Thursday, 16 June 2016

Book Review: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

The Square Root of SummerTitle: The Square Root of Summer 
Author: Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Series:  standalone
Pages:  336
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Date of Publication: 5th May, 2016
Source: Publisher for review*
Synopsis from back of book: 
This is what it means to love someone.
This is what it means to grieve someone.

It's a little bit like a black hole. 
It's a little bit like infinity.

When the fabric of the universe surrounding Gottie's sleepy seaside town begins to fray, she is hurtled through wormholes to the past.
To last summer, when her grandfather, Grey, died.
To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn't even hold her hand at Grey's funeral.
To the day her childhood best friend, Thomas, moved away, leaving her with a scar on her hand and a gap in her memory.
This summer, although Grey is gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie's past, present and future are about to collide - and be changed forever. 


My Thoughts:
There is a huge amount of hype surrounding The Square Root of Summer, so rightly I was super excited to give it a read. I will say right from the start that I was completely wrong in my expectations for the book. I'd briefly read the blurb, expecting quite a light, summery contemporary (I'll admit I totally judged it by the cover ;) ) and that isn't quite what it is - kind of, but with added science fiction-y maths-y time travel.  Yeah. That's not a bad thing at all, as I do like to be surprised, but I think it did affect my reading experience just a little cos it took me a while to wrap my head around it... Totally my own fault, so I'm just warning you not to make the same mistake :P

It took almost the whole first half of the book for me to settle in to the rhythm and really gel with Gottie's voice.  I understand that she was grieving and that things were so tough, but sometimes I felt that she could be a little bit annoying and melodramatic. Maybe I'm being harsh but I couldn't get on with her, especially when she was moping about Jason, whom I really didn't like (Thomas is much better - and he bakes! WINNER ;) ).  However, this all set up for the end, by which point you could really see Gottie's development throughout the story, and this was something that I really loved. It's not often that you can see character development so clearly but it not seem forced, and Harriet hit the nail on the head there with Gottie so that was pretty cool.

One thing that really surprised me about The Square Root of Summer was the amount of physics that is in it.  I have absolutely no idea whether any of it is real physics or maths or whatever (like it could all be made up for all I know!) and to be honest most of it went completely over my head but it was an interesting addition to the story, and not something I've seen before in a YA novel.  It's not vitally important to the plot or anything so don't worry about it though if you're not sciencey! It was also really cool to see Gottie genuinely interested in it - although STEM bores me completely to death, obviously it's so important that young girls who are interested see females embracing and flourishing in it.  There is also a lot of German within the novel as Gottie has German heritage, and that was really cool - and not only because it proved that my German A Level wasn't a complete waste of time since I understood most of it! You could almost pass this book off as educational ;)

Then there was the time travel element of the story, which was pretty good, I think? I'm unsure. It is pretty confusing, not gonna lie, but it does make for interesting reading! I love time travel on TV, like you probs know that Doctor Who is one of my favourite things if you've ever been on my Twitter or spent any time with me, but I've always found that it doesn't work all that well, for me, anyhow, in books.  I always end up getting so confused, and all Gottie's talk of wormholes and trying to keep the timeline linear in my head so I knew what was going on was pretty difficult! Maybe because I didn't devote enough time to reading (it took me about three weeks?) and so I couldn't remember things from the beginning of the book though? One thing I did really like about it was that it was in these bits that we got to know Grey, Gottie's grandfather. Even though he dies before the book even begins, I feel like I know him as a character and he just seems like he was a cool guy. Would have liked more of him although that isn't the point of the book at all.

Overall, I am glad that I gave The Square Root of Summer a chance and ended up really enjoying it.  It's unlike anything I've ever read before and probably will ever read again, and it's not often that one can say that in today's world! I definitely recommend for your summer reading lists and I'm looking forward to more from Harriet in the future - she's definitely one to be watched, I think!


*Huge thanks to Macmillan Children's Books for sending me this in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this affected my opinion of the novel. 



Saturday, 4 June 2016

Book Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Unexpected EverythingTitle: The Unexpected Everything
Author: Morgan Matson
Series:  standalone
Pages:  518
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Date of Publication: 5th May, 2016
Source: Spare review copy passed on*
Synopsis from Goodreads: Andie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.

Future? A top-tier medical school.
Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby—pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie’s got her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all—working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?


My Thoughts:
I have been a huge fan of Morgan Matson ever since I read Amy & Roger's Epic Detour several years ago. So, understandably I was super excited to get The Unexpected Everything from Sophie (you're literally the best Sophie!) when she got an extra copy. I decided to control myself and save it until revision week, so that I would have something I was really looking forward to to save me from revision hell. While I still think that Since You've Been Gone is my favourite of Morgan's books, I read this in just a few sittings despite its pretty large page count and I absolutely loved it.

The thing that makes Morgan's books so great are definitely her characters. I quickly fell for Andie and her group of friends, Toby, Palmer, and Bri. Their friendship felt so genuine and they reminded me of some of my own friends too which was great. I particularly loved Toby because I felt like I could relate to her the most, and her emoji-only texts cracked me up. I also thought that the portrayal of their friendship was very realistic, and not sugar-coated which was refreshing. I don't think that a lot of other books would have ended like this did, shall we say (I hope if you've read it you can guess what I'm talking about!).  Morgan's books also always have a great emphasis on building family relationships which is also great to see, and this was no exception. I really loved watching Andie rebuild her relationship with her father and getting to know her mother through that too. And it goes without saying that Andie's relationship with Clark is a lot of fun too. Adorable!

The plot is very simple, and it's so easy to read and get lost in. It's just about a group of friends going about their lives, doing fun things like scavenger hunts and having pool parties, and navigating difficult relationships . I wanna do a big scavenger hunt like they do, just need a Palmer to organise it for me, haha! Andie's a dog walker so there are also a lot of fun doggie scenes which always made me smile. I normally avoid books about animals for some reason, so it was something I've never really read about before but it was very enjoyable haha. Also the pups on the cover are very cute too, which definitely doesn't hurt!

Overall The Unexpected Everything was everything that I wanted it to be. It was the perfect read to start off my summer, and has got me really excited for kicking off my summer reading. I definitely recommend this and all of Morgan's other books if you're looking for something fun and summery to take on holiday, or let's be honest just if you're looking for something really good to dig into. You won't be disappointed!


*Huge thanks to Sophie Waters from So Many Books, So Little Time, for sending me this! I owe you one! 
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