Tag Archives: drama

Radio Drama Review: The Electrical Venus by Julie Mayhew

Not a usual review post today! Last week, Julie Mayhew, Carnegie nominated author of Red Ink (which I loved! Review here.), asked me if I’d be interested in listening to and reviewing her new radio drama, The Electrical Venus. It’s a forty-five minute radio play that’s set to broadcast this Friday (October 3rd) at 2:15. Click here to go to the radio programme’s page!

I wasn’t very sure if it was my thing, at first. I don’t listen to radio drama – I haven’t even listened to an audio-book in ages! However, after I read that Julie intended for this play to be directed at teens, a demographic that I don’t think is ever explored by radio drama, I was very interested. Also, of course, I loved Julie Mayhew’s YA novel Red Ink and I’ve been wanting to experience more of her writing ever since.

Though I was excited to try it, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a radio drama, or if I’d get into the story properly given the unfamiliar format. I plugged in my earpieces and started listening to it while I was doing some art homework… And was completely blown away! It did take me a few minutes to get used to it but once I’d become familiar I started to really enjoy it. The Electrical Venus was simultaneously a new entertainment experience for me, and a great story too, with plot themes I didn’t see coming at all.

I really loved the voice acting. I was really unsure of how I’d be able to connect and relate to the characters, because I’d _JG_6595_2have no visual and no descriptions to go on. However, I felt like I got to know the characters, especially Nim, so well, even though I only heard the voices and only for a forty-minute listen! The characters were really well developed and realistic, I loved them. Nim, the protagonist, has a great back-story that was explored really well throughout the play.

Another thing I loved about the play was the setting, which was fun but dark and mysterious too. It was really inventive and well-described through the plot. The Electrical Venus is set centuries ago in a travelling circus, and scenes, especially like the opening one (a circus performance), I felt like I was transported back in time… something I really wasn’t expecting.

Overall, The Electrical Venus was a really great play. I’d definitely recommend listening to it once it’s out – whether you’re a regular radio listener, or not, like me. Mayhew’s story was memorable and thrilling; After finishing it I just wanted to listen again! It dealt with things I wasn’t expecting and the story was very cleverly written. The voice actors were brilliant too, and really captured the personalities of the characters. Now I’ve tried listening to radio drama, something I would never have done otherwise, I’d definitely listen to it again. I’d love to see Julie Mayhew (and other writers!) writing more radio plays aimed at younger audiences. It was really fun. (:

My Rating:

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I received a copy of The Electrical Venus from the author, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Graphic Novel Review: Confessions of a Blabbermouth

By Mike and Louise Carey, illustrated by Aaron Alexovich.

Published in 2007 by Minx.

1335621Goodreads Synopsis: After her mom brings home an annoying boyfriend, Tasha’s dysfunctional family is headed for a complete mental meltdown. But Tashas blog is her ultimate weapon–and shes not afraid to use it. Mike Carey (“LUCIFER, Hellblazer”) teams with his teenage daughter Louise for this tale of teen angst.

My Review: At the talk with comics writer Mike Carey I went to a few weeks ago, this book was briefly talked about. There were lots of graphic novels I was excited to read after hearing about them at the event, but this one stood out the most for me, as Carey wrote it with his fifteen year old daughter! I was in the library earlier this week, not actually looking for this book, but as soon as I saw it I knew I had to borrow and read it. I’m so glad I found it. I really enjoyed it!

Confessions of a Blabbermouth is centered around Tasha, a teenage girl who writes about her crazy life on her blog, Blabbermouth. Her mum’s prone to bringing home lots of boyfriends, and when her latest one turns up, so does his daughter. Tasha instantly grows to hate Chloe- but on an unpredictable journey she discovers something about her.

I really liked the story. It’s funny at points, pretty emotional at others. It was pretty crazy and I found some parts a bit strange, but it’s a great contemporary plot. While some bits are pretty wild, it’s a story I think lots of people will relate to, with the family drama and the stereotypical school bullies.

I loved the fact that Tasha had a blog! There are text boxes that narrate the story, that are parts of her blog posts. I really liked that. I also loved how the website plays a really unpredictable part in the outcome.  Tasha was a very cool main character. She’s a bit quirky, gets very angry a lot with her mum and her new, horrid, boyfriend Jed, but she was easy to like. Chloe, who is effectively Tasha’s new stepsister, was a really three dimensional character. She develops a lot throughout the story- More than Tasha, and there are hints about Chloe’s secret laced all through the book, that all make sense at the end! (Also Chloe looked scarily like me. Double awesomeness :D)

The art was really great I liked the style. It’s really unique, and it suited the story.  I really wanted to read some more comics illustrated by Alexovich now!

Overall, Confessions of a Blabbermouth was a fun, quirky read. I really enjoyed the story. I think even people who aren’t fans of comics will really enjoy it. The characters are relatable and three dimensional and the plot’s a crazy, dramatic ride. And, obviously, the art is really eye catching. I loved reading it! I’m hoping to look out for more books published by Minx in the future.

My Rating:

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I borrowed a copy of Confessions of a Blabbermouth from my local library.

Book Review: American Savage by Matt Whyman

You can read my review of book one, The Savages, by clicking here!

Published June 5th 2014 by Hot Key Books.

19383531Goodreads Synopsis: Vegan, veggie, carnivore… humanitarian? Welcome to the top of the food chain.

The Savages are back – this time in a country where servings come supersized. Titus, Angelica and the kids go to great lengths to fit into their new lives in sunny Florida. But that’s not easy when their appetite runs to feasts of human flesh.

In this dark comic serving of everyday family life with contemporary cannibals, the Savages seek to hide in plain sight by setting up a vegan café. But when the venture turns out to be a surprise sensation, and bad apples bob to the surface, Titus is forced to question whether the family have finally bitten off more than they can chew.

My Review: American Savage was a really great sequel- I devoured it in two sittings! I really loved The Savages when I had the chance to read it last year; it was a darkly hilarious story of a family of cannibals and various obstacles like vegetarian boyfriends. I couldn’t wait to read more about the family in this instalment; strangely, despite their… tastes… you grow to love them.

The plot was really great. American Savage sees the Savage family, plus adopted-into-the-family Amanda, moving to America for a change in lifestyle and to avoid arousing any more suspicion in their home country. The family sets up a vegan café; half to cover up any suspicious activity around the neighbourhood caused by them, and half because of a drama caused by Titus Savage and Amanda’s job. The plot kinda terrified me and made me laugh at the same time. It was really weird, seeing the family growing up, and dealing with different issues than had arisen in the first book. But I loved it! There’s a different story for every character, and they link together in clever and unpredictable ways.

The theme for the book is pretty dark and macabre, as it was in book one. But, Matt Whyman manages to keep the story feeling like an upbeat, funny, contemporary drama… except, there’s definitely a higher body count in this book compared to other YA contemps… 😀 Whyman’s writing is really enjoyable. It did take me a couple of pages to get stuck into the story, but after that, I couldn’t stop reading.

There was one thing that kind of disappointed me. In the first book, the most relatable character for me was Sasha- the teenage girl of the family who most of the story was centered around. However, she wasn’t actually in this story- instead she was in another American state studying. I really wish she was in the story, at least for a few pages! She’d been one of my favourite characters. I did get used to the family without her… but the ending, which was a bit heartbreaking, I wish she’d been there for. For reasons. But I can’t say why because I’ll spoil it…

Overall, aside from one part, I really did enjoy American Savage! I wasn’t sure how I’d find the sequel, as the first book was brilliant as a standalone… but this was awesome. It’s a mixture of macabre family tradition, romance, cover-up family business and American lifestyle… Sounds bizarre, but Matt Whyman makes it work. All of the characters are so well fleshed out and each one felt realistic and individual. I really, really highly recommend both The Savages and American Savage, whether you’re more of a contemporary fan or a fan of the macabre. Matt Whyman’s writing is really memorable and I can’t wait to read even more from him!

My Rating:

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

book review: hate by Alan Gibbons

You can also see my post from the HATE blog tour, by clicking here!

Published 10th April by Indigo books.

18692305Goodreads Synopsis: Eve’s older sister, Rosie, was bright and alive and always loved being the centre of attention. Then one day, she is brutally murdered. Six months later, Eve meets Antony and discovers that he was there the night Rosie died and did nothing to help. Is there any way she can ever get past that? Inspired by the Sophie Lancaster murder in 2007, which saw Sophie and her partner Rob viciously attacked in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, Lancashire because of the way they dressed. This is a hard-hitting real-life thriller about friendship, courage, loss, forgiveness and about our society and communities.

My Review: The real-life inspiration behind HATE really shocked me. It’s terrifying to hear stories of hate crime. I started HATE nervously; how would it treat the topic? How would I find a story, that takes such a serious real-life inspiration?

Luckily, I found it really well written. HATE was gripping and eye opening- I read the whole book in one sitting. HATE’s centered around Eve, whose sister Rosie was killed by a gang because of the way she dressed. One day at school, she recognises the name of the new boy, Anthony Ward. He was one of the witnesses that day, who saw Rosie but did nothing to help… and now at school, tension is rising between one character who speaks up and another character who hates him because of it.

HATE is quite a short read, no more than 300 pages, but its plot is quite complex. It did take me quite a few pages to grasp the format,  because it switches between six months before the present events in the book, and between the present tense narratives of Eve and Anthony. It did take me a bit to grasp everything about the characters, too, but after a few chapters I became completely engrossed in the story.

The plot is terrifying, made even more so, as it’s based on shocking true events. It really paints a realistic picture of the grief the victim’s families go through, as well as showing how hate crime can be caused, using homophobia and its effects for the central plot of this book. It’s a very tense book, and very heart-breaking, though at the same time, heart-warming at the end.

I grew to like the main protagonists- we learn so much about Eve, and after a while, I also grew to understand Anthony despite what he hadn’t done the night Rosie was attacked. Despite growing to really love the central characters the book is based around, I found the story a little too short, almost, to grow too attached to them! I blame that a little more on me reading it in one sitting- just over two hours- though…

Overall, HATE was a very tense, riveting and compelling read. It’s based around a scarily real topics such as homophobia and hate crime, and it’s not a book that can be forgotten easily. The characters felt three-dimensional, and Alan Gibbons’ writing is brutally honest and powerful. I felt the ending was a little bit abrupt, and the format was a little hard to get used to at first- but it’s most definitely worth picking up a copy of. HATE is a brave, and powerful read.

My Rating:

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

book review: seven second delay by tom easton

Published 1st May 2014 by Andersen Press.

18300258Goodreads Synopsis: Mila has 7 seconds. 7 seconds to fight. 7 seconds to escape.

Seeking a new life on the futuristic Isles, Mila’s time runs out – she’s captured by Agents, who implant her with a phone that broadcasts her every move. Now she’s on the run, hounded by an elite fighting force who is convinced she poses a dangerous threat to society. Her only advantage: a seven second delay.

It’s a race against time.

My Review: Seven Second Delay was such an action packed, and thrilling read!I was looking forward to reading it, and wasn’t let down, though I wasn’t entirely sure at first how I’d find it , a dark dystopian, after having read Easton’s more contemporary, funny book!

It did take me a little while to understand the world; it was about a hundred pages before everything was explained fully. However, the rest of the book did make up for that! The plot is so interesting. The beginning of the book has the reader as clueless about what’s happening as Mila, the protagonist, so it’s really riveting to piece together all of the information along with her. There were a lot of unexpected twists and turns; I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen on the next page. 

I really loved Easton’s writing. He laces his chapters with tension and drama. It’s quite a fast paced book, set over a relatively short period of time, too. Seven Second Delay is pretty addictive, full of narrative hooks. I enjoyed all of the flashbacks woven around the story, that focus on Mila’s life before she’s captured by agents. They let me get to know Mila really well. I would’ve liked more flashbacks, though, because they were brilliant and gave good insights into the other areas of the futuristic world the story is set in. The book is shorter than I’d expected at just over 300 pages. I was left wanting to know a bit more about the world (hint, Tom Easton… sequel…? 😀 )

Overall, Seven Second Delay is a really action packed, fast paced book. It’ll definitely appeal to fans of Charlie Higson, and Anthony Horowitz! I really liked the characters. Mila is great- she reminded me a lot of many other awesome dystopian protagonists, namely the ones in novels by Emma Pass. I really loved the concept of the world, it’s so unique and clever. I would have loved a bit more about it, though… I’ve given this 4 hearts, but i’m really going for 3.75 (I’m awkward 😀 ) because it’s a brilliant read but I wish it could have been longer 🙂

My Rating: 

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

book review: writing in the sand by helen brandom

Published 1st April 2014 by Usborne.

20957971Goodreads Synopsis: “Amy! Wait till you hear this…”
I hold my breath. 

“What?” I say. 

“Last night someone left a baby on our doorstep.” My heart stops. This is it, I think. Now what do I do?

Sixteen-year-old Amy is used to keeping secrets – about her mum’s illness, her irresponsible sister and her ex-boyfriend. Amy is her mum’s sole carer and every day is filled with tiny battles to achieve the simplest things, from cooking a meal to keeping the house clean, especially when social services come round. No matter how difficult stuff gets, Amy doesn’t want anything to change. But then a shocking discovery turns everything upside-down. 

When a newborn baby is left on her best friend’s doorstep, it becomes the talk of the town, and only Amy holds the key to the baby’s identity. Now she has two choices: tell the truth, or live a lie forever.

My Review: Writing in the Sand is a very poignant, and brutally honest story! It covers themes of love, loss, and family, and I really enjoyed reading it.

The story begins with our protagonist, Amy, who, as she’s sitting her exams, is also experiencing a lot of pressure at home. She has to care for her mother, and she’s torn apart over her ex boyfriend’s migration, and now, a baby has turned up on her best friend’s doorstep and Amy knows who’s left it there, and it’s turning her life upside down.

I really liked the character of Amy, because she felt like such a realistic teenager. I was rooting for her all the way through the story, even though some of the choices she made weren’t the best available! I think she’s going to be well loved by anyone who reads this book!

I was really intrigued by the pretty mysterious plot (Though from a note on the press release I realised everything and AHHH! :s) and all of the débuts I’ve read so far this year have been stunning, so I had really high hopes! The plot deals with a lot of pretty scary themes for a teenagers to be dealing with. I’m really impressed that the début author, Helen Brandom, has written everything so well. I had a little correct idea of the outcome, though wholly, the book is quite unpredictable.

Helen Brandom’s writing is truly great. She’s captured the voice of a teenager so successfully and I really loved the narration!

Overall, I really enjoyed Writing in the Sand. It’s a heart-breaking, but also heart-warming story that deals with complicated relationships, pregnancies, and children who have to care for their less able family members. Riveting and powerful, I think a lot of people are going to find the plot really memorable- as they will also find the protagonist! There was one character I wanted to know so much more about, but, oh well… I would really love to hear much more from Helen in the future. A really great, recommended, contemporary!

My Rating: 

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

Book Review: Leopold Blue by Rosie Rowell

Published by Hot Key Books, 2nd February 2014.

Leopold BlueGoodreads Synopsis: Meg Bergman is fifteen and fed up. She lives in a tiny town in rural 1990s South Africa – a hot-bed of traditionalism, racial tension and (in Meg’s eyes) ordinariness. Meg has no friends either, due largely to what the community sees as her mother’s interfering attempts to educate farm workers about AIDS. But one day Xanthe arrives – cool, urban, feisty Xanthe, who for some unknown reason seems to want to hang out with Meg.

Xanthe arrives into Meg’s life like a hurricane, offering her a look at a teenage life she never knew existed. But cracks quickly begin to show in their friendship when Meg’s childhood friend Simon returns from his gap year travels. LEOPOLD BLUE is an emotionally taut and beautifully-written story from a debut author with a mesmerising voice.

My Review: I began Leopold Blue not entirely knowing what it would be about; only knowing that it was centered around a powerful friendship, in 1990’s South Africa. I had heard lots of really amazing things about it, though- so I started with high hopes! I really was quite blown away. Leopold Blue is a poignant and beautifully written debut. It’s captivating and emotional. The book begins with English Meg and her sister, living in a small town in the middle of nowhere, South Africa. Zanthe, rebellious and unique, starts at Meg’s school, and soon Meg realises Zanthe is a person she want to be like, and the two form an unforgettable bond, until things begin to slowly change after the arrival of Meg’s childhood friend.

I really loved the characters. Meg was quite likeable- I enjoyed reading about her, and her friendship complications. She’s a perfect representation of a teenage girl, who’s struggling to find her place. Zanthe is her almost her complete opposite; she’s ruthless, and rebellious, and I think I may have loved her a little more! I guess I liked Zanthe for her personality, though the ending was pretty… Whoa Zanthe Whyyyy??

The setting was the perfect backdrop for the story. The town, despite being too small and boring to Meg, is home to a lot of racial tension. I don’t know much about S.A., especially from the 90’s, but I think Rosie Rowell has definitely captured everything so well! The story and the setting was so vivid in my head. I loved Rosie’s writing- it was so beautiful!

The plot was really interesting. It covers friendship, and family, and has themes of peer pressure. It’s so relevant, to so many teenagers; definitely essential for young adults! I got a really great insight into 1990’s rural S.A., and enjoyed it all. There were some really shocking parts that I definitely wasn’t expecting. I think the main thing that I didn’t really enjoy, was the ending. It was so well written, and I think it was satisfying, but it seemed… abrupt? I wasn’t expecting the book to end like that; although it was a clever place to end the story, I still think I want to hear a lot more!

Overall, Leopold Blue was a really stunning debut, and as it says in the synopsis: Rosie Rowell really does have a mesmerising voice. I loved her writing- it just flowed so well, beautifully and packed with emotion. The characters were brilliant; especially Zanthe… I’m not sure how other people will see her, after certain points, though! Set in an exciting country at a really important time, I can’t recommend this more to every teenager for its themes, and to anybody who’s looking for a next big debut.

My Rating:

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