Brief blogs for busy bees

Tag: book review

Review: The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

Review: The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

‘Is this what marriage is like? she wonders. A constant balancing act between infatuation and impatience.’ At first glance, it appears as though The Flower Girls is going to be a pretty cut and dry thriller. A girl disappears from a hotel on New Year’s Eve, and when a terrible storms starts raging outside it’s a race against time to try […]

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 […]

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 Initiative – fining people for watering their lawns or throwing water balloons – among other things, but it’s too little, too late. The damage has already been done.

Although it’s a surprise when water stops running through the taps, it feels inevitable. The government brings in desalination tanks to filter the saltwater from the ocean, so Alyssa and Garrett’s parents head down there to try and get their family some water… But they don’t come back.

Luckily, their next door neighbours are doomsday preppers whose son has a huge crush on Alyssa. Kelton offers them water to get them through the day, and after a couple of harrowing events they – along with Jacqui, a girl they meet during an encounter with some “water zombies” – head across the country in search of the family’s Bug-Out.

Dry is thrilling because it feels realistic. With devastating wildfires breaking out across California every year, destroying huge swathes of the land and taking lives, the idea of a drought being so bad that all water completely dries up isn’t that bizarre. As the events unfold, you remain gripped and unable to put the book down because you just can’t wait to see what happens next, the same way that it’s difficult to turn the live coverage on TV off when a natural disaster is unfolding.

As well as jumping between multiple perspectives (primarily Alyssa and Kelton, but with more introduced) there are also ‘snapshots’ laced throughout the story, adding layers to the world and drawing you even further in. Following people trapped in airports, stationary cars jammed on the freeway and pilots unable to help thousands in need, the depth of world-building and attention to detail is astounding.

If you can, I highly suggest setting aside a chunk of time before you start reading Dry, because as soon as the tension starts building it’s very hard to pull yourself out of the story. I made the mistake of picking Dry up in the middle of the night when I couldn’t get back to sleep, and I ended up staying awake for three hours to finish it – it was impossible to resist turning another page, and another, and another…

You’ll find your mouth drying out and feel thankful for every bit of liquid you drink while you’re reading it. It’s also made me much more careful with water; I’ve never been particularly wasteful, but I’ve found myself taking shorter showers and using the tap less throughout the day. If everyone who reads Dry makes the effort to cut down on their water usage even by a little bit, it’ll make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things.

Alyce

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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 […]

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 […]

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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Blog tour: Before I Find You by Ali Knight

Blog tour: Before I Find You by Ali Knight

Hello there, and welcome to my stop on the Before I Find You blog tour. Sorry for the radio silence over the past couple of weeks: we’ve moved home and trying to get WiFi installed has been a nightmare, so it’s been a blogless fortnight for me. […]

Blogtober Day 17: Review: Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon

Blogtober Day 17: Review: Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon

Rosie Loves Jack begins with a newspaper article detailing the story of a teenager with Down’s syndrome who has gone missing after running away from home to be reunited with her boyfriend. When we join Rose, it’s before she embarks on her cross-country adventure to Jack, […]

Blogtober Day 15: Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Blogtober Day 15: Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

‘In the end, I guess Mom was right.
I have one foot in winter and one in spring.
One foot with the living, and one with the dead.’

Cassidy Blake has a pretty interesting life, but it’s not for the reasons you’d expect. Daughter of The Inspectres – a ghost-hunting team who combine storytelling with historical facts in an unsurprisingly popular blend – you might think that her famous parents (and their upcoming TV show) are the most fascinating things about Cass, but she has a secret.

Cassidy Blake can talk to ghosts.

Well, one ghost in particular: Jacob, the dead boy who saved her life by pulling her out of a river when she almost drowned. Ever since that day Cass has been able to talk to Jacob, and he’s been able to talk to her as well (although he hasn’t been able to touch her since). She’s also been able to step through the Veil, where she can see other ghosts reliving their deaths over, and over, and over again.

It isn’t until she gets to Edinburgh, where her parents are filming the first episode of The Inspectres, that she realises that there might be more to her gift than she first thought. Cass discovers that she might have a purpose: it might be her responsibility to make sure that ghosts are able to pass to the other side.

I didn’t realise that this was a middle-grade novel until I was about halfway through, because the language used feels mature. A young audience will understand every word – and the ones that might be confusing are subtly explained – but the magical way that Victoria Schwab puts words into sentences makes it feel like it’s aimed at an older audience.

A girl who can talk to ghosts isn’t the most unique concept, but because it’s been done before it’s all the more impressive that Schwab has a twist for her tale. Her descriptions of the Veil are haunting, and I had chills due to the intense descriptions of some of the scarier ghosts. If I’d been any younger when I’d read this it would have given me nightmares!

As an introduction to the series, City of Ghosts does everything you can ask it to. It introduces the characters well and poses questions about them that you can’t resist wanting the answers for. I’m excited for the next book in the Cassidy Blake series, and I’m looking forward to seeing where The Inspectres end up next. I hope it’s somewhere that matters as much to Schwab as Edinburgh does, because you can feel how much she cares about crafting honest descriptions of the location.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about City of Ghosts, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 14: Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

Blogtober Day 14: Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

I don’t know why I keep picking up Megan Abbott’s novels, because they never impress me as much as I hope they will. I’ve already read The End of Everything and The Fever, and although I enjoyed Abbott’s writing style throughout both novels, I’ve constantly struggled with her […]