Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Publisher: David Fickling Books

Date of Publish: January 1st 2015

Suitable for which gender: Unisex

The book consists of two protagonists who are both suffering from two big secrets. There is David Piper; who wants to be a girl and Leo Denton; someone who just wants to be invisible. Somehow both of these two individuals come together and become very good friends in the process.

It is really interesting as there is not much regarding the subject of the transgender community in modern YA fiction, in a way Ms Williamson has got some guts to base story around this topic. Not because it is wrong, but rather misunderstood. It has heartache and pain, as well as joy and happiness, which not only they experience, but you as well. I think that the time that it has come out is perfect, as it is an ever changing world, which has shown to become more aware of people around us and accepting everyone for who they are. We must always think about these issues like, imagine if you felt like you were stuck in the wrong gender?

The Art of Being Normal catapults you into the modern world with issues that you could have never imagined. Ideas that would usually be cast off without a second thought, are brought together to bring you more of an awareness to the world around you. It brings more of an understanding towards the characters from the reader – making us think, what if we were in their shoes? What would we have done the same or differently?

It demonstrates the fact that these things are not through choice that we decide to take action for these types of decisions, and it is really hard to make it because of peer pressure and how people are going to look at you. The book makes you empathise with the characters because it will be such a life changing decision which could make or break you.

This could easily be on my list for the best of 2015 – and we are not into the second month yet! The only real criticism that I can give is that it is too short – I enjoyed it so much that I wish that there was more to read! This is definitely going to be one of those books where I do an annual re-read! For the first time this year, I am giving Lisa Williamson the honour of being the book rated five stars and i am so proud to give this to her specifically. In my heart, this book has already won the best of 2015 and now I cannot wait for the next thing that comes out by Lisa Williamson.

Fun fact: Did you know Lisa Williamson was the actress who played the mother in John Lewis’  Monty the penguin Christmas advert last year?


Next week, i will be reviewing an ebook by Kevin M. Kraft called MOMO, which you are now able to buy off lulu.com

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Starter for Ten by David Nicholls

Publisher: Villard


Date of Publish: January 1st 2003


Pages: 352


Genre: Comedy, Love


Recommendation for which gender: Unisex



This book is all about a young adult called Brian Jackson who is a working class member in society, in the year 1985. He comes from Southend, Essex and one of his favourite things is to answer questions on 'The University Challenge' hence why the title of the book is called 'Starter for Ten'. Starter for ten is the first set of questions that one of the teams must answer to answer more questions. Also giving them ten points if their question is indeed correct.
Brian Jackson is an English Literature student and unlike other students from the university, studied hard because he wanted to be there. Not because his parents are rich,which in fact they were not. His father also liked the T.V quiz, but he died before Brian even started attending University. This is also a point where Brian decides that he wants to go onto 'The University Challenge' is so that he can make his Dad proud, even when he is no longer breathing.
The main character is also a huge Kate Bush fan, so when he first sees Alice Harbinson for the first time, he describes Alice to resemble a lot like her. Unfortunately, his obssession with her did not end and therefore could be one of his main downfalls within the story. This inevitably begins when he gives her his answers in a test to go on the University Challenge team. Of course he never really was able to get on the team after that, due to Alice only beating him by a few questions. Thankfully for him this did not last for long, as he was able to join due to one of the members' injuries.


When i had finally gotten to the end of the novel, i found it very disappointing. To point it out straight, it was all to do with the ending. It was just so annoying - to be completely honest. This was because of the mistakes that he had made, it does not feel like he tried to correct them. Rather more like to run away from all of his problems. Unfortunately, most times in peoples lives, you can't run away from the obvious, you just have to plow ahead. It is kind of a disgrace, due to the fact that most people would have to carry on with their problems regardless, because otherwise it will not get you anywhere.
On the contrary, i found the elements of the University Challenge very interesting. So much so that now i have actually gotten a little more into the televised quiz myself. This is the most amazing thing about a single book, it can change your whole perception of the world and how it all works.

Rating: ***

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

When She Smiled by Ritoban Chakrabarti


Publisher: Ritoban Chakrabarti

Year it was Published: 30th November 2014

Pages: 234


Format: Ebook/Kindle

The Plot

It shows there to be a teenager called Roy who attends Physics classes, which is where he sees the most beautiful girl he has ever seen for the first time. This is the basis for the story and how he copes with how she is admired bu other boys as well as himself.

Throughout the story, Roy begins to get closer towards the beautiful girl called Akanksha becoming very good friends. But Roy wants more than that and purposely goes out of his way to make it much more than it already is. Eventually something then jepordises their relationship and the relationship that they do have, everything that they have done crumbles. While Roy tries his best to pick up the pieces.

My Criticisms

When reading this piece of fiction, in some places i found it quite difficult to read. Not because of the plot itself. Maybe it is more likely that it is the writing style used. On the contrary I found that the further I spent with the book i became more entranced. This is because of that the love that Roy felt was like a first love. I find these types of loves very interesting as it is very fragile, but if there was effort done on both sides it could be indestructible. The topic at hand shows that sometimes we can't get we want, but in fact what we actually need. This is clearly described with the final chapter of the book and shows the significance of something such as this, could change your life forever without you realising or intending it to be that way.

I also found that with the unfortunate events that played out in the story, it was simply torture. Especially when it seemed like lots of things went wrong for Roy, suddenly things got ten times worst. With this technique, I find this can be a fact of getting it right or completely wrong. In this case it shows that he has hit it straight on the nail, which made me want to progress more into the story.

It also shows that you do not need love at a young age. You find that it is more of a distraction rather than something pleasant. I did find the final chapter the best as it kind strung everything together concisely. I also felt that somehow there was some relevance to actual experiences. This highlights that it can be an everyday problem, but in the eyes of the beholder it can feel like it is once in a lifetime. It shows the emotions that everyone goes through and sometimes how to cope with their own failures of  their love lives.

Rating: ***


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton


Publisher:  Walker Books Ltd./ originally Candlewick Press


Date/Year that it was Published: October 2nd 2014/ orginally March 13th 2014


Pages: 320


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism


Best for Boys/Girls: Girls


Format: Paperback/ Hardback


My Criticisms


This has to be one of the greatest books that i have read over 2014 - which has now been and gone sadly. It was a truly different and entricate way of writing that i have never seen before in a book. I think now, since i have read this i want to seek out more of this type of style that Ms Walton has. It has literally changed my life - along with making me think about the most important things in life.
The plot itself is very different to what i have read in the past, as it literally deals with what has happened in the past for certain characters and how it will affect their future. It identifies three women within the same family and how 'love makes them such fools', as it is mainly about their tragic love lives. First of all there is Emilienne who moved to America, but she originally came from France. She is the most important character at the start of the book, as she is one who sets off later events in the book. She eventually meets her husband one day and therefore she becomes pregnant - with the next major character - Viviane. Viviane also has a tragic life with love and falls in love with a man who eventually marries somebody else. She has two children by this man without him knowing who were twins and are called Henry and Ava. Ava is special as she is born with wings which ressembles her quite easily to an angel. This is how towards the end she suffers quite a lot from an ignorant man, believing that she is there for giving him a message from God and obsesses over her. Henry is born more or less mute but is receptive to things around him - but he is good at drawing detailed maps!
Essentially the book is a saga of the Lavender families tragic love lives and how they are able to get over it all.  The book itself is set in the early 20th century, starting from Emilenne. It also has a bit of back story to what the residents were before them, and how it all ties in with the entire novel. I found this in a way quite daunting and freaky, as the house they live in is pretty much haunted. But really it is the characters perceptive eye  to what is around them. The ending itself is very much unexpected, but I am sure that many do not agree with this. This is because of how Ava does not do a particular thing (trust me it is hard to tell you what it is without letting it out what happened!).
I think the book itself is a cracking read. I cannot wait til the next time I am going to pick up this book on a rainy day. Yes, it is different as it focuses more on the family than Ava herself, but I think it is a fluid way to get the whole plot across to the reader. Also it gives a bit more understanding to what the characters have all been through. As well as a sort of closeness that the reader and the character would not be able to experience, unless we were to know a bit more about their own personal background. If Ms Walton was to do another book herself - even if it is not connected to Ava Lavender I would still read it. As she has a style of writing which is much like an art. Then again isn't the English Language an art in its own right? Although it is more like a game to me.
My overall rating would be :

4 Stars



Next week I will be reviewing the book 'When She Smiled' which is a book on the Kindle.