LOST IN STATIC by Christina Philippou @CPhilippou123 #TuesdayBookBlog Gritty student drama

Lost in StaticLost in Static by Christina Philippou
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lost In Static is a gritty contemporary drama set in an English university. The main characters are four first year students and we follow their lives from beginning to end of that first year.

Ruby is a tom boy, and a huge football fan, she plays in the uni football team, she’s quiet and insecure at times, but popular.

Juliette is running away from home-life and its restrictions. A chain smoker from a strong religious upbringing, uni gives her an opportunity to push new boundaries.

Callum is the good looking one, but has his own secrets.

Yasmine; cold and callous, ready to use anyone for her greater good and will stop at nothing to get her own way.

As the students meet each other in their shared halls of residence, opinions are formed, friendships made, enemies engaged all with a heavy dose of drinking. Callum likes Ruby, Ruby is friends with Juliette, Yasmine hates Juliette, wants Callum and is jeolous of Ruby.

The book opens with one of these students being taken away in an ambulance after a serious accident. Divisions within the group have been split wide, but why? The story then turns back to the first day of term so that we, the reader, can learn of events which lead to the accident. It is built up in delicious layers where we are drip fed snippets and clues, so we too can build our own opinions.

Each student’s side of the story is cleverly told; Ruby’s narrative includes lots of internal dialogue, emphasising her lack of confidence. Callum tells us his version via e-mails to a secret contact. Juliette uses the fourth wall method of speaking to the reader, while Yasemine’s side is told through well known narrative.

The different POV’s are refreshing and move the story at just the right pace, I enjoyed seeing the slight differences in how events happened with each telling, just like any real-life perception of an event.

An excellent debut novel, showing a great strength of writing and could easily be enjoyed by a wide range of readers, although I wouldn’t recommend reading this just before letting go of your precious offspring for their first year at uni, leave it a couple of weeks at least!

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com due for release Thursday September 15th.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

RoomiesRoomies by Sara Zarr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Elizabeth Logan lives with her Mum in New Jersey. It’s the start of the summer holidays and she is looking forward to going away to college at Berkley in San Francisco in the autumn. When she gets an e-mail from college informing her of her allocated room mate, she immediately contacts her.

Lauren Cole lives with her large family in a suburb of San Francisco and looks forward to her own space when she goes away to college. Lauren juggles two jobs plus she helps at home with her younger siblings.

The girls start e-mailing over the next few weeks and find that it’s useful to have a friend who they can talk to who doesn’t know anything about their past lives. As the weeks and days until the start of the college term get nearer the girls begin to worry about the changes that are about to happen.

Each girl finds themselves on a journey of beginnings and endings. They both get new boyfriends and their relationships with friends and family start to change. It’s not just the girls, they find their peers and families have similar fears.

This would make and ideal read for anyone about to leave home and go away to college or any family members who have a teenager who they will be sending a student off to college or university.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by sainsburysebooks.co.uk

For international readers this book is also available on Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

YouTube Sensations

Since I started blogging I’ve begun to scour the media for interesting articles. I have a whole new outlook on books I read, the radio conversations I hear and the inserts inside the newspapers.

Today I’ve come across an article by Sarah Rainey in the weekend section of the Saturday Telegraph. It describes the success of teenager twins Jack and Finn Harries. “JacksGap” began as a series of videos on the YouTube channel documenting Jack’s Gap year. 14 months later he has 190000 subscribers and his 28 home videos have been watched more than 8 million times.

Jack has a partnership with YouTube and earns money every time anyone clicks on his channel. He has used the money to finance new camera equipment and to pay for his travel for his entire gap year. The twin factor has made “JacksGap” a money-spinner, combined with the fact that both boys are good-looking and have been described as Justin-Bieber-alikes. They have tapped into the Bieber fan base. 88 per cent of their subscribers are female aged between 14 and 17.

They love the fact that they control the content of their Youtube website entirely, without the need for the expense of a professionally built site. A YouTube channel can be a lucrative business, boasting 800 million unique users a month, who watch more than 3 Billion hours of video. It now has 30000  partners in 27 countries. The partner programme allows the YouTubers to take a cut of the money their videos earn. When “JacksGap” reached 10000 subscribers they were allowed to be a part of Google Adsense, a programme to allow users to make money from online advertisements.

“JacksGap” is not alone, a new generation of “Vloggers” is growing, fulfilling the needs of those wanting accessible online media.

The twins now face a dilemma, their Gap year is at an end, University looms offering education and student debt, whilst the Youtube channel offers money, they have two weeks left to decide their future paths.

Re-sit Revision

With my oldest child entering the second and last year of her GSCE courses, news comes that school policies of re-sitting exams will be stopped. This is a direct reaction to news from top universities. When they look at applications from students with identical A level results, they will then look back further at their GCSE results. The number of exams which the student has re-sat to enable them to achieve high results, will go against them. So the schools will, for the moment, be putting an end to limitless re-sits.

I think I agree, as a parent, of course I want my child to achieve their best, however I think one shot at the exam for everyone is also a good policy. It will ultimately mean less exams to sit and fewer exam stresses.

Of course in today’s climate with fees rising and when students leave university with huge student loan debts and no prospect of a job, I’m yet to be convinced that it is a viable choice. I’d like to see a return to apprenticeship schemes where learning and earning a wage go side by side.

Progress, progress

Getting down to writing a book has a great sense of achievement for me. Firstly I am loving what I am doing, I get a great buzz from it.
So how are things are going? Well I’m no techno expert which is all part of the challenge. I can’t upload a picture to this blog yet, but I’m determined to get over that hurdle! Last minute details for my characters need adding and a few other touch ups.
Meanwhile I am still a full-time mother, so domestic life must continue. Having decided to stop moaning about the housework because I am the only one who gets upset by either the moaning or the state of the house, I’m breezing through the backlog. Homework and revision still need to be done by the children. Nearly messed up big time when I only remembered on Friday that it was Fathers Day today, but managed to buy a prezzie and card on behalf of the kids. Got home to scan the calender for the next week to make sure I was up to date with everything and realised we had a friend with a birthday on Saturday! No worries! I had a few spare blank cards and a (very expensive) first class stamp, so that disaster was avoided. Checking the number of events written and crossed out for today and realised that it was also our wedding anniversary! Bother, I knew the 17th rang a bell! Oh well, fingers crossed that I can cheekily say the Fathers Day prezzie covered both, and hope hubbie hadn’t got me much.
Playground parent: This is where I’ll do my piece about school, education etc. So this week there is the issue of government proposals to re-form pre-school education. Reports are out from academics in Regensburg University, Germany and their fellows from Otago University, New Zealand, about childrens performance in school. They have compared hundreds of children who began school at different ages and compared their abilities. Children who started school at age 7 performed just as well as those who started school at 5, and some out-shone their peers!
This is timely when our own government wants to put more emphasis on the 3R’s at an earlier age, and wishes to set targets for children to achieve before their 5th birthday.
What do you think? is there too much pressure on our children?
Lastly; Bringing it all back to reality in the playground: M&S had 20% off all school uniform when I was there on Friday. Look out for more bargains as other stores want your business too.