Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani

Title: The School for Good and Evil: The Last Ever After
Author: Soman Chainani
Published by: Harper Collins
Publication date: 21st July 2015
Pages: 655
Genres: YA Fantasy/Magic/Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

'How do you turn your back on your best friend? How do you leave them behind?'

Sophie and Agatha thought their ending was sealed when they went their separate ways. But will their story be rewritten?

With the girls apart, Evil has taken over. The villains of the past have come back with a vengeance and the forces of Good are in deathly peril. Can anyone stand in the way of Evil's deadly reign - and the Last Ever After of all?

A couple of years ago I received a proof copy of The School for Good and Evil. I began reading and, if I remember rightly, I was enjoying it. But then life happened about halfway through and I put it down, never to be picked up again.

Sad times.

A while later - July, in fact - I was offered the third book for review. There's a third? I remember thinking. WHERE HAVE I BEEN?

So, even though I was a bit out of the loop, I jumped at the chance and soon enough the book had arrived. So what if it's the third book and I've only read some of the first? Rules are there to be broken! Or something. I don't know.

It was fine, anyway. I got to know the setting, the characters and their past as I went along. I'd go as far to say that this book would be awesome as a standalone, although obviously it would be much better read with the other two! It's just so inventive and full of magic, and I really enjoyed it.

Not only that, but The Last Ever After is full of twists, most of which I didn't see coming. And you all know I love a good plot twist. I also love a good ending, which this book definitely had - obviously I don't want to spoil it for you, but I will say that it's become one of my favourite endings.

The Last Ever After is on the lengthy side, but I think it's worth the time it takes to read it. Magic, inventive and complete with illustrations - what more could you possibly want? This is a must for any fan of YA fantasy!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Everything You Need to Know About The Baby 2 by Lisa Drakeford

If you've read my review of The Baby by Lisa Drakeford, you'll know that I was desperate for a sequel.

Well, guess what? There is going to be a sequel, and I have all the details right here from the writer herself!

I ended The Baby in such an open way because to me, that's life. It doesn't end all gift wrapped and tidy. All my characters have shed loads more to give. There's a whole academic year left before any of them go to university for instance. And Jonty's story in particular has only just begun.

And also, maybe because I took so long creating my characters, I now can't seem to leave them alone; not yet. The Baby's ending has given me the chance to write a sequel. Without major spoilers I can't explain why, but if you've read it then you'll know there's a massive piece of unfinished business which needs sorting. In keeping with The Baby there's a dramatic event at the beginning and because I'm so obsessed – I'll show how it affects all five of my characters (again). Tiny, tiny hint here: this time it's Alice (and no, she's not about to become a 12 year old mum!) Josh, Bethany and Sandy make bigger appearances and (even bigger hint here) THERE'S A NEW CHARACTER who ends up on Jonty's front step.

I love writing. I've been doing it properly now for about five years. By day I'm a learning support practitioner but by night I write my stories. This means that I don't have much of a social life, to the annoyance of my family. I tend to write an hour every night. My fifteen year old, for instance has only ever known me slope off into the kitchen about 9 o'clock to shove him off the computer so I can do my writing. (He's okay now though, I've had to get him a laptop!) I have to be really strict with myself and I'm getting good at using my Sky Planner to record all the good stuff which seems to come on at nine. But of course the big perk of my day job is that I have school holidays. So here I tend to do most of my writing. I get up at ridiculous o'clock and type away madly with bed hair and no make-up. It's not a pretty sight.

But it's worth every single early morning to walk into a random book shop like I did the other day and see The Baby displayed proudly in amongst some spectacular others. I couldn't stop staring. It was the best feeling in the entire world. I'm still buzzing now.

OOH. How exciting does that sound? Who is the new character and why are they there? I'm very much looking forward to reading this, and hopefully you are, too! If you haven't read The Baby yet, now's the time to do it. Click here to grab a copy and then we can fangirl.

Are you looking forward to the sequel?

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Baby by Lisa Drakeford

Title: The Baby
Author: Lisa Drakeford
Published by: Chicken House
Publication date: 2nd July 2015
Pages: 223
Genres: YA Contemporary/LGBT/Friendship
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

1 party. 5 friends. 1 unexpected guest.

It's Olivia's seventeenth birthday party. The last thing she expects to see when she stumbles into the bathroom is her best mate Nicola giving birth on the floor. How could she, when Nicola had no idea this was coming either? She's so not ready to be a mum, and she needs Olivia's help. But Olivia has her own problems - a controlling boyfriend, Jonty, and lonely little sister Alice for starters. And then there's their friend Ben, with secrets of his own.

The party to end all parties has started something epic...

Coming home from my Business Studies exam, I was very much in need of cheering up. Luckily, this book was waiting for me and the premise immediately piqued my interest. Unfortunately, I had to wait until exams were over to read it, and as soon as they were I picked up this book and didn't put it down until I was finished. It's a rollercoaster ride of emotions and I need more.

From what I've seen in other YA books that deal with teenage pregnancy, as soon as the baby is born it's forgotten about and the main character or whoever gave birth to it goes on with everyday life. That's why I liked The Baby - it focuses on parenthood rather than the pregnancy, which is something I haven't seen done in YA before, and the baby wasn't instantly forgotten about, hence the name of the book. I also liked that it portrayed a mature, capable teenage parent who kept her baby and looked after her well. Again, this is something I rarely see in YA fiction.

Furthermore, The Baby boasts a diverse set of characters and covers a wide range of topics, from bullying and domestic abuse to friendship and homosexuality. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I love books that tackle the gritty stuff that some people don't dare to write about, and this is definitely one of those books.

The one thing I wasn't massively keen on was the writing style. It made me feel detached from the characters and, whilst I cared about them and was interested in their lives, I wasn't as invested in them as I could have been. The fact that the book is split into five points of view didn't help, either - I liked that we got to see the world from each of their perspectives, but the chapters were so short that we only got little snippets. At the end, I felt like things were only just heating up and I really wanted to see what happened next. It was a bit of a cliffhanger ending, so hopefully there will be a sequel, but who knows? (Edit: I have news about this! More in the coming week.)

This is perfect for fans of Non Pratt. Overall, I loved this book as I knew I would, and I reckon it's the epitome of good UKYA. Fingers crossed Drakeford has something else in the pipeline because I would love to read more of her work, and I definitely recommend The Baby if you're after something a little different.