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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Review - 'We Were Liars' by E. Lockhart


Hot Key Books
2014

Synopsis (from Amazon) - A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.


Have you ever read a book that is so emotionally draining, poignant and thought provoking that you had to put it down for a minute and contemplate what you’ve just read? That is what I experienced reading this book.

First thing’s first; the writing. Lockhart’s prose is unlike anything I have ever read, utterly unique. I was blown away by the quality of the writing. Having said this, at first I found it difficult to get used to the writing style and Cadence’s voice, but it didn’t take long for me fall in love with it. Lockhart made some interesting stylistic choices. I liked the way she used, or rather didn’t use, capital letters and the way she used and experimented with sentence structure. Not only this, but the characters she has weaved are intricate and interesting. The four central characters are mostly likeable and I couldn’t help but get engrossed in their story and become invested in what was going to happen to them.

I have to admit, however, that I found the book somewhat slow at first. I just could not gauge where the plot was going. I suppose the novel had a lot of setting up to do; the characters, setting, the clues to further events. It wasn’t until the middle of the story that I was truly gripped; we started hearing more about Cady’s accident and we delved deeper into the Sinclair’s familial problems. This when I feel that the plot progressed and I saw what everything was building up to. For most of the book I was wondering where it going, what it was setting up, which I guess made it very unpredictable, because, wow, you do not see that ending coming at all! I loved that; I have never been so taken by surprise by an ending of a book before. I got to end of the book with tears in my eyes. I genuinely had to put the book down and take a moment to recover. Suffice to say I was just a little bit emotional.

Underlying it’s beautiful, if sad, exterior, lurks a dark underbelly of deception, familial politics, as well as other various issues that I won’t go into for fear of spoilers. This book is not one you can talk about too much without spoilers, just read it! Sorry this wasn’t the best review in the world, I had a hard time to write a review about a book like this without giving everything away, I just want as many people as possible to read this. Enjoy!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Audiobooks

I have recently discovered a love of audiobooks. I have always enjoyed listening to them, but have never really made the effort to listen to them on a regular basis. I have always cherished the physical form of the book, any other form of reading has always felt like cheating on the book. Oh how the tides have turned. It started innocently. A onetime thing surely. I was reading J.K Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy not long after it had been released and if I am honest I was finding it a bit slow, and I really wanted to finish it before I met her, so I thought, ‘what would make this process a bit easier?’ and it occurred to me, listening to an audiobook might help, so I did. I am so glad I did, I don’t think I would have finished the book in time otherwise. I just found it so much easier to listen to someone reading it out. Part of it might have been laziness, but that is neither here nor there.

Now this did get me thinking about audiobooks, and how my original prejudices were wrong. They can be incredibly useful. Granted I have not listened to many in to the last couple of years, but I have made effort to listen to a few. I mostly listen to them on the go, walking the dog, walking to work. It means I am not wasting valuable reading time. After all audiobooks are exact same text as the physical book, just spoken, so I have no qualms about listening to them anymore, and I highly recommend them for people who don’t have a lot of time for reading, or who do a lot of walking or travelling. So please at least give it a try if you have ever had any doubts!

Thanks for reading! Comment below or contact me on twitter if you fancy a discussion on this topic. No matter if you loathe audiobooks, as I used to, or grateful for them.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Review - 'Boys Don't Knit' by T.S Easton


Hot Key Books
2014

(Spoilers ahead)

Synopsis (from Amazon) - Ben Fletcher must get to grips with his more 'feminine' side following an unfortunate incident with a lollipop lady and a stolen bottle of Martini Rosso from Waitrose. All a big misunderstanding of course. To avoid the Young Offenders unit, Ben is ordered to give something back to the community and develop his sense of social alignment. Take up a hobby and keep on the straight and narrow. The hot teacher he likes runs a knitting group so Ben, reluctantly at first, gets 'stuck in'. Not easy when your dad is a sports fan and thinks Jeremy Clarkson is God. To his surprise, Ben finds that he likes knitting and that he has a mean competitive streak. If he can just keep it all a secret from his mates...and notice that the girl of his dreams, girl-next-door Megan Hooper has a bit of a thing for him…


My Review - The thing that first attracted me to this book was the title. I love the idea of the feminine and the masculine coming together so I instantly liked the idea of a male protagonist knitting, it seemed like such a good subject for a YA book, (not to mention the beautiful, eye catching cover). I feel like this is the sort of book I wished my younger brother would read, (no chance, he rarely reads). I just feel that teenage boys need to understand that not every young man is traditionally ‘masculine.’ I mean, why do we live in a world where an effeminate man is ridiculed? I know schools can be a cruel place for boys but this is simply because they are not educated well enough, if at all, about gender roles and how they can be bent and aren’t black and white. This books shows these prejudices, and informs young men that is okay to be effeminate, that they can knit if they want to. I have to admit I wanted to hug Ben and be his friend. He had his own preconceptions at the beginning of of the book and I really liked his character development, they way Ben’s views gradually changed.

Something else that stood out for me was Ben’s parents. This is one the few YA novels I have read that has really fleshed out the parents. They weren’t there simply be the protagonist’s parents and nothing else, they actually served a purpose to the story. Ben’s Dad provided a major source of conflict and I thought their relationship was really interesting (even if it was based upon web of lies spun by Ben). When his Dad found out about Ben knitting, yes he was upset, but I think this was more to do with Ben lying to him about it, which I think is fair. I nearly cried when he showed up at the knitting competition to support his son, it was beautiful. His, however, was not as prominent in the story which I think is a shame because I think she sounded awesome, I mean how many of us have magicians for a mother?

What I also appreciated about this book was they way Easton was able to accurately, (at least from what I remember), portray teenage boys; the way they act and speak. I read a fair amount of YA and never have I read such effortless teenage dialogue. I also thought the way Ben’s friends went with him to the competition and stood up for him was inspiring.

Overall I loved this book, I liked the writing style, Ben’s voice was so distinctive and likeable.I think that every teenager should read this, and learn from it because it really is such an important book.