Tag: five star review

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

‘Even when there’d been a whole universe to explore, Cloud Lake and Tommy had been my everything. “So that’s it?” I said. “I’m just supposed to go on living my life no matter how much the universe takes from me or how small it gets?” Dr. Sayegh nodded. “It’s what the rest of us do, Ozzie.” Ozzie’s boyfriend, Tommy, has vanished. 

Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

‘I’m so unwhole. I don’t know where all the pieces of me are, how to fit them together, how to make them stick. Or if I even can.’ Self-harm is a sensitive subject, no matter what form it takes. Some people find reading about cutting triggering, while others find it makes them feel seen and understood for the first time in months or years. It’s difficult to write about, 

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: 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 

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 

Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

‘You can plot a course that will get you to your destination, but you can’t predict what you’ll find along the way.’ 

Zorie has a plan for the summer, and it involves staying as far away from the Mackenzie family as physically possible. But when some of her mum’s mail is incorrectly delivered to their address, she’s the one that has to go and pick it up. In the process she finds herself face-to-face with her ex-best friend Lennon – the boy who broke her heart last year by ditching her at homecoming with no explanation – and discovers that her dad is having an affair. Awkward…

With no idea what to do with this information, Zorie accepts an invitation to go on a glamping trip. Little does she know that Lennon is also invited – double awkward!

After an explosive argument breaks out amongst the campers, the two of them are abandoned in the middle of nowhere. They find themselves with no choice but to hike back to civilisation, and on the way they begin to fix their fractured friendship, but what will happen when they get back to reality?

It was impossible to choose a word other than ‘perfect’ to describe Starry Eyes, as this is one of the best contemporaries I’ve ever read. Not only was the romance between Zorie and Lennon a slow burn, enemies to lovers situation (one of my favourite YA tropes), the entire cast of characters was very well crafted. Both Zorie and  Lennon’s parents were realistic, bringing their own personalities and issues to the story, and it made things far more interesting.

The setting was gorgeous, the hiking was described well and it was both entertaining and educational: I never knew that you needed to store food in a special container to stop bears from being attracted to it!

I don’t have the words to say how much I loved Starry Eyes. I laughed, I cried, and I cheered Zorie and Lennon on more and more with every page: it’s impossible not to ship them by the end of the story. I’ve seen a lot of rave reviews for Jenn Bennett’s other novels, and I won’t be surprised if I enjoy them as much as I did Starry Eyes. She has a brilliant writing style and a skill for crafting lifelike characters who really step off of the page, feeling remarkably real.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Starry Eyes, 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!

 

Have you read any of Jenn Bennett’s novels? I’m looking forward to reading Alex, Approximately – I’ve heard so many good things about it.

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 10: Blog tour: Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Blogtober Day 10: Blog tour: Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Hi there! Welcome to my stop on the Jackson Saves an Owl blog tour. I’d like to say a big thank you to Faye Rogers, for allowing me to get involved in the blog tour for this charming picture book. Zophia loves owls, so as soon as 

Blogtober Day 7: Review: The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens

Blogtober Day 7: Review: The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens

Back at the start of summer Robin Stevens released a short story narrated by Daisy Wells, in which the Detective Society and the Junior Pinkertons team up to investigate a string of museum robberies. I bought it the day it was released, but I decided 

Blog tour: The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game by Jon Claydon and Tim Lawler

Blog tour: The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game by Jon Claydon and Tim Lawler

I’m ridiculously excited to welcome you to my stop on The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game blog tour. I’ve never been a huge Top Gear fan but the enigma of The Stig has always fascinated me, and this novelisation seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn a bit more about his back story.

Before I share my review, here’s a little bit more about the book to get your mouth watering:

The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game by Jon Claydon and Tim Lawler

An enigmatic racing driver.

A bunch of kids.

One hell of a ride.

Sam Wheeler is the new boy in town. And it’s a pretty weird sort of place. No one seems bothered that a kid recently went missing. Everyone is glued to a mysterious computer game. And the town appears to be in thrall to a dastardly billionaire living in a mansion on the hill.

Things look up when Sam meets friends Buster Mustang, Ford Harrison and Minnie Cooper – but danger has a habit of showing up wherever they do. Soon all that stands between the gang and disaster is a silent man in a white suit. Otherwise known as… The Stig.

If you’re interested in learning more about The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game, 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!

 

So, what did I think?

The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game review header

The first thing that hit me while reading this book is that it’s perfect for reading with your child. There are a lot of puns which are likely to go right over the heads of the target audience, but I found myself giggling like I was back in primary school at most of them. They’re silly, but very cleverly written: these aren’t the kind of jokes that make you roll your eyes, but ones which provoke genuine laughs. I’ll be honest, it even took me a few seconds to register some of them!

The pace of the book also makes it great for reading aloud. There are a lot of quick, witty exchanges between Sam Wheeler and the antagonist, Cabriola Cruiser, while the banter between Sam, Minnie and Ford is also very funny. Anyone reading this story will want to be a part of Sam’s crew (and I think it’s great that there’s a girl who’s as obsessed with cars as the lads, because Top Gear has always appealed to a wide audience).

The language is accessible, so children are likely to be able to tackle the book by themselves (even if they might need your help on some of the difficult pronunciations of car names). With illustrations scattered throughout the text is broken up into digestible chunks – I couldn’t read it in one sitting because I’ve been quite busy with work, but being able to pick up the book with a brief sketch showing me where I’d gotten to made it easy to slide straight back into the world.

It’s impossible to forget that this is a Top Gear book because the specific car references are constant, but they fit smoothly into the story and don’t feel shoehorned in unnecessarily. This means that it’ll appeal to Top Gear fans of any age – probably another reason that Jon Claydon and Tim Lawler made sure to pop in some jokes that will appeal to an older audience.

This is a very strong start to the series, and I’m looking forward to picking up The Stig Drives Again, which is actually released tomorrow. I’ve already pre-ordered a copy for my Kindle, and I’m planning on driving – sorry, diving! – straight into it as soon as it downloads. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with this book, only hoping that it would be a fun read to break up some of the more serious titles I’ve been picking up recently, but it’s so well-written that I’d happily recommend it to anyone.

 

About the authors: 

Jon Claydon wrote sell-out shows at Edinburgh while at university before plumping for a career in advertising and technology investment that has seen him because a fixture on the Sunday Times ‘Britain’s 500 Most Influential People’ list. One day, while attending to one of many sidelines – as a columnist for Top Gear magazine – Jon had a moment. Alone in a lift, he met The Stig, who non-verbally communicated that it was high time someone wrote a book for his many younger fans. Jon called Tim, they fired up their flux capacitor and returned, sliding-doors-style, to the career they’d always thought they should have had in the first place.

Tim Lawler wrote sell-out Edinburgh shows at university before spending many years in ventures such as building and filling a fringe theatre, performing stand-up poetry, living in various parts of the globe and working as an advertising brand planner.

I hope you enjoyed my stop on The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game blog tour. Huge thanks to Faye Rogers for inviting me to take part – I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of book two!

Alyce

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Review: Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Review: Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

“What’s the point of being a billionaire if I can’t have a little fun?” I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Batman. In my opinion he’s not really a superhero, just a rich asshole. I only decided to read this book because I’d