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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I meant to read in 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I meant to read in 2018

It always feels as though my books I meant to read in 2018 list features the most popular books of the year, because I’m so hype-averse. As soon as a book tops most anticipated lists, I add it to my TBR and run as quickly […]

Review: Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas by Andrea Pyros

Review: Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas by Andrea Pyros

When Josephine’s mum announces that she has breast cancer, it turns Josephine’s life upside down. Instead of worrying about getting invited to the hottest party in school, she’s now counting down the days until her mum has to have life-saving surgery. Josephine doesn’t want anyone […]

Review: Scared To Death by Anthony Horowitz

Review: Scared To Death by Anthony Horowitz

“Why go digging up the past when all it will give you is dust in the eye?”

Scared To Death is the first Anthony Horowitz book I’ve ever read, which should be impossible because he’s published so many. I’ve been recommended both the Alex Rider series and the Power of Five series, but I’ve never felt compelled to pick up either of them, so when I spotted a short story collection on my library app I thought I would give it a go.

I’ve always enjoyed short story collections, but I often find scary short stories lacking: either they’re utterly predictable, or they aren’t horrifying at all. I was pleasantly surprised that neither of those things was true about Scared To Death, which contains some pleasingly horrifying moments, some gasp-inducing twists and not one story that lets the collection down.

As usual, I’m going to write a little bit about each story and tell you the individual star rating I allocated each of them. With the average rating for the collection being 3.5 stars, it’s a very successful group of gruesome tales.

Bet Your Life (5/5 stars): winning this gameshow is a matter of life-or-death – literally. If you get a question wrong, you’re toast.

You Have Arrived (3/5 stars): trust your instincts, not your stolen satnav.

The Cobra (3/5 stars): try to control your spoilt brat behaviour if you ever meet a snake charmer.

Robo-Nanny (5/5 stars): before you go away on business, make sure to check the settings on your Robo-Nanny.

My Bloody French Exchange (4/5 stars): if you think someone’s a vampire, they probably are. Probably…

sheBay (4/5 stars): when your parents run out of money, you’ll probably be the first thing they’ll try to sell.

Are You Sitting Comfortably? (4/5 stars): sometimes phoning the first mechanic you find in the phone book is inadvisable.

Plugged In (3/5 stars): bad things happen to good people, too.

Power (4/5 stars): Power is the only one of the short stories which I would describe as predictable, but it’s tongue-in-cheek and made me laugh, so it gets forgiven for that.

The J Train (3/5): it’s really important to listen to directions when you’re trying to get the subway for the first time.

Seven Cuts (5/5): a bonus short story, this note from the chairman of Walker Books made me a little bit apprehensive about reviewing this collection. Hopefully Anthony Horowitz won’t think I’ve been too harsh, or you might not be hearing from me again…

If I’d read Scared To Death when I was younger it probably would have given me nightmares, so I’m glad I’m a little bit older than the target audience. Horowitz has a twisted imagination, but most of the unique turns in these tales were unpredictable and I felt utterly delighted by each one.

Have you read any Anthony Horowitz books yet, or are you thinking of starting with Scared To Death like I have?

Alyce

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Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Discovered in 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Discovered in 2018

Hey guys! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is another fun topic, especially because I pushed myself out of my comfort zone last year and discovered quite a few new authors who became instant favourites. I think some of you will be surprised that I waited […]

Review: Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

Review: Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

‘This is the true core of human nature. When we’ve lost the strength to save ourselves, we somehow find the strength to save each other.’ California has been experiencing a drought for a while. The Tap-Out has led to the introduction of the Frivolous Use […]

Review: The Last by Hanna Jameson

Review: The Last by Hanna Jameson

Jon Keller never though he’d be at a conference in a hotel in Switzerland when the world ended, but that’s exactly how it happens. One moment, he’s having a hotel breakfast, the next there’s a woman screaming at her phone, devastated to learn that there’s been a nuclear attack in Washington.

Before long, more news rolls in. Bombs have detonated across the globe. Scotland is lost. The president is dead.

Chaos erupts. Some people flee from the hotel, while others are frozen in fear and can’t comprehend the idea of leaving. Luckily for us, Jon is one of the people who chooses to stay, dedicating his time to keeping a record of the events that unfold at L’Hotel Sixieme.

Things spiral out of control quickly. The water supply is tainted, so Jon and two of the hotel staff members head up to the roof to see if they can figure out the problem and are devastated to discover the body of a little girl in one of the water towers.

One of the other survivors is a murderer, and Jon is determined to find the killer.

The Last has one of the most intriguing taglines I’ve ever encountered, but unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I’m going to resist giving too much away because I’m very aware that it’s not published until the 31st, but I’m thinking of revisiting the story and writing a more in-depth review next month because I have a lot of feelings about this book.

The first half of the novel is gripping because it plays with your head. Surrounded by strangers and certain that one of them is a killer, Jon’s mind plays tricks on him, twisting him into an unreliable narrator and hooking you instantly. This is helped by the first few entries in Jon’s journal being short and snappy, causing fifty pages to fly past in the blink of an eye.

I did find my mind wandering towards the end of the book. As the setting changes so does the focus of the novel, shifting from a small group hellbent on survival to the fate of the world, which I’ve seen done so many times that I wasn’t all that interested. If I’d been craving action and the introduction of real danger, it would have been perfect, but I was charmed by the well-crafted and realistic cast in the hotel (who get extra points for being multicultural, featuring characters from across the globe, of various ages and sexualities).

One of the aspects that I appreciated the most was the characters trying to charge their phones and get internet after the power had already begun running out. That’s concern is bound to plague people if the world does end, and it’s realistic to feature it rather than implying that the entire population could adjust to the loss of technology instantly.

However, The Last is at risk of becoming a zeitgeist. There are thinly veiled insinuations that the nuclear war is the fault of an unspecified president (clearly intended to be President Trump), while there’s also a brief exploration of the #MeToo movement. It’ll be interesting to revisit the novel in a few years and see whether the concerns remain relevant, because I can imagine that the yearning for social media updates will become more pertinent as time passes.

I hadn’t heard of Hanna Jameson until this novel was announced, but I’m planning on going back and reading some of her previous releases, as I really enjoyed her writing style (particularly the fact that she made me care about Jon despite him being such an unlikable character!).

Before I go, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Viking for sending me an advanced copy of this book. It’s highly anticipated, so I’m very grateful that I could count myself as one of the lucky readers who got to check it out early. The Last is released on January 31st, so if you’re interested you should definitely get yourself a copy.

Alyce

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Review: Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

Review: Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

There’s something different about Clementine, and Jago is the only one who can see it. He ceaselessly bullies her at school and before long Clem snaps, shoving him across the room with an unnatural strength. Clementine is suspended, so her father takes the opportunity to […]

Top Ten Tuesday: Most anticipated 2019 releases

Top Ten Tuesday: Most anticipated 2019 releases

It’s been a while since my last Top Ten Tuesday post, but I’ve decided to start taking part again now that 2019 has begun. Hopefully I’ll keep be able to keep on top of it this year, as I’ve missed reading all of your lists […]

Review: Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Review: Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Courtney Aloysius Cooper IV is in love with his best friend, Jupiter, but there’s not likely to be a Jupe-and-Coop romance anytime soon, because Jupiter is gay. He’s always struggled to accept this fact, but his girlfriends have found their closeness even harder to accept, which is why Coop’s just found himself dumped. Again.

Coop heads to Jupiter’s house to mourn the loss of his latest relationship, but when he gets there he finds her obsessively texting someone called Rae. He’s jealous, a feeling which only gets worse when he meets Rae: a biracial girl with the vocabulary of a dictionary. Rae’s beautiful, funny and smart, and Jupe can see it just as clearly as Coop can.

Rae quickly becomes the filling in the Jupe-and-Coop sandwich, but that doesn’t come without its fair share of issues. Jupiter’s affectionate nature sends Rae into a questioning tailspin. It’s undeniable, her attraction to Coop… But why does Jupiter send her heart racing, too?

“Can’t a person be attracted to a boy and a girl? Is that not allowed or something?”

It took me a little while to get into Odd One Out. When the book starts the story is being told from Courtney’s perspective, and I’m not a huge fan of the ‘straight boy madly in love with a gay girl’ thing. I was tempted to put the book to one side and move on to something else, but so many people recommend Nic Stone’s novels (more specifically Dear Martin, but this was the one that was available at the library so this was the one I went for) that I felt like I’d be missing out if I didn’t give it a proper try.

Although Courtney’s section introduces the story and the other characters, it’s definitely the hardest to read. The slang and informal language feel forced rather than natural, a direct contrast with Rae’s section (which is chock-a-block with words that had me running to Google to check their definitions but felt far more genuine).

Meanwhile Jupiter’s narration was a nice blend of both of them, but stood out the most as each of her chapters corresponded with a different Queen song on her playlist. I’m a huge music fan, so any books that embrace their character’s passion for a band are always going to get a thumbs up from me, and Jupiter’s kinship with Freddie Mercury was well written (and related to the plot, too).

The main focus of Odd One Out is on sexuality, and the changing nature of individual identities. I’m bisexual, so I related to Rae’s inner tension as she struggled to come to terms with her feelings for Jupiter, but I was a little disappointed that other definitions of sexuality were so lightly brushed over. Jupiter makes a point of dissecting negative definitions of bisexuality (specifically the belief that bisexual can equate to transphobic) but only lightly touches upon the ideas of pansexuality and demisexuality, neglecting to properly define them.

Odd One Out is a good starting point for anyone who may be questioning their sexuality, as it includes enough information to encourage people to go off and research the terms for themselves, but this book would have been perfect if it included a glossary or a list of resources for readers. Please correct me if this is included in the print version, as I read a library eBook and am aware that it might not have featured all of the extras!

Have you read either of Nic Stone’s novels? I’m hoping to read Dear Martin at some point in the next few months, so if any of you have read it please let me know whether you’d recommend it.

Alyce

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Let’s try this again, shall we?

Let’s try this again, shall we?

Hey everyone, First of all, Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed spending Christmas with your families and didn’t have to work too hard. In case you hadn’t already guessed, I vastly underestimated the reality of working in retail during the Christmas months: I’ve […]