Tuesday 27 March 2012

All These Things I've Done - Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I’ve Done – Gabrielle Zevin

Pages: 351
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release Date: 29th March 2012

Other Titles by this Author: Margarettown, Elsewhere, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

For Anya, love will become a life-or-death choice...

New York 2082. When Anya is arrested for attempted murder, the District Attorney offers her a choice: stay away from his son or watch helplessly as he destroys her family. it should be a straightforward decision. Except that the DA’s son is the boy Anya loves, and her family is at the dark heart of the city’s criminal underworld.

Anya must choose between love and loyalty, knowing that whatever she decides will have shatterng consequences: heartbreak or a gangland war that will tear the city apart.

All These Things I’ve Done is a dystopia that’s very different to lots that are out there at the moment. And I adored it.

In Anya’s New York City, most of the things we don't give a second though to are banned or severely restricted: chocolate, coffee, paper, showers and yet alcohol was available to anyone! It was a little mind-blowing really. I loved how it reflected the 1919-1933 American Prohibition on alcohol and turned it on its head as well. One of my favourite elements of this was the coffee speakeasies that were scattered throughout the city and the mafia families making their money on illegal chocolate. I thought it was an extremely clever way to create a future almost-dystopian world without the usual tactics of war, disaster or an apocalypse. I have to admit that there’s no way that I’d want to live in Gabrielle Zevin’s 2082 though – paper books are the things of rich collectors and everything is now read on slates *shudder*.

Anya, or Annie as her family call her, is a very intriguing protagonist. She has been left in charge of her dying grandmother, little sister, and less-able older brother after the murder of her parents. She is strong, closed-off and still very, very easy to love. I really enjoyed the flecks of Russian that dotted her speech whenever she was angry and the sayings that her dad had taught her that Anya pretty much lives by. Anya was surrounded by some other brilliant characters too: her sassy, sweet little sister, Natty; adorable Leo who was determined to look after his sisters, the diva-esque Scarlet, Anya’s best friend and the gorgeous Win who would do anything for Anya. With Anya, Leo and Natty’s grandmother, you have an incredibly old dying women who it’s said was born in 1995. That would make her three years younger than me, and that blew my mind a little bit, I have to admit.

I loved the way that Gabrielle Zevin approached telling the story in All These Things I’ve Done. She went with the unusual style of direct discourse. Anya was telling me her story from quite far in the past, often noting on how things were when the story was taking place back then and there was the sense that it is a lot different where she is now. There were a few asides and N.B.’s that I loved which can easily alienate you from the story but Zevin hit the nail on the head – I loved it.

I thoroughly enjoyed All These Things I've Done and I can't wait to read the next instalment of the Birthright series.

Thank you to Macmillan for sending me a copy to review.


Wednesday 21 March 2012

The Flappers: Vixen - Jillian Larkin

The Flappers: Vixen – Jillian Larkin

Pages: 386 (ARC)
Publisher: Corgi (RHCB)
Release Date: 1st March 2012

Three girls. One city. Who’ll be the last Flapper standing?

Chicago, 1924. Born into American high society, Gloria is the girl who has it all. Living the debutante dream along with her best friend Lorraine, Gloria is just a trip down the aisle away from her future life as Mrs Sebastian Grey.

But surely there’s a little time for partying before she settles down?

With an illegal speakeasy on every corner and mobsters rubbing shoulders with the city’s most sensational flappers, Chicago’s jazz-fuelled underworld is certainly not the kind of place for a society princess like Gloria.

And she’s never had so much fun.

I have a soft spot for fun, fast-paced, scandalous historical YA novels and Jillian Larkin’s debut met my criteria perfectly.

The era of 1920s America captivates me. The glamour, the rebellion, the danger, the scandals and, of course, the Flappers. The leftover Victorian sensibilities clashing with the new-found freedom of societies debutantes causes a delicious atmosphere that I love to be enveloped in. Jillian Larkin created a vibrant, pulsing atmosphere in the speakeasies that was made effortlessly authentic with her casual use of 20s slang that I admittedly did have to look up occasionally. As much as these bits made me want to live like Gloria, there were elements to the time that didn’t really occur to me until Vixen really got going.

Prejudice against black people was still rife in the 20s and even contact between a black man and a white woman was forbidden, let alone a relationship. It shocked me how they were treated by society because it would be so unforgivable now. This wasn’t the only thing about the time that put me on edge. Obviously, part of the allure of historical novels is the triumphing of love over money, status and family, but I’m still always horrified at some of the relationships women are in through duty. And then you have how women are still treated like possessions: it made my usually calm and satisfied inner feminist rear up in anger. One character who I won’t disclose, made her growl particularly fiercely. For that, I am very glad I don’t live in a world where this is still rife (generally speaking).

Written is split narration between Clara, Lorraine and Gloria, Vixen shows us three different examples of life as a socialite: the reformed Flapper, the wannabe/newbie Flapper and the desperate Flapper. When I first began reading Vixen, I fully expected Gloria to be my favourite character. She was branching out and breaking rules, finding her freedom, but she actually irritated me for the first half of the novel. Lorraine, well, if you’ve read Vixen you’re very likely to know what I mean without me having to say anything and that leaves Clara. I didn’t imagine I would like her very much at all, but she was by far my favourite. She has an intriguing past and a spark that jumps off the page. I was constantly wondering what she left behind in New York and what had happened that would cause mysterious, threatening notes to follow her to Chicago.

I loved Vixen and I can’t wait to read the next book, Ingenue, and catch up with the scandalous antics of Gloria, Lorraine and Clara.

Thank you to RHCB for sending me a copy for review.


Monday 19 March 2012

Blog Tour: Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt + Guest Post

Skin Deep – Laura Jarratt

Pages: 378
Publisher: Electric Monkey (Egmont UK)
Release Date: 5th March 2012

‘I wanted to say this morning, only you ran off...Sorry if I was rude.’ The boy from the boat grinned, looking straight at me. ‘You surprised me, that’s all. The scar,’ – he touched his face – ‘took me by surprise. I didn't mean to be rude.’ I gaped at him. Nobody ever, ever mentioned the scars.

After the car crash that leaves her best friend dead, Jenna struggles to rebuild her life. But every stare in the street, every glance in the mirror, makes her want to hide away. And then Ryan turns up – a tall, good-looking traveller unlike anyone Jenna’s met before.

Can he help put her world back together, or will he just break her heart?

I’d heard next to nothing about Skin Deep when I started reading it. I went in with no expectations; I didn't know whether it would be funny, sad, sweet, emotional or swoon-worthy – it was all of them.

Laura Jarrat immediately suckered me in with dual narration; the alternate chapters told in Ryan and Jenna’s distinctive voices ensured I devoured Skin Deep in two sittings. Now, Ryan is fascinating. His narration is full of the language and cadence of a teenage boy’s voice and feels authentic and so real. He is frank, honest and straightforward, for the most part, and is also sensitive (as much as he hates that) and incredibly, incredibly sweet. With the bigotry that is directed towards Ryan once the village discovers he’s a traveller, he becomes even more special.

As you get further into the story, Skin Deep becomes much more than a novel about looking underneath surface, whether that is disfiguring scars or how they live. Mental illness is touched on sensitively and realistically and in a way that made my heart ache for all of the characters that are affected. But the issue of Jenna’s scars are of course at the forefront of the novel. I can’t even to begin to imagine dealing with not only your life being changed like that, but also dealing with the death of your best friend.

The way that Jenna’s face is met by the rest of the village makes me angry and want to cry for her at the same time. Her strength and resilience grew as Skin Deep continued and Ryan taught her that not everyone would recoil from her, that she could still be loved and how to stare right back when people stared at her. There were still glimpses of a young girl struggling with herself, however – she had screaming fights with her parents, burst into tears often, and doubted that anyone could ever love her or look at her in the same way again. I have to admit that there was one point in the novel that I went ‘Woah, she’s young. Maybe I’m a little too old for this...’, but then I got over it and carried on loving it!

Skin Deep takes an unexpected turn in the latter part of the novel that really adds another dimension to Jenna, Ryan and the themes of the novel. The chapters becoming shorter and sharper as the tension rises strengthen this. It’s a brilliantly clever technique that really made a dfference and kept me racing through the pages to the end.

I finished Skin Deep with a cheesy, stupid grin plastered to my face and a conviction that I have to make sure I read whatever Laura Jarrat writes next.

I’d now like to welcome Laura to So Many Books, So Little Time to share with us the songs on Jenna and Ryan’s iPod’s:

·         'Brick by Boring Brick' – Paramore
For those times when she’s tempted to retreat into the world in her head because it’s just too scary out there to deal with

·         'Shine On' – The Kooks
Because she wishes someone felt this way about her…before Ryan turns up obviously!

·         'Airplanes' – B.o.B
This is something she plays to remember Lindsay, and wishes Lindz was still around to feel like this

·         'Never Let Me Go' – Florence and the Machine
This is how she feels after the accident

·         Titanium – David Guetta ft. Sia
For when Steven is getting to her; this would make her playlist about halfway through the book when she’s feeling stronger.

Ryan: Ryan’s mix is more eclectic than Jenna’s, which is a reflection of him and because he’s listened to a lot of Cole’s stuff too

·         'Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)'
His moving-on song, to get his head in gear to leave people and places behind

·         'Use Somebody' – Kings of Leon
Without putting a huge spoiler in here, this is a track that means something to Ryan in the latter half of the book…

·         'I’m Yours' – Jason Mraz
A mood song for when he and Jenna get together

·         'Earthquake' – Labrinth ft. Tinie Tempah
This is his feel-good song; it just gives him a buzz – probably because he’s more Karen’s son than he admits to and there’s a definite anarchic streak in this one

·         'Iris' – Goo Goo Dolls
One he first discovered in Cole’s collection; for Jenna…

A big thank you to Electric Monkey for sending me a review copy and for involving me in the blog tour.


Sunday 18 March 2012

In My Mailbox 110

This meme was started by the fabulous Kristi who was inspired by Alea. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets unless otherwise stated.

For Review:

The Kissing Game – Aidan Chambers

Prepare to be amazed, enchanted and to gasp with shock.

Delve into these Stories of Defiance – moments in life, realisations, insights and sudden revelations.

Absorb yourself in flash fictions – very short but complete stories that reveal, as in a flash of light, a moment of awkward truth in the life of their characters.

I love flash fiction so I’m really lokking forward to this. Thanks, RHCB!

A Million Suns – Beth Revis

Trapped on board the spaceship Godspeed, Amy trusts no one.

The ship’s ruler is dead and a rebellion threatens. Amy wants to help Elder as he tries to take charge, btu she’s torn between her feelings for him and the chaos that’s pulling everything apart. As more harrowing discoveries are made about Godspeed, Amy is caught in a desperate race to uncover its secrets. Only one thing is certain.

They have to get off this ship.

I loved Across the Universe so I’m looking forward to this. I do wish the covers hadn’t been changed though – they were so beautiful, and now, this. Thanks, Razorbill.

Truth or Dare: You’re invited to a Creepover... – PJ Night

Go to sleep, if you dare, because you’re invited to a Creepover!

During a round of Truth or Dare, Abby Miller confesses her crush on Jake Chilson. The only people who know her secret are her friends at the sleepover – and whoever sent her a text message in the middle of the night warning her to stay away from Jake...or else!

But Abby isn;t going to stay away from Jake, especially not after he asks her to the school dance.

As the night of the dance comes closer, some very creepy things start happening to Abby. Is it a jealous classmate or could it be a ghost?

This sounds very cute and fun. Thanks, Atom!

Uglies – Scott Westerfeld

Tally can’t wait to turn sixteen and become Pretty. Sixteen is the magic numbe rthat brings a transformation from a repellent Ugly into a stunningly attractive Pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks, Tally will be there.

But Tally’s new friend, Shay, isnt sure she wants to be Pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally leanrs about a whole new side of the Pretty world – and it isnt very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn Pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

One of my favourite series’ EVER is being re-covered again at the end of the month. The only thing I’m not too keen on is the Hunger Games-related tagline – it slightly annoys me for some reason... Thanks, S&S!

All These Things I’ve Done – Gabrielle Zevin

For Anya, love will become a life-or-death choice...

New York 2082. When Anya is arrested for attempted murder, the District Attorney offers her a choice: stay away from his son or watch helplessly as he destroys her family. it should be a straightforward decision. Except that the DA’s son is the boy Anya loves, and her family is at the dark heart of the city’s criminal underworld.

Anya must choose between love and loyalty, knowing that whatever she decides will have shatterng consequences: heartbreak or a gangland war that will tear the city apart.

SO excited for this! I love Gabrielle Zevin’s earlier novels. Thanks, Macmillan!