Monthly Archives: July 2018

Floored by The UKYA Super Seven – Book Review

Ever since I got a sampler of this at last year’s YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) I’ve been desperate to read the whole thing and see if I could work out which author wrote which character. See below for my feeble guessing attempts. YALC 2018 is a mere week away with the Floored 7 speaking/signing on Saturday so I’m looking forward to getting my copy signed by these wonderful women (and also taking part in the Floored quiz on Friday night – I wonder if we can get last year’s #QuizYA winning #TeamBarnard back together).

Synopsis

When they got in the lift, they were strangers.

Sasha, who is desperately trying to deliver a parcel; Hugo, who knows he’s the best-looking guy in the lift and is eyeing up Velvet, who knows what that look means; Dawson, who used to be on TV, used to be handsome, and is sincerely hoping no one recognizes him; Kaitlyn, who’s losing her sight but won’t admit it; and Joe, who shouldn’t be here at all, but wants to be here the most.

And one more person, who will bring them together again on the same day every year.

Every day told seven ways in this unique collaborative novel.

Authors

I have read and loved books by each of these authors. Instead of giving you a bio I’ll link you to their Twitter where they hang around being funny and awesome and tell you which one of their other books is my favourite… so far.

Sara Barnard – @saramegan

A Quiet Kind of Thunder

Holly Bourne – @holly_bourneYA

Am I Normal Yet?

Tanya Byrne – @tanyabyrne

Heart-Shaped Bruise

Non Pratt – @NonPratt

Trouble

Melinda Salisbury – @MESalisbury

The Sin Eater’s Daughter

Lisa Williamson – @lisa_letters

The Art of Being Normal

Eleanor Wood – @eleanor_wood

Gemini Rising

A nod also to the illustrations by Laura Callaghan. I especially loved Kait’s illustration progression.

What I Thought

Back in 1994 Sandra Bullock’s character Annie in Speed told us that “relationships that start under intense circumstances, never last.” That film starts in a lift and so does the action in Floored, and it seems from the book’s dedication that so did the inspiration for this story. Clearly Annie is a master of reverse psychology because it seems intense circumstances can bring people together and indeed here it creates a story that I’ll happily keep with me.

This is a contemporary young adult read with common themes such as teen pregnancy, feminism, growing up, deciding where you fit. There’s also diversity in terms of sexuality and disability as well as young characters facing morbidity and mortality.

Each of the six teen characters gets their own chapters and there is an overarching narrator. I don’t think that was meant to be the seventh person in the lift but I could be wrong.

I liked the comedy in it especially the morbid humour in naming their messaging group. The use of text statuses between the group when they weren’t physically together also worked well to advance the story.

I thought it explored friendships really well in terms of how within groups of friends people pair off or create subgroups based on commonality or connection. The time jump forward to the next year reminded me a little of the film Beaches in terms of tone. The shock incident, and meeting, happens early on and the story is then about how they stay in touch or drift apart. It didn’t feel slow paced though and this structure allowed a range of experiences to be explored over time.

Not all of the characters are likeable but all of them are interesting and hold your attention during their narration. I didn’t find myself wanting to skip ahead to x’s bit but was fully immersed.

I enjoyed the nods to some of the author’s other books. Melinda’s character Luvian Fen from State of Sorrow is mentioned in Dawson’s chapter, as is Rhys Gold from Sara’s A Quiet Kind of Thunder. What other Easter Eggs did people find?

And reverse long bottoming as a concept is genius. Harsh, but also sadly true in some cases.

In short I really loved this and if you love contemporary I have no doubt you will too. I’d love the authors to considered coming back to these characters 10 & 20 years in the future too. More please.

Who wrote who??

Original guesses after the sampler to which Mel replied Interesting?!

Dawson – Non

Kaitlyn – Sara

Sasha – Holly

Hugo – Tanya

Velvet – Eleanor

Joe – Lisa

Narrator – Melinda

Guesses when re- reading first chapters

Dawson – Non

Kaitlyn – Sara

Sasha – Holly

Hugo – Melinda

Velvet – Eleanor

Joe – Lisa

Narrator – Tanya

Guesses after finishing

Dawson – Non

Kaitlyn – Sara

Sasha – Tanya

Hugo – Melinda

Velvet – Holly

Joe – Lisa

Narrator – Eleanor

In other words I have no clue. I can’t even really fully justify why these were my guesses. Feel? I suspect I am totally wrong.

Anyway all of these ladies can write magnificently separately and together they have blended so well and created a group of characters you will be happy to meet up with time and time again. In fact I’d love to hear more from them.

If you’ve read the book who do you think wrote who? What reasoning do you have?

Advertisements

Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson – Book Review

Synopsis

We were all surprised when the vuvv landed the first time. We were just glad they weren’t invading. We couldn’t believe our luck when they offered us their tech and invited us to be part of their interspecies Co-Prosperity Alliance.

Several years on, jobs are scarce due to the rise of alien tech and there’s no money for food, clean water or the vuvv’s miraculous medicine. Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, must get creative to survive. Since the vuvv crave “Classic” Earth culture, recording 1950s-style dates for them to view seems like a brilliant idea.

But it’s hard for Adam and Chloe to murder sweet nothings when they hate each other more with every episode. Soon enough, Adam must decide how far he’s willing to go – and what he’s willing to sacrifice.

Author

M. T. Anderson is the author of Feed, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Book Award-winning The Astonishing Life of Octavia Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party and it’s sequel, The Kingdom on the Waves, both of which were New York Times bestsellers and Michael L. Printz Honor Books. He is also the author of Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dimitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Lenningrad. He lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

What I Thought

This is a short book of around 160 pages with short sharp chapters. It is a social satire and comments on inequality in healthcare (especially relevant to the American healthcare system), advances in technology and how that affects the job market, the meaning of art, and even the concept of programmes like the current smash hit Love Island.

Although told from Adam’s perspective I didn’t really connect to him all that much. He’s clearly in a bad situation, living in crowded accommodation, having to pretend to love his girlfriend for the entertainment of others. At his heart he’s an artist and in the story he enters a competition where he ignores advice to sugar coat his art. He uses it as a protest.

He did describe his mother in a way that made me feel for her. Desperate to be employed but with jobs so scarce there is too much competition.

For the vuvv Love is a commodity. It is something outside their experiences so they crave examples of it. But only the positive side of it. Filtered love. I would have liked to perhaps get to know the vuvv a little better but they are kept at quite a distance within the story.

This is a clever book but unfortunately it was too bleak for me and I therefore didn’t find it a particularly enjoyable read.

Thanks to Walker Books for the free copy of the book for the purposes of this honest review.

The Hidden Bones by Nicola Ford – Book Review

Recently I hosted a guest post from author Nicola Ford about the archeological inspiration for her debut novel “Digging Up Bone, Digging Up Secrets. I’ve now finished the book and you can read my review below.

Synopsis

Following the recent death of her husband, Clare Hills is listless and unsure of her place in the world. When her former university friend Dr David Barbrook asks her to help him sift through the effects of deceased archaeologist Gerald Hart, she sees this as a useful distraction from her grief. During her search, Clare stumbles across the unpublished journals detailing Gerald’s most glittering dig. Hidden from view for decades and supposedly destroyed in an arson attack, she cannot believe her luck. Finding the Hungerbourne Barrows archive is every archaeologist’s dream. Determined to document Gerald’s career-defining find for the public, Clare and David delve into his meticulously kept records of the excavation.

But the dream suddenly becomes a nightmare as the pair unearth a disturbing discovery, putting them at the centre of a murder inquiry and in the path of a dangerous killer determined to bury the truth for ever.

Author

Nicola Ford is the pen-name for archeologist Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust Archaeologist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. You may have seen her on TV on Countryfile or Britain’s Secret Treasures.

Through her day-job and now her writing, she’s spent more time than most people thinking about the dead.

Website: nicolaford.com

Twitter: @nic_ford

What I Thought

For some reason crime books are one of the genres I am drawn to the least which is odd because I usually really enjoy them when I get stuck in and have watched no end of crime shows on TV in the past. This book was no different and it definitely hit the ‘need to find out who done it’ spot.

Although reminiscent of Bones this book deals with archeology rather than forensic anthropology in order to solve crimes although the osteo-archaeologist/ bone expert that appears is delightfully American. The police do take a bit of a back seat in this story because of how and where it begins, but I wonder if they might become more involved in future sequels.

This is a very British book, and it was refreshing to read about places I have heard of and even visited. There is a very country rural feel to the story with the English village busybodies out to help or hinder the investigation.

Like “Robert Galbraith’s” Cormoron Strike series and Bones the human interaction between the investigative team is as interesting as the case to be solved. There’s also some dramatic tension as Clare gets closer to solving the case. The killer is still out there and determined to keep their identity hidden.

I’d definitely recommend this to fans of the genre and odd bods who don’t always read it like me. I’m looking forward to reading more books in the series and getting to better know Clare, David, Jo and the gang on future cases.

I received an advanced review copy for the publisher for the purposes of taking part in the blog tour and for an honest review.

%d bloggers like this: