Monday, 25 November 2013

Every Day

Every Day by David Levithan was sweet, sincere and touching. It could almost be considered heart breaking. Levithan has a light touch to his writing, he lent a tentative feeling to his words which was perfect for the narrative of A.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

As I've seen from other reviews readers had a similar problem to me. It's very difficult to sum up how you felt after reading Every Day. It was everything and nothing, confusing yet clear as crystal. Mad but brilliant. The variety of characters Levithan was able to  provide was mindboggling, especially as nearly every new character Levithan introduces is really A in a different body, and no matter the race, the gender, the age, it's still A. And I never found out who A was. A was and is everyone. It was incomprehensible to a certain extent. The rules that bind him to bodies for a day and how they dictate where and who he is. However that indicates we know what the rules are but we don't - they're invisible and apart from one or two things A clarifies for us, we have no idea. And that is the main thing I took from this novel is how if we don't know who we are, where we'll be when we wake up, who will be there for us then we are really lost. And A is lost. He's never known where he'll be when he wakes up, who he'll be and he's never had anyone he cares about or wants to be with. Until Rhiannon. And that simple connection provides a root for A - he starts to become an identity, an individual living in other people's body. A becomes someone.

This book was about identity and people. How everyone is similar but completely different. Levithan managed to tell a story without ever really telling a story. Yes Every Day had the makings of a plot with a villain and heart wrenching selfless decisions to be made but really Every Day didn't actually go anywhere.

I really enjoyed Every Day but it is so difficult to say why. Normally I dislike reading stories where I feel sorry for the main character, pity is a destructive emotion for readers as it means you lose respect and faith in the characters ability to lead you through the story. But in a talented twist of events it's this pity that Levithan exploits, all the way through the book Levithan is building up the pity the reader feels for A in order to really get the reader to empathasise with A's plight. I can feel this review descending into rambling and it's because Every Day is so complex and different. It is a new approach. A lot of people have complained about the fact there are a lot of questions unanswered but the minute you pick up a book you have to suspend some ounce of logic otherwise you will never enjoy it. It's called imagination, artistic license and fun. Revel in the craziness and implausibility of it that's what it's there for. An escape. And A and Rhiannon under the guiding hand of Levithan definitely offered an escape from life.

Its a 4.5 out of 5 for Every Day as I can't quite give it 5 but it's better than a 4. It's one of those rare gems of sane insanity in the literary world and worth stretching your mind to read. Published by Egmont who have recently announced their acquisition of Rhiannon, the companion novel to A, it was an experience to say the least!

Get Reading!

My life at work

So today, instead of writing a review but who knows the reviewing bug might bite me later on in the day.... I thought I'd shed a little more insight into my backbreaking work here in France and also might let slip a few funny things that have happened to me whilst on the other side of the stream.

Firstly I work a pretty mucked up schedule - Tuesday to Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. I promise you there is nothing more unnatural then waking up to go to work on a SATURDAY when the rest of the house is asleep. Even the promise of the Monday off doesn't resurrect the turmoil of feelings inside me. Today is my Monday off and it's almost crappier than working on a Saturday..... In France Monday appears to be the day the shopkeepers take off (in addition to Sunday) because they too have worked on a Saturday not that I got to enjoy this as I was working also... (In the UK shops are open Mon-Sat! France'll get a move on soon - they just like their naps, bank holidays, protests, strikes.... really anything that means they get extra days off. Not that I'm criticising them - Kudos to them my fellows!) So Mondays are very quiet and there isn't much to do.

Secondly I work from half 8 to 5.... Longer than school! In the morning we clean 17 stables, mucking out, putting hay in and after that, after that, we do the dreaded sweep. I really despise sweeping now. I think it's mainly because the stables are cobbled and so it's really difficult to get straw etc out of cobbled gaps. Very frustrating! After lunch we usually ride which is great, though at the stables they are a bit mollycoddly about their of the women there only rides with the horse wearing a rug on its back - all the time. They also rug Shetlands. Yupp incredible. Absolutely incredible! But it's fun and I have my one chou chou - Remember - an ex-polo pony who I've helped calm down and begin to work nicely - before he would just bolt around the arena! He's really sweet but I hate watching the kids who come to the Pony Club on Wednesdays and Saturdays.. He's my chou chou! Oh well Guess I'm leaving him in 3 weeks. I'll definitely miss him! Anyways it is far better here than at that last place but I'll be glad to be home. 3 months away is finally getting to me!

Good Day!

The bizarre, probably slightly crazy, history of the finger swears.

So a funny story before I go... well I don't know how funny it is but you can decide! I was going into a boulangerie to buy some retro d'or baguette - they are so good by the way! - and I decided to buy two cookies as well. I asked the woman for deux and she said OK but as I watched her I was sure she only put one in and the price was really cheap so I repeated deux and she said I know but I, being a typical stubborn Scottish lass, was convinced I hadn't said it right so I showed two fingers as if I was talking to someone who only understood simple hand gestures (when really I was being the simpleton!) and it just so happened I chose the worst two fingers to choose (go on guess!) Her eyes narrowed and handed me my cookies (which I still thought only had one in!) and baguette took my money and then glared me out the door. So that was Ok, I'd offended a French woman through the simple mistake of using the only two fingers which used together make a rude gesture. Yeah not bad going! But then. Then. Then I found out through the rambles of one of my overly patriotic French friends that there is a hidden, ancient meaning of the two fingers to the French. Allow me to explain.

This. The classic two finger gesture belongs to the British. The English. Their archers to be in fact; who apparently were very very apt at shooting and killing French soldiers whenever they tried to attack English holds during one of the many English-French wars (not too sure which one as there seems to have been a lot - in fact one day a man, on finding I was Scottish, actually did the awkward fist heart salute and said the 'old alliance' as apparently the only thing the angry Scottish people hated more than everything else was the English and would even work with the supposing aristocratic cultured French to try and defeat them. Undoubtedly they nearly always lost anyway - can't rely on a powdered wigged Froggie to save the back of a commando kilt wearing savage can you?) Anyway back to the story according to my, foaming at the mouth with years of generational indignance, French counterpart the archers would make the two fingered gesture at French people reminding them of the archer's ability to, basically,  beat and kill their soldiers. Some unpleasant memories would obviously arise from that innocent (well not innocent but you know what I mean) gesture. So the French created their own gesture -
 The Finger. This referred to the fact whenever the French army caught English archers they would cut off one of their fingers being they could no longer use a bow and thus lost their arching ability. Damn. So the French gesture should - if the English actually bothered to remember this supposed history of the finger - be insulted whenever this gesture was made to them. But it wasn't as the British don't hold on to things. Unlike the festering French who seem to, in some cases, jot down every insult ever made - they're still angry about Joan of Arc which was over 600 years ago. So go figure.

Anyway if this woman was invested in the emotional history of the finger I could have offended her in that respect. Really I just think it was because I treated her a little like an idiot, when I was the one being an idiot, gave a rude hand gesture to convey her stupidity (which was not my intention it just transpired like that) I don't feel there was any recognition of this bizarre claim of archers and retaliation but it made for a good story!

Have a good day!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Crown of Midnight

Sarah J Maas has delivered again. I've been meaning to write this review since it arrived in the post in August, however a selfish part of me just hasn't allowed me too. Contrary to my first review of Throne of Glass (Book 1)  after reading Crown of Midnight I didn't want Maas to have a huge fan following - not just because I found there are a lot more people out there who have discovered and already love Maas - but because I'm a selfish bugger. Crown of Midnight topped Throne of Glass. It was so gloriously good that I wanted to keep it to myself, I didn't want to do my bit in spreading the word, I wanted to be the only Celaena Sardothien fan and revel in the world of Erilea alone. But after reading it again (in 3 hours - I was pretty enthralled again) I decided I had to swallow my greed and do my bit in increasing the popularity of this amazing series especially if it means it secures Maas's contract for books after the 3rd one - don't want another L. J. Smith scenario. No ghost writers for our assassin please. They could NOT pull it off in the same way as Maas. Desperate scared rant over! Take note Bloomsbury!

Anyway Crown of Midnight exceeded my expectations again and the characters developed, the setting developed, everything developed. And all I can find to criticise  is the fact it's another whole year until the next books out. I can't wait!! Luckily though she's publishing a new novella in a grand compilation along with the existing 4 novellas called the Assasin's Blade in March. I still don't know if I can cope that long. Well that's my glowing commendation which really just consisted of stressing HOW MUCH YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK and how I am slowly perishing waiting for the next one..... haven't felt this desperate since Harry Potter was still going..... and that's something!!

Read, Weep and Enjoy,

Get reading,

Monday, 18 November 2013


2113. In Jenna Strong's world, ACID - the most brutal, controlling police force in history - rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed - or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.
The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID - and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.

Well once again, I find myself in possession of a futuristic dystopian novel based in a world that feeds on and breeds fear, decay and cruelty. However Emma Pass has managed to create a relatively new story in this overworked over popular genre. Her story follows Jenna Strong in what used to be Britain, but is now a police state. A ruthless strict country where the slightest infraction of the many rules can lead to being thrown into a maximum security prison with no chance of seeing the grey dreary lights of the polluted sky again. And Strong hasn't just committed a minor infraction she's been convicted of the bloodiest betrayal there is: murder of her parents.
Pass writes with an urgent passionate voice throwing numerous curve balls into the thrilling plot that unravels and unfolds with increasing speed, snowballing at several occasions to intense climaxes where the story recovers it's breath before continuing again at a breakneck speed blurring characters, plot twists, relationships into a churning mass of addictiveness. 
I was hooked from the second chapter. Strong is a strong character who develops as the book progresses. Pass possesses that treasured skill of the best writers, able to treat characters like onions - peeling a little of their layers away one after another, providing new depths and new memories forcing the reader to continue to change their opinion and perception on her characters. Providing new insight into the minds of her heroes and her villains Pass creates a story where the reader becomes emotionally invested and on the edge of their seat from first to last page.
My only criticism is it finished with a few loose threads. However I suppose it offers Pass a chance to return to this realistic horrific world and create the next step, to tell us whether things work out, or as always happens that one person who was granted a second chance has used it to commit heinous crimes against mankind. I hope Pass does revisit Jenna Strong and finishes where she left of, I enjoyed Acid immensely.
A 5 out of 5 for this original realistic novel from a well-worn genre. For fans of Hunger Games, Throne of Glass and the Alex Rider series a new kick ass heroine has arrived and awaits their approval. Get purchasing! Published by Random House Children's UK (another good book - cheers!) Acid is a credit to Pass as a debut novel.

Good Reading

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Life in France

So Hello Guys!

I am still in France as you might have guessed from the title. But guess what?? Only 5 weeks left! I am missing Scotland enormously (I know right? What's in Scotland but rain, rain and more rain you say? And France has croissants, berets, the Eiffel Tower.... and more croissants!) but I just am, I'm obviously a total home bird. Oh well!

Anyway I am enjoying myself - after a disastrous start at my first placement I am now set up in a really nice stable with a family of my mums. Unfortunately they're English. (It's not a problem because of their nationality but it means I'm speaking English in the evenings so my French is coming along haltingly). Onto the first place. It was horrific. It started like this: Imagine a 5 hour journey by train and bus to get off at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere. You wait for 20 minutes for your 'boss' to come and pick you up (She's late) and all the while you're panicking as your signal is crap, you're trying to phone her house in case she's forgotten and it's a very busy road, and the bus stop is literally a sign at the side of the road.She arrives and parks on the opposite side of the road and so you have to cross said road with your massive suitcase (whose handle is breaking) and your rucksack on your back. When you reach her she doesn't greet you or say hello. She screams that it is a dangerous road (I'd already gathered that) and we must get off it quick. She throws suitcase in the back of the car and throws you into - it's all very like what I imagine being picked up by the police is like (she puts her hand on my head and pushes me down into the car into the back with a dog that is a slathering angry looking Alsatian. Great!) After that less then welcoming arrival we drive (extremely fast) to pick up her husband. During our journey she is speaking rapidly in French to me, getting increasingly more frustrated when I don't understand her - hey c'mon I was exhausted, I don't speak French well and I learned textbook French not country slang - so all in all you might have gathered she wasn't a very amiable person. We reach her husband who is a huge man (looks like one of those mad ax murderers not that I'm assuming anything) and he grunts at me and we return to her stables. By this point I'm ever so slightly freaked out, I'm 5 hours from any friends or family, with a slightly psychotic seeming couple, a spoilt crazy dog, and a huge language barrier. When we arrive I'm shown to my room, or my bedsit.

I'm not staying with the couple, instead all the volunteers, or slaves as they shall henceforth be known, are housed in single bedsits alongside the house. They're horrible plain and simple. I have no sheets, a pathetic hospital type duvet, no working lights, no towels (How on earth was I going to get a towel from Britain -luggage weight was already costing me a fortune), a shower which has broken chipped lethal looking tiles, a toilet with no seat, a sink with an open bottom... and that was just the room. We, there were some other volunteers there - a really nice English girl who I made friends with and I'm actually meeting up with tomorrow but that's another story-, had to go to lunch with the couple and it was dry pasta with 2 frankfurter type sausages which were so salty and we were forced to eat it all by the woman...... Again I'm still getting freaked out. Afterwards we went and did a couple of hours work with the horses and then came back in at dark. I set to work getting out my computer as the woman had promised we had Wifi and I was desperate to talk to my family for a bit of needed calming down! I had wifi for all of two minutes before it shut off at 8 mid-Skype call. Apparently it did this every night as the woman had some sort of timer on it though when I asked her she pretended she couldn't understand me before shouting that the volunteers were always getting first go over the Wifi and she sacrificed her internet when she could be working for us - so yeah I got a bit worried about asking her anything - not a fear you want when you're meant to be living under someones house for 2 months. Then we had dinner, the volunteers had to eat in this separate dark dining room in one of the bedsits as the woman didn't want to see us after dark as it was 'her' time. I'd thought I was getting housed and treated as part of the family for god's sake!

The dinner was tomato salad, as it was for the all of three days I managed to tough it out there. Unfortunately tomatoes are the one thing I hate. I despise raw tomatoes and when the volunteer who had been there the longest (2 weeks and she'd booked her train out of there for the next day - she had been going to stay for 5 months) told me tomato salad was on the menu for every evening I freaked. That on top of the fact I went into my room that evening and found cockroaches all over the floor just tipped the iceberg
. There was no way I could stay! Call me a princess or something but I'm not I can cope with tough conditions but not outright hostile ones!

I left under the emotionally straining pretense my grandmother was ill. Low I know but I was desperate. The other English girl left a week after me and informed me that several others came and gave up in the extra week she was there. I'll get the rest of the gossip tomorrow, can't wait!

Anyway I am now set up in a lovely stables where I have to work really hard but it's worth it, it's giving me a chance to improve my French and work with horses. Just what I wanted. It might not be the greatest most social time of my life but I think I'll be glad I've done it.

Tune in again for more sticky French situations that I've managed to find myself in (there's a few!)

Bonne soiree

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Almost Girl

The slight figure is lithe and quick, a shadow of a shadow in the darkness. It runs along the edgy gloom of the halogen-lit streets, flying over electric fences and scaling walls with the practiced ease of a skilled athlete. One would never suspect that it was being chased by an entire army of soldiers, but it was, several hundred of them.

I actually defy anyone to read The Almost Girl and not be captivated by the sharp bold worlds Howard has created. Spanning two worlds - Earth and our much more advanced counterpart - Howard has created the ultimate setting for a series of books. Her detailed dry fluid writing style is a joy to ride and to be carried by, and she transports the reader to and from each world with admirable ease and skill - there is no awkward explanation each time we transit worlds, Howard lays everything flat and everything just makes sense.

Her characters are incredible. They are extremely realistic and admirable. They mature and develop throughout the novel and I did not want to stop reading about them especially about Riven and Caden.

Riven is from the domed city of Neospes, on the parallel world of Earth. She is really strong and willful, and determined to see things through to the end. The way she was brought up with her insane genius of a father has meant she sees loving as a weakness and isn't prepared to trust anyone apart from Cale and at the beginning Caden is just her target, her assignment from Cale. And she is ready to use all means necessary to complete her mission, even disabling her sister.

An average teenage boy who suddenly has way more to worry about then whether his physic homework is going to be done on time. The moment Riven steps into his life, bad things start to happen - his aunt is killed, Vectors are tracking him trying to kill him, and the girl he's falling for switches off every time she starts opening up. It's not going to be an easy year!

Howard weaves a fast paced thriller full of conspiracy, plots, family drama, romance, defiance, courage and many many fights! She sets herself up brilliantly for a sequel without detracting from the epicness of The Almost Girl and I can NOT wait to read the next one - there has to be one!

A well deserved 4 out of 5, I await with bated breath! Published by Strange Chemistry The Almost Girl  will be published on the 2nd January 2014. One for the wish list guys, pre-order now!(£7.49 at the moment from for pre-ordering!) The Riven series is one to watch! Indulge, be blown away and then be very very grateful that you got to read it!

En Bon Lu,