12 Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Published: 6th October 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Electric Monkey
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Dash and Lily have had a tough year since they first fell in love among the shelves of their favourite bookstore. Lily’s beloved grandfather suffered a heart attack, and his difficult road to recovery has taken a major toll on her typically sunny disposition.

With only twelve days left until Christmas—Lily’s favourite time of the year—Dash, Lily’s brother Langston, and their closest friends must take Manhattan by storm to help Lily recapture the unique holiday magic of a glittering, snow-covered New York City in December.

I’m pretty sure I loved this book as much as I did the first one. This time we know the characters but we get to go on so many more journeys with them. The red notebook returns, Lily and Dash are as adorable as ever, there are emotions and feelings and humour and all the things that made the first Dash and Lily book so wonderful.

The influences of each other are evident in the sequel. Dash is softening his edges and becoming more relaxed about his life and things around him. Lily grows up a little and struggles as her idealistic world view gets shaken but Dash is at her side to help her recover. All the quirky family and friends are there to support them and be their own kind of wonderful as well.

I’m not doing very well in the way of actual reviewing because I just adored this so much it’s all just happiness and synonyms right now, but I will say that Cohn and Levithan really did a great job with this sequel. It has a purpose, it is set one year after the events of book one and that is important. It is also a great chance to see how the pair have grown up in that year, how life has affected them and they’ve affected the world.

I loved this book so much because one of my new favourite quotes came out of it and I did something wild and actually made a picture out of it (see below). Dash and Lily’s love of books is aspiring and Dash has such a way with words it’s lovely without being pretentious, it’s passionate. I’ve always loved Dash’s Dashness from the first time I read his voice in Book of Dares, but he is even better in this one because we get to know so much more about him and what makes him who he is. The same goes for Lily, and in a way this is a book for Lily, or at least with a focus on Lily, but this is also so much about Dash as well.

quote-fbLily gets a lot of my sympathy because she has a rough year that really shakes her idealistic view of the world. But her courage and commitment is commendable and seeing her persevere is wonderful.

There is more of a Christmas focus in this book, but it all still comes down to Dash and Lily and their relationship and lives. It’s gorgeous and heart warming and heartbreaking and so sweet! I really do think you need to read Book of Dares before this otherwise it is all lost on you. Well, maybe not, but you really should read book one first because it’s an experience on its own and is the groundwork for this book that needs to be laid.

You can purchase 12 Days of Dash and Lily via the following

Booktopia | Bookworld

QBD | Dymocks

Amazon | Wordery

Fishpond | Book Depository

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Published: 11th October 2011Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Random House Children’s Books
Pages: 260
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

16-year-old Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on her favourite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. Dash, in a bad mood during the holidays, happens to be the first guy to pick up the notebook and rise to its challenges.

What follows is a whirlwind romance as Dash and Lily trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations all across New York City. But can their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions, or will their scavenger hunt end in a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

I picked this up after hearing a synopsis of the plot, but when I realised it was a David Levithan collaboration I wondered why I hadn’t heard of it sooner.

I loved this story. I loved the premise and the treasure hunt, hidden journal, and mystery authors. I loved that it was innocent and fun and that it worked because of so many reasons. In the age of Google and phones it was a good old fashioned hunt with clues and cryptic messages that needed to be understood to be played properly. Respect for the quest and curiosity as the main propulsion.

Each journal entry offers more insight into either Lily or Dash and it’s clear how the two connect with one another. We follow Dash’s perspective and see his intentions and reasons, the same for Lily’s chapters, but we get a little more when we read what they tell one another and challenge one another to do.

I had a fleeting moment, very, very fleeting, where I compared Dash to Holden Caulfield but then I immediately changed my mind and reprimanded myself for thinking such a thing. Dash is Dash for many reasons. No one lets him get away with being a snarly sullen teen who *almost* judges the world and others as lesser people. But Boomer is his best defender, and others see right through him. As you get to know Dash you fall in love with him and see his side of things and love him more for it.

Lily has the same issues in a way. She’s 16 but has the innocence of an 8-year-old at times. She needs to be protected by the family for an odd reason I’ll admit, but her wide-eyed charm of loving life, Christmas, and her family is very sweet.

All the characters in this are charming and wonderful in their own way. Cohen and Levithan have done a wonderful job in this collaboration and you can see how they’ve created these amazing characters that are charming but not entirely faultless or too perfect either. The story is set at Christmas but isn’t necessarily a Christmas story. It is about two teenagers finding each other in a city of millions and connecting on a deeper level and finding something special in one another. Cohn and Levithan explore Lily and Dash’s lives through each other and it tells a wonderful story filled with adventures and surprises and a little bit of luck and the desire to take chances.

You can purchase Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares via the following

Booktopia | Bookworld

QBD | Dymocks

Amazon | Wordery

Fishpond | Book Depository

 

Eve and Elly by Mike Dumbleton

Published: 16th May 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Random House Australia
Illustrator: Laura Wood
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Elly is Eve’s toy elephant, but he’s also her best friend. When Elly goes missing, Eve is the one who is lost.

What drew me to this book were the illustrations. I loved the cover by Laura Wood, and as I kept turning pages I loved them and the story even more. Elly the elephant comes alive in Eve’s mind, he has expressions, he mimics Eve’s movements, and Wood makes the whole thing incredibly adorable. The pictures are relatively basic but reflect the words on the page, and depending what they’re depicting have varying degrees of detail.

The blurb tells us that when Elly goes missing, it is Eve who is lost. I loved that when Elly is gone Eve’s dad doesn’t try to make her feel better per se, he understands but offers up another one of her toys as “someone who [also] needs her” and tries to make her love her other toys for the time being until Elly comes back.

It’s a sweet story about how to cope when a child loses a favourite toy. Dad has a good solution and it is one that could be easily adopted if need be because lost toys are not always recovered. Dumbleton has been creative and clever in his writing, it suits what a parent might do and say to their child who is upset over the loss of a toy but it does also come with its own troubles as mum and dad discover.

There are moments for the parents to enjoy as they read and the kids will love seeing Eve’s love for her toy and get to think about what they would do if they lost one of their favourite toys.

You can purchase Eve and Elly via the following

Book Depository | Dymocks

Booktopia | Kobo

QBD | Bookworld

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Published: 8th September 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Balzer + Bray
Pages: 360
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with mischief glinting in his eye.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

Intense is the best word to describe this book. When I finished this it hung over me like a blanket and I looked for ages to find another book to read next that was the polar opposite to this because it was SO INTENSE.

But that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it.

It has you on the edge of your seat in a way, not because of the action or drama or adventure, but because you are adamant something bad is going to happen to these poor kids!

There are some strong themes and issues dealt with in this book. There’s depression, self harm, drug use, homophobia and bullying. Not to mention everything else. I loved this book but it was heavy. It was so much to handle, so much happens, so much doesn’t happen; it’s consuming.

Scelsa uses three different points of view, one per character. You can claim Jeremy is the main character because he gets the first person perspective and first introduction, and I found myself thinking the same thing, but Scelsa gives them equal weighting in her own way.

I think second person works so well for Sebby. I can’t imagine his story being told any other way.  It’s just what the reader needs to understand and see his POV.

Mira’s life is explored in third person, it suits her too and without analysing it too much, I really think Scelsa’s choices suit them remarkably well

While there is a lot of intensity and dramatics in a way, the thing I found great about this was that there was hope. Always hope. And I think that that is the best thing to be left with after a book; imperfections, not getting the solutions to everything, but left with a little bit of hope to cling to.

Scelsa captures Jeremy’s loneliness so well. You understand wholly his fear that his new friends will leave, not to mention the fear of going back to school and his uncertainty about being thrust into the world without his consent.

The writing is so well done you get inside the head of characters, even with the differen points of view, you still get inside their mind and you understand them completely and that is in part why this book is intense, you really understand these characters thoughts and feelings and intricacies of their lives. You see their fears and hopes and lives before you and you want nothing but for them to be ok.

I’ve seen this be compared to Perks of being A Wallflower and I can kind of see where they’re coming from but at the same time I think this is different from that. Similar yes, but also different. I adored Wallflower and I loved this, but to compare them does neither of them justice.

You can purchase Fans of the Impossible Life via the following

Booktopia | BookWorld

DymocksWordery

QBD | Book Depository

Fishpond | Amazon

The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat by Julia Donaldson

Published: 2013Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Puffin Books
Illustrator: Charlotte Voake
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

The Owl and the Pussy-cat sailed away In a beautiful blue balloon . . . Gruffalo author, Julia Donaldson, revisits Edward Lear’s favourite rhyme in this wonderful new story set in a nonsensical land full of adventure. When their beautiful golden ring is stolen, the Owl and the Pussy-cat must travel far from the safety of the Bong-tree glade as their search for the thief leads them across the Sea, to the Chankly Bore and beyond…

I for one didn’t know there were further adventures of the owl and the pussycat but I am delighted to discover that there are. The book is written by Julia Donaldson and what she has done is carried on the poem by Edward Lear and shown us what the newlyweds are up to.

Donaldson’s rhyme reads as well as Lear’s original, so much so it’s possible to carry on from one to the other. The narrative is as quirky and nonsense as Lear’s was, but still with a solid base storyline to drive it. I loved that Donaldson uses the same repetition and big, obscure words, and there are cameos from previous friends and familiar moments from the first poem.

The premise of the story is that the ring that wed the pair has been stolen and the owl and the pussycat go off in search of it to bring it home. While I understand people may see it as unnecessary, I quite liked the story. Donaldson has stayed close to Lear’s work and retained the nonsensical nature and style so it doesn’t feel completely misguided or unconnected.

Charlotte Voake’s illustrations suit the story well, they are just enough detail and the right design for the nonsense nature of the words. They are slightly different to those in Lear’s poem, but that doesn’t impact the story at all considering Lear’s art isn’t the thing most memorable about it.

If you liked the first poem you may or may not enjoy this. You would need to know the first poem though to really understand this, but it is quirky and fun and the strangeness appeals to kids and isn’t too silly for it to be totally absurd.

Listen and watch Julia read and extract

You can purchase The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat via the following

Book Depository | Amazon UK

 

 

Previous Older Entries