Wednesday, 3 February 2016

New Things to Read in 2016

Hello pals!

I had wondered about posting today all about snow covered mountains and vin chaud and cold fingers on hipbones and kisses because that’s what my life looks like right now and frankly, it’s marvellous but I decided that really probably nobody will be anywhere near as interested in my snowy adventures as they are in the books I’m waiting for this year. So, let’s talk about that instead. Grab yourself a cuppa because this is a list

2016 books are a coming, some, because it’s already February are even here. There’s probably hundreds (thousands?) but obviously (obviously) I’m not going to list them all, that would be ridic; imma just talk at you a little about the things that are on my radar right now, like, (and I think I talked about it’s general existence last year) Steve Toltz’s Quicksand which is due for paperback release in April. I love a paperback. I love a hardback from a purely aesthetic point of view because pretty, but paperbacks are just so much more manageable aren’t they? When you read in bed, which I do all of the time, holding a hardback is far too much like a workout.

So. What’ve we got?

Chris Cleve (who wrote The Other Hand which I loved) has a new book out in April called Everyone Brave is Forgotten and it sounds awesome. It’s set during the Second World War and is about, I think, how the every day can change us as much as the unexpected can, about how war is perhaps just a backdrop for the ordinary. It sounds excellent. I think you all should read it. Actually I think you all should read all of the books in this post because that’s kind of the point…


The sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses is out later in the spring I think, mebbes May. It’s called A Court of Mist and Fury and I am ridiculously excited about it. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. And, all the characters are stupidly attractive in my head so you know, there’s that. 

Speaking of sequels, anyone remember how much I liked The Fire Sermon last year? Well book two (The Map of Bones) is also published at the start of May (again, I think!) and again, ridic excited. I cannot wait to see where that story goes next. The Fire Sermon is the dystopia where everyone is born a twin and each twin is either an Alpha (is physically ‘perfect’) or an Omega (is not) and all the Omegas are branded and cast out and the world is riled by Alphas BUT in a cruel(?) twist of fate, when one twin dies so does the other. It centres around Cass who is an Omega with a dream of Alphas and Omegas being equal and a twin in a position of power. S’really worth a read if you haven’t already and I cannot wait to see what happens in book 2. So excited.

Ruta Sepetys – her of Between Shades of Gray aka the book that broke my fragile little heart - also has a new book out. It’s called Salt to the Sea, and it’s out on Feb 4th which is TOMORROW PEEPS. It’s a WWII true story and I have so many feelings – I’ll review this next week so won’t say much now but be warned, it will make you feel. Ruta does that so well.

Helen Simonson who wrote the lovely Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand has a new book out next month. I know. Marvellous. It’s called The Summer Before the War and again, sounds lovely. I don’t know a person who wasn’t enchanted by the Major so I have high hopes for this. It’s set in East Sussex in 1914 and it’s about Hugh who has come to visit his Aunt and Beatrice the new female (gasp!) Latin teacher and the last perfect summer before the unimaginable happens.

The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka is out in May. I expect it to make me laugh out loud. I still giggle when I think about We Are All Made of Glue.

Shtum by Ben Lester about the family of a ten year old boy with sever autism is getting a lot of hype right now. I’m hearing all the good things. That one’s out in April.

Anthony Quinn’s Freya is out in the spring. It promises the unpredictable course of a woman’s life and loves against a backdrop of Soho pornographers, theatrical peacocks, willowy models, priapic painters, homophobic blackmailers, political careerists.

STOP THE PRESSES: Claire King, who wrote the GORGEOUS The Night Rainbow has a new book out now. It’s called Everything Love Is and I AM EXCITED. So excited. GO FORTH AND READ.

The first in Michael Grant’s new series Front Lines was published last week I think. Should be good although I’m still only part way through the Gone books, not because I don’t like them – I do – but because so many books; so little time. You know how it goes. Anyway, this will likely be A Good Read. Apparently s’perfect for fans of The Book Thief and Code Name Verity and it reimagines WWII with girls fighting on the front lines…

There’s a new David Leviathan collab out in the summer (with Nina LaCour who I don’t know) which I want because David Leviathan. S’called You Know Me Well.

In June Kit de Waal’s My Name is Leon is published and again, this is one that I’ve been seeing a fair amount of hype about. It’s set in the 80’s and it sounds like it might be that special kind of heartbreaking. Have a blurb: A brother chosen. A brother left behind. And a family where you'd least expect to find one. Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. Since Jake is white and Leon is not. As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile - like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum. Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a heart-breaking story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how - just when we least expect it - we manage to find our way home.

Yann Martel’s new book The High Mountains of Portugal was released this week and it sounds incredible, a road trip across 2 continents and 4 centuries and the uncovering of a secret found in an old journal. There’s been a fair amount of buzz about this book, obviously and I’m totally caught up in it. I loved The Life of Pi and this feels like it could measure up to that. Fingers crossed hey!

There’s a short story collection out in March by Helen Oyeyemi which I’ve heard described as insprired by fairy tales with all the stories being centred around the idea of a key: to the heart, to a house, to a secret. Obviously I am all over that. I’m really excited about it actually and I have a copy on pre-order. Woop woop.

I’m also excited about another short story collection – The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon, mostly because I love his novels and I love his poetry and I expect I’ll love this too. Roll on May! 

 M.R Carey who wrote the amazingly amazing The Girl With All the Gifts has a new book out in April called Fellside and I actually can not wait. Actually.  It's set in a max security prison on the Yorkshire moors and it sounds terrifying and that's totally not usually my thing at all but I loved  The Girl With All the Gifts so much that how can I not read this?

Fairyland's Catherynne M Valente has a novel out in March - Radiance - which I want to read for Fairyland reasons and also because it sounds incredible, with lawless saloons on Mars and disappearing diving colonies on Venus and Hollywood being on the moon. It sounds SO GOOD. 

Deborah Levy (who wrote the excellent Swimming Home) has a new novel out in March – Hot Milk. It’s about a mother and daughter seeking salvation in a Spanish village and it sounds excellent. I thought Swimming Home was stunning so I really can’t wait for this.

May sees a new book from Aravind Adiga – Selection Day, I enjoyed his other two so I’ll be giving this one a read for sure for sure

There’s a new Anne Tyler in June. So much for A Spool of Blue Thread being your last Anne! It’s a reworking of The Taming of the Shrew and I bet it’s glorious. Why would I not want to read an Anne Tyler version of The Taming of the Shrew?

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue who wrote Room is out I think in September, so it’s a while off but I reckon it’ll be worth the wait. It’s set in the 1850’s and is about a girl who has stopped eating.

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan is basically a love letter to books and childhood reading and it sounds like it could be right up my street. Got to wait to October though which is AGES.

As well as getting my hands on that one in October I’ll also be all over Gary Oldman’s vampire novel. Because it’s Gary Oldman’s vampire novel. It’s called Blood Riders and it’s a vampire novel. By Gary Oldman. I don’t know what else to say to you about this. Dracula has written a vampire novel. Gary Oldman who I love has written a vampire novel. Not just any vampire novel though, these are vampire cowboys and it’s set in the Gold Rush and yep, I want it. (I should probably point out that it’s co-authored actually; Gary wrote it with his manager Douglas Urbanksi. Apparently they’ve been planning it for ages; I love that.)



& a vampire novel by Gary Oldman (still not over it) seems like a good place to stop because long list is long but still, there’s some exciting stuff coming, is there not? You should talk to me about what’s tickled your fancy – and what you’re excited about that I’ve neglected.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Review: Carry On

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

Rainbow Rowell, let me love you. Goodness gacious. I have such an author!crush you don’t even know. Do I want to be friends with her or do I just want to be her. I don’t know. I just know that actually she can do no wrong. HOW DOES SHE WORDS.

“He’s a book full of footnotes brought to life. He’s a jacket made of elbow patches."

How. Does. She. Words.


In case you missed my prior Rainbow love-ins, I talk about Eleanor & Park here and about Fangirl here. I’ll also be back soon to talk about Landline soon. Right now though, you guessed it (and pull up a seat and flail with me, or if you don’t like Rainbow’s other stuff then you know, don’t because this book is so Rainbow Rowell) I’m talking about Carry On and how it delighted me from start to finish. Seriously. Delighted me. & if you stop here often you’ll know that occasionally I lose all coherency and just shout a little about how much I love a thing. I’m about to do that right now. Sorry not sorry.

I out and out cackled when I found out that Carry On was going to be a thing. I mean a book that originally existed as a fictional book in one of Rainbow’s other books about a girl that writes fanfiction and that is clearly a tongue in cheek look at the whole fanfiction world in general and specifically (or so I thought anyway) the whole Harry/Draco fandom becoming it’s own actual hard-backed fully fleshed story. WHY WOULD YOU NOT WANT TO READ THAT and how gloriously excellent and amusing is it that Rainbow Rowell made it happen. 


Also: insane. This book is fucking nuts I swear and it’s brilliant. It’s like Harry Potter gone batshit crazy and at the same time it’s….I mean you start off comparing to HP a little because it’s a book about a magical school and a war against a Big Bad and this one student that’s The Chosen One even though he doesn’t want to be really, and is sometimes a little bit shit at well, life, so how can you not.

(Just when you think you're having a scene without Simon, he drops in to remind you that everyone else is a supporting character in his catastrophe.)

Ha ha and also ha.

Pretty soon though you forget the whole Potter thing because there is so much going on here, this whole brand new world, these brand new characters, and whilst you still totally gigglesnort a little at the occasional tip-of-the-hat you mostly just get totally swept away in the Watford of it all, in Simon and Baz and spells that reference Bohemian freaking Rhapsody and the fact that it’s so gay

And also marvellously diverse in the way that all Rainbow’s books are and everybody else’s books should be. Example one, because I’m nice like that

“I didn’t know someone like you could be named Penelope,” I said. Stupidly. (Everything I said that year was stupid.)
She wrinkled her nose. “What should ‘someone like me’ be named?”
“I don’t know.” I didn’t know. Other girls I’d met who looked like her were named Saanvi or Aditi—and they definitely weren’t ginger. “Saanvi?”
“Someone like me can be named anything,” Penelope said.
“Oh,” I said. “Right, sorry.”
“And we can do whatever we want with our hair.” She turned back to the assignment, flipping her red ponytail. “It’s impolite to stare, you know, even at your friends.”

Also. Baz and Simon.

Everyone knows that hate/love is an excellent trope, right? I mean it’s where the whole Harry/Draco ship stemmed from isn’t it. & it goes back so much further than that. Let’s make a list of the great love stories that stem from this trope. Or let’s not because ain’t nobody got time for that. Point is, I love that trope & this book, it’s the stuff dreams are made of I swear to God. Rainbow takes all that tension and all those misunderstandings and all that anger and all the shitty spiteful comments and makes it all her own and THEN THE CUTE BOYS DO KISSING.  & obviously you know there’s something there because Cath ships Baz/Simon in Fangirl with the fire on a hundred burning suns and it would have been weird for that not to have been a thing here but I didn’t know how subtle a thing it might be (partly because Baz and Simon aren't canon in Fangirl), how much reading between the lines one might have to do *coughRemus/Siriuscough* but, well, nope not subtle at all and it makes me hope for a world where LGBTQ characters are so common a thing in books that it goes without saying.anyway, both boys are excellent in their own right and they're gorgeous together and I swear nobody writes falling in love, being in love, love like Rainbow Rowell. I said it about E&P (and I am still not over that) and I said it again when I read Fangirl and I say it again now: she just gets it and wow can she carve a sentence from your very heart.

Sharing a room with the person you want most is like sharing a room with an open fire.

He's constantly drawing you in. And you're constantly stepping too close. And you know it's not good--that there is no good--that there's absolutely nothing that can ever come of it.

But you do it anyway.
And then...
Well. Then you burn.


He's still looking in my eyes. Staring me down like he did that dragon, chin tilted and locked. "I'm not the Chosen One," he says.
I meet his gaze and sneer. My arm is a steel band around his waist. "I choose you," I say. "Simon Snow, I choose you.

Also.  This book is funny. . And also also there is dialogue like this:

“I can’t believe there’s a part of your body that grows when you need it. You’re like a mutant.”
“I’m a vampire,” Baz says, “and can you hear yourself?”


She told me later that her parents had told her to steer clear of me at school.
"My mum said that nobody really knew where you came from. And that you might be dangerous."
"Why didn't you listen to her?" I asked.
"Because nobody knew where you came from, Simon! And you might be dangerous!"
"You have the worst survival instincts."
"Also, I felt sorry for you," she said. "You were holding your wand backwards.

& does Rainbow Rowell have a professional Brit-picker because for the most part this book is so gloriously British and I loved that.

I want, I WANT, I want the other 7 books. I’m not going to lie; I would read every single moment of Simon and Baz’s school experience in the same way I read Harry’s. ALL THE FEELS. One book was not enough even though it’s a long and very pretty book. & holy smokes is it pretty.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

In which I Do The Thing

Recently, blogosphere, I have been kissing a guy (and I’ve been liking it.)

I know, right.


We’ll call him Sexy New Guy for now, as I don’t wish to reveal his identity just yet and he’s somebody I’ve known for a while and he’s funny and clever and has a smile that reminds me of Indiana Jones and he’s just all around excellent and it’s just generally a very nice time.

It’s weird really, because if you’d have told me this time last year that by Christmas I’d be puckering up for a guy that wasn’t The Ex Boyfriend then probably I would have laughed in your face, and yet, here we are.

Maybe people will think it’s too soon, and maybe people will think it’s not soon enough, personally I think it’s been almost a freaking year good gracious and that really there are much worse things I could be doing than kissing a guy who makes my tummy do the flippy thing.
And Sexy New Guy is lovely, and you want to know another thing: it was surprisingly easy. Falling into being with somebody again, into being with him was so so easy.  I think that’s always the thing isn’t it, putting yourself back out there is hard and scary and there’s this niggling voice in the back of your mind that’s whispering ‘you’re not pretty/funny/interesting enough’ and it would be so easy to just sort of stay indoors with a good book and Netflix forever. Especially when there are so many episodes of Pretty Little Liars to watch.
But then I remembered a conversation I’d had with Jen months ago, which was in no way related to this at all, but where she said (wisely because she is so wise) ‘girls get nowhere if they don’t ask for shit.’
Even at the time I wanted to applaud her (and did, I think) and it’s stayed with me, and even though this, this new relationship, this kisses and tickles and laughter and this shiny new taste of happiness, isn’t really me asking for anything, it’s kind of the same, you know? It’s me stepping back and thinking ‘I am fucking amazing and I’ll be damned if I’m going to wither away under a patchwork quilt. & I am pretty/funny/interesting enough, if not to anybody else then at least to me. AND SO, I am going to Do The Thing.’

And I did. I Did The Thing. I went on a date and he kissed me and I went on another date and he kissed me again and two dates became three and then there was a holiday and soon there will be another holiday and dating and here we are.

For someone who’s been out of that particular game for A Long Time, it wasn’t as daunting as I had expected it to be to start to share my life with a person who isn’t the person I’ve shared a life with for years. It was kind of refreshing. It was refreshing and it was fun and I find myself falling asleep most nights these days with a smile on my face and you know what? Right now, I feel happy. I am so fucking happy.

My advice then, to you, to everyone everywhere is to always always Do The Thing.

Whatever your thing is – do it.

Cure cancer; write that book; buy your dream house; leave that job you hate and find one you love; go for a drink with that person you think is kind of cute; when that guy you like leans in for a kiss you make sure you pucker those lips, dammit.  Because like Jen said once, girls get nowhere if they don’t ask for shit and like I say, girls get nowhere if they don’t Do The Thing.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Review: Throne of Glass

Sometimes (exceptionally rarely, but sometimes) loving a book can be A Bad Thing. Or rather, not so much loving the book is bad, but the way it gets you fired up for every other word, shopping lists included, that that author has ever written can occasionally be less than great because let’s face it: going into something with unrealistically high expectations very rarely ends well. This is true for life, not just for books. We’ll call it Jo’s Life Lessons of 2016 and you’re welcome.

When I read A Court of Thorns and Roses last year I loved it. I gulped it down and I finished it in what could be record time and was sad that I couldn’t pick up the second book straight away and I resolved then and there to read all that Sarah J Maas ever wrote. & the Throne of Glass series is everywhere man. I mean seriously, I have read so few blogs that aren’t flailing over it and it’s all over twitter and instagram and well, just the internet in general and it sounded awesome. So I read book one. I wanted to love it; I expected it to laugh in the face of ACoTaR and just be a million times better you know?

& it wasn’t.

I mean, it wasn’t bad, and I liked it enough to buy a copy for my 15 year old cousin for Christmas but truth be told? I liked ACoTaR better. *hides from the internet*

So, let’s talk about it.

If you’ve been living under a freaking rock then you’re perhaps wondering what the book is even about. So, according to Goodreads who always summarise better than I do, because it’s their job and all:

After serving out a year of hard labour in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined

I know. Sounds so damn good. It sounds like everything I want in a book most of the time. So why was I bored? I mean, I put this book down to paint my nails one time. I hardly ever paint my nails because I am bad at it. & I don’t understand why because I liked it.

I guess I just wanted it to be so much more than it was and that’s the problem. 

& I was frustrated. The book was more of a romance than I thought it was going to be, which is fine – I mean dead inside I am not; I love a good love story as much as the next girl, but here I wanted more of the other stuff.

Caleana is an excellent character and the whole assassins X-Factor thing could have been so good and just like in ACoTaR the world that Maas built was fascinating and the problem is, is that’s what I wanted to read about. Really, whether Celaena ended up with Westfall or Dorian was a secondary issue. Team Captain of the Guard or Team Crown Prince? I don’t care; I just want to see this badass girl being badass please.  There’s all this talk about her being the best assassin to ever assassinate but you never get to see that, there’s too much tell and not enough show and it makes it hard to get invested, in any of it.

Celeana’s excellent – she’s vain and arrogant and clever, and she has this temper, she likes to read and she’s self-assured and confident and watching her grow into herself again after being at rock bottom in an actual death camp is marvellous. There’s a lot of her finding herself, and of her delighting in the luxuries of nice food and pretty dresses but it would have been so awesome to have that juxtaposed against this tough ruthless murderer. To see it instead of just being told that’s how it is contrary to appearances you know? I wanted to see some murder. I wanted less Celeana/Dorian/Westfall and more of the stuff that would have made this book amazing, I mean I’m really glad Celeana had confidence in her own abilities but how was I supposed to believe she was the best ever when all of the good bits, all the tasks and the eliminations and the confrontations were all just glossed over. GIMME THE GRITTY STUFF. Don’t write me a book about a strong female character and then only really show me her dancing around the two male leads. Please. 

I mean, I liked it. I did, and I get why so many people love it, because if you’re looking for a nice easy read, a bit of a love story with a fantasy twist then probably this book ticks all the boxes. Read it without the expectations and you’ll likely be all ‘that Josephine is crazy because this book is amazing.’

& can Goodreads please start with the half star option. Please?

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Review: Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between

Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between is a book about uncertain futures. 

Look at me, summing up a book in a single sentence. Is this a phenomena that has never been seen before? Perhaps. 
Anyway, that’s what it is. & the premise is actually pretty clever. The book takes place over a single night. The last night Claire and Aiden have together before they leave for college as they decide whether they should break up or do the whole long distance thing. That’s what drew me to it, that it’s a little bit different, that this is a whole novel centred around Just One Night. I am always all about the books that take a step away from convention.

It’s the first of Jennifer E Smith’s books that I’ve read, FYI.  I’ve heard a load of stuff about The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight, although I’ve not actually read it and that along with the general buzz that surrounded HGaEiB was more than enough to make me curl up under a blanket with some beef Space Raiders and give it a go.

I liked it. It’s a story with a lot of heart and the romance is just the right level of sweet and it’s honest and relevant.

I never went away to university. I never went to university at all. I got a job at 18 and it’s the same job I have now and it’s funny because I felt like people were disappointed and even now people seem surprised when they find out that I don’t have a degree and sometimes I feel a bit weird even admitting it. What’s that about. It was the right choice for me though, and I’m a director now of the company I started working for when everybody else set off for uni and so you know, I reckon I did ok. & I have no idea why I have gone off on that tangent. What was the point I was trying to make? Oh,that’s it. Relatability and uncertain futures and how that’s the same for pretty much everyone whatever your life might look like on the cusp of adulthood. Whilst I didn’t have to make any of the choices Aiden and Claire made and whilst the direction my own life took meant that I felt a little bit distant from them and didn’t understand all of their reasons or thought processes, I bet there’s teenagers all over the place that find something they can relate to in Claire and Aiden’s story. Even if they’re not faced with an LDR themselves the whole growing up and moving on and not being entirely sure what your future looks like, or even what you want it to look like, well, it happens to us all. & whilst I am all about the fantasy and the dystopia and the out-of-this world stuffs right now (always) sometimes you just need a book that looks like your life, that makes you feel like what’s going on in your head isn’t that messed up at all. It’s good sometimes to be able to identify, especially when you’re a teenager and you find yourself quite easily feeliong isolated. This book hits that spot.

I love the idea of reading a goodbye love story rather than a hello and watching Aiden and Claire retrace their relationship was mostly sweet, although to be perfectly honest it was also kind of depressing. I felt like I knew exactly what decision they were going to make from chapter one (and no, I’m not going to tell you if I was right because HELLO ALMIGHTY SPOILER) and because I thought I had it all figured out, it felt like that walk down memory lane you do after you’ve had your heart broken rather than an optimistic look for reasons to make it work. & that just made me feel a little bit depressed. Just a little bit.  Also Claire bugged me a small amount, I mean not loads,  but enough to stop me engaging fully with the book or really sympathising with her at all. Which, well, that’s always kind of a problem, isn’t it? I actually liked the secondary characters more than I liked either Claire or Aiden, Again, kind of problematic.

When Helen and I went with our Mum’s to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in London a few years ago, Helen’s mum said as we left the theatre that ‘the best bit of that show was the end.’ I’m saying the same thing here, not for the same reason as Helen’s Mum who really didn’t enjoy Priscilla at all (I did like this book) but because it kind of was. The way the ends all tied together neatly, the way the story developed and came together all packed up and wrapped nicely in a bow. I liked that. It ended how I wanted it to end and that made me happy.

This is a nice book and it’s an easy book and it’s a book that people are mostly going to like I think, it’s good.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Review: Everything, Everything.

Sometimes I reread my favorite books from back to front. I start with the last chapter and read backward until I get to the beginning. When you read this way, characters go from hope to despair, from self-knowledge to doubt. In love stories, couples start out as lovers and end as strangers. Coming-of-age books become stories of losing your way. Your favorite characters come back to life

At some point I think I’m going to do a post about why I (aged 32 and a half years) still love a good YA novel so hard. At some point. Not now though, because now I still have a backlog of reviews to post and I haven’t done a book haul or a post about what’s coming up in ages and I need to get back in the game. The point is, though, is that I do love a good YA novel so hard and it’s relevant now because I want to talk about Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything. Which, FYI, I liked.

It’s about, in a nutshell, a girl who is allergic to the world and as such hasn’t left her house for seventeen years (and seriously how terrible and awful would that be.) The only people she ever sees are her Mum, and her nurse. And then some people move in next door. A family with a son who’s a bit of a hottie and there it is: teen love story with a twist. & yeah ok it is a little bit instalove, but go with it: it gets better, I promise and the slow build of this first love after that is delicious.

It's a hard concept to hold on to--the idea that there was a time before us. A time before time.

In the beginning there was nothing. And then there was everything.

And it’s kind of excellent. It’s light-hearted and funny and some of the writing is just out of this world gorgeous. I made so many notes when I was reading this, so many ‘I NEED TO QUOTE THAT’s’ you have no idea, because I love those sentences that make you want to roll around in delight and kick your feet and do a bit of squealing, and I find I get that more in young adult books actually than anyplace else: the richness of description, the relatability (blogger tells me that's not a word. I DON'T CARE), the use of words that’s powerful enough to make me goosebumpy. I love it. So, the writing is good. Italics good. & the characters (Madeleine’s Mum aside) are excellent and well rounded and diverse (it bugs me that I still feel like I have to give kudos for an African-American main character because really that so should not be a thing. But it is. & so hats off to you Nicola Yoon.) and flawed: Madeleine is selfish and she wants, she wants so badly all of the time and I love that we got to see that, that she’s painted as this very real teenage girl who is quite rightly pissed off at the hand she’s been dealt rather than the kind of Pollyanna character that you sometimes want to slap in the face.

Wanting just leads to more wanting. There’s no end to desire.

It went a bit fast at the end, which bugged me because that’s a thing that bugs me. Sorry. It’s so annoying though isn’t it, when you’re loving a book and you’re totally engrossed and you can’t turn the pages fast enough and you want to know every. little. thing. And then BAM! The end. I had so many feelings about the way this ended. I mean, we’re not talking One Day levels of rage here, but more a big old sigh because why? Why give me this story that sucked me in and these kids that I fell in love with and then Do The Thing and then after that fast-forward to an unsatisfying end so quickly I felt dizzy. S’just not fair.  I also figured out what was going to happen pretty early on, so it maybe loses marks for predictability too.

I feel though, that if a copy of this book crosses your path you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t give it a read. Go forth.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Review: One

I was totally drawn in to Sarah Crossan’s One by the buzz. I’m not going to lie: I was hearing about this book everywhere: on twitter, on instagram, on booktube, in the blogosphere, and I’m a bit like that really: I kind of like to know what all the fuss is about. I don’t stay away from books that get a lot of hype because I have this need to break free from the crowd and ‘those books are never any good anyway’ – I go after them with grabby hands because what if they are that good and I am missing out. I don’t like to miss out.

So, One, the story of teenaged conjoined twins Tippi and Grace was everywhere and there were whispers of a Wonder like magic and I loved Wonder so freaking hard and I wanted in. I WANTED IN. & soooooo I read it (thanks Netgalley, for that) and here I am SO MUCH LATER BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW I HAVE SUCKED THIS SUMMER and I am ready to talk at you about it.

S’a good book.

Don’t worry, that’s not the end (hello, have you met me? Of course that’s not the end.)

That’s the starting point though: it’s a good book.

The ending is predictable (and I feel like such a little rebel starting at the end) and possibly a little bit too much, probably the only time actually when I felt that emotions were being shoved in may face: this is how you should be feeling Josephine so go ahead and feel it, but Wonder was the same at the end and I suspect that might have more to do with my not being the target demographic than anything else you know? & honestly? I did feel that way, all of those things that I think Crossan wanted me to feel. I totally felt them.

Really, the whole thing could totally have been overly sentimental and teeth-rottingly sweet and just too much but it wasn’t. This is actually a pretty beautiful book.

It’s very cleverly written which as always gives me all the love/hate feelings (how do you words I love you. how do you words I hate you) and it’s poignant and powerful and lovely. It’s written in verse which is awesome and unusual and I love and so sometimes there’s only a handful of words on the page so you know, no overly flowery descriptions here, but that’s what makes it so clever: every word feels like it counts for something, like it holds a message, like it matters.
It’s such a refreshing change too, to read something that’s different to most other things. You don’t get that many books written in free verse, unless you’re hanging out in the poetry section obvs (and perhaps I ought to do that more. Jen, send me some recs please *heads over to Jen’sbooktube*) I mean, what is this book? Poetry collection? Novel? Both? 

Whatever it is, I bloody loved it. It’s what made it for me I think. I mean the story is excellent and the characters are gorgeous and it’s a book about issues – not just Tippi and Grace and what their lives look like, but anorexia and HIV and alcoholism all feature – and it’s a book about life and it’s a book that makes you think and question and feel; it’s relevant and it’s important but more than that it’s so beautiful. SEDUCE ME WITH PRETTY WORDS. I’m not going to lie: I’m a bit of a smitten kitten and I want some more Sarah Crossan in my life please.

You should read it peeps: this has been a recommendation.