I was incredibly excited to hear about a new Sarah Dessen book. I'm a big fan of hers and associate her with stories about summer, growing-up and relaI was incredibly excited to hear about a new Sarah Dessen book. I'm a big fan of hers and associate her with stories about summer, growing-up and relationship dramas. 'Saint Anything' ticked two out of three of those boxes. This definitely wasn't my favourite Dessen novel, I think partly because of the characters and partly the storyline itself, but it was still pretty great and dealt with some powerful subjects.
The book starts with the main character Sydney recounting the story of what happened to her older brother Peyton. There's a lot of hero-worship mixed in with new feelings which have surfaced in relation to his behaviour. I could empathise with the situation she felt in and the fact that she believed herself invisible to her parents. They were consumed with trying to help her brother and make sense of his situation and Sydney feels pushed to the side-lines. There's no doubt that she loves Peyton but she understandably also experiences a sense of guilt about the anger she has towards him. The brother-sister bond is one which Dessen explores a lot in this novel and that was one of my favourite elements of the book.
When Sydney starts at a new school, she meets Layla and her brother Mac. Being part of their group, helps Sydney to understand where she fits in and their friendship is the catalyst for her finally starting to get her own life together. I particularly liked Layla, especially the way she takes Sydney under her wing and the way she freely offers her hand in friendship without any strings attached. For some reason and I can't quite put my finger on why, I wasn't as keen on Mac which is a shame because normally I love the male protagonists in Sarah Dessen's books. He had lots of great qualities but I just didn't fall in love with him.
A lot of heavy and serious themes are touched upon in 'Saint Anything' and I thought that these were all explored in such a way as to really make the reader think about what they would do in the same situations. There are no right or wrong answers but it came across that everyone has to do what they personally feel is right, rather than trying to conform to what someone else thinks they should do or how they should act.
Sarah Dessen's books always feature stand-out writing and this was no exception but I found the pace a little slow at times and the romance felt a bit flat. I would still recommend giving this one a go but there are other titles by her that I personally have enjoyed more. ...more
'My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend' is about larger than life Tuesday Cooper who writes a music blog and is obsessed with buying vintage clothing. Through'My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend' is about larger than life Tuesday Cooper who writes a music blog and is obsessed with buying vintage clothing. Through her blog, she comes into contact with rockstar Jackson Griffith and suddenly finds herself with an invite to Glastonbury which lands her at the centre of a media storm.
This was a very funny and entertaining read. It's based on author Eleanor Wood's own experiences and captures the authenticity of a teenager getting the chance to meet someone famous in real life. Tuesday is an extremely unique character and came across as likeable and fun, although she also has a more serious side and isn't really into drinking and clubbing like a lot of other people her age. She's actually quite mature and ditching everything to meet Jackson Griffith is pretty out of character for her.
I liked Tuesday's relationship with her Mum, who treats her more like her equal than as her daughter. They are incredibly close as Tuesday's Dad is not in the picture. This has meant that they have been used to just having each other to rely on. By the end of the book, they have had to adapt their roles which was interesting to see.
This was a quick read which I finished in a couple of hours. I think readers will definitely warm to Tuesday and will identify with several elements of the story, especially the lure of meeting your favourite celebrity and what happens when the bubble bursts. ...more
This is the second book by Donna Cooner, following on from last year’s debut ‘Skinny’. I wasn’t a huge fan of the latter but I’m pleased to say that IThis is the second book by Donna Cooner, following on from last year’s debut ‘Skinny’. I wasn’t a huge fan of the latter but I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed ‘Can’t Look Away’ a lot more.
The story centres around teenager Torrey, known as Beautystar215 – a popular vlogger for beauty and fashion news, who is used to living out her highs on peoples’ computer screens. After her younger sister is killed in an accident, she and her parents move to a new town for a fresh start. Although she no longer has to face her old friends, she does have to face the online comments that she just can’t run from.
Dealing with themes of bereavement and loss, plus the grief of having to go on living without someone you love, this book packs an emotional punch. It’s hard to imagine life after the loss of a sibling and I thought Donna Cooner did an excellent job of portraying Torrey’s feelings and emotions and her struggle to make sense of her relationship with her sister. Torrey and her parents relationship has also been fractured by events, but I enjoyed seeing them gradually start to come together and live again.
Torrey begins to make new friends in her town and local boy Luis becomes a key figure in helping her to learn about death and the on-going struggle of living with loss. Torrey and Luis’s friendship was one of my favourite things about the book. They at first appear to be complete opposites but they are brought together by a common bond and eventually learn a lot from each other.
The book also contains an important message about appreciating your real, rather than your virtual life, as well as the people you have around you on a day to day basis. Torrey spent so much time online that she seemed to have forgotten about everything else around her but this is something that is put into perspective by events in the story.
I really enjoyed ‘Can’t Look Away’ and I would recommend it if you are looking for an emotional and moving teen read. In my opinion, it is Donna Conner's best book so far. ...more
'Finding Audrey' is Sophie Kinsella's first young-adult novel. I love all of her other books, especially the Shopaholic series, so I knew immediately'Finding Audrey' is Sophie Kinsella's first young-adult novel. I love all of her other books, especially the Shopaholic series, so I knew immediately that I wanted to read this title. I wasn't sure what to expect, as I didn't know a lot about the subject matter but I ended up thoroughly enjoying it and laughing a lot as I was reading it too.
Wonderfully funny and heart-warming, the story centres around fourteen year old Audrey. Audrey is a fantastic character who I instantly liked. We learn throughout the course of the book that she is suffering from social anxiety disorder after an incident at her school. She can't leave the house, she wears dark glasses all the time and she struggles to make eye contact or even to talk to people she doesn't know. All in all, she is finding things hard going and is struggling to get her life back on track. I actually don't think I've read a book before which deals with this subject matter. I thought that Sophie Kinsella did a great job of portraying Audrey's emotions and feelings and I felt much more informed about the disorder itself and the effect it can have.
Audrey's family are absolutely brilliant. I adored her computer mad brother Frank and I loved the constant battle her Mum has to separate Frank and his beloved computer games. She certainly goes to some extreme lengths but it's always clear that she is doing it because she wants the best for him. Audrey's Mum is quite a larger than life character in the book and is often at the centre of some of the funniest moments in the book. Ultimately, you can see what a close knit family they are and the subtle ways that they are there to support each other.
Frank's friend Linus also helps Audrey to face the world again and I enjoyed seeing the progress that she makes to try and overcome the emotions that she is struggling with. By the end of the story she has undergone a lot of positive changes. Her message is one about facing life's ups and downs and trying to always have the courage to deal with the good and the bad. It's an uplifting story which teaches us to the importance of living without fear. ...more
I've read nearly all of Lauren Oliver's books now but so far none of them have totally bowled me over. I thought 'Vanishing Girls' might have been theI've read nearly all of Lauren Oliver's books now but so far none of them have totally bowled me over. I thought 'Vanishing Girls' might have been the one to change that but although it was a good read and at times quite gripping, it wasn't one which would have kept me up all night reading to get to the bottom of the mystery.
The story is about sisters Dara and Nick and the deterioration of their sibling relationship. The story is told in Before and After chapters, following a car accident involving the two of them. You know that something else has happened to drive a wedge between them but you don't know what. It's a case of trying to read between the lines. Nick has always been the responsible older sister, so when Dara disappears on her birthday, Nick is determined to find her and fix their fractured bond.
Touted as a psychological thriller, I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't guessed the big twist very early on in the story. I think this is a device which has been used so often now that it wasn't a particularly big surprise. It was still incredibly well done but the element of tension and suspense was missing for me.
I also didn't like the narrative structure of the book. I found it quite fragmented and jumpy with two time frames and two characters sharing their perspectives and thoughts. I normally prefer more of a linear storyline so this took a bit more getting used to.
I really wanted to like this title more than I did but it was too predictable and overall I didn't connect with the characters enough to feel invested in them and their situation. There's no doubt that the writing itself was excellent but for me, I felt like there was definitely something lacking. ...more
'What If' is a wonderfully captivating book which will touch your heart and make you treasure life and each and every step you take on your journey. T'What If' is a wonderfully captivating book which will touch your heart and make you treasure life and each and every step you take on your journey. The book's message is about living life to the full and living the life you want. This really resonated with me and made me want to be more bold and carefree and to appreciate happiness, rather than waiting for happy to come along.
A young-adult standalone from Rebecca Donovan, author of the Breathing trilogy, I have been waiting to read this book ever since I first heard about it. I now want to recommend it to everyone for the very positive message it contains, as well as for it being such a fantastic contemporary read. It made me laugh, smile and cry. It tugged at my heartstrings and had me reading long into the night.
It has an intricately layered narrative structure which took a bit of getting used to. It switches narrators and the time frame jumps backwards a lot but it was so cleverly executed that I soon found myself not taking much notice of this. Plus, the events that the story takes us back to are extremely central to the plot and the motivations and actions of the characters.
The characters themselves are warm and real and flawed and really leap off the page. There's Cal, the main narrator of the story, along with childhood friends Rae, Richelle and Nicole. I'm not always so keen on male narrators, but I grew to like Cal immediately and I think Rebecca Donovan wrote him exceptionally well. Cal is at college when he meets Nyelle Preston - a girl who looks exactly like Nicole but acts in a completely different way. Their personalities are polar opposites. I don't want to say anything else about the plot except to say that this is a story you will want to puzzle out on your own. It has a surprising twist at the end but it's a treat to try and unravel.
'What If' is a brilliant romance that will make you question your actions and the what ifs of your own life. Gorgeously written, it will take you on an incredible journey that you will not want to miss. ...more
'Dangerous Boys' is the first book I've read by Abigail Haas. It is a psychological thriller with a sinister undertone which I found really creepy and'Dangerous Boys' is the first book I've read by Abigail Haas. It is a psychological thriller with a sinister undertone which I found really creepy and quite disturbing. If you are a fan of stories like 'Before I Go to Sleep' by SJ Watson then you'll enjoy this book.
The plot revolves around the main character Chloe and the two boys in her life, brothers Ethan and Oliver. It opens with a mystery surrounding them and sets up the intrigue from the reader from the very beginning. It's key to remember however that nothing is what it seems in this book and that the characters and the story will seriously test your sense of judgement. By the end, everything I had thought was completely turned on its head.
Chloe is desperate to escape her small town home and university seems like her ticket on to a better and brighter future. Everything seems set until her mother begins to crack up and her father disappears from the picture. It's up to Chloe to hold everything together as she begins to see all of her dreams going up in smoke. That is until she meets Ethan and his older brother Oliver and suddenly everything she thought she knew about herself begins to change. I wasn't particularly a huge fan of any of the main characters in the book but I enjoyed the way in which Abigail Haas explored the darker side of their personalities and relationships. Love, jealousy and deceit are all prominent themes and each influences the decisions that the characters make.
The narrative switches back and forth throughout the book between Then and Now, the story unfolding gradually, layer by layer, as secrets and truths come to light. I enjoyed all the twists and turns, although it's quite dark and pretty sinister and really made me shudder at times.
'Dangerous Boys' was a real page turner which made for a compulsive read. I couldn't put it down even when I was stunned and shocked by each new twist in the tale. ...more
Gayle Forman books are always deeply moving and emotional, reflecting on the ups and downs of the choices we make in life. 'I Was Here' was no exceptiGayle Forman books are always deeply moving and emotional, reflecting on the ups and downs of the choices we make in life. 'I Was Here' was no exception. A dark and serious story dealing with some strong themes, such as teen suicide, mental illness and self-harm, it was a difficult read at times. There are moments of light and hope but overall I found it pretty hard-going in places. I had to put the book down a couple of times and then start again when I'd composed myself.
Cody's best friend Meg commits suicide. Cody wants to know why and struggles to understand why she knew nothing about Meg's thoughts prior to her death. Gradually she begins to unravel the truth about the best friend she thought she knew so much about, discovering a side to Meg that was previously hidden. I liked the realism of friends being split up by the university experience. We got to see how Cody felt about being left behind, as well as how it must have been hard for Meg having to try to build a new circle of friends, while dealing with the ups and downs of university life.
I would have liked to have felt more connected to the character of Cody but the whole plot is so centred around her trying to find out about Meg that at times, I felt like I didn't wholly understand Cody herself. She is desperate to find out the truth but I wasn't wholly convinced about the eventual outcome of this part of the story.
There is some romance in the book but this seemed to take a backseat to other aspects of the story and I didn't feel invested in it at all. In fact, I would have been quite happy if it had been stripped away.
Sensitively written, 'I Was Here' addresses topics which will resonate with teen readers. Although it wasn't my favourite Gayle Forman book, I took a lot of positive messages away from it and will be looking out for more from her in the future. ...more
This is the fourth Sarah Crossan book I've read and it reminded me most of 'The Weight of Water' in the way that the main character Apple, expresses hThis is the fourth Sarah Crossan book I've read and it reminded me most of 'The Weight of Water' in the way that the main character Apple, expresses her inner feelings and emotions through the poetry that she writes.
The story is about thirteen year old Apple who lives with her Nana but longs for her mother, who left her when she was young, to return. When her hopes are answered, she believes that she and her mother can rebuild their relationship but things don't turn out to be quite so simple. The idealistic picture of her mother that she has built up in her head is far from reality and as much as she tries to pretend otherwise, her life starts to spiral out of control.
There are many of Apple's poems throughout the book and they are really beautiful. They reflect the tumultuous nature of her relationship with her family. She has a real gift for words and I enjoyed reading these immensely. Through her poems she can begin to explore her feelings of anger, disappointment and sadness which she has bottled up for such a long time.
I thought that the story was very moving and touching and perfectly explores the bonds that are formed between family and friends. Things don't always work out the way we want them to but that's okay because life always has ups and downs. The bumps in the road will always be there but with the help of those who love us, it's possible to overcome them and come out the other side in one piece.
'Apple and Rain' is a brilliant contemporary read by a British author who has a talent for wringing every drop of emotion out of you. Have your tissues ready! ...more
With the Great British Sewing Bee back on UK TV screens, this book has arrived at just the right time. Following in the footsteps of last year's 'LoveWith the Great British Sewing Bee back on UK TV screens, this book has arrived at just the right time. Following in the footsteps of last year's 'Love, Lies and Lemon Pies' (which was one of my favourite titles of 2014), Katy Cannon's new book focuses on Grace, one of the members of Bake Club, as she deals with family issues, drama club and a love/hate relationship with new boy Connor.
Grace wasn't my favourite character in the first book, so I was a little nervous about the thought of her getting her own story. However, I need not have worried because I was very pleasantly surprised about her character development and the way we get to see what really makes her tick. One of the things I like about Katy's books is that she really gets beneath the skin of a person and shows you not to have pre-conceived ideas about people because they will always end up surprising you.
The sparks between Grace and Connor mirror those of Beatrice and Benedict in the Shakespeare production of Much Ado About Nothing that the school is putting on. I enjoyed the way in which they don't particularly like each other at first but gradually learn more about the other person and Grace especially, steps up and proves all of her doubters wrong.
It was brilliant getting to see the rest of the gang too. I loved the bits with Lottie and Mac and I'm hoping that the next book might be about the ever wonderful Jasper.
In the last book, we had lots of fab recipes to follow and this time it's sewing tasks which appear at the start of each chapter. I can sew a little bit but these made me want to pick up my sewing basket again and get started on a new project. I think other readers will love these too and it's a nice way to encourage people to have a go.
Sweet and wonderfully written, this is UK YA at it's very best. Katy Cannon has made a life long fan of me! ...more
Since You’ve Been Gone’ is Morgan Matson’s third book and focuses on the friendship between Emily and her best friend Sloane. The two of them have madSince You’ve Been Gone’ is Morgan Matson’s third book and focuses on the friendship between Emily and her best friend Sloane. The two of them have made all kinds of plans about how they are going to spend their summer together but when Sloane and her family disappear, Emily doesn't know what to do. She struggles to know who she is and how she fits in. What I liked about this book is that I could really identify with the character of Emily. She’s quite shy and reserved and she relies on Sloane always taking the lead. That way she never has to take risks or do anything outside of her comfort zone without first knowing that she has someone with her to take the first step. A lot of the story is about Emily learning who she wants to be and developing her own personality outside of being known as ‘Sloane’s friend’. That can be a difficult thing to do but I loved the fact that she is pushed to be brave and daring and find her own feet.
I have to say that when I started reading this book I thought there was going to be a more complicated explanation for what had happened to Sloane. I thought she might even have died! It was only when I got to about the mid-way point that I realised that Sloane didn’t actually matter a huge amount to the story. It’s Emily's own personal development which lies at the heart of the book.
Sloane leaves Emily a list which she spends her summer working her way through. Each item on the list challenges her in different ways but also brings her closer to a whole new set of friends, which she wouldn’t have made if she’d been stuck to Sloane’s side the whole time. One of these people is Frank who is sweet and funny but already has a girlfriend. I’ll admit that I wasn’t too sure about Frank to start with but he grew on me over the course of the book and by the end he’d totally won me over.
This book was quite long but don't let that put you off because it's a sweet, summer read about growing-up and finding your place with people who understand you and let you be the person you're meant to be. If you love contemporary YA then I recommend you read this title which I ended up really enjoying. ...more
This is the first YA novel by author Paige Toon, who already has a successful adult following. I haven't read any of her previous books, but many of tThis is the first YA novel by author Paige Toon, who already has a successful adult following. I haven't read any of her previous books, but many of the characters pop-up in the story which centres around Jessie Jefferson, daughter of the rock star Johnny Jefferson.
Jessie is fifteen years old and her whole life changes when her mother dies and she discovers that her biological father is a famous musician. I'll admit that I wasn't too sure about her character at the start, as she seemed quite immature and childish but she definitely grew on me throughout the story and I could eventually see that underneath her tough exterior she just wants to fit in and be part of a family. Life hasn't always been kind to her but when she flies out to Los Angeles to meet Johnny and her half-siblings, she has a chance at building new relationships and making new friends. It was nice to see Jessie gradually getting to know her Dad and I thought her new little brothers were very sweet.
Both Johnny and his wife Meg have featured in Paige's other books so I didn't know about some of their history together. This really didn't matter as many of the gaps were filled in but it has made me want to go and read some of her earlier titles about the couple now.
'The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson' was a quick and easy read which swept me away to sunnier climes. It's the perfect book to cheer you up during a dark and dismal winter and although I thought it was a bit predictable at times, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more about Jessie in the next in the series which will be published during spring 2015. ...more
One of the things I like about Cat Clarke books is that they always make me question my own opinions. I may not always feel comfortable with some of tOne of the things I like about Cat Clarke books is that they always make me question my own opinions. I may not always feel comfortable with some of the scenarios and situations she puts her characters in but I think that's a good thing because Clarke often shows that things are not always as clear cut as they may first appear to be and this makes you think twice about your own feelings and standpoint.
'A Kiss in the Dark' throws up a lot of questions about identity which will resonate with teen readers. At a time when a lot of young people are just starting to work out who they are and who they want to be, I think the character of Alex is one that readers will find some sympathy for. A question mark hangs over many of the decisions that Alex makes throughout the story - were these made intentionally or unintentionally and this is something that I thought a lot about as I was reading. I have to admit that I still wasn't entirely sure of how I felt about things by the end of the book.
Based on a real life set of events, I'm going to avoid talking about the storyline at all because there is the potential to accidentally reveal a huge spoiler. Although this is revealed after only a few chapters, it is one that completely took me by surprise and turned everything on it's head. I can't imagine anyone would be able to guess what happens. This secret forms the structure of the book which is split into a before and after the reveal.
Although 'A Kiss in the Dark' isn't my favourite Cat Clarke book, I still thought it was an extremely thought-provoking read which was brilliantly written and absolutely fascinating in terms of the very different storyline. ...more
'All Fall Down' is the first in a brand new series from the author of the Gallagher Girls books. This was one of my most hotly anticipated titles of t'All Fall Down' is the first in a brand new series from the author of the Gallagher Girls books. This was one of my most hotly anticipated titles of the year and it did not disappoint. Like all of Ally Carter's books, it was fast-paced, suspense driven and exciting with a typically plucky female protagonist and a whole cast of other fab characters. I really loved it and I can't wait for the next book in the Embassy Row series.
The story centres around teenager Grace who goes to live with her Grandfather in the US Embassy, based in Adria. Grace is haunted by the death of her mother three years before and vehemently believes that she was murdered, rather than having died accidentally in a fire. No one will believe her, so she sets out to prove them wrong.
I really loved Grace. Ally Carter's characters are always fantastic but I clicked with Grace from the very beginning. She is driven, brave and isn't afraid to take risks. She is not someone who will give up easily and she is undeterred by the people around her who are trying to stop her from pursuing her mother's death. Her single-minded mission is dangerous but Grace seems to thrive on getting herself out of sticky spots.
There is a great cast of secondary characters in the story too. Megan, her new best friend Noah and Rosie were all brilliant. It reminded me of the Gallagher Girls series where they all come together to watch each other's backs and protect one another. I desperately want to see more of Alexei too, the Russian boy next door, who could be a potential love interest. He came across as pretty mysterious, so I'm looking forward to a few of his secrets being spilled.
I thought the setting was very unique too with the story taking place in and out of a whole row of international embassies. The plot was fantastic and there were lots of twists and turns which kept me on my toes. A mega twist and a big reveal at the end, left me in no doubt that I would be grabbing the second book as soon as it's published. ...more
Sarah Alderson is one of my favourite authors so it's a big event when she has a new book out! Her stories are always varied and different and her wriSarah Alderson is one of my favourite authors so it's a big event when she has a new book out! Her stories are always varied and different and her writing remains top quality from start to finish. I couldn't wait to get my hands on 'Out of Control' and when I did I devoured it in one sitting.
The story is set in one of my favourite places, New York and features Liva and Jay as they go on the run and try to outwit and outrun the men who are chasing them. With no idea why they are being hunted, they can't trust anyone as they flee police custody and try desperately to stay alive. The big question is who wants them and why?
The opening of the book has to be one of the best that I've ever read. Sarah Alderson has said that it's based on one of her favourite movies Terminator and it certainly grabbed me and had me absolutely hooked and on the edge of my seat. Explosive, action packed, tense and exciting, it set the scene for the rest of the story and laced everything with an element of real danger. I also enjoyed trying to puzzle out why someone would want to capture a teenage girl and although I had a few theories, none of them were correct. The big reveal when it came was therefore absolutely gripping and totally surprising.
There is some romance in the book between Liva and Jay but this develops slowly, as they have little time for flirting. There are some spine tingling scenes between them but for once I liked the fact that the romance took a backseat to the main plot and to the action driven scenes which dominated the book. I don't think it would have worked if it had been the other way around.
The ending of 'Out of Control' was awesome and so tense that I couldn't put it down. This is Sarah Alderson at her very best and was a five star read which I will definitely be recommending.
Being a big fan of Lee Monroe's Dark Heart trilogy, I was excited to see that she had a new book out. Rather than focusing on the paranormal, 'Love isBeing a big fan of Lee Monroe's Dark Heart trilogy, I was excited to see that she had a new book out. Rather than focusing on the paranormal, 'Love is a Number' is a contemporary young-adult story about two teenagers whose lives are set on a collision course due to a series of unexpected events. I was expecting something different to Monroe's previous work and that's exactly what I got.
The narrative alternates between the two main characters: Eloise or Lo as she is known and Daniel. We find out at the beginning of the story that Eloise's boyfriend Huck has died. She is trying to pick up the pieces of her life again but can't seem to dig herself out of the depression that she's sunk into following her loss. I kind of had a love/hate relationship with Eloise. I sympathised with her predicament and the difficult time she was going through, but as I began to learn more about her I didn't particularly like what I discovered. She has allowed herself to be steered through life by her mother who goes as far as to choose her clothes and who she should be friends with, but up until this point she hasn't ever really stood up for herself. It was nice to see her gradually becoming more independent and doing what she feels is right rather than what people tell her to do.
Daniel is in Spain and trying to open himself up to new experiences before he starts university. I thought he was a great character and had a very appealing personality. As he begins to mature as a person, so many good qualities about him shone through and I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters which centred around him and his journey.
I did think that the story was a little bit predictable at times. It was slow to start but it picked up in the second half when I became more engrossed in the events surrounding the characters. It's not hugely heavy on romance but is more about finding yourself and making true friendships which will last through life.
Although this is probably a book that I wouldn't pick up to read again, it was still a nice, sweet read which will appeal to fans of contemporary YA. ...more