#TheWriteReads Blog Tour! Bad Habits by Flynn Meaney

“Enrol here for rebellion!”

Genre: YA contemporary, teen fiction.

Similar to: Mallory Towers but with more teenage angst

Could be enjoyed by: The Youth of Today

Publication date: 11th February 2021

Alex Heck – self proclaimed Riot Grrl and all around feminist loudmouth is exiled to the worst place she can think of – a strict private Catholic boarding school. Like a fish out of water, Alex decides to make a stand against the authoritarian rules by staging a performance of The Vagina Monologues with the secret hope of getting kicked out. In the face of stiff opposition Alex relentlessly pushes against authority but realises she can’t do it alone; will she be able to form an unholy alliance with people so different to her? Will her efforts be rewarded? Will her lady-fauxhawk survive under the weight of oppression – and the withering glares of the nuns? 

I was very excited to read Bad Habits – it sounded right up my street. Feminism, humour and rebellious characters all wrapped up in bright, fun cover art – what’s not to love?

Well, you see, there was one thing. At first, the main character, Alex Heck, was simply not as likeable as I’d expected her to be. She proclaimed to be a sex positive Riot Grrl but her idea of feminism seemed to only include people who thought and acted like her – and she was downright mean to anyone with a different opinion. I found it really uncomfortable when she judged and excluded everyone from her protest-party-for-one and how sneering and derisive she was towards the girls who, for example, wanted to remain virgins until they were married. However, Alex was finally called out for her behaviour by my own personal hero of the book, Mary Kate, who said everything I was thinking about Alex failing to recognise her own privilege, her exclusive attitude and her inability to change her very rigid ideals. I LOVED Mary Kate for this and seeing her personality develop over the course of the book was really brilliant. Perhaps this could have come a little earlier on in the plot and arguably Alex could have taken the comments on board more but I’m really glad that she got her come-uppance.

Apart from that, I loved how much fun the storyline was and how it didn’t follow the path I thought it would. Some of the scenes were laugh-out-loud funny and I found myself quickly immersed in the world of St Mary’s. I expected a final act of rebellion from Alex but actually I really enjoyed seeing how she stopped seeing people in very one-dimensional terms and actually learnt to get along with others – even the people she assumed would be her mortal enemies. Alex’s friendship with Mary Kate was particularly enjoyable to see and I thought that the way the girls showed each other a different perspective on life was a great example of women raising each other up, despite their differences. Proper feminism!!!

Overall, I really liked this fun, quirky book. Yes, the main character could have been more likeable (especially in the initial part of the book) but she was surrounded by a cast of great friends and I loved seeing them work together, putting their differences aside and finding strength in their different skills. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Four “Bad HABITS – like the nuns! I see what you did there”‘s out of five.

Fun, funny and easy to read – I just wish I’d liked the main character more!


Please note that I read this book for free in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Penguin and Dave at The Write Reads. Thanks everyone – and apologies to Dave for posting the review late!

Blog Tour – Five Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Maurice Barkley

#thewritereads blog tour!

Genre: Short stories, Mystery

Similar to: Classic whodunnits like Agatha Christie, or…you know… Arthur Conan Doyle

Could be enjoyed by: Everyone! I found these stories really enjoyable and suitable for all ages

Publication date: 6th July 2017, according to Amazon (which seems weird but ok)

 

I’m going to say this right at the start – I’ve never actually read any Sherlock Holmes stories before. I’m vaguely familiar with some of the TV adaptations but the actual novel seems to have passed me by. So, it was with some trepidation that I began to read this book.

I have to say, I was really impressed! I found the stories very engaging and I was immediately drawn into the world of Victorian London. All of the stories feel like classic tales of murder, intrigue and suspense and I thought that the overall tone of what I’d expect a Sherlock Holmes novel to be was captured really well. If you’re not familiar with Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing then the nearest thing I could liken it to was Jonathan Creek.

There was no backstory given as to how Holmes and Watson began their partnership or who they even were as people (what is Watson a doctor of? How does Holmes support his somewhat lavish lifestyle?) but even with my limited knowledge I was able to piece together their working relationship. It was nice to see familiar places and phrases pop up, although there was no “elementary, my dear Watson!” which I was waiting for. I did spot one tiny Americanism which I found somewhat jarring but overall I thought that the book was well written and completely evoked the feeling of foggy, repressive Victorian London.

My only real issue was that every time Baker Street was mentioned, that bloody sax solo kept popping into my head:

 

 

Overall, I really liked the Sherlock Holmes short stories. Perhaps the characters could have done with a little more fleshing out and maybe Watson could have done a little more than stand there wetly with absolutely no idea of what was going on but these are minor criticisms. I found the stories to be nicely bite-sized chunks of mystery, murder and suspense, very cleverly written and easy to read. A great little book to dip in and out of if you need to immerse yourself in another world – and let’s face it, we could all do with a bit of that right now.

 

Four “I cannot get this song out of my head”s out of five.

Really well captured, a great addition to the cannon.

 

 


Please note that I read this book for free in exchange for an honest review courtesy of #thewritereads. Thanks Dave!

 

Blog Tour: After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward

Genre: Dystopian, YA

Similar to: It had something of a Hunger Games feel

Could be enjoyed by: Fans of environmental disaster dystopias

Publication date: 13th May 2018

 

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge #3 Read a book by a woman and/or author of colour that won a literary award in 2018

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“They tell me the country looked different back then.

They talk of open borders and flowing rivers.

They say the world was green.

But drought swept across the globe and the United States of the past disappeared under a burning sky.”

 

After The Green Withered begins like a hellish version of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson – except instead of warning about the potential devastation of our planet, the worst has already happened. Enora lives in a world post-climate change; a world where the relentless heat has caused desertification of the land and salinization of the oceans. Water is now the global currency and is severely rationed by the shady controllers of this fundamental resource – the DMC. Enora is shocked when she’s picked to join their elite ranks but when the true nature of her “Pathfinder” role becomes clear, she is forced to confront a painful reality. Who are the DMC? What are their true aims? And why do they need Enora?

I have to begin by saying that I’m so glad that I actually enjoyed this book. I am notorious for moaning about how much I don’t like YA fiction but I’m pleased to say that although the characters in the novel were teenagers, the overall tone was fairly grown up. There were some scenes later on in the novel that were quite upsetting so it’s definitely not a book for younger readers.

I loved how the scene was set in the first chapter regarding the state that the world was in. Yes, it was a bit of an info-dump but it was a powerful summary of everything that could (and probably will) go wrong if we continue to ignore climate change. The fact that the world-building was rooted in actual science made it hit home even harder.

The writing was good, even though I felt like the pacing was a little off in places. Some parts were a tiny bit slow, whereas others were heart-in-your-mouth exhilarating. However, I did like how easily I was able to visualise even the most complex, technical parts of the novel, such as Enora’s Pathfinder display or the kit that she used.

I liked Enora as a character but felt a little ambivalent towards some of her male counterparts – a couple of them popped up so infrequently that I struggled to emotionally connect with them. There’s clearly something fishy going on with every single one of them, so hopefully the next book will allow readers to get to know them better.

The book finishes on a total cliff-hanger and I have SOOOO many theories as to what happens next but I’ll keep them to myself for now. I’m absolutely dying to know though!

Overall, I thought that After the Green Withered was a good debut – really thought-provoking and engaging. I had a few issues with pacing and character development but I think that it’s a great set up for the second book in the series. I liked the overall theme of climate change and I hope that it might make people think more seriously about what action we need to take right now to prevent this awful world from becoming our future.

 

Three and a half  “OMG I think I know what happens next!?!”s out of five.

Well written and scarily prescient. A good debut with a fantastic message!

 

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Kristin Ward is on Twitter and has a website – click to follow the links.

After the Green Withered can be purchased from Amazon and Books 2 Read

Day Five B


 

Please note that I read this book for free in exchange for an honest review courtesy of  The Write Reads blog tour. Thank you to Kirsten for giving me a copy of her novel and to Dave for putting the tour together!

 

Blog Tour: Dear Mr. Pop Star by Derek and Dave Philpott

Genre: Epistolary novel, farcical comedy, pop music

Similar to: Air Mail by Terry Ravenscroft

Could be enjoyed by: Fans of pop music from the 60’s – 90’s.

Publication date: 20th September 2018

I’m really excited to be taking part in my first ever blog tour 😀, so thank you very much to Derek and Dave Philpott for the opportunity and for giving me a copy of their new book, Dear Mr. Pop Star, in exchange for an honest review. 

“For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing to pop stars from the 1960’s to the 90’s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs. But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back…”

Things you should know about me before reading this review: I’m a huge fan of music from the 1980’s and 90’s, especially anything indie/alternative/new wave/synth pop/new romantic. I’m also a big fan of a comedy letter, especially if there’s some kind of critique or complaint involved. So when I heard about this book (that makes me sound like I have my finger on the pulse – in reality Dave emailed me directly) I was really looking forwards to reading it.

I wasn’t disappointed. 

I loved the mock outrage humour contained within the letters, the nitpicking nature of the authors and the cleverly constructed observations about somewhat forgotten song lyrics. I really enjoyed how the songs often weren’t explicitly named so it was left up to the reader to trawl through their memory banks (or perhaps Google) to ascertain exactly which lyrics were being referred to – often reference would be made to several songs in the same letter so you really needed to dig deep to fully appreciate all of the puns being made. The humour was frequently very subtle (and very English) which sometimes made me pause before I comprehended the joke:

“We must go now Toploader as for some inexplicable reason we have an overwhelming urge to put a wash on”

I liked how the authors had structured the book with shorter observations (one-liners, if you will), many of which were absolutely hilarious and worked well to break up the longer letters and responses.

 “Dear Ms. Carlisle, are you sure you don’t mean Devon?”

The longer letters themselves were very funny and very clever – sometimes using puns based on the band name or titles of their biggest hits or sometimes referencing one song in a farcical manner e.g. Dear Devo Re: Whippet was a letter about dog racing. What surprised me was the number of responses gained and the willingness of the respondents to play along. There must have been thousands of letters sent in order for Derek and Dave to have received the hundred or so responses that are published in Dear Mr. Pop Star and the sheer amount of effort and dedication earns them a gold star from me. 

I really enjoyed the sense of nostalgia that I got from reading this book. Many of the songs referenced were *ahem* of a certain vintage but some of the wider pop culture references were too. I was excited to see that the hit medical drama “Angels” got a mention – my cousin Darren used to be in that! He played the gormless ginger kid who frequently looked at the camera and got sacked after a few episodes. See Philpotts, you’re not the only ones who have links to the glittering world of celebrity!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dear Mr. Pop Star and would highly recommend reading it little and often – perhaps as a coffee table (or dare I say it – downstairs loo) book. It would also make a great present for that hard to buy for music lover.

Rating: Four “is that really what EMF stands for? Unbelievable!” out of five.

If you want to find out more about the Philpotts (I mean, why wouldn’t you) you can find Derek on Twitter @DerekPhilpott or via Facebook. More info about Dear Mr. Pop Star can be found on Goodreads and Unbound and the book can be purchased via Amazon