Friday, 18 July 2014

What I've Been Reading Lately

I've been reading a lot lately and I thought that rather than flood my blog with a series of individual reviews, it might be better to collate them into one post. So here goes...

1. 'The Chronicles of Narmo' by Caitlyn Moran. 
This was a strange little book. Written by Caitlyn Moran when she was just a teenager, it's a sort of fictionalised autobiography chronicling the highs and lows the Narmo family kids go through when their Mum agrees to take them out of the school system. The kids don't exactly get a traditional homeschooling experience but they do learn a lot about life as they stumble through the minefield of adolescence in a world without the parameters of school. Taking into account the kind of drivel I produced at that age when trying to write a novel, I was seriously impressed by the writers stylistic voice and the quality of her prose.
It get's a 4/5 from me purely because it could have been a little longer.

2. 'Allegiant' by Veronica Roth.
What can I say? This was a pretty anticlimactic conclusion to what could have been a brilliant trilogy. Within maybe the first 50 pages, I knew this final instalment was going to fall flat. It was the addition of an extra POV that did it. In the first two books of the trilogy, we get accustomed to Tris' voice, her narrative and thoughts. So when Tobias began to narrate alternate chapters, it threw me off. Plus, this inner monologue version of Tobias just didn't sound like Tobias. It sounded like Tris and I began getting confused over who was telling the story. Maybe it's just me being thick but there were times when I had to pause to think about it. Which was really irritating. And don't get me started on the ending. I won't say what happens because it's a huuuuge spoiler but in my opinion it didn't feel right for the story or match up with the kind of actions and motivations we are used to seeing from Tris.
A disappointing 2/5 for this one.

3. 'Where There's Smoke' by Jodi Picoult.
This was one of those random freebies you find on Kindle. It's a short story, which I don't usually go for but the subject matter intrigued me. It turns out it's sort of a promotional thingy for Picoult's next novel. And that's a clever tactic because it's certainly made me want to read it. If you're interested in Psychics and frustrated ghosts, then give this a go.
I gave this a 5/5. 

4. 'The Art Kids' by Kate Spofford.
This was another freebie I picked up on Kindle. I guess it's more of a novella than a novel but despite its short length it packed a punch. With its well developed characters and a plot full of twists and turns it kept me gripped. If I hadn't had to get up early the next morning I probably would have stayed up reading through the night. 'The Art Kids' follows a group of friends, the outcast of their year group at school as they enter their final year of High School. But there's something different. Sophie's best friend Evan seems to be pulling away from the group, hanging out with the strange new girl whose arms are covered in scars. But maybe there's more to it than meets the eye?
I gave this interesting and heart /wrenching novel a 4/5.

5. 'Paper Aeroplanes' by Dawn O'Porter.
I've been itching to read this since I first heard about it. I've always liked Dawn O'Porter as a TV Presenter and I was interesting to see how her natural charm and humour translated to the page. I wasn't disappointed. 'Paper Aeroplanes' follows Flo and Renee through their GCSE year. The two girls are polar opposites, don't really know much about each other despite growing up together on the tiny island of Guernsey. But fate throws them together and they soon become best friends, a united front against all the drama adolescence can throw at them. I think what I liked most about this novel was the fact that it's set it the UK. I love Young Adult fiction but it's kind of rare to find a British one. So it made a change to be reading about teenage girls in itchy polyester uniforms, eating chips from the fish and chip shop after school and getting drunk on cider, rather than reading about cheerleaders and jocks and all those other American tropes that awesome but so far removed from my sphere of experience. It was also cool to read a YA novel set in the 90s. No mobile phones or social media. No Netflix or Skype. It's the world I remember from my early teenage years. And it was great to reminisce.
I had to give this a 5/5. It was too perfect for anything less.

6. 'A Really Awesome Mess' by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin.
Heartland Academy. A cross between a Psychiatric Hospital and an elite Boarding School. That's where Emmy and Justin find themselves at the start of the new school year. Both troubled in different ways but in need of a reform school education, their respective parents ship them off to Heartland Academy, a school for troubled teens in the middle of nowhere. This was a different take on the YA genre and was kind of a mash up of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' and 'Prep'. It was fairly light hearted considering the subject matter and a pretty quick read. I'm not sure I liked it enough to read it more than once but it was still an entertaining read with some distinctive characters.
3/5 mainly because it just wasn't as great as I hoped it would be.

It seems like I've been on a bit of a Young Adult kick lately. Do you have any recommendations for me based on what I've been reading?

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