Out Today: The Last Dog on Earth by Adrian J. Walker #BookReview #HappyPubDay

lastdogTitle: The Last Dog on Earth
Author: Adrian J. Walker
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 368 pages
Publication Details: September 7th 2017 by Del Rey
Genre(s): Science Fiction; Dystopia; Humour
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free, advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Every dog has its day…

And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can be.

Reg, an agoraphobic writer with an obsession for nineties football, plans to wait out the impending doom in his second floor flat, hiding himself away from the riots outside.

But when an abandoned orphan shows up in the stairwell of their building, Reg and Lineker must brave the outside in order to save not only the child, but themselves…

Review

Do you ever request a book on Netgalley and then weeks later wonder why? That’s what I did with this book. I don’t like dogs and I hate football so what possessed me to request a book about a dog called Lineker and his 90s-Football-Mad owner is beyond me.

But guess what? This book was brilliant! Maybe a higher power was at work there.

The Last Dog on Earth is set in the near future, after London has been desecrated by a war. A lot of people died and the rest moved away from the hostile city leaving Reg, a recluse and his dog Lineker practically alone in Peckham. Reg can’t imagine moving. He hates change and doesn’t see any need to leave. The fact that everyone else has left is just a bonus.

Lineker loves Reg more than anything. His aim in life is to make Reg happy, but he definitely misses all his old friends on Peckham Rye.

The Last Dog on Earth is written from Lineker’s perspective and mainly in diary format from Reg’s. I think it worked perfectly. Lineker has a penchant for rhyming slang and loves a good rant. I thought he was hilarious. And it really reads like the mind of a dog; I thought it was a genius stroke by Walker. Even a self-confessed dog-hater (OK that’s a bit strong but sue me, I’m cat lady all the way) like me instantly fell in love with him.

You’ve always been a busy lot, you Sapiens. Climbing, foraging […], crossing oceans. Waging wars. Looking up. Looking down. But thinking – that’s what you do the most. You gaze up and drift away and none of us can guess where you go. F***ing Einsteins the lot of you. Take away all that thought and replace it with smell. Yeah, that’s the nearest I can get to describing how it is to be a dog.”

There is so much good stuff in this book, I want to throw a million quotes at you. The story really takes the reader on an immersive journey and actually the events themselves are pretty horrific but the humour lifts it immensely. It’s a book that makes you think, and that’s what surprised me the most I think.

What I probably should mention is the language. Lineker is a Class A potty mouth, and pretty vulgar at times. I loved it, but some readers might have issues with it. In fact, the only thing I can criticise about this book is that I wanted more narration by Lineker. As the story went on we get Reg’s POV a lot more and that slowed down the pace of the book for me. But I still couldn’t put it down.

Overall, TLDOE is a pretty bleak look at humanity, and a timely, poignant tale considering the world’s current political climate, but it’s extremely entertaining too. I laughed so much!

Oh to be a dog…

“Then there are the more confusing smells; the ones that are hard to categorise. Like fox. If I get wind of a fox I don’t know whether I want to cuddle it, f*** it or pull out its guts and eat them in front of it. It’s extremely confusing for me.”

 

“Now and again, once in a blue moon, maybe once or twice in your life, you will meet somebody who makes you wonder, seriously, how bad a life sentence would be. […] You want to take every nerve in their body, every fibre, every atom, and collect them together into a nice neat box so that none of them can escape, and then you want to piss all over them. […] That’s cats that is.”

TLDOE gets ALL THE UNICORNS because there wasn’t anything I disliked about it! I’d love to know what Lineker would make of Unicorns…

unicorn rating

 

 

 

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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

Lazy Saturday Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller #MiniBookReview #GreekMyths

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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!

songofTitle: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Publication Details:  April 12th 2012 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre(s): Historical Fiction/Mythology
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from the library.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny.

Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Review

I have to cover this book in a ‘Lazy Saturday Review‘ because I loved it so much I don’t think I could produce an actual, balanced review. I just want to gush about it. 

After only a few chapters in I was annoyed with myself for not reading this when it first came out! I’ve always loved mythological stories but despite owning a copy of The Iliad for about 10 years I’ve never read it. Like most people though, I thought I knew the story of Achilles, the kind but brutal warrior, but Miller’s version was both familiar yet surprising, and I loved every second of it.

The Song of Achilles is a beautifully written story of war, love, betrayal, and tragedy, written from the perspective of Patroclus best friend and lover of Achilles, making this version of the legend more human than it is God-like. I loved seeing Achilles through Patroclus’ eyes. With all of his faults, Patroclus’ love for the half-God warrior never wavered and he was the true hero of the story. 

Miller effortlessly incorporates the Greek Gods into this very human story making the likes of The Iliad seem much less of a challenge. I really will pick it up now! I also can’t believe this is her debut novel – it reads as if she’s been honing her skills for years – that being said, I did read somewhere that it took her ten years (or so) to write. I for one, am eternally grateful that she persevered.

The Song of Achilles excited me, made me swoon, made me angry, and made me cry. It’s a book I now need to buy so I can read it again. ALL THE UNICORNS. 

unicorn rating 

 

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell (out on Wednesday!)

wolfwilder
Title: The Wolf Wilder
Author: Katherine Rundell
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 256 pages
Publication Details: September 9th 2015 by Bloomsbury Children’s
Genre(s): Children’s Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora’s mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans.

When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves.

Review

From appearance alone, The Wolf Wilder is everything I want in a book. The Wintery setting, a pack of wolves, revolution, and adventure…like, seriously everything, so I was pretty eager to start this.

But I’m sad to say it wasn’t quite everything I imagined.

It’s a really adorable story about Feo, who along with her mother is a Wolf Wilder out in the snowy wilderness of Russia. Wolf Wilders are almost like people of folklore, it is in their nature to help discarded domesticated wolves to revert back to their true nature, wild.

There was definitely a lot to like about this book. The setting was beautiful, and the writing matched it perfectly. It was also a really quick read, which is nice, but it just wasn’t very exciting.

If it wasn’t for the pretty setting and beautiful way Rundell has with words, I would have been truly bored. Such a shame! I also didn’t really get the whole Wolf Wilder thing. For one, the book wasn’t really about that at all, and secondly, Feo obviously wasn’t that great at it because her pack of wolves were tame to point where she and her new friend Illya (who has no experience with wolves) can even ride them.

And I guess that was my main problem with this book – it just wasn’t believable in the slightest. I’d love to believe a 12 year old girl could start a revolution because the Tsar asked her to shoot her wolves, and that the Tsar would then become obsessed on finding her, this little girl. Bit weird.

However, I did like the whimsical nature of The Wolf Wilder, and how strong Feo was as a protagonist; I think young girls will love her and she’s definitely a good character to look up to.

It might work for the age-group it’s aimed at, but for cynical adults like me (apparently) the plot was just too far fetched. This book tries to give a real, important voice to children though, which I found wonderful.

I’d love to see the illustrations as well, as they weren’t included in the advance copy – I’m sure they will make the book even more beautiful than it already is.

unicorn rating 3

Release Day Promo: Summer on the Cold War Planet by Paula Closson Buck

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

Summer on the Cold War Planet is Paula’s first novel which echoes the lyricism of her poetry while maintaining the spirit of cold war Berlin. It releases today, 03/09/2015

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Summer on the Cold War Planet

Author: Paula Closson Buck
Editions: Paperback/Kindle/e-Book, 357 pages
Publication Details: September 3rd 2015 by Fomite
Genre(s): Literary Fiction

Goodreads // Amazon

“Each story shed about as much light as a match and made all the dark around it worth wanting to know…”

The summer before the Berlin Wall collapses, a young American art historian whose husband has disappeared returns to the divided city seeking truths she believes he might have kept from her.

There, she falls again under the spell of an exiled East German artist whose stories of Greek mystics once made him as irresistible as he was forbidding. In this novel of conflicting allegiances played out between a richly realized late Cold War Berlin and the stark beauty of the Cycladic islands, travellers, natives, and refugees circle one another warily, their fates hanging on the question of which trusts if any, will remain unviolated.

Meet the Author

paulabuckPaula Closson Buck is the author of two books of poems, The Acquiescent Villa (1998) and Litanies Near Water (2008), both from Louisiana State University Press. Summer on the Cold War Planet, is her first novel.

Short stories drawing on her travels in India have appeared recently in Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and Southern Review. She has been awarded three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Individual Artist grants and a Fulbright fellowship to Cyprus, where she worked collaboratively in poetry with two Cypriot visual artists. A former editor of the literary magazine West Branch, she directs the creative writing program at Bucknell University. She is currently at work on a third book of poems and a new novel set in Venice.

Advanced Praise

An international romantic tragedy glowing with polished prose and poetic highlights”.

–Kirkus Reviews

Paula Closson Buck animates a fascinating set of characters whose lives both represent and resist the larger sociopolitical and generational sweeps they are carried by. The result is a rich and provocative exploration of freedom, allegiance, and betrayal–and the sense that history matters but so, too, do our individual stories. –Elise Blackwell, author of Hunger and The Lower Quarter

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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

Anyone Can Betray Anyone: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

redqueen
Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1
Edition: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: February 10th 2015 by Orion / Feb 12th 2015 (paperback)
Genre(s): YA, Dystopia; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase


The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Review

OMG THIS BOOK!

I’d gone through a whole array of feelings about this book before I even picked it up. Firstly, from the cover alone I was so taken with it I couldn’t wait to read it. Then I started seeing it described as The Hunger Games meets The Selection via X-men, and my mind was blown. BLOWN.

But then, the hype just went a bit mad. It was all over the blogosphere and while I tired to avoid most of the reviews, I started to doubt my first thoughts and wondered if this was just another Hunger Games wannabe; all hype and no substance….

Thankfully, I was wrong. Red Queen, whilst having some flaws, ended up completely surpassing my expectations. And it made me want to throw it across the room (yet another downside to the e-book!), in the best possible way.

In Victoria Aveyard’s take on a dystopian future, there are two classes. The Redbloods, the lowly commoners who do all the physical and menial jobs, and are conscripted to fight in the war, and the Silverbloods, the ruling class, who all have different powers such as the ability to manipulate fire, water or metal – much like the X-MEN (which I LOVE).

I really loved this world. When you break it down it isn’t anything new, but the combination of ideas from other worlds made it original in its own way. It was a little bit Noughts & Crosses (Malorie Blackman) as well as being understandably likened to The Selection and THG.

Mare isn’t talented, unless you count stealing. She doesn’t have a skill like her sister does so she’s destined for a future in the army, just like her brothers and her best friend Kilorn. She hates the Silverbloods as much as anyone for taking them away. But one night she tries to steal from the wrong person – a handsome cloaked stranger – who listens to her story and can offer her a better life.

The stranger… is Cal, the prince and heir to the throne, and Mare finds herself with a job at the palace. But this isn’t any ordinary palace. It just so happens that Mare has arrived in time for the Queenstrial, where silver nobles will fight it out (with their powers) in the arena, for the princes hands in marriage (oh yes, there’s two of them to swoon over!).

Without giving away any massive spoilers all I’ll say is that somehow, Mare finds herself engaged to a prince, disguised with silver dust and the constant threat of execution hanging over her head.

INTENSE!

I seriously couldn’t put this down. The action was good, the whole on-off love/hate romance thing was pretty hot and man, it was just so good. HOWEVER, there were so many things that didn’t make sense. A few of them did by the end, but there were some definite annoying plot holes.

For example, there wasn’t really any need for the noble Silverbloods to train in the arena every day. They use the Reds to fight on the front line, so why do they need to train, and compete against each other so much? I felt like this was just an easy way to get more action into the plot and be a bit more Hunger Games-esque. It was a bit gratuitous.

Also, they change Mare’s identity (making her a Silver Noble) and swear her to a life of secrecy, but it’s not like no one will notice her – she is filmed on a few occasions – which is shown in the Red villages… and they make her fight in the arena, where blood is often spilled, so how do they expect her to not be exposed? ARGH!

Another huge thing which got my goat is that the Queen(the big baddy)’s power is mind manipulation. She can get into your mind and see all of your memories and thoughts, not to mention make you do anything she wants, and yet Mare and others are planning a rebellion under her very nose – errrr how!!!?

And while we’re talking about war and rebellion, I don’t think we’re ever even told why the war began. Something was mentioned about the Lowlanders being the ones they’re fighting against but that’s about it. Maybe this will be explored more in the next book, who knows.

But anyway, I need to breathe.

All of these things added to my enjoyment of the book, because y’know PURE GOLD in ranting material. I was really tempted to give this ALL THE UNICORNS, but the only reason I didn’t is because I predicted a major twist from quite early on. I need to stop thinking so much!

unicorn rating 4

Red Queen is available to preorder from Waterstones now, and the paperback is due to be released Feb 12th.

Friday Feature: It’s all about the Bass Thrones & Thorns!

Do you ever get the feeling you’ve heard that title before, seen that cover a million times, or get déjá vu when reading a synopsis? It seems like we see a different book trend every month lately, whether it’s a hot new sub-genre, a cover style or even a title trend.

I thought it would be fun to explore book trends in more detail, and for this first post on the subject I’m going to look at two words that have been continuously cropping up in book titles for what seems like forever, and they just keep on coming.

It’s impossible to know were it all really began, but for me these two trends began with George R.R Martin’s A Game of Thrones, and Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns. Since then it’s been pretty hard to look at any physical or virtual bookshelf in the fantasy section without being bombarded with both thrones and thorns.

Let’s take a look…

Thrones

thronecoll

 

Overview: Tales of claims to the throne and everything that comes with it – war, murder, romance –  have always been popular in both Historical Fiction and Fantasy. But A Game of Thrones definitely seems to have been the game changer here. The ever popular series and accompanying TV show seems to have set in motion a whole new wave of old-world-new-world fantasy.

  • The Throne of Bones  by Brian McNaughton – 1997: I had to include this one just for the hilarious title. It’s not quite on trend with the rest as this is an anthology of Horror shorts.

    “Imagine earthy Tolkienesque characters in a setting full of cemeteries, graverobbers, necromancers, corpse-eaters–even a huge labyrinthine necropolis”.

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  • The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan – 2008: Now this is more like it. The synopsis sounds like a million other throne books that emerged between 2008 and now – but y’ know…still good.
  • The Lost Throne by Chris Kuzneski – 2008: Slight reprieve here as we head more into The Da Vinci Code territory (by the sounds of it). There isn’t even mention of a throne in the synopsis. Band wagon much!
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass – 2012: And we have lift off. As much as I love this title and the series in general, I did always wonder why she called it that. The throne in question plays a very little part in the book which makes me wonder if the choice of title was marketing genius over anything else.
  • Assassin’s Gambit (Hearts & Thrones #1) by Amy Raby – 2013: You could be forgiven for thinking this is the exact same plot of ToG from the synopsis. A beautiful assassin, a powerful emperor…that damned déjá vu again!

Thorns

thornscoll

 

Overview: I always associate the use of thorns in literature with the Grimm’s fairy tale Little Briar Rose, and many of these books appear to have been inspired by that too. These are stories of broken princes, powerful sorcerers and abandoned castles. We’ve seen a steady resurgence of fairy-tale retellings in the past twenty years, but only recently have so many focused on the thorns element.

  • The Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead – 2008: Richelle Mead is always pretty ahead of her game. She brought us Vampire Academy before the whole Twilight thing went mental, and here she’s at it again.
  • Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – 2011: This was when I first noticed the emerging trend of thorns and it seems to have paved the way for the anti-hero too.
  • Thorn by Intisar Khanani – 2012
  • The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge – 2011: Not to be confused with the iron throne in Game of Thrones…are you getting confused yet?
  • Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman – 2013: This is another one that has been popular in the YA world of fantasy.
  • Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay – 2014: Woah. Double whammy or what. This book is actually described as:

    Game of Thrones meets the Grimm’s fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.’

    Why have one trend when you can have two? Mind blown. I also really want to read it now!

Final Thoughts: So there we have it. This is just a snap-shot of the books out there that seem to be following these trends. If this were a battle though, I’d say that the thrones trend may be coming to an end, and the thorns are taking over.

It’s also interesting how much fire, ice and bones are mentioned in both trends. The two themes seem pretty incestuous actually – nearly all of the thorn books also mention thrones, however the same can not be said the other way around. But whether you’re in to Iron Thrones or Iron Thorns, you’re not going to run out of reading material any time soon!

What do you think about these two trends…do you have a favourite??

September 2014 on Lipsyy Lost & Found/ October Releases

September hasn’t been my best month, reading wise and beyond.

I had a successful month free of booze (hurrah), but I also had to start job hunting, which left less time to read than usual (not hurrah). However, I’m trying to see the whole palaver as an opportunity. On to bigger and better things…I hope.

But for now, let’s just get on with the stats…

Total Posts: 24
Books Read: 5

Reviews (5):

  • Trust In Me by Sophie McKenzie, 4/5 (View)
  • Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, 3/5 (View)
  • Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah, 5/5 (View)
  • Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead, 3/5 (View)
  • How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, 4/5 (View)

Read But Not Yet Reviewed: N/A

The Breakdown

Most Surprising: Of Scars and Stardust
Most Disappointing: Prince of Thorns
Most Exciting: Of Scars and Stardust
Most Swoon-worthy: Shadow Kiss
Most Beautifully Written: Of Scars and Stardust

Genres: YA (3/5); Thriller/Mystery (2/5); Dystopian (1/5); Supernatural/Paranormal (1/5); Fantasy (1/5)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (2/5); Paperback (3/5); Owned (1/5); Borrowed (2/5)

Friday Features:

  • Book Event Envy (View Post)
  • Horror October: Ghostly Guest Posts & Slimy Submissions Wanted (still open!) (View Post)

Guest Posts, Promos and Other Highlights:

Most Viewed Posts:

 

Added to the Shelves:

I lifted my book buying ban to buy some books for Horror October…and The Maze Runner for good measure.
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Netgalley Approvals:

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Awards

botm - sept
cotm - sept

mlft - oct

October Releases

Here are the October releases I’m most excited about:
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Available to pre-order from Waterstones.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

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Title: How I Live Now
Author: Meg Rosoff
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 194
Publication Details: November 30th 2004 by Wendy Lamb Books
Genre(s): YA; Dystopia
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it!

Goodreads
Purchase

“Every war has turning points and every person too.”

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

A riveting and astonishing story.

How I Live Now has been a long time coming for me. Meg Rosoff has been on my radar for ages, and I really enjoyed her panel at YALC UK, but I’d not picked up one of her books until now.

And woah. I wasn’t expecting that. I kind of thought it was just going to be another YA dystopian romance, but it was so much more.

How I Live Now is about war, as seen through the eyes of Daisy.

Daisy is an American teen, who finds herself in the English countryside visiting her aunt and cousins, as she hasn’t been getting on with her step-mum. And whilst she’s happy to be away from them, there’s also a deep-rooted feeling of abandonment. She is a complex character, with a lot of issues, but I loved her sarcastic, moody personality, it felt very real. She was strong and weak all at the same time.

Daisy’s aunt, who is somehow involved in the government and the war, has to go away, just as bombs go off in London, leaving Daisy alone with her cousins, fending for themselves. But as the war intensifies, and the power is cut off, they are happily cocooned in their farm.

They make fires, gather food, and swim in the lake, and Daisy starts to enjoy herself. It’s like she feels content for the first time in her life, which has a lot to do with Edmund, whom she felt connected to from the moment they met.

I didn’t realise quite how controversial this book was until I read some of the reviews on Goodreads. People are welcome to their opinions of course, but I feel like a lot of them have missed the point. Yes, Daisy has an eating disorder. Yes, Daisy and her cousin, Edmund fall in love, and yes, they have underage sex and smoke cigarettes.

But How I Live Now doesn’t glamourise these things. The point isn’t that these things are OK. After being truly starving, Daisy realises how stupid she was to refuse to eat. It takes a war for her to be able to adjust her thinking, such is the strength of her mental illness.

And as for the romance and the sex, it’s not gratuitous. Daisy knows it’s wrong, she tries to not want Edmund, but they are drawn to each other too much, in almost a magical way. To me, all this says is, you can’t help who you fall for, and I think under different circumstances they would find it hard to be together. But being left to their own devices, the war brings them together, and inevitably tears them apart.

unicorn rating 4

How I Live Now is available in paperback from Waterstones now.

Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3) by Patrick Ness: Spoiler-Free, Lazy Saturday Review!

momIn the riveting conclusion to the acclaimed dystopian series, a boy and girl caught in the chaos of war face devastating choices that will decide the fate of a world.
As a world-ending war surges around them, Todd and Viola face monstrous decisions. The indigenous Spackle, thinking and acting as one, have mobilized to avenge their murdered people. Ruthless human leaders prepare to defend their factions at all costs, even as a convoy of new settlers approaches. And as the ceaseless Noise lays all thoughts bare, the projected will of the few threatens to overwhelm the desperate desire of the many. The consequences of each action, each word, are unspeakably vast: To follow a tyrant or a terrorist? To save the life of the one you love most, or thousands of strangers? To believe in redemption, or assume it is lost? Becoming adults amid the turmoil, Todd and Viola question all they have known, racing through horror and outrage toward a shocking finale.

And so it came to an end. I can’t even describe the emotional journey that this series took me on. The only thing I am certain of is that Patrick Ness is pure evil (not really I’m sure he’s lovely)! Boy, Colt!

After the first two books of which I attempted -in a similar way to this – to review here: The Knife of Never Letting Go & here: The Ask and the Answer, I wasn’t sure which way this book was gonna go. I decided to myself that there were two options. 1. The Happy Ending or 2. Everyone Dies. But, how silly of me, those options weren’t even close to giving Patrick Ness enough credit. Of course it wouldn’t be that simple! He was going to mess with me a bit longer beforehand.

Monsters of Men started off pretty slowly for me, as did the last book, so I in no way found them perfect reads. At the time of reading I was frustrated, I felt like the story wasn’t evolving, Viola & Todd were still separated, Todd being slowly influenced by the Mayor and Viola by Mistress Coyle whose ‘My Girl‘s were driving me mad. But by the end of the book, it was always worth it. I felt I needed those calm 200 pages to really appreciate the magnitude of what ended up happening. The calm before the storm, if you will.

Thinking about it, Monsters of Men finished the only way it should, leaving me with one message as hard as a slap in the face by the hands of Thor: NOTHING GOOD EVER COMES OF WAR.

And that’s it, I’m done. Sorry, I think I’ve gone a bit mad today.

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure?: Nope, I borrowed it off the lovely Dianne @ Icefloe
Title: Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3)
Author: Patrick Ness
Details: Paperback, 603 pages
Published: October 1st 2010 by Walker & Company
My Rating: 4/5