Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. 

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan. 

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long… Continue reading “Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson”

Review: No True Echo by Gareth P Jones

Eddie is pretty certain nowhere could be more small-town, more boring, and more inconsequential than his home town of the Wellcome Valley. Unfortunately, he is about to be proved spectacularly wrong.

Eddie’s problems start when he sees his teacher getting shot (possibly with an elastic band) and then promptly vanish into thin air. Or maybe they start just a little bit before then, with the arrival of Scarlett, a new girl in town who seems rather too confident and mysterious for your average schoolgirl. She attracts trouble (and Eddie) like a magnet, and she’s apparently only interested in two very strange things – protecting the local crackpot scientist, Dr Wolf, and telling Eddie absolutely nothing about what on earth is going on. Because things quickly go from weird to worse for Eddie, and he’s about to find himself in the middle of a dangerous battle for the fate of not just himself, Scarlett and the town – but Time itself. Continue reading “Review: No True Echo by Gareth P Jones”

Review: The Door That Led To Where by Sally Gardner

Sixteen-year-old AJ Flynn holds a key is his hand. It has his name and date of birth on it. But it’s a key to a door that leads to where? Or when?
On the other side of the door is a tumbledown house, a city booming with trade, and a murder mystery that echoes through the centuries.
AJ steps through the door and finds himself at the centre of it all. It is London and it is 1830.
Life is tough in 1830 – sickness murder and crime abound – but is it so different from the London of now that AJ and his friends know?
AJ needs to find the answers to the mystery and decide where he belongs.
Continue reading “Review: The Door That Led To Where by Sally Gardner”

Podcast: Our Books of 2014

Here’s our final podcast of 2014, looking back over the books we’ve read and enjoyed this year. Some of the books are older, some were published in 2014, some we’ve mentioned earlier in the year, but all have been books that we can recommend! Kate has cheated unrepentently but only because there were so many books she couldn’t omit – we’ve both had a great year of reading. Continue reading “Podcast: Our Books of 2014”

#BalletYA: Edward Scissorhands at Sadler’s Wells

Yesterday evening, a select group of YA-lovers gathered to enjoy an evening of fantastic dance and storytelling. Edward Scissorhands is Sadler’s Wells’ Christmas ballet this year. I had seen it once previously, during its first run, but having hugely enjoyed recent New Adventures revivals including Matthew Bourne’s iconic Swan Lake, as well as his magical reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, I was excited to see how this unusual adaptation of a Tim Burton film would have evolved. Continue reading “#BalletYA: Edward Scissorhands at Sadler’s Wells”

Lush Bubble Bars and Bath Bombs: the ultimate bath-reading accessories?

A lot of people love nothing better than a cup of tea, a book and a bath. I must admit that in the past I’ve always been more of a showers girl, but now I’m embracing the joy of reading in the bath under Rob’s expert tuition. Of course, any bath should be a real treat, so here are some recommendations for relaxing and luxurious bath products from Lush to make your bath-reading complete.

Continue reading “Lush Bubble Bars and Bath Bombs: the ultimate bath-reading accessories?”

Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. But I never expected Oz to look like this. A place where Good Witches can’t be trusted and Wicked Witches may just be the good guys. A place where even the yellow brick road is crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy.
My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, and I’ve been given a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart.
Steal the Scarecrow’s brain.
Take the Lion’s courage.
And then – Dorothy must die.
Continue reading “Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige”

Review: Blood’s Pride by Eve Manieri, Book 1 of the Shattered Kingdoms series

Generations have passed since the Norlanders’ great ships bore down on Shadar, and the Dead Ones slashed and burned the city into submission, enslaving the Shadari people.
Now the Norlander governor is dying, and as his three children struggle against the crushing isolation of their lives in the desert, the time has come for the Shadari to fight back – and they have a secret weapon: the Mongrel, an unbeaten mercenary warrior.

But the Mongrel’s terms are unsettling, she will name her price only after the Norlanders have been defeated, leaving the Shadari to decide: is the price too high for freedom? Continue reading “Review: Blood’s Pride by Eve Manieri, Book 1 of the Shattered Kingdoms series”

Review: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

When Queenie Hennessy discovers that Harold Fry is walking the length of England to save her, and all she has to do is wait, she is shocked. Her note had explained she was dying. How can she wait?

A new volunteer at the hospice suggests that Queenie should write again; only this time she must tell Harold everything. In confessing to secrets she has hidden for twenty years, she will find atonement for the past. As the volunteer points out, ‘Even though you’ve done your travelling, you’re starting a new journey too.’

Queenie thought her first letter would be the end of the story. She was wrong. It was the beginning. Continue reading “Review: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce”

Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

An incomplete list:

No more diving into pools of chlorinated water.
No more porch lights with moths fluttering on summer nights.
No more trains running under the surface of cities.
No more cities.
No more flight.
No more Internet.
No more towns glimpsed from the sky through airplane windows.
No more countries, all borders unmanned.

Day One
The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb. News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%.

Week Two
Civilisation has crumbled.

Year Twenty
A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms, and he threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.
Continue reading “Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel”

#LockedInABookshop – Kate’s top five picks to read and listen to if you find yourself in the position of the #WaterstonesOne

I’m sure many people will now be aware of the terrible ordeal* of David Willis, the Texan who just popped into Waterstones Trafalgar Square, at around 8.50pm yesterday, to “use the wifi”. He was upstairs, engrossed in whatever was on his phone (!), for “about 15 minutes”, and when he went back to the ground floor he found the lights were out, the doors locked and the shutters closed for the night. He alerted the world to his appalling predicament** through Instagram and Twitter, and was released at around midnight from his dreadful prison***. This got me thinking – what if I snuck into, sorry, I mean, what if I were locked in a bookshop? What would be my top five books to read and songs to listen to while I waited to be thrown out, sorry, I mean freed… Continue reading “#LockedInABookshop – Kate’s top five picks to read and listen to if you find yourself in the position of the #WaterstonesOne”

Review: This Book Is Gay by James Dawson

Whether you fancy boys or girls or both, whether you feel like a boy or a girl on the inside…you’re just you, right? With laugh-out-loud with and wisdom James Dawson smashes the myths and prejudice surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity and tells it how it really is. Us human beings are a complicated bunch and not one us should be labelled wrongly, just because we don’t fit somebody else’s idea of normal. Continue reading “Review: This Book Is Gay by James Dawson”

Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

As an avid reader of McSweeney’s Quarterly, those beautifully produced collections of stories overseen by Dave Eggers, and a self-confessed ‘early adopter’ of technology (the amount of apps on my iPhone grew to such a rate I had to have a clear out); The Circle by Eggers was one that I was eager to read. What would his take on a Facebook gone mad be like? Continue reading “Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers”

Review: Our Lady of the Streets by Tom Pollock

Usually, I would start my reviews with the blurb from the back of the book. In this case, Our Lady of the Streets is the third part in The Skyscraper Throne trilogy. If you’ve not read parts 1 (The City’s Son – review here) or 2 (The Glass Republic – review here), the blurb will contain small spoilers that I don’t want to give away. However, please do go ahead and read my review of The City’s Son and then read the first two parts of the trilogy – they’re fantastic! If you’ve read those, or you’re not worried about small spoilers, go right ahead and click Read More – here’s my review of Our Lady of the Streets. Continue reading “Review: Our Lady of the Streets by Tom Pollock”