Liquidator by Andy Mulligan Review (No Spoilers)

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Thank you so much to David Fickling Press for sending me a press release copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. This does not affect my opinion, all opinions are mine only.

Title: Liquidator

Author: Andy Mulligan

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Comedy, Thriller

Pages: 416

My Rating: 4.5/5

LIQUIDATOR! The brand-new, delicious and wildly popular energy drink. “For those who wanna win!” The company that makes it is set to earn a fortune, with its global launch climaxing at an international rock concert that will SHAKE the planet. The only problem?An innocent child is dying. Meet Vicky and her class-mates – their work experience is about to spin totally out of control as they uncover a secret that could change the world. And put them all in mortal danger …From the award-winning author of TRASH comes an action-packed thriller full of danger, hilarity and – above all – friendship.

When I first got my hands on this book, my first impression was how intriguing the book looked as a whole. That sounds weird but honestly this book has the full package. Spread throughout this book are emails, posters, text conversations … Everything that is mentioned in the book is visually given and that is one of my favourite things ever. I love when a book has visual elements- it really adds to the whole experience! Also, I really liked the ‘spillages’ on every page. Seeing as this book is about a drink that may not be what it seems it was really fitting to have spillages of the drink everywhere. I found it so clever how the number of spillages on each character’s pages corresponded to their traits. That sounds confusing but you’ll understand when I talk about the characters.

Okay, plot. The whole pacing of the book was so, so fast because the story was just so fluid and easy to fly through. It made me feel really great that I managed to get through a 400 page book in three or four days. I loved the whole idea of setting the story around work experience, especially as I have already don’t some work experience and I will be doing it again next year. So I really related to the feelings that the characters, especially Vicky, felt- all the stress and the tiredness and just the general teenage feels. One of the really amazing things about this book is the speed at which we got into the action. Literally, there was action 50 pages in and it was actually crucial to the story line rather than early action that doesn’t mean much… I can’t really say too much more about the plot without giving away spoilers but just know it was such a fun, fast-paced read. A hell of a ride.

Yay! Let’s move on to my favourite part of the story which was the characters! When I first saw that this book was going to be written from no less than 10 perspectives, I was a little nervous because I sometimes find it really difficult to distinguish between different character voices- sometimes they just seem a little bit too similar to me. But here, it was as if every character was a real friend of mine and I was reading about a story they’d all been on together. Also, every single character was different. Take Vicky for example. I knew from the moment i started reading about her that she was the dominant one, the leader of the group. It was the fact that she had so many more chapters than anybody else that told me that. Edgar. I could tell that he was gay and that he had a crush on….. someone, I’m not going to say who- read it to find out! He was my favourite character because he gave me all the feels and he was just so adorable. I won’t comment on all ten characters but there are two more that deserve honourable mentions. First is Michael. Remember earlier when I said that the spillages on the pages represented each characters traits? Well Michael’s pages were completely clean if that tells you anything. I sussed him out to be the OCD, scared of everything child who wanted to be somebody but was brought up in such a way that he didn’t know how. And I was right, hopefully. Lastly is KatKat, wow she was a character. I think she was a little full of herself but didn’t exactly know it. She just had little touches. Like the way she named all her chapters dramatic things and no one else did. She made me giggle.

As you can probably grasp by now, there is a hugely eclectic mix of characters and character traits which I absolutely loved and gave the story a whole new dimension. Each character went on a completely different work experience but the way in which Andy Mulligan weaves it all together is practically ingenious. I loved his writing style and the way everything flowed so fluidly, it was just perfect. There was never a moment where I felt confused or as if the story was lacking in some sort of edge or plot twist. This book covers every genre and I had such a good time reading this.

Highly, highly recommended and I wouldn’t mind giving this a re-read some time in the future!

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27223936-liquidator

Come follow me on Instagram and see photos of this and other gorgeous books!: https://instagram.com/_proudfangirl_/

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An Interview With Lisa Williamson

Hey everybody!

Today, I have the great pleasure of interviewing the lovely Lisa Williamson, author of The Art of Being Normal.

Hi Lisa, welcome to my blog it is a pleasure having you here!

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I was born in Nottingham in 1980. My mum worked in a shop and my dad was a plumber. I have big sister who is now a nurse. I was a really shy kid and loved to draw and make up stories. When I got a bit older, I became a little less shy and got really into drama and through my teens I did loads of school plays and amateur dramatic productions. When I was 19 I moved down to London and did a degree in drama. I’ve worked as an actor ever since, appearing in plays, musicals and TV commercials. About eight years ago I realised I was craving an creative outlet I had a bit more control over and started writing again and rediscovering my passion for telling stories.
Funny, that is just like me! I am also really interested in my drama and have shows on the go all the time but I still crave to explore my creative writing side a bit more too! The trouble is, I never know what to write about…What is your inspiration for writing?
It could be anything – an article online, a snippet of conversation I overhear in the street, a memory that pops into my head – inspiration is everywhere (I try to carry a notebook with me at all times). I usually start out with a character and then try to put them into as many tricky situations as possible. I like to throw rocks at my characters!
That’s always the best way to write, I find! Sometimes I love to feel just as stuck as my character to before I find a way out of the situation I’ve created for them!What inspired you to write The Art of Being Normal?
 
In 2010, I got a job working as an administrator at The Gender Identity Development Service (an NHS service offering talking therapies for under-18s struggling with their gender identity). It was just meant to be a temporary thing between acting jobs but I ended up staying for two years! As part of the role I typed up notes from all the individual therapy sessions and heard all these incredible stories – happy, sad, painful, triumphant. I was writing something else at the time and it took a while for it to dawn on me that I had some incredibly rich source material at my finger tips and should perhaps be writing about that instead! I set about looking for fiction featuring trans protagonists and found very little. It quickly became very clear young trans people were massively under-represented in the arts and media, and I became very committed to doing something about it if I possibly could. I observed several group therapy sessions for trans teens, all of whom were as engaging and complicated and individual as any great YA hero or heroine. Collectively they inspired me to create a character who was struggling with their gender identity but not defined by it. They also inspired the tone of the book. Although several of the young people were having a really tough time, there was always so much joy and positivity and energy in the room at these sessions. I didn’t want TAOBN to feel like an ‘issue’ book or heavy or gloomy in any way. Although there are painful moments, there are also moments of magic. I wanted the book to have light and shade, and for the downs to be balanced with real ups, just like real life. 
 
That’s such a fantastic inspiration to get! Just shows that it can come from anywhere. That must have been so interesting to learn about! You are completely right with the tone of the book. I really enjoyed reading about such a taboo subject in such a normal sounding way, if that makes sense… The amount of joy in the book made it stand out against most of the other YA contemporaries out there that tend to opt for the sadder route. What are your ambitions for your writing career?
To keep writing, take risks and touch as many as people as possible through my books. I’d also LOVE to see a film version of TAOBN. That would be awesome!
A film would be so fantastic! It would really bring the book up and give it a whole new meaning as well as bringing a generally taboo subject out into the open and into the light. It could really teach us all and I think it would be a great laugh as well! Your characters are by far the most hilarious they can be and I really appreciate that. Give us an insight into your main characters. What do they do that is so special?
TAOBN is told from the point of view of two main characters – David and Leo, and I love them both! David is 14 and is starting to realise the desire to be female he’s had since a small child is not going away (if anything it’s getting worse). Despite his distress at his changing body, David is upbeat, kind and brave. Leo is 15, a grumpy loner, and the new kid at school. Having transferred from his old school under mysterious circumstances, he’s keen to keep his head down and avoid getting close to any of his new classmates. He certainly doesn’t bargain on falling for the most gorgeous girl in year 11. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms and they impact on one another’s lives in ways neither of them anticipate.
I loved all of the different situations you chuck your characters into, I think it gives them a real depth which you don’t normally see in YA contemporaries. How do you write? Full-time or part-time? Every day or three times a week? Do you have a structured plan for your writing?
I’m lucky enough to write more-or-less full-time. I continue to act in TV commercials but as the shoots tend to be quite short, the work fits round my writing really well. I work at home but occasionally venture out to work in a cafe or library for a change of scenery. I try to write every day if I can and have no set finish time. If it’s going well, I’ll work until my boyfriend makes me stop and eat something! I always intend to plan but invariably the plan falls apart the moment I sit down to write (my characters tend to be pretty bossy about what they want to happen and I regularly sit down to write one scene and it turns into something entirely different).
I should probably create a schedule for my writing too! I usually use my writing as a procrastination tool for when I have GCSE’s to work on! Tell us about your book covers. They represent the book in such a strong way.
I absolutely love the cover for TAOBN. The illustration is by Alice Todd, a young graphic illustrator based in Brighton. When my publishers sent me over her initial ideas, I was so chuffed! I love that she’s created such an iconic image and am thrilled we’re sticking with it for the paperback edition (out in January).
I love how deep a meaning they give to the book without you even realising- I didn’t realise how powerful the image was until I’d finished the book. What is the hardest thing about writing?
The days when it doesn’t come naturally and you start to feel like a fraud! Writing can be a very lonely profession and self doubt can creep in. That’s where the amazing UK YA community comes in. Over the past year I’ve connected with loads of fellow authors and taken advantage of their wisdom and experience, as well as made some great new friends.
Did you ever get Writer’s Block? If so, do you have any tips?
Yes! Sometimes you just need to get away from your desk – go for a walk, go to the gym, watch a film – just do something different and let your thoughts untangle themselves in their own way and at their own speed. Other times though, you need to battle through and just get words down on the page. I suffer from perfectionism and often feel I can’t move forwards until what I’ve already written feels polished, which incidentally is a really silly way to write! I’m trying to get better at being brave and not caring about writing badly. As someone very wise once said, you can’t edit an empty page. Free writes are a great way of getting into the right mindset to write.
Do you have any advice for inspired authors out there?
Write as much as you can (even if it’s just a few lines per day). Writing is a muscle and like any skill, you need to put the practice in to get better. I kept a diary growing up and it was a great way of getting used to expressing myself on the page. If you’re worried about it being found, set up a dedicated email address and email yourself instead (this is what I do). I would also recommend reading as widely as possible. I learn so much about plotting and characters from reading other books. Occasionally it’s intimidating when you read something amazing, but mostly I just find it really inspiring to read wonderful books. Another great advice I was recently given was to create tension but taking things away from your main character. I’ve tried it on my latest protagonist and it completely works. As I said earlier, I like to throw rocks at my characters! Finally, be true to yourself and the story to have to tell and follow your instincts.
How can readers find out more about you and your books?
Follow me on twitter (@lisa_letters) or visit my website – www.lisawilliamsonauthor.com. You can also find out more info via my publishers – http://www.davidficklingbooks.com
Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me, it was lovely to speak to you!

The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean Review (No Spoilers)

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When her mother dies from a snakebite, Comity’s life in the Australian outback changes forever. As her father retreats into his work, Comity turns to Fred, the Aboriginal yard boy, who becomes her only friend. But then a new assistant arrives who delights in playing cruel games. As Fred becomes his target, events spiral dangerously out of control.

This is the third Carnegie book I have read so far and although I’m not allowed to say which book I think should win the award but I think eventually you’ll be able to figure out which one I like best.

On the whole, I really enjoyed this book! It really had its highs and its lows but the lows really made the highs worthwhile. I will go into a lot more detail now don’t you worry.

Contradicting myself above, there isn’t really a lot I can say about this book. It took me a long time to read. A lot longer than it should’ve done in comparison with another book the exact same size. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, I think half of the plot was a bit irrelevant and we could’ve done without it. Also, that would’ve left so much room for stretching out the end scenes which I really enjoyed.

One thing I’d really like to point out is, at the beginning of the book, there is a picture of a grave and I really liked that (not that there was a grave, the fact that there was a picture.) However, that seemed to be the only picture in the book and I found that to be such a shame as that would’ve been a really great addition to the book. That might have just been my school’s copy of the book because I’ve heard there are too editions. I was disappointed with the lack of pictures but let’s focus on the writing now shall we?

I can definitely understand why Geraldine McCaughrean was chosen to write the sequel to Peter Pan as they way in which she writes is very fluid and descriptive. The descriptions she wrote in The Middle of Nowhere were really true to the Australian terrain and I think she did a really good job of making a book that is set in a deserted place seem really interesting!

I am generally not such a big fan of books that are set in Australian or African communities as I find them really hard to visualise and unfortunately I had that problem again, perhaps that’s just me but I really tried this time! I think I found the sheer number of characters the hardest thing to visualise as none of these side characters had any traits about them, they were simply just names that the reader was expected to remember. I didn’t find myself attached to any of the characters which is a shame as I think if more time was spent evolving the scenes instead of constantly referring back to the same old thing.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book was the amount of history and culture that was encased in this book. At the beginning of this book was a whole other language that was really real and was woven seamlessly into the stories. I really enjoyed flicking back and forth between the language translator and the actual story. It really added another layer to the story.

I think this story was really good for a lesson about morals for children but personally, for me, this wasn’t my cup of tea. I gave this a 3/5 stars because I really loved and appreciated all of the effort that went into researching this book. Thank you so much for reading this! All of my social media links are down below, including the Goodreads link for The Middle of Nowhere so go and check those out!

I will have another post up really soon! Talk to y’all later!

The Middle of Nowhere Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18684394-the-middle-of-nowhere

My Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/38362004-caitlin

Twitter- @proudfangirl100

Instagram- _proudfangirl_

More Than This by Patrick Ness Review (No Spoilers)

A boy called Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he is here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighbourhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this…

The first word I think of when I think about this book is: slightly disappointing..

Okay that’s two words but you know what I mean.

This story begins with the death of Seth and at this point while reading it I was sucked in to the action and mystery held in this book. 

However that was where my excitement ended…

I found the character of Seth to be really, really annoying. I didn’t like the way he repeated and over-explained himself. I think without that the book could’ve been half the size. I also found his character to be a little under- developed and I found him really hard to visualise and understand. 

When I think about the other side characters of this book, I find myself thinking that they are really interesting and add a lot to the story. Like Gudmund, for example. I love his character and I love his relationship with Seth. But again, I found Gudmund to be even more underdeveloped than Seth and I found myself wanting so much more from his character!

I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll stop talking about the characters and I’ll move onto the plot…

I thought that this plot had so much potential and there were elements of the story that I really enjoyed (redacted for spoilery reasons)

But again, I found that most of the plot was just rambling nonsense that could’ve been cut and save at least a tree or two in the process….

I’ll leave me rant there but I needed to review this book for you guys because this is one of the books on the Carnegie shortlist this year. In less than a month, I am attending the Carnegie shadowing- which I will blog in full- so I wanted you guys to have a full idea of what you can expect from this book. 

Thanks for reading, all my social media links are down below so go and check those out! 

Talk to y’all later!!

More Than This Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21969786-more-than-this

My Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/38362004-caitlin

Twitter- @proudfangirl100

Instagram- _proudfangirl_