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Book Review UKYA Uncategorized

REVIEW: Cross My Heart by Carmen Reid

I’ve been reading a lot of historical fiction lately, especially books set in the two World Wars and Cross My Heart was one of these books.

Set in Brussels in the Second World War, Cross My Heart follows the story of Nicole, a member of a resistance group set to cause havoc in Nazi-invaded Brussels. When Nicole’s father is taken away, Nicole decides to do something about it and joins the dangerous resistance group that is helping to fight the Nazis. In this business, it’s not about if you caught, it’s when you do.

I’ve been a huge fan of Reid’s books for years. The St. Jude’s books were my absolute favourites and I still love them to pieces. When I heard that Reid had written another YA novel, and that it was historical fiction, one of my favourite genres, I was ecstatic.

Cross My Heart didn’t disappoint and I thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the things I look for in a good historical YA is how real it feels and some of the scenes in Cross My Heart left me horrified at the way people were treated. Particularly towards the end of the book, I felt like crying. These sorts of books are always emotional but this one felt particularly so.

If you loved Code Name Verity, this is the book for you. It interested me that this was set in Brussels because you normally see these books set in the UK. I think this was a nice spin and a really big selling point.

Nicole was a tough character that I found enjoyable to read about. She never gave up and stayed focused throughout. I found myself constantly wishing that nothing bad would happen to her and this was the same with a lot of the other characters too. I really did become invested.

Cross My Heart was such an emotional and riveting read and I’d love to see more books like this one out there, especially as it’s the anniversary of the First World War next year.

Book Review

REVIEW: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terril

All Our Yesterdays is a thrilling take on the time travel novels that are becoming increasingly popular, especially with programmes like Doctor Who being watched by millions across the world. Hey, I was even on the bandwagon once. I’m not a huge fan of these types of novels, though, so I was very wary to begin with. I’ve never really felt love towards them and I’d rather avoid them than sit through one, gritting my teeth the whole time. Yet, there was something about All Our Yesterdays that captivated me and made me want to read on. Maybe I can find something to like about this genre after all…

The thing that sets All Our Yesterdays apart from other novels is that it’s very much scientific based. This is no magical telling of people who disappear to another time. I must admit that I’m an all-round nerd (maths being the exception) and so I loved reading the scientific references and gave a smug smile every time I understood something. These references help explain the idea behind the time travel and I preferred this to the “magic” that happens in a lot of them.

I really liked how the two different timelines came together and connected. It made the novel so much easier to understand and follow. This could have been so confusing but Terril added enough information, without info dumping, I must add, so that the reader was able to understand how the novel worked and how the characters thought.

I preferred Em’s timeline to Marina’s; the characters were more mature and had a purpose whereas Marina’s timeline was simply there to fulfil the plot. This isn’t something that annoyed me though, because it was simply a fact.

Em and Finn were so driven and intent. It was hard not to like them because their characterisation was written perfectly. I loved how we found out more and more about their lives as the novel went on, through both their eyes and Marina’s. Their lives were believable and so full of emotion. It was interesting to see how much the characters had grown up from one timeline to the other and how each event changed the other person.

Marina was a bit of a spoiled brat but as the novel progresses we see her come into her own and develop. At the end of the novel, I found that I had come to really admire her. If there was more characterisation on her part to start with, I would have liked her a lot more. Finn in this timeline hadn’t really changed but this was something that I really liked because it showed us who he was as a person and offered a comforting familiarity.

I think the secondary characters in Em’s timeline needed a bit more attention paid to them. The Doctor especially, because I didn’t really clue on as to who he was until far later in the book and I still didn’t understand who some of the people were then.

I felt that the ending was a bit rushed and messy. I wanted something a bit more because there’s fast paced and then there is so fast that you don’t really understand what’s going on. It was okay, but just so confusing.

I really enjoyed All Our Yesterdays and am looking forward to seeing what’s to come of Terril.

Book Review Uncategorized

REVIEW: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride was a beautifully written and thought provoking novel that oozed wonderful prose and exciting plot. As a debut novel, I’m really looking forward to seeing what Choo has in store for future novels because this was absolutely excellent.

Set in Malaya, The Ghost Bride follows our main character, Li Lan, as she gets wrapped up in the spirit world. When Li Lan’s father tells her of a proposition made to her as a ghost bride to a wealthy family, Li Lan’s life spirals into something that’s deeper than she can control. Accepting could mean the end of the family debts collected since her mother died, but it could also mean something sinister and that will change Li Lan’s life forever.

The culture and mythology behind The Ghost Bride was an element that I really loved. I’ve always enjoyed reading about the ways other people live and so this was something that I instantly clicked with. It’s written in such a way that it is easy to understand, especially if you aren’t familiar with any of the terms or customs. I’d happily read more books about the traditions, and I know from talking to other people that they’ll love the ethnicity and cultural values that are spoken about and explored.

This is a book that I refused to read before bed. Not that it frightened me, but it did send a chill down my spine because everything felt realistic. Choo has drawn from modern fears and worked them so that they fit in to the world that is created in The Ghost Bride. For example, Li Lan and her family have debt issues and the constant worry about money which is something that many people can relate to today. Mixed with the supernatural features, readers will find it hard not to find something that they love.

The array of characters that are introduced in the novel all hard their parts to play and I liked the fact that the secondary characters had so much background and were easy to understand. This was a huge factor that sealed my love of this book because I loved the attention to detail.

Although I little erratic and having a tendency to act on a whim, Li Lan was a likable and rounded character who I felt it was easy to connect with.  I felt so sorry for her on occasion because she was thrust into so many difficult situations that she didn’t deserve at all. Poor Li Lan!

The Ghost Bride was a compelling and thought-provoking read that kept me on the edge of my seat. Choo has created an imaginative and plausible world that makes me feel very pleased to be reading this book, and not experiencing it for myself!

Book Review

REVIEW: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was the perfect concoction of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Before I Die, with a male protagonist, of course.Although I haven’t read The Silver Linings Playbook, I expected great things from the same author, and I was not let down at all.

It’s Leonard Peacock’s eighteenth birthday and the day he is going to say goodbye, for he has decided that today will be his last day on Earth. After killing his former best friend, he will take his own life. His mother, who he calls Linda to annoy her, who spends most of her time in New York with her French boyfriend, won’t care. His father, who has moved to somewhere in Venezuela and practically dropped off the face of the planet, won’t care.

Leonard has four packages: one for his Bogart- obsessed neighbour; another for his Holocaust teacher; one for a violin virtuoso; and one for a pastor’s daughter.

Leonard, for all of his odd characteristics, was a very likable character and one that I just wanted to send big hugs to. He’d never received any love from his parental figures and so was searching for something that he had never had. I loved his relationship with Walt. It was so natural and I relished the scenes when they were interacting. Walt really cared about him, and it was really sweet to see.

Written with footnotes at the bottom was a really good idea and fitted in really well with the narration and themes of the book. It’s something that really makes the book stand out and a really strong reason to pick up this book. If you like something a bit different, then Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is the book for you.

I loved the future scenes. I’d happily read a whole book that featured this world, because it was so carefully thought out and crafted. It really added a nice touch to the book, and this is the sort of thing that bumps up my rating.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is the kind of book that I devour. I love hard hitting and raw novels and this really was one of them. It’s impossible to say that this book was a light read, but if it was it wouldn’t be the same. I loved this novel because of its nature and I think this is something that other people will love, too.

I didn’t think I’d like Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock as much as I did and I’ll definitely be reading something else by Quick now.