Thursday, 26 June 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Karen Thompson Walker - Age of Miracles

“'It is never what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different - unimagined, unprepared for, unknown…' One morning, Julia and her parents wake up in their suburban home in California to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth is noticeably slowing. The enormity of this is almost beyond comprehension. And yet, even if the world is, in fact, coming to an end, as some assert, day-to-day life must go on. Julia, facing the loneliness and despair of an awkward adolescence, witnesses the impact of this phenomenon on the world, on the community, on her family and on herself.” 

I first heard of this book when the lovely Giovanna Fletcher (@mrsgifletcher) mentioned it – at least I think it was her who mentioned it. I honestly have no idea why it took me so long to get my grubby mitts on it but let me tell you, I’m glad I did and it was worth the wait.

The writing style draws you in instantly, to the point where I genuinely forgot I wasn’t living in the book world. It tells the story of Julia’s struggle to grow up and come of age in a world where nothing is certain anymore. Days start getting longer, first by minutes, then hours, then days. It sounds fun at first – more sun (for those who like sun), more of an excuse to go to bed later (for those like me who are tired but keep putting it off). It’s all fun until people start getting hurt and things start going terribly wrong.

As well as looking at how Julia deals with the massive worldly change occurring, it also looks at the development of her first relationship, I suppose, or definite crush at the least. Something that, as teens, we all go through so it’s easy to relate to her feelings and thoughts. The fact that it coincides with something we (I hope) will never go through is, perhaps, what draws you into the story.

The characters are great – from the annoying children at the bus stop to the adults, they’re all written in incredibly well. For me, the worst part of a book is if I feel that some of the characters are there simply as filler which, I’ll be honest, there was one or two in this book but the rest of them made up for that. I loved watching the children in the book develop into young adults, something that happened a little faster thank to the whole ‘days getting longer’ thing, sadly.

The way the characters interact with people, particularly Julia and Seth (if I remember correctly, sorry, I’m writing this without the book at hand and finished this a little while ago!), is great. Their initial awkwardness that turns into becoming inseparable is so true to life, at least for me, that it’s a joy to read – it’s always nice reading things you can relate to, right?

The storyline is easy to follow and the structure definitely helps with this. You’re not left wondering what’s happening and when, it was a joy to read and, like I say, definitely worth the wait. The ending leaves it open for a follow up but, at the same time, it rounds off the story quite nicely which is a great way for the book to end.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

BOOK REVIEW: John Green - The Fault in our Stars

“Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.”

I read ‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green after I saw a quote from it all over Tumblr. I fell in love with John Green’s writing style immediately and it quickly became one of my favourite books. I’d been meaning to read more of his stuff for a while but didn’t – probably because I have the biggest ‘to-read’ pile you could imagine, but also because I’m quite cheap when it comes to buying book.

Along with my already declared love for John Green’s writing style, I knew a lot of people were raving about this book and saying it had brought them to tears so I was fairly certain that, even if it didn’t make me cry, I was going to like it. I was wrong. I love it.

The story follows the relationship the builds between Augustus and Hazel after they meet at a support group for children who have, or have had, cancer. The relationship that blossoms is incredibly special and perfectly written, as is the friendships between Isaac, Hazel, and Augustus. It’s touching beyond belief.

It’s nice to see a book that touches on cancer in teens without leaving the reader depressed – there’s always an uplifting, positive emotion sweeping through, regardless of what tragedies might happen.

It’s a tragic love story but there’s much more depth to it than your typical ‘boy meets girl, they fall in love, they fall apart’ story. There’s real hurt in the words, there’s humour that makes you chuckle inside (and outside, if you're not careful), there’s anger at the harsh reality of life but, there’s also the sense that life is there to be lived, not dwelled on.

The ending made me sob like a baby; not because it was hopelessly sad but because it was a beautiful truth.

This video of Troye Sivan's song, written after reading this book, also makes me sob like an absolute mess. Especially this video (there's two online).

What’s your favourite tragic love story?

*This is a repost from my old blog*

Thursday, 12 June 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Miranda Dickinson - When I Fall In Love

“What happens when your happy ever after is suddenly and painfully taken away from you?
Elsie Maynard has a whole new life she never expected to have.
From inadvertently founding a choir like no other with former 80s rock star Woody Jensen, to daring to date again, Elsie steps out into an unknown future – a future that could include gorgeous designer Olly Hogarth, a man who seems intent on winning her heart. Overcoming problems, challenges and the occasional frustration – namely overconfident Torin Stewart who seems to be everywhere – Elsie believes she is making the most of her life.
But then a heartfelt request brings her to Paris – and the last item on a very important List.
Can Elsie take the final step and lay her past to rest? Join Elsie as she battles to start again, with the help of a disastrous, newly-formed singing group and her father and sister armed with dating hopefuls.”
Before reading this, I’d only read one other book from the lovely Miranda Dickinson (Welcome to My World) and I loved it. I loved the characters, the way the story unfolded, the developments that occurred – everything! So I was pretty certain I was in for a treat with this book and I was so right. Yes, I know I’m late to reading it but that’s the joy of books; they’re ALWAYS there, there’s no time limit, etc.

The book follows the story of Elsie as she comes to terms with her past. Along the way, she meets people that change her life and help see the world in a different way, giving her a new focus and sense of hope. I don’t want to say what happened to Elsie as I don’t want to ruin the book for you (the blurb does hint at it somewhat but that’s open to interpretation), just know that it’s tough and, because of the person she is/becomes, Elsie is an inspiration.

This is so much more than your average love story and that’s, perhaps, what I love most about it. I’m not the most lovey-dovey person you’ll ever meet and whilst I do enjoy reading typical love stories, sometimes I want something more. It’s weird, there’s only ever been one book (series) that made me think love was this incredibly magical thing… I can now add this book to the (ever so short) list.

The characters in the book are great. They’re honest, believable, and true to life. As you’re reading, you can get clear images of each of them but, more than that, you’re also relating them to people you know too. Or maybe that’s just me. Who knows? As well as the storyline, it was the characters that kept me turning the pages. I wanted to know where they were going, how their friendships were developing, where they would end up. It teaches a great life story too – sometimes the people you dismiss straight away are the ones that have the most impact on your life.

In terms of structure, this book hits the spot. It’s clear, it’s easy to follow, it’s an absolute joy to read, if I’m honest. The locations are well described and bloody beautiful. I’ve never been a sucker for Paris before and now I feel like I HAVE to go, it’s more than a need. Who fancies it..?

If you’ve ever been hurt or gone through hell when it comes to your love life, you’ll know how hard it is to trust and allow yourself to get back out there. This book deals with loss beautifully – it doesn’t make it seem depressing and gloomy but rather focuses on the happiness of having shared time with that person in the first place. Read this book. Just read it. You won’t regret it, I promise.