review · young adult

Tales of the Peculiar – Ransom Riggs

“Please enjoy these Tales – before a crackling fire on a chilly night, ideally, a snoring grimbear at your feet – but remember, too, their sensitive nature, and if you must read them aloud (which I highly recommend) make certain your audience is peculiar.”

 

talesofthepeculiar.jpg

Blurb: “Before Miss Peregrine gave them a home, the story of the peculiars was written in the tales. Wealthy cannibals who dine on the discarded limbs of peculiars. A forked tongue princess. These are but a few of the truly brilliant stories in Tales of The Peculiar – the collection of fairy tales known to hide information about the peculiar world, including clues to the location of time loops – first introduced by Ransom Riggs in his #1 bestselling series Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children series.”

I fell in love with this world Ransom Riggs has created nearly two years ago and I was heartbroken when it recently came to an end. However, as one last addition to this world, Tales of the Peculiar is born. For fans of the Miss Peregrine series, you will be familiar with this book; the one Jacob carries around with him. For newcomers, Tales of the Peculiar is a collection of fairy tales about those with “peculiar” abilities and plays an important part in the Miss Peregrine series. Although, you don’t have to read that first in order to enjoy this book. It’s basically like what Tales of Beedle The Bard is to the Harry Potter series.

One thing I’ve always struggled with Ransom’s books is that they often feel very heavy and you have to really sit down and focus on what’s happening to make sure you don’t accidently skim over important details. The advantage of this format being fairy tales is that they’re a lot shorter and lighter but they also keep the creative aspect that makes anything produced by this author so great.

Some of the stories were so creepy and uncomfortable that I found myself cringing such as “The Splendid Cannibals (A testament to the author’s amazing fascination with the weird) while others such as “The Pigeons of Saint Paul” which warmed my heart and became a firm favourite. There was a story about how the loops (a massive part of the trilogy) are made which I found fascinating.  These beautiful stories are accompanied by equally beautiful illustrations.

If you’re thinking of getting into Ransom’s Miss Peregrine series but not entirely sure if it’s for you, Tales of the Peculiar is a perfect way of testing that out.

I look forward to seeing what Ransom Riggs comes up with next!

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

contemporary · review · young adult

Hollow Pike- Juno Dawson

“When I was little, my dad used to tell me stories about children who went into the copse and never came out. They just vanished.”

 

10836484.jpg

Blurb: “She thought she’d be safe in the country, but you can’t escape your own nightmares, and Lis London dreams repeatedly that someone is trying to kill her. Lis thinks she’s being paranoid – after all who would want to murder her? She doesn’t believe in the local legends of witchcraft. She doesn’t believe that anything bad will really happen to her. You never do, do you? Not until you’re alone in the woods, after dark – and a twig snaps…”

*Disclaimer: Dawson has since announced that she is transgender hence the name on the book. However, she has said that she would prefer her new name and pronouns to be used when referring to her older works*

The story follows Lis London who moves to Hollow Pike to live with her sister. She hopes that a new place and a new school will stop her reoccurring nightmares in which she is murdered. No such luck there when her new home looks very similar to the location in her dreams. She learns that Hollow Pike has a history of witchcraft and one night, when a prank goes horribly wrong, Lis starts to wonder whether the rumours about Hollow Pike are something more.

I have been on and off with Juno’s writing in the past but the concept of one of her books with more of a “witchy” theme made me hold out just a little bit longer. This was the first book she wrote in the Young Adult genre and it’s incredibly well written.

The characters felt so real and therefore it was easy to believe that any decisions made fit in line with how that character would act. The plot progressed at a perfect pace; in this kind of story it could so easily have fallen into painful lull period but it didn’t. There was enough happening in sub plots to keep the story afloat without losing the main objective of what it was trying to achieve.

It was a solid read with no weaknesses I could pick out. There was a nice balance between the contemporary and supernatural elements.

Well worth a read!

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

contemporary · review · romance · young adult

The Sun Is Also A Star – Nicola Yoon

“To be clear, I don’t believe in fate. But I’m desperate.”

Yoon_9780553496680_jkt_all_r1.indd

Blurb: “Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

It’s actually an interesting story how I ended up with two copies of this book: I put in a request for an advanced copy and when nearly a month had passed with no response and the publication date rolled around, I bought a copy of my own accord. Two days later, the lovely people at Penguin Random House sent me a copy. As stated above, this does not change my review in any way.

This is the second book from best-selling author Nicola Yoon and after the success and brilliance of her debut Everything, Everything it was exciting to see what she would create next.

The Sun Is Also A Star is a multiple perspective novel that follows Natasha and Daniel. Natasha is an illegal immigrant from Jamaica who, thanks to her Dad’s foolishness, is about to be deported, Daniel is a Korean-American buckling under the pressure his parents place on Natasha met but time is quickly running out.

Quite simply, this book is beautiful. Both Natasha and Daniel were such interesting, well-developed characters and I feel that the use of multiple perspectives worked really well at giving an insight into each of the character’s lives and revealed secrets that the characters don’t actively admit to each other. In addition to that, various thoughts/ideas and insights into the lives of people the duo meet in passing are explored. The latter I found to be a truly wonderful touch as when interact with strangers, for however brief the period of time, we never really think about their lives or how much we can help that individual by paying them just a little bit of kindness.

Given that Natasha has until 10pm that day to leave the country and makes several attempts to change that fact, the story doesn’t have that sense of time running out because it’s so easy to get caught up in the growing relationship between these two characters. I started reading and before I knew it the book was over.

Nicola Yoon does a brilliant job of using her platform to add to the pool of diverse books. As a white, privileged woman, I appreciate any opportunity to grow as a person by learning about other cultures and situation I myself will never experience and to that I am truly grateful for Nicola Yoon and her work.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

review

The Foxhole Court – Nora Sakavic

“Leaving meant living, but Neil’s way of living was survival, nothing more. It was new names and new places and never looking back.”

 

Foxhole_Court

Blurb: “Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential – and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime Lord known as The Butcher. Signing a contract with the PSU foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed. But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team.”

This book was recommended to me by the wonderful Tasha over at Faeriedrugs . She’s quite a big advocate for this series and initially I didn’t have much intention of reading it as sport doesn’t interest me. However, I gave this a shot and was really surprised to find that it is about so much that the fictional athletic side, though that does obviously play a big part.

The story follows Neil Josten, a boy keeping his fair share of secrets, who is poached to join a university team playing a sport called Exy; which is described as an “evolved sort of lacrosse on a soccer-sized court with the violence of hockey.” The Palmetto State University team – known as the foxes – are a group of talented rejects from less fortunate backgrounds and the opposite of Neil’s plans to stay out of the limelight, yet he finds himself taking up the offer.

The Foxhole Court is the first of a trilogy and is basically a set up book. It’s like the prequel to a novel; setting up everything you need to know and because of this, the book does end in a kind of awkward way. It’s a slow burn with this first book.

I’ve read a lot of books recently where the protagonists haven’t been that strong but Nora has created a fantastic character in the form of Neil Josten. It’s not entirely clear what his motivations are until a fair way into the plot but there was just something electric about him. I could believe that he was a person.

What shocked me was how brutal this book actually is: when it’s stated that the team is made up of a bunch of messed up rejects, they’re really not skimping on that. It all added to the realness of it and how, despite the awful things they had endured, they all shared a love for this one thing: Exy.

While a few scenes take place outside of training, the majority are centred around conversations had while preparing for their first game of the season. It shows the process of them bonding and how Neil starts to see himself as part of a group rather than a solo player.

There were a lot of things I wasn’t expecting from this, but truthfully that’s a sign of a good book: when it challenges your expectations and encourages you to see beyond that first page.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

review

The Ice Twins – S.K.Tremayne

“Why do you keep calling me Kirstie, Mummy? Kirstie is dead. It was Kirstie that died. I’m Lydia.”

 

783004-the-ice-twins

Blurb: “After one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to a remote Scottish island, hoping to men their shattered lives. But when their surviving child, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity – that she, in fact, is Lydia – their world comes crashing back down. They know one of their daughters died. But can they be sure which one?

The story follows Sarah and Angus Moorcroft who have been struggling with the death of one of their twin daughters. They decide to move to a remote Scottish island – left to them in Angus’ Grandma’s will – in the hopes that a fresh start will bring with it better memories. But when the surviving twin Kirstie claim that she is in fact Lydia, Sarah starts to spiral down a path to dark places. Could it be possible that she identified the wrong child?

The character of Sarah Moorcroft was by far the most fascinating thing about this book. Her chapters allow the reader to really get inside her head and after a while it’s easy to understand why her mind goes to certain places. They helped really emphasise the creepy elements of the story and show the cracks forming in her relationship with her husband. Angus’ chapters brought the story to a halt and I feel that a lot of the twist and turns were spoilt by having the inside of what he knew. It would have worked much better if the story was solely from Sarah’s point of view and instead followed her thoughts on whether she did in fact bury the wrong child and how that could have happened, without the outside perspectives weighing in.

The exciting part of reading a thriller is the guessing; trying to work out what’s really going on. This book has that element to it with Sarah obsessing over her daughter’s behaviour after learning the truth but a lot of alternate reasons for how the accident happened are included and it kept steering the story off path. It was like these ideas were taken and clumsily put in as fact, making it really hard to follow at times.

It’s a book I considered buying for a while and felt I’d made a good purchase but I was wrong.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

contemporary · feminism · review · young adult

Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne

“Why haven’t you told them?”
Because I’d lose them. They wouldn’t get it. They’d treat me differently. I wouldn’t be “normal” to them anymore, even if I never freaked out again. Once they knew, they’d always be watching… waiting… wondering if I was going to lose it.”

 

Fiction-Am-I-Normal-Yet-Front-cover-672x1024

Blurb: “All Evie wants is to be normal. And now that she’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the-girl-who-went-nuts, there’s only one thig left to tick off her list… But relationships can mess with anyone’s head – something Evie’s new friends Amber and Lottie know only too well. The trouble is, if Evie won’t tell them her secrets, how can they stop her making a huge mistake?”

Holly Bourne is an author I’ve been aware of for a while. I’ve seen her books everywhere and I follow her feminist discussions on twitter. However, I was yet to delve into her writing until I saw a recent video where she honked a horn every time she comes across sexism in the media (in spirit of her new book. You can watch that hilarious video here. After viewing that, I wondered exactly what was stopping me from picking up her books. So I started to read.

Am I Normal Yet? Is the first book in the normal/spinster trilogy and follows a girl called Evie who is recovering from being hospitalised for OCD and Anxiety Disorder. She is slowly working through her problems with the help of medication and her therapist Sarah. Evie starts college with one big goal in mind: to be normal. No one here, minus her flaky friend Jane, knows what happened to her and she plans to keep it that way. Evie meets Amber and Lottie and together they form the spinster club dedicated to reclaiming their womanhood.

While this is the first in a trilogy, Holly has said in the past that the books are stand alone in their own right and so can be read out of order.

Through the narrative, the reader gets an honest and raw insight into the mind of Evie by using prose, therapy techniques she’s given, outlines of bad thoughts and worry and recovery diaries. It reads just like that – a diary. Evie felt so human and so real that I found myself having to take a mini break every so often because of how deep things go.

Holly Bourne uses her platform to teach about feminism while expressing the importance of showing the sexism men face too. It feels like she set out to break down the stigmas around both feminist issues and mental illness which she certainly accomplished.

I often say that I “feel” for certain characters when I read certain books but this was a whole different experience. As someone who was diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder in 2014, had therapy and medication, I found it so easy to sympathise with Evie. While I couldn’t relate to the OCD side of things, the thought processes she went through were so familiar to me. I started to understand how her mind worked and how things could so easily spiral having been in some of those positions myself; that you need to stay on the straight and narrow or everyone will see you as a failure. It was like reading about myself.

I want to thank Holly Bourne for doing a really good job of not writing this book but doing it in a way where things weren’t glossed over. Some of the events are harsh, raw, brutal and a lot of the time hard to read but it’s so important that it’s out there so society can slowly bring up a generation of people that will be helpful to those suffering mental illness, rather than trying to brush them under the carpet.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings