Reading Round-up: March/April 2018, Part 1 #MiniBookReviews

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I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but I’ve been pretty rubbish at posting reviews lately. I unfortunately don’t have the time (or the motivation) at the moment. I would, however, like to share a few thoughts on some of my recent reads…

 

Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island  ~ Liz Kessler

This book was so cute. I’d never read any Liz Kessler books before and I didn’t realise this was like book 7 in the series, but it didn’t matter at all. It’s a story about friendship, family, romance and a mysterious adventure involving an ancient prophecy, (I bloody love an ancient prophecy btw) and of course, Mermaids!

I thought it was paced well, and had some struggles and dilemmas in it that were perfect for the target age group, such as letting down your best friend, and being the third, all nicely topped off with some mermaid magic.

unicorn rating 4

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue ~ Mackenzi Lee

I’m so glad that this book was as good as I anticipated. It’s not a quick read, but totally worth the investment. There’s not that much historical YA out there, particularly LGBT historical YA, and this tale of travelling and debauchery is in a league of its own. It’s a great story, with truly diverse characters and not just for the sake of it like I see happening in YA a lot these days.

unicorn rating 4

 

Simon Vs the Homosapiens Agenda ~ Becky Albertalli

I knew I would love this book from the moment it came out, but I’m afraid all the hype did ruin it a little bit for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved it, and I loved the main characters, and the fact that books like this exist, but people were talking about it like it’s something new, and I didn’t think it was really.

unicorn rating 4

 

Member of the Family ~ Dianne Lake

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve had this weird fascination with Charles Manson, but I never really read that much about him in the time before the murders took place. This book, written by the youngest recruited member of ‘the family’, provides a lot of insight on that time when the group transitioned from a hippie commune, to a sadistic cult capable of the harshest of crimes. 

I found a lot of this book interesting but it dragged, especially in the beginning. I get that Dianne’s dysfunctional childhood is what paved the way for her joining Manson, but it could have been summarised a bit. I’m glad I read it though!

unicorn rating 3

More mini reviews will be posted tomorrow 🙂

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This Week in Books 28.03.18 #TWIB

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next!

Happy Wednesday blog friends. Here’s what I’ve been reading this week…

Now:

 

Member of the Family: Manson, Murder and Me ~ Dianne Lake

I don’t read a huge amount of true crime but I’ve always had a weird fascination with Charles Manson, so I had to pick this up when I spotted it in the library last week. Not much to report so far, but hoping it’ll be an interesting read.

memberofIn this poignant and disturbing memoir of lost innocence, coercion, survival, and healing, Dianne Lake chronicles her years with Charles Manson, revealing for the first time how she became the youngest member of his Family and offering new insights into one of the twentieth century’s most notorious criminals and life as one of his “girls.”

At age fourteen, Dianne Lake—with little more than a note in her pocket from her hippie parents granting her permission to leave them—became one of “Charlie’s girls,” a devoted acolyte of cult leader Charles Manson. Over the course of two years, the impressionable teenager endured manipulation, psychological control, and physical abuse as the harsh realities and looming darkness of Charles Manson’s true nature revealed itself. From Spahn ranch and the group acid trips, to the Beatles’ White Album and Manson’s dangerous messiah-complex, Dianne tells the riveting story of the group’s descent into madness as she lived it.

Though she never participated in any of the group’s gruesome crimes and was purposely insulated from them, Dianne was arrested with the rest of the Manson Family, and eventually learned enough to join the prosecution’s case against them. With the help of good Samaritans, including the cop who first arrested her and later adopted her, the courageous young woman eventually found redemption and grew up to lead an ordinary life.

While much has been written about Charles Manson, this riveting account from an actual Family member is a chilling portrait that recreates in vivid detail one of the most horrifying and fascinating chapters in modern American history.

Then:

 

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Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island

This was my first Emily Windsnap book and it was great. Cute, with a great adventure…and I love a good prophecy! I was also really pleased that it read well as a stand-alone.

 

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda ~ Becky Albertallisimonvs

I knew I would enjoy this book, but I do think it was hyped up a bit too much. I was expecting something more unique, but that’s not to say I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it, because I did!

Next:

 

Either Anything You Do Say, or Mother of EdenWhat would you go for?

anything Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.

But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.

Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

 

 

mothereden“We speak of a mother’s love, but we forget her power.”
Civilization has come to the alien, sunless planet its inhabitants call Eden.

Just a few generations ago, the planet’s five hundred inhabitants huddled together in the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees, afraid to venture out into the cold darkness around them.

Now, humanity has spread across Eden, and two kingdoms have emerged. Both are sustained by violence and dominated by men – and both claim to be the favored children of Gela, the woman who came to Eden long ago on a boat that could cross the stars, and became the mother of them all.
When young Starlight Brooking meets a handsome and powerful man from across Worldpool, she believes he will offer an outlet for her ambition and energy. But she has no inkling that she will become a stand-in for Gela herself, and wear Gela’s fabled ring on her own finger—or that in this role, powerful and powerless all at once, she will try to change the course of Eden’s history.

 

What have you been reading this week? Leave a comment/link and I’ll do my best to take a look 🙂

This Week in Books 24.01.18 #TWIB

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next

Wednesday again, huh! I got back from Las Vegas yesterday so I’m feeling a little bit worse for wear (how do people fly all the time, it’s awful!?). I’m having a sofa day to recover though, so I thought I may as well share my books with you.

Here’s what I’ve been reading…

Now:

The Word for Woman is Wilderness ~ Abi Andrews

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Erin is 19. She’s never really left England, but she has watched Bear Grylls and wonders why it’s always men who get to go on all the cool wilderness adventures. So Erin sets off on a voyage into the Alaskan wilderness, a one-woman challenge to the archetype of the rugged male explorer.

As Erin’s journey takes her through the Arctic Circle, across the entire breadth of the American continent and finally to a lonely cabin in the wilds of Denali, she explores subjects as diverse as the moon landings, the Gaia hypothesis, loneliness, nuclear war, shamanism and the pill.

Filled with a sense of wonder for the natural world and a fierce love for preserving it, The Word for Woman is Wilderness is a funny, frank and tender account of a young woman in uncharted territory.

 

I was hoping to finish this whilst I was away but unfortunately I didn’t get much reading done, even on the long plane journey – I felt too tired to read (a first for me!). I’ve read about half though and I’m really enjoying it. It’s so interesting. 

It reads more like a memoir, and the protagonist tends to go off on tangents a lot, but it’s totally compelling. Looking forward to reviewing this one.

 

Then:

 

Veronica’s Bird ~ Veronica Bird & Richard Newman

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Veronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the Fifties as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. However, a glimmer of hope revealed itself as she, astonishingly to her and her mother, won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates.

A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness. That was until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the fire.

He soon began to take control over her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as cheap labour on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away from him and applied to the Prison Service, intuiting that it was the only safe place she could trust.

Accepted into the Prison Service at a time when there were few women working in the industry, Veronica applied herself every day to learning her new craft even training in Holloway Prison where Myra Hindley was an inmate. With no wish to go outside the prison, Veronica remained inside on-duty. While her colleagues went out to the pub, the theatre or to dine she didn’t feel able to join them.

Her dedication was recognised and she rose rapidly in the Service moving from looking after dangerous women prisoners on long-term sentences to violent men and coming up against such infamous names as The Price sisters, Mary Bell and Charles Bronson. The threat of riots was always very close and escapes had to be dealt with quickly.

After becoming a Governor, Veronica was tasked with what was known within the Service as a ‘basket case’ of a prison. However, with her diligence and enthusiasm Veronica managed to turn it around whereupon it became a model example to the country and she was recognised with an honour from the Queen. With this recognition the EU invited her to lead a team to Russia and her time in Ivanovo Prison, north east of Moscow, provides an illuminating and humorous insight into a different prison culture.

Through a series of interviews with Richard Newman —author of the bestselling A Nun’s Story— Veronica’s Bird reveals a deeply poignant story of eventual triumph, is filled with humour and compassion for those inside and will fascinate anyone interested in unique true life stories, social affairs and the prison system.

I was a bit disappointed with this one. It was interesting in parts, but I felt like something was missing the whole way through – emotion! My review will be part of the blog tour; my stop is in two days time.

 

Next:

 

I think it’ll be either The Cruel Prince, or The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue which I got at Christmas.

cruelprinceOf course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

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Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed.

The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

 

What have you been reading this week? Leave a comment/link and I’ll do my best to take a look 🙂

Horror October: I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist #BookReview #HO17

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Title: I Am Behind You
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Series: Platserna #1
Format: Digital ARC, 416 pages
Publication Details: September 7th 2017 by riverrun
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

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Molly wakes her mother to go to the toilet. The campsite is strangely blank. The toilet block has gone. Everything else has gone too. This is a place with no sun. No god.

Just four families remain. Each has done something to bring them here – each denies they deserve it. Until they see what’s coming over the horizon, moving irrevocably towards them. Their worst mistake. Their darkest fear.

And for just one of them, their homecoming.

This gripping conceptual horror takes you deep into one of the most macabre and unique imaginations writing in the genre. On family, on children, Lindqvist writes in a way that tears the heart and twists the soul. I Am Behind You turns the world upside down and, disturbing, terrifying and shattering by turns, it will suck you in.

Review

 

I’ve had a hit and miss (but mostly miss), relationship with Lindqvist so far to be honest, but I loved the sound of this book. And I’m pleased to report that this has been my favourite of his so far!

I Am Behind You, is hands down one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read, and thus a perfect read for a dark October evening.

It’s about a myriad of different families who wake up in their holiday caravans to find that the caravan park is gone. They’ve been moved, or have they? There is nothing around, and when they drive, they don’t get anywhere. The ground is strange and smells like blood.

Not only that, but there are these white human-like creatures stalking around. Before long, the families realise that they all see these creatures as different things; a tiger, a salesman, John Wayne characters… what does it all mean?

And then it starts to rain acid.

Out of all of the Lindqvist books I’ve read, I Am Behind You was definitely the most readable. I don’t know whether the translation was just better this time, but the pages flew by. I was totally submerged in this strange, creepy place and had to keep reading to get to the bottom of it.

But here lies the problem. We don’t get to the bottom of it, of anything really. Which was really frustrating. There’s only so many crazy things that can happen without even an iota of an explanation before you stop caring. But read on I did!

Apparently this is the first in a series, so maybe it will be addressed in the next book, but I wish he would have given us something more concrete as to what the hell was going on, you know!?

The star of the show were the characters for me. Each of the families bring something different, and alarming to the story. A few of them are loveable, but mainly they’re all troubled in some way, especially Molly, the token creepy child who was once left in a tunnel and has never been the same since.

I hate to liken every horror writer to Stephen King, but parts of this really did remind me of him and his great characterisation. If you liked Under the Dome, I think you’d enjoy this too.

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Don’t forget to vote in the Flash Fiction Battle!

Voting ends at 19:00 tonight.

Horror October: Week #4 Wrap-up! #HO17

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The end is nigh, horror fans! And I can’t lie, I’m slightly relieved. It’s been a blast, but busy, oh so busy!

Anyway, in case you missed anything last week, here is a handy summary of all the goings-on.

Horror October Week 4

30 Days of Horror:

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Day #22 & #23: Relics & Angel of Vengeance

Day #24: There’s Someone Inside Your House

Day #25: The Hollow Girl

Day #26: Doctor Sleep

Top Ten Tuesday: Weird horror book titles

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This Week in Books 25.10.17

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Flash Fiction Battle

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Entry #3: In That Sleep of Death by Stephen Kozeniewski

Entry #4: Puppets by Gabino Iglesias

Vote for Your Winner Now!

Guest Post: Paperback Lost by PG Bloodhouse

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Lazy Saturday Review: Under My Skin by Juno Dawson

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Still to Come:

I crown the winner of the Flash Fiction Battle!

Don’t forget to vote for your favourite!

 

Horror October: Week 3 Wrap-up #HO17

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Well, that was another busy week! I took a few days off over the weekend so need to catch-up this week. Anyway, in case you missed anything last week, here is a handy summary of all the goings-on.

Horror October Week 3

 

Review: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

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30 Days of Horror:

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Day #14: Cruel Summer

Day #15: Department Zero

Day #16: The Merciless

Day #17: The Haunting

Day #18: Redder Than Blood

Day #19: Phantoms

Day #21: Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day & Day #22: Ghostland

 

This Week in Books 18.10.17

 

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Flash Fiction Battle

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Entry #1: Holding On by Sean Seebach

Entry #2: Master of Cemeteries by Justin Bienvenue

Still to Come:

The last two entries for the Flash Fiction Battle and the vote will open shortly!

Horror October: Week #2 Wrap-up! #HO17

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Well, that was a busy week! I can’t believe we’re half-way through already!
If you missed anything, do not fret, here is a handy summary of all the goings-on.

Horror October Week 2

Review: Misery by Stephen King

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Top Ten Tuesday: Spooky Autumnal Book Covers

30 Days of Horror:

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Day #7: Some Will Not Sleep

Day #8: Interview with the Vampire

Day #9: Battle Royale

Day #10: You Die When You Die

Day #11: Goth Girl

Day #12: The White Road

Day #13: Universal Harvester

This Week in Books 09.10.17

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This Year in Horror (so far)!

Lazy Saturday Review: Killing the Dead by Marcus Sedgwick

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Posts from around the blogosphere

Review: S.T.A.G.S – A World of Books

Come for a walk through Bram Stoker’s Dublin – Come Here to Me

Review: Hell House – Ruined Head

Top Ten Scariest Towns You Never Want to Visit – Redmangorereviews

October Scary Book Recommendation: The Hallowed Ones – Reading in Winter

Movie Review: The Ritual – One Room with a View

Movie Review: Happy Death Day – Literary Dust

Up Next on Horror October:

Book Review: The Silent Companions

Horror October: Misery by Stephen King #BookReview #HO17

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miseryTitle: Misery
Author: Stephen King
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 369 pages
Publication Details: July 7th 2011 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published 1987)
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads 

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Misery Chastain was dead. Paul Sheldon had just killed her – with relief, with joy. Misery had made him rich; she was the heroine of a string of bestsellers. And now he wanted to get on to some real writing.

That’s when the car accident happened, and he woke up in pain in a strange bed. But it wasn’t the hospital. Annie Wilkes had pulled him from the wreck, brought him to her remote mountain home, splinted and set his mangled legs.

The good news was that Annie was a nurse and has pain-killing drugs. The bad news was that she was Paul’s Number One Fan. And when she found out what Paul had done to Misery, she didn’t like it. She didn’t like it at all.

Review

Whether you’ve read the book and/or seen the film, I’m guessing most people are aware of the story of Misery, so I won’t go into detail about the plot.

I have been meaning to read (or reread) this book ever since I got a World Book Night edition of it, but I honestly couldn’t remember if I’d read it before – as a teenager I suspected (yes, my memory really is that bad. I blame all the booze). It also doesn’t help that I’ve seen the film a bunch of times.

It wasn’t until I was about half-way through that it all started to come back to me. The differences between the film and King’s original novel are few, but certainly significant.

I really enjoyed giving this novel another go after what must be about 15 years. Once I got into it I couldn’t stop reading, but I am going to say something that might be a bit controversial…

I don’t think Stephen King should be called ‘a master of horror’.

Woah, I know, he is great, but hear me out.

King’s most successful books, for me, aren’t what I would class as horror, but as suspense. And I certainly think he’s a master of suspense! Don’t get me wrong, a lot of what makes something ‘horror’ is the suspense, but I’d say 90% of Misery is made up of suspense, followed by 10% horror.

He is also a master of characterisation. Everything he does is character-driven, and that’s why his books are so compelling. And why it’s so horrific when it all inevitably goes wrong. In this case, I didn’t find the main character, Paul Sheldon, very likeable at all, which makes it even more impressive at how sorry I felt for him.

The main thing that struck me when comparing the novel to the film, is that what happens to book Paul Sheldon is sooooo much worse than film Paul Sheldon, but I still found the film much scarier. Even after a few watches it still gets to me a bit. The penguin!!!

I’m not sure what that says about the novel, or maybe it just shows what a great film it is, and worthy of its Oscar (I defy anyone to not picture the terrifying Annie Wilkes as Kathy Bates), but essentially both mediums of this story are worth a go, and perfect for this time of year.

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Up Next on Horror October:

30 days of Horror: Battle Royale

 

 

Reading Round-up: August 2017 #MiniReviews

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Welcome to my monthly post where I discuss any books that I read during the month which for one reason or another didn’t get the full review treatment. This is a way for me to keep track of what I’ve read but without the pressure of having to write comprehensive reviews for every single book. 

There were three books that I read but didn’t get round to reviewing in August…

Spectacles ~ Sue Perkins

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When I began writing this book, I went home to see if my mum had kept some of my stuff. What I found was that she hadn’t kept some of it. She had kept all of it – every bus ticket, postcard, school report – from the moment I was born to the moment I finally had the confidence to turn round and say ‘Why is our house full of this shit?’

Sadly, a recycling ‘incident’ destroyed the bulk of this archive. This has meant two things: firstly, Dear Reader, you will never get to see countless drawings of wizards, read a poem about corn on the cob, or marvel at the kilos of brown flowers I so lovingly pressed as a child. Secondly, it’s left me with no choice but to actually write this thing myself.

This, my first ever book, will answer questions such as ‘Is Mary Berry real?’, ‘Is it true you wear a surgical truss?’ and ‘Is a non-spherically symmetric gravitational pull from outside the observable universe responsible for some of the observed motion of large objects such as galactic clusters in the universe?’

Most of this book is true. I have, of course, amplified my more positive characteristics in an effort to make you like me. 

Thank you for reading.

This book was a total shock for me. I picked it up on a whim. I used to love Light Lunch (showing my age there) and also loved Sue in the Supersizers Eat series but other than that I didn’t know much about her, so I totally wasn’t expecting to get so hooked on this book. I couldn’t put it down and read it in about two sittings.

The beginning had me in stitches when Sue was talking about her family’s reaction to her writing a memoir, and there were lots of things I was surprised by in it, all carried off with Sue’s slightly self-deprecating, intelligent humour.

unicorn rating 4

 

Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads ~ David Almond

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Fleeing persecution in his homeland, German refugee Klaus Vogel arrives in a small English town where the local gang take him under their wing. They call themselves the Bad Lads, but it’s all mischief and harmless tricks, never any real trouble.

But then leader Joe starts to encourage increasingly hateful pranks and Klaus has to make a stand for what he thinks is right.

Poignant and powerful tale set in the wake of World War II.

This was another one I picked up on a whim. It’s a short easy-read book which is dyslexia friendly that I found in my library. I’ve enjoyed a few of David Almond’s books before so I read this over a lunch break. It’s a nice story with a good message about bullying, persecution, and standing up for yourself and others.

unicorn rating 4

 

The Way it Hurts ~ Patty Blount

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There may be two sides to every story, but sometimes there’s only one way to set things right…

Music is Elijah’s life. His band plays loud and hard, and he’ll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he’d rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town…until the lead starts to sing.

Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother’s. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program—and being the star in her high school musical isn’t going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.

Elijah can’t take his eyes off of Kristen’s performance, and he snaps a photo of her in costume that he posts online with a comment that everybody misunderstands. It goes viral. Suddenly, Elijah and Kristen are in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they both could have ever imagined because these threats don’t stay online…they follow them into real life.

I’m afraid I didn’t get very far into this one. It’s nothing personal, I think I just wasn’t in the mood for a contemporary YA. The writing seemed fine but I didn’t gel with either of the protagonists at all, and all the integrated tweets and social media put me off. I’m sure this will be a hit for contemporary fans, but it wasn’t for me.

AOB

{that’s any other business for those of you that’ve never had the misfortune of having a job where people say that all the time}

 

 

Well, that really is a wrap on August now!  How did you get on?

Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine #BookReview #YA

 

princeofshadowsTitle: Prince of Shadows
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Publication Details: February 4th 2014 by Allison & Busby
Genre(s): YA; Retellings
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from the library.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

From the author of the bestselling Morganville Vampires series comes an exciting retelling of the classic love story, Romeo and Juliet.

‘A plague! A plague on both your houses!’

In the Houses of Montague and Capulet, there is only one goal: power. The boys are born to fight and die for honor and – if they survive – marry for influence and money, not love. The girls are assets, to be spent wisely. Their wishes are of no import. Their fates are written on the day they are born.

Benvolio Montague, cousin to Romeo, knows all this. He expects to die for his cousin, for his house, but a spark of rebellion still lives inside him. At night, he is the Prince of Shadows, the greatest thief in Verona – and he risks all as he steals from House Capulet. In doing so, he sets eyes on convent-bound Rosaline, and a terrible curse begins that will claim the lives of many in Verona.

Review

I have to say I was pretty sceptical going into this but I was intrigued regardless. Having read Caine’s Morganville Vampire series (or most of them at least), I was pretty shocked to find this in the library. A Shakespeare retelling, really? Hmm…

You can’t help but love the tale of the two doomed lovers, right? And you know what, this wasn’t a bad retelling. It’s told from Benvolio’s POV, who is forcibly entrusted to keep his cousin and Capulet heir, Romeo, on the straight and narrow. But that pesky boy has a habit of getting into serious trouble and falling in love with all the wrong girls. Then there’s his bff Mercutio with his own doomed love Tomasso, both of whom will be killed if discovered. Poor Benvolio has got a lot on his plate!

On one hand I really enjoyed this book. I liked reading from Benvolio’s point of view. It was an action-packed, fun retelling with a modern twist. The pages flew by. But on the other hand I did find myself cringing a lot. ‘Shakespeare turning in his grave’ was a phrase which often sprang to mind. But I guess there would be no point in retelling it without a new spin on the traditional.

I felt like the whole business with the curse was a double-edged sword. It made the story new and fresh, and Caine does paranormal very well, such is her remit! But for me, it meant that the story lost all its romance. Which is surely the point of any Romeo & Juliet story?

I really respect Rachel Caine for taking on such an iconic story and introducing a fantasy element. It’s a pretty bold move, and I think it mostly worked. Her writing is always so readable. Not one for the purists though, obviously.

unicorn rating 3