Thursday, 18 January 2018

REVIEW: Shell by Paula Rawsthorne

Pages: 416
Format: Format
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: January 4th 2018
Buy The Book: Book Depo - A Great Read

What if you thought you had died, only to wake up to find that your brain and eyes had been transplanted into someone else's body?

When Lucy, a teen diagnosed with terminal cancer wakes up cancer-free, it should be a dream come true. But faced with a life she didn't choose and trapped in a new body, Lucy must face the biggest question of all . . . How far would you go to save the one you love?


My Thoughts:
Well, this was quite a wild journey. Shell follows teenager Lucy Burgess, after a doctor successfully gives her a life-changing operation to save her from terminal cancer: a body transplant. Due to the nature of the surgery and the fact that it's not exactly legal, Lucy, now known as Renee, has to keep her new identity a complete secret. With her friends and the rest of her family outside of her parents believing she is dead, Lucy struggles to accept her new body and life.

This book is weird, but in the best possible way. I've read a story before that dealt with a brain transplant, but it was more of a light-hearted take on things, so it was quite something to read a story that delved into the dark side of what it would be like if body transplants were a reality. The few chapters after Lucy first wakes up from the operation are completely chilling. I was easily able to put myself in her shoes and imagine what it would be like to be in that terrifying situation. Her anxiety pours out through the words, making it tense and gripping to read.

My heart broke for Lucy trying to adjust to her new life as Renee. The realisation of what it means for her, of having to play dead to the people she loves, is such a blow to her once she returns home. Emotions run high in some of those first scenes back at her family home, especially when she comes face-to-face with her beloved pet dog, Arthur. As a dog lover, her scenes with him after her surgery were hard to swallow.

What I particularly liked about this book was the discussion about morals regarding death and how far people would go for life. Cancer didn't give Lucy a choice, but when there was a choice for her regarding her death, her parents took that into their own hands. It's a pretty dark theme but I enjoyed it more than I expected to. It's one of those things that encourages you to think about what you would do in that situation. The doubts that Lucy had towards the end of novel also made her more believable as a character because no matter how much she wanted to do the right thing, obviously fear plays a part at some point.

The final few chapters of this book are so action packed that I literally couldn't put the book down until 2am when I finished it. I GLADLY LOST SLEEP FOR THIS. I'm very glad that I picked this one up when I did though because it's given me my reading mojo back. This was a perfectly thrilling read to start off the new year.

Royal Rating: 

 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

BLOG TOUR: Guest post from Paula Rawsthorne, author of SHELL

Hey, bookworms! Today is my stop on the blog tour for SHELL and I'm excited to share with you all this fabulous guest post from the writer herself, Paula Rawsthorne.

Q. Why and how do you write thrillers?


Hi Katie,

Thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog. I’ve written three YA novels (and I’m feverishly writing my fourth) and if I had to put them in a genre then ‘thrillers’ would definitely be appropriate. However, as with many novels, the characterisation isn’t straightforward. So, for instance, all three novels have a strong psychological element to them. This means that as well as all the twists, turns and action that you’d expect from a thriller, they also delve into what’s happening inside the character’s heads – the mind games that they play with each other, their motivation and the effects of events on their behaviour. Also, just to mash it up even more, both my first novel, The Truth About Celia Frost and particularly my latest SHELL, have an element of science fiction within them as I’m fascinated by what may happen, in the near future, as advances in medicine and science are taking place so rapidly. This also throws-up complex ethical questions which society will have to grapple with and which I enjoy exploring.

SHELL is the story of Lucy Burgess, a dying teenager, who is given a body transplant without her prior knowledge or consent. The novel is told entirely from Lucy’s perspective as I wanted the experience to be as immersive as possible for the reader. I hope to make the reader feel what it would be like to be Lucy, trapped inside someone else’s body with all the ensuing physical, emotional and psychological turmoil.

I wrote SHELL as a thriller because it’s a great form to write entertaining, gripping stories whilst also allowing you to explore interesting, thought-provoking themes which are integral to the plot and characters. Whether a thriller is read as a pure piece of entertainment or as something deeper that leaves the reader thinking, it can still succeed as a good read.

I also chose to writer in this genre because I enjoy the process. Developing the storyline for a psychological thriller is like putting an intricate jigsaw together and this appeals to me. I’m most definitely a ‘Plotter’ and I love working out how the story unfolds and characters develop with all the twists and turns.

I’m very old school in the sense that I use a cork board and revision cards to help me work out the plot. My board starts to resemble a police investigation as I reject, swap and insert scenes until I’m satisfied that I’ve got a strong skeleton for the whole story. Only then do I start the actual writing. I find that my storyboard gives me the confidence and freedom to let the narrative and characters take unexpected paths as the plot evolves and takes on a life of its own.

Thrillers are the genre I most enjoy reading as well as writing. I love to feel the tension and suspense of a gripping, well written story and I want the author to make my jaw drop with some shocking revelation that I didn’t see coming. However, another winning element to the thriller genre is that, if you do happen to work out the revelation before the reveal, you can feel extremely smug with yourself, so it’s satisfying either way.

I hope that SHELL will be enjoyed by readers and maybe even give them food for thought after all, how far would you go to stay alive?
Paula Rawsthorne is the award-winning author of Blood Tracks and The Truth about Celia Frost. She first found success when she won the BBC National ‘Get Writing’ competition with her prize-winning story read on Radio 4. She has also been a winner of SCBWI’s ‘Undiscovered Voices. She is passionate about enthusing teenagers to get reading and is a writer in residence in a secondary school for the national literacy charity ‘First Story’. SHELL is her third novel for young adults.

Huge thank you to Paula for stopping by with an awesome post! Be sure to keep an eye out for my review of SHELL later in the week. Also, don't miss out on the other wonderful blogs taking part in the tour:


Thursday, 4 January 2018

REVIEW: Vanilla by Billy Merrell

Pages: 320
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: LGBTQ+ Contemporary
Release Date: November 2nd 2017
Buy The Book: A Great Read - Book Depository
A bold, groundbreaking novel about coming out, coming into your own, and coming apart.

Hunter and Van become boyfriends before they're even teenagers, and stay a couple even when adolescence intervenes. But in high school, conflict arises -- mostly because Hunter is much more comfortable with the sex part of sexual identity. As the two boys start to realize that loving someone doesn't guarantee they will always be with you, they find out more about their own identities -- with Hunter striking out on his own while Van begins to understand his own asexuality.

In poems that are romantic and poems that are heartbreaking, Vanilla explores all the flavors of the spectrum -- and how romance and love aren't always the same thing.

My Thoughts:
As someone who is constantly shouting into the void for more books with asexual characters, you can imagine just how excited I was to hear about Vanilla. Focusing on the relationship between Vanilla and his boyfriend, Hunter, this story shows how Vanilla comes to the realisation that he is asexual. Together since middle school, Vanilla and Hunter have had a strong relationship for years, one that people can't help but envy. But when Hunter decides he wants to start moving further with their relationship, Vanilla struggles to explain to his boyfriend how he feels about sex.

Not only is this book about a sexuality that really needs more discussion, but it's also told entirely in verse, so it's just beautiful to read. I can't even begin to describe how happy I was with this story. Asexuality is so often overlooked, and so often excluded from LGBTQ+ groups. Thanks to books like this one, more people have the chance to learn what it means to be asexual, and begin to understand it.

The characters within this story are so rich. Vanilla himself is wonderful. As readers, we get to go on this confusing and difficult journey to discovery along with him. My heart broke for him so many times when he struggled to make Hunter understand what he was feeling. Hunter was a character that had me frustrated, but he was such an important part of showing that people can learn to understand eventually, despite how they initially react to a situation. One of my favourite characters had to be Angel, though. I wasn't expecting their story to have such an impact, considering I only expected it to focus on Vanilla and Hunter, and asexuality. Angel was such an unexpected but welcome part of the story that brought up valid discussions about gender and identity.

It makes me so happy to know that there will be people out there who can relate to this story and the emotions that Vanilla has, not to mention the challenges he has to face. But throughout this book, readers must keep in mind that this is only one story about a person discovering asexuality. No two people go through the exact same experiences, especially not when it comes to something as complex as sexuality. So for any asexual readers, it's fine if you don't relate to Vanilla's story. Everyone has their own path. 

I'm so glad I had the chance to discover this wonderful story, and I only hope that more books like this one come my way very soon. Not only did it open my eyes to a lot of things, but it also upped my interest in reading more verse. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for whatever Merrell is working on next.  

Royal Rating:


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