Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Movie News!

So, along with the rest of the YA community, I was pretty darn excited to discover that Daughter of Smoke and Bone is being adapted for the big screen. Yesss! DoSaB is one of my favourite reads from the past couple of years and I know it could be an absolutely cracking film, as long as it's handled well.

Stuart Beattie has just been confirmed to write the script and I think it's definitely a good sign! He worked on Collateral and 30 Days of Night and I'm a huge fan of both films; I think the darkness in his work will lend itself really well to the adaptation, so fingers crossed!

Joe Roth has already signed on to produce the film and with Snow White and the Huntsman and Oz The Great and Powerful already under his belt I definitely have high hopes for the Daughter of Smoke and Bone movie. Plus, if Laini Taylor's confident then that's good enough for me.

For more information about the movie there are further details here, at The Hollywood Reporter.

What do you guys reckon? Are you excited about the movie? Who would you like to play the lead roles?

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Review: The Tragedy Paper - Elizabeth LaBan

Published: January 8th 2013, Doubleday
Pages: 304 pages, hardback
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Tim Macbeth is a 17-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is, “Enter here to be and find a friend.” Tim does not expect to find a friend; all he really wants to do is escape his senior year unnoticed. Despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “it” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, and she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone finds out. Tim and Vanessa enter into a clandestine relationship, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.

The story unfolds from two alternating viewpoints: Tim, the tragic, love-struck figure, and Duncan, a current senior, who uncovers the truth behind Tim and Vanessa’s story and will consequently produce the greatest Tragedy Paper in Irving’s history.

First line: As Duncan walked through the stone archway leading into the senior dorm, he had two things on his mind: what 'treasure' had been left behind for him and his Tragedy Paper.

My review: When a review copy of the The Tragedy Paper arrived for me I had no idea what the book was about. I initially thought it was an adult book, actually, based on the cover and it wasn't until I read the blurb I found myself tempted to read it. I was intrigued by the premise and the mysterious cover and I really did enjoy it. It's very different from your run of the mill YA contemporary and it was a refreshing, well-written change from the norm.

Tim and Vanessa's relationship unfolds throughout The Tragedy Paper and it's interesting that the protagonist of the present day story, Duncan, already knows the outcome of the relationship. What Duncan doesn't know, however, is the truth behind Tim and Vanessa's time together and how it all began, which he does discover at the same time as the readers. There are a few hints during the story about a tragic night that involved Duncan, Tim and Vanessa but it's not until the closing pages of the novel that we discover what really happened and what the true link between Duncan and Tim is.

I did enjoy The Tragedy Paper and I was definitely impressed with the writing but I have to admit that I found myself skipping over the sections that focused on the present day, where Duncan was going about his school year, hanging out with his friends and pursuing his own relationship. Tim and Vanessa's situation was so fascinating and I was so invested in their love story that I just wanted to keep learning more and more about them. I understand why the novel was written the way it was, with the dual narrative, but I definitely did find myself rushing through Duncan's sections so I could get back to Tim and Vanessa.

If you're looking for something a little outside of your comfort zone that has beautiful writing and an intriguing storyline then definitely check out The Tragedy Paper. It's a smart novel that will linger with you long after you've finished reading and I feel like this is one that will grow on me every time I reread it.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Review: The Last Minute - Eleanor Updale

Published: January 3rd 2013, David Fickling Books
Pages: 272 pages, hardback
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): 9.21am: business as usual on a high street in England.

9.22am: the explosions are heard for miles around, and in the early confusion there is talk of a gas leak, a plane crash, and even terrorism...

The people of Heathwick had been preparing for Christmas unaware that many would die, and the rest would be transformed for ever. Travel with them, second-by-second, through the hopes, fears, love, worries, gossip, cruelty, kindness and trivia that dominated their final minute before tragedy struck.

And in the everyday story of an ordinary street, look for clues to what happened, and why.

My review: 2013 seems to be the year for shocking contemporary novels that come out of nowhere, grab the reader by the lapels and refuse to let go until we're all inanely babbling to everybody within the surrounding area that 'YOU HAVE TO READ THIS!' The Last Minute is one of the first books I read in 2013 and, even though it's taken me a while to get my thoughts straight enough to write a review, I still remember the details like I read it yesterday. This is, simply put, one of the most incredible books I've ever read.

The premise and structure of this novel are both unique and these factors alone are enough to keep interest up from beginning to end but when you add in a fantastic cast of characters, distinctive voices and accomplished writing - you get something that feels really, really special. I'm genuinely excited by this book and I know I'll be recommending it for a long, long time to come. It has absolute crossover appeal and think boys, girls, men and women will love it - it's a tricky one to categorise because I don't think it really fits the conventions of an adult or a YA novel. But, then, I think some of the greatest novels out there appeal to everybody and are difficult to pin down.

One of the strengths of The Last Minute is how much freedom the author gives the reader to make their own decisions about key elements in the story. We start the book knowing there has been a devastating explosion on a high street in the small UK town of Heathwick, situated close to one of the country's main airports (no prizes for guessing how the name came about). Often I think knowing the ending of a book at the beginning can detract from the enjoyment, as there are no stakes, but when we know the outcome is devastating it just makes for an even more gripping read. It was in the back of my mind the whole time I was reading this one that something terrible was going to happen to the characters I was bonding it. I didn't know who would survive the explosion, or what would cause it, I just knew it would happen. I had favourite characters I was rooting for from the outset and Eleanor Updale did an amazing job of building up likable  complex characters through hardly any page time. As I said before, the amount of characters involved is huge but I didn't find myself getting confused by who each chapter focused on, simply because the voice of each character and their stories were so distinctive.

Throughout The Last Minute there are major clues about a host of different disasters that could cause the explosion on Heathwick's main street. Some are clearly major incidents but then there are a few more low-key accidents that are subtly hinted at. I loved trying to figure out what was going to cause the explosion and I did find myself horribly aware that there was some major stereotyping going on with the premature conclusions I came too. It's not good but I'm going to hold my hands up and be honest. I do think the author must have been trying to prove a point with this and I'm hoping a lot of readers made the same initial judgements as me - otherwise I just feel bad as a person!

The climax of The Last Minute is staggering. I knew what was coming, I knew the seconds were ticking away but nothing could prepare me for the final pages of the book. The fact I knew the ending before I started and it still shocked me - that's a serious feat right there. After I finished the book I had to sit and process it before I could move on to read anything else. I was in complete shock, there was so much I needed to get straight in my head and I still think about this one all the time. It's a book that will truly linger with you.

I'm going to keep this last bit vague but I will say that there is a great deal of extra content with The Last Minute. I'm a huge, huge fan of extra content and what you can discover about The Last Minute after reading the book is some of the best I've ever seen. Mixed media, online content and additional information in the book is all present and the audience is truly left to draw their own conclusions, which I loved. The amount of work that must have gone into both writing The Last Minute and preparing the campaign for it is staggering and I honestly hope this review has made you tempted to read this wonderful, unique book.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Review: The Bunker Diary - Kevin Brooks

Published: 7th March 2013, Penguin
Pages: 259 pages, ARC
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Room meets Lord of the Flies, The Bunker Diary is award-winning, young adult writer Kevin Brooks's pulse-pounding exploration of what happens when your worst nightmare comes true - and how will you survive?

I can't believe I fell for it.

It was still dark when I woke up this morning.

As soon as my eyes opened I knew where I was.

A low-ceilinged rectangular building made entirely of whitewashed concrete.

There are six little rooms along the main corridor.

There are no windows. No doors. The lift is the only way in or out.

What's he going to do to me?

What am I going to do?

If I'm right, the lift will come down in five minutes.

It did. Only this time it wasn't empty...

My review: I try not to rave about every single book I review as I know my opinion won't count for much if every single book I mention is 'OMGZ AMAAAAZE'. I do always try to give a balanced view and touch on both the good and the bad but, in the case of the occasional book, I cannot do anything other than rave. And The Bunker Diary is absolutely one of those books.

I've been a fan of Kevin Brooks for a while now and I've loved everything of his that I've read so far. However, nothing has affected me quite as much as The Bunker Diary. The second I received a press release I knew I had to read it. The premise completely grabbed me and I knew that if anybody could pull off such a bold story it would be Brooks, who is a master when it comes to atmosphere and tension.

As other reviews have mentioned, this is an incredibly difficult book to review as the beauty of this one lays in the twists and turns that the reader discovers at the same time as Linus, our protagonist. I'm going to keep this spoiler-free and please, please take my advice and go into this one knowing as little as possible because, I promise, your jaw will be on the ground.

The Bunker Diary is a terrifying look at abduction, yes, but most of the horror doesn't come from the nameless person co-ordinating the attacks but the delicate society that forms within the bunker itself. The tension is on a knife edge at all times and I couldn't relax for a second, knowing that the wrong word or look from anybody could cause absolute chaos for Linus. The nod to Lord of the Flies in the summary is wholly accurate and, like in Golding's classic, anarchy never feels more than a heartbeat away.

I know the lack of information about the abductor may get to some people but, for me, it made the book even scarier. The unknown is what affected me in this book. The fact it could be anybody? That's really terrifying.

I love a good ending, I'm sure any regular readers of this blog are aware of this. I also tend to dislike a Hollywood ending. I like a shocker. I like excitement, I like twists and I love open-ended endings. I'm not going to say a single thing about the ending of The Bunker Diary except that it is absolutely incredible.

Kevin Brooks is a genius, he 100% deserves his reputation as a master of YA, and that's all there is to say.

First line: 'This is what I know.'

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

So I had a blogging event...

So a few posts ago I mentioned a blogging event that I was due to run at my local library. It was a two hour workshop about blogging and it happened last Thursday. I'm not going to lie - it was a bit nerve wracking as I've never done anything like it before! Also, my laptop was seriously acting up and it finally gave up on Monday so I'm SO grateful it worked perfectly throughout the presentation.

It was absolutely one of the best things I've ever done - it went perfectly, even better than I thought. I had some incredible feedback and the entire group were enthusiastic and inspiring and generally awesome. There were so many more people than I thought, which was such a relief as I'd been dreading only a couple of people showing up!

Sharing some of the fantastic opportunities I've had because of this blog made me realise how far I've come in the past three years and how many wonderful things I've achieved with this blog. I know it's a bit mushy but I just wanted to take the time to thank every single person who reads Writing from the Tub - it really has changed my life and it's all because of you guys, so thank you :).

I was on a bit of a high for days afterwards as everything went so well and I seriously encourage any of you who have an amazing but scary opportunity to grab it by the horns and go for it!