Wednesday, 22 February 2017

BLOG TOUR: 'Lie With Me' by Sabine Durrant - SPOILER FREE

Welcome to my stop on the 'Lie With Me' blog tour! 
In May last year, I received a copy of 'Lie With Me' via bookbridgr, but unfortunately I didn't have the time to read it once it arrived. I was intending on going back to it, but with so many other releases filling my inbox it slipped further and further down my TBR. 
That's why I'm so grateful to Vero Norton for contacting me with this wonderfully exciting opportunity. It gave me a kick up the bum and made me prioritise this book, and I'm so glad that I finally picked it up because it is gripping.

'It struck me in the night that this might have started earlier.' 
I'm not a big fan of instant foreshadowing.
I often find that it's too cliched, giving away a huge part of the plot before the action can progress and before we can learn to care about the characters and what could possibly happen to them. If you know something bad is going to happen to someone, there's no point in wasting your hope that things might turn out okay.
In this instance, however, I thought it worked really well.
Paul Morris wakes up in the middle of the night, ruminating on something that has happened in his life. It's dark and disorienting, throwing you straight into the action. His voice is established within the first few paragraphs - he's a strong character, and you know exactly what motivates him within a couple of pages.

Paul Morris is the definition of a bachelor. He's always on the lookout for his next conquest, which is how he ends up going to the book store in Charing Cross: he sees a young redhead through the window, and decides to try his luck. 
He strikes out. He's embarrassed: how dare she not want him? He looks good for 42. He's a published author, a Cambridge graduate. A catch. 
When he bumps into old school friend Andrew, he's distracted. Andrew asks for his number to arrange a lunch and he gives it to him, wondering if the redhead behind the desk will be surrepititiously writing it down now she knows how successful he is. He doesn't want Andrew to contact him, and decides he'll decline the call when it arrives.
He lets his guard down, though, hoping to hear from a journalism student who wanted to wrack his brains for advice. Next thing he knows he's booked in that lunch date with Andrew and he's travelling across London and back into his past.
Arriving at Andrew's house, he meets Alice. He can't remember, but they've met before: ten years ago, when they were both on holiday in Greece. Alice and Andrew have a yearly pilgrimage back, taking both of their families on holiday to a villa that Alice owns: one that they won't be able to visit again, as developers are tearing up the property to clear the way for a new hotel complex. 
Alice is on a mission. Ten years ago, when they were all in Greece, a young girl named Jasmine vanished. She feels personally involved, as she was there to comfort Jasmine's mother in the hours directly following her disappearance, and she's been campaigning for the last decade to get the Greek police to do more to find Jasmine, who she's convinced must still be alive.
She's too old for Paul, but her drive turns him on. She has a villa in Greece, a huge house... She has a lot of money, and he's about to lose the place he's been living. He decides to seduce her, then when her daughter Phoebe goes to university he's hoping she'll invite him to lodge in the spare room. 
Their romance is a whirlwind one. Alice seems unconvinced to start with, inviting Paul to Greece and then refusing to mention the offer again despite his hints, but he pushes into her affections until he finally seems to have her under his spell. He gets the invitation to Greece, and he's certain he'll be able to move straight in as soon as they get back. Easy. 
But Paul starts to wonder if something's going on between Alice and Andrew. The long, lingering looks between them make him uncomfortable, and when he finds condoms in Andrew's bag he takes them, hoping he can stop the affair in its tracks. Then there's a rape on the island, and Alice and Andrew collude to cover up the potential involvement of Alice's son, bringing them closer and making Paul feel as though he's being pushed out...
Paul just wants her to trust him and open up to him, but she won't. He doesn't think it's fair: he's doing everything he can, granting her every wish, but she still seems to favour Andrew. He feels like he has to lie to her constantly, because she believes he has more money than he does - he wants her to have a high opinion of him, and is afraid that if she knows he's broke she'll no longer be interested. Keeping up with all of the falsehoods he's weaving is exhausting, and she still doesn't seem to care for him as much as he does for her.
Their beautiful getaway isn't really a holiday. Alice is so focused on the Finding Jasmine campaign that she barely has time for him, and tensions are rising between him and Andrew. The teenagers aren't making things easier: Louis is moody and uncooperative, while Phoebe and Daisy are constantly flaunting their bikini bodies.With family drama at the forefront of his mind, Paul can hardly relax at their villa, especially with the constant droning of the diggers working ever closer to Alice's property line.

The first third of the book is achingly slow, but as soon as Paul gets to Greece the tension becomes unbearable. 
I will admit, I almost gave up a few times towards the beginning. Paul is arrogant, and reading the story from the viewpoint of a man with such an inflated ego is exhausting. He thinks he's so clever, lying at every possible opportunity, but that gave me secondhand embarrassment. It was obvious that he was going to get caught out. That's the moral of this story: even the smallest lies catch up with you.
His constant scheming to get invited to Greece is also tiring. If he didn't get to go to Greece their would be no story, so all of the chapters where he's hinting his interest are unnecessary. He's so needy, refusing to outwardly ask if he can go, just desperately trying to manipulate her into wanting him there. I hate men who treat women as though they're less intelligent. Paul is one of those people who only sees women for their bodies, rather than for their minds. He's not attracted to Phoebe, Alice's teenage daughter, because she has badly dyed hair, so when she asks him about journalism he's dismissive and uninterested. 
If you haven't guessed, Paul is a hateful man. That's the point; because you know that bad things are coming to this irritating character, you're eager to see him experience his downfall. That's not to say that you'll celebrate it when it eventually happens, though. Sabine Durrant knows how to manipulate her reader's emotions, meaning that you care for characters you previously hated and despite those you thought you loved.
Bear with it. If you're hoping to read a thriller that is relentless in its intensity then this is not the book for you (but I'm going to be featuring one like that next week, so stay tuned!). Be patient: it pays off
Sabine's descriptions of Greece are delightful. It was raining every day I read this book, but I could feel the heat emanating from the pages and warming my soul, making me desperate for summer to hurry up and arrive. This is the perfect holiday read, so if you're going anywhere nice any time soon keep this book in mind. 
After you get through the dragging establishing chapters the book is a very quick read, becoming almost impossible to put down. There are subtle clues sprinkled throughout the story, but until you know exactly what happened it's difficult to pick up on them. As soon as you know everything makes sense - you can feel that last piece of the jigsaw puzzle snap into place, clearing the meaning that has been obscured throughout. 
It takes a very clever writer to create a story like this. The way that everything gets twisted to have a different meaning is mind-blowing, and if it hadn't been for the way that Sabine neatly tied up the loose ends and explained everything that had happened throughout, this would have been an instant reread for me. 
I'm not going to give spoilers, because this isn't a book that would be easy to enjoy if you knew what was going to happen. All I can ask you to do is to give it a chance. If I hadn't been reading this for a blog tour I would have given up, and after seeing how it all ends that would have been a huge mistake. 

I haven't read any of Sabine Durrant's novels before, but after this I'm craving more of her writing. Her characters are very authentic, and the way she weaves her plot is astounding. It's been a long time since I've read a novel with an antihero protagonist, and this is making me want to read books about hateful people - something I normally dislike doing. 
Also, just look at how gorgeous the cover is. How can you resist a book that beautiful?

TOP FIVE WEDNESDAY: Five books to break your reading slump

(Top Five Wednesday was created by GingerReadsLainey. Find out more at the Goodreads group!)

I am the queen of the reading slump.
"What?" I hear you cry. "How can that be? You're always reading!"
Well, yeah. Now I am. But for most of my teenagers years I couldn't bring myself to pick up a single book, and the ones that I did took me months of struggling to finally finish. 
These five books are ones that I read during that period of my life. Despite the fact that every book was taking me weeks (okay, months) to finish, I managed to finish all of these books in one sitting, and loved every moment. 

5) 'Red Rising' by Pierce Brown
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I can see that some people could find this one slump-inducing. Pierce Brown's world is very complex, and the hierarchy ranging from the Golds to the Reds is hard to get your head around. Despite the fact that I normally struggle with sci-fi, this quickly became one of my favourite books in the entire world. If you love characters with huge motivation and lots of action, you'll love this one too. 

4) 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' by J.K. Rowling

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Despite the fact that I haven't read the entire Harry Potter series, I really like the first book. I've read it at least four times, and every one of those times I've finished it within a day. I will eventually move on to the other books in the series (I've read the second book a few times, but only read the third once), but it definitely helps inspire me to start reading again. 

3) The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer

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I read this entire series in a week. I don't normally finish series. 'Nuff said.

2) 'Looking For Alaska' by John Green

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'Looking For Alaska' - aka the only John Green novel I'll ever recommend - is a brilliant slumpbuster. It's fun, it's romantic, then it's heartbreaking and depressing and destroys you and makes you never want to read another book again, but you have to read another book to stop thinking about this one.

1) 'Entangled' by Cat Clarke
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This is my ultimate slumpbuster. I've only read it once, but if I ever get into a terribly deep reading slump I am going to pick this one up again and I KNOW it will cure me.
I didn't used to be a fast reader, but I read this one in a sitting. I sat completely still and finished it and then felt extremely disoriented and realised I was late for sixth form. You can't say better than that.

I hope you enjoyed this Top Five Wednesday! What books do you read when you have a slump that really needs bustin'?

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten books I loved more than I thought I would

(Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish!)

We've all been there.
You hear loads of bad reviews about a book, people going absolutely crazy about how awful it is, but you'd been looking forward to it so you decide to pick it up anyway and, surprisingly, you love it.
Or you hear so many good things that you know there's no possible way that the book can live up to the hype... But it does.
These ten books are ones that I'd presumed I wouldn't enjoy, and ended up really liking.

10) 'Our Chemical Hearts' by Krystal Sutherland
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I heard so many mixed reviews for 'Our Chemical Hearts' - countless five star reviews and a huge number of one star reviews - that I almost didn't pick it up. I was nervous as heck. I shouldn't have been: I adored Krystal's portrayal of first love and the way that loss always stays with you.

9) 'Wondrous' by Travis M. Riddle
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I've received a few review requests over the years that have gone terribly. Books that verged on a thousand pages, droning on and on, completely impossible to finish - books that were hardly edited at all, with thousands of inconsistencies and spelling errors.
Thankfully, 'Wondrous' suffered from neither of these issues, and I adored the world that Travis created. It was so much fun!

8) 'Nothing Tastes as Good' by Claire Hennessy
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I always worry about reading stories that feature anorexia, because it's a topic very close to my heart. I loved 'Wintergirls' by Laurie Halse Anderson, but I hated 'Massive' by Julia Bell. Luckily, 'Nothing Tastes as Good' was another title that I enjoyed - Claire handled the disorder beautifully, and went to great lengths to avoid glamourising it.

7) 'Persuasion' by Jane Austen
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We've all heard tales of people loved and lost, but what happens when those lost loved ones return and seem to be moving on with someone else? This is the struggle that Anne Elliot finds herself trying to deal with. I thought 'Persuasion' sounded boring at first glance, but it ended up being one of the more dramatic of Jane Austen's novels.

6) 'How Not To Disappear' by Clare Furniss
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I was nervous about reading this book. It sounded a lot like Jenny Downham's 'Unbecoming', but with the added bonus of a girl experiencing an unexpected pregnancy and wondering whether to get an abortion. Thankfully Clare Furniss dealt with everything in this book BEAUTIFULLY, and it quickly became one of my favourite books of all time.

5) 'Girl Online: Going Solo' by Zoe Sugg
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There was much less solo Penny than advertised in the title, but I still think this book showed Zoe's writing getting stronger with each release (and, hopefully, with the more writing she does herself, rather than using a ghostwriter). I hated the first book and was mildly aggravated by the second, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

4) 'Icicles Like Kindling' by Sara Raasch
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Most novellas end up being disappointing and unnecessary, but 'Icicles Like Kindling' actually added something to the world of the trilogy it accompanies. We get to know Meira on a deeper level, and can fully understand her motivation throughout 'Snow Like Ashes' by seeing the event that started it all. You can read it free online here to see whether you agree with me or not.

3) 'The Heartfix' by Stella Grey
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Okay, I judged this one harshly from the outside. In my opinion, a tell-all memoir isn't as effective if you're writing under a pseudonym. It takes away some of the authenticity, some of the ballsiness that writing a memoir requires in the first place. But I ended up really enjoying 'The Heartfix', laughing at all of the crazy dating antics that Stella experienced in her search for love after her divorce.

2) 'The Restaurant at the End of the Universe' by Douglas Adams
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I wasn't blown away by 'The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy', but I LOVED the second book in the series. Having read them all now, I can categorically state that 'The Restaurant at the End of the Unvierse' is the best of all five stories - even if you don't read past it, I'd highly recommend reading the first two installments.

1) 'The Invasion of the Tearling' by Erika Johansen
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I hated the first book in the Tearling series, then ended up being severely disappointed by the last installment, but the second book was sheer perfection.

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday! The Broke and The Bookish announced they're taking a brief hiatus, so check back next week to see what topic of my own I choose to talk about.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Taking Back Sunday - O2 Forum, London, 16/02/17

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I missed black foxxes set, but Frank Iero and the Patience took to the stage fifteen minutes later than expected, so I managed to get there for their whole set.
I was apprehensive when the band were announced as support. I saw frnkiero and the cellabration live twice, but didn't know if their new stage name meant they'd no longer be performing material from debut album '.STOMACHACHES.'. My opinions on the other two sets of theirs that I'd experienced were vastly different; I found the first utterly disappointing, but the second was a successful festival set that left me begging for more.
This performance reverted my opinion back to its original state.
Starting the set with three songs from 'Parachutes', my first thought was that it was promising. The music is more developed than the debut album, intricate guitar lines looping over the bass and through the drums, making the band a tight and cohesive machine.
But Frank Iero's vocal was not up to scratch. He was struggling. I could hardly understand a word that he was sing-screaming, and at points his mouth was wide open and you couldn't hear anything coming out. The backing vocalists carried him. Without them, it would have been a complete train wreck.
I hadn't heard the new songs before, so I don't know if that's how they're supposed to sound, but I found myself cringing and wishing that the set would end.
That's the problem with Frank Iero and the Patience: if it wasn't for Frank Iero, they would be nowhere. Thanks to the success of My Chemical Romance, Frank has a ready made fan base that blindly accept anything he releases, regardless of musical prowess or lyrical content. If it was an unknown support band playing music like this, the crowd would be bored and wouldn't participate; there wouldn't be crowdsurfing and moshing throughout almost every song. It's not that kind of music.
It's exasperating. There's an entire genre out there that sounds like this and never really gets off the ground, and because Frank went from a platinum-selling band he has a crowd the size that which other bands playing this style will never be able to achieve.
I'm not innately against the band: if I was I wouldn't enjoy the older material so much. Songs like 'Tragician' and 'Weighted' work perfectly in a room of this size, and are bright moments in an otherwise dull and dreary set. I just wish the second album had been a development in this direction, rather than away from a sound that really suited them.

World Destroyer
Veins! Veins!! Veins!!!
I'm A Mess
I'll Let You Down
All I Want Is Nothing
Dear Percocet, I Don't Think We Should See Each Other Anymore
Stage 4 Fear of Trying

I'm not a huge fan of Taking Back Sunday's new album, but I'm a sucker for their live show.
The songs from 'Tidal Wave' are rather different than anything else they've released - most similar to fourth album 'New Again', which they never play songs from live - so they stand out in the set. I thought that was going to be a bad thing, but it actually breaks things up nicely.
Starting with 'Death Wolf' was a risk that didn't pay off: its "Had a little bit and now we want some more" repetitive chant building to a crescendo could have been a really climactic point in the middle of the set, but as opener it fell flat. It was premature, the crowd failing to warm up in time.
However, after playing the classic 'Timberwolves at New Jersey', the crowd finally kicked up into high gear. I was quite far back in the seats - the problem with getting to the venue late after being stuck in horrendous traffic - and it was impressive to watch a huge amount of the audience surge to their feet moments in to the song, arms waving in the air as they reminisced on old times.
The throwbacks continued to get the best responses throughout: 'What's It Feel Like To Be a Ghost?', 'You're So Last Summer' and 'Cute Without The 'E' (Cut From The Team)' all getting explosive reactions. When the crowd is singing louder than the band is playing? That's dedication.
While the people in attendance were more energetic during the old songs, the band seems invigorated by the new material. During 'Death Wolf' vocalist Adam Lazzara was leaping across the stage, furiously roaring into his microphone and shrieking like a banshee, more unrestrained than ever before. He seemed excited to tell the fans about the new songs, introducing 'Call Come Running' by describing the music video they released (and the way he got his father involved) and sharing the story behind 'All Excess' (a song written about Slam Dunk festival, and the way Adam "went on this terrible bender [and] extremely embarrassed [himself]").
They seem to be so proud of the album they've released that they want to showcase it. It's not an obligation, it's an honour. That alone is enough to make me reconsider my verdict on the album, and I'm looking forward to listening to it again with the knowledge of how much it means to the band.
The night was over far too quickly - despite the fact that this was an eighteen song set, it passed in a flash. It's impossible not to have fun at a Taking Back Sunday show, especially when the band seem much more enthusiastic than they ever have before.

Death Wolf
Liar (It Takes One To Know One)
You Can't Look Back
Timberwolves at New Jersey
What's It Feel Like To Be a Ghost?
A Decade Under the Influence
All Excess
Error: Operator
You're So Last Summer
Flicker, Fade
Call Come Running
You Know How I Do
Stood A Chance
Better Homes and Gardens
Tidal Wave
My Blue Heaven
Cute Without The 'E' (Cut From The Team)

Sunday, 19 February 2017

WTF Did I Miss This Week? #20 (w/c 13/02/17)

The publishing world:

A bunch more new releases to add to your shelves:
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More beautiful cover reveals:
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In other news:
  • Philip Pullman has announced a trilogy that will stand alongside His Dark Materials. Called The Book of Dust, the first volume doesn't have a name yet but it does have a release date: October 19th. 
  • The trailer for the 'Everything, Everything' film was released. Check it out below:

  • Chigozie Obioma's 'The Fishermen' is getting a stage adaptation
  • Gwen Cole will be releasing a Western YA called 'Ride On' in spring 2018.
  • Neil Gaiman is writing a sequel to 'Neverwhere'. I should probably read the first book...
  • The 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal and Kate Greenaway medal longlists have been announced.
  • The most exciting anthology of all time ever has been announced: 'Toil and Trouble', an anthology of feminist stories of witchcraft, co-edited by Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood and featuring a whole host of amazing authors. I'm just going to try time-jumping to fall 2018, don't mind me...
The music world:

There were a few bits of new music:

Ex-InVogue Records band Restless Streets released a new song called 'In Vogue', which the owner of InVogue has responded to:

BTW, saying you're "not even mad anymore" and then releasing a diss track? The definition of hypocrisy.

Welsh heavyweights When We Were Wolves have given the world 'The Gift Of Hating Me':

The Summer Set outdid everyone, releasing a movie for 'Jean Jacket' on Valentine's Day: 

New Found Glory are 'Happy Being Miserable':

Oh, and there's a new All Time Low track, their first Fueled By Ramen release. You'll have definitely missed this news - not like they were trending on Twitter for hours after the premiere...:

There were also new releases from Linkin Park, Papa RoachMaroon 5, OneRepublic, Senses Fail, The Rocket Summer, The One Hundred and Creeper, and twenty one pilots released the first episode of a five-part tour documentary called 'Sleepers', celebrating the last dates of the Emotional Roadshow tour. 

Just a few small tour announcements:
  • Never Shout Never will be playing their first two EPs in full across a string of American dates between March and April
  • Following their European tour announcement last week, Descendents have released the dates for their upcoming US tour. Starting in April and running sporadically until December, it's a sprawling leg. 
  • Madina Lake are back together! As well as announcing a couple of UK headline shows to celebrate, they've also been added to the Slam Dunk festival line-up. GET IN. 
  • The Story So Far have announced they're touring the US in May. Support comes from Turnstile and Drug Church.  
  • Coasts are playing a six-date UK tour from May 29th to June 5th. I've got my eye on that Bristol show...
  • Metallica have announced a US tour running from May to August. They're taking Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat and Gojira along for the ride. Gojira also announced a few headline dates (with support from Kyng, Deafheaven, Opeth and Code Orange) so a lot of chances to see those guys on the road. 
  • The Amity Affliction are touring Australia in June, along with PVRIS, Beartooth and Make Them Suffer. I wish I could go to one of these dates. 
  • Machine Gun Kelly is playing a one-off UK headline show at Koko on June 7th.
  • OneRepublic are the headliners of this year's Honda Civic tour, which runs from July to September. Support comes from Fitz and the Tantrums and X Factor winner James Arthur.  
In other news:
  • twenty one pilots accepted their first GRAMMY in their underwear...
  • ...while Highly Suspect's Johnny Stevens wore politics on the red carpet. 
  • Simon Webbe from Blue got engaged!
  • Ex-Get Scared vocalist Joel Faviere has been arrested for possession of child pornography. Not another one...
  • As if there haven't been enough festival announcements over the last couple of weeks, it was time for Fort Fest to get in on the action.
  • Austin Carlile has revealed that there was more to his departure from Of Mice and Men... 
  • Fireball announced their 2017 Hottest Band: Sweet Little Machine
  • Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos has started an artist support company. Providing legal, educational and healthcare services to artists, this is a necessary move. 
  • Diamond Days have called it a day
  • PVRIS are up to something...
  • Dan Jones from Chelsea Grin got into med school. Impressive. 
  • As well as releasing a new song, Linkin Park released the details for their new album, 'One More Light', which will be out on May 19th.
  • In other album news, Incubus will be releasing their long-awaited eighth full-length on April 21st. They've very creatively titled it '8'. I wonder where they got that from?
  • HalfNoise (Zac Farro) announced his new EP, 'The Velvet Face', will be released on March 24th...
  • ...and in the last of the album announcements, Volumes announced that 'Different Animals' will be released June 9th. 
  • The Dillinger Escape Plan have cancelled the remaining dates of their European tour following their bus crash.  
  • Sadly, Kittie's bassist Trish Doan passed away this week. She was only 31 years old. You can read vocalist Morgan Lander's statement here.
  • Both Fit For A King and The Browning were robbed this week, the former in USA and the latter in Italy. Ouch. 
  • Attila got into a fight with some show security. Read their statement on the incident here
  • My favourite article from the week came from AltPress. They interviewed Chrissy Costanza from Against The Current about the plight of women in music, after noticing that she's the only female on the Reading and Leeds festival line-up (so far). Her responses are eloquent and all for female empowerment - it's impossible to believe that she's only 21.
  • A Day To Remember are being given the key to the city of Ocala. I guess that despite hating their washed up town, the band are honoured. 
  • Finally, Machine Gun Kelly (aka MGK) is the newest AltPress cover star. Check it out below:

That's all for this week! Next week's installment is going to be posted pretty early, as I'm going to Bristol to see With Confidence that night - see you then. 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

'Wing Jones' by Katherine Webber

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*This review will contain spoilers!*
'I've never, ever seen a model who looks anything like me. Not black, not Chinese, certainly not white.' 

'My first memory is of my brother.'
Wing's family is the most important thing to her, and that's obvious from this first line. She's the protagonist - the titular character! - but she wants to tell the readers about her big brother Marcus, not about herself.

Wing Jones is a fifteen-year-old half Chinese, half Ghanaian girl living in Atlanta in 1995, who starts running after her brother makes a terrible mistake. 
Marcus has always been the golden boy. He's the school's best soccer player, destined for greatness, sure to get a scholarship. His sporting prowess means he's popular, constantly surrounded by friends, including his girlfriend Monica and best friend Aaron, the boy Wing has had a crush on for as long as she can remember. 
Marcus can do anything he wants, be anyone he wants. 
But Wing is different. Where their mixed heritage expresses itself as 'exotic' in Marcus, Wing is big. She's big-boned, too tall, with a large ass to boot. 
'I don't remember the last time I went to the mall. I hate the way the mannequins stare at me. I feel like they're judging, telling me I won't fit into what they're wearing, and even if I could, it wouldn't look good.' 
She doesn't have many friends, and she's always getting average grades. The only thing that stands out about Wing is the way she looks, and that means her classmates often use her as a verbal punching bag.
Until Marcus gets drunk at a party and decides to drive anyway.
He runs a red light and crashes into a young mother driving home, killing her and Michael, one of his passengers. Marcus is badly injured: as well as sustaining broken ribs and a broken leg, he's in a coma. Things don't look good for him.
Understandably, Wing is distraught. Marcus's reputation is destroyed, and though she didn't think it was possible she's now treated like even more of an outsider. So she starts running.
It gives her something to focus on, and she feels as though it's helping Marcus: every step she takes is another beat his heart will take. He'll be so proud when he wakes up and realises that his little sister is good at something. She might even challenge him to a race, and Marcus can't resist a competition.
Aaron catches Wing down at the track one night. He can tell she has a talent and convinces her to try out for the team. They start running together every night, and she beings to wonder if he might have feelings for her, too.
Wing has always been happier fading into the background, hiding in Marcus's shadow. Will his accident give her the courage to shine, or will she convince Aaron to keep her running a secret?

This could be the perfect standalone.
The focus is on one aspect of the larger story: Wing's running. We follow her through the catalyst that makes her decide to start running, her struggle when deciding whether to go public with her abilities, her fight to be accepted as part of the team despite her bigger size and different skin colour.
But the book ends with a large part of the story untold.
We don't know how long Marcus has to go to prison for his manslaughter conviction, or whether the accident will have long lasting effects on his physical and mental health. We don't know if Monica will be strong enough to stay in a relationship with him despite the pressure from her family and the knowledge of what he did looming over them.
Wing wins the Riveo Running Girl competition, but how will she deal with the pressure of having the eyes of the world upon her? Will the prize money be enough to pay off all of Marcus's medical bills, or will their financial struggle continue?
That's what makes it such a success. Instead of wrapping everything up, Katherine leaves so much unfinished. It makes the story stick in your mind, but not in an unsatisfying way. The story that was being told, Wing's discovery of running, is finished. If she had tried to write a conclusion giving away all of the answers, it would have been rushed and would have detracted from the impact of the rest of the story. I want a sequel, and the best standalones make you feel like that: they have such well-developed and lovable characters that you're desperate to follow them further in their lives.
I can't get over how amazing this book is. I read it over two bus journeys, but when I got to my destination I couldn't stop thinking about Wing and wanting to know what happened to her. As soon as I finished it I just wanted to start it again.
The major thing is: I didn't see Marcus's car crash coming. It starts the plot but it was an absolute shock because I was enjoying the story so much without any tension. I was already rooting for Wing and Aaron and I wanted to know what was coming between Marcus and Monica. Katherine Webber made a plot within the first fifty pages, but by taking the story in a completely different direction she pushed herself. I often get bored when it doesn't seem like anything is happening, but I was enjoying just spending a night out eating waffles with these characters.
I loved Wing. I loved her ruminations on her ethnicity, on her size, on her family. I want her to be my best friend, and I want her to be the protagonist of every book I ever read: it would make them all much more enjoyable.

I'm so glad that the #SundayYA book club chose this book. When books are this hyped I always avoid reading them because I presume I'm going to end up being disappointed, but the exact opposite happened in this case.
I need Katherine Webber to write at least 100 more books, because I'm never going to be able to get enough of her writing style. Everyone should read this, and I do mean EVERYONE. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

TOP FIVE WEDNESDAY: Five favourite non-written novels

(Top Five Wednesday was created by GingerReadsLainey. Find out more at the Goodreads group!)

This week has the weirdest topic title I've ever seen, and I wasn't too sure what to include in it. Does free verse count as non-written? Well, no, because it still uses words... What about - nope, that's definitely written too...
I settled for five graphic novels, because my brain was hurting too much to think about it any harder. I love graphic novels, and I feel like I don't talk about them enough, so it's good to have another excuse.

5) Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy
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All of the characters in the Lumbejanes are well-developed and realistic, and isn't that what we love the most about novels? Also the adventures that these girls get up to would not work as well if they weren't so beautifully illustrated. 

4) Gotham Academy: Welcome To Gotham Academy
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If I read YA that features a boarding school, I normally forget everything about it. I don't know why, but I can't remember a single thing about House of Night or Vampire Academy (and I've read the latter twice!). But Gotham Academy is memorable and utterly terrifying.

3) Batgirl: Batgirl of Burnside
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A lot of people hated the New 52 Batgirl, but I thought she was awesome. She's cool, she's popular, she's the person I want to be. She manages to juggle all of the struggles of being a twenty-something with fighting crime - I wish I could have my shit together like that!

2) The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Power
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I LOVE DOREEN GREEN. Every time I read a volume of Squirrel Girl I feel SO HAPPY. This is the definition of a comfort read. If you're ever feeling sad and you want to read something that has a great moral, authentic characters and more cameo appearances than you can count, look no further. 

1) Spider-Man: Miles Morales
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I fell in love with Miles Morales as soon as I started reading the first volume. As soon as he said "I don't want to be the black Spider-Man. I want to be Spider-Man," I was hooked. I'm definitely looking forward to his upcoming animated movie, even though I think he deserves more than just that.  

I hope you enjoyed this Top Five Wednesday, even if I wasn't too sure what to talk about... 
What do you classify as a non-written novel?

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


(Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish!)

In celebration, this week's Top Ten Tuesday is all about romance. We could choose exactly what we wanted to talk about, so I've decided to talk about my ten favourite couples of all time.
These are couples who I will ship until the day I die... Even if they die first, and totally ruin all of my plans for them to grow old and die together.

10) Jasmine and Royce - Something In Between
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Melissa de la Cruz's own voices novel about an illegal immigrant in America has a wonderful relationship. Royce's father is a politician campaigning against immigrants, but he doesn't let his father get in the way of his relationship and supports Jasmine at every turn. 

9) Liam and Annie - 90210
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Ugh, they're so painfully adorable. 
The first episode of 90210 I saw featured Annie and Liam breaking up. I quickly watched all of the older episodes, so that I could see them together, and prayed and hoped through the rest of the seasons that they'd end up together. 

8) Mara and Noah - The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
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I haven't read the third book in the Mara Dyer trilogy yet, but during the first and second books I cried heavily and regularly. I just wanted happiness for Noah and Mara SO MUCH, and the way Michelle Hodkin writes their relationship is so heartbreakingly relatable. 

7) Elena and Damon - The Vampire Diaries
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Delena is endgame. If Delena doesn't happen by the end of the final season of The Vampire Diaries, I am rioting.

6) Maggie and Glenn - The Walking Dead
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In some apocalyptic situations, you have couples getting together just for the sake of it, just so they don't have to experience the end alone. Not so with Glenn and Maggie. They're perfect for each other, it just took a zombie uprising for them to meet. 

5) Alaska and Pudge - Looking For Alaska
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Pudge and Alaska were the first couple that I really rooted for. Before that I'd thought it would be good if relationships worked out, and I felt happy for those that did, but I didn't really CARE... Until John Green stomped all over my heart and made me eternally sad. 

4) Aria and Ezra AND Hanna and Caleb - Pretty Little Liars
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Okay, I also love Emily and Alison and Toby and Spencer, but it would have been RIDICULOUS to choose all four Pretty Little Liars couples. 
I can't choose between Ezria and Haleb, though. Just look how happy they are. So beautiful. So pure.
Again, if these two aren't endgame, I'm rioting. 

3) Clarke and Lexa - The 100
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2) Steffi and Rhys - A Quiet Kind of Thunder
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I've been talking about A Quiet Kind of Thunder a lot recently, and that's because STEFFI AND RHYS. They're the GREATEST bookish couple OF ALL TIME, EVER. I can't get enough of these two. Sara Barnard is a freaking genius. 

1) Lucas and Peyton - One Tree Hill
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If you haven't watched One Tree Hill yet, be warned that it is a ROLLERCOASTER. Lucas and Peyton break up and get back together and break up and get back together and break up and... Oh, it was pretty tricky to keep track. But they're my favourite couple OF ALL TIME. EVER. 

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday! Do you ship any of these couples, or do you think all of my choices are completely wrong?