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review 2017-07-20 14:44
DNF: Nowhere Near You
Nowhere Near You - Leah Thomas

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I just can't get into this one. Sad, because I remember I really loved the first book because it's characters and plot were so unique. Though I just can't connect with this second book at all. Possibly because I remember very little about the story in the first book. The novel takes place shortly after the first one finishes with the two characters still writing to each other. Ollie is looking for other kids like him and Moritz has an opportunity for a new school. It's not a bad book by any means, the characters  are still very different and original, I just can't get into the story at all. I have a finished paperback of the first one, and I did get a paperback of this one to go with it. So it's certainly a book I may go back to and reread both together at some point in the future. 

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing PLC for approving my request to view the title. 

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review 2017-07-13 11:54
Review: Blood Rose Rebellion
Blood Rose Rebellion - Rosalyn C. Eves

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I had pre ordered a finished hardcover, I put in a request on Netgalley, and 90% of my Random House requests are declined, so I was completely gobsmacked when I was actually approved for this one. So I wound up with a pretty white cover finished copy and a pretty blue cover copy for my kindle.

 

Though I don’t really know what to say on the actual story itself. It’s an interesting idea. In this alternative historical society the upper class wealthy people are magical users, Luminates. Various families have different magical traits. When they reach a certain age society children go through a test to see what magical affinity they are suited to. Only the elite class can become Luminates. There are rare instances where children like our heroine Anna, are barren with seemingly no magical talent whatsoever.

 

Anna’s best hope in society is marrying of equal wealth. Her older sister Catherine outshines her in every respect, magically and looks. Catherine is a snob. She has a younger brother who I got the impression was quite weak and sickly. Her mother is much of a snob as her sister, and her father seems quite passive. Debutant balls in this society require a display of magic. The novel starts with Catherine’s debutant ball and magical display. Anna is supposed to be out of the way with the younger brother but it doesn’t happen. She’s been seeing a wealthy boy, Freddy, whom she has a big crush on. She winds up crashing her sister’s ball and something goes drastically wrong when the magic collapses when Anna arrives in the ballroom.  Anna apparently has the ability to break magic apart.

 

Scandalised, her mother sends her off to Hungary with Anna’s grandmother to Grandmother’s home estate. Where Anna gets a lesson in Hungarian magic and politics. She inadvertently finds herself on the land of Hungarian Romani’s. Which sparks a love-hate relationship with a boy she meets. There’s also a rebellion going on she finds herself entwined with, a group of people who (understandably) hate the fact that only the aristocrats of society can use magic. They’ve spelled it to be so. Anna has the capability of bringing this to a collapse.

 

The biggest problem I had with this novel was that I found it quite repetitive. The magic and the rebellion were quite fascinating, Anna was a likeable enough heroine. But she finds herself in situations that are quite often morally ambiguous. She’s faced with some really tough choices in following her heart or following her own mind. Most of the situations she’s faced with are the sort where there is no clear right or wrong answer. Whatever decision she makes, someone will be hurt. And she goes back and forth over this in various situations throughout the novel.

 

Definitely a worthwhile read and after that ending I’m looking forward to the next instalment.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Children's for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-07-07 11:46
Review: The Names They Gave Us
The Names They Gave Us - Emery Lord

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I had pre ordered this one ages ago, but I have a habit of pre ordering finished copies of Emery Lord books and requesting them on Netgalley as soon as I see them. Usually I start them as soon as I’m approved, but in this case it took me a while to get round to starting this one. Mainly because of the subjects it dealt with – faith and cancer.

 

While it took me a while to get into the novel, by the end I did love it to pieces, and as with every Emery Lord book I’ve read by the end I was in floods of tears. Beautifully written, and I thought it handled the tough subjects excellently. A+ points for diverse characters, transgender rep and friendships as well. The characters were fantastic and well fleshed out. The romance was adorable. The adults were likeable as well.

 

The novel tells the story of teenager Lucy who has learned that her mother’s cancer has returned. Lucy’s dad is a pastor, she’s very religious. She has a great relationship with her parents, she has a steady boyfriend of several years Lucas. Though on receiving the news, she falls to pieces. She starts to question her faith. It’s all handled very thoughtfully and manages to do it without being preachy at all. So bonus points for that.

 

Lucy’s parents run a Christian themed summer camp and she usually helps out as a councillor, but her mom convinces her to try being a councillor at the camp the other side of the lake, Daybreak. Which is a camp helping troubled children. Her mom thinks this may help Lucy deal with some of her own issue. She’s in pieces in private, but determined to put on a strong face around her parents. Though she’s acting out and getting overly amorous with the boyfriend. The boyfriend was also very religious and frankly, a bit of a dick. He was trying to be patient and understanding, but it didn’t come across very well – then – he puts their relationship ON PAUSE over the summer. Jerk.

 

Lucy is a bit reluctant to try Daybreak, she just wants to be with her mom. But she finds herself getting to know the other councillors her age, and dealing with the children, from all sorts of different backgrounds with all sorts of problems. As much as I liked Lucy and her voice I did find her to be kind of sheltered, maybe something to do with her deep religious beliefs. One of the kids, a girl of 14 is pregnant, and Lucy is quite shocked by this. She turns out to really connect to the girl and help her a lot.

 

Lucy makes friends in the camp, though the other councillors have known each other for years, she struggles to find her way into the close group of close-knit friends. It’s very sweet as she learns to accept the other kids who they are, find things in common with them, and gets to know them. She finds herself attracted one of the councillors her age, a boy named Henry. They bond and develop a close friendship with the potential for something more. Lucy has to figure out if she really wants to make the relationship with Lucas work, or go for something new with Henry. It works really well and adds a lot of depth to Lucy’s character as she struggles to make her decisions.

 

Lucy has to deal with a lot of different emotions and manages to handle them extremely well. She has her moments where she does fall apart. I did find I really liked her views on her struggle with her faith as well. A lot of it made a great deal of sense as she pondered it out. And there really were some beautiful passages on faith towards the end of the novel.

 

Tough subjects, but well worth reading.

 

I loved it.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-07-06 16:35
Review: Waste of Space
Waste of Space - Gina Damico Waste of Space - Gina Damico

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This is the second book I’ve read recently with a satirical tone which seems to be poking fun at the absurdity of “reality” TV.  In this reader’s opinion, this is the better book. It’s funnier, and there are an abundance of characters who needed to be punched on lots of different occasions, but it is utterly gripping.

 

The premise of this one is pretty straight forward as explained in the synopsis. Ten random kids thrown together on what they think is a spaceship, and sent into space. Which is really a big ass soundstage in the Californian desert somewhere with a host of spectacular special effects, built by a team of scientists. Lead by an executive producer who’s a gigantic moron but clearly thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread.  

 

The casting is the worst type of stereotyping, and personalities will almost clearly clash, with maybe two or three characters who were actually likeable. It’s impossible to recap much without being spoilery.

 

Of course with this sort of premise, it’s not long before things go hideously wrong. There is a slightly snarky tone to most of it, it’s told in a series of reports and interviews and such of what happened after it all went down. Nothing is as it seems, behind the scenes things unravel fantastically, and the viewing public are utterly fascinated. It’s the type of terrible TV show that you find yourself unable to stop watching no matter how obviously fake it is and how obviously bad it is.

 

I did find some of the characters to be really surprising, showing a really surprising side to themselves. There were a fair number of them who were idiots. There was also some great twists to the plot as well.  Nothing too deep. It was quite silly in parts, and quite funny. Very entertaining.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-07-03 12:01
Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful
A Tragic Kind of Wonderful - Eric Lindstrom

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Not entirely sure what to say on this one. This is a contemporary YA novel about a girl with bipolar disorder. I know almost nothing about how bipolar disorder works, so I feel like I can’t judge how good the representation was. I liked the author’s debut novel. I liked this one too, but not quite so much.

 

It tells the story of Mel Hannigan, who is struggling to cope with bipolar disorder. She works at an old people’s care home, has a few friends, reluctantly sees a therapist, takes her meds, though seems more comfortable talking to one of the doctors at the care home where she works than confide in her regular therapist. She keeps a track of meds and how she’s feeling in a somewhat complex routine noting how she’s coping and feeling. Each chapter starts with a list of Mel’s tracking routine. (Which seemed complex to me, it was explained in the novel though I can’t say I understood it).

 

Mel had a brother who met a tragic end, who also had bipolar disorder, she lives with her mom and dad and her aunt who also has the disorder. They each deal with it differently. The aunt is very outgoing and loud, where Mel is quite quiet and while she connects to a few friends she can’t bring herself to tell the truth about her disorder.

 

Her family moved at some point, and Mel found a great group of friends, but a fight and falling out with one, lead to the others getting some false information and cutting her off.  Though at the start of the novel the girl she had a fight with drops a bombshell on her leading her to have to try and speak to the others again. While this is going on Mel is getting to know David, the grandson of one of the residents at the care home. They have a somewhat rough meeting which leads to a cute romance.

 

The novel dealt with Mel’s ups and downs, struggles reconnecting with her old friends, and the truth about what really happened and why they all fell out, dealing with her disorder, falling for David, realising that the therapist isn’t so bad and is there to help.

 

Of course nothing is quite so smooth and everything goes wrong at some point. It seemed to me at least to be handled quite realistically, Mel was a likeable character, she had good moments and bad moments, times when she did stupid teenage things which caused problems in other respects. Like partying and drinking which had a big effect on her meds. Fights with her aunt. Surprising things came out when Mel reconnected with her old friends. One thing I did like was the parental input from Mel’s parents. Not overbearing, but understanding and helpful, which was nice to see.

 

A decent contemporary read.  I did buy a finished copy (The UK paperback has a really nice bright pink eye catching cover, I couldn’t resist).

 

Thank you Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, Children's for approving my request to view the title.

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