Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Kill the Boy Band, Goldy Moldavsky

Pages: 312
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: 19th May 2016
Edition: UK proof, review copy

Okay, so just know that that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favourite boy band.

We didn’t mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of, happened that way. Now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it’s Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn’t be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn’t mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn’t. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that’s what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.

This book is completely nuts, and while I was a bit hesitant about going into it, I ended up really enjoying it!

Within pages it became glaringly obvious that The Ruperts are basically One Direction. How they came about, the different personalities of the boys and their roles in the group and the unprecedented fan reaction. I mean, I'm a fangirl for lots of things, just not boybands any more, but that didn’t stop me from completely understanding where the girls were coming from. I loved the way that being a fangirl was celebrated, even if the fangirls in questions are psychotic… Young girls are often denied their voice and have the things they like dismissed so it was cool to hear from that point of view. And yet at the same time, Kill the Boy Band also mocks fangirls a hell of a lot. These girls are mental and that is really drawn on to show the dark side of fandom. It’s an interesting position and I really can't tell Goldy Moldavsky’s opinion on it.

One of my favourite elements of the novel was the humanising of The Ruperts. Most of the boys are actually assholes and it was really interesting to see the girls turn from blind love to that knowledge that they're actually people, and not very nice people at that. Meeting your heroes can be so underwhelming and it's soul destroying if you learn something bad about them and this level of fandom doesn’t let you keep your distance! It was an interesting dynamic and it made me wonder just how many people had somehow got to know someone famous and upon discovering that they were just a person was incredibly disappointed.

While reading and upon finishing Kill the Boy Band I was just in that finishing-an-enjoyable-book haze, but as I thought about it more and make some final review notes, some things really jumped out at me and wouldn’t let go. This is a small spoiler here so look away if you haven’t read it yet! When Apple kidnaps Rupert P, she does so by knocking into him and knocking him out. Her size knocks out a grown man. It's explicitly stated that she weighs 267 pounds in the novel and she is constantly called fat by the narrator. She has very little else to define her other than her size. It’s used to turn her into the joke of the group and it made me feel sicker the longer I thought about it. I mean, how bloody damaging is that! You’re reading a book and you find out that a character who is the same weight or lighter than you is constantly being ridiculed for being fat. That’s just plain damaging and it was irresponsible of Moldavsky to write that into her book, especially one targeted at young, impressionable girls.

But the issues with Apple don’t stop there. Rupert L is Apple’s favourite and while he’s in their room and tied to a chair, he is basically sexually assaulted by her. She's always touching him and licking him (!) even after he expresses distress and tells her to stop. It's never even touched upon that it might be wrong because it's funny. He’s the ‘ugly one’ and Apple is the fat one. The narrator even says at one point that she thinks Apple only likes Rupert L because she knows that none of the other (prettier) boys would ever stoop to her level. It’s vile. It's just vile.

I really enjoyed Kill the Boy Band while I was reading it. It's a fun, fresh and original tale about friendship, fandom and obsession, but I just can't condone the horrific fat shaming that takes place in this book.

Thanks to Macmillan for the review copy.

Sophie 

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Blog Tour: Lying About Last Summer, Sue Wallman

Pages: 265
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: 5th May 2016
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

It’s time

Last summer Skye’s sister died in a tragic accident. Now she's looking for an escape from reality. Her parents think that a holiday camp for bereaved teens might help her move on.

To face

At first camp doesn’t seem so bad. But when Skye starts receiving texts from someone claiming to be her dead sister, she fears the past is about to surface…

The truth

Lying About Last Summer is a quick, easy to read debut about grief, friendship and moving on.

Skye’s story jumps between her week at Morely Hill, a bereavement activity camp for teenagers, and last summer when her sister died. The comparisons between the two summers were really interesting, especially when it allowed me to see how Skye and her life has changed. But I did find that sometimes younger Skye felt much younger in the flashbacks than she should a year before her in the present day. She occasionally seemed as if she were only about 12 or 13 when I'm assuming she was 14/15.

But as the story moved forward and Skye started to receive messages from someone pretending to be her sister, the tension really amped up. I read the second half way more quickly that I did the first! Skye became paranoid of everyone at Morely, wondering if they could be responsible and attempting to eliminate them. I definitely had my suspicions, but I was wrong and I love that! The way it played out was completely unexpected and led to much bigger drama alongside than I wasn’t anticipating. It was full throttle and intense and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

Sue Wallman’s debut is tense and wonderfully paced and I'm looking forward to see what she's got coming next.

Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy.

Sophie 

Monday, 2 May 2016

How Hard Can Love Be?, Holly Bourne

Page: 464
Publisher: Usborne
Release Date: 1st February 2016
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Soulmates, The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting, Am I Normal Yet?

So I'm spending the summer in California, with the mum who upped and abandoned me – and I think I'm falling for a guy guaranteed to break my heart. This is a situation destined to fail.

All Amber wants is a little bit of love. Her mum has never been the caring type, even before she moved to America. But Amber’s hoping that spending the summer with her can change all that.

And then there’s Prom King Kyle, the serial heartbreaker. Can Amber really be falling for him? Even with best friends Evie and Lottie’s advice, there’s no escaping the fact: love is hard.

If you ask me why I left this sitting on my shelf for three months after the release date, I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell you. I completely loved ‘How Hard Can Love Be?’.

I started reading this on a complete whim and ended up devouring 200 pages before I'd even realised it. ‘How Hard Can Love Be?’ is just ridiculously easy to read. When I wasn’t reading it, I was eager to get back to it and when I was? The world (and screaming children on a train) just melted away. It’s been a while since I've felt like that when reading so it was really lovely.

It feels like I read the first book in the ‘Normal’ trilogy a really long time ago so I almost went into this with a blank slate for Amber. And I really loved her. Her comments on America cracked me up: the terror of the airport security; the perennial cheery, cheesiness; the fact that you can't walk ANYWHERE; the fact that there’s sugar in everything and the constant comparisons between the US and the UK were so spot on.

Alongside the humour there are some really serious threads running through the plots and discussions. Feminism was, of course, a major part and I loved the passionate, enthusiastic dialogues, especially when Amber’s instinctual thoughts went in what she thought was an anti-feminist direction.

But the big push of the book is the non-relationship between Amber and her mum. It was heartbreaking to read. Amber’s feelings of abandonment, her confusion and the overwhelming sadness she felt over her mum’s new life winning over her was emotional and intense and I just really, really ached for her.

I loved ‘How Hard Can Love Be?’ and I can’t wait for Lottie’s story in ‘What’s a Girl Gotta Do?’ in August.

Thanks to Usborne for the review copy.

Sophie 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Letterbox Love #132

Letterbox Love is a way to give all of the books I receive for review some exposure. Summaries are taken from the cover, or Amazon/NetGalley/Goodreads in the case of e-books, unless otherwise stated. All of the books are in exchange for an honest review.

My Favourite Manson Girl, Alison Umminger (e-proof)

Anna has had a miserable year. Everything feels wrong with her life. And rather than stay and face the mess, she steals a credit card and books herself a seat on the first flight out of town to Los Angeles, to crash with her sister. But soon after she lands, cold reality soon dawns on her: Hollywood isn’t the escape she needs. She is trapped in a town full of lost souls and wannabees, with no friends, no cash and no return ticket.

When she's offered a job researching the murderous Manson girls for a dubious film, she reluctantly accepts – she needs the money. But soon enough, among the fake smiles and glitter-fuelled parties, things turn from strange, to dark, to dangerous.

This is not going to be the summer Anna has in mind.

My Favourite Manson Girl is a chilling story about being young, lost and female. This is a story about how girls disappear.

Doesn’t this sound brilliantly creepy?! Thanks NetGalley and Atom!

Notes on Being Teenage, Rosalind Jana (proof)

Rosalind Jana: blogger, writer, feminist and model, she’s crammed a lot into her 20-odd years.

Rooted in her own experiences, Notes on Being Teenage is a warm, wise, witty book about growing up and into yourself, covering aspects of teenhood from mental health and bullying to style and blogging.

Stories, advice and wisdom from teenagers are also included, along with interviews with inspirational people like Louise O’Neill, Juno Dawson and the founders of The Vagenda.

Totally intrigued, though I'm not 100% how I’ll get on with it. Thanks Books with Bite!

Songs About a Girl, Chris Russell (proof)

When aspiring photographer Charlie Bloom receives the invitation of her dreams – to take backstage photos for chart-topping boyband Fire&Lights – it’s an offer she can't refuse.

Overnight she is launched into a world of fame, paparazzi and backstage bickering – caught between the dark charms of the band’s lead singer Gabriel West, and boy-next-door bandmate Olly Samson.

But then Charlie stumbles upon a spine-tingling truth: all the songs Gabriel has written for Fire&Lights debut album are, impossibly, linked to her and her past.

What does he want with Charlie?
What's really going on?

I’m SO in love with this cover! Thanks again Books with Bite!

Sophie 

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater

Pages: 438
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: 26th April 2016
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Lament, Ballad, Shiver, Linger, Forever, Sinner, The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into his mission: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a life; and Blue, who loves Gansey … and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Nothing dead is to be trusted.

Now the endgame has begun.

Nothing living is safe.

Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

SPOILER WARNING! THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR ALL FOUR BOOKS, INCLUDING ‘THE RAVEN KING’, IN THIS REVIEW.

It feels like I waited forever for ‘The Raven King’. I had to have a re-read of the first three books so I could savour the final instalment in all its glory.

I can honestly say that I've never gone into a book feeling so damn scared for a group of characters. There were so many books that I had to put the book down and walk away for half an hour just to collect myself; I even felt a bit sick when I noticed that Gansey was wearing an Aglionby jumper and it was getting wet from the rain… It was kinda traumatic, actually. Part of me just didn’t want to read it because I didn’t want to know!

But guess what I 100% did want to know about? Blue and Gansey! I really am all in with them and I was so pleased when they finally revealed to Adam and Ronan that they were together. It was sweet and awkward and lovely. And that almost kiss at the toga party completely took my breath away – that kind of delicious, romantic tension is something that Maggie Stiefvater really does beautifully. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of it if I'm honest.

A photo posted by Sophie (@solittletimeforbooks) on

There was some with Adam and Ronan to a degree, but I have mixed feelings about their relationship. Up until ‘The Raven King’, I had only ever seen Adam as appreciating Ronan having a crush on him – he liked to feel loved and wanted and searched for Ronan’s approval, but I’d never gotten vibes of him actually returning his feelings. And I still didn’t until they kissed and then Adam was all confused about whether he felt anything for Ronan or not. That was never resolved or even really discussed again until the epilogue and Adam was driving Ronan’s BMW and his parents mentioned his ‘boyfriend’. Did I miss something? Although I love them together, I really do, I couldn’t help but wonder if that was a pandering to the fans.

The ending of the novel was just as heart-wrenching as I expected and I really liked the way that everything was worked out. Well, relief is a more accurate feeling than like… But I did feel a little underwhelmed by the epilogue. I was still left with lots questions: Can Blue and Gansey kiss now? Is the curse fulfilled, or is it a lifetime thing? Did Adam decide if he actually has feelings for Ronan? Did Noah pass over? It felt rather like it was all being left open for more, and while I'm completely up for that, I was expecting a bit more oomph from an ending to such a glorious series, and a book we waited 18 months for.

Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy.

Sophie