Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

My thanks go to Hot Key Books and Piccadilly Press for providing me with this copy. 

Pages: 326
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Released: 1st of January 2015 (first published 2014)

An outrageous plot of villainy starring seven brilliant young girls.

At Prickwillow Place, Disgraceful Mary Jane, Smooth Kitty and their fellow students are keeping a deadly secret.

When the headmistress of St Etheldreda's School for Young Ladies drops dead at Sunday dinner, her seven pupils agree on a clever scheme: to bury their teacher in the vegetable garden, dress up Stout Alice in her place, and educate themselves. This is tricky enough in a small Victorian community, but when the girls deduce that their teacher was poisoned - (it was the veal!) - they realise there is also a murderer on the prowl . . . 

What I Have To Say

At first, this book was a little hard to read. There were seven main characters all with different sobriquet that are all doing different things. Surprisingly though, after a few chapters I got enthralled in their worlds, in their different characteristics and ways of speaking and looking at things. Now that I have finished, I'm rather sad to not be reading about them anymore. 

The plot is not meant to be taken seriously. It's farcical humour fits well with the variety of characters, both the students of St Etheldreda's and the townspeople of Ely. Though it is the kind of plot where it is obviously going to end with the girls being discovered, there were so many twists and turns that by the end of it, I had no clue how they would be discovered or who the murderer was. 

I really am going to miss these character. I really, really hope that the author will write more about them. I could see Pocked Louise leading the other girls into investigating other mysteries in Ely. Perhaps they could end up with some sort of Enid Blyton style investigative team? I just hope that there will be more books. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Arsenic For Tea by Robin Stevens

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 339
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Released: 29th of January 2015
Other Books In The Series: Murder Most Unladylike

Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy's home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy's glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy's birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix. But it soon becomes clear that this party isn't really about Daisy at all. Naturally, Daisy is furious.

Then one of their party falls seriously, mysteriously ill - and everything points to poison.

With wild storms preventing anyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem - and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy looks suspicious, the Detective Society must do everything they can to reveal the truth . . . no matter the consequences.

What I Have To Say

I often find that the second book in the series is less good than the first, but Arsenic for Tea was just as good as Murder Most Unladylike. It instantly threw me back into Hazel and Daisy's world and reminded me everything I loved about the first book. The only thing that I missed was the school. I'm looking forward to them going back in the next book. 

That said, I really loved exploring Daisy's family. Her parents and aunts were delightfully quirky and I really want to learn more about her uncle. The descriptions of the house and the way things like the maze and the tree were utilised were all really well done. I only wish that they could have used the walled garden. 

I loved this book just as much as the first. They are both a delight to read, filled with suspense, secrets, twists and tea parties. You'd do well to pick a Wells and Wong book as your next read. 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 336
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Released: 5th of February 2015

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

What I Have To Say 

This book not only has one of the most gorgeous covers that I have ever seen, but it also has one of the most beautifully written fantasy worlds I've read lately. It's a world that I would love to immerse myself in so much more, because there was not nearly enough exploration of it, as this story was set solely in Lormere. Which leaves something nice to anticipate in the next book.

The characters were all incredible. I adored Twylla in her naivety. Merek in his optimism and his belief that he and Twylla could change everything. And the queen in her dominance, manipulation and madness.  Melinda Salisbury has created a cast of characters where the only characters to hate were the ones who are meant to be hated.

Above all the best thing about this book was the twists. There were so many things that I didn't expect at all. It was one of those books where you finish it and just have to sit there in shock for a while, trying to come to terms with what you've just read.

This book was so amazing, so very amazing that you just have to go and read it.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Death & Co. by D.J. McCune

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 279
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: 2nd of May 2013

Adam is a Luman, and it runs in the family. Escorting the dead from life into light, Adam must act as guide to those taken before their time. As his older brothers fall into their fate however, Adam clings to his life as a normal kid - one who likes girls, hates the Head and has a pile of homework to get through by Monday morning. When Adam gets a terrible premonition he realises that he must make a devastating choice, risking his life, his family and his destiny. 

What I Have To Say 

I think I like books where people are from families of people with supernatural gifts more than I like people who just randomly have powers. As much as I like random powers, I just love the whole family traditions and societies that can be built up with genetic powers. And this book is a perfect example of this. The Luman society is so cool and I love the way that it works and how antiquated it is. Especially, since I'm hoping for some action from Adam's sister forcing the society to accept her as the first female Luman. 

Adam felt very real. Obviously as I'm a girl, I know next to nothing about what teenage boys are like. But the anxiety around the girls and dating seemed very realistic. I really liked how his life as a Luman intruded on his life as an ordinary teenage boy and how he trying to keep them separate. 

I really liked this book. I'm hoping to get the next book in the series soon. I'm expecting a lot from it!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to Netgalley and Hachette Children's Books for providing me with this e-ARC. 

Pages: 320 
Publisher: Orchard Books
Released: 5th of February 2015

Grace can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay - in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.

What I Have To Say 

I was distraught when this book ended. Completely upset. I'm certain my copy was missing a paragraph or two. I mean sure, it's Ally Carter so I can make an educated guess at what it was about. But it still ended too early. I might be able to forgive the lack of paragraphs if there's a sequel. Though it is a cruel way to end a book. 

As far as the rest of the book went, Carter was on form, writing the same thrilling plots and wonderful characters that she usually writes. The diversity in this books was as expected from a book set on Embassy Row! Characters from various cultures being friends and socializing, so if you're looking for diverse books, look right here! 

The mental health aspect of the books was also really well portrayed. As someone with experience with some of the things shown, I can say that it was accurate and sensitively written. The way Grace refers to herself as crazy throughout the book may seem a little harsh to some, but I can tell you, it is the way people talk about themselves when they're in that situation. 

This is definitely a book that I would encourage everyone to read. 

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Glory by Lauren St. John

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320
Publisher: Orion's Children Books
Released: 5th of March 2015

A Girl on the Run from the Law

Alexandra Blakewood has everything any teenager could wish for, apart from the horse she'd love, but she won't stop getting into trouble. Sent to a US boot camp, she dreams of escaping. It seems impossible until she's told about a gruelling 1,200 mile horse race across the American West...

A Boy on a Mission to Save a Life

Will Greyton was the star student at his Tennessee high school until his father was laid off. Now Will works at a burger joint. When his dad falls ill, it seems things can't get any worse. An operation will save him, but there's no way to pay for it. Then Will hears about The Glory, a deadly endurance race with a $250,000 purse, open to any rider daring enough to attempt it... 

What I Have to Say 

This book took me right back to my childhood of reading books about girls with their own ponies, or longing for their own ponies or just going every day to their locals stables every day. I am not even going to deny that I read a lot of these books. I wasn't quite one of the girls who helped out at the stable on weekends, but I took riding lessons so I know a bit about horses.

I really liked the movie, Hidalgo when I was younger too, so it brought me back to that. I love the idea of surviving out in the wild, of trekking across country with just a horse and a pack of supplies. Obviously not enough to do it in real life, but I like to read about it.

The characters were really easy to get to know and feel for. I loved their relationship with their horses most of all. At first having Alex taking the horse seemed a bit unrealistic, but it really grew on me and I really found myself loving them together by the end of it.

The best bit was how tense and exciting it was. It really surprised me, especially towards the end.

I definitely need to read more from this author.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 208
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Released:  26th of February 2015

 Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumored to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell.

What I Have To Say 

I really don't know why I haven't heard of this author before. She writes things that are absolutely perfect for me. Nightbird was a beautiful tale full of small tale charm and fairytale elements. The characters are quirky as well as being realistic and messed up in various ways. 

I found the fear that Twig and her mother feel about befriending people in their town really interesting and realistic, including the conflicting emotions that Twig feels in the fact that she wants to have friends and be less lonely, but she feels the same way about lying to them as her mother does and so keeps them away. 

The plot line was truly beautiful. It was wonderfully woven together to create a story that just works. Lines of the story brought together by fate to make an ending that I think will satisfy any reader. 

For me this book was a perfect middle-grade book and I need to look into more of the authors books as soon as possible.