I've had a copy of Huntress by Malinda Lo on my TBR pile for such a long time. I can't think now why I waited so long before tackling this wonderful n...moreI've had a copy of Huntress by Malinda Lo on my TBR pile for such a long time. I can't think now why I waited so long before tackling this wonderful novel? Huntress is set in the same world as Ash but many centuries before it and is filled with great characters, an exciting adventure and a world filled with the detail and influences of Chinese traditions. I found it very easy to relate with these characters and with this interesting fantasy world.
Huntress is the story of a band of travellers who are on a quest to visit the mythical Fairy Queen who might have answers to why the crops are failing, why the seasons have stopped changing and why strange things are happening and why dangerous creatures have started appearing in their lands.
On this journey are Taisin, who is studying to become a Sage. She is inexperienced in dealing with the otherworldly but is also someone who holds great promise and skill who is able to see visions of what the future holds. With her is Kaede, the daughter of the King's chancellor and who is somebody who has no skill in becoming a sage but who is competent in other things. She goes on this journey in order to escape her father's expectations of her and the prospective marriage for political gain. With them is the Prince and three guards.
I really loved the adventure that this band of people go through during the course of the novel. Things don't run very smoothly but it is the way in which these events shape the characters and how they react to them that made everything much more interesting. I really enjoyed reading the way in which Taisin was trying to gather more information and evidences about the weird occurrences on their trip and also the way in which Kaede began learning to protect herself and the others from the guards. Their goal of meeting the fey queen and solving the issues that have affected the world they live in was always the number one priority for Taisin, Kaede, and the others and the feelings that crop up between the two girls becomes and secondary story line. I liked that about this book. That this lovely, slowly built-up romance appears in the book but that character development and the main plot always continue as the main focus.
Having said that, Kaede and Taisin's relationship is utterly sweet and I was really rooting for them throughout. A lot of barriers to their relationship are brought up initially - rules of becoming a Sage and also the pressures of making political alliances - but I really was hoping for the best for them both!
Huntress was a wonderful and adventurous fantasy novel filled with the great characters and relationships. I found it quite easy to believe in the world-building and the situations and problems they had to face. I will continue to look forward to reading anything else by Malinda Lo...(less)
After reading Please Ignore Vera Dietz and now Ask the Passengers, A. S. King is quickly becoming one of my new favourite authors. What I loved so muc...moreAfter reading Please Ignore Vera Dietz and now Ask the Passengers, A. S. King is quickly becoming one of my new favourite authors. What I loved so much about this book is how philosophical it became. I loved Astrid's thoughts on love and equality and respect especially and how she connected different events with her family, her friends and her schoolmates at school together to form really interesting conclusions about these different things. I thought it was a really interesting book and it was definitely a book that made me sit up and really think about things.
Ask the Passengers is a story about Astrid, a teenage girl living in a small town. At the start of the story, it's pretty apparent that Astrid's family isn't one that is very conducive to opening up about Astrid's thoughts and feelings, especially about her feelings for Dee, a female co-worker at Astrid's weekend job. Astrid's mother is a bit overbearing and her dad is very laid-back and uninterested and Astrid pretty much dismisses her younger sister. And instead of confiding in them or with her best friend, Astrid spends the majority of her time in the background staring up at the sky and sending love to the planes that pass by overhead because she feels her love is going to waste in her own life.
Like I said, I really enjoyed this story. I found the whole situation with Astrid and her family to be really interesting to witness as throughout the story Astrid begins to question her place in the family and to question the conditions of her family's love towards her and to also demand more respect. Their family dynamic was one of my favourite parts of the book and I was really glad to see that there was more love and support from them than Astrid had known of or believed.
I was less certain of Astrid' friendships. Her best friend, Kristina, was all kinds of pushy and demanding and I wasn't sold on the strength of Astrid and Kristina's friendship at all. Kristina is gay but still in the closet and drags Astrid to a local gay bar regularly but seems to bail on Astrid when things get tough. While Astrid is still pondering the definition of being gay and trying to process what it means to have feelings for another girl, the people in Astrid's life seem to have so many demands on her. To have definitive answers, to be out, to tell her parents, to tell the world, to go further in their relationship than she's ready to go. It's all a little bit much for Astrid and I really felt for her throughout.
This is a very thinky book, with a lot of philosophical questions thrown in and even the embodiment of Socrates himself towards the second half of the book. Sprinkled throughout Astrid's narration are excerpts from the passengers in the planes that Astrid is sending love and questions to. I get what the author was trying to do with these passages - highlight the fact that what we send out to the universe has an effect on other people - but about halfway through the book I started skimming the passengers stories as I felt like it was taking away from Astrid's story and her perspective.
Overall though, I really enjoyed Ask the Passengers and I found it really interesting to read Astrid's story and see how she faces the different relationship problems that she has in her life from her parents, her sister, her best friend, her girlfriend and from other people in her life. I love how many different versions of love that Astrid comes across and how she deals with each of them. I really liked this one and can definitely recommend it.(less)
Gold Rush by Jordan Lynde is an ebook that is being published this month by Random House...moreThis review was originally published at Fluttering Butterflies
Gold Rush by Jordan Lynde is an ebook that is being published this month by Random House. I find it really interesting that books such as this, which was originally published on Wattpad by the teenage author, are attracting the attention of mainstream publishers. I can't say that I loved Gold Rush, but I did enjoy parts of it, especially the diversity of sexualities within the book.
Gold Rush is the story of a girl, Iris, who is charged with showing around new classmates, Noah, Luke and Rian at the private school they all attend. Iris is class president and really focused on her studies and doesn't need any distraction. And she also seems to be the only person in her school who doesn't lose her head and sensibilities around the new boys ... as they are the members of hot new boy band, Gold.
While I did feel like there needed to be more character development and something else to the story besides Iris and her friends' interactions with the members of Gold, it was still a fun book to read and I read it in a very short period of time. A lot of the story revolves around Iris and her two best friends and how they become friends and love interests to the three Gold band members. We do see a little bit of the fan-frenzy that Gold face on a daily basis and we do see a little bit of them trying to be normal teenagers doing normal things. I thought it was great that the tables are turned slightly in the second half of the book where it's Gold who become a little starstruck by another band. Overall though, it was a little bit too cheesy and slightly immature for me. It's a bit too much 'OMG, you want to buy me a donut?' in parts and there's very little conflict.
What I did enjoy about the book the most though is the fact that there is a character who identifies as bisexual. He's open about it and accepted by his peers and because of the reactions this character has had about his sexuality, it pushes another character to come forward and tell people that he is gay. I don't come across enough bisexual characters in YA, so this story line really kept me reading despite my problems with the rest of the story. (less)
Ooh, exciting and emotional. Stronger first half with the character development that loses it's way with the addition of the other mermaids. Really lo...moreOoh, exciting and emotional. Stronger first half with the character development that loses it's way with the addition of the other mermaids. Really looking forward to reading more. Full review soon.(less)
I'm still not quite sure what to make of Goddess by Laura Powell. It was the first book by this author that I've read (she's written about witches pre...moreI'm still not quite sure what to make of Goddess by Laura Powell. It was the first book by this author that I've read (she's written about witches previously) and I didn't know very much about it before I picked it up except that it was a book that incorporated elements of Greek mythology. I think I was pretty surprised by this story and where it went...
Goddess is a story about faith and corruption and political activism and doing the right thing. The story takes place in a present (?) day England that is badly crippled by riots and poverty and our main character, Aura, is pretty distant and sheltered from all of this growing up as she has in a cult that honours Artemis, a goddess from Greek mythology.
At the start of the story Aura is just about to turn 16, the age where she transitions between being a handmaiden into that of a priestess in this cult. As a priestess, she is expected to give vows of obedience and chastity but before this happens, Aura meets this boy, Aiden, who makes her question everything that has grown up to believe. Other events occur that make Aura realise that the people she has trusted have been keeping secrets and are using the position that this cult holds as a means of power for their own gain. Aura ends up in trouble and needing the guidance and support of Aiden if she is to end up doing the right thing.
I did enjoy Aura and Aiden's burgeoning friendship and the strength that Aura shows in standing up to the people who have raised her and for making the right choices when she comes to realise how other people are living outside of the luxury of this cult. And I felt that everything to do with the marches and protesting against political corruption and fairness for everyday people should resonate well with readers.
I just didn't quite get if this book was aiming for a dystopian setting or an alternate history sort of thing? I felt like more world-building needed to be done for me to feel comfortable with the setting of this book. There was mention of a lot of familiar things and people and buildings and then also this massive cult of Artemis and I wanted to know more about how they fit into the every day world.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Goddess and will look into reading the other books Laura Powell has written! I flew through the pages of Goddess really quickly and I was surprised by the twists in the story towards the end and really felt for Aura's circumstances. I wanted the best for her.
Goddess by Laura Powell is being published by Bloomsbury on the 8th of May.(less)
Amy and Matthew by Cammie McGovern was a really beautiful love story and it has quickly become one of my favourite books that I've read so far this ye...moreAmy and Matthew by Cammie McGovern was a really beautiful love story and it has quickly become one of my favourite books that I've read so far this year. I love how wonderful both Amy and Matthew are as characters and how each of the issues that they are dealing play a part in keeping them apart and also for bringing these two together.
I really loved getting to know these characters and watching them interact. You can tell right from the first pages of Amy and Matthew that these two main characters have this great connection already without having spoken to each other but once or twice over the years. But now it is their senior year in high school and Amy has decided that she wants things to change. And so instead of having adult carers help her at school because of her cerebral palsy, she insists her parents hire student carers instead. And Amy asks for one person in particular: Matthew, the boy who sees her despite her disability.
I think the thing that I loved the most about this book and these characters is the fact that yes, Amy has cerebral palsy which affects her physically and especially her mobility, and Matthew has OCD, which has an affect on his emotional state and his behaviours, but what I loved most about this book is how much Amy and Matthew's personalities shine through this book. The cerebral palsy and the OCD are aspects of both of their lives but they are not the defining factors of who they are. And I loved that about this book.
There felt like a lot of truth that came out in Cammie McGovern's writing. About Amy's loneliness and her parent's over-protectiveness and of Matthew's anxieties. It was really great to see Amy and Matthew form a strong enough friendship that allowed for each of them to talk to the other about their concerns and it was really apparent, especially in Matthew's case, how much of an affect the other had on each of their own well-being.
I knew right from the start and from the cover that is definitely a love story between these two main characters but I didn't expect for there to be very many surprises in where the story goes in terms of their relationship. This really isn't as straight-forward as I imagined and things got all kinds of unexpected towards the end. Still, I really enjoyed this book. It was an interesting insight into two really well-developed characters and a relationship that changed them both for the better. (less)
I was really looking forward to reading The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss. I heard that it's a very emotional and beautiful story and I didn't want...moreI was really looking forward to reading The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss. I heard that it's a very emotional and beautiful story and I didn't want to let all of my expectations ruin my experience of reading this book... and The Year of the Rat was everything that I was hoping it to be. It is beautiful and emotional and I love that it's a debut book as well. It just means we have so much more amazing to come from Clare Furniss.
The Year of the Rat is such a simple and very fitting title for this book. It does span an entire year and the rat of the title refers to our main character, Pearl's little sister, Rose, who when she is born at the beginning of the story resembles (in Pearl's eyes) a shriveled little rat. And 'rat' as a nickname is pretty indicative of how Pearl really feels about her new little sister. And that is because Pearl's mother has died in childbirth and Pearl is so sad and angry about the loss of her mother that she needs someone to blame. If not the Rat herself then possibly her dad who she feels might have forced her mother into having another baby.
The thing that I loved the most about this book is how complicated Pearl's feelings are. She's dealing with so much during the course of the novel and it was hard not to really sympathise with her and want to give her a hug. She's 15 and suddenly, unexpectedly motherless. While she's never had any doubts about her relationship with her dad, it suddenly becomes painfully obvious that actually he is only her step-father and not biologically related to her and she starts questioning if he will love the new baby more than he loves her or he wants her around at all. My heart broke for this entire family.
I love Pearl's anger and her attitude. You can tell that the death of her mother has changed Pearl in this major way and Pearl starts deciding that things that have mattered to her before like her school and her friendship with her best friend just aren't as important when she's so wrapped up in grief. One of my favourite scenes in the whole book is when Pearl is in the garden shouting obscenities at her dead mother. It felt really honest and raw and important.
Another one of my favourite things about this book is how Pearl relates to Rose in the beginning. There's this great bit in the book in which Pearl is left to babysit. And during this time Pearl is going through all these thoughts about how she's supposed to feel about a newborn - like she should love and protect her and have all these overwhelmingly positive feelings about her - and Pearl doesn't. She feels kind of a disconnect to her and finds it hugely overwhelming looking after a baby. And what I loved about this is how Clare Furniss has shown a little glimpse of another side to the story that a lot of women go through.
This year in Pearl's life is full of its ups and downs and I'm so glad to have read this book and experienced it with her. There are some really wonderful and honest portrayals of families of different kinds, grief and bereavement, and coming to terms with loss but also about friendship and the first hint of falling in love. I really loved this book and I highly recommend that you pick it up!(less)
The Academy: Love Match by Monica Seles was a quick, fun read. I enjoyed the first book in the series, Game On, when I read it last year. YA books inv...moreThe Academy: Love Match by Monica Seles was a quick, fun read. I enjoyed the first book in the series, Game On, when I read it last year. YA books involving sports are definitely something I'd like to see more of. I think the idea of a superstar sports academy involving the top young athletes is an amazing idea. And while I wish there were better character development in general, I did still enjoy Love Match. There's quite a bit of drama amongst Maya and her friends and the other students at The Academy...
Love Match starts off a couple of weeks after Game On left off and Maya has decided to focus on her sports training. And this paid off quite a lot as Maya is playing against top competitors in a mid-level tennis competition and manages to hold her own against one of her tennis heroes. And in playing so well in this tournament Maya gains the attention of a sports agent and starts receiving a lot of attention from other players and the media that has been very surprising.
What I like about this book in particular is the different issues that have come up. I like how Maya's friendship with alternatively-dressed golfer, Cleo, brings up the issue of image and staying true to yourself. And Renee starts dating soccer-star Diego and begins to see a different side to her wealth and privilege. These are things I'd like to see developed in future books.
Of course one of the main aspects of this series seems to be the relationships between Maya and the Reed brothers, Travis and Jake. This is the thing that drives me slightly crazy though. I'm not fond of story lines in which one character sways easily between two love interests. Things start off strong with Maya focusing on herself and her sports career but towards the end, it seems to be the last thing on her mind. Still. A book that was an enjoyable way to pass an afternoon!(less)
Oh wow, did I love Dead Silent by Sharon Jones. I knew I would - I adored the first book in the series, Dead Jealous, and I really fell in love with t...moreOh wow, did I love Dead Silent by Sharon Jones. I knew I would - I adored the first book in the series, Dead Jealous, and I really fell in love with the two main characters, Poppy and Michael. I'm really starting to believe that YA murder/thrillers are my absolute favourite types of books to read at the moment and that is based on the strength of books like Dead Jealous and Dead Silent.
I think the thing that I loved the most about Dead Jealous was the setting of the story in a pagan festival. I loved the idea of Poppy Sinclair questioning and exploring her beliefs at the same time as investigating the death of a teenage girl. And in the same way, I thought the setting of Dead Silent on the campus of Cambridge University was amazing, especially with it snowing. I really felt like I was there alongside Poppy and Michael.
Dead Silent takes place over a few days as Michael and Poppy visit for a university interview for Michael who is applying to one of the Cambridge's colleges. Poppy tags along to visit her slightly estranged father who is the university chaplain. I had vague memories from Dead Jealous about Poppy's father and what he did for a living but I really found it fascinating to learn more in this book. Especially as a dead body appears in the chapel and blame rests squarely on Poppy's father. Because of her father and because Poppy just can't seem to help but get involved and find out things, Poppy begins her detective work. And in doing so, she finds out more about university secret societies and about angels and long-standing grudges and her father's personal and romantic history and I thought I knew who had done it and yeah. Didn't get that right at all. It was exciting to see all the twists and turns and to see how everything linked together in the end!
Poppy Sinclair is by far one of my favourite characters in any book I've read recently. She's smart and stubborn and she's really not afraid to tell things straight. I love her strength and her humour. And while I absolutely ADORE her relationship with Michael, it's Poppy herself who has my heart. And I love Michael more because of how much he cares for her. Michael and Poppy are wonderful in this book. They've been going out for 4 months and things begin to get more ... physical in this book which had me laughing at loud at just how impossibly cute these two are with each other. There's obviously strong bond between her and Michael but that is not the case with Poppy and her father. It was nice to see them open up more about their relationship and how the trust between them had been damaged.
I really, truly love this series to bits. I love the characters, the relationships. I love the murder solving aspects and I'm always hugely surprised by the outcomes. I especially love witnessing Poppy explore her own beliefs. And I cannot wait to see more of Poppy Sinclair! Definitely do go out and find copies of both Dead Jealous and Dead Silent if you haven't already.(less)