Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard Summer Readings Blog Tour

Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with the boyfriend Eden knows nothing about, especially when the police arrive on her doorstep and Eden finds out that the boyfriend is actually their music teacher, Mr Cohn. Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty and friendship, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts – but as the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself. (Synopsis as found on Goodreads.com).

Normally I read to escape reality and not indulge in it so when I engaged in this read, I had a bit of an emotional reaction to it as I found this story can be so real among youth, it’s scary. I was appalled with the situation between the teacher and student yet I really felt for Eden and Bonnie. Although an easy, fast paced read, I found this to be an intense coming of age story with some confronting themes that will definitely spark discussion and raises the question, what is the true meaning of friendship? I found the story delivered a key message about the choices friends need to make. The choice between what is right and what is easy. What is easy may not always be right and what is right may not always easy. In this case, does a friend tell the truth of what’s really going on with their friend as it’s the right thing or do they keep quiet to save their friendship but let the wrong thing continue? A good read I am sure the YA contemporary readers would appreciate.

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me a review copy as part of their Summer Readings Blog Tour.
-Annie

Advertisements

Between the Blade and Heart by Amanda Hocking

The first of a new YA fantasy fiction duology inspired by Norse mythology

Valkyries have one responsibility: to return immortals to the afterlife by slaying them.

As a Valkyrie, Malin has always known that the balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos. Malin not only wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought—she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. The balance of the world is at stake. And, as Asher competes with Malin’s ex for her love and loyalty, so is her heart….

This was a pretty good read – YA fantasy fiction with elements of Norse mythology set in current urban times. At first I thought it was set in time of myth until Malin pulled out her iPad LOL! I found this book to be a fast paced read full of interesting plot twists with diverse characters. I also liked the ending as yes the ending gives you a cliffhanger but holds you enough for to wait for the second instalment. Interesting characters and relationship dynamics too. I say this is one for fans who love the hybrid Norse mythology with urban fantasy.

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me a review copy.
-Annie

 

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner with Exclusive Q&A

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Unearthed book launch emceed by the amazing Garth Nix (right) as he cracks us all up with his “background research” on Meagan (left) and Amie (centre)

Unearthed
When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered. For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance. In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race. (Goodreads)

———–

Our thoughts
This book is filled with nonstop action. It has the exciting adventure feel of Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider. The story follows a dynamic, loveable duo Mia and Jules on deciphering a secret message of the Undying whilst exploring an alien planet that the government is trying to profit from. This story is mostly about survival and explores themes of ethics, choices, trust and courage, I was immersed in the story from chapter 1. The fact that the story is set on another planet very similar to Earth makes the setting relatable whilst still managing to make the reader feel the “alien-ness” of the planet due to reminders about breathers. The cliffhanger of this book was absolutely crazy. I need book 2.
– NJ

This book really lived up to its pitch – an action packed novel that is like Indiana Jones meets Tomb Raider in Outer Space. Following the adventure of Amelia and Jules who meet by chance on another planet but have their own agendas when they team up. It was a lot of fun to read, non-stop action, plot twists and witty dialogue, all up it was entertaining, even for someone like me who isn’t all that into sci-fi stories set in space. Both authors did a fantastic job collaborating on this one!!!
-Annie

———-

Exclusive Q&A with Amie and Meagan!!!

How did you come up with the premise of “Unearthed”?
Back in January 2015, we were on tour together, and we were spending a rare afternoon off in our hotel room, pretty much collapsed. Tour is tiring! We found an Indiana Jones marathon on TV, and we both adore all things Indy, so that was our afternoon sorted. We’d been talking a lot about what we’d write next, and slowly, the idea of a tomb-raiding adventure (in space, of course) came together.

 I’m curious to know how two authors collaborate to write one book. Do you get together to come up with characters and ideas for the plot then something each to compare?
We work together at every stage – we brainstorm the setting and the start of the plot together, we figure out the characters that would fit into it best, and then we start fleshing out the character we’ll each write. Ideas get tossed back and forth and tweaked and improved so often that we usually have no idea who came up with what.

Author collaboration would be a rewarding experience but are there be any challenges in a collaboration? How did you overcome these challenges?
By far the hardest part is being in different timezones – we wish we could chat even more than we do! But we email constantly, we text every day, we often jump on video chat to brainstorm (and just have a chat, we’re friends as well as co-authors) and we come up with lots of ways to stay in touch.

If “Unearthed” was to become a film adaptation, would do you picture playing your main characters on screen?
We have our fingers crossed for this, because Sony and a production company called Cross Creek have actually got it in development! A fantastic director called Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, The Edge of Tomorrow) is attached. We’re actually not supposed to talk about who we’d cast, because we don’t want to cloud the waters in case the characters are cast – you never know your luck!

For writers who are thinking of engaging in an author collaboration, what would be your best piece of advice you could give to them?
We’d advise them to communicate a lot, and check they’re both on the same page about everything they can think of, from how quickly they’ll work, to what they’ll do if one of them needs to take a break, to what they’ll do if they have different ideas about where they’ll take the story, and so on. It’s always easier to figure this stuff out in advance than later on, when it’s actually causing a problem. We’ve been friends for so long, and writing together for so long, that we know each other inside out, and it makes a huge difference!

-NJ & Annie

I am Thunder… and I Won’t Keep Quiet by Muhammad Khan

“A thought-provoking and empowering story which will encourage readers to question what they see and hear.”

One of the most confronting books I have read this year and a story that really hits the nail on the head. A new YA voice that demonstrates how far one can go to protect what they believe in and accurately depicts the world today. I really want to take this moment to thank the author, Muhammad Khan, for writing this story. As a Muslim woman reading this book – I felt this was a real eye-opener for non-Muslims and a warm hug to the Muslim brother/sisterhood as he stated in his author’s note.

“I am Thunder” is told by protagonist, 15 year old Muzna Saleem, who dreams of being a novelist but is trapped between 2 worlds: controlling parents who only care about her studying to be a doctor and growing up in a world that tells you to be what you want to be. As Muzna’s father lost his job, Muzna is forced to move to a new school in South London at a critical time of her life and after her best friend is shamed in a scandal.

Whilst dialogue among teens can be cheesy, I found the book to be very well written and honest. It’s a book that will definitely spark positive discussion. I had such a personal connection to the story and the character but felt extremely thankful I didn’t experience absolutely everything Muzna went through.

When Muzna is thrown into this new school, just like the real world, she realizes bullies are everywhere and yes difficult times are ahead but do you take a stand and fight for what is right or do you fade out because it’s easier? Struggling with home life and school yard prejudice against her culture and faith, the world looks bleak for Muzna until she meets Arif – her knight in shining armour – or so she thinks…

The author did a fantastic job in demonstrating the constant confusion in families who put culture first, Islam second which is a leading cause of clash and confusion in families and the wider community. Cultural identity is a real challenge especially among the youth and I really felt for Muzna being an only child growing up in the western world with strong ties to her cultural traditions and expectations, it can be a challenge but it can also be an opportunity. I felt Muzna had the right idea of wanting to be a novelist as a means to set a passive example that demonstrates that these acts committed do not represent her or her faith.

In addition to cultural identity, the fury Muzna and her parents felt when waking up to headline news of terrorist attacks and murder of innocent victims carried out in the name of Islam was all too real for me. It was a wave of mixed emotions – anger for what this mob do in our name and the compounding weariness of stepping out of our house wearing the hijab, that need to constantly be vigilant in your own home in case you’re next to be on the receiving end of hate attacks for crimes you never committed or endorsed but refusing to live in fear. 

The story is so real – with strong characters making poor decisions or turning a blind eye to things you think is so obviously wrong, but that’s exactly why it was so real – because it demonstrates exactly how extremists operate. They select articulate, intelligent individuals and targe their vulnerability as leverage for their own agendas.

Again, this book is extremely well written and fast paced. I am sure readers will have an emotional reaction to the story. I gasped, cringed, laughed, cried and I even had to put the book down for a moment as I was getting so worked up over it (it’s so real). I feel this is an important story and I do recommend this as your next read. Suitable for the YA audience from ages 14 years and up.

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy of this book as part of the Summer Readings Blog Tour.
-Annie