And the rest of 2013…

So here’s all the books I never got round to reviewing last year because I was too busy. Lame excuse, I know!

13) Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo

We got a few copies of this book free for my teen bookclub. I really enjoyed it. The setting is refreshing and the story was incredible. The narrator’s voice was a little modern to start with, but I was quickly swept away with the story. Recommended!

14) Siege and Storm – Leigh Bardugo

Sequel to Shadow and Bone. Where the first book builds up the stories and the characters and generally sets you up, the second book knocks you down. It’s even devastating in points. Beautiful!

15) A Boy and a Bear in a Boat – Dave Shelton (Carnegie Shortlist Challenge)

If you ever decide to start this book, you just have to be prepared to know that you will never actually find out why there is a boy and a bear in a boat. Slow, and if it wasn’t part of the challenge then I probably wouldn’t have read past the first page.

16) Fuse – Julianna Baggott

Sequel to Pure. The first came with a sticker on it saying “If you liked The Hunger Games, then you’ll love this…” And the sticker was right. It’s quite dark, surreal dystopian literature. Visually quite disturbing.This second book was particularly strange however, down to the weirdest sex scene I’ve never experienced. I am looking forward to the final book in the series however.

17) Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe – Shelley Coriell

Another free competition book for the groups. Welcome, Caller… looks like your typical shiny, Glee Club-esque, American high school novel. Popular girl is forced to hang out with the outcasts. But! It was a lot better than I was expecting. Touching in places, and which characters who actually develop a bit, I enjoyed it.

18) Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

Wow. Just wow. This book totally blew my mind. I read a lot of teen dystopian fic, but not a lot of proper sci-fi. I’ll have to change that after this. I don’t even know what to say. Just get it read!

19) How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff

I read this as a prelude to watching the film, but after reading it, I couldn’t even be assed seeing the film. It was ok, but I didn’t find it to be fantastic like everyone said. The incestuous aspect of the storyline kind of put me off, but I guess that’s the prude in me or something. I just never really got on with the narrators voice either.

20) Monster on the Hill – Rob Harrell

Hilarious! A great interpretation of the village monster. Touching and funny with really lovely illustration.

21) Deadpool: X Marks the Spot – Way, Medina, Crystal

So I went to my first Comic-Con in London this year as Domino. Just before I went I figured I should maybe actually read some of the comics she was in, and this was the only one they had in Forbidden Planet. It was nice to just relax and read some good superhero stuff for a while. Deadpool is really popular at the moment, and I get it. His personal brand of crazy is hilarious and disturbing. Domino gets to land in a swimming pool full of pancakes. ‘Nuff said.

22) Resurrection Man: Dead Again – Abnett, Lanning, Dagnino

I wasn’t blown away by this story, but it was interesting. And one awesome cosplay opportunity!

24) Bink and Gollie: Two for One – Dicamillo, McGhee, Fucile

23) Bink and Gollie – Dicamillo, McGhee, Fucile

Bink and Gollie are a series of simple, beautiful books about two best friends and their adventures together. It was heartfelt, wonderful, and you can empathise with it all just by thinking of your own best friend.

25) Divergent by Veronica Roth

A girl at the Summer Reading Challenge told me that this series was better than The Hunger Games. I can’t agree, but I feel like you can tell a lot about a person depending on which one they prefer. It had some very interesting elements which effectively combated the poor analogy for teenage rebellion.

26) Batman: Crimson Mist – Jones, Beatty, Moench

Weird. Just weird.

27) A Greyhound of a Girl – Roddy Doyle (Carnegie Shortlist Challenge)

Another one I wouldn’t have read if it wasn’t part of the challenge. Fortunately a nice short read. Very sad and poignant.

28) Insurgent – Veronica Roth

Pretty much the same as the second one. The twist at the end was predictable, but still worked very well. Girls in these books are such liars though.

29) Fortunately, The Milk… – Neil Gaiman

You probably know already that I love Neil Gaiman. This was a short, surreal and very, very funny read. I also love Chris Riddell, who’s illustrations were just the fabulous icing on the cake!

30) The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

Bit boring and preachy for me. But I’ve now read 19 of the 100 books-to-read-before-you-die… according to Facebook.

31) The Screaming Staircase – Jonathan Stroud

I’m such a scaredy cat. I still get all nervous when I think about certain scenes in this book! The right amount of creepy, some great characters and a pretty good twist. Rather liked.

32) Tinder – Sally Gardner

Another wow moment. I don’t remember The Tinderbox by Hans Christian Anderson, though I’m told I’ve read it. But, Gardner’s interpretation is an incredible, unputdownable fairytale. Just. Read. It!

33) X-Force: Old Ghosts – Yost, Kyle, Choi, Oback

Was this really the last thing I read last year? I can’t even remember it! That makes me feel pretty awful. 😦

 

Review: Carnegie Challenge: Maggot Moon, The Weight of Water and Midwinterblood

As I have been so terrible at reading this year, I decided to challenge myself to read all of the CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist for 2013.  This consists of:

Maggot Moon by Sarah Gardner

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick

In Darkness by Nick Lake

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton

Codename: Verity by Elizabeth Wein

So I have completed three of them! I am also half way through Wonder, but a child came into the library asking for it. We didn’t have a copy so I gave her mine. I’m just that kind of  library assistant. 🙂

On the whole, I am unsure how to review the books have read so far. But here goes…

Maggot Moon

This was a special book. The style was simple but full and multi-layered at the same time. Usually I am put off when an adult author tries to imitate a child’s mind. With no specific examples to back up this statement, they predominantly come across as jarring, with no flow and annoying to read. Gardner, however, displays the thought process of Standish Treadwell, the narrator, as flowing and imaginative, entertaining and heartbreaking simultaneously. I was expecting to cry from the beginning, but didn’t until the very last page.

 

What makes this book exceptionally hard to review is that I don’t want to ruin “the twist”. Which isn’t really a twist, but a very good narrative tool, which is revealed slowly and slyly throughout the novel.

The Weight of  Water

I was surprised by this book. It’s not written in prose, but is more of a novel length poem. I find poetry a little irritating on the whole. Especially long free form ones. I’ve never quite understood why it’s not just written as prose. Line breaks and displaced formatting – the meaning just never quite gets through my skull.

However! I enjoyed this. The narrative flowed as seamlessly as the water metaphors and similes that trickle through the story. Even the line breaks suggest the broken english of the books Polish narrator (Kasienka) even as they represent the waterfalls, rivers and tidal waves that life throws her way as an immigrant in Britian. A quick read, because of the formatting, but well visualised and touching in it’s delicacy.

Midwinterblood

I have just finished this now, and been left with goosebumps. It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. The story of two souls torn apart, forever searching for unification in a grotesque and violent world. A story of duty and love, destiny and blood. Seven storylines which lead into each other back in time to the first laceration. Spectacular in vision, breadth and depth.

It reminded me a lot of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – the reincarnation of souls throughout history, the formatting of their tales. It struck a much deeper note inside me though. The concept of oneDegree bringing people together in an increasing disparate world, the desperation when a connection cannot be made. This was only a tiny part of the book, but it’s so real – so palpable.

Of these three, I certainly couldn’t choose a winner. The last for it’s viscerality, the second for it’s touching honest, and the first for it’s tragic imagination. All filled with subtle genius, emotion and a knife into the soul (but in the best way possible).

Beautiful.

Review: The Other Side of the Story – Marian Keyes

I properly finished my first book of the year. Yes, this is bad being as I’m a) a library assistant and b) I’m an English Lit alumni.

The train station near me has a little library. One of those trust ones who where it’s just a shelf and they ask you to bring them back or replace any you keep. I have decided that if I ever leave the library business, then I’m going to have one of those – whenever and wherever I work.

I arrived particularly early for one of my London trips and it was cold, so I spent twenty minutes sitting next to the bookshelf. I picked this book solely because of the cover – it’s only of my favourite colours of blue. That may be a poor reason, but I’m not sorry for it.

Gemma’s dad just left her mum for his PA -> Gemma and Lily were best friend -> Lily ‘stole’ the love of Gemma’s life -> Lily then wrote a bestselling book -> her agent is Jojo -> Jojo is sleeping with her boss -> She’s also just come across the book which Gemma is writing. How will they cope when their worlds collide?

I loved this book. It made me feel better about… things. I cried, yeah, but in a good way. It felt real and genuine. It felt like aye, life can be terrible. People can leave you and jobs can mess you about and just about everything can let you down. But things can get better, even just for a short amount of time.

Marian Keyes managed to convey this without being cheesy or cliche. I loathed and loved each character. It reminded me of how tragically hilarious life can be. She honestly gave me hope. I don’t really know how else to say it.

Our libraries have a scheme called Mood-Boosting Books. It’s designed to improve mental health using books which make us feel happier. I’d have difficulty recommending this book because it’s so… honest… at some points but my heart feels lighter for having read it. I definitely feel boosted.

Poor review, amazing book!