Browsing Tag

hot key books

Book Review UKYA

REVIEW: Lorali by Laura Dockrill


Let me tell you a story… I’ve always loved mermaids. Ever since I was tiny, I’ve devoured stories, TV programmes, and secretly wished that I could grow a tail. Lorali brought all of my fantasies back.

On the day of his sixteenth birthday, Rory finds a girl washed up on the beach. Naked, confused and convinced that she’s a mermaid. Isn’t she just a tiny bit too weird? With Lorali’s arrival comes freak weather conditions, pirates and even more strange visitors. Maybe Lorali isn’t a normal girl after all…

Dockrill writes with such ease and prowess that it’s hard not to instantly connect with her writing. Each character has been perfectly created so that it feels like they’re taking you along on the journey too. This is why Lorali will appeal to readers and non-readers alike – Dockrill has a way with words that can attract anybody.

By far, my favourite character was Lorali. I loved her perplexity towards the modern world and excitement as she learnt more about it. I craved the sections of the book written from her perspective – they were so much fun to read!

Although it took me a while to get into it, once I began to become familiar with the characters and plot direction, I LOVED it.

One of the most surprising things about Lorali is Dockrill’s wittiness and humour. Lorali really is one of the wackiest books I’ve read this year, and I mean that in the best way possible.

I loved Lorali for fulfilling all of my childhood dreams, and I’m definitely going to be seeking out more YA mermaid novels in the future. I’ve seriously been missing out!

Book Review

REVIEW: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

This review is being written five minutes after finishing We Were Liars, so please excuse my thoughts which will probably be all over the place and incoherent. This book is absolutely crazy.

I should probably first of all mention that this book was a 3.5 star read for the majority of the book, but I can’t rate it anything but 5 stars after finishing because OMG. It blew me away!

Here are some reasons you should read We Were Liars:

  1. Family politics mean a really interesting read, and there is a lot of it in the Sinclair family.
  2. It’s VERY different to anything you’d usually read.
  3. The hype? It’s for good reason. This book is awesome!

I don’t want to give anything away, because there’s a lot I could reveal. I feel as if any tiny thing I reveal could be classed as a spoiler of epic proportions so I should probably just say – READ WE WERE LIARS! It isn’t everyone’s type of book and I know not everyone has enjoyed it, but give it a chance and I think you’ll love it.

I think one of the most appealing things about We Were Liars is I don’t think there’s another book even remotely similar to it out there at the moment. You can pick it up knowing you won’t have read anything quite like it before.

If you like your mental state, read We Were Liars. Nobody is supposed to be sane!

Book Review UKYA

REVIEW: Leopold Blue by Rosie Rowell

You may know by now that I’ll read practically anything Hot Key Books publish. So when Leopold Blue was offered to me to review, I jumped at the chance. Once again, I wasn’t let down. They really are a miracle publisher.

We all know how confusing it can be growing up, and Leopold Blue is a story all about discovery. One of the most striking things about the novel is its beautiful writing and voice. The protagonist, Meg, doesn’t have any friends due to the fact that her mother educates farm workers about AIDS. Set in 1990’s South Africa, the racial and political turmoil in the country during this time is informative without seeming too ‘know it all’ and there’s so much to take out of this book, especially historical information.

As a teenager myself, I know the feelings of wanting to fit in and find friends. When Meg meets Xanthe, the new girl who befriends Meg, we see the changes Meg makes to herself to try to fit in. I loved how authentic Meg’s voice was. There wasn’t a moment when I didn’t believe in the words coming out of her mouth.

Because it is set in such an important part in South Africa’s history, I felt, throughout reading, as if I was witnessing such significance. Even if you’re not familiar with the time, if you’re a younger reader like myself, all questions are answered immediately.

An addition I liked was the footnotes, explaining the language and cultural terms. I know I can sometimes find it tricky to understand such differences between cultures in some books, so it was nice to have an explanation and it also offered a very nice insight. I really enjoy learning about different cultures and I felt like it helped me connect to the story even more.

I feel as if there wasn’t a lot going on in terms of a strong plot because Leopold Blue is very character driven. Understand that I do not mean this in a bad way at all. Sometimes a good character driven novel is just what you need. With high fantasy and dystopia novels so big at the moment, a change is so, so good.

I really enjoyed Leopold Blue. It was a refreshing read and one I will definitely be recommending. You all must read it!

Book Review UKYA

REVIEW: Boys Don’t Knit by T.S. Easton

I don’t think you can go wrong with a book that makes you laugh. The thing is, though, Boys Don’t Knit didn’t just make me laugh. It made me ROAR with laughter, so much so that my shoulders shook. I haven’t read such a hilarious book in a long time.

After an unfortunate incident involving a lollipop lady and a bike, Ben Fletcher is on probation. This means that he has to choose a course to attend at the local college as part of his rehabilitation. So, believing the gorgeous teacher from school is taking the class, Ben starts knitting. Hilarity ensues as Ben tries to hide his new hobby from his family, his friends, and also has many other problems at him.

I think the thing I liked most about this book is that, although it may seem like it’s only for boys, anyone, of any age or gender, will enjoy it. The protagonist, Ben, is someone you can’t help but warm to, and he wasn’t your stereotypical teenager. There was a lot more depth to him and Easton has really captured that. As a teenager myself, I’m often frustrated by unrealistic portrayals of teenagers so Boys Don’t Knit was a very refreshing read.

There was so much packed into this novel. There wasn’t a moment throughout when I wasn’t completely hooked and I want to read more books like it now because I feel like there aren’t enough books like this that I’ve read.

Although I’m absolutely hopeless at knitting, I felt myself learning through Ben’s eyes and I still managed to connect to the story even though it was new territory to me. I think this is an incredible skill to achieve on the author’s part and I just know other people will enjoy it too.

The contrast between Ben and his friends really intrigued me. They were very different characters and, whilst they had fallings out, were still loyal to each other. Through each of them, we got a very good picture of teenage life, and I enjoyed that we got to see how everyone differs. I think it’s something that can be forgotten by quite a few people sometimes.

I cannot wait for the sequel to Boys Don’t Knit because I know it won’t disappoint. I’ll definitely be re-reading this if I’m feeling a bit down or want to read something that will have me chuckling because this book put a massive grin on my face.

Book Review

REVIEW: The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson

I really wish The Key to the Golden Firebird had not sat on my TBR pile so long, collecting dust and sobbing to itself because it still hasn’t been read. In other words: I wish I had read this book sooner. Ditto to the rest of Maureen Johnson’s books.

When their father dies, the Gold sisters’ lives change irrevocably. The Key to the Golden Firebird follows the lives of May, Brooks and Palmer after the months following their father’s death. Brooks is on a slippery slope, falling apart inside; Palmer has changed a lot; and all May wants to do is keep the family together and pass her driving test.

I love how the novel followed the lives of all three girls and was written in third person to make this a lot easier. I wasn’t expecting it so it was a nice surprise and I grew to love all three of them. They all had their individual personalities and they all felt separate from each other: one of the things I was most worried about was whether I would be able to distinguish a difference between the three.

May was very much the character we saw the most out of the three. She is the middle sister, but she’s the one holding the fragile pieces of her family together. Their mother works nights and May has to work to bring some income into the family, both her other sisters being busy with softball practice. I loved reading about her relationship with Pete as it grew because it turned out to be so cute and sweet. I love relationships that come from nowhere and then blossom.

I could understand Brooks so well. Okay, so maybe not the whole drinking and going off the rails part, but I know how grief can change you and how you may want to feel different or act out. For me, when dealing with grief, I went into my little shell and didn’t want to come out. For Brooks, it was the complete opposite. Throughout her acting out, I still felt like we got to know the real her and Johnson has written her character so well and so deeply.

I had a really big soft spot for Palmer. She was kind of ignored by everyone and I just wanted to give her a big hug. Of the three sisters, I felt like Palmer matured the most throughout the book and I loved the few chapters towards the end of the book when we really saw her merge from her shell and do something out of character. I want her to be my sister!

There’s not one main plot you can pinpoint throughout the book but instead it mainly deals with the Gold family dealing with the unexpected death. There are lots of different, smaller plots though and there aren’t any bored moments where you can’t be bothered to read anymore because nothing is going on.

I loved the normality of The Key to the Golden Firebird and how I could imagine myself as anyone of the characters and feel very happy. Johnson deals with the subject of death in an emotional but realistic way, whilst creating a world I want to be a part of.

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!