It’s the story of K Child, an orphaned teenager who is asked by an officer, who saves her from a bomb attack, to go undercover in a Brotherhood school to uncover a terrorist group. K’s city is divided between the citizens and the Brotherhood, who are a religious minority that aren’t tolerated because of past terrorist events.

One Of Us really hits home because of its concept, because it can easily be applied to the prejudice in today’s world, and how we treat people based on their backgrounds. The parallels between Jeannie Waudby’s fictional city and our real world were so strong, which made it feel so realistic – and slightly unnerving…

The plot swept me up from the first pages, where K is on the train to school when a bomb explodes and her life is turned upside down. I’ve had to spend a lot of time on school-work lately, but otherwise I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have put the book down at all! K develops a lot throughout the story and I grew to really like her, as she navigated a Brotherhood society and had to question everything she’d been told all her life. I’m not too sure on how I felt about the love story that grew in One Of Us, though I’m sure other readers will adore it.

I think the only thing I would’ve changed about the book was the ending. There’s a lot to take in, in the last fifty pages, and that plot twists was completely unexpected – but I wished the truth K uncovered was explained more. It was really shocking and I would have loved to read more about the story she finds.

Overall, One Of Us was a really riveting read; the kind of book you want to read in one go – I was drawn in from the first pages (and then reluctantly pulled away because revision meh). There were a few things I’m still mulling over, but I really recommend it if you’re a fan of hard-hitting, contemporary thrillers like Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses!

My Rating:

three and a half

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

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Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Published 3rd October 2014 by MIRA ink.

22710376Goodreads Synopsis: It’s 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging. And it’s Sarah Dunbar’s first day of school, as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda Hairston, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Sarah and Linda have every reason to despise each other. But as a school project forces them to spend time together, the less their differences seem to matter. And Sarah and Linda start to feel something they’ve never felt before. Something they’re both determined ignore. Because it’s one thing to be frightened by the world around you – and another thing altogether when you’re terrified of what you feel inside.

My Review: I hadn’t heard about Lies We Tell Ourselves until I’d received an email from the publisher, but as soon as I’d read the synopsis I knew it was going to be a really great book! I haven’t really seen much, and definitely not read much YA fiction based around the civil rights movement in the 50s & 60s… And I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any YA books centered around LGBT characters in that era.

Needless to say I delved straight into the story very excitedly, as I was sure this would be an amazing, original début. I was certainly awed by the story. It was moving and powerful, and I’m sure I’ll be recommending it to lots of people. However, after finishing it, I couldn’t help but feel I was missing something… Though I can’t completely work out what!

The narration was really memorable. Roughly, the first third of the book is from Sarah’s perspective, then after the first pivotal moment, the second third is Linda’s – and finally the last third is quickly alternating chapters. Both girls’ voices were really amazing. I felt really familiar with both of them and was rooting for them, for the entire story! Both of them develop so much, especially Linda, who’s grown up with a segregationist father, but realises what mistakes she’s made as she grows closer to Sarah.

I think it was admirable how Lies We Tell Ourselves dealt racism. It wasn’t sugar coated or toned down – it was alarmingly real. I didn’t actually realise how hard-hitting and brutally honest the topic of racism would be tackled in Lies We Tell Ourselves – I was actually tearing up within the first chapters, reading the all-too-vivid scenes where Sarah is at the receiving end of some awful abuse at Jefferson High.

The main thing that I struggled with in the story is hard to explain, because I really want to keep this review spoiler free! By the ending, a lot of the story was resolved, but there were certain key elements to the story that I was expecting more elaboration on… The ending left me really wanting a sequel, or some kind of follow up, to say the least. I felt there was a lot more to tell about Sarah and Linda!

Overall, Lies We Tell Ourselves was, without doubt, a really stunning and original début. I really fell in love with the main characters; their chemistry, and the narration. Lies We Tell Ourselves really stands out in the YA market as it’s completely unique, and deals with two topics (LGBT and race equality) that I really want to read more of in fiction in the future. Lies We Tell Ourselves, though I am unsure of a few things, definitely deserves a lot of attention upon publication!

My Rating:

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

Unrelated note! Sorry for having not written a blog post in just over a week now – I usually aim to get at least one or two published every week. Last week was the first full week back at school and it was even more chaotic that I’d assumed it would be! I also found out I’ll be doing most of my GCSE coursework and some GCSE exams a year early, which I wasn’t expecting, over the next year… so sadly I think I’ll be blogging less often, though trying to schedule more!