Lazy Saturday Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness #MiniReview #YA

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

therestofusTitle: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 434 pages
Publication Details: 
August 27th 2015 by Walker Books
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy; LGBT
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora, thanks Dora! 

Goodreads 

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What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Review

I wasn’t sure about this at first but ended up absolutely loving it. Patrick Ness has this amazing ability to nail that insecure, confusing time of adolescence when you don’t really understand who you are yet, and he does so in increasingly imaginative ways.

TROUJLH is set in a world where zombies and vampires are real, but the main characters aren’t part of that world, they’re always on peripheries  – just watching, they’re just the normal kids in world full of superheroes and martyrs.

I loved everything about this book – the way it was structured, the uniqueness of the premise, and as always, the execution by Ness was perfect. But it’s the characters that really stand out. All completely different and unique but startlingly real. Whether they’re gay, unsure, struggling with OCD, depressed, or desperate to go to a concert, they’re all just doing what everyone is trying to do – get through the day, the week, high school, life.

Have all the unicorns, Patrick Ness!

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The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp #BookReview #Horror

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Title: The Last Days of Jack Sparks
Author: Jason Arnopp
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 336 pages
Publication Details: July 28th 2016 by Orbit (first published March 3rd)
Genre(s): Horror; Supernatural
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.

In 2014, Jack Sparks – the controversial pop culture journalist – died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours.
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Review

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is a book of many things. It’s part horror, part mystery, part thriller, and it’s hilarious in a deliciously, dark manner. 

Jack Sparks is a famous (or perhaps more infamous than anything) journalist. His ego is as huge as his reputation and he’s the perfect anti-hero.

Jack has a lot of crazed followers but even more haters. When he announces on Twitter that his new book will be ‘Jack Sparks on the Supernatural’, the reaction goes viral. His fellow atheists and believers in science are outraged…because what does a devout atheist have to say about something so ridiculous? And the believers out there are outraged because who is he to investigate something he can’t even let himself believe. 

Of course, being an egotistical glory-hunter and fame-seeker, this only spurs Jack on. His first big mistake is attending an exorcism in the middle of which he breaks into laughter. Then a mysterious video appears on his own YouTube channel which he has no idea how it got there. The video is hella eerie and appears to show a genuine, very pissed off ghost. This time Jack can’t ignore it, but investigating it will be his ultimate downfall.

I absolutely loved this book. Jack reminded me a lot of Mystery Man from Colin Bateman’s novels of the same name. He is a lovable rogue. He is completely hopeless but you can’t help but root for him. It made me laugh how he rationalised everything he saw. No matter how bad the ghost/poltergeist/possession -whatever you want to call it- got, he always had an answer. But deep down, Jack Sparks knows differently. 

I’m loathed to give more of the plot away as I don’t want to ruin it, but believe me when I say that Jack Sparks… is about a lot more than an atheist exposing supernatural phenomenon.

For the most part, I found this book riveting. It made me LOL in one breath and recoil from creepiness in the next. I also adored the relationship between Jack and his room-mate Bex, and finally realising how unreliable Jack is as a narrator. 

Most of all, I think the way this story was written is genius. The majority of it is made up of Jack’s manuscript which he was typing as he went, up to moments before he died. It even includes notes to his editor which are also hilarious. He’s such a dick! 😉

The rest, which is where we can compare ‘truths’ is made up of Jack’s brother’s commentary, email exchanges and Jack’s confession at the end. This style had the potential to go so wrong, and I’ve hated the use of emails and texts in books before, but here I thought it extremely clever.

I originally rated this as 4/5, but in writing this review I can’t think of one negative thing to say about it. So have ALL THE UNICORNS, JACK SPARKS. 

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Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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Title: Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 359 pages
Publication Details: April 1st 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary; LGBT
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it

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Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

Review


So you know the other week when I said I’m over Contemporary YA and have had enough of traumatic school-days reads? I take it all back. This book made me take it all back and eat my words. The shame!

Oh this book, you guys.

I fell in love with it instantly and read it in two sittings. The story is set in El Paso, Texas, and narrated by Ari. Ari’s a loner and more troubled than he even lets himself acknowledge. He’s clever and funny, but he’s angry too. He’s angry that his dad won’t talk about the war that has affected him so badly. He’s a angry that his brother is in prison and that his family won’t tell him why. In fact they pretend he doesn’t exist at all.

Ari meets Dante, who offers to teach him how to swim. On paper they are complete opposites. Dante is effervescent and loved by everyone who meets him. He finds it easy to open up to people and talk about his feelings; everything Ari isn’t, and can’t do.

The two become inseparable during one summer, and together they try to make sense of the world.

I’m reluctant to say much more plot-wise but just know this: Aristotle and Dante is a beautifully written, heart-wrenching coming-of-age story that I know will stay with me for a long time. I’ll definitely be reading this again in the future.

I love the setting, I loved the relationship between Ari and his mum, and obviously the relationship between Ari and Dante…I just can’t even… have ALL THE UNICORNS. I need to get my hands on Alire Sáenz’s other books STAT!

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Cherry-loving Wolves, Bloody Knives, and People Made of Magic…

Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah

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Title: Of Scars and Stardust
Author: Andrea Hannah
Series: N/A
Edition: ARC, 366 pages
Publication Details: October 8th 2014 by Flux
Genre(s): Mystery; Thriller; YA
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the Publisher/Author in exchange for an HONEST review.

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After her little sister mysteriously vanishes, seventeen-year-old Claire Graham has a choice to make: stay snug in her little corner of Manhattan with her dropout boyfriend, or go back to Ohio to face the hometown tragedy she’s been dying to leave behind.

But the memories of that night still haunt her in the city, and as hard as she tries to forget what her psychiatrist calls her “delusions,” Claire can’t seem to escape the wolf’s eyes or the blood-speckled snow. Delusion or reality, Claire knows she has to hold true to the most important promise she’s ever made: to keep Ella safe. She must return to her sleepy hometown in order to find Ella and keep her hallucinations at bay before they strike again. But time is quickly running out, and as Ella’s trail grows fainter, the wolves are becoming startlingly real.

Now Claire must deal with her attraction to Grant, the soft-spoken boy from her past that may hold the secret to solving her sister’s disappearance, while following the clues that Ella left for only her to find. Through a series of cryptic diary entries, Claire must unlock the keys to Ella’s past—and her own—in order to stop another tragedy in the making, while realizing that not all things that are lost are meant to be found.

Woah. This book.

I have a total book hangover from this so please excuse my babbling review.

First of all, I didn’t even read the synopsis of this book before I picked it up. I requested it on the basis of the title and the cover alone, and went into it pretty blind and I’m so glad I did.

Not that I think it would have been any less amazing if I’d heard more about it, but I wasn’t expecting that.

Claire is living an average teenage existence in Ohio, going to bonfire parties where they drink cherry vodka and tell stories about the wolves that stalk the cornfields. Claire’s little sister, Ella is full of creativity and imagination and sees the world through magical eyes like only an eight year old can.

When Ella is asked to leave a party that she followed Claire to, she’s attacked on her way back. Her face will never be the same again, and Claire, now obsessed with the wolves that she believes attacked her is shipped off to New York. The only thing that brings her back to Ohio is when Ella disappears.

Of Scars and Stardust completely blew me away if you can’t tell already. It was a mystery, a psychological thriller, a romance, and it was written so beautifully it made me want to cry.

I loved how Claire saw her sister, and tried to make sense of the world as she saw it. She was terrified, damaged, and often alone, but she never felt like a victim. As the book went on it became clear that not only did Claire not know who to trust, but we as readers are not sure if we can trust her either.

I don’t think I even took a breath during the second half of this book, I was literally on the edge of my seat – which is pretty hard to do when you read in bed. If someone could come and pick my jaw up off the carpet, that would be great.

I loved setting, I loved the characters and I loved the uniqueness of this book, but I don’t want to say much more about it in case I ruin it for others.

What I will say, is that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to start over. Therefore, I give it all of the unicorns. Keep them all. And let them breed.

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Pre-order Of Scars and Stardust now, you won’t regret it!

Lazy Saturday Review: She is Not Invisible

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Title: She is Not Invisible
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 240 pages
Publication Details: July 3rd 2014 by Indigo
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary
Disclosure? I borrowed it off Dora. Thanks Dora!

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Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers – a skill at which she’s remarkably talented.

Her secret: she is blind.

But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness.

She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.

I went into this book with a little trepidation because it’s a huge departure for Sedgwick, whose previous books I’ve loved.

All of the other Sedgwick books I’ve read have been dark and quirky gothic reads with an almost fairy-tale feel. So when I realised he’d ventured into the world Contemporary YA (something I don’t read enough of), I was intrigued but slightly concerned. If it’s not broke, why fix it, right?

But of course, I was wrong.

I realised straight away that SINI was going to be something special. I devoured it in two short sittings.

Protagonist Laureth is worried about her semi-famous father, author Jack Peak. He seems to have gone missing and his precious notebook has turned up in New York, where he wasn’t even supposed to be.

Laureth’s mother doesn’t seem to care one bit, but Laureth has had enough. With the help of her younger brother, who acts as her guide and her eyes, she sets off to find him, and things go from weird, to weirder.

I loved everything about this book. The way it looks at Laureth’s impairment was refreshing and often beautiful. The mystery surrounding Jack’s disappearance was exciting and just the right amount of bizarre, and I loved that it was almost a book within a book.

But most of all, I think I loved the duality between Sedgwick and his character, Jack. In the author’s notes, Sedgwick admits that he himself became obsessed with coincidence and had been trying to write a book about it for some time. An obsession with coincidence almost sends Jack to the brink of madness in the novel, and even before reading the notes at the back of the book, I was picturing Jack as Sedgwick.

Coincidence?

Jack is also constantly reminded that his old ‘funny’ books are great, with an underlying message that his latest ‘serious’ books are not, and I couldn’t help thinking that this new direction of Sedgwick’s is something that worries him too.

Don’t worry Marcus. You get all the unicorns!

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She is Not Invisible is available from Waterstones in hardback and paperback now.