Slideshow shadow

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

January 26, 2015 in Book Reviews, YA

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine WargaMy Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
Published by Hodder on 12th February 2015
Genres: YA
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Aysel and Roman are practically strangers, but they've been drawn into an unthinkable partnership. In a month's time, they plan to commit suicide - together.

Aysel knows why she wants to die: being the daughter of a murderer doesn't equal normal, well-adjusted teenager. But she can't figure out why handsome, popular Roman wants to end it all....and why he's even more determined than she is.

With the deadline getting closer, something starts to grow between Aysel and Roman - a feeling she never thought she would experience. It seems there might be something to live for, after all - but is Aysel in so deep she can't turn back?

 

I resisted the urge to write this post immediately after reading the book. Instead, I’ve waited a week and allowed myself the time to think it through.

This novel tackles the often taboo subject of suicide. I feel there’s always a risk of glamorising suicide in a story like this, but for me Warga avoids that risk. She has created a work of fiction that many will be able to relate to, a work of fiction that friends and family of depression sufferers should read.

First of all let’s talk about the characters. Aysel is a teenager whose father’s actions have overshadowed her life. She’s a social outcast; even her Mum and her family don’t want anything to do with her. She fears she is like her Dad, that she’ll end up like him. Ending her life would remove that risk.

Warga builds a very interesting character in Aysel. Through Aysel Warga addresses depression, loneliness, social exclusion and a fear of replicating the mistakes of one’s parents (I’m sure there is a word for that but I can’t think of it right now). All these issues bundled up into one young girl, a girl who is very clever and could offer so much in the world.

We follow the story through the eyes of Aysel. She is a character that many people will be able to relate to. Although I did not suffer depression as a youth, I have since faced my own battle with the illness. For me, I found some of Warga’s descriptions very easy to relate to. In fact I took a photo of several pages because the words describe it better than I ever could.

“I bet if you cut open my stomach, the black slug of depression would slide out. Guidance counselors always love to say, “Just think positively,” but that’s impossible when you have this thing inside of you, strangling every ounce of happiness you can muster. My body is an efficient happy-thought-killing machine.”

That “black slug of depression” is a concept that Warga uses throughout the book, and I find it particularly powerful.

Aysel goes online and finds a suicide partner who lives locally, a boy her age called Roman. Warga cleverly introduces Roman as a popular boy, one who has/had lots of friends, one who once excelled at basketball. On the surface this boy appears to have everything that Aysel doesn’t and yet he too wants to kill himself.

Through Roman Warga addresses the fact that depression doesn’t discriminate, anyone can suffer from depression, even the popular kids. She also incorporates guilt into Roman’s character, another excellent addition.

I found the dynamic between Aysel and Warga very interesting. These two kids that might not typically have been friends but for their common feelings, their ultimate goals. These kids are supporting each other, helping each other to go through with it, to commit suicide. At least that’s the plan.

I can’t not mention Roman’s Mum. Aysel hadn’t wanted to know Roman’s family; that would just make everything harder. However she meets his Mum, a kind, caring lady and suddenly everything becomes more complicated. Though Aysel’s own family may not care about her, Roman has a mother who does. Can she support Roman’s suicide when she knows the woman whose heart will be devastated by his death?

There are so many issues in this book, I foresee a lot of people relating to it. Aside from those issues though is a story that will leave you captivated. From the obvious, will they or won’t they fulfil their pact, to that page-turning obsession with finding out what Aysel’s father had done. I HAD to know.

Warga’s writing style really made this novel for me. Some of her descriptions and metaphors are brilliant, they tugged at my heart. She’s an extremely talented lady and I can’t believe this is her debut novel! I will most definitely be looking out Jasmine Warga’s future work.

I think this book is a must read for a wide range of people. From those who battle depression, to those whose loved ones suffer from depression, or even just that teenager who sees something ‘off’ in one of their peers, this book will open eyes, generate awareness and touch the heart.

Keep your eyes peeled for an EXCLUSIVE post from Jasmine Warga on strupag.com this Saturday, you won’t want to miss it!

My Heart and Other Black Holes is available in paperback from 12th February 2015, RRP £6.99.

6 Classics I’m Going To Read in 2015

January 21, 2015 in Bookish Posts

This year I’m going to make an effort to read, or re-read, some classics. So here are 6 classics that I’m committing to reading in 2015.

classics 2

1. Little Women by Louise May Alcott (Puffin in Bloom Edition)

2. I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

3. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

4. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (Macmillan Classics Edition – out in May)

5. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Puffin Chalk Edition)

6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Penguin Clothbound Classics Edition)

Are you planning to read any classics this year?

The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca Whitney

January 14, 2015 in Book Reviews, Crime, thriller

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca WhitneyThe Liar's Chair by Rebecca Whitney
Published by Mantle on 15th January 2015
Genres: thriller
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
Rachel Teller and her husband David appear happy, prosperous and fulfilled. The big house, the successful business...They have everything.

However, control, not love, fuels their relationship and David has no idea his wife indulges in drunken indiscretions. When Rachel kills a man in a hit and run, the meticulously maintained veneer over their life begins to crack.

Destroying all the evidence of the accident, David insists they continue as normal. Rachel though is racked with guilt and as her behaviour becomes increasingly self-destructive she not only inflames David's darker side, but also uncovers her own long-suppressed memories of shame. Can Rachel confront her past and atone for her terrible crime? Not if her husband has anything to do with it...

 

 

The Liar’s Chair is the debut novel by Rebecca Whitney, and what a debut it is!  Set in and around the streets of Whitney’s hometown Brighton, this is a novel that kept me hooked from the outset.

Protagonist Rachel is driving home from spending the night with her secret lover. She’s enjoying the drive, the way her top of the range Mercedes handles the country roads, but she’s also still filled with alcohol from the night before. She turns a bend and hits a man, kills him. From that moment her life as she knows it spirals out of control.

Having hidden the body, Rachel has no choice but to turn to her husband, David, who helps her to conceal the crime. He makes sure the car disappears, burns her clothes, and as far as he is concerned life is to go on as normal, but that’s just not possible for Rachel.

When I got an email about this book it was the following sentence that made me REALLY want to read it… “It also features the most brilliantly sinister dinner party scene I have ever read.” I have to say that I completely agree. As Rachel struggles with what she has done she is required by David to keep up their happy couple facade…it’s fair to say that during this dinner party the facade slips somewhat.

I love the way this novel progresses. With each page we see David’s character grow more and more dark. We see the evil man that he really is, how he manipulates and controls his wife. There’s a scene with their two dogs… it’s then you realise what kind of creature David really is.

This is a truly fascinating psychological thriller. As Rachel’s life spirals more and more out of her control, long-suppressed shameful memories from her youth resurface. These suppressed memories, together with her toxic marriage make for a compelling read. I couldn’t put it down!

The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca Whitney – Publish date 15th January 2015, Hardback, £12.99

Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending a copy of The Liar’s Chair. This has in no way influenced my opinion of the book, and all opinions expressed are entirely mine and (as always) completely honest.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

January 10, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Fiction, YA

Red Rising by Pierce BrownRed Rising by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #1
Published by Hodder Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, YA
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars
The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda.

 

My Twitter feed exploded with excitement this week in the run up to the publication of Golden Son, the second book in the Red Rising trilogy. I included Golden Son in My 2015 Book Wishlist and I’m currently waiting impatiently for my copy to arrive…I cannot wait to read what happens next!

If you haven’t heard of Red Rising, then really you are missing out (EDIT – it’s actually just 98p on the Kindle right now). Truthfully when I first saw information about the book I wasn’t that fussed about reading it, but then my favourite booktubers and reviewers started raving about it, and I knew I had to read it!

It was the mention of Mars that made me think “meh, probably not going to like that”. I don’t know why, but I’m so glad I got over that and gave the book a go.

Darrow, the main character, is a Red, the lowest level of social ranking. He is a miner, and together with his fellow Reds he’s helping to prepare Mars for habitation. Spending his life underground, he and his family are helping to create a legacy for humanity, to rescue people from a dying planet Earth.

A glimpse of the surface of Mars causes Darrow’s life to change dramatically. It ultimately leads to his meeting a group of rebels who shatter the illusion of his life; Mars is actually inhabitable and has been for years. It’s ruled by Golds who use the lesser colours to their advantage and show no remorse in doing so. With the help of the rebels Darrow is transformed into a Gold. The plan is for him to infiltrate the Golds, and to generate a rebellion from within.

To be honest it took me a wee while to get into the book. Reading about Darrow’s life as a Red was interesting but I had no idea where it was all going, then BOOM the book really took off and I couldn’t put it down!

Darrow’s infiltration as a Gold sees him attend their elite school. Before long he finds himself in the middle of a battle of Houses, a battle that he really needs to win if he’s going to have a chance of changing the world for the other colours. However he’s not the only one that wants to win, and these natural Golds really are ruthless!

It was when Darrow infiltrated the school that I became hooked. The battle had me turning page after page. It was brutal, it was shocking, it was brilliant. I loved the building of the story, the way Brown introduced and developed new characters. I found myself liking a lot of the Gold characters, wanting them to survive, despite knowing that I’m on ‘Darrow’s side’, the side of the Reds. It’s so clever and very well done.

I’ve absolutely no idea what to expect from Golden Son (book two), I’ve heard that it’s potentially even better than Red Rising – a bold claim. All I know is that as I sit and write this I’m keeping one eye out the window waiting for the postie to deliver the second book in this thrilling trilogy!

Favourite Reads of 2014

December 31, 2014 in Book Reviews, Bookish Posts, Fiction

So it’s the last day of 2014. What better way to mark the occasion than by sharing with you my favourite reads of the year? These are just books I read this year, they haven’t necessarily been published in 2014.

prisoner

 

Prisoner of Night and Fog is the first book in the series by Anne Blankman. I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough. My full review can be found here.

heir of fire

Heir of Fire is the third book in Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass series. I was desperate to read this book and it really did not disappoint. Book 1, Throne of Glass (a review here) is just 59p on the kindle right now, GO AND GET IT!

wonder

Kirsty recommended Wonder to me (review here). She had read it to her class and they all fell in love with it. It’s a beautiful yet simple, thought-provoking story. A must read for children and adults alike.

the way of kings

 

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (review here), what can I say about this? I was in the mood for an epic fantasy after rereading the Song of Ice & Fire series and this book was recommended to me. I haven’t read the next installment yet although it is available in hardback, but I will definitely be reading it. I found this book a little hard to get into to begin with, but it soon grasped my attention and I was hooked. Brilliant.

ruin & rising

 

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Ruin & Rising, the third and final book in Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha Trilogy. I’ve adored this series from the beginning (see review of book one here) and the ending of this trilogy was quite simply awesome! I couldn’t stop reading, I had to know what was coming next. It was a brilliant read, emotional in places, but all that I could have wished for in the conclusion of this trilogy.

What have your favourite reads of 2014 been?

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2015, filled with fantastic books!