Sucktown, Alaska by Craig Dirkes (Out Today) #BookReview #YA

Title: Sucktown, Alaskasucktown
Author: Craig Dirkes
Series: n/a
Format: Digital ARC, 350 pages
Publication Details: 
May 1st 2017 by Switch Press
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Looking for a great adventure, eighteen-year-old Eddie Ashford stumbles into a job as a reporter in tiny Kusko, Alaska, a place so remote that bush planes are the only way in or out.

When the job and the place, which sits on the flat and desolate tundra and not in the stunning mountains he’d imagined, turn out to be disappointments, Eddie thinks maybe it’s time to bail.

But three things tie him there: 1) Taylor, a girl who might be a little too pretty and a little too smart for him; 2) Finn, a new friend who is an all-around good dude but also happens to be a small-time pot dealer; and 3) Eddie’s empty wallet, which means he can’t afford to transport himself and his possessions back to civilization.

Despite every good-guy instinct inside him, Eddie flirts with trouble as he tries to find a way home.


Review

As most of you already know contemporary YA is usually a little bit marmite for me. I either really dislike it, or I love it. Sucktown, Alaska has ruined that theory because I thought it was good, but not great.

The story is about Eddie. A seventeen year old who has flunked out of college for partying too hard. To make amends he has bagged himself a job as a journalist in the remote village of Kusko, Alaska, to prove that he can apply himself. If he can stick it out for a year, he will be allowed to continue his studies.

I was drawn to this book because it’s not often I read YA books from the male perspective, well, not straight males anyway. And I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska, there’s something just so raw about it that appeals to me.

I think Sucktown, Alaska has a lot going for it. The thing I enjoyed the most was the realness of it. Eddie is a real guy. He’s a man’s man, if not an immature one. At times he can be vulgar and obnoxious like any teenage boy. He has moments of sweetness and loyalty but he’s also monumentally stupid, and objectifies women.

Nothing is sugarcoated in Eddie’s story. Alaska is portrayed as a harsh place to live, especially in winter. I wasn’t aware of the state’s tribulations with alcohol and drug abuse, and in turn the prolific amount of bootleggers, and the story inspired me to learn more about the place instead of just thinking it looks pretty. Good stories do that, inspire.

However, on the whole I was a little bit disappointed with the story. It had a gentle pace and I felt like more needed to happen. Eddie starts selling drugs about half way through the story and considering that seemed the main plot point I wondered why it took so long to get to it.

I feel like there were things missing. Relationships, mainly. Eddie’s infatuation with Taylor was pretty superficial, and I thought more should have come out of his relationship with his boss/landlord. The only really meaningful relationship was between Eddie and the husky dogs, and maybe his drug-dealer friend.

I do think Sucktown, Alaska is a good coming-of-age tale for young male readers. I don’t think there’s enough of that. We see Eddie grow up a lot during his time in Kusko. He’s pretty hard on himself about his past discretions and needs to let that go. He’s a good guy deep down, he just needs to learn how to care about himself and other people, and by the end he’s done just that.

Overall, there was a lot I enjoyed about this book, but it needed an extra injection of action or romance to make it a must-read. I’m surprised by how many bad reviews there are on Goodreads, and I urge you to not be put off by them. I guess some people can’t handle the sometimes vulgar mind of a seventeen year old boy, but I for one think that was what made it a realistic story.

unicorn rating 3

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

quality
Title: The Quality of Silence
Author: Rosamund Lupton
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 384 pages
Publication Details: July 2nd 2015 by Little, Brown
Genre(s): Thriller
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free, advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review!

Goodreads // Pre-order/Purchase

On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska. Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness. Where nothing grows. Where no one lives. Where tears freeze . And night will last for another 54 days.

They are looking for Ruby’s father. Travelling deeper into a silent land. They still cannot find him. And someone is watching them in the dark.

Review

The Quality of Silence is an assault on your senses. You can feel the snow, smell the petrol, and see harsh landscape of Alaska so vividly, it’ll have you grabbing for your fur-lined coat, such is the magic of Lupton’s writing.

Ruby idolises her father; he gets understands her in a way that her mum Yasmin doesn’t. But Ruby’s father, a wildlife photo-journo and film-maker has been involved in a terrible plane accident in the remote depths of Alaska and hasn’t come to meet them like he should have. Instead, they are greeted by the devastating news that he is dead. His wedding ring and his jacket, the only things remaining from the wreckage.

Yasmin, who loves her husband yet feels estranged from him, came to Alaska to try to make their marriage work one last time. After hearing the news she refuses to believe that he is dead. She will believe it only when she sees it, but the police refuse to help, and have stopped the search, adamant that no one could have survived.

And so Yasmin and Ruby, set off on the most dangerous road trip imaginable, to find Daddy, to find the husband, to keep hope alive.

This book BLEW ME AWAY. I know people say that all the time, but woah…it was just amazing.

I loved the setting, the characters – especially Ruby – who is AMAZING, and the slow, mysterious reveal of what happened to Ruby’s dad…it was all amazing.

The only thing stopping me from giving this 5/5 and claiming it to be the book of the year, is because it took me a while to adjust to the constant switching of perspective. Sometimes, this style can be a deal-breaker for me, but after an adjustment period, Lupton really managed to pull it off!

unicorn rating 4

You can pre-order The Quality of Silence from Waterstones now.

Festive Reads Review: Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

starry’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from Debbie Macomber.

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega-bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.

Alaska, stargazing and a brooding man, what more could you want this Christmas?

Starry Night has everything I was looking for in a cozy Christmastime read. As soon as I picked it up, I just wanted to snuggle under a blanket with a mug of mulled wine in front of an open fire. I had to make do with a radiator but that’s beside the point.

Carrie is a headstrong, career-driven young woman who is grateful to be working for a respected newspaper but frustrated about her lack of progression. She’s bored of attending glitzy parties and charity events and writing about what people are wearing so when the opportunity comes up to prove to her worth to her boss she jumps at the chance.

But of course there are many obstacles in Carrie’s way. First she has to find reclusive Finn Dalton, and then she has to get him – a stubborn loner with trust issues when it comes to women – to agree to an interview. And then there’s Alaska itself, with snowstorms looming Carrie could easily get stuck in wilderness with a man who really doesn’t appreciate her imposing, and to top it all off, her deadline and Christmas is swiftly approaching.

There were things I really loved about this book. The writing is simple and flawless making it such a quick, easy read. I’ve wanted to go to Alaska my whole life so the setting is what appealed to me initially and it didn’t disappoint on that front.

With all of those things working for it, the romance had such great potential but I felt a bit let down by it in the end. I think Finn’s broody, damaged exterior melted away just a bit too quickly, as if he just changed overnight. I found it a bit hard to believe, but it didn’t stop my overall enjoyment.

I enjoyed the relationship between Carrie and her family, and also Finn’s dog, and I was happy that it was written from both Finn and Carrie’s point of view. It also reminded me a bit of How to Lose a Guy in 10 days and I love that film.

This is the first book I’ve read by Debbie Macomber, and it certainly won’t be the last. Locate an armchair, put it in front of a fire, and give Starry Night a whirl.

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure?: Nope, I bought it.
Title: Starry Night
Author: Debbie Macomber
Details: Paperback, 272 pages
Publication Date: October 8th 2013 by Arrow
My Rating: 4/5
Is it a Keeper? I think so…