Saturday, 26 August 2017

Wing Jones

Beautiful. I've seen a lot of hype for this novel and all of it is justified. My only regret is that I read it on Kindle, so I couldn't get my copy signed at YALC. 

“Wing,” he breathes, like a wish, like a prayer, and it’s as if it is my heart’s name and not my own because my heart flutters in my chest, desperate to get out to fly to him.” 

Wing Jones (or The Heartbeats of Wing Jones, if you're in America) follows a young girl called Wing's attempts to cope with a difficult stage in her life by discovering a passion and talent for running. 

“Then he smiles at me and it’s like I’ve been living in darkness and now there is light.”

I adored the figurative language, which fitted in so well with Wing's personality and what she imagined. It flowed beautifully and made this novel so enjoyable to read. 

"But my happiness is a squishy kind of happiness, squeezing itself in where it can fit, pushing around all the sadness and the stress and the pressure, finding any empty spot, any crevice, and filling it."

The characters were also brilliant - I liked that none of them were perfect, as this lead to a realistic, believable story line. And speaking of believable, I've never read a novel which made me so thankful for the NHS. The medical bills and difficulties Wing's family face are incomprehensible for someone who has never had to pay for healthcare and reminded me how lucky we are to have the NHS in the UK. 

“Another wish, a secret one, flutters by, and it has Aaron’s name on it. I watch it for a moment, fluttering, floating, and then I grab it tight and crush it before anyone else can see it. I can feel the remnants of the mothy wish wings on my skin.” 

Webber captures the exhilaration and freedom of running so well and it (almost) made me want to put on my trainers. Until I remembered that I have a six months old and haven't had a decent night's sleep in over a year, so running is about as appealing as, well, anything that's not sleep, really... I think I'll stick to reading!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Scarecrow Queen

The fantastic conclusion to The Sin Eater series.

I know I've already said this in my reviews of the first two books, but I love the world building in Salisbury's stories. I only wish I'd been reading the paperback edition rather than my kindle, so that flicking back to the map wasn't such a hassle!

“And that, my girl, is the secret. Quake all you must on the inside. But on the outside you must be stone. And you never know; with enough practice it might become the truth.” 

The plot of Scarecrow Queen had a lot of twists and turns and the story was really fast paced, with characters being thwarted in every chapter - this story never went where I was expecting it to, even at the end, which was all kinds of perfect (and I won't say any more than that because of spoilers!)

“In every fairy tale there is a kernel of truth, and that is the truth of this one. For him, I am poison. I am his death. And I will deliver.” 

I recently got to hear Salisbury speak about Errin and Twylla on the Heroines panel at YALC and it was great to hear about the contrasts she wanted to draw between them, so that she created two very different heroines who would reflect and speak to different readers. I love both girls, but Twylla was my favourite - I love the changes she goes through and the way her confidence improves over the course of this book. She's come so far from the girl she was in the Sin Eater's Daughter.

“Scarecrow queen. Nothing but a dupe, alone in a field, hoping to keep the crows at bay.” 

I also enjoyed how horrible Aurek was - he's not horrible in a darkly seductive, I-like-him-even-though-I-shouldn't kind of way - he's a monster. I like reading about villains that I really, deeply dislike. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Why We Love: There is a Tribe of Kids

Whenever I spot a new picture book at the library that I've already heard about, I have to pick it up. This is exactly what happened with There is a Tribe of Kids, which won the 2017 Kate Greenway medal. 

It follows a young child's attempts to find a group where he fits in: from baby goats, to turtles, to - finally - a tribe of children.

There are some brilliant collective nouns in this story. The words are sparse, but cleverly used and we loved the illustrations. There's also lots to discuss as you read, in terms of loneliness and belonging. It's a really lovely book and one that I will be disappointed to return next week. 

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Strange the Dreamer

Laini Taylor is one of those author's whose book I will buy without reading the synopsis - I know they're going to be amazing, no matter what they're about. They're also usually so beautiful that I have to buy them in hardcover rather than as ebooks, so can admire how pretty they are on my shelf. Strange the Dreamer didn't disappoint in either of these criteria.

“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable," she pleaded. "Something beautiful and full of monsters."

“Beautiful and full of monsters?"

“All the best stories are.” 

Lazlo Strange has been obsessed with the city of Weep for as long as he can remember. A librarian and a dreamer, he longs to journey to the lost city and discover its secrets. But this is a story of godspawn and monsters, of alchemy and nightmares; sometimes fulfilling your dreams brings much, much more than you ever imagined. 

“It was impossible, of course. But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming.” 

Taylor's writing is a whole other level of beautiful. She has such a clever way with words and her novels are a joy to read as a result. I'm sure I will be flicking back through this purely to enjoy her wonderful writing. 

“I turned my nightmares into fireflies and caught them in a jar.”

I loved the dual perspectives of this book: some chapters focused on Lazlo, while others followed Sarai, the daughter of a god, trapped in a citadel floating above the city of Weep. No one knows that she, or her siblings, are there and they need it to stay that way. 

“Without his books, his room felt like a body with its hearts cut out.”

There were some brilliant plot twists in this novel, some I saw coming, others I didn't. And the ending is just... Well, I can't really say anything without major spoilers, but it's superb and has left me desperate to find out what happens in book two. I'm so disappointed that I went to YALC the day before Taylor was there, as I would have loved to meet her.

First non-picture book review in a while! I have a lot of these to catch up on, so expect regular updates and a few writing related posts too. I've been busy recently completing a Faber Academy writing course, which I'll post about very soon. I hope everyone's having a lovely summer!