Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

Eve Of Man – Tom & Giovanna Fletcher

“She represented the rebirth of the human race. She was the answer to their prayers. She was all they cared about; their final hope. Eve was the saviour of humanity. I am Eve.”

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Blurb: “All her life Eve has been kept away from the opposite sex. Kept from the truth of her past. But at sixteen it’s time for Eve to face her destiny. Three potential males have been selected for her. The future of humanity is in her hands. She’s always accepted her fate. Until she meets Bram. Eve wants control over her life. She wants freedom. But how do you choose between love and the future of the human race?”

I’ve been a long-time fan of both Tom and Giovanna Fletcher independently, so when I saw the announcement that they had written a book together, I was both excited but very wary. Tom Fletcher is a children’s book writer, known primarily for The Christmasauras, and Giovanna is a romance writer, known for Billy And Me. So not only were they merging together, but also stepping into a new area of the book world as Eve Of Man is the first in a Young Adult Sci-Fi series.

To start with, I was very anxious because I wanted to love it, and throw aside all my preconceptions as they are new to YA and many adult authors etc. have made a successful transition. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Charlotte Richie and Josh Dylan, and honestly don’t think I would have gotten through this book without it. Because it’s a bad book. A really bad book.

Eve of Man is pitched as an “unconventional love story” and yet with the premise of the story, it does little to surprise the reader. Eve is sixteen, the first girl born in fifty years and now about to be palmed off to any boy who might be capable of ensuring the survival of the human race. Eventually she realises her situation is wrong and starts to rebel. There was a lot of buzz shortly after the release regarding gender sterotypes in the book. It’s, again, predictable but not really surprising that it’s rigid in binary as the point we’re introduced to the characters is when Eve is deemed ready to bear a child. The reader is doused in layer upon layer of information about how the world got to this point, revealing how the woman suddenly stopped carrying girls to full term and methods that were put into place. There are a few hints to other sexualities but these are very much brushed over and I was more concerned that in this Handmaid’s Tale-esque aspect there wasn’t much attention brought to what happened to infertile women.

The story is told in two perspectives: Eve and Bram. It’s first person, meaning the reader gets into the route of their thoughts and to be honest I found Bram infinitely more interesting. Eve lives in this place called “the dome” which is essentially her prison. The regular communication she has is with a hologram called Holly who has to be operated by a pilot in order to interact with Eve. Bram is one of these pilots which was super interesting and destroyed my previous idea that Bram would turn out to be one of the suitors. His perspective was great in showing what was going on outside of Holly’s world from the government interference to the people rallying in the streets, demanding Eve’s freedom. However, the narrator was so bland that it just didn’t make him feel real. There was no real change in voice either for characters so I often had to rewind to work out who was speaking. Eve’s narrative wasn’t necessarily bad but I just didn’t really care for her.

In terms of the writing, what I gathered from the audiobook is that Eve very much has Giovanna’s usual writing style and will be comforting to those familiar with her other works. My main issue was that Eve didn’t’ come across as sixteen. As for Bram, Tom’s writing is quite simply a mess. It’s very clunky and could have done with a lot more buffing around the edges. Both perspectives had the issue of information dumping both in the sense of “telling rather than showing” and the reader is constantly having bits of knowledge thrown at them that isn’t really needed; a lot of it was information that the writer needed to know to form and understand the world, but wasn’t vital for those reading. It always seemed to come at the worst times. For example, there’s a dramatic section in the latter half of the book with Bram and the action is suddenly halted for a few minutes while the reader is given the history of the room. All that build up is suddenly halted and it was hard to get back on board after being steered off track.

To me, Eve of Man  was a book with a lot of potential but completely fell apart in the execution.

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Posted in discussion

Mid Year Freak Out Tag

We’ve officially reached the mid-way point in the year, which is a mixture of exciting and terrifying! So it’s time to reflect on all the bookish adventures I’ve had so far.

Best Sequel Of The Year So Far

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This one is actually a bit of a cop-out as I’ve only read two sequels this year and this one was a reread. As you’re probably aware, it’s the second book in The Maze Runner series and after falling into my hole at the start of the year when the final film adaptation was released, I decided to give the whole series a reread. It’s definitely one of my favourites in the series.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

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Noah Can’t Even was one of my favourite books of last year and when I found out there was going to be a sequel, I did a lot of running around and screaming. The first book is about a boy called Noah discovering and exploring his sexuality and it’s by a British author! It’s hysterical, cringy and just brilliant so I can’t wait to see what adventures Noah goes on in this one.

 

Most Anticipated For Autumn/Winter

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It is a known fact that I adore Becky Albertalli… but also that I am not the biggest fan of Adam Silvera, so it’s no surprise that the book I’m looking forward is What If It’s Us? I don’t know much about it except that it’s about two boys and all the possibilities of their lives together.

 

Biggest Disappointment Of The Year So Far

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As a big lover of both Tom and Giovanna’s individual works, I was both excited and nervous to hear that they were moving into the realms of Young Adult fiction. Sadly, it’s not that great. The narrators for the audiobook don’t really add anything to the characters, it’s badly written, and just… well, boring.

 

Biggest Surprise Of The Year So Far

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How To Stop Time was a Christmas present from a friend and not the sort of book I would have picked up of my own accord. It’s about a man who’s lived for centuries and is struggling to find his place in the world now that everyone he’s loved has passed away. It’s beautiful, emotional and raises the questions of who we are outside of our connections to other people.

 

New Favourite Author

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All it took was “The Hunger Games meets Jurassic Park” for me to pick up a copy of The Extinction Trials. It’s a world of two continents: one populated by humans, the other by dinosaurs. It’s action packed and utterly brilliant and I’m down for any other books S.M. Wilson may release!

 

Newest Favourite Character

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This isn’t really a new character, but I started the series last year and I just utterly adore Lara Jean. She’s so caring and loves her family and it just trying to stay true to herself.

 

Book That Made You Cry

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I heard about this book when Patrisse was on the Mostly Lit podcast talking about her life and the Black Lives Matter movement which she co-founded. I listened to the audiobook as I feel this is the best way to consume non-fiction. There are many exhausting moments of this book as Patrisse talks about her life but one chapter about the treatment of her brother regarding his mental health just had me sobbing. If you pick up one book this year, make it this one.
Book That Made You Happy

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Oi Goat was one of the World Book Day titles and just made me grin reading it. The frog in the story is teaching all the different things animals have dressed up as for World Book Day such as “otters dressed as Harry Potters.”

Most Beautiful Book So Far

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I mean, just look at it! It’s so simple but just packs a punch!

 

Posted in Audiobook Of The Month

Audiobook Of The Month | Eve Of Man

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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of both Tom and Giovanna Fletcher’s books. However, when I saw the announcement that they had written a YA book titled Eve Of Man, I was very sceptical. As they are established in their respective age ranges – Tom being a children’s author and Giovanna being an adult romance author – it felt like a strange merge and almost an invasion for them to step into the world of young adult.

Pitched as an “unconventional love story”, Eve of Man takes place in a world where no girls have been born for fifty years. The human race is facing extinction… until Eve. She is Earth’s last hope. Told through two perspectives, readers learn about Eve’s life inside the dome and Bram; one of the many people watching over her.

At the time of writing this post, I am 52% into the audiobook and it’s safe to say that I am really struggling not to give up on it. The story is narrated by two people: Charlotte Ritchie for Eve’s chapters and Josh Dylan for Bram’s. My big issue is that the latter is incredibly boring. While the writing itself shows the passion Bram has, the dramatization makes it seem like the character is just bored and doesn’t really care about Eve. There’s not real vocal changes to represent the characters to I have to rewind a lot to understand which character is saying the dialogue. Eve is much preferable and has that typical style to it that will be recognisable to fans of Giovanna’s books and, because the dramatization is infinitely better, I’m enjoying her chapters a lot more.

The writing itself is really clunky, especially in Bram’s chapters and overall there’s so much telling rather than showing. In these kinds of futuristic stories, I like being given a few breadcrumbs then just thrown in with the character. Whereas in Eve of Man  I’m taken out of the moment a lot as a scene takes place and it suddenly halted for a few minutes of info-dumping.

I plan on going into more concise detail in my full review but I will briefly mention the issues raised about gender stereotypes in this book. To me, it’s understandable that the story has gone down such a confined route, and that there’s a lack of mention for sexualities, but  it seems odd not to bring mention to infertile women in the quest to birth a girl.

Have you read Eve of Man?

What did you think?

Posted in adult fiction, contemporary, review

Some Kind Of Wonderful – Giovanna Fletcher

“I’ll wake up and be happy again. I’ll wake up and won’t feel so hurt, betrayed and humiliated. But right now the journey ahead seems bleak, lonely and hostile. This wasn’t a road I ever envisaged seeing myself on and I’m in no shape and no way prepared.”

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Blurb: “Lizzy and Ian have been a couple since their first day at university. Now, after celebrating a decade together, everyone thinks they’re about to get engaged. A romantic escape to Dubai is the perfect moment, but instead of the proposal Lizzy hopes for, Ian reveals he’s not sure he even wants her anymore.”

I’ve hooked on  Giovanna Fletcher’s writing ever since I picked up her debut Billy and Me. So naturally I’ve have been waiting impatiently for her next release to roll around.

Some Kind Of Wonderful takes the reader into the life of Lizzy who has been waiting for the moment that her long-tern boyfriend, Ian, will finally pop the question. But when she returns from a romantic holiday single, Lizzy is forced to start deconstructing her life and work out her identity all over again.

There’s something charming and addictive about Giovanna’s writing. She manages to make the common-place and every day of a character’s life something that is impossible to put down. It just feels like sitting down and listening to a long story from a close friend.

It’s hard not to feel for Lizzy as her whole life is tipped upside down and she’s forced to work out who she is all over again. It tackled the scary ideas about identity and who we really are outside of our connections to other people: who exactly are we when we strip away our links to others and how people perceive us? I worried that the plot would fall flat after the initial driving force but there was just something about it that kept me turning page after page, desperate to find out what happened next; Lizzy’s voice was so strong that it felt as if she was a real person.

Some Kind of Wonderful is fundamentally a story about growth and walking with your head held high while everything seemingly crumbles around you.

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Posted in adult fiction, contemporary, non fiction, review

Happy Mum, Happy Baby – Giovanna Fletcher

“Our words affect others – we can use them to strengthen or to belittle and crush. I know what I want mine to do.”

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Blurb: “Being a mum is an incredible journey, a remarkable experience that changes how we look, how we feel, who we are. As mothers we are strong, protective, proud. We feel a love like no other. But being a parent can be hard too. It challenges us physically, mentally, emotionally. There are the days where just managing to fit a shower in amidst the endless feeding, entertaining young children and surviving on a lack of sleep feels like an achievement. With so many people ready to offer ‘advice’ on the best way to parent, it can feel like you are getting it all wrong.”

Like many my age, I know Giovanna because of her connection to McFly band member Tom Fletcher. As she set up her own YouTube channel and I started watching, I came to love Giovanna as her own person. I have read all of her fiction books and loved every single one of them. But when she announced she was writing a new book about pregnancy and motherhood, I found myself hesitant.

I am not interested in children. That’s not to say I don’t like them; my cousin has children and I absolutely adore them. I just don’t want children myself. So I decided that this book wasn’t for me and that was ok. I’ve started using Audible again and was looking for something new to listen to and came across Happy Mum, Happy Baby and indulged because it’s narrated by Giovanna. It’s the best decision I could have made. The book mimics Giovanna’s voice entirely and listening to it felt like I was having one long coffee and a chat with her.

As things are in the online world, it’s easy to get a skewed sense of reality. While a parent may seem to be having lots of fun playing around in the garden, the people on the outside won’t see the temper tantrum that same child had just five minutes later – something Giovanna touches on a lot in her YouTube series “mumdays.” She also shares more personal stories within her book along with discussing everything from coming off the pill and how her body changed, to her aversion to breast feeding and how that changed once she had a children herself, to the obvious one… giving birth. I found it really interesting to learn about hypnobirthing which is the technique she used to bring both of her children into the world. She tackles the idea of waiting to announce a pregnancy – typically at the three month mark – and how that can have its own negativity because you then have no one to comfort you if things do go wrong. She discusses at length the negative comments she’s received both online and in person, along with how strangers would suddenly feel the need to express their unsolicited thoughts on her body.

Overall I found this to be an insightful, interesting and frankly hilarious at times read.

Even if you don’t think you want children in the future, book is definitely worth checking out.

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Posted in review, romance

Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher

“And what if she’s not the one? What if this is all for nothing?”
“Then at least I’ll know I did the best I could. That I acted decently – always with love.”

 

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Blurb: “Sophie’s got used to being the girlfriend of Billy Buskin, the biggest movie star in the world. Sort of. But when she and Billy take a trip to visit his family in Los Angeles, she quickly discovers she’s totally unprepared for the chaos of Hollywood, the paparazzi and Billy’s controlling moth. And when Billy extends his stay in LA, leaving Sophie to fly home alone to Rosefont Hill alone, it seems there’s more than just miles between them. Now Sophie must decide if they can overcome their differences for good. Because not all love stories and with happily ever after…”

This is the sequel to Giovanna’s debut novel Billy And Me.

Sophia May is about to partake in the most monumental part of any relationship: meeting the parents. The story opens with her waking up on a plane to LA, anxiety bubbling under the surface. Billy is taking a break from the acting world and the pair decide to spend the festive Christmas/New Year period with his family. LA is a complete different world to Sophia’s tea shop on the hill and she finds it hard adjusting to the flashing cameras following her around. When a hotshot director offers Billy a role in his new movie, the break quickly comes to an end and Sophie finds herself flying back to England; alone.

In a recent interview, Giovanna said that she never feels like stories end at the last page as the book, much in the same way that life continues after monumental events take place in life. She finished the short story Christmas With Billy And Me then found herself wanting to know what happened when the couple made it to LA. So she wrote it to find out.

This is a really good, solid sequel. It was full of wonderful moments and very well paced. Everything felt like it happened exactly when it needed to in order to push the story forward. The lost act of letter writing being brought in as a romantic way of communication between the pair was just so heartfelt.

The only thing that let this book down for me was the horrible “can a man and woman really be friends?” cliché. It wasn’t really needed and I just dislike that concept.

Other than that, this book was another fantastic creation from the mind of someone who was born to write.
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Posted in contemporary, romance

Dream A Little Christmas Dream – Giovanna Fletcher

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Blurb: “Sarah’s doing great. Okay, her dreams might still be totally bananas but real life is definitely back on track. She’s got a fantastic job, amazing friends and plans to spend all Christmas wrapped up with Brett, her handsome boyfriend. But after another night of increasingly bizarre dreams, Sarah wakes to find her housemate suddenly announcing she’s moving out. And later that day Brett begins to act strangely. He’s clearly hiding something – but what? Soon Sarah can’t help but wonder if she’s living in a festive nightmare. Will any of her dreams come true for Christmas?”

Giovanna Fletcher’s second novel Dream A Little Dream came out in June this year, published by Penguin. Dream A Little Christmas Dream is a very short spin off featuring the characters from the full length novel I’ve just mentioned. This is not the first time Giovanna has done something like this: just last year she released a Christmas spin off to her debut novel.

What I love about these little novellas is that it’s a neat way of revisiting the characters I once became so attached to. While Dream A Little Dream wrapped up nicely in the end, I still found myself with a few questions about what happened after the end of the book. Then Giovanna announced the spin off. This novella keeps in some of the best bits from the original novel: the dreams. And even though some of them were a little on the disturbing side, I found myself belly-laughing all the same.

So, like the blurb suggests, Sarah’s life is going pretty well. She’s bagged the man of her dreams (literally) and things are going swimmingly at her new job. However,when Lexie announces that she’s having a baby, and Carly is moving out, it’s hard for Sarah not to feel like her relationship has come to a bit of a stand-still. When she hints this to Brett and he doesn’t seem to get the message, Sarah is left feeling unloved.

Giovanna has a talent for writing light,enjoyable reads that don’t skip out on some of the not-so-good parts of life.  This novella has left me feeling festive: ready to pull on a thick wooly jumper, grab a mug of hot chocolate and sit down to watch Love Actually.

Also, I finally have an answer as to what happened with the TV show “Grannies Go Gap” – Thanks Giovanna!

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

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Posted in book tag, young adult

Unpopular Opinion Tag

I stumbled across this tag on AddictedtoYA ‘s blog so I thought I’d do it as it seemed really interesting.
So let’s get to it!
A Popular Book Or Series That You Didn’t Like

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For this I just had to pick Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. I started this series after I saw all the hype about the fact the series was going to be made into films and I enjoyed the first two books however, this one was such a let down. I just think the ending is such a cop-out and ruins the series for me. I lost all the enjoyment I had for this after the reading the pitiful ending. Also, that character death *sniff sniff* But pretty much this book just let the series down.
A Popular Book Or Series That Everyone Hates But You Love

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I’m sure that all us readers of Young Adult went through a paranormal phase at one point right? Right? Everyone I know hates Twilight and makes jokes about it and while I do too, I thoroughly enjoyed this series several years ago. I still like it now and find aspects of the writing relatable. It’s just a shame that such terrible movie adaptations exist.
A Popular Genre You Hardly Reach For

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Romance. When searching for a new book I automatically drift between the Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Young Adult sections, even though Romance tends to take up most of the fiction section. I just never get the urge to read plain old romance. However, over the past two years I’ve started reading Giovanna Fletcher and Cecelia Ahern.

A Popular Or Beloved Character That You Didn’t Like 

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I absolutely adore The Mortal Instruments series. It not only changed my reading experience but gave me a direction to take with my writing. However, despite my love for these books the one character I never really cared for: Isabelle Lightwood. I just find her to be a bland and boring character and there was never any point when I felt emotionally attached to her. Sorry Sizzy shippers!
A Popular Author That You  Can’t Seem To Get Into

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As someone who studied English Literature at University I have been subjected to Jane Austen many many times. And every single time her books have gotten more and more grating on me. I just don’t see the appeal in her work at all. Also… Mr Darcy? That slimy pompous man can stay far away from me!
A Popular Book Trope That You’re Tired Of Seeing 

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I am so sick of unnecessary relationships in YA Fantasy/Dystopian. A prime example is the Four/Tris relationship in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. The whole plot line for the series would have worked just as well if their partnership was purely platonic. It happens in so many books of these genres where pointless pairings are brought in to add another layer to the story.
A Popular Series You Have No Interest In Reading

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I hear so many book bloggers and booktubers talking about the Percy Jackson series. I read the first book shortly after the film came out but I just never had any interest in continuing with the series. Sorry Camp Half Blood people!
Show/ Movie That You Liked Better Than The Book

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I started watching The Vampire Diaries TV show and when I discovered it was based on a YA book series of the same name, I decided to give them a read. But I didn’t enjoy them anywhere near as much as the TV show.

Who I Tag
I tag my wonderful writer friend Jenny