Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lies We Tell Ourselves - Robin Talley

“The white people are waiting for us. 
Chuck sees them first. He’s gone out ahead of our group to peer around the corner by the hardware store. From there you can see all of Jefferson High. 
The gleaming redbrick walls run forty feet high. The building is a block wide, and the windowpanes are spotless. A heavy concrete arch hangs over the two-storey wood-and-glass doors at the front entrance. 
And the only thing between us and the school is the parking lot. And the white people. 

It’s February 1959 and the doors of Jefferson High School have been unlocked, months later than they should have been. Despite the governors best efforts the court have ruled that the doors must open and remain open for the rest of the school year, even for the ten black students who are transferring there from the local black school. No one wants Sarah and her friends at the school, not Bo and his gang who try and make their lives a living hell from the minute they see them, and especially not Linda Hairston, the daughter of the towns most outspoke segregationist. Sarah and Linda have every reason to hate one another but when a school project forces them to spend time together they learn very quickly that everything is not so black and white, especially not their feelings. As both girls start to feel something they have never felt before they both try and push it down and ignore that feeling as much as possible. Its one thing to be frightened by the world at large, but its another altogether when you're terrified of what you feel inside. 

***

This book offers a roller coaster of emotions and difficult events which make you fell physically sick. It is not a nice book but it is an incredible one and one that I think should have pride of place within any school library to help young adults understand just how dangerous narrow minded thinking can be. 

Lies We Tell Ourselves is about two girls. Its told from both of their perspectives but its not until quite far into the book that you start getting the second perspective. I loved the way the book was split up between Sarah and Linda and how much that helped you understand the characters and their actions. The first part is told from Sarah’s point of view and shares a bit about why her and the other black kids in her group are doing what they are doing. Its about how they are treated on their first days at Jefferson High and how they are meant to deal with that. Its harrowing and unnerving and most of all just plain shocking. Then you get Lindas point of view. I didn’t think I could be any more uncomfortable reading this book until I got to the second part. Its almost like Linda has been brainwashed into a certain way of thinking by her father and every other white person. She actually believes what she is saying but its like she's just constantly repeated what others have said in front of her and its terrifying. Its not until she starts to get Sarah arguing back that she begins to realise, just a little bit, that these things are wrong. But then singles Sarah out as an odd one out and claims that she is just a ‘different’ black person to all the others. 

Theres a lot of this book that scared me. The way black people were treated, the way women were treated an the fact that the events were based on fact. This type of thing did go on in the ;ate 50s and early 60s and the scariest thing about it is that it really wasn't that long ago! The talk of ‘black bathrooms’ and the fact that some shops wouldn’t allow black people to even step through the door, its horrible. No one should be mistreated like that and the worst thing about it was that people just let it happen because the higher powers, those like Linda’s father, told them thats how it was. The events of this book were awful but they were the truth and we have to hear about these things to remind us not to be so narrow minded and judgemental - its never right. 

I loved this book, its definitely a five star book for me. The writing was exceptional engaging, I love the social commentary it provides about the time these girls grew up in. I loved how sexuality was brought into it and how it constantly reminds us that nothing - race, gender, sexuality - should stand in our way of our goals. Fantastic job Robin Talley, I cant wait to read more of your stuff! 

Lies We Tell Ourselves was published on 3rd October. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit: 

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Little in Love - Susan E Fletcher

“I’m dying. There’s no use hoping I’ll live or telling myself, keep going, it’s only a small wound. There’s too much blood on the ground. 
I’m going to die in this street. 
I can hardly breathe. My hand, my arm and my body are so full of pain. I’m whimpering, trembling. And I’m cold too - lying on my back with the cobblestones pressing into me. In the distance horses’ hooves, and someone is shouting, ‘is anyone alive out there?’ I want to call, ‘yes, over here!’ but I can’t. It hurts too much to speak or move.”

Paris 1832. There is unrest everywhere. A street girl lies in the darkness alone, clutching a letter intended for the one she loves. She remembers her life and how it could have been, how she was a terrible child to Cosette, the girl her mother took in and mistreated, how she stole, and lied, and how she was taught to keep the kindness within her buried. Eponine clutches the letter, it’s not from her but from Cosette, its her chance to make things right, and now she must try and let that kindness flow out of her as she has always wanted to do. 

***

I had never read or seen Les Miserables (here after referred to as Les Mis, sorry!) until I read this book, I knew very little about the original story and as I started reading I started wishing I did, but not because it helps to read or watch Les Mis first, A Little In Love can be read completely on its own. I wanted to have more knowledge about Les Mis because I loved the characters I was being introduced to and I wanted to know more about them. 

This book tells the story of Eponine from Les Mis, the story that I believe you don’t get to read or witness from the original book or its movie adaptation. I wouldn’t know how it compares to the book but I did watch the latest movie version, the 2012 Hugh Jackman one, whilst reading the book just to see if I could get a bit more background. It is a love story, but it is also a story of growing up, a coming of age story of sorts and it really is fantastic. Its about a girl who really should have been born to a different family, a kinder family who really loved her rather than her stealing skills. Its about a girl who needs to be a their to gain her mothers love and her fathers trust but balances it out through helping the old man down the road pick his peaches or gathering the washing in for the couple round the corner. I loved every aspect of the story and thought it was brought to life perfectly by Susan E Fletcher. 

As I say I couldn’t compare this to the original as I haven’t read it but I have a friend who has and I asked her a few things about its events and it seems like its a quite truthful adaptation. It was quite a bit different to the film version of the book but I believe that itself is different to the original book so it would be. I loved the backdrop of the story as its set at such an interesting point in France’s history and I loved what that brought to the story. 

The characters were amazing and I really admired Eponine. Marius and Cosette were a little wet but Eponnine and other characters, including her sister were fantastic. I actually found their parents incredibly interesting too, even if I did hate them. Eponine really is a feisty character who shows a great deal of strength especially when you consider her position and the time the story was set. Gavroche was an incredible character also and I loved his role in the book. 

I started reading A Little In Love on a Wednesday evening, even with work on the following two days and a break on the friday evening to watch Les Mis, I still finished it Friday night. It hooked me and was so easy to read that I didn’t want to put it down, I cannot recommend this book enough so you should just go out and locate a copy as soon as possible! 

A Little in Love was published on October 3rd by Chicken House Books. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Cure For Dreaming - Cat Winters

“The Metropolitan Theater simmered with the heat of more than a thousand bodies packed together in red velvet chairs. My nose itched from the lingering scent of cigarette smoke wafting off the gentlemen’s coats - a burning odour that added to the sensation that we were all seated inside a beautiful oven, waiting to be broiled. Even the cloud of warring perfumes hanging over the audience smelled overcooked, like toast gone crisp and black” 

Halloween night was Oliva’s seventeenth birthday. It was also the day her eyes were opened and she started to see things more clearly than ever before. That day she was victim of abuse as she cheered along with the suffragists fighting for votes for women. That evening she was the volunteer at a hypnotists show, where he stood on her body as she lay suspended across the backs of two chairs. Then, that night, her father started a tirade against her dreams. As he starts to do everything he can to get Henri Reverie to hypnotise the rebellion out of her, she becomes more and more herself; even if she cannot share her thoughts aloud.

***

This is an incredibly brilliant story which really got my feelings riled up, despite hating 50% of the books’ events I adored its narrative and the fight which is evident in the main character throughout, and I honestly couldn’t put it down. 

Those of you who follow me on twitter or know me off screen will be aware that I am a feminist. I often rant about the inequality in the world even now and yes, I am fully aware that women have gained so, so much - especially in the western world - in the past 100 years, I just believe we’ve still got a while to go before we can say everyone is equal. With this knowledge you may understand why this book meant so much to me. The entire thing is about women and their place in Oregon in 1900, its about the suffragist movement and just how much went against women who tried to argue for their voice. Its about what was happening at the time, even if its about a fictional girl and her fight against her father - that girl represents so many real girls who were around at that time and thats exactly why it was a five star book for me. 

I hated reading this book, I’m not going to lie. I hated it because it reminded me just how undervalued women were at that time, and just how far men went to silence them. It told of the terrifying fact that men had every power over women, from their finances to their education and even who they were allowed to marry. It was an awful time and I am so, so happy I didn’t live in those times, however I am so annoyed I didn’t at the same time because I would have been one of those strong women who would not have been silenced. Around 50% of the characters in this book, in my eyes, needed a good slap. The things they did and the things they said were enough to make my blood boil, but thats the effect of fantastic writing. 

I honestly felt myself following Olivia around the streets of Oregon when I was reading The Cure For Dreaming, the writing was that brilliant and that realistic that I still cannot believe that Cat Winters wasn't around at the time! I found it captivating and because of that it was a very quick read. Throughout the book there were inclusions of archival photos from the actual time and quotes from books that were published in the run up to the time and I think this added to the story really well too. There books are often seen as a social commentary on the time and I think they backed up the points that Winters was making fantastically well. The images also reminded me as a reader just how different things were back then. 

As I said above half of the characters in this book needed a slap, or worse, in my eyes. I absolutely hated Olivia’s father. Saying that I loved Olivia and her growth throughout the story. At the beginning we are met with a meal girl who believes in the equality of women but who also believes in the goodness of her father and feels for him when all others call him mad or worse. She loves him and she wants, like most people do, to believe he is a good man. This is obviously not the case and soon we are seeing his true colours as Olivia finally sees them. In addition to Olivia’s father you are met with a number of men who obviously stand against the women’s movement and boys who have been conditioned to think the same. I think that the most dangerous characters were John and Percy for they are the modern men who should be changing the world, but were as small minded as their fathers. Henri and some of the female characters were fantastic, but as Mrs Underhill proved not all female characters were brilliant either. 

I really, really loved this book. It was horrific in places and it made my blood boil but even at those points I still loved it for what it shows, how the fight for equality was started and how we need to always remember to stand up for ourselves. 

The Cure For Dreaming was published on October 1st by Amulet, an Abrahams and Chronicle imprint. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit: 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Curious Phenomenon of Infrasound - Guest post by Paul Southern.

Today I have the wonderful Paul Southern on the blog taking about Infrasound, one of the major themes of his new book Killing Sound.

  Killing Sound is a book that explores the grey area between science and superstition. It has been described (accurately, I think) as a cross between Inception and The Exorcist. It is a book with big ideas, both mythological and scientific, that deals with magic, séances, spirits and the supernatural and what really lies behind them.

  Like a lot of people, I have been fascinated with the supernatural since I was a child, and have often wondered what people meant when they said they saw ghosts. Were they seeing real objects or was their mind playing tricks on them? More importantly, did it matter? If you perceive a ghost to be there, you experience the same fright, and the same alarm. Magazines like The Skeptical Inquirer, and famed sceptics like James Randi, have challenged many bogus claimants and put science firmly on top in the battle of science and faith. Yet, bafflingly, many people cling to faith and belief in the supernatural, whether it be dead spirits of loved ones, demons or angels.
  A few years ago, I stumbled across an article in the Journal of Psychical Research that had me wondering whether both could be true. It concerned the curious phenomenon of infrasound. Infrasound is all around us, yet perceived only subconsciously. It refers to extreme bass waves or vibrations with a frequency below the audibility range of the human ear (20 Hz to 22 kHz). Even though these waves can't be heard, they can be felt. They can induce feelings of anxiety, extreme sorrow, and chills. Loud infrasound in the range of 0.5 to 10 Hz is sufficient to activate the vestibular, or balance system, in the inner ear. It activates the fight or flight mechanism. It can cause the hairs on your neck to rise and grey objects to appear in your peripheral vision. In essence, it makes you see ghosts. NASA has conducted research on it and their pilots have reported visual disturbances at high altitudes and in simulators, which are often attributable to UFO’s.

   You don’t need to be an astronaut to experience infrasound, however. It’s all around us. If you really want to expose yourself to high levels, you need do no more than travel the London Underground. At Kennington Loop on the Northern Line, 90-95db has been detected. That’s as loud as a lawnmower. When infrasound reaches a certain frequency, something spectacular happens. Your eyeballs start to shake – they have reached their resonant frequency – and you start to see things. Your survival instinct kicks in, the nape hairs stand up, and you want to run. Who wouldn’t? It is probably no coincidence that the London Underground has more reported ghost sightings and paranormal incidents than any transport system in the world.

  Just ask the trackwalkers. They know it best. When the city sleeps, they check the tunnels by torchlight. Footsteps in the ballast, ghosts on the Northern Line, they’ve seen it all. And when they haven’t, the CCTV does. You’d be amazed what’s been following you without you realising. Every line has its ghosts. Every walker knows where they are: Kennington Loop, South Island Place. It takes a special individual to visit those places for a living. It takes a braver one to walk the miles of disused tracks and bricked off tunnels others have long forgotten. In disused tunnels beneath the Thames, huge gales blow, and the temperatures can drop inexplicably. Even sceptics feel a weird presence there and have heard strange noises. Put yourself underground, in long, dark, seemingly endless tunnels, and belief in science quickly erodes. Instinct takes over. For the person who sees the ghost, who experiences the paranormal, the sensation is real. You are actually seeing something, just like the NASA pilots, just like the trackwalkers.

  The characters in Killing Sound are forced into this nightmare world. They soon discover the horror that is down there. The problem is, there is no way out.  

Killing Sound by Paul Southern is out now in paperback (£7.99, Chicken House) For more guest posts by Paul Southern please visit the blogs mentioned in the banner. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Killing Sound - Paul Southern

“The black cab tore through London’s rain-washed streets, slicing through the late-night traffic. It was 1.33am and Malcolm Lawrence was feverish with anticipation. The clamp of fear that had gripped him all day was gone, the blackened tunnels all lit up. He stared at the readings in his red notebook and a triumphant smile appeared across his face. William would be furious about this.”

Twelve years ago Jodie saw something terrifying. She saw something no little girl should and she had to live with the devastating aftermath. Both her parents were dead and she only had her Aunt Gene to rely on. For a while Jodie’s mind had blocked the thing she saw and once the nightmares stopped Aunt Gene thought she was safe forever. But now the thing is back, its a sound only Jodie can hear, a sound more chilling than human screams and what happened that night so many years ago, refuses to be silent anymore. 

***

OK so I wasn’t expecting to be as shocked and scared by this book as I was. It chilled me to the bone and made me think there was something behind me, watching me, as I read every page. 

I had been going through a reading slump when I picked Killing Sound up and I honestly wasn’t expected to be gripped by any book. I started reading and made my way through 50 pages in no time at all. The introduction to Jodie’s father followed by a couple of chapters from the ‘before’ were enough to seriously intrigue me and I really just had to keep reading. As the book went on the weirdness because creepiness and then into full blown terror. This book sneaks up on you like the demon within it, as you read it that creepy feeling gets closer, and closer, and closer.. 

I loved the pace of this book and I think it fit with the story perfectly. It was fast paced when it needed to be and slowed down when you need to understand something. I loved that I was kept on my toes whilst reading and I really enjoyed the feeling I got of actually being in London when I was reading. 

The characters didn’t do an awful lot for me to be honest and I really felt like thats what let the book down a bit. I didn’t understand why Jodie seemed to have only Luca (her boyfriend) and his mate as her friends and no one else, and I didn’t understand the whole thing with Laura and Trent and their stance against Jodie. I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a backstory between Laura and Jodie that was completely missed and was more than her jealousy when it came to Luca. It let the book down a fair bit but the main characters didn't do anything to make me hate them so it was just a small downside. I thought the stuff with Jodie’s Father and William Habborlain was the most interesting thing to do with the characters directly and I kinda appreciate the route the author chose to take William on. 

I did love this book, I thought it was the best at producing the level of eeriness that fits in with the story. It also featured interesting developments when it came to science and mythology, with some of the science and facts discussed actually being real. I really enjoyed the link between the paranormal and the unheard and I loved what the author did with something that is really just kinda of an every day thing. I would really recommend this book especially if you like horror stories, but just be warned, its not for the faint hearted. 

Killing Sound was published on September 4th by Chicken House Books. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Please visit my blog tomorrow for a guest post from the author. 

To buy this book please visit: 


Monday, September 29, 2014

Gary’s Garden - Gary Northfield

Ever walk through a garden and feel that the insects and the birds are up to something? Now you can find out what in this special collection of comic strips focusing on all the birds, bugs and creepy crawlies who are all up to no good while Gary’s relaxing in his garden. A grumpy caterpillar, a space travelling ladybird and a ninja hedgehog will provide much entertainment for hours to come, and have you laughing like you wouldn’t believe! 

***

Again, a collection of fantastic comic strips which have come from The Phoenix, I am so looking into a subscription for my nephew in a few years!

Gary’s Garden is awesome. It follows different creatures which will easily be found in any garden whilst they adventure and hope that Gary is bringing them food. It allows us to see into the world of insects and shows us that, yes, they are as crazy as humans can be and sometimes what they do is completely hilarious! Each strip focuses on a different group or character and I must say one of my favourites was one with very, very few words in at all called First Legs. That strip showed a collection of tadpoles as they got their legs and made their way to the pond surface to show off their new found froglet-status and left behind one poor little tadpole whose legs weren’t coming through!! 

I really enjoyed all of the strips within this collection. They give each animal its own personality and they are so funny I was laughing out loud. In addition to First Legs I have to give a major shout out to the Boris and Monroe strips as they were brilliant, from the characters to the art style I loved every sketch of theirs. 

The art was really cool, quite cartoon-y and not at all serious, opting instead for a lighter take on bugs and animals, which fit in nicely with what the narratives offered. I loved the bright colours and the effects used to make it look like the birds were flying and the worms were wriggling. I think this book will be perfect for budding little artists as they will really see what they could achieve with a lot of practice and patience. 

I loved Gary Northfield’s Teenytinysaurs and was hoping for a second book following those characters (I’m not gunna lie, I still am hoping for that Gary!) but this was a very good substitute! I really recommend that any lover of comics checks out the ‘The Phoenix Presents’ books, or subscribes to the comic itself as I can definitely see myself wanting more like this! 

Gary’s Garden was published on August 7th by David Fickling Books, as part of the The Phoenix Presents… series. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Letterbox Love (#94)


Letterbox Love is a weekly feature that is hosted by Lynsey at Narratively Speaking and is a way for us to share the books that come through our letterbox, galleys and e-books (through our electronic letterbox) and any other bookish goodies that we want to tell you about.


For Review:


A collection of short stories by some of the best names in YA this focuses around a theme of winter romances and I believe I am going to love every second. I am very interested in reading some of the stories particularly as I have heard of the authors but never read their work, its a great chance to have a taster of what they are like. Thank you to MacMillan for sending this over! 
Published: 9th October 2014 


Now this is not a children's book but I have heard amazing things about Mal Peet and could not pass up an opportunity to read this incredible sounding book. The Murdstone Trilogy sounds dark and kinda depressing which really is what I love from my adult books. I will hopefully get round to reading this very soon! Thanks David Fickling Books! 
Published: 6th November 2014

Gifted: 



The wonderful Michelle at Much Loved Books got me these two books signed by the authors during an event I was meant to go to in August. Unfortunately I couldn't make the event due to a funeral so Michele kindly got the authors to sign these (and got Sarah J Maas to sign a bookmark) and she sent them to me. Bookish blogger friends really are the best, thank you so much Michelle! 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Corpse Talk - Adam Murphy

Join Adam Murphy as he hosts his very own, unique talk show, Corpse Talk, the only show which takes you direct to the voices of the past. Each week Adam digs up the dirt on some of the most famous, and infamous figures from the past. Did you know the secret of Cleopatras irresistible personality? Or why Genghis Khan became obsessed with world domination? Well you can, as Adam talks to their corpses and scoops all the goss! 

***

What a crazy concept! This book is a collection of comic strips which I believe have run in previous issues of The Phoenix comic, and I must say I fully understand now why that comic seems to do so well with kids because its artists are incredible. 

In Corpse Talk the artist Adam Murphy has his own character who, quite literally, digs up the bodies of well known figures form the past. The first of these in this collection is Amelia Earheart, who you may know doesn’t technically have a body to dig up - but even that is covered in the strip! Each strip gives an insight into the famous people and what they did. Its a fantastic way of teaching kids about important figures from the past because even at 26 I had no idea what some of them actually did to become as well known as they are now, I just knew their names! It also prompted me to want to find out more, find out about what else these figures were known for and why they are famous, and if it does that to me, what will it be like for an inquisitive 8 or 9 year old? 

As with all comics this features imagery which tells as much of the story as the words. I liked the talk show style and really enjoyed that Adam had included shall we say flashbacks, to illustrate what these people did. I loved how the talk show panels showed decaying corpses and the flashback panels showed whichever figure it was as they looked when they were alive, and how most of the strips had brighter panels for the flashbacks, as like a contrast. 

The strips were really interesting and I definitely thing that they will do a lot for teaching kids more about the important figures of our past. I noticed when I started reading that the first few strips were single pages which was a bit annoying as it didn’t allow for a lot of information to be shared with the reader but as the strips go on they get bigger and better in my opinion. I really did enjoy this collection and I think that most younger readers will too, there are also some really cheesy jokes that Im sure a lot of parents will enjoy in there too! 

Corpse Talk is a ‘The Phoenix Presents…’ book which was published by David Fickling Books on 3rd July. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit: 

Monday, September 22, 2014

This Book is Gay - James Dawson

“Lesson one 
Sometimes men fancy men 
Sometimes women fancy women 
Sometimes women fancy men and women 
Sometimes men fancy women and men 
Sometimes people don’t fancy anyone 
Sometimes a man might want to be a woman
Sometimes a woman might want to be a man
Got that? It really is that simple.”

This Book is Gay takes all the myths and prejudice surrounding the notion of gender identity and sexual orientation and tells it how it is. The Queen of Teen James Dawson shows how all human beings are confusing creatures and how not everyone wants, or needs, labels to be who they really are. This book will have you laughing out loud, cringing at the thought of sweaty parent sex, and shaking with rage at the ridiculousness that is apparent in society. However it will do all of this while providing you with a whole bunch of facts about how being LGBT doesn’t mean you should be treated any differently or be ashamed of who you are. 

***

 In this book there is humour, there is honest to goodness facts that will turn your stomach and whats most important, there is zero judgement. I loved the way James was so blunt and so out there and managed to convey the fact of the matter; people are people and it should matter what gender or sexuality they are, we should accept everyone for being themselves. 

The book is split into 13 main chapters which explore being LGBT, labels, stereotypes, hate, coming out, staying in, where to meet other people similar to you, gay sex and a whole bunch of other stuff. There’s even a brilliant chapter aimed at the parents of LGBT youths and a handy guide to recognising the different ‘bits’ of the male and female body. 

I have never been a massive fan of non-fiction books. Even the textbooks of the courses that I adored during my time at uni were force red and I have a great selection of books on my shelves that honestly have never been read despite me being interested in the subject. When I found out James was going to write this book I knew straight away that it was a non-fiction book I needed to read. I enjoyed every page because it was delivered using James’ fantastic voice and a humorous undertone that helped deliver even the most serious topic. 

There were a lot of things discussed which could upset a reader but they were offered in such a way that the reader has time to digest the information. The book also goes into major facts and information about what people get into under the sheets, and sometimes in other places, but this wasn’t done in an erotic way, it was matter of fact and came with prior warning. James points out at the beginning of the sex chapter that schools teach hetro sex education at age 10 so anyone older than this should technically be able to learn about gay and trans sex without an issues too but the options are there to skip any chapter you feel uncomfortable with. 

One of my favourite aspects of the book was the addition of real peoples’ voices and their stories, I liked what that added to the facts and information that James was sharing and I also thought it gave a more rounded view of the whole topic.

I really did love this book. I want every child to read it but I know I will have trouble trying to get my stepson to read it because a) he wasn't impressed with the title and didn’t understand it and b) doesn’t read anything unless its for school - which makes me sad. I really hope that this book is made readily available in school libraries because it would have helped me an awful lot when I was a teenager.

I think its also worth noting that this book is not just for LGBT people, its also not just for young adults. It is as accepting of all readers as it is of all genders and sexualities.  Thank you James for another incredible book! 

This book is Gay was published on September 4th by Hot Key Books. My copy was gifted to me at a blogger event at YALC. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit: