Monday, 29 May 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett Extract

Today I'm excited to share with you an extract from The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett, which is out on June 1st!

From Chapter One 


Survival was a one in a million chance. The virus was a near-perfect killing machine. Contagious as hell, it had a vicious little sting in its tail. It mutated with every reinfection. A single exposure was survivable – with luck – but it was as though it knew us. As the disease spread, people did what people always do. They clung and grabbed and mauled one another. They queued at the hospitals. They died in the waiting rooms. They clutched at their lovers and held on to their children. And the disease rampaged joyously, burning through thought and will, then flesh, and, at the very last, through bone – until there was nothing but dust, and no one left to mourn over it.

Dust to dust, Jamie thought, rising slowly onto one elbow. The sun was slanting under the top edge of the window, illuminating the interior of the single-roomed croft that had been her home for the last three months. It was a standard settler’s dwelling, flat-packed as part of some colonist family’s baggage allowance when the first ships made their way through the void.

Jamie’s head was aching, and her mouth was so dry that she might as well have been dust herself.
Had she breathed them in? The dead? Were they inside her now, clinging to her throat, hoping for some chance word that might carry them back to an echo of life?

Ninety-nine point nine nine nine nine per cent.

She yanked herself back from the fall that lay beyond that thought. It might be different here. They’d had some warning. And they didn’t live crushed up close against each other, like on the central worlds.

But . . . the silence.

Something snagged in her throat, and she coughed, and then retched, doubling over.

Water.

The thought instantly became an urgent need, with enough force to tip her over the edge of the bed and into a sprawled half-crouch on the stone floor. She pushed herself upright, leaning hard on the bed, and then crossed the floor, moving with a club-footed awkwardness. When she reached the sink, she clung to it with both hands. The mirror in front of her was clouded and warped. The distortion had always unsettled her, with the way it caught her features and twisted them if she turned too quickly. But today the clouded surface was a relief. She didn’t need a reflection to know how reduced she was. She felt shrunken, stretched too tight over her bones, her dark hair hanging lank and lifeless on her shoulders, her olive skin bleached to a sallow hue.

The tap sputtered, kicking out a little spurt that grew into a steady stream. She splashed at her face, the cold water forcing the shadows back to the edges of her mind, leaving nothing to hide that pitiless statistic.

Ninety-nine point nine nine nine nine per cent dead.

Ten billion people scattered across space.

Nought point nought nought nought one per cent of ten billion.

Ten thousand people should have survived.

Spread across how many populated worlds? Three hundred, or thereabouts. Thirty-three survivors per world. And a few left over.

She had a nagging sense that her maths was wrong. But then she was weak, reduced by her illness. It was making it hard to think clearly.

When the answer struck her, she initially felt only a little snick of satisfaction at figuring it out. All worlds were not created equal. Almost half the total human population lived on Earth and the capital planet cluster. There must be a couple of billion people on Alegria alone.

That meant two thousand survivors. Set against the ominous silence outside the croft, that seemed like a vast number, and she felt a flicker of relief.

But then there were all the fledgling colonies, right out on the edges of civilisation, some of them numbering only a few hundred people.

Soltaire fell somewhere between those two extremes. Its single land mass was sizeable enough – about the size of Russia, she’d been told – but settlement had been slow. There were ten thousand people, or thereabouts, most of them clustered around the port, or over in Laketown. Then a few smaller towns, and a clutch of smallholdings, as well as the two main cattle-breeding centres, at Gratton Ridge and here at Talgarth.

Ten thousand people.

All the heat seemed to drain out of her body.


The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett is published by Pan Macmillan, 1 June 2017, £12.99 hardback.

Anne Corlett has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has won a number of awards for her short stories, including the H. E. Bates Award. She works as a criminal solicitor and freelance writer, and lives with her partner and three young boys in Somerset. The Space Between The Stars is her first novel.



Check out the other awesome blogs taking part in the tour:



Friday, 26 May 2017

REVIEW: Damage by Eve Ainsworth

Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Mental Health
Release Date: March 2nd 2017
Buy The Book: Book Depository - A Great Read

How can you heal if you can't face your past? Confident, popular Gabi has a secret - a secret so terrible she can't tell her family, or her best friend. She can't even take pleasure in her beloved skateboarding any more. And then one day an impulse turns to something darker. Gabi has never felt so alone. But then she learns that not everyone has wounds you can see. A searing look at self-harm and acceptance from hugely talented author Eve Ainsworth. Warning: includes content that some readers may find upsetting.


Please Note: This review discusses self harm and addiction.

My Thoughts:
Damage is a book that features a protagonist who finds herself starting to self harm. From the moment I realised the subject this book was about, I knew I wanted to read it. Self harm is something that I don't see discussed openly and honestly in YA very often, so I was keen to read a story that focused on it. As someone who has seen what self harm can do to a person and how it can turn someone's life upside down, I wanted to see how this book portrayed the issue.

Gabbie is grieving the death of her grandfather, who had been an important figure in her life. But his relationship with her parents was a turbulent one, so Gabbie found herself feeling torn between them. After his death, she feels like she is the only one who is hurting over his loss and she has no one she feels she can truly express her feelings to. When she discovers that physical pain can press a temporary pause button on her emotions, Gabbie starts to self harm, and she finds herself losing more and more control.

I can't applaud this book enough for it's portrayal of self harm. It is different for every person who goes through it, but Damage provides an insight as to how something like this can take over a person's life, and for what it's like for someone to struggle with this every day. This story is also a great way to educate young people about self harm because as the characters in this book show, it's easy for a person who doesn't understand the issue to jump to conclusions and make assumptions about people who cut themselves.

Another thing that really upped my level of respect for this story is how it dealt with alcoholism. There are a lot of stereotypes that come with alcohol addiction, so I was pleased to see that Gabbie's grandfather wasn't painted as a bad man or a lesser person, he was simply someone who'd had his life overshadowed by his addiction to alcohol. Ainsworth perfectly presented the range of emotions and situations that surround a family who have to deal with that.

Damage is a short read and it's easy to get through in a couple of days. Gabbie struggles but develops so much throughout the story, and there are some heartfelt scenes towards the end. I was also very pleased to see that there were some helplines and useful links at the back of the book for anyone struggling with self harm and grief. It's so important that books like this are out there for young people to access.

Royal Rating:

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

BLOG TOUR: Guest Post from Simon James Green!

Hello fellow bookworms! Today I'm super excited to share with you this wonderful guest post from Simon James Green, author of Noah Can't Even.

Being open in coming-of-age stories


Coming-of-age stories have been loved and enjoyed by TV, film and book audiences for years. As an adult looking back on those teenage years, it’s easy to do so through rose-tinted glasses, remembering fondly the first feelings of fancying someone, or the long, endless summers, that beautiful kiss…

Er… no! Of course, it wasn’t like that. Fancying that person was the start of an emotionally turbulent nightmare, the summer wasn’t endless it was packed with revision and stressful exams and that kiss was a stupid drunken one and you’d actually just been sick, and you totally regret it.

Those years – they’re actually quite difficult. And they’re packed with confusion, misinformation, and, a lot of the time, you can feel quite scared. These feelings, the stuff you’re going through, it’s all brand new. You’ve no reference point based on previous experience, so you don’t know if it’ll all work out OK. Whether you’ll get through it. You can feel like you’re lost in the woods: the torch has died, there’s no 4G so Google Maps won’t work and what use is a compass if you don’t know whether you should head North or South anyway?

I think this is why it’s so important to be open and honest in coming-of-age stories: you can feel like you are the only one going through this stuff… and you’re not. It might not make it any easier, but knowing you’re not alone, hell, knowing that just one other person feels like you do, maybe that’s a small crumb of comfort.

I’m pretty sure the internet has made it harder. Sure, you can find like-minded people and support websites to help you with whatever you’re going through. But you can also find a whole lot of utter tripe, written by people pushing their own hateful agendas. You only have to look at some of the vile comments written below videos that LGBTQ+ teens have made on YouTube – you’re exposed to hate these days like never before, and that’s not what anyone needs, especially when you’re making your first tentative steps to working out who you are. And sometimes our educational establishments don’t help. There are many good schools out there doing great work, but some schools don’t. Some schools won’t discuss LGBTQ+ issues in PSHE lessons, or tackle homophobic bullying in any sort of meaningful way. Take a look at the Stonewall report on homophobic bullying in Secondary schools – it’s depressing reading.

But we have a chance to address this in coming-of-age stories. Here we can tell it like it is, explore those feelings, and tell those stories. In the world of YA fiction, those gay kids who feel like they might as well not exist as far as their school experience goes, can read about characters going through the same things they are going through. They can join them as they fall in love, kiss, break up, get back together, laugh, have sex, screw it all up and put it all back together again. Reflecting that real experience, writing it in an honest, open way, in the safe space that a novel offers, that’s so important. With Noah Can’t Even, one of things I really wanted to achieve was exploring teenagers’ different experiences of sexuality and coming out in an open and honest way. If we were all more open, less afraid of being honest, especially with those young people we’re meant to be supporting and nurturing, wouldn’t the world be a better place?

www.simonjamesgreen.com
@simonjamesgreen

Noah Can’t Even is out now – published by Scholastic UK.

Simon James Green grew up in a small town in Lincolnshire that definitely wasn’t the inspiration for Little Fobbing – so no-one from there can be mad with him, OK? He enjoyed a classic British education of assorted humiliations and barbaric PE lessons before reading Law at Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he further embarrassed himself by accidentally joining the rowing team despite having no upper body strength and not being able swim. When it turned out that being a lawyer was nothing like how it looks in Suits or The Good Wife, and buoyed by the success of his late night comedy show that involved an inflatable sheep, he travelled to London to pursue a glamorous career in show business. Within weeks he was working in a call centre, had been mugged, and had racked up thousands of pounds worth of debt. Finding strength and inspiration in the lyrics of Tubthumping by Chumbawumba, he eventually ended up working on a range of West End shows and UK tours, co-wrote a feature-length rom-com for the BBC and directed Hollyoaks for C4 / Lime Pictures. After trying really, really hard, he also managed to write Noah Can’t Even. If you are interested in stalking him, he still lives in London, where he spends a lot of time telling people that Noah Can’t Even is only partly autobiographical, and his mum has definitely never done a BeyoncĂ© tribute act. 

Huge thank you to Simon for stopping by! You can read my review of Noah Can't Even here, and be sure to check out the rest of the awesome blogs taking part in the tour!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

REVIEW: Here Be Witches by Sarah Mussi

Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Series: The Snowdonia Chronicles #2
Publisher: Shrine Bell
Genre: Adventure, Mythology
Release Date: February 1st 2017
Buy The Book: Vertebrate Publishing - Book Depository

All Ellie Morgan wants is to be with her one true love, Henry. But she’s caught in the middle of a BATTLE as old as SNOWDON itself. A battle between GOOD and EVIL.

A WITCHES’ SPELL, cast high on the mountain, has sped up time and made matters MUCH WORSE. The dragons are awake; mythical creatures and evil ghosts have risen. And nearly all of them want Ellie DEAD.

Thank heavens for loyal friend George, disloyal bestie Rhi, and mysterious stranger, Davey. Armed with Granny Jones’s potions, Ellie and her companions must set out on a journey to REVERSE THE SPELL, stop the EVIL White Dragon and find Henry.

As an eternal winter tightens its grip on Snowdon, Ellie and her friends have just THREE DAYS to SURVIVE and complete their quest.

My Thoughts:
Following the events that happened in Here Be Dragons, Ellie is determined to find a way to get Henry back from his tomb under the mountain. But when her friend Rihannon gets into a spot of trouble and a witch's curse is unleashed upon Snowdon, Ellie ends up thrown into a race against time with her best friend George. After highly enjoying the first book in this series, I was keen to get stuck in with this sequel.

The quest that Ellie and her friends have to go on in Here Be Witches was fascinating and packed full of adventure. With the story taking place on and around Mount Snowdon, it provided an epic setting for the journey of the characters. Something that I loved about this book was the magical myths within it. There's nothing I love more than learning about legends, so I appreciated the way that not only were they included in the story itself, but there were also extra notes at the bottom of the pages to explain things thoroughly. This series is great for getting to know epic tales from Welsh history!

I loved seeing how the characters developed in this story. Whilst Ellie has learned a lot from the events in Here Be Dragons, she still has this sense of innocence about her which I love. She has a funny, relatable attitude and I like how Mussi doesn't try to make her seem older than her age, which is something I feel a lot of YA fantasy writers tend to do. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Ellie and her friends change as they faced different situations, and despite her love for Henry, Ellie's will-they-won't-they tension with George was cute to see.

What I love about this series is the chatty way in which it's told. Though it's a fantasy novel with action and adventure, there is also something very contemporary in Ellie's narration of the story, and it makes for a delightful combination. It also helps the situation and characters feel believable because they are acting exactly how you'd imagine a bunch of teenagers would if they were thrown into a magical quest.

The Snowdonia Chronicles is fun fantasy, but dark and more serious when it needs to be, and I'm definitely excited to see what happens to this varied bunch of characters next! 

Royal Rating:

 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

REVIEW: Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green

Pages: 365
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: May 4th 2017
Buy The Book: Book Depository

Poor Noah Grimes! His father disappeared years ago, his mother's Beyonce tribute act is an unacceptable embarrassment, and his beloved gran is no longer herself. He only has one friend, Harry, and school is...Well, it's pure HELL. Why can't Noah be normal, like everyone else at school? Maybe if he struck up a romantic relationship with someone - maybe Sophie, who is perfect and lovely - he'd be seen in a different light? But Noah's plans are derailed when Harry kisses him at a party. That's when things go from bad to utter chaos.


My Thoughts:
I can't even. With this book. It's charming and funny, and also completely adorable all at the same time. This type of book just feels very home to me. My teen years used to be filled with UKYA books set in typical British high schools and filled with plenty of laughs, so Noah Can't Even reminded me of the books that helped shape me into the reader I am today.

Noah Can't Even follows Noah Grimes, who just want to be an average, 'normal' high school student. He's tired of trying to fit in, only to have some aspect of his life exposed to and mocked by his classmates. When Sophie, someone Noah has always admired from afar for her cool and quirky attitude, finally speaks to him, he decides that this is his ticket to normal. So he tries to win her over romantically, with his, um, charm? But then his best friend Harry kisses him and throws Noah's life into even further turmoil.

This is such a brilliant coming-of-age story and I adore the way that sexuality is discussed so openly, all the awkward stuff included. Noah and Harry are such close friends, but they're also very different when it comes to being themselves. Once Harry kisses Noah, he's honest with his best friend about being gay, confessing that he's only attracted to other boys. But then we have Noah, who hasn't got a clue what to make of anything that's happening, and doesn't really acknowledge being interested in anyone who isn't a girl as a possibility for himself until Harry kisses him. I love that this book shows those two variations of teens coming to terms with their sexuality. It shows that sometimes it's clear-cut, and other times it's confusing as heck, but that's okay.

All of the characters in this story are so vibrant and they make an interesting mix of different personalities. Noah's relationship with Harry and how their feelings develop is just so genuinely sweet that you can't help but love them. They're too precious for this world, honestly. Noah himself is an extremely funny protagonist and some of the stuff he came out with when he was in awkward social situations had me giggling. I also loved seeing Noah's relationship with his mum change throughout the book. Though they have their difficult moments, they make a great team when it really matters.

Noah Can't Even is a wonderful mixture of humour, romance, and awkward adolescence that hits home with a few important topics along the way. I've been in a huge reading slump lately, but once I got started with this one, I couldn't stop! If you're looking for a fun read complete with a bunch of seriously loveable characters, then this is the book you should pick up next.

Royal Rating:

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