Sunday, 30 August 2015

Review: No Stone Unturned by Helen Watts

Name: No Stone Unturned
Author: Helen Watts
Publisher: A & C Black
Date published: 2014
Rating: 5/5
Kelly, a Traveller girl, is isolated and unhappy at her new school. Until the hot summer day when she meets Ben. Ben offers to help Kelly with her history project. It's just schoolwork - except that the investigation quickly becomes compelling. Strange puzzles are revealed. A dark secret of the local quarry comes to life. Soon the mystery of the past is spilling into the present - and into Kelly's own life. Kelly must bring the long-buried truth to light. And she will leave no stone unturned...
- From Goodreads

No Stone Unturned was an excellent, intriguing story that I really loved reading. I loved the way the author was inspired by real history to create a story of her own, and that story really brought history to life, giving facts and figures real action and emotions.
I think I really enjoyed this so much because I've always been interested in history, especially with how it feels to go out and discover something on your own. But I also really liked the mystery of it, it encouraged you to work out what had happened and I thought that made it very intriguing. I think both lovers of history and crime mysteries will enjoy this book.
Plus, I always love it when I find Doctor Who mentioned in a book, so props to Helen Watts for the Weeping Angels reference! (I also, like Kelly, hid behind a cushion when I watched that particular episode. In fact, I think I might have even hidden behind the sofa).

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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Name: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Date published: 2010
Rating: 5/5

Quentin has always loved Margo Roth Spiegelman, for Margo (and her adventures) are the stuff of legend at their high school. So when she one day climbs through his window and summons him on an all-night road trip of revenge he cannot help but follow.

But the next day Margo doesn’t come to school and a week later she is still missing. Q soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance . . . and they are for him. But as he gets deeper into the mystery – culminating in another awesome road trip across America – he becomes less sure of who and what he is looking for.

- From Goodreads.

Paper Towns was a book full of insightful metaphors, beautiful descriptions, fantastic symbolism and all that other kind of stuff that John Green is just so good at. 

I thought that the book had a really interesting perspective on the way that we look at people and whether  what we see when we look at people is actually them or just one idea of them - maybe even just one idea of many. For that reason, I found it quite thought-provoking; I was continuously thinking about the ideas the book presented throughout the story.
I think it can also make you think because of the twists in the plot and the different directions it kept taking, in the search for Margo and with the different theories of what happened to her that everyone had. 
I liked the inclusion of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, because I read it this past year at university, and I really liked the way Q couldn't quite understand it at first, and then came to understand it through coming to understand Margo. I think I might have to go and read the poem again now that I've read this book, because I think I've definitely been given a different perspective on it!

P.S. I went to see the movie this week, and it was amazing! The acting was brilliant and I really loved the music that was used in the film. I'd definitely recommend going to see it (and reading the book, of course)!

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Sunday, 16 August 2015

Review: The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Name: The Sin Eater's Daughter
Author: Melinda Salisbury
Publisher: Scholastic Children's Books
Date published: 2015
Rating: 4/5
Spoiler warning: Pretty major, to be honest. I couldn't seem to write about this book without spoiling it, to be honest.
I am the perfect weapon.
I kill with a single touch.
Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has it's price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla's fatal touch.
Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla's chilling role to the girls she truly is.
Yet in a court as dangerous and the queen's, some truths should not be told...
- From Goodreads.

I thought that The Sin Eater's Daughter included really brilliant world-building with the beliefs, geography, legends and all of the other details of the fantasy world it was set in being so well thought out. This was especially true with the way that we came to believe in it all too, which made it really devastating when Twylla's world came crashing down (side note: cool name, Twylla).
The great world-building was paired with excellent writing, although I noticed that the phrase "It wasn't until...that I realised I had been holding my breath" , or at least some variations on that, cropped up more than once, and while I think that it works as a phrase, emphasising tension and all that jazz, I think caution should be taken in repeating it, because it loses it's impact when it's used more often.
Another point which meant that I gave this book a rating of four rather than five, was that I wasn't sure about some of the choices Twylla made or some of the actions she took as I couldn't relate to them myself, and while I definitely enjoyed reading the story, I found I was distanced from it somewhat because of that. I also found I didn't fall in love with Lief as much as Twylla did, I did like him, but I couldn't relate to Twylla's feelings towards him, and I think I liked him more when he was first introduced than I did by the end (and not just because of what we found out about him) and I felt more sorry for Merek than I ever did for Lief.
Something else I wasn't sure about was the ending. I liked how Twylla had independence and happiness and how she had promised to return to Merek if the sleeping prince ever appeared, I thought that was the right promise to make, but I think I wanted her to stay with Merek in the castle in the first place (I'm not sure why but I think I might be Team Merek, if that's a thing). I also thought it was quite clear who it was that knocked on her door at the very end and I'm not sure how I feel about that either.
However, all in all, I very much enjoyed the book and now I'm going to go and learn about Victorian flower language, reread the book once I have done so, and then try and discover if there is going to be a follow up to this book, because if there is going to be one, then I will most definitely be reading it.

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Sunday, 9 August 2015

Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Name: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Date published: 2015
Rating: 5/5
Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.
Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.
Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia - cue extreme adolescent awkwardness - but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.
And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

- From Goodreads.

I don't even know if I can form a coherent sentence about this book (in a good way), but I suppose it's worth a try. 
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was straight-to-the-point hilarious. I found it funny from the first sentence, which you might not expect considering the subject matter, and which consequently gave the book quite a unique twist (I don't know about you but I've never read a laugh-out-loud funny book about cancer before). I think part of what made it so funny was the real, relatable characters, especially with Greg's self-deprecating narration which felt so true to life. It's completely and utterly honest in a brilliant way.
Something else that really made me love this book was that, even with the comedy element, it still managed to make you feel emotional about the characters and concerned for them. And even though you're kind of told what's going to happen at the end, you still hope it doesn't happen, you don't want it to happen, and yet the book almost helps you to accept that it will happen. Basically, it's depressing in a funny kind of way (and by that I mean both funny as in haha and funny as in odd).
Sometimes (and here's the part of the review where I just get emotional and ramble) it was so funny but then it was just so sad and I wanted to take Rachel and Greg and put them in a place where nothing could hurt them. Because cancer is so stupid.
Basically, it's a really depressing book and you should never read it, ever, because it's really awful and I hate it so much and I can't wait to tell everyone about it because it's now one of my favourite books and I love it so much and everyone should read it and you need to read it because it's so brilliant. It's ridiculous, really. By the end, I was sort of laughing and crying at the same time and it was just terrible, really terrible.
Conclusion: read this book. 

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