Saturday, 19 April 2014

Trouble by Non Pratt

Title: Trouble
Author: Non Pratt
Published by: Walker Books
Publication date: 6th March 2014
Pages: 381
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary/Coming of age
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Hannah is smart and funny. She's also fifteen and pregnant.

Aaron is the new boy at school. He doesn't want to attract attention.

So why does Aaron offer to be the pretend dad to Hannah's unborn baby?

Growing up can be trouble but that's how you find out what really matters.

After three weeks of not reading even a single page from a book, I was seriously fed up. I was two books behind schedule on the Goodreads challenge, and my TBR pile was getting taller and taller. I couldn't even remember the last time I had written a review. Luckily, everything changed at the end of the third week of my reading slump: a copy of Trouble by Non Pratt arrived from the publisher. If you don't live in a far, far away place, where there is no civilisation or Wi-Fi, you'll know that Trouble has received an endless amount of reviews full of shining praise and pleas for the author to write another book, like, now. 

I have decided that Trouble is the perfect book for making a reading slump vanish. However, there are two things that really undermined the book as a whole. According to my blog stats, most of my readers are female, so try to imagine you're a fifteen-year-old boy. You move to a new school in a new area. A random girl flits on to your radar and you make small talk a couple of times but that's it. Then you find out she's pregnant and the father of the baby isn't interested. Would you instantly offer to be the fake father to her baby? No? I didn't think so, but that's exactly what Aaron does for Hannah. Aaron's parents happily agree that he can be the fake father to the unborn child of a fifteen-year-old girl he's just met, and they agree that Hannah's parents don't need to know. Sure, the moments between Hannah and Aaron were sweet, but the rest of this book is so realistic and, even though this is a big part of the main plot, I think it was extremely unbelievable. This really let the whole book down.

Another thing which irked me was when Hannah finally told her parents the father of the baby was her step-brother - yeah, I know, but that's not what annoyed me. When writing a book about teenage pregnancy and the book is aimed at teenagers, surely there should be some truth that the reader can take away from it. Neither parent mentioned that their son had raped his underage step-sister. They were angry, sure, but they just accepted it.

Most pregnant fifteen-year-old girls would be terrified at the prospect of having a baby so early, yet the amount of times Hannah actually showed anxiety and stress towards this throughout the book could be counted on one hand. She mostly focused on those who were trying to expose her secrets instead of that thing which just so happened to be steadily growing inside of her. I get that we're all different but I feel like Hannah's character could have been developed a lot more.

I do think a second book perhaps from Aaron's point of view would be good. There were a few sub-plots to do with Aaron which petered out towards the end, and I'd really like those strings to be tied. Despite the points of the book I didn't like or agree with, Trouble is a good book. It's entertaining, heart-warming, and funny. A lot of teenagers will be able to relate to this, and I do recommend you read it if you're after a sparkling contemporary with a fresh voice.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Published by: Harper Collins
Publication date: 1st May 2012
Pages: 525
Genres: Young Adult/Dystopian/Romance/Thriller
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

I have done bad things. I can't take them back, and they are part of who I am.

Tris has survived a brutal attack on her former home and family. But she has paid a terrible price. Wracked by grief and guilt, she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future.

Yet if Tris wants to uncover the truth about her world, she must be stronger than ever...because more shocking choices and sacrifices lie ahead.

Insurgent starts right where Divergent left off, and for the second time we're thrown straight into the socially divided city of Chicago as everyone turns to or against each other. The world is chaos, and there's no telling what will be around the next corner or on the next page. Dealing with an immense amount of guilt over the death of her parents and best friend Will, Tris is spiralling out of control. She is constantly putting her life on the line, and most of the time even Tobias can't do anything to stop her. Insurgent is about consequences, and how far you would go to save someone you love...or hate.

Like Divergent, I found this to have a very slow start, but the ball was soon rolling and I flew through Insurgent. When I attended the Divergent movie premiere in London I had only read the first book in the trilogy, so I decided to start reading this. Admittedly I was reluctant because Divergent makes a good standalone and I was worried about Insurgent having read a few negative reviews, but I gave it a go and I'm glad I did! Now I'm crossing my fingers I get to go to the Insurgent premiere too because a) it was the best day of my life and b) I have become more than a little obsessed with the entire trilogy, film, soundtrack and cast. I need professional help.

The thing I liked most about this book was that we got to see the other factions: what they were truly like, who was in them, how they worked and what place they played in society. Divergent had mainly been about setting the foundations, and it was nice to have a change of scenery.

Another thing I'm loving about this trilogy is there is no love triangle. Sometimes they work but most of the time they really annoy me and most other readers, so it's great that one of the most hyped YA books is a book with no love triangle. It's just Tris and Tobias, and this was really refreshing to read.

The ending was pure genius. It was a cliffhanger which was frustrating, although I had Allegiant already so it didn't leave me hanging for too long. However, the ending was something which no one could predict. There had been no clues about it, so it was great to be properly taken by surprise by a book for once!

I always feel a bit strange reviewing massively-hyped books because it seems like most people have read them already, but if you haven't read the Divergent trilogy then I highly recommend you do. I understand the hype can put people off, but if you're in need of a believable, exciting, unpredictable book then I'm sure you would enjoy this. I did not enjoy Insurgent as much as I enjoyed Divergent, but I still liked it and so it's receiving 4.5/5 from me! Now I'm halfway through Allegiant and it's looking good so far, so my review of that should be up soon enough.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young

Title: Just Like Fate
Author: Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
Published by: Electric Monkey
Publication date: 6th March 2014
Pages: 304
Genres: Young Adult/Romance/Contemporary/Grief
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Caroline is at a crossroads. Her whole family is on her back, and her grandmother, the only person who really understands her, is sick, maybe dying. All she wants to do is escape. So when her best friend suggests a night out to forget her troubles, Caroline must choose: stay by her grandmother's side, or go to the party and live her life... and maybe meet the boy of her dreams.

This decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths - and she's about to live them both. But there can only be one happy ending...

I parachuted into this book with high hopes. A book where we get to watch the consequences of two different life choices play out? Sounds good! I had a couple of issues with it, but overall it was good.

Caroline Cabot is a normal teenage girl, and when her grandmother dies she is, of course, devastated. She was closer to her than anyone else in the family, and it doesn't help that she wasn't by her grandmother's side when she died. It's then that her life splits in two and we see what would happen if she had stayed instead of going to a party. The chapters alternate between 'stay' and 'go', and I have to admit that I enjoyed 'go' a lot more than 'stay', mainly because her boyfriend wasn't a complete douchebag in that one.

Some people who read this book really disliked Caroline because she was selfish. She was selfish to an extent, but different people deal with grief in different ways, and I think this was hers. Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young have captured her emotions so well, and I genuinely felt really sad when Caroline's grandmother passed away even though we had only known her for a few pages. I do love a book which accurately depicts family dynamics, and this was one. Divorced parents, sister rivalry, a doting brother, and a new stepmother to deal short, I loved how realistically the family issues were written.

As I said at the beginning of this review, I did have a couple of issues with this book. This is ultimately a love story, which I hadn't actually realised before. I did enjoy it, but there were so many clich├ęs on the romance side. If they had been toned down just a little bit, I think it would have been a lot better. However, it was interesting to see how Caroline's relationship turned out with the guy she'd loved since pre-school, and then with someone she had only just met.

Just Like Fate is an easy, enjoyable read. What I got from this book is that if you make a choice that seems to have bad consequences at the time, don't beat yourself up about it. All choices have good and bad consequences at some point, and life is too short to keep worrying about them. Just Like Fate is about moving on, growing as a person, self-acceptance, forgiveness, and of course, fate. It was an interesting concept and, while nothing big or dramatic really happened, it was one I found myself enjoying a lot. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

What do you think of the book blogging community?

Too many blogs to count have done questionnaires recently on what they, as bloggers, could do to improve, and to find out what people like and dislike about their blogs.

My questionnaire is going to be a little different.

Over this past year I've noticed the blogging community seems to be turning very bitter. It's suddenly overrun with competitive people who seem to be fighting for the title of 'best blogger in the whole entire universe.' Twitter has been packed full of arguments between bloggers, and there are even friendships turning sour as blog jealousy arises.

It needs to stop. 

The blogging community never used to be like this. It was a lovely, happy place where we would congratulate each other on reaching a blogger achievement or getting a highly anticipated ARC instead of getting nasty.

Where's all that blogger love gone? This is also why I started the Blog Notes Project which, yes, will become a regular thing, I'm sure a few of you will be happy to hear.

So, here is my questionnaire. Whether you're a blogger or a blog reader, I want to know what you think of our community. If a good amount of people take interest and complete the questionnaire, I will be sharing the information at a later date, although all answers will be kept completely anonymous.