Review: Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley

Review: Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley

The Story

Sixteen year old Solomon has agoraphobia. He hasn’t left his house in three years, which is fine by him. At home, he is the master of his own kingdom–even if his kingdom doesn’t extend outside of the house.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to go to a top tier psychiatry program. She’ll do anything to get in.

When Lisa finds out about Solomon’s solitary existence, she comes up with a plan sure to net her a scholarship: befriend Solomon. Treat his condition. And write a paper on her findings. To earn Solomon’s trust, Lisa begins letting him into her life, introducing him to her boyfriend Clark, and telling him her secrets. Soon, Solomon begins to open up and expand his universe. But all three teens have grown uncomfortably close, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse as well.

My Review

I first heard about Highly Illogical Behaviour at the Faber blogger event earlier this year and knew it was a book I wanted to read. I’ve since seen it all over BookTube and so when I finally came to read it last week it’s fair to say I had it very hyped up in my mind.

And it delivered – Highly Illogical Behaviour tells the story of Soloman who suffers from agoraphobia and as a result has not been out of his parents home for the past 3 years following an incident involving a fountain. Lisa is determined to get into a prestigious Psychology programme and to do so has to write an essay about her experiences with mental illness. Lisa has remembered Soloman and so sets about on her mission to try and help him thinking that she will get material for her essay and help Soloman at the same time.

Now I’m not going to turn around and say Lisa’s plan is a good one or even ethically sound for that matter but it makes a nice path into the story and gives the two characters a reason to meet.

The story is told from both Soloman and Lisa’s point of view so we get to experience why Soloman is so determined not to leave the house and how he feels about Lisa coming into his life plus we get Lisa’s feelings on her second impressions of Soloman.

Despite the starting point the friendship which develops feels genuine. Now I can’t talk about Lisa with throwing a mention Clarks way. He’s Lisa’s boyfriend and via Lisa finds himself involved. Now whilst Lisa has her motivations for wanting to help Soloman, apart from Lisa Clark has no reason other than liking Soloman for helping him. So despite liking the friendship which springs up between Lisa and Soloman I prefer the one between Soloman and Clark. It’s a friendship built on common interests and it shines and sparkles on the page. Clark truly has Soloman’s best interests at heart.

And now lets turn our attention to agoraphobia, it is after all the reason Soloman is stuck in the house all the time. The story presents a glimpse into an illness which must be incredibly isolating. I put my hands up – I opt to spend time by myself rather than others but this is a choice rather than something which is forced upon me. I think Soloman likes having friends in Lisa and Clark and them entering his life does the world of good – they make him see a possible future outside of his four walls and make him want to try to get better.

I have to say I’m a little disappointed I read this book now and not a few weeks ago as I made a video looking at the best parents YA and children’s fiction had to offer and the parents here would certainly have made the list. They are patient and give Soloman all the support he needs. The Gran too is perfect – the lengths they all go to along with his new friends make them a joy to read.

Overall, Highly Illogical Behaviour more than met (if not exceeded) its hype – fast paced, covers a topic not often discussed in YA and to top it off is a story with a heart of gold.

Thanks to Faber & Faber for sending me a copy to review

Review: Alone by D.J. Brazier

Review: Alone by D.J. Brazier

The Story

The trip of a lifetime – that’s what it was supposed to be, paid for with money Gran left thirteen-year old Sam in her will, but when the small plane taking Sam and his Dad back to the airport crashes in the jungle, Sam is left alone and terrified.

As time passes with no sign of rescue, Sam grows weaker and has to dig deep to find levels of resolve and resourcefulness he never knew he had in order to survive.

Desperate and close to giving up, Sam’s spirits are lifted by the arrival of an otter cub whose companionship and loyalty give Sam the strength he needs to keep going. But when disaster strikes, Sam has to make the hardest decision of his life. Can Sam save his friend and make it out of the jungle alive?

My Review

Unusually for me I jumped at the chance to the review Alone not because of the cover but because of the blurb. It sounded so unique, exciting and adventurous. And it was better than I expected it to be.

As you might expect Alone features one main character (or at least one main human character) for the vast majority of the story so although the plot takes place outside in a jungle – what you’re reading is Sam’s thoughts on his experience with very little dialogue. I didn’t notice this straight away but became apparent half way through. It worked really well and further highlighted the implication that Sam was well and truly alone!

Or was he? The jungle felt like intimidating and full of life, Sam runs into a wide selection of the animal kingdom from bugs and mosquitos up to monkeys who could be friends or foes. Not only animals but the jungle itself has it’s own basket of tricks. Things that might seem innocent enough present themselves as obstacles to be overcome.

One thing I didn’t expect to see was a child animal relationship but here it was. I loved the way it developed from a starting point of Sam observing the otters to getting to a point where it could be argued they were family. Going as far as giving the child otter a name and it’s a name that fits like a glove – Galaxy!

Of course it’s the writing that sells us the story – Brazier has created a jungle that feels like it’s alive and breathing on the page, a character in Sam who has more strength than he realises – he can stand on his own two feet and who never gives up despite how hopeless his situation seems. He’s resourceful and creative in finding solutions to the problems he faces.

It all makes for an irresistible story playing out in front of your eyes and incredibly difficult to put down – read it, I don’t think you’ll regret it! 😀

Thanks to Anderson Press for sending me a copy to review.

Review: Nightwanderers by CJ Flood

Review: Nightwanderers by CJ Flood

The Story

It all started with a poo in a flowerbed.

Rosie and Titania are as close as sisters – closer, in fact. While Rosie is shy, red-faced and passive, Ti is big, tough and daring. They shouldn’t be friends, but they are.
Creeping out at night, the girls love to secretly wander through their coastal town, exploring empty streets and sharing their frustrations about school and their different, but equally difficult, families.
But when Rosie betrays Ti, the two girls run in different directions – making decisions that could do irreparable damage to both of their lives. As Rosie confronts harsh truths, she must find a way back to Ti, and to herself.

Whenever I heard the word kindred I thought of me and Ti.

My Review

I knew I wanted to read Nightwanderers right after the launch, the love for this book from the editor and the readings made it sound like a book which I would love, and love it I did 🙂

Nightwanderers is the story of two best friends who you wouldn’t normally match together, one (Rosie) is shy and quiet. The other (Titania) is daring and a risk taker. Whilst the pairing isn’t exactly what you’d expect it’s a pairing which works really well. The daring side of Ti rubs off on Rosie and Rosie helps to keep Ti grounded. It’s the perfect blend of characteristics and the extent to which each has affected the other is shown beautifully as the story progresses.

The book is called Nightwanderers so you might wonder what exactly nightwandering is. Well it’s basically walking around (or wandering) in the dead of night (how’s that for an over simplistic explanation). It’s a bit of a risk as Ti leads Rosie on a nightwander into a teacher’s garden and does something which sparks the rest of the story but also very clearly shines the difference between these two friends. I have to say if we take out what the pair get up to on these nightwandering sessions a nightwander sounds quite pleasant – especially when it’s so warm during the day! 🙂

The story is also not told completely linearly which was unusual. It starts roughly in the middle after a key event and then rewinds to the beginning, telling the story up to this point and then continuing onto what happens as a result. This makes the story feel like a story in two parts – the first half lets us get to know Rosie and Ti and their friendship. The second half really puts this friendship to the test – the focus shifting mostly onto Rosie and what she has the strength to do. It’s in this half that Rosie really comes into her own as the story ramps up and changes direction.

This is also a story with secrets, a story which pushes this close friendship to the test, how far do you go to protect your friends – would you drop yourself in trouble to reduce their punishment. And how far would you let something go before revealing something which could save their life and their family.

I can’t finish this review without a special mention for Orphelia (Ti’s twin sister). She’s as much a part of the story as Ti and the decisions she makes have dramatic consequences for Rosie.

Overall, Nightwanderers is a story of friendship and drama. It is at once an addictive read with friendship at its core coupled with a sense of humour – how can a story with a line in the blurb which says “It all started with a poo in a flowerbed” not be! It’s a captivating story which will draw you in to the last page and has left me needing to read Infinite Sky!

Harry Potter London Walking Tours – Muggle Tours

Yesterday afternoon after the Ink Slinger’s Summer Picnic I didn’t go my usual way home I almost went in the opposite direction to London Bridge underground station to catch the next Muggle Tour.

If you hadn’t guessed (from the title) Muggle Tours is a Harry Potter walking tour of London, as part of the tour you get to visit the not so well known locations used for the films like the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron when Harry returns with the Night Bus, the alley which inspired the set for Knockturn Alley – as soon as you walk into this alley you can tell right away and the street which inspired J.K Rowling to write about Diagon Alley.

As well as this the tour is full of trivia and fun Harry Potter facts – I was guided around by Greta Granger (all the guides have Harry Potter related surnames – as characters – which is a nice touch – but it does make it a little difficult when you swear you’ve seen someone before but can’t figure out where as the guides names all point back to Muggle Tours.)

Greta was a fabulous tour guide, full of knowledge and fun to follow around. She was entertaining and caring, made sure everyone was there and phoned up those who weren’t around the meeting point at the designated time – ensuring no-one missed out.

The weather was a little hit and miss and did rain on us a few times but it did clear up and definitely didn’t spoil the afternoon.

Yesterday was truly one of my favourite days in London, a blogger event in the morning and Muggle Tours in the afternoon – I couldn’t have asked for a better day! 🙂

If you’d like to book a Muggle Tour head to www.muggletours.co.uk.

Review: Fangs Vampire Spy: Operation Golden Bum by Tommy Donbavand #tommyvcancer Tour

Review: Fangs Vampire Spy: Operation Golden Bum by Tommy Donbavand #tommyvcancer Tour

This book has been reviewed as part of the #tommyvancer blog tour, the primary purpose of which is to help raise awareness of www.tommyvcancer.com where you can support Tommy and his family.

The Story

Special Agent Fangs Enigma and his sidekick, werewolf Agent Puppy Brown, were recruited by secret intelligence agency MP1 (Monster Protection, 1st division) to stop the world’s super(natural) villains and monster criminals from realising their evil plans. In Operation: Golden Bum, Agents Fangs and Brown are drafted in to investigate a string of high-profile robberies. The presence of an unidentifiable foul smell at all of the crime scenes leads MP1 to suspect that this is no ordinary robber but one with magical abilities. Can the world’s greatest vampire spy and his sidekick sniff out the thief before he puts his stinker of a plan into action?

My Review

When I chose this book I was looking for a book which would be a light and comedy read, I mean it’s coming into the summer so a light comedy read seemed like just the ticket. And looking at the wide selection of over 100 books to Tommy’s name there was plenty to choose from.

Fangs stood out as a) bright cover and b) got to love that title! And well, it more than lived up 😀

Operation Golden Bum is a book which will have you sniggering all the way through, with lots of fun jokes and fab illustrations. The story centres around vampire spy Agent Enigma told through the eyes of werewolf Agent Puppy Brown as they go on the search for a high profile robber who is leaving a very peculiar stink in his or her wake.

The book is presented as a case file with an introduction and conclusion from MP1 (Monster Protection, 1st Division) – essentially an organisation which has been set up to try and protect the world from villains who might be sure their powers for evil plans. Each chapter is told from Agent Puppy Brown as case notes, including location and timing information. And it’s probably for this reason that I really loved this werewolf.

You could definitely tell Agent Puppy Brown was the side kick, always getting lumbered with the less fun tasks and receiving very little of the credit in return.

The cartoon images are the perfect compliment to the story and add to the quirky and fun nature of the story.

Operation Golden Bum is a fun, light hearted read, perfect for its target audience and great for a chuckle when you need something to pick you up 🙂

Book Launch: Night Wanderers by CJ Flood at Stanfords Bristol

Book Launch: Night Wanderers at Stanfords Bristol

Well this is a novelty, normally if I attend a book launch I don’t get back till around 10pm after catching the train back from Bath (ahhhh, Bath – Jesse, stop it – focus) and I write about it on the same day – first time for everything! It was really nice to attend a launch really, really local in a bookshop which I do honestly keep forgetting about.

The bookshop is called Stanfords and it’s tucked up behind the city centre in Bristol on the historic corn street. Stanfords is a specialist map bookseller, stepping into the shop will make it so easy to want to travel – they have maps covering probably all areas of the world and an especially big mural one linking the basement to the ground floor – don’t believe me? See the video below – it’s seriously wow!

The launch took place largely towards the back of the shop near the children’s section (needless to say Stanfords have a wide catalogue of map books for young people too) where it was lovely to meet Hannah for the first time and say hi to CJ.

The speeches from Rachel Mann, who edited Night Wanders and the reading which followed have made this my next read, this book sounds full of friendship and warmth and the passion coming from Rachel, just let me read it right now, already!

After the speeches there was an opportunity to continue doing impressions of bookshelves *ahem* mingling and to get books signed 🙂

And now if you dare watch, I won’t blame you if you don’t I present my shoddy camera work – yes, my camera focused on the wrong person at a key moment (bows head in shame) and I even managed to get my phone to film in the wrong orientation at one point – fortunately iMovie was able to correct this one! Anyhoo, here is a little something filmed at the launch to show what you can generally expect to find at a book launch (though obviously it varies from event to event):

May 2016 Reading Wrap Up

With May now all sewn up it’s only right to wrap it up so here is a quick video summary of the books I read in May, links to everything mentioned below!

#tommyvcancer details

My review of Fangs Vampire Spy: Golden Bum will be going live on the 10th June 2016 here.
Website: http://www.tommyvcancer.com

Full Book Reviews

The Demon Headmaster and the Prime Minister’s Brain by Gillian Cross
The Storm by Virginia Bergin
Rebel Bully Geek Pariah by Erin Lange
Love Song by Sophia Bennett

Review: Love Song by Sophia Bennett

Review: Love Song by Sophia Bennett

The Story

A million girls would kill for the chance to meet The Point, but Nina’s not one of them.

She’s the new assistant to the lead singer’s diva fiancée, and she knows it’s going to suck. She quickly learns that being with the hottest band on the planet isn’t as easy as it looks: behind the scenes, the boys are on the verge of splitting up. Tasked with keeping an eye on four gorgeous but spoiled rock stars, Nina’s determined to stick it out – and not fall for any of them…

My Review

I feel like I must be one of the last people to read Love Song but as I like to say better late than never and Love Song was more than worth waiting for.

Getting to it was a treat, it’s not your typical girl follows the boy band of their dreams. In fact it starts out from a position where Nina, the main character isn’t actually a fan of The Point. She finds herself going on tour with them because she thinks it will give her the chance to see some of the world. Now being the assistant to Sigrid (the lead singer’s reality star fiancée) – le sigh (she acts like a celebrity without really deserving any of it) – is not the most glamorous of positions and she doesn’t expect it to be but the receptions she gets from the band is less than exemplary. Although stressed as he is Oliver, her main point of contact on the tour is fab!

Part of the story is based in Northumberland which if you forgive the rain is a beautiful place and the story captures the place beautifully. As I read it kept bringing back memories of the community house I stayed in when I visited. A place surrounded by fields, where the wind howled through the rafters a central kitchen with hot homely food served at meal times. I don’t want to say too much about this part of the story but I will say I feel so much warmth for Orli. 🙂

Talking of characters I cannot not mention Windy (The Point’s agent), he’s crafty and smart but has the bands best interests at heart, and he made me smile at his plans. He reminds me a little of Wilbur from the Geek Girl series but more upmarket, swish and… less flamboyant! I also cannot forget to mention Arial, the true The Point fan – a Pointer Sister!

I gobbled up Love Song, it brought together some of my favourite things to read about – music and friendship with a smattering of romance, as we head into the festival season this just might be the perfect time to pick it up!

Thanks to Chicken House for sending me a copy to review.

The Severus Snape Book Tag

If you didn’t already know I’m currently re-reading the Harry Potter series – I’ve just got the new-ish cover for book 5 so will be continuing with my re-read of the series very soon but in the mean time I was tagged by the lovely Laura from The Magic of White Pages and I couldn’t resist doing this tag – though it made me realise how few black covered books I owned … I swear I owned more than this! 😮

UKYA Book Blogger Awards 2016 Winners!

UKYA Book Blogger Awards

The nominations were received and aggregated into a long list and a subsequent short list. From this the votes were cast and now after 30+ hours of work from Luna at Luna’s Little Library we know the winners and runners up.

So without further ado, turn on the tension bed as the results are in… 🙂

Best Adult Blogger – Michelle (Tales Of Yesterday)

2nd Place – Jim (YAYeahYeah)
3rd Place – Sally (The Dark Dictator)

Best Teen Blogger – Amber (The Mile Long Bookshelf)

2nd Place – Lucy – Queen of Contemporary
3rd Place – Georgia Dalton – TeenBookHoots

Blogger Spirit Award – Michelle – Tales Of Yesterday

2nd Place – Viv (Serendipity Reviews)
3rd Place – Lucy (Queen of Contemporary)

Best Male Blogger – Jim (YAYeahYeah)

2nd Place – George Lester
3rd Place – Andrew (The Pewter Wolf)

Best Female Blogger – Grace (Almost Amazing Grace)

2nd Place – Michelle (Tales Of Yesterday)
3rd Place – Miriam (Hello I Am Miriam)

Best Team / Co-op Blog – Serendipity Reviews

2nd Place – Bookish Brits
3rd Place – The Big Book Project

Marvellous Blogger Award – Grace (Almost Amazing Grace)

2nd Place – Michelle (Tales Of Yesterday)
3rd Place – Luna (Luna’s Little Library)

Best Overseas Blogger – Cait (Paper Fury)

2nd Place – Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner)
3rd Place – Lili – (Lili’s Reflections

Best Booktuber – Lucy (Queen of Contemporary)

2nd Place – George Lester
3rd Place – Stevie (SableCaught)

Best on Social Media – Michelle (Tales Of Yesterday)

2nd Place – Mariam (Hello I Am Mariam)
3rd Place – Jim (YAYeahYeah)

Best Oldtimer – Amber (The Mile Long Bookshelf)

2nd Place – Viv (Serendipity Reviews)
3rd Place – Lucy (Queen of Contemporary)

Best Growing Blogger Michelle (Tales Of Yesterday)

2nd Place – Virginie (Chouett Blog)
3rd Place – Chloe (Writer-On- Wheels)

Best Newcomer – Jo Clarke (Booklover Jo)

2nd Place – Hannah Ha (Ninjas Reads Too)
3rd Place – Cintia (Reflectionofthebooks)

Best Blogger Feature – 6 Degrees (YAYeahYeah)

2nd Place – Secret Serendipity Seven & Blogger Island Books (Serendipity Reviews)
3rd Place – Looks on Books (Casey Ann / Dark Readers)

A massive congratulations to all the winners and of course to the runners up – you all rock! 😀

And now for those people out there who like data (me, me, me!!!!) – here’s the facts behind this years awards… 😀

The Data Behind The Awards

  • Something like 30hrs+ were spent backstage putting the awards together
  • More than 100 nominations were put forward
  • 28 UKYA Bloggers made the long list
  • 33 UKYA Bloggers were on the short list
  • Over 2600 votes were cast in 14 categories
  • There were 16 lovely helpers and 1 host

Twitter Party

On the 30th May at 6pm (that’s tonight) there is 1 epic Book Lover / Awards Twitter Party and you are all invited!

Use the hashtags #bookloverparty #awardukyabbloggers to take part!

awardukyabbloggersPARTY

And Finally…

A shout out to this years helpers…