Archive for April, 2014

Five Fabulous Books…Which Feature Imaginary Friends

fab five logo Five Fabulous Books is a new feature here at Big Book Little Book. The aim of the feature is to showcase fabulous books with connecting themes, there by promoting reads we have enjoyed and share recommendations for similar books. We hope to share contributions from fellow bibliophiles, bloggers, vloggers and twitter users. We love to hear from you too, so don’t forget to comment with your favourite themed books. If you create your own Fabulous Five posts be sure to link back to Big Book Little Book and leave your link in the comments below so we can check out your recommendations!

Playmate, confident or scapegoat?

The five fabulous books I have selected to showcase this week span the age categories and all feature imaginary friends (or do they?!).

I find the idea of Imaginary friends fascinating. Perhaps it stems from enviously watching my younger brother with his imaginary friend. The tale of his epic meltdown, when my aunty forgot his best friend “Boy”, is legendary within our family. He refused to calm down, or leave the building until he and my aunty had retraced their steps, taking a lift back up to the twelfth floor to collect Boy!

I suppose that my attachment to fictional characters is like having hundreds of imaginary friends within the pages of my beloved books.

dino bath tubThere’s A Dinosaur In My Bathtub by Catalia Echeverri
Only Amelia can see Pierre, because he is very good at hiding. The two have the most amazing summer full of adventures at sea, on the moon and in all kinds of magical lands. But everyone knows that French dinosaurs like Pierre only get to stay in people’s bathtubs for the summer.
This lovely picture book from Bloomsbury showed up on our door stop unexpectedly one morning and has become a firm favourite of both my four and six year old, a rarity recently, resulting in a harmonious shared story time.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Publication Date: April 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Dystopian
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge:

squishySquishy McFluff by Pip Jones
Can you see him? My kitten? Close your eyes tight
His fur is so soft and all silvery white
Imagine him quick! Have you imagined enough?
Oh, good, you can see him! It’s Squishy McFluff!
When Ava discovers an imaginary cat in the cabbage patch, she knows she’s found a new best friend. Together, Ava and Squishy McFluff get up to all kinds of mischief…

This gorgeous rhyming book has delighted both myself and my six year old daughter. The rhyme, the font and the division of the story in to chapters all led themselves to independent reading however, the cheeky humour is a delight for early and *cough* more mature *cough* readers alike. I defy you to not gobble this up in a single sitting, with or without your own mischievous Ava as a captivated audience.

Publisher: Faber and Faber
Publication Date: February 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 80
Genre: Children’s, Humour
Age: Early Reader
Reviewer: Caroline and Ava
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book

a monster callsA Monster Calls by Patric Ness and Jim Kay
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.

Karen says “Verdict: This is a book, even in it’s Paperback form that will be treasured for it’s outer beauty and for the heart wrenching story within”
Read Karen’s full review here

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: February 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 216
Genre: Fantasy
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book

unspokenUnspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.
But all that changes when the Lynburns return.
The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

OMG I absolutely loved this book, but my goodness Sarah Rees Brennan is a cruel, cruel woman who survives on the tears of her readers! Do your self a favour and check it out, but make sure that you have the second book ready to go because you are not going to want to wait to read the second instalment. The wait for the third and final book (September 2014) is going to be excruciating.

Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: September 2012
Format: Hardback
Pages: 272
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book

if you could see meIf You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern
Readers and critics alike adore Cecelia Ahern for her lighthearted yet insightful stories about modern women and their often unusual situations. In If You Could See Me Now, she takes that theme a step further, offering us a heroine who is entirely believable, and the new man in her life who is, well, slightly less so.
Elizabeth Egan’s life runs on order: Both her home and her emotions are arranged just so, with little room for spontaneity. It’s how she counteracts the chaos of her family — an alcoholic mother who left when she was young, an emotionally distant father, and a free-spirited sister, who seems to be following in their mother’s footsteps, leaving her own six-yearold son, Luke, in Elizabeth’s care. When Ivan, Luke’s mysterious new grown-up friend, enters the picture, Elizabeth doesn’t know quite what to make of him. With his penchant for adventure and colorful take on things large and small, Ivan opens Elizabeth’s eyes to a whole new way of living. But is it for real? Is Ivan for real?
If You Could See Me Now is a love story with heart — and just a touch of magic.

I have to admit that I felt a touch apprehensive at reading what was my first adult novel for some time, not to mention that it is a favourite of a good friend of mine. My apprehension was all for nothing. I loved the combination of contemporary setting, magical realism, laugh out loud moments and poignant, touching scenes. A lovely, lovely read. I will definitely be checking out some more of Ahern’s work in the future.

Publisher:
Publication Date: November 2005
Format: Paperback
Pages: 410
Genre: Fantasy
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Borrowed
Challenge:

Honourable Mentions:
Jack’s Amazing Shadow by Tom Percival and Memoirs Of An Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks.

Twitter Recommends:
A Dog So Small by Philippa Pearce (@dark_Fell), Dr. Bird’s Advice For Sad Poets by Evan Roskos(@musingteacher), Who Framed Klaris cliff by Nikki Sheehan (@daydreamin_star)and The Perks Of Being A Wall Flower by Stephen Chbosky(@barbaralib0202).

Did you have an imaginary friend?
Are you as protective of your fictional friends as I am?
What are your favourite reads featuring imaginary friends?

Posted by Caroline

Posted on:

Buddy Review: Vicious

V.E Schwab
viviousVictor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

Posted by Faye and Caroline

Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: January 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 340
Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline and Faye
Source: Borrowed
Challenge:None
Posted on:

The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows Of Ava Lavender

Leslye Walton

ava lavenderFoolish love appears to be a Roux family birthright. And for Ava Lavender, a girl born with the wings of a bird, it is an ominous thing to inherit. In her quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to join her peers, sixteen-year-old Ava ventures into the wider world. But it is a dangerous world for a naive girl…

Click here to read Caitlyn’s fantastic review.

Posted by Caroline

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: March 2014
Format: ARC
Pages: 301
Genre: Family saga, Magical realism
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut book
Posted on:

Cassandra Rose Clarke’s Favourite Flawed Queens

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Cassandra Rose Clarke (see my reviews here), so you can imagine my excitement when Big Book Little Book was given the opportunity to host the latest stop on the blog tour for Cassandra’s latest book,The Wizard’s Promise.

One of the things I really admire about Cassandra’s writing is her ability to write strong but flawed female characters. I was delighted when Cassandra agreed to share her favourite flawed Queens with us.

the wizards promiseAll Hanna Euli wants is to become a proper witch – but unfortunately, she’s stuck as an apprentice to a grumpy fisherman. When their boat gets caught up in a mysterious storm and blown wildly off course, Hanna finds herself further away from home than she’s ever been before.
As she tries to get back, she learns there may be more to her apprentice master than she realized, especially when a mysterious, beautiful, and very non-human boy begins following her through the ocean, claiming that he needs Hanna’s help.

It’s become a trend lately to say one’s favorite female characters are flawless. Usually this descriptor is paired with queen, as in, “Ripley from Aliens is a flawless queen.” I’m certainly guilty of doing this myself, usually on Tumblr. But the truth is most of the characters I call “flawless queens” aren’t actually flawless at all—and that’s exactly why I love them so much.

Flawed characters are more interesting to me as a rule, regardless of gender. A perfect character is dull and inoffensive, a bit like a meal at Chili’s. Utterly forgettable. A flawed character, on the other hand, will grab your attention and won’t let go. Consider movies like Star Wars or Pirates of the Caribbean: in both you are presented with a bland hero, ostensibly the main character (Luke Skywalker and Will Turner, respectively). But who grabs our attention? Who do really remember when we talk about of the theater? That’s right—it’s Han Solo and Jack Sparrow. That’s the power of the flawed character.

Of course, Han and Jack are both men, a trait they share with a lot of the favorite flawed characters out there in the world. Today, I want to focus instead on flawed female characters, a rarer beast. So without further ado, I present you with my Top Eight Flawed Queens:

rosa_diazRosa Diaz, from Brooklyn 99: Rosa is such a classic anti-hero type in the vein of Han Solo and his male brethren, only she’s a lady. A fabulous, fabulous lady. Let’s see: She’s secretive and mysterious. She has a horrible temper and responds to IT problems Office Space style, with destruction. Her coworkers frequently refer to her as “scary,” and she can bring the meanness when she’s of a mind. But she’s also loyal to her friends, and although it will take some wheedling, willing to admit she’s made a mistake. Plus she wears a bad ass leather jacket.

Sansa Stark, from A Song of Ice and Fire: A lot of people reading these books tend to relate to Arya, but I was always much closer to Sansa when I was younger, and so she has a special place in my heart. I don’t consider femininity and politeness flaws (just the opposite, in fact), but Sansa can be incredibly naive at times, and she frequently makes poor decisions based on her ideas of how the world should be, rather than how it is, particularly at the beginning of the story. However, as her arc progresses, we see her learning from her mistakes, and coming to understand how her strengths—the aforementioned femininity and politeness—can help her thrive in a misogynistic, violent world.

harriet_welschHarriet M. Welsch, from Harriet the Spy: Harriet is the first flawed character I ever fell in love with—male or female. I read this book around the same time I was devouring The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High, and as delightful as those series are, they really don’t bring the flaws in their main characters. Harriet, though, is a piece of work. She’s nosy (I mean, c’mon, it’s right there in the title). She’s intractable. She cares more about the truth than she does tact. She yells when she doesn’t get her way. And yet all those qualities make her incredibly relatable, and at the end of the story, when she realizes just how important friendship is, what could have been a saccharine after-school-special type message becomes resonant and powerful.

Hermione Granger, from Harry Potter: She’s brilliant, yes, but she’s also a know-it-all and overly obsessed with her grades. One of her most famous of lines — “Try not to get killed, or worse, expelled”—sums up her general attitude fairly well. However, as a teenager fearful of authority, it was also basically my motto when I was in school, so I understand. Hermione would have been tedious if she had not been given those minor flaws and streaks of relatability. Was she a bit over the top? Sure, along with every other character in that series who didn’t have the initial H.P. But those flaws were what made her interesting, and let’s face it: she would have been a better protagonist than Harry.

Margot_TenebaumMargot Tenenbaum, from The Royal Tenenbaums: Margot is beautiful and talented, but she’s also secretive to a fault, and she lies to her family about her habits, simply, it seems, to prove that she can. She’s unfaithful to her husband and in love with her brother (she’s adopted). There’s a lot about Margot that should make her thoroughly despicable. And yet the film portrays her sympathetically, as someone whose flaws exist largely because of the difficulties of growing up with a father like Royal Tenenbaum. Margot is one of my favorite characters of all time. I love the beautiful complexity of her personality, and the way she slowly changes over the course of the film.

Mindy Lahiri, from The Mindy Project: Mindy is a great everygirl character. She’s a bit neurotic, a bit lazy when it comes to exercise, and a bit too focused on men. She’s also overly in love with romantic comedies, like, to a fault. However, she’s a fantastic, caring OB-GYN (and better still, we get to see her work: in the first episode, she delivers a baby with skill and aplomb). Mindy is a wonderful example of a character who is good at her job but perhaps a bit flawed in her personal life—except the show allows her to be much more than that, too.

Nancy-Botwin-CarNancy Botwin, from Weeds: Nancy is a suburban mom who starts selling marijuana after her husband dies so that she won’t have to give up her wealthy lifestyle—or uproot her kids more than she has to. In many ways Nancy is the quintessential female flawed character for me. She makes some pretty terrible decision throughout the run of the show, and she can be selfish, naive, and rash. But at the same time, her actions often come down to a desire to protect her family, and she learns and grows from her mistakes. As with so many of the ladies on this list, she’s a beautifully complex, fully-realized character.

Gloria Pritchett, from Modern Family: Gloria is the sexy, vivacious wife of an older man on a sitcom. This scenario doesn’t normally lend itself to complexity of character. And yet Gloria is given depth and flaws that round her personality beyond Stunning Eye Candy. She’s prideful and won’t back down from her opinions even when the evidence contradicts her, and she can be a bit grudgy (although not too much). She also has a terrible singing voice, although that doesn’t stop her from enjoying her karaoke machine.

Guest post by Cassandra Rose Clarke

cassandra rose clarkeCassandra Rose Clarke grew up in south Texas and currently lives in a suburb of Houston, where she writes and teaches composition at a local college. She graduated in 2006 from The University of St. Thomas with a B.A. in English, and two years later she completed her master’s degree in creative writing at The University of Texas at Austin. In 2010 she attended the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop in Seattle, where she was a recipient of the Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund.
Cassandra’s first adult novel, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, was a finalist for the 2013 Philip K. Dick Award, and her YA novel, The Assassin’s Curse, was nominated for YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons and Daily Science Fiction.

Posted on:

Bookish Brits Book Of Feels 2014: Vote for TFioS

As part of the Bookish Brits theme, April Showers: A Month Of Feels, each of the Bookish Brits is championing the book that they feel should be crowned the Bookish Brits Book Of Feels 2014. Over the course of April each member of the Bookish Brits team will create a three minute video to explain why their book of choice should have your support. We will then invite all of our readers, subscribers and followers to vote for the book that they feel is most deserving of the title.

Check out the Bookish Brits channel for all of the Book Of Feels nominations and our other April Showers, emotion inspired, posts(here).

I have chosen to champion The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.

TFioS penguinDespite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

You can vote for the book that you feel is most deserving of the title Bookish Brits Book Of Feels 2014 here

Posted by Caroline

Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: January 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 316
Genre: Contemporary romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
Posted on:

April Showers: The Bookish Brits Book Of Feels 2014

Vote for the book you feel is most deserving of the title The Bookish Brits Book Of Feels 2014 (here).

Posted on: