Monday, 28 April 2014

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 450
Publisher: Scholastic
Released: 5th of September 2013
Other Books in the Series: The Raven Boys

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

What I Have To Say 

There is still something about this series that just doesn’t do it for me. It’s okay to read but it’s just not special like the rest of Maggie Stiefvater’s books are. Still, I enjoyed The Dream Thieves a lot more than The Raven Boys.

I’m starting to like the characters a lot, especially Blue and Adam. This book also made me really like Ronan. Finding out more about his back story gave me a lot more sympathy for him and I loved the idea of stealing from dreams as well as the way it worked.

 The darkness of dream thievery was also really great. I always like it when magic has a dark side and Maggie Stiefvater is definitely one of the authors who does it best.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 359
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Released: 1st of April 2014

Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

What I Have To Say

This is the book I'm currently in love with. It started when I saw the beautiful cover. The design, the colours, just everything about it is so perfect. 

And the story. I love stories from the point of view of people who would usually be seen as the villain. Serial killers and the thoughts they have, what makes them kill, all that stuff interests me so much. The exploration of moral nihilism and the way that Kit and her mother use it to justify their killing just adds to my interest.

Kit also has a really cool voice. I liked how the fact that she was a killer was woven so deeply into everything she did and said, because that's all she knows! It really made me feel sorry for her that she's never able to have a normal life.

There's only one criticism I have for the book. And that's the Americanisms. I know that it must be hard for American authors to write about English characters and settings, but it really jolted me out of the story when she talked about school desks that opened. Or how something is "as boring as oatmeal". I mean oatmeal is porridge right? How is porridge boring!? You can add all sorts to it!

I just can't get over how much I love this book. Some read it so I have someone to talk to about it. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 384
Publisher: Harper Teen 
Released: 28th of January 2014

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

What I Have To Say 

I adore the idea behind this book. There's so much scope to be had with the whole What-makes-killers-kill issue and the nature verses nurture debate. Also, the Minority Report-esque idea of treating people as criminals before they commit the crime really fascinates me. I found it really made me side with the main character quickly because I really want her to prove them wrong. They take so much from her and that's her only way of fighting back. 

The variety of characters is something else I liked. The fact that some of the people with the gene are obviously violent, but others, like Davy, only lash out when treated terribly. It creates a lot of mystery around the characters who are quieter as it's hard to tell which way they'll turn.

There are a lot of unanswered questions left at the end of the book. While usually a good thing, the interest in Davy's musical talent has a potential to let me down. I really, really hope that Sophie Jordan has something really special in mind for that, because it sticks out so much from the other talents they're interested in, which all seem to be more athletic or at least have some obvious purpose like linguistics or computer hacking. The next book could go either way for me. 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

It's UKYA DAY: Here's why I love UKYA.

I don't even know how to begin listing reasons why UK does the best YA. There are so many reasons and so many amazing books that it's hard to pick just a few, especially in any order, but here we go. I like UKYA because...:

- It's familiar. Authors are writing about the country I live in, the country I've grown up in. It's nice to have the comfort of familiar places in the reading, even in Urban Fantasy or Dystopia. I can picture the settings so much easier because they're so much a part of my life. Especially if they're somewhere I've been.

- Talent. I don't think I need more than one word for this. There are some great authors out there. I'm not saying that only British writers are good. But in my experience, there is less crap or trash written by UK authors. Our publishers seem to hold a higher standard of quality. Probably because we have less.

- Intricate stories. If anyone has not yet read the Slated Trilogy, read it now. It is amazing, filled with so much mystery and secrets and intrigue. The character and her backstory is so complicated with so many levels too it AND it all makes sense. Code Name Verity is another book that blows you away with the layers of it.

-Friendly authors. I love talking to authors on twitter. It's fun and they're all really nice. But a lot of authors are just too big to be able to have long conversations with fans. But UK authors are a smaller group. They're all very social and most don't have the massive amount of fame that comes to a lot of the Americans, even though they've got the talent. This means that they can have long conversations and really get to know their fans.

All in all, UKYA is awesome. And it's a huge shame that a lot of books from the UK don't get the same recognition as a lot of American books.

That's where Project UKYA comes in! You can find out more at the Project UKYA twitter or blog and join in with chats, contests, live shows and readathons.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Snow, White by Keith Austin

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

My thanks go to Netgalley and Red Fox for providing me with this e-arc.

Pages: 400
Publisher: Red Fox
Released: 8th of May 2014

John Creed's nights are haunted by dreams of a white wolf, his days by the hideous class bully. He's a loner with a stutter and his home-life - with an eccentric grandfather who wants to teach him folklore and ancient languages - is isolated and unusual.

 But then John makes a friend - Fyre. She's as unusual as John and has her own secrets to keep, but as the truth about John's past starts to emerge, she's the best ally he's got . . .

What I Have To Say

I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book. Even as I got into it, the story was really slow to start. It wasn't dull, stuff happened and it didn't drag, but it all just seemed to be setting up. It was John just going to school and his relationships with the other characters, which, while being relevant, felt a little pointless. 

The plot itself was good though, I enjoyed it once I got into it and really liked how the epilogue was done. The sparrows were really cool as well, it was an interesting idea and I think it was pulled off well. 

I've been fairly negative in this review, but I did enjoy it. It was a bit written down, which I think is quite common in this age bracket (though I really don't think it should be). But it was an enjoyable story and it didn't drag despite the vagueness of the start. Good for younger teens who want a adventure and a bit of violence. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 383
Publisher: Templar Publishing 
Released: 1st of January 2014
Other Books in the Series: The Testing

For the attention of candidate Malencia Vale.

Congratulations. You have passed The Testing. You have won a place at our prestigious university. After six months of preliminary classes, you will sit an examination. The results will be used to assign you to an area of study appropriate to your talents. The United Commonwealth urges you to consider your answers carefully during this examination. Wrong answers will be penalised.

What I Have To Say 

I am loving Cia's development. As her time at University goes on, she is getting more and more badass, really starting to do well at the tougher aspects of her studies. But she hasn't lost any of the kindness that sets her apart from the other students. She just wants to look after everyone, even if they don't do the same for her and I think that's her best quality. Though it does tear her apart when she can't. 

So, University is pretty cool. It was hard to think that things could get more brutal after the Testing,  but obviously they can. I really like what's said about politics too. Cis and the others are being pushed into Goverment because the people best suited to being in charge are those who don't want to be. It's an interesting way of solving the problem of power hungry maniacs getting to be in charge. 

I really, really cannot wait for the third book, even if it means saying goodbye to Cia. I want to see if she makes a difference. I just want to find out the ending. 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Synposis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to Pan MacMillon and Netgalley for providing me with this e-arc.

Pages: 416
Publisher: Pan MacMillon
Released: 8th of May 2014

The first things to shift were the doll's eyes, the beautiful grey-green glass eyes. Slowly they swivelled, until their gaze was resting on Triss's face. Then the tiny mouth moved, opened to speak. 'What are you doing here?' It was uttered in tones of outrage and surprise, and in a voice as cold and musical as the clinking of cups. 'Who do you think you are? This is my family.'

When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; her sister seems scared of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out. Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family - before it's too late . . .,

What I Have To Say

Some books can be tricky to review. This is one of those books, but only because as I sit down to write this review, I've realised, I have absolutely no idea what to call the main character. Her name changes so much. So I'm going to refer to her by my favourite of her names, Not-Triss. It's simple and states the facts with a hint of humour. And I think it's kind of cute. 

I honestly cannot think of anything that bothered me about the book. The only thing I can think of is the pace could be a little slow for some readers. But I liked it. This isn't a book you race through, desperate to find out how it ends, it's one to take your time over and enjoy the writing. Everything fits with the pace.  

And the prose. Oh how I love beautiful prose. This book is a work of art. Every sentence is an elegant, perfectly constructed gem. All right. I'm exaggerating a little. But really I found some very beautiful sentence. 

I'm trying to keep this fairly short, but I just need to mention some things. The characters were amazing. The fact that the point of view character was the changeling child and the way she had to work through the mystery and confusion surrounding everything was unique and intriguing. And the sister Pen and how they had to form a new relationship was so interesting. 

There are so many other things I could talk about. The whole dysfunctional family is something I could talk about for hours and I haven't even mentioned the people who took Triss and planted Not-Triss in her place. But I don't like long reviews. If I try to read one I tend to zone out after a while. Though this blog is not all about me. I want to do what I can to cater to you, my reader. So if you would like longer reviews when I have something to say, drop a word in the comments. 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Feather Bound by Sarah Raughley

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

My thanks go to Netgalley and Strange Chemistry for this e-ARC

Pages: 194
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Released: 6th of May 2014

When Deanna's missing friend Hyde turns up at his father's funeral to claim his corporate empire and inheritance, she is swept into his glittering world of paparazzi and wealth.

 But re-kindling her friendship and the dizzying new emotions along for the ride are the least of her concerns. Because Deanna has a secret – and somebody knows. Someone who is out to get Hyde. And if she doesn't play along, and help the enemy destroy him…she will be sold to the highest bidder in the black market for human swans.

Now Deanna is struggling to break free from the gilded cage that would trap her forever…

What I Have To Say 

This book was a stunningly beautiful modern fairytale that dove into the dark and twisted aspects of humanity. It goes into the details of secrets, hiding and blackmail on a wonderful story that was constantly surprising with twists and turns. 

It fed my love of fairy tales and all things dark and twisted. For me, it read like a more traditional fairytale, and anyone who's read the original versions of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty will know what I mean by that. It goes beyond the shiny, sparkly sheen that has been given to fairytale.

The Swans were well created. The way that they were not just humans with superpowers, in fact the only difference between them and everyone else is a bad one. They can be made into slaves by anyone willing to trap them and take their feathers. 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Night Itself by Zoë Marriott

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 368
Publisher: Walker Books
Released: 4th of July 2013

When fifteen year old Mio Yamato furtively sneaks the katana - an ancestral Japanese sword - out of its hiding place in her parent's attic to help liven up her Christmas party costume, she has no idea of the darkness she is about to unleash on modern day London, or the family secrets that she is going to uncover.

The paralysing paranoia that descends on her before she gets to her friend's party is her first clue. The vivid and terrifying visions that nearly get her killed are a pretty good warning too.

The giant nine-tailed cat demon that comes after the sword and tries to rip her throat out? Overkill.

Seconds away from becoming kitty-food, Mio is saved by Shinobu, a mysterious warrior boy. But it's already too late. Mio has ruptured the veil between the mortal realm and the Underworld, and now the gods and monsters of ancient Japan stalk the streets of London, searching for her and the sword.

With the help of her best friend Jack, a fox spirit named Hikaru - and the devoted protection of the betwitchingly familiar Shinobu - Mio attempts to discover the true nature of the sword and its connection to the Yamato family. Because if she doesn't learn how to control the katana's incredible powers, she's in danger of being overwhelmed by them. And if she can't keep the sword safe from the terrible creatures who want it for their own, she'll lose not only her own life... but the love of a lifetime.

What I Have To Say

I've been looking forward to this book ever since it was announced and seeing as Shadows On The Moon was the first of Zoë Marriott's books that I read (and my favourite of hers that I've read so far), I couldn't wait to see another book influenced by Japanese culture. The fact that it will ne a whole trilogy rather than a stand alone novel like Shadows On The Moon just made me more excited. 

The book really didn't disappoint me. The blend of modern day London with Japanese mythology was really smooth with Mio's response to it all being really realistic. 

The kitsune were my favourite part, mostly because kitsune are one of my favourite mythological creatures, though I do feel that their talents were a little under-used. 

I can't wait for the next book.