Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green & David Levithan

will-grayson-john-green-david-levithan“When I was little, my dad used to tell me, “Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” This seemed like a reasonably astute observation to me when I was eight, but it turns out to be incorrect on a few levels. To begin with, you cannot possibly pick your friends, or else I never would have ended up with Tony Cooper.” 

Will Grayson’s best friend Tony Cooper is an easy character to hide behind, both literally and figuratively. He ends up dragging Will along into the craziest of situations and Will often wonders how he ended up there. One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago Will Grayson finds himself in a porn shop, meeting a second Will Grayson. Suddenly the two Will Grayson’s find their lives running in completely different, unexpected directions, culminating in heroic acts and the most energetic, epic musical ever to hit the high school stage.

***

It took me a while to actually get into Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I’ve heard such amazing things about it and I have often been told its the best book by each of these very well known and much loved authors. However I wasn’t feeling it at much as I expected, at least nothing grabbed me right at the start.

I knew the book was about two guys, both called Will Grayson, and they – at some point – meet. I didn’t know that that meeting was a third of the way into the book and a lot of what came before I didn’t really care for. These wasn’t a great deal of plot at any point in the book but once the two Wills meet I did like it a lot more and I started to actually like the characters a lot more.

I spent a lot of the book wondering if I was right in my assumption of which Will belonged to which author and I am happy to say that I was right (according to what is said in the ‘conversation between’ section of my copy of the book anyway!). I liked that I could tell the difference because I know the authors and once again, as with their standalone books, I preferred David Levithan’s Will more than John Green’s. I think this is because the character seemed to develop more throughout the story, whereas the other Will Grayson kinda just seemed to plod along being Tiny Coopers friend and not much else – don’t get me wrong, it was still interesting enough but I do think he was overshadowed a lot.

I enjoyed the idea of the gayest musical ever and what Tiny Cooper did to it to amend it and make it what it was and I liked some of the characters a lot in this book. They were funny and friendly and although they were probably quite extreme compared to the average American high school student, I really enjoyed following them around for the whole 300 pages.

I pretty much read this because it had been recommended to me a million times and I have got the spin off – Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story – on my tbr too and I knew I needed to read this first. It was a decent read but I think out of all the characters I was mostly intrigued by Tiny Cooper, even though he was ridiculously intense and I don’t think its possible for any 16/17 year old boy to be as intense as he was, so I can’t wait to read that book!

I did enjoy Will Grayson, Will Grayson but I think I was expecting more from it than it delivered. It was funny and interesting and held a diverse set of characters that reminded me of a number of morals that people should adhere to but I can’t think of anything in it that will really stick to me like some of Levithan’s other stuff (I’ve only read The Fault in our Stars by Green so I can’t really compare this to that!). I would recommend it if your a fan of either author but I wouldn’t suggest it as an introduction to either of them unfortunately!

Will Grayson, Will Grayson was published by Penguin books in May 2012. My copy was purchased at a book signing.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:  
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | John Green Website | David Levithan Website

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The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co #2) – Jonathan Stroud

“‘Don’t look now,’ Lockwood said. ‘There’s two of them.’ 

I snatched a glance behind me and saw that he was right. Not far off, on the other wise of the glade, a second ghost had risen from the earth. Like the first it was a pale, man-shaped curtain of mist that hovered above the dark wet grass. Its head seemed oddly skewed, as if broken at the neck.” 

When the Lockwood & Co. team find themselves in a sticky situation and Kipps’ Fittes gang save them all Lockwood can do is enter into a deal. The next time they go head to head on a case, the best team wins and the losers humiliate themselves by placing an add in The Times to ensure everyone knows who is best. Little does Lockwood know though that they will be up against each other sooner than they think – and the ghost they are facing may not be as straightforward as either team hoped. 

***

Having loved the first book in this series I desperately wanted to read the second, then it arrived and the sheer size of it put me off for 6 months or so. I know, I’m pathetic but at the time I was battling severe tiredness in the first trimester of my pregnancy and a 500 page book wasn’t the best help for this! Anyway, as soon as I started my maternity leave I knew I needed a book that would tide me over a couple of days and this was one of the first I picked up!

I’m glad I did and I’m sorry that it put it off so long. Its a hefty book but its worth every page. Action packed and full of creepiness this book is perfect for anyone who wants a story that takes them twisting and turning at speed through an alternative London’s streets. I forgot just how creepy some of the situations the guys find themselves in can be but as I love stuff like that I really enjoyed it.

I loved the relationship between Lockwood, Lucy and George again in this book and how they were with each other. The humour of the first book was there but there was an underlying seriousness which was very much part of the things going on in the book. I saw a couple of things coming because of a shift in certain characters’ behaviours but I think that as the reader you are kinda meant to pick up on them while the other characters are distracted with other things.

Unfortunately I also saw a couple of other things coming which I don’t think were meant to be as obvious and that kinda threw me off the story a little bit but I still loved watching the team work these things out and seeing how they tackled them. I don’t want to give much away so thats all I’ll say on that matter.

Even with this downside I loved The Whispering Skull. The object of the title was a great touch and I really liked finding out more about that. The mystery the team was solving was brilliant too and I loved the rivalry that was there between Lockwood’s team and Kipps’ team again. I liked what the outcome said about the characters involved and I absolutely loved the end of the book, it made me want the third book sat waiting for me! Hopefully I won’t need to wait too long though as I believe The Hollow Boy will be out around September time!

The Whispering Skull was published by Doubleday in hardback on September 28th 2014, the paperback by Corgi Children’s books followed in February 2015. My copy was sent to me from Doubelday in exchange for an honest review.
 
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Gypsy Girl – Kathryn James

 “The weddings over. 

My beautiful bridesmaid’s dress is soaked in blood. Bright crimson patterning the white. The hem ragged and torn. The tulle skirts missing and the strapless bodice ripped. My tiara is long gone. My hair is stiffening with dried blood, not moose. My legs are crumpled beneath me, unable to move. I’m like a rag doll.”

It started with a fight, but for Sammy-Jo it always starts with a fight. She was a born fighter – the seventh girl to a seventh daughter she was the only one to really get a feel for the fighting gene that runs down through the Smith family tree. This time though she’s hit trouble. The three boys who started on her weren’t exactly just some punk teens on the streets and now she’s involved with local rich boy Gregory she’s got him into trouble too. With the local teen thug following her and local businessman turned bad guy McCloud on her back has she finally gone too far? 

***

I love it when books start off with a foreshadowing of whats to come, it really excites me! And that first paragraph, that is one heck of a foreshadowing! If you ever want to draw your reader in thats the way to do it!

I really enjoyed Gypsy Girl because it wasn’t really like anything I’d read before. The author has put a lot of research into the book and you can tell. I loved the insight into the gypsy/travellers culture and I loved the references to MMA because its a sport I kinda follow and I’ve never heard it before in a YA book – or any book for that matter! The story was brilliant too and I really liked that it had that whole ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ feel throughout as you get to know the characters.

I didn’t realise before I started reading Gypsy Girl that I’ve actually heard of this author before as she wrote Mist – a book thats been on my TBR pile for a ridiculous number of years now! Now i’ve read this one its making me want to dig out Mist and read more by the author because I loved the easy-flowing style of the book and how easy it was to get into. It was essentially a crime book with a bit of romance thrown in – which is how I like my books – even though I think the cover, and the blurb, kinda makes it sound like a romance with a bit of other stuff thrown in. The crime aspect is more at the forefront than the romance though, at least it was for me and I enjoyed that a lot!

I honestly don’t want to say too much about this book because I think its best read if you don’t know a lot about it, but I will say that I loved the characters and especially Sammy-Jo and her attitude. Yes she’s not exactly the kinda girl you want hanging around outside your house but she’s got strong morals and she tries to do things for the right reasons. I also loved the sense of family in this book and that that extended beyond blood for Sammy-Jo and the others.

My only downside I think with this was the fact I saw a lot of it coming. I didn’t anticipate the high action fight scenes and the intense way of dealing with things but I did see other things coming a mile off, including some bits that I was hoping wouldn’t happen. I don’t know if this was because it was obvious though or if I just watched too much 24, NCSI and CSI type shows when I was younger! I will also say that I much, much prefer the cover on the proof than I do the cover above, which I believe is the finished cover, especially as I’m not keen on the text they’ve chosen, but thats just my opinion!

Gypsy Girl will be published on May 7th by Walker Children’s Books. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:  
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True Face – Siobhan Curham

True Face - Siobhan Curham“Don’t show me your tweet-face 

or ur txt spk 

show me your True Face 

and let your heart speak”

This is a guide to learning who you are and loving yourself for it. It is a guide to help unmask the real you. Not the you shown to your facebook friends, or the you put across in class or when you are trying to impress. Its time to show the real you, the one you hide away because you think its boring, or stupid, or some other annoying put down that your inner voice has come up with. Its time you silenced that inner voice and lived the life you want, and True Face is here to help. 

***

This is a self-help guide for teenage girls and obviously not something I’d usually pick up. However as non-fiction goes I’m fairly limited to a few things I will read and often non-fiction by authors who’s fiction I have read and loved does fall under that category. That is why I wanted to check out True Face and see what this author, who has written about bullying in her novels, can offer to help people of the younger generation become the people they really want to be. I can say that I definitely wasn’t left disappointed by my intrigue and I was moved myself to do more and learn to love myself more.

Thankfully over the last few years I have managed to find myself in a happy place. One of the things this book covers is the ability to stand and look in the mirror and not think about all your ‘flaws’ but think “I love you’ and in all honesty, without trying to sound big-headed, on my good days I can. I have bad days, everyone does, but I have found myself to be in a happy place – especially when it comes to my looks because I’ve decided I am who I am and I don’t want to change for anyone else if I am happy.

However, I can say this all now, as a 26 year old in a long-term relationship about to embark on motherhood. I could not have said the same thing 4 years ago, when I was still trying to be someone I’m not, and I certainly couldn’t have said it 10 years ago when I’m fairly sure I was embarking on nothing more than a drinking habit and quite possibly doing things to my body that I now know was exceptionally bad for me, not to mention dangerous. I wasn’t a happy teenager and I have the scars to prove that, I had my own way of dealing with things and I wish more than anything that this book was around back then because it probably would have helped!

I really would recommend reading this book if you are struggling with the pressures of being a teen, its not judgemental in any way and it picks out some really good topics. I liked that it wasn’t all about boys and that there were different things about feeling good about yourself, through to working out what it is you want from life. Its a great, thoughtful book which will help with a lot you may be worrying about.

True Face was published on April 2nd by Faber and Faber. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:  
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author website | True Face Website 

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Books received in April

As I embark on my maternity leave and start preparing everything for Spike to arrive I have been trying my hardest to keep books I get through to a minimum. Unfortunately this is easier said than done and I have received a fair few books this month, along with some very cool little additions that I just had to share with you all!

books received in April Review books this month (first photo): 

Squishy Mcfluff: Meets Mad Nana Dot – Pip Jones & Ella Okstad, One – Sarah Crossan (Unsolicited), Running Girl – Simon Mason (Unsolicited), In Darkling Wood – Emma Carroll, Because You’ll Never Meet Me – Leah Thomas (Unsolicited), Poppy in the Field – Mary Hooper (Unsolicited), The Young Elites – Marie Lu (Unsolicited), Mischief at Midnight – Esme Kerr (Unsolicited), The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness Review books this month (second photo):

April-books-2

Messenger of Fear – Michael Grant (Unsolicited), Bad Bones – Graham Marks  (Unsolicited), Elspeth Hart and the School for Show-Offs – Sarah Forbes  (Unsolicited), Paper Towns – John Green  (Unsolicited), House of Windows – Alexia Casale, Read Me Like a Book – Liz Kessler, Made for You – Melissa Marr  (Unsolicited), The IT Girl – Katy Birchall (Unsolicited)

Thank you to Walker Books, David Fickling Books, Penguin, Chicken House, Electric Monkey/Egmont, Stripes Publishing, Bloomsbury, Faber & Faber, Indigo and Harper Collins for books this month.

April-Books-GiftsThese books arrived with little gifts and I also received some little additions that weren’t full books from some publishers, which I just had to share with you. The tote bag arrived from Indigo – along with Read Me Like a Book, the little fairy charm came with In Darkling Wood from Faber and Bloomsbury included some gorgeous watermelon flavoured gum with One and a cool postcard with Because You’ll Never Meet Me. McMillan sent through the first few chapters of My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend in a cool USB cassette tape type thing, and just to tease use Hot Key Books sent through a gorgeous shell to prompt us about what Laura Dockrill’s next book, Lorali, is about!

April-books-3Books won/bought/gifted this month: 

The Upside-Down Fish – Kate Louise & Laura Matine, Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles – Kate Louise & Bethany Straker, Truckers – Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett, Guess How Much I love You – Sam McBratney & Anita Jeram

I was very lucky this month to win a competition by author Kate Ormand on twitter to win two of her picture books – she even signed and declared them to Spike for me! The lovely folk over at Random House sent through a copy of Truckers to everyone who participated in the Terry Pratchett Blog Tour that was hosted by Viv at Serendipity Reviews – which I bought Equal Rites by the author for, and I bought Guess How Much I love You for a prop to use in my maternity photo shoot – and as a gift for Spike when she comes along.

 

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Geek Girl: Picture Perfect – Holly Smale

Geek Girl: Picture Perfect - Holly Smale“My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a girlfriend. 

I know I’m a girlfriend because I can’t stop beaming. Apparently the average girl smiles sixty-two times a day, so I must be statistically stealing somebody else’s happiness. I’m grinning every thirty or forty seconds, minimum.” 

Harriet is all set for the start of her year at sixth form, she just needs to pass her GCSEs, have the best 16th birthday and see her boyfriend to carry out the Most Romantic Summer Ever. However Harriet doesn’t allow for changes in her plan – like the fact that her fantastic GCSE results are marred by her worst enemy getting hold her top-secret diary, her family moving her half way across the world and her boyfriend turning out to be one of the least romantic people ever. She doesn’t know how to cope with her family moving to New York and she certainly doesn’t know how to handle the model scene in the Big Apple, but most of all she doesn’t know what to do about Nick, and the lack of big romantic gestures. As Harriet’s all-knowing world does a flip turn, she wonders if its possible to go too far to fix things? 

***

Geek Girl has been, and continues to be, a massive success, and its easy to see why. It’s quick and easy to read, it creates a fun world to immerse yourself in for a few hours and it provides younger teens with a fun escapism from their lives!

I loved the first two books in this series and definitely had high hopes for the third. These hopes were definitely reached, but I do think it was probably the weakest book in the series so far unfortunately. I loved the idea of the story and how much it showed about this time in a girls life, how an upheaval can create such a mess and how much you need to be honest with your family and love them for who they are. However I thought Harriet went too far and I didn’t get on with her character in Picture Perfect as much as I have done in the past!

The romance element of Picture Perfect was actually done really well, and thats coming from someone who doesn’t like romance much! I loved that there was that uncertainty from Harriet about Nicks feelings towards here because those emotions are completely viable in that situation, no matter what age you are! You can be 35 and if you don’t see your boyfriend much and he doesn’t share many romantic gestures, there will be times when you think ‘Hang on, does he actually love me?’ And I loved the outcome of that sub-plot and the fact that the two characters were actually pretty damn mature about everything!

Other than that though Harriet was quite possibly the most immature I have ever seen her in this book – and that takes into account the hiding under the table in the very first book! I didn’t like her and what was going on with her and whilst I understood the outcome of her actions I still think that they weren’t exactly good for the reader. I think that there should have been more depth and not as much sweeping under the carpet as there was, but thats just my opinion.

The thing I really have loved about Geek Girl is Harriet’s ability to still be herself in the books, despite the catwalks and the crazy modelling, and in this book I thought she lost herself a lot. She realises this too but I think because there was no real facts and figures in the book and Harriet was second-guessing her academic ability, despite always being so positive, I didn’t like it as much. There could have still be second-guessing without the complete lack of fact revealing that she had going on in the other books, and too much focus was put on the world of modelling and being a bitch to her family than anything else. I just didn’t like her in this book at all and it really put a dampener on things for me.

I hate that I didn’t like this book as much as the others and my review is coming across so negatively. I still enjoyed Picture Perfect for its story and its outcomes, especially – as I’ve mentioned – the romantic element of the book, and I wouldn’t want to put anyone off reading it. I just think it is the weakest of the three books so far and I really hope that book 4 – All That Glitters – is an improvement. This won’t put me off finding out either!

Picture Perfect is the third in the Geek Girl series and was first published in 2014 by Harper Collins Children’s books. My copy was purchased at a local store.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:  
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An Island of Our Own – Sally Nichols

An Island of our Own - Sally Nichols “I told my brother Jonathan I was going to write a book about all the things that happened to us last year. About the homemade spaceships, and the lock-pickers, and the thermal lancase, and the exploding dishwasher, and the island that was old when the Vikings came, and Auntie Irene’s treasure, and all the things that happened before we found it. 

‘It’s going to be brilliant!’ I told him. ‘And I’ve already got a title. An Island of Our Own! Isn’t it great?’

‘But we don’t have an island of our own,’ said Jonathan. ‘People are going to pick it up and expect it to be Swallows and Amazons for rich people!’ 

Since their mum died things have been pretty rubbish for Holly and her two brothers Jonathan and Davy. Whilst Jonathan is trying his best to raise them, he is only 19, has had to give up so much, and still doesn’t have anything to really offer them. The moneys tight and the house is a state, and when Sebastian the Rabbit gets ill they know they need some money and fast. Then their Auntie Irene dies and leaves clues to some sort of treasure she has hidden, can this adventure lead to a solution that fixes all their problems or was Auntie Irene as eccentric as people keep telling them she was? 

***

Ok I have never picked up a Sally Nichols Book before and I know thats rubbish of me. I have heard amazing things about her work but never got round to it, until An Island of Our Own dropped through my door and I thought it would make for a good addition to my #readUKYA readathon tbr pile!

Thankfully I wasn’t wrong and I was quickly whisked into the big adventure that Holly, Davy and Jonathan embarked on! Their story wasn’t a nice happy one, but thankfully the events in An Island of Our Own managed to convince me that with the right people in your life, happiness really can be found in the darkest of times. The family are struggling financially, bringing about snappiness and sadness, even all doing their best things keep going wrong so the possibility of Auntie Irene making things better is something Holly really wants to believe in.

Holly’s can-do attitude is what I loved the most about this book. She’s got that air of innocence that a younger character sometimes does without coming across as naive and actually in places sounding very mature for her age. I think because of her narration and the way the book is written – like a book within a book – An Island of Our Own is catered more towards the younger end of the YA market but I honestly think that many readers will love this book regardless of their age.

There is something very carefree about this book which is excellent considering the very serious topics it addresses the whole way through. Its kept quite realistic too, excluding the actual thing with Auntie Irene and the photos because I doubt that would be done often! I honestly thought that everything they did and the way it was done was brilliant and I particularly loved the Makerspace and how friendly everyone was there and how they rallied round for each other. There will be a lot of places like that around the country that don’t get any recognition for the brilliant community they offer to people of all ages.

I couldn’t get enough of An Island of Our Own and I speed-read my way through it very quickly. Its not a long book but a great one all the same and its definitely convinced me to read more by this wonderful author who I keep hearing so much about!

An Island of Our Own was published on April 2nd by Scholastic. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
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Terry Pratchett Blog Tour: Equal Rites review

Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett“This is a story about magic and where it goes and perhaps more importantly where it comes from and why, although it doesn’t pretend to answer all or any of these questions. 

It may, however, help to explain why Gandalf never got married and why Merlin was a man. Because this is also a story about sex, although probably not in the athletic, tumbling, count-the-legs-and-divide-by-two sense unless the characters go totally beyond the author’s control. They might.”

As Drum Billet feels the end of his life come near, he knows that its time to pass on his worth. In a small village called Bad Ass an either son is about to be born of an eighth son, and Drum Billet thinks this is the perfect place for his worth to be passed on. Unfortunately for Drum he doesn’t realise – until it is too late – that the baby born on that evening was not a son at all, but a young girl who will grow quite determined to have the destiny she was bestowed. 

***

We lost an incredible author the day that Terry Pratchett died, an author that I have been meaning to read more from and an author who I know a lot of people loved. His most well-known work was the world he created which is known as Discworld and I was yet to delve into this world before he passed away.

I decided to join in with Viv at Serendipity Reviews’ Terry Pratchett blog tour to honour the great man and because I have been meaning to read his Discworld books for years now. Until Equal Rites I had only ever read one book by Pratchett and that was Dodger, the story told from the point of view of Dodger form Dickens’ Oliver Twist, but I did love that one so I should have expected to love his other books!

I chose Equal Rites because it was recommended by my sister, who is a massive fan of the disc world novels. She thought I would like the story and would love the Witches collection of the Discworld books as a whole, and thankfully she was right about the first point and its made me want to read on! This book is brilliantly funny and tackles head-on a massive problem I have with society – sexism and chauvinism.

I loved the humour that was apparent throughout this book, right from the very first page it made me chuckle, I mean just read the opening quote above! Then the dry-ness of it and the way the characters worked together throughout, it all really made me feel at home. I loved the sharp digs at society and the way people believe what they want to believe so much of the time and are so easy to be led, it was just so clever!

There was very little I didn’t love about this book and I think the only downside I saw from reading it was the length of time it took to read it. I do, however, believe that was my own fault because I am just so not used to this kind of fantasy. There is a lot to it and Pratchett jumps around a lot, demanding a lot of attention to the details to ensure you get the full story. Its not like other books that you can just pick up and put down willy-nilly and I found myself re-reading large chunks just to make sure I knew where I was. I’ve heard the more Discworld you read though the more used to this style of writing you become and I think that definitely sounds about right because by the end I was a lot more comfortable with knowing what was going on.

Theres some incredible characters in this book, not least of all Esk herself, and I loved a lot of them. They have fantastic relationships that you really can grow to love – like Granny Weatherwax and Archchancellor Cutangle – and I really could get on board with the way certain characters just seemed to mesh well together. I loved the Librarian and I have been told that he turns up in a fair few books so I will definitely have to carry on with the series because of him!

farewell terry pratchett tourI really, really enjoyed my first foray into this world and I will definitely be venturing further into it at some point soon, I love that I started with book three of the series (as it was publsihed) but know I can go back to the other earlier books quite easily at any time and that there are branches of the story that fit together – like theres the Witches books and the Rincewind books. I will definitely be carrying on with the Witches and  branch out further as time goes on!

Equal Rites is the third published novel in the Discworld series. My copy was published in hardback on April 3rd 2014 by Gollancz. I purchased the book online for the purpose of the Terry Pratchett Blog Tour, hosted by Viv at Serendipity Reviews.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
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The Beloved – Alison Rattle

The Beloved - Alison Rattle“I am Alice Angel. I am sixteen years old. I am not mad. But I am a bad person. 

I have done some terrible things lately. I want to be forgiven. 

I want to be a good person, the person they all expect me to be. 

I have seen you and I heard you talk. I think you understand. 

Can you help me? 

You are my only chance to make things right.” 

Alice Angel spends her days hiding from the torment her mother inflicts upon her. She doesn’t know why but she has always been hated. Her mother loves her brother and can even find softness for her father, but Alice, Alice she has always hated. Alice longs for an escape, but when she is strapped to the bed all night and kept confined to her room all day how does she expect to do so. Alice doesn’t know if she can handle her mother for much longer and with her mother calling upon the local Doctor claiming Alice is mad, she is even more worried that normal. Then one day Alice hears the speakings of Henry Price – or The Beloved to his followers – and the life he promises his followers. Free from Victorian conformity and cruelty the world at the Abode of Love sounds like bliss, and the Beloved sounds like her saviour. 

***

For my second #readUKYA book I knew I would have to chose something to grab me. Its not often I read two books in one day and I knew that to do it I would have to love the second. Thankfully I picked up The Beloved, this was because I’d loved both of Alison Rattle’s previous books, and I was not disappointed.

Once again we get an incredible narrative from a girl at some point in history. This time its 1848 and I loved every second. I don’t know much about this period other than what I’ve read in books and most of them have been set in London so I was very happy to see a different – and very rural – setting. The author’s notes in the back of the book tells me that Henry Prince and his Abode of Love was actually a real thing at this point in Somerset’s history and I love that Rattle has managed to make such a brilliant story from that bit of actual history.

There is a lot to talk about with The Beloved – the fact that the mother is a complete nut job herself and the fact that it was that easy to convince doctors of a woman suffering from ‘hysteria’ at that time in history is the first thing that comes to mind. I know that the whole ‘hysteria’ thing was an actual thing in Victorian times and women were often accused of going mad because of their periods – which is just mad itself! I loved that that was touched upon in this book but wasn’t the whole point of the story, I thought it worked nicely because it put the focus on the mistreatment of Alice from her mother particularly, for me anyway. I tend to get very wound up when people act like arses in books and I hated Alice’s mother for sure. From the snippets of how she came to be married to Alice’s father through to her treatment of present day Alice I honestly hated the woman and I wanted something bad to happen to her.

There did seem to be some madness in Alice and the touch of the supernatural was interesting. It wasn’t really built up on and it could just be a coincidence the way things worked out but I liked it all because it wasn’t made a big deal of. It convinced Alice that she was different but headstrong as she was, she knew she was not mad and thats what she ended up fighting for.

The cult idea of Henry Prince is something that really touched a nerve with me and I thought it was done really well and made the story. I don’t want to say much for fear of spoilers but I adored that part of the book and it was my favourite part even though it can’t all be described as nice.

There was a lot of sadness in The Beloved and I would say its definitely not for younger readers because of some of its topics. I honestly loved every second of t and the range of emotions it took me through was incredible, from anger to hate to sadness to joy and love, it was all there and I really can’t praise the book enough. If you are looking for an incredible historical fiction author then look no further that Alison Rattle and if you want a tale of a girl who just needs some love in her life (and I don’t just mean romantic love) then look no further than The Beloved – you will not be disappointed!

The Beloved was published on March 5th 2015 by Hot Key Books. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:  
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author website 

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My Smoky Bacon Crisp Obsession – JA Buckle

My Smoky Bacon Crisp Obsession - JA Buckle “Tuesday 7th September 

9.15am: Sixth form college (English block) 

‘Some very interesting views of life-changing events,’ Says Mr Parry (or ‘Andy’ as he likes to be called), as he walks around the classroom handing back our essays. ‘Sophie – great account of the Apollo 11 lunar landings! Amy – awesome effort on the suffragette movement!’ 

Andy paused. ‘And Josh… ah Josh… Well I’m not quite sure what to say about your essay. I guess for some people getting the latest Metallica album might be thought of as life-changing…’”

Josh has a list of things he needs to achieve this year, and he’s determined to do them. Now that he’s started sixth form his life is there for the living, he has more freedom, more time, and more chances to make friends. However he’s still got some problems, least of all is his smoky bacon crisp obsession, not to mention the fact his friend Davey is having panic attacks and that his sister is after his new friend Lloyd. That all comes before Josh knows what his mum has been hiding too. Can Josh’s list be completed before his life falls apart completely? 

***

I had heard great things about the first book in this series, Half my Facebook Friends are Ferrets, last year and had been meaning to get hold of it but never got round to it. After being assured by a fellow blogger that it seems My Smoky Bacon Crisp Obsession can be read as a standalone I thought I’ve delve right in as the first book in my #readukya readathon book.

Unfortunately this book didn’t really cut it as one of my favourite reads lately. I struggled to really get into things with it reading like a basic diary and not really exploring much depth. I liked the characters and there were some laugh out loud funny bits but other than that it was just average and I didn’t really get stuck into it. At only 180 pages long My Smoky Bacon Crisp Obsession isn’t exactly War and Peace though so it made for a good quick read.

I was happy with the story as a standalone but there were little things that might have made more sense if I’d read the first book, like the whole thing with Ned and the relationship between Josh and Becky. Other than that its easy enough to get on with the book on its own and I liked seeing how Josh formed his band and handled some of the things thrown at him in the first half of his first year at college.

Like I said there wasn’t much depth to this book and whilst it explored some issues like different kinds of illnesses, it didn’t leave me with much to reflect on. It was an ok read which I think will cater well for a more reluctant reader as its easy to just pick up and go with, but other than that I was left a little disappointed as it really was an average read for me.

My Smoky Bacon Crisp Obsession was published on April 9th 2015. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:  
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Book website 

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