Book Review: iBoy by Kevin Brooks

IMG_1665[1]

TITLE: iBoy
AUTHOR: Kevin Brooks
GENRE: YA/action
PUBLISHER//YEAR OF PUBLICATION: Penguin // 2010
NUMBER OF PAGES: 290
ISBN: 9780141326108
GOODREADS
PERSONAL SOURCE: Borrowed from my boyfriend
RATING: 5/5


Tom Harvey was just a regular, normal, slightly OK-not-OK 16 year old when it happened. An iPhone, thrown from 30 stories up, split open his skull. Tom woke up in hospital, generally feeling normal… until something started to hum in his brain. Tom becomes iBoy, trying to find out who committed a horrible crime against his friend, Lucy, and, against all of his conscience, he sets out to punish them. 

So iBoy wasn’t really what I expected it to be – in a good way. It dealt with horrifying issues like gang rape, and was also really funny and unputdownable. I enjoyed reading it for both the content and the way in which it was written and read the whole thing in one evening!

To start with, let’s look at Tom, or iBoy. He has some pretty cool powers and reminded me of an X-Man, to be fair. He could search the internet in his brain, and send and receive calls – in his brain. I think that’s pretty awesome. Obviously there’s the cliché of with great power comes great responsibility, and it was interesting in that Tom didn’t seem to take this seriously – at all. He gets a guy stabbed because of what he did with his new found powers! I mean, jeez. But this – Tom’s power – is obviously an integral part of the plot, and I liked how Brooks has shown that not every cool power a character in a book gets means its a good power for them to have.

The character development of Tom was both interesting and backwards, because he seemed to lose his conscience the more the book went on, and even though he was trying to fight to stay human, he seemed to adopt two different identities of the original Tom and iBoy – the character even starts to refer to himself in the 3rd person. The things that kept Tom grounded were his grandma – Gram – and Lucy, his friend who Tom fancies. I did like this more “human” side of him being portrayed and kept being referred to throughout the book, especially as it showed Tom losing this side of himself to develop into almost a psychopathic hero.

There is a lot of not-very-nice violence in this book – actually, I was almost taken aback with how violent it was. There’s gang rape, shootings, stabbings, and explosions which kill, as well as people just getting beaten up. AKA – not for younger readers. Although I felt like the violence did fit in really well in the book. There were a few parts where I wondered if it were necessary but all in all I felt like it did work well with the plot.

Overall therefore this was an action-packed 5* read, and I would recommend it but probably only to those 14-15 and over. It’s a unisex read which is refreshing for me (I’m having a bit of a girly reading month…) and I’d just like to thank my lovely boyfriend Jake for lending it me!

Book Review: Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

TITLE: Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods (originally Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods)
AUTHOR: Rick Riordan
PUBLISHER: Puffin Books (branch of Penguin)
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2014
NUMBER OF PAGES: 404 (not an error)
PRICE: £12.99 (hardback)
ISBN: 9780141355412
GOODREADS
PERSONAL SOURCE: Bought from Waterstones
RATING: 5/5


“Heartwarming, how the Olympian family got along.”

I can always rely on Percy Jackson to make me smile, even if the book isn’t a novel, but a “handbook” of the Greek Gods and Goddesses. Each god or goddess of the 12 Olympian gods + two (Hades and Hestia, who don’t have seats in the council but are still major gods) has their own chapter, and the Titans, who ruled the world before the Grecian gods, have their own chapter at the beginning.

One thing you need to know about the Greek myths is that they are just that: myths, and that means there are quite a lot of different variations of the same myth, so Riordan just picked his favourite, I guess.

I love Rick Riordan’s storytelling skills, the humour, the POVs, the… EVERYTHING. These books are just incredible and I honestly don’t care how many of these books will come out from this universe, I will read them all. Eventually. (I think there are 3 short stories and one demigod diaries I have yet to read.)

I mean:

“His big claim to fame was that the Golden Fleece – that magical sheepskin rug I’m related to – ended up in his kingdom, which made the place immune to disease, invasion, stock-market crashes, visits from Justin Bieber and pretty much any other natural disaster.” – I’m currently studying the Argonautica and that makes this about 10x more hilarious.

I love Greek myths and I love Percy Jackson so this book was a 5 star win-win for me. (And the morals are just great, man. Great.) (And these myths are gruesome but this is fine to read to your kids. Probably. I guess it depends on how freaked out they get at daddies eating their children. Which seems to happen a lot, to be quite frank. (Haha, inside Percy Jackson jokes! I make myself laugh.))

#TBRTakedown 2.0

Earlier today I read on Instagram about the #TBRTakedown 2.0 and thought I’d get in on the action!

The readathon takes place from July 25th – July 31st, and the aim is to read 5 books which fit into the following categories:

  1. The first in a series
  2. A sequel
  3. A book outside of your comfort zone
  4. A book that’s been on your shelf for more than a year (unread)
  5. Most recently acquired

IMG_3958
#TBRReadthon books + TY cat who’s my new book buddy (aside from the real thing currently sat on my lap, of course)

Respectively, I am reading: The One Dollar Horse and Race the Wind, both by Lauren St John; Room by Emma Donoghue; Tempest by Julie Cross; and The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle.

IMG_3954
Currently Reading: The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani (170 pages to go)

I’m really looking forward to participating (and I even made a video for the YouTube! I put my face in video on the interweb, people!!) even if I still have 170 pages of my other book to read…

Are you guys going to participate?

I’ll try to blog as much as possible, but forgive me if I lax for a couple of days!

IMG_3955
My kitty cat, Hunny, decided to join me for the vlog

Book Discussion: Too Many Books?

bd;too many booksAh, the woes of a reader: the fact that there are simply too many books in the world, and just not enough time to read them and still have a life. Another woe of a reader, though, is that we constantly buy new books, even if they’re not going to be read!

I am terrible for this. Most of the books on my shelf are unread, and I keep buying new books, either because they’re pretty or because I really want to read them. And then I read them… but the ones on the shelf I already have haven’t been read! It’s dreadful.

I would estimate that around a million books are published a year. A MILLION!! Say maybe 1000 are books I would “love”, and I average about 3 days per book, that would take me… about 3000 days or 8.2 years (assuming there’s no leap years). Gosh. That’s… actually, that’s astounding.

Obviously there might be a terrible year for books, or a really good year for books, so it could be more or less. But, depressingly, that’s basically saying you’re not going to be able to read all of the awesome books in the world.

So the question is: do we slow the production of new books, or simply accept that there are way too many books in the world and no one’s going to be able to read all of them?

What I would suggest, though? At least read all of the ones on your shelves!

What do you think? 


PS: DYK, the Japanese word ‘tsundoku’ means ‘buying a load of books and then not getting round to reading them’. SourceI think this word is basically my life…

Top Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity

ttt; celebrate diversityTop Ten Tuesday: hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and with a new topic each week. This week? Top Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity!

I have to admit: whilst I have a lot of diverse books on my shelf, I haven’t read them all, so I’m going to go for ones I have read and love. Some of them might push the “limit” of diversity, which, according to WNDB’s definition is:

[Diversity is] including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

…but all of them, in my mind, are diverse.

  1. Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson 
    This demands a re-read from me, but this novel (probably one of my favourites, if not the favourite of mine) is set in the Amazon, and features many native Indian people (oh my gosh Finn is just the best and my first bookish boy crush no joke).
  2. The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill
    In my society, which is southern England, this book is diverse, but I don’t know what it’s like in its original culture: Laos. And also the MC is witty and hilarious and old and he’s great. This book also reflects the Laos culture really well.
  3. Stig of the Dump by Clive King
    The diversity in this book is actually with cave men/young boys. This is a 1960s book, so don’t expect any more “modern” diversity, but I think it’s beginning to show the change in society’s thoughts; the friendship between two very different individuals is the centre of this novel, and their friendship pushes the limits of what is considered “possible” in society; perhaps a reflection by King of real life?
  4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
    The main character of this book, Christopher, has Aspberger’s Syndrome, and it was the first book I read which featured a character with this syndrome. You can read my review on my other blog here.
  5. A Brighter Fear by Kerry Drewery
    Lina is from Baghdad; and in 2003, the bombs began to fall. I loved this book; brilliantly diverse, and it made me cry. Read my review here!
  6. Close Range: Brokeback Mountain and Other Stories by Annie Proulx
    Cowboys: doesn’t seem particularly diverse, does it? The stories in this book are brilliantly diverse, especially Brokeback Mountain (obviously, if you’ve heard anything about it). It’s great. I loved it, and the film, and sobbed my eyes out twice.
  7. Once by Morris Gleitzman
    Like Journey to the River Sea, this also demands a re-read, but it’s brilliantly diverse; showing a young Jewish boy in Nazi Germany.
  8. Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys 
    Oh. My. Gosh. This book is also set during WWII (I read a lot of books from these times, and historical fiction), and Lina (yes, there really are two books on the same list whose MCs are awesome females called Lina) is being shipped around Europe and Russia. It shows so many different ethnic and cultural groups and will also metaphorically rip your heart from your chest.
  9. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    Obviously this one is diverse, and I studied it in secondary school. Although it’s not specifically mentioned, Lennie has a serious mental disability, and the story is mainly about the other characters reacting to it. Really pushing the limits at the time, too.
  10. Reaching for the Stars by Lola Jaye 
    Although I don’t remember much of this (I might’ve read it fairly recently, but I read it quickly and didn’t absorb much!) it’s a novella’d autobiography of a young, black, female author living in America trying to get a book deal. I should probably re-read this one, too.

Y’know, I actually found this one pretty hard, looking down my “read” list on GoodReads. Perhaps that’s because I read a lot of older books and not many newly published; I also don’t read too much of diverse authors such as Malorie Blackman (although I did love her Cloud Busting, which I definitely recommend. I had a conversation with my mother as to whether it could be classified as diverse, but we didn’t think so in the end). I think, though, that diversity is definitely making its way into our bookish world.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

TITLE: We Were Liars
AUTHOR: E. Lockhart
PUBLISHER: Hot Key Books
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2014
NUMBER OF PAGES: 227
PRICE: £7.99 (currently on sale at Amazon!)
ISBN: 9781471403989
GOODREADS
PERSONAL SOURCE: Bought from Warwick University book shop
RATING: 5/5


We are the Liars. We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury. We are cracked and broken.

A story of love and romance. A tale of tragedy.

Which are lies? Which is truth? You decide.

People tell you that, when you read this book, to go in “blind”; that is, don’t read any reviews, spoilers, or flick through the book. So… this review isn’t going to be like any others I’ve done before (I think, I’ve done quite a lot so I forget. And I’m forgetful anyway, which doesn’t help).

WHY YOU SHOULD READ WE WERE LIARS:

  • It’s happy and fluffy and light.
    (I lied… although the romance is so perfect and so not perfect and ugh. My feels.)
  • It’s short so you can stay up all night reading it.
    Which, dear mother if you are reading this, I totally did not do…
  • The characters are amazingly complex.
    This makes it constantly interesting.
  • The plot is amazingly twisty and turny and just UGH
    PLEASE JUST READ THIS BOOK AND PLACATE MY MIND.
  • JUST READ IT. NOW.
  • What if I ask nicely?

The twists in this book are just amazing and by the end of it I literally had my mouth hanging open (I remember finishing it: I ignored my friends for the whole bus ride and tried my hardest not to cry as I finished 60+ pages just as we rolled into college…).

This book definitely lived up to my expectations (which were high, given how many people had posted about it everywhere saying how awesome it was) and I really, really enjoyed it. (Hence: it got 5/5 stars.)

Now: pretty pretty please will you read it?

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss

Anna Oliphant really doesn’t want to spend her final year of high school in Paris’ School of America. But her novelist father insists, and suddenly she finds herself 4383 miles away from her home in Georgia. She has to leave behind her best friend, Bridgette, and her kind-of-boyfriend, Toph, for a totally new place. And then, well, she meets the beautiful, enthusiastic, totally-not-allowed-to-date Étienne St Clair.

I really, really enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss! I read it for a book group on Instagram, and I am so glad I did.

To begin with, I really enjoyed the plot. Whilst not completely unique – it’s about a group of teenage friends at a boarding school – I liked how it was different, with the School of America in Paris (SOAP), how Anna didn’t actually speak the language to begin with. Another thing was the fact the romance – obviously between Anna and Étienne – was built upon from the beginning. It wasn’t just a ‘bang – they’re in love!’ type of thing, but really did have drama and life problems sprung in their paths as well as their relationship actually being developed upon in the entire duration of the book.

The characters were also pretty great – finally, a main character who is 3D, is witty and one I genuinely wanted to be my friend! The supporting characters were all unique and different too, I really enjoyed reading about all of them but for different reasons. Étienne was humouous, Josh was almost a male version of myself, Rashmi was the sarky one I love but am never quite sure how to respond to, and Meredith was simply the unable-to-live-without good friend.

Anna was just great. She’s different, slightly weird, and hilarious. I related to her so much, with the friend troubles and, yes, boyfriend troubles! I just..gah, I loved her.

Étienne, the main male character, was a sweet, funny guy – however, he could also be a bit of a jerk at times, but I guess this brings out the realism of the novel. You’re not going to fall in love with someone who is perfect – everyone has flaws. I think that his were pretty bad, but Anna can overlook them because she fell in love with the person underneath. Also, I would have liked to have seen more of Anna and Bridge’s back story, as well as more of her and Meredith and Rashmi. More Josh would have been nice too, but I think his story is in Isla and the Happy Ever After, the third book in the series.

I also really liked Perkins’ writing style – it had me laughing out loud and was just addicting, much like Jackson Pearce’s. I would – and will – definitely read anything else by her!

I would recommend this to people who enjoy romantic comedies, probably more teenagers but I’m sure older people could enjoy it too, even though it’s clearly aimed at students. It’s good for light-hearted reading too, although tough issues like cancer are addressed. I really enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss and will definitely be reading the sequels – Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happy Ever After. Now just to save enough money to buy them…


TITLE: Anna and the French Kiss
AUTHOR: Stephanie Perkins
PUBLISHER: Usborne House
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2014
NUMBER OF PAGES: 401
PRICE: £6.99
ISBN: 978-1-4095-7993-3
GOODREADS
PERSONAL SOURCE: Bought from Waterstones in Winchester

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Fathomless

Lo is an ocean girl. That is, she lives at the bottom of the ocean, naked and with plenty of other girls like her. The only problem is, she doesn’t remember her life beforehand. Like any of the others. Until Molly comes along and tells her she knows everything. Like why the angels don’t really exist.

Celia lives on the shore, with her sisters Jane and Anne. Celia has a power; she can see anyone’s past, if she touches their bare skin. When Celia and Lo help to rescue a boy from drowning, both of their lives begin to ripple.

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. I love Jackson Pearce, and I love her books. Of course I would read anything by her if I were given a chance, and when I got Fathomless for Christmas, I was jumping for joy (I also got Cold Spell, the last in the series, but I’m saving it because I might cry when the series is over).

Okay so onto the actual storyline. So far, Pearce has had books set in a forest, a town and now at the seaside. Fathomless is a remake of The Little Mermaid, so this is kind of obvious. I really enjoyed the storyline. Naida/Lo’s plight is one that, whilst not being completely realistic, is still relatable: the fear of losing one’s identity, especially when you have no control over the fact it is disappearing. And I really liked Celia’s involvement too, and the love triangle between Celia, Nadia and Jude. Yes, for once, I liked a love triangle. Shock, horror.

That brings me onto the characters. I thought Celia’s sisters, Jane and Anne, had some pretty good character development, as did Nadia/Lo, as well as Celia herself. And, as always with Pearce’s writing, each of the characters have their own unique voice, which Pearce uses to her advantage. For example, a character called Molly, who I would have quite happily strangled, was completely different from the others, which made her character’s twist at the end brilliantly exquisite.

The Reynolds fiasco also popped up again, in Celia Reynolds. I am so intrigued by why they keep appearing, and I cannot wait to read the last one, in the hope that we’ll finally be told!

Although it doesn’t particularly make you think, this book is fun to read and you’ll gobble it up as fast as you can. I enjoyed everything about the book: the dark/light contrast of the settings, the different characters and their lives, the comedy intertwined with some of the darkest parts. And I might be biased, but I say read it!


 

TITLE: Fathomless
AUTHOR: Jackson Pearce
PUBLISHER: Hodder’s Children’s Books (UK), Little, Brown and Company (USA)
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: Originally 2011 (my edition: 2013)
NUMBER OF PAGES: 293
PRICE: £6.99
ISBN: 978-1-444-91555-6
GOODREADS
PERSONAL SOURCE: Christmas present

Book Haul!

My books arrived today, much to my excitement! (Seriously I was punching the air and everything.) I’ve never ordered this many books before, and they actually arrived in a box and everything!

Phew. Breathe in, breathe out.

I recorded a video of me having fun opening the books which I’ll link here at a later date, too! You can hear the excitement in my voice. XD

Soooo…. onto the actual haul!

The [opened] box!
The [opened] box!
All the great books [aside from another copy of 'Travelling to Infinity' which is for a friend]
All the great books [aside from another copy of ‘Travelling to Infinity’ which is for a friend]
If you can’t read the spines in the picture (I don’t know how big it is on your screen) here are the books in the pictured order:

  • Top Gear: Ambitious but Rubbish (just a little light relief treat to myself!)
  • Travelling to Infinity by Jane Hawking (since I saw The Theory of Everything, I’ve wanted to read this)
  • The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (wanted to see the film – but I have to read the book first!)
  • Philomena by Martin Sixsmith (same as above, but I’ve always been curious about this)
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (I actually already have a copy of this, so this copy is going to a friend, but I saw this film a couple of years ago and now want to read it!)
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (been on my TBR for a while)
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (I got a Gillian Flynn package!)

I think I’m going to read Philomena first, because then I’m lending it to my grandmother and then mother and then hopefully Gone Girl or The Lovely Bones, but I’ve also got two books for book clubs to read as well…

Oh, decisions, decisions.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Christopher Boone has never been further than the corner shop at the end of his road. He keeps his head down whilst his father tries to cope with the loss of his wife and both of them with Christopher’s Asperger’s. But when the neighbour’s dog is murdered in its back garden, Christopher embarks on a terrifying adventure to find out who, exactly, did it.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has been on my to-read list for ages. Everyone kept saying how amazing it was, how I needed to read it. So when I discovered this book in a charity shop, I just had to get it (to then discover that according to my mother we already have a copy. Hey-ho!).

Christopher is the narrator of this novel, and wrote it after his social worker, Siobhan, suggested it. Due to his Asperger’s, Christopher doesn’t exactly understand the world around him, and things that are perfectly ordinary to us would terrify him, such as a tube coming into a station, or too many people in one place (although if you’ve ever been to Oxford Circus at Christmastime, you’ll find that quite scary, believe me). This book is really interesting to understand how people with Asperger’s see the world around us, how different it is to people who don’t have it.

The plot, the death of the dog, wasn’t as large as I thought it would be. Rather, the plot of this book is about Christopher growing up and discovering the world; this has to be the only ‘crime’ novel, in the loosest sense of the word, where the crime is a side-plot! However, the mystery was still written well, and other mysteries appear as the book goes on. And they’ll all intrigue you.

Other characters include Christopher’s father, who I really didn’t like due to his lying, and the neighbour across the road who’s dog dies, who I also didn’t like because, well, she was a bitch. However, they were still well-crafted characters with their own problems and I enjoyed the fact they seemed realistic.

Haddon has a tender tone which isn’t cutesy or patronising, but stark-ravingly real and still gives you the strange and sad atmosphere he tries to create. Yes, sadness. Well, murder isn’t exactly a happy occasion, but it’s the subplots which tug at your heartstrings.

The Curious Incident definitely makes you think of people in a different way. Try it yourself; read the book then go out into the outside world and look at people. Really look. Don’t be too creepy, but imagine their own lives. What troubles are they coping with? What’s happening to them? Of course loads of other books teach you about this, but there’s no harm of one more to remind you that outside of your own little bubble of personal space, there’s a literal world of people out there.

My recommendations of this book go to those who are interested in autism and want a different type of book to read – one with interesting chapter titles, a unique narrator and some diagrams to break up the text as well as something you probably have never read before.


TITLE: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
AUTHOR: Mark Haddon
PUBLISHER: Vintage
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2004
NUMBER OF PAGES: 272
PRICE: £6.99
ISBN: 0099450259
GOODREADS
PERSONAL SOURCE: Picked up in a charity shop – Vitalise, to be exact.