Tag Archives: london

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: The Memory Keepers by Natasha Ngan

Published September 2014 by Hot Key Books.

18196516Goodreads Synopsis: “No one can take your memories from you… can they?”

Seven is a thief with a difference – he steals downloadable memories from banks and memoriums to sell onto London’s black market, trading secrets and hidden pasts for a chance at a future of his own. He makes sure he keeps some special stuff back to ‘surf’ himself though – it’s the only real form of entertainment he can afford. But one night, as Seven is breaking into a private memorium in a wealthy part of London, he is caught in the act by one of its residents; Alba, the teenage daughter of London’s most famous criminal prosecutor. Instead of giving him away, Alba promises to keep Seven’s secret – as long as he allows her to go memory-surfing herself. In doing so, they discover a hidden memory about Seven’s past, revealing a shocking secret about Seven’s childhood, the government and a mysterious experiment known as The Memory Keepers…

Now Seven and Alba will have to race against time to unlock the maze of The Memory Keepers – but can they keep themselves out of harm’s way before the London Guard – and Alba’s father – catches up with them?

My Review: I read and loved Natasha Ngan’s striking fantasy début, The Elites, when it was released last year. Ever since I finished the last page of it I was eager to read more from Natasha! I was so glad when this arrived in the post, I delved straight into it and devoured the story in a day. It’s richly fantastical, but scarily real and possible at the same time. I’m so glad I enjoyed it as much as The Elites!

I adored Natasha Ngan’s world-building in her début novel, and was eager, but nervous, to see what her new dystopian world would be like. Ngan is so inventive and creative: Long after I put the book down, I was wondering about the futuristic imagining of London. It’s divided completely between a rich north and a poor south, with technological advances like memory recording. The book explores so much of the city and there were a lot of well developed parts, like the Underground communities… I’d really love another book set in the world of The Memory Keepers, as I was fascinated by the world-building.

The plot was really awesome. It was actually much darker and much more action-packed than I’d initially anticipated, though that’s not to say I didn’t love it! I was hooked from start to finish. I thought I’d guessed the ending, but it turned out to go in a completely different direction! I think the only thing that I would’ve liked in the book was to see more about the whole “memory” viewing technology. Of course, it’s a hugely central part of the book – but being really nerdy, I wanted to know a bit more about the history of it and how it came to be. That sci-fi element really interested me 😀

The book is written in switching narratives between Alba and Seven, who both lead completely different lives but are brought together when Seven breaks into Alba’s house to steal one of her family’s memories. I loved the narration immensely. The switching narrative was perfect for the story and Natasha Ngan has crafted two great, individual voices. I love Alba and Seven, the protagonists, too! I connected with them a lot and really didn’t want to put the book down while reading, eager to know what happened next to them.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Memory Keepers – there was a part of me a little nervous I wouldn’t love it like I did Natasha Ngan’s first novel… but it exceeded me expectations and was a total thrill ride of a book. The sci-fi elements of the story are imaginative, inventive and really clever. I loved Ngan’s writing even more with her second book. I think the narration was brilliant. Highly recommended, whatever your genre preference:)

My Rating:

bibliomaniacheartbibliomaniacheartbibliomaniacheartbibliomaniacheartbibliomaniacheart1

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

Book Review: City of Halves by Lucy Inglis

Published 7th August 2014 by Chicken House.

18523130Goodreads Synopsis: London. Girls are disappearing. They’ve all got one thing in common; they just don’t know it yet…

Sixteen-year-old Lily was meant to be next, but she’s saved by a stranger: a half-human boy with gold-flecked eyes. Regan is from an unseen world hidden within our own, where legendary creatures hide in plain sight. But now both worlds are under threat, and Lily and Regan must race to find the girls, and save their divided city.

My Review: Upon hearing about City of Halves, I was sure it was just my kind of book, and that I’d really enjoy it. Then, after receiving a copy, I was a little apprehensive: I re-read the blurb, and then double checked the cover, and thought to myself, “This sounds familiar.” Bits on the cover and synopsis like ‘hot tattooed boy;’ ‘Unseen world hidden within our own;’ and even the title, beginning with ‘City of…’ Despite those elements being frequent in YA, it all sounded a bit too The Mortal Instruments for me!

I was scared the content would be all too similar to Cassandra Clare’s series – so I started it pretty nervously… However, after a while, I found myself really enjoying it – It was a great urban fantasy YA début.

The story focuses a lot more on its fantasy elements and setting more than its characters and their relationships, I felt. That did bother me a little bit, but I quickly grew to like that – I loved Lucy Inglis’s descriptions of London, where the book is set. It’s easy to tell this book was largely written fuelled by the author’s feelings for London. Inglis has set major events in the best, magical feeling locations, like St Paul’s Cathedral, and I think the fact that I was very familiar with areas made it all seem really real.

The fantastical elements in the story were all really imaginative. The book read like a standalone novel, but I really hope that there will be a sequel or follow-up story of some description; I’d love for the author to elaborate a little more, as I was really interested in this urban fantasy world and its inhabitants.

I’m always looking for unique protagonists who stand out, but whilst Lily was likeable, I don’t feel like I ever really engaged with her as much as I’d thought I might. She’s a little strange at points, especially at the beginning of the book, when she discovers this whole new side to her city, and seemingly isn’t very shocked or fascinated at all. However, while she lacked in some areas, she did have an interesting back-story, which made up for it! I wasn’t sure about Regan, aka the ‘hot tattooed boy’ who saves her life. I feel like I was meant to really love him but I just couldn’t, for some reason. I’m not sure why, but I’m sure other readers will.

Overall, City of Halves was not what I expected it to be. I was really unsure as to how I would find it, as the book’s blurb was too similar to City of Bones… But it did become a very different, individual fantasy book. Though I struggled to like the protagonists a little, I adored Lucy Inglis’s talent in weaving fantastical elements around a well-loved city, and I’d love to read more YA from her. Recommended if you’re a fan of the genre, or if you’re looking for a read with a really clever ending!

My Rating:

bibliomaniacheartbibliomaniacheartbibliomaniacheartbibliomaniacheart

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