Monday, 21 November 2016

Dear Charlie by N.D. Gomes review

Publisher: Harlequin Mira Ink HarperCollins (20 Oct. 2016)

I've had a short break from blogging but I'm back to review a fantastic book!

Dear Charlie is a hard book to read but also an important one. Before I launch into the review, there are a few potential triggers that I want people to be aware of including school shootings, suicide and depression.

At sixteen, Sam Macmillan is supposed to be thinking about girls, homework and his upcoming application to music college, not picking up the pieces after the school shooting that his brother Charlie committed.

Yet as Sam desperately tries to hang on to the memories he has of his brother, the media storm surrounding their family threatens to destroy everything. And Sam has to question all he thought he knew about life, death, right and wrong. (Publishers' blurb)

I have a lot of complex feelings about this book. At times I enjoyed it and felt uplifted, though because of the subject matter there were some very hard scenes to read. I'll try to unpick this in a bit more detail.

The narrative voice is utterly convincing. Sam seemed like a real person and I really felt for him. This sent my emotions reeling because they followed Sam's through the course of the book. I don't always read books that push me to explore difficult emotions but this book handled these areas really well.

I liked the 90s setting and found it very convincing (since this was when I was a teen)! The public reaction to the terrible events also felt realistic. I felt some echoes of 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' in the time period and relationships, though I loved that book so it isn't necessarily a bad thing!

Based on current world events, I think more people should read books about the effects of violence. I might not have enjoyed everything about this book but I think that was necessary given the subject matter. I'm really glad that I read this and I hope lots of people do.

Image result for 4 silver stars

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds Review

Publisher: Gollancz (15th September 2016)

The galaxy has seen great empires rise and fall. Planets have shattered and been remade. Amongst the ruins of alien civilisations, building our own from the rubble, humanity still thrives. And there are vast fortunes to be made, if you know where to find them...

Captain Rackamore and his crew do. It's their business to find the tiny, enigmatic worlds which have been hidden away, booby-trapped, surrounded with layers of protection - and to crack them open for the ancient relics and barely-remembered technologies inside. But while they ply their risky trade with integrity, not everyone is so scrupulous.

Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest members of Rackamore's crew, signed on to save their family from bankruptcy. Only Rackamore has enemies, and there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune… (Publishers' blurb)

This book was exactly what I needed. I've read a lot of great books recently but this is one of my favourites. It's deservedly been classified as crossover fiction that will appeal to adults and teens.

I consider myself a big sci-fi fan but I don't necessarily understand all of it... This reminded me of Firefly, in that it felt very accessible at the same time as seeming authentic and richly researched. I wasn't surprised to discover that Alastair Reynolds used to be an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency! I think that's what lends such authenticity to this story.

I also really loved how this book combined elements of my favourite genres, from the obvious sci-fi, to elements of history, westerns and horror. These elements complimented each other well and came together to create something original. I was particularly in awe of the mythology that underpinned this world. I've not come across much sci-fi that does this so well, adding depth without overpowering the plot.

It won't come as much of a surprise that I read a lot, which means I often spot a lot of familiar plots and see them coming early on. It was great that this book genuinely surprised me over and over again!

Another of my favourite things was the characters. Like the plot, the characters were fresh and interesting. What an amazing idea to pit two young girls against a mysterious female space pirate! I quickly became invested in Adrana and Furas' story because of their bravery, intelligence and curiosity. I also loved that this was about sisters, a relationship that I'd love to see explored more in fiction.

This book appeals on so many levels that I think most people would enjoy it. If you want  a masterclass in writing, characters you can root for and a gripping plot, you don't need to look any further.


If you liked the sound of this, now try Starflight by Melissa Landers.