Friday, 19 December 2014

The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker

Pages: 369
Release Date: 1st January 2014
Publisher: S&S
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

One Saturday morning the world wakes to discover that the rotation of the earth has begun to slow. As birds fall from the sky and days grow longer, people start to flee – but there is nowhere on earth to escape to.

Julia is already coping with the disasters of everyday life. And then there’s Seth: tall and quiet and always on his own; the skateboarding boy who knows all about disaster. As the world faces a catastrophe, Julia and Seth are facing their very own unknown.

I’d had The Age of Miracles in my sights for a while – it came out in the US in 2012! - so I picked it up very shortly after it arrived in a surprise package, and I loved it.

With the influx of dystopia and post-apocalyptic novels over the last few years, I was unsure how much originally there was left when it came to the end of the world, but Karen Thompson Walker delivered. The slowing of the Earth’s spinning seems a subtle idea that surely can’t have the catastrophic effects of the usual disaster-ridden ends of the world, right? Nope. Some of the things that the lengthening hours of day and night affected were so unexpected: crops, the weather, the atmosphere, sleep and a syndrome resulting in the change in the magnetic field and gravity on the Earth.

I loved how nothing really seemed all that different at first and then it suddenly started to snowball. The day got longer with each rotation of the sun, eventually reaching over fifty hours. It’s unimaginable. As The Age of Miracles was written in retrospect from Julia in her mid-twenties there was a constant feeling that it would only get worse, but the world would adapt. The entre novel is riddled with bad omens, hints and foreboding comments about what was to come, and yet Julia’s story still felt like an ode to humankind. The incredible resilience of human life, the fragile balance of our planet and how we take it for granted all slammed down on me every couple of pages. And yet, as one person, all of the things we could do as the inhabitants of Earth wouldn’t really do much to help at all.

None of this is really even touched on in the synopsis and it seems as if the romance between Julia – who at 11/12 was way younger than I was expecting – and Seth would be the main focus of the story. But it built slowly and beautifully, the two of them having very little contact until the world had changed entirely and the novel was two-thirds done. It felt refreshing and uncertain and innocent and it sat against an ever-changing backdrop perfectly.

I really loved The Age of Miracles and I’m already feeling the niggle to re-read it...

Thanks to S&S for the review copy!


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Lessons I Learned from Breaking Bad

Every sentence can be exponentially improved by adding ‘bitch’ on the end of it.

Teachers really do have secret lives. Maybe even more secret than just partying in the staff room...

Meth can be blue.

Shaving your head makes you look like a COMPLETELY different person.

Jeans that actually fit can transform you. (*cough*JessePinkman*cough*)

Characters that you didn’t even think you liked that much can cause tears to form when they inevitably die.

That you can even want characters to die outside of a fantasy/dystopia/sci-fi story...

You can watch five seasons of a TV really quickly if you try hard enough.

Cliffhangers are a genuine struggle on work nights.


Monday, 15 December 2014

Breaking the Rules, Katie McGarry

Pages: 446
Publisher: MiraINK
Release Date: 8th December 2014
Edition: Kindle e-book, purchased

Other Titles by this Author: Pushing the Limits, Dare You Too, Crash Into You, Take Me On

‘I wish life could be like this forever,’ I say.
‘We’d be ok then. We’d forever be ok.’

For Echo Emerson, a road trip with her boyfriend is the perfect way to spend the last summer between school and college. It’s a chance to forget all the things that make her so different at home. But most of all it means almost three months alone with gorgeous Noah, the only boy who’s never judged her.

Echo and Noah share everything.

But, as their pasts come crashing back into their lives, it’s harder to hide that they come from two very different worlds. And, as the summer fades, Echo faces her toughest decision – struggle to face the future together or let her first love go...

I thoroughly enjoy Katie McGarry’s novels: they’re fun, sexy and heartfelt, and I was so excited to hear that her fifth book would take us back to Noah and Echo where I started with her books.

Breaking the Rules picks up immediately after the ending of Pushing the Limits with Noah and Echo on a summer road trip visiting art galleries across the country to spread Echo’s name and her art. But it’s also some quality Echo and Noah time to work out their issues and enjoy each other before the pressure of college. There were lots of issues that came between them on their trip, both past and present, but mostly ones we saw in their beginning: Noah’s history with other girls, Echo’s scars, her relationship with her mum, their fear of losing each other. All familiar, right? The biggest new issue for Echo was sex.

Echo was terrified and really quite reluctant to give that part of herself to Noah and I thought that was a really strong, genuine and important aspect of first love to be demonstrated – you rarely get that in YA, surprisingly. But that dynamic in their relationship soon started to bother me a little. Noah seemed a little pushy and there was a particular line somewhere that referenced that Noah had gone too far and she had been unwilling or something along those lines – I think it was in reference to Echo’s clothes being removed. It made me pretty uncomfortable and that feeling stayed every time there was even slight intimacy, especially after they finally had sex and Echo asked Noah if she had to do it again. Red alert, right there. And an unhealthy portrayal of what should have been a big and positive experience for Echo.

While on their rocky ride I was reunited with Beth of Dare You To and Isaiah of Crash Into You. As Breaking the Rules is set between Pushing the Limits and Dare You To, we got to see Beth and Isaiah from before we really got to know them in their own novels. It was really interesting to see their relationship close up and how different they were before Ryan and Rachel came on the scene. Beth was a serious mess and it’s so nice to know that she got out of that dark pit and was able to pick herself up and start her life again.

Though I had a (pretty serious) niggle, I enjoyed Breaking the Rules and I’ll be sad to see this companion series end. Though after the sneak peek of Katie McGarry’s new series, I’m definitely excited for Nowhere But There.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Letterbox Love #70

Letterbox Love all of the lovely, lovely books I’ve gotten in the post, bought and everything else. Summaries are taken from the cover, or Amazon/NetGalley/Goodreads in the case of e-books, unless otherwise stated. Hosted by Narratively Speaking.

For review:

Breaking the Rules, Katie McGarry (paperback)

‘I wish life could be like this forever,’ I say.
‘We’d be ok then. We’d forever be ok.’

For Echo Emerson, a road trip with her boyfriend is the perfect way to spend the last summer between school and college. It’s a chance to forget all the things that make her so different at home. But most of all it means almost three months alone with gorgeous Noah, the only boy who’s never judged her.

Echo and Noah share everything.

But, as their pasts come crashing back into their lives, it’s harder to hide that they come from two very different worlds. And, as the summer fades, Echo faces her toughest decision – struggle to face the future together or let her first love go...

I’ve read this already and though I really enjoyed it, I did have a few niggles... Review up tomorrow. Thanks Mira!

Rock War, Robert Muchamore (e-proof)

Meet Jay, Summer and Dylan.

Jay plays guitar, writes songs and dreams of being a rock star. But his ambitions are stifled by seven siblings and a terrible drummer.

Summer works hard at school, looks after her Nan and has a one-in-a-million singing voice. But can her talent triumph over her nerves?

Dylan is happiest lying on his bunk smoking, but his school rugby coach has other ideas, and Dylan reluctantly joins a band to avoid crunching tackles and icy mud.

They’re about to enter the biggest battle of their lives. And there’s everything to play for.

Thanks to NetGalley and Hodder for this!

Nightbird, Alice Hoffman (e-proof)

Twig lives in a remote area of town with her mysterious brother and her mother, baker of irresistible pies. A new girl in town might just be Twig’s first true friend, and an ally in vanquishing an ancient family curse. A spellbinding tale of modern folklore set in the Berkshires, where rumours of a winged beast draw in as much tourism as the town’s famed apple orchards.

I read Green Angel by Hoffman years ago and it was achingly beautiful so I have high hopes for this. Thanks S&S!

All Fall Down, Ally Carter (e-proof)

Grace is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She isn’t crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she’s going to find the man with the scar, and then she is going to make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her – so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door who is keeping an eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her un-pretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace – no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do.

Her past has come back to hunt her...and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt.

Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world all stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall.

The excitement for this book is infectious and I’m looking forward to re-discovering Ally Carter – I’ve only read I’d Say I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You! Thanks Orchard.

Marly’s Ghost, David Levithan (paperback)

Love and I once had a great relationship, but I fear we’ve broken up. It cheated on me.

When Ben’s girlfriend, Marly, dies, he feels his life is over and the prospect of Valentine’s Day without her fills him with bitterness. But then Marly arrives – or at least, her ghost does – along with three other spirits. Now Ben must take a journey through valentines past, present and future – and what he learns will change him forever.

A remix of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with a Vaeltnines twist and the Levithan magic.

This sounds all kinds of amazing. Thanks Electric Monkey!

A Christmas Package from Bloomsbury


A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J Maas (proof)

Lose yourself in the first of a breathtaking new fantasy trilogy from the new York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, Sarah J Maas.

Feyre is a huntress. She thinks nothing of slaughtering a wolf to capture its prey. But, like all mortals, she fears what lingers mercilessly beyond the forest. And she will learn that taking the life of a magical creature comes at a high price...

Imprisoned in an enchanted court in her enemy’s kingdom, Feyre is free to roam but forbidden escape. Her captor’s body bears the scars of fighting, and his face is always masked – but his piercing stare draws her ever closer. As Fayre’s feelings for Tamlin begin to burn through every warning she’s been told about his kind, an ancient, wicked shadow grows. Feyre must find a way to break a spell, or lose her heart forever...

I’m not even going to pretend that this didn’t cause squealing and happy dancing. YES!

Apple and Rain, Sarah Crossan (hardback)

When Apple’s mother returns after eleven years away, Apple feels whole again. She will have an answer to her burning question – why did you go? But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother’s homecoming is bitter sweet. It’s only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is, that she begins to see things as they really are. Apple discovers something which can help her feel whole from the inside out, not just the outside in.

I’ve heard a lot about this in the last couple of months but didn’t really know that much about it. It sounds sweet and heartbreaking and I’m very much looking forward to it!

The Sleeper and the Spindle, Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell (hardback)

It was the closest kingdom to the Queen’s, as the crow flies, but not even crows flew it.

You may think you know this story. There’s a young queen, about to be married. There are some good, brave, hardy dwarfs; a castle, shrouded in thorns; and a princess, cursed by a witch, so rumour has it, to sleep forever.

But no one is waiting for a noble prince to appear on his trusty steed here. This fairy tale is spun with a thread of dark magic, which twists and turns and glints and shines. A queen might just prove herself a hero, if a princess needs rescuing...

Rather controversially, I’m not really a Gaiman fan, and nor am I particularly fond of graphic novels, but this is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen and that’s enough to make me want to give it a go.

A Cadbury’s hot chocolate sachet

Chocolate coins

A postcard set from The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold

A Harry Potter poster featuring images from the redesigns!

Thank you so much Bloomsbury! You made an awful week a whole lot better.