Book Review: Eve of Man – Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

Book Review: Eve of Man - Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

‘AGAINST ALL ODDS, SHE SURVIVED.
THE FIRST GIRL BORN IN FIFTY YEARS.
THEY CALLED HER EVE . . .’

A lot of pressure rests on Eve’s shoulders. Only she can save the human race and now she’s 16 all eyes are on her to kick start the human race and give birth to healthy girls with an appropriate man. She’s ready to accept her destiny until she meets Bram. Is everything out of touch? Can Eve be free? And will she choose love or the human race?

I read this book within a matter of hours, I got up early on a Saturday to finish it, I ended up having dreams about it once I finished. The novel was that good. That’s a pretty strong start to a review, so let me continue. I was really intrigued by the premise of this book but didn’t know what to expect. I haven’t read any of Gi or Tom’s fiction, only Gi’s Non-Fiction (you can read the review here), but I am a big fan of their Youtube Channels.

The pace of this novel was fantastic. The whole idea has been incredibly well thought out, while early in the novel I was a little confused, things fall into place within the first few chapters. I loved the Eve and her voice. She was strong, determined and smart. I was a little sceptical of the romance element before reading but it is so well done and I think, in part, that’s due to the strength of Eve.

I also have to mention that I couldn’t tell that this was written by two authors. I’m not sure how they divided the writing process but even though the novel is told through both Eve and Bram’s perspective, it seamlessly melts together. I didn’t feel that pushing the novel onwards was left to either character, it was a pretty equal split.

This is the type of novel where I could write multiple posts about how much I loved it. The world creation, the set up for the rest of the trilogy, the nature vs science debate. If you would like me to write a more in-depth post about elements of it then let me know in the comments below!

If you hadn’t guessed already, I gave this novel 5 stars. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a novel which I couldn’t put down. This is a stunning start to a trilogy and I’m already eagerly anticipating the next in the series. I would 100% recommend this with the warning that you’re going to want more, much, much more.

Book Review: Red Clocks – Leni Zumas

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In the not too distant future abortion is illegal. IVF has been banned and the clock is ticking for any women who wants to have a child past a certain age or a child on her own. This is America. In one city, four women deal with their own lives in relation to these changes. This is their story. A pregnant teenager, a healer trying to help, a frustrated mother and a woman wanting to be a mother more than anything.

I knew I wanted to read this as soon as it was released so as soon as I could I requested it and was graciously given a copy to review and devoured it. The scariest thing about this novel, it could be a reality in the US from recent news, which is exactly why you need to read it.

One of the best parts of this novel is that women come through for women but not in a cheesy way. Becuase of the situation they are in there is a vibe where women pass on vital knowledge to other women to help each other but not in a cheesy way. Also, this novel isn’t about hating men. Are there some terrible guys in this? Yes, but most importantly they are not the focus, not a plot point they just exist. This is a novel for an about women.

The one criticism that I have is that I felt the character of Susan, a frustrated mother didn’t add that much to the story. I understood why she was included but I just felt a little irritated with her and her perspective on things. You don’t need to like every character in a book and out of the four main women she was the one I felt the least connected with in any way.

I gave this 4 stars. I was thinking about this constantly for about a week after reading it. I had so many thoughts, questions and a little bit of anxiety. That said, it is a really important novel and a stunning debut. I can’t wait to see what Zumas comes up with next.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for my review copy

Only Child Blog Tour

Blog Tour: Only Child – Rhiannon Navin

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‘We went to school that Tuesday like normal.
Not all of us came home . . .’

I was honoured to be asked to be a part of this blog tour for Rhiannon Navin’s debut novel. I had read and loved it before I was asked to take part. Before I start this review I want to be mindful of the past few weeks events in Florida, this review may be distressing as it also relates to gun violence against children.

Six-year-old Zach is having a normal day at school, that is until a gunman enters his school. Hiding with the rest of his class and teacher, Zach listens to the ‘pop’ in the school, something that he won’t forget. Thankfully, Zach and his classmates survive and after finally being reunited with his distraught mother he thinks everything is ok, that’s until Zach’s parents ask him where his older brother Andy is but he’s not coming home.

This novel is a whirlwind of emotion and is written incredibly well. Told solely from the perspective of Zach, making it even more heartbreaking, the innocence of a child makes all the difference. Seeing not only the horror of the day itself but the impact this has on a child and on a family in the aftermath, I don’t even know how to begin to describe the emotion. This isn’t an easy read, but it is an important one.

I’ve read novels before focusing on the subject of a school shooting, they’ve made me feel deeply sad but this was different. The simplicity of the way Zach tries to process what has happened and how his family changes. I also found it interesting that Navin showed raw emotion and didn’t hold back. She showed a mother who needed justice no matter what, a father coping with his youngest child and a little boy confused by the feelings he’s experiencing. Can he be happy and sad at the same time?

In times like these, I think this is a vital read, it may be fictional but this could quite easily be a reality for a child or young person at school. For this, I applaud Navin for her portrayal. There are no dark details in this, it is simply the force of emotion that moves you alongside Zach. I, of course, gave this five stars. I cannot recommend the novel enough to everyone. A heartbreaking, poignant read.

Thank you to the publisher, author and Netgalley for this early release.

Book Review: One – Sarah Crossan

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This is my story.

It is a single story,
not two tales tangled up in each other
like lover’s limbs,
as you might expect.

Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins sharing every single experience with one another. While they may not be ‘normal’ teenage girls that doesn’t stop them wanting to have the same experiences as everyone else. Written through the eyes of  Grace, Crossan presents the story of two heads, two hearts, two souls, one body.

I was intrigued by the idea of this novel, I’ve never read about conjoined twins before in a fictional setting before, must less from the perspective of one of the sisters. That said, this novel is about both Grace and Tippi and who they are as individuals, as more than just ‘the twins’.  The novel considers their family life, job loss and what it means to be a ‘normal’ teenager when you are the subjects of stares and whispers of all around you.

This novel was endearing and quite clever, what I didn’t know upon buying it is that the novel is written in verse. While this is different and shows that Crossan is incredibly talented, I found it incredibly difficult to read in this format and while I was trying to work it out it took away from the story for me. I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I think I would have should it have been prose.

I did enjoy, however, that Crossen didn’t show the girls as a freak show or as one person. Both Grace and Tippy have their own personalities, their own likes and dislikes. While some would see Graces ‘bucket list’ as depressing, in fact it makes the book more realistic. There is a chance that these girls will die as their bodies try to cope with being conjoined.

Crossan isn’t afraid of realism within the novel. The focus on the feelings of exclusion they feel and judgement are not shied away from. Nor are the financial problems that Grace and Tippi’s family face from their condition. The struggle and worry of being able to afford treatment that keeps them both alive highlights the unfairness and strain on a family for something they simply can’t help.

Overall, I gave the novel 3 stars. While it did enjoy it and thought it was an interesting story I felt that while the prose was a brave choice, it wasn’t for me. Trying to work my way through the prose as well as following the story, I found myself constantly distracted. I would recommend this novel if you want something a little different and want to expand your reading experience.

Book Review: Revolutionary Road – Yates

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Declared a classic I read Revolutionary Road in my second year of university, expecting great things. I didn’t find them. Over a week later I was still struggling through the lives of Frank and April Wheeler, after an opening where Frank in described as ‘the most interesting man she had ever met’ I was expecting him to be, well, interesting. I was disappointed.

Although this novel was not my personal choice to begin with, I wouldn’t especially recommend this book. The novel is not badly written but lacks intrigue within the plot and presents two extremely dull characters. It’s strange but I’ve never hated a protagonist so much while I read. I loathed Frank Wheeler after a while and found April to be pathetic and the image of a hysterical and dependent woman. The novel for me is a classic story of a couple who married too young and still wanted to play games with each other, even in adulthood. Although the period in which this is set needs to be considered, I found the couple to be irritating, meaning the novel was harder to read.

That said I enjoyed the concept of the novel, challenging what society believes to be what a man and woman should do and slipping into the suburban lifestyle. I just found that Frank and April were terrible characters to portray this. I found Revolutionary Road to be quite a drag, there was so much more Yates could have achieved rebelling against ‘the American Dream’ but instead we are faced with characters we cannot connect with, therefore breaking any connection that we can have with the novel itself.

It’s one of the rare occasions that I found the film better than the novel, because it’s a format in which this plot works. Reading about April’s tedious day to day life and Frank’s outlook on life was enough to make anyone lose interest. There is some merit in this novel and it’s clear that Yates can write fiction, but the lack of character development is what really killed it for me.

I want to give the novel two stars **. I thought Revolutionary Road was something that would make me think, instead I found 300 odd pages of frustration and loathing towards both of the main characters. Yes the ending (no spoilers) varies this but it wasn’t enough to change my opinion on the novel as a whole.

Where’s The Damn Book?!

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I’ve been wanting to write a book since before I started university. I’ve always written stories and the summer before I moved (3 damn years ago) I was working on my first novel. I was going to uni to do Creative Writing and I was going to be a writer. And then I started the course. I quickly realised I hated the course with a passion and spent a year of my life being told my work wasn’t good enough by older people. It always confused me because people my own age and one or two lecturers really liked it but there were some that were just hell bent on saying I wasn’t good enough. Now I’ve never had the strongest self esteem, I understand creative criticism but when you work so, so hard to get onto a course to be told by someone who has never read a word you’ve written that you’re writing is bad, you kind of take it to heart. Well, at least an 18 year old who’s just moved away from home and who’s walking around in an incredibly anxious state takes it to heart. I feel better now that it was just her opinion and truth be told after I refused to be caught by her after some catastrophic writing she’d put online (claiming that anorexia wasn’t real), I distanced myself from her and felt a little better about my writing. People liked reading what I wrote online, so why wouldn’t someone publish it eventually?

I’ve kept up my blog for almost three years now and had another before that, one of the main things people comment on when they search for me is the quality of my writing. So why isn’t that enough? This time last year I’d just returned from Athens on a week long creative writing course. Everyone was there because they knew to some extent what they wanted to write and I did too, something that my undergrad course lacked. Again I got positivity and some really great feedback but then the inevitable happened and I fell out of love with what I was writing and then I was there with ideas. Great right? I wish. I have all these ideas but self doubt is crippling. I write something, look at it a few hours later and can’t stand it. I get anxious that I’ll make spelling or grammar error and then be seen as an idiot. It’s deep in my heart that I want to be a writer, I want to see my name in a bookshop and see my thoughts on paper.

I know for a fact I can do it and I will, right now though my head feels so muddled and confused. What should I write about? Do I work on the non fiction piece? Do I try again on that old novel idea or start something completely different? Am I writing for Adults or Young Adults. All these thoughts go around and around in my brain and if I try and plan I get even more anxious because WHY IS THERE NO MANUAL THAT TEACHES YOU HOW TO BE AN AUTHOR. Which is silly, there’s no golden rule, not curse to break or magic formulae to make sure people will love what you’ve written. I know all this and yet I still want to delete pages of writing or worry about ever finishing something. I’m hoping these are rational fears.

It may sound like I’m complaining but I’m not, I feel like I have so much to give but it’s almost as if it’s trapped in my head and just won’t negotiate with my hands. I have ideas every night before I go to sleep and think they’re magical I wake up after scribbling them down and wonder how the hell I’m going to make something out of them. I don’t know, I thought I’d have a draft of a novel by now and I know, I know books can take years and years to just draft and then even more to get published. I’m just trying to get out of this rut where I just look at the page in anger because it’s just not doing what I want it to. My biggest critic is now myself, but I think with the voices of others inside, from the past who really shouldn’t be there. So I guess I’m going to have to work on kicking them out and working out what the hell I want to put on to paper, that might be a good idea. Oh and I might find the bloody book in my head stored away somewhere just waiting to come out.

 

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Book Review: Good Girls – Laura Ruby

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One picture can change your life…

 

This review is something special for me, this is the first YA novel I really fell in love with and started my love for the genre.

Meet Audrey Porter, one of the smartest students in school, advanced by a year, has good friends,a good family and is to be honest a fairly normal person. She’s known at school as a smart kid. No more, no less. That is until one photo changes her entire life. After photos come to light of her doing something that good girls just don’t do, Audrey has to learn the hard way that people will believe absolutely anything.  And after the photo is posted to her parents Audrey realises that she’s going to have to grow up. Fast.

Although many people will not have heard of this book I think that Laura Ruby is on to an absolute goldmine. I read this novel back when I was around 13 years old. I knew nothing about sex and the word ‘sexting’ hadn’t even started really being used yet, but Ruby was able to come up with this plot in the early days. I see this novel as a cautionary tale, although not in a direct way to the plot. We have to remember that in regards to the picture, Audrey has not sent it herself but somehow everyone finds out and everyone makes an assumption about her  (much like what has been happening in the media lately).

Despite what happens to our protagonist and her alienation, the novel still manages to be funny and charming. Until I moved to university this novel sat with my all time favourites, chiefly because we don’t have a boring heroine who mopes around when her life is ‘ruined’. Audrey is the kind of character that reminds you, your mistakes in school don’t make you who you are for the rest of your life. I’m sure many teens find themselves in a similar situation, if not with photographic evidence,then rumours as these can be just as bad. On top of this, the novel deals  with the whole idea of  casual encounters and the whole experience of ‘the first time’. Ruby captures the curiosity as well as the honest truth when it comes to losing your virginity. As I said before, I knew nothing about sex when I first read the novel and even I found it quite informative as well as entertaining!

I couldn’t rate this book highly enough because I honestly think it is a great novel for teenagers. It’s honest, it speaks to them and it is something to make a girl thing. Audrey is a brilliant example for girls to follow. As I said before she doesn’t just sit and cry, she realises what has happened and makes adult decisions despite being apprehensive. It is because of this I give the novel 5 stars *****, I absolutely adored it and think it is a must for any teenage girl.

Book Review: Room – Emma Donoghue

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“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.”

Five year old Jack lives with his mother in ‘Room’, they play there, sleep there and learn there. Jack has never known the outside but his mother plans to make sure that he does soon. After being kidnapped Jack’s mother, simply named ‘Ma’, was imprisoned by her captor and rapist, she becomes pregnant with his child, which is is forced to bring up in the small room. For the first five years of his life, Jack has no idea that there is an outside, thinking that the TV is magical and there is nothing else. Until one day Ma makes a plan to escape, but she needs Jack’s help.

Copies of Room are everywhere right now, after Brie Larson’s oscar win, the film of Room has become a phenomenon. As with many great films though, a beautifully written novel is behind it. I read Donoghue’s novel a few years ago after it was recommended by a friend, I was absolutely blown away by it. The novel is an emotional read, there is no way around it but it also captures a world that hasn’t been considered before, the life of a child raised in captivity. The entire novel is seen through Jack’s eyes, as he tries to understand first that there is a world outside of the four walls he knows and then he has to try and navigate that world.

After their escape, which I read in a blur because I was so worried for little Jack through the whole part of the novel, both Jack and Ma need to adjust to a new world that they don’t know. Although we only see Jack’s perspective, Donoghue has also captured the effect that it has on Ma, after being away for so long. I think it’s more devastating because it is being seen through the eyes of her son, the only person she’s had in her life for years, as she tried to come to terms with what has happened to her and what will happen next. Donoghue is honest in the rehabilitation of these women and the hardships they face trying to go back into a society that has changed so much since they were last a part of it.

The plot mirrors some of the experiences of the big cases that have come out in the media where young women were imprisoned and gave birth to the children of their captors, although little is known of those children. The fact that Donoghue has gone from this angle is not only incredible in its own right, but even more so because she appears to have done such a good job of trying to imagine what must go through these children’s minds. There is also the issue of how these children are received, while Ma clearly loves her son deeply and does not associate him with her captor, it is understandable that others may struggle with the child being ‘the child of the captor’ as well as the victim. All of these subjects are dealt with in a respectful way and appear to have had a lot of research.

Of course I gave this book 5 stars *****. Donoghue is a truly magnificent writer with an inspiring talent. The way that the story is told is absolutely phenomenal, not only do Jack and Ma come to life, we really care for them and their recovery. I would definitely recommend reading the book before seeing the film, because no matter how many awards it has won, it wouldn’t have been possible without Donoghue’s magnificent storytelling.

Chloe Metzger

I will write a book! – Inspiration and confidence boost!

I have spent today getting on and I spent this evening being inspired, so all in all a productive day. I spent a few hours this evening working at our Postgraduate Open Evening and for me it was that bit more exciting as these people may be my classmates next year when I undertake MA.

I’ve always found my lecturers to be very inspirational, I know I sound like a geek but if I’m honest I don’t care. The lecturers are all incredibly smart and brilliant with their specialties. Studying English Lit has just made this passion burst out of me and the only other thing that has ever done that is music (more on that at a later date), I love them both but I know that after this year I’m not ready to stop studying. I feel like there is so much more to do, to read and to explore and tonight talking to lecturers in Literature, Language, Creative Writing and Publishing and there was just a buzz I felt, I know that if I can’t be a musician for a living this was the next best thing.

If all that wasn’t enough to get me hyped up about finally sitting down and getting my book finished then what I came home to was. If you follow my blog you may remember that I met a great friend at YA book club last month, Becky. I came home to the news that she has published her novel on Amazon! I’m so proud and excited for her and if you’d like to take a look and buy her novel (which you definitely should) then you can click here and if you’d like to follow her on Twitter head to @Becky__Willson. Becky may only be 17 but I see big things coming for her and I’m so proud to be able to call her my friend :3.

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The cover for Becky’s novel, isn’t it pretty! 

I’m lucky to have such amazing people around me and I now that a lot of people don’t have that. From now on I’m going to be working on my novel and hopefully one day I’ll be able to release it. I’m currently writing a Young Adult novel about a character called Ava and her complicated family life, friends and general life as a teenager. I know that’s not much to sink your teeth into yet but it will be! I promise! I just don’t want to give anything away yet until I’m sure myself.

Finally I’ve got some confidence back in me, some positivity and some great things planned and I honestly can’t wait!

As always tomorrow will be another book review, 15 Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

Book Review: The Lost and The Found – Cat Clarke

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Thirteen years ago your sister was kidnapped now she’s been let go and is coming home. You’re nervous, terrified and excited…who is she now?

Faith Logan has lived for the past thirteen years in the shadow of her older sister, Laurel, since she was kidnapped. Faith, only a toddler at the time, was the only witness in her sister’s disappearance. One morning her mother gets a phone call, Laurel has been found alive and well, and she’s coming home. While Faith and Laurel try to deal with the past and cautiously step into the future, it isn’t the end.

I picked up this novel from the YA section of Waterstones a few weeks ago, drawn by the bright yellow of the cover. As soon as I read the blurb I was hooked. I’ve had this fascination with people who come out of being kidnapped, Jaycee Lee Dugard briefly messaged me over Twitter, before she took her profile down. I’ve followed the cases of hope, when people are released. They go through horrible things most of the time, but can still come out and carry on.

I found Faith to be a really interesting and realistic character. While she is obviously happy that her sister has been found alive and well, she’s also nervous. Will her sister remember her? Who is she now? What does she look like? There’s also the matter of her family, ravaged by the press, her parents are now separated and her father lives with his partner after coming out as gay.

The novel is incredible, I’m sure I’ve read one of Clarke’s novels before although I don’t know the title. While so many of us expect it to instantly be happy and ecstatic, few will think about the adjustment not just for the kidnapped victim but also those around her. I think it’s important to point out that the sheer scale of the search for Laurel, seems to be similar to the Madeleine McCann search. Laurel is the posterchild for missing children, but the one that is found.

There are constant twists and turns within the book and the ending is clever, shocking and something that’s not forgettable. It keeps you interested throughout and I couldn’t stop reading for the life of me.

I want to give this novel four stars ****, it is a great book but there were some points where I could question the plot. There were also some characters I didn’t see the point in, such as Faith’s friend Martha who just seemed to be there and not always the great friend. It’s definitely a great novel and it really goes to new depths, especially for young adult although at times it is chilling.