Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Smart - Kim Slater

Title: Smart - Kim Slater
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Series: N/A
Service: Netgalley (in exchange for an honest review)
Release Date: 05/06/2014
Pages: 240
Format: Kindle ebook


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I found Jean's friend dead in the river. His name was Colin Kirk. He was a homeless man, but he still wanted to live. 

There's been a murder, but the police don't care. It was only a homeless old man after all.

Kieran cares. He's made a promise, and when you say something out loud, that means you're going to do it, for real. He's going to find out what really happened. To Colin. And to his grandma, who just stopped coming round one day. It's a good job Kieran's a master of observation, and knows all the detective tricks of the trade.

But being a detective is difficult when you're Kieran Woods. When you're amazing at drawing but terrible at fitting in. And when there are dangerous secrets everywhere, not just outside, but under your own roof.

Give us a few words…
Why do you say that?

'Smart' is such a beautiful debut by Kim Slater. Following the story of Kieran Woods who discovers a dead body in the river and decides that the man, Colin, was murdered and the case needs to be solved.

Kieran is autistic and his difficulty in social situations is highlighted throughout the book. In school he has a teaching assistant with him through lessons and he often gets bullied with children calling him names and asking what is wrong with him. In spite of all of this Kieran manages to deal with it in clever ways. I particularly liked one instance where Kieran uses his talent for art to get him out of what could have been a sticky situation. Kieran's love and talent for art is expressed throughout the book and it is this, teamed with his love for the show CSI, that help him to start uncovering clues about the circumstances revolving around Colin's death, as well as many other things going on in his life.

Aside from Kieran the character of Jean was fantastic. Not just a homeless woman but a woman with a past who adds to the plot nicely without being a useless secondary character.

The narration of the book is simple as it is through Kieran's point of view however you see how bright he is and his way of thinking. I enjoyed the plot as it was not outright predictable and moved at a decent pace. My only issue would be that at times there can be quite a bit going on between solving Colin's case, things at the hostel, home life and school issues.

Although this book was about mystery I was more interested in Kieran's progression and was not disappointed with either aspect. 'Smart' is a heartwarming story about an endearing boy and how intelligence cannot always be measured in grades.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Wishlist Wednesday (#1)

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 327
Publication date: May 1st 2013

Goodreads Blurb: Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second dat. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that her is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him he would make a 'wonderful' husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet her must concede to the statistical probability that there us someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical - most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent - and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie - and the realisation that love is not always what looks good on paper.

Why I want to read it: I am a medical geneticist and considering that it's not a job that is at the top of the list for most people I get very excited when I see it somewhere and that was my initial thought. The plot of the book seems interesting and would probably one of those comfort books if it relies heavily on the romance. I haven't seen much about this book in the blogosphere so I think I'll be pretty neutral going into it when I finally buy it.

Why We Broke Up - Daniel Handler

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 354
Publication date: December 27th 2011

Goodreads Blurb: Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

Why I want to read it: Love is good. Love is great! But I love a good break up. And I love them even more when there's a lot of build up to it. 'Why we broke up' seems to be exactly that type of book. I'm guessing that each item in the box has a story behind it, good and bad and what I love even more is that there are illustrations in this book as well. What I am majorly interested in is how both these character cope with the break up and why it happens.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
Pages: 288
Publication date: April 15th 2014

Goodreads Blurb: To All the Boys I've Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who was never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Why I want to read it: This would be my worst nightmare. We have all been there. Fancying that guy in school who we know we don't have a chance with so we don't say anything. Lara Jean is already braver than I am because at least she admitted her feelings somewhere. No doubt this book is going to have a little bit of drama with Lara having to confront the boys. I feel it will be especially awkward for her when she's up against her sister's ex-boyfriend (awkward!). I've seen a few bloggers get excited over this one but haven't seen any reviews yet so the general hype around it is bumping it towards the top of my list. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

My TBR Jar

One of my many bookish problems is my ever growing TBR pile. I am forever buying books and then watching them join the stack. When I have finished a book I search through the mountain and discard anything that doesn't look like it will keep me satisfied. There are two problems with this: 1) Specific books continuously end up at the bottom of the pile or 2) I discard everything and start the process all over again.

In order to break this vicious and unproductive cycle I have finally made myself a TBR jar. I've seen quite a few people in the community (both on blogs and on booktube) and decided that there was no harm in trying it. From now on I'll be selecting the next books to read at random (unless there is something I really want to get started on) and hopefully watch my pile dwindle. If I don't like this method there's no harm done! I shall simply have to return to my circle.

How do you pick the next books you want to read?

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

On The Map: Wicked UK Tour

I had the delight of taking my little sister to go and watch Wicked in Cardiff whilst it was on it's UK tour. We caught a train from Swansea and headed into Cardiff Bay around lunch time so we could grab some food. After diving into Pizza Express we gored our way through pizza and cake before deciding it would be best for us to head over and buy some merchandise before the show started.

Heading into the Wales Millennium Centre there were a few stand that were selling a variety of merchandise. The t shirt designs were absolutely beautiful as was the rest of the merchandise. I bought myself a lanyard and water bottle knowing that they were things that I would get some use out of. In the foyer they also had a board displaying the cast that were taking to the stage for out performance and a sweet shop that had a broom on the room and some legs with ruby slipped sticking out from the bottom. These little things made a lot of difference, teamed with the buzz from people waiting to go to their seats, excitement was definitely beginning to build.

Sai and I had bought tickets in a box where there were only three seats so it was a nice little section on our own, with a pretty great view of the stage and orchestra pit. We managed to get some great pictures with the backdrop.

The performance itself was faultless. Glinda and Elphaba were so fantastic and kept their energy going throughout the whole show with some amazing vocal displays from both. The rest of the cast including all the chorus made sure that energy was carried through every scene and song including all the set changes.

I have the utmost respect for the set designers and costume designers. It was so fabulously green and the Emerald City scenes saw the cast in a variety of wild and wacky outfits would have made Lady GaGa jealous. I also have a massive amount of admiration for the orchestra pit, being a musician myself, I know it takes just as much time and commitment as the people that are on the stage.

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I would highly recommend that you go and see Wicked if you have a chance. It was an experience I am sure I will never forget. Purely wicked!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Rivers of London - Ben Aaranovitch

Title: Rivers of London - Ben Aaranovitch
Publisher: Gollancz
Series: Peter Grant #1
Service: Own
Release Date: 08/2011
Pages: 392
Format: Paperback


Buy || Website || Goodreads

"I used to be probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth…"

Meet DC Peter Grant. He will show you his city. But it's not the capital that you see as you make your way from tube to bus, from Elephant to Castle. It's a city that under its dark surface is packed full of crime. And of magic. A city that you never suspected…

Gran't story starts when he tries to take a witness statement from a man who was already dead. And take him down a twisting, turning centuries' old mystery that reckons to set London on fire...

Give me one word…

Why do you say that?

Originally this book caught my eye thanks to the cover. When I picked it up I never imagined it would have anything to do with magic, so I was pleasantly surprised when I read the blurb.

Let's start with the fact that the main character, Peter Grant, is mixed race. This made me give the book a thumbs up right from the start. Pair this with his wit and dry humour that comes through his narrative throughout the whole book and I was completely sold. The concept of instalove, thankfully, does not make an appearance as Peter is often caught in awkward situations due to his attraction to various females in the book.

If there was one thing that I thoroughly enjoyed about this book it was how realistic it was. Regardless of the fact that there were ghosts and vampires being mentioned we were very much kept in modern day London with characters that were very grounded. It was these things that made the book great in my opinion. I know some people may have found the book to info dump but I actually enjoyed the detailed descriptions of London.

Magic is dealt with in a rather unique way. Not everyone knows of it but the police have a specific department that even they are not pleased to have. The idea of Vestigia, magic leaving behind a mark that can be sensed, fascinated me as depending on where it was or what it concerned it could feel and smell different. The methods behind dealing with things like vampires was very modern and the whole twist on magic was refreshing.

The plot itself moves at a good pace with twists and turns that I did not expect but really enjoyed reading. The theatrical aspects throughout the story just added to the light hearted nature.

Ben Aaranovitch has made his way onto the list of my favourite authors after he made me fall in love with Peter Grant and London.