Review: The Jackie Chan Fan Club by Sharon Sant

Title: The Jackie Chan Fan Club

Author: Sharon Sant

Pages: 77 pages

The Review

So, as far as short stories go, The Jackie Chan Fan Club wasn’t the best. It was by no means the worst but it failed to amuse and entertain me as much as I wanted it to.

At only 77 pages long I should have had this finished n a little over an hour but instead I put the book down and refused to pick it up again. It actually took me three days to finish (granted, I was away on a mini-break but I still should have managed to finish it on the journey).

The story is a classic girl meets boy set up and is sweet in parts and if I have to stretch my praise I would have to say that the setting was unique but I have read a million girl meets boy story that have kept me gripped. I’m afraid to say that The Jackie Chan Fan Club just didn’t do it for me.

The Jackie Chan Fan Club by Sharon Sant is available now.

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Review: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Fans of the Impossible LifeThe Blurb

MIRA is a chronic fatigue syndrome-suffering, vintage dress enthusiast. She’s starting over at her old school St. Francis Prep, where she promised her parents that she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

SEBBY seems to carry sunlight around with him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

JEREMY is the painfully shy art nerd at St. Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting him – a blond, lanky boy with mischief glinting in his eyes.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

Fans of the Impossible Life is your perennial coming-of-age story, inspired by Brideshead Revisited with echoes of John Hughes’ classic 80s cult movies. Perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a WallflowerLooking for Alaska and I’ll Give You the Sun, this captivating and profound story about love, loss and growing up is an astonishing debut novel from a true rising talent. Above all else, Fans of the Impossible Life is a story about the magic of finding those friends who truly see the person you are and the person you’re trying to become. As Mira, Sebby and Jeremy try to fix their broken selves and live their impossible lives, Kate Scelsa beautifully portrays those transformative teenage friendships that burn hot and bright, resonating with anyone who has ever felt a little bit different from their peers.

The Review

Fans of the Impossible Life would best be described as a mix of buddy story and coming of age drama.  It follows the lives of three teenagers who for all intents and purposes are social outcasts. Take Mira – she suffers with mental health problems and is the black sheep amidst a family of over achievers; Sebby – a little lost boy – with no home, no family and no one to impress or worry. He is a law unto his own. The more people perpetuate his belief of his worthlessness the more he encourages them. Oh and he is gay. And finally we have Jeremy – also gay, lives with his two dads, doesn’t know his mum and he suffers from social anxiety.

This motley crue form an unlikely friendship and make you realise that sometimes family are the people who aren’t related by blood.

All of this is great. The story is really interesting and the multi-perspective narrative gives great insight into each character. Furthermore, each voice feels individual. Scelsa makes you truly empathise with each character.

What is also really good about the storyline in Fans of the Impossible Life is that it does feel unique. Mental health is a contentious issue surrounding teenagers and it is great to see writers tackling the topic head on.

However, I do feel like I should have enjoyed Fans of the Impossible Life more than I actually did. It had all the ingredients of a great story and it is really well written. I think maybe my age hindered my overall enjoyment of what is a really well written and interesting novel.

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa is available now.

 

Review: Black Eyed Susans by Julia Hea Berlin

The Blurb

Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped to put a dangerous criminal behind bars – or so she thought.

Now, decades later the black-eyed susans planted outside Tessa’s bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison.

Haunted by fragmented memories of the night she was attacked and terrified for her own teenage daughter’s safety, can Tessa uncover the truth about the killer before it’s too late?

The Review

I’ve never been a huge fan of the thriller genre. In fact, I would say that up until this year I have only ever read a small handful of thriller books. However, after reading books such as Disclaimer I have found myself dipping not only a toe but a whole foot into the genre…and liking it.

Black Eyed Susans is no exception.

Creepy and sinister from the get go, you are invited into Tessa’s story. She is the lone survivor of a vicious killing spree that has left one man fighting for his life on death row. Tessa, and what she said in court, put him there. But now she has doubts.

Black Eyed Susans is a story of fighting for justice all the while knowing that if she is right and the man currently on death row didn’t commit the heinous murder then the man who tried to kill her is still out there.

And is he the person that keeps planting Black Eyed Susans in her back garden?

Overall, this is a well written, well paced thriller. I was hooked from the get go and frequently had my heart pounding in my chest. If you are like me, you won’t guess the outcome. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I would be the world’s worst detective.

If I am honest, I am not sure if I like how things turned out in the end. Obviously, I don’t want to ruin things for you so when you read it please do come and tell me what you think. However, this is a book that I would recommend to fans of crime thrillers. Gripping to the very last page.

Massive thanks to Francesca Russell who sent me a review copy.

Black Eyes Susans by Julia Hea Berlin is available now.

Follow Julia Hea Berlin (@juliathrillers) on Twitter.

Black Eyed Susans

Review: Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story – A Musical Novel by David Levithan

Hold Me CloserThe Blurb

Larger-than-life character Tiny Cooper, from the bestselling novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson, finally tells his own story the only way he knows how – as a stupendous musical.

This is the full script of Hold Me Closer, the musical written by and starring Tiny Cooper, from the New York Times bestselling novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson, written by David Levithan and John Green.

Filled with humour, pain, and ‘big, lively, belty’ musical numbers, readers will finally learn the full story of Tiny Cooper from his birth and childhood to his quest for love and his infamous eighteen ex-boyfriends. David Levithan is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels for young readers including Every DayWill Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), Invisibility (with Andrea Cremer) and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn), which was turned into a feature film.

He’s the editorial director of Scholastic Press, and has edited hundreds of books including the mega-hits The Hunger Games and Shiver. David lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The Review

I was drawn to Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story – A Musical Novel (from no own it will be referred to as Hold Me Closer) because I adore David Levithan’s writing style – my favourite book of his being Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. What I have always liked about Levithan’s writing is that he isn’t scared to be different. Whether this comes in the form of multi-narrative perspective or dictionary definitions, Levithan is – for want of a better way to describe it – a brave writer.

Hold Me Closer is told entirely in script form. In fact, it is written like it is a musical script. Now, I broke my rule with this book and read Hold Me Closer first. Hold Me Closer is the companion novel for Will Grayson, Will Grayson and in my silliness I read them the wrong way round. It will be interesting for me to see the narrative format.

Tiny Cooper’s story is a sweet love story and what is interesting is that I have found with David Levithan is that he tends to write his LGBT characters in a way that is not stereotypical or clichéd way possible. Therefore, it is interesting to see that Levithan used the musical platform – one that tends to be associated with camp gay men – to tell a story of someone who doesn’t necessarily conform to that stereotype. Well done, David Levithan!

Overall, the story of Tiny Cooper is unashamedly lovely. It tells you to get your heart broken and enjoy it, grown from it and learn from it for the next time. Hold Me Closer is a story that will leave you with a big smile on your face.

Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story – A Musical Novel by David Levithan is available now.

Follow David Levithan (@loversdiction) on Twitter.

Review: The Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James

The Broken Hearts Book ClubThe Blurb

Secrets never stay buried for long…
Lucy Harper has always been good at one thing: running from her past. But when her beloved Nana Lily passes away she has no choice except to return to the one place in the world she most wants to avoid…
Luna Bay hasn’t changed much in the eight years she has spent in London. The little Yorkshire village is still just as beautiful, but the new pub landlord is a gorgeous addition to the scenery!
Lucy only intended to stay for a day, yet when she discovers that Nana Lily has not only left her a cottage but also ‘The Broken Hearts Book Club’, Lucy is intrigued. Her Nana never have mentioned the club and Lucy can’t wait to get started, but walking into her first meeting she is more aware than ever that her past is finally catching up with her.
One way or another, Lucy must finally face the secrets she’s kept buried for so long – or spend the rest of her life on the run…

The Review

When Lucy Harper returns home to Luna Bay for grandmother’s funeral she doesn’t know what to expect. She hasn’t visited Luna Bay since she left eight years ago and is worried how people will react to her sudden return and she tries desperately hard not to find out, and plans on returning to London as soon as possible.

However, when she finds out that she has inherited her grandmother’s home and, rather strangely, her position as leader of The Broken Hearts Book Group Lucy finds it rather hard to leave her hometown.

Awww. That is how I felt after turning the final page of The Broken Hearts Book Club. I was all warm and fuzzy inside and it was exactly what I needed. The Broken Hearts Book Club is the perfect snuggle book. A book that you can fully immerse yourself in. And a book to get lost in over a weekend of endless cups of tea and flannelette pyjamas. That is how it makes you feel warm and snugly.

One thing about Lynsey James’s writing style is that she really does create characters that you care for. You become so involved with their lives that they come alive for you. They practically dance off the page.

Furthermore, her protagonist Lucy is the perfect blend of human – you see her heart and how kind she is but you also see her human side – one that has massive flaws. She is clumsy and bumbling and I think we can all relate to that on some level.

Lynsey James is a writer whose work just keeps getting better.

The Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James is available now.

Follow Lynsey James (@Lynsey1991) on Twitter.

Review: Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

The Blurb

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident.

One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there.

She doesn’t know why she’s in pain.

But everyone else does. Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night.

But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

The Review

After reading Louise O’Neill’s debut – Only Ever Yours – last year, I was intrigued to see what else she had to offer. In my opinion, O’Neill’s follow up novel, Asking For It, was much more impressive.

Based on any number of real life stories, the narrative follows Emma – a pretty, popular, slightly nasty girl. She knows that she is good looking and she loves the attention that this affords her. However, one night at a party where she is drunk and has taken drugs Emma is sexually attacked.

But if she doesn’t remember it then it isn’t really a crime…is it?

This is the problem that many people who are attacked face. O’Neill is highlighting the injustices in society by which a girl has to assume a paragon of virtue to be believed if she is ever attacked. God forbid a person dresses provocatively or isn’t virginal. Emma isn’t but that doesn’t mean that she deserves to be attacked. Nor does she deserve the backlash from those who don’t believe her.

O’Neill puts it best in Asking For It when she writes:

“They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest.”

This is the attitude that we have in society and it is wrong. The victim keeps on being the victim long after the rape has taken place.

This is an important book. I really hope that young adults, male and female get the chance to read it and that it isn’t censored by adults. People need to read Asking For It.

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill is available now.

Follow Louise O’Neill (@Oneilllo) on Twitter.

Asking For It Louise ONeill

Review: Asking For It by Kate Harding

The Blurb

From Congressman Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” gaffe to the high school rapists of Steubenville, Ohio, to the furor at Vanderbilt, sexual violence has been so prominent in recent years that the feminist term “rape culture” has finally entered the mainstream. But what, exactly, is it? And how do we change it?

In Asking for It, Kate Harding answers those questions in the same blunt, bullshit-free voice that has made her a powerhouse feminist blogger. Combining in-depth research with practical knowledge, Asking for It makes the case that twenty-first-century America—where it’s estimated that out of every 100 rapes only 5 result in felony convictions—supports rapists more effectively than victims. Harding offers ideas and suggestions for how we, as a culture, can take rape much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused.

The Review

I have many reasons to be thankful for this book. Firstly, it opened my eyes to a harrowing world that I have fortunately never been witness or victim to; secondly, it has been a damn good read and thirdly (and quite frankly, most importantly) it highlighted that I too am guilty of some of the negative responses to rape that feature in this book and it has therefore made me change my opinion.

Asking For It, or to give the book its full title Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding is a study of the perceptions that we as society have about rape. Much to my shame, I have to admit that I have said on nights out that a girl wearing a short outfit or walking alone that she should have been more careful or maybe covered up a bit more. After reading this I am ashamed of my comments and beliefs. Just because someone wears an outfit that others would deem as provocative does not constitute her being “fair game” or “up for it.”

I do believe that we have to be careful and protect ourselves but the fact that I have to think like that is shocking. The statistics and figures that feature in this book make you realise what an epidemic (and believe me when I say epidemic) crimes of a sexual nature are.

This book is (and should be a harrowing read) however, Kate Harding does lighten the load by making a mockery of the presumed notions and consistent fallacies that are believed about rape which does make some of the more harrowing passages less difficult to read.

Everyone should read this book if only for a new perspective. I was extremely naïve and uneducated – I still am, one book hasn’t changed that fact – however, I do feel that I have more of an insight into this contentious subject matter now that I have read Asking For It.

Believe me when I say that this is an important book.

Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding is available now.

Follow Kate Harding (@KateHarding) on Twitter.

Asking For It Kate Harding

Review: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Title: We Should All Be Feminists

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Pages: 65 Pages

The Blurb

A personal and powerful essay from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the bestselling author of ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, based on her 2013 TEDx Talk of the same name.

An eBook short.

What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay – adapted from her much-viewed Tedx talk of the same name – by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’. With humour and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century – one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviours that marginalise women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences – in the U.S., in her native Nigeria – offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike. Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a best-selling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today – and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

The Review

I’ll start this review with a personal anecdote.

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were discussing what he would like to do for his birthday. He said that he would like to stay in a really fancy hotel that we had been looking into staying in for a while. I thought that this was a great idea and since it is six months until his birthday it gives me time to save up. When I told him this, he became sweetly defensive and told me that he didn’t expect me to pay for it. This was lovely of him to say because I earn substantially less than him. What I earn in a month he can in 3 times that amount in a week. However, it will be his birthday and I told him no, that I will pay for it. We then argued for a bit and I posed the question to him asking if it was my birthday and I wanted to stay somewhere would he let me pay and he became quiet before agreeing that he wouldn’t let me. When I asked him what the difference was his response was….wait for it…. “because I am a man.”

Apparently you need to have a penis to pay for hotels these days. Who knew?

Now my boyfriend is a good guy, he is respectful and he does believe that everyone (not just women) should have equal rights and I would even say that he is a bit of a male feminist. However, these ideals of men have money, they pay for things, this is how the world works mentality is so ingrained in our minds and societal functionality that even he slipped up and made this faux pas.

This whole theme of male power is the concentration of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay, We Should All Be Feminists. This essay was only written a few years ago but the same issues are happening everyday in modern society: men get paid more for the same jobs that women do; men still hold the majority of high paid positions; women still take on the bulk of housework whilst holding down a full time job. Now, of course, you could argue that these are massive generalisations and I am homogenising groups for my own pleasure but, come on, even you (dear review reader) have to admit that there is some truth in what I am saying.

Please give this short essay a read; it is fascinating in the fact that many things that we take for granted – both women and men (linguistic flip intended) – and gives us a deeper insight into modern society and how much things have changed yet how much there is still yet to achieve.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is available now.

Review: Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales

The Blurb

From Leila Sales, the author of This Song Will Save Your Life, comes a compelling and relatable story about the hazards of falling for someone you haven’t met yet. Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose: it makes her feel like she matters. But she’s tired of being loyal to people who don’t appreciate her – including her needy best friend and her absent mum. Arden stumbles upon a blog called ‘Tonight the Streets Are Ours’, the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter, and it feels like she’s finally found a kindred spirit. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him. During one crazy night in NYC filled with parties, dancing and music – the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does – Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was either.

The Review

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales was one of my favourite stories that I read last year so I was more than excited for her new novel Tonight the Streets Are Ours. And sure I can admit that the absolutely stunning book cover helped somewhat.

Tonight the Streets Are Ours is really multi-faceted. There are so many layers that it is hard to break down to tell you about them but I shall try. It is about a girl called Arden who has a troublesome best friend called Lindsay; Arden lives at home with her father and her brother and just over four weeks earlier her mother abandoned them all; Arden has a boyfriend called Chris who she is growing ever the more unsure about and Arden has a secret obsession with a blog called Tonight the Streets Are Ours by a mysterious writer called Peter.

So I have managed to tell you about the book without revealing too much which is good. I guess if I had to describe the theme of the book I would say that consistently running through it is the theme of disappointment and having expectations that are too high. Arden likes to believe that people are inherently good and do good things for the people that they care about but when she realises she is giving more than she is receiving she becomes a bit jaded and angry.

If I am honest, I found Arden’s naivety somewhat annoying at times and she did put people either too high on a pedestal or equally too low. She never really concentrated on herself but in essence that is what also made her character and linked her to her mother whose life paralleled Arden’s.

Tonight the Streets Are Ours is a really good read and one that has more of an impact than you initially feel. This book is definitely worth a read.

Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales is available from 24th September 2015.

Follow Leila Sales (@LeilaSalesBooks) on Twitter.

Tonight The Streets Are Ours

Review: Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

The Blurb

Winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award

In Meg Medina’s compelling new novel, a Latina teen is targeted by a bully at her new school – and must discover resources she never knew she had.

One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhoood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.

The Review

As someone who works in a high school, the theme of bullying is one that I am all too familiar with. In Meg Medina’s Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass we are presented with the verisimilitude of bullying and the ways in which it is dealt with within the educational system.

Piddy is your average teenager. When her mother decides to move to another area Piddy is forced to move schools due to the catchment area. She knows no one and is unfamiliar with her surroundings but is determined just to get on with things. She slowly makes friends with some of the quieter members of her cohort but one day is told that the school bully is out to get her. Piddy has no idea why and at first doesn’t take the threat seriously. However, as the bully – Yaqui Delgado – ups the level of torment, Piddy has to face the fact that she is on her hit-list.

What is truly brilliant about this story is the way that Meg Medina makes you feel the helpless desperation of Piddy Sanchez. She doesn’t know who to turn to and like most people her age; she feels that telling someone in authority will only make things worse. She silently deals with the torment and becomes more and more affected. It is horrible to read but equally it is damn important.

This is one of the most realistic books based on the theme of bullying that I have ever read and my heart hurt for Piddy on too many pages. Every library in every school should stock this book.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina is available now.

Follow Meg Medina (@Meg_Medina) on Twitter.