Sunday, 19 February 2017

Book Review: Take Two by Perdita and Honor Cargill

Take Two (Waiting for Callback #2)Title: Take Two
Author: Perdita and Honor Cargill
Series:  Waiting For Callback, #2
Pages:  344
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Date of Publication: 26th January, 2017
Source: Sent by author*
Synopsis from Goodreads: Elektra has finally landed a part in a film. It's the dream. Well ...until she works out that Straker is a movie so dystopian that within weeks most of the cast and all of the crew wish that the world had actually ended (preferably in scene one). And while it's obviously great news that she's moved from the friend-zone with Archie to become his almost-girlfriend, it would be better if he hadn't immediately relocated to Transylvania to play a vampire hunter surrounded by 'maidens of peerless beauty'.

Full of humour and warmth, this new series is perfect for fans of Geek Girl and The It Girl.


My Thoughts:
I loved Waiting For Callback when I first read it last year, so I couldn't wait to get started with Take Two. I got stuck in and quickly got lost once again in Elektra's story, and I loved every minute of it. It was so good to be back!

This book is about Elektra's part in the action movie Straker. I really enjoyed all the scenes when Elektra was on set, even the stuff that wasn't about filming. Weirdly, I particularly loved reading about her dressing room (I would have been just as excited!) and the table read, and getting to know all the characters who helped make the film. Even though Carlo, Elektra's on-screen love interest, was quite annoying I really liked reading his interactions with Elektra, and the drama between Sam and Amber was constantly entertaining. All the characters came to life and I just wanted to visit the set!

Alongside filming, Elektra is dealing with being a fifteen-nearly-sixteen year old, complete with school stresses and boy troubles.  Once again the authors hit the nail on the head with Elektra's internal monologue of worries and woes; she's very relatable and realistic.  I really enjoyed the development of her relationship with Archie too - and could understand her frustration at their situation and the hiccups they faced.  The end is very, very cute!

This series is such a joy to read - it's light and it's fun and it made me laugh out loud so many times, and at one point I even shed a tear. I definitely recommend the books if you're looking for something to lose yourself in for a while, and I can't wait to read book three next year... Can I have it now? :P

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Book Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

A Quiet Kind of ThunderTitle: A Quiet Kind of Thunder
Author: Sara Barnard
Series:  n/a
Pages:  307
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Date of Publication: 12th January, 2017
Source: Bought
Synopsis from Goodreads: Steffi doesn't talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can't hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn't a lightning strike, it's the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life - she's been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He's deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she's assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn't matter that Steffi doesn't talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she's falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.


My Thoughts:
I really liked Beautiful Broken Things when I read it last year and so before I even knew what A Quiet Kind of Thunder was about, I was excited for it. Then I read the summary, and I knew this was a book for me. I didn't know much about mutism or sign language, or any of the kinds of issues that are tackled in this book, and so I was excited to learn new things while following Steffi and Rhys' story.  And I'm happy to report that it didn't disappoint - and I even liked it more than I liked Beautiful Broken Things.

Due to the nature of the book being fundamentally about Steffi and Rhys' communication issues, there were lots of different formats of storytelling, which was something that right from the start I really enjoyed, and helped me to get stuck in to the book.  When the two communicate in sign language, the text is in bold, and there are also sections of texts and instant messages, as well as lists and other fun things which change up the reading style and keep you hooked. It also made it very easy to fly through the pages!

The book is very informative about what it's like to a) have selective mutism and problems with speech, and b) being deaf.  Before reading Thunder I couldn't even begin to imagine how different life would be if I could not speak or hear, but now I feel like I could understand through Steffi's internal monologue and her conversations with Rhys. It's enlightening, and definitely made me realise I take these things for granted!

Steffi and Rhys' relationship was so great.  It says on the blurb that they get together so right from the start you can root for the two of them, and they progress through getting to know each to becoming more than friends so naturally that you can't help but cheer them on the whole way.  I feel like it was a true depiction of a first teenage relationship, including a few realistic and slightly awkward scenes of a sexual nature (which literally made me snort out loud in laughter on a silent bus journey), which I think is important to do well and Sara Barnard definitely did a really great job.

Overall A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a book not to be missed, especially if you're in the mood for a heart warming and realistic relationship story.  I can't wait for more from Sara Barnard in the future - with this release she has secured her place on my auto-buy list!


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Book Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora BanksTitle: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Series:  n/a
Pages:  302
Publisher: Penguin
Date of Publication: 12th January, 2017
Source: Bought
Synopsis from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.


My Thoughts:
I think that Emily Barr deals with the potentially tricky topic of what it's like to have amnesia really well. I have no idea how it feels, but despite the fact that the circles that Flora goes round and round in, trying to piece together what she's doing, do become slightly tedious due to their repetitiveness, they did give an interesting insight into her head. I feel like maybe everything she managed to do was unrealistic (like, her parents would definitely have noticed and stopped her, especially if they're as paranoid as they are surely?!), but in terms of what it's actually like to have amnesia, I imagine it was a realistic and honest representation.

The book gets slow in the middle, but then picks up again at the end as the plot twists are revealed.  I didn't see them coming, although perhaps in hindsight I should have? (But if you've been reading my blog for any length of time you'll probably have worked out that I'm actually terrible at predicting endings, haha.) Flora's an unreliable narrator and I guess that's half the challenge of the book, working out what's going on inside her head when you know she can't remember what you just read a few pages ago.

Now, I know that kissing a boy for the first time is a pretty momentous occasion, but it annoyed me that this was the one memory Flora could hold on to.  And I know that with amnesia of Flora's type the writing will be cyclical as she has to remember everything every few hours.  And I don't want to be rude because it must be awful, but it's quite tiresome having to read the words "I kissed Drake. I love him." every few pages.  (Especially when she can't remember anything about him but kissing him and so therefore how does she love him?) I dunno, I can see why this memory was chosen but half of me just wishes it was a memory that was slightly more interesting and didn't revolve around a boy (who also just isn't that great).

There were a few things that happen that didn't sit right with me at all, but I won't go into detail to avoid spoilers (feel free to comment/tweet me if you wanna know!). Also, I know her mum herself isn't well but I definitely did not like her or what she did to Flora, and I think maybe more time was needed at the end to sort out that whole issue. However, on the whole I guess I could appreciate the book as a finished package, and if you're interested you should definitely pick it up - and maybe you'll get on with it much better than I did.



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