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 

bookdepo

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!

unicorn rating

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold #BookReview #Memoir

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Title: A Mother’s Reckoning
Author: Sue Klebold
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 296 pages
Publication Details: February 9th 2017 (reissue) by Ebury Publishing
Genre(s): Biography/ Memoir; True Crime
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

 

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.


For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?


These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In”A Mother s Reckoning,” she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.


Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, “A Mother s Reckoning”is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time. And with fresh wounds from the recent Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent.


“All author profits from the book will be donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.”

 

Review

I was interested in this book because I remember when I first heard about the Columbine shooting – the first of many tragic school shootings to come (in America), in 1999.

I was of similar age as the shooters and in my penultimate year of high school. I was going through my goth phase (Goths 4eva IDST – LOL!) and was big fan of Marilyn Manson at the time. The media was singling the band out as the reason for the shootings. Because we all know how damaging rock music is to impressionable teens don’t we!? Sigh.

Even back then I knew that was a load of bull, however the media spotlight was infuriating but also seen as some sort of badge of honour. Of course that sounds ridiculous and callous now but being full of teenage angst – it was “cool” to be a Marilyn Manson fan for a while because of that.

This book is the account of Dylan(one of the shooters)’s mother Sue. It’s a really interesting look at parenthood, adolescence, mental illness and tragedy but I can’t say I enjoyed it.

The first 20% of A Mother’s Reckoning seems to solely aim at frantically proving how normal the Klebold family were; what such good, normal parents Sue and her husband Tom were and how they couldn’t possibly understand how their nice, normal son could have killed so many people. The idea of normal really annoyed me throughout this part of the book – Sue of all people should understand that there’s no such thing as normal.

The disquieting reality is that behind this heinous atrocity was an easygoing, shy, likeable young man who came from a ‘good home’. Tom and I were hands-on parents who limited the intake of television and sugary cereals.

This was made even more frustrating by the next 20% of the book where Sue goes from describing Dylan’s perfect childhood and the morals and discipline (a ‘normal’ amount of course) they imparted on him, to all the worrying behavioural signs they missed. One minute he was perfect, the next he was a teenager who had made some worrying life choices.

And the more ‘normal’ and good at parenting she was trying to prove to be, the more strange she sounded; the type of parent I’m glad I didn’t have. A control freak…

I thought of all the times I’d called the mom hosting a sleepover to find out what movie she was planning to show. More than once, I’d asked for a less violent selection.

Now, I’m certainly not one of those people who blame the parents for everything, but don’t write 100 pages with your hands in the air saying ‘look at what good parents we werewe couldn’t possibly have known…he showed no signs,…we couldn’t have done anything’ etc and then tell us the exact opposite. Argh!

I was also not happy about the conclusion Sue came to about Dylan’s actions being caused by ‘depression or some other brain illness’. It is perfectly possible that Dylan was depressed – aren’t most teenagers!? but depression does not a murderer make!

In this book Sue Klebold researches what she calls ‘brain illnesses’ (she doesn’t believe the term mental illness is as accurate) and suicide, especially in teenagers. It is researched well and I found it interesting but it just felt like she was trying lay blame on anyone but herself or her troubled son.. I can’t blame her for trying to find a reason for her son’s actions, but I think it was a very one-sided view.

For me there was a huge elephant in the room the whole way through this book. I think working in a prison has given me a little insight into criminal behaviour and how people tick. And the one thing that people never want to believe is that humans are capable of hideous things, without making them evil.

Every single one of us has the occasional evil thought but thankfully most of us wouldn’t dream of acting upon them. Lots of things prevent us from doing so. But something didn’t stop Dylan from that terrible act. In fact it sounds like instead of him having lots of reasons to not act on those thoughts – he had lots of reasons to go through with it. School is hard, adolescence is hard, and his circumstances sound worse than most. As one of the survivors said at the time ‘I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner’.

Klebold does make some insightful psychological points which – although few and far between-  did make this book worth reading for me.

The expertise with which desperate people can mask their true feelings and intentions is the far more important message.

It’s nothing groundbreaking but was interesting enough to keep me reading and thinking. This is definitely a book worth reading for those interested in psychology, especially criminal psychology, but despite the fact that this whole book is Sue pouring her heart out, I couldn’t relate to her because I didn’t believe that she completely believed what she was saying. I think there is a huge element of denial here, and that she wrote this story to rid herself of guilt.

I’m not saying she has anything to feel guilty about – who am I to make that judgement – nor am I saying that she doesn’t deserve empathy or closure, but I just felt like she is masking something in this book, which is strangely something that the victims’ friends and family have said from the beginning. Maybe that’s the only reason I’m so suspicious, but maybe not…

unicorn rating 3

 

 

 

DNF Review: The War Against the Assholes by Sam Munson

waragainstTitle: The War Against the Assholes
Author: Sam Munson
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 272 pages
Publication Details: June 9th 2016 by Atom
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Mike Wood is a teenager at a decidedly unprestigious Catholic school in Manhattan, accustomed to solving problems using brawn rather than brains.

One day, his nerdy classmate Hob Callahan persuades him to read a mysterious old book of unknown authorship, The Calendar of Slights. On the face of things, the book is a guide to performing clever card tricks; but in fact, it is a test for recruiting new members to join a secret cell of radical magicians.

Amazingly, Mike passes with flying colours unlocking not only his potential magic powers – but also the door to New York City’s vast and hidden underground network of warlocks, sorcerers and mages.

Here, with Hob as his unlikely guide, Mike’s role as a steadfast soldier begins. For there is a war being waged. A war between rivaling factions of magicians that has spanned the ages. A clandestine war against the establishment: a war against The Assholes.

Review

I completely misjudged this book. From the cover and the title I assumed it was going to be a contemporary YA high school read when in fact it’s more of a contemporary fantasy. I realised that I was wrong quite early on and I was then looking forward to it even more… but unfortunately I just couldn’t gel with it. 

Mike is the average guy at school. He’s not the most popular, he’s not the most nerdy. He’s not a bully, but he will (and does) pull punches to defend himself. 

Hob is a loner who is always lurking around reading the same little book with intensity. He never participates in anything and therefore no one really knows him. But when Mike and Hob are thrown together by a common enemy, Mike is intrigued and pleasantly surprised by him.

Hob gives Mike his little green book and urges him to read it, and from there on out things get crazy-weird. 

Even as I was typing that summary I was thinking ‘this sounds great, why couldn’t I get into it!?’ And the only answer I can think of was the writing style. 

It felt very disjointed and jumpy to me. I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t paying enough attention, but it seemed like the characters jumped from one scene/location to the next without an explanation. It may well have all been explained by the end but I’m sorry, I just had to give up. 

I love the idea of a secret magic circle, and being initiated via his strange little book, but I couldn’t follow the story. The world-building didn’t seem fully developed, nor did the characters. 

I struggled through 30% of The War Against the Assholes and I had to give up. There is a huge chance that it could have gotten a lot better after that so I don’t think it’s fair to give it a rating, or put people off it. Maybe try it for yourself and let me know? 😉

My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul (out next week) #BookReview #YA

mykindofcrazyTitle: My Kind of Crazy
Author: Robin Reul
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Publication Details:  April 5th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): YA Contemporary
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

 

 

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

Review

I’m usually quite wary of contemporary reads in YA because I feel like they’re really hard to get right and also really hard to stand out amongst the crowd; they all get a bit samey for me.

My Kind of Crazy falls into the boy meets girl category, and whereas it was quite predictable, and not particularly unique or fresh, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Protagonist Hank is trying to get a date to the prom and has his sights set on one of the most popular girls in school. Hank isn’t unpopular, but he’s not quite in her league either so he needs to make a lasting impression…but perhaps almost setting her house on fire was a bit extreme.

Luckily for Hank, no one knows he was the culprit apart from one random girl lurking in the shadows. Unluckily for Hank, the random girl shows up at his school the next day. 

Peyton, however, promises not to tell anyone about his uber failure of a prom proposal and  Hank is instantly intrigued by her. They quickly become friends, bonding over their unconventionalities, but Peyton might just be one step too crazy for Hank…

I liked a lot of things about this book. It was refreshing that it wasn’t about the popular kids Vs the unpopular, the jocks Vs the geeks…you know how it goes.

Hank was a great protagonist who sat somewhere in between those high-school social statuses. He has a difficult home life – as does Peyton – but is doing his best to get through it. I think what I liked most about him was that he didn’t judge people, and he saw the best in everyone, even when he couldn’t see the best in himself.

My Kind of Crazy was a cute, quick read. I found it both witty and sad, and couldn’t put it down. It’s not the most original story, but it still managed to stand out in a sea of contemporary beigeness. 

unicorn rating 4

 

Good Girls Gone Bad: The Merciless by Danielle Vega #YA #BookReview

themercilessTitle: The Merciless
Author: Danielle Vega
Series: The Merciless #1
Format: hardback, 279 pages
Publication Details: June 12th 2014 by Razorbill
Genre(s): YA; Horror
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it.

Goodreads // Purchase

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned…

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
 
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
 
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
 
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

Review

As a huge fan of YA (obvs) and horror I’m always excited to see YA horror books (Yorror as I’m now calling it) published, as they’re few and far between. It took me a while but I’m so glad I eventually got round to buying a copy of this- especially the awesome pink leather hardback version, which is pretty epic!

The Merciless isn’t a case of your old-school Goosebumps or Point Horror. It’s actual horror, that I imagine some parents wouldn’t be too happy about their teens (and certainly pre-teens reading. I kind of wish this book existed when I was 15 because man, I would have lapped it up then.

The Merciless is about a group of ‘good’ girls who take it upon themselves to exorcise the demon out of bully Brooklyn. A prank gone wrong? Revenge gone too far? There’s a whole lot of blood, torment and, well, torture, and the whole way through you’re left thinking ‘are they really doing this?’ 

I can definitely see where they got the whole ‘Mean Girls meets Stephen King’ tagline from. Unlike Stephen King however, this book is severely lacking in the character development department. But you know what? I kind of didn’t care. It would have perhaps made it easier to believe if we knew more about protagonist Sofia before she became friends with the ‘mean girls’ and got involved in the whole Satanic mess, but it wouldn’t make much difference, and it didn’t affect my enjoyment overall.

Like Mean Girls, this book is pretty shallow. But what it lacks in depth it makes up with in relentless action and chaos. It’s also mightily swift in pace. I definitely struggled to put it down, in fact I’m pretty sure I only put it down once. 

I also really enjoyed the sort-of-twist, and although most of the book felt predictable, it was quite easy to second guess yourself and end up with a genuine surprise on your hands. 

I’m already looking forward to the second book. I just hope Vega can develop the characters a bit more. 

unicorn rating 4

The Merciless is out now, and the second book will be released July 5th

Book Promo – Thirst: Blood of my Blood #indyauthors

Welcome to another book promo on Lipsyy Lost & Found, where I’m always thrilled to support independent authors and publishers.

Thirst: Blood of my Blood is the debut novel by R.P Channing and sounds like a mixture of all my favourite genres; YA; Paranormal Romance; Vampire Fic; Dark Fantasy – and all in a high school setting. Hurrah!

Thirst: Blood of my Blood

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Author: R.P Channing
Editions: Kindle/e-book, 243 pages
Publication Details: November 26th 2015

Goodreads // Amazon UK // Amazon US

~ Kira Sutherland ~

After a near fatal accident (and getting cheated on by her ‘boyfriend’), and beating up the lead cheerleader (with whom the boyfriend cheated…), and being labeled as having ‘issues’ in her school because she, uhm, sees ghosts, Kira is left with two choices:

1. Continue her ‘therapy’ (where she’s told the ghost is a hallucination and also gets her legs ogled too often…)

2. Go to Starkfield Academy, a boarding school for “Crazies and Convicts” (as the social media sites call them.)

She chooses the latter…

~ Cory Rand ~

Cory Rand has not had an easy life. His mother died in a car accident when he was twelve, and so did his mother’s best friend…sort of. You see, Janice made a promise to take care of Cory just before she died, and so she lingers. Undead. A ghost that watches him.

Brought up in an abusive home, Cory quickly falls into a life of disreputable behavior. After his third offense (which was prompted by a girl, as usual – he has a weakness) he’s left with two choices:

1. Be tried as an adult and share a cell with a guy named Bubba (he thinks…)

2. Go to Starkfield Academy, which Cory is pretty sure is run by vampires. But, hey, at least he’ll get an education.

He chooses the latter…

It’s at Starkfield that Kira meets Cory Rand, a boy with an insatiable Rage who sees ghosts, too. As well as other things, other things from his past, things that confuse him, things like fire and witches and demons.

Things he’s always ignored.

Until now.

Excerpt

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PROLOGUE

The Puppy Eyes

My life was perfect.

I had the perfect shoes and the perfect friends and I lived in the perfect house. My nails were perfect and my hair was perfect (except on Sundays, it was always windy on Sundays) and I had the perfect clothes. My lips were a perfect red and my hair perfectly straight. My eyeshadow was perfect, my hips were…okay, and my waist…well…also okay.

Nothing was wrong in my life.

But then there was Jack.

Jack was a problem.

He needed to go. I mean, when you’re dead, you’re dead! I had told him this endlessly. Somehow, Jack didn’t get it. I mean, I felt sorry for the guy. Sure. Being stuck between this life and the next. But just because I found him, does that mean I needed to keep him?

I think not!

Sadly, when Jack got that look in his eyes, that weary, almost teary (if his tear-ducts worked) look, I melted. I just couldn’t send him away. Not even Jack knew where he would go after he died.

Would he, like, die? As in — dead, nada, kaput, finito, gone, no more? Bye bye, sayonara, ciao, hasta la vista baby and all that? I couldn’t have that on my conscience. No way. I lay on my bed, wondering what to do about him. “Jaaaaaaack,” I hollered.

“Jaaaaaaack!”

Still no answer.

“Jack!”

Jack…materialized.

His eyes rolled down to the ground. He was making those puppy eyes again.

“Jack, I told you not to do that. I told you not to play on my sympathies.”

His puppy eyes became worse. His skin was gray and, well, dead.

“Oh, brother,” I said. “I have to do something about you. If mom finds out I have another ‘imaginary friend’ — at my age — well, I’d die of embarrassment. But, like, really die. Not like you.” I wondered about this. Would I die? Was Jack a freak accident, or did all people live on like him? Think of the cemeteries…

The idea excited me somewhat.

“What would you have me do, Miss Kira?”

“Knock off the Miss Kira crap. I told you it’s just Kira.”

“Yes, Miss Kira.”

The dead. There’s just no reasoning.

“Fine, Miss Kira it is then.” Rover barked like a lunatic in the garden. No one else might be able to see Jack, but I was sure my dog could.

“I have to do something about this,” I mumbled.

Amazon Gift Voucher Giveaway

At the back of the book there is a giveaway link. Once the book hits fifty reviews on Amazon, one of those reviewers will win a $20 (US Dollars) Amazon Gift Voucher!

 Meet the Author

R P Channing started writing three years ago, but never published anything even after churning out over a million words of fiction. Thirst: Blood of my Blood is the first book he dared to publish. When asked why, he said, “Because it’s the first thing I wrote that my wife actually enjoyed reading.” When not hammering away (most literally) at his keyboard, he can be found buried in a book, reading anything from romance to horror to young adult to non-fiction to comedy.

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If you are an author, publisher or agent and would like to be featured on Lipsyy Lost & Found, drop me message on lipsyylostnfound[at]gmail[dot]com

Lazy Saturday Review: Hold Me Closer by David Levithan

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Title: Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story
Author: David Levithan
Series: Companion to Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Edition: Paperback, 256 pages
Publication Details: March 17th 2015 by Puffin
Genre(s): YA; LGBT
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it

Goodreads // Purchase

Larger-than-life character Tiny Cooper, from the bestselling novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson, finally tells his own story the only way he knows how – as a stupendous musical.

This is the full script of Hold Me Closer, the musical written by and staring Tiny Cooper, from the New York Times bestselling novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson, written by David Levithan and John Green. Filled with humour, pain, and ‘big, lively, belty’ musical numbers, readers will finally learn the full story of Tiny Cooper from his birth and childhood to his quest for love and his infamous eighteen ex-boyfriends.

Review


I loved John Green & David Levithan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson. It’s a beautiful coming of age story about two different Will Grayson’s who both struggle to be open with people for different reasons, and whose lives intertwine during the makings of the biggest, gayest high school musical in the history of high school musicals.

When I finished reading WG, all I could think was that I wanted to watch (or read) Tiny Cooper’s musical so badly, it was definitely one of my favourite things about the book – and here it is; The story of Tiny Cooper, BFF to Will Grayson, hopeless romantic, and self-proclaimed biggest, gayest, most fabulous human there ever lived!

Hold Me Closer is a funny, adorable, sometimes sad, but always fabulous story of Tiny cooper’s life, written as a musical, the very musical Tiny and Will worked so hard to produce in Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I loved it. The songs were great and funny, and I could picture exactly how it would look on a stage – it totally needs to be a stage show now, right?

It was exactly what I imagined from reading Will Grayson, I only wished it was longer! Hold Me Closer is an extremely quick read and easily devoured in one sitting. I highly recommend reading WG first, but it would probably still be a fun read regardless!

unicorn rating 4

Available now in hardback, paperback and e-book from Waterstones

When Mystical Creatures Attack by Kathleen Founds

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Title: When Mystical Creatures Attack!
Author: Kathleen Founds
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital Reader’s Copy, 206 pages
Publication Details: October 1st 2014 by University Of Iowa Press
Genre(s): Short Stories; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Goodreads // Purchase

In When Mystical Creatures Attack!, Ms. Freedman’s high school English class writes essays in which mystical creatures resolve the greatest sociopolitical problems of our time. Students include Janice Gibbs, “a feral child with excessive eyeliner and an anti-authoritarian complex that would be interesting were it not so ill-informed,” and Cody Splunk, an aspiring writer working on a time machine. Following a nervous breakdown, Ms. Freedman corresponds with Janice and Cody from an insane asylum run on the capitalist model of cognitive-behavioral therapy, where inmates practice water aerobics to rebuild their Psychiatric Credit Scores.

The lives of Janice, Cody, and Ms. Freedman are revealed through in-class essays, letters, therapeutic journal exercises, an advice column, a reality show television transcript, a diary, and a Methodist women’s fundraising cookbook. (Recipes include “Dark Night of the Soul Food,” “Render Unto Caesar Salad,” and “Valley of the Shadow of Death by Chocolate Cake.”) In “Virtue of the Month,” the ghost of Ms. Freedman’s mother argues that suicide is not a choice. In “The Un-Game,” Janice’s chain-smoking nursing home charge composes a dirty limerick. In “The Hall of Old-Testament Miracles,” wax figures of Bible characters come to life, hungry for Cody’s flesh.

Set against a South Texas landscape where cicadas hum and the air smells of taco stands and jasmine flowers, these stories range from laugh-out-loud funny to achingly poignant. This surreal, exuberant collection mines the dark recesses of the soul while illuminating the human heart.

Review

I can honestly say this was one the strangest things I’ve ever read. And I usually like strange, but for some reason I couldn’t get on board with this.

The book begins with a series of short stories/essays in which students use all manner of mystical and mythological creatures to solve the world’s problems. They are sometimes funny, and always bizarre, but none of them really worked for me. I don’t think I quite got the point 😦

We soon learn that the school teacher, Mrs Freedman, has been admitted to an insane asylum and through letters from two of the students we follow their lives, and the impact that the teacher’s incarceration has had on them.

This part of the book I enjoyed more, but again, I wasn’t gripped. It was very fantastical and unfortunately I couldn’t get into it. The story is revealed through many different mediums; short stories, advice columns, diary entries and it made the book feel very disjointed to me. There was just too much going on.

I thought this was a huge shame, because I think the idea is very unique and could have been great. There was just nothing that made me want to keep reading. Perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood for something so different, I don’t know.

What I would say, is that if you’re a fan of the short story format, and want to try something a bit different, this may be the book for you. I thought it was a very ambitious book, even if it didn’t work for me. I certainly wouldn’t write it off.

unicorn rating 2

Top Ten Tuesday: Books About Friendship

toptentuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is: Top Ten Books About Friendship.

I actually found this topic harder than I expected to, but I think I’ve managed to come up with ten books that I love (OK 9 – I cheated on one) and that hopefully won’t be on everybody else’s lists.

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The BFG by Roald Dahl: This book is definitely in my top 3 Dahl books! Sophie and the Big Friendly Giant are just so cute together. He even makes her a dress.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson: This one is the cheat because I haven’t actually read it yet…I have no idea how or why! However, if the film is anything to go by, the friendship between outsiders Jess and Leslie is beautiful, and inevitably heart-breaking.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky: I really didn’t rate the film, but this is one of my favourite books, and definitely one that will make you think about how important friendships can be.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan & John Green: This is one of my favourite coming of age stories, set around what sounds like an amazing high school musical.

A Million Little Pieces & My Friend Leonard by James Frey: Sometimes in the unlikiest places with the unlikliest of people, friendships can strike and that’s what happens in Frey’s controversial books about one man’s struggle with drink, drugs and rehabilitation.

ttt2PicMonkey Collage

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak: Oh this book. Has friendship ever been so dangerous?

Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Anne Brashares: I really liked the first book in this series, but the second one just didn’t have the same magic so I read no futher. If I’d read these when I was at school though I’m absolutely positive I would have loved them. Every girl longs for a close circle of friend like these girls have.

Let the Right One in by John Ajvide Lindqvist: A lonely, bullied boy and a strange, wild girl who only seems to come out at night makes this the epitome of an unlikly friendship story.

Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman: If you think Romeo & Juliet had problems just see what Sephy and Callum have to put up with. This story of racism and prejudice blew me away, and at the heart of it is such a beautiful friendship, despite everything going against them.

What would make your list?

Book Promo: Slip by Leslie J. Portu

slip
Title: Slip
Author: Leslie J. Portu
Series: Slip #1
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary;
Pages: 400
Format(s): Paperback; Kindle (Only £1.85/$3.11 at time of posting)
Published: June 19th 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Links:
Goodreads
Facebook
Purchase:
Amazon

Synopsis

As Vivien Allen begins her junior year of high school, her expectations are flat.

While the status quo has always been a source of comfort, she can’t silence the small voice inside of her that yearns for something out of the ordinary. When her crotchety old French teacher is replaced by Christophe, an attractive young newcomer, she senses the possibility for change, and a strange, indefinable relationship begins.

But, luck, it appears, has arrived in pairs, and Vivien soon finds herself the object of attention of Declan Mieres, the star senior lacrosse player. As her intimacy with both grows, so, too, does her unease. It becomes increasingly difficult to keep her two worlds separate. When at last they collide, the repercussions are far worse than she ever imagined.

Meet the Author

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5 Things With Leslie Portu:

1. I believe reading novels is one of the best ways to increase your knowledge on just about ANY subject. As you follow the characters into their world you can’t help but soak up all sorts of new information. There is nothing like the feeling of losing yourself in a good book.

2. Most kids/young adults these days do not read enough due to an overabundance of competing distractions. (Obviously this does not apply to YOU, since here you are on a blog about books! So congratulations! Take a second and give yourself a pat on the back).

3. I am so glad that I have found writing later in life, and it is my great, great aspiration to make a connection with all of you voracious readers. It would be especially great to hear your thoughts: Do you identify with any of my characters? Do you hate/love one in particular? Would you act the same in a similar situation? The questions are endless…

4. Other factoids: I attended the University of Wisconsin for four of the best years of my life (Go Badgers!). After spending hour upon hour sitting in a chair, I love to head for the stair climber and lift weights (my family will tell you I am a serious grump without exercise). I love the beach and the sun and chicken lettuce wraps and coffee and atomic fireballs. Currently, I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan (not a Wolverine fan, sorry) with my husband, four children, and two dumb dogs. In the summers I can be found in Carolina Beach, NC where I have recently converted to a country music fan (the most touching lyrics! seriously!).

5. More books are coming.

Slip: Top Ten Eleven Playlist

Hi all!
I would like to share with you some of the music that was my inspiration while writing Slip. Music is a powerful generator of all kinds of emotions. These are the songs that helped me to visualize my characters more clearly, and access the emotions of a particular scene. The list (more or less) follows along with the storyline. Happy listening! And, more importantly, happy reading!

– Leslie J Portu

1. Live: Lightning Crashes (What’s this? Could it be love?)
2. Marcy Playground: Sex And Candy (Riley’s Halloween Party)
3. Big Data: Dangerous (Things are not always what they seem)
4. Tame Impala: Feels Like We Only Go Backwards (When is it OK to lie?)
5. Icona Pop: Good For You (Dinner party at Lauren’s)
6. How To Dress Well: Cold Nites (Turn up the heat (Ch. 20))
7. City and Colour: Weightless (Declan’s world crashes down)
8. Prince: I Would Die 4 U (The chase)
9. Death: Denial of Life (In the mind of a killer)
10. The Limousines: Wildfires (Passion in the winter woods)
11. Ghost Beach: Miracle (Love trumps all: final scene)

Excerpt

And so it begins…Boy Meets Girl

Vivien heaved open the gym door to be greeted by the thunder of bouncing balls. Kids were running in all directions, shrieking and shouting at each other. She stood uncertainly, her eyes sifting through the chaos for any sign of an adult in charge. By sheer luck she managed to dodge an errant basketball just before it collided with her face. At last, near the center of the gym, she spotted a bald man wearing an ID badge and she made her way toward him.

“Excuse me!” she shouted, extending her hand. “I’m one of the volunteers. Vivien Allen.”

His hand gripped hers in a firm shake. “Another one. Fantastic! Wonderful! We’ve got a nice-sized group this fall. Excellent!” He spoke every word without ever losing his broad grin. “I’m Mr. Peterson. Bob, you can call me. Where would you like to start?” He gestured toward the basketball nets. “We’re about to get a game going in a minute here.”

She hesitated, eyeing the net with suspicion. She knew nothing of the rules of basketball. In fact, she avoided all sports whenever possible. To say she was unathletic was putting it kindly. As her gaze dropped, the sight of a small boy crying caught her eye. One of the volunteers was crouching before him, his back to Vivien. He appeared to be listening thoughtfully as the child sobbed and pointed his finger at the accused (another small boy who, upon being singled out, promptly split the scene). Slowly the volunteer rose to his feet: faded jeans, cardinal-red Eastbrook Lacrosse sweatshirt, perfectly tousled dark hair. Oh no. She sucked in a breath. He remained still, hands on hips. Then at last, Declan Mieres turned and looked straight at her.

She swallowed, eyes darting away, but not before he’d caught her staring. Great. “Um…are there any other choices?” she asked.

Bob managed to reveal an even more spectacular view of his back molars as he nodded and signaled for her to follow. She trailed along behind, flinching every now and then as a basketball whizzed past her ears.At the opposite end of the gym were another set of doors through which they passed, ending up in a small cafeteria. Here she saw three rows of long tables set up for various arts and crafts. Much better, she thought.

“Jules is in charge of this room,” Bob explained, indicating a frazzled-looking woman cradling a large tub of crayons. “She’ll get you situated.”

Before she knew it, her two hours had gone by and she was letting Jules know it was time for her to leave. Most of the afternoon had been spent showing a second-grade girl how to make cootie catchers. She’d been drawn to this particular girl when she saw her sitting glumly, methodically kicking her foot against the table leg. None of the other children sat by her or paid her any attention whatsoever. She seemed in dire need of a friend.

“See you next week, Dashayla,” Vivien promised as she headed for the door. But Dashayla protested her departure by wrapping her chubby arms around Vivien’s thigh and clinging to her the entire length of the cafeteria. Gently she peeled the fingers off one by one. “You better go back before you get in trouble.” Dashayla put on a pout. “Don’t worry. I’ll be here every Wednesday.” Vivien bent down and gave her a big hug.

Smiling to herself as she headed toward the front office, she couldn’t help but marvel at the easy affection of her newfound friend. Everything seemed so simple in elementary school. If you liked someone, you showed it. Had she really been that way once? She couldn’t remember at what point she’d begun to tuck away her true feelings…just in case.

Her head in the clouds, she failed to notice the three Eastbrook seniors as they crossed paths exiting the office.

“Oh!” she gasped, stumbling backward. “Sorry!”

Directly in front of her, Declan stood gaping, as if he’d just come upon a perplexing riddle.

“Dude!” Nathan shouted over his shoulder. “Watch where you’re going. You almost ran right over this fine girl.”

Vivien returned Declan’s stare. Never before had she been this close to him; he traveled in packs made up of lacrosse players and the most attractive senior girls. Now at last she had a golden opportunity to see for herself what all the fuss was about. He was nice-looking, she gave him that. Yet his striking presence failed to induce rapid heart palpitations, as all the other silly girls claimed was the case. Maybe he did have soft brown eyes, the kind that looked like pools of melted chocolate. And maybe they did go flawlessly with his olive skin and his wavy dark hair. And he wasn’t exactly hurting physically, either; his muscular body towered over hers by a good twelve inches (she’d inherited the “short genes” from her mother’s side of the family and was finally coming to grips with the fact that she was never going to be much over five-foot-two). But none of these things could make up for the fact that he was nothing but a player.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said. “I’m fine.”

“Don’t you go to Eastbook?” Declan asked, still gawking. “You look…familiar.”

She nodded, trying with difficulty to pull her gaze away. And then, strangely, absolutely nothing happened. The four of them stood trapped in an uncomfortably prolonged moment. A moment of complete and utter silence. The spell was broken at last by Thomas as he cleared his throat, and time was permitted to resume its natural progression.

A self-conscious dance variation followed—a simultaneous shuffle in one direction, then the other as the four bodies attempted to navigate the narrow confines of the doorway. She managed at last to slide past the three leering Neanderthals, stomach sucked to her spine as if it was essential to create as much space as possible between their species and hers. Despite this superhuman effort, she felt the tiny hairs on the back of her neck rise and stand at attention as she and Declan shared the intimate space of the doorframe.

“Nice set of DSLs,” she heard Nathan mutter once she was several feet away. She had no idea what this meant, but coming from Nathan, the king of crass, she was certain the comment was hardly complimentary. She made a beeline for the sign-out sheet, fighting the urge to look back. The sound of laughter drifted in as the three boys headed out to the parking lot.

It took a minute before she’d regained the mental capacity to sign her name. She didn’t know how they’d managed to fluster her so badly. Why should she care about them? She had nothing but contempt for the entire lacrosse team and their social circle. They breezed through the halls like they were some kind of royalty. And she was only a minor character—the lowly chambermaid—in their star-studded cast.

One thing was for sure: hell would freeze over before Miranda could talk her into going to Nathan’s Friday night.

Purchase:

Amazon

Huge thanks to Leslie for taking the time to talk to me about herself and her book!