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Recent Posts

Books you should read this Easter!

Posted on by Rhys

So as the Easter holidays have just broken (in these green and pleasant lands, at least!), what books are you going to be reading to help you procrastinate from imminent exams (sorry I mentioned them!)? I’ve compiled a list of some of the best books from 2014 so far – with the hope that there’ll be something for everyone. Enjoy! Trouble by Non Pratt – if you’re looking for a story without vampires, demons, angels, dystopic governments, cyberwarfare, talking animals or witches, then Pratt’s debut is for you. Vaguely Juno-esque, this tale of pregnancy, love and friendship had me literally dumbstruck by one of the revelations it makes.     Half Bad by Sally Green – this has been tipped as the next big thing to come from Britain, and I recommend everyone read this superbly written series-starter about a boy, Nathan, son of a white and black witch. It explores some similar themes to Harry Potter, and is, in my opinion just as good. I recommend it even if Continue reading

Trouble

Posted on by Rhys
cover of Trouble by Non Pratt

When you know an author personally, it’s always a little scary to review their new book for fear that it’s a really terrible book or you just didn’t get on with it. Thankfully, this is not the case with Non Pratt’s Trouble, a story of sex, love and teenage pregnancy. (It’s about a whole lot more, including family and friendship, but it just didn’t have the same ring to it!) In Hannah’s world, there’s school and the park on Fridays evenings, when anyone who’s anyone meets up for flirtation, banter and the occasional (who am I kidding?!) hookup. It’s where the Darwinian forces of social interaction are at their strongest: weeding out the weakest of the pack and using them as sacrificial lambs for the entertainment of those at the top of their game. It’s where Hannah and Katie, two best friends, are expecting to pull. It’s also where new-boy Aaron has been dragged along by his new “friends”, the Basketball boys, even though it’s not remotely his scene. Told Continue reading

Half Bad + GIVEAWAY! ( #1)

Posted on by Rhys
Half-Bad-Sally-Green

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway after the review! Publishers have been searching for “the next Harry Potter” for years but finally a worthy successor has been found in Sally Green’s Half Bad – and one that, whilst it shares themes with that Great British export, is also its own superb story. Some of the links between the two are easily made – from the premise, which sees the world populated by Fains (basically muggles), White Witches and Black Witches (yes, the symbolism is heavy handed but I don’t think that matters) and governed by a sort-of Ministry of Magic. However, Half Bad most definitely isn’t a remake of the Potter books, and whilst it carries similar elements, the way in which Green executes them is vastly different; for a start, the magic in Half Bad feels far realer and less jiggery-pokery. It’s a little edgier, losing some of the more fantastic elements and crucially, the wand waving, replacing it instead with “Gifts” that are endowed on young Witches when Continue reading

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Posted on by Rhys
Forgive_Me_Leonard_Peacock_Matthew_Quick

The title – Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, is very evocative – forgive whom? For what? – and it certainly gives a good sense of what’s instore. But it never really gets explained. I like it that way: I like the slightly ambiguous ending, the way it doesn’t really cast judgement on our protagonist Leonard, that it’s a story, in many ways, that can mould itself to the reader’s judgement. Leonard, as you might expect, is an extremely disenfranchised seventeen year old. He’s angry – very angry – for things we don’t really get to see and he is quite self-conscious of his anger and his mental instability, too. There’s  a sense that he knows he’s going off the rails a little, but can’t help himself, can’t prevent the momentum that is pulling him deeper and deeper, and I suspect this is something that people like him will be able to relate too. He’s also deeply fragmented from society, both inferior and superior to his class mates, from whom in many Continue reading

Grasshopper Jungle

Posted on by Rhys
Grasshopper-Jungle-Andrew-Smith

“Good books are about everything,” says Austin, and Grasshopper Jungle, like all good books, is also about everything. It is the tale of inheritance, of history; of identity and truth, of love, attraction, youth and freedom. It is, oddly enough, also the tale of the end of the world; a tale of death-by-giant-insects in Ealing, Iowa, which may seem surreal; but then, the whole novel verges on surreality, in the vein of those really weird artshouse films (I’ve seen a few, to say the least!) and those entirely fascinating immersive theatre experiences. It may seem like a giant contradiction, too, that a seemingly genre-novel could encompass such grand and important themes (and if you think that you definitely haven’t read enough genre fiction!) but I can tell you now: it is a delicious combination. Genre-conventions often get a bashing by people who believe them to be too restrictive, too narrow-minded and too, well, label-oriented, but genres conventions are good for one thing: being broken. And Andrew Smith does enjoy breaking them; Continue reading