Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Truth About Lies by Tracy Darnton

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 256
Publisher: Stripes Publishing 
Released: 12th of July 2018 

Jess has an incredible memory. She can remember every single detail of every single day since she was eleven. But Jess would rather not be remarkable and, after years of testing at the hands of a ruthless research team, she has finally managed to escape.

Just when Jess thinks that she’s managing to settle in to living a normal life, everything changes. Her boarding-school roommate dies and the school is thrown into a state of chaos and grief. Then new boy Dan appears and Jess can’t help but find herself drawn to him. But building relationships is hard when you can’t reveal who you really are and Jess is getting hints that someone knows more about her than she would like.

Is it time to run again? Will she ever be truly free?

What I Have to Say

This was deliciously suspenseful and full of action, secrets and lies.  Jess is a fantastic character, unique and tormented by her past. Most of the things that the program put her through are only skimmed over, but the effects of them are so obvious in her voice and actions. She's so traumatised and closed off. And she just feels very, very real. 

There are so many mysteries here. First in the facts surrounding Hanna's death and how much Jess did or didn't do to encourage her along and second in Jess's history. In the details of the program and in her mum's death. It's so interesting that right from the start Jess knows all the answers, all of them locked away in her memory, or so she thinks. 

I have to say, I enjoyed every single second of this book. I loved the characters and the plot. It was just a brilliant book from start to finish. 

My thank go to Netgalley and Stripes for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Chasing Eveline by Leslie Hauser

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 300
Publisher: Pen Name Publishing
Released: 11th of July 2018 

Sixteen-year-old Ivy Higgins is the only student at Carmel Heights High School who listens to cassettes. And her binder is the only one decorated with album artwork by 80s band Chasing Eveline. Despite being broken-up since 1989, this rock band out of Ireland means everything to Ivy. They’re a reminder of her mom, who abandoned Ivy and her dad two years ago. Now the music of her mom’s favorite band is the only connection she has left.

Even though Ivy wavers between anger and a yearning to reconnect, she’s one-hundred percent certain she’s not ready to lose her mom forever. But the only surefire way to locate her would be at a Chasing Eveline concert. So with help from her lone friend Matt—an equally abandoned soul and indie music enthusiast—Ivy hatches a plan to reunite the band.

The road to Ireland won’t be easy, though. And not just because there is no road. Along the way they’ll have to win over their Lady Gaga-loving peers, tangle with some frisky meerkats, and oh yeah, somehow find and persuade the four members to play a reunion gig. It’s a near-impossible task, but Ivy has to try. If she can’t let go of the past, she’ll never be able to find joy in the present. 

What I Have to Say 

This book was really sweet. A story of hijinks and adventure as a couple of best friends try to raise money to go see their favourite band live, based on a story of grief and loss as Ivy continues to try to get over her mother leaving. It was mostly a fairly light hearted novel, but it had a depth to it that is always great in this kind of story. 

I loved a lot of things about this book. The band felt real and lifelike, especially the nostalgia-like feel of it. Two teenagers obsessed with a band who broke up before they were born and lamenting over the rest of their peers not wanting to listen to anything made before the 1990s is something that is easy to relate too if you've ever had the feeling of liking something that no one else is into. There was also a whole load of Gilmore Girls references, which always makes a book awesome in my opinion. 

The thing I loved most though was the friendship between Ivy and Matt. It's so great to see a male and female friendship in a book. One that is completely uncomplicated by love (aside from Matt's incessant whining about his ex). In fact when love does turn up on the horizon for Ivy, Matt is so encouraging and sweet about it all. It's something you rarely see in YA books even though this kind of friendship exists so much in real life. 

The ending was perfect for me as well. It was a very good blend of realism and a satisfying ending. Some people may have been disappointed, but this was definitely a good book for me. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Pen Name Publishing for providing me with this copy for review.   

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Floored by Sara Banard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Bynre, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 320 
Publisher: 12th of July 2018
Released: Macmillan Children's Books

When they got in the lift, they were strangers (though didn't that guy used to be on TV?): Sasha, who is desperately trying to deliver a parcel; Hugo, who knows he's the best-looking guy in the lift and is eyeing up Velvet, who knows what that look means when you hear her name and it doesn't match the way she looks, or the way she talks; Dawson, who was on TV, but isn't as good-looking as he was a few years ago and is desperately hoping no one recognizes him; Kaitlyn, who's losing her sight but won't admit it, and who used to have a poster of Dawson on her bedroom wall, and Joe, who shouldn't be here at all, but who wants to be here the most.

And one more person, who will bring them together again on the same day every year.

What I Have to Say 

This was always going to be the big release of the summer. Six amazing authors coming together to write a story from six viewpoints (seven if you include the omniscient narrator who pops up from time to time) and it didn't disappoint. It was everything I expected from the authors pulled together in a seamlessly created story. 

I loved each of the characters and how different they were from one another, each facing a different set of problems and anxieties and having to get through life. All the characters were beautiful and real but I think my favourites were probably Kaitlyn, Velvet and Hugo (from love to hate to actually quite like! What a journey!). Kaitlyn was so awesome and badass with an interesting journey throughout the novel. Velvet so much the contrast, so shy and insecure, watching her go through her struggles and come out of the other side having grown as a person. And Hugo, the one everyone loves, because he's a very different perspective from the others. The privilege prick who for most of the novel you want to smack, in a good way! 

If I had to criticise it would be that there really wasn't enough time with each character for the amount of time the novel covers. Six whole years of their lives (and very changeable ones at that. It would have been nice to have had a longer novel and to have seen more of their lives. 

I thought long and hard about which author was writing which characters, especially since I know their writing styles pretty well, but it's just so hard to tell! 

My guesses though... 

Hugo - Melinda Salisbury. I don't know why. I just feel like it's her. 
Velvet - I think maybe Holly Bourne or Non Pratt. Maybe Tanya Byrne or Sara Barnard
Joe - I would say maybe Lisa Williamson. Maybe Non Pratt. Really hard to tell with this one. 
Kaitlyn - I really feel Non for this one. Or Holly. Maybe Sara. I could also see her as Tanya. 
Sasha - Sasha could have been anyone. I didn't even get a sense of who she could be from the writing style 
Dawson - Dawson is another one who could have been a bunch of people. I could see Mel but my biggest guess for her is still Hugo. He feels a bit like Holly. Or Non. Or Lisa. Or Sara. 

So I'm gonna go 
Hugo- Mel,
Velvet - Sara 
Joe- Lisa,
Kaitlyn - Non, 
Sasha -Tanya ,
Dawson-  Holly

So any guesses? I can't wait to see who was who. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Macmillan to provide me with this copy for review.

Monday, 9 July 2018

The Life and Death Parade by Eliza Wass

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: Quercus Children's Books 
Released: 12th of July 2018 

One year ago, Kitty's boyfriend Nikki Bramley visited a psychic who told him he had no future. Now, he's dead. With the Bramleys grieving inside their rural English home, Kitty sets out to find the psychic who read Nikki his fate.

Instead she finds Roan, an enigmatic medium claiming he can speak to the dead. He belongs to the Life and Death Parade - a group that explore the thin veil between this world and the next.

Kitty is convinced he's a charlatan - but the 'magic' seems to work. The darkness is lifting.

But there are things Kitty can't ignore - evidence of strange rituals, shadows of the boy she lost, and Kitty begins to suspect that this boy had something to do with Nikki's death. More, that he may have the very real power to bring him back ...

What I Have to Say 

This was slow to get into, but so beautiful once I got into it. It was filled with mystery and madness, slowly revealing piece by piece of information about what happened to Nikki, while also exploring the mysterious Life and Death Parade.

I loved how the Life and Death Parade was so involved in everything. How it starts out with just a simple fortune reading but slowly turns out to be so much more rooted in Kitty's life than it first seems. It also just felt so real. All the magic is so hidden away, covered in scams and spectacle so that it feels like it really could exist, tucked away in the secret areas of a travelling carnival type show. 

It was just so beautifully written. It's so evocative, filled with magic and a wonderfully constructed mystery that once I'd got passed the first chapter, I was completely hooked. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Quercus for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Boy Underwater by Adam Baron

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 256
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books 
Released: 1st of June 2018 

Cymbeline (yes, really!) has never been swimming – not ever, not once – so he’s a bit nervous at the prospect of his first school swimming lesson ever. But how hard could it be? He’s Googled front crawl and he’s found his dad’s old pair of trunks. He’s totally ready for this.

But he’s not ready for an accident at the pool to reveal a family mystery that turns his life completely upside down. Only Cym and his friends can solve it because, as usual, the grown-ups aren’t telling them anything.

For the answers you really need, sometimes you have to go deep..

What I Have to Say 

This was so much better than it sounded from the blurb. I'd been hearing a lot of how great it was, so I thought it was worth a read and I'm so, so happy that I went for it because despite the stupid name and the ridiculous attempted to try and learn how to swim from the internet (I mean seriously, he just seemed to be way too dumb for his age). But they had a really super smart girl to contrast him, showing how kids can be smart and maybe it's just that there's a range of different intelligence. 

The mystery part was amazing. With his mother disappearing, his dad out of the picture and this mysterious connection to swimming and water that no one will ever talk about. Add in Cym and his friends and it makes a nice crack team of child investigators ready to solve this mystery. 

The conclusion was brilliant. I loved how it all came together and how dramatic it was. A fantastic mystery with great characters for any fan of children's books. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Harper Collins  for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 5 July 2018

All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 512
Publisher: Penguin
Released: 12th of July 2018 

Charlie Calloway has a life most people would kill for. A tight knit family. A loyal set of friends. A fast-track to whichever college she chooses.

But Charlie isn't interested in what most people want.

She's a Calloway. She's special. And she's been taught to want more.

So when she's invited to join an exclusive secret society, her determination to get in is matched only by her conviction that she belongs there.

But behind their mysterious facade is a history of lies which unravels everything Charlie thought she knew... including the story behind her mother's disappearance ten years ago.

What I Have to Say 

This was the perfect mix of lies, mysteries and privileged kids that you just love to hate. I don't know what the draw is of rich kids with very few morals, but I can't get enough of reading about the dark side of prep schools and the elite. Combining that backstabbing, selfish society with a tantalising mystery that changes everything in Charlie's life. 

Charlie was a great character. The way she developed over the course of the book, finding more and more about what happened to her mother. It was the perfect story of a rich, privileged, self-absorbed girl waking up to the world around her and realising that perhaps her comfortable world isn't as harmless as it seems. 

I loved how Charlie's life at school, trying to get into the As and getting together with the boy she likes seems so unconnected to the mystery she's trying get to the bottom of it, but how it all intertwines in the deeply satisfying conclusion.

 If you like elite societies filled with dark secrets, this is definitely one for the must read list. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Penguin for providing me with this copy for review. 

Monday, 2 July 2018

Killing It by Asia Mackay

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 378
Publisher: Zaffre
Released: 12th of July 2018 

Every working mum has had to face it.

The guilt-fuelled, anxiety-filled first day back in the office after maternity leave.

But this working mum is one of a kind.

Meet Alexis Tyler.

An elite covert agent within Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Her first project back is a high-stakes hit of global significance and the old boys network of government espionage is far from ready for the return of an operational mother. But woe betide anyone who ever tells Alexis Tyler 'you can't'.

She will have it all. Or she'll die trying . . .

And yes, she damn well will be home for bath time.

What I Have to Say 

I wasn't sure how this book would be, but I really enjoyed it so much. It's a unique idea, a new mother working as an assassin. It had a good blend of the comedy of the juxtaposition of the two ideas. I loved seeing her going from being the loving mother with her daughter and husband to spending the next day spying and breaking into places while planning an assassination. 

It also convinced me that all spies and assassins should be women. We have far more things that we tend to carry around that can be turned into gadgets. From tampons to lipsticks, no one looks twice at a women carry that sort of thing. Despite the sexism that Alexis faced, she really proved that having a women, a mother, on the team is nothing more than a asset. 

This book is a beautiful, feminist piece about a woman fighting tooth and nail to be recognised in her field after being on maternity leave. It's a powerful story with a suspenseful, funny and all round entertaining story of assassinations and covert ops on top. Definitely a story that's gonna stay with me. 

My thanks got to Bonnier Zaffre and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review.