Saturday, August 31, 2013

Monthly Round-Up #1: An Overkill of Reviews, My First Giveaway and Other Bits and Bobs

Hey guys! This is my first ever Monthly Round-Up, which excites me, because it means I survived a month, haha! 

The first thing I have to mention is the fact that I did an overkill of reviews this month, which I hope won't be as bad next month! I reviewed...

Earth Girl- Janet Edwards

Diary of a Mall Girl- Luisa Plaja

An Abundance of Katherines- John Green

My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece- Annabel Pitcher

Ketchup Clouds- Annabel Pitcher

Delirium- Lauren Oliver

What's Left of Me- Kat Zhang (Buddy Read with Ruby)

Rooted- Amy Good (Plus Author Spotlight: Amy Good)

Amber- Julie Sykes

All Our Yesterdays- Cristin Terrill

Next up, I'm hosting my first ever giveaway, for a copy of ALL OUR YESTERDAYS! Check that out over here

Also this month, I hosted SUMMER READING SMACKDOWN, with the amazing Cat, which was great fun, and Cat is amazing! Thank you to everyone who helped and participated.

That's all that went on this month, but I hope more will come in the month to come!

Charli x

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Author Spotlight: Alex Blackmore: Favourite Children's Books

Alex Blackmore trained and practiced as a finance lawyer in the City before leaving to pursue a writing career. As well as penning Lethal Profit she works as a freelance copywriter and runs an online fashion business championing new designers. Alex lives in north London, loves hot yoga and is a big fan of a perfectly made margarita.

Hey guys, I'm really happy to welcome Alex Blackmore to To Another World today, talking about her favourite books as a child! 

 

My Favourite Childhood Books – Why Reading Is Great

There is nothing like that moment when you discover books for the first time. The incredible parallel universes that a book opens up, the areas of your imagination that it awakens. Even now that feeling of warmth I used to get as a child as I opened the first page of a crisp, new tome or a well thumbed library book is still there - anticipation at what might lay between those covers, the excitement of immersing myself in a story that was as unpredictable as it was magical. Books envelope you in a whole world that is entirely as you want to interpret it – they are pure escapism on your own terms.

Magic always played a key part in defining my literary favourites – and probably still does if I’m honest, although I think the idea of what is ‘magical’ changes as you get older. Because of this, my most loved books as a kid and a teen were those that had something more to offer than just the mundanety of every day life. A wardrobe through which you could find another world full of ice queens and heroic lions, a garden that came alive several centuries ago when the clock struck 13, or a land where the objective was not to complete maths homework or get out of bed on time for the school bus in the morning but to make a ‘wild rumpus’ with a bunch of unearthly creatures straight from what might have been the depths of my own very vivid imagination.

I was scared of the dark as a child and yet it seemed to make me more motivated to read about things that go bump in the night, although I always preferred the mystery of something like Nancy Drew to full on horror. I found Roald Dahl’s slightly gut wrenching creations like the Twits and Miss Trunchbull from Matilda appalling and wonderful and I loved the fact that usually all the ‘bad’ characters got what was coming to them – it was possibly the first time I realised that I had a very strong inbuilt sense of justice.

I always liked the characters in books who could achieve things, win fights, figure out problems, inspire people and stand up for themselves against the odds. I wasn’t so keen on the delicate characters and those that didn’t have any courage. Books where children were doing things for themselves like the Railway Children and Swallows and Amazons fed my instinct that I could do everything better than the adults who kept trying to tell me what to do. Some things haven’t really changed…

From my mid teens it became very important to me to be able to read about women who inspired me – possibly at the point at which I started wondering what kind of woman I could be – but books like that were hard to find and I got sucked into tales of cheerleaders and boys. I was never particularly taken with the literary classics where women would mostly sit and crochet or wait for earth shattering romance to come to them. No matter how historically accurate they might have been, or how subtle the social commentary, I would always much rather read about a girl going on adventures and proving that she could do anything just as well as a boy. Although I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice – because of Elizabeth Bennett of course.

I’ll admit that when I was younger I struggled with some of the denser classics, such as The Hobbit or Dickens, although I loved The Catcher In The Rye. Happily, I’ve since found the books I couldn’t get into back then I really enjoy now. And that’s the great thing about books - even if you don’t like them when you’re 13 you can still come back to them in a couple of years and you’ll find something engaging inside the covers.

I don’t know at what age I started reading thrillers but they are definitely my favourite genre. Heroes, danger, excitement, issues and intrigue – what more could you want from a good read!

Alex Blackmore
  

Connect with Alex on TWITTER @AlexPBlackmore, FACEBOOK AND HER WEBSITE 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Author Spotlight: Nina Smith


Nina Smith has been writing fiction from a very young age, and has no intention of stopping. She writes thrillers and fantasy novels, with a little scifi thrown in here and there. In her spare time she is a theatrical bellydancer, costume designer and custodian of thirty grouchy chickens.

Welcome to To Another World, Nina!
 

Hailstone, your debut novel, looks intriguing! What was your inspiration for it?

 A lot of little things conspired to become Hailstone, but most of all I was intrigued with the idea of what forms rebellion might take in an adult woman. For example, as a teenager in an oppressive environment, a girl might rebel by staying out late, maybe smoking or hanging out with people she's not supposed to. At 30, the stakes are much higher and there are bigger rules to be broken, so things like blackmail, kidnap and murder might top the list instead.

"It's not easy being a pill-popping atheist alcoholic lesbian..." Why did you decide to write about these sort of themes?
 


People handle stress in many different ways, and my character Mags McAllister is coping with an enormous amount of it. I have observed thoughout my life many, many people resorting to addictions - whether substances, ideologies or behaviours - to give themselves an outlet, so it felt right to me that she would be addicted to a number of things. I also wanted her to be everything her father's church was not, and explore that feeling of being alone in a crowd, because it is something many, many people can relate to.

From what I can see, you write thriller/sci-fi sort of novels. Are there any other genres you like to read, or would like to attempt?
  

I actually love experimenting in different genres. I write thrillers when I need to ground myself in the real world, but I am a big fantasy fan. I am currently working on a fantasy series that is a lot of fun. I hope to bring the first book out sometime next year.

You say you are a belly-dancer. Why did you begin this particular hobby?
 

I've been belly dancing on and off since I was 16, but have really dedicated myself to it in the last six years. Dancing and writing are my two passions in life.
 

You are also home to 30 chickens! How do you take care of them all?
 

I feed them and keep up their water and make sure they're safe from foxes, but for the most part they're pretty self sufficient, they spend all their time wandering the yard and scratching. I grew up around chickens, and don't feel right if there's not some feathered activity in the yard. Plus having a ready supply of eggs is awesome.
  

And now for some fun questions to help us learn a little more about you!
 

I ask every author who comes on TAW this! If you were stuck on a desert island, which three items would you take? (And, because I learnt from you creative types this, you can't take anything that helps you get off. You are stuck!)
  

I would have to take the internet to keep me amused, some seeds to keep me in food and a shimmy belt! 

Who's your role model? Amanda Palmer. She is awesome.
 

Favourite hobby? Bellydancing!
 

Favourite food? Curry.
  

Favourite book? The Paradise Papers by Merlin Stone.
 

And just a couple of This Or That questions to round it off!
 

Typing or paper? Typing
Water or juice? Water
Writing or reading? Both!!! Okay, writing.
 

Thank you so much for this interview!

Connect with Nina on Facebook and her website.

Charli x

Sunday, August 25, 2013

SRS Challenge Wrap-Up!

Hey guys, this is just a quick wrap-up post to thank everyone who participated in the challenge, and who finished it! 

So, a big thanks to:

 Cat

Holly

Sophie

Abbie

Milly

Gjam

Megan

Amy 

Who all signed up, especially Cat, my amazing co-host! 

A big well done to Holly for finishing it, and Amy has basically finished, too! 

So, thanks to those who signed-up, helped, and to Cat for co-hosting with me. 

(I'm sorry this is short, my blog design somehow got wrecked and I had to fix it...)

Charli x

Saturday, August 24, 2013

UK Giveaway: Paperback Copy of All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

This is my first giveaway! I was sent ALL OUR YESTERDAYS for review, but someone gave it to me as a gift, so I'm giving away my gifted copy! It starts on the 24th August 2013 at Midnight BST, and ends on the 2nd of September at Midnight BST.

You can read my review of the book HERE and see that I rated it 5/5, and I really recommend it!

To enter, just complete the tasks on the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Charli  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review: All Our Yesterdays

Em is locked in a bare, cold cell with no comforts. Finn is in the cell next door. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn't happened yet.

Em and Finn have a shared past, but no future unless they can find a way out. The present is torture - being kept apart, overhearing each other's anguish as the Doctor relentlessly seeks answers. There's no way back from here, to what they used to be, the world they used to know. Then Em finds a note in her cell which changes everything. It's from her future self and contains some simple but very clear instructions. Em must travel back in time to avert a tragedy that's about to unfold. Worse, she has to pursue and kill the boy she loves to change the future.

Author: Cristin Terrill
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 362
Date of Publication: 1st August 2013
Series: Cassandra Chronicles #1
Source: For review
Goodreads | Amazon

I received this book for free from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review. This doesn't affect my review in any way at all. 

This book is an astonishing time-travel novel, where every page hits you and intrigues you with twists at every corner. There are extremely well-formed characters and emotions throughout the book which draw you further into the book.

In the first few chapters of the book, there is quite a lot of action, which normally overwhelms me in a book, but in this one it worked. There are many links and hints throughout the book to the mystery of the time-travel, which pull you further into the book. The descriptions in the book are truly beautiful, bringing more depth into the book and making you feel like you are truly there.

Em is a character I could interact with. She was determined, productive... But she was also cheeky and found humour. "...as though he gives a damn. I blow the director a kiss as best I can without the use of my hands...". At the start, I didn't like Marina, she seemed too posh and girly, but she becomes interesting and with hidden depths further into the book. Finn is just awesome! Cute, cool and loving... He has definitely become yet another book boyfriend for me!

The first sentence impacts on you quite heavily: "I stare at the drain in the center of the concrete floor." It makes you wonder where she is and why she is so preoccupied staring at this drain; what does she want to do with it? There is also a scene where they are mulling over their thoughts with peanut butter sandwiches, and that scene stuck with me throughout the rest of the book, because a lot of deep thoughts and ideas are revealed just while they eat those sandwiches!

Another two quotes I like are two that are quite mysterious and drag you into the book: "The weight of the future settles on me..." and "I raise the gun, and James lunges at me".

I mentioned earlier that this book is extremely descriptive. This is one quote (Marina's point of view) that I liked, "I slump in my chair and would probably slip off it if it weren't for the bindings around my wrists. My body hums with the aftereffects of the shock, like a tuning fork slammed against the edge of a table."

There are lots of quick point of view switches in some of the more action-heavy chapters, which works well and made me wonder what was going to happen next. The ending was truly beautiful, too, and wasn't on too much of a cliff-hanger, but has made me want the next book in the series!

So, overall, this book was astonishingly intriguing and beautiful. I loved it and am definitely going to read the next book, which is to be released in 2014. 



Charli x 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: Amber

How do you live by the rules if you don’t know what they are? Amber has lost her memory and the only clues to her identity are a mobile phone in her pocket and a beautiful amber necklace around her neck. This intriguing and surprising novel for teenage girls will have readers gasping with disbelief as the truth about Amber is revealed...

Author: Julie Sykes
Publisher: Curious Fox
Pages: 297
Publish date: 12th September 2013
Series: Standalone
Source: For review.

I received this book from Curious Fox for free in return for an honest review. This did not affect my review at all. Thank you Curious Fox! 

I was really excited to get this book!  The cover is gorgeous and the synopsis makes it sound intriguing. It sounds like quite a typical YA book, with the twist of the fact that "Amber" has retrograde amnesia, having been in a car crash with a mysterious woman. She doesn't even know her name!

There are so many aspects to this book, little things that actually become significant further on in the book, such as her necklace, and why she is such a "maestro" on the flute. As is the case when people have amnesia, Amber picks up on things that she remembers, such as not liking uniforms, and being a vegetarian. This, along with other things, makes the book very unique from other typical YA books.


Amber as a character is much like any teen, with or without amnesia, in many aspects. She doesn't want to be the "geek" or the "nerd"- this is something she says a few times in the book- and is embarrassed that she can't remember anything. I love the fact that she does find humour, or irony in a way, in the situation: "Superficial! Was this woman serious? I wouldn't call an event that wiped my brain so clean I didn't even know my name, superficial.". Her relationship with Kirsty, and attraction to Dan, are also cute bits of the story, and her character, that I enjoyed.

There were a few negatives to the story. I found that some of it was forced, like bits of the action such as the events between her and Holly's dad, although that did end up to be key to the story, and the turn of events that made it into a sort of sci-fi story. I also didn't like the ending... It felt kind of rushed compared to the rest of the story and didn't explain how or why a few things had happened.

Overall, though, the story plot is great until it becomes more sci-fi towards the end, the characters and their thoughts and emotions are extremely well developed and although I didn't like the ending, the rest of the story is astonishing!

 (due to the turn of events, or it would have been a 4. I still highly recommend it!)

Charli x

P.S This was the first book I made notes on, and it seemed to work pretty well!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: Rooted PLUS Author Spotlight: Amy Good

Chloe Chastain is not just an average teenage girl living in the Pacific Northwest. She's also a tree spirit doing her best to avoid the local werewolf pack and not fail her sophomore year of high school. Or get stuck in detention. Again. So when her friend is turned into a werewolf and she attracts a dangerous stalker, Chloe realizes there is more at stake than her permanent record.

Author: Amy Good
Chapters: 15
Source: Downloaded for FREE!!! (More info later.)

I loved this book, I'll say that straight out. It's like a cross between Need and Shiver, but it's unique, too. It smashes stereo-types about wolves, spirits and even cliques. This book... Well, lets just safely say that this review will probably contain a lot of fangirling.

Ok, so firstly, I absolutely ADORE the cover of Rooted. It's purely beautiful! It's mysterious, so you want to find out what the relations are between the cover and the book. The first few chapters seem pretty uneventful, though further in the book you do realise bits of it are significant.

I imagine Amy must have had a lot of fun with the fact that Chloe works in an ice-cream shop. This is one of my favourite little passages from it, even though it doesn't have any action or anything like that:

"Cameron, the owner’s daughter, walked from the back room to help me. She made the espresso shot while I scooped coffee-flavored ice cream into a large bowl shaped like a coffee mug. I added chocolate-covered coffee beans, hazelnut and chocolate syrups, and enough whipped cream to send a person into a diabetic coma. She poured the espresso shot around the edges of the whipped cream and followed it with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg." - personally, I hate coffee, but this makes it sound awesome! All the other ice creams that are described in Rooted sound awesome, too! And there names! The one above is the Express Yourself, which is an awesome pun.

I mentioned before that Rooted is way different from stereotypes. I'm a person who HATES stereotypes,  because I hate people being carbon copies and not having their own mind. Grayson is a werewolf, and Chloe is a tree spirit, but they're not like in other movies, books etc. "He didn’t look like werewolves from books or movies. He never sported a five o’clock shadow or hairy arms. He wasn’t all that tall or menacing. I’d never seen him glower." Grayson actually seems like quite a nice guy, a proper gentleman, when the wolf is under control! Rooted also shows us about typical cliques... I hated Lillian, Margot and the other brainless sheets in their clique!

Even though it's about a werewolf and a tree spirit, where there are a lot of problems around, I love how Chloe's character is still a very typical teen girl. When she and Rebecca are in tons of trouble, running away, getting hurt, what does she do? Think about her geometry test. Or was it English?

Chloe is slightly judgemental of others, probably due to the fact that she doesn't know if they are werewolves or spirits too. She always seems to analyse Rebecca's shirts, which made me laugh!

Rooted doesn't have a lot of romance in it, but I think if it had got a romance in it, it would have taken the action and slight mystery out of the story, and it would just be yet another werewolf romance book, not the perfect book that it is. However, there are a few cute interactions between Grayson and Chloe... I ship them so much now!

Overall, Rooted is just awesomely amazing ASDFGHJKL perfect. Beautiful, thought-provoking, well-formed characters and a perfect balance of action, mystery, drama and typical teenage stuff. I loved it, and I'm sure you will too... Because you can get it FREE, here!




I am a writer from the U.S. currently living in Dublin. I write part-time, but only when my tyrannical toddler allows it! I also co-created the Story Bandit, a phone/web app that steals writer's block. When I'm not writing, I tweet about the joys and troubles of being a writer, a geek, a toddler mom and a non-native Dubliner. I really hope you like what you read and will consider stopping by occasionally!


Thank you for coming on To Another World for this interview, Amy! 

As you can see from my review and all my fangirling, I absolutely LOVE Rooted. Where did you get your inspiration for it? 

It makes me so unbelievably happy that you loved Rooted!!  Thank you so much!  As for how I got the idea, it came out of a few things.  First and most importantly, I watched a marathon of MTV's Teen Wolf and by the end, I knew I wanted to write a story about werewolves!  I knew I wanted to fill the world with lots of different shapeshifters, though, and to give the female protagonist something different and unique and something I hadn't seen before.  I was missing the Pacific Northwest, so that became part of the story, and I knew that I wanted to I wanted my protagonist to reflect my love of that place!  Around the same time, I had read a news story about an orphaned girl who had been bullied so badly she'd committed suicide, and somehow her story became part of Rooted.  And after having my daughter, I found myself wanting to explore how much harder it is to be a teen right now, as opposed to when I was that age!  Because let's face it… you guys have things so much tougher!!  

You JUST started a YouTube channel. Why is that? Is it because of people like me reading Rooted, or just some fun to do? 

I've heard the idea kicked around a lot  - that writers should differentiate themselves and break into YouTube.  But I honestly didn't know what to put on it!  I tried reading passages out loud, but I sound atrocious.  It's like I'm reading off the grocery list.  I can't believe I can sound so horrible with words I wrote myself!!  So I noticed I've been getting questions, and I decided I'd just open up a bit and talk to everybody instead.  How do you think it's working so far? 

Your last chapter almost killed me! Why did you end like that?? 

Um..  Because I wanted to??  ;)  Gosh, how do I answer this question?   I felt like the main story got wrapped up!  I resolved the question of what happened to Lillian, and why Margot was doing what she did.  I let Chloe confront her stalker and find out who really had her back.  I even let you in on all kinds of family and foster family secrets!  I know I left a few loose ends, but that's because I'm working on some short stories to give my readers a bit more fun in Chloe's world!! 

The all important question.... Is there a sequel coming up? 

Of course!  I don't know when I'll finish it, but I'm working on it!! J And to tide everyone over until then, I've also been writing those short stories I mentioned.   Don't worry, I'll let everyone know once they're finished! 

There isn't much romance in Rooted. Is there a specific reason for this, or....? 

I know, right! ;)  A lot of the people who've read it so far want there to be more romance, but it just didn't fit into the story and I didn't want to shove it in for the sake of having a love story.  Rooted is really about friendship in the end, and it didn't feel right to clutter it up with a romance too.  Also, if you think about, Chloe is understandably pretty wary of boys so I didn't think she'd be rushing into a relationship before getting to know the boy first! 

Now for some fun questions! 

My signature author interview question. What three items would you take on a desert island, and they CAN'T be anything that helps you get off, because I know you author types. You are STUCK on it. 

My husband and my Kiddo!!  And the internet.  I'm pretty sure I could live on a desert island as long as I have internet!  Otherwise, how will anyone read my books? 

Role model/person you look up to the most?  I look up to a lot of women authors, from J.K. Rowling to Janet Evanovich.  I tell myself I need to be as brave as they've been in pursuing their dreams! 

Favourite pudding?  Do you mean the British pudding or the American pudding?  Because I've seen some of the things they call pudding in this part of the world… And… Well… Pass!  ;) 

Do you like bagels? (Don't ask. I just love them, so I wondered!)  When I lived in the U.S. I could get gluten-free bagels and I loved them so much!  But I can't find them here in Ireland and since I've been diagnosed with celiac, I won't risk a real bagel. 

Favourite book??? Kindred, by Octavia Butler, is a really heavy book - not for the faint of heart - but it spoke to me in a really powerful way.  It's instantly the book I think of as my favourite! 

And a few this or that questions... 

Typing or pen and paper?  Usually typing because I can't go very far without a thesaurus.  You've seen my YouTube videos, so you've seen all my awkward pauses while I search for what I'm trying to say.  Now imagine that 100 times worse when I'm trying to write in Chloe's voice!!  Yep, a pen and paper doesn't cut it anymore. 

Tea or coffee? It used to be tea,  but now I drink so much coffee just to keep up with Kiddo! 

Ebook or physical copy?  I've formed an unhealthy relationship with my Kindle, so I'd have to say ebook!!  

Thank you so much for this interview Amy! 

CONNECT WITH AMY:

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

TUMBLR

AND get Rooted for your computer, Kindle, Nook... HERE!! (DO IT. YOU WILL NO REGRET IT!

So there you are guys! This has to be my favourite post EVER. Hope you enjoyed this bumper post, I certainly did! :D

Charli x 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Review: What's Left of Me (Buddy Read with Ruby @ Feed Me Books Now!!!)

Imagine that you have two minds, sharing one body. You and your other self are closer than twins, better than friends. You have known each other forever.

Then imagine that people like you are hated and feared. That the government want to hunt you down and tear out your second soul, separating you from the person you love most in the world.

Now meet Eva and Addie.

They don’t have to imagine.

Author: Kat Zhang
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 343
Source: Bought
Goodreads | Amazon

I read this for a buddy-read with Ruby, and I think we both enjoyed it. We found a few flaws and bits we enjoyed.

One thing that was really good was the concept. The fact that two people are born, but only one becomes dominant and lives, fascinated me. The whole "hybrid" notion, where one stays inside them was equally as fascinating. I hated the fact that if they were hybrid they were automatically bad; a lot of this book shakes up your emotions quite a lot, which I always like in a book.

However, I found some of it quite confusing. At first, it was quite unclear how Eva was inside Addie, how they were talking and what exactly the "settling" was. This continued through the book, so some of the plot seemed quite disjointed. Also, some of the action jumped around, so although I got into the book, at times it made me want to stop reading and comprehend the situations.

Another thing that confused me, and I know Ruby got confused by this too, was what was the speech in their head and what was said aloud. When it was spoken, it was, as normal, in speech marks. But when they were talking in their heads, it was like <this>. It should have been really clear, but when they were talking to each other and a person at the same time, it was hard to establish the difference.

Addie is quite an annoying character. She seems quite bossy and very... proud, almost, that she became the dominant one. Personally, I felt that she seemed to try and undermine Eva, because she couldn't do anything in the real world. But then, because the book is from Eva's point of view, we don't really know how Addie feels when Eva begins to walk and talk. Even though Eva hears all her thoughts and feels how she feels, perhaps Addie feels differently? I loved Eva and Ryan, though. They were both quite mysterious characters, and I loved the fact that though they were hard to read in their charateristics, you could easily distinguish them from others, and the fact that the author made it easy to work out whether it was Devon or Ryan talking.

I didn't really like the ending, though I think it was done on purpose to correspond with the sequel that comes out soon.  

I think it would have been better if the point of view had switched between Addie and Eva, because I think we would have been able to see her emotions more clearly. There were little bits that kind of touched me during the book, like the fact that it was always "we" said, "we" walked, "us". It was never Addie, Eva believed it was her too.  This was in no way an easy read. You have to handle quite a lot and your emotions get quite shaken up!

So, overall, this was a great read. It kept me occupied and interested me. I can't wait for the sequel, Once We Were, which comes out soon, which I'll definitely read. But, due to the negatives I have told you about, the rating is lower than I expected.


Charli x

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review: Delirium

Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It's hard to be patient. It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't

Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 441
Source: Borrowed from Library
Goodreads | Amazon

Wow. I... I'd been meaning to read this for ages, my school library didn't have it, and I had to order it in from the library, which then took two weeks. BUT IT WAS SO WORTH IT.

When people are in love, they are referred to as lovesick. In this book, it's taken very literally. Scientists have found a cure to love, because it's a disease that you can be punished for having.

Lena is such a beautiful character, though at the beginning she was quite naive. Further on in the book, I realised it wasn't her being naive, she had been brainwashed. Lauren Oliver gave Lena quite a transparent personality, but with many other characters, such as Alex, quite translucent individuality. The mix of being able to clearly understand and relate to the main protagonist and having the mystery of another is quite nice to have. And, of course, Alex has become yet another of my book boyfriends! He seems perfect...

What really shocked me in the book was how very little freedom they have. They have a curfew, there are raids, they are stopped in the street to look at identification. Before they are cured, they can't touch boys, talk to them. They are evaluated, most forced to lie, before being matched up to someone suitable. It makes you think about how you would feel, what you would do, if you were confined to this. I would probably do the same as Lena! Another thing was how much fear people had of the guards. They can hurt them on the spot!

My only problem with it is that although it wasn't quite insta-love, they moved pretty fast! He loved her within a few weeks, and they made plans on running away... Though, unlike other books where this feels unrealistic and bugs me, due to the theme and the fact that within a few months she would be cured and have her arranged marriage, it was ok!

It's quite similar to other dystopias, where it's basically based off a "what if" question, but it's different enough, with an uncommon theme (no love) which makes it interesting. Apart from the similarities, it's an absolutely beautiful book.

So, overall, this book was truly beautiful, and shows us what it's like to not be allowed to love. I loved it, and I'll definitely read the others in the series.



Charli x

Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: Ketchup Clouds

Secrets, romance, murder and lies: Zoe shares a terrible secret in a letter to a stranger on death row... Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret—a dark and terrible secret that she can't confess to anyone she knows. But then one day she hears of a criminal, Stuart Harris, locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. Or lies. Or murder. Full of heartache yet humour, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can—in letters to the man in prison in America. Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal...

Author: Annabel Pitcher
Publisher: Indigo
Pages: 305 
Source: Borrowed from Library
Goodreads | Amazon

This was a really interesting book for me to read. I would normally hate there just being letters in a book, but Ketchup Clouds is so beautifully structured and thought provoking that it didn't matter. The basic plot is that Zoe has done something bad. And gotten away with it. She is basically full of grief and guilt, and begins to write to a guy in prison, whose name is Stu. We never see any letters from him... If there were any. 

Basically, Zoe tells Stu a story about the bad thing she did. We don't find out what that is until almost the end of the book, which made me want to finish it more, if a little annoyed by the fact that I didn't know what was going on. The situations that Zoe were in weren't easy for her. Firstly, she was in a love triangle... With a pair of brothers. On top of that, her mum is pressuring her about school, her dad has lost his job and her sister is deaf, which, under no fault of Dot's, adds to the stress of the family.

I'll outright admit it; I fell for Aaron! He seems like the perfect gentleman and has tons in common with Zoe! I didn't like Max, though I don't think he's formed so you do! Both of the boys are very well-formed characters

Zoe herself has a very mixed character. Sometimes she is childish, sometimes she is very mature, and you can tell from this that she isn't sure of herself. Nearer to the end of the book, we find out that Zoe has hidden her true identity... And made herself into someone else.

It's a beautiful book, but there's something missing. I couldn't quite put my finger on it until I finished the book. I think some of the book just anti-climaxed, because the major event didn't happen till quite near the end, where quite a lot of emotion, action and discoveries happen. It wasn't overly busy at the end, but the middle of the book could've done with a little bit more going on.

"We were crouching amongst Mum's shoes in the big wardrobe in my parents' bedroom where we always smoked pens and discussed stuff that needed darkness..." This quote has very little to do with the proper story, except that they talk about stuff that only siblings can discuss. But I love this bit! It's only about a quarter through the book, so you would think that it wouldn't stick with you, but it did! I think this quote shows the beauty, the essence, of the book.

So to sum it up. I loved this book, though there were little bits missing.



Charli x

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Author Spotlight: Jack Croxall


Born in High Wycombe, Jack Croxall now lives in rural Nottinghamshire with his chocolate Labrador, Archie. He has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Nottingham and currently toils away as a science writer in between working on his books. He tweets via @JackCroxall and blogs at www.jackcroxall.co.uk

 Hi Jack! Thank you for letting me interview you here at To Another World!

Your book Tethers looks amazing! How can my readers get it?

 Thank you! You can buy Tethers through Amazon, either as an ebook or as a paperback. Half of all royalties amounted from the paperback version will go directly to ME Research UK, a charity which funds biomedical research into ME and CFS. The book is also available in a few select bookstores and libraries around Nottinghamshire, but I'm hoping to expand its distribution soon.

How do you get your inspiration for your writing?

 I think up a lot of my ideas whilst I'm out and about, just walking the dog or going to a shop; generic activities like that. Suddenly I'll see somewhere that I think would be a good setting for a particular scene, and I'm able to imagine how my characters would act in that situation. On top of that, I often wake up in the early hours of the night with some kind of idea, when that happens, I grab my phone and text it to myself so I don't forget!

Do you have any top tips for budding writers?

 Firstly, read as widely as you can - not exclusively stuff from the genre you write in. I'm not just talking about fiction either; blogs, newspaper articles, pamphlets, menus, billboards, DVD boxes, E-mails, all can be sources of great writing - you need to absorb as much of it as you can! Secondly, get involved with the larger writing community. With social networking it's never been easier and most writers really are wonderfully supportive. I've found talking to fellow book/writing types incredibly helpful so please, get involved; my twitter handle is @JackCroxall so if you're interested, add me for a chat!

Is there a place that you like to write in, or do you just take it around and work when you can?

 I do have a particular place I like to write at! I wrote an article on writing environment here: http://bit.ly/SJlcHx

I love the fact that on Goodreads you review books like anyone else, instead of just keeping to your own author stuff. Do you have any favourite authors or books?

 Thanks! I absolutely love reviewing books, and I do so for a number of places on top of GoodReads including LeftLion Magazine, Unpopular Science and Parenting Without Tears. My favourite authors are people like Philip Pullman, William Nicholson and Richard Adams, but, if a book is good, I don't care who wrote it, I'll shout about it regardless!

 Now we have some fun questions!

The question I ask all my authors... You can take 3 things on a desert island. What are they (you cannot take anything to get off the island!! You are stuck on it!)

Ooo sneaky! Definitely a fishing rod to catch my dinner, photos of friends/family and a solar-powered laptop!

Favourite person? David Attenborough
Favourite sweet/chocolate/pudding? Chocolate Brownies
Do you like Ribena? (Don't ask. I love it.) Love it, not that Tooth Kind rubbish from a few years ago though.
Do you have a comfort habit? Cuddles with my puppy-dog, Archie!

 Lastly, some THIS OR THAT questions!

Typing or pen and paper? Typing
Orange or blackcurrant squash? Depends how hot it is.
BBC or ITV? BBC all the way!

 Thank you again for doing this interview Jack!

 

Connect with Jack on TWITTER, TETHERS ON FACEBOOK AND GOODREADS

 

BUY TETHERS HERE (EBOOK) OR HERE (PAPERBACK)

I haven't got it myself yet, but I plan to! It sounds fantastic!

Charli x

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review: My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece

Ten-year-old Jamie Matthews has just moved to the Lake District with his Dad and his teenage sister, Jasmine for a 'Fresh New Start'. Five years ago his sister's twin, Rose, was blown up by a terrorist bomb. His parents are wrecked by their grief, Jasmine turns to piercing, pink hair and stops eating. The family falls apart. But Jamie hasn't cried in all that time. To him Rose is just a distant memory. Jamie is far more interested in his cat, Roger, his birthday Spiderman T-shirt, and in keeping his new friend Sunya a secret from his dad. And in his deep longing and unshakeable belief that his Mum will come back to the family she walked out on months ago. When he sees a TV advert for a talent show, he feels certain that this will change everything and bring them all back together once and for all

Author: Annabel Pitcher
Publisher: Indigo
Pages: 236+Jasmine's Memory (this edition)
Source: Bought
Goodreads | Amazon

This book is one of those books that hits you very hard at home. It shows you about grief that people have when a close family member dies, what they do to try and let them live on, and the racism that the world bears.

It's a difficult thing to comprehend, as we don't know if Jamie's dad is really a racist, and believes what he says about Muslims in his heart, or if it's just a side effect of Rose's death. During the book, every time he sees a Muslim, he says things like "go back to your own country", and is horrified when he finds out that Jamie's new friend Sunya is a Muslim. He can't deal with the fact that not all Muslim people are bad; he just sees that they are bad, because some of them, terrorists, killed his daughter.

Another thing is how different members of the family act. When I've had close people die, it doesn't affect all of us, as there are two families in the house; my mum's and my stepdad's, so I've never seen just how differently different people get over their grief. People like Jamie are what a family like this need; a little spark of hope. I think the family's main problem was the father. He was wrecked by grief, drunk and racist. You can see why they have troubles in the book.

When I was reading this book, I felt like I could relate to Jamie, even though I haven't had his exact situation. My best friend died when I was ten; so I could relate to some. But he also has to deal with this uncaring, constantly drunk man, bullying at school and hiding his best friend.

The book wasn't easy to read, though it was easy to finish. In some ways, it's hard to believe it's in the point of view of a ten year old, because there is a lot of philosophical thinking, and he understood things which most children wouldn't at that age! But in other ways, you could truly see his age; for instance, when he was at school, and his thinking that his mum will come back to him for parents' evening, just like that.

So, overall, I loved this book; it was right up my street! I love the harsh reality of it; and seeing how a 10 year old copes with all these problems. I had similar at that age; but different.




Charli x