I have to start this review by saying a massive thank you to Keris Stainton for sending me her book for review even before the proof copies had been p...moreI have to start this review by saying a massive thank you to Keris Stainton for sending me her book for review even before the proof copies had been printed! (The book isn't due for publication until 7 June 2011!) Thank you, I was so thrilled to read it :)
Jessie Hearts NYC was such a fun book to read. I adore books set in NYC anyway, but the way in which Keris creates such a romantic atmosphere within the pages of her book with the many references to some of my favourite rom-coms such as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle plus the many, many almost-meetings between Jessie and Finn made my heart beat quicker in anticipation!
Because New York City IS a big place, how on earth are two people meant to meet and fall in love? Jessie Hearts NYC is written in a dual-perspective. There's Jessie, teenager from England who arrived in New York with her best friend in tow, prepared to live with her mom for the summer holidays. Jessie's hoping that this trip will cure her of any leftover ickiness of her ex-boyfriend. Perhaps the perfect somebody to help her get over him is the yummy Ben that works in the play Jessie's mum wrote. And there's also Finn, who at the same time as juggling the guilt he feels for fancying his best friend's girlfriend, he must also decide if he really wants to head down the career path his father has laid out for him.
I love all of the characters in this book so much! Jessie is such a breath of fresh air, she has so much enthusiasm for New York City, to see all the sights and to make the most of her experience there. It really, truly makes me want to visit NYC again and do a Jessie tour, follow in her footsteps and see the city the way that she saw it. I'd like to visit the Empire State Building again and look at it from an architectural point of view, like Finn's. I'd just love to see the city again, from a new perspective.
And I adored the friendships that Jessie and Finn have. Their two best friends, Emma and Scott are wonderful. Supportive and comfortable with each other, I'd really love to have such a close friend like these two when things start going wrong. I think this book has a very realistic outlook on crushes and relationships, but it takes a bit of time for all of the characters to reach that place, and an excellent best friend like Emma and Scott are perfect in these roles.
Also, part of the reason that I loved Jessie Hearts NYC so much is, for me, how close to home things started getting with the tenuous relationship that Jessie has with her distant mother. I thought it was an interesting aspect of the storyline and there are so many things that have been left unspoken between the two, resentments and bitterness that Jessie has been holding onto. It really touched something inside of me.
The characters, the setting, how romantic it is, the relationships - everything about this book very real to me and I finished it with a huge smile on my face! Jessie and Finn are pretty high on the adorable factor - Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton is so sweet and romantic, it really is a book not to miss!(less)
Here's a book that I really loved. I flew through Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott, desperate to find out how it would end. It was really addictive...moreHere's a book that I really loved. I flew through Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott, desperate to find out how it would end. It was really addictive reading for me, especially as it gave such a new and strong outlook on the Cinderella story. I loved the setting (a fantasy world similar to feudal Japan), Suzume's character, from her magical abilities to her vulnerability and especially her relationship with the beautiful and honourable Otieno (who is utterly swoon-worthy!).
Shadows on the Moon is a retelling of the fairy tale of Cinderella. I felt there were enough of the original story for it to be recognisable as such but also that there are enough differences to make this uniquely Zoe Marriott's own creation. The added elements to the story really blew me away. I really thought that the story really lends itself to be told in a magical Japan. I really loved every detail, from the way in which people dressed to life at court. And we see a great deal of the different area of life as Suzume transitions from happy farm girl to that of a noble daughter, followed by life as a kitchen drudge and to finally a beautiful courtesan.
It begins with Suzume as a young girl. She's playing happily with her cousin when officers storm her home, killing both her father and her cousin. Desperate to flee and save herself, Suzume ends up hiding in the kitchen amongst the ash. There, a servant, Youta, helps her to hide until Suzume's mother returns and it is safe. The trauma of witnessing the deaths of the people closest to Suzume has a really profound effect on her. It doesn't help that Suzume's mother refuses to speak of them and Suzume must hide her feelings and she must mourn privately and without the support of her only living relative. Suzume becomes quite depressed and begins to self-harm in an attempt at expressing some of her overwhelming emotions - of the grief of her loved ones, of her confusion and anger towards her mother, who quickly remarries.
But Suzume is strong, and is able to adapt, even when she learns a terrible secret and must abandon the life she knows to become a servant. And then again later, she must adjust again when she must flee her home for fear of her life. I thought the relationship between Suzume and her mother was wonderfully done, the complexity of that relationship was heart-breaking and very realistic to me. There's a selfishness to Suzume's mother that made me incredibly angry, especially when she stands by the cruelty of her husband and becomes complacent to his terrible deeds in order to protect her position and standing. I love it when an author writes so well that it makes me loathe a character so utterly as I did with Suzume's mother and of her new husband.
I also loved how Suzume's magical ability is shown gradually and how Suzume uses this gift in order to hide the emotions from her face while surrounded by her cold and distant mother and her vile and ruthless step-father. But once this terrible secret is uncovered however, Suzume makes it her life's purpose to avenge her father and cousin's death, using her shadow-weaving ability to make other changes in her life besides a neutral expression. She hatches a bigger and more elaborate plan involving the prince and the Shadow Ball.
And amidst Suzume's grief, and her obsession with revenge, the character of Otieno brings such hope and light to this story. I absolutely adore Otieno. There's just something very open and good about Otieno. I was completely won over by him from the first mention of him and description of his good lucks and his tattoos. Suzume and Otieno have one of these really powerful emotional connections and despite Suzume's changing position in society, they continue to cross paths and be drawn to each other. But even this love will not stand in the way of Suzume's mission. She is determined to sacrifice everything in order to attend the Shadow Ball and attract the eye of the Prince, even if that means giving up on love and her freedom.
I really and truly loved Shadows on the Moon. I love that even though Suzume has been rather unlucky with her mother and her step-father, she has gathered to her close friends, such as Youta and Akira who go above and beyond in their affection and their love for Suzume. I loved reading such a wonderful character as Suzume as she deals with her grief and her depression the only way she knows how. I think books that handle such topics of self-harm in such an open way are a much needed addition to the YA market. I love the subtle though quite kick-ass magical skills that Suzume possesses and that though there is wonderful and endearing romantic relationship, it isn't with the prince and that Suzume really doesn't make romance her number one priority.
This book is such a joy to read. It comes highly, highly recommended by me for lovers of Japanese culture, of fairy tale retellings, of strong female characters and of wonderful storytelling. (less)
Anything To Have You by Paige Harbison is not being published here in the UK until February of 2014, but I just couldn't wait to read it. It sounded r...moreAnything To Have You by Paige Harbison is not being published here in the UK until February of 2014, but I just couldn't wait to read it. It sounded really good - the story of two friends who are torn apart over a boy.
And Anything To Have You started off really well. I had high hopes that it would be a story with characters and relationships and situations that I'd really fall for. I can't really work out where this book went wrong but I did finish it feeling a little bit flat. While it is an interesting concept, at times, I felt like the non-linear narrative and the lack emotional highs distracted me from really connecting to this story.
Natalie and Brooke have been friends forever. Brooke is the popular, party-going girl and Natalie is her quiet and studious friend who is more comfortable curled at home with a movie. When Brooke convinces Natalie to come to a party things start to unravel. Because Natalie wakes up having not remembered a large portion of the previous evening ... and she wakes up in bed next to Aide, Brooke's boyfriend.
Two boys fighting over a boy isn't a new concept for a book and as it should be, a lot of the narrative is focused on the strength (and cracks that have appeared!) of the friendship between two girls. The story is told in five parts, alternating between Natalie and Brooke's point of view and jumping backwards and forwards in time in order to share key scenes in Brooke's relationship with Aiden and of the friendship between Natalie and Brooke.
I really liked Natalie and Aiden's characters. I thought they were nice and friendly and relateable and it is quite easy to tell how much they care for one another. It took longer to warm to Brooke because of her sometimes selfish and self-obsessed behaviours. And I liked that the mystery of what happened between Aiden and Natalie took awhile to be revealed. Like I said though, the jumps in time between junior and senior year and the change in perspective between Brooke and Natalie made me lose the flow and emotional build-up and that meant that big reveals that should have been more shocking or emotional didn't quite work.
I do love that Paige Harbison took things to a darker more mature place with this book - drugs, sex, alcohol, everything else. Even though I only rated this book three stars there is still quite a lot of promise there and I will still look out for future books by Paige Harbison! (less)
Far From Home by Na'ima B. Robert was a real joy to read. I don't have very much experience or knowledge of the political turmoil that Zimbabwe has fa...moreFar From Home by Na'ima B. Robert was a real joy to read. I don't have very much experience or knowledge of the political turmoil that Zimbabwe has faced, both with colonialism and with reclaiming their independence, but I am always fascinated when authors have the ability to tell a good story, fill it with such emotion as well as educate me in a very subtle manner.
I was lucky enough to read Na'ima B. Robert's previous books for a YA audience last year and loved the gentle nature of them and how very different both Boy Vs. Girl and From Somalia, With Love are to anything else I'd read previously. And while Far From Home is different in tone and structure to her previous books, it is still writtten in a very engaging and emotional voice and I fell into the story very easily.
Far From Home is split into three parts with two different narrators. Tariro and Katie are two very different girls both living in Zimbabwe. Through the eyes of both girls we are able to see the changing landscape of Zimbabwe, from the time of British colonialism to after Independence.
Tariro's account of her life before the white settlers has arrived is quite beautiful. She loves her family and her way of life. She loves the land and the old baobab tree that sits on her family's land. She has everything in front of her, with her recent engagement to childhood sweetheart, Nhamo. But it is not be, for the white soldiers who have moved in have other plans for the people and for this land. Despite some resistance, the dignity of Tariro and her family and community is slowly stripped as each thing that they hold dear is stripped from them, from their land, their homes, and finally their freedom.
It's quite difficult to read some sections of this book - Tariro and her family must live through such tragic events. There's such cruelty and inhumane treatment. It's heartbreaking to read of the suffering of these people but despite it all, inside Tariro still burns with hope and the strength to endure.
While I didn't feel as emotionally connected to Katie's story or to her outlook on her and her family's way of life, I was able to understand a bit how things had reached such a point. And despite how unsympathetic I felt Katie is as a character, I was still entirely gripped by the story to continue reading and to find out what possible outcome or connection there are between these two girls.
I think Far From Home is an incredible story, filled with so much heart and hope. I really no idea that such atrocities had occurred and I'm very glad to have had my eyes opened to this time of turmoil in Zimbabwe's history. Highly recommended. (less)
I'm still struggling with the double standards. And it annoys me that relationships with boys is America's priority above over everything else.
Still,...moreI'm still struggling with the double standards. And it annoys me that relationships with boys is America's priority above over everything else.
Still, I read the book in a day, which must say something about the book. Full review:
There's something a little bit exciting about this series. Despite having issues with some of the rules and relationships involved, I was still really excited to read the next book in the Selection series, The Elite by Kiera Cass. Because despite how much I'll grumble about how relationship-focused this dystopian series is, I still read both The Selection and The Elite within a day and I'm still looking forward to finding out how everything will turn out!
The Elite picks up shortly after the end of The Selection. Thirty five girls were chosen as potential brides to Prince Maxon and now only six remain, America included. And America is still pretty uncertain if she really wants to remain in the capital and be part of this process. And America goes back and forth about this decision throughout The Elite. Not only does America question her feelings for Maxon (and her ex-boyfriend Aspen) but she's also not sure if she's princess material or if she could handle making difficult decisions that would be best for the entire country. Being in the castle and being attacked by rebel forces is bad enough, but there's an attack a bit closer to home and perpetuated by somebody that she cares about that leaves America reeling. And to make things more interesting, America no longer remains Maxon's favourite as he has chosen another that he spends a great deal of time with.
There were plenty of times where I felt more than a bit frustrated by America in this book. She makes up her mind that no, she's not prepared to go any farther with this contest but then she allows Maxon to convince her otherwise very easily even when Maxon does things that goes again America's sense of morality. She sways between Aspen and Maxon a bit too readily for me. I want her to wake up one morning and realise that she no longer has to define herself and her life in relation to who she might end up with romantically. Instead of her picturing her future as either Prince Maxon's wife or Aspen's wife, I'd like her to picture herself as a strong individual who is capable of chaning things and influencing those around her in a positive way and in such a way that doesn't have to compromise her ideals or her feelings. I want that for you, America. Don't settle for somebody who doesn't stand up for what's right and certainly don't settle for somebody who chooses to keep his multiple relationships open-ended just in case but doesn't allow for anyone else to do the same. You deserve a level playing field.
What I really want to see from this series is a move away from the relationship drama including America, Aspen, Maxon and at least two other girls from The Selection. I get it, she fancies both men and he's not satisfied with just the one girl either but let's move on. What I'd like to see now are more of the perspectives of the rebels fighting against Maxon's authority. More of the history behind this government and the different caste systems was uncovered during this book, what will America do with this information? Time to make a choice that's more important than this evening's dress or who is deserving of kisses. I want to see how change and revolutions happens. Bring it. (less)
Wow. I've not read a book in a long time that's been as exciting and addictive and BRILLIANT as Dive...moreReview originally posted at Fluttering Butterflies
Wow. I've not read a book in a long time that's been as exciting and addictive and BRILLIANT as Divergent by Veronica Roth. I've put off writing this review for a very long time for fear that I wouldn't be able to put my adoration of this book into the right words. I'm not sure there are adequate words to describe how wonderful Divergent is. Really wonderful book, one that still makes me breathless and emotional all these months after reading it. Honestly, when I first finished the book I immediately wanted to turn back to that first page and start all over again. This book is a definite keeper and I will continue recommending it for a very long time.
Not since The Hunger Games has a book blown me away right from the beginning in such a huge way. And in terms of action and emotion and romance, in terms of writing style and the story, I think I prefer Divergent over The Hunger Games. There's just something about Divergent that grabs me right from the start. It made me think and it made me feel and the story has stayed with me for such a long time. This book had a real impact on me and I'm absolutely gasping to read more in the series. I want more! I was more of Tris and Four! I want to know more about the world in which these characters reside. I want more action and adventure, I want answers. Give me more, please.
Divergent shows us a future version of Chicago in which people choose to live within five different factions which honours a specific trait. The factions include Candor (honesty), Abnegation (selflessness), Erudite (knowledge), Amity (peace) and Dauntless (courage). Our story begins with Beatrice Prior who has grown up amongst the selfless Abnegation but has also grown up admiring the brave and fearless Dauntless. So when her turn comes and she is able to choose which faction she will live with, Tris makes the difficult choice of moving away from her family and into the difficult and violent world of the Dauntless.
Things definitely aren't easy in Dauntless. At every turn Tris and the other initiates must compete against each other and themselves to prove their courage. It's brutal and unflinching the tests that Tris and the others endure and it's almost a little unbelieveable how strong of spirit and determination Tris is in order to survive.
I love the world-building that occurs here. I love the different factions and this image of a war-torn Chicago of the future. I love the characters and the difficult situations that Veronica Roth puts her characters in. She isn't afraid to make her readers squirm and be uncomfortable with the things that happen. And at the same time, there is this absolutely fantastic and tense and very emotional romantic relationship that Tris has with the mysterious (and hot!) Four.
I really have nothing but wonderful things to say about this book. Divergent without a doubt in my mind, is one of the best books I've read all year. Very exciting and romantilc and absolutely heart-stopping. Incredible book. (less)
I loved You Don't Know Me by Sophia Bennett so wholly and entirely. And that love starts with the very pretty softly-lit cover and the blue edging on the pages. It's just a very pretty book visually. And that beauty extends to the story within. I love how much this book is about friendship and music and how both of these things help two girls going through a very difficult time, struggling with heartbreak and cyber-bullying.
I've really loved the two previous books by Sophia Bennett that I've read but I think You Don't Know Me is my favourite. It really made me think ... mostly about how there're always more sides to a story. This book centres around this decision made under pressure by a group of girls and it spirals into this horrid display of bullying. Supported by the media and done through social networking sites, text messages as well as name-calling the bullying in this book is quite sad and believable. I could definitely see this happening quite easily and it made me wonder how many times I've possibly contributed to something like this in the same ways.
I think one of the strengths of the book is that You Don't Know Me is told from the perspective of Sasha, the girl who dropped her fat friend on television to further her own chances of winning a talent show. I love that we see Sasha's side of this story and can see how everything isn't as it seems but nobody is really interested in hearing how much Rose's friendship means to Sasha or how the things that happened didn't happen for the reasons that everyone thinks. It's easy to villify someone like Sasha without knowing all the facts.
It wasn't until another character points it out to Sasha how strong she is that I really realised it myself. I love that Sasha made this awful mistake and even though her attempts aren't successful, she does try to apologise to Rose a million times. And in light of the public's perception of her as well as random people on the Internet and her classmates, Sasha still carries on trying to make the best out of a bad situation. All of the details about Sasha's budding song-writing and her attempts at teaching herself the guitar was fascinating to me to read about. I love how she takes all of her feelings about her broken friendship with Rose, about #dropthefatgirl and she puts it all into her music.
There's so much to love about this book. I thought the sweet, almost-there relationship between Sasha and Dan was fantastic. I kept mentally screaming 'kiss her already!' And I loved the seminal leotards and the idea of four happy teenage girls dancing about in feather boas in their bedrooms making music videos before everything hits the fan. I thought there was some excellent information about privacy control on social media sites and I loved Elliot's decisions to manipulate things in favour of Sasha and her bandmates. This book is just right balance of serious and heartbreaking and light and fun. I loved that alongside death threats and horribleness there's also catchy pop-tunes about sunglasses and silly outfits. I really recommend that you pick up this book! (less)
Ooh, the Confessions series is quickly becoming one of my favourite series! I absolutely loved the first book, Confessions of An Angry Girl (in which...moreOoh, the Confessions series is quickly becoming one of my favourite series! I absolutely loved the first book, Confessions of An Angry Girl (in which I realised that I too was an angry girl!) but the sequel, Confessions of An Almost-Girlfriend by Louise Rozett was just more of everything that I loved about the first book! More complicated relationships between Rose and her friends, Rose and her mother and oh, especially Rose and Jamie Forta.
Because this review is of the second book in the series, it may contain spoilers for Confessions of An Angry Girl and if you haven't yet read that book you might want to not read further.
Honestly this book. It broke my heart in so many ways. Rose Zarelli, you have my sympathies. Because really, you just can't catch a break, can you?
At the end of the first book, there's sort-of-maybe a thing going on between Rose and long-time crush/bad boy, Jamie Forta. And there would be all kinds of confusion if that's all that's going on in Rose's life. But of course, it isn't. Because Jamie is mixed up in this thing with the Deladdo family. There's obviously history there with the Deladdos taking in Jamie when he needed it the most and of course he had that thing with Regina which makes everything difficult for Rose as Regina is Rose's archnemesis... I found it interesting in this book how much more we learn about Regina Deladdo and about her little brother, Conrad. My heart goes out to the pair of them but I feel all conflicted about Regina and Conrad because of all the ways in which Rose gets dragged into their drama.
And then of course there's Jamie Forta. There is so much drama between Rose and Jamie. They're just in two very different places right now. And that really makes things difficult for Rose to know where they are as a maybe-couple and she's just constantly confused about how he even feels about her. Theirs is a relationship that is so complicated and my heart definitely wants them to be together ... but ugh.
What I do love more than anything is the strength that Rose possesses. To do what's right and to stand up for others around her despite the negative consequences that she might have to put up with. It's the reason she called an ambulance to a high school party in the first book and it's the reason she stands up for a bullied freshman in this book. I do love that Louise Rozett brought in the story of Matthew Shephard and talked some about awareness and acceptance. The Laramie Project sounds like an amazing and moving thing to be part of. I'm glad of its place in this book.
But aside from that, I just love Rose. She decides to become Rose 2.0 in this book and do things that make her happy and question the things that aren't doing that and I applaud her for that. She messes up and says and does the wrong things sometimes but she tries to learn from those mistakes and make amends and move on and I really admire her for doing so.
I cannot wait to see more of Rose and Jamie Forta and my all-time favourite character, Angelo! My wait for the next book in this series is going to be agonising...(less)
Junk Miles by Liz Reinhardt is the second book in the Brenna Blixen series. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, Double Clutch. I liked the...moreJunk Miles by Liz Reinhardt is the second book in the Brenna Blixen series. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, Double Clutch. I liked the main character, Brenna, and the way in which she struggled between cultures having just returned to the US from living abroad in Denmark, and also how she chose to split her high school schedule across a normal school and a technical college. Her life is further complicated in the first book because she fancies two very different boys - Saxon and Jake. Because Brenna does make a decision about her romantic life at the end of Double Clutch I was worried that subsequent books in the series would take a very dramatic turn in order for there to be continued conflict. I'm happy to report that Junk Miles never took a turn for the silly or over the top dramatics.
In fact, I really liked the way that Junk Miles played out. I found g Brenna's openness and honesty really refreshing and I loved exploring Saxon as a character more. If you haven't read Double Clutch as yet, here is where the spoilers come in. You've been warned!
Brenna chooses to be with Jake over Saxon and at the start of Junk Miles, she's ridiculously happy with Jake and with their relationship. Except that she's really not. And it takes a surprise trip to Paris with her mother (and with bad boy Saxon!) for Brenna to realise that there are aspects of her relationship with Jake that make her feel uncomfortable. And there's still all that pent-up attraction and strong feelings she has for Saxon that Brenna has no idea what do with. So, she breaks up with Jake (over the phone!) and impulsively jumps into a thing with Saxon. There are probably ten billion better options to go for than the choices Brenna makes but I kind of got where she was coming from. The rest of the book sees Brenna dealing with the aftermath of her break-up with Jake, getting to know Saxon better and mulling over what craziness she let in that would explain her behaviour.
Saxon is a wonderful character - obviously good-looking and charming and involved with some suspect things but he's also really vulnerable and sweet. He's really broken up with the state of his family and over the ruined state of his relationship with his former best friend/half-brother, Jake. While I didn't much for his character in Double Clutch in this book my mind was completely changed about his motives and about his feelings for Brenna and Jake.
I do wish things had become better resolved in this book though. I think the resolution and forgiveness of what went down with Jake and Brenna was tied up a bit too neatly and things weren't as properly addressed as I'd have liked them to be. I kept waiting for this big heart-to-heart between Jake and Brenna that just never happened. And I wish more focus had been on running/cycling/motor cross like in the first book. Still. I'm excited to read the next book following Jake, Brenna and Saxon, Slow Twitch. Hopefully the problems I had with Junk Miles will work themselves out in that.
I'm really surprised by how much I've enjoyed this series!(less)
I really enjoyed meeting Bliss and Garrick in Losing It when I read it earlier this year. In fact, I've enjoyed all of Cora Carmack's stories...more3.5 stars
I really enjoyed meeting Bliss and Garrick in Losing It when I read it earlier this year. In fact, I've enjoyed all of Cora Carmack's stories much to my surprise. In this novella, Keeping Her, we are reunited with Bliss and Garrick as they make their way to London in order for Bliss to meet Garrick's parents. Keeping Her was funny and awkward and had lots of steamy moments between Bliss and Garrick. It was easy to read and nice to revisit and spend more time with these characters we'd already fallen for ...
My only issue with the book is that it's too short. And while it brings up issues that are interesting and we are introduced to new characters, there just isn't enough time to explore them. The bulk of the story is of Bliss being nervous about her upcoming in-laws and yes, we do get to see her making a less than favourable first impression and that was endearing. But I would have liked things to have broken the surface a bit more about Garrick's relationships with both of his parents or more about an issue that was brought up towards the end. Everything just seemed to end very suddenly. (less)
My Sweetest Escape by Chelsea M. Cameron is a New Adult book following a similar cast of characters to that of My Favourite Mistake. I remember having...moreMy Sweetest Escape by Chelsea M. Cameron is a New Adult book following a similar cast of characters to that of My Favourite Mistake. I remember having issues with My Favourite Mistake when I read it but nothing major enough for me to not read the sequel. Unfortunately, not many details of the My Favourite Mistake stayed with me and it took far longer than necessary for me to realise that the Hunter and Taylor being mentioned in this book were the two main characters from that book. Whoops.
Let me start with the few niggles that I had with this book. I'm not a huge fan of the 'New adult' label. I really don't think that the label or subcategory is needed at all. Especially in cases such as My Sweetest Escape. The big thing with new adult is supposedly this unique age range in which people are going off to university and making their way in the world that is somehow different and more mature than when younger teenagers find their own identities and so on in high school. I felt like some minor aspects of My Sweetest Escape could have been changed and the entire story could have been told in a high school environment. There wasn't enough of university life or being independent that I felt warranted a new adult label other than mentions of sexual activity.
The second thing I slightly rolled my eyes at was this combination of virgin girl and experienced boy. Why is this ever necessary?! (answer: never.)
My Sweetest Escape tells the story of Jos, a freshman at university who has been forced into switching schools and living in a house with her older sister, Renee and Renee's flatmates - Hunter and Taylor, Paul, Darah and Mason, all characters (I'm assuming as I don't quite remember them all) from My Favourite Mistake. This forced move is down to Jos's partying and wild behaviour following some traumatic event that her friends and family know nothing about. This is another aspect of the story that I found slightly irritating. Jos is 18 and yet Renee treats her like she's ten years younger than she is and continues to treat her like a child even after Jos displays absolutely zero wild or bad behaviour. The mind boggles.
But don't feel as though I absolutely hated the book despite how many criticisms this review contains. There were definitely aspects of the book that I did enjoy. It was interesting to see Jos's friendship forming with a fellow classmate, Hannah and their Buffy watching marathons. I quite enjoyed Jos's relationship with her sister, Renee as well and how much Jos changes from being very closed off at the start and how living with a bunch of caring people who adopt Jos into their 'family' makes her more open.
And while I'd have much preferred to see how much Dusty had changed from his bad boy past to that of his present state, I did think he was quite sweet. There was definitely lots of likeability and personality coming from Dusty and it was nice to see Jos and Dusty trying to resist their attraction to each other. My Sweetest Escape was a very cute and easy contemporary romance to read. I read it very quickly and while I did want it to be more it was still a satisfying read. (less)
I really loved Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell. It was fun and thought-provok...moreThis review will also be posted to my blog, Fluttering Butterflies
I really loved Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell. It was fun and thought-provoking and romantic and very heart-felt. More than anything else, Goodbye, Rebel Blue has inspired me to think more about what things I put my time and effort into, what I'm passionate about, what I'd like on my bucket list, what I'm afraid of and what my truths are. I love a book that makes me think and feel as much as this book. I highly recommend it for that reason alone...
It is a great book though. I really loved Shelley Coriell's previous book, Welcome Caller, This Is Chloe, so I did have pretty high expectations for this book and all of those expectations were met and in some cases exceeded! Plus, I find the cover of this book to be very eye-catching. What a gorgeous blue.
Goodbye, Rebel Blue is the story of Rebecca (nickname: Rebel) who's a bit stand-offish and has an attitude and doesn't really connect with anyone in her life since her artist mother died and she was shipped off to leave with her aunt and uncle and her cousin, Penelope. Since then, she's shut herself off from everyone else. And all of that comes to a head when in detention Rebel meets a girl, Kennedy Green, who dies that same day. In order to atone for some of the guilt that Rebel feels for the way she treated Kennedy, Rebel decides to do all of the things on this dead girl's bucket list. And in doing so, comes to some very important realisations about herself, her friends, her family and what she needs as an individual.
The whole bucket list was pretty fun. Each chapter begins with a kind of jokey bucket list that Rebel writes to pass the time. They're all pretty ridiculous and because of how silly they are, they made me smile with each chapter that I started. Kennedy Green's bucket list, however, is all about doing good for other people. Volunteering with the school's 100 club, daily acts of kindness, planting trees, adopting endangered animals, honouring her dead grandparents. And doing things on Kennedy's bucket list really pushes Rebel in ways that she hadn't been pushed. Rebel really starts off as being slightly unlikeable and brash. But I always really liked Rebel's character. There's a vulnerability in her and you can tell she really struggles to find a place where she fits in after losing her mother and the lifestyle that they had together. Finding a place to belong is something I strive for as well, so I felt really connected to Rebel in that way.
I think what I like the most about Goodbye, Rebel Blue is how much Rebel changes over the course of the book not only in herself but also in her relationships with her family, her friend Macey and with Nate, the popular do-gooder that she slowly falls for. I loved Rebel for putting herself out there in these relationships. Rebel also has some great ideas about fear and truth which seem to go hand-in-hand.
Goodbye, Rebel Blue is filled with pie and turtles and shark teeth and blue hair dye ... but it's also filled with great characters, kindnesses, truth and identity. Someone remarks in the book that certain people come into our lives at certain times because of destiny and sometimes books do too.(less)
I had so much fun reading Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones. I started reading this book and i...moreThis review was originally published at Fluttering Butterflies
I had so much fun reading Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones. I started reading this book and it immediately felt like my heart had been stolen by Wild Boy. He's such a wonderful character and my heart really went out to him.
Wild Boy has lived his entire life separate from other people, never really fitting in or belonging because of the hair that grows all over his body. Because of this, Wild Boy has learned a different way of seeing than everyone else, a way of observing his surroundings that most people don't take in. And these powers of detection come in pretty handy as Wild Boy is accused of murder and is on the run to clear his name...
There is so much to love about this book. Wild Boy as a character wormed his way into my heart very early on in the book, with the way he's always been poorly treated and how all he's ever wanted is for a friend, somebody who doesn't rear back in revulsion at the sight of him. Unfortunately for Wild Boy, he was first abandoned at a work home and then later taken in by the showman of a travelling circus, to be the star attraction in the freak show. It is at the circus when him and his arch-enemy, Clarissa stumble upon a mysterious letter warning of bad things to come that Wild Boy gets into the middle of some pretty dangerous things and sets off to solve this mystery that is unfolding around him and to clear his and Clarissa's names.
I especially loved the mystery that comes with Wild Boy - of the Gentlemen, this powerful machine that is worthy murdering for and also finding out how and why Wild Boy or this circus came to be involved. There were plenty of times where Wild Boy is deciphering clues around him at a crime scene that made him really reminiscent of a young Sherlock Holmes with his powers of deduction. It made me love Wild Boy that much more. With Wild Boy's cleverness and Clarissa's physical ability as an acrobat, they make an amazing crime-solving team. And I wanted to cheer for the pair of them. throughout.
Plus, this book is set in Victorian London and trying to solve these murders and to catch up with this hooded figure takes Wild Boy and Clarissa all through London to some pretty creepy places. Sewers and graveyards and a rather grim anatomy college surrounded by bones and body parts. But everything about it was fascinating and I loved how vividly I was able to see what it might have been like in London in 1841.
Wild Boy is a wonderful book, filled with adventure and mystery and with really great characters. I highly recommend that you read it! (less)
Last year, I read and loved Suzanne LaFleur's Love, Aubrey. In fact, it broke my heart into...moreThis review was originally posted on Fluttering Butterflies
Last year, I read and loved Suzanne LaFleur's Love, Aubrey. In fact, it broke my heart into teeny tiny little pieces. So when I heard of Eight Keys, Suzanne's latest book, I absolutely jumped at the chance to read and review it. There's something so heartbreaking and beautiful about Suzanne LaFleur's writing style and it is no different with this her latest book, Eight Keys.
Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur is the story of Elise, who lives with her aunt and uncle after both of her parents died when she was very little. She and her best friend Franklin love having swordfights and pretending to be knights and catching frogs and doing sciencey things together. But everything seems to change as they both begin middle school.
Elise has to share a locker with the really mean, Amanda, who calls her names and squashes her lunch every day. Amanda makes fun of Elise and her relationship with Franklin, who the other kids think of as slightly strange. And at the same time as this bullying from Amanda, Elise feels under pressure to keep up with the added responsibilities and schoolwork that comes with middle school.
Though Elise has this great support system, with friends like Franklin and her aunt and uncle and a close family friend, Elise doesn't really let anyone around her know how much she's suffering at school or the feeling of dread she feels at the thought of sharing a locker with Amanda. In fact, she pulls away from her only friend, Franklin and really shuts him out. It's only through the letters that her dad wrote to her before he died and the keys which he leaves her that open up mysterious rooms in her barn that help Elise to become more confident in herself to stand up to her bully as well as to appreciate the people in her life, including herself.
I really loved this book. I think bullying is a very important topic to address and that it is incredibly important in those difficult transitions between primary and secondary school like Elise is facing during Eight Keys. There's some really touching and heartfelt moments between Elise and her aunt and uncle that had tears streaming down my face. There's such vulnerability to Elise as she deals with all the emotions and questions and fears that she has about how and where she belongs in the world.
Each new key brings such possibility and excitement as Elise learns more about her family and her personal history. I think the whole concept of the keys and the rooms was brilliant and I felt myself being inspired. I think this is a wonderful book about friendship and family, that touches on sensitive topics and could really help benefit those struggling with self-esteem, bullying or finding a place to belong. Great book, highly recommended. (less)
I was very excited to hear of Darkness Falls by Mia James, the sequel to By Midnight. By Mi...moreThis review was originally posted on Fluttering Butterflies
I was very excited to hear of Darkness Falls by Mia James, the sequel to By Midnight. By Midnight was the first book I finished this year, and I loved the combination of mystery, romance and creep factor involved in the story about an infestation of vampires in this fancy school near Highgate Cemetery. It was thrilling and exciting and I thought it would be a hard book to follow. I'm thrilled to say that if anything, I enjoyed Darkness Falls even more! Don't read any further if you haven't read By Midnight, because there are lots of spoilers straight ahead!
Darkness Falls begins several months after the shocking events of By Midnight. Aprill Dunne has been in hospital and physical therapy recovering from the wounds she recieved during the attack by one of her fellow students. Her father is dead, and her sort-of boyfriend, Gabriel is dying from a disease that April gave him. From all sides, April feels under pressure to solve several major problems - 1) find some important, mythical book which will cure Gabriel of the disease 2) figure out who the Regent is and kill him, thus releasing Gabriel from his vampireness 3) avenge her father's death.
What makes accomplishing these three tasks difficult are many. April's squicked out by her mother possibly already back in the dating scene. The fact that April is surrounded by many vampires and must hide what she is, hide her relationship with Gabriel and pretend to be in with The Faces obviously leads to jealousy issues between April and Gabriel and some serious misunderstandings between April and Caro. And because she has no idea where to start gathering intel on the vampires of this mysterious book, April must jump between thin leads here and there trying to track down any information she can. It sort of felt like a TV crime drama unfolding before my eyes.
And I couldn't take my eyes away from this book. I thought that April was unbelievably selfish and immature during A LOT of the book and I found myself huffing impatiently at quite a lot of her attitude and behaviour, but she is still a teenager and has no idea what she's doing, so I kind of understood. There was plenty of action, both in a scary vampire attacking way as well as kissing, both of which made me happy. I love the whole atmosphere of Highgate Cemetery and Ravenwood Academy. And solving this huge obstacles and figuring out the mysteries surrounding vampires and Ravenwood really kept me on the edge of my seat!
This book is a wonderful sequel, just as filled with mystery and excitement and romance as the first book and I cannot wait to see where this story will go! (less)
There's something really comforting about reading M. L. Welsh's stories. They're so swee...moreThis review was originally published at Fluttering Butterflies
There's something really comforting about reading M. L. Welsh's stories. They're so sweet with a slightly old-fashioned tone to them that just makes me feel very nostalgic. I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that Heart of Stone would be a sequel to Mistress of the Storm, which I read and adored last year. And Heart of Stone was just as brilliant. Gushy review to follow, be warned!
I absolutely adore the main character, Verity Gallant and how tough she is. In the previous book, it was up to her to stand against evil and whilst all she really wants is to have a happy ending and enjoy her time with her friends and her family and to sail, it is not to be. With some odd things going on in Wellow, with the earth moving and white sand covering everything, Verity begins to suspect that these events could also explain the lack of sleep and bad dreams that she's been having. It is the start of this new adventure as Verity and the others start researching the Original stories and begin their fight against this powerful force which wants an end to happiness!
I also love Verity's friendships with Henry and Martha. I wish I had friends like Henry and Martha, though of course, the three have their problems and issues to work out in Heart of Stone. Despite any jealousies or arguments, I just knew everything had to work out with these three, nothing else would do! But of course, Verity surrounds herself with so many wonderful people. The librarian, her grandfather, Henry's brothers, and of course, Jeb Tempest, who returns to help.
I love the concept and importance placed on storytelling in this series and this love for the library. Extra cool points for making librarians into their own force against evil! Wellow is again, the gorgeous setting for this book and I adored the local history and myths that surround it, together with how central sailing and the water is.
This book is a wonderful follow-up to Mistress of the Storm. It is both sweet and magical. I love the friendships in this book, the sense of adventure and independence that these children have. My heart absolutely ached at the stirrings of first love and I definitely want to know more about all of these characters as they feel so real to me. I think this book whilst being aimed at a slightly younger audience can still be loved by readers of any age! Highly recommended! (less)
Last year I went on holiday and took with me Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott and it...moreThis review was originally published at Fluttering Butterflies
Last year I went on holiday and took with me Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott and it was incredible, one of my favourite books of the year. And now Zoe has done it again. This year on holiday, I took with me FrostFire and ended up crying several times into my hotel pillow late at night. I remember once not wanting to leave to go sightseeing because I had just 50 pages left.
I was slightly worried about taking FrostFire with me, as it is a sort of sequel to Daughter of the Flame, which I own and haven't yet read. But they appear to be more companion novels, because while some of the events that occur in Daughter of the Flame will be slightly spoilt after reading FrostFire, it won't have ruined it entirely for me. And I'm still desperate to read those last few books from Zoe Marriott's backlist. Zoe Marriott really knows how to create an amazing world filled with characters and situations that I care about deeply. Her writing is quite gorgeous and moving and I will always be excited to read more of her stories.
And right from the prologue of FrostFire, and I was hooked. What is this story about a girl possessed by a wolf demon? I wanted to know more instantly. And things aren't looking great for our main character, Frost, as this demon inside her comes out in a rage at the sight of her own blood. This rage that overtakes Frost has led to some terrible things. Frost has been put through some terrible things, her mother seems to barely tolerate her existence, there is no love or comfort in Frost's life - only beatings from her mother, the taunts of other people, always the risk of imprisonment and death if her curse is ever found out. But on a mission to find help against the wolf inside her, Frost stumbles on a Hill Guard whose job it is to fight against rebel warriors. Frost is persuaded to join and there she meets two very different men - Luca, a golden boy with a great sense honour and justice, and the troubled Arian, his best friend.
FrostFire really has everything - there's lots of action and kick-ass axe-wielding which made me cheer. There's a wonderfully sweet romance, but also some great friendship building between a cast of characters that have very similar stories of abandonment and heavy guilt. I love that Arian and Frost in particular are very broken and have been through such difficult things. There is a great deal of suffering in this novel, but still, they are all able to find a place to belong and the love of those around them give them the confidence to be more.
This is true for Frost more than anyone. I love her transformation from the beginning of the novel to the end. Her confidence in herself and her abilities grows and grows as she finds love and acceptance from this band of hill guards. With the strength of that behind her, Frost is really a character to behold. And this book is one to be savoured. I really recommend it! (less)
Prisoner in Alcatraz by Theresa Breslin is the story of Marty, a young man who has been sen...moreRead more of my reviews on my blog, Fluttering Butterflies
Prisoner in Alcatraz by Theresa Breslin is the story of Marty, a young man who has been sent to Alcatraz, the famous prison off the coast of San Francisco in which famous gangsters like Al Capone went to back in the day. I found it really interesting to read of Marty's experiences that led him to become a prisoner in Alcatraz. It really felt like a series of really unlucky choices that led Marty into the criminal life. And those bad choices continue within the walls of Alcatraz prison as Marty is conned into helping with a prison escape.
I really enjoyed this story. I've visited Alcatraz and seen the conditions that the prisoners dealt with and also noted the distance between where Alcatraz sits on this rock in the San Francisco bay and how far a prisoner would have to travel to get to land. And yet I was on the edge of my seat watching this attempt at escape play out.
What I really liked about Prisoner in Alcatraz is that it seems to highlight the different every day choices that everyone has and the consequences of those actions. Marty's story moved pretty quickly, there was plenty of action to engage readers and by the end I was generally interested in Marty's story and what would become of him. He made some poor choices in life, but my heart went out to him. Very interesting story! (less)
Far From You by Tess Sharpe was combination of absolutely every...moreTo view this and other YA reviews, please do visit my book blog, Fluttering Butterflies
Far From You by Tess Sharpe was combination of absolutely everything that I love about YA. The story felt real and emotional. The characters were wonderfully created and relateable. The relationships between the characters was messy and complicated which made it heartbreaking to read. There was a diversity of characters which I always enjoy reading about, an interesting look at a difficult subject and a thrilling mystery that had me at the edge of my seat.
I really shouldn't have tead Far From You when I did. I was studying for an important exam and this book isn't being published until April of next year. I didn't even fully know what it was about due to the vagueness of the product description (which I do have issues with, more on this later!) But on a whim, I clicked on this one to read on my Kindle and I just couldn't put it down once I'd started. I don't always love stories that are told for differing timelines and Far From You is told from THREE. But everything fit together really well with no confusion and I came to really enjoy the emotional impact that came with telling Mina and Sophie's story split over three sections.
Sophie Winters has nearly died twice. The first was when she was 14 and she was involved in a car accident involving her best friend, Mina, and Mina's brother, Trev. That accident affected Sophie in many ways but two major consequences of that accident include... a limp that she'll have forever and an addiction to painkillers that will take years to kick. Then, at 17, Sophie nearly dies again. This time she's attacked in the woods alongside Mina ... who does not survive that attack. The third section of this story relates to several months after the death of Mina in which Sophie is finally released from a forced stint in rehab. Nobody - Trev, Sophie's parents, the police - believes Sophie's version of events or the fact that Sophie did not relapse. So on top of battling an addiction that will stay with her forever, grieving for the loss of her best friend, and without the support of friends or family Sophie is on a mission to track down Mina's killer and finally put to rest what happened that night. This mystery while a very large portion of the story is very interesting and twisty turny but at the same time, for me anyway, take a backseat to the main thing in the story - Sophie and Mina's friendship.
Honestly, I went through so many feelings during the course of this book. Sophie and Mina's relationship is so beautiful and complicated and messy. And Sophie's grief over her death is so palpable. I felt her grief on every single page of Far From You. I also felt her anger at how little belief that her parents or anybody place in her. While it is understandable to have a shattered sense of belief in Sophie after she lied for several years about her oxy addiction it is also quite horrible how badly treated she is from the people who she expected to love and support her. I loved that this is a story about the consequences of addiction. The lying and concealment of it, the battle to fight it, and the destruction that it has caused in Sophie's life and in her relationships.
And as Sophie recalls memories of her friendship with Mina, I experienced them too. I felt like I was part of this story, I felt like a member of this little trio between Sophie and Mina and Trev. I felt the heartrending betrayal and the grief and especially the different types of love. It was all in there. My only gripe with this story is that the product description is ambiguous about the secrets that Mina and Sophie share. I won't spoil it for you, but I don't believe this type of story needs to be misleading about what it is.
Far From You is a beautiful and emotional story about friendship and love. It's a story about honesty and addiction and the aftermath and grief of traumatic experiences. I'm so glad that I picked it up to read and I couldn't recommend it any more than I do. I will be looking out for more by Tess Sharpe. (less)
The Fall by Anthony McGowan is another story that had unexpected depth...moreTo read more reviews by me, you can always visit my blog Fluttering Butterflies
The Fall by Anthony McGowan is another story that had unexpected depth to it. Our main character, Mog, has recently heard news of an old school friend and tells us this story of two specific incidents involving a group of friends that he had growing up.
I think The Fall can at times be a little bit harsh to read. The tone of the book and the writing style are both pretty bleak. This group of boys attend a school that has known better times and bullying and other anti-social behaviour seems to be rife. This is a story in which none of the characters are very likeable and you can hardly say you 'enjoyed' the story when it's finished. But I did still find it interesting.
I think the main concept behind this story is the loss of innocence. In both of the incidents that occur, something beautiful or innocent seems to be destroyed. There is quite an obvious connection between a fox and a bullied boy within this story and I think conversations can be had about the meaning of the title and about Mog's reasons for doing what he did. It certainly made me stop and think. (less)
Oh, I love Kat Stephenson. And this book. I read A Tangle of Magicks by Stephanie Burgis ve...moreThis review was originally posted on Fluttering Butterflies
Oh, I love Kat Stephenson. And this book. I read A Tangle of Magicks by Stephanie Burgis very shortly after reading A Most Improper Magick and while I did worry for a minute that I might not like the sequel as much, my worries were completely unfounded. A Tangle of Magicks is so exciting and I really need more Kat in my life.
I really just can't get enough of Kat's Unladylike Adventures. Kat is just so much fun. I really love how A Tangle of Magicks contains everything that I really love about the series - the magic, the fun characters, the great relationships between characters, and seemingly huge, insurmountable problems - but also provides us with a fun new setting, new fun characters, more magic and even bigger problems for the Stephenson family.
As the story begins, Kat and her family are preparing on the morning of her sisters' wedding. Everything should be rosy and fairy tale-like in the Stephenson family, with Elissa getting married and with Angeline having found her true love. But of course things do not go to plan at all, and the Stephensons find themselves very quickly uprooted to Bath to stay with snooty relatives of Stepmama's in order to escape from the gossip and scandal that they've left behind at home.Having been banished from the Order of Guardians and with Elissa away on her honeymoon and Angeline not talking to her, Kat is left to her own devices for much of the book as she finds herself entangled in this mysterious and dangerous plot involving wild magic and the Roman baths.
While in A Most Improper Magick, I felt the story mostly revolved around the actions of the three sisters, but for A Tangle of Magicks, that family dynamic has shifted considerably. The presence of Kat's brother, Charles, and of Kat's father become more apparent as they play a bigger role in the chaos and mishaps that occur throughout the novel and I really enjoyed reading of their respective parts in the family. And though Kat and Angeline have their own problems in this story, it really is apparent how much they care for each other and towards the end I actually shed tears at the strength of their sisterly relationship. Sniff.
Kat is just as wild and unstoppable as before and I love that about her. She's very brave, standing up against the injustices that she and her family have suffered at the hands of Lady Fotherington. She's also loyal and stubborn and strong and really is a fantastic character. And the setting of Bath is really wonderful. I loved all the details of the Pump room and how Society would congregate there, drinking the water with its healing properties.
A Tangle of Magicks is an incredible sequel in a series not to miss. It's magical and adventurous and funny and utterly unladylike. And I really cannot recommend them enough! (less)
Here's a book that really surprised me. I wasn't entirely sure what I'd be getting into when I started Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton, but I quickly got...moreHere's a book that really surprised me. I wasn't entirely sure what I'd be getting into when I started Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton, but I quickly got wrapped up in the story and the characters and the magic. I've seen it mentioned in other reviews, but Tessa Gratton sure didn't shy away from the almost gory amount of blood or of making difficult choices for her characters.
Blood Magic is told in three parts: a dual narrative between the two main characters, Silla and Nick as well as being interspersed with diary entries from an unknown woman writing from the early 1900s as she explores some of the blood magic we are introduced to by Silla and Nick. I thought the three perspectives worked quite well together and everything seemed to flow quite nicely though there is some minor confusion at the beginning as to the relevance of the diary entries. It all makes sense in the end.
We meet Silla in a cemetery. She's grieving the loss of both her parents. Unable to accept that her dad killed her mom and then himself, she holds onto her belief of his innocence quite tightly. When a mysterious spell book arrives, Silla believes it holds the key to the mystery of what happened to her parents. As she's testing out one of its spells, she comes across Nick, the new boy in town with secrets of his own.
I really loved this book. There's just something about the vulnerability of Silla, the connection that she has with Nick and with her brother Reese. I think the magical aspect of the story is mesmerising, even with the creepy inclusion of all that blood. There's so many different layers to the story, from who is responsible for Silla's parents death, finding out the capabilities and limitations of the magic, the hot romance between Nick and Silla, the strange fragments of Nick's memories growing up with his mother. I really loved trying to guess who the evil villian is and kept being swayed from one person to another along with the characters.
This is a really wonderful book, one in which I didn't want to put down and read in nearly one sitting. Such an exciting and addictive read that I recommend! (less)
I'm such a fan of the Body Finder series! I really enjoyed reading the fourth book in th...moreThis review was originally published at Fluttering Butterflies
I'm such a fan of the Body Finder series! I really enjoyed reading the fourth book in the series, Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting. I've been going through a bit of a reading slump lately but I can always count on this series to be exciting and deliciously tense and addictive and it quite successfully pulled me out of my reading funk.
This is the fourth book in the series so while I have not included spoilers for this particular book, my review will contain spoilers for the previous books. Please don't read any further if you haven't already read the rest of the series!
I do love Violet's story. At the end of the previous book my heart went out to her completely. Her ability to see and hear the imprints of murderers and the echoes of the dead has led her to do good things. But after Violet kills her abductor in self-defense, she acquires an imprint of her own and cannot escape this constant reminder that she has taken another's life. It weighs heavily on Violet. She's unable to sleep and is forced into taking sleeping pills by her creepy and more-than-slightly threatening therapist, Dr. Lee.
I think what I love about this series so much is how much Kimberly Derting mixes things up. There's always a murder that happens, this crime that Violet is in some way connected to or is trying to help solve. And there are always those tantalising chapters told from the point of view of the murderer. It could be a series that always ends up feeling samey or formulaic. But with each Body Finder book I've read, the tension levels are always really high, the action is pacey and exciting and my heart is in my throat because I really care about these characters and especially about Violet.
In Dead Silence not only is Violet dealing with her new imprint, she's also pretty understandably upset at being threatened and forced into remaining a member of a team that she wants no involvement with. I'm glad that within Dead Silence this thing between Violet and Dr. Lee is explored a bit more. With some new information, Vi is able to piece together a bit of background on her somewhat shady therapist. I liked it.
And besides these forced weekly appointments with Dr Lee, to further involve Violet in things both Rafe and Gemma enroll at Violet's school. This causes Violet's two different lives - one as a normal high school teenager with normal friends who don't know about her special ability and Violet, the body finder who is a member of this weird psychic team - to collide. That was fun and a bit awkward to witness. I wasn't the biggest fan of Rafe in the previous book, but the boy is growing on me. And I do like that there is a bit of tension between Violet and Jay in this book because of Rafe. Violet and Jay's relationship needs to be shaken up a little bit.
This series is definitely one of my favourites. In Dead Silence Violet really pushes herself into revealing some of her closely-guarded secrets, she dives head-first into some seriously dangerous conditions in search of the truth and to protect her friends and she digs up some juicy bits of information that could explain some of those niggling thoughts she's had about this organisation that has put together her team. Dead Silence is exciting and interesting and I look forward to more.
If you haven't already picked up the Body Finder series I ask you now, what are you waiting for?(less)
Jealousy is the third novel in the Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow. It follows directly on from where things ended with Betrayals and Dru, Grav...moreJealousy is the third novel in the Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow. It follows directly on from where things ended with Betrayals and Dru, Graves and Ash are finally at the Prima Schola for werwulfen and dhjampir. Dru should be able to rest a little easy knowing that they're finally where they should be and that she isn't being hidden away, but there is still someone out to get her... The only person she can really trust is Graves. Graves has always been there for her, but when Dru and Graves seem to be drawing closer together, Graves pulls away. And it leaves Dru even more confused. Because she can trust Christophe too, can't she? Only she's not telling Graves that and doesn't really understand why she isn't. Dru is really taking on a lot in this book, with her confusing feelings for both Graves and Christophe, she's trying to look after Ash, keep her own back safe from the traitor in the mist, and dealing with her past, which is shown to the reader in a series of flashbacks.
Before reading the book, I just assumed the 'jealousy' of the title meant that the plot might revolve around this Graves-Dru-Christophe triangle, but it goes deeper than that. Christophe, in fact, doesn't make his appearance until much later in the book, but that doesn't take away from the book at all, as we're introduced to new characters, the council, and more of Anna. Anna, the only other svetocha who takes a pretty firm dislike for Dru. (Though Christophe's reappearance certainly spices things up!)
While I do love the ways in which St. Crow builds her characters and their relationships with each other and the way in which she never shies away from the gritty details of what it means to live in the Real World, it's her action scenes that make my heart beat faster and take my breath away. The action in Jealousy is pretty intense!
That last 1/3 of the novel, I was on the edge of my seat, in a state of shock by the end, and now I'm gasping for the next book in the series...(less)
I had to admit that the main reason that I requested These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner is that I love the pretty cover. The sparkly stars, her red hair, that billowy green dress... I wouldn't normally think of science fiction as being my sort of thing but based on how much I've enjoyed this and other recent scifi YA books, I think it's time that I changed my mind. Because These Broken Stars was really interesting and quite romantic and very quickly I became quite emotionally invested in both main characters, their stories, their survival and this very strange planet that they've landed on.
These Broken Stars is told with a dual-perspective between Lilac and Tarver, two characters from very different backgrounds and experiences. They meet aboard this swanky spacecraft shortly before some malfunction causes the Icarus to leave hyperspace and crash on a distant and very mysterious planet. Tarver and Lilac are forced into working together with the shared goal of surviving and of being rescued.
I think the large majority of the story - in which Tarver and Lilac have to switch quickly between haughty socialite and decorated war hero into two people stranded who need to gather food and supplies in order to survive - was one of my favourite aspects. Lilac in particular struggled to drop the social graces that she's grown up with and become less stuck-up and precious about every little thing but at the same time she was no wilting flower either. Kaufman and Spooner gave us two very wonderful and complex characters who were capable of rescuing one another. I really, really love reading stories about survival. There's something about doing what needs to be done and pushing one's self to the limit to do these things that appeals to me. And I loved the strength both physically and mentally both Lilac and Tarver possessed to get through this ordeal.
I also loved how the authors developed both of the main characters. Both Tarver and Lilac felt real to me reading this book. They had personality and life experiences and I was really able to connect with both of them and cared about who they are as people. I also loved the way they interacted with each other. With disdain at first, mostly which turned into grudging respect and finally into more. I loved the gradual changes in their relationship and by say, mid-way through These Broken Stars I was fanatic about their relationship and that really took me by surprise. Another surprise is what lies at the heart of the mystery surrounding this empty planet and the amount of shocking twists and turns to this story.
These Broken Stars is a book that really grabbed my attention and I will certainly be looking out to read both more in this series and more YA scifi! (less)
Need by Carrie Jones is not what I expected. I go through phases of being turned-off by paranormal YA and phases where all I want to read is something...moreNeed by Carrie Jones is not what I expected. I go through phases of being turned-off by paranormal YA and phases where all I want to read is something a little more fantastic. I'm going through a latter phase at the moment, and I think I picked up this book at the perfect time.
I love the quirkiness of Need. The main character, Zara, is obsessed with phobias. There's a phobia for everything from fear of flying, to peanut butter to the fear of being alone. Zara believes that if you give something a name it makes it less scary. And she needs that sort of comfort at the moment, as she's just lost the only father she's ever known. And in her depression and grief, her mother doesn't know what to do with her. So, she sends Zara away from her home in Charleston to a cold sleepy town in Maine to live with her grandmother.
Even before leaving Charleston, Zara has believed that someone's been following her, stalking her even. She hopes that by coming to Maine, the man will have disappeared. Only he hasn't. She sees him just outside the airport, and again at school. He points at her in a really creepy fashion. Luckily, Zara falls in with a friendly bunch of students at her new school: Devyn, whose recent accident sees him now in a wheelchair; perpetually happy Issie and hot loner Nick. With her new friends' help, Zara must discover who the man stalking her is, what he wants from her and how to protect herself, her grandmother and her new friends.
I knew beforehand that the paranormal creature we're dealing with in this series of books are pixies. I'm not an expert on pixies at all. They seem like a type of fairie and I'm not a fan of fairie fiction, but this one worked for me. There was enough plot-wise that I wasn't aware of to keep me surprised and guessing. I liked the friendship between Zara and Issie and Nick was suitably hot. I'd have liked a little more tension and build-up, but that isn't a big issue.
I think it was Zara who really kept me interested. Her love of running and phobias made me smile, whereas her grief for her father is very apparent. I thought she reacted to the bizarre new information and how it changes her world reasonably well and she's pretty brave in the face of extreme danger. I am pleasantly surprised with this book and I can look forward to the next two books in the series! :)
A huge thank you to Bloomsbury for providing me with this copy for review. (less)
I was really excited to hear of this book. Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess is an absolut...moreThis review was originally posted at Fluttering Butterflies
I was really excited to hear of this book. Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess is an absolutely wonderful and emotional book, one in which that I felt very strongly about before, during and now after reading it. I love that we are hearing a story about a group of children that are so often written-off or ignored or just not thought of highly in society. These three children - Billie, Chris and Rob - have difficult lives and problems and whilst a lot of people think of them as trouble-makers or bullies or as worthless and lazy, Melvin Burgess provides us with a different perspective. I really applaud his attempt to give these characters a voice, to show everyone a different side to the story.
There's so much about this book that strikes a chord with me. I could fully relate to the position that these teenagers are faced with and just as it did when I was a teenager, it makes me angry reliving it on behalf of these characters. While teenagers in general can be treated as second-class citizens, without any rights of their own, at the constant whim of adults and teachers who don't understand them or even hear them sometimes, it can be that much more difficult for teenagers like Billie, Rob and Chris.
These teenagers are struggling with educational difficulties, with difficult and unstable home lives, they are trying to get by with much more pressure and hardship than most other teenagers but are still confined by the frustrating school system and adults in general who turn a blind eye to their desperate cries for help because they can be masked by violence or trouble-making behaviours or even by a lack of interest.
Billie can be very violent and is constantly fighting and abusive, but that just masks her heart-breaking story of growing up too young. Of sacrificing her own life and her freedoms in order to take care of her little sister and to keep her home life stable when Billie's mother substance abuse gets in the way of being a mother to either of her children. Billie acts out in order to express her own feelings of anger and sadness and frustrations for the fact that so many people in her life have failed her. And both Rob and Chris hide their own secrets and troubles.
Luckily, they've all been excluded from their regular schools and have been sent to a special school for delinquents and trouble-makers and the careworker there are able to see beyond their attitudes and behavioural problems and get at the heart of these kids' problems. I cried more than once reading Kill All Enemies. I loved each of the three characters almost immediately and I felt like I understood them and I related to their feelings incredibly well. I think Melvin Burgess painted these characters so vividly and with great feeling and believable dialogue that any reader could relate. I think Kill All Enemies is a very powerful message, one that sends a positive message, one that I hope will provide hope as well as spreads more understanding and compassion.
Ooh. How much did I love this book? Deception by Lee Nichols is a wonderful first book in a...moreThis review was originally posted on Fluttering Butterflies
Ooh. How much did I love this book? Deception by Lee Nichols is a wonderful first book in a series, one that makes me very excited. I loved everything about it, from the fun twist on the paranormal, the private school setting, the interesting characters and especially the romance.
I'd had no previous knowledge of the book before it landed on my doorstep, but after reading several favourable reviews, I was completely intrigued and curious to see what I thought. I only intended to read a few chapters before bed, and I was completely hooked. I really loved Emma's sense of isolation in particular and how alone she felt as this new world of ghosts and being a ghostkeeper is revealed to her.
Emma Vaile's parents leave on this mysterious trip and Emma feels like it's the perfect opportunity to throw a party and get into some trouble. But what Emma doesn't expect is for the police to show up and take her into custody. With a lack of parental presence in her life, she is shipped off to New England with her acting guardian, Bennett Stern, a friend of Emma's older brother who Emma has had an almighty crush on for years. There, strange things begin happening. The visions that Emma sees happen more often and are stronger, and at times Emma is transported to a different time period. It is finally revealed to Emma that she is a ghostkeeper, someone who can communicate and control ghosts.
And I felt so many things for Emma throughout the entire book. Mostly I felt really bad for her, as she's dealing with her parents virtually abandoning her, along with her oldest friend. She's in a new town, trying to fit in at a new school, whilst living with someone she has all these feelings for but Bennett isn't around nearly enough. Nobody is really there for Emma and then this ghostkeeper thing is sprung on her and it just makes Emma question why nobody told her beforehand. Why the big secret? And if that wasn't enough, Emma finds out she's in all kinds of danger and that ghostkeepers have been hunted and murdered lately and is Emma's new-found powers over ghosts the key to solving a murder?
Honestly, I really loved this book. I found Emma to be a wonderful character who is easily relateable. I loved her new friends at school and especially learning a new mythology about the ghosts in this series, with the different capabilities of ghostkeepers and about ghosts alongside Emma. This book is entertaining and exciting and I really, really look forward to reading more in the series! (less)
I was very excited when the offer came up to read Girl Meets Cake by Susie Day (titled My Invisible Boyfriend in the USA). It sounded fun, and funny a...moreI was very excited when the offer came up to read Girl Meets Cake by Susie Day (titled My Invisible Boyfriend in the USA). It sounded fun, and funny and a little out there. And it is definitely all of those things!
Within the first few pages and I was giggling away at Heidi - her voice and the things she'd say, and the other characters in the story. Quirky might be the right word for Heidi, but I found her to be utterly charming. She's such a great character, with her mad obsession with fictional detective, Mycroft Christie, and her zany way of speaking. She really makes me happy. I couldn't help but laugh when she called her mom the 'Mothership' or when she'd carry on long, detailed and imaginary conversations with Mycroft Christie.
When all of Heidi's friends start pairing up into couples, Heidi inadvertently admits to having a boyfriend. Instead of owning up to this almost-lie straightaway, she creates Gingerbread Ed, fictional (biscuit-y) boyfriend who embodies all of the characteristics (ingredients!) of the perfect boy for her. She goes to great lengths in order to maintain a realistic, if one-sided relationship with him, but things start going particularly wrong when Heidi's friends start telling Gingerbread Ed all their problems through email and instant message. How far will Heidi go to keep her imaginary boyfriend?
There are some absolutely wonderful characters in Girl Meets Cake. Heidi, of course, but I really loved Betsy, the American owner of the cafe that Heidi works in. I think they have a great relationship together. Heidi's friends, The Leftover Squad, are all incredibly sweet and loyal. Together with Heidi's, they have a whole heap of relationship problems. From imaginary boyfriend, to cheating boyfriend to so-insecure-I'm-about-to-lose-my-boyfriend. All the pairings in this book seemed very true-to-life and I could really imagine myself hanging out with this fun group of friends.
I absolutely adored the format of the book - with each chapter beginning with recipe - recipes to make a Heidi, one for an Imaginary Boyfriend, one for excellent detective work. With everyone telling Gingerbread Ed (and therefore telling Heidi) their problems, Heidi begins work immediately to gather more clues and solve the mysteries that surround her friends' relationship problems, but also work out who the mystery boy is who keeps emailing Heidi. Not being a Mycroft Christie standard of detective, it was really interesting to just follow along Heidi's bumbling path to solving these mysteries. Every twist and wrong turn she took, I took with her and I was left completely surprised at the very sweet and satisfying ending!
I really, really loved this book! I urge you all to read it and a very BIG thank you to Susie Day for providing me with a copy of this book to read, and also to giveaway! Susie has also very kindly agreed to guest post for love month, which will be on the blog later this month. Stay tuned.(less)
I'd not read a book by Celia Rees before The Fool's Girl. I'd heard such good things about her though, so I was excited, and I shall definitely be pic...moreI'd not read a book by Celia Rees before The Fool's Girl. I'd heard such good things about her though, so I was excited, and I shall definitely be picking up some of her other books in the near future. I also didn't know much about Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare either, so reading this book was a bit of an education. But an entertaining one.
Despite not having a great interest in historical fiction, I do find myself to be quite fascinated with Shakespeare and the period of time that he lived. But in that sort of abstract way. I don't actually know very much about it, but I think that if I did read about it, I would enjoy it like I enjoyed The Fool's Girl.
What I knew about Twelfth Night beforehand, as I said, was very little. That Viola washes up a beach. That a lot of the play is concerned with mistaken identity, as Viola pretends to be a man. It's a comedy. But what Celia Rees does with this book is give the main characters of Twelfth Night a history and a future. She gives shape and history to Illyria which is told in great chunks of narrative from the voices of Violetta, Viola's daughter, Feste, the Fool, and Maria, a servant.
I admit that at first, it was a little difficult to get into, when the storyline was first interrupted in order to relay to Will Shakespeare of the events that occurred in Illyria. But once I slowed down and was able to read and soak in this new story about an interesting place, I found myself swept up into the story. There's so much intersting details of this period of time, there's action and adventure and some amusing characters.
The story takes place many years after the events of Twelfth Night, after death and grief strike Illyria and it is conquered by a neighbouring enemy and looted of its national treasures. Violetta and Feste follow an important religious relic to England, where they enlist the help of William Shakespeare in this plan to take back what rightfully belongs to Illyria. And in the process we see a little glimpse into Shakespearean London and the comings and goings of the Globe theatre. There's intrigue and fighting, there's a hint of magical stones, religious artifacts and the hint of a really sweet romantic relationship. A very entertaining and interesting read! One I can recommend. (less)