Monday 28 April 2014

LGBT April: The Difference Between You and Me, Madeleine George

Pages: 256
Publisher: Viking Children’s Books
Release Date: 12th March 2012
Edition: US hardback, purchased

Other Titles by this Author: Looks, Precious Little, The Zero Hour

How do you choose between what you believe in and the one you love?

Jesse cuts her hair with a Swiss army knife. She wears massive green fisherman’s boots every day. She’s the founding (and only) member of NOLAW, the National Organisation to Liberate All Weirdos.

Emily is the vice president of student council. She has an internship with a local big business. She loves her boyfriend.

At least she thinks she does. But there’s no denying her feelings for Jesse. When they meet up every Tuesday in the bathroom of the local library, the physical connection they share in undeniable.

Jesse doesn’t want to keep their relationship a secret; Emily does. But when they find themselves on opposite sides of a heated school issue, both girls are forced to choose between their convictions and their attachment to each other.

In masterful, incisive prose, Madeleine George has crafted a thought-provoking and funny story about two girls with equally passionate yet very different ideas about changing the world.

I had incredibly high hopes for The Difference Between You and Me but I was rather disappointed.

Firstly, the things I did enjoy. The structure of George’s novel is interesting and unique, and I think it works... The Difference Between You and Me is split between three points of view: Jesse, Emily and Esther and there’ll as in first person present tense, except Jesse’s chapters. Her story is told via close third person. That in itself is a bit unsettling to begin with, but with the dramatic change, it definitely stood out. That reflected George’s idea of Jesse, I think; just how different and revolutionary she is.

My favourite element of the novel was the way that Jesse and Emily’s relationship was explored and resolved, because it didn’t end with a kiss and a happily ever after. It ended with Jesse realising she was worth more than a secret and actually, she had to support her beliefs. It’s unusual for the core relationship of a novel to not be the endgame and it was refreshing. I wish more YA would go in that direction as I think it’s far truer to life and teenage love.

Although I enjoyed and even admired those aspects, I was overpowered by my complete ambivalence towards all of the characters. The novel could have stopped halfway through where they all drove off a cliff and I’d be completely cool with it, ready to move on to something else. There wasn’t a single spark for any of them. I can understand that with Emily (selfish, naive, irritating), Jesse’s mum (infuriating and overly dramatic) and Wyatt’s dad (a bigoted idiot), but I don’t quite know why I felt so ambivalent towards Jesse and the rest of the characters!

My final book for LGBT April was a bit of a disappointment, but I’ve read a crapton of amazing books this month so I can’t really quibble too much!


Sunday 27 April 2014

Letterbox Love #45

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:

Starring Kitty, Keris Stainton (e-proof)

From Goodreads: The series centres on a group of three friends who enter a film-making competition, with each book focusing on a different girl’s life, including first relationships, family life and friends. The first book in the series will be Starring Kitty, which Keris has been writing as part of NaNoWriMo and will focus on Kitty as she works out how she feels about another girl.

Thanks Keris! I’m going to try and squeeze this one in for LGBT Month, even though it’s not out until early June!

Come Back to Me, Mila Gray (e-proof)

From Sarah’s blog: Hot boy in uniform? Check. Super sexy summertime romance? Check. Heartbreak and loss? Check. Kissing and more? Check. Check. Check.

If you love Alex and Jack then you’ll love Kit and Riley – the guys from Sarah’s soon to be released New Adult book Come Back to Me (Pan Macmillan) penned under the name Mila Gray.

Not only is it set in Oceanside just like Hunting Lila but Kit and Riley are also Marines based at Pendleton. That’s where the similarities end however...there are no psys. But there’s way more steam...

Mila Gray is also known as Sarah Alderson and this is her first new adult novel which I found sitting in my inbox at the end of last week. I loved the Lila series so it was a lovely surprise, and so early! Thanks Sarah!

Midnight Crossroad, Charlaine Harris (e-proof)

From Charlaine Harris, the bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse, the world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes a new, darker world – populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it.

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried up Western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement as is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s a new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth.

I really wasn’t fussed by this until Carly (Writing from the Tub) told me how awesome it is. She doesn’t really like paranormal stuff that was enough to make me request it! Thanks NetGalley and Gollancz!

No One Needs to Know, Amanda Grace (e-book)

Sometimes, the cost of love is too steep

Olivia’s twin brother, Liam, has been her best friend her whole life. But when he starts dating, Olivia is left feeling alone, so she tries to drive away Liam’s girlfriends in an effort to get her best friend back.

But she meets her match in Zoey, Liam’s latest fling. A call-it-like-she-sees-it kind of girl, Zoey sees right through Olivia’s tricks. What starts as verbal sparring between the two changes into something different, however, as they share their deepest insecurities and learn they have a lot in common. Olivia falls for Zoey, believing her brother could never get serious with her. But when Liam confesses he’s in love with Zoey, Olivia has to decide who deserves happiness more: her brother or herself?

I absolutely loved The Truth About You and Me so I’m really looking forward to this. Thanks NetGalley and Flux!


The Lemon Grove, Helen Walsh (e-book)

Each summer, Jenn and her husband Greg return to Deia, on Mallorca’s dramatic west coast. This year the arrival of Emma, Jenn’s stepdaughter, and her new boyfriend Nathan threatens to upset their equilibrium. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by nathan’s youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begins to blur. What follows is a highly-charged liason that puts lives and relationships in jeopardy. For Jenn, after this summer, nothing can ever be the same.

This sounds gorgeous and sulty and summery and I’m so excited! A £1.99 Kindle bargain that I’ve had my eye on for ages as it’s a pricey Tinder Press hardcover.

I also bought hardcover copies of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and If You Could be Mine by Sara Farizan for my shelves.


Friday 25 April 2014

The Fearless, Emma Pass

Pages: 400
Publisher: Corgi
Release Date: 29th April 2014
Edition: e-proof, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: ACID

The Fearless. An army, powered by an incredible new serum that makes each soldier stronger, sharper and faster than their enemies. Intended as a force for good, the serum has a terrible side-effect – anyone who takes it is stripped of all humanity, empathy and love. And as the Fearless sweep through the country, forcing the serum on anyone in their path, society becomes a living nightmare.

Cass remembers the night they passed through her village. Her father was Altered. Her mother died soon after. All Cass has left is her little brother – and when Jory is snatched by the Fearless and taken to their hellish lair, Cass must risk everything to get him back.

ACID was one of my favourite books of last year; it blew me away, so The Fearless had a high bar to meet. I’d say it vaulted it.

I was immediately pleased to welcome back the little extras like emails and newspaper clippings that made Emma’s first novel stand out in the first place. I do wish they were a bit more frequent throughout the novel, however. It is possible that they were missed out though as I read an e-book proof copy. I hope these little extras become an Emma Pass trademark and feature in all of her novels in the future.

The Fearless delivers another strong, gutsy and endlessly relatable heroine in Cass. Her love for her little brother, Jori, and her determination to do whatever it takes to make him safe in a very unsafe and untrustworthy world. The quest to save a sibling is a tried and tested story arc that is guaranteed to garner a journey fuelled by emotion and riddled with danger – Cass’ journey across a Fearless infested England is no different. With the addition of chapters in the perspectives of Sol and Myo, all views on the world and the situation are explored and so much depth is added to the story.

There was a gorgeously slow and uncertain build of feelings between Cass and Myo throughout the novel. I loved the brief moments of a connection and the fleeting thoughts and wants that caused a lovely tension between them – it makes the moment when all feelings become clear so much more poignant. I thought the reactions to each other were realistic and nothing was exaggerated into disbelief or even annoyance. I championed Myo and Cass from very early on.

In only two books, Emma Pass has become one of my favourite authors. Her action-packed dystopias, characters worth fighting for and addictive and easy prose make for a winning cocktail of awesome for me. Do I really have to wait a whole year for another one?

Thanks to NetGalley and RHCP for the review copy.


Thursday 24 April 2014

I swear I've seen that around here before...

YA is constantly changing and growing and developing, but there are always phases and trends. These are some of the ones that have been leaping out at me lately.

Dead parents, particularly mums
They’re EVERYWHERE. I don’t think I noticed it that much before, but now I can’t stop noticing it. Sometimes it has a genuine place in the story and the characters, but I’m seeing it more and more as a convenient plot device to get them out of the way so the protagonist can get up to all sorts with no repercussions.

Blogging and social media
It’s a sign of the times, ya know. Facebook, Twitter and blogs are starting to become commonplace in YA now. They’re so ingrained in a teenager’s daily life that excluding them could potentially cause accusations of a story or character being unrealistic if they don’t use these platforms. I’ve especially noticed a new focus on cyber bullying around these sites which I think is really important, and I even read a series earlier in the year about a book blogger! My only worry is that mentions of Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr may date books in a few years, after all, a mention of MySpace or MSN and my mind jumps back at least eight/ten years...

More contemporary
FINALLY, my time has come! Dystopians and paranormals seem on the way out and gutsy, real, contemps seem to be dominating the blogs and reading lists and all I can say is AT LAST. Most of the books I’ve read, reviewed and been sent this year has been YA contemporary novels and I’m so glad they’re getting the spotlight at last. It’s my favourite branch of YA and they’ve always been overpowered by the genre blockbusters. Basically, this point is just a YAY.

What have you noticed cropping up more and more in YA? Anything blindingly obvious that I’ve missed?