Friday, 29 November 2013

Veronica Roth Signing

On a sunny October afternoon, I was sitting in a Starbucks on the Strand in London with my friend when I found out about the Veronica Roth signing. I was scrolling through my Twitter feed as I was waiting for my friend and our drinks and then I saw the tweet from Waterstones talking about this event. I texted my other friend, George, straight away and within a few hours, I was the holder of two tickets to see one of the best authors around in my
I may be currently in Bournemouth but the event was in my 'reading week' (read: a week off to catch up with work which ends up with everyone going home and doing anything far from work) when I'd be coming home anyway. George is at university in London so it was perfect!

Veronica Roth for those that have no idea who I'm rattling on about is the writer of the YA dystopian series Divergent and the final book in the series, which I am yet to read, has just been released after the biggest cliffhanger in history. It's also being made into a movie next year with the lovely Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet in it. This series is immense, I would not recommend it enough. It was a series I was completely unsure about until George made me read them and now *whispers* I think they're better than The Hunger Games...
Veroncia Roth hasn't done many events in the UK, as she is an American author so I was so excited and surprised to hear she was doing one here in London.


The event was at the Prince Charles Theatre in Leicester Square where George and I saw Moonrise Kingdom a couple of years ago. It's a nice theatre/cinema just off the square, right on the edge of Chinatown and is a little bit away from the hustle and bustle of Leicester Square. 
We went in with about 5 minutes to spare. As we walked in, Veronica Roth just kind of casually walked past us to which we both kind of gave each other excited looks. 
We sat down and the talk started. It's interesting to hear authors talk about how they came to write the books we kind of take for granted - rarely do I think to myself when I'm reading 'Oh I wonder where they got the idea'. Some of the author's events I've been to show that inspiration comes from some unlikely places.


While it seemed like she was wrapping up after only 30 minutes had passed, suddenly she was talking about cast member from the Divergent movie being at the event. I thought to myself 'Oh it's going to be a minor character in the movie'. That was until Shailene Woodley was walking on stage, who is playing Tris, THE MAIN CHARACTER. It was cool to hear her perception of the movie and how she prepared for her character. It was just incredibly surreal having these two people on stage. I'm interested to see Shailene next year in Divergent but also as the lead in The Fault in our Stars, an adaptation of the John Green book which is another favourite book of mine. 
Soon, the audience was getting their books signed. Because we were at the back, we had to wait a while but it was SO worth the wait. She's really lovely, I wasn't entirely sure what to say to hear without fangirling at all. But I asked her if she was planning on writing any more books and she replied she had a book in the making that was a move away from Divergent but still a dystopian. 
So I left the event feeling rather happy and geeking out with my friend over the fact we had just met Veronica Roth, author of Divergent which could potentially have the same effect as The Hunger Games did when it was first made into a movie.


I'm so excited for the movie in March and I still need to get onto the last book in the Divergent series (kind of scared of what may happen). I'm also trying to get my flatmates to discover Divergent. We went to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at the cinema the other day (it's so good!) and they showed the Divergent trailer. One of my flatmates just turned to me at the end of the trailer and said 'That looks so good!' 
This movie is going to be big, I can tell. But Veronica Roth is still one of the most down to earth authors I've met.

Reviews:
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Saturday, 23 November 2013

UKYA BLOG TOUR: Guest Post from Marie-Louise Jensen


Today, I'm hosting a stop on the UKYA Blog Tour, which is running throughout November to promote British YA books and their incredible authors. This is all run by the lovely Lucy from Queen of Contemporary and Project UKYA blogs. She's a good friend of mine and has put a huge amount of effort to put this blog tour together so check out her stops on the tour and tell her how brilliant she is! 

For my stop, I have one of my FAVOURITE authors, Marie-Louise Jensen, author of' 'The Lady in the Tower', 'Smuggler's Kiss' and 'The Girl in the Mask'. She's talking about women in history and why she chooses to make all her protagonists female. I'll shh now and pass this post over to Marie-Louise Jensen! 


Women In History

To look at the history we are taught, especially in schools, you’d think women had made no contribution to the world other than cooking and having babies. Oh, and being queen occasionally. The only female name I recall from my school history lessons is Kitty O’Shea who got a mention in Irish history for bringing down politician Charles Purnell. She had a long running affair and three children out of wedlock with him. The classic scarlet woman – it was all her fault that fine man’s career was destroyed! Shame on her!
It’s a bit like in the Bible really. It was all Eve’s fault there. Bad woman, leading your poor unsuspecting husband astray and landing us all in sin and suffering!

I did two history units at university too. In one, no woman was mentioned. In the other – Viking history – we read the Icelandic sagas. I loved them, I really did. But in so many of them, the women were the cause of trouble: the temptress. Every feud that destroyed a family began with a woman and in every generation it was the women who shamed and stung their men into continuing the slaughter.
I don’t think it’s hugely different today. I revised history GCSE with my son last summer and scarcely a woman was mentioned. The only ones who are mentioned are doing traditionally womanly nurturing tasks like nursing (Florence Nightingale) or they are revered for their sexual modesty rather than their astute political skills (Queen Elizabeth I – the ‘virgin’ queen).

And is this really the truth? Were women really absent from all historical events of note? Have they done nothing but bear children and support men?

NO WAY, GIRLS! Don’t believe it for a second.

1) Women have been barred from occupations and kept out of power for many hundreds of years. The real low points of female oppression in the UK were the witch burning of the Middle Ages and the Victorian era (Like Mrs Thatcher, our first woman prime minister, our longest serving queen did nothing for other women).
2) This is the most important point: MEN WROTE THE HISTORY BOOKS. Never forget that one. They and only they were allowed to be scholars, so they focused on the parts of history that appealed to them. Wars. Men. Kings. Wars. More Men. There might have been a virgin queen or two.
3) If women do defy convention and society’s rules and do something of note (and many did) IGNORE THEM! Pretend it didn’t happen, attribute the discovery or invention to someone else, question their morality or belittle them! Or best of all - blame them for everything men did wrong!
That keeps that pesky minority (AHEM - HALF THE HUMAN RACE!) out of history! The same strategy is applied to people of colour and others too, of course.

And this, my friends, is why I write historical fiction about girls in history. Strong girls who won’t be told who to be and do what they want to do. Girls who joust, rob, smuggle, study mathematics, travel, doctor and solve feuds rather than causing them. I’d like to write about one of the many women who made fabulous discoveries in science or maths but never get mentioned. I’d like to write about the women who pioneered acting on the stage instead of the boys playing the women’s roles. One day I will. I’m in the business of redressing the balance.

So when boys at schools ask me “Are you going to write a book for boys soon?” My answer is a big, fat, unapologetic NO!


Try reading about a few girls, lads. They are actually pretty awesome. 

Friday, 22 November 2013

Mini-Reviews: Eleanor and Park, Heartbeat, Witchstruck

*Because of my huge absence from the world of blogging, I'm desperately trying to catch up on reviews of the books I read while I was away*

Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell

Synopsis: Eleanor is the new girl, the one with a disturbing family life, mismatched clothes and bright red hair. She sticks out without trying.
Park is the boy who sits at the back of the bus, absorbed in his music and a comic book. He thinks he can make himself invisible to those around him. But not to Eleanor. Slowly, the pair fall for each other through mix tapes and comics. They fall in love for the first time - when you feel if you have nothing and everything to lose.

Review: So I read this book because of what everyone else had been saying about it. Then, my best friend, Emma, read it and said it was just so, so good. AND then I knew it was time for me try this. I mean, this looked and sounded like a book I would love.
So I started reading it. And thought it was a bit...just not all that I guess. I was sitting there, wondering about the hype and thinking that maybe I shouldn't have bought this book, maybe I should have not followed the hype, wondering if I should put it down because Park was getting a little bit boring and there was Sarah Dessen's shiny new book on my bookshelf and-
Then, it hit me suddenly that I was actually utterly enjoying and loving every single word of this novel.
This book is unique in, oh, so many different ways. There's the characters of Eleanor and Park to start with, who connect so beautifully with one another but particularly, with a reader. As a teenager, they were echoing the things I had thought for years - the typical teenage angst, the mix of confusion and fear, the feeling that everyone judges you for every word you utter. These are unique, authentic and just charming characters that makes book lovers like myself remember why they love books to much. The narrative runs throughout as the reader tracks their relationship from alternative perspectives. The ending isn't perfect (another thing I loved) but let's face it, life isn't perfect anyway. Rainbow Rowell is one author to look out for!

I give it a 5 out of 5

Heartbeat - Elizabeth Scott

Synopsis: Emma would love to talk to her mother and tell her about her slipping grades, her anger at her stepfather, tell her she was right about her ex. But she can't. Her mother is brain-dead being kept alive by machines to deliver the baby growing inside of her. Emma hardly talks to her father, her only social connection is her friend Olivia. That is until she meets Caleb, a guy who knows exactly how she is feeling - more than anyone else. Emma believes there is no hope for her now, but perhaps she is wrong.

Review: Hm. I'm not sure how I feel about this one. In fairness, when I read this one, I was moving into university and going to bed at like 2am every day so this took a while to read...But I still don't think it was a brilliant book.
I've read a mixture of good and bad reviews for this one so I guess it's not JUST me. Elizabeth Scott was an author I always wanted to give a go, especially with many people saying she was similar to Sarah Dessen and we all know how much I like her books...
So when I finally had the opportunity to read something of hers, I was expecting great things...and this wasn't great.
I thought it was a good concept, I mean, it's a rare thing to happen but it's interesting to see the different character's reactions. I think there are two things that ruined it for me. Firstly, I hated Emma so much. She was so whiny, so negative and just plain boring at times. There is a lack of speech in this book which I think works negatively for the narrative. I just got bored of her narration going on and on. The second thing is that the romance between Emma and Caleb seemed so false and unrealistic, it was just too cliched, too awkward, too cringey. I just wasn't a fan.
I know Clover from Fluttering Butterflies LOVED this book, so maybe this is Marmite type of book - you either love it or hate it. But this book definitely wasn't for me. I liked the focus on family a lot, but there was too much I found negative to truly appreciate it. Sorry...

I give it a 3 out of 5

Witchstruck - Victoria Lamb

Synopsis: Meg bears a dangerous and powerful gift - she is a witch, which in 1554 England and in service to the banished Tudor princess, Elizabeth, it could never be more dangerous for her to practice her art. Entrapped in an old palace, there are suspicious eyes everywhere which, with one wrong move, could end both Meg's and Elizabeth's life. She cannot trust anyone. However, when everything turns against Meg, she must find someone to trust.

Review: I love history. I always have. Since specialising in Tudor history for my A-level History course, I've had a certain love for anything Tudor. I cringed a little bit when I read the blurb. I've never been much of a fan of paranormal stuff in literature, but I do love historical fiction and what girl doesn't like a dash of romance?
I thought this book would be ridden with moments where I was wincing at moments of cliches. But thankfully not.
I actually really enjoyed this book! The plot wove in the dangerous feelings of the time under Mary Tudor especially for those like Elizabeth and Meg. A lot of Tudor novels focus on the political intrigues and battles at court so it's refreshing to see a book which veers away from that and looks at the feeling outside of London and focuses on the adventures of Meg rather than the manipulation behind it all.
The characters are all unique particularly Meg and the male protagonist, Alejandro. The relationship between these two that progresses throughout the novel was one of the best parts and written in a way that a reader can believe, it is a relationship that reflects the time.
This books stands out to me out of all the historical novels I have read, particularly those aimed at Young Adults. It is refreshing to see a book that is not too cliche or samey to all the other historical novels out there, especially those set in the Tudor period. I really, really enjoyed this book, despite my reservations and I'm quite looking forward to finding out what happens next for Meg.

I give it a 5 out of 5

Sunday, 10 November 2013

On My Bookshelf (43)

This meme for originally inspired by 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren
Other versions are:
Letterbox Love created by Narratively Speaking
Stacking the Shelves created by Tynga's reviews
Showcase Sunday created by Books, Biscuits and Tea

Since my little holiday from blogging as I settle in at university, I've bought QUITE a lot of books without realising. My flatmates have already worked out I'm a book lover, so much so that I've been asked for book recommendations by them. I also got a job at Waterstones here in Bournemouth so having my staff discount again is like...it's amazing.
I've also discovered a massive library here that has a huge fiction section with a lot of books I didn't see in my local libraries at home.

Library:

- Debutantes In Love by Cora Harrison - I've always loved historical fiction especially those set in the early 20th Century (which is why Downton Abbey is like the BEST show - although this series hasn't been fantastic). This is the second book in the Debutantes series by Cora Harrison. The first book has an air of finality for me, so I'm interested to see what happens next in this book for the Derrington sisters. Also, if you remember what happened in the first book, PLEASE let me know!

- Gilt by Katherine Longshore - Ah, the Tudors. I'm starting to realise that I love the Tudors a little bit too much and know so much about it (my whole A-level History was about the Tudors). I've heard lots of good things about this series around the blogosphere and was so happy to see this in the library. It's due back really soon, so hopefully I can renew it...

Bought:


- How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff - This was an author I normally tend to avoid. Mainly, that's because I read What I Was by this author and really disliked it. My friend read Just In Case too and didn't like it either. However, with the upcoming film release that looked SO GOOD, I thought I should give this book a try especially as I've seen a lot of positive reviews around. I found this little bargain in a charity shop for 50p with the traditional Penguin Books cover which I prefer to the original cover. 

- This Song Will Save Your Live by Leila Sales - There are many reasons why this is on my bookshelf. 1) It's being made into a movie with Keira Knightley in, 2) The blurb sounds so good, 3) The amount of rave reviews I've seen by some of my favourite book bloggers is ridiculous, and 4) I was kind of taken by the cover. I have a feeling this is going to be a bit like Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist...

- Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green and Lauren Myracle - Finally this is published in the UK! It includes two of my FAVOURITE authors - Maureen Johnson and John Green. I'm also reading this for EmmaIsWriting's Christmas Month. 


- Allegiant by Veronica Roth - Do I need to say more? I attended a signing with Veronica Roth in London (OH MY, SO GOOD. More on that later in the week) and got it signed. With the feedback I've seen on the blogosphere and Twitter, this is going to be an interesting read...

- Champion by Marie Lu - After the crazy ending to the second book in this amazing series, Prodigy, I have literally no idea what will happen in the final book. This is a series I actually really, really love and wish it had so much more recognition. If you haven't read it, I would completely and utterly recommend it!

Reviews by these authors: 



Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What books did you get this week? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Dare You To - Katie McGarry

Katie McGarry was a surprise author for me when I read her first book Pushing The Limits (review) last year. I thought it would be full to the brim on eye rolling moments at the cheesiness and corniness of the narrative. I was completely wrong. It was an immersing read that had both that lovely bit of romance I love to read about as a guilty pleasure but not too much that I wanted to throw the book across the room.
This is the second book in this 'series'. Reading this doesn't particularly ruin anything for readers who haven't read Pushing The Limits - just gives a bit of context for the characters of Echo and Noah in this book.

Synopsis: Beth has had a tough life but if anyone knew the truth about her family, her mother would surely go to prison so she protects her no matter what. Until the day her uncle - thinking he's saving her - swoops Beth away from her hometown to live in a place to different from what she is used to and with an aunt who hates her. No-one understands her except one person.
Ryan is the perfect teenager. A baseball player, he has hopes of being the next big thing in the sporting world as well as being clever and popular. In what begins as a dare becomes something else completely between Beth and Ryan despite their different personalities and backgrounds.

Review: I started this book thinking that I wouldn't be a huge fan by the time I finished. It just seemed like it would confirm what I was predicting in Pushing the Limits in the cheesiness of the romance and the obvious 'bad girl-good guy' relationship between Ryan and Beth. I could almost see how this was going to end.

However, I was completely wrong. So there is still some elements of cheesiness when it comes to the romance and at times particularly in the middle, the cynical side of me wanted to throw up but it was far better than I think I, the cover and the reviews I had read made it out to be.
There is a certain depth behind Katie McGarry's writing that makes this not ALL about the love story at the heart. And books that do that make me want to give the authors a hug.
Beth and Ryan are very different people when we meet them at the beginning of the book and I could completely and utterly not see them together. Beth has had a difficult upbringing with no father around and a selfish, carefree mother who has basically left Beth to grow up alone. So when she goes to live with her uncle, a man who left her alone with her complicated family to pursue his own dreams, things aren't going to go well. It was interesting to see her relationship develop under the guidance of her uncle and aunt who are so far removed from her.
Ryan also doesn't have the perfect life however it may seem on the surface with a father who is all about appearances - the reason behind his brother deserting them when he announced he was gay. Again, it was good to see this issue throughout the book and put a more human side to Ryan in showing the imperfections of his character.

Beth and Ryan are such likable characters and I found myself really rooting for both of them, particularly Ryan. Beth is quite a hard character to understand compared to Ryan yet the way McGarry portrays them is very realistic. They have their moments - Ryan can be a bit of an arrogant jerk at times and Beth can be such a meanie too - but McGarry shows that isn't ALL they are. Like I read in one review, she shows now to trust the stereotypes through Ryan and Beth.

I thought Pushing the Limits was pretty good but this just proves that McGarry is not a one hit wonder so to speak. This second brilliant book by her shows she is the queen of character development. She's made a romance that once again ticks all the boxes. This is the perfect book to keep you up until 3am or to read on a windy and rainy Sunday afternoon or on a long journey. Whether you liked or disliked Pushing the Limits or even haven't read that book, I'm sure this book will be enjoyable.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to review this book!

Author's Website: http://www.katielmcgarry.com/
Pages: 456
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Challenges: None

Related Reviews: 
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Teen Idol by Meg Cabot
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Guest Post

Hello! Hope you are all well. I'm currently on a break from reading with coffee, biscuits and Gabrielle Aplin playing while it chucks it down outside.

Today, I guest posted at Emma's blog 'EmmaIsWriting'. She is the one of the sweetest, loveliest bloggers around. My guest post is my top 5 favourite books (believe me it was SO hard to narrow it down to just five). Go check it out and have a search around her great blog while you're there!

I'll hopefully be doing some mini-reviews to catch up this week but I have three assignments to do, reading and I'm going home for my best friend's birthday on Thursday so I'm not sure WHEN that will happen.

Have a lovely Sunday!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Love Is The Higher Law - David Levithan

I've read quite a few of David Levithan books - The Lover's Dictionary and Dash and Lily's Book of Dares - which I loved his writing. So when there was the 9/11 anniversary last year and I found out about this book, I knew it would be a book I would enjoy.

Synopsis: On the seemingly perfect morning of 11th September 2001, the lives of three teenagers are altered permanently. Claire is at school, her first thought is that she needs to get to her younger brother. Jasper wakes up to frantic phone calls from his family and Peter, a classmate of Claire, is waiting outside a record store for the new Bob Dylan record. None of these teens know each other well at all. Yet in the years that follow, they will become best friends all shaped by the catastrophic events of 9/11.

Review: I was 6 when 9/11 happened so as you can probably guess, I don't particularly remember much about that day only what my parents have recounted. They said it was strange because there was something about me that was different from the young schoolgirl in the morning to the Rebecca in the evening. I knew something big and horrible had happened, I just didn't understand what. Everyone I think has their own 9/11 story because of the horrible, horrible events of that day. For me, experiencing and growing up in the aftermath of 9/11, no amount of documentaries, news broadcasts and stories I consume will make me understand that day. I may have not been in New York that day, but there were plenty of people who were.

Which is where Levithan's novel comes in. It is told from the point of view of three teenagers - Jasper, Peter and Claire - as they tell their stories of that day, the aftermath and the years proceeding that day. All this is done in a way where it's like you are there, leaving within the moment that they are, seeing it all happen again. You are quite literally immersed in the story, which is both amazing in writing but also horrible in putting you there within that terrible moment, experiencing it again.

This book is simply beautiful in many ways. It is short with only 160 pages which is exactly how this book needed to be. The writing is so focused on the enormity of this event for the three protagonists that the messages and voice is felt from the very first line. I finished this book feeling quite different from when I started it, it makes an impact that is both emotional yet somehow positive (it's incredibly hard to explain this so yeah, sorry if that made like no sense).

Claire, Jasper and Peter are all such different people with really no real, tangible connection yet somehow their lives become intertwined with one another in a rather lovely way. From this emotional, troubling event, there comes this glimmer of hope. As I think I read somewhere in a review for this book, while you're so disgusted and horrified at this dreadful event, there's also this hope that equally intertwines and becomes more prominent at the story progresses.

This is a short book. And if only for that reason, this is a book that everyone should read. Whether you remember the events on 11th September 2001 or not, this book resonates with anyone and everyone and should be appreciate far far more than it is currently. This is an incredibly hard book to review and to properly describe the magnitude it leaves you with when you finish the last page. All I can say is this is one of the most beautiful and well written books I have read in a while.

I give this a 5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.davidlevithan.com/
Pages: 176
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Challenges: None

Related Reviews:
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares - David Levithan & Rachel Cohn
The Lover's Dictionary - David Levithan
Will Grayson, Will Grayson - David Levithan & John Green

Friday, 11 October 2013

Blogging

So I'm still here, still alive and well.

I've been at university for a month now and whoa, has a lot of things happened. For the most part, I am enjoying my course a lot, although there is a huge amount of reading for it. Particularly, there is one module about adaptations that I love. I have lovely flatmates (who know and are cool with me having a blog, hey guys if you're reading this) and I've met some nice people on my course who we share our sighs for 9am lectures, assignments and the search for the one book that all 160 people on my course want. It's been good. It's different but it's really good. I haven't felt particularly homesick which is a little weird but I'm not complaining.

However, more pressingly, university is a fresh start for nearly all the people who attend it. While I'm basically the same person, I entered my flat as 'Rebecca, the girl from West London', not as just plain Rebecca that people have known for years.
And it's that which I think has changed my perceptions of blogging now (somehow). This is a fresh start and a new phase in my life and I'm not sure whether blogging is included in that. I love blogging, I really do, but anyone who looks at my archive can see that over this year, even over the last few years, the amount of effort I put in to this blog has declined. And in the changing face of the blogging world now, that's not good enough.

I started blogging three and a half years ago. Then, blogging was literally a hobby especially book blogging. It was so casual, everyone was so nice and friendly although the world was dominated by older American bloggers than myself. In the last few years, the amount of English bloggers as well as younger bloggers has risen so much. I love that it has especially with having more English bloggers around and more British groups and memes like Project UKYA. I also like that there are more younger bloggers around because let's face it, YA is aimed at teenagers.
However, in the last few months, it's daunted on me that these changes (not just the two I mention) have also introduced a new kind of philosophy to the blogging world in that you HAVE to always be posting, always having the best authors on your blog, always around and interesting. And it's so exhausting. I can't keep up with this pressure. Blogging is supposed to be fun but recently it's felt like a bit of a chore, something I feel I should carry on for the sake of being around for the last 3 years. I do want to be able to say 'I'm a blogger' but sometimes I think I'm kidding myself when I say that because in the last year, I really haven't been just that. I liked it when everything was casual, it didn't matter if you posted one review in two weeks - no-one cared. But now, it's completely different even if we don't realise it.

I'm 18, I'm away from home at university. I really don't need or want any extra stress at writing reviews, getting posts published, constantly trying to think of new and exciting things to post. I'm just juggling a lot of things at the moment - moving out, work, university work, assignments, all the reading for uni (THERE'S A LOT), meeting people - sometimes it gets a little bit too much already.
One of my flatmates has a beauty blog and she gets so excited over writing posts, thinking of ideas, designing her blog, taking pictures - it makes me sad watching her sometimes because I used to be that enthusiastic about blogging, I used to have all these ideas - I'm not sure where that's gone.

This isn't an end post. This is a post letting you guys know what's going on in my head right now.
I love reading, I love books, I love blogging, I love what I've achieved through this blog that I never would have had the opportunity to do so before. I love all of that.
But I'm just unsure if I can carry on. Blogging has become far too stressful.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

University and Blogging Thoughts

So after my celebratory return to the blogosphere in June after a few months off for exams, I have been in a bit of a blogging break. Again. Without really telling anyone. It just kind of happened.

I haven't been sitting at home twiddling my thumbs however. I worked A LOT over the summer and in the last few weeks since my exam results, I've been preparing for university. It's incredibly weird because I have been preparing for this moment to actually GO to university yet in the whirlwind of the last month, it's clear that you can never be prepared for the experience. This time last year I was applying to university, desperately pouring over prospectuses, finding statistics and redrafting and redrafting my personal statement (which now makes me cringe when I read it).
Now, I have a mere four days until I'm packing up my room into boxes, suitcases and shoe boxes (actually so useful and FREE), piling it all into my dad's car and taking the two hour single trip to Bournemouth where I shall be living for the next 3 years. It's a weird thought to say the least. And I hadn't quite gotten it in my head that I was going to university until I was saying goodbye to one of my best friends at the weekend. It wasn't a 'bye, see you next time'. It was a heartfelt goodbye to someone who means a lot to me and I won't be seeing for months. It's a bit bizarre to say the least.
Despite all these weird feelings, I am looking forward to getting down to business and I've discovered that one of the first modules is on 'adaptation', so like literature adaptations to the big screen, which was one of the aspects I was most looking forward to. It's a scary time at the moment for so many different reasons, but it's also pretty exciting.

Blogging wise, I have been checking up on all my favourite blogs, commenting occasionally and generally hiding in the blogosphere (I think I have decided that Lucy - I know she is my blogging friend but parting that - from Queen of Contemporary has my favourite blog. I'm a bit jealous). I have been reading so much while trying to not be downhearted by the fact that Goodreads keeps reminding me that I'm 7 books behind my target for this year *shakes fist*.
I think the problem is that I keep getting distracted when writing posts. I'm literally halfway through about 4 reviews hidden in my drafts and as time goes on, I keep forgetting what I thought of the books (I'm such an old lady at times)! So I'm hoping that when things settle down and I start the term properly in two weeks time (Two weeks worth of freshers...I am going to hide), I'll get into the flow again. At the beginning of the year, I had a review every single week which is how it should be. I'm sorry guys with the turbulent times at Rebecca-Books this year, it hasn't been a good'un but I promise that, if you hang in there, everything will go back to normal SOON.
I'll leave you in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger - I'll be back. 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

On My Bookshelf (42)

This meme for originally inspired by 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren
Other versions are:
Letterbox Love created by Narratively Speaking
Stacking the Shelves created by Tynga's reviews
Showcase Sunday created by Books, Biscuits and Tea

I haven't done one of these in what seems like ages. I haven't actually bought that many books this month, as I've been working so much. Although as I left Waterstones this week (and therefore, no more discount), I went on a bit of a rampage around one of my local stores (More on leaving Waterstones later in the week hopefully).

Bought:

- It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini - I've had this recommended to me time and time before especially for 'fans of John Green'. I think it's going to be like The Fault in our Stars 2.0 reading the blurb, although hopefully not as sad, as in 'tears-streaking-down-my-face' sad.

- LegendProdigy by Marie Lu - For those that have been followers of my blog for a while, you'll know that I was only introduced to this series this year and by an utter surprise, I was amazed by how good this series is and how under appreciated it is too. So when I spotted them on my huge book buying rampage, they went straight into my basket (I actually think they're better than The Hunger Games...)

For Review:


- Resist by Sarah Crossan - I read Breathe last year after spotting it in my library and was blown away by how good it was and how original a dystopia is was. So when I saw Resist, the sequel available on Netgalley, I requested it without a thought. This looks really good, hopefully this will be as good as it's predecessor (still desperately trying to remember what happens in Breathe as it's been so long). 

Reviews by these authors:
Legend - Marie Lu
Prodigy - Marie Lu
Breathe - Sarah Crossan


What did everyone else receive? Leave a comment with your link so I can check your out!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Moon and More - Sarah Dessen

For those that perhaps don't know I am a HUGE fan of Sarah Dessen. She is a writer that keeps performing for me, keeps giving me books that I devour and love for multiple reasons. If you haven't tried any books by her, I highly suggest you do especially my favourites The Truth About Forever, Just Listen or Along for the Ride (because this is Sarah Dessen, you can never have just one favourite). So when I heard about this book, I was beyond excited and knew it would be a book I would enjoy a lot regardless of how good it was compared to her other novels. So this was a guaranteed buy for me when I spotted it.

Synopsis: Emaline has lived in the beach town of Colby her whole life. She knows where to go and not to go, where the tourists in the summer visit and most of all the people. Including Luke, her all American perfect boyfriend who she has grown up with. But as it is the summer before going to college, Emaline wonders whether this life is what she really wants.
Enter Theo, an outsider from New York visiting the town to work as an assistant to a renowned filmmaker. He's confident, exciting and thinks Emaline is holding herself back. Emaline's father also thinks she could do better. Emaline likes the sound of this glittering, bright future they promise but would they suit Emaline, someone whose whole family and life is in a small beach town.

Review: This was the kind of book I needed. Right at that moment, right now on the verge of something sad, exciting and just plain scary.
The thing is that Emaline during the course of this book is in exactly the same situation as I am right this moment. I read this pre-results day when there was that trepdiation of whether I would get into university, whether I would enjoy it. The thing is I'm moving two hours away from the place I've always lived to a new town, a new way of living and new friends without anything I can hold onto as familiar. I sometimes wonder now maybe I should have applied to somewhere in London nearer home but then I wouldn't be going to Bournemouth. Emaline got into an Ivy League school (think Oxford or Cambridge for those in the UK) but turned it down after her father - now separated from her mother -  let her down. So she is going to a college that is an hour away from Colby, where most of the people she knows and has grown up with are going. Yet when her father arrives again in the picture as well as her new found friend of Theo telling her something vastly different from her friends and family, it's enough to make her a little confused about what she TRULY wants.

Throughout the novel, she tries to discover that, to see which life suits her and despite the ending she chooses, the novel showed me that I'm not the only one who is going to be freaking scared when they're moving to university but also how ever far or not far you move to go to university, it's still a scary and unreal situation whatever happens. I just needed Sarah Dessen to reassure me.

Now onto the proper review. While this isn't the strongest and the best novel of Dessen's, it certainly was pretty good. As always, her characters are just so rich and realistic. You can clearly see the characters she is is picturing as well as there being some kind of element you are assured to love about every single character. I read in one review that the blogger loved Sarah Dessen for her good character development. It's so true, it makes it that much more realistic, making me feel like I truly get to know her protagonists. Emaline is the perfect main character with a distinct voice and something about her that made her so likeable, so real. The setting and the characters add to this feel of something so familiar about the story and it's hard to get that in a lot of books, especially as I'm a UK reader reading about an American town. It's just so refreshing to see some equally great secondary characters.

No-one can say that Dessen writes the perfect summer reads. Although, I was a little apprehensive to start this as it features a love triangle. So yeah, it's not the most scariest thing in the world but as a disliker of the typical, cliched love triangles (there is a reason I didn't read Twilight) and having my favourite author include one, I was just hoping it worked. And it did! It's not your cliched love triangle in my eyes (THANK YOU) and the ending is rather different to both her other books and other books featuring the dreaded triangle. Luke is someone I kind of instantly didn't like, the kind of guy that oozes self-confidence that I stay well clear of, but throughout the novel, even though he isn't in the book THAT much, he still has an element of character development for me and I loved to see that even from a character that didn't have much page time. Theo, I kind of loved at the beginning. He was sweet and way too confident but somehow that made me like him (I don't know). But again, much like Luke, he develops throughout the book especially in relation to his relationship with Emaline and then at the end, I just wanted him to leave. It's weird how Dessen made me feel these different things about the characters.

While some readers hate the similarity between Dessen's novels, it's what makes me love them. I know what I'm getting from Sarah Dessen, I know also that I'll enjoy the book whatever happens or however it is shaped. There's also this whole world that she's created that after reading all of her books, I feel like I know the world pretty well. It was great to return to the Launderette, Tallyho and Clementines in this book alone seeing Auden, Tracey and Owen from Along For the Ride, Colie from Last Chance/Keeping the Moon - it just makes you enjoy a book more I think when you know that world already, you're not being introduced to something completely new.

In all honesty, I'm bias about any Sarah Dessen book because she is a favourite of mine. She writes literature that I enjoy, I think about and just I relax while reading. I agree, this isn't the best of her books and it isn't a favourite, but it's still pretty darn good and I'm so glad that Dessen still has her writing mojo. For a brilliant summer read with some rather surprising twists, I would recommend THE MOON AND MORE. If you're a newbie to Dessen, I would direct you to my favourites - Just Listen and The Truth About Forever. Nothing can beat those books.

I give it a 4.5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://sarahdessen.com/
Pages: 435
Publisher: Penguin
Challenges: None

Related Reviews:
What Happened to Goodbye - Sarah Dessen
Teen Idol - Meg Cabot
Confessions of an Angry Girl - Louise Rozett

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Smuggler's Kiss - Marie-Louise Jensen


Marie-Louise Jensen has been a favourite historical author of mine for a few years after I was blown away by The Lady in the Tower and The Girl in the Mask. She's also lovely on Twitter (although that does not interrupt my opinion of this book). A friend of mine in the blogging world read this and told me I needed to read it. I find good historical fiction can be quite hard to come by now (I guess I'm more critical) but I know I'll always find a brilliant, absorbing historical novel in Jensen.


Synopsis: Isabelle is rescued from drowning in the sea by a group of men who she finds out are smugglers. To Isabelle - a lady from a wealthy family - smugglers are dangerous and deadly. However, without escape on the ship, she soon finds excitement in deceiving the king's men and her loyalties changing as she becomes friends with the smugglers, especially one in particular. Isabelle doesn't want to return to her old life but she has to keep the truth from the smugglers in order to stay aboard.

Review: I'm a great lover of historical fiction especially if the author is British and even more when it's this writer. I find historical fiction can either be the kind that draws you in, keeps you wondering and then spits you out at the end - much like Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle (review) was. Or they can be the fun kind that is just a lovely, relaxing read. Which is where this book falls.

Isabelle is a character which it is incredibly hard to like on the first page and I think that's why it took me a while to get into the story. She's so spoilt and selfish and SO WHINY. I was thinking at the beginning that I wouldn't like this book is she was going to be like this THE WHOLE WAY THROUGH but gladly, the book also shows her journey into learning about what it is like to live in poverty. This made her so much more likeable as the novel continues until the conclusion where I felt so much for Isabelle's situation. It's great to see this feisty and strong side to her personality flourish throughout as she adjusts.

One thing I really liked about this book was that the romance didn't dominate. I'm one that admits that I love a to dabble in a bit of historical romance but sometimes it can be too much, sometimes too unrealistic. This book is about the romance that evolves but it's also about status, class and the friendships and rivalries that form out of them. It's clear early on that she has a soft spot for Will, a younger smuggler who is a little different from the rest and keeps disappearing for a day or so. It was the mysteries behind Will and Isabelle's past that kept me reading, wanting to know the events that happened to lead both these characters to the smuggler's ship. 

I did really enjoy reading this book, it's not the best from Marie-Louise Jensen but still shows how great an author she is in the YA historical genre. It is full of details from the period as well as moments of high tension mixed with a few moments to make you smile.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website: http://marie-louisejensen.co.uk/wordpress/
Pages: 304
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Challenges: Historical Fiction, BBC

Related Reviews:
The Lady in the Tower - Marie-Louise Jensen
The Disgrace of Kitty Grey - Mary Hooper
Vice & Virtue - Veronica Bennett

Thursday, 15 August 2013

BIG NEWS.

So if you're a follower of mine on that little social networking site that recalls the sounds of birds, this will be OLD news to you.
I like to keep my personal and blogging life separate from one another but this is something that will impact the blog a lot. A LOT.
So.

As of 6am this morning, I got into university. I am a new undergraduate starting September at Bournemouth University to study Communication and Media.
And I have to say that you guys are to thank for that. Blogging and reading in general turned from a hobby of mine into a love. That love made me realise that it was okay to love books and make that the THING about you. Most of the last two years have been about books. I chose to do Media out of that love for publishing and while it doesn't mean necessarily I'm aiming for a publishing career, it's certainly is an option now with THIS course.
I am so overly happy. Because Bournemouth is literally one of the best in the country for Media, being one of the best universities to provide it. Everyone I've spoken to over the last year about university has said that Bournemouth is renowned for Media. Which makes me even more excited.

In my A levels, I was dreading seeing the results more than knowing whether I got in or not. Because my exams went terribly especially my English Lit exam which left me in a pool of tears as I walked out (English Lit is one of the hardest A levels). My History exam was on a Monday morning and after a weekend of intensive revision and praying that the Tudor religion question would come up, I looked at the paper, did a happy dance that I had the questions I wanted and then, my brain preceded to go blank. I did so much revision for the subject and could have gone better, my nerves just kind of took over. My Media exam was the best overall and I needed a C at least to get the B I needed in the subject for university. However, my teacher this year was AWFUL as well as being put with a load of students who didn't have any idea why they were there. So the subject I wanted to do and I felt the most confident in was the subject I had the worst teacher in. Because that ALWAYS helps.

SO. My grades were:
Media Studies: A 
English Literature: B (HOW?!?)
History: B 

And I needed BBB for Bournemouth so I'm in and confirmed and everything. I'm just incredibly happy at the moment even more so when the welcome pack came through the door this morning as well...
Thanks guys again, reviews will be winging their way soon!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

University Thoughts

So at the moment I'm in a bit of a limbo period. 
It's my summer, yes. But unlike those at college or school, I literally have no idea what I'll be doing when September rolls round and with only a few weeks of August left...it feels so so weird. 

My place at university relies on my results that I get in 2 DAYS time. 2 days. After waiting months for these results after my exams at the beginning of June, the fact that they're SO soon...I can't quite fathom it. Then, within a month from my results if I'm successful (which after reflecting over my exams, it's a bit IF) I have to learn to live independently, have everything ready to move and start my course while also trying to desperately see my best friends. They're all going to different areas of the country...

The thing is this university stuff is scary. Being someone who doesn't do things on impulse that often, the idea of my life turning around within a month is just... I can't quite imagine it. I know I'll be fine eventually, I'll get into this whole moving away business and I'll make new friends (as well as my parents being a nice 2 hours away). But it's just that uncertainty at the moment that I constantly keep thinking about. The 'ifs' and plan A and B's, the idea of living alone... Teenage years are scary and new enough but this has to be the scariest part of all. 


I will next post on Thursday 15th with my results. If you follow me on Twitter, you may be lucky enough for a marathon of tweets as I find out. Until then, guys. 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Disgrace of Kitty Grey - Mary Hooper

I will hold my hands up and say that Mary Hooper is one of the best historical fiction novelists for children/teenagers. Actually, Mary Hooper is the author that got me into the genre - and Young Adult books in general - after I read her book The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose set during the 1700's. I guess, it opened my eyes to the best books of that genre. Furthermore, I actually met Mary Hooper a couple of years ago (that was a surreal moment with her sitting next to Patrick Ness), where I handed her my dog-earred copy of Eliza Rose, smiling broadly and then having a long conversation with her about how much I loved her books. I think she also asked some advice on something in one of her books if I remember correctly.
Anyway, I was so happy to hear that Mary Hooper would be releasing another book this year and even more happy when I discovered it available on Netgalley.

Synopsis: 15 year-old Kitty Grey lives happily in the countryside working as a dairy maid in the dairy of a rich, grand family. She is treated well and loves her job. There's also her sweetheart, Will, the river man, who she sees regularly. The only worry on her mind is whether, and when, he will ask her to marry him.
Suddenly, one day, Will disappears leaving his young orphaned sister, Betsy, with Kitty. Kitty is distraught, was he leading her on? Has he gone to London to find his fortune?
When Kitty is given the chance to go to London to get a copy of the new Pride and Prejudice, she goes with the chance of finding Will. But London is very different from the countryside and soon, Kitty is left penniless, alone with a three year-old who everyone thinks is her own, in a town she doesn't understand or belong within. And so charts her fall from grace.

Review: I entered this novel with high expectations to say the least. Mary Hooper is a favourite author of mine and I was worried that the things I loved in her books when I was younger would be different now I'm older. But I didn't have to worry as I was faced with a beautiful, rich and detailed historical novel from Hooper which stayed with me once again after the last page.

This is an interesting subject and something that isn't particularly shown in many historical novels. While we're always shown the glittering, glamourous worlds of the rich in the 1800's, Hooper changes that and displays the simple things that disgrace an innocent person because of the unfair judicial system, something reflected perhaps in present day. The blurb for the book gave the impression to me that I would find out about that glittering world that we associate with Jane Austen of balls, muslin dresses, Mr Darcy (or just Colin Firth) and manners. But that is completely turned on its heard in this book and the contrast between the two classes becomes all that much clearer as the novel progresses.

Kitty is an interesting character. It is very clear from the beginning that she is quite naive as she's always lived in the idealic countryside in the same comfortable house in the same job which she loves. Her headstrong side of her character only comes evident at the start of her disgrace and she continues to be a good narrator. The disgrace made me incredibly sympathetic for her especially as things get worse and worse. I found Betsy on the other hand one of the most annoying characters I've read and it seemed to me that her role in the narrative at the beginning was unnecessary. She was just a little bit too whiny for my liking!

The writing was excellent as always and Hooper successfully illustrates each stage of the disgrace. It's wonderfully detailed historically and you get a real idea of the ideal setting of the countryside compared to the hustle and chaotic feeling of London. This was such an easy read for me, the perfect book to spend an afternoon or evening reading. However, the book is pretty depressing following how Kitty becomes less and less civilised and further away from her innocence, it's not a book to make you feel better about yourself! The beginning and end were good, and rather engaging, it was just the middle section which dragged a little because of how sad and depressing it was really. The ending is perfect for the book, although it does end a little abruptly for my liking.

Overall, this was another great novel from Mary Hooper, a master at historical fiction. This wasn't my favourite ever book of hers but it certainly reminded me why I love her books so much. THE DISGRACE OF KITTY GREY is great, an alternate read to other books set in this time. Can't wait for what Hooper will throw at us next! If you haven't read anything by her, you've been missing out! I highly recommend any of her books.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book. 

Author's Website: http://www.maryhooper.co.uk/
Pages: 288
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Challenges: Historical Fiction, BBC

Related Reviews: 
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
I was Jane Austen's Best Friend - Cora Harrison
Debutantes - Cora Harrison
Fallen Grace - Mary Hooper

Monday, 5 August 2013

On My Bookshelf (41)

This meme for originally inspired by 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren
Other versions are:
Letterbox Love created by Narratively Speaking
Stacking the Shelves created by Tynga's reviews
Showcase Sunday created by Books, Biscuits and Tea


I have a confession to make.
So here goes....I'm a little bit obsessed with Netgalley.

All the shiny covers. The sparkly 'Request' button. JUST ALL THE BOOKS THAT I WANT TO READ. I sincerely hope SOMEONE agrees with me on this...


E-Books


- Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein - I've heard so much about Elizabeth Wein and her first book Code Name Verity yet I was a little apprehensive about picking it up for some reason. However, when I saw the synopsis for this, it sounded so, so good. 

- The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles - There was a feature in a magazine recently about Beth Reekles, an 18 year old who published her book online originally before it was published in paperback when it got so popular. I'm intrigued to see how she writes especially as I'm the same age as her. I've read some dodgy reviews about the book and the cover and name makes me cringe a little bit but this should be an enjoyable, light-hearted read. 

- Acid by Emma Pass - After seeing Lucy at Queen of Contemporary's review, reading the synopsis and finding out Emma Pass is British, I was kind of sold in terms of this book. I've always loved a good dystopian and the fact this is written by a British author just makes me anticipate it more. May have to read this soon...


- Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb - I've just finished a History A-level specialising in the Tudors so I KNOW this period of history pretty well (I've already spotted a few historical timeline mistakes in The White Queen). But it's also a period that you don't see particularly many YA books on. I'm not usually a fantasy/magic kind of girl in reading but this sounds pretty good. Also, some of my go-to bloggers for historical books gave this book a great review so I hope I agree. 

- Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott - Ah, Elizabeth Scott. She's an author I've heard SO much about yet never read anything by her so I was SO HAPPY and SO EXCITED to find I'd been approved to read Heartbeat on Netgalley. Although this isn't the right cover, I actually really like it because of its simplicity. 

Bought:

- Wolf Hall & Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel - I've been wondering and wondering whether to read these books for over a year now, since Hilary Mantel won her second Man Booker prize. I've been given countless recommendations by customers at work but it was the sheer size of them that was a bit daunting. Like I said above, I love the Tudor period and know a lot about what happens. I've always felt a bit sorry for Thomas Cromwell as well so I'm probably the best candidate to read these. I may start these when I start university as I probably won't be reviewing much then as I settle in. 

- I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith - A colleague at work told me she read this when she was about 16 and it really kind of changed her. It sounds really interesting and something I would enjoy in a book so I thought I'd give it ago. 


Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Let me know! Link back to your own versions of On My Bookshelf and I'll take a look at what you received this week. 

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Guest Post on E-books versus Physical Books

Just a quick heads up that I wrote a guest post over at Fluttering Butterflies run by one of my blogging friends, Clover (who is one of the most genuine, loveliest bloggers I have come across).

It's all about the pros and cons of e-books and physical books written from my perspective - someone who is both a bookseller and a blogger that uses both those formats. I know it's something a lot of, if not all, people have an opinion on so check it out, and let me, and Clover, know your opinions on the topic - I like to know everyone's view on discussions such as this.

Coming up on the blog this week...well, in between my working schedule I've *somehow* written some reviews and a memo. Phew, this whole five-day-a-week working thing WITH blogging is HARD.

Also check out the discussion I posted yesterday about the topic of sex in Young Adult literature. ANOTHER topic I think we all have an opinion of.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey (#1)

THE 5TH WAVE has been news around the blogosphere for months now with a mixed reaction to this science-fiction novel targeted for young adults. I was a little apprehensive whether I wanted to read this book after all the comments at its romance, the aliens, the writing and narrators. But then there are some amazing reviews for this book, one of which simply said "I can't explain my feelings for this incredible novel. Just read it".
So when I saw this book in my library, much to my surprise, it was the perfect opportunity to pick it up and discover the hype about this unique book.

Synopsis: After four terrifying and devastating waves, Cassie has learnt to trust no-one. Some of the remaining humans on Earth may look human but inside they are controlled by the aliens themselves. Cassie calls them 'Silencers' as they silence the remaining living. Cassie knows that she must stay alone to stay alive. Until one day when Cassie is injured, she is taken in by Evan Walker, a mysterious guy who disappears each night to 'hunt' for food yet never comes back with anything, yet he is kind to her. Cassie must choose whether to fight, to trust, to live or just give up.

Review: I think one of the problems - and strengths - of this novel is that it is SO different from a lot of YA fiction out there and a lot of readers expect this to be the next Divergent or the next Hunger Games. But there is one basic flaw right there. This isn't dystopian fiction. Dystopian is a sub-genre of science fiction. The genre of science fiction does exist outside of adult fiction although you hardly see any Children's or YA science fiction as dystopian takes up a large percentage of the market (sorry bookseller talk coming out here).
And I think that's why a lot of readers don't like THE 5TH WAVE. And do like it too. It's different, it's 'out there', it's original and it's completely different in the structure, narration and plot to a lot of books around. While dystopian asks 'WHAT IF?' in the future, THE 5TH WAVE asks 'WHAT IF?' right now, in present day.

THE 5TH WAVE is also complex, which is like a breath of fresh air for readers like me who have read SO many YA book that are similar from one another. And also very '2D' with one plot line.
This book follows Cassie primarily who is the main narrator on her journey to finding and saving her 5 year-old brother who was taken away from her. She is a civilian, merely lucky enough to have survived the waves before her. Accompanying her narrative is Zombie, a young boy who is saved when he has the deadly plague that the aliens released in the 3rd Wave. He is taken to a military base where he is learning to fight those against him. The narratives gradually get closer and closer to one another, the reader expecting constantly for them to converge until the very the last part to the novel where they finally meet in Cassie's narrative. There are also some chapters narrated by Sammy, Cassie's brother and an unnamed narrator. There is the feeling gradually increasing throughout about how unsecured and dangerous Cassie's world is which is made all together too realistic in my eyes.

Now the writing THE WRITING. Throughout this book, there is the hidden, undercurrent that something frightening and terrifying is about to happen which keeps you constantly waiting and on edge - which a narrative technique that is quite hard to achieve. The terror the characters feel on the page is so poignant to you as a reader which made me love and root for Cassie and Zombie the whole way through. I loved all the twists and turns that Rick Yancey takes you on and the fast pace just adds perfectly to that making this book at times incredibly suspenseful and exciting to read. The sequence of the plot is quite special as it literally throws you head first into the action, without any world building or knowledge of what is happening apart from the blurb so you gradually have to build up this idea of the devastation that has taken place as well as the events that have turned Cassie's life around. It wasn't, I guess, until about halfway that I truly started to enjoy the book because I was a little confused and trying to work out the world building. But I like book like that - ones that make you think.

In a few reviews on Goodreads, I saw that some say they felt the romance was too sudden, too unrealistic which I can totally see because it kind of just pops up. But seriously guys? Wouldn't you appreciate some company at the end of the world when aliens are after you? I know I would. It is quick, sure, but it works in context. The romance doesn't dominate the novel, like many other science fiction and dystopians out there, it's there at points but I never cared too much about it. And I love that - its what sets THE 5TH WAVE apart from other books and made it all together more realistic. My only problem is after THAT ending, I think a love triangle may come into the picture which may be a downfall for this series...but we'll jump that hurdle when it approaches.

I can see why there is so much controversy over this book, mostly I think because of its structure and its genre. But that is why I loved this more. I'm a little bit of a science fiction movie geek, with War of the Worlds and Back to the Future being some of my favourites so I loved to see that translate to the book world.
This is a hard genre to do well and it's clear Yancey understands the world he is trying to build especially the different complicated elements of the aliens. There are many homages to science fiction novel and movies like War of the Worlds and in Cassie's lovely, real - sometimes sarcastic - narration, you get a sense of how unrealistic some of the theories are - which makes this much more realistic and scarier.
I'm impressed by this first novel to say the least and I think the praise it is getting is well deserved. The YA book market has become full of mostly the same type of novels so it's refreshing to see something completely new and different and I hope this series, and author, lives up to that.

I give this a 4 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.rickyancey.com/
Pages: 457
Publisher: Penguin
Challenges: None

Related Reviews: 
Breathe - Sarah Crossan
Wither - Lauren DeStefano
Cinder - Marissa Meyer

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Where I've Been

So you may have noticed since I made a grand entrance back into the world of blogging, my posts have been a little sporadic.
"WHY? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?" I hear you cry (or wish you would be asking). I hope that this post kind of clears that up.

I've acquired a volunteering job at this little grand old house nearby:

This is Ham House, owned by the National Trust. I'm currently a Room Guide over the summer which means I help visitors understand what they're looking at and tell them about the function of the room. It's been so good so far - a lot of talking - especially with those visitors that love history and want to be told about the house. I'm there every Friday now over the summer. I've always loved history but as I'm not doing a History course at university after doing the subject for 10 years since I was 7 (I'm so old now...), this is SUCH a good way to let my geeky history side out especially if a visitor asks me anything to do with the Tudors.


I've also been working a few more days at Waterstones as I need the money and they need the staff. It's been quite fun actually because I'm normally there at the weekends, I'm meeting different people who come in during the week. And I get to see the whole process if someone orders or when stock comes in to be sold - it's a bit different to my good ol' Saturday job.

(This is my polo shirt, it's about two sizes too
small for me. But I was the only one that could fit
that size...)
I've also been taking the opportunity to read and read as well as just not doing a thing after spending months always on the go, always with something to do or be working on.
I've been following The White Queen since the beginning which I like. Although as I did the War of the Roses for A level, I'm sometimes like 'That didn't happen!' when watching and I kind of know what happens in the end...

Anyway, that's what I've been up to. I'm around, just not at a computer or laptop. It's going to be a busy summer hopefully as I wait for 15th August for results day *shivers*. I still love my blog and the blogging world but sometimes life just gets in the way as I'm sure most of you know.
Keep watching out for things at Rebecca-Books. There are many exciting things coming up....

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Prodigy - Marie Lu (#2)

**This is the second book in the Legend series so there may be some spoilers in this review for those who have not read the first book. If you would like to read my review of the first book, Legend, click here**



After the amazement at discovering such a great series a couple of months ago, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of the sequel to Legend soon. With a quick perusal of my library's funky new website, a reserve and a phone call informing me PRODIGY was ready and waiting for me at my library, I had the chance to find out what's next for June and Day.

Synopsis: June and Day arrive in Las Vegas after June helped Day escape his execution. However, within hours of being there, it is announced that the Elector Primo has died with his young son, Anden taking his place. The pair join a group of Patriots - rebels fighting against the Republic government who want to see a united America once again - who are eager for June and Day's involvement. They will help Day find his brother, but only if they help assassinate the new Elector and push the Republic into chaos and revolution. It is the chance to save a nation that has been silenced for so long. But soon, June starts to question whether this is right, are they getting the full story and ultimately, what if Auden is the right person to be Elector?

Review: Okay, so I thought Legend, the first in this extraordinary series, was pretty good, very different and original from many other dystopians out there. But then I read PRODIGY. And Marie Lu just blew me away. Again. But so much more. SOMEHOW I thought this was better than Legend and that book was pretty darn good.

Part of the beauty of dystopians is the action that makes the genre a bit more interesting apart from the whole corrupt world thing. In many dystopian sequels, there is a different kind of 'second-book-syndrome'. Gone is the definition that the second book cannot live up to the first. FAR from that. The second books in many series - Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Divergent series), Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games series) and Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (Delirium series) to name a few - seem to just be so action packed, like EVERYTHING seems to happen. I guess it's probably because in these trilogies, there is no world-building or setting up the story neither is there any tying up loose ends or creating an ending. But I find, in all the three novels mentioned, the action becomes waaaaay too intense. Just too much to absorb for the humble reader.
BUT in PRODIGY, does that happen? NO. This is so action-packed, don't get me wrong, like literally some chapters - make that MOST chapters, I was breathless by the end, needing a little break to absorb and understand what on earth just happened. But something I found in this novel is that the action was never too much, never too intense and chaotic to read. It's almost cinematic in a way as it is so vivid that I could visualise it all happening so clearly. And THAT, my friends, is due to the amazing writing of Miss Marie Lu.

Lu moves the plot incredibly fast especially with the duel narrative from Day and June, but there are these moments that arise from the surface, moments of romance, kindness, sadness, fear, death. All these emotional moments that once she slows the writing down, the reader appreciates them in full. It's incredibly hard to describe, but if you've read the novel, I really hope you understand what I'm jabbering on about.
There is something compulsive about Marie Lu's writing. She just makes me want to read and read on and on which had me telling myself 'I'll go to sleep after this chapter'. I read half of the book in a couple of hours late one night which as a slow reader, that is a huge achievement for me.

Ah! The characters! I loved June and Day much more and I just love that both these characters share the spotlight in the narrative. These are both quite complex characters who both have a real depth to them and that is handled perfectly. They continue to develop individually and in their relationship together yet none of the aspects that make them so unique and likable in the first book is lost at all.
Some authors have a habit of not developing or evolving their secondary characters which most of the time, make books better or worse whatever the genre. In PRODIGY, that certainly happens in Kaede and Tess as well as the addition of some new characters like Razor, a commander, and Anden (who is just too lovely!). I thought some characters that were in the first book, like Thomas, were left out a little bit. He does appear briefly but then doesn't return so I hope he comes back in the third book.

Can we just pause and look at the ending? I mean Legend was a little bit of a cliffhanger, with me literally about to fall of the edge. BUT THIS ENDING IS JUST...AH. IT'S SO MEAN.
Without ruining anything, for the last quarter of the book, I was sitting there thinking 'This is such a closed ending'. Like it seemed like an end to the series but I KNEW that there was a third book and I was thinking 'What the hell is going to happen in that book then?'.
THEN. POW, POW, POW. All these events and things are thrown at me and before I can react, before I can even think, before I absorb these sudden change of events, it's the last line of the book and once again I'm turning the pages frantically looking for the rest of the story. So basically, watch out for that killer of an end. Because it's unexpected. So unexpected.

If this review didn't quite illustrate my thoughts, in a sentence: this book was brilliant. So brilliant. (okay so two sentences).
It's hard to fathom how good it is and what makes it this good but I'm pretty sure if you read this series and enjoyed it as I did then you'll understand. I haven't come across an amazing dystopian series like this since Divergent, and I read a lot of dystopian fiction. I'll be in the queue for definite for the third and final book and eagerly anticipating with Marie Lu is going to face me with now.
Go buy this book. Buy this series and celebrate the beauty of reading. This book reminded me I'm so in love with reading. And that is just what the doctor ordered.

My thoughts are pretty much summed up in this review I found on Goodreads including the whole thing at the beginning about wondering what I would do if I encountered a zombie. True fact.

I give it a 5 out of 5


Author's Website: http://marielu.org/
Pages: 371
Publisher: Penguin
Challenges: None

Related Reviews: 
Legend - Marie Lu
Noble Conflict - Malorie Blackman
The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness
Divergent - Veronica Roth