Thursday, 30 July 2015

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to Netgalley and Chronicle Books for providing me with this e-copy

Pages: 280
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Released: 4th of August 2015

Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies.

But when Beckan's clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn't have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected. 

This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.

What I Have to Say 

I didn't get on with this book at all. I had a major issue with the fact that they were glorifying prostitution a bit too much. The author did seem to make an attempt to show the trauma that working in a profession such as that can create. I'm fairly open, I don't think I'd have minded so much if it was an adult book where someone who chooses to go into prostitution, but this was a book for teenagers. A book where characters are pressured into the profession due to hard circumstances. This sort of thing has to be written sensitively, which I don't think it was. 

It was a really interesting setting, but the author didn't really spend a lot of time on it. I would have liked it a lot more if there had been more detail about the fairy culture and the friction between them and the trolls. But it just wasn't set up enough. 

It wasn't badly written and the characters were fairly interesting at times, but I really just didn't like it. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Birdy by Jess Vallance

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to Hot Key Books for providing me with this review copy! 

Pages: 272
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: 2nd July 2015

Frances Bird has been a loner for so long that she’s given up on ever finding real friendship. But then she’s asked to show a new girl around school, and she begins to think her luck could finally be changing.

Eccentric, talkative and just a little bit posh, Alberta is not at all how Frances imagined a best friend could be. But the two girls click immediately, and it’s not long before they are inseparable. Frances could not be happier.

As the weeks go on, Frances finds out more about her new best friend – her past, her secrets, her plans for the future – and she starts to examine their friendship more closely.

Is it, perhaps, just too good to be true?

What I Have to Say 

I was left reeling by this book. The ending is just so wonderfully unexpected. Although I feel like I should have seen it coming really. It's all there when you think back on it. But it's set up in such a way that it leads you down the wrong path and makes you try to guess the twist. 

It was a beautifully written story. I really  like stories with unreliable narrator and Jess Vallance pulls off this one really well. The friendship is very well written. It shows how close the girls get to each other and the sadness Frances feels as Bert starts to draw away from her. 

Frances and Bert are very distinct characters. Bert is the bubbly, eccentric new girl, not used to a school environment and Frances, the quiet, loner type who's never had a real friend before. It was wonderful how quick it was to get to know them, how easy it was to think of them as real people. 

When you read this book, be prepared to hurt when Frances gets hurt and be happy when she gets happy. 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

YALC - the Highlights!

So it's already been a whole week since YALC and yet again I've not found time to write a post about it until now. So I hope you are all still interested! I'll try to keep this short. Also, yet again, I managed to not think about taking any pictures for this post, so I'll have to make do with what I've got. 

Everyone was so nice. I don't think I stopped talking the entire time. There were just so many awesome people. I feel like I always say the same things about the UKYA community, but it really is just an accepting place. Everyone is so enthusiastic and friendly and completely okay with someone just sitting down next to them and starting to chat. I made so many friends! 

One thing I did notice was how much this blog has grown since last year. A lot of people said that my blog looked familiar or that they recognised the name. It was so much different from last year when not so many people knew who I am. 

The convention itself was much better than last year in terms of space. For most of the time we could actually walk around and breathe! It got a bit crowded on the Saturday, but for the most part it was pretty good. 

So on to highlights! 


Me modelling my thrown together Ravenclaw
uniform and wand
Friday was quiet as it was only a half day, though I was lucky enough to get invited to a Bloggers Brunch at Chicken House in the morning. It was awesome, if a bit crowded because the place we were in was a little too small for us all. I met lots of great bloggers and authors got a lovely Chicken House tote bag. 

In the afternoon, I think one of main highlights was the Cosplay panel by the ever wonderful Lucy Saxon, author of Take Back the Skies and The Almost King and amazing cosplayer. The panel really made me feel more confident about the idea that I could actually cosplay, which I tried for the first time this year. The panelists gave me enough confidence to wear a wig on the third day! 

The evening was the amazing Harry Potter Mugglenet Party, which was really fun. The quiz was as hard as they advertised it. It was fun trying to find the horcruxes, even if I didn't find many and I got some house points! And my Hufflepuff friends won the house cup so I was really happy for them. 

Hayley Atwell being blessed by the gods for
 being wonderful 


Saturday was the biggest day for crowds. I went around and got a lot books signed. I think the thing I enjoyed most on Saturday was just hanging out, enjoying the bookish atmosphere and catching up with friends I knew from the UKYA community. I saw quite a few authors I'd met in previous years too, so it was cool to be recognised. 

I also got a chance to look around the main convention, which is always fun, if a bit of a money drain!

The biggest highlight of Saturday though was when an artist came up to me randomly and casually asked if he could give me a picture. And it turned out to be Chris Riddell. The Children's Laureate Chris Riddell. That was a bit of a shock. 

Me as Chisaki from the anime Nagi No Asukara
complete with blue wig


Sunday was the biggest, most awesome day. I had a lot of books to get signed, two panels to go to and a workshop.  I'm going to bullet point this because otherwise it is going to get too long. 

My best bits were: 

-The Mental Health and Bringing Sexy Back panels in the morning (can do a blog post on either of these if anyone wants to know what were said) 

- The Blogging workshop from Jim Dean, Lucy Powrie and Vivienne Dacosta where I learnt a lot of useful stuff which will hopefully help me improve this blog. 

- James Dawson's modesty dragon. 

- Getting to meet Annabel Pitcher and getting myself a proof of Silence is Goldfish, which I've been wanting for a while! 

-Not a book thing, but I also met the beautiful, wonderful actress Hayley Atwell. 

- Meeting Nina from Death, Books and Tea in the line for the Liz Kessler signing. 

 I also got to try out a couple of cosplays, which is a hobby I've been really wanting to take up since I was about sixteen. It was everything I thought it would be so expect bigger better cosplays from me in the next few years. 

If anyone else has any great stories from YALC or LFCC please feel free to share them in the comments.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Lorali by Laura Dockrill

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to Hot Key Books for providing me with this review copy. 

Pages: 208
Publishers: Hot Key Books 
Released: 2nd of July 2015

Looking after a naked girl he found washed up under Hastings pier isn't exactly how Rory had imagined spending his sixteenth birthday. But more surprising than finding her in the first place is discovering where she has come from.

Lorali is running not just from the sea, not just from her position as princess, but her entire destiny. Lorali has rejected life as a mermaid, and become human.

But along with Lorali's arrival, and the freak weather suddenly battering the coast, more strange visitors begin appearing in Rory's bemused Sussex town. With beautifully coiffed hair, sharp-collared shirts and a pirate ship shaped like a Tudor house, the Abelgare boys are a mystery all of their own. What are they really up to? Can Rory protect Lorali? And who from? And where does she really belong, anyway?

What I Have to Say 

Can I just say how adorable Lorali is? She such a special little sweetheart that needs to be protected from this world at all costs so she never loses her enthusiasm for everything. I really hope that the events of the book don't take that from her because she is a beautiful character that everyone needs in their life. 

The story was amazing. There was everything, politics, drama, betrayal, pirates, hunters and pain. I found the society of the Mers really interesting. It was well done, drawing in classic mermaid mythology as well as new and unique ideas to create a beautiful world. The idea of savaging was especially interesting. It creates so much space for mermaids with tragic backstories. 

The ending nearly killed my heart. I knew how it would be resolved, but there were loads of twists and surprises. 

It's such a beautiful book. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

A Whisper of Wolves and Warning Cry by Kris Humphrey

Synopsis for A Whisper of Wolves (from Goodreads

Pages: 224
Publisher: Stripes Publishing 
Released: 2nd of March 2015 (Warning Cry: 6th of July 2014) 

When a raven drops a white feather at the doorstep on the day of your birth, it is a symbol of your destiny. You are a Whisperer – a guardian of the wild. After many years of peace in the kingdom of Meridina, rumours are spreading of a planned invasion – could the demonic Narlaw be returning from the darklands? It is up to the Whisperers and their animal companions to defend Meridina, protect Princess Ona and stop the Narlaw from destroying their world.

When hunters from her village disappear without a trace, Alice suspects that something sinister is at work. With the help of Storm, her wolf companion, Alice fights to save her village. The Narlaw are on the attack and it’s up to the Whisperers to stop them…

What I Have to Say 

This is a series that I would have adored as a kid. It's so in keeping of what I like that it reminds me a lot of the games I used to make up in the playground about 12 year old girls who could psychically connect to animals. So I am really, really disappointed to be finding it now and not then. Because while I would have adored it back then, it felt a bit flat to me now. 

That said the second book really picked up. I really liked Nara and Tuanne. They were much more interesting characters than I found Alice to be in the first book. Alice just felt like nothing special to me, she was the same girl that is in a lot of these books. 

I think the second book has made me a lot more enthusiastic about the series. I like the theme of girls finding their place in the world and being important. I love the animals and especially Tuanne learning to whisper with Nimbus. I like her in general because she is so different from the others and uses her powers in such a different way from her need to survive in the desert with her tribe. 

I'm looking forward to the next book. 

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

 Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for providing me with this e-Copy.

Pages: 344
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books 
Released: 2nd of July 2015

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

What I Have to Say 

This is such a great idea! I'm so glad it was pulled off as well as it was. Ollie and Moritz were really great characters, both with distinct personalities and views of the world. I love how much the idea of not being defined by their illnesses came up, because I felt that this is something that anyone who is ill either physically or mentally can relate to. 

I loved how they played on the idea of optimism and pessimism, having the boys in opposite moods to each other throughout the book. Both characters were so strong with such interesting backstories both Ollie with Liz and Moritz with his mother as well as the mysterious laboratory. They both had their own personal struggles and barriers to overcome. 

And I'm so glad that they discussed the idea of becoming superheros, because that had to be done, especially with the similarities to Daredevil. 

This is definitely an author I'm going to watch out for more from. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Miss Mabel's School for Girls by Katie Cross

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to Netgalley and Antebellum for providing me with this e-copy. 

Pages: 308
Publisher: Antebellum
Released: April 2015 (first published 21st of March 2014) 

Never underestimate the power of a determined witch.

Letum Wood is a forest of fog and deadfall, home to the quietly famous Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, a place where young witches learn the art of magic.

Sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe has inherited a deadly curse. Determined to break free before it kills her, she enrolls in the respected school to confront the cunning witch who cast the curse: Miss Mabel.

Bianca finds herself faced with dark magic she didn’t expect, with lessons more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Will Bianca have the courage to save herself from the curse, or will Miss Mabel’s sinister plan be too powerful? 

What I Have to Say 

A private boarding school for witches? I had to have this book and I'm so glad that I loved it. It was a lovely cross between a traditional boarding school book and a story of struggle and plotting. I loved the whole relationship between Bianca and Miss Mabel. The arch-nemesis but pretending not to be relationship. I adored how Miss Mabel always addresses Bianca as dear Bianca or darling Bianca early in the book, even though it's made clear that she knows exactly who she is. 

Bianca's friendships were also really great. Although it's completely unlikely that you'll find such close friendships with the first people you talk to at boarding school, it's something that I wouldn't want a boarding school book without. It's part of the genre. An important part. And Leda and Camille were the typical loyal boarding school friends, who would do anything for Bianca. I especially loved what Leda brought to the mix with her own curse, because it was so interesting and managed to be helpful to Bianca while not obviously there as a plot device to help her along. 

I only think that for me, the book was lacking in the boarding school/ everyday life aspects. It all moved so fast and I think it would have been better from my viewpoint if there had been a bit of leeway in the timescale so that we had more time to explore the school and the other teachers/ students. 

I cannot wait for the next book. 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Phoenix Rising by Bryony Pearce

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to Netgalley and Stripes for providing me with this e-copy. 

Pages: 368
Publisher: Stripes
Released: 1st of June 2015

In a future world where fossil fuels have run out and democracy has collapsed, an outlawed pirate crew fight for survival on their ship, the Phoenix, kept afloat by whatever they can salvage or scavenge on the debris-filled seas. Toby has never known anything other than life onboard the Phoenix and he's desperate for adventure. But when trouble comes hunting the Phoenix down, Toby realizes that what you wish for isn't always what you want. He meets beautiful Ayla from the Banshee, a rival pirate ship and sworn enemy of the Phoenix, and his world is thrown into disorder. How can he know who to trust and what to believe? The future rests on him making an impossible choice...

What I Have To Say 

An adventure story with pirates in a future of survival and struggle? What more could anyone want!? This is very different from what Bryony Pearce has written before but her imagination has created a very interesting world, even documenting the progress towards that world with newspaper clippings at the start! I love the idea of pirates sailing around on waters that are dangerous to even touch searching for any supplies that they can salvage. 

Toby was a character who was easy to fall in love with straight away. His voice was strong and his longing for adventure was something that we can all sympathize with even if we aren't being forbidden from going on land. And he had Polly the sassy parrot for company. Who doesn't love a sassy parrot? 

And Ayla. Oh Ayla. I think I was in love just as much as Toby from the first moment he met her. A tough pirate girl for Toby to fawn over was definitely what the book needed. Especially as from the enemy ship! She really showed the contrast between the two ships and how they're run. 

I cannot wait for the next book in the series, to get back into that world. The only thing I think this book was missing is more insight into the other character's thoughts. I'd have loved to see things from Ayla or Hiro's point of views more. Or even Polly's! 

Fantastic coming of age, adventure story. 

Monday, 6 July 2015

M is for Autism by Vicky Martin and Students of Limpsfield Grange School

Synopsis (from the JKP Website

My thanks go to Jessica Kingsley Publisher's for providing me a review copy of this book. 

Pages: 93
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publisher's 
Released: 1st of July 2015

M. That's what I'd like you to call me please. I'll tell you why later.

Welcome to M's world. It's tipsy-turvy, sweet and sour, and the beast of anxiety lurks outside classrooms ready to pounce. M just wants to be like other teenagers her age who always know what to say and what to do. So why does it feel like she lives on a different plane of existence to everyone else?

Written by the students of Limpsfield Grange, a school for girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder with communication and interaction difficulties, M is for Autism draws on real life experiences to create a heartfelt and humorous novel that captures the highs and lows of being different in a world of normal.

What I Have to Say 

This was a beautiful look inside the autistic mind. While being a very simple story, it brought up all the issues of being autistic and trying to fit in, while being un-diagnosed so not even really knowing for sure if you are in fact autistic. The whole book looked at the question of what it was to be different and in fact what is normal actually is. 

The thing that most made me interested in this book was that the main character, M, was female. There aren't that many books about autistic females and when there are, they tend to show the same symptoms as the boys, when the fact is that often the females show very different symptoms. Also the mention that it's really hard to find information about autism in females and how a lot of places still define it as a disorder only found in boys,. 

Naturally the main draw of this is that it is actually written by students of a school that specialises in Autism. The illustrations and style of the book does a lot to show how it is to be autistic and have your brain overload with data. 

For a group of students writing a little book, it was very good. Obviously it was simple. I'd love to see some do something like this as a proper novel. 

Anyone who has any interest in autism and especially autism in girls should definitely read this book.