Monday, 27 July 2015

Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine

Title: Fire Colour One
Author: Jenny Valentine
Published by: Harper Collins
Publication date: 1st July 2015
Pages: 237
Genres: YA Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from Maximum Pop.

Iris's father, Ernest, is at the end of his life and she hasn't even met him.

Her best friend, Thurston, is somewhere on the other side of the world.

Everything she thought she knew is up in flames. Now her mother has declared war and means to get her hands on Ernest's priceless art collection.

But Ernest has other ideas.

There are things he wants Iris to know after he's gone. And the truth has more than one way of coming to light...

I know everyone loves this book, and I know that Jenny Valentine is commonly referred to as one of the greatest YA voices of her generation, but Fire Colour One wasn't for me. At all. My first impressions were good; I love the tagline and, as I said in my June book haul video, the cover is so tremendously beautiful with pretty typography and flecks of gold.

But, with great sadness, I've come to the realisation yet again that a good cover doesn't always equate to a good book.

Iris is a pyromaniac, leaving a trail of bonfires behind her wherever she goes. Her mother, Hannah, is cold, materialistic, and loves money. Her step-father, Lowell, is a weak wanna-be actor who can usually be found with a bottle of Vodka in his hand. So, when it's announced that Iris's biological father, who also happens to be a millionaire, is dying, Hannah and Lowell are hungry for his money and will do anything to get it.

Iris? She just wants to get out of there, and maybe start a few fires on the way. But there are secrets she needs to uncover first.

Fire Colour One has received so much praise recently. Bloggers have called it beautiful, uplifting and emotional; it's been proclaimed a gem, named one of the best books of 2015 so far, and had people reaching for the tissues left, right and centre. But honestly? I felt no emotion whilst reading this. It felt like a chore more than anything else, and I'm genuinely relieved to have finished it. I'll admit it was poetic and even reminiscent of one of my favourite writers, Jandy Nelson, at times, but it was also slow-paced, choppy and, I hate to say it, boring. Lacking. Meh.

I quite liked the ending, actually - it was genius and lovely, plus it completely took me by surprise - but the rest of the book was a complete let down. Looking at Goodreads, I'm clearly in the minority when it comes to my feelings about Fire Colour One, so if you like the sound of it don't let me put you off. I just hope you enjoy it more than I did.

Friday, 24 July 2015

GUEST POST: Why We Need Diverse Books

Over the last year or so, there have been numerous campaigns to get more diversity into the books we're reading. But why do we need more diversity? Chloe from Writer-on-Wheels explains in her amazing guest post below, and I'm in full agreement with her.

We all have that one book in which we found that one character that was us; that was so similar to ourselves that it made our hearts flutter. We all have a character that we connect to because we relate to them on so many levels - and they change your life, or at least have a place in your heart, because it means that you are no longer alone, and you get a whole book to read about someone like you.

But the thing is, I haven't found that character yet. Not really. I mean, I've found brunette girls who like reading and want to be writers, but I haven't found a character that has been so like me that it's touched my heart, that I truly relate to. I haven't found a character with my disability.

Okay, let me elaborate. I have Cerebral Palsy - a physical disability. Now, why would I want to read about someone with my disability? Good question. It's the same as why people who like reading like to read about a character who likes reading, and so on and so on. It's just really, really nice to find someone like you in a book, someone who you can relate to and who understands you. I know that sounds really deep, but a disabled character with Cerebral Palsy might understand my condition and what happens to me because of it, and the thought of that, the thought of people like me being represented in something I love, is the best thing in the world.

That's why we need diverse books - especially in YA. Because the people who most need to be represented and understood when growing up (the questions that've been asked that might've been avoided if disability had more representation, wow) would benefit in so many ways by having characters and themes in books that they could relate to. Everyone deserves a book that caters to them, that shows them that they are not alone, while raising awareness for them and their lives/conditions/struggles/normalness.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald says: "That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong."

So I think that there should be more books out there that makes sure that everyone has at least one instance in literature where they belong, and can relate to a character's longings, so eventually, they become accepted, and universal.

Or at least, that's my opinion. I know my reasons for wanting diverse books are very personal, so I'd love to hear yours! What is your favourite diverse book? Let's get recommending some, so authors and publishers know that we want more!

Do you think we need diverse books? 

Chloe is a book blogger over at Writer-on-Wheels. She is a huge fan of Amber's blog and is very grateful for the opportunity to have a post on her blog. (Thanks so much!)

She is 17 and lives in the UK. Some would say she is a nerd (and they would be right). She loves reading and talking about books (particularly YA) and would like to be a writer and poet when she grows up (although she isn't sure she ever will grow up).

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

YALC Haul and Giveaway

If you read this post the other day - or if you don't live under a rock - you'll know that London was overrun with bookworms from July 17th-19th due to YALC, otherwise known as the Young Adult Literature Convention.

I had to go. And, of course, I came away with a lot of stuff. Eight tote bags full of stuff, in fact - most of it free! If you want to know more about the day, you can read my event recap here, but today I'll be showing you the books I bought, the books I got signed, and the freebies I picked up, some of which I'll be giving away in this post.

Before the big day, I already had a vague idea of what books would be available to buy and so I made a list of the ones I wanted. There weren't many as I was on a tight budget, so I only noted down the ones I really, really wanted to get. They were:

  • When I Was Me by Hilary Freeman
  • Counting Stars by Keris Stainton
  • Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
  • How to be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle (signed)
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (signed)

Unfortunately, I completely forgot about the list which was right there on my phone and so I only bought Counting Stars and Fans of the Impossible Life. I'm glad I got those, obviously, but I'm really disappointed that I didn't get the others. And they were on the same stand as Counting Stars so how I missed them, I don't know! I really, really wanted those signed copies, as I doubt I'll ever get the opportunity to get them signed in person.

Not on my list as I already had a copy was The Baby by Lisa Drakeford, but I ended up buying a signed finished edition as I loved it so much.

While I didn't buy many books - only three, what?! - I got a lot signed. I only attended two signings at YALC, but between them, Cassandra Clare and C.J. Daugherty signed thirteen books! Can I just point out the messages C.J. wrote? I love it when authors write things other than their name, but especially when the message is personal! 

And now... the book swag. Not only was there a freebies table at the YALC entrance piled high with stuff, but every publisher stand had freebies too. IT. WAS. AMAZING. I am a big fan of free stuff, as you can tell.

That's about a quarter of my loot. LOOK AT IT ALL. Such pretty, much yes, very wow. Don't you worry, though - it's not all for me! I picked up lots of duplicates with a giveaway in mind. Here's the selection I'm giving away:

There will be one winner and it is open internationally! Click the arrows to see all of the prizes. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway