transmission
29Jul/17Off

volvo?

Fangirl

Rainbow Rowell

This is a book I've reviewed before. This time I split between the physical and audio versions of the book. I read more in the physical version because I got caught up in the story again. While very enjoyable the audiobook just didn't move fast enough once I was pulled in. While still a very enjoyable book on this read I felt like it wasn't quite as impressive as I remembered it being so I've knocked it down to A-

Rating: A-

28Jul/17Off

eyes?

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs

Jake is a misfit teen in Florida. He grew up loving his Grandfather Abe's fantastic tales from his childhood, stories filled with invisible boys, girls that can float or generate fire. When he finds his grandfather murdered, seemingly by a monster, it causes him so much trauma that he ends up going to a psychologist. In order to deal with his grandad's death he's advised to travel the Welsh island where Abe grew up to try and come to terms with things. Once there he discovers that the fantastic tales are all true and that he's found himself not in an impossible new world of peculiar children and time travel but he is also in terrible danger from the monsters that killed Abe.
I've been meaning to read this for ages and when I caught the film on TV recently all it's annoying flaws drove me to pick up the book to see if made more sense than the film. It certainly explains certain things better and there's a lot of things that the film makers changed for no real reason that fit better tonally. I'm still not sure it actually completely makes sense. I liked it enough that I've picked up the second book in the series and I'll give that go too.

Rating: B+

28Jul/17Off

cigars?

The Magicians of Caprona

Diana Wynne Jones

Caprona is a small Italian city state famous for the warring magical Montana and Petrocchi families. The story follows the youngest boys of the Montana household, Paolo and Tonino, as the feud between the families escalate. When the families fail to come together to find the spell that will save Caprona from an enemy Enchanter and the forces of other city states the younger family members band together to save the day.
I've read this book many times before and reviewed it here once. One of the first few Chrestomanci novels this is a highly entertaining piece of YA fantasy. It doesn't quite hit the highs of Witch Week or Charmed Life but that may just be down to personal preference. I highly recommend Diana Wynne Jones to anyone and this is as good a starting point as any.

Rating: A-

27Mar/16Off

pho?

Me, Earl & The Dying Girl

Jesse Andrews

me, earl and the dying girlI read this after watching the film adaptation. I really enjoyed the film and I started to wonder how much of the weirdness of the characters actually came from the source material.
It turns out that it's a pretty straightforward adaptation of a wonderfully quirky novel.
Unlike the last book I read about a teenager with cancer this is significantly less manipulative of the reader's emotions.
I recommend both the book and the film if you like heightened reality in your contemporary YA entertainment

Rating: A-

9Feb/16Off

beetroot?

Johnny and the Bomb

Terry Pratchett

johnny-and-the-bomb-largeThe final Johnny Maxwell book finds Johnny and his friends find themselves travelling to 1941 thanks to the contents of bag lady Mrs Tachyon's shopping trolley and caught up in events as German planes bomb their home town.
Pratchett has a lot of fun playing with time travel paradoxes and the trappings of war time provincial Britain.
I first reviewed this back in 2003 and as then I think it's just a very good book.
Very much recommended.

Rating: A-

3Jan/16Off

alderman?

Johnny and the Dead

Terry Pratchett

johnny and the deadThe second Johnny Maxwell book finds him living with his grandfather. His new short cut home takes him through the local cemetery.
This is a sweet tale of community activism and as least as much about how the living need the memory of their dead as about the fate those who have died.
Everything that makes Pratchett a great writer is in this book - his humanity, empathy, wit and intelligence.
I will repeat myself once again - everybody should read Pratchett.

Rating: A-

30Dec/15Off

screewee?

Only You Can Save Mankind

Terry Pratchett

Only You Can Save MankindThis is the first of the Johnny Maxwell young adult series and the first of Terry Pratchett's books I've been able to read since his death.
I stayed over at my parents on Christmas Eve and I woke up early on Christmas morning before dawn. As I sat, slightly cold, watching the sun rise over the Forth I borrowed this ebook from Edinburgh Overdrive.
I first read it a long time ago before this blog existed and never again since I started keeping a record of my reading.
This short book retains all of Pratchett's humour, insight, and empathy while squarely viewing the world from a the perspective of a twelve year old boy.
I don't want to spend a lot of time on the plot of this one - I just want to recommend it.
Everyone should read Terry Pratchett. If the fantasy trappings of Discworld are putting you off this is as good a place to start as any.

Rating: A-

20Oct/15Off

sterling?

First & Then

Emma Mills

First & ThenThe first novel by Emma Mills is a high school set tale of families, friendships, loves and finding yourself.
Ms Mills is better known to me as the vlogger elmify. Her videos are usually sweet, goofy but always underpinned by her enormous smarts.
The book also matches that pattern.
The book feels like it takes place in a recognizably real world filled with real people. Lead characters Devon and Foster are particularly well drawn.
However, there's just something about this book that never quite sparks into life. For all their reality I never felt invested in the character's lives.
It's still worth reading and I expect better books to come from her over the years.

Rating: B

19Oct/15Off

humdrum?

Carry On

Rainbow Rowell

carry onThis is a super enjoyable piece of YA fantasy taking the fictional fantasy found in Rowell's Fangirl and turning it into a real story.
Simon Snow is the chosen one. Destined to save the World of Mages he cannot control his massive magical power.
As the stakes are raised in both the magical civil war and the battle against the magic destroying Insidious Humdrum he starts his final year at magical school with his room mate and nemesis Basilton Pitch missing.
I really enjoyed this book. The only issue I have is the state of ignorance the heroes are left in at the end. The reader knows more than Simon at the end and I felt sad that he didn't get to know some things revealed in other character's perspectives.

Rating: A-

20Apr/15Off

cyberbully?

A Midsummer's Nightmare

Kody Keplinger

midsummers nightmareAfter reading The DUFF I discovered that Keplinger had other novels set in the same town and as I was interested to see if anything about the DUFF characters cropped up I picked up this one to read.
The lead character of this book is a teenage girl called Whitley.
She's looking forward to escaping her embittered mother for a summer of booze and beach side lounging with her semi-famous anchorman father. When he picks her up at the airport she discovers that he's getting remarried and she's staying with his fiancee and his two kids. One of whom is a guy she had a one night stand with at the end of the school year.
Whitley is an unhappy, lonely, screwed up kid. She takes her frustrations and pain out on everyone around her and it gets her in a lot of trouble.
This book is easily as well written as The DUFF and it was nice to see some of those characters again if only for a few paragraphs but I found Whitley a hard character to relate to or sympathize with. That's probably because I'm a long way past my personal teenage angst (all my angst is middle-aged thank you very much).
It's worth reading but there's nothing outstanding or especially memorable about it.

Rating: B