I seriously don’t know how I’m going to go about writing this review without giving something away. I’ll try my very best to keep it spoiler-free, but trust me, it will be difficult.
I’ve always heard of Patrick Ness’ books but I’d never gotten the chance to read one until now. Thanks to Pansing, I got my hands on a copy of More Than This because once I saw John Green’s blurb on the front cover, I was immediately intrigued. The book summary doesn’t give much away and I knew from the start that this novel was going to be different. I really loved this one. Not only does it have HOLY-BLEEPING-S***-twists, but the story was very well developed that I couldn’t put it down.
This isn’t too big a spoiler since you learn about it within the first 30 pages, but our main character’s name is Seth. The narrative is really interesting as it alternates between his present actions as well as his memories. We as readers are able to catch glimpses of his life leading up to the moment he drowns. Secrets are uncovered throughout the story and the motive for why he drowned is revealed slowly, and it’s truly mind-numbing to see how much his character has been through. I thought it would have been really cool if the book only had him as a character in it (during present action), but things definitely got interesting with the addition of two certain characters.
I mentioned previously that there are HUGE twists. And I mean HUGE. Seriously– I did not see half the things that happen in this book coming. There’s definitely a lot more to the afterlife that our main character finds himself in. At first, I was a little mad about the twist. I thought that it threw away the whole believability of the book out the window. But as the story went on, I came to understand what the book truly is and grasp (somewhat) what its underlying message is.
What I am most taken with though is Ness’ writing. ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. Seriously, he could have written a book about cats sitting still for hours and I would still be in love with the prose. I can see now why he’s such a talented writer and why his books get so much praise. More Than This was enthralling, as horrifying revelations and gut-wrenching truths shed some light onto this new world that our protagonist finds himself in. This is a a book that will have you on the edge of your seat, desperate to find out what happens next. Beautiful and life-changing, without a doubt, there is no book like this one.
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
This book was part of the large stack that Pansing sent me. I’d never heard of The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow before, but it sounded really intriguing so I decided to pick it up. This book was such a delight! I love historical-fiction and I love mystery–growing up I would be the kind of child that would read Enid Blyton books endlessly, so this was the perfect revival. It was like an amazing mashup of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and The Five Find-Outers. I ended up reading this in one go, and stayed up pretty late to finish it.
This book had the most beautiful descriptions, especially of Sinclair’s department store. I really felt like the store was truly magical, and I got pretty sad when I came back to reality knowing that there was no store like this that existed (that I know of anyway). This book often had my mouth watering as well, as the descriptions of food sounded extremely delicious. That’s how you know a book is well-written people: the food makes you want to run to the kitchen immediately only to find disappointment with the reality of food that cannot compare to the food in the book.
❝As [the crowd] swept past the doormen into an immense marble entrance hall, the first thing they noticed was the delicious smell, like bonbons on Christmas morning. The next was a magnificent fountain in which white-marble mermaids basked in a sea-green pool. The silvery tinkling of the water mingled with the tick of an enormous golden clock that stood against the wall.❞ –p. 71, ARC* *text is subject to change in the final version
The characters were so great as well. They were slightly older than most middle grade characters, which made me enjoy this a lot more, knowing that the characters were closer to my age. Sophie’s character reminded me of Sara's from A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I sympathized with her and felt bad for her when the other sales girls made fun of her. I was happy when she makes friends with Lil, another fabulous character, and Billy, whose devotion to her is absolutely adorable. There was such a great cast of characters and even the villains were created really well. The mystery was also gorgeously written–I didn’t know who was going to be guilty until near the end and the big reveal. The only problem for me was the motive behind the theft of the clockwork sparrow. I felt that there was just too big of a story at hand that suddenly comes in, with no previous mention of it in the text and suddenly there’s a whole plot involved that didn’t exist before. It all made sense, given the time period, but it just felt a bit too sudden for me, and I would have liked just a bit of a transition into it. Other than this, it was seriously well-done!
A stunning debut, The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow captures the same tone of many of my dusty and well-loved childhood books but brings a fresh new voice to an audience of this day and age. Katherine Woodfine’s command of words is striking and will have readers guessing in this enchanting whodunit mystery until the very last page.
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
When I found out that Ana of California was based on L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, I knew I HAD to sign up for the blog tour. Anne of Green Gables and the rest of the books in the series are some of my favourite books that I read when I was younger. I loved reading about Anne’s adventures as she grew up, that all starts at Green Gables. I even went to Prince Edward Island, where the book is set, when I lived in Canada, and visited the house that inspired Green Gables. It was closed though at the time, but my mom and I kinda just went past the ticket booth just to get a glimpse of the house. I loved visiting PEI–it was such a magical place and I could totally envision the setting mentioned in the series as my family and I drove around the area. Anyway, that being said, I was also a little afraid going into Ana of California because Anne of Green Gables is such a treasured classic (for me as well as plenty of others) and sometimes retellings can go wrong. I was so happy that this wasn’t the case. I enjoyed Ana of California immensely, and loved the parts of the book inspired by the original classic as well as Teran’s own spin to the story.
I haven’t read Anne of Green Gables in a long time, but I don’t think much is mentioned about Anne Shirley’s past. What I liked about Ana of California is that Ana does have a past, which is slowly unveiled as the book goes on. It was a slight mystery to begin with but of course, learning about it later on in the book also supports the idea that Ana opens up to these people in Hadley. I also liked the diversity featured in this book–Mexican heritage, Native American heritage, a character who’s a lesbian–the characters in this book come from all walks of life. In this book we also get to see a bit more of Abbie’s story, which was pretty interesting. I think that’s why this book, despite having a fifteen/sixteen-year-old protagonist, was marketed as an Adult book–although it’s very clearly a YA book despite the label. I just wish we got to see more from Emmett’s point of view, but there’s also a bit of mystery to his character that is revealed towards the end of the book.
As I mentioned before, I haven’t read the classic in a while, but some things that did pop up in Teran’s reimagining reminded me of Anne Shirley’s story. For instance, the hair incident? That’s truly a part of the original story that I can’t forget! So glad that it was included in this one–I was hoping it would be when I started it. There’s also the argument Anne has with Mrs. Rachel Lynde, who spurs this hatred from Anne because she calls her ugly, in Anne of Green Gables. Ana has a similar spat with a similar woman, and seeing the parallels between the two situations, in this novel and in the classic, made me nostalgic. All the references to Montgomery’s book just made me want to re-read the series even more!
Ana of California was a real treat: I savoured this book from start to finish. From the beautiful descriptions of the farm to Ana’s wonderful musings to the intertextual allusions to various rock songs, Andi Teran’s fantastic debut has rekindled my love for Anne of Green Gables, making me fall in love with Ana’s story as well. Can’t wait to read more from this author–hopefully, it’ll be another delightful reimagining....more
Another British book! I received Boys for Beginners along with My Family and Other Freaks Carol Midgley and totally ended up loving both of them. I read this one right after My Family and Other Freaks, and it might just be the format, same publisher, etc., but they were actually pretty similar in some aspects, but otherwise I feel that this one was a bit different from of the other British preteen and teen books I’ve read in the past. On another note, isn’t that cover absolutely adorable? It totally reminds me of the books I read when I was in middle school!
For once, the main character is actually more of a tomboy than a “girlie girl,” as she puts it. She’s a lot more different than Danielle from My Family and Other Freaks and Georgia Nicolson from Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging. However, she tries to be more girly when Charlie Notts joins school. At first, while I was reading this book, I was kind of disappointed in Gwynnie, but then I remembered how I was in middle school and then BAM! I totally got her. I was absolutely content to just chill and be as I was back then...until the mentality of having crushes and liking cute guys started with all my friends and got to me. And I mean I don’t blame her–to be honest when I was reading about Charlie Notts I fell head over heals for him as well! And unlike most mean girls, I actually liked Jenny–and not just at the end of the book. She’s the kind of character I would typically roll my eyes at, but somewhere around the middle of the book, despite some of the mean things she does, I found that she wasn’t all that bad.
With a somewhat predictable, but still totally adorable and lovable, plot, Boys for Beginners was a fun book to read. Another perfect read for preteens that even older readers will love.
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
From the moment I read the synopsis I knew that My Family and Other Freaks would be somewhat similar to Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging and the rest of the series by Louise Rennison. I used to read a ton of British middle- and high-school books and so reading this one took me back to my middle school days. Oh gods. I even attended a British school at one point in my life–only for a year–and so much of the terminology used in the book (Year 10 is Grade 9 for instance) reminded me of my time at the school. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book! This was a relatively short book and it took me only a little time to blaze through it. My Family and Other Freaks is absolutely hilarious and the whole dysfunctional family dynamic never seems to get old for me.
Sometimes snarky characters annoy the hell out of me but Danielle’s character was just so funny that I couldn’t help but chuckle along at her witty comebacks. She can be kind of self-centered but I really liked her narrative voice. I also liked Amber’s character, even though I wish she were more involved in this book. Of course, I loved to hate Treasure–there’s something about British mean girls that makes the drama in books so much more delicious. I’m not going to comment on the male characters in this book but there’s a lot that obviously involves them and an interesting (albeit obvious) outcome. Now her family–LOVED them! Danielle has a darling little sister, hilarious parents, a brother who I wish made more of an appearance, and an absolutely adorable and wacky dog. Honestly, if the whole book had been about Danielle and her family, I would have still read it.
My Family and Other Freaks was a hilarious read and had me smiling from start to finish. I’m really tempted to read more British school-aged novels because with heroines such as Danielle, I know I’m in for a bucket of laughs. This book is perfect for both preteens and teens alike, and I’m sure even older readers will get a few chuckles out of Midgley’s novel.
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
This book has been liked to The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and while I haven’t read Brian Selznick’s book, I absolutely adored the film adaption. The Girl in the Torch, while it shares some similarities with Hugo, was a fantastic and unique novel. This was a short book so it proved to be a quick read that I devoured in one sitting. I haven’t learned much of America's history, but I knew bits and pieces about Ellis Island and so this was an interesting perspective onto the difficult process of getting into the US–which hasn’t changed much even today.
I’ve been to Liberty Island once or twice before, but it sure must be something else to stand from the crown, looking at the sights below and around. I was totally envious of Sarah at this point. Not the other stuff, like being alone and in the dark and scavenging for food from trash, but that feeling of endlessness. Sarah’s character truly endures so much, which is really sad for someone so young. In the author’s note Sharenow mentions that her country is not mentioned and this was to make the story universal. I think he really succeeded with this intention because that feeling of wanting a new life or wanting to belong really resonated with me and should with other readers. It also helped that there’s such a diverse cast of characters in this book. At the beginning of the twentieth century I can only imagine the various people from around the world who had arrived in the US looking for a better life. Of course, among these people you find many races and nationalities presented in The Girl in the Torch: American Indian, Chinese, Black, Irish, Italian. I really loved how she identifies with most of them, despite difference in religion and background.
The author has managed to bring to life the many wonders and troubles found in this period of time by capturing the fabulous setting of New York in the 1900s. I really enjoyed this strong and beautiful book that I’m sure will have readers of all ages mesmerised with the story and relatable main character. A great historical adventure that highlights the value of friendship, family, and never giving up.
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Megan at HarperCollins International for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
I received Mars Evacuees around a year ago, but since I’d never really heard of it, I put off reading it–until now. This book was so much fun! Although it’s aimed at a younger audience, I ended up loving this space adventure. It was really easy to get onboard with the setting, the characters, and the conflict at hand. The concept was so original as well. I don’t read much science-fiction, which is unfortunate, but this one seemed to stand apart from the ones that I have read.
It was sometimes difficult to believe that these kids were twelve years old (or even younger!). They seemed so much more mature than the children I know, which is probably why, I guess, I didn’t feel too different from the characters despite the age gap. Alice was such an awesome character–she would be the type of girl I would have loved to hang out with when I was in middle school. Josephine was a great character too, and I loved Carl and his younger brother Noel, who was super adorable. Even Goldfish–literally a teaching robot goldfish–was a fantastic addition to the cast. They obviously end up meeting more characters along the way, and all in all, while this story was more plot-driven than character-driven, it was an enjoyable journey of four friends and a robot insistent on teaching them algebra on the way. The characters were also pretty diverse as well! We’ve got a black character, Australian characters...however, I wish it could have been even more so. This evacuation to Mars involved children from around the world, but they weren’t even part of the book–I just think that this was a little bit of a missed opportunity.
I really liked this story, which is why when I found out that there would be a sequel, I was ecstatic! Mars Evacuees was a fun and action-packed story that readers of all ages will enjoy. Sophia McDougall definitely knows how to tell an epic story. I can’t wait for Space Hostages as I’m sure it will be as good–or even better–than the first in the series. Looking forward to it!...more
When I first read the synopsis, Ivy Pocket’s character sounded a lot like Amelia Bedelia from the Amelia Bedelia series by Peggy Parish. However, what really drew me to the book was the illustration on the front cover. It looked quite gothic and kind of reminded me of Tim Burton’s stop-motion films, so I knew I had to give this one a try. I don’t often laugh out loud when it comes to reading books but when I was reading Anyone But Ivy Pocket it was a common occurrence. This book is HILARIOUS. Honestly, I found myself chuckling every few pages–that’s how funny this book is. I know that it won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but I found it absolutely delightful.
I’d read a few reviews for this book, and what I found is that people either love and hate Ivy Pocket’s character. After reading this book I can see why. Ivy Pocket is completely enamoured with herself and infuriates those around her. It’s sometimes a little bit incredible to believe she’s only 12 years old because of all the things she says and the manner in which she conducts herself. She tends to think very highly of herself and thinks she knows what’s best. Sometimes you feel like ripping out your hair whenever Ivy says something or is completely oblivious to what is obvious to everyone else, but her comments made me laugh most of the time. She's got a sharp edge of humor that reminds me of A Series of Unfortunate Events–you either get it and laugh or you don’t and end up hating the book.
I was just a little sad because the eGalley didn’t include some of the gorgeous illustrations. The whole experience of a children’s book sometimes comes from the fact that there are illustrations present and not being able to see them I felt took away from the experience. But that’s maybe just me–it wasn’t a picture book so luckily it didn’t take away too much.
I enjoy dark books and I enjoy funny books, and Anyone But Ivy Pocket was the perfect blend of the two. I didn’t really expect this book to take a supernatural turn, but it just goes to show that there’s so much more to follow, and I can’t wait to read more of this series. A bundle of laughs weaved into murder and mystery, do yourself a favour and READ THIS BOOK....more
I hadn’t heard of this one before I was offered a copy for review, but it sounded quite interesting and cute, so I thought “why not?” and started it. There were several things that I didn’t know about the book before starting because the blurb didn’t give too much away. Firstly, I thought this was a middle grade book but I found that it’s more young adult than middle grade. Secondly, this book deals with OCD. Most of the characters mentioned have some form of OCD–which is how Adam meets Robyn. Lastly, the mystery aspect. There’s a whole other side to the story (other than the romance) and it’s kind of a slow-thrillery aspect. The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B was a slow read but it was an excellent one. I really learned a lot more about OCD than I have from reading other YA novels on the subject.
I found it pretty interesting that the members of the support group all take on superhero personas. It’s a technique to disassociate with the OCD-part of themselves. It’s great how the superhero identities are the opposite of their problems, as you’ll soon come to learn. Adam’s character was so amazing. I felt so bad for him since on top of his problems he has to solve everyone else’s. He has to be there for his mother, his younger brother, Robyn...he definitely has a lot on his plate, sadly. While I didn’t think the romance was too different from other YA romances, I did love the relationship he had with Sweetie, his younger half-brother. It was really adorable to see how much they care for each other, and how they both have the same way of dealing with their problems. It was sweet to see how much Sweetie looks up to his older brother and doesn’t see him as having a mental illness or a problem, but instead as a hero.
There are slight religious tones to this book. It’s not outright, but it’s very slight in that Robyn is curious about Catholicism and the support group goes to Adam’s Church more than once. I’m not a fan of religious books, but this one wasn’t preachy and it felt like a very natural part of the book. I will admit I was first a bit doubtful when the first mention of religion came up, but as the book went on I came to see that it wasn’t a major part of it, which was good.
Charming and poignant, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B was a wonderful and powerful novel. The ending was fantastic, and I had NO idea it would end like that. Teresa Toten's captivating novel will move readers. I can’t wait to see what this author brings to the table next!
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
My roommate takes a course called "Aesthetic Constructions of Childhood,” and she has to read a bunch of picture books for the class (lucky, right?). After reading Journey by Aaron Becker, she told me how great the story was and handed it to me to read. I devoured it in two minutes. What struck me first was the lack of words– I don’t think I’ve read a picture book that didn’t have any words in it. Anyway, that totally didn’t hinder my experience at all because the illustrations are GORGEOUS. I mean, absolutely beautiful. It’s such a sweet story as well, with that familiar feel of childlike wonder and imagination.
There were several interesting things I didn’t notice the first time reading it, and my roommate pointed them out after. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll mention a few things that she told me that they discussed in her course. Firstly, there’s the bedroom at the beginning and if you look at some of the objects in the room, they pop up later on in the story. Another really cool thing is that tiny details are often overshadowed by the larger ones the illustrations. For example, the artist creates such incredible landscapes that you totally don’t notice a boat or a door hidden in the corner. There are a lot of cool details with this book, so definitely read it a few times to capture everything. Tons of surprises hidden for sure!
I don’t normally review picture books, but honestly, if I constantly read amazing books such as Journey, I hope there are a lot more coming my way in the near future. I really do hope that I get the chance to read the next book in this absolutely delightful picture book series, and I look forward to more of Becker’s fantastic stories told through his beautiful illustrations....more
After finishing The Secret Diamond Sisters I knew I couldn’t WAIT until I got my hands on the next one. I’m so honoured to have been picked to review this book by the author, and absolutely freaked out when I got the copy in the mail, signed to me in all it’s glory. I believe I’ve mentioned it before but I’ll say it again: something about this series has a TV-show quality to it. After Gossip Girl ended, I NEED another show to satisfy my craving for scandal, drama and boys. This is the perfect substitute! While there were somethings I didn’t like in this one, Madow’s second instalment was absolutely packed with amazing interweaving storylines that build up to several shocking moments in the book.
There was definitely a lot more character development compared to the first book, but my opinions on characters haven’t changed. I still don’t like Peyton, I find her too annoying, but she has improved a great deal. She just needs to think about what she does and the consequences of it because it’s basically a record-player playing the same thing over and over again– you would have thought she had learned her lesson the first or second time round! Courtney is still my favourite character. Something about her level-headedness being so refreshing in this family where two of three sisters are infatuated by material objects and throwing themselves at guys. Loved her frustration and tension with Brett, that was done so well in this book. I felt so bad for her as well, because this story builds up to a HUGE moment and how she handles it doesn’t go down too well. Savannah... honestly, she didn’t make a mark for me in this book. Same old story, trying to figure out who to choose between Damien and Nick (who doesn’t make much of an appearance in this book by the way), and literally, the only thing I picked up from her storyline was her singing career moving forward. That’s about it. Madison, on the other hand, got a lot more interesting. There’s so much more to her and I really like her character now. She also has a huge role in this book, with another secret that shakes her whole world (and is definitely going to be a major part in the next book), so I can’t wait to see where it all goes!
What I didn’t like about the book was this: how flashy it was. I mean, the name dropping didn’t bother me in the first book, but this was pushing it a little too far. I mean, a boy band from the UK called One Connection? HELLO? Not to mention boy band members, Perry Myles, Noel and Kayn... sounds a little too familiar doesn’t it? It just seemed kind of weird considering how many times TV shows, such as The Vampire Diaries and Downton Abbey, are mentioned. It wasn’t just the name dropping though. It seemed like with every pop culture reference there had to be a multiple-sentence explanation as to why it was in the book. To be honest, it kind of hindered my reading experience, and while everything else was quite sound, this was the thing I absolutely disliked, and is something that I dislike with any other book as well.
The end of the book is shocking, but it wasn’t so shocking that I felt like I needed the next book. I liked how the author presented the cliffhanger but I found myself feeling underwhelmed by it all. Hopefully the next book will quench my thirst for the amount of secrets sure to be uncovered. Who will end up with who? What on earth is going to happen to the Diamond sisters and will everything ever be normal again? I really like the title of the final book as well, just like the rest of the titles in this series– a great play on words!
Diamonds in the Rough had so much crazy drama and I enjoyed it so much. In this dazzling world of glitz, glamor and money, secrets and betrayal are never far behind. I can’t wait for the next book, Diamonds are Forever, although I’ll be sad to say goodbye to Michelle Madow’s fantastic series.
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Michelle Meadow for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
When I saw the title for Victoria Aveyard’s debut, the first thing that popped into my mind was Alice in Wonderland. I mean, of course I would think that because, hello, the RED QUEEN aka Queen of Hearts? A little disappointed that it wasn’t a retelling from her point of view, but nonetheless the gorgeous and eerie cover and the premise caught my attention. When I was contacted to be a part of the blog tour and to read an advanced copy of the book, I immediately agreed to it. I knew I had to read this book, and that I had to read it soon.
Oh my gosh: WOW. Red Queen was amazing! I seriously couldn’t tear my eyes away from this book. It was like X-Men meets The Selection meets Shadow and Bone. It was such a fantastic blend of the supernatural, fantasy, and dystopia – brilliantly executed. It was a long read (especially since I read it in one sitting) but SO WORTH IT. The world building was phenomenal; I really felt like I understood the world that the story took place in. The writing was absolutely wonderful and there never seemed to be a dull moment.
The characters were amazing. I loved learning about this world through Mare’s world. Of course, she reminds me of so many dystopian and fantasy heroines, so that sort of originality was somewhat lacking, but the familiarity of the character type definitely made this an engaging read. And oh gods above, the LOVE TRIANGLE. Or square? I seriously don’t know at this point. Two princes and a friend (not featured very much though) made sure that there was plenty of romance in the story. If you know me, you know that I can’t resist a good romance. However, I just felt that there was a lack of actual chemistry...no sizzle at all. While I’m torn because I my stomach flip-flops at scenes of romance in a book, I thought it was really interesting that the book didn’t actually focus on the developing feelings between characters and was more about the actual events. Feeling a bit half-and-half on this one, but more towards the fact that I’m FOR the somewhat underplayed passion in this novel.
Holy moly the amount of twists in this book. I had to cover up the ends of chapters just to make my eyes stop wandering and accidentally spoiling things for me. SO MUCH SHIZZ HAPPENS AND IT’S WORTHY OF DROPPED JAWS. The end was a stab to the stomach, because no way in a million years did I see that coming. I predicted an earlier twist but I never actually thought that the book would end the way it did. I’m seriously sad that I’m going to have to a while until the next book comes out because 2015 practically just started and the sequel comes out in 20-frickin-16.
An exceptional debut, Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen is gripping from the first page to the last. Absolutely spellbinding, this story of blood, magic, and revolution will have readers begging for more. The start of a terrific trilogy, I’m looking forward to what’s coming next. Can’t wait!
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Megan at HarperCollins International and Tiffany at MPH for sending a copy for review and for having me on the blog tour! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
If you know me, you’ll know that I’m a fan of revenge stories: Burn for Burn, Pretty Little Liars, Wicked Games–you name it. There’s something about the drama and the motivation behind revenge that attracts me to such stories like mosquitoes to a light. If you know me, you’ll also know that I’m a sucker for cute contemporaries. This book, The Revenge Playbook? A PERFECT BLEND OF BOTH. I read 17 First Kisses, Rachael Allen’s other contemporary novel, last year, and while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t the best. However, this one was is AMAZING in comparison. It reminded me so much of John Tucker Must Die to the point where I was constantly singing or humming “Dirty Little Secret” by The All-American Rejects (no joke).
I’m not a huge football fan...in fact, I barely know anything about it. People often have to specify or clarify for me when they mention football whether they mean soccer or American football. Anyway, it was kind of weird for me how a sports team can dominate the school (or even the whole town). It kind of resonates with the image that American high school TV shows depicts of the social hierarchy: footballers and cheerleaders rule the school. This book pushed this even further to the point where they basically got away with everything, so this was a totally new extreme for me.
I truly enjoyed the different narratives – both the shift in perspectives (or narrative voice) as well as the time frame, as the novel shifts from past to present. It really felt as though all the girls got equal “page-time” as there seemed to be no main character but rather main characters. Usually when it comes to books with multiple perspectives, I end up only liking some of the characters. However, with this book, I ended up loving all of the featured perspectives. Granted, each girl has their own flaws, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with all of them. Liv, Peyton, Mel-Jay and Ana all bring their own personalities to the table and there was a definite sense of girl power. I love, love, love the feminist tone here. Most of the time, I was like YES. PREACH THAT SHIZZ. These girls, they speak out against slut-shaming, abuse, bullying, rape culture, the way women are treated by men, and so much more.
There’s no doubt about it: this was one of my favourite books this year. The Revenge Playlist was funny and creative, as well as sincere in its message to readers. We need more books like this one, to speak up for girls and women who have been subjected and treated badly by boys and men. Rachael Allen’s sophomore novel speaks volumes about a variety of pertinent issues in our society today, and I’m really looking forward to reading more from her.
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Megan at HarperCollins International for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
I think I didn’t read the blurb carefully enough because I didn’t realise that this was more of a New Adult novel than Young Adult until I’d started reading the book. I don’t typically read NA books–in fact I stay away from them most of the time–but with this one I decided to just plunge in and take a chance. And I’m so, so, so glad I did. I really enjoyed this one, and I wish that I’d read the first book Behind the Scenes before I read this one, even though I didn’t need to. It would definitely help to read the first book, because so many of the characters crossover into this one, even though the focus shifts from Ally and Liam to Josh and Van, but you don’t need to. This book is definitely aimed at older readers for sure though because of language and sexual content.
I don’t know exactly how I feel about Josh’s character. Even though he seems to fit under the d-bag category, there’s something more that just makes you pause just before you banish him to douche territory. He objectifies women, which really pissed me off, but there was definitely character growth. Not too much, but just enough for me to see him differently. I really liked Van’s character though. I enjoyed seeing her personal growth and how she comes to terms with her sexuality. It was actually pretty interesting to see not that not only is she a POC but also a lesbian. This book does bring up the fact that POC, Asians in this instance, tend not to get main roles. This is SO TRUE. It’s only now that people have started to address this, and while there are a few changes and a few revolutionary shows and films that have started bringing in other backgrounds and races into the mix, it’s still in the baby-stages. Vanessa’s struggle with trying to balance her public and private world felt very real at times, and I’m so glad that Adler not only acknowledges it because makes it the central point of the story.
After reading this one, I’m kind of thinking about pursuing more New Adult books. Not at the moment, but maybe in the near future because Under the Lights was a such a great read. Aspiring actors, Hollywood fanatics, TV lovers, drama queens, diversity advocates–EVERYONE will find something they love when reading Dahlia Adler’s book. Now, excuse me while I desperately try to get my hands on the first book because I’ve fallen for the world of glitz, glamor and Daylight Falls....more
Prisoner of Night and Fog was one of the best books I’d read last year. That being said, there was no doubt that I was ecstatic when this beauty of an eGalley popped up on Edelweiss for download. I was a little bit afraid though going into this book, because at this point, I had really high expectations. Glad to say, I wasn’t disappointed! While I did miss the thrill of finding out everything in the first book–the tension between Gretchen and Daniel as our main character decides which side to pick, learning about Hitler’s ‘condition', and escaping Munich–this was a brilliant follow-up. New players enter this deadly game and there are a lot of twists and thrills that make this a gripping novel from start to finish.
The publication of this book seriously could not have been better well-timed for me personally. It just so happens that currently we’re learning about Fascism and Naziism in a social science course, and many of the events and people mentioned in this book–or even characters part of this book–have come up. The burning of the Reichstag, for instance. I would have had no idea what that was if I wasn’t learning about it at this point in time, so I felt that knowing a bit about Hitler’s rule as chancellor and his transition to dictator really helps with reading this book. There is a lot of history packed in this novel, and while you could get by without really knowing the roles that many of these characters played in real life, knowing about them makes this a more impacting read.
❝Then he kissed her. His lips on hers were as light as a breath. And she couldn't stop the horrible thought that his touch felt like a farewell.❞
My thoughts about Gretchen and Daniel’s characters haven’t really changed since the first book. Both are such great characters, determined to find out what happened at the Reichstag. Definitely a lot of fantastic tense moments between them too (and I don’t mean just romantically!). I also really enjoyed the addition of Gennat’s character–I love detective fiction and detectives in general and his addition into the book made my day. I hadn’t really heard about his previously and reading about him totally made me want to find out more about his time with the Berlin criminal police. Tons of other new faces as well, especially a certain underground crime ring that takes an interesting turn.
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke is an action-packed sequel that had me on the edge of my seat. Blankman’s blend of fact and fiction is absolutely mesmerising and the writing really makes you feel as though you’re really there during this terrible time in history. I hope there’s a third book coming soon, even though the ending seemed to be perfect and sounded like there wouldn’t be another book, but nonetheless if there is I’m ecstatic to read more about what happens after. If not, I’m glad to have been on this journey navigating one of the biggest turning points in European and World history through the eyes of an amazing and relatable protagonist....more
I was really interested in The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place after hearing Julie Berry speak at the Boston Teen Author Festival 2014. I even had the chance to meet her before this at ALA in Chicago in 2013, and get a signed ARC of her YA novel All the Truth That’s In Me, which I unfortunately haven’t read yet. This time round though it was really cool to hear her talk about crafting mystery and a good villain. This novel was really cute and was quite a funny historical-fiction middle grade novel – it’s actually really good for all ages since all the characters seemed to be of different ages.
At first I got really confused with all the names in the book as the author names them with an adjective, so we have characters such as Smooth Kitty and Stout Alice. It takes a while, but you definitely get used to it by halfway through the novel. I really like how the book includes illustrations of the ladies part of the sisterhood – which unfortunately wasn’t available for viewing in the eGalley I received – as well as mentions the people associated with them who don’t appear in the novel, just to get a better idea of the characters’ personalities and characteristics. I wish that certain characters had more of a role, because it seemed like only a four girls seemed to be getting most of the work during the plot, but nonetheless it made it much easier to relate to the characters.
I thought that the beginning was actually really strange, and this was due to the lack of reaction to their head mistress’s death. I just thought that it was weird how they didn’t have a total meltdown or panic that much, because I know I would have if I was in that situation. Especially when they have to masquerade around as if nothing was wrong: how can such young girls be calm under such circumstances? This is probably the only thing that didn’t add up for me. I mean, yeah, sure– there are times of panic and “I can’t do this” etc. etc. BUT, on the whole, lack of panic doesn’t make it seem really plausible. However, this was still a really fun read.
I’m a fan of whodunit mysteries, and this one was really great. There’s a ton of suspense and action that’ll keep you wondering what will happen next. There’s also some romance in the book which is why I think it’s more of a middle grade meets young adult, rather than just a middle grade novel. Anyway, I seriously did not expect that ending! There are a ton of surprises that are revealed at the end, especially about people’s identities, as well as the motive for the murder. I enjoyed how the mystery was written: I’m glad to say that there are no dull moments to be found.
Cute and gripping, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is perfect for readers of all ages, and will have you on your toes with every twist and turn. Julie Berry crafts a fabulous mystery that produces both laughs and shocked gasps, and I’m looking forward to reading more from her in the future....more
When I received an offer to review Seed, I was immediately drawn to the eerie cover and the tagline and knew that I HAD to read and review this one. However, the problem with me is that I don’t tend to read blurbs very well and base most of my reading (sadly) on the cover. I seriously didn’t realise this was about a cult. When I found out, my brain started flashing warning signs. Why, you ask? I’d previously started reading a book about a cult and didn’t end up enjoying it so I stopped reading it. To be completely honest, I get a little freaked out when it comes to reading about cults. From what I’ve learned about them to seeing them portrayed in media, I get a little weirded out and tend to stay away from things that depict cults, etc. By the way, this is totally not meant to offend anyone. I personally don’t know much about cults in general, except that there have been some that are pretty extreme and stuff, so basically that’s what my “judgement” (if I could even call it that) is based on.
Anyway, back to Seed. This one was fantastic. It’s filled with absolutely gorgeous descriptions, and now I’m wondering whether this is based on an actual cult because the “world-building” – despite it not being a fantasy/dystopian/etc. – is phenomenal. It really didn’t feel like our world, and I didn’t even think that this was based in a real place until the outsiders arrive at Seed. That’s the thing: the novel really felt kind of timeless because the cult is so isolated from the outside, so you don’t in fact realise that it actually has a modern setting.
I really enjoyed Pearl’s character. She felt real and I think I would have done most of the actions she does in the book if I was in the position. It must have been a bit of a challenge for the author to have written the book from the perspective of someone who has such a strange and bad view of the world, not completely getting the grasp of the good that there is. The other characters really add to her character development and it was really great reading about them as well.
The end was MIND BLOWING and I was left with my jaw dropped. The book’s pace up till that point was basically pretty normal; kind of slow at the start but started picking up when Pearl begins to question the Seed. Holy crap though, the end was just absolutely heart-pounding and ended with a shocking climax. I’m seriously looking forward to the second book, but now I have to wait a whole YEAR for it to come out... *bursts into tears*.
Seed was intriguing and fascinating – Lisa Heathfield’s debut is stunning and has left me aching for more. Do yourself a favour and do NOT pass this one up. Spellbinding and filled with mystery and deception, this is a novel that demands to be read.
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha from Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
I received Survival Colony 9 back in September. I’d actually started it then, but for reasons I don’t remember, I stopped. I never made it past the first chapter unfortunately. And now? I finished it in one setting. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book about dystopian survival in the wilderness, and that too with a male protagonist. I couldn’t but help picturing The Scorch Trials while reading this book–I haven’t read James Dashner’s books, but after seeing the trailer, I kept imagining a similar desert setting with broken-down cities in Survival Colony 9. Anyway, this one was definitely filled with twists of all kinds and builds up to a fantastic ending that’s filled with secrets, revelations, kick-ass action, and sacrifice.
As I mentioned before, it’s been a while since I’ve read a YA book with a male main character. The last one I read would probably have to be Grasshopper Jungle, and I read that at the beginning of the year. We definitely need more male protagonists in YA. Anyway, Querry’s character was pretty interesting from the start because of the fact he couldn’t remember anything beyond the past six months. I knew the twist was going to be juicy, and I was not disappointed. There’s quite a few different characters in this colony, most notably Querry’s father Laman. While he seemed quite harsh from time to time I have to say I was totally on his side even other member’s the colony disagreed with his ideas.
The Skaldi! Creepy, creepy, creepy creatures. I don’t know why but for some reason I kept imagining a creature that looked like the offspring of the aliens from Alien vs. Predator and those giant worm creatures with the scary rows of teeth. I honestly don’t remember what the Skaldi are supposed to look like (and I’m sure it’s absolutely NOT what I imagined), but they take over human bodies by crawling into them *shudder* so they’re pretty much unlike any creature found in YA that I’ve read so far. The next book is called Scavenger of Souls so there’s much more of these creepy–I literally just shuddered involuntarily just thinking about them–creatures coming up.
An action-packed novel that will have readers sitting on the edge of their seats, gripping the covers, and flipping pages like mad, Survival Colony 9 was a fantastic opening to a strange and broken world that Josua David Bellin has introduced. I look forward to more books in this series–hopefully there’s more than one sequel!–and even though it’s probably going to give me nightmares, I look forward to reading more about Querry and the rest of the colony, and *shudders once again* the Skaldi.
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Kelsey at Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
I knew I had to get my hands on this one after reading Amy Reed’s fantastic novel Clean. The cover on the ARC I received was different – it featured a guy, and so I was a little sad that it got replaced with the image of the girl because not too many guys are the main subject of the cover when it comes to YA fiction. Anyway, I really enjoyed this one. Amy Reed’s writing is compelling and while harsh, it’s got a lyrical quality to it. She’s clearly not afraid of being brutally honest when it comes to telling a story and gets right into the nitty-gritty, deep-down stuff that we tend to hide or what characters don’t show in many books. That’s what I particularly enjoyed about Damaged and overall it was a great read.
I really loved Clean, so I knew that this one was going to get a similar reaction from me. I didn’t like it as much as Clean, but it was really different from it as well, so I don’t think I can compare the two in terms of subject matter. Sure, this does deal with addiction – not getting past the death of a friend, alcoholism, and such. HOWEVER, unlike the rehab setting that was in Clean, the two characters Kinsey and Hunter take a road trip. I don’t have anything against road trips, but honestly, it’s such a cliché in YA nowadays that it does get annoying. I mean the same thing happens again and again and again. Boy and girl take a road trip, starting with nothing but the need to get away from it all. The relationship at this point is pretty platonic and they often have a character who is missing/dead/etc. who is the reason why they need to get away from where they currently are. Make a few side-stops, showing the touristy-side of a road trip at some not-so-well-known landmarks. They start to fall in love. Something happens, they separate, angry at each other. In the end... who knows, they either stick together or separate it’s a toss-up. I’m not saying that all road trip books are like this, but they tend to have a similar pattern. Damaged followed some of this (I’m not gonna say what) and so yes, the story’s frame was a little cliché, but the other parts were better than I’d expected.
When it came down to Kinsey and Hunter, I seriously couldn’t connect to them. Normally this would annoy me with a book, but I honestly thought that it worked this time. Taking more of an observing role rather than getting into the characters and their emotions made more sense for this one because of the experiences the both of them have had. But I did feel time to time annoyed with the characters because of their actions and their tendency to quickly get mad at each other and shut down completely. The Camille “ghost” parts of the story were the best. I seriously thought that these were the moments when we could possibly connect to Kinsey’s character because she’s more vulnerable and we can see past the mask she wears most of the time.
Both a smooth and rocky road, Damaged was an interesting blend of ghost story meets contemporary road trip. Dark and haunting, Reed scores again with her latest novel. Can’t wait to read more from her!
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Kelsey at Simon & Schuster for sending a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
Of course, when I first saw this book, I was drawn to the cover immediately. THAT TYPOGRAPHY. THAT GLASS. THAT EVERYTHING. When I got the chance to review this book, I swooped at it. I mean, come on, THAT COVER. However, I didn’t know that it was a novel in verse. I haven’t read one in ages, and I love novels written in verse because not only are they really fast to read, but also has a lyrical quality that prose sometimes doesn’t. I took literature in high school, but sometimes I don’t get poetry, but thankfully novels in verse is something that I actually understand. Anyway, Kiss of Broken Glass was an emotional roller coaster. It’s based on the author’s life (her daughter’s experience) and so knowing that it brings to light the shocking reality that this does happen, and it the fact that it happens quite often and even to those at a young age. It’s really sad to read about it for sure, especially since I don’t really know anyone who has gone through the experience, but it’s definitely an eye-opener that I needed to read.
This book really reminded me of Ellen Hopkins’s style of writing. For those of you who don’t know, she writes about teens with problems who find each other at rehab centers, much like how Kenna finds Donya, Skylar and Jag, all in verse. However, the problem I find with verse is that sometimes you can’t get into the character’s head because the words are fleeting and the pace is a lot faster. Descriptions aren’t also in depth, and there’s more interpretation from the reader’s side. However, I could feel like I got Kenna’s character just because there would be certain sections of the novel when it would focus on her character’s feelings.
The characters in this book were great, but other than Kenna, I don’t feel like we as readers get much of a chance to get to know them more. True, the timespan of this book is SUPER short (short book, short timeline), but even then, it would have been nice to learn a teeny bit more about the other characters. Jag especially. Skylar is probably the character other than Kenna that I got to know about, but for a “love interest,” Jag barely had a role. Very little character interaction, I must say. However, maybe that was the point and I just missed it. These experiences are fleeting and short, but the impression they leave on you can last forever. Kenna’s time at the facility was super short but during that 72 hour period, she learned so much more about herself from observing and interacting (a little bit) with those around her.
Kiss of Broken Glass was gorgeous, rhapsodic, and moving– a breathtaking eye-opener that I couldn’t stop reading. Kuderick’s words have the ebb and flow of waves, both smooth and powerful, sucking you into the depths of what truly lies beneath the surface. I look forward to reading more from her in the future.
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Alice at HarperCollins 360 for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more