Thursday, 25 June 2015

Almost Grace by Rosie Rowell

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 224
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released:  4th of June 2015

For the first time in my life I feel like there is a chink of light, another way. Spook's world is raw, cut down to what matters. He is the first person I've met who seems free.

Grace and her Cape Town friends are renting a house on the coast - after exams it's their rite of passage into adulthood. Yet 'maturity' means different things to each of them. Brett and Louisa have plans - university, travelling - but Grace is uncertain of her future. Anxiety drives her to take control of whatever she can, starting with her own body, and it is starting to worry those around her.

When Grace meets Spook - an older, nomadic surfer - their attraction is instant and his relaxed familiarity and assured confidence catch her off-guard. Can she allow herself to lose control, and fall in love?

What I Have to Say 

This book really wasn't for me. The story was entertaining enough and I liked the character enough as the dreamer traveller type. But that seemed like all she was really. And insecure person who was worried by her lack of purpose in life and trying to control things through an eating disorder. It just felt a bit like a stereotype. 

It got better as they found out more about Spook and things started to happen. But it wasn't really my sort of book. It wasn't what I was expecting. Although I did really like the South African setting because I don't really read many books like that. 

All in all, this might be a good book for people who like these gritty coming of age contemparies where a girl meets a strange man on the beach, but not for me. 

Monday, 22 June 2015

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for providing me with this e-Arc

Pages: 438
Publisher: Macmillan
Released: 21st of March 2015

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. 

What I Have to Say 

I found this book really slow. Part of it may have been that the text in my copy which was annoyingly small and hard to read, which while not being the worse thing in the world did affect my mood when I was reading. I don't want to let that effect my enjoyment of the book, especially with a proof copy, but the fact is, it did. That said I've read Naomi Norvik before and found it just as slow, so it's probably just that she's not for me. 

The story itself  was really good though, I liked the main character and her friendship with Kasia as well as most of the interactions between her and the Dragon, because she was so annoyed and grumpy with her all of the time. The fact that she had no idea that she was learning magic was really funny. 

The wood was a really interesting enemy and I really liked the conclusion, so all in all I did enjoy it but might not get anything else from this author.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Only We Know by Simon Packham

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 229
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Released: 4th of June 2015

What is the secret of Lauren's past?

Lauren's family have moved house very suddenly, and she and her sister Tilda have to go to a new school. Lauren's determined to reinvent herself, but she's panic-stricken when she sees Harry, who she knew a few years ago. Luckily Harry doesn't recognise her, and she knows she has to make sure it stays like that. 

Lauren, unlike Tilda, settles in well. She makes friends, is helping to organise the school fashion show, and has boys asking her out. But just as her life finally seems to be looking up she starts receiving macabre packages. When she gets a message: 'Isn't it time your new friends knew all about you?' she has to admit that someone knows her secret. But who - and what should she do? 

What I Have to Say 

This book is really hard to review because I want to shout out to the heavens about the diversity and the LGBT representation in it. But I can't. Because it's a spoiler. Hence why I've been fairly vague in my terms. I know that there are people reading this who would definitely want to go and pick it up right away if they knew what I meant though. People like me, who guessed the reveal from very early on. 

I can talk about Lauren's character though, which was brilliant. I really warmed to her and how she felt. She was the sort of person who knows what she wants and although she's afraid that things will go bad if she goes for it, she still does. Because she is brave and strong. 

I also really liked the relationship between her and her sister. A relationship that has been damaged by what they've been through and the secret that the family are trying to hide. The same can be said for the relationship with the granma. 

If you would like to know what the spoiler, please say in the comments and I can put in a spoiler section, but for now I'm just going to say that everyone should read this book. 

Monday, 15 June 2015

How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 352
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 4th of June 2015

When you've had enough of being good, sometimes you've got to try a little bad...

Jesse, Vicks and Mel couldn't be more different. Jesse, a righteous Southern gal who's as thoughtful as she is uptight, is keeping a secret that she knows will change her life forever. Vicks is a wild-child: seemingly cool, calm and collected on the outside, but inside she's furious at herself for being so anxious about her neglectful boyfriend. And Mel is the new girl in town. She's already been dismissed as just another rich kid, but all she wants is to get over some of her fears and find some true friends. 

But for all their differences, the girls discover they've got one thing in common - they're desperate to escape. Desperate to get the heck out of Niceville and discover their true 'badass' selves! Even if it's just for the weekend... One 'borrowed' car later, it's time to hit the road and head for Miami. Hearts will be broken, friendships will be tested, and a ridiculously hot stranger could change the course of everything.

What I Have to Say 

First things first, I completely adored this book. Not as much as Disreputable History as I don't think there are that many books that can reach that level of awesomeness. But I loved it in a fun road trip with a load of drama way. The characters were all great in their own ways though I really think that Mel was my favourite just for her meek, shy contrast to the others. 

The fights that the girls had were all really good developments to the plot and general bonding feel of the book. It didn't feel like they were put in there just for the sake of drama. Even the bit with the alligator felt like it worked well with the plot. 

This is the ultimate road trip book for this year. These three fantastic writers have added to the genre in a wonderful way and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I have. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Released: 2nd of July 2015 

When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. 

No big deal, then. 

What I Have To Say 

When I first read this author, under her maiden name of McCulloch, I knew she was going to be good, after a little bit of honing. And I'm really, really happen that my instincts we right. Because as much as I liked the Oathbreaker books, this book had the perfection that I wanted. 

Also, these were a lot more fun than the Oathbreaker books- almost pure fun, but with enough tension and danger to make the series a wonderful read. Oh and a bit of cut-throat competition too.

This is not a book for people who want a serious read. It is written in a lighthearted style from the start, especially the bits with Princess Evelyn. This is definitely a must for fans of the Princess Diaries because it really has a similar sort of writing style and wacky adventures that I adored from Mia in my childhood. 

Monday, 8 June 2015

Night School: Endgame by C.J Daugherty

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to Netgalley for providing me with this e-arc

Pages: 375
Publisher: Atom
Released: 4th of June 2015

Broken. Scattered. But not defeated.

The spy is gone but the cost has been high - the rebels at Cimmeria Academy have lost their leader and Carter West is missing. Nathaniel can taste victory. But Allie and the other survivors aren't done yet. First they have to get Carter back. Then they plan to make Nathaniel pay.

One way or another - the game must end.

What I Have To Say 

I don't think I have to say how much I love this series and how sad I am that it's over. But I felt this was a fitting end to the series. All the emotions appeared in this book. Happiness. sadness and fear for the characters. One of the best and worst things about the end of a series is that you know none of the characters are safe. 

I haven't talked about this before. but I have to have a paragraph in here about Zoe. Zoe is a beautiful character who the other characters all adore and protect and I can't help feeling happy that not only do the other characters put up with her but one of the main reasons that Ally likes her is because she has Asperger's. Most of the portrayal's of Asperger's  in fiction are negative and seeing a positive one is, honestly, it's quite hard to put the feelings into words. But it is a beautiful thing. 

I'm really not sure how anyone could have gone so long without picking up this series yet, because it really. really has everything. 

Monday, 1 June 2015

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

Synopsis (From Goodreads

Pages: 336
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: 2nd of July 2015

London, 1884. When Thaniel Steepleton comes home to find a new watch on his pillow, he has bigger things to worry about than generous burglars; he is a telegraphist at the Home Office, where he has just received a Fenian bomb threat. But six months later, the watch saves his life in a blast that destroys Scotland Yard, and at last, he goes in search of its maker. 

He meets Keita Mori, a Japanese immigrant who remembers the future. As Mori begins to tweak daily life in Thaniel’s favour, everything seems to be going well – until physicist Grace Carrow, attracted to Thaniel’s refreshingly direct, unstuffy nature, unwittingly interferes. Soon, events spiral beyond Thaniel’s control, and nothing is certain any more…

What I Have to Say 

I want to squeal and tell everyone about this book, which I loved so much and not just because of the adorable clockwork Octopus, Katsu (I want one!). I really enjoyed Thaniel's voice and the interesting phenomenon of him being able to see sounds as colours. Keita was also so adorable. He was so sweet towards the start! Of course anyone who's read the book know that changes because his name does not mean "forest" (sorry but mori is not "trees" as it says in the book but 森 which is "forest"). 

The ending was thrilling. There was so much excitement and tension that I didn't want to put it down! I really loved the battle of minds between Grace and Keita! 

But more than anything I think this book got me interested more in clockwork and what could be done with it. I knew that the Victorians could do an awful lot with clockwork but I've never really thought about quite how clever they were. I almost wish that electricity hadn't been invented because the developments would be incredible now. Although I suppose it helps if you can remember the future... 

Everyone must to read this book. 

The Memory Hit by Carla Spradbery

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 352
Publisher: Hodder's Children's Books
Released: 4th of June 2015 

On New Year's Eve, Jess's life is unrecognizable: her best friend is in the hospital, her boyfriend is a cheater. A drug-dealing cheater it would seem, after finding a stash of Nostalgex in his bag.

Nostalgex: a drug that stimulates memory. In small doses, a person can remember the order of a deck of cards, or an entire revision guide read the day before an exam. In larger doses it allows the user detailed access to their past, almost like watching a DVD with the ability to pause a moment in time, to focus on previously unnoticed details and to see everything they've ever experienced with fresh eyes. As Leon, the local dealer, says 'it's like life, only better.' What he fails to mention is that most memories are clouded by emotions. Even the most vivid memories can look very different when visited.

Across town Sam Cooper is in trouble. Again. This time, gagged and bound in the boot of a car. Getting on the wrong side of a drug dealer is never a good idea, but if he doesn't make enough money to feed and clothe his sister, who will?

On New Year's Day, Jess and Cooper's worlds collide. They must put behind their differences and work together to look into their pasts to uncover a series of events that will lead them to know what really happened on that fateful New Year's Eve. But what they find is that everything they had once believed to be true, turns out to be a lie ...

What I Have To Say 

I have to admit, I thought this would be more like Sleepless by Lou Morgan. Or at least more like the 100 Society. Because I really enjoyed the speed and this was a lot more flat. I didn't really get absorbed into the mystery and tension in the way I would have liked. 

Also the characters felt a little bland. Apart from the good portrayal of the abuse, I didn't really feel any connection to the characters. Hannah and Jess felt a bit too everyday as there wasn't really that many details about their everyday lives. 

It wasn't a bad book, I just didn't get into it enough I think. And I felt the conclusion came a little out of nowhere.