Title: Half Lies

Author: Sally Green

Pages: 61 pages

Synopsis

The prequel to Sally Green’s Half Bad. Michele, Gabriel and their father are on the run. They are running from a perceived danger and more importantly, from their sadness. Gabriel and Michele’s mother was killed by her lover. In an act of revenge her lover was also killed.

Life on the lam isn’t easy for Michele. She hates being unsettled and never being able to put down roots yet when her father decides to stay outside Tampa in Florida Michele is suspicious. Her worries are quickly allayed when she finds herself making friends and dare she dream it….falling in love.

Review

Told in diary format, Half Lies tells the story of Gabriel through the perspective of his younger sister Michele. We met Gabriel in Half Bad when he is sent to help Nathan. What is promising is that if Green has felt it is important to give this character a back story that we may see more of him in the sequel Half Wild which will be released in 2015.

Though this was a short story it was chock full of information. What was also advantageous was that being told from the persepective of a teenage girl offered a flip from Nathan’s story. It gave a new angle but also showed that he isn’t the only one being persecuted for his half lack/half white status. It also adds an interesting juxtaposition of older generation of witches with their traditions and hatred and a younger generation who are influenced by them – either in a negative (Aiden) or positive (Sam) way.

Half Lies is the sort of story that you want about individual secondary or tertiary characters. As the main novel is not necessarily focused on them you never really get a clear insight into them; what makes them tick or how they really feel about things. In a series like the Half Bad series you need this information, you want this information and Sally Green gives it to you in spades.

I, for one, cannot wait for Half Wild which will be released in 2015.

Half Lies by Sally Green is available now.

Half Lies

Title: Christmas with Billy and Me

Author: Giovanna Fletcher

Pages: 49 pages

Synopsis

It is Christmas time and Rosefont Hill is feeling festive; especially one lucky resident who is about to get the surprise of their life. Sophie May has been commissioned to arrange a fabulous festive secret proposal – even she doesn’t know who the lucky customer is. All she knows is that it has to be magical and Sophie knows that her little café is the perfect venue for such a romantic gesture.

Review

I really enjoyed reading Christmas with Billy and Me. Here is why. It was like visiting old friends. Having read Billy and Me when it first came out a few years ago I have often thought back on it fondly. It was Giovanna Fletchers debut novel but there was something distinctly loveable about it. The character were very memorable, the heartache, the sadness and also the beautiful love story so it has been so nice to go back and see what has happened to them since then.

What Fletcher has managed to do is avoid writing the cliché. She could have quite easily overloaded us with schmaltz and saccharine sappiness but she didn’t. She took the road less travelled and made a damn fine short story because of it.

What I liked most about the book was how it sort of hinted at more tales of Sophie May and Billy. The open ending made me happy. Come on Miss Fletcher, make your fans happy and write about them again. Please.

Christmas with Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher is available now.

Billy and Me is also available and if you like that book then you should also check out You’re The One That I Want which is also available.

You can follow Giovanna Fletcher on Twitter @MrsGiFletcher

 

 

Synopsis

When Jam Gallahue is sent to The Wooden Barn – a therapy centre for teenagers – she feels like her world is ending yet again, she is being ripped away from her family; just like Reeve Maxfield was ripped away from her. She has been sent to this facsimile of a boarding school to get over her “trauma” but the last thing Jam wants to do is get over Reeve.

Her class schedule has her down for an exclusive course called Special Topics in English – and it is only during that class that Jam (along with fellow classmates) really begin to deal with their own personal grief.

Review

I had wanted to read Belzhar for a long time and yes I will admit that I was entranced by the cover more than the blurb. However, once I read the blurb I was full of hope that the book would live up to the front and back cover.

It genuinely did.

I have never read a book by Meg Wolitzer before but I was utterly blown away by this story. The concept was so unusual but executed so very well. I had total belief that the events that took place in between these pages could happen. I fully immersed myself in the world at The Wooden Barn and I truly believed in the power of writing as a healing method (granted the last one was a long standing belief but it applies to this book too).

The gentle touches of magic realism were captivating. They weren’t oppressive or questionable and if anything helped lend a level of empathy to everyone’s individual story. It would be easy to just label this book as a coming of age drama in which the plights and teenage angst of certain individuals help the story move along. To do that though you would be completely trivialising what is in fact a rather impressive story.

It has made me want to read more of Wolitzer’s books.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer is available now.

 

Synopsis

After being dumped by the 19th Katherine in his life, Colin – along with best friend Hassan – decide to take a road trip to help with the emotion recovery of his recent heartbreak. Along the way, Colin – a child prodigy – decided to try and find a mathematic equation to help plot the course of true love. The boys end up in a podunk town where Colin discovers that everything that he thought he knew – especially the things he thought about himself – are not as black and white as he has grown up to believe.

Review

Ok. I admit it. I jumped on the bandwagon. When I read The Fault in Our Stars last year I pretty much purchased every book that John Green had written. Then, in true Lisa style, I put them on my kindle bookshelf and let them accrue layers of metaphorical dust whilst I read a lot of other books but due to my 100 book challenge this book, An Abundance of Katherines, has made it to the forefront and I have now read it. Hazzah.

For those of you wanting to read it (for the same reason or personal reasons of your own) then I will issue you with a warning. This book is nothing like The Fault in Our Stars. If you are looking for a similar read then you have picked up the wrong book. Of course, An Abundance of Katherines does have the inimitable John Green dry humour and wit but it deals less with health woes and more with the woes of being a teenage boy dealing with heartbreak.

For me, one of the great things about this book is the friendship between Colin and Hassan. I felt that there was a silly verisimilitude to their friendship. The way that they mocked each other, they could be angry at each other but they could also be honest and tell each other that they loved or were hurt by the others actions. The story was more enjoyable because of their banter.

I really liked An Abundance of Katherines. Even though my reasons for reading it were admittedly flawed, what I liked about it was that it was so different from The Fault in Our Stars. It probably goes without saying that John Green is one of the definitive voices for a YA generation. What may have been said is that he is literatures equivalent to John Hughes. He just gets how tough it is to be young.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green is available now.

You can follow John Green on Twitter @RealJohnGreen

AN-ABUNDANCE-OF-KATHERINES-by-John-Green

As you may have seen (if you have read my previous post A Month in the Life of a Book Addict) I am addicted to books. I am not ashamed of this addiction…although I am slightly worried about my inability to stop buying books and also the structural integrity of my home under all the weight of the paper. I love books of all kinds and from most genres. If there are words on something I will give it a read – there is no prejudice here. An often told anecdote in my family is how I used to take forever with my breakfast because I would be reading the cereal packet.

It has been said (although not over my aforementioned breakfast table) that when you see someone reading a book you like it is the book recommending the person…or something to that effect. What I have noticed about myself recently is that a new reading habit has emerged. I like reading books about books. I am drawn to knowing what authors are recommending, why they liked the book, what was going on in their lives during this time. Frequently, the books that they mention make it to my book wish list even though I have far too many to read as it is. My Kindle books are in the thousands, my NetGalley downloads are becoming silly and my actual physical copies already manifest two small shelves, one large double layered shelf and I have had to purchase a further six tier double layer shelf for the overspill.

Quite frankly, this amount of literature is daunting. When you think about it and you do the maths I will probably never read all the books that I own. This will not be through lack of trying. At thirty years old, let us say that I am (optimistically) a third of the way through my life. Let us also imagine that I average one book a week (this is a very conservative estimate) that means I only have approximately 3,120 books left to read. This is terrible. In those optimistic sixty years that I have left there are bound to be more books that are released that I want to read. I am mathematically screwed.

However, that does not stop me reading books about books which kind of negate the whole point of reading books; books which deserve to be read.

That being said, here are three of the best ones that I have read recently.

 

The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin

As some of you may or may not know, I almost died this year. If you didn’t know then you can read all about it here – My IBD Story. However, I didn’t die but recuperation has taken (and is still taking) a long time. Since being out of hospital I have spent my days reading; consuming books with a vociferous appetite. A book that I happened to stumble across was this delightful little gem – The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails.

Broken down into its simplest form it is a book that looks at what illness or condition that you have and directs you to the best literature to make you feel better. So say you are fatigued or you suffer from insomnia or you are an alcoholic or you have period pain this book has the answer for you. It is great because you can dip in and out of it or you can do what I did and read it from A to Z. A lot of the joy comes from seeing the writers mention a book that you have read.

This is definitely the quirkiest book that I have read this year and one that I will probably be giving out to my friends at Christmas time.

 

The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller

Ok. I admit it. I was seduced by the title. Escaping near death made me hungry for adventure; safe adventure mind, nothing more daring than perhaps a paper cut from a new book purchase. Also, having nearly died this year (have I mentioned that I nearly died?) I wanted to see if literature could save my life too. Heck it had already cured my ails; and it had also cured my boredom – seriously sitting in bed getting better for a few months takes its toll on the levels of boredom. So with eagerness I picked up this tome from Andy Miller and you know what, I am awfully glad that I did.

Why you may ask. Well let me tell you. This book was special. The premise being that we all fib a little bit about literature. We have said we love a book when never having really read it just so we can stay in the conversation or even just to make ourselves look smarter.

I myself have never lied about this…well that is technically not true. I have a mini confession. Well two really. The first is that I have never made it all the way through Anna Karenina. I got to the book about the fields and I just kind of gave up. Yet on my Goodreads account I still have this Tolstoy classic listed as a book that I am currently reading. I have technically been currently reading it for near on fourteen years. I will finish this book one day. No. I will start it afresh. I will not be beaten by a man and his love for his fields.

My second confession is that I can’t actually remember if I have read Little Women or not. I know what you are thinking. How could someone not remember reading a classic like Little Women? The thing is that I know the story so well. I just can’t remember if that has come from watching the movie or reading the book. Therefore I have added this to my ‘to-be-read’ list. At least then I will know that I am not a literature fraudster.

What I liked about this book was that Miller allowed you to see how and why books mean so much to him and how they shape aspects of his life. I both respect and relate to that. Again, the titillation came from knowing that I had read certain books. Miller did have a lot on his list that I had never even heard of and so I am now keen to read some of them too.

My book wish list had increased by at least 20 at the end of reading it. This does not bode well for me.

 

Stuff I’ve Been Reading by Nick Hornby

I have recently found myself on a Nick Hornby kick. I read Juliet, Naked and A Long Way Down among others. I even did a crazy eBay order which mean accidentally purchased two copies of High Fidelity. I loathed the film even with my bizarre crush on John Cusack but I wanted to give the book a whirl.

Anyway, when I was in my local library I saw this book and I thought to myself “Hey, I like Nick Hornby’s writing. I wonder if we have any books in common.” Out of the plethora of books featured in this book (which happens to be a collection of his articles from Believer magazine – which is, to my knowledge, not affiliated with Justin Bieber or his fan base) I had read three of them. Three. Now I consider myself well read so this low number is shocking but I guess this is what happens when you read books about books rather than reading book books.