Thursday, August 17, 2017

BLOG TOUR: GUEST POST & REVIEW - FRESHERS by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

I'm so excited to be part of this tour guys. I mean this was my first book by Tom and Lucy, (I know right, terrible reader) but I have to say I'm glad I started with Freshers first. It totally has you wetting your pants and snorting out loud. It's pure genius. Anyways that's enough of my fangirling, you can read more of that further down the post with my review. But first I have a guest post from the lovely Tom and Lucy with pictures too. So before you read that, here is a little more about Freshers.

Freshers
by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison
Publisher - Chicken House Books
Release Date - August 3rd 2017
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Uni beckons. Phoebe can't wait to be a fresher - especially since her crush from school will be there too.

She'll be totally different at Uni: cooler, prettier, smarter ... the perfect potential girlfriend. She'll reinvent herself completely.

But Luke's oblivious: still reeling from the fallout of the break-up with his ex.

Thrown head first into a world of new friends, parties and social media disasters - can Phoebe and Luke survive the year, let alone find each other?

Guest Post


THE IMPORTANCE OF UNI SOCIETIES

Early on in our new book, FRESHERS, the two protagonists, Luke and Phoebe, do what all new students tend to do and head to the Freshers Fair. For the uninitiated, this is where you either a) sign up to lots of new and exciting sporting, cultural and political societies, or b) collect lots of free pens. Joining 'socs' was a massive part of our university experience, so we knew we wanted to make it a big part of our campus-set novel, too. 

In FRESHERS, our main characters sign up for Quidditch Soc which, unfortunately, did not exist during our time at York University (if it had, we would DEFINITELY have signed up). Back in our real life Freshers' Week, in the Early Noughties, we signed up to Yoga Soc (Lucy) and Skateboarding Soc (Tom). 


Lucy went to Yoga Soc with the primary goal of making friends, rather than doing yoga; so when, during her first session, she met Nell (who is still now one of her best mates), she never bothered going back (hence why there are no existing photos of her doing yoga, so we'll have to make do with a pic of University Card...). 

This is the thing about university societies; you soon learn that meeting nice people is much more important than doing whatever activity you're supposed to be there to do. Tom enjoyed a slightly longer stint at Skateboarding Soc (please see embarrassing photo, below). When he went to sign up at Freshers Fair, he found that Skateboarding Soc had been slightly unfairly placed right in between Football Soc and Rugby Soc. Both these tables were crowded with people, shouting and cheering and jostling to sign up. And in the middle was Skateboarding Soc, which consisted of just one bloke, sat by himself. When he went to sign up, the bloke's first question was: "Would you be prepared to be Chairman of Skateboarding Soc next year?", which gave Tom the (correct) impression that Skateboarding Soc did NOT have many active members… 

One comment on my part - I'm disappointed that there's no Quidditch Society, I think uni goers need to start a petition. I would go to uni just for that.

My Review

So Freshers was an experience for me, why? because I never went to University. I was in the undecided path when I left 6th Form, but in a way I'm glad for it as I'm proud of what I've achieved and where I am now. But then sometimes I will always wonder what would have happened if I went to university, would I enjoy it, make friends for life, be more social, enjoy the experience? I don't know, my experience in school and 6th Form wasn't exactly great, but then people always told me that Uni is different. 

Freshers takes two very different perspectives of uni life with Phoebe and Luke, they both went to the same high school together. Phoebe has always had a crush on Luke, but I think the years between she hasn't been brave enough to be who she is, to be finally come out of her shell. Phoebe feels now that she's in university it will be different from high school. While she tries to contain her feelings for Luke, both Luke and Phoebe try to fit it, or not fit in as the case maybe, the thrills of nights out, uni societies and occasionally ride on a broomstick and striking a goal. Two weeks of Freshers begs to be the most dramatic, crazy, and compulsive ride of their life that will reveal their true selves at the end of it. 

The line ''you can be surrounded by people but be completely alone.'' by Cordelia in BTVS springs to mind with this book. University isn't all sunshine and unicorns, and it can effect everyone in different ways. Take Luke, I really loved him because he had fragility and a vulnerability to him. He was no longer the high school jock with the hot girlfriend prepared to go long distance. Luke changed, he became human, real, by noticing that living in a dorm can be difficult, that it's not home and not your family either. It's about building a life of your own, with you leading it on your own. It's daunting and scary, and freshers isn't getting any easier, it's only a taster for the next 3 years. I fell that Luke grows balls in the end. Phoebe on the other hand, grew out of her crush phase, she valued her friendship, fitting in or not fitting in on occasion, being played by guys and the reality of how ugly they can be (Damn you Will!). But what I loved about her was that she proved to herself that she can do it, she can survive, with or without love, it's focusing on yourself, whilst also embracing uni life for what it really is. 

What was thrilling was diving into the unknown of Tom and Lucy's writing. Yes you've heard it, this is my first book by these two geniuses. During the book it was full of laughing-out-loud-to-the-point-of-snorting moments, in public I might like to add. (There is one scene that to this day, still cracks me up but then scares me at the same time.) In the end... I was sad that it was over but also just simply awed by it, and I was like that for a quite a while. I believe that this book was the one that Tom and Lucy have been meaning to write, a story that they needed to write all along. Luke and Phoebe were them, you can see so much of themselves in each of their parts of the book. It felt real, like you were there with them in university, that takes great skill and you can feel the passion in their writing style and I felt that not only with this book but with Lobsters too. 

It's obvious that this book is for those who are or have been of 'Freshers age',  this is totally the book for you. But from my non Fresher perspective I got from this is that in the end its the making of who you are, coming out of your shell and learning to be the person you want to be for the rest of your life. Also Uni sounds completely bonkers! Haha. Freshers is addictive and the funniest book I've read all year.

Rating - 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

REVIEW - ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying
by Karen M. McManus
Publisher - Penguin Random House
Release Date - June 1st 2017
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.

Sports star Cooper only knows what he's doing in the baseball diamond.

Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.

Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.

And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won't ever talk about any of them again.

He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it's no accident. All of them are suspects.

Everyone has secrets, right?

What really matters is how far you'll go to protect them.

My Review 
Sometimes when you've just read one book and dive into the next, your brain has to catch up especially with how different the writing style and plot line was from my previous read. But once I got into it there was no stopping me. One of Us is Lying is one of those books you have to know what happens, it was just such a refreshing, engaging and thrilling ride from start to the end of the book. You won't want to put this one down.

When 5 students each get detention for getting caught with a phone in Mr Avery's class, they didn't realise they were being set up from the beginning. A car accident happens, outside the window of the detention, they get distracted, they all get up but then one is lying on the floor. One is having an allergic reaction, and then he's pronounced dead at the hospital. Simon is dead and it's not over yet. Those four students, Bronwyn, Nate, Addy and Cooper each have secrets and Simon had something against them, they are all suspects in Simon's death and it's only going to get worse for them.
What I found interesting was as the book progressed it didn't solely focus on the mystery. Karen very much focused on life of an senior, student identity, how social media can inflict pain and targeting people, that was very much Simon's agenda using his blog 'About That' to relay gossip to one another. 

“She's a princess and you're a jock," he says. He thrusts his chin toward Bronwyn, then at Nate. "And you're a brain. And you're a criminal. You're all walking teen-movie stereotypes.”

It will probably become no surprise that my favourite characters are Bronwyn and Nate, Bronywn  has this uncanniness and strength of always looking on the bright side along with 'bad boy' Nate. I couldn't not love him, I'm a sucker for bad boys like anyone. They themselves can seen as the power couple of the book, they strike an unlikely romance between each other which given the circumstances becomes so much more than that. But the character I saw the most potential and grew most as a person was Addy. She was the princess at the beginning, the one who had the jock of the boyfriend and did exactly as he said. I loved how she became into herself, she cut her hair, she focused on herself and that everything else like boyfriends became second nature. Her family, her sister and getting her life back on track was more important. Cooper, sweet Cooper, a jock with the fastest hand and has a boyfriend, is the most likeable of the group, kind of adorable as well. Cooper has the trouble of his family and friends dealing with his identity and how batting for the other team, shouldn't stop him from batting on the pitch at all.  These 5 students proved to be beyond that. As their personas grew, they supported each other, they became The Murder Club but so much more than that, they became friends. 

This is Karen's debut and it's a belter! It's addictive, fast-paced and really does keep you guessing to the end. What I loved was the writing style of the book, every chapter is time-stamped, it kind of reminded me of an episode of Law and Order. Alongside the storyline of each of the suspects, they supported each other in it's own way as well as their own story outside of Bayview. Karen's writing can totally throw you off your game, ring circles around you when you think you might know who it is. I thoroughly enjoyed the unpredictability of the book, this is a cleverly crafted YA mystery thriller. 

“Things'll get worse before they get better.”

Rating - 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Friday, August 11, 2017

ARC REVIEW - SWEETFREAK by Sophie McKenzie

SweetFreakby Sophie McKenzie
Publisher - Simon & Schuster
Release Date - August 24th 2017
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Get ready for a brand new edge-of-your-seat read from bestselling author Sophie McKenzie!

When everyone thinks you're a liar, how hard will you fight for the truth?

Carey and Amelia have been best friends forever. Then Amelia starts being trolled by SweetFreak, a mysterious and hateful online account, and Carey is accused of being behind the vicious comments and threats.

Shut out by her other friends and shunned by Amelia, Carey is determined to clear her name and find out who’s really sending the messages. But as the online attacks spill over into real life, events start spiralling out of control… Can Carey expose the real SweetFreak before it’s too late?

A gripping page-turner from the award-winning Sophie Mckenize, SweetFreak will keep you guessing until the very end…

My Review
It's been a good long while since I've read a Sophie McKenzie novel, the last had to be when I was a teenager, Six Steps to Being a Girl, I absolutely loved that one but for some unknown reason I never really continued. Sophie's latest book was offered to my book group of Year 7's and then my copy came through the post a week later. This one really has to be a favourites of mine from her's but also one of my favourites of 2017 too. 

Carey isn't afraid that she's popular at school, she gets a long with everyone and she has the lead in the play. However her best friend Amelia is getting bullied online by the alias name of SweetFreak, first it was little gags but then it got really serious with a death threat. Her family got the local police involved and accused Carey of her whereabouts of when the message was sent. Later into turned into a whirlwind of accusations and liars, and Carey at the center of it and the fact is she DIDN'T do it, and no one is listening or believing her. All the evidence is against, her friends turned against her and Amelia completely not talking to her and her mum unsupportive of her. All she has is the stranger with the mismatched trainers and her sister. 

This book was so frustrating because the fact is we, the readers know Carey is innocent and all we can do is fight her corner by keep turning the pages of the book until that culprit is finally revealed. I couldn't get there fast enough, as soon as one message by SweetFreak died down, something else has to ruin it, like the dead pigeon in Amelia's locker, the one exactly from her rubbish bin. Carey can't catch a break and chance to really find who it is. Amelia is a B*****, at first you want to pity her I guess, but then as the book goes on it's like she doesn't care anymore and she just wants the world focused on her and make Carey the enemy. Believe me there is some underlining problems there. Also keep your heart out for Blue, he is adorable...

What I loved about this book was the important topics that it addresses, the awareness of cyber bullying through how dark social media can be and also toxic friendships. Working in a school, an all girls school, constant picking at each other or where apps and smartphones have never been more the rave. I'm very aware of this, I have to promote possible social media and a calm environment.  But outside of school we have no control over it, Snap Chat the form also known as Natter Snap in SweetFreak, can ruin people lives, their friendships it can lead them to do such nasty things. 
This is a perfect book from Year 7 up, it really highlights these issues as well as reading a page turner, a thriller that we keep you guessing till the end. 

Rating - 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟