Thursday, 16 May 2013

Review: the s-word by Chelsea Pitcher

The s-word by Chelsea Pitcher

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me this book.

From goodreads: Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she's caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie's own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.

You know when you get one of those books that you know is going to be a tricky one to review? Well, this is one of them…

When I saw the synopsis for this book I got kind of excited. It looked good. It looked edgy. It wasn’t your typical high school bubblegum story… it had so much promise!

My main issue with this book was that it only half fulfilled that promise.

So the story begins in the aftermath of Lizzie’s suicide. She slept with her best friends boyfriend on prom night, got branded a slut, had the word scrawled all over her locker and she consequently killed herself.

Harsh, right?

Following her death – the word ‘suicide slut’ appears on Lizzie’s locker, written in Lizzie’s own handwriting. Then, pages of Lizzie’s diary start appearing dotted in random lockers around the school.

Spooky, right? (see… so much promise!)

Angie (Lizzie’s best friend) takes it upon herself to figure out who is the person vandalizing lockers and distributing Lizzie’s thoughts and emotions. She questions her suspects in an almost investigative manner. She almost has a shortlist of suspects.

… and this is where my issues begin.

Lizzie has JUST slept with Angie’s boyfriend. They had a huge falling out and stopped speaking. No, Angie wasn’t the one calling Lizzie a slut to her face – but she didn’t do anything to stop it either. She was mad at her. She had terminated her friendship… and now she is almost trekking around the school trying to clear perfect Lizzie’s name!

And that’s my other issue. Lizzie is portrayed to be perfect. A veritable princess from a Disney movie. If you believed her diary entries then this girl would NEVER sleep with her best friends boyfriend, which in turn made the premise of the story a little unbelievable.

This book could have tackled so many issues in one foul swoop. It could have dealt with the problems surrounding slut branding, name-calling, bullying and the consequences of people’s actions – but it fell a little flat for me. The s-word was an easy read and it certainly wasn’t one of the worst books I’ve ever read… I just felt that more could have been done with the subject matter and the story line. I was a little disappointed.


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Beginning to blog...

Joining the blogging world is a little like starting high school in the middle of a term. You know when everyone's already at that point where they've forged friendships and created alliances? Where everybody already knows where they're meant to sit and what's cool and what's not? As an outsider, you're kind of excited to have your first day - but you're also kind of terrified because you know that initially you're going to be alone. You know that those first posts you write will probably be read by your eyes only. You know that you're probably going to write tweets that no one will respond to and you're frightened that you're going to look like a total loser.

It's daunting, right?

But we all did it. We all started somewhere. We all took that leap into blogger or wordpress and created an account that would allow us to express whatever emotions we wished about a topic of our choosing. For me... this topic was books.

I'm a self confessed bookworm. I always have been. I'm totally proud to be a bookworm - it's a badge I wear with honour. If I'm not reading, I'm writing... and if I'm not writing, I'm reading. It's a mini obsession for me. Now, I've stalked a few book blogs in my time in search of bookish recommendations - so I finally decided to start my own. I took the leap into blogger, tried to figure out what the heck I was doing, spent a whole afternoon trying to think of a blog name that wasn't already taken, created my blog, created a twitter account and... voila! My blog was live.

I was giddy with excitement. Seriously, you'd have thought I'd created a masterpiece. But what then? Even after you've worked hard to create your blog and twitter... you're still the new kid sat in the corner. You still don't know anyone. You still have all these bookish thoughts and opinions that you're dying to share - but you still have no one to share them with. It's kinda disheartening....

...For about an hour.

Seriously, that's all it took for the twitter followers to begin. The people in the book blogging community are generally super friendly. Don't get me wrong ... it IS like high school in the sense that everyone DOES already know each other, and everyone HAS already created friendships and alliances, but they doesn't mean that they'll sit there - 'Mean Girl' style - refusing to be your friend and judging you. That doesn't mean that they'll ignore you when you comment on their tweets. Actually, it's quite the opposite! You tweet them... they'll tweet you back. You comment on their tweets and they'll reply. It's that easy.

They may even check out your blog.
They may even comment on your blog posts.
They may even invite you to be involved in blog posts that they're creating.
They may even make you feel less like an outsider than you thought.

Forming friendships is tough - even face to face - so no one can expect to become instant BFF's with the first person you meet on twitter or through your blog... but that doesn't mean that you won't make friends at all, right?

I've been blogging for about 7 weeks now. My blog doesn't get updated every day - mainly because I don't always know what to write and whether or not people will want to hear it. I try to get involved in the weekly meme's that I see floating about and I try to write reviews of the books that I love. At the moment I feel like I have a trillion reviews in my head that I need to post, and I want to read the trillions of reviews out there on other peoples blogs. I try to tweet every day and I try to engage with people that I never would have met if it wasn't for twitter and blogging. In the last seven weeks I've been able to interact with people that I otherwise never would have had the opportunity to chat to. I've managed to have the bookish conversations that I craved prior to this venture, and I've managed to laugh - alot - throughout the process.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that blogging can be a really rewarding venture, and if anyone out there is sat on the fence wondering whether or not to start their own blog... my advice is; DO IT! You sometimes have to put yourself out there in life. You sometimes have to get out of your comfort zone, and blogging is a great way to do that. It's early days for me but I'm having an awesome time joining the book blogging community and I'm sure that you can achieve the same gratification.

And for all the time-served, existing bloggers out there... take a moment to think about all the newbie bloggers and tweeters out there. Make a friend. Make someone feel less like the awkward kid that is sat in the corner on their first day of high school because, trust me, you'll make their day! :-)

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Review: Shiver, Linger and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver, Linger and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater


From goodreads:

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their loved moved from curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.

That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be kill in one final, spectacular hunt.

Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment - a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.

Okay, so I read all of these books back to back - so it's only fair that I review them as a trilogy rather than individual books (also, I may or may not be able to remember exactly which book certain things happen in - so doing it this way is much easier for me!)

So... not having read these books earlier kinda makes me feel like I've been living in a cave. They are everywhere. They are legendary. They are New York Times bestsellers. The covers are gorgeous and are practically everything I love in a cover... so what's wrong with me? Why haven't I picked these books up sooner?

Honestly... it was the werewolves. I feel like I've done the werewolf and vampire thing to death. They're everywhere, and each and every werewolf - no matter who it is - I compare to Jacob Black. Is that wrong? Absolutely. But I can't help it. And it is for this reason alone that I kept my distance from Shiver, Linger and Forever.

However, when a work friend gave them to me and told me that they were a great read - I decided to give them a go! How bad could it be, right?

Well... here I am with my tail between my leg (no werewolf pun intended there!). I really enjoyed these books. They were easy to read, they were well paced and they kept me interested... and, more importantly, not once did I compare Sam to Jacob Black!

Sam is the main werewolf in this trilogy. His golden eyes entrance and intrigue Grace who once had a close call with the wolves. Sam is battling with his humanity - fighting desperately to avoid the cold weather that turns him from human to wolf, for if Sam loses his battle and turns to a wolf then he will lose both his human form and his relationship with Grace.

All three books continue with the relationship of Sam and Grace - with a few other characters and a few other werewolves thrown in too, of course. The plot changes and the stories expand - but throughout the books this a relationship that you find yourself rooting for, and consequently you're rooting for Sam the human. They story lines grab your interest and are very easy to read - before I knew it I'd finished all three books.

Would I recommend this trilogy? Yes, I would. No, they aren't Twilight - but they aren't trying to be. In fact, they're a great YA pick! Lose your werewolf misconceptions and give these books a go!