Thursday, 28 March 2013

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Author: John Green and David Levithan
Published by: Puffin
Publication date: 10th May 2012
Pages: 352
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, teenager Will Grayson crosses paths with..."Will Grayson"!

Two teens with the same name who run in two very different circles suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions.

Culminating in epic turns-of-heart on both of their parts, they team up to produce the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high-school stage.

I was so happy when I received this, you can't even imagine. Ever since reading Paper Towns by John Green a couple of years ago, I've been desperate to get my hands on some more of his books. All of the reviews I've seen for this book have been insanely positive, and I doubt this one will be any different.

This book is unlike any other. John Green writes in a really different way to other writers - I've noticed this when reading his other books before. His words keep you captivated until way after the last page, and he always seems to write about things which other writers avoid - life threatening illnesses and homosexuality being just a couple of the topics, yet he still manages to keep his books fun and interesting to read. I haven't read anything by David Levithan before, but I've just discovered I actually have one of his books on my bookshelf which I haven't read yet!

'Will Grayson, Will Grayson' is a story told from the point of view of two boys (one written by Green, the other written by Levithan) with alternating chapters. The boys both happen to have the same name, and eventually they cross paths in an unexpected way. I usually dislike books with the format of alternating chapters, but this book has encouraged me to read more books in the same style.

An interesting thing about this book is that one of the Will Graysons told his story all in lower case, and he occasionally missed out some punctuation. This made it easy to tell which Will Grayson we were reading about, and it also showed us his not-bothered attitude.

My favourite character in this book was Tiny Cooper. In some parts of the story it got quite depressing and moody, so Tiny added some refreshing humour and character to the plot. I like how he seemed to be completely comfortable with his homosexuality and he decided not to care what anyone else thought of him. Sometimes he seemed pretty vulnerable, and his character was a heartwarming addition to the story.

Overall this is a very enjoyable book with an original plot that most writers tend to avoid these days. A really refreshing read. I highly recommend it!
Monday, 18 March 2013

The Boy From France by Hilary Freeman

Title: The Boy From France
Author: Hilary Freeman
Published by: Piccadilly Press
Publication date: 19th December 2012
Pages: 192
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

When Vix's classmates find out that their visiting French exchange students will include boys, everyone is very excited.
Everyone, that is, except Vix, who has a sick mother to cope with, and no time for boys.

But her student does turn out to be a boy, and, what's more, he's both gorgeous and charming.

All her friends and schoolmates are jealous, especially when he appears to have eyes for no-one but Vix.

But is he for real? How long can it last?

And will Vix's secrets and lies destroy the relationship?

I love Hilary Freeman's books so I was really happy when I was offered this for review from Piccadilly Press. I know you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but I did - the cover is gorgeous, and somehow I knew the story would be right up my street!

I haven't read any of the other books in the Camden Town Tales series, but I will be now! Luckily 'The Boy From France' can be read on its own which is great.

The characters are believable and I can relate to them all in one way or another. Vix, the main female character, was the same age as me so that made it more interesting. I really liked Xavier! It was lovely how he cooked dinner for Vix and didn't judge her, which is definitely a lot different from English boys. Vix's mum had a serious illness called MS which was quite prominent throughout the book. Having that in the story was good as it raises awareness.

Being set in Camden made it even more fun to read. This book was so interesting, fun and colourful! I loved reading about Camden and the things Vix and her friends got up to. 'The Boy From France' reminded me a lot of 'Tapas and Tears' by Chris Higgins which is a book where students go on a Spanish exchange trip. That's a good thing for me though, because I enjoyed that book too!

I definitely recommend this to my readers. I think it's suitable for girls aged 13+. Funny, realistic and full of adventure - 5/5!
**This is a scheduled post, see last post for explanation**
Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Bunker Diary Blog Tour: Guest Post from author Kevin Brooks

Click to enlarge.
Today I am delighted to bring you a guest post from Kevin Brooks, author of The Bunker Diary. His post is written in the style of the book. Enjoy!

The lights come on.
            The empty lift comes down.
            The day passes.
            The empty lift goes up.
            The lights go off.
            I'm trying to write something about THE BUNKER DIARY, but the more I think about it, the more confusing it gets. What am I doing? Thinking. Thinking? What's that? Thinking? How does that work?
            I think about that and my head starts spinning.
            It gets worse.
            I imagine myself as being nothing more than fifty-three years of bone, skin, muscle, brain, blood, meat, and jelly. I imagine symbols inside my head. Electric things. Circuits. Tubes. Spatial patterns frozen in time. Tiny things. Bits of stuff. Short jagged strings. Carbon. Components.
            I think about it.
            I think about what that stuff can do.
            It can move me. It can walk. It can breathe. It grows. It can see. It can hear, feel, smell, taste. It can like and hate. It can want. It needs. It can fear. It can speak. It can laugh. It can sleep. It can play. It can wonder. It can lie. It can remember. It can live with doubts and uncertainties. It can sing, la la. It can dance. It can dream. It bleeds. It coughs. It blinks. It shivers and sweats. It sleeps.
            It's complicated.
            It can: 
            Analyse, co-ordinate, destroy, secrete, control, generate, degenerate, synthesise, emote, regulate, calculate, imagine. It can run, jump, judge. It can catch a ball. And dance. And fight. And cry. It can know at night that the morning will come. It can spit, recognize, ride a bike. It can kill, whistle, ask. And forget. It can hope. And hurt. It can come to know that there's nothing to know.
            And it can, and it does, tell stories.  

Goodreads • Amazon • Waterstones
Monday, 4 March 2013

Interview with author Sue Ransom

A few days ago I had the pleasure of interviewing author Sue Ransom! Here she talks about her journey to publication, her new book and some valuable tips for aspiring writers.

For anyone who hasn't read your books (they’re missing out!), can you tell us about them?
Small Blue Thing is the story of Alex, a 17 year old who finds a beautiful bracelet in the mud by the Thames. She discovers that it allows her to communicate with the gorgeous but ghostly Callum, who she can only see when she’s looking in a mirror. She falls in love, but then realises he is lying to her, and she doesn't know why. Soon Alex has to make a choice, but if she chooses wrong, someone will die.

The book is the first of a trilogy, with Perfectly Reflected and Scattering Like Light also now available.

Do you think any authors have influenced your writing? Maybe when you were younger, or even now.
I've read thousands of books, and every one of them will have had some sort of influence on me, I’m sure. One of my all-time favourites is the Time Traveler’s Wife – I’d love to write something like that. The book that influenced Small Blue Thing, in a round-about way, was Twilight. I read that, as my daughter was reading it, and found it really American. I wanted my daughter to have something which reflected her world, in London, so I wrote her the book.

What were the hardest parts of bringing your books to life?
Trying to keep the details straight of the world I had invented for Callum. He’s a Dirge, and he and loads of others live in St Paul’s Cathedral. They survive by taking happy memories from people. It’s great fun inventing a whole new type of people, but if you don’t give them some rules to live by, you get in a muddle really quickly!

Do you get to decide what the cover of your books look like, or does your publisher/illustrator do that?
The publisher did that, and they decided to make the bracelet which Alex finds, and photograph it for the cover. I've got it now to take to the school visits which I do. They involved me all the way through, which was brilliant. I've never designed any jewellery before!

What was your journey to publication like?
Unusual! I wrote the first book just for Ellie, my daughter, as a birthday present (and I wrote all of it on my BlackBerry, but that’s another story…), then was persuaded to look at getting it published. I asked a friend of a friend for some advice, as she was in publishing, and she liked it so much she set up a new company to publish the book and asked me to write the rest of the trilogy. Having written no fiction whatsoever since school which was (cough) years ago, within two years of starting the book it was in the shops!

When your books are in the shops, do you see them and think 'Oh I wish I'd changed that bit...' etc?
Always, and the more feedback you get from readers the more you think ‘Oooh, maybe they are right, I should have …’, but you have to let it go. Just learn from it for the next one.

If you could live with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
Alex is written to be the sort of girl my daughter might be when she is 17 (I wrote it for her 12th birthday), and Ellie is great fun to live with, so it would have to be Alex. Callum would be far to distracting.

When writing a new book, how do you decide what to call it?
They usually have a working title, and sometimes that sticks, and sometimes it doesn't  The two sequels had titles long before they were even written because we needed to promote the whole trilogy. Small Blue Thing was the title I had all along, and it comes from a beautiful song of the same name, by Suzanne Vega.

Have you got any advice for aspiring authors?
Read, read and read some more. Write lots too, and ask other people to give you feedback. Try and write for a specific group, not the entire planet, because that makes it easier to find the voice you want to use.

Are you currently writing a new book and if so, can you tell us about it? 
I've just submitted my next book to the publishers, and it’ll be on the shelf in about a year. I can’t say too much now, but it’s another story set in London, but with different characters this time. I’ll be starting my next one tomorrow!

Tea or coffee?
 No contest - coffee.

Facebook or Twitter? 

Reading or writing?
Ooh, tough one. Reading, I think.

Summer or winter?

Pen or pencil?
Pencil, but also my phone.

Thank you!
Thanks Amber!