HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, but no one’s ever looked past her weight to see who she really is. Sine her mum’s death, Libby’s been hiding, but now she’s ready for high school. holding-up-the-universe

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too – sexy, aloof and too cool for school. But Jack’s swaggering confidence is hiding a secret he must keep at all costs.

Then Jack meets Libby. And their worlds change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I’m honest, I wasn’t blown away by the blurb. The plot seemed thin, and a little obvious about the direction it was going. Probably the only thing that sold it to me was the concept – so rarely seen –  of an overweight protagonist. I’m always interested in how minorities are portrayed in YA, and a fat girl as protagonist probably doesn’t happen too much (I’m aware of Butter, although I haven’t read it myself.)

The trouble is, when the minority/ background/ unrepresented characters DO come to the forefront, it’s never within a genre capacity. Boy meets girl, but it’s all about the character. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Where Holding Up The Universe is concerned, I found Jack Masselin a far more interesting character as a result of his neurological disorder. I’d heard of prosopagnosia through the works of Oliver Sacks (also mentioned by the characters in the book), but not to the in-depth, and first-hand account as given by Jack. This is a bonus for such books, it introduces readers to experiences and conditions they would otherwise have been completely unaware of. The trouble is, without these traits appearing in strong, plot driven pieces, the novel becomes about their differences from able-bodied, straight, white counterparts. It still draws a line of separation between one, and the Other.

Something to think about, I guess.

But back to my thoughts on Holding Up The Universe

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THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has its price. A deadly poison sineatersdaughterinfuses 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 girl she truly is.

Yet in a court as dangerous as the queen’s, some truths should not be told…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d only read about a chapter of The Sin Eater’s Daughter before it was side-lined to the TBR shelf (to join the other partially started novels), and I hadn’t thought of reading it again until I spotted its sequel, The Sleeping Prince. More inclined to finish it with the prospect of a sequel (provided the first one was any good), I got stuck back in.

It ticks all the boxes for a typical high fantasy novel with its medieval-style royal court, hunts, feasts, and historical conflict…and although this is undoubtedly what saw it sitting on my TBR shelf for as long as it had (I prefer urban fantasy), the world Melinda creates is definitely captivating. Every town and character has been fleshed-out with a detailed backstory that contribute to the story of the protagonist, without being so complicated as to confuse the reader.

Continue reading THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER

THE CAKE SHOP IN THE GARDEN

The cake shop in the garden

Fay Merryweather runs her cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up airy sponges and scrumptious scones while her customers enjoy the lovely blossoms and gorgeous blooms. Looking after the cake shop, the garden and her cantankerous mother means Fay is always busy but she accepts her responsibilities because if she doesn’t do all this, who will?

Then Danny Wilde walks into her life and makes Fay question every decision she’s ever made.

When a sudden tragedy strikes, Fay’s entire world is thrown off balance even further and she doesn’t know which way to turn. Can Fay find the strength  to make a life-changing decision – even if it means giving up the thing she loves the most?

 

I was pretty much sold on the book from the cover alone. Nothing appeals to my inner-granny more than cakes and tea gardens!

The protagonist, Fey, is frumpy, set in her ways and living a mundane lifestyle that has her bogged down by family commitments. No doubt relatable character traits for many women of a certain age, Love interest Danny Wilde is clearly a manifestation of a generation’s worth of romantic fantasies.

And before I say any more – Danny Wilde. (Talk about an eye-roll moment when I read that name.) He is, quite literally, described in the stereotypical love interest-style of tall, dark and handsome.

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A MONSTER CALLS

A monster calls cover

Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. 

It wants the truth.

 

 

 

 

I like a good spooky story as much as the next person, and thought that was what I’d be getting from purchasing A Monster Calls. Yes, there is a monster (of sorts), but one that’s more a reflection of inner turmoil and grief, than a physical monstrosity driven to send chills down the reader’s spine.

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BARTIMAEUS: THE RING OF SOLOMON

Demon extraordinaire, Bartimaeus, is stuck as a spirit slave doing dead-end jobs in King Solomon’s Jerusalem. The shame of it! Solomon’s ring of legend, which affords its master absolute power, has a lot to answer for.    The Ring of Solomon

But the arrival of an assassin girl who has murder on her mind, things start to get…interesting. Throw in a hidden conspiracy, seventeen deadly magicians and some of the most sinister spirits ever to squeeze inside a pentacle,  Bartimaeus is in trouble. He’s going to have to use every ounce of magic in his ever-shifting body to wiggle his way out of this one.

 

 

 

 

 

Due to other commitments, it’s taken me a while to get through this book. It became something I could leave untouched for a while, read a page or two, before forgetting about again. Mostly down to my studies (which brought with it an ever-growing reading list), but in part as a result of the setting. Although in keeping with djinn origins from Arabian mythology, I’m not on for historical-type novels. The other books within the Bartimaeus sequence (previously Trilogy), are set within the modern day, and offer a more realistic approach to modern wizards than other children’s books I could name!

This brings me to a point of contention I have with these novels. They’re beautifully written, include an extensive vocabulary with unique, witty characters. Having them side-lined purely as ‘children’s books’ limits their readership, which, given the chance, has the potential to be wide-reaching.

Continue reading BARTIMAEUS: THE RING OF SOLOMON

THE MIRROR WORLD OF MELODY BLACK

synopsis          

       melody black

It all starts, as these things sometimes do, with a dead man.

He was a neighbour, not someone Abby knew well, but still, finding a body when you only came over to borrow a tin of tomatoes, that comes as a bit of a shock. At least, it should.

And now she can’t shake the feeling that if she hadn’t gone into Simon’s flat, if she’d had her Wednesday night instead, then none of what happened next would have happened.

And she would never have met Melody Black…

 

 

 

The Mirror World of Melody Black reminds me of films that look good on the trailers, but prove to be a bit of a disappointment at the cinema. The intrigue  of the ‘mirror world,’ together with the synopsis, makes the novel feel as though it sits within the realms of fantasy, or at the very least, magic realism. It doesn’t. Nor does it hold any element of detective fiction, mystery or thriller. This disjointed element is reflected in the plot, which jumps from one unrelated event to the next, leaving the novel feeling poorly structured and lacking direction. Continue reading THE MIRROR WORLD OF MELODY BLACK

EVERY DAY

synopsis 

E Day

Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has someone he wants to be with – every day…

 

A character devoid of sex or gender (not to mention body), how could it possibly work? But it does. So well. In Every Day, you lose yourself between the pages, flying through tightly constructed chapters that showcase a new day, and introduce the reader to a host of equally diverse and thought-out characters, that are just as engaging as our protagonist. Continue reading EVERY DAY

THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE

 

The particular sadness of lemon cake

 

Synopsis

On the eve of her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the slice.

All at once her cheerful, can-do mother tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes perilous. Anything can be revealed at any meal.

Rose’s gift forces her to confront the truth behind her family’s emotions – her mother’s sadness, her father’s detachment and her brother’s clash with the world. But as Rose grows up, she learns that there are some secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

 

Much as the book focusses on food, I feel it has to be digested slowly when reading. It’s heavily laden with sensory descriptors and raw, exposing emotion from the characters. The pace is steady throughout and many sentences over-indulge themselves within a scene, noting surroundings, textures, and emotions at great length. It’s definitely a book that’s more hearty meal, than light snack.

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