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How To Fly With Broken Wings by Jane Elson - review

If Finn Maison shouts jump you jump or you are dead."  

Title: How To Fly With Broken Wings
Author: Jane Elson
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Available: 03 March 2015
Buy it:  Here


Synopsis

Willem is a boy with Aspergers Syndrome, and he is trying to make two friends his own age for his homework. A tough task for anyone, Willem also faces the challenge of navigating gang cultures, riots, the complexities of attraction and the fact that he can't work out whether Finn Maison is a friend or foe.

Review

How To Fly With Broken Wings is a sweet story that takes place in very recent times of the London riots. There is a huge cast of characters, including a dog, an aeroplane and people both alive and dead (yes, really). We read the story from the view points of Willem and his new friend Sasha as they find ways to unite the people they care about and heal their estate, and I think these view points help get a good view of everything that's going on. However, I personally found Sasha's voice annoying at times. There were so many CAPITALS I felt like I was reading Facebook updates from people I had long ago unfollowed for that very reason!

How To Fly... presents some very complex issues throughout it's short story - gang culture, autism, domestic abuse and death to name but a few - but I never felt the book ever really went deep enough to have any kind of effect. Maybe an affecting read wasn't the aim, but I would question why there are so many YA-relevant talking points if it wasn't.

That said, I loved the tragic romance of "the plane" - if there was one message I did take away from this book, it is to love everyone you care about as much as you can, for the time you have them. You never know how short that time will be.

Overall

A very quick read that is enjoyable but doesn't fall into its themes enough to be affecting. I think that for younger readers of the YA spectrum, How To Fly... would be a perfect gateway into other books that explore topics along the same lines - perhaps Wonder or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night.

Score
 

★★

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The Ship by Antonia Honeywell - review

I was born at the end of the world"  

Title: The Ship
Author: Antonia Honeywell
Publisher: Orion
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Available: 19 February 2015
Buy it:  Here


Synopsis

Lalla was born "at the end of the world" - London is destroyed by the environmental choices of people in a time long since gone; food is scarce, living space is compromised and The Dove is a new government initiative set in place by Lalla's father - if you don't have an ID card, you officially do not exist, and are not provided for. As mass "population control" comes into effect, and London sees an increase in danger and violence, Lalla's father holds the key to their escape and guaranteed happiness: The Ship. But at what price?

Review

The synopsis of this book grabbed my attention for its darkly political themes that are an exploration of the choices we are making right now. I thought the London of The Ship was brilliantly presented as a harsh and military environment, and many of the chosen themes Honeywell focuses on (belonging, community, responsibility and happiness) are very well reflected throughout the choice of setting.

I also LOVED that after a shocking life event, Lalla is given time to grieve throughout the writing. The after effects of what happened are not brushed under the carpet in favour of a new plot point, but instead cause ripples throughout all that is to come. This was one of the most pleasing things for me about The Ship. It felt honest.

However, I had a small problem. After devouring the first third of the book, we follow Lalla, 100% behind her and her brave choices, onto the ship. It is here that I think The Ship falls a little flat. While the ship itself has it's own eerie presence and disguised motives, I couldn't help but feel the REAL story of The Ship was happening on land. Like Lalla, I desperately wanted to return. I felt the book had only really started to properly begin at its end point - so I'm hoping there is a sequel :)

Overall

I mentioned "after effects" in my review and I really think it could have been an alternative title! The Ship focuses a lot on the after effects of choices we make as individuals, as communities and as humans. It offers good food for thought, and an engrossing world to view our own choices against. I really hope a sequel is on the cards.

Score
 

★★

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We Are Memory Keepers 3 x 4 Card Punch Review

I recently purchased the We Are Memory Keepers 3x4" Card Punch to use for my Project Life scrap-booking. I've been looking at it for ages online, but the hefty price tag (£30 for a punch?!) always seemed a bit unjustifiable. So, when I spied a good deal on Amazon I took the plunge. I thought I would share a little review for anyone else umm-ing and ahh-ing over it.


I purchased the square corner punch, but you can also buy one with rounded corners. I already have a rounded corner punch so I thought square would give me more options.

Initial Impressions

This thing is a lot larger and heavier than I expected. It's a two-handed punch and made quite solidly from metal, magnets and plastic, so it isn't the most travel-bag friendly if you like to punch-on-the-go. The top part comes off completely to allow you to position your photos/paper against a clear 3x4 window which I thought was a nice feature. The punch also locks down into a "closed" position for easier storage (about a 2cm difference in height)

Using The Punch

When placed on the punch, the paper/photo is held in place by magnets and you can tug the paper around through the magnetic field to get the right cut. I don't know if it is just the punch I got, but I found it to be very stiff at first, and I really had to put my weight behind it when punching down. I think this might get easier with time as the mechanism loosens up a bit, though.

I also found that every so often, the punch would get jammed into its closed position. I changed surfaces (from the carpeted floor to a solid table) and this helped stop the jamming, but made it a bit harder to push! I think it needs a dead vertical pressure, and a solid surface makes this easier.

The resulting 3x4 card itself is cleanly cut, and easy to remove through the clear window. I wondered why this was a hinged viewer at first, until I realised removing the magnetic top to grab the card every time sent little residue "punch holes" all over the place! Yep, as well as the card, you also get mini holes around the punched area (see photo below) I guess this is to make sure your photo stays put, but seems a bit overkill when accompanied with some very strong magnets! It also wastes a lot of paper :(


Overall?

This punch absolutely saves time when cutting down photos and scrap book paper. It's well-made and I think it would last a very long time, as long as the blades remain sharp.

However, I don't like the mini punch holes. They basically mean that instead of 12 cards from a single sheet of scrapbook paper, you can get about 4/5 which is a HUGE reduction and paper isn't cheap.

I also think that the price is really off-putting. I managed to get my punch from WRMK at a sale price of £15 and I am happy with that price for what I get, but I think £30 is a bit steep, especially if the jamming issues never stop.

Do you have the WRMK card punch? What do you think of it? Are you considering buying one?


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Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekbäck - review

It's the kind of winter that will remind us we are mortal,’ he said. ‘Mortal and alone."  

Title: Wolf Winter
Author: Cecilia Ekbäck
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Available: 12 February 2015
Buy it:  Here

Synopsis

Maija, Paavo and their two daughters, Frederika and Dorotea, leave their lives in Finland for a small homestead on Blackåsen Mountain in the Swedish Lapland. When Frederika finds a body on sacred ground of the Lapps, all the members of the small and disparate community come under suspicion, uprooting secrets and discomforts far too close to home.

Review

Wolf Winter is a slow starter that unfolds many surprises as it gets going. As with the few Scandinavian novels I have read previously, I once again found myself completely enraptured by the violent simplicity of a Scandinavian winter. Cold, brutal, unforgiving - the setting of Wolf Winter lays a volatile backdrop for a foreboding and mysterious event: a body in the woods, killed by one of the community's own.

I loved the writing which, although slow-paced at times (which may be a translation issue?), had moments of poetry, irreverent observations and profound sentiments. It matched perfectly to the life of the story's characters whose simple but grueling day-to-day is lit up in small moments of family and love.

The main storyline itself was brilliant as the murder mystery unfolds through the eyes of both Frederika and her mother, Maija, down two very different routes. One of them embracing the "sorcery" of the old religion and trusting in some thing primal, the other looking at the cold facts and following leads through to accusations, whatever the expense. I was guessing the outcome right up until the last page.

Overall

A wonderful mystery set in a winter with as much character as any of the humans in the story! I highly recommend this book - especially if you have read and loved Burial Rites, which I found to have the same sort of pacing and writing style.

Score
 

★★

1

Alice In Wonderland Stamps

I love it when two of my favourite things - books and letters - mix. These stamps celebrating 150 years of Alice In Wonderland are beautiful, and I can't wait to write and send some happymail adorned by them! The stamps have also been reproduced as postcards too - perfect for little mail gifts.

I think this is my favourite of the set!


I really like the artwork. It's a bit creepy; photo-realism mixed with warped perspective and proportions across all ten designs. They get a big thumbs up from me!


Are you a fan of limited edition stamps? What do you think of the new designs?

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