Tag Archives: love

Book Review: Stargazing for Beginners by Jenny Mclachlan

Published 6th April 2017 by Bloomsbury.

32021893Goodreads Synopsis: Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her.
And Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions…

My Review: I’ll admit I’m one to judge a book by its cover. Though I hadn’t read any of McLachlan’s books previously, I was really drawn to this. How beautiful is it?! Anyway, I’m glad I did decide to give it a go because this is now definitely up there in my favourite reads of 2017 so far.

Stargazing for Beginners tells the story of Meg, an teenage aspiring Astronaut, who is hesitantly entering a competition to go to Houston. Just two weeks away from her competition, Meg’s mother suddenly leaves for a humanitarian cause, rendering Meg in a difficult situation, juggling school, her aspirations and her baby sister. It’s a crazy concept, but I absolutely adored it. I became really emotionally invested in the story; I didn’t expect to become so attached.

I cannot fault McLachlan’s characterisation at all: it’s fantastic. Every person in the book felt so real to me, from Meg and her quirky family members to the pupils at her school. I particularly loved reading about Meg developing a relationship with her baby sister, in light of her mum leaving. So much of this book was unexpectedly poignant and beautifully written.

One of the things I loved most about Stargazing for Beginners is it’s portrayal of feeling like an outcast at school. Meg sticks out, being overly passionate about science and labelled a geek. She’s such a relatable character, appealing to read about for anyone who’s ever been through the horrible experience of Secondary school 🙂 It was really moving to see Meg develop a network of friends over the course of the story. And, of course, it was fantastic that one of those friends was portrayed with Cerebral Palsy, a physical disability affecting movement. Disabled characters seem to be pretty underrepresented, particularly in terms of genuine portrayals – so this was really awesome to see.

Stargazing for Beginners has such a wide appeal. Its themes of family and space are written about so wonderfully, it’s hard not to fall in love with the story. I tend to read books with darker or slightly older themes, so I wasn’t sure how much this would appeal to me, but I fell in love with it. The story is so uplifting and touching, I can’t imagine that any kind of reader would dislike it.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Stargazing for Beginners. It’s perfect for anyone, of any age, looking for a feel-good read. Witty, moving and memorable, this is bound to sweep you up as it did with me. Having really enjoyed this, I’m very excited to see what McLachlan writes next!

My Rating:

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

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Book Review: Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis

Related posts: Blog Tour: Lisa Selin Davis on the novels that inspired her

Published 16th October 2016 by Hot Key Books.

31328363Goodreads Synopsis: In the aftermath of her older sister’s death, sixteen-year-old Carrie is taken under the wings of her sister’s friends, and finds herself forsaking the science nerds of her former life and slipping into a daze of cheap beer and recreational drugs. Carrie – a talented guitar player and obsessive tracker of the coming Vira comet – is partying hard and fooling around with boys she doesn’t even like, even though she’s desperate for a boyfriend.
Her mother, enveloped by grief at the loss of her eldest child, has retreated to a monastery in the Catskills that requires a vow of silence. With her family splintered apart, Carrie is overcome at times by uncontrollable rages and her father decides to send her to a boot camp for wayward teens. Compounding the shame, and to her horror, she is forced to wear work boots and a hard hat – boy poison.
Then she meets Dean, a fellow musician and refugee from his own dark past. Throughout the summer Carrie learns more about Dean, about her sister’s death, about her own family’s past, and about herself…as well as about the Bee Gees, disco and the difference between wood and sheet-rock screws. Through love, music and her precious comet – and no small help from Lou Reed – Carrie fumbles her way through the complex web of tragedies and misunderstandings, to the heart of who she is and who she wants to be.

My Review: First things first – I read this book at the wrong time. It was a really great story, and I did enjoy it very much, but I stupidly started reading it as my mock exams started. It took me nearly a month to find the time to finish it! So, maybe, I would have loved it even more if I had read the book in one go: it’s definitely a book you can get completely immersed in.

What I loved the most about Lost Stars was the characters. They were so wonderful and real-feeling. They’re still in my head, long after I put the book down. I quite liked Carrie and how complex her character was – the story is centred around her anger issues, and how her mother’s absence has played into it. I did tear up a little at the resolution.

The gang of teenagers Carrie hangs out with were my favourite. I loved how Selin Davis takes the time to explore Soo, who I could’ve read a whole book about! The love story… I didn’t enjoy so much. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m just really cynical.

Another aspect of the book I adored was the setting. Selin Davis’ debut is such a fantastic trip back to a few decades. I love books set in the 70s-90s – the atmosphere is just so great and nostalgic even if I’m a millennial. I loved all of the pop culture references, and the frequent mentions of iconic songs. It just made the book.

I do think I would’ve been able to enjoy Lost Stars even more if I’d read it at a better time, but I also think it has quite a few similarities to books that were already favourites of mine. It seemed very much in the same vein as Perks of Being a Wallflower and Love Letters to the Dead, in terms of the atmosphere and the similar topics of grief. It reminded me of those books a lot in places, but that’s not to say it’s not really original and compelling itself. I’m sure fans of those two books would adore Lost Stars.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable book and quite a fantastic debut novel. Lisa Selin Davis is definitely an author to look out for – I would love to read more from her in the future. Lost Stars intertwines grief, hope and love into a really thought-provoking and poignant story. I’d definitely recommend it to contemporary fans!

My Rating:

three and a half

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

Book Review: INFERNO by Cat Doyle

Related posts: Book Review: VENDETTA by Catherine Doyle | Vendetta Blog tour: Catherine Doyle on films that inspired Vendetta | Cover Reveal: Vendetta #2 by Catherine Doyle

Published January 7th 2016 by Chicken House Books.
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Goodreads Synopsis: Sophie’s life has been turned upside-down, and she’s determined to set things right. But Nic, the Falcone brother who represents everything she’s trying to forget, won’t give up on their love – and it’s Luca’s knife she clutches for comfort. Soon another mafia clan spoils the fragile peace – and with her heart drawn in one direction and her blood in another, Sophie’s in deeper than ever.

My Review: Vendetta was, undoubtedly, one of the biggest UKYA books of last year – it was an epic story and it was everywhere online. When I read it, I enjoyed it, but not as much as others, which I was kind of sad about.

When I was asked if I’d like to read Inferno, I jumped at the chance to, because I really wanted to know what happened next! I ended up devouring the story over Christmas, and I enjoyed this instalment so much.

I think I enjoyed this book more because it was full of even more action and drama, and a little less romance. There are so many shocking plot twists, more than I remember there being in the first book. It was great! In Inferno, the story takes even more complicated turns: tensions between the Mafia families of Chicago are heightening, and rivalry is starting to result in violence. It was a nail-biting ride from start to finish!

The ending was fantastic, and fit the story perfectly – what Sophie discovers, and what happens as a result of that, is both horrifying and emotional. I guess it was inevitable, but didn’t see it coming.

Sophie’s character really grew on me in this book. I didn’t dislike her before, but I just feel like this book displayed her personality so much better, and she develops so much more in this sequel. I’m really loving her story, and the complexity of it all.

Overall, Inferno was such a brilliant read! Packed full of action, tension and a little romance, it’s got something fro any YA reader. I’m really looking forward to the next book, now!

My Rating: 

four

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

Book Review: All About Pumpkin by Natasha Farrant

The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby #3 | Read my review of book one, After Iris, here

Published September 2015 by Faber.

24321595Goodreads Synopsis: It’s the summer holidays and Flora has gone off with Dad to the exotic set of his new film and Mum is at home having a much-needed rest with baby Pumpkin. Bluebell, Twig and Jas have been sent to stay with Grandma at Horsehill in the countryside.

With Grandma keen that the children get as much fresh air as possible, they are sent off on bikes to go wild swimming and befriend the boys next door. With so much freedom, they can’t help but get into trouble, and Grandma doesn’t seem to be as capable as looking after them as she should be…

My Review: I’ve been a fan of Natasha Farrant since the first book in this series, After Iris – so I was really excited when I was offered the chance to review the third title, especially as it’s being published in the new cover style that the whole series is being re-modelled with. Isn’t it pretty?!

Like the previous two books in the series, All About Pumpkin is half transcripts from Bluebell’s filming, and half diary entry. I love the format so much, and I always say that when I’m talking about these books – I just think it’s such a good idea, and Farrant writes both formats so brilliantly! The film transcripts are so much fun, and always very witty.

In this instalment of the series, the latest member of the family, Pumpkin, has been born – and he’s taking up everybody’s time. Bluebell’s dad and eldest sister are in New Zealand, and unable to cope, her mum sends her and her younger siblings off to their grandma’s so she can cope with just the new baby – but inevitably, being the Gadsby family, things always end up going a little wrong.

I honestly can’t find the words to describe how much I love the Gadsby family, and these books – each one has a completely fresh-feeling, fun plot. Natasha Farrant is leading the way in children’s fiction – her books are so entertaining, and I love escaping into the fictional family’s antics for a while so much. Although the Bluebell Gadsby books have their fair share of emotional bits, there’s an equal amount of hilarious moments – Farrant has got the balance of the two perfect. I also really enjoyed the way that Farrant explored the Gadsby family in All About Pumpkin, as I feel like it put a lot of focus on the younger siblings, like Jasmine, who is so loveable.

Overall, I really enjoyed All About Pumpkin – it was actually the one book that managed to get me out of a month-long reading slump! It’s such a joy to revisit these characters, and I’m really looking forward to the next in the series – they feel like such timeless classics and I love to read them no matter what mood I’m in. I really recommend All About Pumpkin, and all three books so far if you haven’t tried them yet – as they’re just such fantastic reads, no matter what genre or age category you usually might stick to.

My Rating:

four

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

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: One by Sarah Crossan

Published 27th August 2015 by Bloomsbury.

25366338Goodreads Synopsis: Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.
And their lives are about to change.
No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?
But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

My Review: I read Sarah Crossan’s début, The Weight of Water, a while ago and was a little mixed; the story was brilliant but the writing format, verse, wasn’t my thing. However, I really wanted to give One a go because I was really interested in the story. There’s nothing like it on the shelves. I hope this beautiful new book will inspire many more.

Tippi and Grace are conjoined twins and have always been home-schooled – until their funding is cut and they must go to a school with other teenagers. At their new school, they’re treated differently by everyone aside from two new friends. School life is manageable for them – until they have to make a life-changing decision.

Through this book I came to enjoy the free-verse format. Not only is the plot unique; the uncommon writing style made for a refreshing change from most YA books I read. It captured Grace’s feelings throughout the story in a raw, intimate way that made the reading experience really special.

Crossan has crafted such stunning characters, it’s hard to remember they’re fictional. Grace and Tippi are contrasting of each other yet have such a strong, sisterly bond that’s unforgettable. Their story made me tear up too many times to count – it was hard to get through the last hundred pages, I felt for them so deeply! The ending broke my heart.

It’s hard to find the words to describe a book like One – it’s the kind of story you’ll put down after reading, but find yourself wondering about the characters and story days, weeks, later. It’s heart-rending and poignant. Sarah Crossan’s writing is beautiful and emotional. I’m sure everyone who comes across this book will be mesmerised!

My Rating:

five

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

Book Review: Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

Make sure to scroll down after my rating – there’s an awesome bonus thing about this book! 

Published 4th June 2015 by Hodder.

25001544Goodreads Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Delilah is finally united with Oliver—a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale. There are, however, complications now that Oliver has been able to enter the real world. To exist in Delilah’s world, Oliver must take the place of a regular boy. Enter Edgar, who agrees to take Oliver’s role in Delilah’s favorite book. In this multilayered universe, the line between what is on the page and what is possible is blurred, but all must be resolved for the characters to live happily ever after.

My Review: A few years ago, my dad passed me the proof copy for Between the Lines, a book he thought I might like because it was about story characters coming to life. I LOVED it. I wanted more! Coincidentally, a few days after I finally bought a finished copy of Between the Lines only a few weeks ago, I was emailed about reviewing the sequel. How I had missed that news before, I have no clue. Needless to say I have never responded to an email faster.

Off the Page is, essentially, a sequel –  it follows Oliver adjusting to life in the human world with his love, Delilah, after he’s left his fairy tale – but it’s not actually that hard to follow for someone who’s new to the story! Following the events of Between the Lines, Oliver and Delilah can finally be together in the real world – and Delilah thought that teaching him basic human-world skills would be hard, but when something in the book is starting to mess everything up, Delilah realises it’s going to be a lot harder…

Admittedly it did take me a little while to become properly engrossed in the story, but once I was, I didn’t want to stop reading. The plot progresses brilliantly, with some twists and turns I couldn’t guess were coming. The ending was really satisfying and actually made me tear up a tiny bit!

Just as Between the Lines was, Off the Page was superbly written – a blend of humour and heart that’s hard not to fall in love with. Mother and daughter duo Picoult & Van Leer are both so talented and I love their writing – I would love to read more from both in the future, collaborative or not! There’s something about Off the Page that I can’t quite define. It, along with the first book, just seems to stand out against the rest of its genres – feeling like an old classic, but upbeat and modern too. They seem to be very popular in the US , so I really want to spread the love for them over here in England!

Overall, Off the Page was a fantastic companion novel that I highly recommend – whether you have read Between the Lines or not. The beautifully crafted contemporary world with a fantasy twist will certainly appeal to fans of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke! Whether you’re looking for a gripping fantasy story, or a beautifully written romance, Off the Page is perfect. I can’t wait to read more from Picoult & Van Leer in the future – it was sad to see this story finish!

My Rating:

four

 


ALSO! ZAPPAR FEATURES: On the front of the hardcover book, you’ll find a sticker that asks you to scan the book with Zappar – an app available on iOS and Android. I was expecting this to be simply a link to a description of the book or something similarly generic – so I was stunned at what scanning the book revealed! Excuse my bad attempts at getting photos…IMG_5469

The words on the front cover animate a spiral off the page, then the book characters bursting off the page literally do jump off the page. Through your phone or tablet, you can watch them dance around – and flip your camera to take a selfie with them! Here’s dad looking baffled because technology.

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