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.

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.

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.

Four Tales: A Monster Calls

*Mid Spoilers Ahead*
Follow Conor O’Malley on his journey of self-discovery and encounters with the Monster in Patrick Ness’ novel, A Monster Calls.

*Mid Spoilers Ahead*

Follow Conor O’Malley on his journey of self-discovery and encounters with the Monster in Patrick Ness’ novel, A Monster Calls. The novel centres on Conor who is going through the turmoil of his Mothers cancer consciously rearing its ugly head and we see how Conor deals with this, which is summoning the Monster. We also see how he deals with the monster, which he thought was an extension of his nightmare, but this monster is real and was called upon because of that. The boy finds comfort the unlikeliest of ways in the end.

 

Reading this book in the sky whilst flying helps add to the atmosphere and the world of Conor O’Malley and his monsters as the clouds around you may be the mist around Conor in the evening, the turbulence could be the Monster coming for you and the ear popping could be your ears telling you that you need to scream. And whilst I am not telling you that you must fly whilst reading the book, but doing something out the ordinary before, after or during this book could enhance the reading experience.

 

Whilst I am yet to watch the film (I am one of those that prefer to usually read the book then watch the film or TV show) I believe that if it is anything like the book, then your heartstrings will be pulled and you will hate those pesky onions even more than you did before. The book delves into life problems of cancer and what would happen to a young boy if his mum dies, would he stay with the grandma who is very orderly and clean or the absent father who is only seen every so often as he created a new family. Some of the serious issues that are apparent is today’s society, but they make it more young adult/child friendly with the added twist of fiction of the monster.

 

From the issues raised I see it as being a great source of information and comfort for those children who face this problem every day in the bereavement of a parent as it shows them that it will be okay and that you will survive.

 

Overall, I would recommend this book as it is spellbound, tear jerking and heart-warming in a sense. I could not help but read it entirely in the three hour plane journey.

Keeper of Secrets: My Sister’s Keeper

This novel has intrigue, mystery, some form of happiness and above all else, can pull on your heart strings but you cannot help but come back for more. It will leave you needing more than what there is.

*Mild Spoilers Ahead*

What is better than a rainy afternoon, a cup of tea and good book? A book that makes you cry, sometimes laugh and feel things you never thought you would, you will this experience this and more in Jodi Picoult’s, My Sisters Keeper. It has been a while since a book has made me cry (tell a lie, I did cry last Summer when I read Me Before You and After You by Jojo Moyes), but this makes you cry for completely different reasons. You are both happy for Kate, but also sad for her, Sara, Brian, Jesse, Campbell, Julia and most of all, Anna.

 

The book follows a series of characters and their journey to finding the truth of why Anna wants to be medically emancipated from her parents. We find out that she was genetically engineered to save her sister, Kate and we see that sometimes her parent’s, Sara and Brain who do not have it all together and put Kate before Jesse and Anna. Yet, Brain is beginning to see that maybe Anna is right, she should have a say in what happens to her. We see how both Anna and Jesse react to their parents and how the treat them in comparison to Kate. We also hear Julia’s voice, the person there to speak on Anna’s behalf and decide for the judge whether she thinks Anna has the mind capacity to make her own decisions regarding her health, but she has her own past to deal with when she comes face to face with the man that broke her, Campbell Alexander. Then we have Campbell Alexander, a big shot lawyer who for some reason takes on Anna’s case, against his better judgement. Finally, we hear Kate’s voice, the real reason behind all the fuss who just wants to be heard herself.

 

This novel has intrigue, mystery, some form of happiness and above all else, can pull on your heart strings but you cannot help but come back for more. It will leave you needing more than what there is.

 

As you come to the end you just want that happily ever after, where Kate lives cancer free, Sara and Brain sees all the children as equal and finally realise they are still madly in love with one another. Jesse sorts his life out and takes the straight and narrow path. Campbell and Julia get together and Anna, can live freely. However, like all good stories, heartache is around the corner and whilst most get a somewhat happy ending, we must imagine the rest of the story without one major character which is hard to comprehend.

 

Whilst I watched the film a few years back before reading the book (I’m mad at myself too, don’t worry), I am glad I have had the chance to experience both as they are both great and cry-worthy in their own ways. Especially, their own alternative endings which part of me wishes the film makers kept to the original but another is somewhat glad they didn’t, but wishes they could have come up with a way where everyone gets their happily ever after, however, we know they were trying to stay true to real life. Whilst I make this book sound sad and horrible, to not read it would be a horrible mistake and you will be missing out on a great experience. Just make sure you have the tissues at the ready.

 

I think the final line, ‘I take her with me, wherever I go.’ sums the book up well as the underlying message is of course, one sister’s love for the other will save her.