Book Review

May Reads – Part 2

Time for the second half of my reviews of the books I read in May. The first six books were reviewed here.

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs. Quirk Books.
The first I heard about this book was when the poster containing Sam Maggs’ fangirl manifesto appeared online. A strong call to arms for geek girls everywhere I knew this book would be something I would want to read. The reading experience was a little different to the one I was expecting, I think mainly because I couldn’t quite fit myself into the target audience – much of the book seems to be pitched at newcomers which is brilliant, though it meant there was little new for me to discover. There were moments though that felt geared more towards me, and I didn’t mind at all reading the introductions to different aspects of geekdom – I think I just wanted a bit more. It was certainly nice to read sections and find myself nodding along as I remembered experiences of my own. One thing I would caution prospective readers is that the book talks mainly with an American focus, the publisher and author are American and so you might find yourself falling in love with the sound of a convention and then discovering getting there would involve a transatlantic flight (yes, I’m speaking from experience here).

A Coach Trip Adventure: My Life by Brendan Sheerin. Michael O’Mara Books.
I have been a fan of the tv series Coach Trip since it first started so when I saw that tour guide Brendan Sheerin had released an autobiography I thought there’d probably be a lot in it that I’d find interesting. I was pleased that it didn’t just focus on his time with the series but instead covered his life before tv beckoned – it was nice to get to know more about him and his life as a whole. In terms of talking about the tv series the book was published in 2011 so it only covers the first few series, I found that I quickly remembered the contestants and incidents Brendan talked about – I just wish that the book had been reissued with an update, at least for the digital copy. Brendan’s voice shines through with this book, he had me laughing and crying at different points.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. Vintage.
This book was recommended to me back in December by a bookseller friend who’d received an early advance copy. The premise sounded so good and the wait to get hold of a copy seemed endless. Eventually though I got a copy via NetGalley for review and put it top of my holiday reading list. This book is a complete love letter to books and to reading and to readers everywhere. It made me smile, made me remember reading experiences of my own and most of all reminded me of the power books hold in my life. The cast of small town dwelling characters that the author has created are wonderful, I felt as though I was moving among them as I read – they’re so vivid. This book is a translation which is something that I’ve not always got on with very well but reading this book was an easy, seamless experience that’s got me rethinking how I feel towards translations. A book about reading that’s changed my own reading? Can’t get much better than that!

The Accidental Prime Minister by Tom McLaughlin. OUP Children’s Books.
This book made me laugh. It made me laugh a lot, but it also made me think a lot. It’s got a great premise, a young boy, Joe, challenges the prime minister in public, it’s filmed and uploaded to YouTube where it goes viral. Soon enough Joe is taking the reins as prime minister and finding that being in the spotlight is not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be. I enjoyed seeing politics through Joe’s young eyes, his take is clearly a somewhat simplistic one but it did leave me wondering whether parts of Joe’s might not be a welcome addition. A quick, highly entertaining read with the potential to provoke brilliant discussions amongst its young readers.

The Vintage Cinema Club by Jane Linfoot. Harper Impulse.
I must admit that I judged this book by its title and expected it to be about a club watching vintage films. It’s not, it is instead about a group of women who run a vintage shop inside a classic cinema, and about how they pull together when its future is threatened. I absolutely loved this book, I always enjoy books about groups of women, seeing their friendships and how they support one another and this book was no exception. I was quickly drawn into their lives, I liked the fact that they made decisions that weren’t necessarily the good or best ones, but they were the right ones in the time – I do like characters who are at least a little fallible. My only sadness is that the book is a work of fiction and that this wonderful sounding shop is not around for me to visit – my bank balance is probably pretty grateful of this fact!

Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry. Mira INK.
I’m a huge Katie McGarry fan, I’ve loved every book in her Pushing the Limits series so I was keen to try this, the first title in a new series. The fact it involved a motorcycle club upped the interest for me, I’ve been watching Sons of Anarchy for the last few years but until now hadn’t seen an MC featured in a young adult book. I was interested by the way it was established early on that this MC is a law-abiding one – this distinguished it from the ones I’m used to seeing on tv and made me interested to discover what the differences were. The very inclusion of an MC makes this book have problematic elements – like the ones on tv this club is shown to have some pretty poor attitudes towards women and I decided early on that I was going to accept that this was a world with rules I didn’t like.

The story itself does feel like the sort of thing I’ve come to accept from Katie McGarry. It’s told in dual narrative, has a burgeoning romance between a girl and boy from opposite sides of the tracks, and plenty of drama along the way. I found that I didn’t love the characters quite as much as I had for previous books, mainly because I found Emily a little harder to take to. I enjoyed Oz a lot and was very invested in his story, I just wish I’d felt equally invested in Emily’s. I’ll certainly pick up the next book in this series – there’s enough about the world to make me look forward to revisiting it.

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