Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Summer '14 Gut Reactions

The end of summer has crept up on me. I suppose that until the spawn are back in their respective institutions (next week) I don't really recognise that summer has finished. In this case it means that I haven't started compiling the Autumn TBR pile, so that’s gonna be late. 

But I have been writing. I finished a 90k+ vomit-draft on something Women's fiction, which is safely mulling in a drawer right now, in the hope that when I reread it, it might feel like it could be something. And I've started plotting the next one – for once I have a title, so it isn’t referred to by the MC’s name or as “XX-thing” based on the job they do. That feels like an advancement to me. I've also been drafting some short stories too. So I haven't been shirking as such, I just haven't got much to show at this point.

 But I can do the gut reactions, although that comes with a caveat too, as I haven't got to the three e-books, as there is only so long that my eyes can cope with reading on my phone, and I am very low on the pecking order in this house when it comes to use of the ipad. Curling up on the sofa with a laptop doesn’t quite work for me, and I can't sleep if my eyes are buzzing from staring at a screen. (Yeah, yeah, excuses, excuses- but the e-books will just have to roll over to Autumn instead.)

The pile looked like this:

Star of the Season goes to The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder. I loved this book. I was introduced to the awful term "SnuffLit" during the summer, in relation to the popularity of books like The Fault in Our Stars and Before I Die (aka Now is good). I can't tell you how much I dislike associating that term with YA, as it sounds so repulsive. I loved both of those two books, in spite of their teens dying themes as they were handled in a way that felt both true and respectful. And I loved this book too, in the same way that I adored The Sky is Everywhere, which I gushed about here, because though they deal with death, they celebrate life, love and teen feelings and relationships, which are just my cup of tea. Though based on self-pity the tone is gorgeous and is now on my list of "Writing tones I wish were mine." Everyone has that list, right or is it just me?

Notable mentions;
The Travelling Tea Shop - if you like cakes, travel and romance (Seriously, what is not to like in that combo?), this is a lovely  read. Belinda's eye for detail is meticulous and you really feel you are in the setting.

Two boys kissing - If you have followed this blog at all, then you'll know that I adore David Levithan. ADORE. But it took me a while to get into this. And in the end I didn't love it. But that is OK too. It is, however a special book, as a record of how attitudes to homosexuality has changed over a window of time and as an ode to those that went before.

Elizabeth Wein wrote Code Name Verity, which was one of the first book crushes I had on this site and which I still recommend to people with a passion. Rosie Under Fire is the follow up and is as well-researched and well written as the first, although it doesn’t have the same plot device that made its predecessor so special. That said, it is a very powerful, thought-provoking read, desperately hard at times, due to the setting and the experiences of the MC. If anyone knows any teens who are studying history, and specifically World War Two, and particularly girls, these are so worth reading. That's another thing that I love about them: that they tell stories about the war that aren’t the norm. They’re about what the girls were doing for the war effort when the men went off to war, the horrors that they also came to face and the impact that it had on them.

Getting the girl - Again I have huge respect for the Markus Zusak, having read The Book Thief, but this book didn’t do very much for me. Beautiful words though. Sentences that you wish you'd written.

Sunlounger 2 – Nooooo, I am not going to review this one, because, I’m in it. BUT I will give it a mention for best value of the season.

The other things;
 One of these books I had a feeling I might have read before but had forgotten. I didn't like the MC. Perhaps I had cast it from my mind rather than just forgetting it. She was awkward and went out of her way to be unlikable, and so, guess what- I didn’t like her, or warm to her story. Maybe that was the point, and I reacted exactly the way the author wanted me to, but by the time the MC changed and the happy ending came, she'd lost me and I didn’t really care.

One of these books lead me to read the following parts of the trilogy, because of the cliff-hanger end and because I was being a sheep. I was so disappointed with the conclusion. I like a happy ending, I have never hidden that, and like Hunger Games, I didn’t get what I wanted here. Sometimes a "realistic" ending isn't what I paid my money for. I should just lay off these books. When will I ever learn..?

 In one of these books I found the language impressively menacing, but almost too obscure in places, so I wasn't quite sure what was being said, or what was going on or whether I am just too thick to keep up. I guess I don't like books that make me feel stupid.

 And so I am off to build me a new pile of books with likable MC’s who have happy endings, that don’t make me feel dim. With that criteria in mind, feel free to send recommendations.


  1. always impressed by how much reading you get done. been reading plenty of New Adult.

  2. Well, of course Breakable by Tammara Webber and anything by Colleen Hoover. I'm pretty predictable...