Review: The One Memory of Flora Bank by Emily Barr.

This book is published by Penguin, part of the reason why I picked it up. It’s about a girl has amnesia and can’t remember what she does after a few hours, so she resorts to writing down all her memories, across her arms, and in her notebook which she keeps with her at all times.

Flora Banks is no ordinary girl, her parents have told her, in her notebook, that she has Anterograde Amnesia, which means she forgets things after a couple of hours but one night she kisses a boy and remembers the kiss the next day. Flora begins to believe that this boy will cure her of all her memory problems and sets out to go and find him.

It’s a story about a broken, courageous girl, surrounded by many secrets and lies. ‘Who can you trust when you can’t even trust yourself…’ Indeed, this is Flora’s case as she navigates her complex social situations.

Flora hangs onto her one memory of kissing a boy because it’s the only memory she has been able to make in seven years, this memory gives her the courage to go out on an adventure and make many new friends, she is in one word ‘brave’.

This book shows the daily struggle of a girl with amnesia and how she overcomes all obstacles to find her own direction in life. It’s interesting that both she and her brother call their parents, ‘ the parents’, it acknowledges that they are their parents whilst creating distance between them and the children – it also shows how closely the two children have bonded, that even if they can’t rely on their parents they can rely on each other.

It can get repetitive at times with the memories coming and going, so we find ourselves going round in circles at many points in this book. But that’s the beauty of it. When you have no memory you cling to what you do obtain.

I liked the character of Flora for her nerve to break free from her constraints and in her own way find independence, she’s strong and can have a relatively normal life considering she has this amnesia.

Romantic love, death, illness, friendship, filial love, this book has much to offer the reader so pick up it up and give it a go!

Now it’s your turn, tell me about a moment that you can’t forget. How would you cope with amnesia?

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Review: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This book is a beautiful addition to your tbr, bookshelf, or list of favourite books. It tugs on the heartstrings in ways that not many YA books can. 13 Reasons Why will change your view on bullying, and hopefully, mental health and suicide.

So, let me start with what I enjoyed about this book, the form it takes – Clay Jensen listening to the recordings of Hannah Baker – is brilliant as both characters similarities and differences can be seen, such as when they agree that Bryce Walker is someone that can destroy Hannah for good, but also where their thoughts diverge. Hannah feels that she’s reached out to many people and made it as clear as she can that she is struggling to hold on but Clay disagree’s. In his opinion, Hannah was secretive about the way she was feeling, that she shut people out and never made it clear that she was reaching a point where she couldn’t take it anymore.

The writing merges Hannah Baker’s telling of her story with Clay Jensen’s night as he listens to the recordings. The writer pulled this off expertly, creating tension in the right places, making the reader, me, keen to get through the book to find out what it is that put Hannah Baker on the downward spiral she was in. We also get a look at Clay Jensen’s character development as he finds out what pushed her to suicide – he goes from an average school boy to a heartbroken youth that was a part of a story he had no control in. Throughout the book you want him to take action and stop her, but it’s too late.

The character of Hannah seems determined from beginning to end that she will go through with the plan to commit suicide, an aspect of suicide that the author captures perfectly, it becomes a little unnerving when she begins to share her thoughts on how to do it.  I can see that this must be needed to develop the character and the character arc – the only way we can get into Hannah’s head is through her words, due to the voice recording format. However, it can come across as being forced because  the author feels that her suicide needs to be justified. She has fought a reputation she didn’t deserve, only to succumb to that reputation, in her view, and been the subject of multiple bullying instances over her time at High School.

As beautiful as this book is, and needed in terms of awareness goes, it appears to me the writer seems to have been worried that Hannah Bakers reasons for wanting to end her life are unjustified. The problem with this is it makes the justification forced. Here are some instances that came across as artificial for me:

  • Hannah Baker own mention of how people can say ‘Is that it?’ when they hear why someone is suicidal and their feelings are undermined.
  • The class feeling as though she is seeking attention when she anonymously mentions her thoughts.
  • Clay Jensen’s involvement seemed to be unnecessary.
  • By the end she is trying to  grapple with holding on to life, as though the character is looking for more reasons.

The author may have done this, as I wrote before, because of the form the book takes, also I’m sure these were aspects that he wanted to voice concern over and condemn, bringing a heavy seriousness to the writing.

I really think this is a great book that gives adults and young adults a look at the pressure faced by teenage girls. It masterfully looks at how bullying can affect mental health, and how the small actions of several people can culminate in tragedy.

What do you think of this book? Have you read it or watched the Netflix adaptation?  What do you think can be done to combat bullying? Let me know in the comments!

Publishing Work Experience

Up until now I have done two internships in publishing houses, both have been home-based but very useful in showing my talent and passion for the industry. I have also done an administrative internship which was very, very useful for job applications and experience.

Please mind that these companies are very small and might not be the right for you, but if you are willing to give it a go I would say go for it! They are all wonderful people to work with.

Quake Books

With this organisation you will get to work on what you want to do, if your focus is marketing you will get to do that, if you want to look at editorial then that is also an option. I started out in marketing for my internship and ended up in editorial because I was so much better at correcting other people’s writing than using Photoshop – which I am a little gutted about, but I just don’t have the knack for design, although it’s a software that is widely used by publishers along with InDesign. So if you want to brush up on some key skills this place is the one to go to – however, you really have to prove your worth with this organisation. If you are willing to be a hard-working, diligent, agent then this is the place for you. I wouldn’t recommend this organisation for a first internship as it can be a little intense, but if you trust yourself and are confident then have a go – just contact kai@quakebooks.net

Shade 7 Publishing

The Managing Director/Founder of this brilliant organisation is Hajera Memon who I came across during #workinpublishing week, run by the Publishers Association. I contacted Hajera for work experience and had the amazing opportunity to attend The London Book Fair with her, it was fantastic seeing so many passionate people around the place. With Hajera you will get a great deal of beginners experience in whatever it is that you are looking with a publisher be it publicity, marketing, or sales. I did alot of sales and cold calling – if that’s not your thing then say so – there’s no point in doing something you don’t enjoy. One thing is for certain, you will gain invaluable experience and insight into the industry and be given responsibility from your first day. Get in touch with them at info@shade7.co.uk

Rose Hill Designs

I got into contact with Rose through Hajera – Rose had illustrated one of Hajera’s books. I applied for an admin position to Rose, which was recommended to me by Hajera, and she offered me an internship instead, as my experience was not enough to get me the role. I worked hard with her on her card company and would like to think that I helped in it’s growth a little bit. I did everything and anything from social media to processing invoices which helped Rose and the business, and me in landing job interviews. During my time with Rose I made 2 applications and got a telephone interview for both applications – so don’t underestimate the experience that paperwork can get you. If you are interested in design and admin I would recommend Rose’s organisation to anyone. Contact her at hello@rosehilldesigns.co.uk

 

Please remember that my experience will not be the same as anyone else’s. So if you do get an internship with any of these organisations and it doesn’t turn out to be all you hoped it would then it just wasn’t for you. I enjoyed my time with these organisations and am very grateful for the time they gave me in developing my skills and training me. This is my thank you to all three – thank you so much for having me! Now I’m moving on and trying to find myself another work experience placement at a bigger company – which is turning out to be more difficult than expected, but I’m keeping my chin up – I have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.

What about you? Do you have any organisations you did work experience with that you would like to share?

Review: we were liars by E. Lockhart

Overall impressions

There’s a nice pacing to the book that allows you to finish it in a matter of hours.   The quick pacing detracts from the fact that nothing really happens in the novel. We get told about the life of a family – the Sinclair family and how they were forced to change. There is no happily ever after in this book, only that they keep going on. This is also illustrated with the insertion of the fairy tale stories which I think are written by the main character, Cadence, eldest of the Sinclair grandchildren. The fairy tales end in disaster and there is no happily ever after, only more consequences to the actions taken by the characters in the stories. This is different from the concept of fairy tales that are based in reality, which finish happily ever after, perhaps the writer wanted to show that this way of thinking is wrong – that there is no happily ever after, only enduring.

Full of love, both familial and romantic, this book will make you cry because of the poignant messages held within it. And the shocking twist at the end is painful to read. This story is definitely a modern tragedy that would bring a tear to even Shakespeare’s eyes.

The Good

As I wrote earlier, the pacing was brilliant and made the story what it is. Without this pacing the story would be bland and not very interesting, as it is essentially about the tragic changes that occur to a family by force, which happens towards the end. The lead up to the revelations is all backstory, flashbacks character development, and the fairy tale stories.

The shocking twist in the story at the end is also great and heartbreakingly beautiful. I won’t give it away at this point, but the revelation is what made the book come alive and I think what made it as popular as it is today.

Twice in this story something unexpected occurs that abruptly shifts the dynamics of the story telling, in that, the consequences of what takes place are too great for Cadence to bare alone. The family are torn apart and the adults within the book all have major breakdowns.

The relationship between the liars is beautiful to see. They are close and have so much fun together, so much so that you don’t notice the twist in the tale coming. The romance between Cadence and Gat is both annoying and wonderful. Although, it does at the teenage family drama, I just wish that Cadence would stop saying she’s in love like a love sick puppy. But then again I’ve never been in love, so I wouldn’t know how these things work.

The bad

Apart from Cadence’s constant declarations of love, nothing really happens in this book. Not right up until the end anyway, without the fast pacing it would be a boring book about a  well off family.

After thoughts

I did enjoy this book. I got it to get out of my reading slump, which has been going on since I bought Killing Commendatore. It has worked and I am reading more regularly now. I recommend this book to any fans of Shakespeare, and tragedies. People out there that like a sad story and love YA books will, for sure, enjoy this little treasure of a book.

 

Review: The Book of Dust, volume 1 La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

First impressions

The book is about the love that the main character has for Lyra the baby, who is one of the main protagonists of the His Dark Materials series. This book is set in the same realm as the one Lyra comes from and is 10 years before the happenings of the His Dark Materials series.

The book was thick and small font so I thought it would take me ages to read but it was okay. I had a bit of a reading slump towards the end but it took me about 1 week to read.

The story was engaging with lots of interesting characters, although half the book was set in the canoe called La Belle Sauvage. The canoe is the star of the book as it carries Lyra, Malcolm and Alice, a girl who works in the Trout, the pub that Malcolm’s family works, all the way from Oxford to London. Malcolm comes a close second with his heroic deeds.

The Good

The cast of characters and their attraction to Malcolm in the first half turns into the cast of characters’ attraction to Lyra, which leads the plot down all kinds of twists and turns.

The divergence between the first and second half is also prevalent in the way that Malcolm easily makes friends in the first half and is made to face the fact that he and Lyra have many enemies. The way he, and his daemon, Asta, protects Lyra and Alice is beautiful.

Seeing the development of the relationship between Alice and Malcolm is also nice. Malcolm becomes more aware of Alice as a girl towards the end, and he clearly begins to have feelings he is not familiar with.

The story depicts coming of age in an interesting way, and shows the struggles a young girl goes through regarding her looks, which in turn leads to Malcolm discovering things about his relationship with Alice that he doesn’t seem quite comfortable with.

The humour at the beginning is something I would have liked to see more of, the tone took a despairing air towards the end, a bit of interspersed humour would have been a good distraction from the imminent danger the characters are in.

The Bad

The constant introduction of new characters every chapter may have been necessary for the future development of forthcoming plots and storylines, however, all in one book it made the read feel very fast paced, especially in the second half where little character development takes place.

Also, some of the things that happen in the book are quite morbid, and I would say there are times when the content can be unsuitable for children, although this sparks the debate of should we teach children about adult topics, which is a difficult subject. Although I would say shielding children is not the way to go, over exposure is not the way forward either.

Spoilers

The part where Lyra is ravenously suckling on the Fairy Queen honestly freaked me out. The characters maintained their calm stances but I thought that if I was in the same situation I would have been terrified.

Additionally, the scene with Gerard Bonneville and Sister Katarina making love was out of place, and I think slightly unnecessary. Sister Katarina was introduced at a point where her placement in the novel made little significance, and the story would have worked just as well without.

Ending thoughts

The end is long and you find yourself wishing they would hurry up and get to London, but the read itself is enjoyable. What do you think about the content, do you think that adult themes should be depicted in children’s books?

 

Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Harold Fry is a simple man with a hidden past. He decides to take an unexpected walk that lasts eighty-seven days. This books explores the dynamics of marriage, love, loss, death and friendship.

The character of Harold Fry is fragile and a very nice man who tries to always see the good in every person he meets on his journey. He feels like a failure of a father and wants to better his relationship with his wife who he dearly loves. Harold’s love for his wife is palpable, so when the question of whether or not his interest in Queenie Hennesey is romantic is raised his devotion to his wife becomes all  the more stronger and any doubts towards Harold faithfulness to his wife are obliterated.

Maureen, Harold’s wife came across as being unfair to me. The character herself realises this at the end of the novel and develops beautifully into a wife that loves her husband and shows her love in ways that are unexpected. She clearly is unable to show him her feelings at the beginning of her development as a character, but as she grows she becomes more closely involved in her husbands life and is there in the end to comfort him.

The journey of Harold Fry also ignites the theme of personal journey for many of the characters that Harold meets. Even the dog has a story to tell, and the human lives that Harold touches makes a difference to him as a character. All the stories that get shared with him makes Harold believe he is part of their lives.

The most touching story, apart from Harold’s own, is the story of the doctor who lost her husband. It brings to mind the expectations and dreams that were never met and that when love ends for one person it does not necessarily end for the other person. Her loss is heartbreaking every day for the character and is a pain that she has to live with. Harold too has such a pain, but unlike the doctor Harold has his wife to share his pain and fears with by the end of the book.

The ending of this book was sweet and we never get to know what it is that makes them laugh, but that only serves to add to the marital dynamics, a joke between the two, that only they will understand and find happiness within.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: A Review.

I can’t describe how wonderful this book is. The humour is dry and witty adding depth to the character of Eleanor Oliphant. The writing gorgeous, although many times you will come across words you’ve never heard of before to develop the character Eleanor’s upbringing.

I also liked the friendship between Eleanor and the characters she interacts with. Many times in these books where loneliness is a key theme the main character and their love interest takes presidence, however, in this book the love interest hardly  makes an appearance, the writer makes you wait for the first meeting and rather than the change being positive – i.e. they meet and fall in love – the writer decided to improve the character of Eleanor by making her realise the truth about the object of her desires. The status quo changed as the character Eleanor realises the reality of her situation and with the help of her friend, Raymond, she starts to confront her past.

I like how the writer also experimented with story structure, opting to bring about the point of no return when she meets Raymond and when she realises her life is not okay. Throughout the book I was expecting something to happen between Eleanor and Raymond, although the writer makes it very clear that the character Eleanor is not and never will be romantically interested in Raymond. As such the writer plays with our emotions as the reader – we are made to wait for plot twists that never come – and what we get is an insight into the life of a female that wants a change but is held back by her past.

What about you? Have you read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine? What did you think of it? If you haven’t read it are you planning on reading it now?