Mapping the Stars: The Girl of Ink and Stars

*Mild Spoilers Ahead*

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Isabelle is a young girl which you both love, and despise at the same time because she is portrayed as the hero of the story throughout, but ultimately, she is not. She tries to stay true, but in due course, she endangers the lives of everyone she loves which makes you despise her. In my mind, it is the villain’s daughter that saves Joya for she sacrifices herself to anoint her for her father’s sins, similar to the story of Arinta which is a continuous motif repeated throughout the novel.

 

The book opens you up to a world of mystery and new possibilities in the shape of cartographer, an archaic term for map making by the stars. Isabelle is the daughter, and only surviving family of the last cartographer in Joya, a town bullied by its governor. Her best friend is Lupe, the governor’s daughter who is oblivious to the wrong doings by her father. The build up to the climax is a little slow but when it happens you are thrown into a world which is unknown and you’re left wanting more. You fear for the characters as if they were real people facing these monsters and do not want any of them to die, whilst the stories Isa and her Da tell others feel as though they are real and part of our own history.

 

Whilst I feel this book is directed to teenagers, I believe that it could be enjoyed by all ages, especially young adults because it has the childhood feel packed with action and adventure that young adults and adults alike can enjoy.

 

Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s first novel is a great debut to her writing career and I cannot wait to read more of her work.

Beast Within: Monster

*Mild spoilers ahead”

If you want a young adult novel full of humour (mostly Harry Potter related), suspense and shock, then CJ Skuse’s Monster is for you. The book follows a group of young girls who are stuck inside their boarding school at Christmas time with the local ‘monster’ lurking around outside.

 

Whilst the book takes it time to build up its suspense and really get into, when the action begins you are thrown into turmoil and shock by what comes next and who the bad guy really is.

 

The main protagonist Nash is fiery but also a goody two shows who is doing everything she can to become the head girl at Bathory Girls School. However, when her brother has gone missing, that all changes, especially when she is antagonised by her arch nemesis Clarice. This whole storyline, whilst it sets the scene, adds more depth to the story, and gives Nash character, it takes away from the action and loses some of the actual story. I think Skuse should have moulded the character build up into the actual action instead of showing them separate.

 

The primary character adds to the story and furthers the enjoyment and adds a little more depth and human side to the story but not by much.

 

Overall, if you like to read plenty of backstory before you get into the minor action (most of the action being in the last couple of chapters) then this is the book for you. I feel that it is more for young readers (teenagers) to get them into reading and to begin enjoy reading again. Though I do not regret reading the book as it helps me as a writer, as I know that I should add a little more backstory to novels but ensure that it is included in the action.

Extract from Dark Woods

This is a small extract from Dark Woods, another one from the collection of twisted fairy tales. This one is my version of Hansel and Gretel. Please let me know what you think and how I could improve.  

Somewhere in the deep, dark and lonely howling woods of Wurttemberg laid two infant children quietly crying in the root of a dying tree. One was a small girl of about 2 years with blonde, bobbed cut hair. She had what seemed to be soulless blue eyes which was a rare sort. Many blue-eyed girls had the brightest, happiest eyes known but I suppose she could be forgiven as she had just previously been abandoned by her parents. The young boy who seemed two to three years her senior had his arm wrapped tightly round his little sister, was the complete opposite to his sister. His hair was a striking black with deep, dark but caring brown eyes. He looked to be of five or six years but his eyes beyond their years.

They say you can learn a lot about people from their eyes and that theory looks to be true.

His arms tightened around her shoulders as he heard of what he only thought were in storybooks… A wolf’s howl. Her sobs got heavier as she buried her small head into the crook of his shoulder, fingers tightening his torso as she too heard the howls. Kissing the top of her blonde hair, he whispered quietly to her, “Shhhh,” Pausing briefly to re position himself so they were both more comfortable, “Shhhh. it will be fine. I will never leave you.” Tears continued to fall down her now rosy cheeks from the cold biting at her fair skin. The intense and nearly ear screeching began to subside which also seemed to comfort the wolves as their howls died too. He looked down to her, smiling as sincere as he could and whispered “You see? They have gone now.” She smiled softly up to him whilst he dried away her tears still trailing down her cheeks. Soon she was nestled against his chest and soft grumbles from her sleep filled the little cave like place they were in. Yet, the young boy could not quite fall asleep. He had an uneasy feeling in his stomach, one which he felt somebody was watching them.

 

This is a small extract from Dark Woods, another one from the collection of twisted fairy tales. This one is my version of Hansel and Gretel. Please let me know what you think and how I could improve.

Broken Friendships: Beautiful Broken Things

*Mild spoilers ahead.*

Three girls, different but alike.

*Mild spoilers ahead.*

 

Three girls, different but alike. There is Cadnam, or Caddy as she is more commonly known as she lives a ‘boring and uneventful life’ in her words. Then there is Rosie, a young girl who always has, and always will be Caddy’s best friend and the most interesting person Caddy has met. That was until Suzanne showed up. A girl who was a mysterious thing to her, that was until she did some undercover research and found out more than she bargained for when she did.

 

Beautiful Broken Things is about friendship, love, adolescence, and discovery. It shows three diverse ways of being a teenager and how they shape you as a person; be it that you come from a broken family, Or had a few horrible things happen you and your family, Or if your family is ‘beautiful’ or in Caddy’s perspective, uneventful to her.

 

The story is told from Caddy’s perspective when she first gets introduced to Suzanne. With her character, we see the growth of her from the young, and somewhat naïve, to slightly grown but adventurous girl who realises that there is a lot more to life than she knows. Caddy is thrown from her boring, uneventful life into a world of adventure, mystery, and danger. It is another book aimed more at young adults to begin reading but can still be enjoyed by older readers as it discusses both young and adult issues in a mature and well written nature.

 

It’s a surprisingly light read due to the issues surrounding mental health, abuse, and teenage curiosity that Sara Barnard has delicately written and I would recommend it as a summer read.

Bittersweet Yesterdays

This is the first draft of one of the ‘memories’ in a collection made for a novel I am working on. I plan extending on this particular memory but wish to get some feedback on what I have so far. Sorry for such a short post but I am working on both this and my reviews. Should be longer next and please, let me know what you think. 

Memory #20

It was the last Christmas in that house in a small town which held all the memories. In the morning, I decided to give her the taste of her own medicine and wake her up before the sun rose. However, when morning came, the medicine tasted bitter to her and she waited a few more hours before getting up. In the hours before the sun went down, this Christmas was the best because it was just us. But it was also the worst Christmas because it was just us. The house with all the memories seems bare and small now.

I can still remember the smell of her perfume like it was yesterday, the sweet scent of cinnamon always filled the room when she entered.

 

This is the first draft of one of the ‘memories’ in a collection made for a novel I am working on. I plan extending on this particular memory but wish to get some feedback on what I have so far. Sorry for such a short post but I am working on both this and my reviews. Should be longer next and please, let me know what you think. 

 

Living to the full: Everything Everything

*Mild spoilers ahead*

One thing I will tell you to do either before, during or after reading this novel is to do something you have never done before (even if it is something you are frightened of). The reason why I am telling you to do this is because if you do, then you will truly feel how Madeline feels in Everything Everything.

 

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon is a love story, but one that differs to others that are on the market. Madeline is a young girl that has never been outside, she is kept indoors with filtered air because she has the rare condition SCID which means she is allergic to everything. It never bothered her that she did not live like normal teenagers until she met Ollie, whom she soon falls in love with and wants to do all the things her mother stopped her doing before, even if it means she loses her life.

 

The ending is especially surprising and I certainly wasn’t expecting it, though it is satisfying for the reader. Whilst I will not give it away, you will not be disappointed and you will cry (just a fair warning).

 

Madeline is a protagonist you can genuinely feel for and not due to the usual trivial thing you find in novels. As though you may not have her exact condition, you can relate because most of us have some condition (be it mental or physical) that restricts us to doing something. Which is why I told you to do something new, exciting, and or scary that you may or may not have wanted to do before. Ollie is also a character which you can appreciate, understand, and sympathise with, but for different reasons.  The other characters are minor and few but they add their own dimension to the story in subtle but great ways.

 

Nicola Yoon has presented this story in a unique way that I have never seen before. Instead of it all being in prose, she has added in ‘pictures’ in a sense. She added the IM conversations between Madeline and Ollie, the hospital records among other important documents. Whilst it may confuse you to begin with, you soon learn to understand, enjoy and love this style.

 

Overall, the book will make you cry, smile and feel things you may never have experienced or wanted to but in the end, you are happy you went on this journey with Madeline. The story leaves you hanging and wanting more. So all in all, it is another must read.

Anything but small: Small Great Things

*Mild Spoilers Ahead*

*Mild Spoilers Ahead*

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult is anything but small. It is about hard hitting, real life issues such as racism and infant loss. It is about the trials and tribulations of parenthood, and when life throws you the curveball of not being able to raise them. How the colour of your skin affects your life constantly and how you may live it, and most importantly, it is about acceptance or the journey to it at least.

 

The narrative of the story is spilt between Ruth, Turk and Kennedy. The nurse who is ‘held responsible’ for the death of Turk’s new-born son, the father and the attorney appointed to prove Ruth’s innocence and hopefully criminal justice because of her race. All three of these flawed characters hit home and make you truly think about today’s society and whether it is one you want to live in, and raise your children in.

 

Whilst the overarch of this story may not appeal to you, it is a must read. It will leave you feeling sorry but also hating Turk on his journey of justice for his son. You will hate the justice system and the treatment of Ruth and want to help her in any way possible, but have the knowledge you cannot because you cannot reach into the book and alter the storyline. As with Kennedy you both will love her and want to slap her for the treatment of the case and lack of empathy for Ruth, and her case.

 

Overall, the book will make you cry and educate you in law, nursing, and empathy. It will show you that though we have come in leaps and bounds from when we enslaved black people and used them as our own pets, but we have not in other ways. Such as complete animosity towards them and still are enemies to some, for example, the white supremacists.

 

Finally, the comparison to it being a modern day To Kill a Mockingbird is true, for while times have changed, so has the ways to persecute those who do not form to the Americans lifestyle, or anyone else’s.