Archive for contemporary

Jennifer E. Smith – The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

jenniferesmith-thestatisticalprobabilityofloveatfirstsightWho would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Imagine if she hadn’t forgotten the book. Or if there hadn’t been traffic on the expressway. Or if she hadn’t fumbled the coins for the toll. What if she’d run just that little bit faster and caught the flight she was supposed to be on. Would it have been something else – the weather over the Atlantic or a fault with the plane?

Hadley isn’t sure if she believes in destiny or fate but, on what is potentially the worst day of each of their lives, it’s the quirks of timing and chance events that mean Hadley meets Oliver…

Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

One of my favourite YA novels last year was Jennifer E. Smith’s This is What Happy Looks Like. It was the perfect read for a blue day, which had me grinning from ear to ear from beginning to end. So when I saw Smith’s previous YA novel The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight as a Read Now title on Netgalley I jumped on it. And it was every bit as good and as fun as I expected it to be. It also hit me right in the feels as I connected quite strongly to Hadley’s feelings about her dad, as it reminded me of my own relationship with my dad at her age.  Continue reading »

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Matthew Quick – Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

matthewquick-forgivemeleonardpeacockHow would you spend your birthday if you knew it would be your last?

Eighteen-year-old Leonard Peacock knows exactly what he’ll do. He’ll say goodbye.

Not to his mum – who he calls Linda because it annoys her – who’s moved out and left him to fend for himself. Nor to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing the unthinkable. But to his four friends: a Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour, a teenage violin virtuoso, a pastor’s daughter and a teacher.

Most of the time, Leonard believes he’s weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he’s not. He wants to thank them, and say goodbye.

When I saw Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock up on Netgalley as a Read Now title, I didn’t hesitate for a moment and downloaded it immediately, as I’d heard nothing but good about the title when it was first published in the US. But while I knew it was a well-received novel, I’d forgotten what it was about exactly, so when I started the book I didn’t really know what to expect. What I got was a darkly funny, painfully honest, and heart-wrenching story about a troubled teen who is more lonely than people realise and less alone than he knows.  Continue reading »

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Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2014: YA April-June

2014We’re almost there! Welcome to the penultimate post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. Today I’m sharing the second half of my picks for books published for the YA crowd. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!   Continue reading »

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Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2014: YA January-March

2014Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. YA books have become a big part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, YA too has been spread over two posts. This is the first half. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!   Continue reading »

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Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2014: Middle Grade

2014Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. Today it’s time to look at books for a younger set of readers: middle grade books. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!   Continue reading »

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Sarah Zarr & Tara Altebrando – Roomies

zarraltebrando-roomiesIt’s time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl’s summer — and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they’ve never met.

I downloaded Roomies from Netgalley on a whim. It was a Read Now offer and it sounded fun and I thought “Why not?” And I’m so glad I did because I had an absolute blast with it. The book had a light and easy tone, even while dealing with some pretty fundamental questions everyone goes through when transitioning from secondary school to beyond. It tackles several big issues: interracial dating, losing your virginity, under-age drinking – in perhaps a slightly too casual manner – and letting go and growing up. It generally did so in quite a graceful manner and I was sorry to finish the story.  Continue reading »

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Robyn Bavati – Pirouette

robynbavati-pirouetteSimone has been raised as a dancer, but she hates performing. Hannah loves nothing more than dance, but her parents see it as just a hobby. When the two girls meet for the first time at age fifteen, they choreograph a plan to switch places and change the role that dance plays in their lives. Yet fooling their friends and family is more challenging than either girl expected. And when someone threatens to reveal the truth, it could cost the sisters everything.

In this clever twist on the twin-swap story, Robyn Bavati delivers a poignant tale about changing your fate—one step at a time.

One of my (not so) guilty pleasures is watching dance shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and films such as Step Up and Honey. So when Robyn Bavati’s Pirouette came across my radar during my prep for last summer’s anticipated books posts, unsurprisingly it set off all kinds of “you have to read this”-alerts. And well it should have, because it was just as entertaining as the best episodes of SYTYCD, those where there are choreographies that make you cry they’re so beautiful and emotional and choreographies that just make you grin like mad at their tricks and entertainment value.  Continue reading »

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Elissa Janine Hoole – Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always

elissajaninehoole-sometimesneversometimesalwaysFor Cassandra Randall, there’s a price to pay for being a secret atheist in a family of fundamentalists—she has nothing good to write on an online personality quiz; her best friend is drifting away; and she’s failing English because she can’t express her true self in a poem.

But when she creates a controversial advice blog just to have something in her life to call her own, there’s no way she can predict the devastating consequences of her actions. As her world fractures before her very eyes, Cass must learn to listen to her own sense of right and wrong in the face of overwhelming expectations.

Even though I’ve been reading more YA books in the past few years, most of those are solidly based in the speculative fiction corner of literature. Contemporary YA doesn’t really get a look in that often, though perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising for a blogger who mostly focuses on SFF, historical fiction and crime fiction. But the contemporary YA I have read, I’ve almost universally liked and when I first saw Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always, I was immediately drawn by the blurb. I loved the premise: what is it like to grow up with fundamentally religious parents, when you’re an atheist yourself? It is a very specific question, but the atheism versus fundamentalism could be substituted with other elements that make you different to your family, whether it is sexuality, faith, or politics to name some examples, which allows people of all stripes to connect to the story. Unfortunately Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always tries to tackle some huge issues and takes a somewhat ‘everything and the kitchen sink’-approach by, in addition to the basic conflict between Cass and her parents, also trying to say something about bullying and homophobia. And while Hoole definitely created a good story, sometimes all the different conflicts got a bit muddled and the narrative lost strength due to that.  Continue reading »

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Gavin Extence – The Universe Versus Alex Woods

gavinextence-theuniverseversusalexwoodsA rare meteorite struck Alex Woods when he was ten years old, leaving scars and marking him for an extraordinary future. The son of a fortune teller, bookish, and an easy target for bullies, Alex hasn’t had the easiest childhood. But when he meets curmudgeonly widower Mr. Peterson, he finds an unlikely friend. Someone who teaches him that that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make it count. So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the front seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he’s fairly sure he’s done the right thing …Introducing a bright young voice destined to charm the world, The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a celebration of curious incidents, astronomy and astrology, the works of Kurt Vonnegut and the unexpected connections that form our world.

Sometimes, you read a book and you want to love it; it’s funny, clever, and geeky, it covers an interesting topics, it has cool characters, it truly should be a case of connect-the-dots to love and yet … instead of love you get stuck in the friend zone—you like the book, you want to be its friend, but the spark to ignite more than friendship is just lacking. For me, The Universe Versus Alex Woods was such a book. This isn’t to say that it a bad book or that I didn’t enjoy it, it’s just that it didn’t have that spark for me. And that is mostly due to its protagonist and narrator Alex.

Be warned: there will be spoilers past this point, because there is no way to explain the above without touching upon things that are spoilers for the story’s plot.       Continue reading »

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Anticipated Reads (Summer-Fall) 2013

2013After my Anticipated Books for Summer/Fall 2013 posts of the past few weeks, today I bring you the fifteen books I anticipate reading the most in the coming six months. As usual it’s a list of fifteen, as there are just too many good books to choose from and I always have a hard time getting the list down to the more usual ten books. There are a lot of books I’m really anticipating reading that I excluded right off the bat, such as all the next books in series I’ve been reading. If I loved a book last year, you can bet that I’ll want to read the next instalment. Examples of these are Lou Morgan’s Blood and Feathers: Rebellion, Mark Lawrence’s Emperor of Thorns, Elspeth Cooper’s The Raven’s Shadow, Emma Newman’s All is Fair, and Chris F. Holm’s The Big Reap. I’ve also left off any duh-factors, such as Scott Lynch’s The Republic of Thieves, because honestly, who isn’t looking forward to that one? So below in alphabetical order by author is my list, with a little explanation of why I really can’t wait to read these books. Do you agree or would you have chosen differently from the lists I posted recently?   Continue reading »

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