Monthly Archives: April 2021
About the Book
From bestselling YA rom-com queen Becky Albertalli (author of Love, Simon) comes a new novel about daring to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight in love, life and theatre.
[PRINCIPAL CAST LIST]
Best friends, and contrary to popular belief, not co-dependent. Examples:
Carpooling to and from theatre rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient.
Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment.
Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.
But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script.
Enter Stage Left: Matt Olsson
He is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.
Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship…
About the Author
Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at www.beckyalbertalli.com.
What I Thought
This book was just what I needed right now:
Full of people being in confined spaces together – there is even kissing!
Pacy, easy read (written in scenes rather than chapters).
Drama, drama, drama and musicals!
With a backdrop of rehearsals for the school musical this put me in mind of Maggie Harcourt’s Theatrical (which I also loved) crossed with Grease (summer crush comes to town) with a love triangle that threatens to split up two best friends.
The cast is incidentally diverse in terms of sexuality, religion, gender, race and disability and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some of the background characters feature in their own stories.
But this story really belongs to five people with Kate the common denominator between them and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say she’s a pretty unreliable narrator. This is definitely a case of the reader knowing what is going on before the main character – at least for the most part – there are still one or two surprises to be had.
The relationships here are definitely the stars of the show and we have romantic, friendship and sibling relationships all explored – there’s even some parental dynamics in the background. I can’t really tell you who my fave character was but let’s just say he’s almost the living embodiment of a theatrical saying. What type of relationship comes out on top, and will Kate and Anderson end up regretting their communal crush if their relationship is crushed by it?
I’m not actually familiar with the musical they stage but plenty of others that I do know get a mention too, and I now have a new one to discover. I’m looking forward to re-reading Kate I’m Waiting after I’ve seen it to see if there are any parallels – and I think I might need to re-watch the film Get Over It now too.
Huge thanks to Dave at The Write Reads and Penguin Platform for the gifted eARC for the purposes of an honest review.
Kate in Waiting is out this week on 22/4/21 – do go and check out what other people on the tour thought. If you enjoyed Simon versus the Homosapians Agenda I’d definitely recommend picking the is one up too.
About the Book
HAVE YOU EVER TOLD A WHITE LIE?
“[A] spellbinding psychological thriller… a suspenseful tale of paranoia that will keep readers riveted until the last surprise is sprung.”
–Publishers Weekly, starred review
Richard doesn’t have a past. For him, there is only the present: a new marriage to Tamara, a first chance at fatherhood to her son Elijah, and a quiet but pleasant life as an art teacher at Elijah’s elementary school in Danvers, Virginia. Then the body of a rabbit, ritualistically murdered, appears on the school grounds with a birthday card for Richard tucked beneath it. Richard doesn’t have a birthday… but Sean does.
Sean is a five-year-old boy who has just moved to Greenfield, Virginia, with his mother. Like most mothers of the 1980s, she’s worried about bills, childcare, putting food on the table . . . and an encroaching threat to American life that can take the face of anyone: a politician, a friendly neighbour, or even a teacher. When Sean’s school sends a letter to the parents revealing that Sean’s favourite teacher is under investigation, a white lie from Sean lights a fire that engulfs the entire nation.
Now, thirty years later, someone is here to remind Richard that they remember what Sean did. And though Sean doesn’t exist anymore, someone needs to pay the price for his lies.
Inspired by the McMartin preschool trials and the Satanic Panic of the ‘80s, this is a thrilling must-read for fans of True Crime and Horror.
About the Author
Clay McLeod Chapman is the creator of the storytelling session “The Pumpkin Pie Show” and the author of rest area, nothing untoward, and The Tribe trilogy. He is the co-author, with Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick, of the middle grade novel Wendell and Wild. In the world of comics, Chapman’s work includes Lazaretto, Iron Fist: Phantom Limb, and Edge of Spiderverse. He also writes for the screen, including The Boy (SXSW 2015), Henley (Sundance 2012), and Late Bloomer (Sundance 2005). You can find him at claymcleodchapman.com.
What I Thought
Growing up in the 80s myself I have very vague recollections of Satanic Panic: that there were fears of occultists, ritualised markings at crime scenes, and that people were convinced that the devil was real and doing work through his followers. I wonder if watching Eddie Murphy’s film The Golden Child had anything to do with those memories?
Whisper Down the Lane is a psychological thriller/horror that is very filmic in its writing. You can visualise this playing out and at times that makes it all the more creepy.
It is told from two perspectives. Richard in 2013 and 5 year old Sean in 1983. The voice in Sean’s chapters is at times a little old so I wonder if this is being told with a dash of hindsight too. We also have interview transcripts, newspaper clippings and letters to add further intrigue.
Whisper down the Lane is the childhood game where a phrase gets whispered down a group, passed from ear to ear, rarely coming out as it started. With echoes of the crucible witchcraft accusations and a very creepy therapist helping along Sean’s false memories the accused teacher in the 80s realises that rumours stick even when they are disproved.
With all the talk of fake news recently this also feels a little on the nose. That certain groups believe out and out lies. But here we have children spreading them, but it is made clear it is the adults who whip them up into a frenzy.
I think child abuse is a tricky topic to include in a book, and sexual abuse is alluded to amongst the satanic whisperings. In the more modern day narrative it felt a little more unsavoury to suggest that victims aren’t always being truthful, especially with the recent “me too” movements. But I can see how it is used to add fear and uncertainty in the reader.
What happened to Sean and his teacher in the 80s is then echoed in Richard’s story. The circular concept of what goes around comes around. In fact each chapter is headed either damned if you do or damned if you don’t.
Richard is presented as a very likeable jovial character at the start, someone who is settling into life with good things happening. He has married and hope to adopt his stepson. That makes what comes next put you on edge wonder what is happening, and reconsider if we should have liked him in the first place.
The denouement is satisfying and there were subtle clues given to it that a future reading may highlight more. There were enough twists and turns to keep me guessing, and even added right at the end, leaving a sense of incompleteness to the story. It left me unsettled although I don’t think we will get more.
Just in case reading the synopsis or my review didn’t make it clear this book has trigger warnings for: Satanism, Animal Cruelty and Child Abuse.
Launch Event with Elijah Wood – you can watch the reply for $5.
Thanks to Stephen and Jamie-Lee at Black Crow PR for the gifted ARC for the purposes of an honest review.
Do check out the rest of the blog tour to see what everyone else thought.
About the Book
The Fall of Koli is the third and final novel in the breathtakingly original Rampart trilogy – set in a strange and deadly world of our own making.
The world that is lost will come back to haunt us . . .
Koli has come a long way since being exiled from his small village of Mythen Rood. In his search for the fabled tech of the old times, he knew he’d be battling strange, terrible beasts and trees that move as fast as whips. But he has already encountered so much more than he bargained for.
Now that Koli and his companions have found the source of the signal they’ve been following – the mysterious “Sword of Albion” – there is hope that their perilous journey will finally be worth something.
Until they unearth terrifying truths about an ancient war . . . and realise that it may have never ended.
About the Author
MR Carey has been making up stories for most of his life. His novel The Girl With All the Gifts was a word-of-mouth bestseller and is now a major motion picture based on his own screenplay. Under the name Mike Carey he has written for both DC and Marvel, including critically acclaimed runs of X-Men and Fantastic Four, Marvel’s flagship superhero titles. His creator-owned books regularly appear I’m the New York Times graphic fiction bestseller list. He also has several previous novels, two radio plays and a number of TV and movie screenplays to his credit.
What I Thought
I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the blog tour for this whole series so just in case you are nee to the series I’ll share the links to my thoughts on books 1 & 2 here.
Book 1 – The Book of Koli
Book 2 – The Trials of Koli
Book 3 – The Fall of Koli
Once again the story picks up exactly where it left off in book two, albeit with a little preamble from Koli first.
“Why does the world think boys can’t be gentle and loving as well as strong and fierce?”
Let’s set the record straight, Koli is a cinnamon roll and he has the biggest heart, and I love him for it. Does that mean he sometimes acts foolishly – yes. But that adds to his endearment, and if he acted sensibly we wouldn’t have had half as good a story to follow.
We begin focusing on Koli, Monono (still my favourite character), Ursala and Cup arriving at the Sword of Albion. And it is not what any of us anticipated. On it we are introduced to three new and very chilling characters. I’m not going to say much about them because I want to keep this spoiler free but if your skin doesn’t goosebump from the first meeting with them then you are made of stronger stuff than me. It reminded me slightly of Allegiant when Tris and co escape Chicago and the creepy community in Lost.
We do then head back to Spinner and her ongoing challenges: of Ramparts, and wars and new life. I have to admit I had a slight itch to get back to Koli and his gang when reading her chapters. Nothing against the tale she is spinning but just that Koli’s exploits were keeping me on tenterhooks.
We do get other point of view characters too later in the book but once again I’m keeping schtum about them because surprises are fun.
In his acknowledgments Carey reports completing the writing of this during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, and as with any good sci-fi it becomes a social commentary on the present. It touches on topics such as race, being transgender, brexit, naziism, corrupt politicians, climate change and more.
You need to have read the first two books to understand this one, if you didn’t like the voice in the previous books then you won’t like this. I would say this is the most pacy of the the three books but Koli’s storytelling in particular is still meandering and as such feels slower than many of us are used to. It’s replicative of oral storytelling, but to me this works much more successfully that the similar style used in Black Leopard, Red Wolf. Like I said in my review of the first book think the kid narrator in Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome. I appreciated it’s uniqueness and the opportunity to soak up a story that feels like being told of the past (even though it’s about things in an imagined future).
It’s lovely to have had the books published so near to each other but now the tale is complete you can get all three and take yourself on a journey to a land with faceless men, and murderous trees, where technology reigns but humanity is everything.
Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for arranging the gifted e-copy for the purposes of this honest review. Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour.