Book Review: Spontaneous – Aaron Starmer

Book Review: Spontaneous – Aaron Starmer

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Release Date: May 4th 2016
Publisher: Canongate Books
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly gave me a copy of the book when I was an Intern
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Mara’s senior year is proving to be a lot less exciting than she’d hoped, until the day – KABAM! – Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period. Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last senior to explode without warning or explanation. The body count grows and the search is on for a reason, while the students continue to pop like balloons. But if bombs or terrorists or a government conspiracy aren’t to blame, what is?

With the help of her oldest friend, her new boyfriend, a power ballad and a homemade disco ball, will Mara make it to graduation in one piece? It’s going to be one hell of a year, where the only test is how to stay alive and where falling in love might be the worst thing you can do . . .

Review

This was such a fun and quirky YA read and I raced right through it. The story follows Mara as she’s finishing her last year at high school in a quiet American town. Things go from bad to worse when her classmates start exploding, and no one can figure out why – or who’s going to be next. When I read the premise I wasn’t sure this was going to be for me, but the spontaneous combustion plot works really well and I found myself really enjoying this unique little book.

The book is divided into really short chapters (which is great for “oh I’ll just read one more…”). The book is full of bleak, dark humour and I really enjoyed that about Spontaneous. The characters are dealing with such a horrific event, but they power through to try and save the rest of their class. I also loved that weaved in the story was the usual YA tropes like new relationships, friendship and finding yourself. Spontaneous is a clever little book and one I think YA readers will really enjoy.

The book is told from the point of view of main protagonist Mara, who is rude, says exactly what she thinks and ultimately hilarious. I loved seeing the story unfold from her perspective – how her friendship with Tess and relationship with Dylan in particular are fascinating to watch and excellently plotted. If you’re looking for a fun and quick YA read – and one on a topic you’ve probably never read anything about (I mean how many YA books are there about spontaneous combustion really?) then Spontaneous should definitely be your next read.4 stars

Book Review: Behind Her Back – Jane Lythell

Book Review: Behind Her Back – Jane Lythell

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Series:
Storyworld #2
Release Date: August 10th 2017
Publisher: Heads of Zeus
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis

The second StoryWorld novel set in the glamorous, pressurized world of a live London TV station.

StoryWorld is the nation’s favourite morning show, and producer Liz Lyon wants to keep it that way. Her job is to turn real-life stories into thrilling TV – and keep a lid on the cauldron of conflicts and resentments that constantly simmers off-stage.

In this gripping novel of power, rivalry and betrayal, Jane Lythell draws on her experiences of working in the heated world of live TV. Liz Lyon must balance the monster egos at work with the demands of her teenage daughter – and the man she’s just started dating – at home. It’s all in a day’s work.

Review

sdskdjThis was a fantastic, gripping read from author Jane Lythell, full of twists and turns. When a new woman joins the team at work, Liz feels the balance of power has shifted. She has to keep a lid on all her feelings as she maintains her role as a television producer. Coupling this with raising her daughter and dating, Liz’s life is full of surprises and shocks.

I really enjoyed reading this book partly because I found the main character so likeable. She’s a strong woman who looks after her team and works hard. I liked seeing her play the peacekeeper, diffuse the tensions and solve problems on her feet. She felt like a realistic and layered character, dealing with a teenage daughter and starting a new romance. She often has doubts about herself too, which felt quite refreshing for a main character.

I must admit that when I read Behind Her Back I did not know it was a sequel and I haven’t actually read the first book. I didn’t feel that that hindered my reading experience though, and you can definitely read it as a stand alone. I am however excited to go back to book one and find out what I missed. I love the tense, explosive atmosphere that Lythell has created, and am definitely eager for more.

Jane Lythell has drawn on her own experiences as a TV producer for this series and I think that’s part of the reason that it works so well and feels so real. The book is well paced and definitely makes you want to just read one more chapter. If you’re looking for a gripping and engaging read that’s different from anything you’ve read before, Behind Her Back is exactly what you’re looking for.